Starlight Memories with Bob Young and Gary Hofmeister


Writer / Kara Kavensky, for Broad Ripple Magazine
Photography provided

In 1963, Gary Hofmeister was the leading actor/singer in a USO Show traveling through Greenland, Newfoundland and Labrador. On the day that President Kennedy was killed (November 22, 1963), he was hired to travel with the New York-based company of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

Upon joining the resident company of Starlight Musicals, Gary was, in essence, the “unofficial” understudy for the leading role of Finch. Several years later when this show was running with Van Johnson as the major star along with Warren Berlinger as Finch, the show was delayed for over a half hour.

Rumors circulated backstage that Berlinger had gone to New York during the day, and airplane mechanical trouble developed. Gary went to the production stage manager to ask what they were going to do if Berlinger didn’t make it. The stage manager said laughingly, “I don’t know. Do you know the part?” Gary said he did indeed. “Stand by!”

The next thing Gary heard was the announcement that rather than keep the audience waiting, they would begin the show with him as Finch. About 45 minutes later, the police escort rushed Berlinger to the theater who took over the remainder of the show. Thus ended the one and only time an understudy, albeit unplanned, took over a starring role at Starlight Musicals.

It’s been 50 years since Gary Hofmeister took to the Starlight Musicals stage in that brief understudy emergency. Starlight Theater was known for its big name acts and performers of the day. Starlight, which began at Garfield Park in 1944, wandered around for the next decade until opening at Butler in 1955.


Robert L. Young Jr. was offered the general manager’s job in 1962 but accepted it only if he could initiate the “Star System.” Bob had earned his reputation during the 50s when he was an officer in the Air Force booking stars of the caliber of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis for the troops. Bob was in his early 30s when he took over Starlight.

The first star was Carol Burnett which sent the theater off and running. The lines to the box office were all the way out to 49th Street. The norm was to hire at least one big star to draw in the public and then use secondary yet highly talented performers for the other principal roles. After that came the resident company mostly drawn from New York but even some local performers for the chorus and minor principal roles were included. All were professional Actor’s Equity members. There were no amateurs on the Starlight stage.

Nearly everyone said that Bob Young had a “pact with God” because there were so few “rain outs” during the 30 years he led the theater. The seats were almost all out in the open, hence living up to its name. Nevertheless, the board decided to add a roof covering most of the audience in the late ’80s as a safeguard against the weather. Some felt it took away the ambiance and just might have added to the downfall of the venture.

As the “Golden Age of Musical Comedy” was essentially from 1943 with “Oklahoma” to “Fiddler on the Roof” in 1964, it became increasingly difficult to find new shows to add to the old favorites, likely to have been written by Rodgers and Hammerstein or Lerner and Loewe.

24064682962_dd4ca5bee8_zBob described how the board reacted to his suggestions for each new season. If he recommended one of the great old stand-bys such as the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma,” “The Sound of Music” or “The King and I,” they would say, “Oh, it’s too early to do that again. We had it just three or four years ago.” But if he brought up a new show that had a lot of promise, the Board would counter with “nobody’s heard of that.”

During the last decade of Starlight Musicals, many new theaters opened in Indianapolis. And though most were amateur, the fact is that amateur theaters were becoming much better in every way from the venues to the sets and acting. Theatergoers had more options with the risk of weather factoring in as well.

Starlight Musicals was a “guarantor” theater whereby numerous individuals would agree to underwrite any losses if the season was not profitable. One of Bob’s greatest joys was to announce at the end of the final show of the summer that no guarantors would be called on to pony up. At the end of the ’80s and into the early ’90s, that changed. It was a bright red flag that eventually turned into the black flag for the closing of this beloved institution.

From 2004-2006, Bob joined Gary on a weekly radio program on WFYI, titled “Broadway Memories: Music and the Stars.” They highlighted the great music from Broadway for most of the program, but it was their color commentary and stories about the great shows and personalities of the time that listeners loved to hear. Of course, many of the shows and performers had performed at Starlight Musicals.

24172743275_dc7e6dc71b_zOne famous story is that of Yul Brynner performing in “The King and I.” Young picked up Brynner and his son from the airport, and Brynner had a horrible cold and could hardly speak. Bob was bereft of speech discovering his star was ill. Brynner, however, reassured Bob that his son had an identical voice and would perform from the orchestra pit while Brynner moved his lips. It worked. The audience was not the wise, and the show was a success.

One day in 2007, Bob and Gary were having lunch when Bob leaned across the table and said to Gary, “Do you know what’s happening as we sit here?” Gary shrugged, for he didn’t have a clue. Bob continued, “They are tearing down Starlight. A reporter called to ask if I wanted to have my picture taken amidst the rubble. I declined.“

“No surprise,” says Gary, reflecting on that moment. “Even though Bob went on to produce and book traveling Broadway shows all over the world, there was no doubt that the 30+ years he managed one of the best summer theaters in the country was really his baby. He had no desire to see the wrecking ball make it disappear.”

Creatives Darye and Dija Henry: Fulfilling Their Lives By Pursuing Their Interests

Darye and Dija Henry follow their hearts, dreams and passions.

