What do you really know about Dayton's famous lounge singer?

Published: Wednesday, August 02, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Here is what you need to know about Dayton music legend Betty Greenwood. Video by Amelia Robinson.

Did bawdy Betty ever play. 

Betty Greenwood, with her sequined gowns and coiffed locks, kept Dayton entertained for more than six decades. 

The Dayton native’s trademark leg swing above the keyboard got crowds going every time. 

The lounge singer, born to Amos “Mack” and Myrtle McGriff on July 15, 1922, was playing the piano in her Kettering home just a week before her 2014 death and had organized a new musical group for local shows, according to her obituary.

>> MORE: Legendary Dayton performer dies


Greenwood — Dayton’s most well-known lounge singer throughout her life — mixed music, songs and often risque stories during her shows.

Susie McLaughlin, Greenwood’s longtime friend, caregiver and partner on stage of 14 years, called Greenwood “the master of the double entendre.”

>> What you need to know about the Queen of Dayton’s Red Light District

“She wouldn’t take you there,” McLaughlin told this news organization as part of an article on Greenwood’s death. “You would take yourself there.”

McLaughlin penned a 2003 book on Greenwood’s life called “The Betty Greenwood Story.”

Betty owned Cascades Nightclub on Salem Avenue in Dayton from 1959 until closing it in 1974. Sealed Budweiser cans containing beans sat on the bar’s tables and were used as noisemakers. 

Betty and her gang of players hosted an annual Ohio River boat trip aboard the “SS Jubilee” that a Dayton Daily News writer described as a “real ring-a-ding affair” in 1972.   

With Greenwood on one of two pianos, music started at 9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and was non-stop until 2 a.m.

She performed at many of Dayton’s then-thriving supper and nightclubs, including Paul’s Cafe, Ranch House on Dixie Circle, the Tropics and John Smith's Brown Derby.

Most people raved about Betty, but her act was not everyone’s cup of tea. 

Then Journal Herald Columnist P.J. Bednarski was definitely not a fan. See his full Sept. 4, 1975 review below.  

“Most of what Miss Greenwood jokes about on stage is unprintable. Actually, most of what she says on stage is unspeakable, and that is her problem. But it is inconceivable that she has lived in the same world as you and I.” 

Betty Greenwood with Janet Delany and David Wood in a photo dated Aug. 30, 1975.

Here are 6 things to know about Betty Greenwood.

1.) SHE STARTED EARLY  

Betty’s mother Myrtle introduced her to show business when she was just 1 year old. 

Myrtle took money from her husband's pants and made Betty a dress so she could enter her in a citywide beautiful baby contest, according to a 2006 article by legendary Dayton Daily News writer Jim Nichols. 

Betty was victorious.

Betty’s life in music was launched when she was 6, with lessons on the piano from a woman named Alberta Culph, according to Nichols’ reporting.

Her dad, Mack McGriff, was in several local bands and played 11 instruments. 

>> 8 Dayton acts you should give a funk about

Mack’s company built some of the early houses in Dayton's Westwood neighborhood. 

Shortly after high school, Betty played in her first club, the former Paul's Cafe at 3038 E. Third St. She retired at least four times

>> How Dayton's Bonnie and Clyde led police on a chase that ended in a shootout among the tombstones

2.) THE STARS CAME TO HER

Betty Greenwood with her antique clock in a 1972 Dayton Daily News photo dated Nov. 26, 1972.

During her decades-long career in entertainment, Betty put smiles on thousands of faces and met and befriended some of the biggest names on stage and screen who visited as part of the Kenley Players shows. 
They’d swing by Greenwood’s club after performances.

She knew Burt Reynolds, Liberace and a long list of other performers.

“The stars would do their shows and then come to her club,” McLaughlin said. “They loved her.”

3.) SHE APPRECIATED TALENT 

Betty had a reputation for showcasing talent at the Cascades. 

In 1961, she gave Roosevelt High School graduate Bobbie Nell Brookshire Gordon a break. 

The jazz singer — who would later be dubbed "the Brown Bombshell" —  caught the attention of legendary bandleader Duke Elllington at Betty’s club. 

"She had a contract with me, but I said if it meant you touring with Duke Ellington, I wouldn't want to stand in the way of that," Betty told this news organization as part of a 2003 article about Gordon’s death. 

