Evansville Indiana and The Little Know Truth About It

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Hi Everyone,

For those of you who didn’t see my email, yes, I have Covid. I’m just finishing up Day 5, and I’m on Day Three of the 5-day treatment of the antiviral Plaxlovid. I’m doing okay. I actually felt better yesterday than today, but the fever is gone.

Thank you so much to so many of you who took the time to send me warm get, well wishes. I very much appreciate that.

 

So, why a post about Evansville, Indiana?

 

Well, for one thing, anyone who’s read my blog for a while has probably seen one of my favorite posts, a brief autobiography of my formative years into young adulthood. And, if you’ve read it, you’ll know that I spent all of my formative years, from 18 months – 183 months (15.3), in Evansville, Indiana.

 

So, why now is there a post about Evansville, or E’ville as the locals call it?

 

Here’s why.

Last November, I think it was, my darling son Cale said something like this:

“Mom, I want to take a trip with you to Evansville to see where you grew up, and then we can go to Chicago, where you were born, and then to Milwaukee to see Aunt Holly and Cousin Cherie. How does that sound?”

Oh, darling, that sounds like a wonderful idea, but when did you want to take this trip?

“Well, I was thinking right around your birthday in early February.”

 

Okay…

 

Wait! What??? You want to drive from Evansville to Chicago and then Milwaukee in early February??? OMG, Cale! No FREAKING way! I am not going anywhere near Chicago or Milwaukee at that time of year.

Suddenly, it all came flooding back, the blinding snowstorms, the unbearably long, snot-freezing cold winters. I said, “we can take this trip no earlier than mid-April, preferably in May or June. Thank you.”

Then, about a month ago, Cale reminded me about the trip. He told me to meet him in Nashville on the 21st of April but consult with him first about the itinerary.

 

Map Road Trip April 2022

 

haha. No. I just booked it. Everything was reversible through Airbnb. In the end, he was thrilled with my choices. We had roughly two days in each area.

 

I haven’t mentioned that Cale has been on the road (or water) since November!

 

So, on Friday, April 22nd, after I flew to Nashville to meet him, we got in Cale’s fully packed car, and he drove us to Evansville, IN.

I hadn’t been back there since 1994, but it all looked pretty much the same as it did then.

 

I’m most frequently asked regarding Evansville, “What is it near?”

 

My answer is always: “It’s near Henderson, KY.”

 

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Usually, I get confused-looking faces as they’ve never heard of Henderson. However, as you can see, it is indeed just on the other side of the Ohio River from Henderson, Kentucky.

 

tri state area surrounding Evansville Indiana

The reality is that Evansville IS the biggest city for well over 100 miles in any direction. Louisville, KY’s closest large city, is 123 miles and a two-hour drive away.

 

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If you’re curious about the history of Evansville, please look at this Wikipedia page.

But, in short, Evansville is known for basketball, the Ohio River which had a massive flood in 1937. It is home to two Universities. And, it is the town used to film some scenes from the movie, “A League of Their Own.”

 

the dink in E

As for me, my origins in Evansville began in this tiny home inhabited by five people and a boxer named Cleo back in 1958.

We affectionately called it the dink. Although, I believe it was smaller than it is now, and of course, all of the siding, etc., is different.

 

4001-bellemeade-ave-evansville-in

Two years later, we moved into this home on Bellemeade Ave. It is in a neighborhood called Hebron Meadows. I suppose the name came from the Elementary school I went to called Hebron.

Hebron Elementary School E

The old Hebron no longer exists, and it was not easy finding any photos of it, but above is the old school with later annex on the right.

 

However, I’m getting ahead of myself, for we are only arriving right now for our virtual visit to Evansville, Indiana.

 

Above a quick shot through the windshield as we drove up Rte 41 through Henderson, KY, into Evansville.

Friday evening, after a very quick freshening up at our Airbnb in the middle of town, Cale and I headed to quaint, historic Newburg, Indiana, the closest town and basically a suburb of Evansville.