This dynamic couple understands that, at their core, they are creative beings. When they met at Purdue, Darye played guitar and piano while majoring in computer science. Dija started as an engineering major.

“I was auditioning for plays in the evening and realized I was conflicted with my career path,” shares Dija. She changed her majors to theater and kinesiology which made sense after 10 years of gymnastics and athletic training. Dija also earned an accidental minor in English.

The two married shortly after graduation. Through their journey together, Dija and Darye have encouraged one another to express their creative sides. They both come from very talented genetic pools. Both sides share a love of the arts with special emphasis on music, writing and acting.

It hasn’t always been easy for Dija to express her creativity while balancing being a mom raising three children. At a low point, she experienced a breakthrough. Surrounded by her kids while she lay on the bathroom floor with postpartum depression, she realized others must feel the same way she did with struggling to balance motherhood, creativity and work.

At this pivotal moment, Darye, who is founder of Reborn Code, encouraged his wife to express her heart through a creative outlet. Darye set her up with a laptop and a flip cam and introduced her to YouTube. She started blogging. Once she started, she didn’t stop. Dija was one of the first vloggers (video bloggers) to begin writing skits and filming them, then posting to YouTube. She found her muse which was the balance of honoring her inner creative self as well as being a mom and a wife. Dija got her groove back by becoming a Creative Lifestyle Blogger.

“We are creative beings,” shares Dija. “It is my hope to inspire other creatives in honoring themselves and their talents.”

Darye is a musician at heart with the piano or a guitar never far from his grasp. Their children are encouraged to explore a wide variety of interests. The Henrys tout themselves as a “STEAM” household: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

“I am so happy for Darye,” states Dija. “He released another album at the beginning of November, realizing a dream of his.” The EP is called “Prophets and Jesters.”

Dija starred in a short film that premiered in Los Angeles at the end of last summer. “Moving Still” is a short film made for the 168 Film Project. The film placed well among the competition, earning Best Actor and Best Score nominations. “Reggie McGuire and I produced the film,” says Dija. “And it was directed by Kindari of Verexia Studies. We are excited it was so well received!”

“Our children are all talented beings,” says Darye. “We encourage them to pursue their interests and hope to cultivate them into their own balance.” Dija adds, “We try to include them in our projects whether it’s coming with me to a filming, acting with me or hanging with daddy while he records music or rehearses. We make sure that creativity is a family affair. I always teach the kids how important it is to stay creative and use their minds to make up games or invent new ways of doing things. I think it’s a life skill!”

Dija’s website and blog,, is her creative outlet. Sign up for Dija’s newsletter on her blog to receive weekly inspiration in pursuing your passion.

YouTube channel:, or visit

Darye’s website for his

Reborn Code:

Meet Conner Prairie’s New President, Norman O. Burns II

Photographer / Brian Brosmer

24917502345_577fac205e_kNorman Burns II, the new President and CEO of Conner Prairie, takes the helm at an exciting time.

With 28 years of experience in leadership roles at historic institutions around the country, Burns and his wife Sandy are embracing their new adventure with Conner Prairie. Originally from Tennessee, the Burns feel at home in Indiana and are arriving at the beginning of a year-long Bicentennial Celebration for our 200 years of Indiana statehood.

“I am excited for the opportunity to be here at this time,” shares Burns. His experience includes being a part of the Bicentennial celebration in Tennessee, a Bicentennial of the southwest territory and the 400th celebration of the founding of Jamestown.

Burns clearly understands the impact that these events have on the awareness of history. “This is what we do at Conner Prairie every day,” says Burns. “We celebrate history.”

The mission of Conner Prairie is to inspire curiosity and foster learning about Indiana’s past by providing engaging, individualized and unique experiences. Conner Prairie is a Smithsonian affiliate and a national award-winning interactive experiential outdoor museum.

Indiana’s Bicentennial Celebration takes on very special meaning at Conner Prairie. The Conner House played a major role in shaping Indiana’s policies from early on. “We are using Indiana’s Bicentennial celebration to share the story of Indiana’s story of territory to statehood,” says Conner Prairie VP and COO Cathy Ferree.

While the Bicentennial will be celebrated throughout Conner Prairie, a main feature of the Bicentennial celebration will take place at the Conner House. Beginning March 26, guests will be invited to enter from the front of the Conner House, facing the prairie, instead of the rear of the home. The interactive experience will transport guests back in time to explore what might have happened in the home during the era of statehood infancy.

“The interactive, dramatic story about what happened here in the Conner House will be shared in a new way,” shares Ferree. “The Conner House is more than a structure. We want guests to experience the story of who lived here, what was happening in the community around it and how is it important today.”
The restoration and reinterpretation of the Conner House at Conner Prairie is designated an official Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project. The Conner House shaped Indiana’s history, for it was a meeting held in that very house that changed the location of the state capital of Indiana.

“Two hundred years ago, William Conner arrived as a fur trapper. He fought in the War of 1812 and witnessed Indiana’s transition from territory to statehood,” says Ferree. “Trapper, trader to gentleman and statesmen, Conner left a legacy. Over the years, his home bustled with visitors discussing legislation. The home served as a cultural hub where big ideas were stretched and pulled.”

