The Red Shell Game

Pamphlets and Brochures

Let’s not gamble with America!

This is a 4 page pamphlet given out in 1948 to stem the “RED TIDE”. It was distributed on “Freedom Day” in September of 1948 in Chicago, Illinois. Due to the success of that (whatever that means) it is highly recommended that it be distributed throughout Gary, Indiana.

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Greetings From….

Cardboard America

Today’s offering is a baker’s dozen of Curt Teich large-letter Greetings From….postcards. Curteich was the largest producer of color and quality linen postcards for more than 5 decades.

Teich postcards are easy to date, as there is a code on all codes that tells you when it was published. There is a handy dating guide available on pdf.

The Curt Teich archives are located at the Newberry in Chicago, Illinois and contains hundreds of thousands of the company postcards, letters and ephemera.

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Greetings from Portland, Oregon

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Greetings from South Bend, Indiana

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Greetings from Lake Tahoe

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Greetings from Santa Claus, Indiana

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Greetings from Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

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Greetings from St. Petersburg, Florida

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Greetings from Chicago, Illinois

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Greetings from Santa Cruz, California

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Greetings from Nevada

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Greetings from Lincoln, Nebraska

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Greetings from Hannibal, Missouri

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Greetings from Egypt, Illinois

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Greetings from Cincinnati, Ohio

Found Photo Friday: Out With The Old…In With the New

Color Transparency

Found Photo Friday finally returns with one of my favorite series of photos.

These two images were taken on Thornwood Avenue in Wilmette, Illinois. You can see the houses across the street on Google Street View.

The first photo, taken in the Fall of 1964, shows a woman and her daughter standing in drab weather, next to the family’s old, rusted 1955 Cadillac.

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The second photo is much sunnier. Taken in the Spring of 1965, the woman is adorned with spring colors and gets a chance to show her new pride and joy, a 1965 Pontiac.

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Bagels and Yox

Uncategorized

This is a flier for the number one entertainment for the American-Jewish people, “Bagels and Yox.” This particular run was to open on Sunday, May 11, 1952 at the Blackstone Theatre in Chicago, Illinois.

I can’t find too much information on this particular run of the show. I did find a 1951 review of the play in the New York Times theater section. The Blackstone Theatre is still around but is now known as the Merle Reskin Theatre.

Dr. Pott’s: Archaeology & Disco in the Cincinnati Suburbs

Cardboard America, Cardboard Motels

Come with us on archaeological expedition and DISCOver the story of an archaeology themed disco located within the Holiday Inn Riverfront in the Cincinnati suburb of Covington, Kentucky.

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1963 Holiday Inn Cincinnati Riverfront postcard 

The Holiday Inn Riverfront had opened in the 1960s with a modest Holiday Inn restaurant attached to the side. Over the next 15 years people ate, people chatted, and people moved on through without giving the restaurant much of a thought. The basement featured a conference room and a small bar, but no real entertainment.

By the late 1970s, tastes had changed and a new dance craze had taken over the country and Cincinnati was no different.

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By the end of 1979 the area was home to a number of disco clubs and disco-themed restaurants including:

  • Amanda at 311 Delta. Ave.
  • Bentley’s at 36 W. 5th
  • Lucy’s in the Sky at Eighth at Linn on the Top Floor of the Holiday Inn Downtown
  • Tomorrow’s at Fifth and Race
  • Rookwood Pottery at 1077 Celestial St. in Mt. Adams
  • Max and Erma’s at 123 Boggs Lane
  • Lighthouse Ltd. at Vine and Calhoun
  • Spanky’s in the Holiday Inn North at 2235 Sharon Rd.
  • The Conservatory at 640 W. Third in Covington
  • Past-Times Saloon at 2640 Glendora
  • Badlands at 419 Plum St.
  • Trumps at Princeton Pike and Kemper Rd.

The glut of clubs did not stop entrepreneur Jeff Ruby from opening a new club in the basement of the Holiday Inn Rivermont. A short bio about Jeff Ruby from his website:

Ruby took a job in 1970 with Winegardner and Hammons’ Holiday Inn in downtown Cincinnati. There, he turned a 12th floor bar into the “Den of the Little Foxes” (a lá the Playboy club) at Lucy’s in the Sky disco and made it the place to be for those who wanted to see and be seen. His success at Lucy’s quickly propelled him to the post of Regional Director of all seven Holiday Inns in Cincinnati.

