ENGLEWOOD — Before Jimmy and David and Jay and Johnny, even before Jack, even before Ellen and Oprah and Kelly, there was Ruth.
For about 20 years, Ruth Lyons’ talk show aired at noon on local television stations. Called “The 50 Club” because the studio held 50 people, it later expanded to be “The 50-50 Club,” but her format of music, guests and ad-libbed conversation with them and her sidekicks set the formula for talk shows since then.
Area residents too young to remember the show may have received one of the toys supplied to hospitalized children through her Christmas Fund. She boasted that every donation received from viewers and businesses was processed by volunteers from the station, with every cent going to buy toys.
Local officials and businesses paid attention. She didn’t advertise products she disliked, and her commercials could guarantee sales in the area. When she complained on the show that a “DEAD END” sign on a street entering a cemetery was appalling, the city replaced it with “NOT A THRU STREET.”
In 1950, a group of 20 women from Clayton traveled to Cincinnati, an ambitious trip when State Route 49 was only a two-lane highway through many small towns, to attend “The 50-50 Club.”
In the photo, Lyons is standing at the left of the back row.
The History Center, 114 Valleyview Dr., Englewood, is open by special appointment from November through March. Call 832-8358 to make arrange a visit. Everyone is welcome to attend the Randolph Township Historical Society meetings at 1 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month.