Sunday, February 5, 2023
24 Hours in Addison Township: 4:46 p.m.
Sonia reorganizes produce at Viva Mexico Grocery Store, 2513 East State Road 44. | photo by KRISTIAAN RAWLINGS
Editor’s note: Since columnist Kris Meltzer moved over to The Shelby County Post, we are republishing one of his previous articles here each Sunday until our closure at the end of February.
A Visit with General Kelly
Every summer, for some reason, I always find myself reminiscing about my childhood. Playing at Morrison Park, swimming at Porter Pool and eating giant tenderloins at the Stardust Drive-in. (Ah ha, I fooled you regular readers. You thought I was going to say Nickel Nook.) But, I don't need to tell you that. I'm sure that you are getting as bored with my memories as I am. So this summer I decided to drop by General Kelly's house and pick up a fresh batch of memories.
In 1980, when I returned to Shelbyville after graduating from I.U. Law School, my wife Sandy and I lived at 29 W. Mechanic St. Lt. Gen. John R. Kelly and his wife, Genevieve, lived on W. Franklin St. Our houses were on different streets but shared the same alley.
The Kelly’s house was very large and had been divided into apartments before they bought it. It would have been described in real estate talk as "a fixer upper" or maybe "a handyman special." The Kellys both put in a lot of long days working on their house just like that couple on Hometime. I would stop and visit with them whenever I was wandering around the neighborhood and thought that they looked like they needed a break.
I knew that John Kelly was a Lt. General retired from the Air Force, but I had never talked to him about his military career. In fact, since I knew him as a neighbor, I didn't ever consciously think of him as a Three Star General when we discussed home repairs. So it hadn't occurred to me to ask him about aliens and UFOs.
When I stopped by his house for a visit last week, I decided that I should ask him a few warm-up questions before getting into the UFOs. After I left I didn't want him to turn to Genevieve and say, "Meltzer always seemed more or less normal when discussing home repair, I didn't have him spotted as one of those UFO nuts."
I learned that John Kelly grew up in Merion, Pa. It was a bedroom community of Philadelphia. He had an older sister, Minnetta, who tried to teach him table manners. However, he was more interested in joining his friends at the swimming hole and maybe smokin' a few corn silks.
He was interested in aviation as a boy. The interest grew and under his class picture in the 1942 yearbook of Overbrook High School it is noted, "Hopes to achieve success in aviation." But, even he didn't imagine that one day he would be a Three Star General.
He joined the U.S. Army Air Force and learned to fly P-51 and P-47 single-engine fighters. He then became an instructor, spending 7 or 8 hours a day teaching others to fly the single-engine planes. Next he went to school to learn to fly B-24 bombers and then B-29 bombers.
As a B-29 pilot he was stationed in Guam and flew missions over Japan. One of his most vivid memories is viewing the Japanese surrender on the deck of the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay from the pilot's seat of his B-29. After the war he was stationed in Tucson, Ariz., where he learned to fly the first jet bomber, the B-47. Later he learned to fly the 8-engine B-52. After more college, he spent three years assigned to the Strategic Air Command. From the early to mid-sixties he was at the Nevada Atomic Energy Test Site (Area 51 for you UFO fans). Kelly had made Colonel by this time but still attended more college.
In '67 and '68 he was in Thailand as part of the Vietnam Operation. From 1970 to 1977 he moved frequently and was stationed in Massachusetts, California, Europe, Texas and then Washington D.C., where he stayed until 1979. He then retired to that "handyman special" on W. Franklin St. in Shelbyville. He and his wife later moved to a house on W. Mechanic St.
Unlike President George Bush, Kelly never bailed out. Also unlike Bush, he doesn't intend to jump out of an airplane now that he's retired. Oh yes, for you UFO fans, Kelly didn't have any UFO stories for me. My friend Bill says that Kelly probably has UFO stories but they are top secret and if he told me the government would send Steven Segal to kill me.
I think Bill has probably watched too many movies. In any event, I suppose if you do have a close encounter of the third kind this summer, you should direct the aliens to the General's house. He could give them flight directions to Area 51.
HOOSIER NEWS: James Alexander Thom, the Hoosier author known for his vibrant historical fiction novels that brought the past to life, died last week. He was 89 years old. He was perhaps best known for his 1981 book "Follow the River," about the 18th-century escape and journey of Mary Ingles, who had been captured by the Shawnee and made the 400-mile trek home. It was later made into a movie. Thom won many honors, including induction as a member of the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame and was an Indiana Authors Awards Lifetime Achievement Honoree and National Winner. (IndyStar)
SHELBY COUNTY PEOPLE & PLACES: BESS CONKLIN
Editor’s note: In the mid- to late 1940s, The Shelbyville Republican published a series of articles by Ave Lewis and Hortense Montgomery covering community people and places. Below is one of those features.
"Mrs. Bess Conklin is what I term a self-made woman. She has created a place for herself in this community and is one of the most conscientious workers I have ever known." That's what A. Goodman says about his employee with a 32-year service record in Goodman Department Store ready-to-wear.
In 1914, when women's "store-bought" clothes were regarded with raised eyebrows by local housewives, Mrs. Conklin began her career with the Goodman store which had just opened a double room, now a part of the Ben Piatt and Ralph Scofield stores on South Harrison street. "I felt I didn't know enough then to sell ready-to-wear," Mrs. Conklin admitted with her characteristic sweet smile, "but when I'd slip into the more familiar table linen section, Mr. Goodman would indicate in his quiet manner that ready-to-wear was to be my field." And now, as a buyer, her serene and charming selling personality is as much a part of the Goodman ready-to- wear department as the clothes themselves. Her childhood, in Rensselaer and Greencastle, were carefree tomboy years with her four brothers as pacemakers.
