Art Lutes and Monon
It is funny how things come together. I still subscribe to the home town weekly paper and in a recent issue, I saw that members of the Lutes family had given a baggage "truck" to the local authorities to display at the caboose monument in Monon. I knew the Lutes family quite well; several of them were in school at the same time as our family. I was surprised to find that there wasn't much info on our employee data base for either Art Lutes, the (grand) father or Chet Lutes, his son.
After a few e-mails to various family members, I was the recipient of a large manila envelope with photos and articles on both Art and Chet. Reading these articles really brought back the memories. Art and his wife lived on the same street as the Eberhard family, about 4 blocks further north. One of the jobs that Art had was agent for the Lafayette Journal Courier and one of my first jobs was newspaper delivery person. At that time, it was an evening paper and all the papers for the entire town were delivered to Art's garage. I think I was paid $.25 per paper to deliver about 20 Sunday papers over a 6 block area. Most of time, I walked it and then had to walk back home.
Art is mainly remembered as the station baggage man for the town of Monon. He is second from the left in the above photo. Just to his right is believed to be WM “Hap” Meredith, agent at Monon. The other two men have not been identified.
Art was hired April 28, 1912 and in 1919, he was made the mail messenger. In the 1930's, he became the Express Agent. When he first started this position, he would walk from the Post Office to the depot, carrying the small sack of mail for each train. Later as the volume of mail grew, he used a pushcart. Around 1927, he purchased a Motel T Ford for the job.
From 1912 until his health forced him to retire in 1952, Art met every train that came thru Monon to deliver the outgoing mail and pick up mail received for Monon residents.
In September, 1951, Art was on the platform to meet the incoming train. He heard the train coming and knew it was not slowing down. He ran across the east track to safety. He was covered with concrete dust from the impact of the locomotives against the limestone building but fortunately he escaped injury. The photo below was taken that day and it shows his truck sitting among the depot wreckage. I would like to know if he ever got it back.
Art and his wife Nellie raised 5 children to adulthood, Chet, Ardath, Raymond, Iona, and Lucille. Chet was about the same age as my father and he had a son my age as well as a son the same age as my brother. Chet remained in Monon and began working for the Monon Railroad in 1952. This is about the time that Art's health deteriorated. In 1954 Art retired and Chet took over the job full time. Chet was now the Mail Messenger and Express Agent for the Monon Railroad. He continued to hold that job until passenger service was terminated.
By Sharon Eberhard
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