Blog post by Randi Richardson
Every year at the MCHC annual garage sale I find, without much effort, an artifact or two from Bloomington. This year it was a large, framed picture of the Showers Furniture Factory taken sometime in the 1930s, a June 1929 diploma from Bloomington High School made out to Lucille (variously spelled Lucile) Skirvin, and a history of Sarkes Tarzian. It’s never enough for me to just display my finds or tuck them away safely for my children to discover and discard after I am gone. Instead I feel compelled to learn the story behind the artifacts. This is Lucille’s story.
Lucille was the daughter of Alva and Emma (Foreman) Skirvin. She was born March 15, 1916 in Indiana, probably either Greene or Monroe County, and was the fourth of five children born to the couple. Her siblings at the time were: Clovis, Charles, Lola and Irene. James W. Skirvin was born last in 1923.
Although Alva worked for a while in the stone quarries of Monroe County, by 1920 he was employed at the coal mines in Greene County where he lived with his family at 121 E. Ohio Street. Coal became increasingly important to manufacturing and transportation in the late 1800s, and by the end of the century there were about 200 coal mines in and around Greene.
Terrible coal mine explosions were not unusual. Fifty-one men died of a massive explosion at the City Coal Co. mine in Sullivan, near Greene County, on February 20, 1925. Perhaps that is what inspired Alva to return to Monroe County where he went to work as a machine runner at the B. G. Hoadley quarries. While about his usual duties on September 10, 1929, some stones loosened by the recent rains slipped and plunged 50-year-old Alva into a “hole.” Three hours later, as noted in the coroner’s report, he was dead of a crushing injury to his trunk, shock and hemorrhage.
Following the death of her husband, in 1930 Emma moved to 331 E. 12th Street in Bloomington where she lived with Clovis, Lucille and James W., age 7. The household was supported by Clovis, who worked as a truck driver for a cleaning company, and Lucille, a recent graduate of Bloomington High School employed as an accountant for a furniture company.
A year later, on August 8, 1931, Lucille married Robert Bault who worked as a deliveryman for a creamery. After the marriage, Robert went to work as a packer at Showers Bros. and Lucille took a job there as well in the office. They lived at 327 W. 15th in a household not necessarily filled with wedded bliss. Lucille sued Robert for divorce, and a divorce was granted to her a few days before Christmas in 1939. Robert, who then identified himself as single rather than divorced, returned to the home of his mother. On May 25, 1947, he died of an accident at a railway crossing in Muncie, Indiana.
On July 15, 1947, Lucille, who took back her maiden name following her divorce, married Bernard Herrin, a widower with three young children—Marilyn, Martha and Walter Keith– born to his first wife, Kathryn, who died in an auto accident in 1945. Bernard was the manager of the Home Bakery at 708 N. Indiana Street. After the marriage the couple lived for a time at 708 W. Dodds where Robert had previously lived with his first wife.
Bernard died in December 1971 while living in Boynton Beach, Florida, with Lucille. Afterward, about 1973, Lucille returned to Bloomington and lived in an apartment at 1700 N. Walnut. It was there that she died on April 17, 1986, of natural causes. The death record informant was her son-in-law Frank Owens of Bloomington.