Harveys Lake History

Jay's Motel, Bar and Grill

Jay's Motel. Courtesy, Nick Arnone

Nick and Julia Arnone with 1955 Century Coronado
Courtesy, Nick Arnone

Following World War II a new generation of Lake establishments was created to serve the Lake's recreational and hospitality visitors. William and Doris Wolfle's Lake Diner at Sunset opened on Decoration Day, May 30, 1947. On August 11, 1949, the Wa-Hoo Inn near the Picnic Grounds opened its 28 -year run as a restaurant and night club venue. Francis Ambrose opened Sunset Park in the spring of 1949. In mid-1949 his brother, Peter Ambrose, converted the Cotton Club into the Circle Inn. Lake Township had a formal quota of only three Liquor Control Board licenses but in fact by December 1949 there were 20 LCB license holders in the township and mostly at the Lake. By 1950 Fred Brokenshire's hotel at Warden Place was advertised as a "Pocono" honeymoon destination. In 1951 the local court ordered the LCB to grant a liquor license to Burke's Bar-B-Cue at Sunset, now Damien's on the Lake. Joseph A. Paglianite opened his Grotto Pizza business at the Lake in 1953. Tommy O'Brien began his legendary scuba-diving service at the Lake in 1955.

Jay's Motel and Dock
Courtesy, Nick Arnone

A unique contribution to the Sunset area at this time was "Jay's Motel." Nick and Julia Arnone purchased the Sunset Inn along Old Lake Road in 1954, which included lake front property. On the lake front the Arnones constructed a six-unit motel in 1954-55 along with an extended dock to lease boat-slips to private boat-owners.

The Arnones also offered speedboat rides. The first speedboat was a 1955 Century Coronado. It was originally owned by a police department in Michigan. William Woolbert, who owned a Kingston boat dealership, facilitated the transfer and sale of the Coronado to the Arnones. Later, it was replaced by a 1959 Century Coronado. The 1959 speedboat was originally purchased from the Lake Harbor Boat Service at Lake Wallenpaupack by S. G. Mastriani, a prominent Scranton-area general contractor. He later sold it to insurance executive Howard F. Marquart, Trucksville. After Marquart's death in late May 1971 his estate sold the Coronado to the Arnones. The Arnones' grandson, Nick Arnone, now owns the boat and displays it at the Lake's annual antique and classic boat show.

Nick Arnone, left; Lady of the Lake 1961, center;
Julia Arnone, right, on 1955 Coronado.
Courtesy, Nick Arnone

The Arnones also rented rowboats and motorboats at the motel dock. The motorboats were 15- foot Winners with 15 H.P. Evinrude motors. Later, the Arnones rented small pedal-powered pontoon craft. A Dino gas station also sold gasoline to Lake boaters.

Opposite the motel on the other side of Old Lake Road was Jay's Bar and Grill. The name Jay's is derived from the initial "J" in Julia. Jay's was once the Sunset Inn.

The Sunset Inn was originally opened in June 1947. Mollie J. Kostick purchased the property from Florence Randall in September 1946. Florence and Charles 'Chick' Randall operated an apartment building and a boat concession at Sunset. Chick Randall was murdered in late May 1945 by Kenneth Farrell who was convicted in October 1945 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Arnone's Paddle Pontoon Boats
Courtesy, Nick Arnone

Florence Randall was charged as an accessory in the murder and testified for the State in Farrell's trial. She was convicted twice by juries as an accessory but each time the convictions were reversed on appeal due to issues with her trials. At a third non-jury trial a judge again found her guilty in 1947 and she was heavily fined, sentenced to time already served, and released. [Known as the 'Sugar Hollow' murder, the case is covered elsewhere on this website.]

Kostick apparently reconstructed the Randall property into an Inn with its apartments. Joseph Arnone operated the Sunset Inn in 1947 and into mid-1948. The Sunset Inn was then operated by Donald and Helen Bolton from late 1947 until early December 1949. The Boltons then opened a diner in Shavertown. Mollie and Mike Kostick thereafter assumed operation of the Sunset Inn which was damaged by a fire in mid-December 1949. The inn housed both the café and upstairs apartments for the Bolton, Kostick and two other families. Eleven adults and children escaped the fire from upstairs windows.

