Growing Up in Monon 16
TeenWorks participants have been interviewing past and present residents of the neighborhoods surrounding Monon 16 to gather their stories as we prepare for PreEnactIndy, a Pre-Enactment Theater event to take place on October 7, 2017. This Indianapolis theater and arts collaboration is the first of its kind and will serve as a national model for creative placemaking and neighborhood revitalization. by Kennedi Fuller
Levester “Lee” Means grew up in Monon 16, in the neighborhood known as Martindale, located from 16th to 25th and Martindale Street (now Dr. Andrew J. Brown). We interviewed him about his childhood memories and what the neighborhood has meant to him.
Though he was not a student of School 26 (he attended School 56) he does recall that School 26 was the largest grade school in the state. Means graduated high school at the age of 17 and soon after high school he landed a great job with the postal service as a mail carrier or, as people from the neighborhood would call him, the “mailman.” A year later, at age 18, he was drafted into the military and was a combat medic with the Red Cross during the Vietnam War. He says that during this time, the government required all young men to register for the armed forces, whether it was the Army, Military, or Navy.
Means recalls his neighborhood being a vibrant, friendly, and loving community with a store or church on every corner. He recalls the Polk Milk Company that stood on 16th Street.
He actually began walking through the neighborhood to New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church with his grandmother at age 5. He still attends this church today and is a very active member.
He recalls that everything began to change once the government decided to take over this area to build the highway. They tore down people’s homes and businesses, forcing a lot of people out the area. But through the good times and bad, Means still continues to be an active member of this community and the neighborhood he dearly loves.
To learn more about PreEnactIndy, go to www.preenactment.org. And mark your calendars for the event, October 7, 10am to 5pm.