Back of previous card
El Rancho Rankin Motel at 5218-5298 Beechmont Avenue in Anderson Township.
Two extra large postcards
Rankin produced card
Except for the images above and the barbershop postcard below, the remainder of this page will consist of photographs and other items that I have recently come into possession of. I thought some of you might be interested in revisiting one of Cincinnati's most famous motel/apartment complexes. The 1st image below is a bird's-eye-view of the Lunken Airport and at the top on the left half of the image you can see where the El Rancho Rankin Motel was located. It is a shopping mall now and they are the group of white buildings you see.
Air view of motel location
Rankins Barber Shop
727 E. McMillan St
Rankin Harrison was born in Tennessee and came to Cincinnati in the 20's. He went to work as a bus boy at the Sinton Hotel and then at the Elks Hall at Ninth & Elm Sts. He then went to barber school and beauty school and upon graduation opened Rankin Barber Shop and Beauty Shop. From the postcard image above it looks like he might have also lived there, but that's a guess. He also peddled a machine that, he claimed, grew hair. Apparently he did well financially because in 1940 he bought 7 acres of land on Beechmont Avenue, just a stones throw from Lunken Airport at the end of the levee, and built a 104+ room motel complex (the number of rooms varied from 104 to 127 over the years). Above is Rankin and his wife Grace who died but I don't know when.
One of the things that Colonel Rankin (we'll get to the Colonel part later) was famous for was his fondness for riding around in his Cadillacs, towing an Airstream trailer. Both his matching white Cadillacs had matching life-sized mustangs mounted on the back. The colonel like to travel "first class" and these cars were his "show stoppers". It looks like at Christmas time he had Santa Claus riding the Mustangs. He would ride these cars in parades and throw silver dollars painted gold to the spectators. Please correct me if I am wrong, but it appears to me that boat is in a swimming pool.
Rankin Harrison claimed to be a Kentucky Colonel and he was the founder and National Commander of the Honorable Order of Ohio Colonels. He was asked many times for a list of the other Ohio Colonels but he always refused, calling it a "secret fraternal organization." He stated that they were "the Who's Who of Ohio," Although he did say that John "Socko" Wiethe, the ranking Hamilton County Democrat, was an Ohio Colonel. He also had the first photograph above which shows four members of the Cincinnati cleric holding plaques stating membership in the order. The priest on the far left has been identified as Fr. Labodi. On his return from missions overseas, the Archdiocese hosted a dinner for him at the hotel. The father then took up residence for awhile at the El Rancho Rankin. The second item above is a decal for the Honorable Order of Ohio Colonels that is attached on both sides of the briefcase that holds the memorabilia on this page. The third image above shows the Colonel dressed like a sheriff, holding a gun and standing next to a car that has a larger version of the Seal on the door. He was never a member of the law enforcement community so what this picture is all about is a mystery.
CALLING CARDS & SIGNS
Above are some of the many cards and billfolds touting the Colonel and many of his sayings and , of course, the motel. One of his favorites was a picture of "The Colonel and his Award Winning Team," which shows Rankin sitting at five different seats around the table. Many of the cards were printed on gold backgrounds, such as the one above, and containing pearls of wisdom such as: "I did it my way. I can't wait around for things to just happen. I must make things happen. I made all my dreams come true. From a pallet to a palace. Yes, I live like a king, and I think all my guests should. I locked the door on yesterday, and threw the key away. Tomorrow has no fear for me, since I have found today. And, you have a nice life, too."
The first item above is a card that was probably located at the front desk, and possibly in the rooms. The second was mounted in a picture frame, probably where his employees could see it and, no doubt, one hung in his office (see below).
THE COMMAND POST
What you see above is Colonel Rankin in his office, or what he preferred it to be called, "his command post." The second image is very poor due to it being a copy from a very poor copying machine. The back of this image is a type written letter to a Mr. & Mrs. Gould. What this is all about, I have no idea, you read it and form your own. The Colonels command post contained three portable television sets, (one of which was a surveillance system used to keep a watch over the restaurant dining room and kitchen), two CB radios, walkie talkies, three telephones (one painted gold, one painted silver, and one its natural beige color), a full sized electric organ mounted into one wall, and many shelves of books including many bibles, plus the Dale Carnegie paperback, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, which he read many times and distributed copies to friends and visitors. Three of the walls had bullet proof acrylic glass that allowed Rankin to view every coming and going at the motel. Photographs and paintings cover the walls. In the maze of rooms above his office was his living quarters in which he had collected nearly every kind of stereo or TV gadget designed. He had exercise equipment which he apparently used regularly. In his kitchen he used gold utensils to eat with ("I don't use silver, I want gold").
CHARITIES AND MISCELLANEOUS
The first two images show some of the Colonels charity work. Both of these shots were taken on Christmas of 1959. He was giving big screen TVs to orphanages around town. In the first one He and his wife delivered 4 TVs to the General Protestant Orphan Home. In the second image Mr. & Mrs. Harrison are shown delivering Televisions to the Saint Joseph Orphanage. The third photo is of the Colonel and sheriff Paul Fricker standing behind stacks of the book Reach Out. The book itself is an interpretation of the New Testament that is written in modern English (no Thee's or Thou's). They were obviously giving the books away, to who I have no idea. The Colonel hosted a fund raiser for his election campaign.
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