News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

February 15, 2014

Memories preserved: Vigo County high school history showcased in renovated dance hall

TERRE HAUTE — As Linda Bonness gazed across the walls at framed letter jackets, school pennants, and collages of photographs, she spotted a shirt, part of a unique high school collection in the “Wassell Inn” room at Rick’s Smokehouse in Terre Haute.

“I remember my cords. They were so short, you didn’t bend over. You were very careful,” said Bonness, a 1968 graduate of the former Garfield High School. The cords were corduroy skirts and varied in color by grade, from freshman to seniors, she said.

“You got everyone’s autograph on them. Your boyfriend got major billing” on the cords, Bonness said. The cords were often worn at games. “Basketball was huge at Garfield,” she said. Garfield won the boys basketball semistate in 1946-47 and 1962-63, according to the Indiana High School Athletics Association.

Bonness was attending a 1950’s-themed event last week for the Newcomers & Friends Club, an organization started in 1938 that brings women together for social activities. The event itself was held in a piece of Terre Haute’s history — the former Wassell Inn.

That inn is now a part of Rick’s Smokehouse, at the corner of East Wabash and Ashland avenues. It is actually a combination of three rooms, with one large room capable of housing 70 people. All three rooms together can accommodate 100 people and can be rented out for events or meetings.

Owner Rick Burchell purchased the building from his father, Dick, who used the building for a construction business. While a fire previously damaged the original building, Rick Burchell restored its use to a dance hall, meeting room and banquet room. There’s a stage and a 3-D projector, allowing the room to be rented for any event, including business events, or as a musical venue.

Burchell transformed the former Wassell Inn into a room full of photographs and memorabilia from the former Glen, Wiley, Garfield, Gerstmeyer and Schulte high schools.

“I wanted to celebrate these times of the old schools that made up Terre Haute North and Terre Haute South high schools while people are able to enjoy it,” Burchell said.

A dance hall view

Two large photographs behind the stage show what the dance hall looked like, lined with booths and an empty floor space in the middle for dancing.

“We went every Friday night after a football game. You usually started going when you were a sophomore. You didn’t go until you started driving,” said Georgia Bosworth, a 1963 graduate of Wiley High School. Bosworth is her married name.

In high school, she was Georgia Thompson and was crowned the fall queen in 1962. A photograph of her holding flowers, wearing a grown and long red cape can be seen on the wall of Wiley memorabilia.

“We always played Garfield High School for our homecoming. We played for the turkey, when we had the turkey game,” Thompson said of a bronze turkey statute, now at the Vigo County Historical Society Museum.

Bosworth said the school did not have a homecoming king. “The big thing in Wiley was to be the football queen. We had four attendants. The two fellows who crowned us were usually the captain and co-captain of the football team.

“My escort was an old boyfriend of mine, who was the quarterback for the football team my senior year. So, technically he was kind of a king,” Bosworth chuckled about her escort, Larry Purcell.

Bosworth, now 68, said the red velvet cape she wore as queen remains vivid in her memory. “It was probably made in the 1930s. I could not physically carry it myself. It took the four attendants to put it on you. I swear to God it weight 100 pounds,” she said. “It was beautiful, but it was heavy.”

The inn brings back dance memories to others.

Becky Stewart, a 1964 Wiley graduate, said the inn had college students as well as high school students who danced there.

“It was a dance hang out. Everyone danced,” Stewart said. “There was a juke box on one end of the floor,” she said, adding she remembers songs from Elvis Presley being played.

Susie Kraemer graduated “at least 30 years ago” from the former Honey Creek High School. The smaller school is not featured in the Wassell Inn room; however, Kraemer said she remembers going to the dance hall as a high school sophomore.

“Oh gee, it was always packed. Always had a lot of guys hanging around, not dancing, just watching the girls dance,” Kraemer laughed. “It was kinda a place that you felt like you were sneaking into to go there because people were having ‘certain beverages’ in there,” she said.

“Wassell in and wobble out,” she said. “Not that I was.”

Kraemer said the original floor was higher than it is now, but the room still allows memories to flood back. “Just coming down the hallway and coming in was, ‘Oh, I remember that,’” she said. “I wish it was still open. I’d be back. It was a lot of fun.”

 A door into Schulte’s undefeated year

A unique item hangs on the Schulte High School wall — a metal door of the boy’s football locker room, where former coach Jay Barrett led the 1971 Golden Bears team to an undefeated record, going 10-0.

The door was signed by many players at a visitation in 1996 after the death of the coach, said his son, Chris Barrett, who is the current football coach at Terre Haute North Vigo High School. Barrett said the door was given to his mother from a person who salvaged it as the Schulte gym was being demolished in the late 1970s. The Barretts later donated the door to Burchell.

“Since then, many other players have signed the door” at the Wassell Inn room, Barrett said. “I remember seeing the door. You can’t help but remember that bear face on the door,” he said.

