Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The East End Community

We need to acknowledge the contribution of Mary Pharo Meldon in making this project possible. Not only had she saved copies of The Blue Room Belch, but she had preserved pictures of many of those mentioned in the paper. Some of her pictures, although not directly related to the stories in The Belch, were just too precious not to include. Enjoy.

In no particular order --Edgar Pharo, Arthur Pharo, Stanley Pharo, Matt McMorrow (piano player), Emma Pharo McMorrow, Stanley Pharo, and Aloysius Pharo

Following the 1937 Flood. Ray Pharo is the tall man pictured next to the "Boil This Water" sign.

The predecessor to Pharo's Cafe -- Chris Pharo's Place. Note the water trough in the foreground for the horses.

Scene from Pharo's Cafe.

Les Meldon and Ray Pharo
Mary Pharo Meldon and Les Meldon

Doc Prinzbach's Drug Store after Car Crashed into Store Front

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

East Enders

This transcription of the articles in The Blue Room Belch is dedicated to the men and women who lived and worked in the East End Neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio during World War II. The articles reflect the sense of community and the sense of humor of those who frequented Pharo's Cafe. Listed below are the names referenced in the book.  I took the liberty of adding the names of my father and two brothers, Johnny, "Bud" and Bob Jones who lived in the same block as Pharo's Cafe and served in World War II. Apparently my grandfather, Fred, did not join his neighbors at Pharo's.

Many of the names are familiar to me. I'm told my Uncle Bob worked for Joe "Wimpy" Fischer at his grocery. Bob Kroner was my Dad's best friend and was responsible for my Mom and Dad meeting each other. I hope you enjoyed their stories as much as I did.

Kathy Reed

Friday, October 26, 2012

Just to Remind You - Vol. 1, No. 7 - March 27, 1945

Don't forget gang, it's George Prinzbach who pays the postage on all the papers we send out. Never let that slip your mind. He still is very much concerned about each and every one of you.

Note: This was the final edition of the Blue Room Belch. Within the next six months, the "boys" in both the European and Pacific Theaters would return home to the welcoming arms of the "gang" at the Blue Room of Pharo's Cafe.This has been a labor of love recognizing the great people of the East End Community in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm proud to know that over four generations of my Jones family planted their roots in this community.

This transcription would not have been possible without Mary Pharo Meldon and her nephew, Mark Pharo. Mary's family ran Pharo's Cafe. She preserved the issues of this newspaper that I had the privilege of transcribing.  Mark Pharo, a recent acquaintance, was the liaison between his aunt and me and provided me with many of the pictures. Many were from the collection of Mary Pharo Meldon. Mary graciously invited me to lunch with Mark and agreed to loan me the fragile papers.
Lou Guntzelman

Lou Guntzelman, pictured at the right, was the editor of the Blue Room Belch. As I've transcribed the articles, I've come to appreciate his sense of humor and world view. He was truly a man of his community who provided a great resource for "the gang" serving in World War II. I can imagine the smiles of the men and women, often serving in very difficult situations, receiving a copy of the Blue Room Belch.  Even the title has to bring a smile to your face.

Those familiar with the East End know that the neighborhood has undergone a lot of change over the years. The ever-present threat of floods has made governmental agencies interested in buying up and tearing down many of the homes that existed during this period. Contrast that with the current "gentrification" of the neighborhood, with homes and stores being replaced with condos up and down Eastern Ave. They often sell for more than half a million dollars. Even the name of the street was "gentrified" changing from Eastern Ave. to Riverside Dr. Thanks, Lou, for bringing the neighborhood to life.

I must also acknowledge the contributions of Bryan Phillips who has a facebook page on the East End, Columbia Tusculum and Linwood Communities. Click on "Photos" and you'll have the chance to endlessly explore pictures of the old neighborhood.

It has been my pleasure to bring a snapshot of this time and place to the children and grandchildren of "The Greatest Generation."

Kathy Reed

Mail Bag - Vol. 1, No. 7, March 27, 1945

This department reports progress. It was a little light but we understand all of you can't find time to keep up your contact with those that are near and dear to you and also write us at every little whip-stitch. So, no hard feelings. Write when you can. We did have cards from Tom and Joe Higgins telling us of their new APO. They left for parts unknown. Dick Steele, Dave Gruber and Jim Breving also wrote fine letters. Thanks fellows!

Howdy Fellows! Vol. 1, No. 7, March 27, 1945

When Ed. Boland hit here, he told me that some of the fellows aboard the good ship Cumberland Sound enjoyed reading this paper. Well, Praise the Lord. Whoever thought I'd hear something like that. Imagine anyone enjoying something like this. So to all you birds, thanks a million and here is your first issue with our compliments.

If you ever hit Cincinnati, drop in the Blue Room. You may be a stranger coming in, but you won't be going out.

Photo Credit:  Shelly Kneupper Tucker
This Eclectic Life
Used with Permission

For more information about the Ship Cumberland Sound and its crew, please visit http://cumberlandsound.org/ This ship was a "sea plane tender."This Eclectic Life

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Father Smith Now Star Gazing; Shinzo Heldup, Vol. 1, No. 7, March 27, 1945

EXTRA! EXTRA! Fenessy went to work again. Don't be alarmed -- he's not on anything movable. He is working for the Cincinnati Post. His job is to melt the used type metal so it can be used again. So far he has succeeded in burning his own neck, but has failed to injure anyone else in the building. Give him time.