The Sunset Inn continued to operate until May 1953 when it was advertised for sale as a store and lunchroom.

Arnone's 1959 Century Coronado.
Courtesy, Nick Arnone

The Arnone family were experienced hotel operators in Wilkes-Barre. Joseph Arnone, a son of Charles and Theresa Arnone of Pittston, operated the Rex Hotel, East Market Street, Wilkes-Barre, until his death at age 40 in 1948. A brother, Jasper Arnone, operated the Rex until 1952 when another brother Nicholas and his wife Julia Arnone assumed its operation as Jay's Bar and Grill.

In 1958 Nicholas and Julia Arnone acquired the Milner Hotel adjacent to Jay's Bar and Grill. The Milner Hotel was formerly the Terminal Hotel. It was built on the corner of East Market and South Pennsylvania Avenue in Wilkes-Barre. The Arnones renamed it the Grand Hotel.

The Grand Hotel formerly served visitors to the city who often arrived at the Lehigh Valley Railroad Station (now the Best Western-Genetti's parking lot). The Arnones operated the Grand Hotel as a long-term residence for male guests. In 1974 the Redevelopment Authority of Wilkes-Barre acquired the Arnone properties and in 1976 the hotels, along with neighboring buildings, were razed. A new building was erected on the hotel sites and it is now a Luzerne County Court House Annex known as Penn Place.

A 'Making the Rounds' article in the Sunday Independent on April 12, 1987, by 'The Baron' recounts the post-World War II era at the Lake. 'Making the Rounds' was a weekly column generally covering the Valley's bar and entertainment scene. It was actually written by the late Charles (Earl) Watson. A Korean War veteran and journalist, Earl Watson wrote the column for over twenty years in the Independent newspaper. His April 1987 commentary covers a host of former Lake venues and memories, engagingly told but not with complete accuracy:

 

"The Baron" C. Earl Watson
1929-2018

Remember the good old days at Harvey's Lake: traipsing over the peanut shell-littered floor at Sloppy Tony's...wolfing down a weenie at Mama Price's stand...rapping with the late Art Jump, bartender at LaCasa?
We got to thinking about the Lake the other day and that prompted a call to Nick and Julie Arnone, resident experts on the subject. They operated businesses (remember the Old Jay's) for more than 30 years at the lake. What's more, they are two of our favorite people.
Time was when the lake was round-the-clock action. "In those days, you'd have to be careful approaching Sunset (section) at 2 a.m. or you'd run somebody over...now we roll up the sidewalks at 8 p.m.," mused Arnone.
As Nick and Julie reminded, in the post-World War II era, the returning GIs were flushed. Well, anyway, they had their "52/20" (20 bucks for 52 weeks) and it was nothing for them to drink up to twenty at one session, even with Yankee beer only 10 cents a schooner.
The Arnones first went into business at Harvey's Lake in 1944 and, for years, their oasis, Jay's (that's Julie's J}, was one of our favorite watering holes in Sunset. They also operated a six-unit motel.
Ah, Sunset! You could party from sunrise to sunset, and continue on to sunrise.
* * *
Understand, you're no spring chicken, if you chug-alugged a brew at Jack Nothoff's (now Villa Roma)...Or lifted the stein at Pete Ambrose's Cotton Club, later Circle Inn, the Scarlet's Inn (now the site of Flagstone Rest Home).
You're probably getting paunchy in the mid-section if you were around when Art Jump was serving them up at Harold Heiter's LaCasa... or when Al and Pete Court were pumping the suds at Coury's... or when Gonda's stand was doing a land office business in hoagies.
Remember when Lake residents could tell who was coming by the sounds of the boat... when the launch.
"Moon Shine" reigned... and the "MaeBelle" was the last of the old "Steamers," although it was gas powered... and who owned the "Susan E?"... the day the "Black Hawk" blew up and sank during refueling in the middle of the lake off the Girl Scout Camp... Jack Zorzi's Offy-powered hydros...an old step-hull design featuring a "Star" car engine.
You have silver threads among the gold if you recall Tommy Loughran or Pete Latzo training at the Lake... tipped a few beers at Barefoot Annie's... were one of the old-timers whose favorite haunt was Rinkin's Café (Old Lake Road), where Marty and Nelly were hosts. Remember, too, when the present-day Waterfront was Jack Link's Bar or when you played your first game of bingo at the Casino.
You've been around a few years if you remember Tony Bennett warbling at the Wa-Hoo Inn, operated by Tony Teberio (Wilkes-Barre fireman from the No. 4 engine house) near Hanson's Park... or stocked up on one of May Brennan's chicken dinners at May's Old Place... or sat at Watkin's Café listening to the Chief relate his World War II stories (he was aboard the U-7, observing he Japanese fleet steaming toward Pearl Harbor).
And, boys and girls, let's not forget Hanson's Birch Bar.
Folks, it all happened in the good old days at Harvey's Lake. Remember? *

