LET'S EAT OUT: Part 2...Vanessi's

Another city and another restaurant that no longer exists. Vanessi’s was a familiar name when I was growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, though I never ate there.

It was part of mid-century San Francisco and a staple of North Beach. For me, North Beach has always been the most interesting part of the city. Most of the hip places from the '50s and '60s are long gone. I haven’t been there in years.

To see a photo of the outside of the original Vanessi’s click here.
In 1936, Silvio Zorzi opened the happening Italian restaurant Vanessi's on Broadway. Counter-side seating around the open kitchen was one of Vanessi's trademarks, as were specialty dishes such as the Chicken Cacciatore and Spaghetti Cabonara. Though Vanessi's was a major hotspot on Broadway for years, in the 1980s new owners moved the restaurant to California Street in Nob Hill. Sadly, slow business in that location led to the restaurant’s abrupt closure in 1997. (SOURCE: San Francisco Restaurants.com)
I also found this interesting piece about Paul Robeson trying to eat at Vanessi’s in 1940. Hard to believe in a town known for its openness and inclusiveness a man would be turned away because of his color.
Wherever he spoke, whenever he was quoted, his theme was about segregation, discrimination, the theme of being put in the position of second-class citizen. After all, here is a man who was twice named All-American in football. An all-around athlete and student at Rutgers University. Then a degree from Columbia Law School. Then famed as actor and singer. He could play the leading role in Othello—and yet he still was a man even up until the 1950s who couldn't go into a restaurant or into the same hotel with other members of the same company.

This became a public issue in 1940. After a concert, he and a group went to Vanessi's, one of the better restaurants in North Beach, in the Italian area of San Francisco. It was a mix of several whites and Negroes including John Pittman, a black newspaperman. I knew Pittman at Berkeley, at the university. He had very light skin and was allowed to walk right into Vanessi's and then the man at the door—the head waiter—said, "That guy in back of you can't come in." He pointed up to Robeson who was probably three heads taller. The group walked out and sued Vanessi's. It became a front-page scandal. Consider the public recognition of Robeson on the one hand, and the insulting behavior on the other hand—all because
of his color! The group sued Vanessi's but nothing came of it. I've been listening to Robeson's speeches in the last few recordings I'd made where he'd spoken. More and more he emphasized a link among people whom the white race considers inferior or second-class or third world. A common bond shared by people who have been put upon by their society or other societies. People of different color or religion. Third-world people. Shearer: Did he actually use the term "third world"? (SOURCE: calisphere)
Surprisingly for a restaurant with so much history I'm not finding much worth looking at other than this photo of customers in 1952.

What's there today? A slick chrome and black marble bar.

You can judge which place will be historically memorable.

And is it me or does this building look like a smiling face that could tell a few tales about what goes on inside?


LET'S EAT OUT: Part 1...Long Champ...Longchamp...whatever

During our journey around the country checking out first class places to stay we never stopped to eat. It's time to check out some high and low class food joints.

Now, don't get your hopes up because I can't guarantee they're all still in business, let alone still standing.

First stop Long Champ Dining Salon (also Longchamp) in Amarillo, Texas. I'm guessing this card was picked up by my grandparents in 1949 when my folks drove them across country from Pennsylvania to San Diego along Route 66.

Click on image to see it larger.

So was it Longchamp as shown on the sign or Long Champ as on the back of this Curt Teich card? I have no idea. How could advertising screw up from the front to the back of a postcard?

Homer Rice didn't just change the name of the place, he changed the whole feeling of the place with advertising in a completely different direction. You can see a few Rice Dining Salon postcards here, here, and here. Doesn't feel as classy, does it? How about an old matchbook or Yellow Pages ad from 1965? I'm sure if I continued digging I'd find more, but I'm not really that interested in what the place became; I'm interested in how it started. Unfortunately, I'm not finding that information.

I did however find a recipe for Rice's Dining Salon Turkey Dressing. Go figure.

As to what sits on the spot once occupied by Long Champ? It's not pretty. According to this web site it's now a "parking lot between Taco Villa & Pinkie's Liquor."

I give you the former site of Longchamp, or whatever it was called, according to Google maps.

The only other thing I'll bring up about this is that Longchamp/Long Champ was recommended by Duncan Hines. I did a post last year which included how important the Duncan Hines guide was when traveling across country which you can read here.


LET'S GO FIRST CLASS across America: Part 10...THE END

Well folks, this is it for the first class travel. We've now crossed to new territory, which this was sitting on when this card was made. Hawaii was a territory of the United States, a serious offense if there ever was one fueled by greed.

Click on either image to see them larger.

