For Sale: Old Lady Riddle’s 1940’s General Electric Stove

Old Lady Riddle’s 1940’s vintage General Electric stove was in our garage when we moved in. It was moved to the garage in the 1990s when the previous owners remodeled the kitchen, and has been there ever since. I’ve hunted around for the year of manufacture, but can’t find the exact model.

We’re Selling it on Craig’s List. Sold.

1940's General Electric Stove

Photoset: 1940’s vintage General Electric Stove

Continue ReadingFor Sale: Old Lady Riddle’s 1940’s General Electric Stove

Major A. Riddle and Old Lady Riddle’s House

NOTE & UPDATE: There’s a comment here on this post from DACI (see comments down at the bottom of the page) that corrects much of the information in this post. There was a kernel of truth and much speculation in the story I recount here from my older neighbor regarding Major Riddle, and because of this, it’s important to take my anecdotes with a grain of salt and then read the comment by DACI for a more complete truth. I very much appreciate the updated information from her, because it gives a much clearer picture of Major Riddle and his life.

A while back, I was looking up the history of our house in the Old Northside Historic Plan, and I noted that the third owner of our house was Charles L. Riddle, who owned a lighting store in town in the 1920’s. I found a picture of the store in the Indiana Historic Archives, and posted it to my blog. We found out a bit more about the Riddle family today.

We were out working in the yard this afternoon, and stopped to have a chat with our neighbor Mr. K——, who’s an older fellow (graduated from Arsenal Tech in 1949) who once lived in the house next door. His son K—– owns the house now, and we’ve chatted with him many times, but we hadn’t ever talked to his dad.

He filled us in on what it was like to live there as a kid, and who owned what houses, and what some of the houses that burned down used to look like, and generally gossiping and telling us about some of the scandals in the neighborhood, which is HUGELY entertaining coming from a 77 year-old man.

He was telling us that when he was a kid, (in the late 1930s and early 1940s) the house was owned by “Old Lady Riddle” – her name was Susan, Charles’ wife. Charels died in 1925, apparently, and she owned the house after. Her son was a Major Arteburn Riddle, who grew up in our house and started a trucking company during the Depression here in Indiana. He was a generation older than Mr. K——–.

He told us that Riddle got rich during the Depression because he would sell rigs to his truck drivers and finance their purchase, then when they were 3/4 paid for, he would lay them off and foreclose on the loans by taking the rigs, so he had a reputation as a shady guy. (See DACI comment for more on this.)

Then he said that Major Riddle (all this time, we’re thinking “Major” as a military rank, but that was his actual first name) took all his “trucking” money and went to Vegas and bought into the Dunes Hotel, and after that he was really rich.

When he got to that part, I remembered that K—– had mentioned this story awhile back, too, but at the time I was more interested in Kurt Vonnegut, who lived for a while with his grandparents on 13th street, right around the corner from us, so I forgot about the Dunes Hotel story. Our neighborhood had some relatively famous residents in Indianapolis history.

Anyways, Major Riddle was married, but he came back to visit his mom one day with another woman — in a big convertible Cadillac with fins and a set of longhorns on the front. I wish I could describe word-for-word what Mr. K——- said, because it was classic — he said he couldn’t remember the woman’s name, but she was famous: “that woman. You know, that woman they were all shooting each other up for out there in Vegas.” She got out of the car, and took her fur coat out (in was in a garment bag?) and they walked up on to the porch, and Old Lady Riddle opened the door, and said:

“You can come in, but that whore has to stay on the porch.”

Which everyone around heard, because they were all out gawking at the car. And then he talked a bit more about the fancy Caddy, and mentioned that Riddle bought a 1960 Cadillac for Old Lady Riddle “before that, all her cars were Packards.” And because it was too big to fit in the garage, “they tore down the garage and built that one” – pointing at our rather spacious one car garage. He remembered them building it.

