Friday, August 23, 2019

Captain Frosty Still Sails at Lorain County Fair

One of the things that I always watch for at the Lorain County Fair is the Dairy Clipper ice cream stand emblazoned with the friendly likeness of Captain Frosty at the wheel. I've seen that stand at the Fair as long as I can remember.

Here’s the 2011 version of the booth.

And here’s what it looked like in 2013.

In recent years, however, the booth has updated its graphics, and the Dairy Clipper name seems to have disappeared. But Captain Frosty is still there. Here’s the booth as it looked Thursday night.

So what's the seafaring story behind Captain Frosty and his Dairy Clipper?

Dairy Clipper was the brand name for the soft serve ice cream trucks leased through Mobile Dairy Bars, Inc., headquartered right here in Ohio in Washington Court House. The company dates back to 1957.

Here's an early classified ad that ran in the Lancaster Eagle Gazette on June 2, 1958.
Here's a great 1962 newspaper ad designed to condition the kids to react in Pavlov's dog fashion to the sound of Captain Frosty's truck.
From the Marion Star  – March 31, 1962
Business was going well when the company decided to expand in 1965. Here's a newspaper account of the expansion that ran in the Washington Court House Record Herald on May 12, 1965.

Here's an ad featuring the classic Dairy Clipper truck that ran in the Times-Recorder on April 7, 1967.
By the end of 1973, the company had changed its name to Sales Unlimited, Inc. and was planning to move operations to Grove City, Ohio.
From Washington Court House Record Herald – December 21, 1973
Today, it's hard to tell if Sales Unlimited is still around. Captain Frosty seems to be a captain without a port to drop anchor in, except at the Lorain County Fair once a year.
Thus during the rest of the year, not unlike the Flying Dutchman of nautical legend, Captain Frosty forever sails the suburban streets of our childhood memories, perhaps on the trail of his arch enemy Mister Softee.
Captain Frosty does wash ashore on Ebay every once in a while. Currently on the online auction site there is a tin toy that you click to make noise – in other words, a Dairy Clipper Clicker (say that fast, matey).

Thursday, August 22, 2019

1969 Lorain County Fair – Jimmy Dean

Jimmy Dean was the headliner at the Lorain County Fair back on Saturday, August 23, 1969. Here’s the write up in the Lorain Journal the next day.

The article notes that the singer was branching out into other areas of entertainment, with upcoming acting appearances on the Daniel Boone television show.

Strangely, the article does not mention that Jimmy Dean had just launched his sausage company in May of 1969  – and thus missed an opportunity for the headline to read "Jimmy Dean Packs Them in Like Sausages at the Lorain County Fair Grandstand."

Anyway, let’s pretend we were in the Lorain County Fair Grandstand back then on Saturday night, and listen to Jimmy Dean’s first Number One Hit: Big Bad John (1961).

And here's a vintage commercial of Jimmy Dean plugging his popular sausage.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

1969 Lorain County Fair Ad – August 19

Continuing our look back at the 1969 Lorain County Fair...

Here's the fair schedule for Wednesday, August 20th, 1969. As you can see the Grandstand attraction that day was the Hurricane Hell Drivers featuring Dan Fleenor.

1969 Program (Courtesy of WorthPoint)
As I noted in a past Fair post, Lorain Countians must have really enjoyed the Hell Drivers, since they appeared at the Lorain County Fair many times, including the 1956 edition (where Jack Kochman's Hell Drivers appeared) and the 1966 fair (where Dan Fleenor and his crew performed). Fleenor and his drivers would be back for the 1972 Lorain County Fair.

Here’s a little taste of the Hurricane Hell Drivers courtesy of YouTube.

There's an abundance of newspaper clippings of Dan Fleenor and his Hell Drivers online, which provides a nice description of the act over the years. Fleenor's career with this kind of daredevil entertainment dates back to the 1940s. In the mid-1950s, he was General Manager of Calvacade of Canadian Hell Drivers. His name was also associated with Dan Fleenor's Parisian Hell Drivers during that time period.
(Courtesy Flickr site of Randy Regier)
This article from the Feb. 5, 1963 Tampa Times explains the corporate relationship between the various Hell Driver thrill shows. With one corporation in control, it keeps them from competing with each other and overlapping appearances at the various venues.

