Monday, December 25, 2017

The Hornet’s Nest Family Arcade

Beech Grove, IN (December 25, 2017) — The Hornet’s Nest Family Arcade offered pool tables, video and pinball games, snacks, and a place to relax. It was a fairly sedate downtown business that caused very little disturbances to Beech Grove’s quiet streets.

The Hornet’s Nest Family Arcade at  625 Main Street 

The Nest was usually busy during after school events but patrons remember the large crowds as very manageable. It closed in 1983.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Sally’s Style Shop

Beech Grove, IN (December 18, 2017) — Main Street at one time had many places if you were shopping for fine women's outfits, elaborate dresses, dress shoes and even infant wear. Sally’s Style Shop located at 609 Main Street was one of the many places to go that fit the criteria.

Sally’s Style Shop at 609 Main Street

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Beech Grove Pharmacy

Beech Grove, IN (December 12, 2017) — Located on the corner of 6th Avenue and Main Street, the Beech Grove Pharmacy was a place for local gossip and cheap cigars. Chris Iverson operated it for 20 years, and then in 1967 he sold the business to John Curran, an employee since 1952. It closed in 1983.

Beech Grove Pharmacy at 528 Main Street

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Decaying: Beech Grove's oldest still standing building

Beech Grove, IN (December 7, 2017) — When Beech Grove became a town, the first formal school was located on the second floor of a new building, directly above Wheat’s Grocery Store at 417 Main Street - the oldest building still standing in the city.

Building at 417, Main Street

At the time the second floor was converted into teaching space, it was already deemed inadequate, but because there were no resources available to construct a school building, the town made do. Despite the small space, the second floor was functional, and the facility was used for the sole purpose of education.

The Beech Grove Historical Society placed a plaque on the first floor that commemorates the first school in Beech Grove. According to the marker, the first eight grades were taught in this location above the W.R. Wheat Grocery and Hardware Store. Mr. Lovett is credited as being the principal. The placement of the plaque, as seen today, is to the left of the second floor entryway.

Building at 417, Main Street today

A new one-floor school building was constructed in 1909, and classes were gradually transferred to the new facility. Official designation of the new building was Beech Grove’s high school came in 1917, with the first class graduating in 1921.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Rapid Growth in the 1920's

Beech Grove, IN (November 16, 2017) — This 1920’s postcard shows a close-up view of residences along Eleventh Avenue. Houses were built large to accommodate the growing families of the tradesmen attracted to Beech Grove for employment in the large railroad facility.

A 1920's Post Card

These families created additional growth in service businesses, retail stores, and construction businesses to build their houses. In addition, businesses such as the Cleveland Grain Company established facilities that were also served by the railroad.

The growth of Beech Grove was driven by the high demand for skilled workers in these labor-intensive industries. The hours were long, the work was hard, and working conditions were often unpleasant; this was a young man’s employment market.

During the years prior to 1930, Beech Grove’s senior and retired population was virtually nonexistent. The town’s workforce was known to be young, hard working, family centered, and 100 percent Caucasian.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Beech Grove Book, Postcard, Paper Show

Beech Grove, IN (November 1, 2017) - Anyone with an interest in history will not want to miss the 26th annual Book, Postcard, Political and Paper Show Sunday at Beech Grove High School, where more than 40 vendors from eight states will sell their wares.

Beech Grove High School is located at 5330 Hornet Avenue, Beech Grove, Indiana 

While the postcards normally command the most attention, the event will also showcase rare books, political buttons of all sorts, movie posters, old magazines and newspapers and other attention-grabbing items, including an 1864 U.S. presidential ballot that featured Abe Lincoln and an 1860 Confederate presidential ballot with Jefferson Davis as the candidate.

Flooding damaged the Kingan Packing Company at Maryland and Blackford streets (present day site of Victory Field and the Lawn at White River State Park). The ruined Vandalia Railroad bridge is pictured in the foreground.

There will also be a book binding demonstration. 

It’s estimated that over 200,000 postcards will be on display. They will be priced from 50 cents to $700, but most will cost between $2 and $40.

Harvey Warrner, a retired Beech Grove High School principal who is helping to organize the show, said some people will be there all day looking at the cards, which are itemized by topics like states, animals, rivers, parks, caves, holidays, etc.

