In the 1933 Lew Wallace School Student Handbook is the original documentation found of the Inkpots. It states:
- The Ink-Pot Club
- The Ink-Pot Club, sponsored by Mrs. Nelle Ensweiler, was originally Organized at the close of the 1932 session of summer school. Membership in the club requires no especial scholastic standing but is rather determined by the applicant’s ability to write and to submit to the club some worth while creative work and by the recommendation which he must obtain from some high school English teacher. The club is intended to discover and develop students having innate ability to do creative writing, to establish friendly relations among those students, to familiarize them with present-day writers, and to establish a fund for the purchase of worth while literary works which may be presented to the English department of the school.
It appears that the club flourished for the next 30 years; mention is found in the 1963 Quill and Blade that sponsor Miss Judith McLean guided the member girls through a fun and productive year of book reports, panel discussions, and skits. The club, unlike most other clubs in the school, met at members’ homes.
Christmas caroling at the two Gary hospitals seemed to be a tradition by that time, as was an annual trip to Chicago to see a stage play.
The 1964 yearbook describes Inkpots (note the name change from the original) as a literary society trying to widen cultural backgrounds of the membership. Potential members of the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades had to submit a 300-500 word essay or short story to an English teacher and then were voted upon by the membership, causing the club to become more of a private organization, more like a sorority. Miss Sandra Uland was the sponsor for that term.
The group was divided into the senior members, who met with one sponsor, and the sophomore-junior group, who met with another. By 1967, it is noted that the club has become more of a book club, discussing controversial books of current interest. At that time, titles noted were The Deputy and On the Beach. Miss Carol Puchowski was the senior sponsor that year, while Miss Loni Dorall met with sophomores and juniors.
Other sponsors of the club have included Miss Becky Ryan and Miss Barbara Kubiak. Eventually there was only one sponsor for the entire group, and as of 1970 the restricted membership requirement was lifted so that any young woman from 10th through 12th grades might become a member.
As an example of how things changed over the years, in 1971 the group read Love Story, Airport and Steppenwolf. One of the purposes of the club is listed as reading and discussing contemporary and traditional literature. The tradition of attending a stage production in Chicago seems to have continued.
According to former sponsor Miss Barbara Kubiak, the club was still active when she left Lew Wallace in 1978. She is the one to be credited with opening membership to any interested girl, abolishing the voting-in system.
As one who participated in the group during the early 1970’s, this writer enjoyed the opportunity to read works such as Farenheit 451 and others that were not presented through the school curriculum. Looking back, it is also worth commenting that we often walked to one another’s homes in Glen Park in the evenings after darkness had fallen.
- Kim Steinert
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