Hoosier History Live! features host Nelson Price, Saturdays noon to 1 p.m. on WICR 88.7 FM in Indianapolis.

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July 12 show

Judge Sarah Evans Barker, history-maker in Indiana courts

Even before becoming Indiana's first woman federal judge, Sarah Evans Barker was making history. More than 40 years ago, she became the first woman in the Hoosier state to be an assistant U.S. attorney.

Mishawaka native Sarah Evans Barker takes the oath to become a federal judge as her mother, Sarah Evans, looks on. Image courtesy U.S. District Court, Indiana Southern District.Now, as U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker shifts to "senior status" - that is, a reduced caseload (only by 20 percent, though) - she will be Nelson's in-studio guest, as Hoosier History Live! focuses on her pioneering life and career.

Known for her keen insights, eloquence and wit, Judge Barker also, for more than 20 years, has been a top civic leader in her home state, a distinction that has been noted in her raft of honors. They have included being named a Living Legend in 2010 by the Indiana Historical Society and, most recently, the Lifetime Achievement honoree of the 2014 Cultural Vision Awards.

She also is renowned, every July 4 season, for presiding at the naturalization ceremonies for hundreds of immigrants as they become new U.S. citizens.

A native of Mishawaka, Judge Barker has said she was a "late bloomer" and did not set out to become a judicial pioneer - or even, necessarily, a lawyer. In a recent interview with Nuvo Newsweekly, which presents the Cultural Vision Awards, Judge Barker attributed her decision to attend law school to a pivotal piece of advice she received at Indiana University.

Judge Sarah Evans Barker appears with a gavel. Image courtesy U.S. District Court, Indiana Southern District.Years later, after her marriage to Ken Barker, then a partner at Bose McKinney & Evans in Indianapolis, the couple made another major decision. More than 35 years ago, they decided Ken Barker would be a stay-at-home dad (with their three children) while she pursued her legal career.

"There were no patterns," Judge Barker once told the Indianapolis Business Journal. "We had to make it up as we went."

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan nominated her at age 40 to be U.S. judge of the southern district of Indiana, with the result that she became the first woman on the federal bench in the Hoosier state.

Since then, Judge Barker has presided over several of the most high-profile federal cases in the state, including those involving overcrowding at the Marion County Jail, a proposed ban in Indianapolis on pornographic material, the sale of the Indianapolis Baptist Temple and class-action lawsuits involving Firestone tire.

She has served on national panels on judicial ethics and on the boards of history-focused organizations, including the Indiana Historical Society and the Indiana Bicentennial Commission that's overseeing celebrations for the state's 200th birthday in 2016.

Last month, Judge Barker served as the emcee for an Indiana State Museum Foundation gala that honored another trail-blazing woman, Rabbi Sandy Sasso of Indianapolis. Rabbi Sasso was the first woman in the country to be ordained as a rabbi in the Jewish reconstructionist movement; her pioneering role was the focus of a Hoosier History Live! show last October.

According to a profile of Judge Barker in 19 Stars of Indiana: Exceptional Hoosier Women (IU Press and IBJ Media, 2009) by Michael Maurer, she grew up as a "tomboy" in Mishawaka:

"I was not interested in sewing and cooking. ... I did them, but only so I could also take woodworking and sheep-raising, which were regarded as 'boys' projects."

But she didn't consider attending law school until a dorm counselor at IU suggested it during her junior year.

Judge Barker graduated from the American University School of Law in Washington D.C. After that, she worked as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill until marrying Ken Barker, whom she had met in Mishawaka.

In addition to being the parents of three grown children - Katie, Susan and Grady - the Barkers now are grandparents.

Some history facts:

  • In 1972, Judge Barker became the first woman to serve as assistant U.S. attorney in Indiana.
  • At a naturalization ceremony earlier this month on the lawn of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, Judge Barker presided as 101 people became U.S. citizens. According to a report in The Indianapolis Star, they included immigrants from as far away as Zimbabwe.
  • In law school, her classmates included future Indianapolis attorney Ron Elberger, who has become known as the "Late Night Lawyer" because his high-profile clients have included David Letterman. (Our host Nelson profiled Ron Elberger in his "Late Night Lawyer" capacity - and quoted Judge Barker in The Indianapolis News article - clear back in the 1980s.)

For our show with Judge Barker, we will have a special format and won't be taking call-in questions and comments from listeners. However, we will have a report from our Roadtripper correspondent and the History Mystery.

Learn more: Video interview with Judge Barker from the Indianapolis Business Journal

History Mystery

Although U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was born in Buffalo, N.Y., he grew up in northern Indiana and graduated from La Lumiere School, a boarding school in LaPorte.

Decades earlier, another U.S. Supreme Court justice also had deep connections to Indiana, albeit to the other end of the state. He was born in southern Indiana in 1890. His family members were farmers near the Ohio River. Question mark.The future Supreme Court justice attended Indiana University, where he was a student leader.

In the 1930s, Hoosiers elected him to the U.S. Senate. A Democrat, he helped spearhead Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" legislation through Congress.

The native Hoosier was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by Harry S. Truman. He served on the court from 1949 until 1956.

Question: Who was he?

The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call into the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win the prize if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months.

The prize pack includes two admissions to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, courtesy of Visit Indy, four passes to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and two passes to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie.

Roadtrip: Swiss-influenced Berne

Clock tower with quilt garden in Berne, Ind. Courtesy Berne Chamber of Commerce.Guest Roadtripper and film historian Eric Grayson suggests a trip to what he calls "historic and not-so-historic Berne," which is about 25 miles south of Fort Wayne.

