Edgewood Elementary is alive in the minds of alumni

School reunion is about more than chicken and roast beef for dinner

By Marianne Coil

Edgewood Elementary School

The building is gone and so are the basketball goals. Yet Barry Hix can close his eyes and see everything. The mighty brick walls of Edgewood Elementary School stand once again next to the playground in a grove with a kissing-wishing tree. Just west of the intersection of Madison and Epler avenues on the Southside, the school was the hub of the universe for the Edgewood neighborhood from 1914 until 1980, he said.   

More than 500 alumni like Hix have joined a Facebook group started by Ted M. Lobdell of Trafalgar to share memories. On Sept. 9 at least 150 former students will meet at the Atrium on Thompson Road in what could be the last reunion for many.

Ted Lobdell reunion banner: Left to right, Wanda Wolford, Ted M. Lobdell, and Barry Hix, former students promoting the reunion for Edgewood Elementary School. Photo courtesy of Friends of Edgewood Elementary on Facebook.

Lobdell posted, “At times, when I try to explain to people what our group is and what we stand for, people look at me like I have three heads! They just don’t get how we can have this emotion for a school that has been torn down for over 35 years.”

Hix volunteered to help to plan the reunion this year. Some elderly former teachers have confirmed they’ll attend. 

Now retired from the construction industry, Hix attended Edgewood Elementary from 1957 to 1963 and graduated from Southport H.S. He gets fired up reminiscing about the primary school.

Top row, left, Paul L. Bailey, principal of Edgewood Elementary School for 34 years. Seated second to the right from Bailey is future professional basketball star, Louie Dampier. After graduating from Southport, Dampier played for the Univ. of Kentucky. He then played nine seasons with the Kentucky Colonels in the old ABA. He later played three seasons in the NBA for the San Antonio Spurs. Dampier was inducted as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.

The cooks in the cafeteria worked with pride, he said. They had a “real nice way of doing fish sticks.” Ravioli was popular, and so were freshly baked little slices of dessert cake.

On black-and-white TVs, students watched when NASA sent up rockets. Schoolwork halted until a launch was done.

Teachers focused on basic math, but the curriculum included art and music, he said.  An alumna posted that her class went to the L.S. Ayres tearoom to perform “Fifty Nifty United States.”

Through voluntary religious education, students could earn certificates of completion. 

Alumni remember a 1956 train ride to Camp Atterbury for 1,700 Edgewood and Southport students.

The schoolhouse held meetings like a 1935 hearing on railroad crossing gates, and a 1942 session regarding civilian defense.

Hix singled out two administrators from his “Golden Age of America,” Catherine Sanders and Paul L. Bailey. Teaching for 43 years, Sanders led the adjacent Riley complex for kindergarten through 2nd grade, and Bailey was

Catherine Sanders (Bailey)

principal of Edgewood for 34 years. This nugget from an old Indiana Central College (UIndy) Alumni News reveals the end of their story:

“Paul L. (Pete) Bailey ’29, principal of Edgewood School in Perry Township, and Catherine Sanders, principal of Riley Elementary School, were married Dec. 15, 1968. They traveled to Michigan for the ceremony, which was performed by the groom’s 97-year old father.”