Author to speak on illegal gambling in city and along Woodville Rd.
Author Terry Shaffer will discuss his book: Illegal Gambling Clubs of Toledo: The Chips, The Dice, The Places and Faces Thursday, January 16 at 12:30 at the East Toledo Senior Center.
The talk is sponsored by The East Toledo Club and is free and open to the public. Shaffer will present the colorful history of the men and the clubs they opened along Woodville Road from East Toledo to Genoa between the 1940s and the 1960s.
His book describes the culture surrounding Toledo’s infamous mobsters and lists 72 illegal gambling operations dating back to the turn of the century. Shaffer gleaned much of his information from long lost mob files housed at the Toledo Police Museum.
“They had three cases of files from the Licavolis (headed by mobster Thomas “Yonnie” Licavoli) to everything else and they had been missing for years,” Shaffer told The Press earlier this year.
Shaffer, a Toledo resident since 1966, is a graduate of the University of Toledo and a local business owner. He has spent the past 15 years researching and collecting vintage casino gambling chips and has become a popular luncheon speaker for civic organizations.
Shaffer explains that the opening of the Hollywood Toledo Casino motivated him to get his book finished.
In his research, Shaffer discovered The Bon Aire Supper Club, 2188 Woodville Road, which was owned by Joseph Urbaytis and Edward “Big Edge” Wojnarowski, alias Wagner, opened in 1943. We know the location today as the Woodville Army/Navy Surplus Store, but the Bon Aire building is gone.
Jimmy Dugan took over in 1946 and changed its name to Terminal Social Club (aka Dugan’s).
Games at the Bon Aire included craps and poker, but it all came to an end after a raid and murder in November, 1951.
Urbaytis (1900-46), best known as leader of the gang that pulled off the great million dollar Toledo Post Office robbery of 1921 at the age of 21, was murdered on November 5.
In the 1921 post office robbery, Urbaytis and 12 others were convicted of Toledo’s largest and most historic heist, writes Shaffer. Urbaytis was sentenced to 60 years, but escaped twice.
After his second escape, he was sent to Alcatraz. His sentence was reduced to 25 years after a successful appeal addressing the judge’s excessive 60-year sentence. After his release in 1943, he opened the Bon Aire.
Shaffer will also talk about Social Club 51 located at 221 Mary Avenue in the Northwood and El Rancho, 1460 Woodville Road, located three miles east of the city limits near Millbury. The original gambling building was destroyed by fire.
After its gambling days, the location later became the Sun Oil Recreation Center and was outfitted with baseball diamonds, tennis courts, a swimming pool and camping and picnic areas.
Another east side club mentioned in Shaffer’s book is Ted Stone’s Café, 2172 Woodville Road, owned by Ted Stone and operated by Benny Aronoff. Aronoff had moved his Buckeye Club operations out to the café for a short time in 1936 while the heat was on in downtown Toledo.
(Illegal Gambling Clubs of Toledo: The Chips, The Dice, The Places and Faces is published by Happy Chipper Publishing, Toledo, and can be purchased at the Toledo Police Museum, HappyChipper.com, and Amazon.com for $22.95.)
The Senior Center is located at 1001 White Street in Navarre Park between Woodville and Navarre.
Mike Jay, former director of economic development for the City of Fremont, has joined the Regional Growth Partnership as director of strategic networks.
Dean Monske, president and CEO of the RGP, states in a news release, Jay will be charged with meeting with county commissioners, mayors and other elected officials to communicate about the programs and initiatives of RGP and JobsOhio.