Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Panelists Share Anecdotes at 75th Anniversary State Championship Event
Steve Drake remembers riding his bicycle almost daily from his childhood home on Noble Street to the Boys Club. The route included passing the old Booker T. Washington School playground, once the stomping grounds of Shelbyville’s Black youth.
“The court was often empty at that time, and I wondered what it would have been like to see Bill Garrett and some of the other players go at it on that particular court,” Drake said.
At his destination, he could gaze up at a small framed picture of Nate Kaufman, a founding member of the Club and also one of those responsible for Garrett landing a spot on the Indiana University basketball team, where he became an All-American.
Drake played at Graham’s Court on Van Ave., too, which featured integrated pick-up teams that resembled the Shelbyville High School Golden Bears’ historic line-up of three Black players in 1946-47, a season which ended just weeks before Jackie Robinson was permitted to break professional baseball’s color barrier.
Then there was the 1947 team photo on the east side of Paul Cross Gymnasium in the “pigeon roost.” Former coach Frank Barnes and assistant coach “Doc” Barnett graced the SHS halls for years after their crowning achievement, and history teacher Ray Hinshaw and counselor Malcom Clay also had long-time ties to Golden Bear athletics. Countless connections to the state championship team remained integral parts of the community for decades, Drake said.
Yesterday marked the 75th anniversary of that storied run, and community members gathered at The Strand Theatre to commemorate the event and hear from panelists John Hartnett Jr., James Garrett Jr., Jack Boyce, Drake, Gary Long and Don Chambers. It was the first of six Community Treasure Series events, a collaboration between The Strand and The Grover Center, this year. Below are notes, excerpts and quotes from last night’s program, which also featured video and audio footage.
Long before 1947, The Strand housed the Shelbyville High School boys basketball team. “The gymnasium was on the third floor of the stagehouse section of our building, and the basketball goal is still there,” David Finkel said. The gym can be viewed after climbing a 10-foot ladder. Paul Cross gym opened in 1922.
Proclamations were read from both Mayor Tom DeBaun and Shelbyville Central Schools board president Curt Johnson. “The schools of our community have always been the great equalizer, affording opportunities educationally or otherwise to all of our children, regardless of socioeconomic background,” Johnson said in the statement. “Shelbyville schools have a heritage of which our entire community should be extremely proud. The crown jewel of that heritage is the 1947 Golden Bear basketball state championship.”
Frank Barnes was coach of the 1947 squad and Arthur “Doc” Barnett was assistant coach. Team members were William Breck, William Breedlove, Louie Bowers, Donald Chambers, William Garrett, Loren Hemingway, Emerson Johnson, Marshall Murray, Donald Robinson and Donald Burwell. Hemingway and Chambers are the two remaining players.
A scrapbook of the season, believed compiled by the school librarian in 1947 and on display last night, was found by Steve Lutes decades later in the “upper workings of Garrett Gymnasium,” Drake said.
James Garrett Jr. was born February 26, 1959, the same year his uncle coached Crispus Attucks to a state championship title. “Coach Frank Barnes came to the hospital to congratulate my mother and to bring a gift for this new bundle of joy that came into the world,” Garrett said. “Barnes brought me a basketball. The basketball weighed probably more than I did. So I had a full-size basketball, and I knew what I was supposed to do with that ball, and I did try to be the best player that I could be.” James Garrett Jr. played for the Bears and graduated in 1977.
Two-time Paul Cross Award recipient, 1957 All-State team member and Indiana University stand-out Gary Long, 82, remembered watching the championship team when he was a boy. Long teased Chambers’ about the latter’s sixth-man status on the team. “Every time Don would stand up to go into the game, there would be a standing ovation. It was (for) Bill Garrett coming out of the game, and I didn’t know that. I thought they were cheering for Don,” Long said to laughs. He also recalled watching the local parade after the championship game. “Those Shelbyville basketball players up on top of fire trucks, you talk about an inspiration for a six and seven year old to want to become a Shelbyville Golden Bear,” he said.