Guests are expected to be curious, ask questions and receive their answers in the interactive history experiences that makes Conner Prairie unique.


In addition to the Bicentennial celebration, Conner Prairie is introducing a new experience for their guests, Treetop Outpost, opening July 1. For the past five years, Conner Prairie has introduced nature programming as a unique lens on history. Treetop Outpost is a culmination of these efforts and supports Conner Prairie’s mission to inspire curiosity and foster family learning.

“We started asking questions such as, ‘How can we help kids get more wild?’ Wouldn’t it be wild if we gave them an outdoor space where they could connect with their parents in nature?” says Ferree. “Imaginations are kindled like a wildfire. It’s not about taking away gadgets – it’s about captivating imaginations.”

The 40’ tall structure will feature interactive discovery zones all around it. Guests will dig in, literally, discovering the story of what we leave behind. Building upon the lessons of the past, there will be a construction area to build things with no computers involved. The hands-on experiences will provide another unique interactive experience for guests.

The debut of Treetop Outpost at Conner Prairie comes amidst Indiana’s Bicentennial celebration and the country’s 100-year anniversary of the nation’s parks system.

Coming into the Presidency at Conner Prairie during this exciting time, Burns has hit the ground running. “Conner Prairie is such a wonderful asset to the community, which is why I plan to work diligently to be part of its continued growth for many years to come. As a public historian and nonprofit leader who believes in the power of creativity, I am excited to now be part of Conner Prairie’s mission to inspire curiosity and foster learning about Indiana’s past by providing engaging, individualized and unique experiences. I am continually reminded that the history of humanity is the history of ideas. I believe the unique experiences at Conner Prairie do inspire curiosity and make this a place where imagination soars.”

Conner Prairie has a $33 million impact on the local economy. With 350 employees, the impact is direct with $11 million of this impact in Hamilton County alone. This includes 590 jobs created outside the prairie through local impact.

“While I will never be short of new ideas, I want to assure you that I see my job like a precious library book that I’ve been honored to check out for a period of time,” says Burns. “My responsibility is to be inspired by it, nurture it, plan for how to take care of it, possibly improve it and maybe even add a creative chapter or two. It is then the custodian’s role (mine and the organization’s) to communicate its themes and inspire others to enjoy and use it. But I always know that I have to take that book back and turn it in some day for the next person to check out.”

The vision is to have Conner Prairie become more connected throughout the state of Indiana. A Smithsonian affiliate, Conner Prairie is award-winning and nationally and regionally recognized. Now let’s gather up the locals…and let the celebration begin!

To plan your interactive experience, please visit for more information.

Scotty’s Celebrates 20 Years in Business

Scott Wise at Scottys Brewhouse

Writer / Kara Kavensky, for Broad Ripple Magazine
Photography / Brian Brosmer and Provided

Celebrating 20 years, Scotty’s Dawghouse is the latest of the brand expansion with the most meaningful experience taking place in his hometown.

Scott Wise grew up in Muncie, attended Yorktown High School and transferred to Ball State after his freshman year at DePauw.

“I knew I wanted to own my own business,” shares Wise. After graduation, he worked in Texas at a sporting goods chain as a copywriter and bartended at night. He hated his 9-5 job but loved working in the service industry at night, foreshadowing what was to come.

Wise comes from a family of entrepreneurs; his parents own their own businesses. He was known around town by his parent’s contributions to the community. Wise wished to make his own mark. Upon moving back to Muncie, he heard a corner bar was for sale. Wise created a business plan and presented it to his father, who was impressed with the attention to detail and thoughtful consideration of the plan. The first Scotty’s opened on the corner of University and Martin Streets.

The original Scotty’s is still standing. This year marks the 20th anniversary of its opening. Given the college town success, naturally the second location would be in Bloomington. Now there are 14 restaurants under the Scotty’s branded empire.

Butler University will celebrate the first bar on campus in over 200 years, Scotty’s Dawghouse. Located close to Hinkle Fieldhouse, Scotty’s Dawghouse promises to be a popular hangout for students and local patrons.

All of the Scotty’s restaurants personify Wise’s personality through brick and mortar along with good food. To Wise, each restaurant is a living, breathing child of his.

Wise was raised to give back to the community. As a kid, he raked the lawn next door to help his neighbor, and he’s always had a soft spot for those with special needs. Wise has his own difficulties with low vision, color blindness and a detached retina. A pivotal moment with Wise and his family occurred in the summer of 2014 when Wise teetered near death with a brain infection. After gratefully recovering from that terrifying experience, he was determined to accelerate doing as much good in the community as he could.

“With Scotty’s Brewhouses, we were steady with our community efforts,” shares Wise. “After my brain infection situation, we went from 30 mph to 100 mph.”

It was after that experience that Wise created a stronger vision statement for his company, which included a card that all employees carry every day, reinforcing the message.

The folded business card reads, “I will work hard and make _______ proud today.” The employees fill in the blank. Inside, the card has 30 statements, reflecting the golden rule.

“They come to work and want to make themselves, their parents, their kids proud,” says Wise. “Every 90 days, do something in your community. Donate your mind, body and soul to something you love. The card was born out of my brain trauma and has transformed the company.”

