17 February 2008

Gary Indiana - The "Steel City"

To RETURN TO ==> the Gary, Indiana pages on Dave's Den CLICK HERE

This is the place to enter any comments remarks, questions, etc. you may have about anything you saw on the Gary, Indiana pages of Dave's Den.

I welcome your input, and do thank you for sharing your views!

Dave Yaros --

This section is for a discussion about Gary, Indiana. It may be about things good, or things bad. Dave's Den contains an extensive presentation of Gary related information. It will take some time to review it all.

Any discussion of Gary requires a recognition that the perspective of one who lived there shall be far different from that of a person merely driving through on the way to some place else.

Believe it or not, Gary was a very good place to live and work in the 50's and 60's. Having said that, I must also admit that, sadly, those days are now long gone.


Dave Yaros said...

Judge Elbert H. Gary (Chairman of the Board - U. S. Steel Corp. in 1906) is the person for whom the "Steel City" is named.

In honor (?) of Judge Gary I have composed a prayer to him. One may read, and I am proud to announce, also hear that prayer being said, on the Elbert H. Gary Bio section of the Gary area of Dave's Den.

Warning! This is an attempt at humor folks, not an effort to be either religious or sacriligious.

Anonymous said...

Well, the whole country got itself in a twit of Mayor/County Democratic Party Chairman Rudy Clay's performance on election night.

Fact of the matter is, Rudy is the victim of his own stupidity. While I would never question his desire to rig the election results, I do not think he has the intelligence to do so! My perspective is that he hoped the county vote would be enought to put IN in the Obama column. He wanted to wait on reporting the results so he could parlay what he perceived as his 15 minutes of fame. Needless to say, it did not work out that way, folks!

Anonymous said...

I love this one. It is an actual online advertisement for a clothing store in the Village Shopping Center in Gary. Is it a sign of the times?

UPTOWN (Urban Street Gear)

We are located in Village Shopping Center in Gary, IN. Gary has bad name as murder capital in States but it's actually very safe here. We were ranking number 1 in crime but now it's down to 10th in 2006. So it's getting little better. It's not too far from Chicago (40 mins from Downtown) and 15 mins drive from River Oaks Mall and Southlake Mall. Take I94 and get off on south of Grant St. We are about 1/2 mile down the road on your right. 3558 Village Ct. Gary, IN 46408.

Tel: If you are afraid of getting shot, we accept phone order as long as you have confirmed Paypal acct. We carry many hard to find street/urban such as: Artful Dodger, Crooks and Castles, Cult 45,

Dave Yaros said...

One Man's Crusade

Google alerts me to web activity related to Gary, Indiana, the "Steel City." I can say without hesitation, the activity is always negative in tone.

It gets old seeing anyone and everyone, particularly those who know nothing of da' Region or are only passing through, bash the ol' hometown.

I have taken it upon myself to redress these wrongs by pointing out in each and every instance that Gary has a rich cultural, political and industrial history. I then extend to them an invitation to learn more about Gary by visiting Dave's Den.

At times I feel like Sancho Panza of Don Quixote fame; viz., tilting at windmills!

uncle jim said...

thanks for stopping by my blog. the issue you viewed shares some personal historical events while working in the region.

the trucking terminal i worked at was actually on the east side near lake station. our primary accts. included all the steel mills.

i actually lived in the region 1975 and 1976. i continued to work in the area while being based out of the detroit area for another 15 years.

i actually have fond memories of shopping in downtown gary, but things were fast approaching a state of decline, and you know the rest of the story.

Dave Yaros said...

Uncle Jim,

In my day, Lake Station was known as East Gary. 'Tis a pretty sad commentary when a municipality invokes a name change to avoid association with "The Steel City!"

My time in Gary was from 1946 through 1965. '65 is when I went off to school. I still maintained more than a presence for another 4 years, but moved on for good in 1969. I still have family in Merrillville and Portage.

Both Merrillville and Portage were farm country when I was there. That sure is not the case now is it?

Thanks for spending a mmoment here, and sharing your views.

Dave Yaros said...

Mayor Rudy proclaims his use of a Hummer as his official city transport, which incidentally is driven by a chauffeur/bodyguard, is in fact economical!

One has to wonder, to what theory of economics does Mayor Rudy subscribe? He says he is saving the city money, as his Hummer has a better MPG rating than former Mayor Scott King's Ford Expedition.

Actual MPG realized, versus rated MPG, is what should count. I refuse to believe that a Hummer gets a better city MPG than a Ford Expedition.

Moreover, what kind of image is presented by the Chief Executive of the city traversing the roads of the "Steel City" in a civilianized military vehicle? It harkens me back to the days when the Detroit P.D. used army tanks to patrol the streets of the "Motor City!" Would certainly make me feel safe and secure driving the same roads in my Ford Focus!

Dave Yaros said...

The School City of Gary has determined it must trim a mere $7 Million from its 2008-2009 budget! What's a million here or there, right? No problema!

To try, and I do emphasize the word try, and minimize this shortfall teachers, educational assistants, security personnel and administrators are all being issued pink slips.

Meanwhile, the school city is considering renewal of a food service contract which promises to yield a deficit of 3/4's of a million dollars next year. Last school year, the deficit was a mere $375,000!

Gee,I wonder if savings, without staff cuts, could be realized in the food services area by finding another vendor?

How say you? Share your views ...

Dave Yaros said...

Sean from MN wrote:
21 Jun 2008 0937 Hrs.
Hi Dave,

Thanks for the comment on my blog. I checked out your site, and I enjoyed it very much. Your info on Gary and Jackie Wilson is very interesting and useful.

I remember the case of your uncle, and I'm sorry to see that everything has dragged on so long.

I'll dig farther into your site over time. Thanks again for letting me know about it.


Anonymous said...

Gary can be fairly safe. I drove a beer truck in the city on occasion over the past 18 years. I supervise drivers now, so I'm still very familiar with the city and it's areas. We rarely have problems in Gary. The fact is, unless you're involved with gangs or drugs, you're just as safe in Gary as you are in other large cities. I have been somewhat disapointed that Gary hasn't had a rebirth of sorts. It just seems like all the ingredients are there, but it just doesn't seem to happen. Well one ingredient is missing...Leadership. A revatilized Gary would really propel Lake County's growth. That huge geographical area, with around 100,000 people in it, has so little purchasing power.

Thanks for the site. The Last Pollack Staggering.

Anonymous said...

I have followed the case since it happened, and cannot imagine the pain it must be causing to see it continue.
Rufus/Zolo seems to never take responsibility for his actions, having served time in prision before he murdered and blaming the prison system for what he became.
Keep up the work and blog.Like you, I champion for beautiful Gary and correct those who have never been or know its rich history.

Dave Yaros said...

Last Pollack Staggering,

Thanks for your comments, and the kind words for Dave's Den.

To this "Slovak Supporter" of da' Region, it is especially gratifying to read something positive about Gary from someone with "real, firsthand," experience. By far, the majority of comments on the "Steel City" are negative and derisive. Moreover, they are almost always from someone who
a) Has never been there, or
b) Someone merely passing through.

I have to agree that lack of leadership plays a very big role in the failure to revive. Clay is a joke! Clay is taking care of Clay, and no one else.

I also agree, all the necessary ingredients for a turn around exist. They have been in place for quite a while.

What is needed is for government to both think, and act positive, and to provide economic incentive for businesses to locate in Gary.

Dave Yaros said...

Solely in an effort to keep things a bit tidy, my reply to the Rufus/Zolo comment has been placed in the "Officer Down" section of the blog.

Dave Yaros said...

Jul 3 (1800 Hours)


Just wanted to point out the omission of Shakespeare and Blacula actor William Marshall from your famous Garyites page. NBA's Dick Barnett as well as singer/actress Kellee Patterson.

I really enjoy reading about Gary,I left 15 years ago and get back as often as time permits.

Thy Will Be Done

Anonymous said...

Hello Dave,

Just found your site through a link off of a link from "Look At This" blog. Wow, what a superior job you've done to the memory of Gary. I was born and raised in Brunswick till age 11 then our family moved to Highland. I have lots of family history in Gary and the Region. My family came to Gary in the 40's. Many of them are still there. One even still in Glen Park!

I've really enjoyed reading nearly your whole site! Thanks for putting so much into it!

Would love to share stories with you! You've rekindled so many memories from my childhood. I'm on the other end of the Baby Boom from you being born in '57. Moved out of Gary in '68 and out of state to near Detroit in '78.

Many thanks again,

Ron Windmiller

Dave Yaros said...


Thanks for the very kind words about Dave's Den. Glad you liked what you found. Hope you will spread the word.