Ruby had a complicated history with nightclubs. Ruby had helped Lucy’s in the Sky in the Holiday Inn Downtown to success. However, it wasn’t all great. Ruby was in attendance at the Beverly Hills Supper Club on the evening on May 28, 1977 when an inferno swept through the sprawling club. 165 people died but somehow Ruby had managed to escape. That event did not deter him from wanting to open a new nightclub.

In a December 1978 interview Ruby said that he believed “there’s still a (dance) market for real people,” and he wanted to have a “clientele less chic and more down-to-earth than some of the discos around town.” Ruby would

Through his Holiday Inn connections he met Robert Fields, who had opened clubs in several Holiday Inns including Peary’s Explorers Lounge in Anchorage, Alaska and Runway 22 at Chicago-O’Hare, the new club would contain a theme very close to Fields’ heart.

Archaeology had been a hobby for Fields since childhood. During his teen years he told his father that he wanted to be an archaeologist but his father had told him that he couldn’t do it because he would never make any money. Fields was determined to prove that he could be successful and still share  his passion.

Fields’ design featured an archaeological themed nightclub/disco replete with 700-100 Peruvian textile fragments in the walls near the bar, replica Aztec pottery and a central room that resembled an Aztec temple. The new club would hold 350 people and featuring local bands and hottest disco tracks available.

The new place would be called Dr. Pott’s. The logo featured a character with a bow tie, pit helmet and coat eerily similar to Howard Carter, the famed archaeologist who discoverd King Tut’s tomb in the 1920s.

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Cincinnati Enquirer – December 14, 1979

Dr. Pott’s opened on December 15, 1979. Featuring celebrity host Jim LaBarbara and the both live and recorded disco sounds of  Mason-Dixon Dance Band, the opening night celebration was a major success.

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Cincinnati Enquirer – December 15, 1978

Throughout 1980, Dr.Pott’s became THE place to party, find “romance” and dance the night away. However, not everybody was allowed to join in the fun. On January 29, 1980 country music stars The Gatlin Brothers were denied entry because they were wearing faded denim jeans.

 

By the middle of 1981 the disco craze had faded and the music itself became a joke. Ruby and Dr. Pott’s continued to book live entertainment but disco was a thing of the past. By 1986 the club, struggling to maintain a crowd, tried once again to capitalize on a fad and became a comedy club. The Dr. Pott’s/comedy marriage would only last a short time and a new comedy club called Cassidy’s would open in the same location.

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Cincinnati Enquirer – October 5, 1986

Dr. Pott’s success was short-lived and all the memories of the archaeology-themed restaurant would be forgotten. However, Jeff Ruby would not fade away. After forging a business partnership with Cincinnati Reds legends Johnny Bench and Pete Rose,  Ruby would go on to numerous bigger and better things. His website gives a brief timeline of the successes to come:

 

After opening The Precinct in 1981 he followed with The Waterfront in 1986, Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse in 1999, Carlo & Johnny in 2001, Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse, Louisville in 2006, and Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse, Nashville in 2016. Consistency and quality are hallmarks of a Ruby restaurant – a fact supported by the 3 decades of success at The Precinct, Cincinnati’s longest continually-running fine dining restaurant.

Today, managing the growing Ruby brand is a family affair as each of Ruby’s children is deeply involved in the company. Daughter Britney Ruby Miller serves as Corporate Director of Operations, and sons Brandon and Dillon fill roles as General Manager of The Precinct and Assistant General Manager of the Nashville location respectively. Together, the family owns 5 eateries in 3 states with another 2 steakhouses in development.

*In addition to the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire, Ruby would survive a 1987 accident that left him in critical condition with a fractured skull and a blood clot on the surface of his brain. He slipped in and out of a coma for nearly two weeks. Chances of survival were around 10% and yet Ruby managed to check himself out the hospital 33 days later.

Barton Hotel Fire, Chicago, Illinois – February 12, 1955

City in Ruins

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WHAT: Hotel fire
WHEN: February 12, 1955
WHERE: Chicago, Illinois
FATALITIES: 29

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The Decatur Daily Review, February 12, 1955

HUMAN TORCH BLAMED FOR START OF FIRE

At approximately 2 a.m. on the morning on February 12, 1955, C.W. Harvey, night manager of a  West Madison Street (Skid Row) flophouse called the Barton Hotel heard a commotion coming from the second floor of the 49 year-old hotel so run down that it had chicken wire instead of actual ceilings. What Harvey found in the hallway both singed and confused him, There, standing before him, was a ball of screaming and flames that was 70 year-old Joe Armatzo.