Chambers, who now works at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in New Castle, shared personal recollections. That infamous regular season Garfield game where the refs dubiously fouled out Bill Garrett? “After the game was over, it got pretty hostile from the fans,” Chambers said. The teams and referees returned to their dressing rooms. “A good portion of the men, fans took off after the referees. They wanted to congratulate them on the game that they called,” he said to laughs. Of note, Garfield’s coach, Willard Kehrt, was a Shelbyville High School alumnus, winning the Paul Cross Award and was an All-American player for Indiana University in the 1930s. (His sisters were Marjorie Etherton and Joan Disser.)
Chambers shared details of meals eaten between games during state finals tournaments. “We had fried bacon, French toast and hot tea. Now, I’m not a nutritionist, so I don’t know if that’s a good meal for another game or not, but that’s what we had.”
Chambers shared an anecdote about the team returning to school from the celebratory bonfire. “Frank said, ‘Well, boys, it’s too late to go out and eat,’ so he reached into his pocket in his desk drawer and gave each one of us 50 cents and said, ‘Take that and go get yourself a hamburger and a milkshake.’”
The 1947 championship trophy was on hand for attendees to view.
Chambers noted that Morristown High School alumnus Jerry Bass will be inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame today.
Shelbyville Street Commissioner Doug Hunt said he had received a $39,000 quote to repaint the lines on N. Riley Highway, from the bridge to Rampart Street. The current lines are difficult to see when it’s dark or raining, he said. “We would like to tear that street out here in a couple of years to remodel it, but we’ll probably go ahead and invest (in the line painting) to keep it safe,” Hunt told the board of works.
A Shelby County Candidate Forum will be held next Thursday, March 31, 6 - 7:30 p.m., at the Shelbyville VFW Post banquet room, 1622 E. SR-44, directly behind Studio 10 Cinema. The event will highlight the open District 73 State Representative Race, and County Commissioners and County Council Candidates. “All Shelby County candidates in this year’s election will be on hand to introduce themselves, set up booth space with tables provided and have a meet-and-greet session with the public after the forum,” a media release said. Audience questions will only be answered by State Representative, County Commissioner and County Council candidates due to time constraints. All Shelby County residents are invited to attend and encouraged to ask the candidates questions.
The Southwestern Consolidated School Board will hold a public hearing, April 5, at 6 p.m., to discuss a proposed employment contract for hiring Joshua Edwards as superintendent. Edwards is the current principal at Southwestern Elementary. The contract lists a salary of $29,595.78 through June 30 and then an annual salary of $95,000 per year. Edwards would receive an additional $10,000 annually for obtaining a Superintendent’s License. The corporation would reimburse up to $10,000 of the cost for obtaining a license.
The Shelbyville Board of Public Works yesterday ordered 131 Van Ave. and 836 Center Street properties to be cleaned, with the costs assessed to the owners’ property taxes. Neither owner appeared for the hearings.
Shelbyville High School’s 4A softball team was ranked second in The Indianapolis Star’s preseason rankings, behind top-ranked Roncalli. “The Golden Bears return their entire pitching staff from last year's 24-win campaign, and will be led by a pair of SEC commits: senior catcher Karissa Hamilton (Kentucky) and junior shortstop Kylee Edwards (Mississippi State), both of whom are ranked nationally in their respective classes. Shelbyville will also be bolstered by its incoming freshman class, which includes nationally-ranked pitcher/third baseman Addison Stieneker,” The Star reports.
The Shelby Community Band is performing a free spring concert, “Postcards,” at Triton Central High School, Sunday, April 3, 3 p.m. The concert opens with John Williams’ “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark”, before “traveling” the world. Donations are accepted.
Yesterday, the state reported 2 new positive coronavirus case from the previous day in Shelby County, and 95 new tests. The number of deaths for Shelby County remained the same, at 165.
HOOSIER NEWS: A developer wants to build a 1,100-acre solar farm in northern Indiana that would generate enough electricity to power 25,000 homes. Lightsource BP, a multinational developer of solar projects, has proposed the $165 million project, which would equip a site near the St. Joseph County town of New Carlisle with 407,000 solar panels. Lightsource officials told members of the St. Joseph County Council on Tuesday that the project would lease land from nine property owners, and that Lightsource has 30-year lease agreements and options to extend those an additional 20 years. (AP)
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: 2002
Coulston Elementary’s fifth-grade boys’ basketball team won the elementary school championship. Members of the team were Tyler Griffen, Drew Kirk, Garrett Abner, Wade Hook, Dustin Richardson, Kalen Kerans, Wil Kusters, Riley Kennedy and C.J. Coffey.
