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  Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, February 05, 2015

By Mike Avitt

Steve Lynch recently donated a Clinton Motel matchbook to the Mount Ayr Depot Museum which means it's time to write another article on our collection.

We have about 125 different Ringgold County matchcovers in our collection. The word "matchcover" refers to both matchbooks and matchboxes.

We have nine different Clinton Motel matchooks and the reason for that is simple. When the information concerning the motel changed, the matchbook conveying that information changed. The motel opened in 1950, and that first matchbook had a three-digit telephone number. Adding amenities like TVs and telephones had to be reflected in the advertising. The changes that occured with affiliation with AAA and a seven-digit telephone number were also reflected in the matchbook information. One more thing: in the mid-70s, matchbook manufacturers moved the striking surface from the front to the back creating another change.

Woodward's Department Store bought out Freeland's Department Store in 1949. Woodward's opened at 108 South Taylor Street that same year. This location is currently occupied by Lucky Lanes. C.R. Anthony & Co. bought Woodward's in January of 1956, and Anthony's remained at this address until closing August 2, 1980.

Ruth Powell opened a coffee shop at 104 North Taylor in 1958. This location is currently the home of the Ringgold County Senior Center. An ad in the January 8, 1959 Mount Ayr Record-News says the bus depot has been moved from the Sandwich Shop to the Coffee Shop and Ruth Powell is the agent. On November 2, 1962, Ruth moved her cafe business to 300 West South Street, or the current location of Casey's General Store. The bus depot moved there, as well. This was the former Skyway Cafe operated by Raymond and Ruby Harris. It had a few other owners before them, and this building was a restaurant in 1950 or before. Pete Cavender opened the Escape Room above Ruth's Cafe sometime in the 1960s.

Ruth Powell and Pete Cavender were married in 1969 and on April 9, 1971, both businesses were moved to 1004 West South Street or the current location of Dredge Feed. The buses no longer ran, and Ruth's Steakhouse/Pete's Escape Room had a grand opening with Jim George and the boys supplying the music. About 1979, Pete and Ruth sold their business and bought The Office Bar & Grill at 115 North Taylor Street. Probably Dick Reynolds had been there previously. Pete died in 1982 and Ruth sold the bar to Bob Smith on April 9, 1985. Later, Ruth opened the Iowa Cafe in Mesa, AZ. She died in Arizona in 2014.

I bought the Pratt's Cafe matchbook at an antique shop in Leon in 2013 for fifty cents. I didn't know where Pratt's Cafe was until I got out my list of lessees, owners, operators and managers of the Sandwich Shop. The Sandwich Shop was built in 1931 by Fay Bryant and was located at 100 East Madison, currently the location of Jodie Wurster's insurance agency. Fay opened January 2, 1932 and a long list of operators followed him. My list has the following: Jack Hutchinson (1944), Guy Shelden (1945), Mick Snedeker and Jack Hutchinson (1945), Glen Pratt (1947), Glen Hutchinson and Donald Sobotak (1950), Lula Stuck, Esther Stuck and Meda Grindstaff (1950), Carroll Geist and Joe Sobotka (year unknown), Mr. and Mrs. Cleo Burchett (1954), Leon Powell (1956), Charles Pritchard (1957), Ike & Mari McGehee (1959), A.C. Burchett (1960), Bernard and Leta Sullivan (1960), Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Burright (1963), Dick and Barb Reynolds 1964), Fern Thompson (1967) and Aden and Valerie Stewart (1967). I'm sure I've missed a few but I said a mouthful. Pun intended.

The last Ringgold County business I know of to distribute addressed matchbooks was Lynn's Sinclair in 2013.

Remember, close cover for safety.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, February of 2015

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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, April 30, 2015, Page 9

By Mike Avitt

The first matchbook is from a clothing store owned and operated in Mount Ayr by George Baldner and Curtis D. Roe, son of Curtis Z. Roe. This business lasted until late 1958 but I believe Roe was no longer a partner at the time of the closing. I think Baldner & Roe may have been trying to capitalize on the recent sale of Freeland's Department Store to a franchise store, Woodward's. In any case, Baldner & Roe bought Neville Dickson's clothing stock and building from the Dickson estate in December 1949 and opened in the remodeled building April 13, 1950. The location was the north side of the square and may have been 106 West Madison. Previously, George Baldner ran Baldner's Cash Market, a grocery store, beginning in April of 1938. This store was located at 100 West Madison. Curtis D. Roe had previously been employed at Roe Implement.