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel opened to guests on February 1, 1927. The hotel was built by Captain William Matson of Matson Liner fame. It was built specifically to house and entertain those who sailed to Hawaii for vacations on his ships.
With the success of the early efforts by Matson Navigation Company to provide steamer travel to America's wealthiest families en route to Hawaii, Captain William Matson proposed the development of a hotel in Honolulu for his passengers. This was in hope of profiting from what Matson believed could be the most lucrative endeavor his company could enter into. Matson purchased the Moana mansion, fronting the Ainahau royal estate. Christening it the Moana Hotel, it opened in 1901 as the first hotel in Waikiki. With its overwhelming success, Matson planned and built the Royal Hawaiian Hotel which opened in 1927.
During World War II, the Royal was closed to tourists and instead served as a place of rest and relaxation for U.S. submariners. While the Royal Hawaiian's lush tropical garden was (and still is) tranquil and poetic, on the beaches fronting the Pink Palace (sometimes referred to as the Pink Lady) one saw reminders of the war with rolls and rolls of barbed wire planted in the sand. The hotel was sold, along with the rest of Matson's hotels in Hawaii, to the Sheraton Corporation in 1959.
During the 1960's, the Pink Palace was home to "Concert by the Sea" which broadcast daily through Armed Forces Radio Network (AFN). Soldiers would listen to sounds of home all across Vietnam, and then on R&R would come to Waikiki to visit the Pink Palace in person. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
This card was sent by my mother to her folks when we stopped over on Oahu on our way to live on Midway Island for a year in 1953. Somewhere I have a slide of my wee self standing on a step at the Royal Hawaiian.

If you've read my blogs for a few years you'll know that I met my best friend on a Matson Liner, the Matsonia, when our families were both transferred from the East Coast to Hawaii in 1959. Click here to read an old post about the Matson Liners.

For the first few months after arriving on Oahu in '59 we lived just a few blocks from the Royal in a hotel called the Islander until we got military housing. The Islander was a dump, but the military paid for it so you kept your mouth shut.

We used to walk to the International Marketplace in the evening for the shows and then walk along Kalākaua Avenue looking in shops and maybe stopping in to the Jolly Rogers for a piece of coconut cream pie and a root beer float.

The gardens at the Royal abutted the avenue and were beautiful, tropical, magical. There was a man who used to walk along the avenue with a parrot on his shoulder which impressed the heck out of me. If you were really lucky Duke Kahanamoku would walk by. A stunning man. If you don't know who Duke was I recommend you do a little side reading about him here.

When we moved to Oahu the Royal was one of the largest buildings in Waikiki. It was stunning and special. Then the jets started flying into the islands and things began to change. Developers moved in and by 1966 it looked like this in Waikiki. I've added a slight blush so you can find the Royal.

Photo: from Here's Hawaii by Tongg Publishing Company, Ltd.


I hope you've enjoyed this odd little journey, first class and not so first class, around the United States of yore. There will be more travel adventures to come.


LET'S GO FIRST CLASS across America: Part 9

Back into the middle of the country for this one, the Hotel Tallcorn in Marshalltown, Iowa. It is apparently still standing, but don' t unpack your bags, you might want to sleep standing up in anticipation for tomorrow which is a truly first class hotel.

This postcard was sent by my mother to her folks when she drove across country in 1941 from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles. It was purely a trip for fun. She had a ball.

Click on either image to see it larger.

This hotel, like the Hotel Bonneville, was a community project.
The Hotel Tallcorn is located at 134 East Main Street in Marshalltown, Iowa. Today it is called the Tallcorn Towers Apartments. Built in 1928 by the Eppley Hotel Company, local citizens contributed $120,000 to ensure the successful completion of this seven-story hotel. It was completed in connection to the seventy-fifth anniversary of Marshalltown. The hotel's sale in 1966 from the Eppley chain to the Sheraton Corporation was part of the second largest hotel sale in United States history. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
It looks like it might have been the place to stay in Marshalltown once upon a time.
Local Boosters Made Tallcorn Possible

February 18, 2011

An event which would later be described as the "welcoming of the dawn of a new era in Marshalltown" started off modestly with a Sept. 3, 1927 meeting at Elmwood Country Club.

A group of Marshalltown citizens joined to discuss financing a downtown hotel, but they needed funding to induce the Eppley Hotels Co. of Omaha, Neb. to build the facility.

That night, $38,500 was raised and the group set its eyes on a $120,000 goal.

Those who pledged funds of $5,000 each were the Fisher Governor Co., J.C. Penney Co., Lennox Furnace Co., Marshalltown Rotary Club and the Times-Republican, among others.

On Nov. 1, 1927 a meeting attended by 200 witnessed "the shrieking of whistles and ringing of bells," a T-R reporter wrote, as the last $4,161 had been raised.
The fund drive totaled $125,000 and the contract with the Eppley Co. to build the $500,000 hotel was signed.

It would be called the Hotel Tallcorn, in honor of Marshall County's rank as one of the top corn producers in the state.

Construction started in the spring of 1928, the same year Marshalltown celebrated its 75th anniversary.

The new hotel was seven stories tall and contained 150 rooms, each with a private bath.

Grant Wood was commissioned to decorate the ballroom and restaurant, known as the Iowa Corn room.

On Oct. 4 the Hotel Tallcorn formally opened to the public. George Gill was appointed first manager.

© Copyright 2011 Times-Republican. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

You can see another post card of the hotel here where you will also see what I imagine to be the drugstore/soda fountain with an awning. I imagine it had a lot of non-guest business. Who wouldn't want to go here for a rootbeer float or a sundae?

The post card was published by the E. C. Kropp Company out of Milwaukee.
E. C. Kropp Co. 1907-1956
Milwaukee, WI

A publisher and printer that began producing chromolithographic souvenir cards and private mailing cards in 1898 under the name Kropp. These cards were of much higher quality than those that would printed under the E.C. Kropp name.

