By Jim Bailey
For The Herald Bulletin
Our first mailing address in Anderson was 934 Main St. That was my uncle’s store, then known simply as The Floor Store. Everything was forwarded there until we took up permanent residence at 300 East Cross St. in North Anderson.
Our old Cross Street apartment is still standing. Uncle Robert’s store, however, is now a parking lot.
To get to North Anderson from the store, since Mom didn’t drive, we walked a half block and crossed 10th Street, then boarded an orange and green Indiana Railroad bus, dropping our dime in the slot (a bell would ring twice).
I caught the bus frequently at that location from shopping trips, basketball games at the old Wigwam or whatever. If we needed to get warm we’d go inside the Uptown Recreation bowling alley near the corner. I bowled there a few times in my youth.
An old hotel occupied the northwest corner of that intersection and a pet store the southwest corner. The old Anderson Daily Bulletin office stood vacant on the northeast corner.
The Indiana Railroad buses are long gone. You can still catch a CATS bus, much smaller and more modern, to various locations during the daytime hours; the fare, of course, is considerably more than a dime.
Uptown Recreation also is gone. It burned to the ground one frigid night, and I watched the firefighters finish up their all-nighter as I walked to school the next morning. The old Wigwam also was destroyed by fire in 1958. The replacement Wigwam, then the second-largest high school gym in the state, now stands empty.
The pet store was replaced by the downtown post office. The hotel was demolished for a parking lot. The old Bulletin building is still standing, now used as a halfway house for offenders. The police station and city court occupies the area where the bowling alley used to be.
Those are only some of the landmarks from my early years in Anderson. Interestingly, every house but one that I have lived in is still standing.
But the route I have used to go downtown from the time I moved to Park Place has also changed considerably. I lived on East Third Street, which is now University Boulevard. The only direct way downtown then was to go to Eighth Street and cross the Ninth Street bridge, which angled across White River from Athletic Park to the old Pennsylvania Railroad tunnel.
The bridge was replaced by the Eisenhower Bridge. The viaduct is gone, as are such landmarks as the Tunnel Bar, the Pennsylvania depot, the Everybody’s Oil offices and service station and Mabel’s. What was Mabel’s? If you don’t know, you really don’t want to know.
And of course the downtown has changed too. But somehow all this remains in our memories as we think about Anderson’s past and ponder just what the future may hold.
Jim Bailey’s reflections on Anderson’s past appear on Sundays. His regular column appears on Wednesdays. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.