We need stories about the Westside Outing and Social Club, so please help spread the word.
Crowdsourcing is a relatively new term coined to describe a large group of people working together, particularly online, on services, ideas, or content. Crowdsourcers, as they call themselves, have transcribed the recently-released 1940 census, typed up menus for the New York Public Library, and helped the Library of Congress identify some of their mystery photographs.
Whether you knew it or not, as readers of Historic Indianapolis.com you have participated in crowdsourcing by sharing your memories, comments, and research. So today, I rather prematurely offer up some newly acquired photographs of the Westside Outing and Social Club in hopes that some HI readers will contribute to the cataloging of these images. I’ll tell you what little I have dug up so far, then please comment to help pinpoint the date and uncover the history of this interesting social club with a long history.
Just today I ripped open my latest eBay package to find two undated photographs of a restaurant or tavern. The window to the left in the exterior view advertises “REAL ESTATE” while the sign on the right reads “WEST SIDE OUTING AND SOCIAL CLUB / MEMBERS ONLY.” Luckily, the photographer of the interior view marked his work as “Charles J. Bell, Indpls., Ind.” so that narrowed down the location and date (Bell started in business around 1920). A quick search in city directories and fire insurance maps revealed the address as 710 N. Warman Avenue, in the ethnically diverse Haughville neighborhood.
Haughville was incorporated in 1883 and named after the Haugh, Ketcham, and Company Iron Works. Slovenian immigrant workers, known for their metal-working abilities, were recruited to work at National Malleable Castings Company, the area’s second foundry. Shortly after Indianapolis annexed the town in 1897, nearly half of Haughville’s residents were Slovenian, but other ethnic groups included Hungarians, Poles, Austrians, and Macedonians. In the 1940s, families in the 700 block of Warman Avenue near the club included Radakovich, Komlance, Krapes, Zunk, Urbancic, Bayt, Semanich, Rinani, Graneff, Medvescek, Skoda, Deganutti, Yerich, Praprotnik, and Quiatkowski.
So far, it appears that the club was built as a house, but served as a saloon, barber shop, and restaurant as early as the 1910s. The commercial-looking addition with a gambrel roof was probably added in the 1920s or ’30s.
The age of the photographs appears to be 1920s-1940s, but there are a couple of internal clues. The 7up bottles lined up on the backbar and the 7up window sign reveal that this is after 1929 when the lemony soft drink was first marketed (just a few weeks before the Wall Street Crash of 1929). Also, the lack of alcohol bottles and beer advertising might indicate that this was taken prior to the end of Prohibition in 1933. Incorporation papers for the club were first filed in 1930. Note also that the front windows have been modified from the earlier exterior view.
In his Authorized Autobiography (ca. 2003), former patron Charles Warren Lucas included a short description of the club in the early 1950s when he and his new bride Wanda lived in Haughville (nicknamed “Hunkietown”). Comparing it to the local VFW bar he writes “The Westside was a little more upscale having several of the cities [sic] movers and shakers as members. It was set up like a speakeasy: you had to ring in to be admitted. It was normally packed on Fridays and Saturdays.” He revisited his old neighborhood in the late 1980s, noting that “the neighborhood had deteriorated badly over the years….The place was just a shadow of its old self: I found it a little depressing, but it brought back memories. I moved on down to the old West Side Outing and Social Club. It had succumbed to the neighborhood. The old speakeasy-club was no longer. What memories I left there!”
Louis Zunk, Louis “Lefty” Milharcic, and another Haughville resident, John Hren bought the place in the 1930s. Louis Zunk’s wife Vera, known as “Mom,” helped run the place. Their son Michael was IPD Chief of Police from 1997-2000.
Back additions, dormer windows, vinyl siding, and faux stone cover up the fact that this was once a bustling club in a busy Slovenian neighborhood. Surely there are memories out there among the HI readers and other clues in the vintage photographs (view enlargements of the exterior and interior).