This pivot of focus led Wise to a decision he is most proud of: opening a THR3E WISE MEN Brewing Co. at a Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Muncie with the intention of hiring a portion of his workforce from the Erskine Green Training Center for people with special needs.

When The Arc of Indiana reached out to Wise to become a part of this groundbreaking project, it was through a fellow Yorktown High School grad Jeff Huffman via Twitter. Huffman has a son with Down syndrome and is a major advocate with The Arc of Indiana. He connected Wise with Kim Dodson, Executive Director of The Arc of Indiana, who pitched the idea to Wise. Dodson barely began to speak when Wise interrupted her and said, “I’m in.”

Dodson replied, “20-25 percent of your workforce must be composed of the training institute students who have special needs.”

“I said I’m IN! 100 percent, I am IN!” replied Wise, who knew with every fiber of his being that this was the right thing to do.

“This fit 100 percent with what we are doing. What The Arc of Indiana was asking is what my company is all about,” states Wise. “I am a believer in God. I am supposed to be doing this restaurant.”

After committing, the reality set in about consideration for other groups, guests and the other employees.

“It’s not as complex as one might imagine,” shares Jason Podell, Director of Training for Scotty’s Brewhouse and THR3E WISE MEN Brewing Co. “Sensitivity training for awareness and how to work with people with special needs was helpful.”

Three weeks leading up to the grand opening, the human resources director came to see Wise with tears in her eyes. “Scott, you wouldn’t believe how incredible this thing is,” says Wise of the conversation. “We thought we were doing something for the people with special needs, but you should see what is happening to the people around them.”

“The team is cohesive because of these people,” says Podell. “We’ve never seen anything like it – we lost fewer employees through the process than ever. We average a 30 percent attrition rate before the doors open, and in Muncie, it was less than 5 percent.”

“The employees from the training facility are very loyal and productive when focused on a task. Their excellent attitudes are contagious and greatly beneficial for our culture,” says Podell. “After this experience, we are using this as a model for all of our restaurants.”

The special needs employees are the glue that binds the family of workers at THR3E WISE MEN in Muncie. The rest of the employees are protective and nurturing with their co-workers with special needs. With an 82 percent unemployment rate among special needs adults, these are their first paychecks and their first uniforms, and they are jumping up and down with joy.

“To be able to celebrate 20 years in business with the new downtown Muncie location is so meaningful in so many ways,” says Wise. “It’s awesome for me to come back and open such an impactful restaurant to celebrate our 20th year.”

“I love the fact that we are trendsetters for our community, state and country,” says Podell. “Adults with special needs have the potential of being an amazing workforce, and it’s relatively untapped. It’s the right thing to do. We are honored to be a part of this. It’s eye-opening and heart-opening for all involved.”

For more information on the Erskine Green Training Institute, please visit, and for Scotty’s restaurants, please visit

DemandJump: Driving Clients via Marketing Technology

Writer/Kara Kavensky
Photographer/Amy Unger

Carmel-based DemandJump co-founders Christopher Day and Shawn Schwegman have raised the bar of sophistication in targeted online digital marketing.

DemandJump co-founders Christopher Day and Shawn Schwegman
DemandJump co-founders Christopher Day and Shawn Schwegman

A Marketing Intelligence Platform

Indianapolis has been a hotbed for the marketing tech industry. Home to companies such as Aprimo (sold to Teradata), ExactTarget (acquired by SalesForce) and now DemandJump, the cyber approach to marketing has strong roots in the Indianapolis area.

Effectively managing data is a major challenge for companies. According to the Harvard Business Review, “Because of big data, managers can measure, and hence know, radically more about their businesses and directly translate that knowledge into improved decision making and performance.”

DemandJump has created an actionable intelligent marketing platform (AIM) that harnesses this data, transforming it into a vehicle to drive revenue to their clients. This capability gives their clients a competitive edge, and companies are taking note.

Building upon their successes with former startups and business experience, Day and Schwegman have combined their technical prowess and marketing skills to drive the future of online marketing. Using vast amounts of data, applying their analytics and algorithms, DemandJump’s AIM platform shows marketers the biggest opportunities, predicted revenue and how to adjust budget allocation to maximize return on investment (ROI).

Day has sold two of his former companies, one each to Motorola and Comcast. Schwegman’s CV is also impressive, for he is credited with helping to grow from $3 million in sales to over $800 million. The two men met a few years ago. “I knew when I met Shawn that he and I needed to work together,” shares Day. “I was familiar enough with the marketing technology industry enough to understand Shawn’s approach was genius.”

“There’s an overabundance of marketing ‘big data’ tools and scorecards that report on past campaign performance. They report the news. DemandJump helps marketers make the news,” says Schwegman. “While data is obviously important in today’s data-driven world, marketers simply want to know what to do next to maximize their dollar. It’s not about big data. It’s about what the data tells us. That’s where DemandJump comes in. Our platform predicts what a marketer should do next, where they should spend money, how they should do it and why.”

Combining their skill sets along with a team of technology engineers, the DemandJump AIM platform shows digital marketers where to focus and eliminates blind spots that will quantifiably drive revenue.

“DemandJump is focused on strategically positioning our clients to maximize their digital potential,” says Day. “It’s an aggressive vehicle for driving new customers.”