By this time, most of you know we are having a horseman holiday. No races anywhere in the good old U.S.A.

Sgt. and Mrs. Jim Robinson (Doll Herking) are the proud parents of a little girl, born Dec. 15th. Incidentally, Sgt. Jim has an A.P.O. number now.

Our first war trophy adorns the Blue Room. Simon sent a Nazi helmet to hang in the place. Benton is trying to keep in shape for the return of the old Ram Rod. How many of you recall the threat that Ram Herking made about giving the old Dog the lift and slam the day he came home. How about that Ram, does that still stand?

We don't have a kitchen in the Blue Room anymore. The back room is now the Dog House or Benton's Benzine Department. The Dog will invite or entice you into his den, and when you come out you're cleaned. Name your own game, choose your own weapons, makes no difference to the Dog. I made a few trips back myself and came out feeling like I made a few round trips in a concrete mixer. I'm still dizzy and broke.

Joe Rechtin stops in as usual and wants to know if Wayne is home on the rotation plan. Rechtin can't understand why Uncle Same don't let his herring out for a short snorter or something. Joe says, "Wayne is my dish."

Joe Pharo is stationed close enough to home to be able to drop in for weekends now and then. Norb Pharo is still taking the usual amount of kidding about his card playing and his age. Joe Usher and Bill Bridges drop in every Sunday afternoon and spread their net to catch poor fish in a poker game. And do they get 'em. The women seem to predominate in numbers now that all of you GI's are away. But just wait, there will come a day.

Father Schmidt is getting so good that he can now give you a complete forecast on your future by just looking at the moon and the stars. If any of you want your horoscope read, just write to Ed Q. Smith c/o the Blue Room. Please enclose your date of birth and $1. If you want the deluxe reading, send $2.

Dixon and Shinzo are the two men pictured on the right.
Photo Credit: Mark Pharo
From the Collection of Mary Pharo Meldon

Shinzo Heing was held up and his paper money taken away from him the other week on his way down Torrence Road. Some 8-ball got him in broad daylight.

Doc Prinzbach said he is going to take a vacation for about three months whenever Jule gets home. Mr. Prinzbach is only working 12 hours a day.

Social Events, Vol. 1, No. 7, Tuesday, March 27, 1945

With all the ice and snow we've been having, I can tell you the skis and sleds are getting a workout. Your overstuffed editor hasn't mustered up enough courage to take a whirl at the skis as yet, but give me time. Benton took Fennessy out one night for a bit of skiing and I hear from the Dog that Uncle Bulgey did OK for the first half of a trip, so maybe I'll take a shot at it.

New Year's Eve was headed for one of those slow evenings with nothing planned in advance. Some of the gang gathered in the Blue Room during the course of the afternoon and evening and no one knew what was up when shades of night started to fall, but as the action took place, Good Old Bill Buerk came through. Buerkmanor was ours for the night. And what a night! Your editor is just a little bit hazy as to all that went on, but I was there.

Fennessy sure did look sweet in one of the girl's nighties. I remember that well. And another thing that is very clear in my mind is that I was NOT taken for a ride just before lunch was served as I was at a previous party. In fact, I was the cook, apron and all. Benton liked my cooking so well that he gave the Bee the cold shoulder for the rest of the night. He even winked at me, imagine.

But all in all, it was one swell party. And to Mr. and Mrs. Bill Buerk, thanks a million for a hell of a swell time. We all liked it. Monday, January 1st, found quite a few patrons of the Blue Room suffering from "sinus" trouble. Doc Flagge would look like Ned in the third reader if he tried to ease the pain. It was brutal.

The balance of the week went along at the rate of 24 hours a day with nothing out of the ordinary happening. But Saturday, January 6th, we found out that Mr. and Mrs.Wm. Buerk were married five years. Here we go again. Yeah, the same damn thing over again. I don't have to tell you guys and gals that all the Blue Room bunch needs is just an excuse to throw a party or get plastered. Well, that's all it was -- just the excuse we needed and we were off. All of you know damn well what that meant. What a night. Sometimes I wish Bill and Pat Buerk weren't so damn nice.When you go to their house, the place is yours -- they even help you wreck the place.Why don't they get tough once in a while and tell us to scram? Instead, they ask you to stay for breakfast. I think their only salvation will be if they move so far away they won't be bothered with this gang.

Well, after that, we let Saturday, January 13th slide by with no action, but the 20th found us at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Dog Benton. Again, more drinks and more "sinus." Well, it's hard to say who was the best host. It was another rare occasion. The 27th, it was Mary Ellen Butler who took the gang out of the cold. I'm telling you, the pace is getting too fast for the old Neighbor. But rest assured, I'll try to survive till the real party takes place and each and every one of you are present.

Extra! Extra!, Vol. 1, No. 6, Tuesday, March 27, 1945

The Ohio River crested at 69.4 and Eastern Avenue was under water again. Remember the '37 flood? Well, the same thing occurred again. The people moved out and then moved back in again.

