The Herald Bulletin

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Columns

March 1, 2014

Jim Bailey: Rip Van Winkle wouldn’t recognize Anderson either

In Washington Irving’s story of Rip Van Winkle, the subject in question slept through a revolution and awoke to find an environment he didn’t recognize.

Anyone who departed Anderson two decades ago would have the same dilemma. Make it 40 or 50 years and that person would wonder where his hometown went.

Let’s start with 20 years. That erstwhile Andersonian would have traveled down Columbus Avenue past Delco Remy Plant 1 and Nicholson File, winding up at Southdale Plaza where Kmart and Marsh did a bustling business.

Then he’d pick up Indiana 109 coming from the south and turning east on 53rd Street, reaching a developing business area at its intersection with what was known as the bypass. Northward he’d pass a row of homes until he reached more Delco plants, then to an intersection with Mounds Road where a state highway garage was located. Mounds Mall on the left was a busy place as he’d turn left on Eighth Street, and go through downtown past Bickel’s bicycle and craft shop, a full-service Shell station and the Christian Science Church. South on Brown-Delaware he’d pick up Pendleton Avenue, then southwest past Guide and on to a largely deserted interchange with Interstate 69.

Fast forward to today. He’d see vacant lots along Columbus Avenue. There’s little activity at what remains of Southdale Plaza, and he’d have to go clear to Scatterfield (nee the bypass) to see the north end of 109. And that row of houses has been largely replaced with a beehive of activity that includes Walmart, Hoosier Park, Lowe’s and new construction on the old Delco property that will be a major car dealership.

He wouldn’t recognize the intersection with Mounds Road, where the highway garage no longer exists. Mounds Mall draws only a trickle of business, though frontage lots on both sides of Scatterfield have steady customers. The old Bickel’s location is now a Mexican restaurant, the Shell station is a BP and the former Christian Science building is no longer a church. Pendleton Avenue has become Martin Luther King Boulevard, and a huge vacant lot sits where Guide once dominated the landscape. And one cannot miss The Flagship and Nestle, which weren’t there two decades ago.

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