Sunday, January 7, 2024
‘OFFSTAGE’ TO CENTER STAGE
Steel rafters, which will house an over-stage fly system, have been erected for renovations underway at the Shelby County Players facility on Miller Ave. SCP started in 1988, performing on Tompkins Street. | photo by JACK BOYCE
Spotlight Shelbyville: The Gartners
ABOVE: The graves of long-time restaurateurs Carl and Delia Gartner and their daughter, Erna, are in Forest Hill Cemetery. | photo by KRISTIAAN RAWLINGS
Despite arriving in America unable to speak English, Carl “Charlie” Gartner rose to prominence and was part of numerous local firsts.
He helped string the first downtown Christmas lights in Shelbyville and started a Christmas candle tradition in the Major Hospital windows. He installed the first electric commercial refrigeration units used here. In 1934, he commissioned Jack Trueb, Carl DeVore and Ernest Weimer to put in his restaurant the first fluorescent lighting system used in the United States. Gartner had a letter from the General Electric Company proving it. Six years later, he installed the first commercial air conditioning unit used in a Shelbyville business.
Impressive, for a guy who arrived at Ellis Island with only 17 cents in his pocket. That’s another story. The government had detained the teenager when he landed here with no money and plans to only stay two years before heading to Australia. But a friend of his father who owned a meat market in Brooklyn posted Carl’s bond and put him to work. Two weeks later, Carl bought a railroad ticket to Cincinnati, where he stayed with family and found work.
“He rented a room for 75 cents, laundry furnished, and recalled that the saloons, serving a nickel beer and a free lunch, were ‘a life saver’ in those years he could only speak a little English,” a 1954 Shelbyville News feature article said.
He met Delia Shermer of Milan, Ind. at a dance, and they were married in 1904. Their only child, Erna, was born in 1906, a year after he became a naturalized U.S. citizen. In 1907, he took a position with the Louis Hoover Clothing store, which later became the Todd-Bennett store, downtown Shelbyville. Over the next several years he worked in local furniture factories, moved to Virginia for a short time, then returned here and, in 1919, opened a small confectionery at Hendricks and Miller streets, later the site of the Guinea Pig Grocery and now Reflections Salon. The couple bought a home across the street at 309 South Miller St., which remains.
The Gartners turned the confectionery into a grocery and meat market, and then acquired other stores. They started a grocery at Montgomery and Broadway, where the Sweet Shop was located in the 1950s, and bought out the I.O. Mann store at St. Mary and Franklin streets, which Helen Turner took over. They sold the grocery stores in 1924 to open a large grocery and meat market on N. Harrison St. near Franklin Street. Five years later, in 1929, they opened a deli in the Strand Theatre building. They later moved a couple of doors down to open a full-fledged restaurant to accompany the deli.
In 1932, Gartner purchased the Walgreen Drug Co. lease on the building at the southeast corner of Public Square and opened a large restaurant. “This was the one that so many people will never forget,” the newspaper said. Known as Gartner’s It’s-Time-To-Eat Restaurant, it grew into one of Indiana’s best-known establishments. “Travelers, tourists, famous people and common people, the basketball teams, National Guard troops, and many others ate there, and it became a popular meeting place,” the paper said. Guests included Supreme Court Justice Sherman Minton, Gov. Paul McNutt, famous poet E.A. “Big Rich” Richardson and western film star Ken Maynard. The restaurant was also the site of the local Indianapolis & Southeastern Bus Company.
During this phase, Carl and city fireman Harley Heck used lights left over from a restaurant event to decorate downtown Shelbyville for the first time at Christmas. The initiative grew each subsequent year.
In retirement, Carl cited “the wonderful cooperation of people of the city and county” for his success, and noted that “Mrs. Gartner was the backbone of the restaurant.”
“Working side by side in the restaurant business here, Mr. and Mrs. Gartner made the names of ‘Uncle Charlie’ and ‘Aunt Del’ familiar household words to scores of Shelby countians,” the article said.