Postcards were first printed in the 19th century, but it took some time for them to gain in popularity because many people didn’t care for the idea of writing notes that anyone could read. The value of old cards is dependent on their condition, rarity, age and subject matter.

The oldest known postcard was sold for nearly $50,000 in 2002 at the London Stamp Exchange auction. Posted in 1840, the card’s value lay in its age, as well as the fact that it was among the earliest cards printed and mailed.

Pioneer postcards, which were printed before July 1, 1898, are also valuable. They were used as advertising pieces and often carried information about a shop or a sale.

Christmas and Halloween cards are becoming valuable and popular, and that is attributed to the bright colors that adorn these cards, said Warrner, who noted that he has seen a Halloween card priced for $300. Also escalating in value are cards of Civil War monuments that have been removed from some cities in the South. “These postcards have jumped from $2 to $40.”

Warrner said he knows people who are looking to complete their collections of all of Indiana’s courthouses and high school gyms. “The cards are out there. You just have to track them down.

“People are welcome to bring their cards to the show and share them with others, and our knowledgeable vendors can tell people what they can reasonably expect to get out of their cards and other collectibles. Our vendors are always looking to buy stuff.”

Some of the rarest items that Warrner has seen at the show are Albert Einstein’s autograph (valued at $8,000) and a first edition book by Mark Twain.

The Sunken Gardens at Garfield Park are depicted in a 1955 postcard.

Also coordinating the show is Assistant Principal Rande Clevenger. “We’ll start setting up Friday, and I have arranged for some seniors to help the vendors unload their merchandise,” he said.

The show, the biggest of its kind in the state, according to Warrner, runs from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the school, 5330 Hornet Ave., off the 3900 block of South Emerson Avenue. Booth space costs $55 and is available by calling 317-786-1447. Admission is $3.

Proceeds will benefit the school’s Renaissance Program, which rewards students for academic excellence, outstanding attendance and being good leaders.

“The program is all about us catching kids being good,” Clevenger said. “The kids really are good,” Harvey said. “For each bad one there are 99 good ones; it’s just that you hear about the bad ones. I believe in the kids, and so does Rande.”

For people who get hungry during the show, lunch and desserts will be served. “Harvey and his family will prepare a great luncheon,” Clevenger said.

While both men praise each other for their efforts in coordinating the show, Clevenger says this is Warrner’s baby. “Since he retired in 2008, he has been instrumental in organizing this show.”

Story by: B. Scott Mohr
SOURCE: Southsider Voice

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Haunted Beech Grove

Beech Grove, Indiana (October 24, 2017) — Lick Creek Cemetery, sometimes called Blackwell Cemetery, or even the 13th Street Cemetery, was located at the intersection of Churchman Avenue and 13th Street, in Beech Grove, Indiana.

The current location of what is now Sarah T. Bolton Park was the site of The Lick Creek Baptist Church and it should be noted that this was also the first church in Perry Township. It was organized at the house of David Fisher (now the Ritzinger Farm), in the spring of 1826, by Abram Smock.

Sarah T. Bolton Park Entrance

The square area upon which the church stood was leased on June 23, 1849 to the Lick Creek Baptist Church for a period of ninety nine years, with certain restrictions enjoined. A simple, one room, two-front-door church had been erected about 1850, on the brow of the hill, east of Lick Creek and near the center point of the east boundary line.

By reason of deaths and by the removals of members, the Lick Creek Church was disbanded in 1866. Its building was torn down and the material removed to Indianapolis around 1867. There it was rebuilt for the use of a Black Baptist church.

The Lick Creek Baptist Cemetery (13th Street Cemetery) adjoining the church, abandoned at the dissolving of the church, was located at what is now the entrance to the Beech Grove Park at Churchman and 13th Streets.

Sarah T. Bolton Park may still have bodies buried

Sometime in the 1930's the city of Beech Grove approved and purchased the cemetery property from the estate of Sarah T. Bolton. In hopes of "cleaning up the image of the area", the overgrown, often vandalized, wooden and slate markers were removed, and allegedly all those interred were relocated to another unknown location.

Sarah T. Bolton

In recent years, evidence has surfaced that this relocation might not have happened and there is creditable proof that the bodies are still buried at this location and the gravestones were removed and simply placed on top of the bodies. The property was converted to a park - first named Beech Grove Park, later Sarah T. Bolton Park.

