Tuesday, August 21, 2018

New Lorain County Fair Building – August 1963

It’s Lorain County Fair week – one of my favorite times of the year.

My visit to the Fair each year plays out pretty much the same: an Oh-Boy for dinner, accompanied by a cup of French Fries smothered with salt and vinegar. And for dessert? A Rutana’s apple dumpling swimming in sauce (hold the ice cream) – that great, once -a-year treat.

The fairgrounds never seems to change very much from year to year, and there’s something comforting about that. But at one time, things were new, and this post deals with one of them: a new arts building. Read all about it in the article below, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on August 9, 1963.

Note that the fair was a little shorter back then.

Aug. 19 Red-Letter Day For County Fair Goers
WELLINGTON –  Aug. 19 will be a red-letter day of the Lorain County Agricultural Society (Fair Board) for it is the opening of the 108th annual Lorain County Fair at the fairgrounds.
As thousands of persons visit the spacious grounds during the five-day extravaganza, they will enjoy the fruits of labors of the 21-member board.
Every event and exhibit in the fair has been carefully planned through the months during the interim between the close of the 1962 fair and the forthcoming gala program.
Each year, for the past several years, a new addition has been made to the physical plant of the fairgrounds, and this year it is a 6,000 square-foot building for exhibits on the southern side of the grounds.
In yesteryear, the county fair was primarily an occasion for farm families, but today it is a community institution and as attractive to the urban and suburban dwellers as to their rural relatives and friends.
The Junior Fair has become a most important part of the county fair. There are some observers who feel that without the youth activities, this traditional annual event might well have succumbed to other competition in the field of entertainment and recreation.
Fair directors are busy grooming the fairgrounds for their “one big week.” (They must do most of the work themselves on the grounds for their budget is very limited.)
During the five-day program all of them will spend most of their time attending to various assignments on the grounds.
They can be spotted by the big button they will be wearing, which says “Director.”
These are the men who have made the Lorain County Fair one of the most outstanding in the state. As public officials they perhaps are the most unheralded of all county officers, yet their contributions to the community are great.
Today, I’m pretty sure that the building mentioned in the article is still being used for either art or photography as it resembles the two buildings near the cluster of trees. I’ll give it a gander when I visit the Fair this week.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Sunday Journal Arrives – August 1968

For many of you, a lazy Sunday afternoon just wouldn’t be complete without a nice, thick edition of your favorite newspaper to enjoy. Although many newspapers are fighting for survival in this day and age, we are lucky locally to have the Morning Journal and the Chronicle-Telegram to choose from on Sunday.

That wasn’t always the case. I remember my parents in the 1960s having to buy a Cleveland Plain Dealer on Sundays, because the Lorain Journal did not publish on Sunday. It was great for me in a way, because the Sunday edition of the Plain Dealer had a huge comic section that included Li’l Abner, the Wizard of Id, and Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, which became favorites of mine.

But that all changed on August 25, 1968, when the Sunday Journal arrived.

Here’s the full-page ad promoting it that ran in the paper on August 22, 1968.

As you can see, the ad includes the iconic Golden Crescent map and seagull that appeared in miniature on the Opinion page of the Journal for many years.

Anyway – since comics were so important to me as a kid –  I seem to recall that the early Sunday Journal had really offbeat comic strips, such as The Strange World of Mr. Mum and Henry.

I also recall that at some point the Journal used to include a small color comic section with strips such as Lolly and Moon Mullins along with its Saturday edition. Does anybody out there remember this too? 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Prehistoric Postscript

The view back in August 2010 just before it closed
As I was preparing to wrap up this look back at Prehistoric Forest, I wondered: what does the property look like today? So I made a quick prehistoric pilgrimage out to Marblehead earlier this week to find out.

As I approached the shuttered attraction, I was surprised to see that the mountain was still there.

Signs were posted to keep nosy bloggers from pulling into the parking lot to take pictures.
The sign was still up, but painted over.
Although the dinos are gone from Prehistoric Forest, there’s still at least one monster lurking just a few miles away to the west.
In case you’re wondering, Fort Firelands is still open too.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Prehistoric Postcards

One of my favorite books is The New Roadside America: The Modern Traveler’s Guide to the Wild and Wonderful World of America’s Tourist Attractions (1986) by Mike Wilkins, Ken Smith and Doug Kirby. The book profiles a variety of roadside attractions circa the mid-1980s  – including Prehistoric Forest in Marblehead.

