The JOLLY SET was an informal name for an informal group that constituted a Cleveland version of cafe society in the late 1940s and early 1950s. It consisted largely of sports figures and journalists, including BILL VEECK, Hank Greenberg, BOB FELLER, FRANKLIN LEWIS, Alvin Silverman, Marshall Samuel, Larry Atkins, and WINSOR FRENCH. Its origins may be traced to gatherings in the Alhambra Lounge at Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street, where Veeck would organize "Follies," or improvised acts by his drinking companions. From there the group transferred its movable feast to GRUBER'S RESTAURANT in SHAKER HEIGHTS, where Lewis' wife Virginia casually remarked during one evening's festivities, "Aren't they the jolly ones, though?" The name caught on, as cartoonist BILL ROBERTS caricatured their goings about town, from Gruber's to Kornman's Back Room and the Theatrical Grill on SHORT VINCENT, in his "Week's Wash" feature in the CLEVELAND PRESS. French also chronicled their doings in his regular Press column. LEONARD HANNA provided them with another watering hole when he enticed pianist Roger Stearns back to Cleveland by furnishing him with the 2-1-6 Club in the HOLLENDEN HOTEL.
According to French, the Jolly Set was "a small but carefree group who refused to let life's darker problems get in the way of fun. They frequently found themselves doing rather unlikely things in unlikely places..." Their most unlikely undertaking undoubtedly was the "Fun for Funds" carnival organized in 1953 to support deserving groups not covered by the Red Feather (UNITED WAY) drive. It took place in the middle of Short Vincent and might have raised quite a bit of money had a rare downtown tornado not broken it up before the fun really began. Another charitable endeavor was the book Curtain Call, featuring stories and reminiscences by forty Jolly Setters and fringe members and published by Max Gruber to raise funds for cancer research at the Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial Laboratory in Maine. Though the group repeated its Fun for Funds event in 1954, it had begun to fade away after Veeck sold the CLEVELAND INDIANS and left Cleveland.
Winsor French and Franklin Lewis (eds.), Curtain Call. Gruber Foundation, 1952)
James Woods. Out and About with Winsor French. Kent State University Press,