Thursday, September 30, 2021

A Southern Indiana Haunting That Will Chill You

In Madison, Indiana, Doretta Johnson and her family moved into a 4,100-square-foot dwelling in 1987.  There was a large main house along with a motel wing on two acres of land.  The asking price was $59,900.  For the late 1980s, that was unbelievably cheap.  Soon after moving in, they discovered the reason:  the property was haunted by something paranormal--and terrifying.

At first, there were just a series of strange events.  Fresh paint bubbled and ran down walls.  New wallpaper would not stick.  A fireplace stain returned shortly after it had been sandblasted clean.  These incidents could have been ordinarily explained readily enough.

Then much more bizarre and threatening things happened.  Objects levitated.  Shadowy apparitions abounded.  Writing mysteriously appeared on walls.  Horrifying noises clamored about.  Spontaneous fires erupted.  Family members were violently attacked, both physically and psychologically.  It must have been unimaginably scary.

Along with Jim Henderson, Doretta Johnson published a book in 1995 describing her family's suffering from malicious unseen forces.  Our book trailer below elaborates.

MPL Book Trailer #691

The People in the Attic, by Doretta Johnson with Jim Henderson


Full-blown haunted house tales like this are unusual but not altogether rare.  Since the mid-1960s, paranormal investigation has been popularized (and sensationalized) by nonfiction accounts, novels, movies, and television programs (especially since 1987, when the Johnson haunting started).  People are becoming less reticent in sharing their ghostly encounters.  What was once relegated to folklore has become somewhat respectable in certain parapsychological circles.  Academics as well as ordinary folks seriously examine such cases.  Spiritualists have been experts in the field for over 150 years.

Assuming the authors to be trustworthy--I have no reason to think otherwise--this haunted house tale is truly chilling.  You may not believe that it happened--in which case, consider it a striking work of horror fiction--but for those more open-minded, there is at least something going on here that invites careful study.  Of course, more than 30 years have passed since these events purportedly transpired, so perhaps it is too late for further investigation.  Such cases are not uncommon, however, and opportunities for "ghost hunters" to examine the paranormal close-up will doubtlessly present themselves now and in the future.  For myself, I would not have wanted to have experienced what Doretta Johnson's family lived through, whatever the cause.  But, from the safety of my armchair, it makes a marvelously spooky read.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Hayes Drugstore (Then and Now)

Gene Hayes received his pharmacist degree from Butler University in 1938.  Mr. Hayes served as a pharmacy officer at the Eighth General Hospital, New Caledonia, in the South Pacific theater during World War II, where he met his wife, who was a nurse in the same unit.  After the war, he returned to his pharmacist position in a Martinsville, Indiana drugstore.

Gene Hayes in his pharmacy

Mooresville Times

Thursday, May 20, 1965

(click images to enlarge)

In 1947 Mr. Hayes opened Hayes Pharmacy at 6 West Main Street in downtown Mooresville.  He had purchased Cooper Drugstore at that location.  A. R. Cooper, Jr. (Al) and Fred Cooper, along with their father, A. R. Cooper, Sr., had constructed the L-shaped building at 6 West Main Street (circa 1906) and operated their pharmacy there until selling out to Mr. Hayes.  (The Cooper brothers had taken over the business from their father, who retired in 1916.)

Al & Fred Cooper Take Over the Firm

Mooresville Monitor, February 10, 1916


Advertisement from The 'Levenite,

Mooresville High School Yearbook (1911)


Like the Coopers before him, Mr. Hayes originally kept most merchandise behind the counter to be retrieved by sales staff upon customer request.  By the late 1950s, most items were displayed "self-service, on the floor" for customers to pickup while browsing, and then they would pay at the cashier.  Pharmaceuticals, of course, were always kept behind the counter in a secure area at the rear of the store.

During the 1950s, Hayes Pharmacy featured a soda fountain, which quickly became a popular teen hangout.

Advertisement from 1959 Wagon Trails

(Mooresville High School Yearbook)


Advertisement from 1958 Wagon Trails

(Mooresville High School Yearbook)


In the 1950s, downtown Mooresville sported three full-service soda fountains, as the video (below) explains.

Grandpa Billy Bob's Mooresville History Super Fun Quiz #7,

by Mooresville Public Library


Hayes' Mooresville store was remodelled in 1956 (see below).

