Hoosier History Live! features host Nelson Price, Saturdays noon to 1 p.m. on WICR 88.7 FM in Indianapolis.

Saturdays, noon to 1 p.m. ET on WICR 88.7 FM.
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Our call-in number during the show: (317) 788-3314

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March 24, 2018

Flourishing at 90-something

What does it take to flourish into your tenth decade?  Hoosier History Live will interview three nonagenarians who will offer insights into the art of successful aging.

Hoosiers who have celebrated more than 90 birthdays have lived through a lot of state history. Not only have they been eyewitnesses to the great milestones of the twentieth century, many have remained hale and hearty far beyond the average American lifespan. Those who continue to enjoy an active life into their tenth decade undoubtedly have insights and advice to share with the rest of us.

Georgia Buchanan and her son Bryan Hadin visit the Dead Sea in 2006.  Courtesy John Sherman.To tap these insights - including what expectations to let go of and how to keep thriving mentally and physically - the format of our show will be a round-table discussion with guests in their 90s. Two of our guests have made previous appearances on Hoosier History Live to talk about the local history they have seen unfold:

  • Indianapolis civic leader Georgia Buchanan, 91, the author of the new book How to Live Beyond 90 without Falling Down (IBJ Book Publishing). The daughter of Greek immigrants who came to Indy during the 1920s, Georgia has long been active in Special Olympics and other non-profit organizations. She was a guest on shows in July 2012 about the history of Special Olympics in Indiana and in August 2009 about Greek heritage in the state.
  • Tom Ridley, 95, who grew up near Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis. When he was five years old in 1927, his parents brought him to opening events at what is now the Madame Walker Theatre Centre. Mr. Ridley continues to be the historian and a guide at the Walker Theatre; he was our guest on Feb. 6, 2016 to describe his memories about the early years of the theater and the heyday of the local jazz scene. He also talked about his World War II experiences, which included serving in an all-black military unit that landed on Utah Beach on D-Day in 1944.
  • And A'Lelia Kirk Osili, 93, a retired psychologist who, in the 1940s, became one of the first African-American women admitted to the I.U. School of Medicine. Before that, Mrs. Osili attended Crispus Attucks High School with our guest Tom Ridley. During the late 1950s, Mrs. Osili and her husband, an engineer, moved to Nigeria; she became the private secretary and later an administrative officer for Nigeria's first president. After the outbreak of a civil war in Nigeria during the 1960s, Mrs. Osili returned to Indianapolis with her family. She worked as a school psychologist and a teacher for Indianapolis Public Schools.

Tom RidleyFor this show, our guests will share life lessons and a range of tips about how to flourish after age 90, a demographic that is growing rapidly. According to Georgia's book, the number of Americans age 90 and older has tripled in the past 30 years.

Mrs. Osili, who turns 94 next month, competes in local and national championships in the card game of bridge and has attained the title of "national life master." Her three children include Indianapolis architect and civic leader Vop Osili, who was named president of the Indianapolis City Council last month.

A'Lelia Kirk OsiliGeorgia Buchanan's son, Bryan Hadin, was born in 1963 with special needs. For many years, he participated in various competitions with Special Olympics. Georgia is a long-time arts advocate; her career as a print and broadcast journalist included media work in Indianapolis and in Washington D.C.

Our guest Tom Ridley, who was born in 1922, lives in the Ransom Place neighborhood, not far from where he grew up. He met his late wife when they were in kindergarten; she went on to become an IPS teacher. His father-in-law was a musician in clubs on Indiana Avenue.

Contrary to prevailing stereotypes about the elderly, some of our guests are active on the Internet, continue to drive and live independently. All three are widely known for their energy and enthusiasm.


History Mystery

Our mystery landmark building on the north side of Indianapolis as it was being constructed in the late 1920s.
Ninety years ago, in the decade when this week's guests were born, a major landmark was being planned and built on the north side of Indianapolis. When the building opened in 1928, it was the largest structure of its kind in the entire country.

For many decades, the building was the venue for a major sports event that, beginning in 1930, was sold out for 60 consecutive years.

Question: What is the name of this landmark building?

The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call in to the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months. You must be willing to give your first name to our engineer, you must answer the question correctly on the air and you must be willing to give your mailing address to our engineer so we can mail the prize pack to you. The prize is four passes to the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two admissions to GlowGolf, courtesy of GlowGolf.