There is an overwhelming amount of data that is readily available. The trick is knowing how to analyze the data and use it advantageously over competitors.

“A comment from a recent potential client was that they ‘simply don’t have time to look at all the information and various tools and platforms nor know even where to start with all of the other traditional marketing actions they have to perform,’” shares Day. “Companies are excited about having a platform that will bubble up their biggest opportunities to the top, so they can go act on what will move the needle.”

According to, forecasting is the greatest challenge facing marketing departments worldwide. The digital marketer of the future must be able to identify where to focus efforts, how to allocate budget and be responsible for revenue growth. Currently there is no central source of the truth that exists today that enables them to do just that, until now.

“DemandJump is very different than any other marketing tool I’ve seen, as most marketing tools amalgamate marketing data and deliver back data without any actionable next steps – whereas DemandJump gathers marketing data and specifically details what to do next, thus giving marketers truly actionable data,” states Kelly Hendricks, CEO of BLASTmedia. “No other marketing tool I know of gives marketers a daily blueprint on exactly where and how much to spend to maximize marketing ROI. It’s a marketers dream.”

For more information, visit


Design Impact: Darin Grice Creates New Protective Headgear

Inspiration may come in a flash, and for Traders Point Christian Academy’s Darin Grice, his moment happened while watching a football game. As he sat on the couch watching the Indianapolis Colts play, he thought, “The outside of the helmet should have some flexibility.” Grice quickly sketched an external helmet system based on his epiphany.

The following day, Grice investigated the patent process and has since received patent protection for his innovative design.

“I’m an art teacher,” says Grice, who is also a freelance artist. “You don’t need to be a business genius to see that there is a real need for this.”

The reactionary design technology utilizes three layers acting as a system to absorb and disperse impact energy. The standard sports helmet shell consists of a one piece hard inflexible material and Grice thinks this is where new technology can make the biggest impact in reducing injurious forces.

Grice found technology gaps and realized that most of the technological focus for helmet improvements was being done after impact whereas his device is centered on what can be done at impact.

In addition to adding time to the impact like a bumper on a car, The Turtle Shell Protective Systems creates multiple impact points and an impact sequence to absorb and spread out impact energy. The impact sequence will be effective technology in reducing rotational forces.

A team of mechanical engineers at IUPUI are conducting impact testing to prove the durability and feasibility of the design.

With help from Wingspan Thinking founder Chris McEvoy, Grice has launched his Turtle Shell Protective Systems business. “Darin’s idea has great potential,” shares McEvoy. “He’s created something genius in design and function.”

Grice’s son plays football at Traders Point Christian Academy. The coach had requested that his son play, and Grice finally conceded.

“It’s my hope to prevent concussions in anyone who wears a helmet, not just football players,” says Grice. “Of course he’s my primary concern.”

*as seen in the Zionsville Magazine and online

Myths and Legends of the White River

The curves along the White River through Broad Ripple have witnessed quite a bit in the last hundred years. And while you may never step into the same river twice, the residents along the White River know the secrets of its past.

WhiteRiver1A Bygone Era

Along the river, there used to be Millionaire’s Row, a speakeasy, brothels, bars, and a dance hall with names such as Lovely Lassie’s, the Gold Doubloon, and Happy Landings Bar. A Chicago gangster named Toughie Mitchell was shot and killed at Happy Landings Bar, which was located at Ravenswood Beach.

In the early 1930s, Terrace Beach was host to many parties, one of which included Steve McQueen’s mom as a guest.

“Steve McQueen grew up in Beech Grove,” said Broad Ripple resident and life-long river rat, Mike Boone. “His mom was invited to a party on the river bank just north of where the White River Yacht Club is, called Terrace Beach, and my sister was placed in the same playpen with Steve and he bit her. She still has the scar.”

The 1950 romantic drama, “To Please A Lady,” starring Clark Gable and Barbara Stanwick was filmed, in part, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. During filming, Clark Gable stayed with and partied at the home of the IMS publicist, who lived on the White River next door to Mike and Lynne Boone.

“Rumor has it that the boat house next door saw quite a few wild parties during the filming of the movie,” shared Boone, whose dad rented out a Cadillac convertible to the production company for use in the movie.

WhiteRiver2If These Walls Could Talk

Director of The Forum, Tim Yale, inherited quite a history when he purchased his waterfront home 23 years ago. The home was built in 1951 by LaRue Supper Club owner Harley Horton to accommodate the after hours parties once his club closed at midnight.

“The LaRue was the first dinner club in Indianapolis,” said Yale. “And by law, the club had to close at midnight, so our home was built for after-hours entertaining.”

The home was professionally decorated, utilizing zebra rugs and accents and featuring female nude frescos lining the stairs and certain walls.

LaRue’s supper club hosted talent such as Rudy Valli, Roan & Martin, and Carol Channing. These performers as well as celebrity guests Johnny Weissmuller (the original Tarzan), Clark Gable, and our own “Voice of the 500” Tom Carnegie, all partied at the Horton House into the wee hours.