The next matchcover should look familiar to many readers, comes from Casey's General Store, and dates to about 1977. Casey's opened at 300 West South Street on August 8, 1975 with Carey Crowson as manager. Mr. Crowson had a staff of five employees in the 30' x 50' steel building. The Mount Ayr Casey's was the 39th in the franchise's history. You can see by the advertising on the back cover, customers could join a 10 cent coffee club. Coffee has gone up and so has the size of the cups. The Casey's General Store in Mount Ayr was built on the lot formerly occupied by Ruth's Steakhouse and Pete's Escape Room.

The next matchbook is not really a matchbook. It has no creases and no staple holes. In the hobby this piece of advertising is called a "flat" or salesman's sample. It was produced to entice business owners to order advertising matchbooks. The business advertised on this "flat" is real and a September 10, 1942 Mount Ayr Record-News proves it. The paper announced the sale of the Ritz Cafe from Orr Seaton to Donald "Mick" Snedeker on the account of Mr. Seaton going to serve his country in World War II. I believe this restaurant was located at 106 East Madison. Thanks to Martin Israel of New Jersey for sending me this "flat."

The last matchbook is from the McCullough Motor Company owned by Mabel McCullough Rice. The matchbook advertises farm machinery and Mabel had great success shipping farm equipment to western Canada in the 1950s and 60s. The company's telephone number was 346 so we know this matchbook was produced prior to April 1966. That's when Mount Ayr converted to the dial system. This company later sold new Plymouth and Dodge automobiles on Highway 2, where Subway Sandwich Shop is today.

Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2015

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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, June 18, 2015, Page 14

By Mike Avitt

I recently bought the matchcover on the left at an antique shop in Greenfield. It motivated me to write about this week's topic, Mount Ayr taverns of the 1930s and 1940s. But, first, I have to tell you what I learned about Prohibition.

A constitutional amendment made intoxicating beverages illegal for sale and distribution in the United States from 1920 to December 5, 1933. But there was a loophole and that loophole was called "near beer." "Near beer" was beer with an alcohol content of 0.5 percent or less by volumne. Anhauser Busch and other breweries legally produced and distributed "near beer" for the duration of Prohibition, which meant the taverns could stay open during Prohibition, too. An old timer told me 35 years ago that taverns would spike "near beer" with moonshine or some other homemade liquor to give it the "desired affect." So Prohibition only slightly affected bar business for those thirteen-plus years.

Okay, back to the matchcovers. The left one says "Mt. Ayr Beer Tavern - Percy Skinner." We know Percy "Push" Skinner had South Side Tavern 60years ago and his daughter and son-in-law, Doris and Linn Sheil, took over sometime after that. It would seem Linn Sheil got in the bar business because of his father-in-law. But, no.

An August 13, 1931 Mount Ayr Record-News contains an ad announcing the sale of Linn's Tavern to Homer Johnston. The location is given as two doors east of Mrs. Frank Mowry's beauty salon. I don't know where that beauty salon was but I believe Linn's Tavern was in the vicinity of the Mount Ayr Hotel. And it could be a different "Linn," but that spelling wasn't very common.

Because Mr. Skinner's tavern was not called South Sie on the matchbook, Percy may have started in another location. Or maybe Linn and Doris renamed the tavern after they took over. The matchbook is from the 1940s or earlier.

The location of South Side Tavern, 103 W. Monroe, was originally a loan and real estate office owned by Ezra McMaster. Seth Ballew opened a restaurant at this location about July 1, 1921. Some restaurants in Mount Ayr sold beer so this could have been the beginning of South Side Tavern. The second matchcover refers to John Worthington who owned the bar from 1976 to 1982. Bob and Linda Haley after that.

The third matchcover is a reference to J. H. Smith and C. D. Lamb. They bought "Pete's Beer Parlor" on N. Taylor Street in September 1939. Ray Peterson had operated the bar for the previous three years. The exact location was 111 N. Taylor and Dove Lamb was still there in October 1943 when he was fined $100 for permitting a minor to obtain beer. I'm guessing it was 1958 or 1959 when the tavern relocated to 115 N. Taylor, the present-day site of The Early Bird. A blurb in the March 7, 1946 Record-News says C. D. and Edna Lamb bought the building at 115 N. Taylor from Frank Mowry. At this time, Frank had an office upstairs and Bert Smith had possession of two back rooms. Fred Strobel's shoe repair shop was on the main floor.

This bar was called Red Lamb's Tavern when I was a kid but I haven't been able to figure out if C. D. Lamb, Dove Lamb, and "Red" Lamb were all the same person.

The last matchbook is a reference to Bob Smith who bought Lamb's Tavern about 1974, the same year Iowa reduced the drinking age limit to 18. And, yes, I turned 18 in 1974. And, yes, it got a little wild after that.

Photographs courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2015


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