They became the E.C. Kropp Company in 1907 and produced large numbers of national view-cards and other subjects. Their latter linen cards had a noticibly fine grain. Sold to L.L. Cook in 1956 and they are now part of the GAF Corp. U.S. (SOURCE: Metro Postcard Club)

Tomorrow: looking for some new territory for our final first class stay


LET'S GO FIRST CLASS across America: Part 8 - Plus a BONUS!

Here's the second oldest card I collected as a child. The Northern Motel in Indiana. Alas, it seems to be gone having been replaced by a Days Inn. No sense getting an image from today; we all know what it's going to look like.

Click on either image to see it larger.

This little motel looks like so many I remember. There was a sameness to a lot of these places, but they were more personal since a family ran it and not a corporation. You didn't expect to find cookie cutter sameness across the country. Now you can go to Days Inn in every state and eat at a Denny's and feel like you never left home. For some that makes travel seem secure. The food and lodging each night is the same and they don't even need to watch local tv channels because we're all hooked into the same networks.

You really have to spend some extra time looking for what once was America. The question is are people willing to spend the time doing that? I think a handful of us still are.

UPDATE: It's time to head out to find AMERICA

Last year I did a post about the card below. Today I heard from a relative who is the grandchild of the man who built this station.

The emails reads:
The (this) Log Cabin Service Station was built in 1925 by my grandfather, Charles G. Lindquist.

This article gives some history about it. The 'Jim Knapp' in the article is my father.
And here is the article they referenced from the April 21, 2007 Fergus Falls Journal:
Fergus Falls retiree Jim Knapp’s grandfather, C.G. (Charles) Lindquist, came to Fergus Falls in 1925 from Fairmont, N.D., and built the Log Cabin gasoline station on the southwest corner of Lincoln and Vine, where Century 21 now stands.

Even though the Log Cabin has been gone since the mid-1960s, its memory lives on — through ceramic replicas. One is owned by Knapp and his wife, Janet.

“It’s a prized possession,” Janet said, “especially in light of the historical ties of the Log Cabin to Jim’s family.”

Jim’s cousin, Joe Forbes of Bemidji, also has a ceramic Log Cabin. Another Log Cabin ceramic replica, part of the House in Snow Village collection produced by Department 56 of Minneapolis — just like the one owned by the Knapps — is treasured by Obert and Mary Houg of Fergus Falls.

“Our daughter Sally saw the replica in Fargo and bought one for Obert as a Christmas gift in 1999,” Mary said. “Sally and our other daughter, Jill, remember eating at the Log Cabin lunchroom with Obert and me back in the 1960s, after some of Obert’s softball games.”

The lunchroom was added to the Log Cabin several years after the original construction in 1925. A long counter for customers faced Lincoln Avenue, to the north, and a second counter faced eastward, toward what’s now Service Food.

C.G. (Charles) Lindquist operated an oil business in Fairmont prior to moving to Fergus Falls and running the Log Cabin starting in the mid-1920s. Before that he was in the shipping business at Big Stone Lake and Lake Traverse. He began his business career as an elevator operator at Diamond, S.D., a town that no longer exists.

The Log Cabin survived a serious fire in 1930, only five years after it was built. The pumps and tanks were not damaged, so gasoline and oil service went on uninterrupted. But much of the wood was damaged and had to be replaced.

The father of Charles Lindquist — Jim Knapp’s great-grandfather John Lindquist — fought in the Civil War with the Minnesota One fighting unit. His final resting place is at Ortonville where veterans pay homage at his gravesite each Memorial Day.

Charles Lindquist sold the Log Cabin station in 1946, after 21 years of ownership.

John Schrom ran the Log Cabin gas station and lunchroom in the 1950s and early 1960s. Eventually the station made way for the Western Station, one of the early convenience stores in Fergus Falls, established in the late 1960s.

The Log Cabin lunchroom later was moved to Wendell and is now part of the Wendell Cafe owned by Diane and Rick Branson.

Today the renovated Holiday Station on South Union Avenue in Fergus Falls reminds many old-timers of the Log Cabin that once stood at the southwest corner of Lincoln and Vine.

“It’s fun to remember the former eating establishments and other businesses from bygone years in downtown Fergus Falls,” Houg said. “And It’s nice to know that we have family and historical ties to the Log Cabin through the Knapp family.” (SOURCE: Fergus Falls Journal)
Once again a little piece of paper ends up telling a story.

Thank you to the family of Mr. Lindquist for providing this information. I really appreciate it.


LET'S GO FIRST CLASS across America: Part 7

I think it's pretty obvious we've now moved away from first class travel. This is not The Broadmoor.

Click on image to see it larger.

Welcome to the Town House Motor Lodge, circa late 1950s. This is a place I stayed as a child. I don't know which year, but this is the very first post card I ever saved. Strangely, of all the times I took post cards from motel desks I actually now have very few. I don't know what happened to them. It's possible that anything from the 1950s got thrown away when my family moved to Hawaii or simply, along with a lot of other stuff, never came out of storage.

Click on image to see it larger.

Doing a quick search of the Town House Motor Lodge, I find that it still exists at the same address. Alas, it no longer has the charm it once had. It is drab looking with a hideous sign. The old sign was wonderful with the flashing arrow pointing to what awaited you. Times have been hard for the Town House.

You can see from the post card that at the time a selling point was a telephone and tv in every room. That was a big selling point back then because you still ran into a lot of places without tv. Telephones were getting pretty common. Nice old black heavy dial phones with a rumpled yellow pages on a shelf or in a drawer.