"I could climb any apple tree," she laughed, "and was a whiz with a rifle." Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Arch Grubb, moved to Rensselaer to Greencastle when Mrs. Conklin was four, two years before her father, a railroad man, died. In the years following, Mrs. Grubb worked diligently at anything she could do to provide for her children and maintain their home on North College Avenue. One son died in high school, another never returned from World War I, and she now lives with a son, Jewett, on his ranch near Great Falls, Montana.
Mrs. Conklin visited friends in Greencastle recently and stopped as she always does to view a landmark at her old home - a huge walnut tree which she herself fenced off from the careless feet of her three brothers when it was a tiny seedling that appeared one spring after she helped her brothers hull walnuts the preceding fall.
When Harry Conklin, a Greencastle youth, returned from the Spanish-American War, he married his pretty neighbor, Bess Grubb, and four years later took her and their son, Keith, to live in Shelbyville. He died this winter at the Conklin home at 218 East Taylor street, after a prolonged illness.
Mrs. Conklin, past matron of Naamah Chapter, Order of Eastern Star, is active in local Star work. She's always been an avid reader, but in later years has had to pamper her eyes more than she likes. Keeping up with the doings of her granddaughter, Nancy, keeps Mrs. Conklin awed and interested.
This Week in Shelby County" works by George L. Stubbs Sr. are owned by the Shelby County Historical Society (Grover Center) and used with permission.
THIS DAY IN SHELBY COUNTY HISTORY
News around Shelbyville and the surrounding area as reported on or about this date in history. Selections are curated from the Shelby County Public Library Genealogy Department.
20 YEARS AGO: 2003
The Shelbyville Common Council annexed 40 acres owned by Taylor and Marna Sumerford at 3976 N. Michigan Road near Indiana Downs. Part of the land would become part of the Municipal Airport. There was talk of a gas station or hotel for the other part of the land.
30 YEARS AGO: 1993
The old Gamewell bell in the Shelbyville Fire station, active since the firehouse was built in 1917, was deactivated. The president of K-T Corp. complained about losing the alarm system. “They keep increasing taxes, and services keep going down,” he said. When the Gamewell system was first installed in 1892, before the days of widespread telephone service, firefighters had bells installed in their homes to call the volunteers to the station. The system was refurbished in the early 1950s. By the 1990s, most Gamewell alarms were false alarms, 35 of which occurred in the prior year. The fire department still had to make the run and reset the system. Each spring, firefighters had to trim trees that grew into the wires causing the system to malfunction.
40 YEARS AGO: 1983
State Rep. Steve Moberly was the winner of the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce’s prestigious Citizen of the Year plaque. Politicians were typically not recipients of the award, but Moberly’s work with Meals on Wheels, First United Methodist Church, Shelby County Public Library and other organizations were cited as factors in the selection.
50 YEARS AGO: 1973
Super Vel Cartridge Corporation hosted the first annual American Handgun award competition held at the Elks Club.
Mrs. DeVern Arbuckle, a 17-year employee at the local General Electric Industrial Heating Business Department plant, received the Borch Award, presented to only one out of every 1,000 employees. She and her husband, Charles, were the parents of two sons.
60 YEARS AGO: 1963
Four city kids, ages 11 to 17, were arrested for stealing eight cases of empty soft drink bottles from a warehouse located between E. Mechanic and E. Franklin Streets.
70 YEARS AGO: 1953
Local Boy Scouts assigned as city firemen during the Annual Boy Scout Government Day were pictured in the newspaper. The boys were shown rolling up hose after dousing a bonfire that “mysteriously” started at the Smith Lumber Co. on S. Noble St. “They had a good time putting out the blaze which wasn’t endangering anything and also had a water fight,” the paper said. Boy Scouts assigned as firemen were Jim Brown, Gary Osborne, Ronald Rutherford, Lathan Giden, Thurman Baker and Dave Watson.
80 YEARS AGO: 1943
Shelby County’s latest selective service contingent left for Fort Harrison. They were Charles Tuley, Kenneth Brooks, Robert Swails, Carl Ellington, Loren Miller, Hiram Drake, Donald Hasecuster, Roy DeVault, Lloyd Fagel, Francis Guffin, Charles Smith, Paul Graham, Harold Peck, Maurice Fisher, Roy Anderson, George “Bill” Hotel, Eidon Carvin, Frank Totten Jr. and Robert Hayes.
90 YEARS AGO: 1933
An unnamed charitable woman in Shelbyville approached a local “hobo” to suggest he go to the Salvation Army for assistance. “She had taken the course following repeated appeals from the local headquarters of the Army for persons of the city to stop feeding the itinerants and send them to the charity eating place,” The Republican said. “The hobo, however, averred that the only connection he wanted with the Salvation Army was to ‘blow it up.’ Needless to say, he was not fed by the charitable lady.”
100 YEARS AGO: 1923
Nearly the entire local postal service staff was suffering from the flu. Bert Kennedy was the latest to be confined to his home, suffering from “the grip” and a severe cold. Postmaster George Young, Julian Cheuden, Clarence Pumphrey, Carl Riser and Sam Bray had all been out sick.