So this is how crowdsourcing works: Write your comments below. Read other comments and gently correct mistakes. Look at the photo enlargements and make dating suggestions. Share this on Facebook and email it to your friends, particularly those with Haughville connections or to anyone named Zunk. If we get enough data, eventually I will update the article with any information we gather. Some of my questions are:
1. Who started this and when?
2. What is an “outing” club?
3. When did the place close?
4. Who were the members?
5. Was this basically a bar? Then why did they require membership?
6. Did they serve alcohol during Prohibition? (didn’t they all?)
Thanks for your help!
UPDATE (6 March 2014)
Thanks to the many people who privately wrote to share stories of the Westside Outing and Social Club. Here are some details from Mark Zunk, a nephew of the owners:
I can offer you many stories about the Westside Outing & Social Club. We knew it simply as “the Club,” as did most folks in Haughville. Not all of the stories about the Club would be for publication. Uncle Louis ran the Club until his sudden death in 1982. After that, my aunt, Vera Zunk ran it for some years, before closing it several years ago. She passed away last November at the age of 92. “Lefty” Milharcic [one of the other early owners] died in the late ’60’s. To call him “much beloved” would be an understatement. I’ll never forget the time he introduced dirty little ten year old me to then US Senator Vance Hartke in the Club. The Club at the time was a bit of a Democrat power center in Indianapolis.
At one time, the pastor of Holy Trinity parish, Msgr. Edward Bockhold, expressed his concern that some inappropriate activities may have been going on upstairs at the Club. He was reassured after my mother explained to him, over a beer on our front porch, that it only involved card-playing, and certainly not ladies of ill-fame.
Check out the many comments below, too. This photograph has now been cataloged at the Indiana Album, an Indiana Bicentennial project bringing photos from the attic to the web. Your memories help make Historic Indianapolis great. Keep the stories coming!
The Zunk family owned the Social Club. It closed just a few years ago. Mike Zunk was at that time the IPD Police Chief. There was a conflict of his job and owning the Club at that time. I am sure you can find info about his whereabouts now quite easily.
I started working at the Westside Club in summer of 1978 and worked there for 2 1/2 years as waitress and sometime bartender. I was putting myself through nursing school and had limited time for a part-time job that I needed desperately. Westside was home to me and so many hundreds of others that found the comfortable and welcoming club a wonderful place to socialize and enjoy themselves. Not discounting the great food that Vera Zunk made for us each day. Louie Zunk was still alive when I started there and he was such a teddy bear. I worked evenings and nights when the younger crowd would come in often to watch a football game or play a game on the snooker table. Some Saturdays I would come back in after my night shift to open up for the older regulars until Louie or Vera could finish their home chores. The first year I worked there I made Christmas trees cut from felt and glued/glittered a name of each regular on one of the cut-out trees. We hung those trees up for many years, long after I had quit working there I could see them still up at Christmas time. If you ever watched the television show “Cheers”, when the whole crowd would shout out NORM as the character entered the bar, that is how it was at the Westside club – everyone knew your name and you were always welcome there. Once in a while there were poker games being played at the single large round table in the rear of the bar. Usually there were more cases of euchre being played or sports being watched and discussed. Wednesday nights was $1.00 draft beer night and that always drew a large crowd. Saturday night was always busy and at times I could hardly make my way from the bar with a tray of drinks through the thick crowd. Louis & Vera’s youngest son, David was manager at night after Louie & Vera called it a day and went home. Much of the crowd at night was alumni from Ritter High School and certainly most were members of Holy Trinity Church. We often would make a run to Papa Joe’s on Lafayette Road for pizza or works salads when we had sold out all of our food and still had a crowd to feed. The Westside Social Club was a one of a kind type of place and I am glad I got the gift of experiencing it.
Thanks so much for sharing your memories, Sharon. It’s stories like yours that make now-gone local businesses come to life.