Says Eric: "Berne fashions itself as a Swiss town, and they have a lot of historic and new buildings that show a Swiss influence. The area is full of Amish, so watch out that a stray horseshoe nail doesn't pop your tire. No such luck for me!"

Berne was founded in 1852 Mennonite settlers from Switzerland, and the railroad went through in 1871. Despite some new buildings, such as their 2010 clock tower, there's a lot of history in Berne. Most of the historic downtown is intact, full of nice antique stores.

There's a great cheese factory called Swissland Cheese, and there's an old restaurant in town called Palmer House that is famous for pies. If you're in a hurry, there's a newer place called The White Cottage that has excellent soups and sandwiches.

If you like bed-and-breakfasts in historic buildings, the Schug House from 1907 is an outstanding one, serving food from the local area.

Your Hoosier History Live! team,

Nelson Price, host and creative director
Molly Head, producer, (317) 927-9101
Richard Sullivan, webmaster and tech director
Pam Fraizer, graphic designer

Garry Chilluffo, creative consultant

Joan Hostetler, Michele Goodrich, Jed Duvall, Dana Waddell, advisors


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Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.Twitter logo for Hoosier History Live.Acknowledgments to Monomedia, 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 and individual contributions. We do not receive any government funding. Visit our website to learn how you can support us financially. Also, see our Twitter feed and our Facebook page for regular updates.

Article details 'overlooked yet influential Hoosiers'

(July 6, 2014) - Hoosier History Live's host, Nelson Price, has penned an article for indystar.com that focuses on notable Hoosiers, present and past, who deserve more attention.

IndyStar logo.Says Nelson: "I picked five diverse Hoosiers, three of them historic figures and two contemporary. One of the latter is archaeologist/anthropologist Christopher Schmidt (of U Indy's Indiana Prehistory Lab), whom I regard as a rock star. He has been a radio show guest twice so far."

Others in the article include:

  • Chief Menominee, leader of the Potawatomi in northern Indiana during the 1830s.
  • Anita DeFrantz, Olympics organizer who hails from Indy.
  • Tom Harmon, football star, World War II hero and pioneer TV sportscaster.
  • Levi and Catharine Coffin, whose home in Newport (Fountain City now) became known as the "Grand Central Station" of the Underground Railroad during the 1840s.

So ... click over to the story on the indystar.com website and take a look at Nelson's most recent published piece of history journalism!

July 19 show

From family grocers to supermarkets

Bova Conti grocery, 960 S. East Street, Indianapolis, 1946. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society.For about 103 years, the Italian ancestors of Tom Castaldi were in the food business, primarily in Logansport, where they owned neighborhood grocery stores. Beginning in the 1880s, his great-grandparents' store sold not just "fruits, vegetables, tobaccos, but also ice cream and (even) featured an oyster bar," according to Tom.

Not only is Tom Castaldi (who grew up in Logansport and lives today in Fort Wayne) the Allen County historian, he has become an expert about the heyday of neighborhood groceries. For generations, these family-owned stores were cherished in neighborhoods and villages across the state, from Lockerbie and Broad Ripple in Indianapolis to Logansport, where a candy case from the final Castaldi family's store is displayed at the Cass County Historical Museum.

In addition to exploring family-run grocery stores and their social impact, Hoosier History Live! also will delve into the entrée across Indiana of grocery chains, including those that eventually introduced the supermarket concept.

Indianapolis-based writer, researcher and editor Sharon Butsch Freeland (click here to read all her Historic Indianapolis articles) dug into the entrance of Cincinnati-based Kroger in the Indy market for a Feb. 12, 2013, article on historicindianapolis.com.

Castaldi Grocery in Logansport, Ind., circa 1944. Image courtesy Tom Castaldi.According to Sharon's thoroughly researched piece, Kroger entered the Indianapolis market clear back in the mid-1920s by acquiring an existing family-owned chain of 72 neighborhood groceries. So the initial Kroger stores in the Hoosier capital undoubtedly were located in small storefronts; the supermarket concept was introduced decades later.

Tom and Sharon will join Nelson in studio to share insights about family-owned neighborhood groceries and their modern-era successors, the supermarket chains. This show undoubtedly will include tidbits about the evolution of the ways Hoosiers have shopped, cooked and lived.

Some history facts:

  • According to a recent column in The Indianapolis Business Journal by Greg Andrews, Marsh Supermarkets made retailing history 40 years ago. An executive in June 1974 at the Indy-based chain made the first purchase in the country using a UPC bar code. (He bought a pack of Juicy Fruit chewing gum to test the brand-new scanner at a Marsh store.)
  • Our guest Sharon Butsch Freeland is a seventh-generation Hoosier; her maternal ancestors migrated from Ohio to Crawfordsville in 1828, and her paternal ancestors immigrated from Germany to Indianapolis in 1840.
  • During the 103-year stretch in the food business, our guest Tom Castaldi's family had a total of eight stores in Logansport. On only two occasions, though, were two stores operating simultaneously.
  • Tom's great-grandfather, Lorenzo Solimano, had been born in Genoa, Italy, in 1838. With his wife Mary, Lorenzo (who changed the spelling to Laurence) opened the first Logansport store in the 1880s. The last store was closed in 1983. The exhibit about the stores at the Cass County Historical Museum is titled "Growing Up Grocery."

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