And here are some more vintage newspaper articles dating from the early 1960s to the late 1970s.
The Times and Democrat - Sept 22, 1962 
The Escanaba Daily Press - Aug 9, 1963 
The Morning Call - June 22, 1969
The Escanaba Daily Press - August 10, 1976 
Kingsport Times News - October 3, 1976
Dan Fleenor passed away in November 1989.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

1969 Lorain County Fair Ad – August 18

Well, it’s my favorite time of the year again – Lorain County Fair week! (I think I say that every year.)

Why do I like the fair so much? Because it’s timeless fun. It doesn’t change very much from year to year, and that’s fine with me. I even tend to eat the same foods there each year (French Fries in a cup with salt & vinegar, Rutana’s Apple Dumplings, etc.) and I never get tired of them. I guess it’s all very reassuring that not everything in life has to change or get worse.

Anyway, to put you in the mood for some fair fun, here’s an ad that ran in the Lorain Journal back on August 18, 1969 – 50 years ago.

Note that the fair had a slightly different schedule back then – starting on Tuesday instead of Monday, and only running for six days.

It’s kind of interesting that back in 1969, the ad advertised that it was its 114th Annual Lorain County Fair. But fifty years later, the current Lorain County Fair website notes that it’s now “the 174th Annual Fair,” instead of the 164th.

So who were the Grandstand headliners back then?

As noted in the ad, Faron Young and the Deputies opened the Fair on Tuesday; Jimmy Dean (why do I suddenly have a taste for sausage?) had the Saturday slot; and Bobby Vinton and the Kids Next Door closed the Fair on Sunday. And don’t forget Hurricane Hell Drivers Featuring Dan Fleenor, who did two shows on Wednesday.

Click here to visit some of my past posts on the Lorain County Fair.

Monday, August 19, 2019

1969 Maumee Valley Tourist Ads – Part 3

Summer and August are quickly winding down, so today I’ll wrap up my mini-series on some of the 1969 Plain Dealer ads for various restaurants and inns in the Toledo area.

The 1969 ad for The Old Plantation in Maumee, Ohio noted that it was famous for fine food for more than 125 years.

Here’s a vintage photo of the establishment, circa 1945, courtesy of

The website notes, "The commercial building, built in 1836, has a view of the Maumee River. Originally called the Commercial Building, it housed a hotel, restaurants, and other commercial businesses throughout the years. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The building was hone to many successful businesses, most recently to Dégagé Jazz Cafe (although it appears to have closed).

The ad for the popular Barnes Restaurant in Defiance noted that it was open 6 days a week, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a dinning room and a carry-out window. It dated back to at least the mid-1940s (which is the oldest reference to it I could find online.)
Heres a nice ad with a photo of the restaurant, from the flick page of Tim Tonjes that features great vintage Defiance, Ohio images.
And here's the location (sigh) today.
The 1969 ad for The Sherbrooke notes that it served STEAKS CHOPS SEA-FOOD. (The word ‘chops' always make me think of the old-time New York eateries that were the settings for so many of Damon Runyon’s great stories). 
The Sherbrooke was located at the intersection of its same name street and Monroe in Toledo, Ohio.
Today the location is home to a popular restaurant called The Beirut. Here’s the link to its website, and here’s what it looks like, courtesy of Google Maps.
One of the most famous businesses with an ad on that 1969 page of the Action Tab was the Town House Motel and its Aku-Aku Polynesian Room. It was like a little bit of Las Vegas, right in Toledo.
Here’s a vintage matchbook. I love the stylized graphics.
And here’s a vintage postcard, courtesy of
Rather than poach more of other websites’ images of Aku-Aku or their carefully researched histories, I’ll just provide a link to its page on the Tiki Central website, as well as this one on the website.

Friday, August 16, 2019

1969 Maumee Valley Tourist Ads – Part 2

I mentioned in yesterday’s post how General “Mad” Anthony Wayne was a celebrated figure in the history of the Maumee Valley, thanks to his victory over the confederation of Indians at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. So it’s not too surprising to see an ad with his name attached to a restaurant: Anthony Wayne Drive-in.