30 YEARS AGO: 1992
Shelby County officials purchased the last structure they needed on the block where the new jail would be built, at 117 W. Taylor Street. County attorney Jerry J. Lux planned to ask the city of Shelbyville to close the half block of Taylor Street between the then-present jail and the site of the new jail. The county had to have possession of the properties on both sides of the street before officials could ask that the street be vacated. The county wanted the street closed so that the jail could be built closer to the street.
40 YEARS AGO: 1982
A legal snafu threatened to jeopardize a city plan to raise funds for a federal grant to build a water tower-fire station on the southwest side of Shelbyville. The city had planned to charge city property taxpayers a modest fire protection fee, but state law did not permit it. State Rep. Stephen Moberly delivered a letter to the Indiana Attorney General’s office asking for a decision on the matter.
50 YEARS AGO: 1972
Addison Township Elementary was broken into overnight. Several posters were torn from school walls and desk drawers were opened but nothing taken. Police suspected it was the work of students, since grade cards had been issued the previous day and a hate message was scrawled on one teacher’s blackboard.
Former Shelbyville resident and then-current Indianapolis Police Chief Winston Churchill spoke to a crowd of 200 at the Farm City Meeting, hosted at the Elks Club. Dan Ivie was presented the Distinguished Service Award at the meeting. Police Chief Robert Williams received the Good Government Award. Tom Everhart was named Outstanding Young Farmer. Shelbyville Junior High School Guidance Director Jack Tindall received the Outstanding Young Educator Award. Carl Prasuhn received the Carl “Pete” Meloy Award from Don Sexton.
60 YEARS AGO: 1962
Linda Sue Davis won the Morristown Spelling Bee. Nancy Osborn was the alternate. Eighty students participated in the contest.
Dave Spannbauer and Al Koehler were voted honorary co-captains of the Shelbyville basketball team.
The Sugar Creek home of Mr. and Mrs. John Wethington and their nine children, located on the Sand Hill Road just off Boggstown Road, burned down. The family was in West Virginia at the time due to a death in Mrs. Wethington’s family.
70 YEARS AGO: 1952
Work began on grading a five-acre tract of land, located west of the St. Joseph cemetery, which would be used as an addition to Forest Hill. The ground would eventually be built up to the level of Morris Ave., with work completed in approximately 10 years, cemetery superintendent Sheldon Keith said. Either alfalfa or clover would be planted on the five acres to combat weeds after the ground was plowed, disced and dragged. The cemetery association owned some 96 acres, with 45 of those developed, containing approximately 8,400 graves since burial started there in 1884.
80 YEARS AGO: 1942
Chester Jewett was severely injured while attempting to halt a team of runaway horses sparked by a bull in Marion Township. Jewett was using a horse-drawn manure spreader at the time.
A Shelbyville Republican article discussed the war’s effects on local residents. No more juke boxes would be produced after May 1. Also outlawed were pinball games and “amusement machines” for the duration of the conflict. Tin cans would be hard to obtain. Glass bottles would be used for many items previously packed in tin cans. Beer and coffee, previously in tin cans, would convert to glass jar containers. Tennis balls and baseball cores would be made of reclaimed rubber instead of crude rubber or latex. “The substitutes won’t be as lively, but they will wear as well,” the paper said. There was also a supply chain issue with golf balls. “Many Shelbyville links fans are due to spend more time looking for their one golf ball than they do playing the game,” The Republican said. Silk and nylon were reserved for parachutes. “Mrs. Public will wear rayon hose and like it,” the paper said. Those going to the U.S. Employment office would only be given a civilian job if there wasn’t a job he could do in the defense industry. Telephone companies had been ordered to stop further conversions from manual to dial phone systems, so new phone service requests in Shelbyville would be given a party line. Men’s and boys’ clothing was ordered streamlined, eliminating double-breasted models. Manufacture of new rugs and carpets was restricted. Anti-freeze would likely not be available in the winter of ‘42. “Yes, all this, says Washington, and much more, too - to come,” the paper said.
