Dave Whisler wrote saying he had never heard of the 113 Club, which I mentioned in a recent column, and why didn’t I write a column about other places that were important in our lives once upon a time in Fort Wayne but no longer exist? Well, Dave, you made me remember and then remember some more, and here is the result of your triggering the memory.
One of the first places I remembered was Manochio’s. It looks as though it should be pronounced Man-O-Key-Oh, but no, it was Man-a-Kose. The original one was in the 100 block of West Wayne, and there was a large popcorn machine upfront to tempt you by its beckoning fragrance. It was a very popular spot, but Manochio’s eventually moved to the corner of Broadway and Washington, where it was a popular family restaurant — and the popcorn popper was upfront but inside.
You know, that popcorn was like Murphy’s doughnuts: Nowhere else were the popcorn and doughnuts quite as good. The griddle cakes were memorable, too, and there was real maple syrup. We went there often after rehearsals because it stayed open late enough in the evening. Parking was under cover — and we loved Manochio’s, Dave.
I have written in the past about Trier Park, but perhaps Dave was too young to read my column back then. Trier Park was on the other side of the river from Swinney Park, and it was a popular playground. It had a challenging roller coaster and a formidable Dodgem and a penny arcade and a dance hall, among other attractions. My mom used to pack a picnic basket (red and white tablecloth) with fried chicken (the best ever!), potato salad and other goodies, and we’d eat at one of the picnic tables, then finish up the fun enjoying the rides and other attractions at Trier Park.
Saturday night the dance hall was a favorite inexpensive place for dates, and almost any night we would hear the screams of terrified passengers on the roller coaster. The streetcar on Jefferson Street went almost to the park, so if you didn’t have a car (and lots of people young and old didn’t have cars) it was easily accessible.
My daughter remembers going to the Java Shop with her dad on Saturdays. The Java Shop was a popular restaurant in the Van Orman Hotel at Berry and Harrison. But before it became the Van Orman it was the Anthony Hotel. My husband lived at the Anthony when he first came to Indiana. He traveled a four-state area, and Fort Wayne was pretty much at the center of his territory, so most weekends were spent at the Anthony. He and some of the bellhops were ardent tennis players, so often they could be found at Swinney Park on the tennis courts.
The hotel was the place for conventions and conferences, and it often had live entertainment. When the hotel was finally imploded, we went down to watch the death of an institution, where meetings and conventions and receptions and workshops had been held over the years.
When I was a college girl and a young married woman, the Berghoff Gardens was the place to go. It was across the street from the hotel on the north side of Berry. There was always a good live band playing, and the food was excellent. Downstairs there was gambling, but that was a fairly well-kept secret and I didn’t know about that until years later when it was closed down.
Another popular restaurant was the English Terrace at Jefferson and Harrison. Often there was a pianist who played requests and supplied “atmosphere.”
The Keenan Hotel was at Washington and Harrison and our fanciest hotel. The Keenan family was well-known in the community, and many Fort Wayners had their wedding dinners there in the private dining room. There was also an attractive dining room and bar when Prohibition was done away with.
The Keenan was usually where celebrities who came to our town stayed, and it was close to the theaters, so stars could walk, if they wanted, to the Emboyd or Palace or Majestic or Shrine to perform.
Why haven’t I mentioned Wolf & Dessauer? I keep thinking of other long-gone wonderful places we wax nostalgic about, so maybe there will be another column. Then I’ll write once again about THE store. We’ll see.
Let me know if, like Dave, you want a trip through “What Was Land.”