 

Former Jay's Bar and Grill, 2019
FCP Collection

Jay's Bar and Grill attracted a substantial business at Sunset, especially on weekends, but not only for its 25 cent beers and Sunday sales, but because of Nick and Julia Arnones' magnetic personalities. Nick Arnone was known as "Pop" and his loyal customers crowded around the bar to listen to Pop's stories.

In 1975 the Arnones converted Jay's Motel into apartments. In August 1975 the Arnone's sold Jay's Bar and Grill to John D. Smith, Jr., who operated it as Jay's. In April 1979 Jay's advertised the bar as the area's newest Disco with a computerized dance floor. But a series of Liquor Control Board violations plagued the business.

With the loss of its LCB license, Jay's became the Jungle Juice Bar in early June 1982, a B.Y.O.B bar with Friday and Saturday night live entertainment. But the B.Y.O.B. bar seemingly did not survive the month and its last ad was June 18, 1982.

Smith converted Jay's ground-floor bar into additional apartments. The vacant structure is currently owned by an out-of-area limited liability corporation. A private investor now owns the former motel structure which contains apartments.

 

* Editor's Notes: A few observations and corrections to Earl Watson's 1987 article should be noted. Nick Arnone operated a bar in the 1944-46 period as a lessee and successor of Eugene Duffy which Duffy then sold to Walter Puterbaugh for a grocery store and the Shawanese post office. Puterbaugh later sold the store to Nick Diveronica. The building was razed in 2015. The last gasoline excursion boat or water-taxi was the Emily not the Moon Shine. The last steamboat was not the Maebelle but the Natoma which was docked at Sandy Beach in the early 40s and was a coal-fired steamboat not gasoline powered. No confirmation could be located to support Tony Bennett's appearance at the Wa-Hoo Inn at the Lake. Rather, Bennett opened a week's appearance on October 28, 1951, at Fogerty's on the Luzerne-Dallas Highway.

Other observations may be of interest. Frederick and Clara Watkins' café opened at Sunset in 1950. Al Coury operated Coury's Hotel and Bar at Sunset in the 1950s-60s. During WW II he served in the U. S. Navy and was assigned to Japan after the war's conclusion. He was in Nagasaki six months after America's atomic bomb destroyed the city. John T. Zorzi was the Lake's premier speed-boat racer in the 1920s-30s. His boats were powered by Offenhauser marine engines. The 'Offy' engine was then adapted to motor cars which dominated national auto races into the 1970s. In August 1929 a Zorzi speed-boat sank in 85 feet of water at the Lake. Early scuba-divers recovered Zorzi's boat in June 1955. The Black Hawk boat-fire may refer to an August 6, 1947, incident when Charles Medico's motor boat burst into flames after refueling mid-Lake from another boat. Turning the ignition switch likely ignited gasoline fumes and Medico's boat burst into flames and he and his guest, Warren J. Connor, had to leap into the Lake to escape the fire.

 

Thanks! to Nick Arnone, grandson of Nicholas and Julia Arnone, for his assistance with this article and family photographs to illustrate it.

 

Copyright October 2019 F. Charles Petrillo