And then he went on to talk about Major’s sister, (? don’t know who this was; turns out Major didn’t have a sister) and how she made picnics every week on our front porch and invite all the neighbor kids from all around to eat, and Old Lady Riddle would have fits, because she didn’t want them all at her house.

And from there he talked about the neighborhood changing in the 1950s from an all-white neighborhood to a mostly black one, and how the neighborhood got poorer and many of the lovely homes burned down.

So after we came in I sat down and started searching for Major Riddle and the Dunes Hotel, and found quite a lot.

It becomes apparent that Riddle’s trucking company here in Indiana had some pretty serious mob connections, and that he was involved with the Teamsters in Chicago and Vegas, too. And he was a major figure in early Vegas history, buying into the Dunes in 1956, bringing the very first topless Burlesque show to Vegas, and raking in loads of cash and making Vegas a hot spot for high rollers and wealthy gamblers. Major Arteburn Riddle was a pretty famous guy, and he may have slept in the Murphy bed in our house. (It was installed in 1924. Don’t worry, we bought a new mattress for it.)

Riddle also appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1962 to hawk his book, “The Weekend Gambler’s Handbook” to promote the Dunes.

There’s an entire thread on about “The Takeoff of Major Riddle” which was apparently some huge poker scam involving fleecing Major Riddle at the Aladdin Room at the Dunes.

I haven’t figured out who the floozy on our front porch was yet, but I’m hoping to track her down.

And it occurred to us to wonder what might be under the garage floor, and under that weird spot of different-colored concrete in the basement. 🙂

In all, it’s made for a very entertaining afternoon of googling, and we have a theme for our next party, too. And my next pet will be named “Major Arteburn Riddle” after our esteemed mobster pal and former resident.

After learning all this, though, we realized we know most of the people who’ve owned/dwelled here: Joseph Caylor, Dennis Jenkins, Charles Riddle/Susan Riddle/Major A. Riddle, the Zimmermans, James Q. Mease, Dylan Wissing and Johnny Socko Band, Julie Wohead and friends, and the Mineart-Koutek family. Our house has a pretty colorful history.

2009/11/21 UPDATE: we picked up the book Bugsy’s Baby: The Secret Life of Mob Queen Virginia Hill
and discovered that the “woman they were shooting each other up over in Vegas” – Virginia Hill – was indeed having an affair with Major Riddle, however, she probably wasn’t the floozy made to stay on the porch. (see comments from Riddle family members below.)
Continue ReadingMajor A. Riddle and Old Lady Riddle’s House

links for 2008-03-05

Continue Readinglinks for 2008-03-05

Books, Books, Books

This past weekend, Stephanie and I went to my company’s warehouse employee book sale. This is where they lay out all the returned stock from bookstores and let us purchase it at a steep discount, which means that it doesn’t need to get recycled or trashed. It’s one of the great perks of my job for book lovers like us, and is a really great deal, money-wise. I was able to pick up many books that have been on my “to read” pile for a long time.

On the other hand… we came home with 160 books. 57 of them were mine, 30 of them are presents for family members, and 73 of them are Stephanie’s. So… yeah. We made great strides in reducing clutter this year in our house, then frakked it all up. Heh. Actually, the sheer volume of stuff we cleared out this year is quite a bit more than the books we acquired, so we’re not at all back where we started. But we have a lot of book storage to come up with.

And I have a LOT of books. Doing the math – I acquired more books at this sale than I read this year, easily, and I did the same thing last year. And I also bought quite a few new books this year, although one of my goals was not to do that. I feel guilty that there are so many wonderful books in my library that I simply haven’t read. And many of them have been sitting there for quite some time, while I go around willy-nilly, checking out new titles from the library and buying new books from the bookstore.

