Working at the bar wasn’t as glamorous as some people think. Okay, well maybe as only a couple of you think. I remember a scary incident from around 1970. We used to cash payroll checks on Fridays for the guys down at Goodyear. Goodyear, had a late shift and those guys would come into the bar after they would get out of work which was around six in the morning.
Ida and friends. No, those are not the robbers!
Early one morning, several men came in with machine guns. These guys where not wearing masks. So we’re guessing that they where not from around Akron. They must have been staking the place or were tipped off from someone because they knew the routine. If they came in an hour later, we would have cashed all the checks and the safe would have been empty. My mother, Ida, was the one who took care of all the money. At first she resisted them, but they beat her up pretty bad. The men threw her in the cooler and asked for more money but there was none. She spent some time in the hospital and had to have pins put in one of her ankles.
She did very well and had a full recovery. She was a tough lady. But that wasn’t the only time Red’s was robbed, but that’s another story.
On July 27, 1957 at 6am, I opened Red’s doors for the first time. I set it up the best I could without knowing anything about the bar business. The midnight shift at Goodyear, which was located down the street, was just getting off from work and they were my first customers. These guys actually taught me how to make a drink. Believe it or not, this was the first time I had ever had a drink in my life! It was a Corby’s and Coke. They took advantage of me by telling me how much to pour and how much to charge. Beer and a shot of whiskey was 20 cents each. If you wanted top shelf, well, that was a quarter. Doubles where 40 cents. The United States Navel Base was attached to Goodyear and I remember when the sailors would come in, it wasn’t pretty. Lot’s of fights and broken chairs. Although, they liked me for some reason and always had my back to minimize the damage. Nothing like a drunken sailor.
The original building was basically a shack that was roach infested. The sailors didn’t care. They actually would bet on the bugs as they raced across the bar. I called the previous owner and he told me to place baking soda around the bar to keep the bugs away. I did that, but the roaches didn’t go away. They were dancing in it! The following Sunday I had the bar fumigated and they actually used shovels to remove the dead bugs.
The next day, Red’s as we knew it, began. I first called it “Red’s Place” and the sign on the front read, “Warm beer and bad food.”