These days, according to the online Yellow Pages, the Town House offers:
Free Internet
Cable Television
Weekly Rates
Aging takes a toll on all of us and if you don't change you don't survive.

Tomorrow: another oldie


LET'S GO FIRST CLASS across America: Part 6

I think we need to redefine what's first class.

We've been touring around looking at large hotels, all claiming to be first class locations. Now, if you're a hotel kind of person that's great. If you need someone to carry your luggage, order room service at all hours, and maybe have a view of the big city, a hotel is what you're looking for.

Me...not so much. Though hotels can be interesting, I'm just not the sort of person who gets jazzed about them. I like the open road, out-of-the-way motels, and campgrounds. The fewer people the better.

Raise your hand if you ever stayed at a motor court. Not a motel, a motor court. If you have to ask the difference you haven't stayed in one. These days most motor courts are gone. If they're still standing they've been turned into run-down apartments or left to gather amongst the native weeds. It's all pretty sad, because I have fond memories of motor courts as a kid. I loved the fact that it was a little bungalow, sometimes attached to other bungalows by an open front garage. My favorites were the detached bungalows, especially those that looked like log cabins.

As cars got larger the little garages were too small to accommodate what was coming out of Detroit. These days my little car would fit fine and dandy into one of those snug garages.

I recently found this brochure at an estate sale. I've not been able to find anything about Best Camps other than that this brochure is in some archives at UCLA. The brochure was valid until the end of 1933.

Best Camps was an organization extolling the virtues of motor courts and lodges up and down along the Pacific Coast from Canada to Mexico. They provided various listings along various highways; all the courts were individually owned, no chains. There are actually 7 pages of listings.

Click on any image to see it larger.

Click here to see a wonderful article in the November 1936 Modern Mechanix about motor courts.

Click here to see Wikipedia's entry about motels.

And stop in at Vintage Roadside to see some wonderful articles about motor courts and motels, diners and drive-ins, and roadside attractions; all the things that made cross country travel in the US so wonderful.

Give me a two lane road and plenty of time!

Tomorrow: Who knows? We're on the open road and we stop when we stop.


LET'S GO FIRST CLASS across America: Part 5

Worn out yet jumping from one location to the next all in the hopes of getting some first class treatment?

Today, Chicago.

Now, don't go unpacking because you might not want to stay here.

Click on either image to see it larger.
The Hotel Sherman was one of the city's premier hotels and a leading night-life venue during much of the early twentieth century. The hotel's origins, however, date back to 1837. In that year, Francis C. Sherman, a three-time mayor of Chicago and father of the legendary Civil War general, opened the City Hotel on the north side of Randolph Street between Clark and LaSalle. The hotel, renamed the Sherman House in 1844, measured a mere 18 by 84 feet. (SOURCE:Chicago Urban History)

Francis Cornwall Sherman (September 18, 1805 – November 7, 1870; buried in Graceland Cemetery) served as Mayor of Chicago, Illinois three terms (1841–1842, 1862–1865) for the Democratic Party.

Sherman arrived in Chicago in April 1834 from Newtown, Connecticut. He was a brick manufacturer and made the bricks for Archibald Clybourne's mansion. In July 1835, he was elected a village trustee. In 1837, he opened the City Hotel, later the Sherman House. He continued to work as a contractor and builder, eventually serving as mayor of Chicago three times.

His son, Francis Trowbridge Sherman, was a brigadier general in the Union Army during the Civil War. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)

The venerable Sherman House endured many changes over the years, not the least of which was the great fire of 1871, when the hotel burned to the ground alongside the rest of downtown. Quickly rebuilt, the new structure was larger and more elaborately decorated than its predecessor. By the turn of the century, however, the Sherman House began to lose its luster and popularity. Gradually, it gained the reputation as the "deadest hotel" in town.

Not until the hotel was acquired by entrepreneur Joseph Beifeld was its decline reversed. Beifeld, a Jewish Hungarian immigrant, dramatically improved the hotel's image with the help of first-class customer service and top-flight entertainment in the evenings. By 1904, the new and improved Hotel Sherman and its famed restaurant, the College Inn, were the talk of the town, increasingly frequented by local celebrities and members of high society.

Buoyed by the turnaround, Beifeld invested several million dollars in new construction at the hotel. In 1911, the main hotel structure was rebuilt, followed by an additional $7 million, twenty-three-story expansion in 1925. By the end of the 1920s, the Hotel Sherman contained 1600 guest rooms, a banquet hall seating 2500, and stunning new marble lobby. Local newspapers reported that the new facilities made the Sherman the largest hotel west of New York City.

The Hotel Sherman remained one of Chicago's premier night spots through the 1910s and 1920s, attracting celebrities, tourists, and members of high society. It was during this period that the College Inn restaurant, with the help of band leader Isham Jones, became a notable jazz venue. Jones broke with the genteel tradition of violin-based hotel performance when he replaced many of his orchestra's waltz-oriented numbers with new, jazz-inspired tunes. Though there were critics of the change, most of the restaurant's patrons applauded the livelier arrangements and the freer dance styles they encouraged.