The tradition of putting up the Christmas trees with regulars names continued as long as I can remember and maybe until it closed. I was a member from 1995 until it closed, and was professional working downtown and found the food and camaraderie to be unmatched for lunch. I didn’t know all the regulars but upon entering Vera, my usual waitress ( can’t believe I don’t remember her name) and a few others would yell out “Kevin!” And if that wasn’t enough my favorite waitress made me a pie for my birthday every year. As one of the youngest members, I felt at home every time my key card buzzed in.
👍🏻No not mike was never any part of being an owner . When Lefty Died it went to The surviving owners , an so when pap Johnny Hren Died ,it went To Louie & Vera and there son David Helped to manage it im 99 % sure of it
wHEN I was police beat/”investigative” reporter at Indpls Times (40’s/50’s) Times,News,Star all routinely did expose/crackdown on every form of gaming –it was cyclical-sometimes linked to current political “corruption/sometimes incident or self-initiated. And the West Side Social was a frequent target–like other after hour/slot/gaming known spots like upstairsPrinters Club,(NY/Del.), B&P (Business and Professional Men’s Club,upstairs over theater on Illinois 200 or 300 block operated by gaming great Jim Peachey beloved by same reporters who had to “out” him, plus others (names will come to me.) But WSS was grand-daddy of them all–operated by also beloved by many Lefty Milhaurcic (sp?) a name right out of Damon Runyon as was the club. You had to go into a “shell” building, tap a 50 c piece on glass at one time to gain entry–and during one media investigation enterprising reporter linked illegal sale of driver’s licenses (for banned drivers) to club. Once a Chicago guy with too many points to get license there was in Indy, with aforementioned Peachey and reporter, bemoaning his suspended license and the locals told him “for a price” he could get license in Indy–he pulled out his wallet, they put him in car, (he thought to go to license branch) so he was bewildered when they went to strange neighborhood, walked into almost empty (clearly sham) TV repair club, tapped coin on glass, went down stairs to a packed bar/pub -red-checked tableclothes etc.–where after a couple drinks there was whispered consultation, he was given some official forms to fill out “fill them out with different name combinations” instructions–time passed and 4 martinis later he had a valid Ind. Driver’s license! Another anecdote: Somehow Lefty heard about a prestigious “who’s who” type publication done in east listing private clubs (e.g. Harvard, Union League,etc )across U.S. –and was impressed so he paid fee to have West Side Social & Outing Club listed–over several years. Came a day that an Eastern prep school type, being transferred to Indy, called long distance to inqure, what were fees, what was membership criteria, did you have to be “put up” by members and especially “What kind of outings does the club have–I am interested in croquet or tennis, bird-watching, (and a list of effete type sports)” so poor puzzled Lefty kept asking people “whatthehell isorienteering..” (and dropped the listing.) Last time I was in the club (day of driver’s license incident in perhaps 62-63) there was an upcoming family wedding and in lieu of engraved invitations there was a huge banner running the length of the bar saying “Lefty’s (I think) Daugher is getting married–you are invited” (or some other name, cannot recall.) The other “iconic” alleged gaming spots/owners included a “Roll Hass” something on west side, another spot far east where banned “stag” films were also said to be shown. Strangely, even though these were the targets repetitively of to-please-the-media raids, there was one downtown club NEVER infiltrated or mentioned–on back lot of what is now Star parking lot NY and Delaware there were several buildings facing NY–tuxedo rental,law office but in the middle there was a free-standing building (green as I remember) with small lettered sign Chinese Social Club. No one ever seemed to go in and out, yet it was reputed to be a very shuttered, impregnable gaming club. Cannot recall the years except at one time WIRE had deejay on night shift named Jim Lowe (later iconic on E.Coast) who wrote a song that topped the charts–GREEN DOOR>(lyrics included: ” Knocked once, tried to tell them I’d been there, door slammed, hospitality’s thin there, wonder just what’s going on in there? When I said Joe sent me someone laughed out loud behind the green door…”ending “all I want to do is join the happy crowd behind the Green Door.” Not sure when the building disappeared, one day it was there, then it wasn’t–but locals always wondered if it was inspiration when deejay Lowe got off night radio-walked out past that Club? PS: Once a well-known do-gooder, president of Junior League type was taken by friends to B&P club after hours—when she expressed doubt such existed. One of her party was reporter but friend of owner Peachey–so around 2 a.m. he came over, exchanged a few whispered words and reporter then said “Unless we want to be caught in a raid we’d better leave–the police are going to raid here in about a half hour…” Naive do-gooder scoffed “:How could that be true-the police don’t warn in advance they are going to raid…” but sure enough, next day’s headline was about raid on downtown,upstairs illegal gaming club. Oh what fun it was then.–
Have nothing to contribute yet here; am an “old” East Sider”, but wish to stay glued to these posts nevertheless!