90 YEARS AGO: 1932
Mildred Means set a new typing record at Shelbyville High School, typing 77 words a minute with four errors. The record had previously been held by Sylvia Strupe, class of 1931.
100 YEARS AGO: 1922
Approximately 75 couples attended the annual Spring Dance at the Elks Club on W. Broadway. Bridge was played in the front parlors while the dancers used the large hall. The dance hall was decorated in pink and blue, with spring flowers in pockets on the walls. The music was “jazzy”, The Republican reported. Awards from card games were given to Mrs. Duncan McDonald, Mrs. Vernon Randall, Edwin Porter and Boyd Rhodes.
A Blue Ridge woman was in critical condition at her home after drinking concentrated lye in a suicide attempt. Her son said his mother’s ill health was the cause of the attempt.
Police responded to a fight in the 300 block of Colescott Street, Shelbyville.
Theft was reported in the 1400 block of Golden Bear Lane, Shelbyville.
JAIL BOOK-IN: John G. H. Sheets, 26, failure to appear (3 counts)
Kelly Ann Sebastian, 54, of Shelbyville, passed away Monday, March 21, 2022 at OUR Hospice Inpatient Facility. Born August 15, 1967 in Shelbyville, she was the daughter of Richard "Dick" Sebastian and Mary Ann (Colee) Sebastian. Survivors include her mother, Mary Ann of Shelbyville; a sister, Tina Justice of Shelbyville; niece, Jessica Bowers (husband Noah) of Shelbyville; nephew, Joey Justice of Shelbyville; two great-nieces, Ellie and Emmie; and one great-nephew, Lincoln. She was preceded in death by her father and a brother, Trent Allen Sebastian.
Ms. Sebastian had lived in this area since 2017 after moving from Florida. She graduated from Shelbyville High School in 1985 and had been employed as office manager/collector with ABC Supply in Fort Lauderdale Floria for 20 years. Kelly enjoyed traveling, shopping, cruising, and visiting Disneyworld.
Friends may call on Friday, March 25, 2022 from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m., at Glenn E. George & Son Funeral Home, 437 Amos Road. Graveside services will be held at a later date at Forest Hill Cemetery. Memorial contributions can be made to Shelbyville/Shelby Co. Animal Shelter, or OUR Hospice of South Central Indiana, in care of the funeral home. Online condolences may be shared at glennegeorgeandson.com.
James D. Skaggs, 46, of Shelbyville, IN passed away Friday, March 18, 2022 at his residence. He was born April 30, 1975 in Shelbyville to Freddy Skaggs and Jenny Rutherford.
James graduated from Southwestern High School in 1995. He was an industrial technician and specialized in restoring damages caused by natural disasters as well. He was a hard worker and loved his work helping those in need. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, and traveling with his family.
James married Debbie (Patterson) Skaggs on September 8, 2007, and she survives. He is also survived by his father; his son, Tylor Skaggs; and daughter, Jenny Skaggs; two sisters, three brothers, and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his mother.
Visitation will be from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday, March 23, 2022 at Murphy-Parks Funeral Service, 703 S. Harrison Street, Shelbyville, IN 46176. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m., Thursday, March 24, 2022 at the funeral home with Brother Ray Coll officiating. Burial will be in Van Pelt Cemetery. Funeral Directors Greg Parks, Sheila Parks, and Stuart Parks are honored to serve James’ family. Online condolences may be shared at www.murphyparks.com.
Merrill Wayne Storm, age 77, passed peacefully at home on March 19, 2022 after a brave battle with cancer. Merrill was born on July 18, 1944 in Shelbyville, IN, the son of Wayne Storm and Ruth (Swain) Storm. He was a graduate of Triton Central High School. Following high school, he enlisted in the Navy and served on the USS Shangri-La aircraft carrier.
After four years of service, Merrill farmed and also worked at Naval Avionics as a Fire Inspector and Department of Defense Security. He worked at and later retired from Ford Motor Company. During the 1970s, Merrill was a volunteer fireman and EMT for Sugar Creek No. 1 in New Palestine.