 

There we met my dear childhood and neighborhood friend Robin who then drove us to our restaurant, Cafe Arazu, where we sat outside one block from the shores of the Ohio River. It really couldn’t have been more perfect.

 

Evansville is not known for its stellar weather.

 

While far milder than the northeast, the winters are still plenty cold, but the summers are beastly hot and humid. However, the weekend we were there, the weather was perfect, dry and warm.

 

Robin and me Newburgh Indiana April 2022 photo LBI

Above with Robin, who is still just as darling as ever.

 

Robin and the gang mid 1960s

Robin brought a pic from a birthday party some time in the mid-1960s. Yes, that’s me in the back. Robin treated us to a visit to her lovely home filled with many of the pieces her mother had back in the 60s. Robin’s mother had exquisite taste, and I’ve told Robin many times that I learned everything I know about interiors from her talented mom.

 

Cale and me lunch E

The next day we had lunch at the now-defunct Grayhound bus station with my BFF from middle school years, the beautiful and always stylish Sheree E. (You can see Sheree as well, in the earlier autobiographical post in the cheerleading photo.)

 

Sheree and Me defunct Grayhound bus station E

After lunch, Sheree, who was nursing a broken ankle, left Cale and me to wander the downtown area. I always loved this part of town but seldom saw it because it wasn’t in great shape back in the 60s. However, beginning sometime, I believe in the late 70s, these old homes started to be refurbished, and the entire downtown area became revitalized.

We walked down by that bend in the river that borders this part of town.

 

Ohio River Evansville Indiana April 2022 photo LBI

Here is where the levee was built after the big 1937 flood that put hundreds of acres of the city underwater. I believe they worked further on the levee in more recent years.

 

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McCurdy Hotel - Evansville Indiana April 2022 photo LBI

We also walked past the iconic McCurdy Hotel on River Drive. This is where my grandparents from Chicago loved to stay. The hotel is now a condominium.

 

Evansville Indiana April 2022 photo LBI - red brick Federal style home

Cale and I continued our stroll in the old neighborhood close to the Ohio River. These homes were built in the 1800s in the oldest part of the city. I lucked out that the woman just happened to be watering her plants.

 

detail exterior Victorian brick home -Evansville Indiana April 2022 photo LBI

 

Federal Style home Evansville Indiana April 2022 photo LBI

Poor Cale was mostly a good sport waiting for me to take my photos of the houses.

And then we came upon this.

Greek Key red door -Evansville Indiana April 2022 photo LBIHowever, when I saw the Greek Key pattern on the door, all was right with the world once again. haha

 

Historic Victorian home E

That’s better. The downtown riverfront area is full of historic Victorians such as the one above.

Lovely Federal home -Evansville Indiana April 2022 photo LBI

This Federal-style home is my favorite.

 

The old county courthouse for Vanderburgh County E

Above is the old Courthouse. I believe at one point, before it became a national landmark, they were considering tearing it down. Phew! That was close!

 

Willard Library-Evansville Indiana April 2022 photo LBI

Another treasure is a childhood treasure, the Willard Library.

I talked about it in this post about libraries.

 

Evansville Indiana April 2022 photo LBI - Willard Library

Another view of the Willard Library. I have such fond memories of my mom bringing me here. She loved this place, too.

James and Rosemary Geiss Collection Mac

 

It was so much fun revisiting Evansville, reuniting with old friends, and reminiscing about the good old days; so many wonderful memories.

 

For instance, eating at everyone’s favorite restaurant, Mac’s Barbecue, where we would eat ourselves sick, it was so good, but there was always room for coconut cream pie.

Or the hours spent cooling off at the Surf Club off of Green River Road. Sadly, neither Mac’s nor the Surf Club still exist. Although, the Surf Club house is still there, it’s a Montessori School now. They filled the pools and turned them into a playground.

