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The Volcano
Kailuageoff
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 27, 2002
Posts: 1504
From: Honolulu Lounge,Lewes, DE
Posted: 2007-02-12 6:41 pm   Permalink

Very cool tiki detective thread here. Keep up the good work. I was in Winter Haven two weeks ago. I thought about the Volcano, but of course had no idea where to look for it. GatorRob's image looks about right to me. Sure would love to see that menu - or the billboards.

 
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Volcano Girl
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Feb 08, 2007
Posts: 92
From: Columbus, OH via Gainesville, FL
Posted: 2007-02-12 7:06 pm   Permalink

To all...I just received this reply from my oldest brother:

The Volcano.... was located in Winter Haven, Florida on 6th street NW and N. Lake Howard Drive, between the Tropic Motel and an old Greek family run restaurant (the name I've forgotten= may be the Park Cafe). Dad had used some of their foods when we ran out. He also used chefs from other restaurants when he needed help and vice versa. It was a good way of running the business. The main statue in the lanai was hollow - I remember thumping its belly several times - and was made on site by a local craftsman. The lanai walkway was above flowing water and rocks on the sides and the statue room. Turn left and you'd go into the restaurant. Turn right you'd go to the small lounge. Beyond the lounge were the offices. The property wained down the hill to Lake Howard. It was wonderful to see the sun set as the tiki torches were lit. I sometimes lit the torches. The volcano spewed real fire. It was set to erupt about every 35 minutes. It was a spectacle to see as well as the winding walkways over the water. The volcano and the fire coming from under the water itself was fueled by propane gas. I lit the volcano probably only twice. The Tiki Lounge was next to the main restaurant. Inside the main restaurant was a wall of falling water. Several personalities came to the restaurant. I remember Willie Mays, many Boston Red Sox Baseball players and coaches, The Dick Pope family and all of the Polk County and State Government officials.

The Volcano was pretty close to a real Polynesian Isle setting. It was truly romantic in the evening - something about those tiki torches at night. Some of the foods I remember were dollar lobster tail (that's what it cost the restaurant back then * 1968- 1970's *). They charged more for it and it really was regular size Maine Lobster. I remember Rumaki, lychee nuts, a table-sized volcano of ice with skewered pieces of lychees, fresh pineapple, strawberries, coconut chunks, etc. and his famous prime rib and real hand-made egg rolls and a wonderful salad bar featuring a heart of lettuce salad. I also remember having pink champagne ice cream as well as grasshopper ice cream [flavored special for the Volcano in the flavors of the alcoholic beverages].

Today, all of the canal waterways are filled over and all but one building was razed. The one building is a rowdy night club having a hard time with the city police and keeping an owner. The Lakeland Ledger Winter Haven Offices are on the site.

The waitress staff in the evening wore Polynesian style clothing, the lounge staff wore more risque -shorter clothing. The Tiki Lounge hosted entertainment for parties and weekends of local talent - Joni and Buddy Canova (who still perform in other venues) and of course -Dad also sang with them. Chef "Joe" was courted from some restaurant out of Tampa- I thought(?) it was the Kapok Tree Restaurant.

Story: One day I was wandering (it was my turn to work) in the kitchen where a chef was preparing a lemon bread coating for small potatoes. I asked if I could have one. He said yes. So I popped one in my mouth. The chef started laughing. I said, "What?". He told me that I just ate a raw Tampa Bay scallop. Today, I will not eat scallops.

Also, I believe the Bora Bora Statue had a nickname - anyone remember?

***************************

FWIW, I, Volcano Girl, have no idea of the Bora Bora statue's nickname, this is the first I've even heard about it! Hopefully, I will get more info from my family members in the days ahead. I will post them as I receive them.


 
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Volcano Girl
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Feb 08, 2007
Posts: 92
From: Columbus, OH via Gainesville, FL
Posted: 2007-02-14 09:29 am   Permalink

Hey, did anyone notice that this thread has made it to the sidebar on the Tiki Central sidebar under "Cool & Current"?!! Awesome!!

I am still waiting to hear from any more family members about their recollections of the Volcano, and have been trying to do more sleuthing on my own. I am hoping also to hear from one of the Canovas, who appeared frequently at the Tiki Lounge. Keep your fingers crossed that someone will respond soon! One of my ideas is to get in touch with the local Winter Haven historical group, or maybe the Chamber of Commerce. Surely someone at one of these places can help us dig up info.