Roadtrip: Underground Railroad activity near Madison and Eagle Hollow

Underground railroad routes in Indiana.Guest Roadtripper, journalist, and public historian Eunice Trotter invites us to learn about Chapman Harris and underground railroad activity in Madison and Eagle Hollow, a community just east of Madison, both located along the mighty Ohio River.

Chapman Harris was a free African American who was born in Virginia and in his youth heard of Indiana as a "free land." He came to Madison by steamboat in 1839 at age 37 and worked as a Baptist minister, teamster, and farmer. Chapman Harris and his family owned land in both Madison and Eagle Hollow and lead efforts to help enslaved persons crossing the Ohio River into the free state of Indiana.

Harris was known for his imposing size and bearing; a newspaper profile written about him after the Civil War noted that "He walks among men with a natural grace and dignity inseparable from fearlessness and strength of will."

The Indiana Historical Bureau, Jefferson County Commissioners, and Visit Madison, Inc. erected a marker for Chapman Harris in 2016. The marker is located, along the Ohio River at intersection of Eagle Hollow Rd. and SR 56 (Ohio River Scenic Byway) just east of Madison.

 

Prizes solicited for History Mystery contest

If your business or organization would like to contribute prizes for our History Mystery contest, we would love to have them! Ideally they fit in a standard mailing envelope, such as coupons or vouchers.

Your organization gets a mention on the air by Nelson, as well as a link to your website on our enewsletter and website! If interested, contact producer Molly Head at molly@hoosierhistorylive.org.

 

Nelson Price, host and historian
Molly Head, producer/project manager, (317) 927-9101
Michael Armbruster, associate producer
Cheryl Lamb, marketing and administrative manager
Richard Sullivan, senior tech consultant
Pam Fraizer, graphic designer
Garry Chilluffo, special events consultant

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Thank you!

We'd like to thank the following recent, new and renewal contributors whose donations help make this show possible!

  • Chuck and Karen Bragg.
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March 31, 2018 - Upcoming

Women who influenced Indiana Avenue jazz

The Sunset Terrace on Indiana Avenue opened in 1938 and provided a lively venue for the likes of jazz greats Wes Montgomery and David Baker. Lesser known female musicians such as Lillian LeMon, Marian Burch and Trillie Stewart played an important role in the Indianapolis jazz scene as well, however, acting as teachers and mentors.

In our previous shows about the jazz history during the heyday of clubs on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis, the spotlight mostly has been on male musicians like the late Wes Montgomery and David Baker.

Aleta HodgeAs we salute Women's History Month, our focus now will be on women who influenced the great jazz musicians, but who primarily were behind the scenes as teachers and mentors during the early and mid-1900s. Nelson will be joined in studio by Aleta Hodge, author of the new book Indiana Avenue: Life and Musical Journey From 1915 to 2015 (ASH Consulting), which features profiles of the significant people and places involved in the legendary jazz created there.

Among the "hidden figures," as Aleta calls the Indianapolis female jazz musicians whom history has largely forgotten:

  • Lillian LeMon, a music teacher who owned the Cosmopolitan School of Music in what is now known as the Ransom Place neighborhood. According to Aleta, Ms. LeMon and her staff trained both professional and amateur musicians at her school, which had baby grand pianos.
  • Marian Burch, a long-time music teacher at Crispus Attucks High School. She also became the first African-American woman to sing with various orchestras in central Indiana.
  • And Trillie Stewart, an Attucks graduate who trained several famous professional musicians including Wes Montgomery and his brothers, Monk and Buddy, as well as David Baker.

Lillian LeMon, a music teacher who owned the Cosmopolitan School of Music in what is now known as the Ransom Place neighborhood.
Courtesy Aleta Hodge.In addition to those historic women, we also will highlight some contemporary women who continue to make an impact on the Indiana music scene. They include Rosemarie Gore Bigbee, a veteran teacher at Broad Ripple High School whose vocal performing career ranges from opera to children's television. During the 1990s, she portrayed the character Rainbow Rosie in a series broadcast on WFYI-TV/Channel 20 in Indianapolis.

Even though the musicians who were celebrated during the Indiana Avenue jazz heyday of the 1940s and '50s tended to be male, a few female performers achieved a degree of fame. They included the popular Hampton Sisters and pianist-vocalist Flo Garvin. We have explored their careers during previous shows, including two programs in November and December 2016 with music historian David Leander Williams.

This time around, the focus primarily will be on women whose names are not as well-remembered, but whose impact was significant. Our guest Aleta Hodge grew up near Attucks and has interviewed dozens of people connected to Indiana's jazz heritage, including descendants of the musicians influenced by the historic women mentors.

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