“It is almost like a little museum in there and is a real cool environment. It is a unique piece … we were glad to contribute to that,” Barrett said of the Wassell Inn.

Tom Cummins, now an owner of the Apple House, wore number 43 as a player on that undefeated Schulte team. His signature is near the top of the metal door. “I played defensive end at times and offense ends at times. I was not a starter, but it was a great year,” he said.

“Bill Grimes was our quarterback and won the Macmillan Award that year. Mike Ciolli, the county commissioner, was the center and defensive nose tackle. Tim Seprodi, the county auditor, was on that team. And Steve Farnsworth: He was probably the toughest, hardest hitting player in the city at that time. He was an animal,” Cummins said of Farnsworth.

Farnsworth, owner of Terre Haute Monument Inc., agrees it was a memorable year.

“Some of these stories get better with age,” Farnsworth joked of Cummins’ comment.

“We had a team where most of us played together from grade school all the way through and just had one of those lucky things that came together. We had a great year,” said Farnsworth, who wore number 34, playing fullback and inside linebacker.

On another wall is a large framed key.

Karen Hampton, a 1968 graduate of Gerstmeyer High School, said she remembers seeing the key, used at each graduation. “They put a new ribbon on each year,” she said. The first ribbons on that key date back to the early 1930s. It was donated by the Gerstmeyer Class of 1958.

On another wall is a display for the Corral Drive-in Theater. It includes Jim Webster’s ticket to the see the movie “Pinky,” starring Jeanne Crain and William Lundigan. Crain received an Academy Award nomination for best actress in that 1949 film.

“That was where I went on my first date with my first girlfriend,” said Webster, a 1956 graduate of Glen High School. His date was Emma Riggs, a 1957 graduate of Glen. “I was 15 at the time, and she was 14, so I had a friend take us” to the drive-in theater, he said.

“It was something for a town the size of Seelyville to have its own drive-in theater. It had a big history. It opened in 1951,” Webster said, but closed in the 1970s.

In a smaller room just outside the main Wassell Inn room is a photo of Linda Eldred, a 1958 graduate of Glen High School. She saw that photo last year on a visit to Rick’s Smokehouse.

“It was when I was a senior, when I was president of my class,” Eldred said. “I wasn’t thrilled with that picture. I guess it is OK, but now when I look at it, I wouldn’t have put the necklace on,” she laughed.

The photos also show Eldred while she was pledging a sorority at Indiana State University. The photo was taken on the same steps just to the right of the photo.

Another photo shows the 1958 Glen baseball team after winning the “Vigo County Championship.” Max Gibson, president of Jamax Corp., a waste consulting firm, and former president of Victory Services Corp., is shown in that photo in the first row, on the far right. He is squatting and holding a baseball glove. The photo also shows Glen coach Howard Mathas and Jack Williams, the school principal.

Gibson played baseball, cross country and basketball at Glen High School. He said basketball was his best and favorite sport, while in cross country he finished “in the back of the line. In baseball, boy, I could hit it. I didn’t have any trouble hitting the ball, but I couldn’t catch it. I played right field because I couldn’t catch the ball very good,” he said

“I was terrific at bat but terrible in the field,” Gibson said. “They wanted me to pinch hit every inning,” he said as a joke about his fielding ability. “They wanted me batting, but not in the field,” he said. “I’ll have to go see that photo when I am back in town.”

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard. greninger@tribstar.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
  • MET 072514 WWI 01MORAHN.jpg Postcards from the war front

    A native of France, Marie Decleir saw humanity at its worst as she experienced the death and destruction caused by World War I, which began 100 years ago today.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET 072714 NASCAR STEIG.jpg Watching Gordon make history

    As race car drivers competed on the track on Sunday in Indianapolis, racing fans in Terre Haute gathered around television screens and watched history unfold during the “Crown Royal Presents, The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard.”

    July 27, 2014 3 Photos

  • STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Inept amid partisan fury

    Retired Congressman Lee Hamilton has warned of the perils of political ideology, calling the body where he spent 34 years “noxiously partisan.” Now, he worries the divide is downright dangerous.

    July 27, 2014

  • Restaurant Inspections: July 28, 2014

    July 7-11

    July 27, 2014

  • MET 072514 I-70 CONE.jpg Caution zone

    Travel the interstate at your own risk.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • Earl Elliott report1 copy.jpg Report: City‘s general fund to remain in red

    The city’s general fund balance on June 30 remained deep in the red, even after Terre Haute received its twice-yearly property tax check from the state.

    July 26, 2014 6 Photos

  • MET 072314 INTERN 01MILLER.jpg Interns, getting foot in the door, bring diversity to workplace

    Shanya Tompkins interviewed with Coldwell Banker-Troy Helman Realtors, anticipating an eight-week, part-time summer internship.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • MET072514dance porter.jpg Everybody get up and dance now

    National Dance Day promotes dancing as part of a healthy, active lifestyle.