>> 8 badass Dayton women who made history

Gordon toured with Ellington from 1970 to 1974, the year of Ellington’s death.

Other notable people who played at the Cascades include: Norma Paulus (aka Big Red), Lenny Davis, Cliff Bailey, Lincoln Berry and Eddie Herring — who, along with his wife, was murdered in an unsolved gangland-type slaying in 1973.

>> This former cop committed one of Dayton's most notorious crimes of passion — and you decide his fate

Vintage Betty Greenwood glassware.

4.) SHE RETIRED AT LEAST FOUR TIMES 

Betty retired from public appearances in 2007 at age 85. She had retired more than a few times before that. 

In 2002, Nichols wrote about Betty’s third retirement. 

Her final show was supposed to be at the Trolley Stop in the Oregon District, where she had performed monthly. 

>> MORE: What are the oldest bars in downtown Dayton?

Betty’s first retirement was in 1973. She moved to St. Petersburg, Fla., but it didn’t stick.

She soon had a trio performing at the Hilton Inn's Thunderbird Lounge.

Articles from Dayton Daily News archives at Wright State University.

5.) VERA WAS HER BESTIE 

Vera Huffman was Betty's all-time bestie, according to Nichols’ articles.

Vera and Betty sold real estate and jewelry together and were partners in the Cascades. Betty wanted her own club. 

"Millie Schlechty had the Cascades on Salem alone, because her husband, Glenn, had died. She didn't want to sell, but I talked her into it," she told Nichols in 1991. 

The pals moved to Florida, where Vera’s children lived. Betty’s mom moved with them.

>> Meet ‘Mrs. Satan,' the Ohioian who was the nation's first female presidential candidate

By 1982, Myrtle had become increasingly ill, so Betty and Vera, who died in 2000, moved back to Dayton. The city always called her home. 

“You can call me a dyed-in-the-wool Daytonian, no ifs or buts about it. I've traveled throughout the United States, but wherever I go, I just come come home to God's country — Dayton,” Betty says in her book.

Articles from Dayton Daily News archives at Wright State University.

6.) IT WAS AN ACT

Betty was far from the happy-go-lucky, swinging pianist with the raucous voice when she left the stage, according to a 1965 profile. 

She whipped up creamy chocolate souffles and mouth-watering banana pies. 

She was described as a “quiet grandmother” who loved to “cook and sit quietly, reading or painting or just relaxing with her children,” the article says. 

“My entire life is built around my two sons and my three grandchildren,” Betty said. “I assume a completely different personality when I go to work, and I’m sure my customers wouldn’t know me here.”  

2012 photo of Betty Greenwood at her 90th anniversary birthday. (contributed to Active Angels, the ministry she co-founded)

 

Articles from Dayton Daily News archives at Wright State University.
Articles from Dayton Daily News archives at Wright State University.
Articles from Dayton Daily News archives at Wright State University.

SALAR FIRE: Fund set up to help those impacted by New Year’s Eve weekend blaze

Published: Sunday, December 31, 2018 @ 12:39 PM

A fire that broke out Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, at Salar Restaurant and Lounge, 400 E. Fifth St., has closed the popular Oregon District restaurant indefinitely. JAROD THRUSH / STAFF
Staff Writer
A fire that broke out Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, at Salar Restaurant and Lounge, 400 E. Fifth St., has closed the popular Oregon District restaurant indefinitely. JAROD THRUSH / STAFF(Staff Writer)

Funds are being collected to help employees impacted by a fire at one of the Oregon District’s most popular restaurants. 

>> Salar owner after fire: ‘My heart is broken for my people’

Meg Shaw, the general manager at Salar Restaurant and Lounge, set up a GoFundMe fundraiser for employees of the restaurant.

The description reads: 

On Friday, December 29th, the incredible and loyal staff at Salar Restaurant and Lounge received the devastating news that their home away from home had suffered a tragic and major fire. The staff has worked so hard for the almost five years that Salar has been a part of our community, and are searching for employment in the interim that Salar is closed. We want to give back to staff in their time of need and hope that you’ll help us provide this for them. 

 Thank you to everyone for your support. We will be back!

About 35 people work in the restaurant that Margot Blondet, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Lima, Peru, opened in 2013. 