An article from the Indianapolis News indicates that the home caught on fire in 1952 and was extinguished by pumping 65,000 gallons of water from the 30′ x 66′ swimming pool. Weissmuller reportedly did cannon balls into the pool. The massive size of the pool allowed the Horton grandchildren to launch boats in it.

Presidential Visit
May 4, 1980, Rex and Barbara Early hosted a political fundraiser for then Gov. Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Secret Service closed off their street in either direction during the three-hour event. Fifty guests mingled with the Reagan’s around the Early pool and deck for the afternoon.

What made the event notable, aside from the high profile guest of honor, was the arrival of the uninvited guests via the river. The event was crashed by a boat load of beer enthusiasts who were fellow members of the White River Yacht Club with the Early’s. The intoxicated men obnoxiously called out, “Hey Ronnie!” to the guest of honor, who graciously waved back.

“The Secret Service did not know whether to laugh or open fire,” said Rex Early, who was Gov. Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Campaign Chairman for the state of Indiana.

WhiteRiver3Overheard at the WRYC

“There used to be a double-decker paddle wheel boat on the river, but it capsized when most of the passengers crammed to the starboard side to look at a beautiful girl (rumored to have been topless) in a canoe paddling by,” said Jimmy “Mack” McDowell, long-time river resident.

Champion skier and river resident, Jim Kemna, recalls when the White River was known for its barefoot skiing.

“Back in the ’80s, the river was the place to train for barefoot skiing,” said Kemna, who was a state champion and ranked nationally at that time. “Boats were cheap and gas was cheap.”

Boat companies targeted the area for promotional deals for new boats and skiing equipment.

“Barefoot regionals were held nearby, but Broad Ripple held a Free Event Skiing, slalom, ski jump course also on the river,” said Kemna. “There used to be lots of people out on the river.”

Barefoot skiers and boat racing wasn’t the only daredevil attempts along the river. “Rumor has it Winston Knauss flew his helicopter under the Keystone Avenue bridge,” said Kemna.

“There used to be houseboats that the race drivers would use for parties on the White River across from the garden shop,” said McDowell.

The Dawson family has been linked to Broad Ripple and the White River for generations. Esther Dawson, Bob Dawson’s grandmother, even wrote a history of the Broad Ripple area. Esther and her husband owned a large farm with their original home now a part of Joy’s House on Broad Ripple Avenue. Esther’s husband was Lt. Governor under Gov. Henry Schricker.

For recent generations, Dawson Lake, owned by the Dawson family, was where every youth on the north side of Indianapolis went to party on the weekends.

“My ancestors bought their land from the Native Americans,” said Bob Dawson. “The river was significant, because it was a property boundary for the land.”

FC Tucker Realtor on the River, Angie Trusty, has made it her business to know the history of the homes along the river. “The home of Nancy Duke and Tod Trafelet has an interesting conversation piece: its stairwell. Their beautiful stairwell originated from a hotel downtown and was floated upriver to the home at the time of construction,” said Trusty.


Inspiration from the White River
Local visionary is Dan Ripley, who says, “I can envision a time when Labor Day traditions are defined by a trip to our waterways to boat, swim, canoe, float, fish, ski and generally socialize in the environment of our natural waterways. I can see a recovery of the water quality and its nature within. I see riverbanks cleared of invasive plant species that once again support a vibrant wildlife and are naturally sustainable. I can see waterfront homes, social clubs, restaurants and businesses that front the water instead of turning their backs and placing their trash containers along the water. I see water taxis, sightseeing tours, waterski shows and tournaments, flotillas and regattas. I see sandy beaches, protected swimming areas cleansed by natural filtration, flood controls that work with the natural flows of the river instead of fighting to contain it. I see bald eagles, otters and children each enjoying a clean, safe and beautiful outdoor lifestyle right here in central Indiana…None of this is mythological. It once was and can be again.”

For more information on Esther Dawson’s history in her own words, visit: For treasures from our area available at auction, visit For more Rex Early stories, he wrote a book full of them, “It’s A Mighty Think Pancake” (that don’t have two sides).


This article originally appeared in the Broad Ripple Community Newsletter, April 2015

Rob Sabatini Has the Best Seat in the House

Rob Sabatini

Sabatini1Growing up, former Purdue football player Rob Sabatini had two goals: he wanted to own a bar and be a race car driver. While he has accomplished the first objective, he has come as close to the latter without actually being behind the wheel.

Sabatini has attended every Indy 500 race since 1961, except for one, and he still hasn’t forgiven Logansport High School for scheduling his graduation on race day.

A few years after moving to Indianapolis, Sabatini met Fred Treadway. Sabatini was an experienced food and beverage manager who longed to open a bar. Treadway helped make that dream a reality. Between 1992 and 1995, Treadway and Sabatini opened the Mineshaft Saloon, Rock Lobster Nightclub and Average Joe’s Sports Pub, creating a trifecta of bars that helped form the Broad Ripple Avenue strip.

Quickly the clubs attracted race fans during the month of May. It wasn’t long before Sabatini ran the “Front Row Party” for the Indy 500 drivers, crew and guests. Longing to be more closely involved with racing, the price tag to do so was rather high until fate intervened. The Indy Racing League was formed in 1996 following the split from CART, allowing a window of opportunity for Treadway to start a race team with legendary racer Arie Luyendyk as his driver. This gave Sabatini a chance to join the team and live out his dream.