 
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GatorRob
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Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1770
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2007-02-14 10:40 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2007-02-12 18:41, Kailuageoff wrote:
Very cool tiki detective thread here. Keep up the good work. I was in Winter Haven two weeks ago. I thought about the Volcano, but of course had no idea where to look for it. GatorRob's image looks about right to me. Sure would love to see that menu - or the billboards.


Who's this Geoff guy? Nice to see you back...


 
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GatorRob
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1770
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2007-02-14 11:35 am   Permalink

Based on your brother's email, it appears the building we've zeroed in on is very likely the one building he says is still standing and now houses the "rowdy nightclub". It sits between 6th St and Lake Howard Dr., which works out well with your brother's statement that "The property wained down the hill to Lake Howard."

Your brother mentions that the Lakeland Ledger offices are on the site. In the picture below, the Ledger offices are in the white modern building on the right (as confirmed by the Polk County Property Appraiser). So, it appears back in the day, The Volcano had the whole parcel just north of the hotel, from 6th St back to Lake Howard Dr.



How about sending this picture to your brother so he can confirm it for us? And tell him thanks helping out! We all drool over details like a "wall of falling water".


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11107
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2007-02-14 11:53 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2007-02-14 11:35, GatorRob wrote:
....We all drool over details like a wall of falling water...



Well, maybe not THAT much, but we do loose a drop or two.

Aaah, I crack myself up sometimes

Great urban archeology G.R., I concur.


 
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SizzlePixels
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Feb 08, 2007
Posts: 19
From: Cypress, Texas
Posted: 2007-02-17 11:12 am   Permalink

Great read. Now I'm caught up in this search. Looking forward to more info.

 
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stuff-o-rama
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 20, 2003
Posts: 751
From: Central Coast of California
Posted: 2007-02-17 5:01 pm   Permalink

I am just now getting caught up here after being gone for awhile, it never ceases to amaze me how the TC Community can take a simple question and have the detailed, illustrated answer tout suite!

I've been on a quest to piece together a family history on my father's side, I wish it was this easy to get answers!


 
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Volcano Girl
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Feb 08, 2007
Posts: 92
From: Columbus, OH via Gainesville, FL
Posted: 2007-02-17 9:35 pm   Permalink

Hi, to all! I got a few questions answered by my Mom. There's a lot she remembers, and a lot that's rusty. She's going to dig around and see what she can pull out from the attic where she has some of this stuff. I don't know how long it will be to get that accomplished, so we'll just have to be patient. Mom still hasn't seen the photos from these posts, but I will get them to her over the weekend. She doesn't use the computer at all, so it will be Monday evening at the earliest before I get any response. She'll wait until my sister or brother can help her with it.

Gator Rob, we are thinking you are pretty much right about the dilapidated A-frame building. We think it could *possibly* be the remains of the lounge/nightclub building, which is what you see in the postcard. The restaurant is not visible in that scene, but would be to the left of the volcano and further away, if it were in view. She has little expectation that much of the effects of the place are in existence, but there is the possibility that some of it was recovered by someone, we just don't know any information. She doesn't remember any glasses or mugs, but said her memory is sketchy about that sort of thing. She recommended that I keep talking with my other siblings, especially the older three, who were high school to college age at the time.

Still, she remembered much that may help us track other things down. One was that my grandfather did own all the property that encompassed that block when he had the house built in the early 40's, but began selling off parcels around 1959 or 1960 to some group (she didn't know what group), which eventually turned those things into the "Haven Hotel", Nick Rubas'(?) Greek place (which she said was originally on Park St), the Continental Can Company, possibly a drugstore, as well as someone else who began to turn Dad's former home into a restaurant. Apparently, whoever it was who started with the restaurant theme defaulted on the loan before renovation was completed, and the lot with the restaurant/house on it returned to my grandfather's possession. It was at this point that my father became involved in continuing in the effort to transform his old home into the Volcano (1967?). I don't know how long he spent in the planning stages, but Mom says she thinks they may have officially opened in early 1968, possibly January, but possibly a few months later. She said that the name was Dad's brainchild, because she remembers him thinking a lot about how to market a restaurant when it wasn't his expertise at the time. She does think that he traveled around to some places where there was a Polynesian theme, and she is sure that he had seen the place in Ft. Lauderdale at some point.

