Was Greenfield a “Little Chicago”

Dave MileyWhy or how Greenfield got the name Little Chicago is a mystery to me. As far as I know, it was never listed in F.R. Harris’ books and if it was it would have been titled Hometown Chronicles; the Blue Edition. I sold my copy a while back and haven’t tried to Google it.

I do know from reading the many old police logs when I worked on the Police Department there were an awful lot of fights and drunk and disorderly arrests, especially at a place called The Barn. The Barn was located where the parking lot of Hearth and Care Nursing Home now sits.

The Chief of Police back then would walk to the scene, as generally the only cruiser had a flat tire, and break up the fight, handcuffing one guy to a post while walking the other back to the city jail.

There was also the Silver Front which was a predominately Black bar and they had their share of fights also.

The Club 28 was known for its fights and I remember Chief Hunter telling me about one case where this local fellow, who was left-handed, would hit someone, then put out his hand to shake to say he was sorry for hitting the guy and while he shook his hand a tire iron would drop out of his left sleeve and the guy would beat the tar out of him. The Club 28 was a frequent stop for Country and Western performers.

Ade’s Place was another good one for fights. I once saw a street fight in front of the bar with both guys holding broken beer bottles and going at each other.

There was a house in the 200 block of North Street where a woman made bathtub gin and sold it to the locals. Also, in the early 50s, I remember seeing some of the older drunks standing on the corner in front of Corner Pharmacy on Sundays. It was illegal to sell beer on Sunday so they would be drinking Mennen’s aftershave.

One fellow used to come into Edward’s Discount Store purchase cans of Sterno. He told me that he’d go home and strain the Sterno thru a couple of slices of bread into a fruit jar and drink it.

Those sorts of things are where I always thought Greenfield got the nickname, from the drinking and fighting, which was very common.

Or maybe it was from the KKK rally that took place at the old Chautauqua Park on North Washington. It was said there were over 5000 of them there on one weekend.

Originally published, July 6, 2009

2 thoughts on “Was Greenfield a “Little Chicago””

  1. That building began life as the horse stables for E.L. McClain and I don’t know when it became a restaurant. At one time it was Anderson’s, then became Cowgill’s, and then Gordon Frederick bought it and it became Freddy’s. He sold it to Vernon Stanley in the late 60s who in turn sold it to Carl Manley. Several others owned it before it closed in the late 80s or early 90s.

    Many events but the one I often think of was the night Winston Price and Tom Hixon fell through the front door after playing golf and having more than a few adult beverages at Buckeye Hills.

    Winston was carrying a golf club with him and he proceeded to order a round of drinks for the house and a cheeseburger for himself. When the sandwich was delivered he and Tom got into a condiment squeeze bottle squirt fight. The owner, Carl Manley, let that one slide. But next on the agenda, Winston climbed onto the table, and with No. 5 iron in hand, drove that cheeseburger into the far wall! Carl didn’t let that one go unnoticed!

    Next to witnessing a guy shoot a TV set in a bar in Grove City, that was my most memorable bar room experience.

  2. Larry: As someone who spent a short, yet eventful, time in Greenfield, I’m hopeful that Mr. Miley, or someone, can fill in some holes I dug for myself during my six months as the Times’ only reporter. Freddie’s Grill wound up playing a more significant role for me than it has for your readers, many of whom appear to have come to drinking age after 1962-63. I turned 21 there, had my first legal drink (a Martini) there and took nearly all of my significant dates there, with a conspicuous exception, in my first car, a 1958 TR-3 I bought at Pick’s Buick over in Chillicothe. I still have a glossy matchbook cover, an item I suspect is becoming increasingly rare in restaurants everywhere these days. Some background from Mr. Miley or anyone on when it opened, closed and any incidents of note would be appreciated. I know that at the time you had to drive past the abandoned American Pad and Textile factory to get there. Spooky, sorta, although you felt more like a Gatsby character in the Valley of Ashes….

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