I am not familiar with Look at This blog. I shall have to check it out. Give the folks there my heartfelt thanks for the link.

As for swapping stories, sounds like a great idea. No better place to do it than right here on the blog. Feel free to contribute!

It looks as though we both left Gary around the same time. I sort of left, for college, in 1965, but left for good in 1969, on going into the service.

You still have a relative in Glen Park? Westside or eastside? [Are you, like me, a Wallace grad (Class of '64)?] Pray tell, how is your Glen Park relative coping, what with all the changes to the "Steel City?"

One last thing, you now hold the very distinct honor of being the first person to actually enter a comment on the blog! Even though it has been on line since February of 2008, it has seen no activity. Some folk have sent an email, but no one, other than a friend, who out of sympathy, has left a comment. That distinction, plus $1.49, will get you a cup of coffee! Again thanks.

Dave -

Anonymous said...

I'm honored to be the first genuine poster here. ha-ha

I should qualify that I was 11 when we moved from Gary to Highland. I went to high school in Highland but my mom, dad, uncle and brother attended Edison school.
I went to Brunswick Elementary school for all but 5th grade. Then I was a product of de-segregation and was bussed to Tolliston to attend Beverage School for half a semester.

My dad worked for Petroleum Piping Contractors out of Hammond and he worked all over the oil refineries and chemical plants in the area. My grandpa retired from Cities Service. He also owned a 5 and 10 cent store on 5th Ave too. I didn't have any relatives in the mill per say. My grand mother worked as a steel cutter at American Bridge Co. during the war years. We had friends in AmBridge and were over there quite a lot.

I have an adult cousin still loving in Glen Park much to the bewilderment of the rest of the family. He's a second generation Russian immigrant and went to the Russian Orthodox church there. His last name is Danko if that possibly rings a bell.

I remember watching my brother play football for Edison at Gilroy Stadium and was wondering what happened to the stands I could always see from 94 as we drove by. Funny they sank into a land fill there. Great information!

I'm not sure how familiar you were with Brunswick. I remember the Village shopping center really well. One of our favorite places over there was The Lure hamburger joint. Do you remember that?

By the way, my dad grew up on the same street as Hank Stram.

Do you have family back in the region?



Dave Yaros said...


The name Danko does in fact ring a bell, in the sense it is familiar. Would have to troll the recesses of my mind to recall if I knew any Danko's back in the day.

As for The Lure, sure I remember it. My mother used to work at some restaurant, in a bowling alley, in the shopping center not too far from there.

You may, or may not, be aware that I was a third generation steelworker. It was in my youth, right after highschool, and during college. I was in electrical maintenance.

As for family still there, the answer is yes. My sister still lives in Merrillville, not too far from Calumet Park Cemetery. I also have a brother, retired from Inland Steel, who lives in Portage.

When I would go visit my sister, I used to take the Grant St. exit off the Tri-State (Borman) to Ridge Rd. over to Cleveland St. The number of murders in that particular stretch caused me to drastically chance my route of travel.

Did you see the mention of the ad, here on the blog, from the guy selling urban gear at a store in the Village, at 35th & Grant, touting phone orders for those afraid of getting shot? What a hoot!

On Hammond, I distinctly recall it being a cool thing to take a drive to the White Castle and get 12 cent hamburgers! One did not find White Castles in too many locations back in the day, if you recall.

As for Tolleston, my paternal grandparents lived there. It seemed like taking a trip back in time to go there, especially when coming from the much newer homes of Glen Park (We live on 44th Av,at Georgia St).

Where you aware that Al Capone used Tolleston as a hideout when the heat was on? But then I suspect "Scarface" was not the only gangster to frequent the Region?

In fact, we used to frequent a pizza parlor in Glen Park, on the corner of 45th and Broadway, that was run by Tommy Morgano. I, now, am certain he used the place to launder mob money. It was aptly named the Riccochet Lounge. Tommy managed to get himself deported to Sicily. Miraculously, he also managed his return to Gary after a few years!

If you were from Highland, do you recall the swimming pool at Wicker Park? Spent many a summer day there as a kid.

Dave -

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Hey...this is fun! It's not often I pause to remember my Gary years. I appreciate the communication with someone who knows the area well.

My cousin by marriage in Glen Park is Nick Danko, a retired iron worker. His wife was Eileen who is actually my second cousin. They had 4 kids but they all were younger than me. I don't know where he lives exactly as I was too young to really know streets back then. I know Brunswick pretty well but not GP.

I think I remember the bowling alley where you mom worked. Another place I remember near there was on the corner of 5th Ave and Clark Road. It was a supper club with a very cool neon martini glass that would flash back and forth. As a kid I was fascinated by the thought of a supper club and what wonderful food they must have there. hahaha

As a teenager I -almost- got a summer job at the mill. My girlfriend's dad was kind of high up at the mill at the time and tried to get me in but they were only hiring immediate family members. I was disappointed as lots of my friends worked summers there and I wanted to have the "mill experience" for myself. My dad was kind of happy I didn't get it as he said it was very dirty hard work. (not that pipefitting was a cake walk)

I'm really familiar with Merriville. Our church in Gary moved to Merriville, which was one of the reasons our family moved to Highland. Our church was on Durban Street just a few blocks east of Colfax. It moved to Whitcomb street in Merriville. Both my parents are buried in Calumet Cemetery as are numerous other family members and friends of my folks.

It's fun to know some underworld history of Tolliston. I remember my mom said she went to school there too. When I went (was bussed) to Beverage I knew it was a bad area. Beverage was a brand new school built next to the old wooden school it replaced. One day somebody started a fire in the old building and burnt it down. That was one of my favorite days as I remember! Lots of excitement for an innocent little Baptist kid from Brunswick. ha-ha

I don't remember the pizza place you mentioned. The one we frequented was called Candie's Pizza. Again...too young to remember where it was.

As for Wicker Park Pool. I was there lots and lots! My first experience on a high dive was at that pool. Such great memories there! Once I learned to play golf I played there several times as well as the one over on Cline Ave just south of 94...just up the road from the Ridge Road Drive-In.

I read on some of your pages about the Y&W Drive-In. I spent lots of time there too.

Our family would go to the White Castle in Hammond after Sunday night church almost every week. It was right next to a bunch of rail road tracks as I remember. Another wonderful memory!

Hope I'm not going on too much. I'm having fun remembering all this.



Anonymous said...


If you're interested I have a
-very little- very basic blog I just started. Just some of my ruminations.



Dave Yaros said...


Had already been to your blog, to check you out! I have published your comment with the link, in the event anyone else may also be interested in it.

It is amazing how just a few years makes such a difference. When I graduated from high school in 1964, all one had to do was go the very end of Broadway (the U.S. Steel employment office) and you had a job. You did not need an in to get a job.

I was lucky, as I avoided being hired as a mere laborer. In electrical maintenance, I was a "skilled tradesman." It made a difference, both in pay and stature.

As for the "mill experience," it is unique. No doubt about that. Also, your father was right, it is dirty work; very hot, very dirty!

In the early and mid-50's U.S. Steel had plant tours. I took the tour in 1956, as part of the Gary Golden Jubilee festivities. It was fascinating to see all the cranes, furnaces, rolling mills, etc.

It is one thing to see them as a tourist, and quite another to deal with them on an "up close and personal" basis as an employee charged with maintaining them.

I once had to troubleshoot an overhead crane stuck inside a charging furnace. It was more than hot, let me tell you!

Golf: I was a caddy at the Gary Country Club in my youth. Used to hitchike from Glen Park to the golf course, and back, every day during the summer. Doubt you would see kids hitchiking in Gary today?

I do not know if I ever played the Wicker Park course? Did play the Gary Country Club (caddies were allowed that privilege on Mondays when the course was closed), Turkey Creek and Gleason Park.

Those white, wooden school buildings were known as portables. They were meant to be temporary, but like a lot of things, became a permanent part of the school grounds. At Wallace they housed the metal and wood shop classes long before my arrival, and long after my departure. I suspect the metal and woodworking equipment housed in the buildings was worth more than the structure itself!

Both of my older brothers worked at the Y&W. Who, in the Gary area, did not spend time at the Y&W? If you were lucky, you were also "making time" too!

Worry not about going on too much. Can't happen.

Anonymous said...


I remember going to Chicago to the Museum of Science and Industry and seeing the displays of steel making and thinking that was so cool. But ...it was a very romanticized idea. Actually working there was a mess I'm sure and I -should- be happy I never had to do that for a living. Still...there's something very affirming to say you've worked in the mill and lived to tell.

Once I got a car I'd drive up around and all over the mill areas and refineries. I was fascinated by all that industry. I didn't know much about it really and being a typical teenager didn't ask my dad about any of it. He passed away when I was 21 so I missed getting to know him as an adult when I would have asked a lot.

