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Hoosier History Live

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10 years on the air!

Join us March 1 for our anniversary soiree!

Hoosier History Live - You're invited to our 10th anniversary party.

Can you believe it? Hoosier History Live has been on the air 10 years.

To celebrate, we are throwing another of our famous anniversary parties!

Featured events at the party will include live "History Mystery" quizzes by host Nelson Price, with fabulous prizes. We are particularly looking forward to brief remarks by Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett. And you never know what other notables will be on hand to share remarks and good cheer with our history-loving crowd, which includes listeners, readers and of course many of our distinguished on-air guests.

MBP Catering

Indiana Landmarks

Delicious catered cuisine and cash bar will be provided by MBP Distinctive Catering.  Let's celebrate together! Click on this RSVP link  today to let us know you're coming.  It helps us out a lot if you use the form to let us know you'll be there!


Jan. 27, 2018 - Upcoming

From the scrap heap of history: the Jewish salvage industry in Indiana

The Mervis family scrap yard in Kokomo, Ind., in the 1940s. The overwhelming majority of Indiana salvage businesses at the time were owned by Jewish families, often having been founded by an early immigrant peddler who had dealt scrap materials door to door.
Courtesy Indiana Jewish Historical Society.

The American dream takes many forms. For many Jewish Hoosiers during the early to middle years of the 20th century, it took the form of the family-owned scrap yard, independently operated and passed down from one generation to the next.

For many of these families, the road from impoverished immigrant to wealth and social prominence was paved with the detritus of an industrial economy: Crushed automobile frames. Mangled copper wiring. Smashed aluminum cans. All were to be melted down and turned into raw materials that fed the booming American economy during the second half of the 20th century.

This week's Hoosier History Live show will explore the prominent role of scrap metal recycling among Jewish families in Indiana. Guest host Mick Armbruster will be joined in studio by three guests, each with a unique perspective on the history of the Jewish salvage industry in Indiana:

  • Trent PendleyTrent Pendley, amateur historian, retired fine jeweler and fifth-generation Hoosier. He is past president of the Indiana Jewish Historical Society and lives in Furnessville in the Indiana Dunes. Trent was a previous guest on Hoosier History Live for a show on Jewish immigration to Indiana. He also wrote the historical novel Toys in the Closet, which is set in a beach home among the Indiana Dunes.

  • Marty Kroot of Indianapolis, former owner of K&F Industries salvage business. Marty began working in his family's scrap yard as a teenager and honed his skills over five decades in salvage.
  • Joan Wolf of Indianapolis, philanthropist and board member of the Indiana Jewish Historical Society.  Inspired by her sister-in-law's work on a book on the Jewish history of Madison, Ind., Joan initiated and coordinated the compilation of Bonds as Strong as Steel: A History of Indiana Scrap Metal Dealers and their Families.

Before a wave of consolidation changed the industry in the late 1990s, almost 90 percent of American scrap yards were owned by Jewish families, a statistic that seems to hold true for Indiana as well. Why did so many prominent scrap businesses in Indiana and the Midwest carry Jewish family names? What was it about salvage that attracted Jewish entrepreneurs and encouraged them to build thriving businesses in this field?

Martin KrootTo answer these questions, we'll dig into aspects of American history that include a strong Jewish contingent among fur trappers and traders in the Midwest during Colonial and Pioneer eras. Later, Jewish peddlers helped settle the frontier territories. Historians have called Jewish peddlers "foot soldiers in the far-reaching revolution" that brought manufactured consumer goods to far-flung residents of the American frontier.

Coming from a tradition of entrepreneurship in the Old Country, Jewish immigrants often were well-suited for the role of peddler in their new homeland, and low start-up costs made the profession accessible to even the poorest among them. In some cases, anti-Semitism played a role in shaping the economic destiny of Jews during the frontier era and early Hoosier statehood; as Trent will explain, Jews were forbidden from owning property in some areas of Indiana, making the nomadic life of the peddler one of their few options for engaging in trade.

Joan Wolf.The same economic and historical forces that made peddling a common career choice among Jewish immigrants to America applied to the scrapping trade as well. Rather than sell goods to customers, the scrappers purchased the rags, metal, and animal hides consumers cast off, but that still had value as raw materials. As the businesses of the early horse-and-wagon scrappers grew, they evolved into the scrap yards that eventually became a major force in the U.S. industrial economy.