The front porch of Dad's home (which faced north) became the bar/lounge/lanai. There were bedrooms on the second floor, she thought maybe there were 4-5 bedrooms on either side of a central hall, and a bathroom on one end. Apparently Chinese Joe (real name of Joe Huey) was the only boarder at the restaurant, the other former bedrooms were used for storage. She reminded me that the women's restroom was spectacular in that it had giant-sized actual clam or oyster shells for the sinks, with pretty pinkish shell insides, and coral-pink cloth hand towels, with some sort of exotic plant as an embellishment. The ladies' room was located directly across from the hostess station which was to the left of the area where the Bora-Bora statue was. The coat room was behind the cashier which was near the hostess station. She said that the far wall of the restaurant (most eastern portion, closest to 6th St) was made completely of dark rocks (maybe even to the ceiling?), and that there was a waterfall feature located there.

She remembers some other interesting things that I thought you might enjoy hearing about. One was a story about the bamboo-beaded curtains for the windows in the lanai (as she called it, I think she was talking about the bar part of the restaurant). Shortly before restaurant's official opening, the bamboo curtains that Dad ordered came in, but they were about a foot too short for the big windows. So Dad bought some extra beads and string and he and Mom and two of their friends worked around the clock and through the night adding a foot of bamboo beads to each of the lengths of curtains!

She said that one of the Red Sox players that she remembers coming was Carl Ystremski (sp?), and someone else named Cornell Wilde (I have no idea who that is). She reminded me that Chinese Joe was a really good man, and was more concerned about his nieces and nephews back in China (he was Cantonese) than he was about himself. Almost every penny he made, he sent back to his old home, to help provide for their education. He even would give us children a few coins in a small envelope at the Chinese New Year, which was apparently a tradition of his. She said that she was only in the kitchen a handful of times, but she remembers one time that Joe took her over to where he was preparing food for the evening meals, and showed her a big huge pot filled with boiling water, and said, "Lot-ta duck!" and something about the big crowd they expected that evening.

OK, this is all for now. I will get back as soon as I hear any more from anyone!


 
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Volcano Girl
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Feb 08, 2007
Posts: 92
From: Columbus, OH via Gainesville, FL
Posted: 2007-02-18 10:50 am   Permalink

So this is who Cornel Wilde was:
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0928425/

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Volcano Girl
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Feb 08, 2007
Posts: 92
From: Columbus, OH via Gainesville, FL
Posted: 2007-02-23 08:51 am   Permalink

I still haven't heard any more from my family members. Most likely they are busy with life's little necessities instead of treasure hunting in the attic. I'm still sleuthing for info online from so many different angles. I was able to locate the tiniest bit of info. It looks like the trademark for "The Volcano" was filed in 1968. I don't know if anyone's interested, but we may be able to track down some info through the public library in Polk County or Lakeland. Here's a link if anyone has any ideas on how to get hands on to any of this material. Who knows what wonderful things might lurk in some ole dusty library drawer?

http://www.lakelandgov.net/library/speccoll/manuscripts/ephemera/polk_businesses.html

[ This Message was edited by: Volcano Girl 2007-03-08 13:37 ]


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Volcano Girl
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Feb 08, 2007
Posts: 92
From: Columbus, OH via Gainesville, FL
Posted: 2007-02-26 2:54 pm   Permalink

OMG! Look what I stumbled across as I was doing more internet sleuthing. I'm sorry that I don't know how to make links of pics yet.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Volcano-Tropical-Polynesian-Matchbook-Winter-Haven-FL_W0QQitemZ260090010229QQihZ016QQcategoryZ477QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

http://i20.ebayimg.com/03/i/000/8d/9c/c2a3_1.JPG

http://i20.ebayimg.com/02/i/000/8d/9c/c1fd_1.JPG


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GatorRob
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1770
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2007-02-26 4:09 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2007-02-26 14:54, Volcano Girl wrote:
OMG! Look what I stumbled across as I was doing more internet sleuthing. I'm sorry that I don't know how to make links of pics yet.


If your family doesn't already have some Volcano items, you should own this. But it appears kohalacharms has already discovered it. You'll need a fat wallet to compete with him. Good luck.


 
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GatorRob
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1770
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2007-02-26 4:16 pm   Permalink

I love how the matchbook describes the restaurant as a "Million Dollar Showplace".

 
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Volcano Girl
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Feb 08, 2007
Posts: 92
From: Columbus, OH via Gainesville, FL
Posted: 2007-02-26 4:48 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2007-02-26 16:09, GatorRob wrote:
If your family doesn't already have some Volcano items, you should own this. But it appears kohalacharms has already discovered it. You'll need a fat wallet to compete with him. Good luck.



I'm taking a guess that Mom actually does have some of these. I hope she finds them soon. I have a feeling that most in my family are staying busy with our upcoming family reunion this summer. I haven't heard a peep from anyone about my Volcano questions, with the exception of my oldest brother and my mom. However, I keep on sleuthing from afar.


 
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