Mary Luella Harney Hoes operated the Venetian Sandwich Shop located in the Venetian Theatre Building on N. Jersey (now Lombard) in the 1930's. There were two locations. The first was a tiny 7 stool nook which was taken over by the theatre owner who then used that space for popcorn and candy sales. The second location was next door to the first and much larger.
In addition to running the sandwich shop Mrs. Hoes was noted for being a early day St. Johns photographer. Mary was born June 21, 1874 in Woodson, Illinois and passed away in Portland on January 31, 1958.
This 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air 4-Door Station Wagon known in our community as the "Shirlee Ann" was named in honor of 11 month old Shirlee Ann Howell who died on January 2, 1955. The Shirlee Ann Fund continues today to assist Fire Station No. 22 with needed equipment and training. Read the Shirlee Ann story here.
What are we seeing here? This photo, also seen on the High Resolution page, we believe dates to July 31, 1934. In one year alone this photograph was believed to have been reproduced over 5,000 times, available in three separate sizes. This photo was taken in front of what was once the St. Johns City Hall. The train was staged by the photographer to face the viewer. Normally it would travel in the opposite direction.
The passenger cars of the American Flyer "wide gauge" train set were first introduced in 1931 and then made available again in 1933. They had matching teal blue bodies, bright red roofs and truss rods, and light gray trucks. They were dinstinguished by their large window inserts.
Conceived by a group of Firemen and other volunteers in 1932 as a way of countering fading confidence in St. Johns during the Great Depression, at least in some small way, a Fairlyland in miniature was born. Consisting at first of a rock garden and fish pool the project was soon expanded to include a scale railroad.
This was to have been a off duty project for the volunteers who originally projected it would to take six months to complete. The actual planning and construction however ended up taking much longer than that.
On or about June 1, 1932 the project began. In the center was a "dogbone" shaped pool, constructed entirely of concrete, about 36 feet long and 16 feet wide. Underwater lights were installed in glass niches and eventually a couple of reflector lamps were suspended across the pool, to enchance nighttime viewing.
A mountain was built on the west end of the pool using lava rock taken from Mt. Tabor. There was a steady stream of water tumbling down from the mountain top, through a water wheel at the power house, and into the pond to provide a supply of fresh water for the brook trout, which were first introduced into the pond late in the summer of 1934.
The Olds, Wortman & King department store donated the (1933 vintage) American Flyer " wide gauge" electric train. It ran on modified track that allowed for an increased radius. Quite ingenious for the time. No commercially available flex-track was available until 1940, putting their efforts 6 years ahead of the model railroad industry.
The train was normally operated on Sunday afternoons and evenings, but also ran for special occasions. In later years, a small loudspeaker was installed in the lodge and in the two highway tunnel portals for seasonal music.
The Sunday operating sessions went on uninterrupted until the advent of WWII and then were permanently discontinued. The rock garden, pool and all the fabulous structures were abandoned in 1954 when the firemen moved to their new brick fire station, just a block away. They were eliminated entirely in connection with the 1964/1965 renovation and landscaping project for the Police Department, which remained behind.
Public and private funds were solicited and contributed toward the landscaping project. During the rededication ceremony held in front of the building on July 14, 1965 it was publicly proclaimed "In the near future a reflection pool will be installed containing a water fountain that will spout water in umbrella shaped forms under various colored lights". The reflection pool was never built. The funds specifically received for this new pool were applied toward unpaid landscaping charges.
In it's hey day the Firemen's Pool was a destination point. After crossing the St. Johns Bridge many "Sunday Drivers" would stop by, sign the guest registry, and then stand in line two or three deep around the little green picket fence just to see the miniature train come and go, perhaps purchasing a photo or two to mail to a relative or add to their memento collection.
The local children were very lucky. They could walk a few blocks from home to the fire station and then watch for hours on end on a warm summer day without fear of reprimand, so long as they left by dusk and got home before dark. Running made it possible to stay a few moments longer to savor this "fairyland" atmosphere. For a child growing up in depression era St. Johns it was an unforgetable experience.
Source: Summarized and condensed from an 1988 article written by D.C. Swart & D. L. Gray
Earnest Crouchley standing in front of Crouchley Plumbing building prior to 1910. This business was located next to what is now 8928 N. Lombard St.
Wallet given to returning WW I soldiers by the Grant Smith-Porter ship building company.
Portland Woolen Mills Fleet Line washer showing clutch drive.
Workers outside the Portland Woolen Mills.
The Heart of St. Johns
Jersey & Charleston
Pacific Calendar and Tag shop
Help us identify this photo.... is it even in St. Johns?
Over Fifty Years In St. Johns
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