Partial list of those possibly still buried at the park 

Adair, George W., d. Sep 10, 1841, 6y 6m 9d, s/o W. C. & M.
Barnes, Mrs, d. Sep 29, 1838, 33y 6m 27d, w/o George A.
Bentley, Sarah E., b. Jan 26, 1830, d. Dec 23, 1865, w/o Joseph
Bodkin, Margaret, d. Oct 26, 1845, 53y
Bodkin, Mary E., d. Nov 12, 1846, 14y 2m 13d, d/o Alex & I.
Bodkin, Sarah A., d. Feb 7, 1847, 7y 11m, d/o Alex & I.
Bryan, Elizabeth, d. May 31, 1872, 63y 2d, w/o Thomas
Bryan, Thomas, d. Nov 28, 1857, 70y 8m 8d
Coffman, Henry L., d. Oct 5, 1811, 36y 11m 9d
Coverdill, James N., b. Mar 12, 1846, d. May 26, 1867, s/o Purnil & Mary
Coverdill, Lavinia, d. May 15, 1838, 60y, w/o Richard
Coverdill, Mary, b. Nov 22, 1809, d. Mar 24, 1847, w/o Purnil
Coverdill, Purnil, b. Aug 8, 1808, d. May 1, 1851
Coverdill, Richard, d. Dec 4, 1880, 23y 11m 8d
Coverdill, William A., d. Oct 13, 1856, 18y 11m, s/o Purnil & Mary
Evans, Margaret, d. Dec 5, 1883, 85y 3m, w/o William
Evans, William, d. Dec, 1871, 73y 4m 8d, h/o Margaret
Evens, Clarindia, d. Oct 15, 1864, 18y 1m 8d, d/o W. & M.
Fisher, Cynthia A., b. Dec 4, 1838, d. Dec 4, 1838, d/o Owen & Sarah
Fisher, David K., d. Feb 5, 1854, 2y 1m 28d, s/o John D. & Mary
Fisher, Elizabeth, d. Sep 28, 1855, 27y 10m 13d, w/o David
Fisher, Esther (Harris), d. Dec 28, 1869, 27y 7m 1d, w/o J. P.
Fisher, Mary J. (Wright), d. May 6, 1856, 23y 6m 6d, w/o J. P, d/o Adam & Sarah
Garle, Nancy A., d. Aug 29, 1851, 26y 1m 4d, w/o William E.
Gilbert, David, d. May 9, 1876, 7y 2m 9d, s/o N. & Parthina
Gilbert, Dotia A., d. Oct 2, 1865, 23y, w/o Nelson
Gilbert, Sally, d. Sep 17, 865, 11m, d/o N. & D.
Graham, John, d. Oct 10, 1829, 27y 8m 22d
Graham, Phanuel C., d. Feb 18, 1880, 82y 1m
Graham, Sarah M., d. Jan 27, 1873, 42y
Graham, Thomas W., d. May 7, 1858, 28y 11m 17d
Hobart, Emmeline, d. Dec 9, 1844, 15y 2m 4d, d/o John & Naomi
Jennings, Mary E., b. May 9, 1845, d. Apr 4, ?, d/o A. S. & F.
Jordan, Andrew J., d. Aug 16, 1838, 22y
Judd, Phineas, d. Oct 3, 1827, 27y
Lewis, Martha, d. May 24, 1872, 63y 2d, w/o John W.
Marrtin, Eliza, d. Jan 27, 1867, 63y
Martin, Alfred, Sr., d. Oct 7, 1855, 60y 5m 12d
Martin, James, d. Mar 5, 1865, 36y 8m
McCollum, Emma Ora, d. Jul 11, 1868, 4m 27d, d/o James F. & M.
McCoy, Hannah B., d. Jan 30, 1862, 18y
McCoy, Richard P., d. Oct 15, 1862, 24y
McFall, Catharine, d. Sep 30, ?, d/o J. S. & Mary
McFall, Martha, d. Jul 13, 1838, 2y 7d, d/o James S. & Mary
McFall, Mary E., d. Jan 20, 1865, 62y 3m 21d, w/o J. S.
McFall?, James?, d. Jul 18, 1863, 59y 9m 11d
McFarland, Benjamin, d. Apr 11, 1860
McFarland, Mary, d. Apr 7, 1855, 81y 9m 1d, w/o Benjamin
McFarland, Thomas, no dates, 16y 10m 12d
McLaughlin, James, b. Feb, 1799, d. Dec, 1837
McLaughlin, Mary Ann Kimberly, b. Jan 11, 1809, d. Jan 26, 1854
McMullen, James, d. Feb 19, 1852, 77y
McMullen, Mary M., d. Apr 4, 1857, d/o J. & O.
McMullen, Mary, d. May 29, 1845, 67y, w/o J.
McMullen, William L., d. Jan 10, 1850, 1y 4m 23d, s/o J. & O.
McMullin, Hubbard F., d. Apr 13, 1900, 26y 4m 24d
McMullin, John, d. Sep 30, 1869, 58y 9m 11d
McMullin, Olive, d. Apr 18, 1882, 69y 7m 8d
Minteeth, Mary E., d. Dec 22, 1854, 64y, w/o William
Minteeth, Wesley P., d. Apr 3, 1850, 23y 4m 7d
Monroe, Lilly, b. 1896, d. 1901, d/o Phillip & Catherine
Montugue, Martha C., d. Dec 17, 1848, 2y 5m 15d, d/o William & Martha
Montugue, Martha, b. Feb 29, 1823, d. Mar 26, 1880
Montugue, William, b. May 7, 1811, d. Sep 2, 1861
Reynolds, Alice Mae (Crider), b. Jun 20, 1856, d. May 31, 1897, d/o Lewis & Mahala (Hammans), w/o James Robert
Reynolds, Charles Edward, b. 1896, d. 1896
Reynolds, Gilbert Otto, b. Oct 3, 1880, d. Apr 16, 1903
Schwert, Mrs, b. Apr, 1802, d. Dec, 1876, m/o Adam
Sears, William, d. Mar 8, 1859, 42y 8m 27d
Shuemaker, Martha J., b. May 12, 1845, d. Dec 12, 1886, w/o O.
Thomas, Edward, d. Mar 18, 1836
Thomas, Eliza, b. Jan 17, 1811, d. Jul 24, 1895, w/o Thomas N.
Thomas, Elizabeth, d. Oct 13, 1851, 11y 6m 3d
Thomas, John S., d. Mar 30, 1856, 13y 11m 16d
Thomas, Thomas N., d. Jul 2, 1861, 53y 11m 2d
Thompson, Adoniram J., d. Aug 2, 1851, 11m 24d, s/o John H. & Martha
Tucker, A. Ellen, b. Mar 22, 1851, d. Dec 12, 1885, w/o William J.
Tucker, Lemuel N., b. Mar 6, 1883, d. apr 4, 1887, s/o William J. & A. Ellen
White, Margaret, b. Nov 20, 1772, d. Sep 12, 1838, 66y
Woodruff, David D., d. Aug 22, 1850, 32y, w/o David D.
Yarbrough, Margret, d. Feb 2, 1842, 39y 5m 26d, w/o Primrose

