In business for more than 100 years, the Vonnegut Hardware, a fixture in Indianapolis, was a vibrant business with talented team, members like the man described. Another developed the “panic bar”, a safety device that allows a door to be opened from the inside while locked from the outside.

Many people in the Midwest are familiar with Kurt Vonnegut, the author. Indianapolis also had a popular company owned by Clement Vonnegut.

Ray Carmichael was my Dad who was instrumental in the expansion plans and promotions for Vonnegut Hardware. During World War II, Dad organized the Victory Gardens Campaign. They held a large promotion in the Coliseum. My sister Joan and I were preschoolers and sang for Governor Schricker at the show. We wore red velvet dresses with pearl buttons. We had a big gold V for Victory pin on our dresses. My Dad promoted Victory Gardens. We had one in our back yard. He made a picket fence to enclose it.

Dad was very talented. He organized the Vonnegut Company Christmas parties and summer picnics. He did the promotions for all the new store openings. Vonnegut’s had a downtown store that sold many things, including dolls for little girls. Dad designed and prepared all the advertising. This included TV advertising as well as newspaper ads. Dad won the Brand Name Retailer of the Year Award for Vonnegut’s in 1951. He received a trip to New York City where he received the Award for Vonnegut’s. His memento included a home desk and chair (our daughter in Phoenix now has them), wooden humidor and match box holder with horse head inlaid. I have these items. We keep paper clips and rubber bands in the matchbox holder and new printer ink in the humidor.

Ray Carmichael Christmas poster
Ray Carmichael Christmas poster

Ray Carmichael was a talented artist long before he joined Vonnegut’s. He was responsible for designing the store windows for the STAR store in Fountain Square. He also drew the promotional cards of the movie stars promoting the current movies at the Fountain Square and Granada Theaters. These are all in the past. Before his death at age 63, he was painting show cards for small businesses to promote Christmas. Our nephew Ron Garrett and I have two.

Contributed by: Beverly Heid

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2 thoughts on “The Vonnegut Name

  1. Barbara Vonnegut, of the Vonnegut family above, lived on the 4th floor of Marquette when I moved here about ten years ago.

  2. A Vonnegut person was part of a group the started Alcoholics Anonymous in the Indy area. Where it started was at the home where my wife and I lived for 45 years in Carmel.

    Fred Hecker

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