Flood Levels painted on the back of St. Rose Church
Note the 1945 Flood Stage
Photo Credit: Bryan Phillips

Visitors, Vol. 1, No. 6, Tuesday, March 27, 1945

Since the last issue, it has been one round of happy occasions as far as visitors are concerned. We are proud to say we had the pleasure of seeing Joe Wellendorf, Ed (Dice) Boland, Tony (what again) Grassel, Ray (Snake) Collins, Frank Kruse, Joe Fischer, Helen Schaefer, Danny Young and Walter Cooper.

"Tiger" Joe Wellendorf

But the two that stand out the clearest in the mind, is the arrival of S-Sgt. Joe Wellendorf and W. T. 1-C Edward J. Boland, Tiger Joe arrived on a Sunday evening just as it was getting dark, and as he stepped out of his cab and before paying the driver, he let out one of his famous WA-HOO's.

Everything in the neighborhood vibrated, buildings and all. Then he damn near took the door off the hinges getting into the Blue Room and first thing he said was, "Give 'em all a beer."

If Uncle Sam had any intentions of changing the "Floogie Man" he failed miserably. He hasn't changed a bit. Joe Rechtin said he may have lost some weight but otherwise he hasn't lost an ounce. Incidentally, the "Floogie" came home with a black eye. He said he stepped off his train in Texas, fell over his own grips and hit his eye on a mail box. See what I mean?

After missing one or two trains back to camp at the end of his leave, he finally left. Then after a breather of a few days, Dice Boland hit the Blue Room. All I can say now is that the "Red Neck Irishman" took up where the "Floogie Man" left off.

After a few rounds of beer with the gang, he took Miles Egan in tow for a whirl. Then after a day or two of plain and fancy drinking, Miles passed out. The last seen of him was when Dice poured him in the front door of his home.

W. T. 1-C Boland was still looking for new fields to conquer. The last your editor seen of him, he was still on his feet and going strong.

For your information, Dice is now a free man. He was given an Honorable Discharge on the West Coast and sent home. The old boy soon will be 46 and as most of you know, this was his second hitch. He did a stretch in the last war and volunteered for service the day after Pearl Harbor. And I feel confident that all of you join me in wishing him our best regards for a job well done.

Victory Gardens Under Water; Byrnes Stops Racing, Vol. 1, No. 7, Tuesday, March 27, 1945

I would like to have been standing right at your side when you tore open the envelope and saw you unfold this sheet and hear you say "It's been a hell of a long time between Belches."

Well, it has. But why it hasn't reached you sooner is all my fault. Benton and Kroner can't get this under way till I get my noggin to work and think up enough nonsense to fill this sheet. So hand the blame on the old Neighbor.

There is no need of me telling you that there won't be such a long delay between this and the next issue for I don't know. Anytime the notion strikes me and I have the time and material to make a new edition, I will.

Today is a holiday as far as the Water Works is concerned. Washington's Birthday and a brutal day it is. The weather is turning much colder, and it is quite windy, so the best place for me is home and the next best thing is this to you.

Photo Credit: River Downs.com

There is no sense in me going out on a day like this when there is no bang tails to make a wager on. Who knows but that Mr. Byrnes had me in mind when he called a national holiday on all horse racing. Any of you birds who ever made a trip to River Downs or old Latonia with me know that I couldn't pick out Man 'O War out of a bunch of selling platers. Well, I'm still just as good. How some people like Simon and Andy McGimsey could go to the track and come home with the sheckles is beyond me. I remember well one trip I made to Latonia with Andy. When the day was over they didn't have enough money to pay him off so they gave him a few pailings off the fence and a couple of flower pots. You just can't beat some people.

I hear over the grapevine that Andy would give his interest in hell for a few good cigars. Well, we can't have everything. After all we gave Andy to the Air Corps, so what more does our nation expect?

Things along the avenue have been so-so. Many plans are being laid for the coming spring and summer and the anticipated activities in the victory gardens. Right now the river is a little past the 55-ft mark and where it will stop is something else. Our local papers tell us there is considerable snow and ice upstream that still has to pass us. Our garden plots are now situated under quite a bit of water at the present time.

The East End has garden plots honoring all veterans from the East End (2012)
Photo Credit: Bryan Phillips

Say, by the way, we sent all you fellows an invitation to join us in an old-fashioned mulligan served at our gardens with the ingredients taken from our Victory Gardens. Well, where the hell were you? Now as Jimmy Durante would say, "I'll tell you what I'm going to do." Right here and now, I'm going to extend to you that same invitation for this fall. How about it, can we count on you? Can't you birds get together and end this whole mess before winter rolls around? There should be some  of you guys who rate a trip home due to 24 months away, even if you can't end it. But get on the ball. Lets wipe the whole damn bunch of rats off the face of the earth and get back where you belong. If this keeps up, Benton and I are going to enlist and then watch what takes place.

But all joking aside, keep punching gang, and God grant that you all get back safe and sound. We miss every one of you.

Joe Pharo Reports: Vol. 1, No. 6, Tuesday, December 5, 1944

Joe Pharo Reports:

Joe Pharo

Hello, gang. I'll try to tell you a little bit about my trip back to the Old Blue Room. The Old Dog is still waiting.

