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?
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Above with Robin, who is still just as darling as ever.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Poor Cale was mostly a good sport waiting for me to take my photos of the houses.
And then we came upon this.
However, when I saw the Greek Key pattern on the door, all was right with the world once again. haha
That’s better. The downtown riverfront area is full of historic Victorians such as the one above.
This Federal-style home is my favorite.
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!
Another treasure is a childhood treasure, the Willard Library.
Another view of the Willard Library. I have such fond memories of my mom bringing me here. She loved this place, too.
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.
I’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–
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!