Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Hoge Brush Company Files, Vol. 4

[Note: For background on the "Hoge Brush Company Files" series, click here; to see all the entries in the series so far, click here.]

Our latest letter from the files of the Hoge Brush Company is this 1954 note sent to Hoge executive Carl Werheim from another brush operation — the Sunshine Brush Co. of Cleveland.

As you can see, the letter has nothing to do with brushes. The topic at hand is World Series tickets. The note from Al Leventhal of Sunshine Brush says, "[I]t is absolutely a bedlam here for tickets," and with good reason — on Sept. 22, when he wrote the letter, the Cleveland Indians had clinched the American League pennant and were a few days away from finishing the season with a record of 111-43, setting the mark for the most wins ever by an A.L. team. They were heavily favored against the National League's New York Giants.

It's not clear if Leventhal or Werheim were able to procure tickets. If so, they were likely disappointed in the outcome, as the Giants swept the Indians in four games. (This is the Series in which Giants centerfielder Willie Mays made his now-famous miracle catch in Game 1.) The first two games were played in New York, and then Games 3 and 4 were at Cleveland's Municipal Stadium. That means the Indians and their fans in attendance — possibly including Leventhal and Werheim — had to watch the Giants celebrating their championship on Cleveland's field, which must have been a particularly bitter pill after the Indians had seemed to be such a juggernaut.

Note that Leventhal mentioned that tickets had to be purchased for all three games being played in Cleveland. But there was no third game in Cleveland — that game, which would have been Game 5 of the Series, became unnecessary when the Giants swept the first four games.

It would be 41 years before the Indians appeared in another World Series — which they also lost, to the Atlanta Braves in 1995. Two years after that they lost the World Series yet again, this time to the Florida Marlins. Those are the only Series appearances they've had since 1954.

As for Sunshine Brush of Cleveland, I googled it and found a listing indicating that it's no longer in business. But then I found another listing for it that included a reference to a company called Newton Broom & Brush, so I looked that up and found that Newton is an Illinois company that's still very much in business. Not only that — check out this passage from their "About Us" page:

[L]ocal bankers E. W. Hersh and A. F. Calvin, together with former congressman E. B. Brooks, incorporated Newton Broom Company on January 10, 1914. … In 1935 the original partnership was dissolved and P. L. Adams of Louisville, Kentucky purchased the business. In 1954, Adams died and his wife sold Newton Broom Company to Alex Leventhal of Cleveland, Ohio.

Alex Leventhal — that's Al Leventhal, who wrote the letter about the World Series tickets! So regardless of whether he was able to obtain those tickets or not, 1954 was an eventful year for him. He must have acquired Newton Broom & Brush as part of Sunshine Brush's holdings.

The "About Us" text goes on to say that Newton Brush is now operated by Leventhal's son, Don Leventhal. I suppose I could call and ask if he knows whether his father attended the 1954 World Series, but I'd almost rather not know. Sometimes the question is more interesting than the answer.

(My continued thanks to Joanna and David Zwiep for sharing the Hoge Brush Company letters with me.)

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