Find A Grave
Southside Times (February 29, 2012)
Indiana Newspapers, Full Search (1804-1992), 150 titles -
Indiana Obituary Search, (1988-current) -
Indiana Funeral Notices -

Friday, October 13, 2017

The 4th Street Diner

Local eateries fed a hungry Beech Grove

Beech Grove, Indiana (October 13, 2017)  - Inexpensive food was served with a smile at the 4th Street diner. The sign out front promised the best ice cream, good coffee, Coca-Cola and the diner's famous Double-Decker Coney hot dogs, but regular, and nutritious homemade dinners were also on the menu.

Photo of The 4th Street Diner in Beech Grove - Year and date unknown

Most often these diners served a blue plate special where diners on a budget could get a decent meal at a decent price. Way before McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell and other fast food restaurants nestled close to the city limits; small local eateries like this one fed a hungry Beech Grove.  Be sure and "LIKE" us on Facebook at:

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Charles Lough

Beech Grove's First Town Marshal 

Charles Lough Sr.

Beech Grove, Indiana (October 4, 2017)  - When Beech Grove was incorporated as a city, Mayor Charles Adams appointed a town marshal named Charles Lough Sr. as Beech Grove's first Chief of Police in 1936. The town's first policeman was J.C. Johnson. Charles E. Lough Sr. was born in Clinton County and lived at 91 North Seventh Street in Beech Grove. He was also a member of the Beech Grove Methodist Church and the Masonic Lodge.

