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Dedicated to the preservation and education of Gaming History
The Arrowhead Club became possible in the early 1930’s through a unique arrangement.
No one in authority in Clermont County wanted to talk to Joe Bauer about a
fix. Somehow he found his way to the local Baptist minister. A deal was worked
out whereas, Joe would give the monthly payment to the minister. The minister
would distribute the funds to the proper authorities. Joe was never to know
where the money went or how the funds were dispersed. To further complicate
things, Sam and Harold Nason were never to know who received the payment.
In effect the Baptist minister became the bag man and the only person in the
world that could put the operation in jeopardy. I wonder what the good padre
would have told the law if ever a push came to a shove. My guess is “Religious
Confidentiality.” Fortunately for everyone concerned, the push never came
to the shove.
I need to make it perfectly clear that although the Cleveland Syndicate owned
a piece of the Arrowhead, they were not involved in the running of it. Cleveland
was known for putting up the money for their enterprises and letting the locals
run them. Make no mistake, Bauer and the Nason’s operated the club.
The Arrowhead Club was the Cleveland Syndicate’s first casino in the area.
They used the club as a stepping stone into the wide open gambling of Northern
KY, but 1st there was the small matter of the Coney Island Race Track. I feel
this is important as it happened while the Arrowhead was still open. Dutch
Schultz owned the race track. In October of 1935 the Dutchman sort of wondered
in front of a hail of gunfire. In early 1936 Moe Dalitz, who later would be
credited with building a very large part of Las Vegas, summoned Harold Nason
to Cleveland. Harold brought back the bankroll to take over The Coney Island
track. Harold was only a few miles out of town when he noticed he was being
followed. Fearing a robbery attempt he did some fancy driving and pulled into
a firehouse, to lose the tail. As it turned out, Harold had ditched the bodyguards,
Moe had given him for protection.
In 1933 the Nason’s opened their 1st gambling enterprise in Hamilton County.
It was in Elmwood a suburb of Cincinnati. The suburbs of Cincinnati would
be good to them for the next 26 years.
The Walk A Show at 5600 Vine St. was a huge building that held marathon dances,
a fad of the times. The Nason’s purchased it and changed the name to The Walk
a Show - Valley Restaurant. The Walk A Show had BJ and Hazzard plus a 300
seat race and sports book. Across the street was another casino called the
Blade, not owned by the Nason’s.
PHOTO: Danny Nason in the parking lot of
the Walk A Show, Elmwood Ohio - 1946, sitting on the bumper of a bullet proof
Back at The Arrowhead, business was booming. Clermont County Prosecutor Frank
Roberts openly tolerated the club, because, in his words, it catered to the
wealthy of Indian Hills and employed the poor of Branch Hill. I suspect there
was at least one more reason each month for his tolerance. In late 1936 The
Arrowhead started to experience some minor discomfort. Roberts began to make
statements about “those greedy slot machine people.” My personal opinion is,
the good prosecutor was getting cold feet. The cops would show up and be a
nuisance at times. Cleveland took the problems as an omen and decided to make
the move into friendly Northern Ky. The Nason’s were dispatched to Dayton
KY where they built a dog racing track at Tacoma Park. The track turned out
pretty good but only operated for about two weeks. A local dogooder found
an obscure KY law that stated, there could not be betting on any beast after
sundown. I remember when this law was repealed so Turfway Park could have
night harness racing. In later years the Tacoma Park track was used for midget
car races and a community swimming pool was built there.
I have not been able to pin down the date but I have reason to believe it
was in August 1937 when the straw broke the camels back at the Arrowhead.
Joseph S. Bauer died suddenly and from all I have learned, it was of natural
causes. It was now up to the Nason’s to keep the Arrowhead going. There was
one little problem. They had no idea who, how, what, or where to pay the payoff.
The bag man never came forward for his monthly stipend. Pure speculation on
my part, but I believe Roberts gave the minister orders to back off. The Nason’s
continued the operation through September, October, and part of November 1937.
Roberts sent orders to close The Arrowhead. These orders were ignored. On
November 19, 1937, Roberts himself lead the raid that closed The Arrowhead
for good. Roberts made the statement “the slot situation became so bad, it
could not be tolerated.” The equipment was confiscated. The new county court
house at Bativia, Ohio was the recipient of the Arrowhead furniture. The grand
jury room got a new table. It was a crap table from the Arrowhead with the
felt removed and the legs shortened. I wonder if it is still there.
PHOTO: Sam Nason & professional boxer
"KO" Mars, Hot Springs, Arkansas - 1924
After the Arrowhead was closed in 1937, the Nason’s held to the old traditions.
Joe Bauer’s widow received a payment from the Walk A Show every month. Sam
and Harold felt the family of a friend and partner had to be taken care of.
The widow’s death or the closing of the Walk A Show in 1952, by Estes Kefauver
would have been the only two things that could have stopped the payments.
Thanks to John Benedict for finding the JSB chips. I would never have known
the story of the Arrowhead if it was not for this find. Joseph S. Bauer purchased
the chips in 1926 and he ran the Arrowhead. The Nason’s had to have played
poker with the chips. They were gambling pioneers in the area. If you touch
the JSB chips, you are touching the history of gambling. I think we are collectors
of gaming history. Hold the chips and close your eyes. Picture a much different
gambling era. An era past, that can never be again. The best part of John’s
find is the story does not stop here. When I emailed John to send me the JSB
chips, in his reply he asked me if I had ever heard of Sam Nason. John suspected
Sam might have something to do with the Arrowhead. I had no idea who Sam Nason
was, but because of that simple question and Danny Nason, the history of the
JSB chips, lives on for years to come. Danny has put me in touch with a number
of veterans from The Arrowhead and The Walk A Show. They have also seen service
at The last Frontier, Sands, Flamingo, Riviera, DI, Caesars Palace, Downtown
LV, and you name it. It is likely a former Nason employee, has been there
and done that. It is truly, a small world.
Next month, The Paddock Club, The Fox and Crow, The 5911, The Lake Edward’s
Inn, and Big Surprise, The Four Queen’s connection.