Out of the Past: Dry cleaner, public servant, inventor- Arthur Vara, Sr.

       By Steve Cichon

Along with his son Arthur, Jr., Arthur Vara, Sr. opened Vara’s Dry Cleaning in 1946. By the 1960s, it was the largest dry cleaning operation in the Southtowns, and Vara Sr. was already dabbling in two other loves– inventing and public service.

Many of his 30 patented inventions had to do with the garment cleaning industry. In 1949, The Sun described his “Adjusto-matic dress hanger,” which was being marketed nationally by Vara from offices in Hamburg. He also invented a dry-cleaning specific heat exchanger and an automatic garment bagger.

Another invention Vara sold around the country from Hamburg: a wind-resistant, lightweight “Men Working” safety sign, created to replace traffic cones– which in an of themselves, Vara thought, could create traffic problems.

Vara was active in politics. He served as Hamburg’s Deputy Supervisor, and also ran unsucessfully for town council and Assembly seats. After a brief retirement to Florida, he also ran for a Punta Gorda city council seat in 1976.

Among his final inventions was the Variframe kitchen garbage bag holder, which allowed the consumer to use plastic grocery store bags inside traditional garbage cans. The device was distributed nationwide at McCrory’s when Vara was 85-years-old in 1988.

Arthur Vara, Sr, was 86 when he died in 1990.