Eww…I’m betting that was one of the places my grandpa used to deliver hooch to from his little red wagon and bicycle! That place doesn’t whisper “speakeasy” it pretty much screams it…
Oh Mr. Shea, these are the stories I grew up on! I could sit and listen to these stories for hours. We all still go to The Workingman’s Friend. Still family owned since 1918 and if those walls could talk!!
I grew up on the East Side and remember the Big Four Tavern at 25th and Sherman Drive across from the CCC&ST L (Big Four) roundhouse…and the Whistlestop Inn on South Emerson Avenue at the Hawthorne Yards of the “Pennsy”. However, my next-door neighbor, Harry Wilson knew the Workingman’s Friend on Belmont by the B&O Moorefield yards about as well as the first two…he was a locomotive mechanic at the Brightwood yards and transferred to the Beech Grove shops when the Brightwood operations moved to Avon, Indiana. Such memories, yes!
Yes, the tavern got it’s name because the railroader’s would come in to eat and drink. They wouldn’t have money to pay at the time, so Louie would let them pay him on their payday. So Louie became known as “The Workingman’s Friend.”
D. Mikels Shea…WoW, those are the type of memories that I was seeking! I suspected that this place had a shadier past and, although I don’t wish to embarrass descendants of the owners, I think these stories should be recorded as part of the neighborhood’s history. It’s’ too bad that Indianapolis newspapers from the 1930s-50s are not digitized and keyword searchable (yet). I’d like to place a tape recorder in front of you sometime and chat about your work experiences. Thanks so much for sharing!
Joan my Dad was a friend of the Zunks and is now 90 years old. He may love telling some stories of old Indy having moved there in 1933. Private email me for his contact information.
Sherry, I would love to talk to your Dad. Email me at email@example.com and I’ll see if he’s up for an interview.
I am trying to remember the neighborhood tavern next to the Sports Spot on West 16th street. Many coaches used to frequent that establishment.
We lived on the Westside off 16th street and my dad was a Lt. on IPD and knew Mr. Zunk. I wish I had written down all his old stories about Turks and Mikes and Westside Social Club and all his police adventures. It was much different than today. My husband coached when Joe Dezelan was still up at Cathedral and I am glad he got to know Joe and some of the Cathedral alums from the Westside and beyond. My family and I went to Washington High….Westside brings back many neat places and times ..Someone , let me know what drinking establishment was next to the Sports Spot…..Thanks….
The Beverage Inn was next to the Sport Spot, owned by John & Ginger Locke. John worked for Goodyear Racing Division & almost anytime you might find AJ, Al, Bobby, Mario & other racing legends in there drinking, swapping stories, & eating Ginger’s excellent food. Does anyone remember Peewee’s & that beautiful mahogany bar he had? Heard the bar itself was sold & moved to another bar. Does anyone know where it is?
