In partnership with local theater troops and community leaders, the Harrison Center is proud to introduce Pre-Enactment Theater, a performance arts program to encourage neighborhood development and pride in the Monon 16 area. This is the third in a series of posts dedicated to preserving the golden-days memories of this neighborhood while looking forward to a bright future, and is made possible by generous interviews from community members. This post highlights the impact of local schools on the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhoods' residents.
The tight-knit aura of community doesn’t stop in the Martindale-Brightwood area. At a time when the most common way to get to school was walking, staying away from friends and neighbors, we're told, was practically impossible. Brutal winters would be the only exception to hopping on the public bus route or hitching a ride from friends or family to school. All other times of the year, students would walk out of their houses and make the trek to their respective high schools together. Many Martindale students made the transition from IPS School #26 to Arsenal Technical High School, spending all of their educational careers surrounded by the same group of individuals. Some may think one would grow exhausted from spending 12+ years with the same people, but from this interview we learned it can only strengthen lifelong relationships.
With more and more manufacturing companies placing plants in Indianapolis, the need for workers in said factories increased. Factory jobs were the most sought after careers at the time. You could go straight from your high school graduation to a job at the plant in about a week. Rodger Brown, an Arsenal Tech Alum and long time resident of the Martindale neighborhood, exemplified persistence and determination to join the workforce, while still taking trade classes at the high school. “The dean of boys was the one who kept promising me the job, so every day at school when I'd go through I'd ask him, "Do you have a job for me?" And he would say no, and I'd say, "Okay I'll see you tomorrow." I asked that man for a job for three years, every day, so finally, when I went in there, well, I was getting ready to graduate. He said 'Roger, you are the most persistent person I've ever seen in my life.' He said, 'You've come here and asked me for a job every day for three years. I believe that if i get you a job, you will work. And I said, 'Yes sir I will work.' He said, 'In fact I don't have one job for you. I'll give you your choice.' So I graduated on a Wednesday--I chose Western Electric--and I had a full time job that Monday." The factories became the place for students to finally get the opportunity to show off their skills and make known that this is what they do best. The community that surrounded the neighborhood students only helped push them to excel in their fields.
Athletics were a staple in the neighborhood and the schools as well, from neighborhood basketball leagues in elementary school to various sports at Arsenal Tech. Tennis, cross country, track and field, and basketball are just some of the things that kept the Martindale-Brightwood kids busy throughout the year. Sports were a way to just relax and have fun.
Education in the Martindale-Brightwood community created an environment of togetherness and support, allowing everyone to be aware of the love and loyalty that surrounded them.