After the Second World War, the Sherman retained its position as one of the city's leading hotels, popular among visiting businessmen and conventioneers. In time, however, the hotel began to show its age and had an increasingly difficult time competing with newer hotels along Michigan Avenue and in the suburbs. In January 1973, the hotel closed. At the time, it was the oldest hotel in continuous operation in the state of Illinois. There were plans to remodel the building into a fashion mart and build a replacement hotel at the corner of Randolph and LaSalle, but nothing came of them. In 1980, the hotel was demolished. Its site is now occupied by the Thompson Center, formerly known as the State of Illinois Center. (SOURCE: Chicago Urban History)

"Frank W. Bering, night clerk at the Sherman House," 29 Sept. 1903

"Sherman House Site," 1909 (SOURCE: Library of Congress)

"Top of the Sherman Hotel building during construction," 1909

"Sherman House hotel, exterior sculpture," 4 March 1911

So what sort of things went on at the Hotel Sherman?
On October 20, 1926 John O'Berta and Joseph "Polack Joe" Saltis call a peace conference at the Hotel Sherman in Chicago in an attempt to broker a ceasefire among Chicago's major bootleggers. With the establishment of Madison Street dividing the Chicago Outfit and the North Side Gang territories, the two sides agree to peace. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
So who was Joseph Saltis?
Joseph "Polack Joe" Saltis [Soltis] (died 1947) was an early Prohibition gangster who, who with Frank McErlane, controlled bootlegging in the Southwest Side of Chicago, Illinois.

Originally a Polish saloon owner from Joliet, Illinois, Saltis moved to Chicago with the announcement of the Volstead Act in 1920. With the assistance of John "Dingbat" O'Berta, a candidate for the Illinois State Senate, began supplying illegal alcohol to Chicago's speakeasies and by 1925 Saltis effectively controlled the Southwest Side. Saltis, by now extremely wealthy from bootlegging, purchased a residence in Eagle River, Wisconsin which, employing over half of the town's sixty citizens, later had the town named Saltisville in the town's general election.

During this time, Saltis remained on good terms with his South Side neighbor Al Capone, whose Chicago Outfit began dominating Chicago's bootlegging soon after his arrival in the early 1920s. Indeed, by the mid-1920s, only the Saltis-McErlane organization remained independent from the eight satellite gangs under Capone's control. However, soon becoming entrenched in territory disputes with many of Capone's satellite gangs, Saltis began talks for a secret alliance with Capone rival Earl "Hymie" Weiss's North Side Gang. Throughout the next year, Saltis began preparing for war as smaller rivals such as the Southside O'Donnell's (for which an attempt would be made on his life in late-1925) and sometimes allied Sheldon Gang began to threaten Saltis's hold on the Southwest Side as soon gunmen such as Frank "Lefty" Koncil, Charlie "Big Hayes" Hubacek, and Frank McErlane joined Saltis's ranks.

On August 6, 1926, Sheldon Gang member John "Mitters" Foley was killed by Frank Koncil while in Saltis's territory. While Koncil, along with O'Berta and Saltis, were arrested and charged with murder O'Berta's considerable political influence (as well as assistance from Weiss) was able to get the case dropped on November 9.

The following year O'Berta, with Saltis, managed to arrange a conference at the Hotel Sherman on October 20, which included Al Capone, George "Bugs" Moran, Vincent "The Schemer" Drucci, Jake "Greasy Thumb" Guzik, Ralph Sheldon, William Skidmore, Maxie Eisen, Jack Zuta, and Christian P. "Barney" Bertsche, and managed to agree on a general ceasefire of the various gang wars, specifically between the Chicago Outfit and the North Side Gang, as well as the gang war between Saltis-McErlane and the Sheldon Gang. The ceasefire lasted a little over two months before war broke out again when members of Saltis-McErlane gang killed Sheldon Gang member Hillary Clements on December 30. As the gang war continued between Saltis and the Sheldon Gang over the Southwest Side, Al Capone had begun to move in on Saltis's territory, as the war was beginning to turn in favor of the Sheldon Gang. When Koncil and Hubacek were lured into an ambush and killed on March 11, 1927, Saltis appealed to Capone to negotiate peace between the Sheldon Gang in exchange for a cut of Saltis's profits. By the end of the gang war, however, Saltis's gang began to disintegrate as Frank McErlane left Saltis in late 1929 over disagreements over McErlane's share. When O'Berta and his chauffeur, Sam Malaga, disappeared on March 25, 1930, allegedly taken for a "one way ride", O'Berta was later found dead of a gunshot wound to the head. With his associates gone and his organization all but destroyed, Saltis quickly retired to his home in Barker Lake, Wisconsin.

Joe Saltis later died at age 53 from complications of a stomach ulcer in Chicago's Cook County Hospital in 1947. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
So what we're sayin' here is that they had some foist class clientele. Yeah, sure, them guys were tough, but you was just a customer. They ain't gonna mess with youse, right? They wouldn't, say, slip you no mickey would they?
"Drugs to the Non-Tippers Arrested Chicago Waiters Confess Poisoning Hotel Guests. Detective Seize Large Quantity", The Kansas City Times: 3, June 23, 1918 "Evidence against the waiters was obtained by a detective agency employed by the Hotel Sherman after several guests had become ill suspiciously...Large quantities were found in a drawer behind the bar at the waiters' union headquarters. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
Okay, some straight up legit stuff happened there too:
On April 11, 1914 Alpha Rho Chi, a professional architecture fraternity, is founded in the Hotel Sherman in Chicago.

