In the midst of the City of North Vernon rebrand and the continuous efforts of building a brighter future, it’s important not to forget one’s roots, one’s history, and that sentiment is encompassed in Patty Franks’s logo, the logo that was revealed last Wednesday, July 14 and the official trademark of North Vernon which Patty designed back in 1988. The sun depicted on the logo originally represented the bright future of the city, but now also represents the city’s mission to utilize solar energy. The red caboose on the logo, however, represents our past as the “City of Railroads.”
John Hall, who was a member of City Council in 1988 and later became mayor of North Vernon from 1992 to 2008, remembers when the red caboose, which can be seen outside the North Vernon Police Department on N. Madison Avenue, came to the city. Bob Curry was the mayor before Jerry Lamb and was the mayor at the time the caboose was brought to North Vernon.
Susie Hall — no relation to John Hall — was one of the judges who selected Patty’s design to be the official logo of North Vernon 33 years ago. Susie was the president of the Chamber of Commerce in 1988. She says the logo stood out from the other submissions because she felt it fully explained North Vernon. She added that Patty’s work and the colors she used was very appealing to her because she dabbled in art herself.
Now the logo can be seen on banners all along Walnut Street and in Stellar Plaza in downtown North Vernon. And while the younger generation is fulfilling leadership roles and building towards that bright, thriving future that Patty envisioned while designing her logo, many in the older generations will remember perfectly just how vibrant and thriving North Vernon once was.
Susie herself, as the former Chamber president, recalls the bustling streets of downtown North Vernon.
Her husband, Joe Hall, was on the North Vernon City Council for 16 years. Once upon time, the couple owned two downtown retail stores along with Susie’s brother, Mike Rogers — also a North Vernon attorney — and his wife Debbie. Susie herself grew up in Vernon and was a realtor in North Vernon for 30 years.
According to Susie, downtown North Vernon was flourishing back then. There were three dress shops, three shoe stores, three hardware stores, a corner grocery, two men’s stores, two banks, two jewelry stores, three taverns, a pool hall, a drugstore, three restaurants, the surveyor’s office, the library — where City Hall is currently — three utility offices, two furniture stores, a Masonic lodge and a health food store.
“This was before Walmart,” Hall said. “I am sure I am forgetting some others, but this is what I remember.”
The Halls were the owners of a Levi’s store called Blue J’s and a shoe store known as The Shoe Parlor.
“We were very involved with downtown North Vernon,” Susie said. Indeed, her husband, Joe, was on the City Council at the time and Susie herself was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, the president of Jennings County Domestic Violence and the Jennings County Animal Control as well as acted as treasurer of Jennings County Tourism.
She remembers the small business owners forming a Downtown Merchants Association and the meetings were held after closing time.
“This helped us plan promotions and upcoming events to help store owners,” Susie said.
The Chamber of Commerce director was Georganna Hull in 1988, and, according to Hall, the Chamber director would walk from store to store on foot talking to owners to see what she could do to help out.
“An amazing thing back then because it was a great help to store owners,” said Susie.
She would like to give her husband, Joe, credit as he was one of the City Council members instrumental in funding the Chamber at that time. Some of the Chamber board members in 1988 that Hall can recall are Spider Miller, Billy Harmon, Jack Pettigrew and Greg Hicks.
Susie concluded her walk down memory lane by saying “I am hopeful the younger generation will be involved in North Vernon as they go off to get their education and come back to North Vernon with wonderful new ideas to keep North Vernon young and vibrant.”