Saturday, August 13, 2016

Tom "Toad" Hendrickson

Through much of my Gumpy's childhood, his partner-in-crime was his cousin Tom "Toad" Hendrickson. Tom was the son of Gumpy's Aunt Edna Florence Jones Hendrickson. I previously published a transcription of Chapter 13 of my Gumpy's book "That's Live...and then some" describing his August 1937 cross-country drive on Route 66 from Indiana to California with Toad, his brother Bob and cousin Guy Hankins. After returning from this West Coast visit, Tom finished his senior year at Thorntown High School.
1938 Thorntown yearbook.

Tom was a forward on the Thorntown High School basketball team and would have played in the gym built after the school's 1915 state championship.
1938 Thorntown basketball team. Tom is #67 in the front row.
My Gumpy dedicated Chapter 4 of his book to Tom and his sister Coral Lee, called "A Weekend at Toad's House."

"I always liked to go to Toad's house. Toad is my cousin, and he lived in Thorntown. He had a tree house out by the alley and he also had a tent that we sometimes slept in. Coral Lee was his sister. When there was nothing else to do we could always tease her and her girlfriends. Another thing I liked about going to Toad's house was they got their milk delivered in quart bottles. You know the kind. They had a big bulge in the neck of the bottle for the cream to form in. Toad's family had another neat thing called an electric toaster. Uncle Lee always operated that, because he said I could burn the toast, if not the house down."

"Well it was one of those days. Toad and I had played in the tree house most of the day and were just about to run out of things to do. We were listening to Jack Armstrong, the all American Boy, on the radio, when Coral Lee and Peggy Maple decided to make chocolate fudge. We pretended to listen to the radio, and when the girls left the kitchen for a moment, we thought it would be fun to add a little soap powder to the fudge while it cooked. When the girls returned to the kitchen they could not believe how nice and creamy their fudge was.

"By that time Toad and I were about to split our sides laughing. The secret was out and Coral and her friend did not think it was funny. About that time my Aunt Edna returned from town and she failed to see anything funny in our little prank.

'Just for that little bit of foolishness boys, you will have to go to bed early.'

"We went to bed and were glad that the punishment was not worse and Aunt Edna helped the girls make a fresh batch of fudge. After a while we started talking and laughing and then Uncle Lee came home from the store and came upstairs to our bedroom to settle us down. By now we were real quiet and were expecting the worse. He asked us what we had done? He just smiled and said, 'Better go to sleep now.' We covered our heads and laughed ourselves to sleep.

"When you went to Toad's house you never knew what kind of fun you might have. Uncle Lee and Aunt Edna were great people and I can remember one time we all took off for the Lyric Theater in Indianapolis to see Ted Lewis and his band. I don't think I had ever been in a place so alive and pretty. We sat in the balcony where we could see all the action on the stage. The next day I decided I wanted to be a band leader.

"On another occasion I recall Uncle Lee loading us all into his Essex and took us to Purdue University field house in Lafayette to see and hear the Purdue Band put on a concert of John Phillip Sousa march music. Now if for some reason you have taken to rocknroll or country western music, then I would suggest you bury your head in a rousing Sousa march. If the beat of the drums, clang of the cymbals, and deep blast of the tubas don't arouse you, then you are musically dead.

"I am sure Uncle Lee liked good music and I appreciate my early introduction to it. I only wish there was some way I could thank him for it now. At Christmas time, he always gave Bob and me things from the store like gloves, sweaters, and one time gave me an all leather aviator helmet with ear flaps that had fleece lining and snapped under my chin. Sure did keep your ears warm, it even had a pair of goggles just like Col. Lindbergh. Yes, spending a weekend at Toad's house has left me with life long memories."

After graduation, Tom worked as a lab technician for Eli Lilly in Indianapolis. In 1942 he enlisted in the Army. After World War II, he returned and enrolled in Indiana University in Bloomington. Tom died in September 1968.

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