Hoosier History Live! features host Nelson Price, Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on WICR 88.7 FM in Indianapolis.

New time! ... Saturdays, noon to 1 p.m. ET on WICR 88.7 FM.
And always online at hoosierhistorylive.org!

March 2 show

Hoosier women pioneers in media

Pictured are officers of the Woman’s Press Club of Indiana in its inaugural year, 1913. Image courtesy Ann Allen.The state's first statue erected to honor a woman is in Turkey Run State Park and pays tribute to a journalist. The Woman's Press Club of Indiana celebrates a milestone, its 100th anniversary, this year. And the challenges confronted by women in Indiana media - from reporters and radio newscasters to newspaper owners - have been researched by their counterparts today.

So, as Hoosier History Live! salutes Women's History Month, we will focus on women journalists who blazed trails in our state, including some who attained national renown more than 100 years ago.

Nelson will be joined in studio by two past presidents of the Woman's Press Club who have won multiple awards for their media work:

  • Julie Slaymaker, an Indianapolis-based freelance writer with an extensive background in print and radio. Her credits range from covering the rape trial of Mike Tyson to writing profiles of such Hoosier newsmakers as Susan Bayh and Judy O'Bannon.
  • And Ann Allen, a former newspaper owner based in the town of Akron in far-northern Indiana. Now a magazine and newspaper writer, Ann is the former owner and editor of the Akron News (later the Akron/Mentone News), the author of six books and a correspondent for the Rochester Sentinel.

In addition to discussing the challenges that they have confronted (as a staff member at an Indy radio station in the 1960s, Julie says she was told she could not be a news reader because women did not have "credibility" delivering newscasts), Julie and Ann also will share insights about Hoosier women of earlier media eras.

Juliet Strauss.They include Juliet V. Strauss (1863-1918) of Rockville in Parke County, who eventually became one of the country's best-read magazine writers. She wrote a monthly column called "The Ideas of a Plain Country Woman" for The Ladies Home Journal after beginning her career at The Rockville Tribune newspaper. Juliet Strauss, a founder of the Woman's Press Club,  also fought to save Turkey Run from developers. That explains why women journalists across the state arranged for her statue to be placed there.

Julie, Ann and Nelson also will discuss Kate Milner Rabb (1866-1937), a columnist for The Indianapolis Star who became a president of the Woman's Press Club, and Hortense Myers (1913-1987), a legendary political reporter for United Press International who was the first woman inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.

Ann Allen.Julie and Nelson are board members for the Hall of Fame, which inducted Rabb posthumously last year. They also will share details about their late, cherished friend, Bettie Cadou, an Indianapolis-based writer known for breakthroughs in sports journalism who also was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame.

In 1971 - six years before Janet Guthrie became the first woman driver to compete in the Indianapolis 500 - Bettie Cadou shattered a barrier at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. She is considered to have been the first woman, in any professional capacity, to gain coveted silver-badge credentials to Gasoline Alley, allowing her access to the pits and garage areas. Kate Milner Rabb.(A few other women, including some journalists and sponsors, occasionally had been allowed in Gasoline Alley for brief visits. In general, though, women had been barred from the pits and garage areas ever since the opening of the world-famous racetrack in 1909.) Bettie's entry followed a lawsuit against the Speedway filed by Mari McCloskey, a staff member of Women's World magazine,

Bettie Cadou, who died at age 66 in 2002, also covered the Indianapolis Colts during the 1980s as a stringer for The New York Times and Sports Illustrated. She once told Nelson: "I'm probably the only grandmother covering an NFL team in the country."

Nelson and his guests also will explore the challenges confronted by the first woman photographer to cover the state high school basketball tournament. Ruth Chinn, now 88, is a Muncie-based photojournalist who, as our guest Ann Allen puts it, "broke into sports reporting with a bang" in the mid-1940s. Lugging 55 pounds of camera equipment into Hinkle Fieldhouse (then Butler Fieldhouse), she covered the tournament during an era when fewer than 20 women in the country were staff photographers for daily newspapers.

Julie Slaymaker.Ann Allen, who has written an article about the Woman's Press Club of Indiana for an upcoming issue of Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History magazine, notes: "Lest we forget, founding members had to overcome their editors' fears that they might become, horror of horrors, suffragettes. Many were called into their editors' offices to see just what they had in mind with this new club."

Some history facts:

  • The Woman's Press Club of Indiana was founded in 1913 at a famous, bygone site that we explored on a recent radio show: the L.S. Ayres Tea Room.
  • Our guest Ann Allen's recent newspaper work has included a first-person account of putting herself on a food stamp budget for one week, and also a story about the disappearance of an Akron man that remains an unsolved mystery.
  • During World War II, Hortense Myers was recruited to handle the sports desk for a wire service. She resorted to a byline ("M.H. Powner") that disguised the fact that a woman was writing about sports.

Roadtrip: Mauxferry Road, Indiana's 'Mother Road'

Mauxferry Road, northbound in Bartholomew County, Indiana, date unknown.We had a listener tell us that not enough attention has been paid to Indiana's "Mother Road," the Mauxferry Road, which originally ran from Mauckport on the Ohio River and ended in Indianapolis. The name Mauxferry Road has pretty much disappeared in most parts of the state; for example, in Bartholomew County the name of the road was changed to 500 West, but the name "Mauxferry" remains on the much of the road in Johnson County.