I got a break for a change and left New Cal by plane. My first stop was the Fiji Islands, where who should I look up and see but old Hotsoup McGimsey. What a site for sore eyes. Andy is still the same, but is having trouble with the cigar shortage. You all should see him puffing on a cigarette. He insisted that I drink a couple of beers with him, so what could I do. 

Before I left he gave me Jule's address and when I arrived in Hawaii, I tried to call him four times, but no soap. Sorry, Jule.

About the Blue Room, I can't find many changes except the absence of a lot of familiar faces. I've had three or four trips across the river this morning, and it was the first time I drank the stuff that Neigh calls water. My pipes were sizzling. I still have a couple of days to go before reporting to Florida for reassignment. 

I made the first trip through the Wright plant in Lockland with Bill Bridges acting as a guide. We walked for five hours with the girls all whistling at us. It sure was an experience. 

That's one thing that isn't short in Cincy, girls! I have to beat them off, so hurry back, I need help. 

I received some mail from quite a few of the boys, but you fellows will have to wait until I get back to camp. I don't intend to waste any time writing. Hope you understand. 

Another thing I didn't have to contend with was Simon when I hit the sack. I better sign off now as I have a little chicken waiting. So long, Joe Pharo or "Ace"

P.S. I'm getting callous from the marble machine again. Doing OK though.

Stuff and Nonsense in the Good Old East End, Vol. 1, No. 6, Tuesday, December 5, 1944

Mrs. L. G. (Lou Guntzelman) had big Simons' son out for a walk one Sunday afternoon and when they passed the Blue Room, he let a hell of a big bellow. I wonder if he wanted to stop in.

We had a fish fry one Sunday night at the Blue Room, but the fish were a little rare.  The one thing that the Dog had was still kicking when he bit into it.  Our chief cook was very much vexed at the manner in which her culinary efforts were received. Mary Ellen Butler said it was the last damn thing she'll ever cook for any of them.  (We wonder!)

We have one hell of a time getting cigarettes.  You should see the rush to Prinzbach's every Thursday and the same at Dornheggen's on Friday.

Gasoline is still rationed so Shinzo, Willie and Jerk Butler don't ride street cars alone.

The game of "hearts" still holds the floor almost every night with the same amount of cussing and hell raising as of old.  Ah, how my thoughts go back to the Monday nights when we held the 500 tournaments.  Can you recall all the hell you would get for just one dumb play? How many of you would like to be here right now with a large beer at your side?

Bill Kroner joined the Disabled American Veterans.  He might be a veteran, but I doubt like hell if he is very disabled.  Ask the gang at the Topper.  And I might add that our Willie now drives a Dodge.

Fennessy took the examination for the police force and failed to make the grade.  It seems the Civil Service commission looked up his record when he was a motorman.  They were afraid it would be too much of a gamble to give him a revolver and turn him loose in a scout car.

Radiotrician 2-C Walter Cooper was trying like hell to dry up the Blue Room while he was home.  But no matter how much he would drink, there always seemed to be some left.  He was game though, I will say he sure did try.

I want to tip some of you birds off to something.  Don't come home thinking you can out-drink Dog Benton. The old Purp has been practicing every Sunday night and he is getting damn good.


Joe Pharo came all the way from the South Pacific to the Blue Room to see what I meant by the regular Sunday night floor show. The first Sunday night he was in the place, along about midnight, the juke box was giving or sending to its utmost.  The number was one of the local favorites.  Mr. and Mrs. "B" were doing the neatest piece of rug cutting that ever hit the place.  Joe remarked that the Dog was listing a little on the port side.  I told him not to worry, the old Pup would settle at a pretty even keel.  (And he did). But all through the dance the Bee was keeping right in step and singing the number to the Dog, "Straighten Up and Fly Right." Joe said, "who ever picked that number for them to dance to sure had something on the ball."

Then Kroner came in, and in keeping with that old Blue Room custom, he and Joe ordered "one more beer" then they took off. When I saw Joe Monday morn, his "sinus" was bothering him a little, and the only thing that bothered the Dog was his conscience.

There was a hell of a swell party at Butlers the night I was there.

Joe Pharo

Mary Ellen had a party while Joe Fischer and Joe Pharo were still here. But I was kidnapped and taken from the party and left out in the cold while lunch was served.

It was brought to my attention earlier that a move like that was to be made but I passed on it lightly, in fact too damn lightly. Along about 11:30 AM, Bob Meldon, Frank Benton, and Bill Buerk suggested that we "GO OUT" for a shot. We did, but they left me and WE DID NOT come back together. By the time I got back all the dishes were clean as a whistle. You know I am NOT much of an eater so I figured that someone over estimated my capacity. Anyhow, I did not get a bite to eat. What a hell of a party that was, as far as I was concerned. Oh yes, I did get something to drink.

Dick Powell Killed in Action at Peleliu; Buried at Sea, Vol. 1, No.6, Tuesday, December 5, 1944

There isn't much a fellow can say, for our memory goes back to the time when he was a little red-headed, freckled-face kid that everybody knew. We saw him grow up in the neighborhood. We all knew his parents, George and Lucy.

Our memory goes back to the time when he joined the Marines. We remember how word would get to us about him and his outfit. The bravery, courage and the guts. We followed every battle in the local papers, anxiously praying and hoping for him and for every guy from our neighborhood.

