Friday, March 30, 2018

Battle of Elder Avenue - Photos

Officer Les Bolander, Lt. Paul D Pearsey and either Officer Willard Givan
or  Officer Victor Osburne on right

Officer Merlin Lyon being helped by (l) Les Bolander and (r) Victor Osburne

Officer James P Brenton pulling Edward Clouse to safety
on Miley Avenue

Evening edition of newspaper printed before the final event

Officer Dora Ward on his back; he was shot approaching the house, and
again as he lay on the sidewalk.  The officer crawling towards him to give
aid was shot a few minutes later...

Crowds gathered to see the stand-off

A map of 733 Elder Avenue and surrounds

Howard Ellis' body is carried out before the crowd

The next day's newspaper

30 June 1954 - Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

While doing my genealogy research, I encounter a lot of nuggets of information that intrigue me.  One cousin lived until she was two weeks shy of her 100th birthday, and I have wondered over all the inventions and world events she read and learned about during her long life...  What did she feel about certain inventions, what were her feelings about the wars that took place during her life, etc.  Last night I was looking on the "Find a Grave" website to verify birth and death dates of a cousin, when I was struck by the photo attached to his grave.  My cousin was a police officer in Indianapolis, Indiana, and this is the photo that gave me pause:
My cousin's name was Willard Sampson Givan, and he is the officer on the left side of the photo, giving assistance to Lt. Paul D. Pearsey, who had just been hit by a shotgun blast.  The photo was used by Life magazine in the 12 July 1954 issue, and the title of the article was "Mayhem in the Sun."  In Indianapolis, this incident has become infamous as "The Battle of Elder Avenue" - and this occurrence, plus the 1 August 1966 University of Texas Tower shootings, brought about the existence of the Specialized Weapon and Tactics (SWAT) teams we have today.
   In 1954 a single man with a shotgun and a .22 rifle kept 200 police officers at bay, and shot 11 of them, for almost 3 hours.  The police fire an estimated 10,000 rounds of ammunition during their attack, and never struck the man inside.  The officers had no plan and were not coordinated in their attack.  The Indiana governor watched the incident while hiding behind a bush. After the incident, he and the other lead police officers of the state decided a special task force was needed to deal with any other such incidents that might arise, but the task force was never formed.
   It was a very hot day in Indianapolis that Wednesday.  Janie Ellis had walked to the grocery store and made a few needed purchases.  Returning home to the house on Elder Avenue, she found her husband beating one of their five foster children.  When Janie intervened, her husband, Howard Ellis, grabbed her and held a knife to her throat, threatening to kill her.  One of the children yelled from another room, and Janie was able to break free and run to a neighbor's home to use the telephone.
   She first called the local Mental Hospital, which had recently released her husband, stating that he was rehabilitated.  She spoke with her husband's doctor, and told him that her husband had been beating her and molesting two of the foster children since his return.  The doctor told her to call the police and have them bring him back to the Mental Hospital.  Mrs Ellis called the police and explained the situation, and two officers were sent to the neighbors home, to walk over to the Ellis house with Janie.
   While Howard Ellis had been in the hospital, Janie had searched the house, top to bottom, and had given away the 10 guns and ammunition she had found.  She knew her husband was a crack shot and had been afraid he'd shoot her and the children upon his return.  While waiting for the police to arrive, Janie watched her house from the neighbor's window.  She saw her husband go into the shed and return to the house carrying the shotgun, the rifle and "an armful" of ammunition.  When the two police officers arrived, she warned them that Howard was now armed; she also thought that all of the children were still inside the house.
   While walking toward the house with the two police officers, the three of them heard Mr Ellis yelling that he'd die before being locked up in the hospital again.  The police officers had not drawn their guns, and Janie Ellis was walking to their left as they approached the house.  The shotgun roared through a window, and Janie went down to the ground.  She was shot in the left thigh and hand.  The officers dragged her from the yard, and called for assistance.  After more than an hour, it was discovered that all of the children had safely exited the home.  Then all hell broke loose.
  Janie Ellis and the eleven police officers who were shot all lived.  Howard Ellis did not.  Finally, using an armored bank truck as cover, ten men moved to the back door of the house, while another 200 officers poured gunfire into the front of the house.  The ten men opened the back door and entered.  They saw Mr Ellis calmly reloading his shotgun, completely untouched by bullets, standing behind a bookcase.  He fired at the intruders, and they fired back.  Ellis stepped back behind the bookcase and reloaded his shotgun.  He stepped out again, but his shotgun misfired - and he continued to walk toward his assailants, finally falling with 26 bullets in his body.
    Howard Ellis was the first person who caused the development of the SWAT team we know today.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Prague's Old Jewish Cemetery

The headline in my news feed grabbed my attention - as it was supposed to:  Archaeologists Find Gruesome Coffin Birth.    Both the woman and child had died, and were buried, before the so-called "birth."  As we all know, bodies that are not prepared by a mortician bloat; they swell with gases caused by the decomposition of the body.  This woman, buried more than 400 years ago, had undergone brain surgery, a trepanning, before her death while pregnant.  She was, of course, buried with the child she carried still inside her womb.  Once she was in her coffin and in her grave, the gases built up inside her abdominal cavity, and the dead child was expelled from her body.  The archaeologists "found the bones of the child" between her femurs and within her pelvis.  The term "coffin birth" really caught me off guard, however.
    And since I had been looking at photos of old cemeteries, it made me wonder what would be found in the old Prague Jewish Cemetery.  It is the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe, and one of the most important Jewish historical monuments in Prague. It served its purpose from the first half of the 15th century up until 1786.  It now covers 2 acres and contains over 100,000 bodies, some of which are buried 12 deep.  It looks and seems incredible!  How I would love to visit this place!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Abandoned Buildings

Abandoned buildings, and their interiors, have always fascinated me.  I guess a part of the allure is from being a fan of history, and wanting to know about the building and it's previous inhabitants.  Why was this building abandoned?  Did the owners all die?  Did they flee for self-preservation?  Why were certain items left behind?  Why did no one else move in, or purchase the place?  Exactly when was it built?  Who lived there?  What did they observe during their lives?  In some of those large houses, were there servants?  What were the servants' lives like?  Why has the building not been renovated or re-purposed?  My mind always wanders when I see photos of the interiors....

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Memes of 45 (Anti-45)

Sorry, but after being moved to tears multiple times yesterday by speakers
and silence at the March For Our Lives events,
I could not resist posting these...

(Trumpgun by Colleen O'Hara)