From the Avenue - A Memoir: Life Experiences and Indiana Avenue History Told from the Perspective of One Who Was There

From the Avenue - A Memoir: Life Experiences and Indiana Avenue History Told from the Perspective of One Who Was There


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Thomas Howard Ridley, Jr. grew up in the 1920s and 1930s in Indianapolis, Indiana, just off of the famed Indiana Avenue. The area was renowned for its rich history of jazz and jazz artists; Wes Montgomery, Larry Ridley, Freddie Hubbard, J.J. Johnson, Dr. David Baker, and Jimmy Coe, to name only a few, are all from Indianapolis, and could be found performing at the many jazz clubs on the Avenue. Tom Ridley grew up in the middle of it all, a happy, resourceful young African American with a love of life and family. In this memoir, Mr. Ridley - now 90 years old, and a riveting storyteller - talks about the adventures of his childhood and young adulthood. Through his simple yet wonderfully interesting narrative, the reader is placed into the pre-World War II life of a boy-turned-young man who joyously explores his neighborhood and drinks in all it has to offer. Mr. Ridley tells of a simpler time, when boys made their own bicycles and rode them everywhere, and young men spent hours dressing up to go stand on the corner by the famous Madame Walker Theatre, hoping to catch the attention of the lovely young ladies strolling by. Later they would crowd into packed music venues and cafes, and listen and dance to the music of home-grown jazz musicians who would later find national acclaim. Mr. Ridley went to school, played hard, and spent evenings and summers grabbing whatever job opportunities came his way. The black population of this section of the city was segregated from white people, and happily so. Tom Ridley suffered no ill effects of living and working solely around his people, and knew very little adversity from prejudice until he joined the Army and was sent to Georgia and Mississippi to train. It was then that he learned just how differently his life could have been, had he been born elsewhere. Once in Europe serving in the war, however, he discovers some surprising things. After the war is over, he comes back home to Indiana to true adulthood, and to a new life shaped by the rich cultural experiences initiated by having grown up "on the Avenue."

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781481070843
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 11/28/2012
Pages: 72
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.15(d)

About the Author

Thomas Howard Ridley, Jr. was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is a noted expert on the rich history of the Indiana Avenue area. After moving away from the district for several decades, he now again lives a mere stone's throw from his beloved Madame C.J. Walker Theatre, where he works as a docent. Mr. Ridley has been interviewed often by journalists and local University professors, and loves nothing more than telling stories about the wonderful Indiana Avenue legacy.

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