Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Black Cat Delaware
Black Cat, Delaware is not a place you will find on a map but it's general location is just south of the RT40/RT13 intersection in Delaware. Today it is just an uninteresting strip of commercial businesses you see as you leave the Wilmington-New Castle area. At the end of prohibition however the Black Cat Ballroom started life here and from that entertainment spot the area became known as Black Cat.
The Black Cat Ballroom had a restaurant and a ballroom for dancing. It had high quality dance orchestras such as Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra, Cab Calloway and his older sister Blanche Calloway.
In 1933 Victoria George an 18 year old, 5’7” 126 pound lady became the first Miss Delaware. She was selected for this honor at the Black Cat Ballroom. Victoria Died on March 17, 2003. This is from the article written by Jaime E. Cherundolo printed in the Book; "Friends, neighbors and Folks down the Road" by Ed Okonowicz and Jerry Rhodes
It later evolved into the vaudeville circuit playing to dance teams such as Kathleen O'Hanlon and Theodore Zembuni, Europe's greatest character dancers. Various Carioca and apache dancers teams performed with Floyd Mills and his Orchestra ( also called Floyd Mills and his Marylanders) the Sani Noma Orchestra and various juggling acts.
The only person I have found that gave his birth place as Black Cat, Delaware was Ed "Ace" Stone who was born on August 21, 1910. So the place may have had the name Black Cat even before the Black Cat Ballroom. Ed Stone was a famous baseball player from the Negro League. An outfielder he played from 1931-1950 with such teams as; the Wilmington Hornets, Atlantic City Bacharachs, Brooklyn Eagles, Newark Eagles, Philadelphia Stars, New York Black Yankees, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Kansas City Monarchs, Nuevo Laredo Owls (Mexico), Veracruz Red Eagles (Mexico), Torreon Cotton Dealers (Mexico),Mexico City Red Devils, and the Havana Lions (Cuba). He died on April 11, 1983 in the Bronx, NY.
The place was known for it entertainment but it was just as well known as a meeting place for truckers and travelers due to it's location at the intersection of RT40 (heading west to Baltimore) and RT13 (heading north and south). Like many entertainment spots the Black Cat was sold a number of times and the name changed but the Black Cat name remains to this area of Delaware. It started as a high class place but by the late 1940's had started on a decline.
My Grandfather, Clifford "Nockie" Nock ran the garage adjacent. Many memories...