So… that leads me to my 2008 new year’s resolution(s), which I’m making a bit early:

In 2008, I will read only books that I already own, and read more of them than I have in the last few years. To accomplish that, my plans are:

  1. I will not buy ANY books in 2008, new or used, unless I have to for work, with one exception – next year’s year-end warehouse book sale, and that only if I accomplish my resolution, and I can only purchase as many books as I’ve read in 2008.
  2. If I need a book for book club, I’ll check it out from the library, or (worst case scenario) Stephanie will buy it.
  3. I will NOT check books out from the library this year, unless it’s for book club. (I know that seems strange, but the goal is not about saving money, it’s about focusing my attention on my own library.)
  4. Do a massive purge of my feed reader and severely reduce the number of blogs I read regularly.
  5. Carry my current read around with me everywhere, so that I focus on it, and not the magazines in the doctor’s waiting room, the internet while I’m waiting for gym class, etc.).

So there it is – my official 2008 New Year’s Resolution. Let’s see if I can stick to it.

2019 update: I did not succeed at this resolution. Not this year, or any other year that I made it.

2022-03-12 Update: And I haven’t since 2019, either.
Continue ReadingBooks, Books, Books

Wanted: Bottle Caps

Wanted: Bottle Caps

Just to put this out there into the ether – my lovely girlfriend is working on an project(s) involving bottle caps, and is seeking as many as we can find. It doesn’t matter what kind they are, or if they’re new or vintage, (although colorful and rare would be treasured and appreciated). If you have a bunch, or would be willing to save them up from your regular beer or soda usage and give them to us, I’m sure she’d be grateful. Contact me here if you want to know how to send them.

We’re going to ask some of our neighborhood restaurants if they’ll collect them, but that’s a toss-up as to whether it will be worth their while. I’ve also got a post on Craigslist and on the local freecycle list. But, you know, we have lots of friends who like beer, so…

Bottle Caps
Bottle Caps
Continue ReadingWanted: Bottle Caps

Creepy Halloween

We had 195 trick-or-treaters at our house last night. I wish I could say our house was the draw, but in reality we tend to get quite a few because there are some awesome Spooky Victorian Gothic houses on our street, and a few of the neighbors go all out decorating for the holiday.
The Motes across the street have this awesome Victorian Gothic with gargoyles on the roof.
Mote's Gothic House
This amazingly restored Victorian Stick mansion up the street is always a big draw.
And the neighbors on either side of this nicely landscaped lot put together this awesome fake graveyard that people drive over to see.
The Million dollar house

Continue ReadingCreepy Halloween

Weekend Wrap Up

These wrap ups are turning into a long list of “finished chores” aren’t they? Oh, well. At least we’re getting shit accomplished. Eventually I’ll write something that someone other than me wants to read. We’ve made some pretty major purchases lately (see dog fence and truck shell), so we’re trying to stay and home and enjoy the house, and avoid spending large wads of cash, so the emergency fund can replenish itself. We did well on that; I think we spent less than $10 bucks this weekend.
Saturday it was raining, and I couldn’t work in the yard, so I went through all my board games and weeded out a bunch that needed to go to good will. Unfortunately, I kept more than I got rid of from the stack I had identified as “getting rid of.” But I have some plans for the one’s I’m keeping. And I rediscovered a number of games that should be fun to have people over to play.
I also spent a chunk of the morning organizing tools in the basement. This was fun because Stephanie’s dad is big on giving her tools, and she has lots of stuff that I’ve always wanted to use. There’s still more organization to be done, but I have a better idea of what we own, which is good.
While Stephanie ran board games to good will and went shopping for her costume, I scraped peeling paint off the siding on the front porch and repainted. These were the areas where water leaked down onto the walls from the roof where the idiot roofer left our gutters off the house all of last winter. I wish I’d scraped and painted earlier; it looks much better. So the porch is presentable for trick-or-treaters. We also put out a giant spider web and some other creepy decorations. This make me wish I had never gotten rid of the life-size plastic skeleton I used to own, though. He’d be great sitting on the bench on the porch.
Saturday night I dressed up as a pirate and Stephanie dressed up as Eloise one of her childhood favorite books. Stephanie looked great, but I’d say I don’t think my pirate costume was terribly successful, and I probably won’t wear it on Wednesday to work. We did have fun at the party, though.
On Sunday, we set a few tasks for ourselves:
1. clean the cat litters out (don’t worry; I won’t narrate that)
2. Put together the log rack we bought earlier.
3. Put together the fire pit we bought earlier.
4. do some errands for the neighborhood association.
5. read
6. watch some of the backlog of shows we have DVR’ed.
7. Plan the grocery list for the week.
I wonder why I only capitalized the items that begin with “p”? Hmmm. Anyway, we got all that done. I also managed to staple some chicken wire fencing over some of the gaps in the fence so Spike can’t crawl through them.
In all, it was a very pleasant last weekend in October.