The city paid Charles Lough Sr. $105 per Month, and during his term the city equipped him with a $475 police cruiser. As the town grew, so did the department's arsenal of crime fighting gadgetry, including a $30 one way radio, fingerprinting system and in 1946 a two way radio.

From 1924 until 1974, the police department was located in the City Hall building. Under chief of police and future Mayor, J.Warner Wiley, plans were initiated to build a new ultra modern facility at 340 Churchman Avenue named the Public Service Campus. The building included several modern facilities including a pistol range, training room, library, photographic darkroom and a cutting edge computer and commutation facilities.

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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Hammel's Tavern

Lost Beech Grove History:

Hammel's Tavern on Main Street in Beech Grove, Indiana

Pictured above is Hammel's Tavern around 1930, located next to Brennan's Barber Shop at 4th and Main Street. It was a Beech Grove tradition. Over the years, the tavern was also a confectionery but settled on spirits for livelihood.

Hammel's Tavern on Main Street in Beech Grove, Indiana

In the 1956 photo above, Hammel's is decorated in celebration of Beech Grove's 50th anniversary. Aside from the decorative flags, the tavern remained virtually unchanged over the years.

Hammel's Tavern is long gone with another business taking it's place

Under family ownership, the bar was a true part of the community, actively supporting civic events and initiatives.  Through the years, Hammel's Tavern served many patrons their first legal alcoholic drink. 

Tokens for Trade from Hammel's Tavern 

More updates to follow as more information rolls in..

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Beech Grove Skate Park

The Beech Grove Skate Park

Photo of the Beech Grove Skate Park - Year and date unknown

The Beech Grove Skate Park was situated on an unused tennis court in Sarah Bolton Park.The obstacles included a 5-ft. tall quarter pipe; a half pyramid with a hubba/ledge combo on one side; a grind able pump bump, a wide 4-ft. tall flat bank and a two-level grind box. 
Sighting safety reasons, it was eventually removed and given to a church in Indianapolis, IN

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Mr. Hobo's

Mr. Hobo's Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge

Photo of Mr. Hobo's Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge - Year and date unknown. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Ben Franklin

Ben Franklin five and dime

The Ben Franklin five and dime store on Main Street. Year unknown.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Grove Theater

Lost Treasures of Beech Grove, Indiana
Grove Theater - Beech Grove's Premier Movie Theater 1937-1960's

Photo of the Grove Theater - Date unknown

Beech Grove, Indiana (September 14, 2017) - The Grove Theater was a typical neighborhood theater in Beech Grove, Indiana, that was located at 511 Main Street. It was on the south side of Main Street in the middle of the block between 5th and 6th Streets. It opened October 17, 1937 and survived as a movie theater into the early-1960’s.

Grand Opening Ad   - October 17th, 1937 

Late in its life, a stage was built in front of the screen and successive owners attempted to present live country music shows along with movies. The building was demolished in the middle-1960’s.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Only in Beech Grove Indiana

"Are you kidding me?"

Hold it right there: You can't eat watermelon in Beech Grove's parks 

Several ladies partaking in delicious watermelon in a city park

Beech Grove, Indiana (September 7, 2017) - Some archaic laws are still on the books in Indiana communities, prompting snickers, giggles and puzzling looks from residents, some who simply said "Are you kidding me?" when asked about them.

-For instance, in Beech Grove, it is illegal to eat watermelon in parks.

"Only in Beech Grove," said one incredulous resident, when told about the ordinance.

Parks board member Ed Marks said that the ordinance was enacted after watermelon rinds punctured garbage bags in the park, making for a sticky mess.

While city officials could not immediately find the ordinance on the books, board members confirmed that it had been in place for years.

Beech Grove police Detective Robert Mercuri said that to his knowledge, the ordinance has never been enforced.

"Never have we had a problem with that, and never has that been an issue," Mercuri said.

But the watermelon law isn't the only head scratcher on the books in Beech Grove.

Beech Grove's Bedroom laws: You must be related to enter

The city also has a law dealing with "entering the bedroom of a member of the opposite sex," an ordinance which relates to hotels and motels.

The law states: "It shall be unlawful for any guest registered at a motel, hotel, lodging, or rooming house in this city to permit a person of the opposite sex to enter the bedroom of said guest; or for any person of the opposite sex over six years of age to enter the bedroom of any guest in any such motel, hotel, lodging, or rooming house, unless that person is the wife, husband, mother, father, daughter, son, sister, brother, grandparent, grandchild, uncle, or aunt of that person, or is accompanied by one thereof..."