This is a wonderful informative site. I would just like to say that my husbands Grandparents(Nickoli Darbis/Dobich and Maritiz/Mary (Birach) Dobich lived at 706 N. Warman Avenue in 1907. Their place of residence would have been on the now vacant lot on the corner next to the above home/club at 710. I am trying to piece together some history for them. I obtained the address from their marriage applications. They were married February 13, 1907. He was a “molder” and probably worked at one of the foundries. They appear in the city directory on the East side White River at 978 Maryland Street in 1913 and then appear on the Anderson, Indiana census in 1920. I wondered why they moved and found that there was a MAJOR flood in 1913 and also wonder if this had anything to do with their moving.
Because of their Slovenian ancestry it has been a tough job tracing them through the name misspellings from census takers and applications personel. I have yet to find them in the 1910 census.
I hope to see more information on this site in the future from others.
Thank you again!
Lucky you, to have to search many alternate spellings for their names. As I typed the list of family names from Warman Street, I thought there was a lot of room for spelling mistakes. If you would like to learn more about the 1913 flood, you might check with the Indiana Historical Society exhibit staff. They recently had a You Are There exhibit about the flood and did exhaustive research on the west side area during that time. Good luck researching your family. [You wouldn’t happen to have any snapshots of their house a 706 Warman would you?]
I’m enjoying the research of the flood. And sadly, no – no photos. Hopefully people will start to search your site and add photos.
It is total drivel to claim my cousin, Michael Zunk, EVER had any ownership interest in the Westside Club. The poster of that lie owes an apology to a wounded Vietnam combat veteran, who went on to give this city many years of service.
Cathy Rott Nuaum…you need to visit the Slovenian National Home at 10th and Warman Avenue. There may be people who knew the Dobich family. There are people from Haughville who do geneology of the people in the area. OR, you could go to the SloveneFest on the far westside next Labor Day weekend to talk to people.
Slovenian National Home | Indianapolis, IN
I put myself through college working as a waitress and sometimes bartender at the Club. When I first started Louie & Vera Zunk were still alive and quickly became my surrogate parents. One year I made up felt Christmas Stockings and glued/glittered names on them for each regular at the Club. I made about 200 of them the first Christmas. I continued to work there for almost 4 years and by that time Louie was not well and he died shortly after I quit working there. I continued to visit the Club until Vera finally closed it down. The students from IU School of Dentistry and IU School of Medicine were frequent lunch patrons and that was always a busy part of our day. Vera cooked her “Hunkie” hamburgers upstairs and after a couple of years she had me helping her fix them. I still cook them for my own family. What a warm, loving friendly crowd of patrons I had the privilege to serve and get to know.
Thanks for sharing your memories, Sharon. I wish I’d discovered this place before it closed.
I agree, you should check out “The Nash” (Slovenian National Home). My father’s family lived in the area at the turn of the century. Both of my grandparents were immigrants and my father and siblings first generation. Helped to build Holy Trinity Catholic Church which just celebrated its final mass in November 2014. My father Henry Brodnik, uncles and their friends made up the Haughville Slickers, a band that played at several Slovenian functions. So sad to see the area now especially since it has such rich heritage and history.
Tina, I’d like to write more about Haughville, but being a “Then and Now” column my topic is dependant on finding old photos. If you have any that you can share (or if I could come scan some if you live near Indianapolis), please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. That goes for everyone! I love to discover old photos that no one has seen for years.
I’m working with a guy who owns the 710 building. The interior photo above looks much different than any of the other photos of the 710 building, but it sure looks like it could be the 701 building on the other corner. Any chance those are mixed interior / exterior shots? Is anyone sure that they’ve nailed the right building for the club? Seeing as how the numbers could easily be transposed, 701 vs. 710, what are the chances?
Yes, the photo’s are not completely correct. That first photo is of a place called Pee Wee’s.
I met a lady today at my place of business who worked at the Social Club for many years and told of the time she met Paul Newman there when he was in town for one of the Indianapolis 500 races. Unfortunately, I did not get her name and did not know about this website.
