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Published: 12/16/2008

Part 2: Boody House car service driver built gambling empire in Toledo

BY KENNETH R. DICKSON
AUTHOR OF SOMETHING FOR NOTHING

Part two of 14

They quickly learned the gambling locations and the other vices that swirled in their wake, and by 1910 they had purchased custom limousines to replace their horse-drawn carriages. Often asked to wait while his clients gambled, Hayes carefully observed the games of chance, noting that even the honest games favored the owners. Never a gambler himself, Hayes sold his car service and went into the gambling business.

Hayes catered to every level of society and everything in between. The Jovial Club, located at 631 St. Clair Street, was known throughout Toledo as the poor man's gambling establishment, where even a nickel could be wagered. The "Gentleman's Club," positioned at 220 St. Clair Street, was well known as a place where craps, roulette, or any other profitable games of chance were available to those that dared.

The Buckeye Cigar Store, at 229 Superior Street, was widely believed to be under the control of Hayes. The Buckeye was Toledo's number one horse racing betting parlor. The Buckeye also operated the numbers game here in Toledo.

For the society swells and high stakes gamblers, and those players that were just escaping the summer heat of the cities, Hayes operated the Ramona Casino or Club Ramona near Harbor Springs, Michigan.

And for those wealthy enough to escape the bitter cold of Toledo's frigid winters, Hayes offered the ocean swept breezes of the Hollywood Club south of Miami, Florida.

On Saturday, Dec. 11, 1920, with almost military precision, Hayes' Point Place amusement hall was raided by federal authorities under the guidance of Chief Hansbrough of the Prohibition forces, with the aid of police inspector Leutz.

With thousands of dollars present on the faro and craps tables and over one hundred gamblers inside Jimmy Hayes' enterprise, the raiders only confiscated 18 quarts of whiskey. "The police were instructed to make no arrests in order that no complications should arise," said Toledo Safety Director George P. Greenhalgh.

Perhaps with other cases clogging the court system it was almost three months before Hayes was indicted in Federal Court on illegal liquor charges, and five months before Hayes was found guilty and fined $200 and costs for violating the National Prohibition Act of 1919.

But Hayes' gambling activities were soon to be put under public scrutiny from a force over which he had no control.

Before drinking a tumbler of carbolic acid early one Saturday morning, frequent gambler Fred Hedrick's last moments were spent in his South Street office writing letters. Hedrick's body was later found by his friend Paul Nutting lying on the floor of his office warped with pain, and the letter to his girlfriend Emma Kumerow clutched in his frozen hand.

"My dearest sweetheart ... I have been gambling. If you want to do something for mankind start a fight to close the gambling halls in Toledo before some other young man does the same thing I am going to do. If I had only taken your advice last fall we would have been the happiest couple in the world. Men of all walks of life visit these gambling halls. They are at 509 Summit Street, Jimmie Hayes' place at Summit, St. Clair and Cherry; the Downtown Garage; Adams near Huron over that sporting goods store; one near the Casino, another at La Tabernilla and one at 513 St. Clair Street upstairs.

"Tell someone who can wage a fight to the finish on these places to close them up. I am the sacrifice for the benefit of all who may be concerned. ... Chief Herbert knows about these places but I am not sure that Safety Director Greenhalgh does, but I want to tell everyone that Herbert does."

When the police arrived the letters were turned over to the desk sergeant, who after careful consideration passed them on to Chief Henry Herbert. With the assembled reporters waiting for any scrap of information, Chief Herbert faced the newsmen and cautiously chose his words.

"There is absolutely no organized gambling in Toledo as far as I know. Captain Harry Jennings, commanding the vice squad, is on duty at night and is responsible for any conditions that may exist. He has strict orders to suppress gambling here and I know he is the kind of officer who carries out all orders in detail."

The second letter that Hedrick wrote was addressed to his friend Paul Nutting, and told of his embezzlement and forged checks that enabled his continued gambling. The crumpled letter ended with ... "Whatever you do try to help stop gambling. You can see what it did for me. ... With regards to all the boys."



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