Armatzo was a regular at the Barton Hotel and was known to use and excessive amount of baby oil on his body. According to eyewitness accounts, it appeared that Armatzo actually dropped a lit cigarette which ignited a small pool of baby oil on fire in 4 x 6 x 7″ room. He attempted to put out the flames, but was so covered in baby oil that the flames spread to his body turning Armatzo into a human torch. With his room and body on fire Armatzo rushed outside for help but actually caused the fire to spread rather quickly.

C.W. Harvey, seeing this grotesque sight, did not immediately ring the fire alarm to alert the fire department, instead he and others attempted to put out the fire temselves causing the fire spread faster. After 30 minutes the fire department alarm rand and then Harvey ran through the hotel banging on the doors in attempt to wake the sleeping patrons.

Most of the 245 men staying in the 65 to 75 cent a night Barton Hotel heard the commotion, alarm and knocks and quickly hurried without shoes or socks in the frozen streets. Not everyone made it out.

 

Some of the men slept through the noise and burned or died from smoke inhalation. Some, either unable to move due to malady or injury were unable to escape and died in the rooms. Some attempted to escape by breaking the window panes and jumping out.

Firefighters, arrived and knew this was going to be a battle. The hotel’s conditioning were appalling and caused the building to ignite in flames very quickly. To add to that, a 20 mile an hour wind spread the flames and lead to even colder temperatures in the already below freezing February morning. After more three and half hours, the firefighters finally snuffed on the blaze.

When daylight broke that morning, firefighters were shocked and horrified at the aftermath of the conflagration. Searching through the rubble they encountered the badly charred remains of one person after another. After nearly a week of sifting through the debris twenty-nine bodies were found.

Coroner Walter McCaron would later state he was appalled that than many people were staying in such a small place. He called for an immediate investigation in Chicago’s flophouses. A few days later a crackdown began and many of the Skid Row “hotels” were closed.

Two weeks after the fire a coroner’s jury said the owner, two operators, Anthony Dykes, night watchman of the hotel and Harvey were negligent by not reporting the fire immediately. Ben Glassman, one of the operators would fined $200 for a building code violation for not having sprinklers.None of the five charges would ever be indicted. The 29 bodies were buried in cemeteries around Chicago by the end of February.

Crystal Pistol – Chicago, Illinois

Cardboard America

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1452 N. Wells – Chicago – WH 4-9231
OLD TOWN’S AUTHENTIC WILD WEST SALOON
Western Style Steak, home-made Chili, Steer Berger, Served by Our Pistol Packin Mamas! Featuring Largest Stein in Old Town – 12 oz.
Entertainment Nightly

The Crystal Pistol opened sometime in the 1960s as a sort of Old West burlesque saloon in the middle of Old Town Chicago. Enticing customers with swinging doors and go-go dancers in the windows, the Crystal Pistol served up stiff drinks and bawdy nightlife.

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Chicago Tribune – April 25, 1973

The atmosphere would change in 1973, as the Crystal Pistol and 13 other establishments in Old town were raided and charge with illegal solicitation of drinks and/or keeping a disorderly house.

 

The Crystal Pistol didn’t last much longer. The best I can figure is that the raid, combined with changing tastes were the causes of death.

The Smorgasphere™

Cardboard America

The rotary Smorgasphere™ was intended to revolutionize the concept of smorgasbords. The Smorgasphere™ was intended to keep food fresh and hot with a rotating buffet. The Smorgasphere™ was intended to bring the future to the late 1960s. The Smorgasphere™ was the future.

In 1966, Donald Wulff, owner of Don’s Colonial House restaurant in Manteno, Illinois came up with an new concept in buffet dining. He spent months designing and building a pilot model for his his restaurant. The new idea was called The Smorgasphere.™

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The pilot model of The Smorgasphere™ located in Don’s Colonial House, Manteno, Illinois

The idea behind the Smorgasphere™ was fairly simple. It was a buffet that was half in the kitchen and half in the dining area that could be rotated 180 degrees to keep food fresh and mess at a minimum. In 1967, after the success of the pilot model, Wulff patented and trademarked the Rotary Smorgasphere.™

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The slideshow above is the entire patent for Wulff invention. It’s fascinating to see the dimensions and the overall size of the the rotating beast.

