Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lincoln Park Night Club

January 10, 1958 newspaper ad
Since I've been talkin' Lincoln all week, I might as well post some vintage Lincoln Park Night Club ads and a little bit of history about the place.

The earliest listing I could find for a night club at that location was the 1947 Lorain phone book. Under "Night Clubs" was the listing "Joseph Yepko" with a Stop 48 Lincoln Avenue address.

It wasn't until the 1949 book that the Lincoln Park Night Club name appeared.

Former Lorain Mayor Joseph J. Zahorec and his wife Helen managed the night club from 1954 to 1964.

Courtesy Jack Tiller Collection

Here's an ad from Feb. 1957 (below). Looks like the Music Stylists were regulars there.

Here's one from April 1958 (below) promoting a big Easter Day dance.

Here's one ten years later, from Feb. 1968 (below). It's kinda funny seeing Honest Abe in an ad for his namesake bar.

Around 1975 or 76, the night club changed its name to Big Dick's. That's the name that I remember it as, although my friends and I still referred to it as Lincoln Park (maybe we couldn't bring ourselves to call it by its new name).

The city directories revealed a variety of names after that, including Whammer Jammer Lounge (1980), Yepko's Play Pen (1981-1985), Sneakers (1986-1991), GJ Macaws (1992-?), Chances Night Club and The Flying Machine (late 1990s-?).

The building is still there today, although to look at it you would never know that it was the scene of many good times and happy memories.

Bing Maps View


Ken said...

What a dump that place was in the late seventies! Although everyone went there- the 'low' beer over 18 under 21 crowd. And obviously once it was a classy place. Sorry I missed it's great years!

Drew Penfield said...

My parents frequented the place in the late 60's/early 70's. I began going there to see live bands when it was GJ Macaws (as I recall it only kept that name for maybe 2-3 years) and then Chances. Even then it didn't look like an inviting place from outside, more like a deserted cabin in the woods you'd see in a horror movie. It was never pretty in those years, but a lot of people (me included) have a lot of great memories of the place. First place I ever played guitar on stage in front of an audience. One time my dad dropped me off there and had a laugh about the tree that was still in the middle of the parking. It had been there in the 60's. There is also a bowling alley in the basement that hasn't been used in decades. I can't quite imagine what it must have been like in it's elegant early days.

Dan Brady said...

Thanks for the reminisces, gentlemen! I remember those trees in the parking lot too!

-Alan D Hopewell said...

Big Dick's was a regular stop on our Weekend Cruisin' and Get-High tours in the mid to late 70's. The best part was all the "low" stamp guys who'd pay us to buy "high" stamp drinks for them and their dates.

Anonymous said...

I went there quite a bit during the Chances/Flying Machine era. The place was pretty run down by then, but I have great memories of it! It was THE best place to see bands in the county! I agree with Drew about the whole "cabin in a horror movie" vibe of the place. I thought the same thing the first time I went there. Still, loved that place and the times I had there.

Dave Beko

Tony said...

What is the current function of the building? It almost looks like a house. I can find Lincoln Park and Lincoln Ave off Broadway on the satellite maps but I don't see anything that matches the image from bing.

I have to say Lincoln Park looks more like just a field. I wonder if it's considered an "official" city park.

Dan Brady said...

I drove over there yesterday to grab a photo of the building, and the road is closed leading to the grounds with barricades and posted signs. It's closed up tightly, that's for sure.

I did photograph it a few years ago, I'm going to see if I can dig up those shots.

Lisa said...

Maybe a friendly neighbor will let you photograph the place from their yard? It's a huge parcel and hard to believe that barricades at the main entrance would keep out those who really wanted in.

Linda Jean Limes Ellis said...

I have been wondering what happened with "Lincoln" -- I used to enjoy dancing there with my girlfriends from 1966 to about to about 1969. I remember the revolving ball in the ceiling. Mickey and the Cleancuts was the band that I remember the most. After, I turned 21, I started going dancing with my friends at the Tropicana in Avon Lake because it seemed like a lot of the 'kids' were going there. I used to like Beaver Park in the summer for the bands and dancing during those years.

Vada said...

This is cool!

Anonymous said...

Sneakers was a great club for the 80's metal scene when hair bands were breaking. Good times in Lorain!

Anonymous said...

I lived at Big Dicks club from October to just before Christmas 1974.
Myself and three other guys from Georgia played in the small club in the back and we lived upstairs above the bar. One of he guys in the band was from Cleveland originally and the rest of of were from west Georgia. The fella from Cleveland had gotten us a gig through a Cleveland agent for us to play at a Holiday Inn somewhere in Cleveland.

