Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cargill/Elder Avenue Photo Shoot

The towering concrete grain silos on White River Parkway just west of White River and north of Michigan Street in Indianapolis have been a landmark here for generations. Formerly known as the Evans Mills Co. and later Illinois Cereal Mills, the plant was acquired by Cargill in 1994. When I was young, whenever we would pass the plant late at night, my father would slow the car a bit so we could catch the scent that seemed to fill that block only after dark. Even in the dead of winter, we would roll down the windows to catch the smell that most people agreed was that of popcorn; always to me, though, it was the aroma of fresh-baked sugar cookies, which mom often made in those days.

Though I’ve driven past those silos countless hundreds of times, only recently did Flo and I park nearby and stroll the circumference of the grain plant, on a dual-purpose photo shoot. Two short blocks west of those silos is an empty lot, at 733 Elder Avenue, where the infamous “Battle of Elder Avenue,” or “The Elder Avenue Shootout” took place June 30, 1954.

A YouTube Photo Montage tells the story:

Still remembered and written about after all these years (SWAT Teams: Explosive Face-offs with America's Deadliest Criminals by Robert L. Snow, and mentions in Indianapolis Monthly magazine), the Elder Avenue Shootout ranks as a classic fiasco, in which former Central State mental patient Howard Ellis wounded his wife, then barricaded himself in his home, wounded eight policemen and single-handedly held off over two hundred law enforcement officers for two and a half hours. Ellis was killed when officers rushed him after more than ten thousand rounds had been fired into the house. My father was a rookie officer at the scene, and, with ten years military service, was one of the first to suggest modern S.W.A.T. training be implemented.

A few clippings featuring my father:

Another place to take a camera, and wander through my memories.