Friday, February 4, 2011

The Moose With The Blueless Blue Room

It's amazing what you can find in the forgotten corners of the Internet if you poke around long enough.

Here's a photo of the room in which a woman accidentally burned me with the tip of her cigarette some 45 years ago:

I included the story of the woman and her cigarette in the entry I posted back on Dec 21. I won't repeat it now.

That entry also included a good shot of the outside of the windows. Here it is again (just because it's so easy to do):

About 25 years separates the inside photo and the outside photo. Is it obvious?

Just for the record, the first photo above appeared in the Toledo Blade back on Feb 3, 1942 (exactly 69 years ago yesterday). It was part of a large ad that the Moose Lodge took out to announce the opening of their new Toledo headquarters. You can see the entire ad for yourself here. I'm guessing that the "10 Reasons Why You Should Be A Moose" had a great deal of appeal back in those pre-TV, pre-Medicare days. And you could get a full membership for just $14 a year! Of course that's the equivalent of about $185 today, but still... a pretty small price to pay for a guaranteed burial benefit of more than SEVEN times as much. (I wonder how many people joined on their deathbed?)

For what it's worth, this is one of those rare cases where the room I knew as a child actually looks to have been much larger than I remember it as an adult. Even allowing for the fact that a bar area with counters and stools seems to have been installed in the back left quadrant by the time I came along, the room seems much less intimate than I recall.

I also have no idea why the ad refers to it as the Blue Room. What looks black in the photo was shiny jet black in real life. The lighter streaks between the black bands were a metallic golden yellow - what mother-of-pearl might look like if it were crossed with gold coins. There's certainly a name for that slick, glassy covering. Vitrolite maybe? Anyway, it was kinda pretty - but definitely *not* blue.

Had this newspaper photo been taken at the right time, it might have captured the instant that cigarette tip met tender young flesh. If I had to guess, I'd say that the meeting occurred about one inch up and one inch over from the lower right corner of the shot....

I can't recall the jukebox - but I can recall the windows. As neat as frosted block glass may have seemed to my young mind, I was more than a little disappointed that I couldn't look out and survey the scene. The windows faced south and I thought that if they weren't frosted I'd be able to see the Maumee River, and maybe even the ships that used it to bring in coal or take away grain. Ha! Fat chance of that. The river was 6 blocks away. And each of those 6 blocks were studded with buildings of their own. I would have needed X-ray vision and probably binoculars to see the river. No matter. My young mind focused on the immediate problem of the frosted glass. Had I been left unsupervised, I probably would have tried to bust one out with a hammer, then blamed the results on a passing bird if asked.

And not that it matters, but... I think the door that one can just barely see in the far back wall is the one my guardian for the afternoon and I went through to deliver the liquor to the President's Private Office. Judging from the number of liquor violations that other old newspaper stories tell me the Moose was hit with in subsequent years, cheap liquor may have been a more successful membership lure than even burial benefits.

Of course I also came across a few gambling investigations, too. In one, the Moose people tried to pass off the slot machines as unused decorations - as proven by the dust on them. Oddly enough, the investigating officer couldn't recall seeing any dust at all.

Another investigation turned a bit ugly when an investigator allegedly tried to shake them down for some cash if they wanted to avoid a citation. Apparently state officials from Columbus had to be brought in to settle the matter. Alas, the exact nature of the settlement doesn't seem to be part of the online record. I read enough to know that Moose officials seem to have been active leaders in the local Republican Party, though, so maybe politics played a role. Or simple moral hypocrisy. It's hard to tell with stories that get printed now, let alone decades ago.

Our schools really ought to do a better job teaching us to read between the lines, don't you think?

Suffice it to say that at the time I had no idea I was visiting such a Den of Iniquity and Sin. Or such a socially responsible club, as the case may be. I just liked the moose logo. And the atmosphere of the empty ballroom.

And who knows? Maybe someday I'll even completely convince myself that I really couldn't have seen the river no matter how crystal-clear the glass in the windows may have been.

It's convincing myself that I actually survived Reagan's eight years as president that's gonna take the *real* heavy lifting....


  1. That interior photo looks almost like a charcoal drawing!

    I can recall "Blue Rooms" in various other cities... I think it might be just the cachet of saying "Blue Room" so perhaps they had blue tablecloths or curtains or something like that to earn it the name.

    After reading all the benefits of Moosehood, I wanna join! Or do you suppose they still are a men's only organization? Say, that'd be even better! I could get Yeem to join, and we'll be able to retire to Moosehaven (or, Moosehaven forbid), Mooseheart in my geezettehood!

    Like you, I, too, loved to look out far and wide upon my surroundings, as a child. One way to do that was to climb trees (I was fearless about heights back then); another was to visit tall buildings. I can only remember going once to the Washington Monument (it has SCADS of stairs! um, 897, altogether - I just wikied it, and the general public no longer has access to all those stairs, due to vandalism and safety issues) but it was marvelous to look out upon the whole city from the tiny windows at the top. Now, in Seattle, that same sort of panoramic view is available from the Space Needle, where at the top, a restaurant rotates around the structure.

    So, with that in mind, I was just wondering if you've sought an opportunity to look out over some of the surroundings of where you are now from some high place?

    OH, ugh.. now I'm down to the discovery that the Meese are being investigated for corruption... well, during Prohibition I think everyone from the neighbors to the Girl Scouts were probably running a still, so that's not so surprising... but gambling, too? Well, this can't help but remind me of.... Have you ever seen The Lemon Drop Kid? One of Bob Hope's funniest, and one of my FAVORITE Christmas movies, it features a covert gambling casino disguised as a "home for old broads." After reading this post, you should really rent it and see for yourself! :-)

    Yes, newspapers really should do a better job of printing instructions between the lines.

    Uh oh, now Reagan is being thrown into the mix. Sheesh, and here, just as I was awash in notorious nostalgia... Well maybe it IS appropriate to bring him up, after all! The best I can say of him is that his namesake is an intelligent, presumably far more honest man. Did you see where he said he couldn't recall EVER having had an actual conversation with his own father? Somehow, though, I'm not so surprised...

  2. Speaking of Reeking, the chart in this picture shows Ron Reekin's approval rating the end of his residency compared to other residents on leaving the White House.

    I noted with wonder that Richard E. Nixon had the same end of term approval rating at W. Bush. I stopped wondering when I realized it was probably the same people--tho I don't know how Nixon did it without Fox "News" to prop him up. Maybe Fox doesn't sway opinions as much as reinforce them.

  3. I was a seventh grader at St. Joseph when I heard about Dawn. My teacher had gone to her funeral and said what a beautiful young girl she was. Even though I never knew her, I have thought about her from time to time over the years. She was my age.