I don't follow local politics these days. The only real memory was when Hatcher was running and elected. That was about the time I was bussed to Tolleston which made it all the more significant in my life. Funny what I remember from a radio interview with candidate Hatcher. He said if he was elected this would be first time anyone would see a mayor do the Boogaloo. hahaha

Turkey Creek Golf Club sound familiar to me. Where was it? I did play Oak Knoll a couple of times and remember how dry it was and also had manhole covers in some of the fairways. Caused a few interesting bounces! ha

By reading your blog pages it sounds like you are enjoying Milwaukee. They have such a beautiful shore line festival grounds. We've been to the Irish Fest a few times years ago and had the best time. I'm living near Detroit now and it's too bad more isn't done with our river area. They are trying but it's not quite the same.

Just throwing out some random places I remember well: Woodmar Shopping Center, River Oaks, South Lake Mall, Illianna Speedway, and a store in the Village that had a glass monkey cage in back.

Thanks for posting my blog link! I appreciate that.


Dave Yaros said...


Turkey Creek was a semi-private/public course at or near 68th & Harrison. Parts of the course actually abutted the Gary Country Club, even though one could net get to either from the other (except by scaling a fence).

On Detroit, a childhood friend had relatives there, and I went with him to the "Motor City" more than a few times.

One thing I still recall is the Bob-Lo boat rides. I do not know if they exist anymore?

I also remember crossing into Canada, over the bridge at Windsor. Seems to me they permitted 18 year olds to drink, while 21 was the age on the U.S. side of the border?

I have an email acquaitance who lives in Windsor. He keeps sending me pics, and Windsor looks alive and thriving today. Not at all like I remember it back in the 50's & 60's.

I too was/am impressed with large industry. Whiting held more than a bit of fascination for me as a kid. Did your father work in the refineries?

You do know that either before we where born, or at least old enough to personally remember, the Standard Oil (now BP) refinery had a major, major fire.

Are you a baseball fan? If so, is your allegiance now with Detroit, or is it still with a Chicago team?

Like my father, I am a Cubs fan. They never were able to take it all during his lifetime, or mine to date. This year does seem to hold promise, but Cubs fans are realists and dare not assume anything!

As for working in the mill, I enjoyed it, am glad I did it and am not one bit ashamed of saying I was a steelworker.

But then, I was also an autoworker and a teamster. The blue collar roots are strong. In college I worked for the Chrysler Corp. engine foundry in Indianapolis. I was a fork lift operator, and my job was to dump the cylinder cores.

What I can say is, the steel mill was clean compared to the engine foundry!

Woodmar Shopping Center: do remember it, particularly Carson Piere, Scott & Co.

South Lake Mall: came into being after I had left. Know of it because of visiting my sister in Merrillville, but have only been there once or twice.

Illiana Speedway: Ah, we all were 'gearheads of one kind or another, weren't we? Illiana put on a good class of track racing.

In my day, the place to be, and be seen, was the U.S. 30 Dragstrip. It may have closed by the time you reached your mid-to-late teens?

Pray tell, why would a store in the Village have a glass monkey cage in back? Was there a monkey in the cage? Reach into the recesses of your mind and tell me what you can recollect about this.

As for Milwaukee, what I enjoy is the money I am paid. I was thinking this very morn that I have been here for 8 years and never been to the beach. The only beach I know of is polluted and smells terrible. I would be afraid to go into the water!

But, there is Schlitz beer, which is trying to make a come back. In the summers, working dayturns in the mill, I would come home, immediately open a Schlitz, barbecue a steak and have another Schlitz with my meal.

Do you remember Meister Brau beer? Used to drink that, as I could afford it, and it did not taste bad.

To be truthful, I see way too many similarities between Milwaukee now and Gary back in the 70's to be comfortable. This city is in a precarious position. It could go either way. I guess the most encouraging thing about it, the younger generation seems to like it. That should bode well for the future?

I still read the Gary Post-Tribune daily, albeit online. Of course, at my age the one part of the paper I am sure to read is the obits!

Gary politics have always fascinated me. They still do. Unlike a lot of cities where the same stuff goes on, behind the scenes, Gary did it openly. The voter/taxpayer knew what was going on, and who was doing what.

I remember seeing former Mayor Chacharis on the corner of 35th & Broadway. The reason he was the "former" mayor at that precise point in time was that he had been convicted and sentenced for federal tax fraud. Even though he was supposed to be in the federal pen serving his sentence, there he was standing on the corner with his brother!

Isn't the current Detroit mayor, or a councilman, under pressure to resign due to his extra-marital escapades? Is that still bieng played out, or is he now gone?

Enough for today -

Anonymous said...

Sadly the Bob-Lo boats are nearly history. They haven't been used for more years than I can remember. One is in dry dock rotting away and the other is trying to make a comeback but needing a benevolent somebody to pay for restoration. Did you go to the island, Bob-Lo amusement park when you were here? The park fell on hard times and mounting competition from the likes of Cedar Point. It's now an upscale condo development property. It's always been owned by Canada so I guess they figured it was more valuable as real estate. The whole bob-Lo wasn't part of -my- childhood but my wife has fond memories of trip on the boat and fun on the island. I did get a chance to go a couple of times and I'm glad. It was fun! Old time fun like I remember at Riverview amusement park. Remember that one?

Windsor is a cool place to go. That's always where locals take their visitors when they come. When I came back in '78 all there was to do was shop on a couple of streets and eat at an interesting restaurant. The big entertainment was what people around here used to call the "Windsor Ballet". A nude strip club. Now Windsor has 2 major casinos and a bustling downtown.

Detroit has 3, count 'em, 3 casinos downtown making for a total of 5 within a 5 mile radius. Go figure.

For Baseball I was a Sox fan but the Tigers win me over during the Sparky years. I'd love the Lions to do better but I'm much more a Bears fan still. There's something about a Bears middle linebacker that makes me proud to be from that area. I'm a die hard Red Wings fan and I like the Pistons a lot. I've turned Maze and Blue too. Actually, it was a high school dream of mine to play for Michigan. Big dream.

Yes, Detroit's mayor is in deep doo doo. He perjured himself about an affair with his Chief of Staff. She quit once the story broke. She's also on the hook for perjury. But the back story is when 3 detectives who were investigating a wild party at the mayors mansion, with a stripper who ended up dead later, learned of the mayors affair, the mayor striped them of their positions eventually causing them to quit. The detectives won a wrongful dismissal suit against the mayor and before the gavel fell the detectives were awarded 9 million between tem as long as they kept silent about the affair. The Freedom of Information Act blew the lid off of everything and now it's all on the table but the mayor is digging in for a long legal battle. In the mean time business is leaving Detroit as a result. We're losing conventions, new development and basically the trust of anyone who might have come to set up shop in Motown. *whew* (hope that wasn't too much info...I can get carried away with Mayor Kilpatrick) And now the FBI is investigating a council member regarding sludge hauling fraud. The fun never stops. Ain't local politics a hoot!

Better give you a rest here...ha-ha

Catch you later.

Anonymous said...


Trying to recall more about the store in the Village with the glass monkey cage...

I was very young but remember it so clearly. It was in the back of the store...possibly a department store and there was an entrance in back as well. It was a floor to ceiling glass case/cage. Wish I could remember the store name.

We lived on Calhoun Street in Brunswick. We were only a couple of blocks south of the South Shore train tracks. Calhoun Street was about a mile from Cline Avenue where the Kaiser Aluminum plant was located.

I don't remember the Standard Oil fire. I'm sure my dad did though. He worked as a pipe fitter our of a small company in Hammond. He worked in all the refineries and chemical plants in the region. It was dirty hard work too. He always told me to learn how to make money with my brains instead of my brawn.

I remember Lew Wallace school but only from the outside. Seems there was a building near there we frequented but can't remember what it was. Did you know anybody from Edison?

Just had a flash remembering my bus trips to Tolleston going by the Peerless potato chip factory. Wow....we really loved those chips. I'd even stock up and take a bunch back to Michigan when I'd visit. Wish I still has one of those big red cans.


Dave Yaros said...


Ah a Tiger fan. The "Main Spark" used to mangage the Cincinnati Reds before he came to Detriot. I lived in Cincy for many years, and always liked him.

Riverview, I remember well. Spent a few fun times there. There is a website about it which is interesting. I don't have the link but I am sure it can be found by a Google search. That is how I located it.

Yes, I did go to the amusement park on Bob-Lo Island. It was neat. I did not know the island was part of Canada.

Another thing I recall about Detroit was touring the Ford River Rouge Plant. Henry was justified in being proud of the facility. It was massive.