In 1940, Gartner sold his equipment and opened a restaurant at Harrison and Franklin, which later became the Harrison Cafeteria, where he installed the first commercial air conditioning unit in town. The couple sold that business in 1944 and took a vacation. But after four weeks, Carl said he had become “restless” and took a job as manager of the Jay C Store meat market, where he worked until the unexpected death of Delia in 1951.
She and Erna had been on their way home from a plastics demonstration in Rushville when Delia had a heart attack. Erna stopped the car at Rays Crossing to summon help, but her mom, 67, passed away. Carl then moved in with his niece, Lorraine Ewick, and her husband, Laurel.
A year later, Carl returned to Germany for the first time in 52 years. “He found that the war had all but wiped out his native city,” the paper said. However, he enjoyed reuniting and touring Europe with his sister, Elly.
He remained busy until his death in 1961 at the age of 79. Even in retirement, he had worked weekends in the meat department at the Guinea Pig, in the same building where he started his first store.
The Gartners, faithful members of First Presbyterian Church, were long known to give to local causes. Upon his death, a news article called him “a man with determination and a charitable heart.” The back of the Forest Hill Cemetery tombstone where Carl, Delia and Erna are buried has the inscription, “While we have time, let us do good.”
STATE NEWS: Indiana’s 2024 legislative session begins tomorrow, kicking off 10 weeks of work that will end no later than mid-March. Republican legislative leaders have said they don’t want 2024 to be about big changes. Instead, they point to last year’s work and stress that this year should be about small changes to existing initiatives. And they absolutely don’t want to spend any money this year. That’s typical for a short session. But fiscal leaders doubled down on their insistence that Indiana not reopen its current, two-year state budget after a forecasting error by the state Medicaid program revealed last month that it will need $1 billion more in the current budget cycle than previously expected. (Indiana Public Media)
NATIONAL NEWS: Today, the first Sunday of the year, is typically the most popular day for singles to use dating apps. Tinder says the number of messages sent on “Dating Sunday” runs 22% higher than normal levels, the number of likes increases 18.2%, and the average response time is 19.4 minutes faster than on a typical Sunday. The rise in usage will be relatively consistent until February, since from January 1 to Valentine’s Day are what the company calls its peak season. (Morning Brew/Fast Company)
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This Day in Shelby County History
2014: Renovation work began at the Strand Theatre. Crews started to take chairs out of the balcony to prepare to install new chairs donated by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. David Finkel and Cody Veerkamp spear-headed a volunteer day to take items out of the attic. Renovations would include wall to wall expansion of the stage, constructing a new fire exit, increased seating in the balcony, offices and other items.
2004: Recent heavy rains had led to major problems in Clover Village, about one mile north of Fairland. Residents reported issues with septics and drinking water. “You can’t do laundry. You can’t use the toilet. You can’t do anything,” one resident told The Shelbyville News.
1994: Shelby County unemployment reached 4.7%, up .5% from the month before.
The Waldron boy who checked himself into a basketball game without the coach’s permission appeared on WFBQ’s Bob and Tom radio show. The story had appeared in several newspapers and on Indianapolis television stations. The school had placed the student on a 30-day “social probation,” but attorney Robert Yeager pointed out the phrase “social probation” wasn’t in the Waldron student handbook.
1984: Engineering work was underway for a new shopping center on E. State Road 44. It would be similar in size to the Junction Shopping Center where Kroger was located, officials said.
1974: Operations began at the new Plastics Molding Corp. on W. State Road 44. Lee Crist was manager.
Detroit Steel finished erecting the steel frame for an industrial plant, the second to be built in Morristown within a year. Initial employment would be up to 100.
Security officer LaVon Ward notified police that a large yellow Caterpillar motor grader owned by a construction company had been stolen off an equipment lot on Hale Road while he had stepped away. Officers entered the theft in state and national crime computer files and searched over the weekend, but later learned the grader had been moved by the company for an out-of-state job. The movers had failed to notify the watchman of the move.