Then the word came from the War Department. It was polite, courteous, but brief. It simply stated that "he died from wounds received on Peleliu and was buried at sea."

So, you see it kind of leaves us rather low in spirit. For their isn't much more a fellow can say than "God rest the memory of"

of the

Richard Powell, Age 16, living at 2466 Eastern Ave. in the 1940 Census

Christmas Dinner in Cincy or See you in '45, Vol. 1, No.6, Tuesday, December 5, 1944

                                                                              December  1944

My good friends,
At this time I would like to present the greatest newspaper in the world . . . I'd like to present the most humorous newspaper in the word and the most popular in the world.  But, this is war and when we can't get what we like, we have to take a substitute. So here is The Blue Room Belch

I write so much to you military people that I feel as tho I am quite military myself. I do have a military physique, my chest is retreating and my stomach is advancing and the rest of my body looks like it was on furlough.

One of the gang wrote in and said he wanted to hear the dope.  Well, to him and all the rest, here I am, the dope, Neighbor.

In this issue I'm not going to beat around the bush with a lot of nonsense.  I'm going to be like the hen who built her nest in the middle of the state highway, I'm going to "lay in on the line."

Who knows but what this may a V Edition for all of you who are crowding the kraut eaters. And I do hope it is. So, should this be the case, I want to be able to face at least some of you with as little fear as possible.

Instead of a Christmas dinner in Tokyo, Burma or Berlin, lets make it drinks for the house at the Blue Room. I can recall many a Christmas when you met Santa Claus with three sheets in the wind and a new necktie dragging the bar at the Op'ry House. So what the hell is to keep you from playing a return engagement this Christmas. As much as we can gather from our local papers all of you are on your way, so keep going. Don't tell me we have to go through another holiday season with a lot of 4F's* and a few feeble efforts.

I still think Uncle Sam should have called on Dog Benton, Pappy Morris and myself to clean up this mess. Picture the old Dog with that good lamp of his sighting down the barrel of a BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle); I imagine it would be enough to make anyone shudder. Even the enemy.Of course, Pappy Norris would go OK, but me, I differ with the powers that be on certain things.

They tell me a soldier's first duty is his willingness to give his life for his country.I should think first duty would be to make the enemy give their life for their country. Maybe I'm wrong, but granting that all of you are doing OK by your Uncle, I still think we might have been a help some place.

But in all seriousness, should it be another Christmas away from home for any or all of you, you can bet that Kroner, Benton and myself join the whole neighborhood in wishing you God's richest blessings for this Christmas and many more to come.

Credit:  Wikipedia

Higgins-Oberjohn Wed at St. Rose Church, Vol. 1, No. 6, December 5, 1944

Sanctuary of St. Rose Church
Photo Credit: Kathy Reed

Kroner and Benton sent me to St. Rose Church on Tuesday morning
November 28th so that you GI's might know what's what and how.

When it comes to covering a wedding, I'm just about as useful as a glass knob on a country out-house, but here is the score.

Miss Edith Oberjohn and Cpl. Thomas Higgins were joined in holy wedlock with Rev. John F. Dillon officiating. The bride was attended by the sister of the groom, Miss Rose Mary Higgins, while the Corporal had Joe Pharo in tow as best man. And I must admit that the best man held up swell.

Your editor, a veteran of almost 15 years service under one flag, expresses the best wishes of himself and every header of this sheet.

I'm sure I don't stand alone when I say, "May all the good things in married life be yours."

Main Altar of St. Rose Church
Photo Credit: Kathy Reed

Mail Bag 6, Vol. 1, No. 6, Tuesday, December 5, 1944

Mail Bag 6

Thanks a million to all who wrote in since our last issue. We won't try to list all of you here, but keep 'em coming. We sure get a kick out of hearing from you.

One swell piece of news we got was that it is now Capt. H. J. Wolff and Capt. Elmer Ries. Congratulations, fellows!

Incidentally, this will be the first issue of the Belch that Capt. Ries has received. His brother Howard gave us his address, so here it is Elmer.
Sorry for not getting this sheet to you sooner, but you haven't missed a thing. Ask the boys who read it.

Walter Cooper Reports, Vol. 1., No. 6, Tuesday, December 5, 1944

We asked Walter Cooper if he had any messages he wanted to send to you guys and gals through this paper and it is as follows:

Hello Fellows: After being in heaven for the total of 14 days, during which time I had time to review the situation thoroughly, I regret to say the findings brutal. For example, Neighbor never buys a beer . . . Benton still is lucky in gambling, but not in love.

A pinochle game between Norb, Dog and myself found Benton quite a few $$$ plus after it was over. Every race horse bet finds Benton with that gleam in his eyes, as it only means another bean in his pocket. Things are really slow, so let's get the thing over. All you guys in the Army and Marines take note of how the Navy took care of the Nips* in their battle. If all the other branches did as well, the time for a grand meeting in the Blue Room is getting mighty near.

Smith is still the same kibitzer as always in any game.

