By Loma Hurst
Gables: a place that has been so well known for miles around as a place of fun, good food and dancing for so many years is only a forlorn shell now just waiting for the wrecking ball to move in. It was originally called Red Gables Tourist Camp, because of the little cabins on the south side and the gables of the buildings were painted red. It later dropped the “Tourist Camp” but continued to rent the cabins. There were gas pumps in front and a sandwich counter with stools in the front part of the building.
The land was owned by the Lafferty family and Gables was built by Frank and Kitty Lafferty, probably sometime in the 1920′s. I have not found much information on the activities at the Gables in the 20′s and 30′s. I’m sure they had some, but most of their business was probably food and pumping gas until it was enlarged and added the dining room.
In December 1942 the Laffertys sold Gables to Francis and Vinita Peyton and Helen Wooderson. It became a very popular place for all on Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday nights for dancing. Sometimes they had an orchestra led by Bud Grimes, who owned the Automatic Music Company (which serviced all the juke boxes around), and there were other little bands that provided popular music. But mostly it was the jukebox, which always had the latest recordings listed. It included all the Big Band Era music such as Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey, Glen Miller, Guy Lombardo and many others. It also included some country music to please everyone. Some danced to slow music and some did the jitterbug and other fast dances. Many guys took their dates there after going to the movies. My second real date with my husband was going to Gables after the movie.
Gables was definitely the place of entertainment for everyone during World War II. Lots of young people would go to the movies and then to Gables to dance and party with all the others. Girls went to dance and the servicemen on leave went to meet girls and other servicemen home on leave maybe for the last time before going overseas. If they didn’t have a date when they went, they probably left with one. Despite the rationing of gas and tires, people always seemed to find a way to get there on Saturday nights. It was a time they could get together and forget the worries of the war and enjoy themselves.
Everyone loved to dance and the dance floor was always full. No one was ever turned away. Maybe there weren’t any seats available, but no one cared as they would stay on the dance floor and dance every time. When the war was declared over in 1945, the servicemen and women started returning home to the ones they had left behind and again began taking them out to Gables for an evening of entertainment and, possibly, to propose marriage.
There were other owners down the line until Sept. 25, 1948, when Dean and Velma Bogue and Eldon and Mary Thomas purchased the 12.64 acres with Red Gables. On May 12, 1952, Dean and Velma bought Eldon and Mary Thomas’ interest to become the sole owners.
The THS/TJC Alumni Association was organized in 1949 and the alumni dances were held at Gables for four years until it was decided that there wasn’t enough room for the group. Class dinners were held there for several years.
During the late 1940′s and early 1950′s, when they still had the snack bar in front, the children going to Baker School across the highway went over to get some soda pop or maybe a sandwich if they had any money. Gary Hurst was one of those first graders who had to wait for an older student to help him across the highway. Dean loved to have the kids there and never forgot them. Dean and Velma remodeled it and took out the snack bar, enlarged the kitchen and updated the entrance.
The food was always great; shrimp, chicken livers and the salads were out of this world and some people would drive several miles just for their specialties. If anyone was planning to go out on the weekend or even through the week, it was never a question that it would be Gables.
Dean employed Jim King as waiter and bouncer, if needed,. However I don’t think he had to be a bouncer very many times. Just his physical appearance was enough to intimidate most. If he liked you or you told him a good joke, he had a smile on his face. But if he didn’t like you, he could be rather stern. Later they hired other waiters to help him; JoAnn Grumbine for one.
In the late 1950′s and early 1960′s, Dr. Duffy formed a Dance Club of 50 couples. He had a link with a booking agent to get the big bands coming through from St. Louis to Omaha, NE to stop in Trenton and play at Gables on Monday nights. The cover charge was between $11 and $15 per couple. Big bands such as the Glen Miller Band and the Jimmy/Tommy Dorsey and others of the same fame were there to delight the dancers. Even though it was on Monday nights, no one missed getting dressed up in their finest party clothes and going. It was the highlight of the month. I think Dean, Velma and Jim King enjoyed it as much as the rest.
A few times, when the hunters of the Trenton area got together and had a party to entertain all their friends, Velma and Dean would cook the wild game and prepare the extras for them. The food and the dancing provided a wonderful evening for all that attended.
A group from Chillicothe used to come to Gables, all dressed in their finest party clothes for dinner, and danced until closing time. They came every Saturday night. Dean always reserved the table closest to the dance floor for them. So many people from miles around have their own stories they remember and cherish.
By the late 1960′s, the younger generation began going to Gables either with their parents or with a date on special occasions. It was a popular place for the boys to take their prom date for dinner before going to the dance. Later some of them even went there to prepare to propose to the special person in their life. It was a time that will always be remembered in their life.
Dean was pretty strict on dress, so very casual, jeans and tee shirt dress was not allowed. However, a lot of the bowling teams went there to eat after bowling, and if they decided to dance, that was acceptable.
From September 1975 to September 1976, Gary and Linda Moore leased Gables from Velma and Dean Bogue and then turned it back to the Bogues. David Gooch purchased Gables and added the convention center. He later sold it to Steve and Diane Henderson. The basement was made into a sports bar with pool tables, a bar and TVs.
Several others owned Gables, including Lionel Dean and the Jimmie Hicks family. Wilbur Hicks enjoyed playing the piano when there were only a few there. At any time it was still the place to go or to meet others for a great dinner and dancing.
It stood vacant for a while before Laura Webb purchased it, remodeling the dance floor into small dining areas. The loss of the dance floor was really sad for many of the older people that had danced so many hours there. It was decorated beautifully and they served wonderful food, along with having wedding receptions, business meetings and New Year’s parties in the convention center, where there was a small dance floor. Their menu for their Sunday brunches was outstanding and it was a treat to go there after church.
When Gables closed, all the equipment and furnishings were sold at auction. The empty and forlorn building stands there so sad with all its memories and, if it could talk, it would have a lot of stories it could tell about so many who walked through its doors in all the years that it served the people