She said that Mr. Newman ate 5 hamburgers and is a “hamburger junkie.” She got his autograph.
The owner stuck around until he was in his 90s, said she, and then finally left or otherwise departed: Then, it closed.
Wish I had more to offer or had gone there personally. I’m a near-by Westsider. Theresa Rice
Thanks so much for sharing this story, Theresa!
On the Paul Newman story, Vera told me that Paul didnt sign autographs. She told him that if she was going to buy his lunch, he should at least sign his ticket. That is how she got the graph
My dad worked at the club as a second job. He would leave school 16 and be home in time to fix our lunch . He bought a lot of our Christmas with that money and put us through Holy Trinity. I remember Mr. Zunk as a very kind man. He helped my dad alot. My first set of golf clubs came from there. I would like to know more about my family tree, but do not know where to begin. Any help would be appreciated
I love this column/post! I agree with you Joan, it would be lovely to see more old photos of the Haughville neighborhood. I dont remember it, but my parents do, both originally being west-siders. My father’s maternal line were Slovene immigrants (Turk & Zeunik), and his paternal lines are Hostetlers, which you must know all about being a Hostetler yourself!
My mother’s family moved to Indpls from Brazil, IN just before the depression and after their father, a police officer, was accidentally hit by a trolley car and killed. She always mentions how as a girl she would walk to the tavern with her granny with an empty bucket and they would get it filled with beer! She also fondly recalls “Hunkie Bread & Hunkie Stew” and I see above that Haughville was called Hunkietown, which I had never heard.
There is a photo of Joe Zeunik’s meat market with Joe, his brothers and Tilly – they were my father’s great-uncles/aunt. She would visit us with her husband at our grandma’s hous. My father is always talking about the Pixie Theatre where he and Norma Jane Lambert would go to the picture show and his friend Sandy who lived above it with her father a widower. How I wish I could find a photo of the Pixie! I would love to have it framed and give it to him since he talks about it so much.
His father’s family (Chester W Hostetler) lived on Hwy 40 west of Indpls, and previously lived down on the IN-KY border. I remember their huge old farmhouse and workshop out back. Unfortunately it has been torn down from what I hear. As you probably know there are many Hostetlers all over.
Thanks for what you are doing Joan, and I enjoy reading all of the comments with their stories as well. I wish I had some photos to contribute. If I ever come into some, I will remember you! Eileen
Thanks for the memories and kind words, Eileen! It seems like I’ve seen a photo of the Pixie; maybe at the Indiana Historical Society? I’ll keep it in mind for you. My Hostetlers all lived in northern Indiana (Pierceton area near Warsaw), but I’m sure we’re distantly related!
My father, Ike Harrison, a railroader belonged to the club all his life. He belonged to the Sylvanian Home until his death in 1983. I used to go in there with him as he aged and I would take him.
Bar next to Sport Spot was the Beverage Inn.
I was a newsboy in Haughville in the 1960s. One of my regular customers was the Westside Social Club. To deliver the paper, I had to knock on the outside door and wait for someone to check me out through the small window. Then I was let in and carried the paper down to the bar. I would collect for the paper when I delivered on Saturdays, and the bartender would pay me, often with a tip. My parents, Bud and Molly Schmitt, knew Lefty Milharcic well. I knew his son and daughter.
My grandpa Johnny Hren was part owner of the club until his Death in 1977 He Would make runs to Indiana Illinois border universal in And bring back liquor for my grandma’s father still operating that way threw probation my great grandpa was a coal miner an Run his still at night , my great uncle Evo John Klearch was caught on an put in Leavenworth penitentiary On his Release he had became a carpenter and he remolded the club I have many stories of the club my name is Thomas J Lefter
My first lunch date with my husband Bill Verhonik, was at the Westside Social Club back in the early 70’s
I have a lot of great memories of the. Club that I could talk about now but I don’t want to implicate anyone but helping my dad clean the place when I was kid was surely a learning experience.