I guess this is about all, as I am about to take off with two weeks of vacation with pay. So see you guys soon, I hope. Droopy

Visitors - Vol. 1, No. 5, Tuesday, September 19, 1944

This is one item that your editor gets a hell of a big kick out of writing. Every time one of the gang hits the Blue Room, you can see all of us brighten up. It's hard to say which is the happier, we at home or the one who returns. So give us a real thrill -- all of you hurry home.

Well, we have lots to be happy about this time, so we will give you the rundown and hope we don't miss anyone. Lt. Frank Dorr, Frank Feldhues, Harry Geiger, Tom Higgins, Al Kroner, Tony Grassel, Eddie Ford, Joe Murphy, Walter Cooper, Joe Fischer, Loretta Miller, Lt. James Hoctor, and Tommy Trummel.

Joe Pharo and Bud Kessen from the South Pacific. Maybe you think that they weren't happy to be here. Joe came in from New Caledonia to San Francisco by plane, a distance of some 6000 miles, and believe it or not, he met Staff Sgt. Andy McGimsey in the Fiji Islands en route. He stopped in Hawaii and tried to get J. Prinzbach on the phone, but he was told that Doc had made a small move. Hobart Mastin is home to stay. He was shipped out of Arizona to Cincy due to the 38-year age limit. There was one visitor home who did not visit the Blue Room, and that was Cpl. Laverne Leverenz of the Marines. Why, we don't know. Maybe it was Geiger's fault. But the next time, either you call or else.

Ray Kroner is home for 22 days after being wounded in action in the Pacific. Bill Connors also was reported seriously wounded in the European theater.

Close of St. Rose Summer Festival - Vol. 1, No.5, Tuesday, December 5, 1944

Photo Credit: History of St. Rose of Lima Church (1867-2002)
The summer festival at St. Rose is now a closed issue.  Everything went off as per schedule even though it rained all day both days. But the thing that will chill you is the fact that regardless of the weather, the returns were the greatest ever made. After all the bills were paid the profit was in excess of $3000; and here I might mention that Geiger had the jump on you birds. He closed the place both nights and often said he sure wished all of you were here with him to give him a hand.

But I will say, he did a hell of a swell job for one man. It seems you just can't beat that old Army training. Oh yes, he was still on his feet at the bell.

The summer season on the river and the work in the victory gardens have just come to a close. The valiant gardeners have reaped their harvest and gobbled their mulligan. The remaining crop was put in three mason jars and stored for the coming winter.

Island Queen
Labor Day rolled by on schedule and the Island Queen slowly drifted down the river on her farewell trip for the summer.

The leaves are turning brown and Fennesy is starting to turn white while Benton turns green with envy. The ski's have been taken down and waxed and the Dob has bought some heavy clothes in anticipation of what's to come. Miles Eagan seems to have more fuzz on his head than usual.

Vol. 1, No. 5 Tuesday, September 19, 1944

My good friends, at this time, I would like to present the greatest newspaper in the world. I'd like to present the most humorous newspaper in the world and the most popular newspaper in the world. But this is war and when we can't get what we like, we have to take the substitute. So here it is -- THE BLUE ROOM BELCH. 

I write so much to you military people that I feel as if I am quite military myself. I do have a military physique, my chest is retreating and stomach is advancing and the rest of my body looks like it was on a furlough.

One of the gang wrote in and said he wanted to hear the dope. Well, to him and all the rest, here I am, the dope, Neighbor.

In this issue I'm not going to beat around the bush with a lot of nonsense. I'm going to be like the hen who built her nest in the middle of the state highway. I'm going to "lay it on the line."

Who knows but what this may be a V Edition for all of you who are heading the kraut eaters. And I do hope it is. So should this be the case, I want to be able to face at least some of you with as little fear as possible.

Instead of a Christmas dinner in Tokyo, Burma or Berlin, lets make it drinks for the house at the Blue Room. I can recall many a Christmas when you met Santa Claus with three sheets in the wind and a new necktie dragging the bar at the Op'ry House. So what the hell is to keep you from playing a return engagement this Christmas. As much as we can gather from our local papers, all of you are on your way, so keep going. Don't tell me we have to go through another holiday season with a lot of 4F's and a few feeble elderly.

I still think that they should have called on Benton, Pappy Norris and myself to clean up this mess. Picture the old dog with that one good lamp of his sighting down the barrel of a BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle); I imagine it would be enough to make anyone shudder. Even the enemy. Of course, Pappy Norris would go OK, but me, I differ from the powers that be on certain things.

They tell me a soldier's first duty is his willingness to give his life for his country. I should think first duty would be to make the enemy give their life for their country. Maybe I'm wrong. But granting that all of you are doing OK by way of your Uncle, I still think we might have been a help someplace.

But in all seriousness, should it be another Christmas away from home for any or all of you, you can bet that Kroner, Benton or myself join the whole neighborhood in wishing you God's richest blessings for this Christmas and many more to come.

Donors, Vol. 1. No. 4, June 21, 1944

They are still coming from your good friends. This may be news to you that Bob Hoctor is no longer in the Navy due to a physical. The first thing Bob did when he hit the Blue Room was to hand us a $ and said, "Keep that paper going, you don't know how much it means to a fellow." Well, thanks Bob, and if everybody keeps telling us how good this sheet is, your editor will have a head as big as his bay window. And that is BIG.