In February 1939, the Chicagoland Glider Council, sponsored a Winter Get-Together and Soaring Forum at the Hotel Sherman in Chicago, with Frankfort’s Stan Corcoran and Ted Bellak as the guest speakers. About 200 pilots attended.
Like I said, you might not want to stay here anymore. In fact, I think we best get out of town before weez be wearin' our noses on the side of our head. Youse know what I mean?

Tomorrow: bring your own linens


LET'S GO FIRST CLASS across America: Part 4

Well, I've found myself in Idaho Falls. Isn't the first time. I remember spending one night in Idaho Falls in a motel back in the '60s. We'd have been excluded from a hotel because the family dog was along for the trip. But I do remember the lovely little falls. I say little because for me all falls look small after seeing Niagara as a child.

So let's take a look at the Hotel Bonneville, "Idaho Falls ONLY Fire-proof Hotel" which makes me a little nervous because I'm wondering why this is featured so prominently on the card. What were the other hotels in town like?
The Times-Register, Tuesday, May 31, 1927

Brief Outline of Activities of Local People Who Made Financing of Hotel Bonneville Possible

The Hotel Bonneville, Idaho Falls' outstanding community endeavor, is the result of the desire on the part of a number of the people of Idaho Falls, and community, to have the use of a strictly first class hotel, with adequate accommodations and quality of service which would enable Idaho Falls, as a community, to invite public gatherings and conventions and to be prepared to take care of them in a way and manner, which would reflect credit on the community.

Another object was in view, and that some place in the community where the people might gather for social recreation and business discussions and at the same time be entertained.

The need was felt for an institution in the kind that Idaho Falls and community might keep pace with the growing demands, and as a city, meet the requirements which are expected by the traveling public, and local residents, and local residents when the occasion required.

The idea, once given root, the desire grew and a canvas of the situation developed the fact, that such an institution was not only needed, but was possible. The fact, once determined, the wheels were set in motion with the idea in view that something out of the ordinary, something outstanding, must be done or the effort would not be worth while.

The matter was taken up by the Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce. Prominent business interests and residents were called into consultation and the idea presented, and while the undertaking loomed large in the imagination, the fact that it has been accomplished proves the fact, that any community, actuated by the proper spirit and ambition, can help and benefit itself.

The fact, once determined upon, ways and means were discussed, and the conclusion reached, that if it was to be done, nothing short of the best would satisfy, and the most expert advice must be sought.

Correspondence was taken up with the Hockenbury System of Pennsylvania, the formost hotel builders in the United States, who have build and have under operation, more than one hundred and twenty-fife outstanding hotels of the nation, all community built. The very fact that it had been done inspired those with the thought in mind that Idaho Falls could do what others had done.

Mr. Lewis D. Barr, western representative of the Hockenbury system, was invited to visit Idaho Falls and make a survey, which was done. Weeks were devoted to this work and nothing was done until those in charge were satisfied in their own mind that the plan was workable and would be successful. The survey developed the fact, that the community could and would support a hotel of a certain type, under proper management. The survey also developed the fact, that the community must not make the mistake that many have in the past, and over-build. The fact being established, that the community needed the hotel, and the sentiment prevailed, generally in the community, that the hotel could be built, the matter was once more in the hands of the executive committee of the Chamber of Commerce.

A contract was entered into with the Hockenbury System and Mr. Barr again came to Idaho Falls and took charge of the campaign. The survey developed the fact, that an eighty-room hotel, built on the most available site and at a cost not to exceed $325,000, was what the community could build, and which was needed and which would pay.

The question of location was the first to be decided, and like all ambitious communities, there was a decided difference of opinion as to the site. When the question of the location was determined upon, after a thorough study and with all available sites studied, the announcement was made that the northwest corner of "C" street and Park avenue, was the most desirable. Objections were made, the most frequent, that the location was "too far away from the business center." The statements and arguments were met with good logic and experience, principal of which was, that if Idaho Falls is to grow the business district must be enlarged and that "C" street was the logical location. How good the prediction was, has been proven by the building program which has resulted as a result of the hotel being placed on the location determined.

The site was occupied by another building, the owners of which held a long time lease. It became the duty of the Chamber of Commerce to buy the ground decided upon, and some difficulties were encountered, but overcome. The owner of the property, Mr. J. L. Milner, was most generous in the offer to the hotel company, and an agreement was entered into with him by the Chamber of Commerce, which in the meantime had secured an option on the lease.

The accomplishment to that point was satisfactory, and the next step was to interest the community in subscribing for the stock, and here again the Hockenbury system proved its ability and efficiency.

Under the direction of Mr. Barr, the Idaho Falls Community Hotel Corporation was organized and the company incorporated, officers elected and the work of the campaign begun. Under the direction of Mr. Barr a number of committees were appointed, men and women, giving freely of their time and ability. The general committee functioned first, and through their efforts were able to secure subscriptions well over one hundred thousand dollars. The progress and course of the campaign was discussed at nightly meetings and dinners, and the situation canvassed. The first meeting, after the committee was organized, showed that $20,000 had been subscribed and from that time on there was never any doubt or hesitancy. As the campaign progressed, an enlarged committee was appointed until the entire personnel totaled some one hundred and thirty-five men and women, each becoming a trained salesman, presenting his or her proposition to those whom it was expected to interest in a clear, concise and business like way. Confidence was established. The belief grew that the community owned hotel was a possibility and those handling the matter became more fixed in their minds and became determination, until, after sex weeds work, the committee reported in stock subscriptions, about $185,000, not enough to couple the structure, but enough to insure its ultimate completion and success. The options on the property, were executed and the location became the property of the corporation.