That law seems a bit intrusive to some and utterly ridiculous to others.

"Someone might be in a lot of trouble, wouldn't they?" one woman remarked. "That's kind of lame."

Mercuri said he's certain that law isn't being enforced.

"A lot of the towns and cities in Indiana have ordinances that have been created over time and a lot of them have been forgotten about," Mercuri said.


Beverage Board - 9/5/17

The hearing for Rick starts at 0:21:55

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Steve McQueen: The King of Cool

Hailing from the small town of Beech Grove Indiana, Steve McQueen left a lasting legacy known the world over

Steve McQueen: The Legend

Beech Grove, Indiana (September 2, 2017) - The career of Steve McQueen seems a classic example of the American dream made real, of a small town boy from Beech Grove, Indiana triumphing over adversity-broken home, poor education-to become one of the richest and most sought-after superstars in the world.

He was a man who finally found the love he never knew as a child in the adoration of the millions of adoring fans who flocked to every action-packed screen adventure graced by his rugged, tanned, and quizzical good looks.

McQueen lived every day as if it was his last, and by doing so he lived an extraordinary life, both on screen and off.

Steve McQueen: The Beginning

Steve McQueen never knew his father. He abandoned Steve six months after he was born at St. Francis Hospital on March 24, 1930 in Beech Grove, Indiana. His mother also left him, when he was very young, with his Uncle, who ran a farm in Slater, Missouri. Steve lived there until he was twelve.

"I had to learn to look out for myself when I was a kid," said Steve. "I had no one to talk to. I was all alone. It taught me to be self-reliant."

From Slater, he ended up in Los Angeles with his mother and started hanging out with gangs, since he was unhappy with his home life. Invariably, Steve's activities got him into trouble. His mother sent him to the California Junior Boys Republic in Chino, which is a home for wayward boys.

Birth Certificate of Steve McQueen

At the Boys Republic, he tried to run away but was caught and sent back. Steve later credited the Boys Republic for putting him on the right track, often visiting the school after becoming a movie star. The Steve McQueen Fund, a four year scholarship for the best student, was established there in 1962. In his will, he left $ 200,000 dollars to the Boys Republic and in 1983, a building was dedicated in his honor and named the Steve McQueen Recreation Center. A bronze plaque inside the Center reads:

"Steve McQueen came here as a troubled boy but left here a man. He went on to achieve stardom in motion pictures but returned to this campus often to share of himself and his fortune. His legacy is hope and inspiration to those students here now, and those yet to come."

Ironically, in his hometown of Beech Grove, Indiana there is not one memorial, plaque or any remembrance other than a small section with some trinkets of memorabilia located in the Beech Grove branch of the Indianapolis Library.

Michele Patterson, with the Beech Grove Historical Society, holds a framed movie poster from the 1971 film "LeMans" @Credit: Frank Espich/Angies List

When he left there in April, 1946 (after 18 months) his mother sent him the money so he could take the bus to New York City, where she was currently living. As Steve put it:

"My mother was going to get married again, so she sent me the bread and I went across country. I got off the bus feeling like Lil' Abner. There I was in my big high shoes, Levi's and Levi's jacket, a California tan and a square-cut haircut. I remember standing on 34th Street, and that was a bad crowd I was seeing."

He made an attempt to get along with his mother, but their reunion was brief. At the age of sixteen, he found himself working on a ship named the SS Alpha. In an early interview, Steve explains how he got the job.

"So I was in New York and it was the summer and I didn't have anything to do, and I met this guy in the Village called Ed Ford, who later jumped off the Staten Island ferry and committed suicide. He was a bosun's mate on a tanker...he and Tinker were both on a ship and I fell in with them. So these guys got me an able-bodied seaman's card and I got on their boat ( the SS Alpha) which was an early tanker; it was in Yonkers and the damn thing caught fire and damn near sank."

But working on a tanker did not appeal to McQueen, so when the Alpha docked in Cuba, Steve jumped ship. He made his way to the Dominican Republic and then back to the United States. He worked various odd jobs as he moved from place to place.

Steve had said, "I was an old man at seventeen."

While in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Steve decided to join the Marines.

"It was all very pleasant just lying in the sun and watching the girls go by, but one day I suddenly felt bored with hanging around and went and joined the Marines."