“The IRL offered me an opportunity to become an actual IndyCar crew member,” shares Sabatini. “I remember my first 500 walking out of Gasoline Alley and being so excited, I went back to the garage so I could walk out again!”
Sabatini2His position with the team was as the pit-board man. A pit-boarder’s job is one of the most dangerous on race day. The position entails being between the track and pit row in the narrow gap between the small concrete barriers conveying information to the driver such as when to pit, position and lap numbers. If the radio fails, the pit-boarder is the only source of communication between the driver and the crew.

“I was the closest guy to the driver,” says Sabatini. “If the car ran over a piece of debris, the crew chief would have the driver pull up close to the wall so I could assess for potential damage. In that position, you are IN the race.”

Sabatini absorbed every adrenaline-rushed minute of it, claiming he had the best seat in the house. Due to safety concerns, the position was eliminated in 2014 after Mayor Greg Ballard was hit with debris at the start of the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis. But while it was in play, Sabatini claims, “I am not sure which I enjoyed more, the racing element of danger or cheating death every race.”

The last race Sabatini crewed was in 2013. However, it was the 2011 Indianapolis 500 that, unfortunately, was the race that proved to be the biggest disappointment of the 18 Indy 500s he participated in. Leading with one lap remaining and with his National Guard team ahead by more than four seconds, rookie driver J.R. Hildebrand hit the wall on the last turn of the last lap, handing what moments before was certain victory to the late Dan Wheldon and crossing the finish line second in his crashed car.
Sabatini3“It was unreal,” recalls Sabatini. “My heart was pounding and my adrenaline was jacked, and just that quick it was over. I recall sitting on the wall with team manager Chris Moyer and engineer David Cripps just shaking our heads in disbelief. The replays played for months, and every time I thought, maybe this time it would end differently. Apart from being part of Arie Luyendyk’s crew that set the one and four lap qualifying records and was victorious in the 1997 Indy 500, the 2011 race will always stand out as one of the most emotional moments of my life.”

“I am so grateful to Fred Treadway,” says Sabatini. “He not only financed my dream to own a bar, but also started an IndyCar team, allowing me to live my childhood dream.” Sabatini bought out Treadway in 2008, but the two remain close.

And while not currently involved with a race team, Sabatini continues to spend time at the track. Last year he worked with Indy 500 event coordinators to help handle green room and pre-race logistics. “LeAnn Rimes, Ice Tea and Coco, Mark Cuban and Andrew Luck all made appearances before the race, and I was fortunate enough to get to help with the coordination,” says Sabatini.

Prior to moving to Indianapolis in 1989, Sabatini was the food and beverage director for Ditka’s Restaurant in Chicago when the Bears won the Super Bowl. “Being around an event like that is similar to being in the Winner’s Circle at the Indy 500,” says Sabatini. “It’s a different kind of exhilaration.”

“I have dedicated my life to racing and to my businesses,” confesses Sabatini. However, there is more than owning a bar and racing that fuels him. Sabatini’s other passion lies in DJing.

“Ever since ‘Saturday Night Fever’ was big in the 70s, I have been a DJ. I was a DJ before it was cool to be one. When I moved to Indy, no one would hire me to DJ, so I had to open my own bars to DJ in,” laughs Sabatini. He has been a fixture in both the Mineshaft Saloon and Rock Lobster DJ booths since opening and continues be the DJ at Rock Lobster every Friday and Saturday night starting at 10 p.m.

Sabatini is as invested in Broad Ripple as anyone could be. Owning three bars, a convenience store (Rock and a Hard Place General Store right next to Rock Lobster), Sabatini covers all aspects of being a true Broad Ripple villager. He also owns a home in Broad Ripple, is a landlord for two Broad Ripple rental homes, and built and sold the former Canal Point Grill, currently Flatwater. He is a director on the Broad Ripple Village Association and serves as its Public Safety Chairman.

“I can’t say enough about Fred Treadway. We were partners for 16 years,” shares Sabatini. “He believed in me and in my dreams.”

For more information on racing and other events, visit the company website at or follow Sabatini on Twitter @djsabbo. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Average Joe’s Sports Pub.

Sheryl Matthys Creates Successful Women Made Here

Entrepreneur Sheryl Matthys combines her diverse skill set and her passion for helping other female business owners with her Successful Women Made Here monthly networking group.

While working as a news reporter at an NBC affiliate in South Bend, Matthys was moonlighting with a videographer filming material for “Real Stories of the Highway Patrol” with the Indiana State Police.

“I’ve always worked hard and kept busy,” says Matthys. Given her background in radio and TV, Matthys credits her work ethic to her father, a hardworking farmer in South Bend.

She attained a master’s degree from Butler to become a television journalist. As an adjunct professor, Matthys taught at the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s College before moving to New York City with her husband, Todd Conner, WRTV6 Anchor.

Matthys started auditioning for different jobs while living in NYC. “My biggest claim to fame is a Viagra commercial,” says Matthys with a smile. “My mom was quick to tell people that it was not my husband in the commercial.”

