The Indianapolis News from Indianapolis, Indiana on May 20, 1968 · 5
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The Indianapolis News from Indianapolis, Indiana · 5

Indianapolis, Indiana
Issue Date:
Monday, May 20, 1968
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Monday, May 20, 1968 THE INDIANAPOLIS NEWS 346th In A Series Of ON TARGET Features fttdtevui Ave. &e6ttitft ? Grand 01' Street At Turning Point By L. J. BANKS The educational legacy of yesterday's Indiana Avenue is ripe for harvesting, but the abundanpe of tomorrow's reaping will depend on the outcome of today's controversial sowing. The seeds of pessimism are being sown by many persons, black and white, who feel that the avenue is hopelessly dead, that it has seen its best days and cannot be resurrected for any profit. The seeds, of hope come from an organization which intends to rejuvenate its value. The group, the Indiana Avenue Association, is led by: Willard B. Ransom . state Sen. Patrick Chavis Mrs. John Spears Theodore Medias Plus several others. Today's urban, racial problems of housing, employment , and school integration may be better understood using as a gauge and parallel the birth and death of the ghetto's Funky Broadway (or historically main thoroughfare), its surrounding community and its white creators. The biography of a city's Funky Broadway is thus a social-cultural fossil into which is crystallized the rise and fall , of a part of black folk culture, ghetto trends and effects of integration and urban renewal, shifting and expansions of communities and changing political attitudes. The ghettos across America were born in the cradle of white prejudice. They were and are fed by racial discrimination and segregation during and following official slavery. The Avenue is part of such a ghetto and this a second-degree creation by its black inhabitants. Funky Broadway Started When The Avenue was inaugurated the Funky Broad way or Indianapolis (at no specific date 50 years ago), it immediately was colonized by black, commercial enterprise, as well as a few whites. It is no secret, moreover, for many a source of pride, that Negroes know, among many other things, how to have a good time and the Avenue was a living testimony to, that during the 1920s, 30s and 40s. For many, it was the refreshing opportunity to laugh loud, party hard and thus release the pent-up anxieties and frustrations suffered in drab ghetto life, and in the continuing tug-of-war match with the white man. For some, it was simply paying social homage to the "brotherhood." For some, it was just pure, down-to-earth "jamming." Nevertheless, The Avenue, in its heyday, was for many the spot to hop and it really swung. It was burlesque, sassy, the naughty Babylon of the ghetto. Preachers preached against it;, sinners dreamed about it. But when you talk about The Avenue and its flamboyant past, you must talk about its vice, as you would any other entertainment thoroughfare in cities across the country. The .Avenue's twin in the white community is said to have been Illinois, between Georgia and New York and it thickly reeked with vice. Vice Was Rampant One long-time Negro real estate man said that vice was The Avenue's economic backbone. "It was practically the biggest Negro enterprise at that time and it mainly involved the baseball ticket and numbers games," he said. "Many respectable white people filled their wallets off of protecting and indirectly operating a great deal of the vice. They also owned the land and buildings and could always hold the mortgage over your head if you didn't play ball. But white people generally didn't care what Negroes did, so long as thev did it in their own corners," he explained. But vice notwithstanding, The Avenue was alive with gaiety and nature unabashed and unbridled. It had a drama, music and poetry of its own. But most of all, it had "soul," pure, concentrated, unadulterated "soul," the first and last kernel of naked humanity. The Avenue was home for the offices of the Negro white-collar ; professionals and the shops of black businessmen. mice i wic live iictu ijcwajaycia wc ujuiaiiapuua ncc- dom, the Indianapolis Ledger and the Indianapolis Recorder (the lone survivor) were located on The Avenue. There was also the cosmetic manufacturing plant and offices of Madame C. J. Walker and many smaller enterprises. The street was alive with an authentic black folklore of Negro "belles," the licentious legend and melodramatic riddle of Minnie the Moocher who wound up scavenging The Avenue with a baby carriage; the late Emmett David, a vegetable cart merchant, whom everybody knew on The Avenue and who represented the poetic, natural, numan element or tne basic, more moderate and simple Negro struggle there. Had Classy Night Clubs Between Ohio and Ninth Streets, The Avenue was strung with "boss" (classy) night clubs. There were Henri's, the Cotton Club, Ritz Lounge, Trianon Ballroom, Walker Casino, George's Bar and several others. They would stomp the "huckle buck" and "Lindy hop" to the live music of Jimmy Lunceford and Count Basie playing in the Sunset Terrace on The Avenue or downtown at Tomlinson Hall (many of these buildings have been torn down). The "in crowds" would cut the "big apple," the "peckin" and other dances of that day. They'd come slick down in their "zoot suits with reet pleats" (baggy pants with tight cuffs). Then there were the bands of Cootie Williams, Tiny Bradshaw and several other out-of-town entertainers which appeared on The Avenue. Many famous soul-music artists have been born professionally on The Avenue and have branched out into the city and nation to make big names for themselves. Few people know that The Avenue gave professional birth to "Uncle Remus," or Jimmy Basket, who started by swapping jokes with cohorts on this street; Noble Sissle, popular Negro song-writer, singer and band leader, and actors Charles Muse and Edward Thompson. Even fewer know that Ethel Waters and Josephine Baker are stepdaughters of The Avenue. They were stranded here for a "good period" once during their early careers and performed on The Avenue until they were able to continue the road to their eventual successes. Jimmy Cole, accomplished Indianapolis saxophonist, recalls many of today's big-name artists who at one time or another started on The Avenue. They include; Wes Montgomery, guitar. Leroy Vinegar, bass. J. J. Johnson, trombone. Debbie Andrews, singer. Also, don't forget: Rorlo Ktinpr. alto sax. ' ' The late Earl Walker. Jimmy Anderson, singer. drummer. The late Slim and Walter The original Inkspots. Green, dancers. The Inkspots were the Indianapolis -quartet of: Jerry Daniels " Ivory (Deac') Watson Oliver (Hoppy) Jones Charles Fuqua The list goes on and on, and no doubt there were a few poets and painters in their own right who were neglected because their only academic credentials were that they were black and graduates of the University of Funky Broadway. What a shame, one Negro laments, that the only major dollar outlets for the brilliant Negro minds and talents that roamed The Avenue years ago were vice and musical entertainment. "I've seen mathematical geniuses in those numbers Pr, O . .