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COMMUNITY VOICE

The Green Frog has been the 'Cheers' neighborhood bar of Fort Wayne

Thursday, January 16, 2014 - 12:01 am

The Green Frog — what a funny name for a restaurant/bar.

Those were the words I can recall saying to my grandmother, Alice Carey Morton, and my grandfather, Rex Morton, when the Green Frog was purchased and she assumed ownership and management of the “Frog” when I was still a youngster attending Precious Blood Elementary School.

How the years have gone by. I am now 77, but the Green Frog still remains a neighborhood icon in Fort Wayne and a constant anchor at the corner of Spring and Sherman streets under the current owners, the Henrys.

I moved away from Fort Wayne many years ago. College, two tours of active duty in the USAF, and careers in professional newspaper management, the airline industry, as an excursion boat tour operator and in the car rental industry took me from coast to coast, the Far East, Middle East, Africa and Europe.

The truth of the matter, though, is that I never forgot my hometown, Fort Wayne, and the early years I spent growing up as part of the Green Frog family.

When I was growing up and attending Precious Blood, the Green Frog was Fort Wayne’s “Cheers” where everyone was known by name or soon became known. It was not only a neighborhood gathering place but also a place where the “movers and shakers” of Fort Wayne and Allen County could very well be sitting next to the local barber or the fellow who owns and runs the Shell station at the corner.

It was a place where anyone could stop on their way home from work and get a cold beer at a decent price. During the years my grandmother owned and operated the Green Frog, beer was available at 10 and 15 cents.

If a person was so inclined, liquor by the drink prices were 25 cents up to 50 cents. For those high rollers and special occasions, Champagne was available at $5 per bottle.

Just as popular as the prices for a drink, the Green Frog also was well-known for the quality of the food that came from the tiny kitchen. This was due to the professional hands-on leadership of the chef/cook, Maria Bryant.

On Friday evenings there would be many people waiting to get tables for themselves so they could enjoy an excellent fish or frog leg dinner. The same could be said for Saturdays when the special of the day was fried chicken.

All of the food was excellent, portions generous and the prices affordable for whole families to enjoy.

Some of the regulars were families who lived in and around the immediate area such as John and Esther Norton, Cecil Kinzie, Jerry Doran, the Talarico family, Seibert of Seibert trucking, and the list could go on and on.

To a young fellow’s eyes and mind, Spring and Sherman had just about everything a young fellow needed. Directly across from the Green Frog was the Belmont 5 & 10 store.

On the Southeast corner was Kinzie’s Shell station. At that time in the late ’40s and early ’50s it was considered one of the best all-around service stations in Fort Wayne. Mr. Kinzie was a regular for lunch at the Green Frog.

Another regular was Jerry Doran,who owned and operated a neighborhood grocery at the corner of Sherman and Hoffman. I must add that Jerry gave me my first job at 25 cents per hour as a stockboy on Saturdays at the age of 12.

I thought this was great until I took a better-paying stockboy job at the Belmont store at 50 cents an hour.

As I put a “thirty” to the above I have a bit of sadness as I just learned that Mr. and Mrs. Henry are in the process of placing the Green Frog on the market.

I just hope whoever buys it will be someone who will continue to operate it as one of the finest neighborhood bars in Fort Wayne.

Mort Griner is a former Fort Wayne resident who now lives in Florida.