Saturday, January 30, 2010
In 1953, when this photo of Ault's Service Station (8602 Southeastern Ave.; now Randy's Pizza) was taken, a gallon of gasoline cost less than a quarter. At times, when stations were in competition, the price dipped as low as 15 cents per gallon. Oh, for those days again...!
Of course, inflation ran its course. As the millennium drew to a close, a gallon of gas cost closer to a dollar -- though, again, at times the price wars dropped it to 78 or 80 cents.
The last time I filled my tank, I paid $2.79 per gallon -- a full two dollars more than I might have paid only a decade ago.
Thinking about those two dollars makes you long for a really good bargain, doesn't it?
...For example, something that would cost you less than a dollar per month -- but would give you priceless benefits in return?
Yes, yes, you know where I'm going now, because this entire post is a shameless bait-and-switch! This is the part in the script where you say, "Tell me where I can find such a great value!" and I reply, "A membership in the Franklin Township Historical Society costs only ten dollars per year." That's only 83 cents per month!
"But wait, there's more!"
For your donation, you'll receive a host of benefits. In addition to the Society's newsletter, you'll be invited to attend Membership Dinners and other events. You'll also be supporting educational presentations in local schools, walking tours of Wanamaker and Acton, cemetery tours, quilt and antiques shows, historic preservation and archiving, and many other community programs sponsored or contributed to by the Franklin Township Historical Society. You'll even be supporting this blog, and all the photos and articles that appear herein.
All that, and more, for just 83 cents per month. That's so little money, I can't even convert it to the obligatory cups-of-coffee scale.
Or, if you've an inclination to long-term planning, you can join as a Life Member for a one-time $100 donation! That's right -- full membership benefits, every year for the rest of your life, and you'll never need to send another check! It's an even better deal than the low, low price of $10/year!
Okay, enough of the infomercial script; since we're a nonprofit organization, we don't really have operators standing by. To join the Society, or to renew your membership, please mail your check (made out to Franklin Township Historical Society) to:
c/o Virginia Compton
8103 Mathews Road
Indianapolis, IN 46259
The Franklin Township Historical Society is a not-for-profit organization, and relies on donations to operate. All contributions to the Franklin Township Historical Society are tax-deductible.
* The title of this post is in fact accurate, as the Franklin Township Historical Society has been featured on no fewer than three national television programs. We're famous! Kinda.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
"We found this in an old trunk in an upstairs bedroom of the house my daughter and her husband bought," Nancy VanArendonk said, showing us a strange object, a wooden board covered on one side with narrow metal strips hinged at one end and clamping to the board at the other.
What could it be? We at the Meeting House, gathered for a board meeting, had no idea. Faded printed directions on the back of the board gave us a suggestion, calling it a "Paris Plaiter." "Plaiting," to our group, meant a braiding-like process, but as we deciphered the instructions, we learned they referred to what we call "pleating." The device was apparently an aid to producing evenly spaced pleats in a dress or blouse.
I took the Paris Plaiter home, cleaned it up a bit -- it was both rusty and dirty, but apparently in working order. As I read the directions (with a magnifying glass, I must admit), I learned you needed a cardboard gauge to properly pleat the fabric, which lay under some of the metal strips, and on top of others. But how did you keep the pleats in place so you could sew them down.? A final sentence in the directions suggested the answer. "If you are working with wool, use a damp cloth." Of course! You ironed them in -- that was why the thing was on a heavy board!
While I didn't succeed in making a set of plaits/pleats, I could see it might be done by a nimble-fingered persistent seamstress. I found a 1906 copy of a women's magazine, and sure enough, there was an article about making tucks, gathers and pleats. But who today makes pleated bodices, which would also surely have to be carefully ironed?
One wonders if the seamstress of a century ago who lived on a farm on Vandergriff Road and who bought a Paris Plaiter found it useful. Perhaps she tried it out, decided her "old way" was easier, and put her new purchase away for a future day...
Monday, January 18, 2010
The "Bring-An-Item" antiques showcase, sponsored by the Franklin Township Historical Society and held August 2, 2009 at the Zion United Church of Christ, drew a wide variety of items to be evaluated. Attendees arrived with china, a Civil War sword, an autographed baseball, old artwork, silver and statuary, among other things. But the focus of the event turned out to be a set of toys that were originally paid for with chickens.
Harold Prange brought farming toys that were originally purchased for him in 1938 when he was a boy. At that time, he says, the toys were paid for with two chickens, and he played with the toys quite a bit. But when Antique Week editor Connie Swaim examined the toys and looked up the prices at which the same items had recently sold at auction, Mr. Prange learned that his three toys are now worth $1,500.00.
It's the hope for that sort of news that draws many of the people who attend events such as this one. Some come with a cherished family heirloom; others attend just hoping that that old item they stored all these years might turn out to be worth something.
This was the second year that the Franklin Township Historical Society has offered the "Bring An Item" event. This year, as last, those attending were able to enjoy complimentary refreshments while they waited to have their items examined, and were also able to browse the collection of Historical Society publications for sale.
This year's event was again made possible with the assistance of Antique Week editor Connie Swaim and a group of evaluators from the Exit 76 Antique Mall. The Franklin Township Historical Society greatly appreciates the work done by each of these individuals, all of whom came at their own expense, making it possible for the Society to again offer this event to the public free of charge.
The Historical Society also wishes to thank Zion United Church of Christ for graciously allowing the use of its facilities.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
“Everyone ought to have a hobby, and it ought to be something he can share,” says Joe Seiter, a postcard collector and new member of the Franklin Township Historical Society. Joe has collected Indiana postcards for 35 years, and still finds cards to add to his favorite subjects, interurban, small town street scenes, and Santa Claus cards.
“I think we are all collectors by nature,” he says. Born and raised on Indianapolis east side, Joe remembers as a boy collecting balls of string to sell to a dealer who came through the neighborhood. Then he and a friend picked up discarded cigarette packages and took out the tinfoil, squeezing it into a ball. That, too, found a market as did match book covers, used stamps, and all kinds of Christmas memorabilia.
“And then,” he continues, “sometime in my twenties, I saw an ad for 100 postcards for $1.00. I asked for as many Indianapolis cards as possible, getting about 40 such cards in the package.” During Army service in the Korean War, marriage and a 35 year career at Western Electric, Joe’s love of Indiana postcards has grown and remains his favorite activity.
His cards are carefully arranged in albums. A special album holds his 350-plus interurban cards, showing the big electric “tractions” stopping at intersections for passengers, rolling through the countryside, crossing bridges, in city traffic with horse drawn wagons and automobiles, and at stations. Some cards show groups ready for an outing posing in front of cars. Other cards show the buildings which produced the electricity that powered the interurbans. Several show the Interurban Terminal on Market Street in downtown Indianapolis, with its nine tracks, the largest such station in the country. (Only Ohio had more miles of track than Indiana.)
Joe values all postcards for their historic and sentimental value. “Sometimes a postcard is the only proof that a house or building really stood somewhere,” he says. The monetary value of individual postcards depends on its rarity, and its condition. “Most valuable,” he says, “are the ‘real photos,’ actual black and white photographs printed on postcard stock. ‘Views’ are often colored and are printed by a different process, often with a white border.”
Joe, who lives in Perry Township, is a charter member of the Indianapolis Postcard Club, organized in 1975, and has served as president for some 20 years. He also has 17 postcards of Acton, of which he has given us copies. He enjoyed looking at our Society’s postcard collection, commenting, “I’m always intrigued to see a “new” card I haven’t seen before.”
Monday, January 11, 2010
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