In the meantime the services of the H. L Stevens Co., of San Francisco, were called upon, as they are recognized as the foremost hotel architects and engineers in the country, and how good was the judgment is best testified to by the completed structure, a credit to them and the community, which made the hotel possible.

The institution, partially financed, the plans accepted, the contracts let, the construction started, the hotel assured the community began to take stock of itself and to realize that their work, so well started, was not as yet half done. Funds were to be had to insure the completion and furnishings. Capable management must be secured in order to insure success, and through the Hockenbury System an agreeable contract was entered into for the management for a period of thirty years with Mr. Geo. Relf, successful manager of the Hotel Utah, of Salt Lake.

Further financing was necessary in order to complete and the members of the executive committee interested the High & Fritchman Co. investment brokers, of Boise, Idaho, in order to finance the building so that it might be completed and equiped. It was necessary to issue bonds to the amount $115,000. The bond selling campaign was taken personal charge of by Mr. Ira High, senior member of the investment company. The Idaho Falls community, already subscribers to the stock in the corporation to the amount of $200,000, bonds to the amount of about another $100,000, leaving but the small balance of $25,000 to be disposed of elsewhere, which was readily done, as the investment was considered good, and the security ample.

Idaho Falls was assured of what it had so long needed. A community hotel, under high class management. The community deserves a great deal of credit for what has been accomplished and the completed structure, equipped on the scale far beyond anything of the kind in any other community of like size in the inter-mountain west, stands as a lasting monument to the foresight, the energy and the determination of the community, which will realize well on its investment in cash dividends and satisfaction of a service well rendered; with the further asset, the community has something of which it is proud, which is its own and above all which has been dedicated to community use.

The entire community is entitled to the credit for the completion of the magnificent structure. The entire community is proud of its achievement. The entire community will contribute toward its support and success. (SOURCE: My Web)
Well, I was just looking for a bed for the night. As far as I can tell the hotel is no longer in business. Since I can't find an address I can't Google it to see what's standing in its location. Perhaps we could contact the manager whose name is stamped on the front of the card except I can't read it because the stamp competes with apparently the old managers name. I'm guessing they hired someone to stamp the front of the cards and when they discovered all had been stamped like this there was a lot of discussion going something like this:
"We need to get rid of Corbett's name. He's not the manager anymore."

"Well, we could just cross it out."

"No, that doesn't encourage people to think of this as a first class hotel."

"We could get a stamp made with the new manager's name. Then people would know Corbett's not there because we'd stamp over his name."

"Excellent. Let's do it."
So they farmed this out to a local printer who came in with the lowest price and...they got what they paid for; complete confusion. Who did replace Corbett E. Mills as manager?

The card, like the past several cards, is a Curt Teich linen.

The photographer, Wesley Andrews, if I've found the correct Wesley Andrews:
Charles Wesley Andrews was born December 10, 1875 in Aurora, Ontario, Canada. He set up his first studio at Baker, Oregon in 1904. He captured many early Oregon views and was perhaps best known for his perfectly framed shots of the beautiful Oregon Coast. For a time, he was publisher of the Morning Democrat.

In the 1920s, Wesley Andrews moved his production studios to Portland. Eventually, the business was sold to Herb Goldsmith. Andrews died in Portland on December 22, 1950. (SOURCE: PDX History)
You can click here to see photos of Andrews with his family. He donated "hundreds of his negatives to the Oregon Historical Society."

So where to the next time? Which first class location shall I choose?

I don't know.


LET'S GO FIRST CLASS across America: Part 3

So you’re in Kansas City, Missouri and you just want a place to rest your tired puppies. How about the Hotel Commonwealth located at 12th and Broadway? It might not be first class, but it looks inviting.

Click on either image to see it larger.

Hmmmmm…I see on the back of this card it says “downtown apartment and transient hotel” which doesn’t sound so good. I’m now thinking of the hotels in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, transient hotels. But hey, it looks really nice so let’s go there and see what a room costs.

Ummmmmmm…I ummmmm…think it’s gone. Urban renewal.

Okay, the fact that on the front of the card it says Hotel Commonwealth and on the back it says Commonwealth Hotel leads me to believe even when it was standing people weren’t really sure where they were.

And let's talk about the patrons. This ad is from the November 27, 1943 Billboard magazine. A guy set up shop in the hotel to hire workers for carnivals. That must have been interesting to have that across the hall. Did animal acts show up or just guys who ran the tilt-a-wheel?

As to this card, most of what I’m finding online gives the date around 1937. It is a Curt Teich linen. I’m assuming people decided on this date due to used cards with postal dates because there is no copyright date.

Next Up: Idaho Falls


LET'S GO FIRST CLASS across America: Part 2

Let’s take a trip to Palm Beach, Florida and stay at the Biltmore Hotel. Oh, wait…it’s not a hotel anymore. It’s a long story.

Click on either image to see it larger.

In 1894 the Palm Beach Hotel opened at 150 Bradley Place. In March of 1925 it burned down. In its place was built the Alba Hotel for between $5 and $6 million.