Continue ReadingWeekend Wrap Up

Spike’s Birthday Fence

We’re having the backyard fenced in for Spike for his (belated) Fifth birthday present, since I promised him when he was a puppy that he could have a fenced in yard. I called around a few months ago and got estimates from a surveying company to do a boundary survey, and we eventually hired Site Line surveying, who just finished up setting the corner markers on Friday.
Of course, Saturday our neighbor came over to point out my flowerbed edging was encroaching on his line and he was planning to remove it. I immediately dug it out and filled in the edge. The surveying company noted to me on the phone this morning that part of that same neighbor’s sidewalk is encroaching on our yard in the back. I will choose not to be a dickhead in return for his jerkish behavior. Although I did move his trashcan off our side of the line. “Now that we’ve established the boundary lines” as he noted to me. Yes, lets establish some boundaries.
We also got estimates from several fence companies, and Glidden Fencing is coming out to begin the work this week. We have to do a wood picket fence because of the historic neighborhood, so we chose a “gothic” style with pickets set fairly close together so he can’t squeeze out between them. So Spike will finally have the fence I promised him 5 years ago.

Continue ReadingSpike’s Birthday Fence

Weekend Update 2007-10-15

We managed to get a lot done this weekend, and not kill ourselves in the process, which is pretty good for us. Saturday, I put 7 sets of Avon bottles on eBay, which was pretty huge. I have somewhat of an assembly line going on for getting this done, because there are lots of steps and detail to capture. When it comes to selling stuff on eBay, these particular items are a pretty big pain in the butt. You have to gather together several bottles that have something similar about them, unbox them, determine whether the bottles are full or empty, write down the item and information about it, photography the set, box them back up, and find a shipping box that will fit the set, which can be like playing tetris. Then you have download the pictures from the camera, write up descriptions of the set including all pertinent detail, upload the photo and write up the sales description. Then several potential bidders will ask a million questions about the items, some of which will require you to go back and unbox the items, recount them, weigh them, etc. The question they ask is always the one that I didn’t think to write down. Then when the items sell, you have to figure out how to combine shipping if required, pack the shipping box so nothing breaks, address it to the correct person, and haul it all to the post office. Yeah.
I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel on this project – which is to say, all the remaining bottles are unpacked and grouped on a table ready to start in on the process. I think I have about 10 more sets to run through the whole line, which will take perhaps one or two more weekends. I’m hoping to have it all cleaned up and finished before Halloween.
On Sunday we did a lot of organizing upstairs of the bathroom, hallway, etc. I’m very happy with what we accomplished there, too. There’s still a lot to do, but we’ve made progress. I think we’ll have cleaning and organizing most of the winter, but by spring I hope we’ll be done and ready to spend most of our free time with friends instead of around the house trying to manage our stuff.
UPDATE: I re-read this post and realized I sound like giant whiner, and that it sounds like we did nothing but work all weekend, and that I plan to do nothing but work for the rest of the winter.
When it comes to the Avon bottles – I volunteered for this project, so I’m not complaining about doing it at all. I’m just noting that there are lots more steps than I originally thought, and more steps than other eBay sales, so it’s hard to keep track of all the detail. Also, we did do fun stuff this weekend. We ate at Elbow Room and shopped at the mall, among other things. We just also managed to get a lot done, which I’m very happy about. And we’re going to be doing lots of fun stuff this winter, too.

Continue ReadingWeekend Update 2007-10-15