In April, 1947 he enlisted, just a month after his seventeenth birthday. He was honorably discharged April, 1950.

"When I got out of the Marines," Steve said, "I went to Texas and worked in the oil fields as a 'grunt'-a laborer. I went up to Canada, worked as a lumberjack. I went to New York and found a cold-water flat for nineteen dollars a month and I did things like delivering sets for a television store, working in a sandal shop. When you are poor, you've got to work for the basics. You can't do the things you want to do."

Steve McQueen in 1963 with the family cat, named “Kitty Cat”

An actress Steve was dating suggested he try acting. Sanford Meisner accepted Steve in the Neighborhood Playhouse, a famous New York acting school. He studied there for two years.

"I worked hard. I'm not a goof-off like some guys. I wanted to learn all I could. I had to be good at what I was doing. There was no time for fooling around."

Steve was determined to succeed at being an actor, regardless of how hard he had to push himself.

"The Neighborhood Playhouse was expensive, so I took a job driving a postal truck at night to help pay for school. I would drive all evening until two-thirty a.m., then be in school the next morning. I did that for a year. It almost killed me."

Steve McQueen with his 1st wife Nellie Adams shooting guns in the desert

By the summer, he quit after getting a part in a Jewish repertory stage production on second avenue. He also raced motorcycles, winning a couple of races every weekend, and made cash playing poker. Steve also landed a scholarship to the prestigious Herbert- Bergoff Drama School. And later, he was one of two chosen (out of 2000 applicants) to attend the famous Actors Studio in New York.

Steve McQueen's name was soon on Broadway after replacing Ben Gazzara for the lead role in the play "A Hatful of Rain". During this time, Steve met his first wife, Neile Adams, who was also a very successful Broadway performer. They married in San Clemente, CA in 1956. Their marriage lasted over 15 years.

Steve McQueen: Movie Star

After moving to Los Angeles, Steve McQueen got several parts in some low budget features, the most famous of which has to be The Blob. But it was in television that the McQueen name first became a household word, after he was given the part of Josh Randal in the classic series Wanted: Dead or Alive. This led to larger, more important movie roles.

The Blob-1958 Starring a young Steve McQueen

After such film milestones as The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape, Steve McQueen became the highest paid and most popular movie star of the sixties and seventies. Many of these films are considered classics and are still seen by old and new alike.

Steve McQueen: The Biker

It was inevitable that Steve McQueen and motorcycles would form a lifelong link. His childhood and rough early years—scrabbling for work, living in near poverty—forced the issue on two fronts. One, bikes were cheaper than cars. Two, he was of the ideal temperament for motorcycling in the late 1940s, when the activity was far from genteel.

In between, we had Brando and Elvis and James Dean—misunderstood, troubled, in trouble, and, for that matter, out for trouble. It would be no surprise to find a rudderless youth, enticed by the image, stick to it as a way of submerging his troubles.

Steve McQueen on a Triumph Motorcycle in the desert

Whether you consider his positioning of motorcycles (among other fast vehicles) in his films and public life or stop to ponder the fact that, at one point, he owned more than 100 motorcycles at one time, you can’t read much about McQueen and not realize that he was, deep down and to the core, a pure enthusiast, a man for whom motorcycling was, you might say, second only to breathing.

The endeavor was both an escape from acting plus an opportunity to join a tight fraternity of riders who didn’t care who he was as much as how well he could ride.

Steve McQueen: The Blob

The price of fame is the lack of privacy however.  Around 1977 Steve bought himself this 1947 Indian Chief chopper.  He added on some additional pieces, the strange chrome exhaust slip-ons, the sleeping bag, the mis-matched hand grips… all to make it look ratty and ridiculous.

Steve McQueen's 1947 Indian Chief called "The Blob" after his 1st leading role  

He was aware it was not a top condition bike, but towards the end of his life he grew out his hair, put on weight, grew an unkempt beard and rode for the privacy and solitude he couldn’t find anywhere else.

Original Tank of Steve McQueen's 1947 Indian Chief called "The Blob" 

It was noted that the bike leaked oil like mad and had terrible brakes – but that didn’t matter to McQueen, because of the way it looked and ran it was a way to escape.

When the bike was auctioned along with the rest of his collection it pulled a lot more attention than a bike in this condition should because there were whispers that this was Steve McQueen’s personal bike – not a track day bike or a collector piece.