Staff at Hayes Pharmacy

(Advertisement from the Mooresville Times,

Thursday, November 15, 1956, page 8)


Hayes Drugstore's New Look

Mooresville Times

Thursday, November 15, 1956

Martha & Ray outside 6 West Main Street in Downtown Mooresville (formerly Hayes Pharmacy [1947-1965], now Ralph & Ava's Restaurant), holding a gatefold advertisement of Hayes Pharmacy from the 1959 Wagon Trails (Mooresville High School Yearbook) (Photos September 2, 2021 by William R. Buckley)


The Hayes' children, Martha and Ray, both worked in the family business while growing up in Mooresville (their home was located on Carter Street).  While in high school, Martha was paid $1 per hour, which was a decent wage for part-time student employees in the early 1960s.  Ray and Martha fondly remembered the soda fountain, as well as the nickel Coca-Cola bottles dispensed from a vending machine after the soda fountain had been removed.  They also recalled the large clock with a marble face, which was situated at the back of the store, and which is now housed in the Academy School building on the Newby Campus in Mooresville.


Mr. & Mrs. Hayes Outside the Pharmacy

(Undated Photo from Ray Hayes)

Ray recounted a couple of humorous incidents that occurred while he worked at the store.  There was a huge safe kept in the rear area, which was equipped with a tear gas canister that would discharge if anyone attempted to break into the safe.  One day the canister fell to the floor and ruptured, filling the building with tear gas.  Everyone had to be immediately evacuated until the gas was cleared.

Mortar & Pestle from Hayes Pharmacy

(2021 Photo by Ray Hayes)


Medicine Bottles from Hayes Pharmacy

(2021 Photo by Ray Hayes)


During the mid-1960s, Ray was working the counter when an extremely inebriated customer entered, demanding to purchase liquor.  Ray patiently explained that the store did not stock alcoholic beverages, but the customer was insistent.  Finally, the aggravated customer blurted out, "What the [expletive] kind of store is this?"  Unperturbed, Ray replied, "This is a pharmacy, sir.  We sell prescription medicines."  The intoxicated customer reflected upon this for a moment, then stated, "Well, gimme some rubbing alcohol, then."  Ray looked over to the pharmacist on duty, who had been laughing quietly but was now waving his hands wildly.  (Rubbing alcohol can be fatal if ingested.)  Ray explained that he didn't have any bottles of rubbing alcohol available, and the customer stumbled away into the night.


Barometer from Hayes Pharmacy

(2021 Photo by Ray Hayes)


Pharmaceutical Scales from Hayes Pharmacy

(2021 Photo by Ray Hayes)


Martha cherished her working experience at the store.  "We learned the value of a dollar by working there, and we knew how to make change, something many young people today don't seem to be able to do," she quipped.


Hayes Drugstore featured in the 

advertisement section of the

1959 Wagon Trails

(Mooresville High School Yearbook)


Hayes Drugs as shown in the

1964 Wagon Trails

(Mooresville High School Yearbook)


By 1965, competition from large pharmacy chain stores impinged upon the Hayes customer base.  As fewer prescriptions were being filled, Mr. Hayes made the difficult decision to close the Mooresville location and concentrate upon his Martinsville store.  The new owners, Norman Richhart, Jr., Gerald Richhart, and Chester Freeland, moved the business to the shopping center (built in 1965) at Monroe and Carlisle Streets on the northwest side of Mooresville, across from the Dog-N-Suds drive-in restaurant.

Hayes Pharmacy Sold

Mooresville Times,

August 12, 1965

 Hayes Pharmacy in Martinsville

Martinsville Daily Reporter,

Thursday, April 8, 1965


Martha reflected upon her family's business in the bygone days of local "mom-and-pop" establishments.  "You could find everything you needed in Mooresville at the many friendly businesses here," she explained.  "It was a great little town to grow up in.  People were very supportive of local business.  Your customers were your neighbors--people you knew well and liked."  It was an idyllic time for many "baby-boomers," and we salute the Hayes family and their entrepreneurial skill and commitment to making their community a better place.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

"Dating" Citizens Bank

Norman Connell

Norman Connell (Mooresville High School, Class of 1957) was president and CEO of Citizens Bank from 1975 until his retirement in 2001.   Norman started his career at Citizens Bank in Mooresville, Indiana in 1961 following his discharge from the U.S. Air Force.  He saved some undated, unidentified photos showing Citizens Bank when it was located on the southeast corner of Main and Indiana Streets in downtown Mooresville.  How can we date those pictures?

Knowing when Citizens Bank was at this location is a first step.  According to a Mooresville Public Library (MPL) handout, Citizens Bank occupied 3 East Main Street from 1931 to 1966.  That is a fairly large time range, however.  So our next step is to examine the photos themselves for dating clues.  (Click on the images below to enlarge them.)