    July 26, 2014 4 Photos

  • Pendergast.jpg Man arrested after rollover kills teen girl

    A Terre Haute man has been arrested and a teenager has died following an alcohol-related accident early today.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET072514 invenadamson step.jpg ‘Minds-on camp’

    Sylvia Ann Adamson longed for privacy, so she invented a solution to that problem at “Camp Invention.”

    July 25, 2014 5 Photos

  • Linda Tincher.jpg Riley lion’s roar goes global

    Linda L. Tincher has become the first woman from Indiana elected to serve as an international director for Lions Clubs International. She was chosen earlier this month during the clubs’ 97th international convention in Toronto, Canada.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET072514 SPPRAK glasses.jpg Kindness ‘undercover’

    Hundreds of people gathered at Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium on Friday for a night of baseball, music, the “Green Man” and green shades.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Residents ‘stuff the bus’ with pencils, notebooks, backpacks

    After exiting a Wal-Mart store in Clinton, Roger E. Richardson stopped his shopping cart Friday in front of a large yellow South Vermillion School Corporation bus.

    July 25, 2014

  • Man faces 9 charges in homicide case

    A Solsberry man faces nine criminal charges related to a July 18 homicide and rape in rural Greene County.

    July 25, 2014 1 Story

  • maroon truck.jpg UPDATE: Rockville man dies after head-on collision

    A Rockville man has died from injuries he sustained this afternoon in a two-vehicle, head-on crash on U.S. 41 north of Lyford.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • red truck.jpg Head-on crash leaves Rockville man seriously injured

    A Rockville man was air-lifted to an Indianapolis hospital with serious injuries this afternoon following a two-vehicle crash on U.S. 41 north of Lyford.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vigo County Jail Log: July 25, 2014

    The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Thursday and Friday, based on jail records.

    July 25, 2014

  • Measles case confirmed in Central Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials have confirmed a case of measles in Central Indiana. The Indiana State Department of Health is working with local health departments and health care providers to identify additional cases of measles, and to prevent further transmission of the disease.

    July 25, 2014

  • Fast food workers prepare to escalate wage demands

    CHICAGO (AP) — Fast food workers say they’re prepared to escalate their campaign for higher wages and union representation, starting with a national convention in suburban Chicago where more than 1,000 workers will discuss the future of the effort that has spread to dozens of cities in less than two years.

    July 25, 2014

  • 4 doctors arrested after Indiana clinic raids

    CARMEL, Ind. (AP) — Authorities say four doctors have been arrested on charges of improperly prescribing a drug used to treat painkiller addiction from several Indiana offices.

    July 25, 2014

  • holiday world thunderbird.jpg Holiday World plans new winged roller coaster

    SANTA CLAUS, Ind. (AP) — The Holiday World amusement park in southern Indiana is building a new $22 million roller coaster that it says will launch riders to 60 miles an hour in 3.5 seconds, with a 14-story loop and four inversions.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Indianapolis pulls future support for Amtrak line

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — City officials in Indianapolis have cast the future of an Amtrak passenger line between Indianapolis and Chicago into doubt after deciding not to provide any additional money to subsidize that line.

    July 25, 2014

  • Pence leading annual governor’s motorcycle ride

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Mike Pence is leading the annual governor’s motorcycle ride from the Statehouse through southern Indiana.

    July 25, 2014

  • State asks judge to delay right-to-work ruling

    CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) — The Indiana attorney general’s office has asked a judge to put on hold his order striking down the state’s right-to-work law.

    July 25, 2014

  • MET 072414 HOESS 01KOR.jpg Voices from Auschwitz: Ties that bind

    A message that has spread like wildfire across Europe can easily translate to America.

    July 24, 2014 4 Photos 1 Story

  • Minimum wage frozen after 5 years

    Thursday marked the fifth anniversary since the federal minimum wage was increased, a wage U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez contends should again be raised.

    July 24, 2014

  • MET072414 CANDLES shake.jpg ISU, CANDLES join to ‘illuminate the world’

    Indiana State University and CANDLES Holocaust Museum are joining forces to educate current and future generations about the Holocaust, genocide and related issues.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • MET072414 JA hadley.jpg 50 years later, still business as usual

    Junior Achievement of the Wabash Valley marked its 50th anniversary hosting a luau Thursday at the Ohio Building in Terre Haute.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Two semis collide; one driver injured

    A semi-trailer driver from North Carolina was airlifted to Methodist Hospital Thursday after his vehicle collided with another tractor-trailer on Interstate 70 in far western Vigo County.

    July 24, 2014

  • Valley talent returns for show tonight

    Local musical collective Lunes Domingo is scheduled to be back at The Verve tonight to perform the last installment of its 2014 series.

    July 24, 2014

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma Video Shows Smiling American Bomber in Syria Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Fox Dons 'Bondage Strap' Skirt at Comic-Con Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Violent Clashes Between Libyan Militias Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Raw: Sirens After Explosions in Israel Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground
NDN Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity