Dear Little Florence

Cardboard America, Cardboard Greetings

holiday-a-happy-new-year-1

Mailed from Columbus, Nebraska to Calmar, Iowa on December 31, 1907:

Dear Little Florence,
I wish you a very Happy New Year. I like Columbus real well. I have two rack chickens. I hope to have more some day. Santa Claus was very good to Paul and me. We have no snow and the dust is terrible, I am in the 4th grade I like my teacher her name is Mrs. Watts – from Paul & Lester

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I Am Not Eating Onions

Cardboard America, Cardboard Greetings

holiday-i-wish-you-a-year-filled-with-gladness

Mailed from Spring Green, Wisconsin to Mrs. Christ Hutter of Plain, Wisconsin on December 29, 1910:

I wish you a Happy New Year got your card but I am not eating onions. I am working at Otto Franks for all winter and I think I will help you clean house in the Spring. From Margareth
Spring Green

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Moock’s Tavern – St. Petersburg, Florida

Cardboard America

Moock’s Tavern, opened in 1946 by Erven and Gertrude Moock, was once THE place for locals and major league baseball players in town for Spring Training, to eat and be seen.

Located at 709 16th St. N in St. Petersburg, Florida, Moock’s offered cocktails, seafood and chicken platters and Swift’s Tender Age steaks cut to order.

Tampa Bay Times, 25 Nov 1956, Sun, Main Edition, Page 58

Tampa Bay Times – November 25, 1956

The tavern started as a small restaurant serving about 75 people at a time, but eventually grew to have four dining rooms and a capacity of 235. The larger capacity allowed Moock’s to become a very popular place to hold wedding receptions, civic meetings and club outings.

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Postcard from the Cardboard America Collection

The Moock’s would operate the business with their son and daughter managing and eventually taking over the business. But, as 1970 dawned, Erven and Gertrude wanted to retire. In April 1970 they sold the restaurant and land they owned around the restaurant to Merlin Downs and his 31 year-old Joseph Alban. Even after the sale Erven Moock, Jr. would stay on and manage the restaurant. The sale would become official in June.

Tampa Bay Times, 30 Jun 1970, Tue, Main Edition, Page 27

Tampa Bay Times – June 30, 1970

Things were still looking good for Moock’s for a little while but the end was on the horizon. A fire broke out in September of 1973, causing some serious damage. The fire, caused by an electrical short, destroyed two of the four dining rooms and the first floor suffered water and smoke damage.

Tampa Bay Times,  15 Sep 1973, Sat,  Main Edition,  Page 15.jpg

Tampa Bay Times – September 15, 1973

In 1975 Moock’s suffered another fire, this time in the kitchen injuring two and causing more damage. The loss of revenue, personal problems and the $52,000 cost of the rebuild would ultimately cripple ownership. In September 1977 Moock’s Tavern was seized and closed permanently by the IRS. Merlin Downs and Joe Alban had failed to pay $24,462.89 in back taxes.

Tampa Bay Times,  15 Sep 1977, Thu,  Other Editions,  Page 5.jpg

Tampa Bay Times – September 15, 1977

The property was put up for auction. Only one person bid on the venerable old restaurant. Louis P. Druehl of purchased the property for $33,000. Druehl would re-open the restaurant as a high-end restaurant called the Executive Club. The restaurant would not last very long and the property sat idle for many years. New owners told local newspapers in 1988 that that had a plan to restore Moock’s to its former glory but nothing ever came to fruition.

In 1990, St. Petersburg City Council ordered the empty building demolished, but the owners at the time convinced the council that they had plans and the building was spared. Those pans never materialized and the building was razed in 2003 to make way for a medical facility.

Motel Samantha – Oxford, Alabama

Cardboard America, Cardboard Motels

You’ll enjoy your visit to the new Motel Samantha!

Motel Samantha

Opened by Elbert Holmes on the newly opened (as of 1950) Highway 78 By-Pass,  the 30-unit motel boasted air-conditioning, central heat, colored tile baths and plenty of parking.

1954-11-04 - The Anniston Star, 04 Nov 1954, Thu, Page 23

The Anniston Star – November 4, 1954

An open house on December 9-11, 1954 welcomed the community to the new, modern motel

1954-12-08 - The Anniston Star, 08 Dec 1954, Wed, Page 12

The Anniston Star – December 8, 1954

The Motel Samantha was one of two properties owned by Elbert Holmes. The Blue Top Motor Court in Marietta, Georgia had opened in the late 1940s and was a successful motel.

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Holmes relocated to Alabama and chose Highway 78 in Oxford as a prime location for his new motel. The highway was a fairly sleepy country road until General Electric Opened a plant in 1952 and the opening of the Motel Samantha signaled a commercial movement to the once sleepy area. A Howard Johnson’s restaurant opened just down the road a short time after the motel. Bucks Coffee Shop on the west end of 78. became a local hangout. A truck stop known as Rainbow Inn, was a popular restaurant. However, it was the beautiful neon sign featuring a light-up American Indian in a headdress that become the most recognizable business on the Highway.

1955-04-13 - The Anniston Star, 13 Apr 1955, Wed, Page 20

The Anniston Star – April 13, 1955

Popular with local visitors, the motel become the go-to spot throughout the 1950s. In the early 1960s, Interstate 20 was built nearly parallel to the highway and, a short time after that a brand new Holiday Inn opened at the intersection of 78 and 21. Oxford had officially arrived.

Holiday Inn

The Holiday Inn signaled a new era for the town, but hurt the Motel Samantha. Elbert Holmes died in 1964, and his son took over the property.  After Elbert’s death, it was decided that The Blue Top Motor Court became too much of a burden and the property was put up for auction.

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The Anniston Star – November 15, 1964

Information about the motel becomes difficult to find after 1965. I can find local ads for the motel until 1973. I am not totally sure where the motel was exactly located, as it appears the property was torn down.

 

 

 

 

Gulf Hotel Fire – September 7, 1943

City in Ruins

Fifty-five men, many of them elderly and living off government relief, died in the early morning of September 7, 1943 in the worst hotel fire in Houston, Texas history.

The Coshocton Tribune, 07 Sep 1943, Tue, Page 1

The Coshocton Tribune,  September 7. 1943

The fire started around 12:10 a.m. the front desk clerk was alerted to a problem on the second floor. A lit cigarette inadvertently caused a mattress to begin smoldering. Several guests of the hotel aided the clerk in extinguishing the small fire. The mattress, thought to be completely fine, was moved to a closet in a hallway on the second floor. Minutes later the mattress burst in flames and the fire spread quickly throughout the second floor and moved its way toward the third.

The old hotel only had two emergency exits, both on one side of the building and the flames blocked one of those exits and an interior stairwell became engulfed leaving many of the 133 guests trapped.

The fire department was located near the hotel and received the alarm at 12:50am. By the time they arrived on the scene the building was engulfed in flames. The fire tore through the old building quickly and burned so hot that the fire department could not place ladders against the building to help people escape.

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The aged men struggled to get out of the building. Many we able to slowly escape from the one working escape, but for many the situation became dire. Unable to leave through an exit many resorted to extreme measures. Two men jumped out the window, one man was killed trying to climb down the building by a burning window falling on him and many just stayed in their room and hope the flames would not reach them.

By the time the fire was extinguished, fifty-five men were dead. 38 men were burned to death, 15 died of smoke inhalation and the two men who jumped to their death.

The Gulf Hotel is a common story – an old building, not up to code, holding too many people without proper exits and no sprinkler system. Many of the lessons that could have been learned by the conflagration were ignored or completely forgotten. The Gulf Hotel fire was the biggest fire of 1943 (Cocoanut Grove) or even the biggest story in the newspapers that day. World War II raged on and a train wreck in Pennsylvania killed 79 people and injured 117.

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The St. Louis Star and Times,  07 Sep 1943

 

Storybook Land – Lake Delton, Wisconsin

Cardboard America

Not every fairy tale has a happy ending. In 2011, after more than five decades of seasonal operation, Storybook Land in the Wisconsin Dells closed its doors for good.

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The ten acre park was located between Dells Army Ducks and the legendary water park known as Noah’s Ark near Lake Delton. The grounds were filled with concrete statues and colorful sights filled with classic stories ranging from The Three Little Bears to Cinderella to Jack-Be-Nimble and nearly two dozen more fairy tales. During its busiest  period there were costumed characters wandering the well-manicured, floral-laden grounds. Four ponds were located in the park, each named after one of FLath’s daughters. The whole park served as a peaceful escape from the thrill-a-minute, tourist crazy environment.

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Storybook Gardens was first conceived in 1956 by Dells Duck operator Melvin Flath as a roadside attraction for kids and the whole family. Flath was considered slightly crazy by locals because Storybook Gardens was away from downtown and the other Dells attractions like the Tommy Bartlett Show and Wisconsin Deer Park. However, Flath’s location was perfect. Away from the other sights, the Gardens stood alone and captured travelers either as they entered or exited the Dells.

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Thousands upon thousands of families visited the park over the years. For a few years in the late 1950s/early 1960s it was the main attraction in the area. However,  the park never really made much money. Flath would only operate the park for a few years before turning it over to another group which included Tom Egan who ran the park for over 30 years until selling it in 1989.

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By the 1990s the park was seen as a relic of a different. Lost in the sea of flashier theme parks and more modern attractions, the park struggled to remain open. Ownership would change hands several more times with each owner selling for a lesser price. In 2010 the park closed for the season and never re-opened for the 2011. The decision to close was based on dwindling attendance and the fact that the land proved more valuable than the attraction.

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The statuary was sold off one-by-one and the welcome center, in the shape of a boat, was sold to be used as a firefighter training facility.

Storybook5

Red Apple Restaurant – Walla Walla, Washington

Cardboard America

For more than five decades, the Red Apple Restaurant served patrons at all hours in downtown Walla Walla, Washington. After years of semi-neglect and mismanagement, the Red Apple closed in late 1999.

In 1948 the a new restaurant was opened at #57 (E. Main St. in downtown Walla Walla). The cafe and fountain, dubbed the Red Apple w under the direct management of popular restaurant Aber Mathison; Baker and Partner Gabe Gross and Fountain Manager and Partner Sam Raguso. The Red Apple was advertised as “Walla Walla’s Ultra Modern Cafe, Catering to People Who Care. Open 7 A.M. to 1 A.M.”

Red Apple opens, 1948

1948 – Photo courtesy of Bygone Walla Walla

 

The restaurant thrived throughout the 1950s, but times were changing and renovations were needed. The fountain was no longer in vogue and something contemporary was needed. The idea was to add wood paneling and a fake apple tree to provide a modern, outdoor atmosphere on Main Street. This postcard, published in 1968, highlights the tree and a modern girl with a late 1960s haircut and fashion to match.

Red Apple

Come and Join Me At
THE RED APPLE
Under the same careful management for twenty years, this fine restaurant, featuring 24-hour service and a conference room, is located at 57 E. Main in downtown Walla Walla where the first business establishment in the city once stood. A real apple tree grew approximately where this lovely artificial tree now stands.

The Red Apple changed ownership numerous times and would struggle to remain open throughout the 90s. According to WW2020, “On January 17, 1991 the Tuckers sold the property to Greg and Gwen Baden for $165,000. On January 28th the Badens were granted a gambling license. In 1996 and 1999 there was city action for failure to pay gambling taxes. During these years the property on the corner was occupied by computer networking, telephone paging,mortgage and advertising businesses. On October 1, 1999 the property was sold by the Badens to Thomas and Amy Glase and Mark T. and Paulette R. Perry for $400,000.”

I ate at the Red Apple numerous times right before they closed. It will also have a soft spot in my heart.

Red Apple restaurant razed, 1999

The Red Apple right after its closure, ca. late 1999/early 2000. Courtesy of Bygone Walla Walla.

BONUS:

A little more info on the building and the history of the Red Apple from WW2020:

Beauty Art was at #59 and the Electric Supply remained at #61 until 1953. The S.E. Washington Fair Association and the Walla Walla Feed Directors Association shared space with the restaurant. In 1954 Herb Himes Hub electrical appliances (and Henry Gies vacuum cleaners) occupied #61. In 1956 DeBunce Studio (photography) occupied #59. These occupants all continued until 1962 when #59 became vacant. On March 21, 1961 Harry Winget sold this property (135.83 feet x 86.78 feet) to Herb Himes for $107,250. In 1968 Himes transferred his interest in the area behind the store to the City of Walla Walla in exchange for the city covering Mill Creek to create a parking lot.

On November 30, 1975 Herb Himes sold his property to Whitman College for $95,888.33. The Hub continued to operated under the ownership of Phil and Sharon Van Houte and Bev and Charles Balmer. Whitman College assigned their contract to Samuel Lewis Raguso for $117,770. Sam Raguso’s estate transferred title on August 26. 1980 to Alan, Rodney and Sam Raguso who sold the property to Ronnie and Terry Tucker on November 16, 1982 for $150,000. China and Things started operations as a gift shop on the balcony at The Hub in 1981. Robert Hanson was the manager of the Red Apple Restaurant and Lounge in 1983. On January 17, 1991 the Tuckers sold the property to Greg and Gwen Baden for $165,000. On January 28th the Badens were granted a gambling license. In 1996 and 1999 there was city action for failure to pay gambling taxes.

 

The Smallest Bar in The World

Cardboard America

Trees

“End of the Trail”, smallest cocktail lounge in the world; just a stool and a half. At Trees Motel, adjoining the famous Blue Ox Cafe, opposite Trees of Mystery – 4 miles No. of Klamath, Calif., on the beautiful Redwood Highway.

The self-professed “Smallest Bar in the World” was located slightly north of Klamath, California across from the Trees of Mystery.

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Near the entrance to Tress of Mystery with Paul and Babe the Blue Ox.

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A small little room attached to the Trees Motel, the bar was called the End of the Trail Cocktail Lounge and featured 1 1/2 barrel stools, a redwood-topped bar, longhorns, a nude painting and enough stale smoke for a lifetime.

The motel is still standing and appears to be in pretty good shape. However, I can find no mention of the world’s smallest bar.