Mommy and me summer 1958 - TrockmanI’m finishing off with a cherished photo of my sweet mama, Lee, in the summer of ’58 at Trockman’s swim club. My sister Holly would probably give her eye teeth for the chance to spend another summer there. I’m not sure what happened, but two years later we joined the Surf Club.

Well, that was a tiny taste of Evansville, Indiana. I always thought it was a great place to grow up. It was incredibly wholesome, and indeed, when I was very young, there were cornfields just about everywhere. But, by the time I left, that was all changing into more shopping areas and chain restaurants.

 

Evansville is neither quite a northern midwestern town nor a southern one. However, it is more tied to the south than the north, I think.

 

I hope you enjoyed the virtual visit.

Next up, the windy city–

 

Lake Shore Drive Chicago Illinois-April 2022 photo LBI

For this leg of the trip, I decided that if we were going to Chicago, we should stay in the heart of the Chicago Loop. Please stay tuned!

xo,


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  • Carmen - May 15, 2022 - 6:58 PM

    Are we going to visit/see Holly at some point? She was my closest friend in law school and I lost touch many years ago after she left SF. Just happened on your website by accident and thought could this be Holly’s “little sister?”ReplyCancel

  • Libby - May 8, 2022 - 10:57 PM

    Thank you for this tour of Evansville! I’m looking forward to the rest of your mid-west tour. Years ago I toured mid- and southern Illinois and eastern Missouri. The area felt very “southern” to me, too. The architecture and the use of stone reminded me of the towns I visited. The proximity to large rivers and transport probably accounted for the use of stone in residential and public buildings. So many beautiful structures still stand in Evansville. Thanks again for sharing your Evansville with us. Hope you are feeling much better.ReplyCancel

  • Susan - May 7, 2022 - 1:23 PM

    I enjoyed seeing Evansville and the old houses. Thanks.ReplyCancel

  • Simply Cheryl - May 6, 2022 - 9:58 AM

    When I tell people I’m from Evansville/Newburgh and they look lost, I say: “it’s close to where Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky all come together. You’re right about the weather. I call spring in Evansville the bi-polar season…..each 12 hours came be a completely different season.ReplyCancel

  • Marze - May 6, 2022 - 9:30 AM

    Hello Laurel,

    Speedy recovery! These photos are lovely. What a fun time for you and your son:)ReplyCancel

  • Linda Leyble - May 6, 2022 - 7:00 AM

    Hi Laurel…lovely post and you look lovely! I have cousins from Evansville (now in Washington State) and they always spoke so highly of growing up there.

    Sometimes going back to our roots makes us feel nostalgic and a longing for those times again – but my hometown has changed way too much that it is a bit depressing! The main drag of my hometown – used to be a wonderland of small shops, restaurants, a Woolworth’s and a few venerable old
    hardware stores. Now it looks like a busy, crowded NYC street and you can’t find a parking spot. The new owners of some of my favorite old homes tore the beautiful homes down and replaced them with these concrete edifices – complete with shiny chrome fences and hardly any lawns left.

    I love how Evansville kept a lot if it’s old charm!

    I went to a wedding once in Louisville and the reception was held in Indiana. I was so surprised by this – I guess US geography wasn’t my strong suit.

    On a parting nite, I am glad you are getting better from Covid. My husband was just diagnosed and now I am as sick as a dog. But – still negative. I think that may change though…darn.

    LindaReplyCancel

  • Laurie - May 6, 2022 - 4:17 AM

    Hello Laurel, You are looking so beautiful and full of life. I’ve been following this blog for awhile, I truly believe you helped get many of us through the Covid-19 shutdown. You have recovered so well from you fall. Amazing you are a Hoosier, so am I. Relocated to Saratoga New York many years ago. Thank you again for your lovely blog. I’ve learned so much! Happy Spring 🌷.ReplyCancel