Did some research on the Whiting refinery fire. It was in August of 1955. The place burned for 8 days! Despite all the devastation, only 2 people died.

On the monkey in the cage, if it was in a department store, I suspect it had to be Montgomery Ward? In fact the store was often called "Monkey Ward" by the locals. Perhaps there was reason behind that monker after all?

Interesting that you remember Peerless Potato Chips. Boy, they were good, weren't they! They are still made, believe it or not. My sister gets them for me if she knows I am coming to visit. I had forgotten about the big red cans, but can picture them quite clearly after you mentioned them. Hardly economical packaging. The can probably cost more than the chips inside!

I can't conjure up any building near Lew Wallace you might have went to, as it is smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood, at 45th and Madison. Nor can I say I knew anyone from Edison.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave - I stumbled on your site looking for a photo of the Lure Drive-In...My Dad was born on the East Side in the early '20s and graduated from Emerson. My Mom's family moved in from Minnesota when she was in high school and also lived on the East Side and was an Emerson grad. When they got married they had a couple of houses in Brunswick where I grew up in the 50's and 60's. My brother and sister both went to Edison and I finished at Brunswick Elementary but would have gone to Westside...but we moved back to the original family's stomping grounds of Valparaiso. I noticed the discussion of the monkeys in the Carson's window but I didn't see anyone talk about the flamingos that were also there. I have millions of memories of skating on Clark Pond, eating at the Lure, and of course the South Shore Train that pasted our house at the end of the block on Porter Street.

Dave Yaros said...


Ah, another "Region Rat." Thanks for taking the time to both visit AND COMMENT. I do appreciate it.

So you know about the monkeys in the store? This must have been after my time, as I have no recollection of it. Tell us what you know; things like where, when and why. Where the flamingos live? I cannot imagine monkeys and flamingos peacefully sharing the same space?

There is indeed a pic of the Lure Drive-in avialable. I do not think I have it, but I know I have seen it on the net. Did you do a Google "Image" search for it? Did you find it? If so, please share the link, as you are not the first/only person to mention the Lure.

You did not indicate you have been to the Dave's Den web site? If not, you will find plenty of info on the Gary we remember, as well as the Gary of before our time, and current day. I do encourage you to come on by.

By the way, I checked out your offerings on the web, and was immpressed. But then I may be approaching "kleptogenarism" with my desire to steal the past!

Thanks again ....

Dave Yaros said...

Friends, we've got trouble in the "Steel City". Yes, I say we have trouble. Trouble, that starts with a "T," and rhymes with "C," which stands for CLAY.

For Dave's Den visitors who have not figured it out yet, I am not exactly a fan of "Hiz 'Onor, da Mayor" Rudy Clay.

His shenanigans need to be documented and chronicled so that others may become enraged and outraged over the actions undertaken by this bozo.

To that end, Dave's Den has created the Rudy Report. It will permit one to review the activities of the Clay adminstration and comment on his "fiddling while Gary decays."

I hope you find it interesting and useful.

Amanda said...

Thanks for the comment.
My mother, uncle and I were all raised in Glen Park. My mom (and that entire generation) went to Holy Family and Andrean. I went to Sts. Peter and Paul then Andrean.

My grandfather worked at US Steel and the Gary FD for over 30 years.

I remember hearing stories about Gary in it's heyday. Seeing photos at the Bank 1 on Broadway. I never knew that Gary.

Thanks for sharing this post.

Dave Yaros said...


Glad you like the offerings here. I trust you have also visited the related web site? I am certain you will find it interesting.

YOU SAID: Seeing photos at the Bank 1 on Broadway. I never knew that Gary.

Something got lost in translation there, or between Hawaii and the Midwest!

Andrean H.S. is still there, and up and running. I don't think that is the case for Holy Family, but not sure? I do know they just recently closed Sts. Peter & Paul.

One of my uncles was on the Gary F.D. In fact he was the head honcho at the downtown station.

In my time, the 50's & 60's, Glen Park was a great place to live! Today at least 4 of the houses of what were my former neighbors are now vacant lots. The house in which I lived is currently owned by some bank in CA.

Enjoy life in the islands, and come back when you can. Think of it as "sort of" coming home!

Dave Yaros said...

05 October 2008
Gary in the '60's
pammiejom said...

I was telling my kids how different Gary was when I was a kid, we moved to Portage from a very small town in Pennsylvania when I was 2 in 1963. At the time my dad was working afternoon shift, I think Kaiser was called E.J. Lavino (?) at that time or maybe that was the company before Kaiser, memory is going, LOL. While my brothers were in school dad would take my mom and me into Gary for window shopping or whatever for the day, I can remember being fascinated by such BIG buildings. He bought my first bike at Sears in Gary. These are a few of the places I remember in my youth:

AL'S PIZZA, RIDGE THEATER, Y & W DRIVE-IN, U.S. 30 DRAGSTRIP, TOPS, SHOPPERS WORLD, MCDONALDS. Y & W was great with 3 screens we used to walk to the other screens to catch a peak on the way to the snack stand, LOL.

There was another theater, can't remember the name on hwy 20, my friends and I would go for the midnight showings of Rocky Horror Picture Show. LOL

My father-in-law worked at the post office next to Kaiser, he told me many stories of his youth growing up in Gary. Him and is buddy's would hang out at one of the train depots and when the men weren't looking they would stick pennys, rocks, whatever they could tight against the wheels, he said they had been able to keep the train from moving when they were able to get enough wheels "choocked" with things. LOL, not sure how true it is but I LOVED his stories.

My husband lived in Aetna when he was a kid also. He has an aunt who still lives in Gary. Her husband ran for mayor a LONG time ago, Emery Bandanish, he used to own a drug store with the old fashion soda shop.

Did you ever go to Westville to see if you could see any "loonies" back when it was an insane asylum before it became a jail?

How about Stage Coach Road?

Washington Park Zoo is my first Zoo memory.

Better stop before this becomes a book, LOL.

Dave Yaros said...


If your 1st bike came from Sears, it must have been a J.C. Higgins?

The store I most remember downtown was Comay's Jewelers. It is where everyone went for records. They actually had listening booths where one could listen to the 45's before deciding to buy!

I also recall spending time at Memorial Auditorium. It is where all the b-ball games were played, and also where my graduation ceremony was held. Back in my day, it was tradition for the graduating class to march down Broadway from 5th Ave to the auditorium. Now the place is a burnt out shell.

The Y & W is long closed now. In my day it had only 1 screen. Both of my brothers worked there while in high school.

We used to go to Washington Park Zoo, too. Hey, it was free! What I really remember about Michigan City were the state penitentiary (which is still there and currently housing my uncle's murderer) and the smell of Smith Bros. Cough Drops being manufactured. Ah, "how sweet it was!"

It does sound as though you spend quite a bit of time in Glen Park/Merrillville. Al's Pizza was where we would go after football games at Gilroy Stadium. I am old enought to also remember when McDonald's was built and first opened for business. Prior to that we would go to White Castle in Hammond for 5 cent burgers!

And yes, we did make the trip to Westville on more than one occasion. Truth be known, we probably saw more loonies on the loose on the streets of Gary than we ever did at Westville.

Beth said...

Hi Dave, thanks for your comment on my blog, concerning my recent drive through Gary on my way to Merrillville.

While I found the decay sad and dismaying, it does seem like there are efforts underway to improve the city. I know it won't happen overnight, but I hope Gary can once again become a thriving city.

A fellow Hoosier,

Dave Yaros said...


The chances of Gary experiencing any sort of rejuvenation are presently slim-to-none. I fully anticipate it shall be in formal bankruptcy come 2009!

The Rudy Report on Dave's Den details the fiscal woes Gary is facing, and the efforts to cope. Those efforts fall woefully short of what is needed to keep the "Steel City" afloat.

Chocoholic said...

After reading James Loewen's book on sundown towns and learning that Porter County didn't allow blacks to be in its county after dark, I wonder how much you think the racism of the surrounding areas to Gary played into its downward spiral? I.e., steel mills lay off workers, white can find jobs in other areas and move to other areas but black workers are much more limited as to where they can live and work. Without jobs, crime rates go up. I'm attempting to research this more and am thinking of attempting a book on the subject so any info from former and current Gary residents is helpful.

Dave Yaros said...


You raise an interesting theory. One that I suspect would be more than difficult to ferret out, let alone prove. While Gary is noted for patent discrimination, the type of discrimination to which you refer is latent in character. Doubt there is an ability to document it?

Secondly, the counties around Gary are far more agricultural/rural than industrial. My point is that there were not that many jobs available outside of the heavy industry concentrated in the Calumet Region. If one accepts that fact, no one, regardless of their color, would have been able to readily move to Porter, LaPorte, Jasper county, etc., and find a job.