Blondet said Saturday that she doesn’t know yet how long it will be before the restaurant can be back up and running following the Friday fire, but it looks like it could be months out before the business is again operating.

Dayton fire crews were dispatched to Salar at 6:20 a.m. Friday on reports of smoke.

>> FIRST REPORTS:  Fire at Salar

Firefighters said a kitchen fire spread, causing significant smoke damage to the restaurant.

Investigators said the fire started in the kitchen and spread to the ceiling and a neighboring building, affecting other businesses along with Salar.

The Scenery, a digital product agency on the second floor, said on its Facebook page that it has been displaced from the fire.

The spice shop Spice Paradise and Hicks' Barber Shop & Shave Parlor on Brown  are also among the businesses closed until further notice due to the fire.

>> New Years Eve Guide: The best places in and around Dayton to ring in 2018

Dayton’s highest bar is now even higher

Published: Tuesday, December 19, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

The  upper lounge at the 29th Stories Lounge in the Dayton Racquet Club in downtown Dayton.  Photo: Amelia Robinson
Photo: Amelia Robinson
The upper lounge at the 29th Stories Lounge in the Dayton Racquet Club in downtown Dayton. Photo: Amelia Robinson(Photo: Amelia Robinson)

The highest bar in Dayton is now even higher. 

The Racquet Club, located at 40 North Main St. on the 29th floor of the Kettering Tower, opened a lounge above the bar a few months ago, Jocelin Dean, the club’s membership director said.

Thanks to the addition, the club’s 29 Stories Lounge is now 29½ stories tall, Dean said. 

>> 7 amazing Dayton membership gift ideas that keep on giving

It is a feather in an already-high hat. 

“We already were the tallest  building in Dayton. We already have that distinction of being the tallest (bar),”  Dean said. 

>> RELATED: 3 things to know about Kettering Tower

The lounge’s space had held bleachers overlooking the club’s squash courts. 

“It was just dead wasted space,” Dean said. “We figured there had to be a better use for it.” 

A hallway wall was also moved to open up the front of the bar, and new seating was added. 

The renovations are part of $250,000 in work undertook at the club during the past three years. 

Dean said additional changes will be made based on member feedback and use. 

“It is a space that is always being tweaked,” she said. 

The club is working with members to determine the right funiture and function of the space, Dean said.

The club’s 29 Stories Lounge was completed in 2011 to address member requests for a more causal setting to take clients and for after work socializing and networking. 

Such a space had been suggested since shortly after the club — the brainchild of Virginia Kettering — opened in 1971.

>> RELATED: Inside the Dayton Racquet Club: towering venue ‘squashing’ misconceptions, drawing new members (May 10, 2013)

The 29th Stories Lounge is restricted to members and their guests, but Dean said there are several public events held annually. 

“Anybody who is curious to see what the bar looks like can always contact me for a tour,” she said.

Racquet Club membership ranges from $60 to $200 a month, depending on included features. 

>> RELATED: Dayton Walk of Fame member Virginia Kettering

The upper lounge at the 29th Stories Lounge in the Dayton Racquet Club in downtown Dayton. Photo: Amelia Robinson(Photo: Amelia Robinson)

7 things you should know about the new diner in the Oregon District 

Published: Thursday, June 29, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

You don't have to go inside of 416 Diner in the Oregon District to get food. Video by Amelia Robinson

Installation complete! 416 Diner is now open and has started slinging eggs, burgers, hoagies and pepperoni rolls.

>> Late-night, lunch, breakfast diner set to open in Oregon District 

The owner, Guy Fragmin purchased the building in 2005 as a retirement investment. 

It held  5th Street Wine and Deli until that business moved in January to transform into Canal Street Arcade and Deli.

>> Canal Street Arcade & Deli opens on June 28

Canal Street Arcade & Deli opened on June 28 at 308 E. First St. in downtown Dayton, the former site of Canal Street Tavern and Canal Public House.

>> 5 sandwiches we can’t wait to eat at Canal Street Arcade & Deli 

Dayton resident Guy Fragmin is set to open 416 E. Fifth St. in Dayton’s Oregon District.(Photo: Amelia Robinson)

>> See these awesome photos of the new Canal Street Arcade & Deli (May 2017)

Here are five things to know about 416 Diner:

THE NAME  

Fragmin says he constantly gets questions about the restaurant’s name, but the answer is pretty simple: the name is taken from the business’ address at 416 E. Fifth St.

