The Record Newspapers - Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Know all your Tar trivia?


Last updated 6/30/2010 at Noon

Many hotels in the Jack Tar chain, like the old Orange spa/resort/restaurant, aren’t around anymore but the name has quite the Internet life.

If you Google the term you’ll get the option for a “Timeline” and a brief synopsis of about 100 newspaper articles. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to click on all 100 of them but here are some of the more interesting ones.

The term referred to seamen of the Merchant or Royal Navy, particularly during the period of the British Empire; probably because they tarred their clothes and certain parts of the ship to make them waterproof. References to Jack Tar or just “tars” are heard in Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta “HMS Pinafore,” and American composer George M. Cohan’s “Grand Old Flag.” John Philip Sousa’s “Sailor’s Hornpipe” is from his “Jack Tar March”; and depending on how accurate the site is, the Rolling Stones wrote “Satisfaction” while staying at the Fort Harrison Jack Tar in Clearwater, Fla.

Some of the following timeline listings are from the National Library, New York Times, Chicago Tribune and other sources. If you want to read them all, and trust me you’re in for some reading, go to and type in “history of jack tar hotels.” On the left of the screen which soon appears, click on the word “timeline.”

I couldn’t find any archival stories on Orange’s own hotel other than several articles about the city of Orange’s recent purchase of the property.

• 1949, Chicago Daily Tribune: A church sermon on the evils of illicit love brought a violent end today to an affair which had brought a married war hero and a married woman, not his wife, from Crystal Lake, McHenry County, Ill. The multi-decorated ex-cavalry lieutenant was found shot to death on the floor of a second floor room in the Jack Tar Hotel.

• 1951, Chicago Tribune: Frank Costello, a big time gambler, has been a frequent guest of the Jack Tar courts, Hot Springs, Ark., to which the Reconstruction Finance Corp. granted a loan in 1948 after prodding by Sen. Fulbright [D., Ark.], it was learned today. (Note: Costello was also in organized crime. He and Fulbright were later involved in several scandals).

• 1956, Wall Street Journal: Jack Tar Hotels announced plans for a $10 million development in San Francisco to include a 400-room hotel, an office building containing about 150,000 square feet, and underground parking to accommodate 600 cars. A square block on Van Ness Avenue has been leased for a period of 50 years, the company said.

• 1962, Palm Beach Post: CLEARWATER, Fla. – Because local hotels refused to accommodate five Negro ballplayers, the Philadelphia Phillies moved players out of town Saturday. The Phillies left the Jack Tar Hotel and moved to the Rocky Point Motel on the Howard Franklin Causeway, about 20 miles away ... The hotel refused to accommodate Ruben Amaro, Tony Taylor, Tony Gonzalez, Ted Savage and Marcellino Lopez. They have been boarding in private homes.

• 1965, Palm Beach Daily News: WEST END Island (UPI) – A woman employee was killed Tuesday as the roof of the Jack Tar Grand Bahamas Club Hotel collapsed during a heavy downpour. The victim was Mrs. Bobbie McCool – wife of the hotel liquor store manager. Twelve others working nearby escaped injury in the collapse, according to Manager Ernest Blanc.

• 1965, St. Petersburg Times: Nobody is comparing them to Mitch Miller’s singers but the chorus of staff members at the Jack Tar Harrison Hotel – which has been singing carols during the luncheon hour – is drawing a lot of favorable comment.

• 1971, from (The Skeptic’s Dictionary): The first “est” seminar was in October, 1971, at the Jack Tar Hotel in San Francisco with nearly 1,000 in attendance. [Werner] Erhard and “est” were known for training people to get “It” – a concept taken from author, teacher and expert communicator Alan Watts.

• 1983, Los Angeles Times: SAN FRANCISCO – A fast-moving fire swept through a 12-story convention hotel here early Sunday, killing two people, injuring 50 and chasing scores of guests into the street, ... The five-alarm blaze caused at least $2.5 million damage to the Cathedral Hill Hotel, formerly known as the Jack Tar.

• 1991, Waterloo Record (Ontario, Canada): [Susan Bailey] was killed on Oct. 16 in the shadow of the Jack Tar Village resort on what was to be her first night there. The village is in Nuevo Vallarta , a small cluster of hotels about 20 kms north of Puerto Vallarta. Resorts in Nuevo Vallarta have private security for their own grounds. But responsibility for the undeveloped beach strips in between is with the Mexican marines, who already have foot patrols. The marines also control inland access to the area, staffing the gatehouse at the entrance to the Nuevo Vallarta estate.

“It’s not affected our bookings at all,” said Sandy Green, director of administration and human resources with Adventure Tours in Toronto, which sells the Jack Tar Village Mexican vacation package that Bailey bought.

• 2004, Elsie Boardner passed away in San Francisco, peacefully in her sleep on March 3.

She would have been 87 years old April 3.

Elsie was born in Fargo, N.D., and came to San Francisco in 1939.

Early in her working career, Elsie was associated with restaurants and hotels in the Bay Area including the Jack Tar and Clift Hotels in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

It was while working at Del Webb’s on Market Street she met, and fell in love with her Joey – Joe Boardner.

They were married in Reno in 1965.

Elsie and Joe became longtime residents of the Fox Plaza soon after it opened in July ‘66.

Joe is a 25-year Banquet-bartender for the Mark Hopkins Hotel.

Elsie leaves a daughter Charlotte Skjonsby of Maple Grove, Minn .; two grandchildren; three great-grand children and of course her beloved Joey.

No memorial services are planned.

Elsie’s cremated remains will be scattered at sea per her wishes.

• 2005: Freeport News/Nassau Guardian: Ask any old-timer in West End, Grand Bahama, what was responsible for the closing of the Jack Tar Hotel, the main economic engine of that settlement for many years, and he or she without hesitation more likely than not would answer, “The union.” They would be referring, of course, to the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU), whose demands on behalf of its members working at The Jack Tar were considered to be so unreasonable that the owners determined that it was cheaper to just close the hotel down.

• 2007, Dallas Morning News: When President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, Dr. G. Thomas Shires was giving a speech at the Jack Tar Hotel in Galveston. Texas Department of Public Safety officers rushed the chairman of surgery of the Dallas medical school to a NASA jet, which transported him to Dallas Love Field. An hour after he learned of the shooting, Dr. Shires was at Parkland Memorial Hospital, where he would spend much of his 38th birthday helping save the life of Texas Gov. John Connally. Dr. Shires, 81, died Thursday of gastrointestinal cancer at his home in Henderson, Nev.


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