The hotel's furnishings were worth more than $2 million, and the Alba was surrounded by formal gardens.
But from the opening night's festivities, which the house staff threatened to boycott, the Alba seem doomed. Fewer than two months after opening, the hotel was awash in red ink and later closed.

On Sept. 16, 1928, Palm Beach was hit by a Category 4 Hurricane that destroyed much of Palm Beach and blew the roof off the Alba. Somehow repairs were made, and it reopened as the Ambassador for the 1929 season. (SOURCE: Restaurant Ware Collectors)
This too, failed, and the 1933 Hotel Red Book listed it as the Alba again until it was sold to a company that owned the Biltmore in Coral Gables, Florida and was renamed the Palm Beach Biltmore. I’m not sure if this took place in 1935 or ’38.
During WWII, the Biltmore served as a women's Coast Guard Training Center, and after that, a U.S. Navy convalescent hospital. When the Navy left the hotel, it once again became the opulent Palm Beach Biltmore Hotel. (SOURCE: Restaurant Ware Collectors)
The Palm Beach Biltmore Hotel was transformed into a U.S. Naval Special Hospital from mid-1945 to the end of the war, accommodating 1,400 soldiers convalescing from rheumatic fever or arthritis brought on by exposure. In June 1943, before it became a navy hospital, the Biltmore was used for the first dedicated school for the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve. SPARs, as it was known for its creed, “Semper Paratus, Always Ready,” was created by the U.S. legislature on November 23, 1942, to allow more men to be sent overseas. Until the Palm Beach school was ready, enlistees were trained on the campuses of Oklahoma A&M, Iowa State Teachers College, and Hunter College.

Male reservists spent a month converting 430 rooms in what was then reputed to be the most expensive building yet constructed in Florida. They replaced hotel furniture with “sturdy stuff” and knocked out walls to accommodate six women per room, removing doors and luxury decorations.

The initial four-week boot camp was expanded to six weeks and included classes in organization, personnel, ships, and aircraft. Enlistees practiced deck swabbing in the hotel hallways. Disciplined physical training was held in part at the Surf Club, which was dedicated to their exclusive use of the tennis courts and beach. Graduates either were assigned to active duty or remained for 12 more weeks of specialist training to become storekeepers, yeomen, cooks, bakers, commissary stewards, dental or pharmacist mates, or recruiters. (SOURCE: PBC History Online)
So, what of the hotel after World War II and today? If you thought yesterday’s was expensive wait until you see the numbers for this one.
In 1946, the Biltmore, then owned by the Hilton chain, returned to civilian service. The hotel closed in the 1970s and fell into disrepair, but was rescued from demolition by famed developer John D. MacArthur. MacArthur sold it in 1977 for $5.3 million to investor Stanley J. Harte, who renovated it and reopened it in 1981 as the 128-unit Palm Beach Biltmore Condominiums.
Interested in living in the Biltmore? Are you in that 1% of the American public who haven’t been hurt by the economy? Then have I got a place for you. Take a look at some of the current condos available. (If this link doesn’t’ work in the future all I can say is sorry, it was current for the day this post was written.)

At one point the former Shah of Iran’s sister lived in the building. Her penthouse was on the market in 2009.

So I guess this means we won’t be meeting in the coffee shop around midnight in the Biltmore for a pie and coffee. I’ll see if I can find a place still open to the public for tomorrow. In the meantime, pack your bags.

This card, like the one yesterday, is a Curt Teich linen.


LET'S GO FIRST CLASS across America: Part 1

Time for some vacation travel. Let's check out some hotels via some vintage post cards.

First stop Colorado Springs and The Broadmoor.

Click on either image to see it larger.

Does the hotel still exist? Yes indeed, and it's going to put you back a pretty penny.
The Broadmoor is a 5-star/5-diamond luxury hotel and resort, located in southwestern Colorado Springs, Colorado. Built in the early 20th century as the "Grand Dame of the Rockies", it was one of the finest resort destinations along the Rocky Mountains during the age of railroads. The hotel sits at an elevation of 6230 feet (1900 m) above sea level.

The resort dates from 1891, when it began as a small hotel and casino. The current resort was built in 1918 by Charles L. Tutt and Spencer Penrose, a Philadelphia entrepreneur whose brother was Senator Boies Penrose. Nicknamed "Spec" for skill at speculation, Spencer Penrose amassed a fortune from mining claims at nearby Cripple Creek, and after a grand tour through Europe's finest hostelries, decided to build one, with no expense spared. The hotel attracted a wealthy clientele in the early 20th century, drawn to the beauty of Pikes Peak, as well as to the mountain air which aided recuperation from tuberculosis. Penrose was so pleased with the Broadmoor that in 1937 he completed nearby a monument to its creator — his tomb, taking the rather novel form of an 80-foot hilltop observation tower which overlooks the resort. Persuaded not to name the structure after himself, it is instead called the "Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun," honoring Penrose's friend who died in a plane crash in 1935, during construction of the tomb.

The Broadmoor has over 700 rooms, 18 restaurants and cafes, 3 golf courses, and a world-class spa. The El Pomar Carriage House Museum houses an extensive collection of vintage carriages and automobiles on-site. The Penrose Room, named after Spencer Penrose, is the only Five-Diamond dining in Colorado. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
This card has two publishers: C. T. Art-Colortone (Curt Teich) and Sanborn Souvenir Co.

And now, as to that Cripple Creek reference...no, it's not the same one, but who cares.