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Jacksonville Daily Journal – October 8, 1967

Shortly after filing for a patent, Wulff placed ads in regional newspapers attempting to franchise his revolutionary concept.

An investment of $25,000 was required to have a Smorgasphere™, presumably just to pay for the construction of the machine and designing a space that accommodate it. I have not found an evidence that any took Wulff up on his franchising opportunity.

The concept did catch the idea of the Rotary Club magazine called the Rotarian, as a brief mention the Smorgasphere™ appeared in the March, 1968 issue.

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The Rotarian – March 1968

What happened after the Smorgasphere™ didn’t take off? Short answer is that I don’t know. I cannot find any mention of Don’s Colonial House or the Smorgasphere™ after 1968. I cannot even find an address for the restaurant. The address in the personal ad must have been a business office.

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Terapeak.com

The only thing I was able to find was a postcard image of the Colonial House Smorgasphere™ sometime later. The entire thing has a different. Gone is the red and white coloring, the bubble top and sleek styling.

The one in the postcard shows the ubiquitous 1970s wood panelling, a scalloped top with lighting and completely covered dome. I cannot tell from the image if it evens rotates anymore.

If I can track down this card then maybe I can figure those questions out. Maybe it holds the key as to what happened to the revolving revolution in buffet dining.

 

 

 

Frtizel’s – Chicago, Illinois

Cardboard America
fritzels

New York Public Library

Fritzel’s was an incredibly popular place. For more than 30 years, the restaurant at 201 N. State Street in the Loop was the place to be seen. Friztel’s catered to the celebrity, politician, athlete and upper crust of society in and visiting Chicago.

Famous sports names such as Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle would visit when the Yankees were in town. Joe Dimaggio was said to be a lifetime member, and during the halcyon days, then-wife Marilyn Monroe would accompany Joltin’ Joe.  Mayor Richard J. Daley, singer Tony Bennett and comedian Phyllis Diller were just some of the Fritzel’s regulars.

How did the restaurant get so popular? The answer: food. Their menu of as many as one hundred exquisitely prepared items dazzled. The restaurant was spotless. No detail was overlooked. Joe Jacobson was the man responsible for Fritzel’s success.

Ironically, Joe Jacobson was more identified with Frtizel’s than Mike Fritzel, Jacobson’s former partner. The two were proprietors of the Chez Paree nightclub at 610 Fairbanks Court in Chicago and opened Fritzel’s in 1947. Mike Fritzel retired in 1953 and Jacobson became sole owner. Fritzel’s really started then.

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The menu with lots of options – New York Public Library

“Joe was very particular about the food,” Nancy Jacobson, his widow, recalled in the 1980s.”He would go into the kitchen, and if he saw a baked potato outside an oven, he would throw it in a wastebasket and tell the kitchen help, ‘Don’t ever send anything out to anyone unless it’s straight from the oven.'” The staff was also under strict cleanliness and preparation guidelines. Joe Jacobson was no-nonsense.

Jacobson himself was always incredibly neat and tidy. With a trademark, long black cigar, the debonair restaurateur would often walk the floor and became well-known to the clientele. He was a celebrity to the celebrities.

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Frtizel’s boomed through the 1950s and ’60s. However, tastes were changing and the restaurant would soon struggle. Fritzel’s fell victim to negative perception about the clout of its patrons. Dennis Swenie, a former police officer in Chicago, allegedly told a grand jury that “it’s taboo for policemen to write tickets for autos illegally parked in front of Fritzel’s.” The restaurant also felt dated. The interior was a reminder of the “good old days” that people wanted to move past in the late 1960s.

In the late 1960, Fritzel’s attempted to modernize with an expensive redecoration. People interested in the new Fritzel came to see it, but only once. The Loop was no longer very safe at night and the style of the restaurant was still just too passe.

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Fritzel’s closed in June 1972, when the then Genral Manage Wayne Boucher (Jacobson sold out in 1968 to food service business Interstate United Corp)  determined that the restaurant was not meeting it’s break even point of $125,000 and closed the restaurant for good.