In addition to the commercials, Matthys started an online dog lovers dating site called “Leashes and Lovers” which included live events of Where Dog Lovers Meet. She gained so much interesting fodder from the events, she turned the event interviews on video into a bestselling Amazon book by the same title.

Since moving back to Indiana, Matthys wished to create a supportive community while utilizing her skill set, so she created Successful Women Made Here, a networking group. Matthys has the meetings set up with an interview with the guest, then a circle of discussion afterward on a business building-related topic.

A recent meeting of Successful Women Made Here featured Jennifer Magley, an accomplished Division I athlete who attended the prestigious IMG Sports Academy, graduated from the University of Florida ranked as the #1 NCAA singles player in the country and became a professional tennis player. Magley then became the youngest Division I coach in the nation at Florida Gulf Coast. She authored the book, “Division I,” and is a recent entrepreneur, starting OPEN GYM, a fitness concierge service where members pay a flat monthly fee and receive access to unlimited classes at more than 40 area studios and gyms.

Other guests have included Pippa Mann, Sarah Fisher, Ambre Crockett and Nancy Noel. The meetings are educationally-based. This is evident in everything they do, whether it’s social media, goal achievement or leadership. The message is strong. Each meeting ends with a Mastermind circle which is a circle of influence.

Successful Women Made Here is designed to build relationships and encourage self-development. “I want to help women realize their strengths and skill set. We are all about encouraging other women,” says Matthys.

Matthys’ children are budding entrepreneurs as well. Both Kai and Keegan have operated lemonade stands and exhibit their own unique creativity. “I’m most proud to be called Mom” says Matthys.

For more information on SWMH, visit, and for OPEN GYM,

*as seen in the Carmel Magazine and online

The First Family of Fishers


Scott and Aunna Fadness are relaxed and easy going, ready to talk. Given the last 12 months of their life, that demeanor is a pleasant surprise.

One year ago from September, Scott and Aunna began Scott’s campaign for mayor in the town where he has worked since 2006, Fishers. “The last 12 months have been a bit action-packed,” Scott confessed.

“The choice to run for mayor was Scott’s and we have just rolled with it,” Aunna agreed. Scott, 32, and Aunna, 31, moved to Fishers in 2007, a year after Scott began an internship and commuted from Bloomington. Scott and Aunna inevitably were drawn to call Fishers their home.

The build up to the primary last spring was a crazy time, and exciting in another way.

FirstFamilyOfFishers2During the busiest part of the race, Aunna discovered she was expecting. The couple withheld this bit of news from the public until after the primary. To top it off, their due date is mid-November, just after the main election.

Scott Fadness is a bit of a reluctant politician. Since 2006, he has held several different job titles within the town, learning as much as he can about each department along the way.

Growing up on a farm in North Dakota in a town with a population of 2,200, Scott’s parents, Deb and Bruce Fadness, were surprised that he adapted so well to bigger city living. They were not surprised, however, by Scott’s soon to be new title of mayor. Working out in the fields with his dad and grandfather, Scott learned every aspect of their farm through hands-on experience. They know this is where Scott gleaned his work ethic.

Frequently on ride-alongs with Fishers police officers, or helping plow the streets in the middle of the night, Scott continues to spend time with all departments. “I love the job of town manager. This is where my passion is. When the people voted to approve Fishers becoming a city in 2011, I had not realized that it meant I would lose my job,” Fadness said. “I ultimately decided to run for office so that I wouldn’t leave the team that I have loved being a part of.”


Fadness earned his bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of North Dakota. “I thought I would be a third generation farmer,” he said. Apparently he was guided down a different path. He knew he wanted to get a master’s degree in public affairs from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs which is at the top of the list of schools, next to Harvard.

When Fadness’ parents flew down to see him in Bloomington, he drove them around to let them get a feel for the city. “When you drive in downtown Bloomington and surrounding areas, you get an immediate feel for what Bloomington is all about. That is the feel I want to create in Fishers,” said Scott of his vision for the newly found city.

The move to Indiana would prove prophetic for not only his career path, but most importantly this is where he met Aunna. Aunna is from a small, unincorporated area in northwestern Indiana called Union Mills, which has a population of 2,212. She graduated from South Central High School, located in southern La Porte County. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Purdue, she earned a master’s degree in Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, as well. She works for an environmental engineering company.

Both Scott and Aunna share a passion for giving back. Scott is on the Board for the Hamilton County Humane Society. They volunteer with the American Red Cross and for Alternatives, the women’s shelter in Anderson. They are also on the committee to fund a shelter in Hamilton County.

FirstFamilyOfFishers4Both are young, dynamic and easy-going, which are all needed characteristics for the job at hand.

Fishers has witnessed more than its fair share of growth and change in the last 25 years. Interestingly enough, a farm boy from North Dakota is leading us through the bulk of this shift. Given Scott and Aunna’s background and adaptability for change, their small town, country upbringing has perfectly prepared this couple for what lies ahead.

Scott is in the right place at the right time. But what if the baby decides the right time to arrive is on Election Day?

“That is easy. I am with my wife and son. They are forever, the office isn’t,” says Scott.

He has his priorities straight.



This article originally appeared in the Broad Ripple Community Newsletter, Semptember 2014

Kara Kavensky

Kara Kavensky