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Emma Lou Hoch, 82, Daughter of ‘Average American Family'

UPublish story by Jeff Hoch

Emma Lou Hoch of Akron, OH, died January 15, 2013. In the 1920s and 30s, the husband and wife sociologists Robert and Helen Lynd conducted research that defined “middle America”. Their books, “Middletown” and “Middletown in Transition” revealed the average American family to consist of husband and wife, 2.2 children, and live in a house heated with oil. The Lynds identified the town of Muncie Indiana, home to Ball Brothers glass works and a General Motors plant, to be the American city closest to the statistical average. In 1937, the Muncie Evening Press conducted a survey to identify the Muncie family most closely resembling the hypothetical average American family. That family was Glenn and Nellie Craig, daughter Emma Lou, and son William. The Craig family was lionized by the local and national press (including Life magazine) and feted in New York City, where Emma Lou posed for a photograph sitting on Mayor Laguardia’s desk.

Born in 1930, Emma Lou Craig graduated from Muncie Central High School in 1948, the school made famous as the ‘Goliath’ vanquished in basketball by the ‘David’ Milan High in the movie “Hoosiers”. She enrolled in the nursing program in Indianapolis at Methodist Hospital and Indiana Central College (now University of Indianapolis), but was forced to withdraw after marrying fellow Indiana Central student Loren Hoch. Following a brief stint in Winner, SD, where Emma Lou worked as a physician’s assistant while Loren taught high school, they settled in Hammond, IN. In the summer of 1969, she and Loren and their three sons moved to Akron, OH, while Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.

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