(f) , fj I & I f& J Soul-Food Dinner A "Mayor's" soul (food) dinner will .be held Thursday at 7 p.m. in Fall Creek YMCA. It is intended to be an oppor tunity for cultural exchange. During May, there will be "open-air" art exhibits and art lessons. Students will be on the sidewalks and in the alley along the west side of the canal (Indiana and North Streets) painting life on The Avenue. The art project, sponsored by the Herron School of Art of I.U., will be managed by Harry A. Davis, a Herron instructor. Outdoor concerts are scheduled for Wednesday and May 29. . The association is working in the face of widespread pessimism and those who are simply content to wait and see. The association sees life where others see death. They see a dream where others see a nightmare. They see hope while others don t even care to look. "Some people have no faith in the dull, morbid surround ings of The Avenue, Mrs. Spears said. "But they can be beautiful." . ! 99 Of 1,300 Swedes Had Sex Before Marriage STOCKHOLM (AP) Almost 100 per cent of young Swedes Interviewed had sexual Intercourse before marriage, said a scientific report. Of 1,300 young people interviewed in Stockholm, only one boy and three girls said they had not had intercourse until they were married. The findings were reported by Prof. Joachim Israel of Uppsala University. The 1,300 described by Israel as "normal ' youth," were asked in questionnaires which partner had taken the initiative. Fifteen per cent of the boys answered "the girl." Ten per cent of the girls said "the boy." Most of those in terviewed, aged from 16 to 26, replied: "It just happened." n When W0 you see 4 niil I TUB MAM CDnM TCDMIMIY Wnkh I iih mnii itwiai nun visx the"professional killer" Bruce-Terminix Company 546-1525 The nationwide pest prevention service The NEWS Photo, L. J. Banhi. Nighttime on Indiana Avenue. games," he said, "who probably could have had America on the moon by now." "Many people argue about the millions of Avenue dollars that went to waste," another Negro said. "I know that many Negroes who have money are just as stingy as white folks who have almost all of it. "But here it wasn't practical to even pour it into worthy areas because it was hot money. Because of the pressure of the Internal Revenue Service and the vice squads, money earned under cover had to be spent under cover to escape investigation. "A little money could easily be used to offset the con tinual loss in the 'front' small businesses and keep them alive and assure the owner of a comfortable income. But lavish spending and big contributions in the open were suicide." There is a vast discrepancy between yesterday's and to day's Avenues. This street that was formerly fully teethed with structures has been gappingly snagged. The luster, glamour and excitement that used to flare have been dimmed and the big, iron ball continues to swing, crashing down the old buildings and shattering the dreams of those who remember the good times they used to have there. "Indiana Avenue, never mind personal feelings, opinions and values, is a product of the Indianapolis community," a white insurance man said. "People have lived there as they have anywhere else. "We made it available, and then saw it die without raising a finger," he continued. "Indianapolis now has a greater responsibility in its future and the ramification of the forces that brought the street down in the first place." Fight For Survival The Indiana Avenue Association is the first and only present-known remedy that has been activated to help the few remaining enterprises to survive and to fill the real estate cavities caused by urban renewal and other projects. Ransom, general manager of the Walker Manufacturing Co. and president of the association, says his group is working closely with the small businessmen left on the avenue to help rejuvenate good enterprise. Ransom and the association have three main aims: J Dispel the ghost of yesterday's Avenue and the idea of another Bourbon btreet solely bent on servicing pleasure and entertainment. 2 Explain the real intention of filling the increasing real es tate vacuum with gainful, black enterprise. 3 Continue work on a formal blueprint for the Avenue's re development that will include shopping centers and hous ing projects. The formal plan, on completion, will be presented to the Metropolitan Planning Commission. Ransom says that in the last few months, the Avenue organization has grown to more than a hundred members and that it has enlisted the support of many young people and representatives of private enter prise in the city. While the blueprint is in the long-range-planning stage, the group is anticipating "Operation Avenue," according to Mrs. Spears. It will be a string of social-cultural activities and programs on and off the avenue but in honor of it-during May. The store that cares . . . about you! -RIGHT" QUALITY WV "SUPER ROUND SIRLOIN LB. 27 0)(0)C T-BONE LB. L SHANK HALF LB. ""Li1 U SUPER-RIGHT" QUALITY in Liu 0)C cra WHOLE OR BUTT PORTION LB. S z m SUPER-RIGHT" QUALITY 1111 WHOLE OR HALF NO CENTER SLICES REMOVED LB. maw A REAL VALUE (1 MAS LB. JANE PARKER iA7fUin,f? imuui mm MADE WITH BUTTERMILK 'I 20-OZ. W L -;i . M Iff. LUAVty ( : A&P 2 immi mm V ; ; J A&P OUR FINEST ' iMSTABUT io-oz. (5) (5)c jar 7 7 . J The NEWS Photo. L. J. Banks. Jazz Saxophonist Jimmy Cole in action. ALL PRICES EFFECTIVE THRU WEDNESDAY, MAY 22, 1968, IN MARION COUNTY GREENWOOD, GREENFIELD, SHELBYVILLE, MARTINSVILLE, NOBLESVILLE AND LEBANON Page 5 6 J

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