At the same time, I do think your theory has "some" merit. I say some because it was not at all unheard of for folk to simply pack up and go home when the hard times hit. Home in these instances was usually down south. U.S. 41 was referred to locally as the Alabama highway.

Again, I do not know that there was a color distinction among the folk going back south? The distinguishing factor inhibiting moving on would have been, I suspect, financial wherewithal. Color would be a subset of that factor, not the prime factor, wouldn't it?

Chocoholic said...

I wouldn't call the discrimination latent...I live in Valparaiso and just in the past year a Black family moved out of the town because of racial harassment. I recommend reading that book I mentioned, "Sundown Towns" by James Loewen as he is from Illinois and focuses specifically on nearby areas. I think it may answer the points you bring up better than I can here. Some of those things you bring up were hypotheses he started with and discovered they were false. It really made me look at the history of Porter County differently.

Dave Yaros said...


I have to admit I have no familiarity with the work you have cited. Also, I think you have misplaced your emphasis with respect to my comments.

Did I not say up front that Gary was known for PATENT discrimination? I then went on to say that discrimination in employment, based on race, would be difficult to ferret out, prove, because it would be latent. I mean, it was not like at the turn of the century (from 1800's to 1900's) when signs were posted in businesses reading "No Irish Need Apply."

I was more than surprised to learn that Porter Co. had a law requiring blacks to leave the county at sundown! It raised 2 questions in my mind: When was this law in effect? When did the first black enroll in Valpo U?

In your scenario, both blacks and whites are laid off from heavy industry. The whites are able to find jobs in surrounding counties, do so, and move. The blacks are not, and consequently are stuck in Gary.

What jobs, did these white folks find, and where, I have to wonder? That question goes back to my remark about the lack of industry in the counties surrounding Lake.

A problem I am having with your assumptions has to do with demographics. I have reason to supect that whites in heavy industry (the mills) had more seniority than blacks. Because of this the number of blacks laid off was far greater than whites.

The inability to find a new job had to do with the number of available jobs available to all laid off employees, not the race of the laid off employee. I contend white laid off workers faced the same predicament; availablity of work.

Also, how does your theory apply in terms of the heavy industry in East Chicago or Whiting; both in Lake Co.?

I am not saying I am right, and am more than open to your proving me to be in error. I am just posing an alternative theory.

Dave Yaros said...

This was received on 10 Dec 2008

Thanks for the Gary trivia on the web. I'm doing some research & drawings for my grandchildren, & the Life photograph will really come in handy!

I caddied at the Country Club too... '52 & '53

I'm a 1955 grad of Calumet (Township, then) High School. I live in Tucson. My Dad was a Mason Contractor.

Dick Tumpes

taylorbrown said...

Thanks for making me aware of your blog. I have been trying to figure out what can be done about this city. This city has a lot of good things about it for the administration to be abusing the people is not acceptable.

I agree with one article that states that Mayor Clay should be impeached, but I think the whole administration should go with him. We need new people with new ideas not the same way of doing business.

Dave Yaros said...


Thank you for your comments. We are in agreement that Gary has a whole lot of undeveloped potential. Unfortunately, "potential" alone does not put food on the table, does it?

I was thinking this very morn about Rudy crying to the state about his 4,000 abandoned buildings and the real danger of arson. As much as I hate to say it, perhaps Gary needs to experience its own version of the Great Chicago Fire?

At least then the city could start all over, from scratch?

Dave Yaros said...

Noted: Only in Gary

The Dec. 12 issue of the Post-Tribune ran two stories reporting the shootings of three young men in Gary; one of the victims was killed.

On the next page was an ad, running the entire length of the page, for guns as stocking stuffers!

Dave Yaros said...

A Dave's Den user, who prefers to remain anonymous, has contributed a graphic/editorial cartoon of Mayor Clay that has caught my fancy. You may view it at Clay Cartoon.

Take a look, and let us know what you think.

Dave Yaros said...

User Comment:
This comment was received today, from a former Garyite:

We must have crossed paths somewhere, sometime. I went to Wallace from 48-58, then went to Mann. Played basketball there. I remember the Yaros name well. I have many memories of Wallace and Glen Park. All the places you mention, I remember well, too.

Thanks for the effort to remember Gary.

Fred F.

Dave Yaros said...

A Dave's Den User Writes -

WOW! Just found your site

I am really impressed. I grew up in Gary, went to Emerson, graduated in
1956. Am a realtor now in Dyer. Do you have any information on the
Virginia Hotel, 5th and Virginia? Remember it? Photos, know when it burned

I'm going to pass your site on to some friends, who I know will love it.

Barbara (Simons) Pence If you graduated from Horace Mann, you may have
known my husband..Dave Pence.


Thanks for all the kind words on the site. I do appreciate your efforts in spreading the word. There is, indeed, a lot to peruse with a little something for everyone's taste.

As for the Viginia Hotel, yes, I recall it. Only because drove by it daily, going to/from the mills in my days as a millrat. Was not aware it had burned down, so cannot be of help there.

I was a Lew Wallace Grad, Class of '64; which makes me a mere youngster in your eyes! My OLDER brother graduated in '56, also from Wallace.

'Tis a pity to see what happened to our beloved hometown. She sure ain't what she used to be.

If you have any ideas/photos/thoughts you would like to contribute to the site, by all means feel free to send them to me. I need all the help I can get keeping up with it.

Again, thanks for the kind words.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Gary, Indiana. I went to Miller School and Washington Elementary and Tolleston and Emerson. I graduated in 1968 from Emerson. Does anyone know what happened to the Beauty Spot Restaurant in Gary and does anyone remember the Copper Kettle?
My Mom worked at these places and I would love to find a picture of them. She is in a nursing home and she always talks about them. I, too. loved Gary. It was such a wonderful place when I was a child and I hate to go back there and see what happened to it. They say you can't go home again but this is ridiculous. I remember Mayor Hatcher and I know he was responsible for the destruction. Wish it didn't happen.

Dave Yaros said...


I remember both the Beauty Spot and the Copper Kettle. In fact, I went to school (Lew Wallace '64) with the son of the owner of the Beauty Spot.

As to what happened to it, the son eventually took it over from his dad. He kept it going as long as he could, a valiant struggle in doing so. Eventually the handwriting was on the wall, and he had to find another way to make a living. This would have been in the very early 90's.

Now, the Copper Kettle; I am showing my age, as I do remember the name but cannot picture in my mind where it was located. Do you remember? Refresh my recollection!

On Richard Gordon: Yes he was present at the start of the downfall of Gary, but it was not solely his doing. And, did he do anything that the white mafia (Mandich, Chacharis, et al.) which came before him did not?

Sadly, Mandich, Chacharis and Hatcher look pretty damn good when compared to the present hack occupying the office, Rudy Clay!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I was born in Gary and very foundly remember a bustling city. As I have returned to Indiana recently, I shocked at the reality that Gary has suffered a devastating culture shock. I now live in Indpls and I am confused at the mixed cultural attitudes in Indiana. Gary's minority culture is apathetic and hostile, while Indpls cultural attitudes are apathetic and weak. I have been trying to figure out historicly why. What unforseen acts has caused Indiana's minority community to stagnate. 50% of my high school classmates never returned to Gary from their first chance to escape. We cannot address our future until we understand our past

Dave Yaros said...


If/when you come up with an answer to the question(s) you have posed, we all would like to hear it.

My theory, and it is only a theory, revolves around a feeling of absolute hopelessness. It engenders both hostility and apathy.

The hope that was present at the start of the Hatcher years was quickly killed off, when he turned out to be an ineffective city administrator.

And certainly Rudy Clay is incapable of bringing about a change for the better, as he is too busy lining his own pockets, and those of his family and favored cronies.

Anonymous said...

I went to Evans (a township school) just outside Gary, today part of Lake Station, and we were tattooed at our school as well. We also were issued dog tags, was anyone else? They wouldn't have done us much good, as we traded them with boyfriends, kind of like class rings.

Dave Yaros said...

Dog tags to accompany the tattoo, that's a new piece to the puzzle. We did not get them.

What we received was an ID card, and on that card were 3 splotches of your blood; I presume for future sampling use? Like the card would survive the A-bomb!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting that item about the tattoo. I went to Franklin Elementary on 35th and Georgia in Glen Park and we were tattoed there in the early 50s. Alot of people have had trouble believing me when I tell that story.

I escaped Lew Wallace in 1965, went to the USN and never returned to that city until 2003. I took a trip down to the city health department for a few spare birth certificates and was horrified by the condition of that place.

I have no family there and therefore no further reason to return. All I can say is that I was taken aback when I realized I could not really recognize many landmarks and I couldn't find street signs either.