Mr. Higgins, father of Joe and Tom Higgins was also a contributor of a $ along with Joe Usher, another patron of the Blue Room.

Blue Room Burns, Church Basement New Hangout, Vol. 1, No. 4, Wednesday, June 21, 1944

This is one of those things that your editor would hope he never would have to write about. But considering how everything has turned out with no loss of life or property, I'll go into it with a little more heart than had the story had a different ending.

At Friday morning June 2nd at 1:00 AM., Dog Benton made the rounds of the place and was satisfied that everything was as usual. He lit the night light and locked up and headed for home.

Marie and Ray Pharo

At about 2:30 AM. the screams of Mrs. Ray Pharo were heard from across the street, just as Norb pulled up in front of the place. Norb says he never heard Mrs. Pharo calling when he pulled up, but looked in the Blue Room and found it a mass of flames. It was then he heard her calling for Mary and Mary's mother. Norb told her to call the local fire department, which she had done, but always at a time like that they seem to never come. Norb then proceeded to get out those upstairs, Mrs. Pharo, Mary, and next-door neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Prinzbach. By the time that everyone had evacuated the building, three companies of the fire department were on the scene and busy at work.

Now get this straight -- your editor was not there when all this happened and only found out about it when I was on my way to work. Standing in front of the place was the new electric bottle beer cooler and a pile of debris that is usually thrown out after a fire. When I investigated further, I found the front door wide open and the old faithful Dog Benton on guard. Naturally, my first thoughts were of those upstairs. Benton assured me that everyone was OK, but what I saw in the old place left me spellbound. Back in the corner where the bottled goods case had formerly set, was a large hole burned through the floor. Every bit of surface of the woodwork such as the bar, side board, doors and other furnishings was blistered by the intense heat. Part of the plaster on the ceiling had pulled lose, but did not fall. Here is where the hand of God was VERY evident. Had the plaster fallen and the ceiling took fire, this article would have had a different ending.

There would have been nothing to stop the flames from getting to the second floor, and the stairway to the third floor was just overhead from the fire. A catastrophe was prevented because Mrs. Ray Pharo was awake, and Norb came home at just the right time. Had no one been awake or noticed what was taking place, I can't help but believe it would have been fatal.

The fire was thought to have started in or near the motor for the electric refrigerator and the damage was placed at $600 by the attending fire marshal. But those who have seen the damage think it will exceed that amount. No damage was done to the drug store.

At the present time the Blue Room is closed, but Mr. Prinzbach has promised us quick action within his means, and hopes to have us back on the track soon.

So your editor takes great pleasure in saluting Mrs. Ray Pharo and Norb for their part in preventing what we all hate to think of. And to Frank Benton, an orchid for his faithfulness for returning and keeping a watch so there could be no recurrence of what had already happened. And to all others who were so considerate of the well-being of Mrs. Pharo and Mary who were marooned in the back yard while all the excitement was going on, we say thanks a million.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mail Bag, Vol. 1, No. 4, Wednesday, June 21, 1944

Thanks for writing fellows.We had a couple of good suggestions in the mail bag this time, one of them is as follows: Tom Usher and Walter Cooper wrote in and said they would like to hear what some of the gang is doing and where they are located.

Well, there is a limit to things like this for the censors won't let us tell everything we would like to, but we will take a shot at some of them and let you know of their whereabouts.

Mary Pharo Meldon and Les Meldon

The last thing we heard from Lt. Wolff, he was somewhere in China . . . Lt. Frank Dorr of the Navy is still on the east coast, though he had made several moves . . . Joe Pharo is still somewhere in the Pacific and hopes to get home soon due to two years of overseas service. He missed the first shipment home by a small margin . . . Ray Pharo is in England with a medical unit. Incidentally, it is T-4 Ray Pharo now . . . The last we heard from Dave Gruber was some time ago, and his mail came from an FPO out of Seattle . . .  Les Meldon is with an Aircraft Assembly Unit out in the Pacific. We hear from him now and then but his wife (Mary Pharo) hears every day and keeps us posted.

Chas. Herking is still out among the Oriental dancers of the South Seas . . . Jule Prinzbach is also out in the Pacific and judging from his letters and pictures he sends home of all the WHITE USO gals, the old Doc isn't doing bad for himself. . . Buck Marpert and Don Reinhardt still write us from Florida . . . Cliff Marpert, Frank Kruse, Ray (Ink) Kroner are all in the Pacific with the Navy . . . Al Kroner is in San Diego, California, going to school . . . Harry Geiger and Tom Higgins are now in Texas. Watch out, Texas, if those two get together.

Listen, gang, our mailing list contains about 64 names, so we can't go on and mention all of the outfit or we will run out of space. Let's use this as a starter and if you have anyone else in mind that you would like to hear about just drop us a line. Thanks.

Visitors, Vol. 1, No. 4, Wednesday June 21, 1944

Well, to begin with, Joe Higgins dropped in and I must say he looks good. The Army never took anything away from him but his liberty. He told us he likes the life so far and the only hard part that he has found was breaking up his home. He spent one Sunday night in the Blue Room and if you could have heard him it would have proved to you what I have been trying to tell you since you went away. There were about 8 women, 4 men and an overstuffed bartender in the place, and the women were raising all the hell. Joe said, "It never was like this when the gang was here." So you see I wasn't handing you anything.

