American Consequences - June 2019

girlfriend being killed by Detroit’s Licavoli gang with the connivance of Toledo political fixer Jacob “Firetop” Sulkin. (But that’s another story.) The 17-story Commodore Perry luxury hotel opened with Toledo’s first radio station broadcasting from its roof. F. Scott Fitzgerald set a short story in Toledo with its denouement at the exclusive Toledo Club. The U.S. Open was played at Inverness Club. The Mud Hens were managed by Casey Stengel. The Scott (named for Jesup) High School football team won the national high school championship with a score of 263 to 54 (not a misprint). The Maumee was spanned by one of the longest suspension bridges in the country. Ohio Savings and Trust Company erected an Art Deco skyscraper. Toledo’s Commercial Bank, American Bank, Commerce Guardian Trust and Savings Bank, and Security-Home Trust Company – some of largest bank failures in America. A third of Toledoans’ $80 million in bank deposits vanished. Industry was dust, manufacture became post-factual, wholesale went down a hole, and retail’s tail was in the wringer. Toledo’s unemployment rate hit 50%. By 1933, 30,000 people were on city poor relief and between 50,000 and 60,000 were receiving city food donations. The city government – with $1.4 million tied up in bank insolvencies and $6 million owed in back taxes – was broke. All of Toledo might have gone on the bankruptcy auction block the way it had in 1819 and 1837. Just in time for the Great Depression. Ohio Savings and Trust failed. So did

Car Parts Capital of America – Champion sparkplugs, Auto-Lite batteries, Monroe shock absorbers, AP mufflers, Libbey-Owens- Ford automotive glass, and Spicer driveshafts and transmissions. SUCCESS HIT TOLEDO – RIGHT IN THE SNOUT The city grew – from a population of 168,497 in 1910 to 243,164 in 1920 to 290,718 in 1930. It grew fastest during World War I, a failure of geopolitics but a success for Toledo. The war industry workforce was so short- handed that women were hired as streetcar motormen. Toledoans oversubscribed to the Liberty Loan campaign, buying almost $73 million in war bonds, exceeding their quota by more than 20%. And, out of the 200,000 Ohioans who served overseas, somehow (draft- exempt jobs? numerous German immigrants? one of just 50 House of Representatives votes against the war cast by Toledo’s congressman?) only 145 Toledoans died.

What rescued Toledo was... the government monkeying around with our money.

Along with industrial expansion came renewed interest in Toledo as a lake port – for bootlegging from Canada. The 1920s was an era of halcyon prosperity, if you don’t count such things as local folk hero bootlegger Jack Kennedy and most of his associates and his

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June 2019

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