1964: Sandman Bros. sold their appliance and tire divisions to Oakley Tire & Appliance Sales and Service, which had taken a long-term lease on the Sandman buildings between Washington and Jackson streets along Pike Street. Dyar Oakley, 34, had been store manager of an Indianapolis Goodyear store for two years. The automobile division of Sandman Bros., located between Broadway and Jackson along Pike St., would continue, with Chester Sandman and his son Larry Sandman devoted full-time to the sales and service of Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac and GMC lines. Chester and his brother, William Sandman, had started the business 46 years prior and were later joined by another brother, Harvey Sandman, and Chester’s son, Larry. Ruth Piatt and Peggy Schwartz, sisters of Chester Sandman, also worked at the company.
County Clerk Fred Courtney said he had issued 282 marriage licenses in 1963 and that 264 actions for divorce were filed.
Note: Yesterday’s edition noted that Mary Lou Ryhal was on the “Sing Along with Mitch” TV show, which prompted Kris Meltzer to share this recollection: “I was a big fan in 1964. I never missed an episode. The words to the songs appeared at the bottom of the TV screen with a little bouncing ball bouncing on each word at the time it was to be sung to help viewers with the timing,” Meltzer said. The Ryhal family lived on the same block as him. Below is a photo Meltzer provided.
1954: Ona Engle, 449 W. Franklin St., retired from the Indiana Bell Telephone Co. after 38 years in the industry. She was the firm’s Shelbyville exchange chief officer.
Dedication services were held for the Assembly of God church, 606 Montgomery St. Rev. O.W. Koble was pastor.
1944: Schools put children in charge of collecting waste paper in their neighborhoods to benefit the war effort. Kids would take the paper to school, where it would be transported to dealers.
There had been 42 fewer babies born in 1943 in Shelby County than in 1942, county health officials reported.
1934: The largest-yet civil works payroll was issued, with 720 men picking up checks at City Hall. Four women were also added to the payroll. Two were assigned to the public library, one was a nurse assigned to the county and the other a custodian.
Physical education options and health lectures were organized for the public through a federal grant. Supervised gymnasium time would be offered at the Hendricks school gym for women from 4:30 to 6 p.m. and men from 7 to 8:30 p.m. each evening.
1924: Mayor Lee Hoop married Catherine Stewart in Wisconsin. Newspapers said the marriage “came as a surprise” and that “only a few of their close friends were aware of their plans.” Although the marriage occurred at the home of the bride’s sister, Catherine had been working at Wolf Quality Store in Shelbyville. Hoop was in his second term as mayor.
A young woman put into a 30-hour trance by performer Alburtus at The Strand was placed behind the store window at Wolf’s Dry Goods. Shoppers gathered throughout the day, speaking “in whispers as to her beauty, her sleep and wondering how long she would remain in that state,” The Republican said. She was to be taken to The Strand at night to be awakened on stage by Alburtus.
1914: The Republican reminded subscribers that “if you have visitors at your house or are going away on a visit, the Republican would be glad to mention that fact. Call phone 36 and tell us about it.”
John Kelley purchased the Burton barber shop, 55 East Washington St., just east of Sorden’s livery barn. William Mathews, who had moved here from Cincinnati, would also work at the shop.
Justin Alexander Jackson, 41, of Shelbyville, passed away Friday, January 5, 2024. Born in Johnson County on November 5, 1982, he was the son of Frances Jackson and the late Carl Jackson.
A 2001 graduate of Waldron Junior-Senior High School, he attended Ball State University, completing a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice. He then obtained master’s degrees in both public administration and political science before receiving his juris doctorate in law in 2014 from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan. He was previously employed as a probation officer in Hamilton County.
An athlete in high school, Justin was a member of the sectional champion basketball team in 2001. He also played baseball, tennis, and was the Shelby County shotput champion in 2001. A kind and gentle person, Justin was a proud supporter of his country, and especially loved cats.
Justin is survived by his mother, Frances; a brother, Simon (Kristen) Jackson and their children, Elizabeth and Caleb; a sister, Sharon (Chris) Simon and their children Spencer and Chandler.
Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday, January 9, 2024, at Freeman Family Funeral Homes and Crematory, Carmony-Ewing Chapel, 819 S. Harrison St. in Shelbyville. Funeral services will follow at 1 p.m., Tuesday, at the funeral home. Justin will be laid to rest at Whispering Hope Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Shelbyville/Shelby County Animal Shelter, 705 Hale Road, Shelbyville, Indiana 46176. Online condolences may be shared with Justin’s family at www.freemanfamilyfuneralhomes.com.