Steve McQueen: The Illness

The development of mesothelioma is dose related to asbestos exposure. Patients report history of moderate asbestos exposure several years to over two decades prior to the development of the disease. Course of the disease is usually rapidly progressive with most patients surviving less than two years post diagnosis.

 Excerpt from "McQueen: The Untold Story of a Bad Boy in Hollywood":

"Mesothelioma attacks the lining between the lungs and the chest cage. The particular form Steve had, called a high-grade malignancy, is particularly virulent, spreading wildly from the lungs to the other organs. By the time the cancer is detectable, the patient usually has just months to live. "I don't know anyone with the disease who's been cured," said the chief of oncology of a Culver City, California, medical center at the time. Chemotherapy was not ordinarily effective, nor was surgery.

Mesothelioma is most frequently seen in shipyard workers, construction workers, and miners. Cigarette smoking is not associated with the disease; it attacks smokers and non-smokers with equal frequency. mesothelioma is a cancer whose cause has been known since the mid-1960s: asbestos.

Steve had been peculiarly surrounded by asbestos all his life. It was often present in his place of work during his itinerant years when be picked up odd jobs-at construction sites, for example. Asbestos was used in the insulation of every modern ship built before 1976; it is found on sound stages, in the brake linings of race cars, and in the protective helmets and suits worn by race car drivers.

Steve McQueen taking a break at an Idaho ranch during his last days

John Sturges remembers Steve telling him about an incident that occurred while he was stationed in the Aleutian Islands during his stint in the Marine Corps.

...Steve had been sentenced to six weeks in the brig. He spent the time assigned to a work detail in the hold of a ship, cleaning the engine room. The pipes were covered with asbestos linings, which the men ripped out and replaced. The air was so thick with asbestos particles, Steve told John Sturges, that the men could hardly breathe..."

Steve McQueen: His Death

After being told his condition was inoperable, Steve McQueen checked in to a controversial Mexican clinic. He underwent a torturous three month regimen involving animal cell injections, laetrile, and over 100 vitamin pills a day. But his health only deteriorated.

On November 7, 1980, Steve McQueen died of a heart attack in Mexico after undergoing an operation to remove a tumor from his abdomen. He was only 50 years old.  
-Invisible Beech Grove: J.D.

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Spotlight: Bikersinc

Currently operating in Beech Grove, Indiana; Bikersinc is Indiana's largest non political, non-profit of its kind. Started by a Navy Veteran in 2012 and officially chartered in 2013, they are a 501(c)(3) Non-profit.

This growing members only non-profit is made up of nothing but volunteers, they have no paid staff and is a totally self funded. That means no grants, State or Federal.

Funded solely by a few private donations, they became a federally recognized and registered 501(c)(3) Non-Profit in the Summer of 2013 and has been growing ever since.

Their name is an acronym and stands for: "Bringing Information Knowledge Education & Rider Sodality for Indiana's Neighborhood Coalition".

Though geared more to the biker community they have some outstanding programs that fill the gaps that some other non-profits fail to address or don't fully understand how to implement in their program structure.

Indiana Motorcycle Historical Society: With Indiana having a rich history with motorcycles and no actual database about the subject, this program was launched. Originally founded in 1995, their aim is to archive the little known history of the innovation, manufacture and achievements that Indiana played.

This program gained Statewide recognition in 2016 when one of their projects titled "Motorcyclism" was chosen to be a officially endorsed project by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission as a scheduled event. 

Bikers Outreach: Their blessing of the bikes every spring at their remote property in southern Indiana draws many and is one way to reach the religious bikers with the many runs and assistance that they provide.

This 2-day weekend event is filled with motorcyclist from around the State that come for good food, primitive camping and teaching of the gospel.  

Bikers Helping Veterans: This program quietly assists active and inactive members with various resources and is totally run by veterans, as their members feel nobody understands the plight of a veteran like a veteran. This program has been nationally recognized by  several Veterans groups for their dedication.

For more information on these and many programs, visit them at:

Amtrak pulling cars in Beech Grove

An Amtrak 1000 pulls out a 5 "Superliner" cars from the yard and then brings them back in.

Standard Grocery Store

Pictured is the Standard Grocery Store located at 575 Main Street. Dated: 1941 
Photo: Indiana Historical Society