The side-splitting description makes it clear that the goal of Prehistoric Forest was to entertain. The authors noted, "At the Prehistoric Forest in Marblehead all pretense of history and education are abandoned. Tram riders are issued miniature M-16 rifles and are instructed to "kill the monsters." A prerecorded tour guide panics repeatedly and screams, "To the left! To the right! Shoot! Shoot!!!" whenever one of the feebly nodding dinosaurs comes into view. The forest echoes with the chatter of toy M-16 fire spraying in all directions. The tram driver remains unaffected by the mayhem, smoking cigarettes and sipping coffee as the tram slowly chugs along.”

That’s why it was so strange for me to discover a nice series of postcards issued by the owners of Prehistoric Forest in Marblehead that seemed, well, downright educational.

Here they are. The mail panel side of each postcard included a nice description of each “monster” and what it ate.

The owners of Prehistoric Forest were probably hoping that its visitors would collect the whole set of postcards. (There might be more than those shown here, these dinos were “poached” from Ebay over the last few years.)

I’m not sure if we had any of these postcards, but I do remember coming home from Prehistoric Forest with little plastic dinosaurs much like you often found in a cereal box in the 1960s. This blogger has a collection of them and has a nice write-up of how he came to have them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Prehistoric Forest in the Family Album

Prehistoric Forest has long been a favorite topic on this blog, as I noted a few days ago when I wrote about its sister attraction, Mystery Hill.

Well, shortly after my August 2014 post about the now-extinct dinosaur attraction, I received an email from the administrator of the "Oberlin in the Past" Facebook page. The post had reminded her of some old photos in the family album that had been unlabeled, and thus – a mystery.

She wrote, "Could these pictures be from that Prehistoric Forest? I have been wondering where they were taken.” She originally thought that the photos were from a family trip to California in 1963. "The signs are cut off, so I can't be sure – but I have been wondering for years,” she wrote.

Here are her vintage family photos. As you knew from the title of this post, they were indeed taken at Prehistoric Forest. You can compare the photos with the vintage postcard at the top of this post.

I pointed out to her that in addition to the "PRE-" and "-TORIC” signs visible in the photos, there's that Cheesehaven sign on the bench in the first shot which is a dead giveaway as to where the photos were taken! 
"Hah! Isn't that funny,” she wrote back. She planned to upload her now-identified photos to a vintage roadside attraction website.
Anyway, it was very nice of her to share some family memories, and provide a rare glimpse of Prehistoric Forest during its early days.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Hotel Victory at Put-in-Bay Burns – August 14, 1919

The Hotel Victory at Put-in-Bay
Have you ever been to Put-in-Bay? I know a few people who have lived in the Lorain area all their lives, and have yet to visit South Bass Island.

If you have paid a visit to Put-in-Bay, you probably checked out the ruins of the old Hotel Victory, which burned down exactly 99 years ago today.
Here’s the account of the mysterious disaster as it appeared on the front page of the Lorain Times-Herald the next day. It includes a nice history of the hotel and its guests.

For an excellent history of the hotel and the fire that destroyed it, be sure to visit the Midwest Guest blog by clicking here. The well-written post contains great photos, including several of the former hotel property today.

Monday, August 13, 2018

East Harbor State Park Postcards

Since I was writing about Mystery Hill a couple days ago, I think I’ll loiter here on the blog out in Vacationland a little longer. After all, summer is rapidly slipping away. So let’s pay a visit to East Harbor State Park through a series of vintage postcards.
East Harbor State Park has long been a favorite destination of the Brady family. It was one of the places (along with Mill Hollow) where we learned to camp.

According to online sources, the park has been around since 1947. Here are a few early postcards promoting the park, which is located on a peninsula near Marblehead.

Here are a few more beach shots. Who can forget those huge (and hot) slabs of stone leading down to it.
Courtesy CardCow.com
As I mentioned, we enjoyed camping at East Harbor. Here are some postcards promoting the campground. Hey, our tent might be in one of those shots!
Courtesy CardCow.com
When the Texas Bradys come east to Ohio for a spell each year, a picnic at East Harbor State Park is often a highlight of their visit. Here are two postcards of pic-a-nic’ers of the past.
The one was postmarked 1960.
Courtesy CardCow.com
And lastly, a day of fun at East Harbor wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the concession stand for some goodies.