  • Karen Kaye - May 5, 2022 - 10:56 PM

    Laurel, I’m writing this comment from E’ville just a stone’s throw from the Ohio River. I live in California now, but came to bury my 81-year-old sister in Newburgh one week ago today. She was 18 years older than I and lived in Newburgh. Her kids are about my age and I spent many summers cruising Green River Road with them, buying candy at the Newburgh Country Store, visiting Ellis Park in Henderson, and grabbing fresh corn from Engelbrecht’s. Your pictures really captured the essence of old Evansville. I will definitely share it with my four sons when I return to CA. We took them to visit Micronesia where my hubby grew up and also to Singapore where I grew up. I know you and Cale bonded in a special way during your walk down Memory Lane.ReplyCancel

  • Caron - May 5, 2022 - 8:55 PM

    Thank you for sharing the wonderful photos of the first leg of your trip with your son. I am happy to hear that you are feeling better and look forward to viewing your future posts. You are glowing in your photos.ReplyCancel

  • Robin Mathias - May 5, 2022 - 11:47 AM

    Laurel, I knew this post would be a lovely tribute to your hometown as I absolutely love every one of your posts! I cherish the brief visit with you and Cale. Thanks for all the fun memories and laughs we shared! Come and visit anytime! You are always welcome here❣️ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 5, 2022 - 7:36 PM

      Oh, thank you so much, Robin. Visiting with you was one of the highlights of our trip! Thanks for showing us such a great time!ReplyCancel

  • Christine P - May 5, 2022 - 9:27 AM

    Lovely post. Thank you for sharing. Feel better soon!ReplyCancel

  • Nancy - May 5, 2022 - 12:08 AM

    How funny, I also had a dog (dachshund) named Cleo in 1960. Must have been a popular dog name at the time! What a lovely trip to take with your son. Thank you for sharing your memories. Hope you are feeling better soon.ReplyCancel

  • Traci B - May 4, 2022 - 5:54 PM

    Very much enjoyed the Evansdale tour. I grew up on the banks of the Mississippi river in Clinton Iowa, and your pics brought back wonderful memories. Especially love the ones of you and Cale, and you and your mother. Hope each day that passes brings improved health and more energy back to you! Thanks for all you give here.ReplyCancel

  • Pattiann Smith - May 4, 2022 - 5:20 PM

    Girl, You can take some awesome pictures, and how idyllic too. A joy to see them, thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Stacey - May 4, 2022 - 3:34 PM

    Holy smokes! My dad grew up on Bellemeade Ave in the 50s and 60s!!! Their house is no longer there and I remember very little about it, but such a small world!ReplyCancel

  • Tamara - May 4, 2022 - 2:48 PM

    Glad you’re feeling better! I got Covid last year after spending a year being so careful, and three weeks after being vaccinated. It felt like a smack in the face.
    Thank you for the virtual tour! I enjoy learning about places from someone who has lived there.ReplyCancel

  • Jane - May 4, 2022 - 12:57 PM

    Wonderful photos! Thanks for sharing this special trip down memory lane with your wonderful son. I hope you feel better quickly.ReplyCancel

  • Louise R - May 4, 2022 - 12:23 PM

    The home you identified as Victorian is more specifically called “Second Empire”, as in French empire.ReplyCancel

  • Judy Johnson - May 4, 2022 - 11:04 AM

    My brother lives in Madisonville, KY and every time we visited we shopped and/or ate in Evansville!ReplyCancel

  • Sheila - May 4, 2022 - 10:55 AM

    Love seeing those beautiful homes- I was just thinking about them recently! I grew up in Hopkinsville, KY, and know the Evansville area well. The last time I was there was about 10 years ago- my mom and I did a day trip to New Harmony, and on the way drove around those lovely historic homes. Thanks for sharing your trip and hoping you are back to 100% soon.ReplyCancel

  • Lara - May 4, 2022 - 10:13 AM

    What a delightful trip Laurel! Thank you for the lovely trip down memory lane. Evansville, Indiana looks like a bit of heaven on earth.
    I hope you recover quickly and completely from Covid and that Cale and your friends do not have it as well.ReplyCancel