I worked after school at Joe Kmetz' supermarket on 37th and Broadway next to the Glen Park library and I remember an entirely different place than what I last saw. I can only say that I think I am glad to have lived in Gary when I did and not later on.

Dave Yaros said...

Kmetz Supermarket? Did that not used to be the National Tea Food Store?

My cousin, Richard (Dicky) Yaros went to Franklin. I graduated from Wallace a year before you, in '64. I have to assume we know one another?

Almost as unbelievable as the tattoo story is that in the 40-s'50's and early 60's, Gary was indeed a good place to live!

Anonymous said...

Actually, Kmetz' location was more like 39th I suppose. Funny how time plays tricks on memory cells eh? I am not sure what that building would have been before Joe had it but it may very well have been a National.

We used to get off about 10pm after cleaning the place and go for pizza at a place on Ridge Road. I believe it was named Romano's ... not so sure of the name now. It was pretty much right across the street from Krol's Marathon station. I do not think I have ever had another pizza as good as what those folks made. Too bad all that stuff is gone now.

I didn't socialize much at Wallace. I was pretty much occupied most of the time it seemed. My steady girl lived in Lansing, believe it or not, and I was either working or over there.

You made mention of the Copper Kettle. Was it not on the NW corner of Broadway and 7th or 8th Ave? Hard to remember now but I can still see it when I close my eyes. When I was a small kid I lived at 828 Carolina St. I am going to guess that building is gone or bombed out like some of the others I saw on my last trip.

Don B said...


Thanks for your comments about my father's remembrance at my blog.

Your work and detail about the "Steel City" are to be admired.

I also remember Gateway Foods at about 35/36th and Broadway and Jack Spratt's ice cream parlor in Miller, both long gone. Gene's grocery on Ridge and Tyler once turned into an IRS building.

You mentioned Ricochet Pizza and Morgano's, my brother married one of the Morgano daughters. The wedding was out of the "Godfather" at St. Marx Church with the legendary reception at Hotel Gary's Grand Ballroom. Talk about white envelope's stuffed with money!!

Tommy did come back to the USA in a box to be buried first class at Calumet Park Cemetery. His son, also into racketeering, owned Pete and Snook's at 48th and Broadway among other storefronts for doing "business".

I will be back frequently to re-enlighten myself to the memories of a once great and proud city.

Thank you!

Dave Yaros said...


I had totally forgotten about Pete & Snooks, and the "family connection," until you refreshed my memory.

Yes, they were both good and interesting times back in the day. Today, all is danger zone!

Anonymous said...

My fondest memories of living in Gary was going to the Palace Theater on Easter Sunday for the talent show which the Jackson Five always won, dancing the night away at the K.C. Ballroom on Sunday evenings, a Coney Dog or Chili Cheese Burger at Coney Island on 25th and Broadway, having the best ice cream cone in Glen park, graduating at the infamous Memorial Auditorim Emerson class of 1971, and never knowing the pain of racism (even though it obviously existed)until I left Gary and entered the Military.

I knew somethings weren't quite racially right living in Gary, but I was too poor growing up to worry about it. I grew up on the east side between 18th and 20th and Massachusetts, and moved to "The Border"...wonder how that area acquired it's name?

The best school in the world of course was Froebel High School...yea yea I know you "Pather's" are having a hissy...lol. I remember going downtown where the bright lights lite up the night sky, and window shopping was truly a special outting. I learned to read the pattern of the stars and how to dictate the timing of the changes in the moon at the Lake street beach. It was truly sad times to see all the beauty and history of Gary "burn" to the ground just because Mayor Hatcher took office and and the sudden appearance of the grand Merriville spring up.

I lived right behind the Police Station at that time and could see the sky light up "orange" every night instead of the white lights of the past. White flight, political corruption, economic failure, and so on, and so on has Gary in the state it's in today. The title #1 Murder Capital of the world is soooo old....that was back in the 80's where a lot of the corruption came from Chicago. So many more major cities in the world have since taken that title but the stench still lingers for Gary. Gary can be so much more. The state of Indiana doesn't care because of the people who still cling to hope of a better Gary yet lives on. How can one state government treat one area as though it is a foreign land? As we all know...stuff runs down hill fast right? It may be 100 years from now...but true GI's still keep their hopes alive. Blacks, whites, Mexicans, and other minorities will make Gary come alive once again. Gary has and always will be a melting pot just as NY. Its Indiana's loss to ignore the plight of such a prestigious piece of land. Gone is the day that Gary will be "only" white. It never was and never will be...get over it and let's get the once bustling magnificent throughway of Indiana back to it's flourishing roots.

Dave Yaros said...


I have to acknowledge, I was out of Gary before The J5 came into being.

Even so, I find that your sentiments do echo mine. It is -AND HAS BEEN- time for folk of all color/persuasion in the Steel City to get a grip on reality, and take charge of their own fate.

I find particularly apt your remark that Gary never was an all white city. That is so true. Too bad folk have chosen to deny their melting pot past. In the process, they lose much of what was, and made, Gary.

I, like you, hope for the future of Gary, but it won't happen until there is a coming together of people, minds and goals.

Dave Yaros said...

I can report definfitively that the Gary pages of Dave's Den, in particular the "Famous Folk" page, has been a beneficiary of the new Dillinger movie. Literally hundreds, if not thousands, are logging on to read about him, the then Lake Co. Sheriff Lilian Holley and eyeball the group photo.

Dave Yaros said...

With the untimely demise of Michael "Jocko" Jackson, I would be in the least surprised to see a battle royal ensue among his family for whatever assets he might have possessed.

Anonymous said...

My name is Barb. My grandfather, then parents owned Comay's. I worked there as far back as I can remember. Esp loved our record department! My father was way beyond his time w/ that concept! Do you remember the fire? We rebuilt but Gary was already on it's way down. I lived in miller and it was a great place back in those days.Those sundays when everyone came from all over to go to Marquette park, and traffic was backed up just to get in.
thanks for the memories!!

Dave Yaros said...


Thank you to your grandparents and parents for the memories and good times! I cannot tell you the hours that were spent in Comay's record dept. by me and my friends.

As for the fire you mention, I have to say, it is a vague memory, at best. Do you remember the year?

As for Miller, I fondly remember the times spent at of the beach(es), the Pavilion, Jack Spratt's, and dances at the Chapel of the Dunes.

While people dump on Gary, and with more than a little justification, in our day it was a good place to be growing up as a kid!

Tammy Ulemek said...

thank you so much for the trip down memory lane, dave. i too was born and raised in glen park (4081 polk st) in 1960. we moved to portage 1971, then i moved on to florida.
we would get our allowance on saturday, i believe it was 50 cents. we would run down to kresgee's in the village to buy a record (45's of course). if there was enough left, we'd stop at fannie may (STILL my favorite candy) and get a mint marshmellow. and peerless chips? WOW WEE!!! i sent my whole family a case for christmas a few years ago. as you can see, i have many fond memories of glen park. thank you again!

Dave Yaros said...


You are more than welcome. Those memories are important, to you, and to the City of Gary. People need to understand and appreciate that it was not always bad.

As for Peerless Potato Chips, believe it or not, they are still made, and still taste just as good! I had some about a year or so ago; purchased in a gas station while passing through.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

well today,i had the luxary of drivin thru GARY,well any how itts still home after all these years,never has scared me,maybe a tad pathedic these days but never really scary:}

Anonymous said...


Donald A. Perry said...

Other hangout spots in Glen Park in the 60s were the Chuckwagon Diner at Ridge Road and Jefferson and Johnny's Drive-in at 41st(?) and Grant. Two of my favorite lunch stops while delivering mail in Glen Park in the 60s.

I believe the Chuckwagon Diner became one of the earliest Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) franchises in the country.

Dave Yaros said...


Had many a meal at the Chuckwagon. My mother was a big fan of the place.

As for Johnny's Drive-In, I still say it had the best burgers. The buns were crisp and the lettuce chilled. I can taste them as I type!

primac-4 said...

There was also Superior Tailors on 8th and Broadway where there were bolts of cloth to pick from and have your Drapes and Vestees hand made.

primac-4 said...

There doesn't seem to be much if any information about Glen Park grade school or Franklin school. They were feeders to Lew Wallace and in the case of Glen Park School, sixth grade was max.

Dennis said...

Yes, I remember Comays well. As a small kid, they were the first sponsor of "Comays Gems", a little league team at 3rd & Jackson. Later on of course, they were the premiere record shop (remember the Record Mart?) It was a badge of honor to have that orange paper bag with Comays on the label with your records.