Merrill loved birds and raised poultry from the age of 5. He was a member of the American Poultry Association, the American Bantam Association, the Indiana State Poultry Association, and various other poultry clubs. For years he would regularly attend poultry show competitions, winning many awards and trophies for his show birds. “If it had feathers, I could raise it”, he would joke. He was the Poultry Superintendent for Shelby County 4-H for 30 years. Many of those years were spent working alongside his 4-H partner and friend, Brenda Nortrup. Merrill was also asked to present his birds at various elementary schools, where he would entertain the children and educate them about the birds he loved so much. He enjoyed being around people as much as he enjoyed birds and never met a stranger. His wonderful sense of humor, caring nature, and talent for storytelling endeared him to many. It is fitting that he passed on National Poultry Day, March 19.
Merrill will be greatly and forever missed by his wife of 47 years, Donna; their three sons, Ryan of Indianapolis, Aaron of Morristown, and Brandon of Morristown; sisters, Mary Ann (David) Sullivan of Fairland, Teresa Storm of Lafayette, Sarah (Kerry) Dorsey of Greenwood, and Lynn (Mitch) Emmons of French Lick; brother, Larry Storm of Indianapolis. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Wayne and Ruth Storm; sister, Ladonna McIntire; and brothers, Billy and Jimmy Coomler.
Visitation will be held on Saturday, March 26, 2022, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Erlewein Mortuary & Crematory, 1484 W. US Hwy. 40, Greenfield, IN 46140. A funeral service will begin at 1 p.m. Burial will follow at New Palestine Cemetery. Military rites will be presented by the Greenfield Veterans Honor Guard. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made by mail to the Shelby County 4-H Advisory Council Attn: Poultry Project, 20 W. Polk St., Suite 201, Shelbyville, Indiana, 46176 or envelopes will be available at the mortuary. Friends may share a memory or condolence at www.erleweinmortuary.com.
Danny Dixon, 56, of Shelbyville, passed away Friday, March 18, 2022 at his residence. He was born June 12, 1965 in Cincinnati, Ohio to James and Shirley (Thompson) Dixon. Danny attended from Waldron High School.
He married Stacie (Raider) Dixon on May 24, 2017, she preceded him in death on November 20, 2020. He is survived by his son, Joshua Dixon, daughters Stacia Stephens and Kaylee Dice, 8 grandchildren and one great-grandson, sisters: Paula Girdler (Donald), Loretta Ritter (Shane) and brother Walker “Jamie” Dixon (Angie) along with several nieces and nephews. He enjoyed collecting Harley Davidson memorabilia. He also enjoyed working in his yard and took pride in the appearance. He was a hard worker and loved being in construction. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife and daughter Tiffany Dixon.
Visitation will be Sunday, March 27, 2022, 4 - 8 p.m. at Murphy-Parks Funeral Service, 703 S. Harrison Street, Shelbyville, IN 46176. Funeral Directors Greg Parks, Sheila Parks, and Stuart Parks are honored to serve Danny’s family. Memorial contributions may be given to Danny Dixon funeral fund in care of Murphy Parks. Online condolences may be shared at www.murphyparks.com.
Stephen Charles “Steve” Harmon, 63, of Shelbyville, passed away Monday, March 21, 2022, at Our Hospice of South Central Indiana in Columbus. He was born on July 3, 1958, in Indianapolis, the son of Veo J. and N. Louise (Wyatt) Harmon. Steve is survived by his sister, Susan J. “Susie” Headley of Sebastian, Florida; and his niece, Trinity Harmon. He was preceded in death by his parents; and brother, John D. Harmon.
Steve graduated in 1976 from Lawrence Central High School. He was a computer technician for the Indiana Department of Transportation. Steve was an avid member of the NRA.
A Gathering of Friends will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 24, 2022, at Freeman Family Funeral Homes and Crematory, 819 S. Harrison St. in Shelbyville. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society, 5635 W. 96th St., Suite 100, Indianapolis, Indiana 46278. Online condolences may be shared with Steve’s family at www.freemanfamilyfuneralhomes.com.