THE SERVICE WINDOW

Customers will be able to order from the restaurant’s walk-up service window late nights Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tables will be set up on the patio. 

THE DREAM 

Fragmin has long dreamed of opening a restaurant. His mom recently sent him a picture he drew in grade school of his then-future restaurant. 

THE LEAP 

416 marks a complete career shift. Fragmin worked in advertising sales at the former Berry Company.

“When the deli decided they were going to move out, I just pulled everything forward and took my retirement. You see every penny I’ve ever made in my whole entire life,” he said with a laugh. “The community is ready and right for it.  The city is growing like crazy. I am very excited.”

THERE WILL BE PEPPERONI ROLLS 

Fragmin expects that the eatery’s West Virginia-style pepperoni rolls will be a big hit. Here is how they are described on the menu: 

A West Virginia favorite and our signature offering. A roll of fresh baked bread stuffed with spicy pepperoni makes for a delicious treat or a meal. Add cheese, chili, pizza sauce, or coleslaw to create your own unique flavor.

THE REST OF THE MENU 

Fragmin said he is pumped to get some grease on the restaurant’s spanking new equipment and includes separate griddles for meat and veggies and a conveyor oven nicknamed Lincoln. 

416 Diner’s menu can be found on its website.

Fragmin said the menu might change slightly. He is researching gluten-free items and a veggie burger. 

Breakfast items include: several omelets, an egg and chive scramble, the 416 Starter (one egg served with two strips of bacon or a sausage patty, choice of toast, and hash browns) and the Early Burger (a quarter pound burger with a fried egg and two strips of bacon served with hash browns or fried potatoes).

>> 9 of the best brunch spots in Dayton

Lunch and dinner options include: a variety of salads, burgers and hoagie sandwiches including cheese steaks, hot ham, the Hunter (marinated chicken and grilled steak, cheddar and provolone, crisp lettuce, fresh tomato, red onion and mayo), the Gatherer (roasted red pepper, grilled onions and mushrooms, fresh tomato and crisp lettuce with herbed mayo) and the Sergeant Pepper Burger (a quarter pound burger with grilled peppers, pepper jack cheese and spicy mayo on a toasted bun sprinkled with fresh black pepper). 

>> Your ultimate guide to the best burgers in Dayton

Dayton resident Guy Fragmin is set to open 416 E. Fifth St. in Dayton’s Oregon District.(Photo: Amelia Robinson)

CHARGING STATIONS 

The counter stools and each booth has an own electrical outlet to allow customers to charge phones.

“You come in and eat and charge your phone,” Fragmin said.

He said the restaurant’s heating, plumbing and electrical systems were completely remodeled.

“It’s been an amazing adventure,” Fragmin said. “There is a lot of love and a lot of effort that’s gone into to getting it ready for everybody.” 

Dayton resident Guy Fragmin is set to open 416 E. Fifth St. in Dayton’s Oregon District.(Photo: Amelia Robinson)

It’s time to sink your teeth into this grub at the Ohio Renaissance Festival 

Published: Friday, September 01, 2017 @ 6:11 PM

A look at some of our favorite Dayton-area fall festivals.

It is time to eat (and drink) your way through the 16th century. 

There'll be jousters, fire jugglers, blacksmiths and hundreds of other eye-catching sights at the 2017 Ohio Renaissance Festival, but you'll be no lord nor lady if you miss out on the grub that once gobbled.

Giant "turkey leggs" (and that's not a typo) are among the most glowing symbols of the festival held on a 30-acre, re-created 16th century village just down the road at 10542 East Ohio 73 in Harveysburg.

Turkey leg: Hoist up a Turkey Leg, probably the most popular food du jour at the Ohio Renaissance Festival. Plentiful and tender, these turkey legs are cooked to perfection at the Aleing Knight Pub, ready for you to sink your teeth right into the juicy meat. Prepare thyself for a non-stop, day-long adventure by visiting www.renfestival.com.

>>  7 fall festivals we just cannot wait for

Turkey legs are far from the only fare sold at the festival, now in its 28th year and third year under new ownership.

