Washington High School’s principal, Mr. Walter, was named as the first principal of brand new Arlington High on Indianapolis’ northeast side for the grand opening in the fall of 1961. So, 50-year-old Vice Principal and long-time Continental, Curly Julian was cast into a much-deserved position as the school’s fourth leader. He took the helm in January 1961. Curly was born November 30, 1910 in southern Indiana’s Scott County on a farm near the small town of Austin. He was one of seven boys born to a musically-inclined mother who, according to Curly, longed for a girl who would aspire to a career in music. But all the boys were athletes much to their mother’s dismay, Mr. Julian laughed.
In Curly’s senior year of 1928 with a 9th through 12th grade student roster numbering only 46, and with ten in the graduating class, Mr. Julian reminisced that perhaps his happiest moment in his athletically motivated life was the basketball championship at the Madison Sectionals. It was the very first thing that he noted to me. And it was the year that a Johnny Wooden led Martinsville team lost to Muncie Central in the title game by a score of 13-12. So much for the older generation’s thoughts on class basketball.
Then he traveled about 90 miles to the northwest to Depauw University. His voyage started north on Highway 31, then west to Bloomington, then on to Spencer where #231 carried him into Greencastle. Receiving a Rector Scholarship included an obligation to “wait tables.” One of Curly’s assignments in the fall of 1931 was at a sorority where Rockford College transfer Betty Brooks resided as a junior year student. One of her sorority sisters set up Betty on a “blind date” with Curly for a campus dance. It was “love at first sight” according to the erstwhile busboy.
But the 1932 National Collegiate Track Championship at Soldiers’ Field in Chicago may have been Curly’s greatest sporting achievement. His two-mile time of 9:32 qualified him for the Olympic tryouts for the Los Angeles Olympics in the brand new Coliseum. He missed the cut but continued to hold the Depauw two mile and cross country record into the 1960’s.
With the depression affecting the entire country Curly returned to Austin where he was teacher for two years as well as the baseball and basketball coach. But then a new town trustee was elected and he decided to fire all six teachers. So Mr. Julian was faced with the decision to leave home to take a job with Swift Co. in Grenville, Iowa as manager of their ice cream plant. But not before he asked Betty to travel with him both to Iowa and for the rest of her life as his bride in 1934. She came to little Austin from her home in Chicago. Their marriage lasted over 62 years until her death in the early spring of 1997.
Unbeknownst to Curly as he took graduate classes at the University of Iowa, Indianapolis Washington’s principal Mr. Gingery called Depauw requesting a track coach who could teach history. Little did Mr. Gingery realize that his choice of 26-year old Cloyd Julian would obviously be the best decision of his 24 years as principal. Curly gave up vanilla-chocolate-strawberry for Continental purple with Julian topping.
The first class at GWHS that saw Curly Julian was the senior class of 1938. Continental icons Mary Jane Howell, Ray Funk, Gladys Huddleston, Bob Kersey, Virginia Garrabrandt, Marshall Reed, and Marion “Red” Carter were all noted by Mr. Julian to me at the turn of the 21st century as a “great class.”
The Julians first home was on Riverside Drive across from South Grove golf course next door to Washington’s Spanish teacher Mr. Bock and his wife Mrs. Hester Baker Bock Erwin (as she often described herself) who continued teaching Spanish and Latin at Continentaland into the 1970’s. Her dad was Mr. Baker the founder of Christamore and Hawthorne House as well as preacher at West Park Christian Church. Mr. Bock died of a heart attack while washing his car in the 1950’s. Mr. Julian’s son Bill and daughter JoAnne were born while they lived on Riverside Drive. Bill would graduate in 1957 from GWHS but JoAnne graduated from North Central in 1965 after their residence move.
In 1943 Mr. Julian saw the head of his draft board downtown who alerted Curly that he would soon be drafted since so many colored men had already been drafted from his area. Some racial sensitivity was present even then, believe it or not. So Curly decided to enlist in the V-5 program. That decision allowed for civilian coaches to teach at a pre-flight school. His second assignment was to Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina.
The one-month intensive training course challenged many of the men physically. But not “in-shape” Curly Julian, according to him. Up at 5 with day-long strenuous physical activity and straight to bed at 9:30 PM. IU basketball coach Branch McCracken from Monrovia, Indiana was in Curly’s platoon. Soon Mr. Julian was promoted to Lt. Commander and coached basketball with future Minneapolis Lakers coach and Purdue administrator Fred Shaus. Their teams won 42 of 45 games from their base in Memphis.
After the war it was back to the westside of Indianapolis and a renewed collaboration with Jim Otto who had also come to our school in the mid-1930’s. Eventually the “Otto, Julian, Tether” health textbooks would dominate the market throughout the U.S.
And the Biology textbooks by those same three accounted for 2/3rds of all high school American texts. Both sales would allow the two Continental teachers to financially enhance their lifestyles. It was not a coincidence that the adoption of their textbooks in 1955 would coincide with the Julian family’s move to the Kessler residence where Curly would stay until 2002 when he moved to Marquette Manor on the northside.
But in 1952 Mr. Julian left Washington for the friendly, but somewhat non-fulfilling, confides of the downtown administrative offices. He became a central office consultant for IPS athletics and helped set the foundation for the solid athletic programs that reached a crescendo in the 1960’s throughout the Indianapolis Public Schools. But he longed for a “hands on” personal relationship again and was given a promise of the next vice principalship in IPS. Ironically, with the retirement of principal Barnhart in 1956 from Washington High, Curly returned home.
Mr. Walter, who was disinterested in athletics according to Mr. Julian, allowed Curly to direct the sports programs at Washington High as one of his main responsibilities. Soon he would have to make two difficult decisions. In the summer of 1960 Vice Principal Julian asked long-time friend Dave Hine to step aside for young Jerry Oliver as basketball head coach. Coach Oliver had come to Continentaland from Ball State and Rochester, Indiana in 1955. Mush Hine had graduated from Washington High in 1935 and was an outstanding athlete at Hanover College.
Then his choice of parochial school coach Bob Springer in 1962, at the behest of Frank Luzar, to replace Joe Tofil was another hard process to effect. Coach Springer, who played at Purdue, had been a star Cathedral athlete for Washington High grad Joe Dezelan but Coach Tofil had been a top IU football player from the football state of Ohio. But great athletic and social results followed.
When Mr. Walter left to prep the new Arlington High, Mr. Julian grabbed the reigns of power and would preside over an unprecedented period in our high school’s history in sports and academics. And it is not by coincidence that all six of our school’s top-level State Championships were during Mr. Julian’s leadership. During the 1960’s and 1970’s, at the top level, only our school won any state championship in football or basketball among all of Marion County’s schools. We won two of each.
His first fall convocation for the incoming freshmen class of 1,000 in 1961 was highlighted with his classic affirmations of “nothing succeeds like success” and “Continentals have a backbone not a wishbone.” When he retired in 1977 at the age of 66 his legacy was unmatched. His contemporaries were both his subordinates and his friends. Sweet Barbara Jean, Bogue, Johnny Williams, Luzar, Florina, Mrs. Hanna, Mrs. Hatfield, the Fight Song, Mr. Watkins, John Bradley, Al Hamilton, Basil Sfreddo, Charlie Brown, Vi Sanders and many others. All can attest to the great atmosphere at GWHS under the astute leadership of one special man. Now hear this: It’s the ultimate job well done by Mr. Washington High, Curly Julian.