This exterior shot of Citizens Bank shows late 1950s automobiles, as well as Copeland Appliances, in the background.  The same MPL handout lists Copeland Appliances at 16 South Indiana Street (which appears in the background) from 1956-1974.  (Copeland Appliances was also located at 18-20 South Indiana Street between 1950-1974, but that's further down, out-of-shot.)  So, given these three bits of information, we can safely assume that Mr. Connell's Citizens Bank photos were taken between 1956-1966, the latter date being the last Citizens Bank was situated at the location shown. 

Can we further narrow the time frame?  Let's look at some interior photos of Citizens Bank.


See the calendar in the photo above?  It says, Saturday, July 20.  The twentieth of July fell on a Saturday in 1957.  That cinches the date.  These photos were taken on Saturday, July 20, 1957.


How do we know that these photos were all taken at the same time?  They are all printed on the same type of photographic paper and appear to have been taken by the same (or a similar) camera.  More to the point, they were taken and/or developed by the same two photographers/developers, Squires Studio and Awbrey's Photo Service, both of Mooresville during the 1950s.  Their stamps appear on the backs of the photographs (see below).

What did Citizens Bank look like inside on Saturday, July 20, 1957?

Here are some Citizens Bank employees who were working that day.  None of the photos identified the persons shown, but thanks to Ruth Connell, we were able to identify three of them.  You can contact Mooresville Public Library if you recognize any of the others (the library now has these pictures in its Indiana Room's banking vertical file).

Martha Sellars

Identifying Miss Sellars was fairly easy.  Her name plate appeared in the photo.

Thelma (Blaschke) Weddle and Ed Fields


Always identify the people, places, circumstances and dates of your photographs.  They might be of enormous local historical value, especially for historians and researchers.  If  you're reading this article, wouldn't you like to know those details about these "slices" of living history?

Friday, July 30, 2021

John Dillinger (1903-1934) ... or the 1960s?

Did John Dillinger die in 1934?  Popular consensus says yes.  However, more recent events (such as the lawsuit involving a proposed exhumation of Dillinger's body in Indianapolis) have stoked interest in an investigative report published in 1970 suggesting that Dillinger survived into the 1960s.  It's speculative, of course, but makes for an interesting read.

Click the video below to play our book trailer.

Dillinger:  Dead or Alive? by Jay Robert Nash & Ron Offen

(MPL Book Trailer #706)


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

A Century of Shoe Repair in Mooresville

For nearly a century, downtown Mooresville had a shoe repair shop at 13 North Indiana Street (then, later, at 25 West Main Street), beginning in the early 1900s.  In 1941, Ernie Marsh sold the business to John and Jennie Moore, who operated until 1948, when they sold to Leland and Orda Connell.  In 1972, the Connells sold to Ralph Reed, which opened as Dickey’s Shoe Repair (Joseph Dickey, manager) in January 1973.  In January, 1979, former Mooresville Times co-publisher John Anderson bought the shop from Dickey.  John and Shirley Anderson operated as S & J Boot Shop, moving to 25 West Main Street in 1982.  The Andersons (along with daughter Carol) retired in December 1998, closing a century of local shoe repair.


The photo above (ca. 1910) shows the I.O.O.F. (Odd Fellows) Building on the northeast corner of Main and Indiana Streets in downtown Mooresville.  Pleas (Pleasant) Mills operated his dry good store on the first floor, but if you went to the left (out of shot) beyond the "selz shoes" sign, you would have seen the shoe repair shop at 13 North Indiana Street.

The following newspaper clippings were used to compile the brief history (above).  Click on the images to enlarge them.




Hillenburg, Amy, “S&J Boot Has Retirement Sale,” Mooresville-Decatur Times, December 2, 1998

Undated Photo (probably circa 1985), S & J Boot Shop at 25 West Main Street.

“Getting the Boot,” Indianapolis News, November 18, 1985.

“S & J Boot Shop Doing Shoe Prescriptions From Doctors,” Mooresville Times, April 4, 1984.

“Boot Shop To Move Soon,” Mooresville Times, 1982.

“Johnie Anderson Retires From Times, Purchases Shoe Shop,” Mooresville Times, February 22, 1979.

“Dickey’s Shoe Repair Advertisement,” Mooresville Times, January 4, 1973.

“Appreciation Advertisement,” Mooresville Times, April 13, 1972.

“Shoe Repair Shop Here Over 50 Years,” Mooresville Times, April 8, 1965.