>> MORE: New Renaissance Festival owners plan changes

TIMES AND COST 

Everything from fish and chips to hot apple dumplings to haggis to bangers and mash can be found at the festival, which is staged from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. nine Saturdays and Sundays Sept. 2 through Oct. 29 , as well as on Labor Day.

>> PHOTOS: Ohio Renassance Festival 2017 

General Admission is slightly less expensive this year compared to last. Adults get in for $22.50 and children ages 5 to 12 are admitted for $9.50 at the box office. 

Turkey legs are a favorite at the Ohio Renaissance Festival.(Sumitted)

PRO TIPS 

Slightly discounted tickets can be purchased on the festival’s website for $19.50 for adults and $8.50 for children, plus a service fee. 

Adult admission is buy one, get one free on opening weekend, Sept. 2 to 4. 

ON TO THE FOOD

Below is  some 16th century-inspired food you can sink your 21st century teeth into at 2017 Ohio Renaissance Festival.

>> 25 September food events to help you fall in love with fall

NEW GRUB 

The festival is has a medieval theme, but that doesn’t mean organizers are against change. 

Ren Festival spokeswoman Cheryl Bucholtz said new options include The Chocolate RavenArchibald Drake’s and KJ’s Cajun Cuisine.

From the owners of Holly B’s Sweets in nearby Waynesville, The Chocolate Raven will sell a selection of chocolate and fudge treats. 

Archibald Drake’s, from the owners of the Nacho Pig food truck from Clark County, will serve fish and chips. 

KJ’s Cajun Cuisine will serve gumbo, po’boy sandwiches, beignets and similar food. 

BREADY, SET, BOWL! 

Minstel’s Mac & Cheese in a bread bowl: To prepare thyself with the energy needed for a day at the Ohio Renaissance Festival, you’ll want to load up on this delicious Old World treat. The hearty bread is baked fresh and topped with a cheese covered pasta that will make your mouth water. Prepare thyself for a non-stop, day-long adventure by visiting www.renfestival.com.

They kept things simple in the 16th century, so it should be no surprise that a place called the Bread Bowl would sell bread bowls. You'll find salads and a host of soups and stews. 

Soups include chili, Peasant's Potato Soup, Westminster Stew, Minstrel's Mac & Cheese and a spinach artichoke dip bowl.

Bucholtz says the Bread Bowl is a popular spot when fall temperatures arrive.

HOT LEGGS 

Ohio Renaissance Festival attendee Seth Roshon of Baltimore, OH bites into a turkety leg on the Renaissance Park grounds in Harveysburg, Ohio Saturday. The 19th annual festival opened Saturday and will run on Labor Day then on 8 weekends (Saturday and Sunday) through October 19. Staff Photo by Jim Witmer 08/30/08

Did we mention the turkey leggs? We assume the extra "g" is because they are extra good and really big —about 2 pounds each. About 35,000 turkey leggs are sold each year. 

THE OTHER BIRD 

Turkey isn't the only fowl to be served at Ren Fest.

Bourbon chicken -- grilled chicken covered in a bourbon sauce and placed on a bed of rice -- is also among favorites. 

IN A PICKLE

The Pickle Guy” hawking pickles from his cart.

Who can pass up a seasoned pickle from a renaissance man? They are $2 each. 

Archived photo promoting the 17th annual Ohio Renaissance Festival.(Submitted)

The festival features a new way to enjoy an adult beverage without the kids.

By popular demand, Bucholtz said The Naughty Bawdy Pub Show, an hour of "bawdy humor, cigars, and ale for ages 21 and over" will be held each day from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the The Dirty Duchess. Admission is $15.  

BBQ

  

Two summers ago, 1572 Roadhouse Bar-B-Q opened its doors to the public on the grounds of the Ohio Renaissance Festival.

The restaurant’s menu includes  Baby Back Ribs, Chicken, Pulled Pork, and Smoked Sliced Beef.  

STREET TACOS AND SHAWARMA 

Last year, Ren Fest added Garden of Eatin, Marco Polo's Bistro and Jerusalem Cafe.  

Burgers and such will be found in the Garden of Eatin. Go to Jerusalem Cafe for Middle Eastern foods like baklava and shawarma. Marco Polo's will serve street tacos. 

While you are at it, be on the look for Earl of Corn and swing by the Aleing Knight Pub for a list of munchies that includes Scotch eggs, onion petals and brownie bites.