Two interesting points regarding the store: 1) On Saturday, you would always see the girls with their hair in rollers with a scarf over them. This was the status symbol that told the world you had a date that nite -- and if you didn't have a date, you wore them anyway not to feel left out. 2) The record dept was a fantastic piece of advertising. As you entered the main door and walked down the long aisle on the left side all those impressionistic teenage girls passed by the diamond engagement rings and wedding sets. Who knows how many girls demanded that their engagement ring come from Comays?

Anyway, those were wonderful times.

primac-4 said...

Forgot to mention Mac and Deweys...also a tailor shop downtown. BTW Dave, Nick C., 1838728/0311 Sergeant of Infantry Marines, Delta Co., 1stBn, 7th Marines 1958-1970 RVN 1968 - 1970.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Gary , going to Emerson HS and later IU While working At US Steel . Gary gets a bad rap from crime statistics . But What happens in cities ...like Detroit where the major industry is decimated . USS had R/R 25000 steel workers now R/R 7-8000 . When you lose that many family supporting jobs ( in my opinion because of Corp. Greed) modernization ,govt. policys ...ect . How do people survive ? Gary is a great city and I think with policical intelligence can regain its stature . Like our pesident said to the NAACP ... get educated and emulate others as heros other than Rap and sportsheros . I left Gary in the 70s . People like R Hatcher (I.M.O.) alienated the races and drove businesses and residents to leave . What disgusts me the most is the worship of Michael Jackson in the media and in Gary from someone that ran out (as I Did) but had the ability with fame and fortune to bring recording studios , record distribution ,manufacturing advertising ect. to Gary when it needed it the most .. Think POSITIVE GARY ...youre on the right track with the RailCats and hopefully more... God Bless my old hometown.. R .J.

Dave Yaros said...


I agree wholeheartedly that the loss of jobs had a devastating impact on the city. I do not agree that the loss of jobs was due solely to corporate greed. Modernization of the steel plants was inevitable if USS was to survive.

I do think Richard Gordon Hatcher had a large role in the demise of Gary. He was the wrong leader, at the wrong time, and not because of color. Historical fact will bear out that there was not immediate white flight upon his election. Yes, Gary was/is full of intolerant racists,of both colors, but the majority of folk waited to see what RGH would do before abandoning ship. He did little-to-nothing to reach out to all Garyites. His idea of leading was to suck up all the federal funds he could get. That was a short-term solution that did more harm than good.

Gary's problem was, and still is, that it is a 1 industry town. The city is addicted to steel, and unable to think of anything else; not at all unlike a coke head. Cities that survive, and thrive, have the ability to adapt and evolve. That is what Gary needs!

Dave Yaros said...

I enjoyed your reflections on Gary, Indiana - grew up in Glen Park...graduated from Lew Wallace in '58...old enough to have a blood-type tattoo...an A+, if you please. (Tried to claim it was a grade from the football team, but being one of those nice-girls-don't-do-that of the fifties, with a schoolteacher Mom, no one believed me.)
When I went back to my 30th reunion,I was amazed at how successful my classmates had become; many coming from steel mill parents with little education
and both financial and, often, depression/alcohol-related problems. Most of my classmates did not go on to college right after high school, but the GI bill helped some a few years later. I left the reunion feeling so good about their achievements. They didn't have it as easy back then as I did. I was interested in your explanation of the determination that was their heritage."Be you man or woman, if you lived in Gary you had to have a degree of toughness to get on. Everyone possessed a common goal.It was to attain a better way of life, and that took hard work." Thank you for that insight into the success of my classmates.
My father arrived from a Minnesota farm in the fairly early
days of the steel mills and Gary, itself. He devoted his life to many humanitarian causes and was constantly involving himself in activities like calling up Frank Sinatra's agent and asking him to come to town during a school racial problem. (He came and the people did listen to him.) Dad met him at the airport and thought him a fine man.
He had a group of men of all races and religions called Anselm Forum, who met each month to discuss, not their differences, but how they could work together
to better the city. He served on just about every board that was created in town...some were notoriously corrupt back then. When I asked him why, he said because at least there would be one person on the board that was honest, and maybe he could make a difference. He never feared diversity of people or opinion and served our city well for many years until he retired in Florida.
So many thought Gary was a terrible place to be from. Some of my college friends thought it a dangerous place with disgusting black snow, but they sure liked coming home with me on school breaks so we could party on Rush Street in Chicago. In contrast, I was always rather glad to be from Gary. We were not as naive as some of my new southern Indiana friends, and we were really cool dancers! But, most importantly, we were brought up with a work ethic, were not afraid of diversity, and whatever our backgrounds, developed a bond as a graduating class that has lasted up through our 50th class reunion. Now that we all have more time, it has been fun hearing from all my old classmates. One, of whom must have found your site and passed it on to us.
Thank you for taking the time to let me ramble on a bit. Your essay was thoughtful, enlightening and nostalgic. As I sit out here in sunny California, there are days when I wouldn't mind a little "black snow" in my life. How lovely is the contrast.

- Judy

Dave Yaros said...

Dave's Den has added a page dealing with the demise of MJ, "King of Pop."

You may access it Jacko Jabber

Dave Yaros said...

In a bit of housekeeping, I have broken up the "Rudy Report" into 2009 (Jan - Jun) and 2009 (Jul - Dec.)

When you go to the Rudy Report you will automatically be taken to the current 2009 (Jul - Dec) edition.

At the top of the page for the current edition is a link to access the earlier 2009 (Jan - Jun) edition.

This file split was necessary to avoid unconscionable loading times for users.

Dave Yaros said...

Aug 15, the Lew Wallace H.S. Class of 1964 shall be gathering for their 45 yr. reunion. A pre-reunion gathering shall take place on Friday evening at the Marquette Park Pavillion. Saturday shall be dinner at the Patio restaurant in Merrillville.

Yours truly sends his regrets to all, as other commitments prevent being in attendance.

Gang, have a beer for me!

garygirl said...

I hope this gets through to you. Are you coming to the class reunion next weekend ? Pazak, Eckert & I think you should!!!!
Be nice to see you again after all these years - really enjoy your website - if you come home we can go to MJJ's big memorial (ha, ha)
of course I have already been there. Let us know - Vickie Beckham Burke

Unknown said...

My 2 sisters and i moved from New York state in the early 50`s to Gary---my 2 sisters recieved tattoo`s with thier blood types on their arms---i never recieved one---we are trying to find out what school did that and why---i remember only 2 schools that we went to---washington---beverage and she remembers a school named Ivanhoe---i was just wondering if anybody out there remember any of these schools and which 1 did the tattoo`s---My sisters thinks maybe --1954 or around that year---thanks for any info somebody can come with---thanks!!!!

Dave Yaros said...


To my knowledge the tattooing was a city-wide activity. I can tell you that mine was administered at St. Joseph School. It was not on the arm, but rather on the lower left side of my rib cage.

Everyone in my circle at the time got one, and that included the folks in the public schools, which would have included Riley School in my neighborhood.

I do think it was limited to middle school level kids, as my older brothers, in high school at the time, were not tattooed.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Glen Park and was tatooed in 1953. Reason I was told about tatoo: After World War 2 and Korean War a number of world powers could possibly develope bombs similar to bomb on Hiroshima and target the U.S. particurally those cities that produce steel. Therefore, they wanted to have all children's blood type known in case that happened.

Dave Yaros said...


How old were you in 1953? Did the tattooing take place at school? If so, what school?

While I do not remember the year, '53 seems in the ballpark. I would have been all of 7 at the time! In my case the deed was done at St. Joseph's (Catholic) School, located at 45th and Delaware.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a trip down memory lane. Gary was a great place to live back in the days. . . We were very fortunate to have so many opportunities! A few months ago I drove through the "old neighborhood" and around Wallace. What a difference. I couldn't believe how things had changed! Good and interesting information on your blog.

Anonymous said...

tony rizzo owned the ricochet
the pizaa place on ridge was roma's
blood types were tatooed until the early 50's i didn't get one but my older brother did he was 6 years older
do you remember going into the basement of glen park school and having to go under a black lihgt to look for head lice i maen the whole class went

Dave Yaros said...

Tony Rizzo, depending on which one, I know. His ownership of the Ricochet had to be late in the life of the business?

Can't say I have ever been in the basement of Glen Park School. I went to Riley. However, I do distinctly remember ringworm, more than lice, being a problem at schools.

I was one of the many who were tattooed.

DT said...

Dave: I found the downtown Gary photograph (was it a Look magazine cover?) on one of your websites last year. Now it's the cover of a comic book adventure I've been drawing: you can check it out on my Facebook page, all 130 pages so far. look for "The Steel City Phantom".
I'm a Gary fan! Dick Tumpes

Delwyn Campbell said...