The place had quite a menu including, appropriately enough, a “Big Chief” Hamburger.

Trying to find out if the drive-in was still around wasn’t easy. The only address in the 1969 ad was “On Route 424 East, Napoleon, Ohio.”

Fortunately, the restaurant hung on to its phone number for many years, which enabled me to cross reference ads and determine that within a few years, Anthony Wayne Drive-in became Anthony Wayne Supper Club.

Howard and Irene Gable of Napoleon, Ohio were the owners and operators for more than 30 years.

Here’s a Defiance Crescent News ad from August 20, 1971.
By the end of the 1970s, a disco was added – also bearing Anthony Wayne’s name.
June 19, 1979 ad from the Defiance Crescent News
It appears that by 1981, Butch’s Lounge was the new name of the disco at the Supper Club.
The Anthony Wayne Supper Club “soldiered on" through the 1980s and 1990s, serving as a popular choice for wedding receptions, as well as a place for groups like the Napoleon Lions Club to meet. But eventually, the Supper Club closed and was sold. 
So is the building still there? And what is it being used for now?
I “drove” up and down the highway in that area via Google Maps, trying to identify the building using the tiny illustration from the 1969 ad. 
I had a hunch, but had to know for sure. So I contacted the Napoleon Public Library to find out. 
Luckily for me, I received a friendly reply from Jenelle McCarthy, Head of the Adult Department. She wrote, "If I remember correctly, the building still stands, and is now a Mexican restaurant called Azul Tequila with the address being 601 E Riverview Ave, Napoleon, OH 43545. 
"The building was Anthony Wayne Restaurant until the late 1990's/early 2000's and served at least brunch. I remember having really good Belgium waffles there as a kid before it was closed down and sold. 
"In the old phonebooks, it is listed as a restaurant through the 70's. The old address was just 424 State Route East, but now houses and businesses in that direction have East Riverview Ave addresses. The building has recently been renovated to better match the current restaurant. I hope this helps.
It certainly did, and I thanked Jenelle for solving my problem and saving me from having to take a road trip. Heres the building as it looks today as the home of Azul Tequila.

Speaking of General Anthony Wayne, did you know that he was featured in a plot line in Cartoonist Milton Caniff's famous Steve Canyon comic strip? 
In a dream sequence in the strip that ran in the summer of 1979, shortly after the death of John Wayne, Caniff featured a caricature of the actor as the famous Indian-fighting General as a unique tribute.

This strip revealed the iconic actor and the fun that was in store for Steve Canyon readers.
Here are some more strips from that story. It also features a cameo of Steve’s sidekick Happy Easter (here renamed Gloomy Christmas).

Thursday, August 15, 2019

1969 Maumee Valley Tourist Ads – Part 1

My parents saved a lot of newspapers related to the July 1969 Moon Landing, including a Plain Dealer dated July 25th that commemorated the astronauts' splash down. That's it above.

That yellowing Plain Dealer also includes the PD Action Tab, a weekly entertainment tabloid.

It was a terrific publication that covered everything: movies; TV; restaurants; nightclubs; the latest pop hits on the radio; motor sports, etc. It had something for everyone.

There was even a section devoted to camping and Ohio tourism suggestions. My copy has a page (below) highlighting the Maumee Valley, along with some of the region’s restaurants and motels.

There’s even a simple map courtesy of the Cleveland Automobile Association providing directions.

I’ve spent some time in that part of the state, and it is history-rich indeed. The Battle of Fallen Timbers, in which General “Mad” Anthony Wayne led his troops to victory over the Northwest Indian Confederation, took place there.

Anyway, looking at the full page of 1969 ads, I wondered: how many of these places are still around today, fifty years later? Let’s pay a visit to a few of them and find out.
The most prominent ad was for Powatomi Inn, part of the Pokagon State Park at Angola, Indiana.

The Powatomi Inn was a favorite subject for postcards, and here’s a nice selection from through the years. (Years indicated are postmark dates.) It looks like a cool place.

Not surprisingly, the Powatomi Inn is still around, although it seems to have gone through a growth spurt or two.
Next: Anthony Wayne Drive-in