Memories of the 500 linger for letter writer


To the editor:

My son is Tom Hemmer. My mother was Thelma “Bob” Sargeant. Tom attended his first Indianapolis 500 as a freshman in the Purdue band. When he got home that evening, his grandmother and I were interested in everything he had to tell us about it.

Then mother said, “You know, Tom, I attended that race once.”

He and I together both said, “You did?”

“There was a young man in town selling parts for Marmon cars (made in Indianapolis),” she said. “I was 16. He invited me to go to Indianapolis for a day and attend a race. My mother allowed it, so I went up on the interurban. He met me and took me to the race track and we watched the race.”

My son said, “What was it like?”

Her answer, “Hot and dusty and we sat on the hood of a car. After the race, he took me downtown for dinner. Bought me an armful of roses. Put me on the interurban back to Seymour.”

“And I never saw him again,” she said.

Tom said, “Grandma, you were born in 1895, you were 16. It was 1911. Grandma, you attended the very first Indianapolis 500.”

For many years, Tom has taken vacation from his job in Seymour to be one of the photographers at the Indianapolis track for The Associated Press.

Mother was asked by John Conner (former publisher, editor and managing editor of the Seymour Daily Tribune) to fill in at The Tribune during World War II when their employees were being drafted. She worked as a proofreader until age 75 when she said one day, “There really is a generation gap and it is between me and these kids out of high school who don’t know how to spell.”

Nancy Bishop, Brownstown

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