Wimpy Fischer was home from his boot training and alas and alack, the Navy hasn't done right by our Wimpy. Not some mornings, but every morning, he had to get up at 5:30 and get the rest of the outfit on its feet. Judging from his talk, the Navy would have been in a hell of a fix if he hadn't got in. But what he wanted to know was who did all these things before he got there? It seemed that everything that went on at the Training Station was "no go" if Wimpy wasn't in on it. It must have been hell.

Al Kroner was home for a weekend before shoving off for San Diego, California,where he will go to school.

Cpl. Helen Schaefer is home for 15 days from Michell Field in Long Island, New York. Tony Grassel is home for 5 days before Mr. and Mrs. Ray Pharo's blessed event. Congratulations, Simon.

Eddie Ford is in town for a few days before going to another school in the AAF.

Flophouse Gone, Vol 1, No. 4, Wednesday, June 21, 1944

We know a fellow who tried to join the Army, Navy, Marines and Merchant Marines, but couldn't make it. Well this fellow craved action and believe me gang, he is going to get it.  Your editor writes this as the voice of experience.

On June 25, 1930 I ankled up the aisle of St. Rose and for almost 14 years, I have been fighting under the same flag. This fellow I have in mind did his ankling just a few Saturdays ago at the same place and at last his wish has been granted. The long looked for action arrived. Freddie Flophouse is now running in double harness. Mr. and Mrs. Robert Herking reside on Tusculum Avenue, and I as a veteran and friend wish them all the luck in the world, and I am sure I am not alone.

(Note: I believe this story refers to the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Herking at St. Rose Church).

From the 1948 Cincinnati City Directory
Ray Pharo and Bob Herking

Stuff and Junk about Our Gang, V-Gardens, etc., Vol. 1 No. 4, Wednesday June 21, 1944

Picture of East End children in front of a stern wheeler on the banks of the Ohio River
Photo Credit: From the collection of Mary Pharo Meldon, pictured on the right
Joe Pharo pictured in the middle

Hi, Gang! Well, your editor and partners in publication hope you're still on the beam and raring to go.

Fennessy has let us down brutally, but promises to do better. He is still confined to the rails, but has made numerous requests to the railway officials for a transfer to a bus that he may broaden his efforts of destruction. It is rather tough on Uncle Bulgey to go from day to day without making the headlines of our local press, but give him time.

As far as the Kentucky Derby was concerned, Pensive won it in good style. He then went on to win the Preakness the same way. Your editor had a "slight bet" on a fugitive from a soap factory. The nag I bet on must have been part of the Light Brigade for I heard later that the jockey carried a lantern to find his way in should darkness overtake him, (and it did).

The Cincinnati Reds are playing ball with about two old-time stars and twenty-three 4-Fs. You can imagine what a struggle it is for the local fans to keep them up in contention. Andy and Wayne better get back here pronto for Burlap isn't doing them any good.

Jimmy Pharo
Ohio River Beach on Kentucky side

The temperature hangs around 88 or 90 but the beach across the river is covered with water due to a 28-ft. stage. If you birds don't come back soon and get things back to normal, the country will go to hell.

And now, my good friend, brace yourself for the blow. Doggie Benton has really gone patriotic. Besides buying bonds till it hurts he now works a victory garden that does hurt (every bone in his body). Picture the Old Dog, if you can, on a massive tract of land (10 x 20 ft.) with a banjo (spade) in his hand tilling the turf. Ah, it does my heart good to see the Old Purp in the middle of his tomatoes, radishes, and beets with a bottle of beer in one hand and chinning himself on a hoe with the other. But hold up, I better not go so fast-- my garden adjoins his. Imagine me with the overstuffed appearance of grounded blimp wrestling with the home grown produce. But as I go about my work among the bean beetles and potato bugs, I wonder why I should have such a large tract of earth to till (20 x 50 ft.) while the Dog has so little. But fate has always dealt thusly with me, so this one more time, I suppose, will not hurt. Our garden plot is at the foot of Lumber Street (next to St. Rose) and our gardening group consists of Fr. Dillon, Fr. Jacquemin, Bud Smith, John Boots, Bob Herking, Al Wellendorf, the Dog, Hody Williams and Joe Rechtin and myself. Oh yes, I almost forgot Chas. Ross.

It is the aim of this group to hold a harvest festival this Fall on the grounds where it is grown. We wish to use this means of extending an invitation to be with us.  An old-fashioned Mulligan stew made with the vegetables from our gardens will be served.

If we can lay our hands on some chickens or ration points, we'll have meat. Of course, there will be beer. So, if any or all of you birds can finish your business at hand, you are welcome.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Wedding Bells Soon? Vol. 1, No. 3, Sunday, April 23, 1944

Freddy Flophouse has weakened. On Monday, March 27th, he paid the rent on an apartment in the Flats across the street from the Blue Room. It was supposed to be a secret, but you know how news travels in the old home town.

No definite date has been set, but action will take place sometime after Easter. Good luck to Bob and the future Mrs. Herking.

Betz Flats on Eastern Ave.
Photo Credit: Bryan Phillips