THIS WEEK

IN INDIANA HISTORY

MAY 15 - May 21


1902     Dedication ceremonies were held for the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the Circle in downtown Indianapolis. Indiana Governor Winfield T. Durbin introduced the program, and General Lew Wallace was master of ceremonies. The celebration included the reading of a new poem by James Whitcomb Riley and original music written and performed by John Philip Sousa and his band.  Special guests were Mary Lord Harrison, widow of former President Benjamin Harrison, and Lucinda Burbank Morton, widow of former Governor Oliver P. Morton.

1912   World Peace Day was observed in all Indiana schools.  It was a project created by Charity Dye, a teacher at Shortridge High School in Indianapolis.  She was the sponsor of the school newspaper, The Dawn, and was active in promoting world peace and female suffrage.  She was also an author of historical non-fiction.  She chronicled the early years of the Hoosier State in Once Upon a Time in Indiana. 

1918  Robert Shank was hired as one of the first four airmail pilots for the United States Post Office.  He flew the New York to Washington route. He had been a civilian flight instructor during World War I.  During World War II, he trained flying students at Butler University.  In 1944, he founded the Bob Shank Airport on the west side of Indianapolis.  The airport was named in honor of his son, who had died in an aviation accident.

1921  Wonder Bread was introduced by the Taggart Bakery in Indianapolis.  The name was inspired by the “wonder” of the International Balloon Race at the Speedway.  At first, the bread was sold as a whole loaf.  The “pre-sliced” product was introduced in the 1930s.

1946  Author Booth Tarkington died at his home on North Meridian Street in Indianapolis.  His short stories, plays, and novels were hugely popular and many found their way into Hollywood movies and Broadway shows.  He won Pulitzer Prizes for his novels The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams.  Indiana Governor Ralph Gates said, “Indiana mourns the loss of its most renowned man of letters.”

1964  Over 50,000 people attended a three-day auction held at the former home of millionaire Skiles Test on the northeast side of Indianapolis.  A famous icon of local teen culture in the 1950s, the home was known as the “House of Blue Lights.”  In its prime, the estate included its own power generating station, a complete sawmill, and a 100,000-gallon spring-fed swimming pool. The auction included a Chickering baby grand player piano, oriental rugs, diamond rings, oil paintings, and antique furniture.