As I was working on family history a few weeks ago I began a notebook of memories about members of my family, immediate and extended. One of the people I made a list for was my Aunt Hoto. Her real name was Hilda, and she was the youngest sibling of my grandmother.
Aunt Hoto was a widow by the time I was born. She had no children. She owned a duplex in Indianapolis, the upper level of which was an apartment she rented out. She spent many years living below. When I was born, my parents lived in the upper level. They lived there until I was 3 or 4, at which time we moved to New Castle, IN.
During my late childhood through teenage years, I visited my aunt a few times a year. The visits went through the late 1960s, at which time she moved permanently.
I watched her neighborhood change in the sixties. That was the period of white flight in Indianapolis, and her neighborhood was hard hit. There was a gradual overturn of the population there, and by the time she moved, she and her friend Ethel King (who lived around the block) were the last two white people to leave. The neighborhood also changed physically; houses were not kept up, and yards became messy and overgrown. I noticed the change because I didn't look at it everyday. The change was very noticeable from visit to visit. My aunt was tough and didn't care about race, but she left after coming home from working at the courthouse to find her home broken into and robbed.
After she left the area continued to deteriorate. I assumed for many years that it became hard inner city. While working on family history recently I found her address and thought it might be interesting to find it on Google maps.
I expected to find the area in terrible shape. As I looked at the satellite images, I was shocked. I looked and looked....yes, it was the right place. It was...beautiful. Absolutely lovely. What happened here?! Is this for real, I wondered...
I did some research on the internet and discovered that indeed, the area had been horrible. It was part of Dodge City, an area of Indy known for deserted homes, empty blocks, and drive-by shootings. Around 2001 this area was picked to be rebuilt with a special federal grant (I think this is correct....see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fall_Creek_Place,_Indianapolis ). The homes are now originals mixed with new ones built in the original style of the neighborhood. My aunt's house appears to be gone, but lovely new homes like hers, updated, stand there. They even have garages at the end of the long yards behind each, very much like that of my aunt. The neighborhood seems very attractive.
I would never have guessed this would happen. It was a joy to see photos and read about the transformation. My aunt and mother had great taste and style; I like to think their whisperings from the other side helped the project!
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