Raised in Westbrook Apts, attended Holy Angels, I graduated from Wirt in 1979. I loved going to the Lure for vanilla shakes and the best roast beef sandwiches I have ever tasted. The Howard Johnsons in Portage was a great place for fried clams. Did you ever play baseball at Mann-Bridge Little League? I wanted to play at Anderson, but I was closer to Mann-Bridge.

Every black child wanted to go to the 'Velt, it had class, and girls would talk to you if you said you were from there. I know. I never told a girl that I went to Wirt; they would ignore me when I did.

I wonder would the memories of Gary be different for those who are black and those who are white? One of my proudest moments was hearing Gary mentioned on Parliament's song, "Chocolate City."

Thanks for creating this site. I's love to hear more about what happened to The Lure.

Dave Yaros said...


You raise a more than interesting question. My immediate thought is, yes the memories would be different, since in a lot of ways Gary was 2 different cities back in the day.

Also, Gary was a different place when I graduated from Lew Wallace in 1964, then when you crossed the stage at Wirt in 1979.

We certainly have the means to test it out, right here, don't we?

While I clearly recall the Lure, it was not a hangout for me. The reason though was location, not race.

You have been made privy to my recollections of Gary in the 50's and 60's; from here and my site. Do they differ substantially from yours? If yes, how?

Ronald M. Corbin said...

Hello Dave!

I too was born in Gary (we have a few things in common)and graduated from Lew Wallace (1975). I was just back in Gary for a couple days (June/2010)and I was sadden to see the decay of the city. I think I'm going to go back and shoot a video and maybe do some type of documentary. Would you be interested?

John Munyan said...

I grew up in Gary in the forties and attended Glen Park School at 39th and Broadway. I have been in the basement of Glen Park School. It is nor really underground because the first floor is raised quite high as one can see from a Google map drive by. The cafeteria was in the basement and there was also a small classroom on the south side of the building that exited onto the playground. It was used by second and third grade for phys ed. At the time I attended Coach Carson a largish man presided. Later, he was replace by Coach Costanza.

By the way I noticed you place Joe Weirs Frozen custard at 45th and Broadway. In the forties it was located at about fortieth and Broadway directly across from the original Glen Park library.

Hangouts I recall from those days include the Blue Ribbon Dairy Bar between 36th and 37th on the west side of Broadway. A great place to go for a chocolate sundae on a hot summer night. In the fifties there was also the Flamingo Bar with a family entrance on fifth avenue between Washington and Adams. It was a great place for Pizza and was featured in Life or Colliers magazine because they had the pizza making going on in the front window and the chaps there could throw the pizza dough four or five feet up in the air.

Eddie said...

I have a 25 year sterling silver medal on a black ribbon. The medal has a bust of E. H. Gary on the front and 4 mine workers with "25 Years Service" on the back.
Does anyone have any information on the value?

Dave Yaros said...


These appear on ebay fairly regularly. Check there for current asking/selling prices. Generally, they are in the range of $20 - $35

Kathy Combs said...

My family has been in Gary since 1907; my great grandfather, L.I. Combs supplied the brick for the new city of Gary - both streets and buildings. The company is still in business. They developed The Village Shopping Center and I have pictures of my gr grandfather, grandfather, and uncle looking at plans for it.

My dad donated pictures and film to IUNW's history center; including, I believe, a 16mm film of Teddy Roosevelt riding in a parade on Broadway.

I am a Glen Park "girl," (47th/Harrison)who just turned 60; Lew Wallace Class of '69, born at Methodist Hospital, Melton, Bailey, 43rd Ave Presbyterian Church, but alas, fled Glen Park in 1970 for Florida, along with quite a few other neighbors and friends. However, my roots are still there, and I have a lot of memorabilia of my hometown.

My dad was an east-sider (Emerson), mom a west-sider (Horace Mann); parents and other family married and baptized at Gary Methodist Church; members of Gary Country Club.

Gosh, from what I am reading on this blog and others (including our wonderful Lew Wallace Facebook), we had great childhoods! I'm just sorry that the phrase, "You can never go back" is too true for me. That my family has been there from the beginning of Gary, makes me sad.

Anonymous said...


I thoroughly enjoyed viewing the pictures and reading the articles about Gary! You have quite a collection of memorabilia. Although I moved from Gary as a child in late 1957, I still have vivid memories of my first 5 ½ years of life there. I remembered Goldblatt’s and Gordon’s as a young child and then went to the Palace for a couple of movies as a teenager after we had moved. I attended Emerson as did my older siblings. Our father graduated from Horace Mann. I had a bunch of cousins who lived out in Miller. Although Dad saw indicators of Gary’s decline early on, none of us kids wanted to leave. We left behind well over a dozen aunts and uncles, grandparents, and a bunch of cousins in the Gary area alone.

I was born at Methodist Hospital; siblings were born at Mercy Hospital. Dave, both my older siblings received the infamous blood-type tats at Emerson! My older brother recalls the periodic spraying of DDT in our alleyway between Kentucky and Tennessee Streets, too! My grandfather Edmund Lincoln worked as an attorney in Gary (the one who had the KKK burn a cross on their property in southern IN because of his work for blacks). I remember Mom dropping me off a few times as a kid at his law office in Hotel Gary. I believe that one of my uncles worked as a barber in the barbershop there as well (wasn’t there a barbershop at the hotel?). My Uncle Merle Lincoln ran the Gary Post Tribune during the 50’s and 60’s.

When I first returned in 1965 at age 13, I tested myself to see if I still remembered the route from “home” on Kentucky Street to school--I did! Spending the summers of 1965 and 1967 with relatives in Gary helped to make up for the time I lost from moving away so young. I do remember Comay’s, Oscar and the Majestics, Museum of Science and Industry, and Marquette Park beach with my cousin and friends! And, yes, they sure knew how to dance better there than where we lived in CA!

My last visit to Gary was in 1983. I had to do a lot of arm twisting to get my aunt and uncle to take me back to our old home on Kentucky Street. They thought I was crazy. I actually walked up to the front door and asked if it would be all right if a picture of myself and son on the front sidewalk could be taken. It all worked out.

When I go into Google Earth, our old home looks positively shell shocked and appears to be a used car lot of sorts now. How sad that such a once beautiful city’s glory days are long past. I will always miss the Gary that once was and still is in my memory.

Thank you again for the time and effort you put into your wonderful website. I also enjoyed reading the posts from other Gary natives as well.

Homesick Hoosier

PS Someone mentioned Mann-Bridge Little League. I think that was the small park and baseball field at the end of West 2nd Street--? The aunt and uncle I stayed with in the 60’s had a home near the corner of West 2nd and Cleveland. Fond memories!

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Mike j said...

My Mother, Grandmother, and Aunt worked for the Beauty Spot Restaurant on Broadway in the 50s. I have a photo off all three working behind the counter. At the time their last name was Wilson

Anonymous said...

Dave...Thought you would be interested to know that I grew up in Gary in the mid fifties..lived on 4th. and Maryland st.and attended Emerson...I also worked at U.S.Steel..Gary works...I enjoyed the picture of Gary 1959 downtown..I was 14 at the time..That is the Gary I knew..just seeing that picture brought back many memories...would love to share memories with those interested....Rick

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. windmiller:
Any relation to the owner of windmiller's five and dime store on 5th avenue in Brunswick?

Anonymous said...

doing a story on 2 great Froebel track & field athletes---Amos Abrams and Leroy Spikener. would like to find sources, relatives, info on both. It's been a struggle. Both stories will be positive bios of their lives and careers for the Indiana Track & Field Hall of Fame.

Unknown said...

Hi Dave, I remember a lot of good things about Gary, 1956 we had the bi centenal. Every man was asked to grow a beard. There was a parade, Joel vuko and myself road in the winner mobile with Little Oscar, George Mochan. I was still going to St. Mark school. The village shopping center was ony opened for a short time. there was a kroger, jcpenny,kressge. When I went to Lew Wallace we would go to dances at the croation club on broadway friday nights if we didn't have a football game. then we would go to the Pizza place on 42 nd and broadway. every 4th of july we would walk to the fire work show, ice skate on the little calumet river off harrison st. later i married donna zeller, her dad was joe zeller, he and your uncle we friends. my name is george elischer

Barb Cooley said...


You asked where the Copper Kettle was. It was in the Hotel Gary, in the southeast corner of the building (west side of Broadway). My girlfriends and I used to go there for hamburgers on our Saturday shopping days in junior high and high school. Shop at Gordon's and the little dress shops in the morning, lunch at Copper Kettle, a movie at the Palace or the State. That would have been in the early '60s.

Thanks for keeping this page up. It makes me sick to see what's happened to my hometown.