We played only one set and we promptly got fired the first night. (Loud ass guitar player....) They wouldn't even let us finish out the night. The agent was raisin' hell and told us we "sucked canal water!" (THAT was a phrase I had never heard before....) The Holiday Inn folks said you can stay the night but y'alls asses are out in the morning.
Anyway, dejected we went to the bar to get drunk. I was 20 and illegal to drink in Ohio whereby in Georgia I had been drinking since I was 18. So they wouldn't even sell me a beer. (The other guys in the band were over 21)

Now....we're sitting around the bar with the patrons actually laughing their asses off at us. (Talk about humility) Anyway, two fellas walk up and were kinda laughing and said that it liked like we could use some help. They said they owned a club in Lorain and that they would hire us to play there. Man did our spirits perk up!! We gotta gig! They told us we could stay there and they would pay us $65.00 each with all the free beer, hotdogs & chips we could eat!! They said they'd be by in the morning and we could follow them to the club.

None of us had ever heard of Lorain (other than the fella from Cleveland) and had no idea where it was at. Come to find out the two guys that hired us were a couple of Jewish guys that drove identical Lincoln Continentals. (That was strange) They came the next morning and told us the name of the club was Big Dicks. We were wondering who in the hell calls a club Big Dicks??!? But we didn't care, it was a gig with free beer & hotdogs!!

Once we got there we saw how enormous the place was and thought "Wow...this is going to be great!! Big time gig!" The two fellas said, "Oh no boys, ya'll are playin' in the back." We didn't know there was a little speakeasy bar in back. They had us take our suitcases upstairs and we made pallets on the floor above the bar. Next thing I know we're playing in the bar every night and waiting tables between sets in the BIG ROOM!

Man, there some good groups from Cleveland playing in there. Playing stuff by the Moody Blues and such. It was the first time I ever saw girls dance together. I asked why and they said none of the guys would dance with 'em!!

Anyway, I stayed until the week before Christmas and decided I had had enough and headed back to Georgia in the driving snow! And THAT was an experience for this Southern boy I can tell you.

To this day I can't remember the name of those two Jewish fellas.(Maybe Dave was one?) But they were nice guys and looked out for us.....even though we were serfs!!!

All of the above is entirely true.

George (Jim) Brehmer said...

I just got off the phone with Bob King of Wellington, a fine fellow and long time friend. We went to high school together and to many of the establishments around Northern Ohio as well. Crystal Beach, the location of many dancing nights was discussed. I decided to go to the Internet to see what I could find.

Once started on a search for cherished places of the past, I searched for Richie's Tavern, a club located near Amherst when I was growing up. I can still see her in my mind's eye, the stripper at Richie's. Wow!

Next, I searched for Lincoln Park Ball Room. Low and behold --- like magic I arrived here. Memories. I thought my story is a good follow-up to the fellow from Georgia (By the way, I wonder if he has recorded any of his music. Nothing could be as bad as some of the stuff passing for music today. Elvis --- I miss you!).

During the last part of WW II I attended Huntington school south of Wellington. There was an abandoned church on one corner along with Vincent's Bar, an apple cider mill behind the school and a small grocery/gas station across the road (Route 58). It was owned or operated by Dick Yepko's father. I got to know Dick. My sister, Anne, who was 2 years older may have known him better. About 6 years later as I embarked on adventures of budding manhood, I discovered the Lincoln Park Ball Room.

Lincoln Park belonged to Dick's Dad or Dad and Mom. I decided to visit it one night in 1951 or 1952. I walked in and bellied up to the bar taking a seat in the middle. Looking straight ahead I observed myself in the long mirror. (What a dapper chap --- maroon sports jacket, green shirt and broad shiny, yellow tie.) The bar tender approached. He asked me what I wanted. I said a double whiskey (It may have been a single. It still feels like the excitement of a double). He looked at me and then asked for proof of my age. I casually handed the card to him. He took a look and soon the whiskey arrived. The statute has run. I won't mention the name on the card. I was 16.

A buddy of mine and our girl friends dropped in to the Lincoln Park Ball Room one night. We danced, had a drink and left. On the way to my girl's place, as we rode in the back of the car, she whispered "I love you". That was a first for me --- something a young kid remembers.

I imagine the name "BIG DICK'S" came from my friend from Huntington school. He probably took over the business from his parents. Dick, if you read this, contact me at "".

Thanks for helping me relive some exciting times.

George (Jim) Brehmer, 9801 Club Place Lane, Carmel, CA 93923 - (831) 624-8961 -

Kirk said...

My name is Kirk Yepko and my parents are Richard (Dick) and Betty Yepko who started running Lincoln after my grandparents Joe and Marie. The name "Big Dicks" was coined by Dick Shupe and Dave Smith who leased it from my parents in the 70's. I grew up around that place and have great memories of it. If you have questions about Lincoln, you could contact me at yepko3 @