Lillian Taustin Dose
Her Memories of Moving to Ocean City
Located in the center of this photo is the first bingo game in Ocean City. It was operated by Lillian & Kurt Dose in 1938.
In 1934 Kurt [Dose] and I eloped to Greenwich, Connecticut, and were married by a judge. Not only could we not afford a wedding but also Kurt was not of the Jewish faith. Subsequently two more married non-Jews. We were becoming a League of Nations and from an orthodox family!
After various ventures and a lot of fun - it is the year 1937 and I am pregnant with Arlene. We are in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We are in the picture taking business. One [picture] for 10 cents, 3 for 25 cents. We have about 5 or 6 machines in different cities. These are only siteorary stores because we only stay until practically all the people have their pictures taken and then we move on to other cities.
Towards the end of our stay in Lancaster, Kurt and my brother Sam Taustin came back to O.C. after a few days on the road. They didn't find any stores for our picture taking because Kurt found Ocean City. This was in the spring of 1937 and just a couple of months before the summer season. He fell in love with all the water surrounding Ocean City and the little town itself. (He was a good sailor.) It really looked like a country village. Small white wooden cottages, the main street one block long with a Mom-and-Pop grocery store, a shack of a post office, a store for the gas company and one for the telephone company where people came to pay their bills. The telephone company proper was in a little cottage near the bridge on Division Street. We had no dial system but we had a wonderful operator and she knew everyone in town. You just picked up the phone and said "Naomi, please ring Mr. So and So" or even by first name, then we gossiped a little while she rang the number. If someone called you and you were not at home she would ring the number where she knew you were. It was a fun way to live. And it was only 44 years ago. As I write this now we are in the Space Age!
We rented a little cottage on Baltimore Avenue at the corner of Wicomico Street. On July 2 Arlene was born. This, our first season in Ocean City, we had a Bingo operation (the first ever in Ocean City), a very large hamburger stand (my job was just to prepare the hamburgers) and a "wheel joint", which is a big wheel that turns - the customer puts his 25 cents on a number and if the wheel stops on his number he wins a blanket! Nothing else - just blankets.
Then Labor Day came and the town reverted back to a village. Arlene, being only 2 months old, I had to find a place to live here while Kurt and Sam went off with a trailer carrying 3 picture machines to set up in siteorary locations. Now Sam and Kurt were partners. The season in Ocean City was just 10 weeks - no more no less. We had to make money to live on until the next season.
Arlene and I lived with Mrs. Evans at the Mt. Vernon on Talbot Street. It was a boarding house. That is 3 meals a day and a room. She charged us $10 a week! Imagine 21 meals (all you can eat and the food was excellent) and a nice large room for only $10 each adult. No charge for the baby!
After about 4 weeks Kurt came back to O.C. to get baby and me. We had a truck at that time - a ton and one half, open body. I suppose we got a good buy on it and because Kurt thought we could make some money with it. We did haul pecans up from Georgia a few times and sold them to Acme Stores in Pennsylvania. Now we used it to carry the picture machines. Well, I bundled up Arlene and with a bath tub, potty chair, hot plate, double boiler, etc, etc, and we were off to Chambersburg, PA and settled into a hotel. Oh yes, we also had a baby carriage.
Well, we did fine with the picture machines and then it was springtime and we were ready to go back to O.C. for our second summer and live with Mrs. Evans. We occupied her largest bedroom. It was great not to have to shop and cook. At night I would help in the business and Mrs. Evans was always at home so I had a baby sitter without charge.
Now in the summer of 1938 we have the first Bingo operation right behind the Capital Theater and on the boardwalk (where Playland is now) we had a Fascination Game. There were three very large counters with lots of numbers (like roulette) with dealers behind them. If you have your money on the numbers that light up on a board you win whatever the odds are for the number or combination of numbers. I was the cashier.
In 1940 my brothers Sam and Irving [Taustin] owned the property on 9th Street on the boardwalk [south side]. They built the stores, five of them for $8,000. The largest store was for our new Bingo game. The next largest was our Auction Store, then the first Candy Kitchen, which Sally and Thelma [Lil's sisters] ran. All the candy was bought then. The Candy Factory came later. And then there was the Blue Dahlia Night Club. Liquor was illegal at that time but we sold it, as did many other places.
The war was on and we carried on our businesses on the boardwalk under a blackout. At this point in time we had one Bingo at Division Street, one at 9th Street and one store full of slot machines. The town was quite small at that time. Mostly families came and spent the entire summer at their favorite boarding house or little wooden hotels. [It was a happy time for me.]
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