Sunday, March 13, 2016

"Bowl Your Cares Away"

Here are three tiny men bowling their cares away.

2016-3-13. img007 c
(Click on image to enlarge)

They have to be tiny so as to fit on the flat top of the cover of book of matches.

Here is the whole cover:

2016-3-13. img007 a

2016-3-13. img007 b

I can't attempt to date this because I can't find this bowling alley listed in any Hobart directory. Moreover, it seems not to have made an impression on any of the old-timers who reminisced for the Hobart Historical Society in 1979, so perhaps it did not last long.

George Dewey Gradle was born in 1898 into the large Porter County farming family that also produced Forrest and Homer. By 1920 he had moved to Hobart and was working as a carpenter. Around 1921 he married and started his own family. In 1930 he described himself as a building contractor. I can't find him in the 1940 census, but the 1947 telephone directory shows him living at 913 Lincoln.

His 1969 obituary confirms that he was indeed a bowling-alley operator, among other things:
George Dewey Gradle, a member of the Hobart City Council from 1930 to 1934 died on Sunday, May 18 at North Manchester, Indiana. He was 71 years of age.

He was a veteran of WWI, and a charter member and Past Commander of American Legion Post 54. Born south of Hobart, Gradle for many years was associated with his brothers in Gradle Bros. Construction Co. He also operated a bowling alley in the 500 block of Third Street.

He is survived by his wife, Emma; two sons, Robert of Maryland and Lester of Schaumburg, Ill.; 4 brothers, Forrest of Valparaiso, Homer of Carmel, Ind., Charles and Jesse, both of Hobart; 3 sisters, Mrs. Elsie Phillips of California, Mrs. Florence Piske of Washington, and Mrs. Caroline Haxton of Hobart; and 6 grandchildren.

Funeral services were held on Wednesday, May 21, 1969 at Rees Funeral Home with Rev. John Holzman officiating. Burial in Crown Hill Cemetery.

Earl Green is more difficult to identify as there were two Earl Greens roughly contemporary with George Gradle in Hobart: Earl J. and Earl T. The latter shows up only in the 1930 census, describing himself as a house painter working for wages, and then vanishes, without ever showing the entrepreneurial spirit that we eventually find in the former. For that reason, and because Earl J. lived in Hobart for a longer time, I am tentatively identifying the bowling-alley owner as Earl J. Green.

He had no siblings, as far as I can tell. His mother's name was Frieda; his father's name was John (but I do not know if he was the John H. Green of the flats on Center Street). John Green shows up only in the 1910 census, where he describes himself as a cattle buyer. In 1900 we find Frieda living with her one-year-old son Earl, married, but the enumerator does not record John in the household. Nor does John appear in 1920, where Frieda's status is not clearly legible but may be "widowed."

Earl married a woman named Emma sometime in the 1920s.* In 1940 he described himself as a bartender working on his own account in a tavern, while she was a waitress in a tavern; this leads me to wonder whether they had anything to do with the Green Café so offhandedly mentioned in the 1979 reminiscences.

Here is Earl's obituary, from 1959:
A former Hobart businessman, Earl Green, died of a heart attack last Wednesday [February 18] in Stuart, Florida, where he had made his home for more than 10 years.

He had done some contracting and building work in Stuart, and at the time of his death was operating a tavern and a variety store there.

In addition to his widow, Emma, he is survived by one daughter, Mrs. Betty Jenkins of Cuttyhunk, Connecticut; two grandchildren; and his mother, Mrs. Fried Green, also of Stuart.

Rev. Howard Palm officiated at funeral services in Pflughoeft chapel Sunday afternoon, and burial was in the Hobart cemetery."
Interesting that both of them were brought back to Hobart for their eternal rest.

I can't believe how many hours of research this little matchbook cover has cost me.

*This is assuming I've found the right people in the 1930 census, which would require that the enumerator had been a bit confused about the couple's ages. I can't find a marriage record for Earl and Emma.

1900 Census.
1910 Census.
1920 Census.
1930 Census.
1940 Census.
♦ "George Gradle Passes Away." Hobart Gazette 22 May 1969.
♦ "Heart Attack Takes Earl Green in Fla." Hobart Gazette 26 Feb. 1959.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Before my time, but I remember the bowling alley on center street. in the 50's.