The Good Old Days
Herald Dispatch, December 25, 1965
Written by: Charles Collett
Submitted by: Robert Kingrey
Quite often it has been suggested to me, “why not write a column about the so called “good old days” before national prohibition, when a nickel bought a schooner of beer with a lot of free lunch thrown in. Those folks making the suggestion talk like I was an “old rounder” to remember or know anything about those days, but I’ve heard about them. Those were the days when a fancy little dish of clove was kept on the bar so a fellow could sweeten his breath after a nip.
John L. Schachleiter wore a diamond stud as large as a dime in his shirtfront of s a necktie pin. Everything at the Schachleiter restaurant, now the Patio, was imported, whether it be Swiss cheese, olives or sardines. The deviled crab in the half shell was very tasty at the Beer Stube in Second Street, where proprietor Frank Gaynor usually talked about James J. Jeffries, Bob Fitzsimmons or James J. Corbett. There was always plenty of salt with the free lunch. The salt idea was to make a fellow want another beer.
Free turtle soup at Needle’s Place was best on Saturday night. Needle’s Place was on Center Street across the street from the Grand Theatre, now the Conkle & Milleson “see better shop”. Many a feller couldn’t see better after a couple of the biggest 5 cent beers in town in mugs that took tow hands to hold at Needle’s Place.A big old live turtle, caught out on Pine Creek, was kept on display, with a string on its leg al week on the sidewalk in front of the saloon before it was made into soup.
The amateur painters often put the words “bean soup” on the window glass at the Park Café and some wag would change a letter to make it read, “been soup” just for a smile of those who passed that way.
Business was bad one day at John Rist’s place at Third and Railroad, and later in the day it was discovered that Capt. Hicks, the sign painter, had just put a new sign on the front door, “Minors Stay Out”. Mr. Rist was strict in enforcing the law against selling to minors.
Among memories of the so-called good old days are Bill Crosby, who was born in slavery, a porter at the Capital Bar at Second and Washington, who shuffled along wearing a white apron. He was many years ahead of “Bing” as a performer. Stonewall Jackson and Abe Smith were two others who dress like porters on a dining car serving cream of wheat. They worked at the Ironton House and the Palace Hotel Bar.
A sign on the mirror at Henry Boermann’s place on Lawrence Street read, “Hurry Back”. A stranger in town saw the sign and called Henry “Mr. Back”. Al Frowine’s place on Center, now the Serey Shoe store, had cut out of life size chorus girls taken off of billboards all over the walls and ceiling.