Guests Marty Kroot and Joan Wolf both grew up in Jewish families that owned salvage businesses. We'll hear some of their early memories of the family junk yard, including Marty's experience learning the trade while still a teenager. He cut his salvage teeth at the Alex Cohen’s Sons Inc. scrap yard on the southside of Indianapolis, which his father, the late Sam Kroot, purchased in 1949. Joan will explain the important philanthropic role played by many Jewish scrap business families in Indiana.

Marty also will share his perspective on how the salvage business has evolved over the years, from predominantly family-owned companies to the huge global conglomerates that dominate the industry today.


A note of support

'We hope to see it broadcast far and wide'

A particularly nice letter of support came in some time ago from authors James Alexander Thom and Dark Rain Thom. We like to re-read it from time to time!

To Whom it May Concern:

Last Spring, my wife and I were interviewed by Nelson Price on his Hoosier History radio program, as authors of frontier and Native American history books. Mr. Price's program was so well prepared and conducted that we feel it should be made available to students and general audiences as widely as possible. His program is well-researched, all questions pertinent to the chosen theme, and moves along briskly. Listeners called in with questions and comments that were intelligent and relevant, a sign of an avid audience.

As historical writers, we try to overcome the public's indifference to history, to bring alive in any way we can the important lessons of the past, and are enthusiastic about programs and writings that make those lessons interesting. The Hoosier History Live program does that so well that we hope to see it broadcast far and wide over this historically significant State of Indiana. It is an excellent program, worthy of extensive distribution and strong support.

James Alexander Thom & Dark Rain Thom, authors
Bloomington, Indiana
July 14, 2011

Shows, we got shows

We have more than 470 Hoosier History Live radio shows completed, as a matter of fact. We certainly welcome underwriting support to get more of our show audio online. Let's help support the hardworking Hoosiers who do the writing and editing for Hoosier History Live!

No one else is doing anything quite like what we're doing. We are the nation's only live call-in radio program about history. We offer a permanent and growing archive of quality content, available for sponsorship opportunities.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of Hoosier History Live, click here or call Molly Head at (317) 927-9101 for more info.

What people are saying about Hoosier History Live

"Hoosier History Live does more to promote Indiana history than does any single source."

Andrea Neal, Indianapolis author and educator

"Hoosier History Live is a fun and interesting way to learn about the heart and soul of Indiana. No boring classes or books here! The production team does an outstanding job."

Judy O'Bannon, civic leader and public broadcasting producer

"The folks at Hoosier History Live are able to find great stories and the people to tell them - people and stories that you seldom hear on the national air."

Dr. James H. Madison, author and Indiana University history professor

"As museums and educational institutions scramble to make their offerings more interactive, more entertaining and more 'relevant' to today's digitally obsessed consumers, Hoosier History Live seems to have mastered that formula."

Glynis Worley, rural Bartholomew County listener

"Hoosier History Live is a perfect place to consider and reconsider history ... not just what happened in the past, but what it may mean in the present. Nelson Price is the perfect host: enthusiastic, curious and knowledgeable. Tune in to Hoosier History Live and be prepared to be surprised."

James Still, playwright in residence, Indiana Repertory Theatre

"Hoosier History Live is a fantastic opportunity for people to not only learn about history, but also become a part of the conversation. Much like our mission, the telling of Indiana's stories, Nelson and his guests wonderfully connect people to the past!"

John Herbst
President and CEO, Indiana Historical Society

"The links on the Friday Hoosier History Live enewsletter are a great way to learn more about history, and from a variety of sources."

Jill Ditmire
Omni Media Specialist

"Distilling life experience into stories is an art. Telling stories of life experience for Hoosiers past and present will shape the lives of young people and enrich the lives of all in our state. Mr. Nelson Price brings alive the life experience of notable Hoosiers in Hoosier History Live."

David T. Wong, Ph.D., President
DT Wong Consulting, LLC
Former Lilly research scientist who developed Prozac

"Nelson Price, more than anyone I know, infuses joy into the pursuit of history. And that joy rings out loud and clear on the radio show, Hoosier History Live."

Marsh Davis
President, Indiana Landmarks

"No, I haven't heard of another call-in talk radio show about history. Our airwaves are now full of the worst vitriol! Give me the phone number for the show. I want to call in!"

Ken Burns, speaking at a preview of his film "The War" at Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, April 18, 2007


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