  • Linda Hall - May 4, 2022 - 10:11 AM

    Laurel, I just loved your post! Growing up at the same time time I have such similar memories and thoughts about my my childhood. Your photos brought it all to life! Thanks.ReplyCancel

  • Maggie S - May 4, 2022 - 10:04 AM

    We all missed you Sunday morning -(reading your blog post is always the first thing I do Sunday!) Glad you are on the mend!!ReplyCancel

  • Gail - May 4, 2022 - 10:04 AM

    So sorry to hear about your Covid. Best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery. Thank you for the walk down memory lane. Evansville reminds me of Morrisberg, Where I spent summers with my granny. It’s on the St. Lawrence river in Ontario and it’s full of brick houses and the centre of town is a 60s mall with a diner.
    Get well soon.ReplyCancel

  • Mary E - May 4, 2022 - 9:25 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    I’m so sorry to know you caught Covid. I hope your son didn’t get it also.
    Thanks for showing us your roots. It’s very similar to mine.
    I currently live in a suburb west of Chicago. I wish I could have met you while you were here.ReplyCancel

  • Leslie - May 4, 2022 - 9:02 AM

    Laurel, Glad you are getting well! Your travel post was very enjoyable and reflects your lovely qualities, visual talent and appreciation and interest in history. This gives a unique richness to many of your posts. Wonderful to see those buildings that retain the history of a community and evoke the
    memories you have and provide for the current generation as well. Best, LeslieReplyCancel

  • Brittany - May 4, 2022 - 8:56 AM

    Haha! This is so funny because my husband is from Webster County, Ky and of course no one ever knows where that is so I say “it’s south of Henderson.” 🤣 funny that Evansville is so much bigger than Henderson and you have to use it as a reference point. I grew up in Owensboro, but we always went to the mall in Evansville for back to school shopping! Such a great opportunity for you to get to go down memory lane with your son!ReplyCancel

  • Ivis - May 4, 2022 - 8:04 AM

    Thank you so much for this delightful post. Cale is so thoughtful! I agree with Penny, Boston really does suit you. I realized reading this that your writing skill is what makes your blog so good, not only your design expertise. Best wishes for a very swift recovery and I hope Cale did not also get Covid. Looking forward to Chicago!ReplyCancel

  • Moneca Kruse - May 4, 2022 - 7:52 AM

    I’m from Edwardsville, Illinois, in the Midwest and you certainly managed to make me want to go home again for a tour of what my husband and I fondly call “counting bricks”. Basically, to see if what had changed. I had heard of Evansville but no one had mentioned the beauty of it like they should. Great post!ReplyCancel

  • Penny - May 4, 2022 - 7:48 AM

    Your new life in Boston really agrees with you. You look stunning! How thoughtful of Cale to suggest this trip. We are the same age and I also grew up in Indiana. Summers full of corn fields and high humidity. Looking back, everything seemed so simple and innocent then. Looking forward to the Chicago visit. And glad you are ifeeling better.ReplyCancel

  • Connie Fowler - May 4, 2022 - 5:30 AM

    OH, dear, I’m so sorry to hear that you came down with Covid, but glad to know you are on the mend. What a fun post about your trip. I love smaller cities, and it’s wonderful that your thoughtful son had this idea. Keep getting better, Laurel, and I’ll look forward to reading about the Chicago leg.ReplyCancel

  • Jeanne - May 4, 2022 - 5:01 AM

    Laurel, I’m very sorry to learn of your Covid. Is your son ok?

    I am currently in Covid quarantine in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. It has been awful. So far my lungs are clear but I didn’t know so much horrible green mucus was possible. And such a sore throat! This is not medical advice. The doctors here treat Covid with Zinc, Vitamin C, vitamin D, and aspirin. Also azithromycin, which was prescribed before Covid results were in. I feel somewhat better today. The medical care here is better than I would have guessed. Of course in the tented safari camps it was non existent.

    My hope is that you have a quick recovery.ReplyCancel

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