In 1824, the road was completed, and in the fall of that year, the state's treasury and other tools of government were moved from Corydon to the new capital of Indianapolis. Learn more when you tune in this Saturday.   

History Mystery

In 1971, Indianapolis-based journalist Bettie Cadou made a breakthrough for women at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Six years before Janet Guthrie became the first woman driver to compete in the Indianapolis 500, Bettie Cadou is considered to have been the first woman, in any professional capacity, to gain coveted silver-badge credentials at the Speedway, allowing her access to the pits and garage areas.

Bettie Cadou. Image courtesy Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.Although a few other women, including some journalists, occasionally had been allowed in Gasoline Alley for brief visits, three things had been considered bad luck in the pits and garage areas since the Speedway opened in 1909. They were women, peanuts and a certain color.

In fact, when Janet Guthrie made international headlines in 1977 by becoming the first woman driver in the Indy 500, she deliberately showed up with a race car painted in this long-unseen color as a gesture of defiance against antiquated traditions.

Question: What was the color that was considered bad luck for so many decades in Gasoline Alley at the world-famous racetrack?

To win the prize, you must call in with the correct answer during the live show and be willing to be placed on the air. Please do not call if you have won a prize from any WICR show during the last two months. The call-in number is (317) 788-3314, and please do not call until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air.

This week's prize is two tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair on Saturday, April 27 in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn, as well as two tickets to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of Visit Indy.

Your Hoosier History Live! team,

Nelson Price, host and creative director
Molly Head, producer, (317) 927-9101
Chris Gahl, Roadtripper
Richard Sullivan, webmaster and tech director

Pam Fraizer, graphic designer
Garry Chilluffo, creative consultant
Michele Goodrich, Jed Duvall, grant consultants
Joan Hostetler, photo historian
Dana Waddell, volunteer-at-large


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Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.Acknowledgments to Print Resources, Monomedia, Indiana Humanities, Visit Indy, WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Heritage Photo & Research Services, Derrick Lowhorn and many other individuals and organizations. We are an independently produced program and are self-supporting through organizational sponsorships, grants and through individual tax-deductible contributions through Indiana Humanities. We do not receive any government funding. Visit our website to learn how you can support us financially.

March 9 show

Flood of 1913, worst in state history

"How could a disaster that claimed 1,000 lives be forgotten?"

So asks Trudy Bell, a science writer and author based in Oho, in a recent blog post  in advance of the 100th anniversary of what is generally considered to be the greatest flood in Indiana history. Almost every Hoosier town near water - whether a river, lake or even a pond - found itself overwhelmed by the catastrophic Flood of 1913, which occurred on Easter weekend in late March.

The south side of Peru, Ind., is pictured during the 1913 flood there. Eleven people died in Peru because of the flood. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society.Even worse, Terre Haute had just been hit by a tornado that caused an estimated $1 million to $3 million in damage (in 1913 dollars), according to an article Trudy wrote for Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History magazine.

"Levees," she reports, "burst all over the state - on the Mississinewa River in Marion,  on the White River in Muncie, on the Wabash River in Lafayette, and on the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg - flooding the cities they were supposed to protect."

Indianapolis became "the single largest city ... badly devastated by the flood," Trudy notes.

She will be among Nelson's guests for this show about the natural disaster, which usually is remembered - if at all - because of the deaths of nearly 500 caged lions, tigers and other circus animals who drowned in Peru.

Others know about the horrific flood because of accounts about cadets from Culver Military Academy who undertook search and rescue operations in Logansport and other Hoosier communities.

Wulf's Hall Relief Station on west side of downtown Indianapolis on March 31, 1913, following the Great Flood of that year. "You Are There 1913: A City Under Water," a 2013 exhibit with re-enactors at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, is based on this historic photograph. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society.In addition to Trudy, who will share insights by phone, Nelson will be joined in studio by Eloise Batic and Angela Giacomelli, two historical researchers with the Indiana Historical Society. They are helping put together an upcoming exhibit, titled "You Are There 1913: A City Under Water," that will open March 26 at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center.

Re-enactors at the exhibit will portray historic Hoosiers including Frederick Ayres, the president of the department store founded by his father; he was a key figure on the Indy relief committee for the Flood of 1913.

Another re-enactor will portray a bicycle-bound postal carrier on the city's west side who took photos of the flood that indicate he was in the middle of the chaos when a levee broke on the Morris Street Bridge.

Amid the torrential rain and flooding in Peru, according to Trudy's article in Traces, more than 3,000 "instantly homeless" residents tried to jam into the hilltop Miami County Courthouse. It became a relief center akin to the Superdome in New Orleans decades later during Hurricane Katrina. Inside the courthouse, 12 people suffocated to death from the overcrowding. Outside, other Peru residents endured a night of pelting rain as they huddled in hopes of gaining entry - and watched in terror as the floodwaters crept ever higher.

By the end of the horrific weekend, about 200 Hoosiers had died, with thousands left homeless. (The total fatality count of nearly 1,000 includes deaths in other states.)

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