Billy Ray (Bill) Farmer, 86, of New Palestine, formerly of Morristown, passed away Friday, January 5, 2024, at Ascension St. Vincent Heart Center in Carmel. He was born October 24, 1937, in Taylor County, Kentucky, the son of Damon and Lettie (Richerson) Farmer. On May 12, 1961, he married his wife of 62 years, Sandra Sue Keffaber, and she survives.
In addition to Sue, Bill is survived by his sons, Troy Farmer of Indianapolis and Trent Farmer of New Palestine; daughter, Natalie Gavin and husband, Jim, of Indianapolis; brother, Jack Farmer and wife, Barb, of Winter Haven, Florida; sister, Donna Tippy of Worthington; grandchildren, Jordan Johnson and husband, Bobby, Austin Farmer and wife, Danielle, Carson Gavin and Raeann Gavin; great-grandchildren, Hallie, Sadie, Crosby, Avery, and Demi Farmer, and Lettie Johnson; and several nieces and nephews. Bill was preceded in death by his parents.
He was a devoted and very active member of the Morristown Christian Church, where he served as an elder for over 40 years. Bill also served as a deacon, Sunday school teacher, and past treasurer at the church. He assisted with many funerals throughout the years and was asked by numerous people to officiate their funeral. His response was always, “On one condition. You have to go before me.”
In 1955, Bill graduated from Morristown High School, and he attended Purdue University.
Bill was a U.S. Army veteran, serving from 1960 to 1962. He retired in 1997, as an auditor for CountryMark Co-Op, with 26 years of service. He continued tax preparation and consulting throughout his retirement. Bill was also a member of the Sugar Creek Masonic Lodge No. 279 F&AM, and a past master of the Morristown Masonic Lodge No. 193 F&AM. He was an honorary member of the Shelby Masonic Lodge No. 28 F&AM and New Palestine Lodge No. 404 F&AM.
He enjoyed playing golf and fishing. Bill also enjoyed watching the Indianapolis Colts and the Los Angeles Dodgers, but his favorite team was the Purdue Boilermakers.
Visitation will be from 4 to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, January 9, 2024, and from 10 to 11 a.m., Wednesday, January 10, 2024, at the Morristown Christian Church, 209 S. Washington St. in Morristown. Masonic services will be at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, at the church.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m., Wednesday, January 10, 2024, at the church, with Pastors Fred Hickman and Jim Coyle officiating. Interment will be at Asbury Cemetery in Morristown. Services have been entrusted to Freeman Family Funeral Homes and Crematory, 124 E. North St. in Morristown. Memorial contributions may be made to the Morristown Christian Church. Online condolences may be shared with Bill’s family at www.freemanfamilyfuneralhomes.com.
Douglas Dale Monroe, 74, of Bloomington, IN, passed away unexpectedly on December 30, 2023. Doug was a fun-loving and dedicated individual, known for his extensive collection of models and literature. He was an avid history buff who loved to quiz family!
Doug is survived by his mother, Ruth Ann Monroe of Shelbyville, his daughters Melissa Weaver, and Emily England of Bloomington, and his son, Matt Monroe of Carmel. He was preceded in death by his wife Linda Monroe, his father Dale Monroe, and his sister Cheri Barrett.
Doug retired from Classic Cleaners after a successful career. He also served in the National Guard, demonstrating his commitment to serving his country. In his free time, Doug enjoyed participating in Civil War reenactments and painting his collection of trains, planes, and tanks. He cherished his eight grandchildren and three cats.
Services for Doug will be held at Day & Dermiah-Frye Funeral Home, 4150 East Third Street on January, 9, 2024 at 1 p.m. with family friend Larry Browning officiating. Burial will follow in Valhalla Memory Gardens. There will be a gathering of family and friends prior to services on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the funeral home. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Doug Monroe during this difficult time. May his memory be a source of comfort and strength. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.dayderemiahfrye.com.