Friday, July 22, 2016

Cicco's Tavern Part 5

Lewis Cicco passed away on April 15, 1959 and his obituary (below) ran in the Lorain Journal the same day. It’s interesting that it focused on his high-profile career as a policeman that he enjoyed before getting into the tavern business.

His obituary describes him as "a big, friendly man with a knack for cultivating friends.” I think that’s a pretty nice way to be remembered!

Prohibition Squad Man Dead at 57

Lewis Cicco, a one-time Lorain city policeman who, in 1928, figured in one of the most sensational jury trials in Lorain County court history in connection with the shooting of a British woman subject, died today at 12:30 a. m. at St. Joseph Hospital.

Cicco’s death came on his 57th birthday anniversary following an illness of two weeks.

A native of Italy, Cicco was widely known in Lorain and Erie counties as a restaurant owner and chef for the last 31 years. He was chef at the new Vogue Room Restaurant, 2610 Colorado Ave., at the time of his death.

Cicco was a member of the Lorain prohibition enforcement squad when on the night of Sept. 27, 1928, he fired three shots at the pavement but in the direction of a speeding car believed to be occupied by rum runners.

One of the shots, evidence later showed, ricocheted and struck a British subject, Miss Betty Heywood, 22, of Elyria, in the back of the neck. Miss Heywood was a passenger in the rear seat of the car pursued by Cicco and the two other dry raiders.

The shooting, which took place on the east end of the E. 31st St. Bridge in South Lorain, and the jury trial which followed gained international prominence in newspapers and other publications.

The trial, which lasted two weeks, was one of the most spectacular in the history of the county courts.

Miss Heywood recovered and Cicco was found guilty of assault and battery by a trial jury. Cicco was fined $5 and costs in Lorain County Common Pleas Court. The costs amounted to $258.93.

Cicco, who was suspended from his police job, was later reinstated, but on Dec. 26, 1928, he resigned from the Lorain Police Department, less than eight months after his appointment as a policeman.

A big, friendly man with a knack for cultivating friends, Cicco was popular with restaurant patrons, business associates and fellow workers.

He owned and operated Cicco’s Edgewater Restaurant at Vermilion for about 17 years until two years ago when he sold the business. He also owned and operated the Chestnut Bar at Broadway and 18th St. for several years in the 1930s.

He also was a former employe at the Lorain yards of the American Ship Building Co. and of Alex Roth, a Lorain realtor, on a part-time basis for the past two years.

Cicco came to Lorain from Italy when six years old and lived here until 20 years ago when he moved to Vermilion. The family residence in Vermilion was at RD 1, Risden Rd.

Cicco was a member of the First Congregational Church, Ely Lodge, F. and A.M., and Royal Arch Masons, all of Vermilion; Sandusky Elks Club and Italian Mutual Benefit Society of Lorain.

He is survived by his widow, Edith; a daughter, Mrs. Marino Salvetta of Lorain; a son, Richard Cicco, who is with the U.S. Army in Germany; two brothers, Sam Cicco of Los Angeles, Calif., and Charles Cicco of Lorain; four sisters, Mrs. John Rosso Sr. of Willard, Mrs. Joseph Piserchia of Westfield, N.J., and Mrs. August Gallo and Mrs. Joseph Hoffman, both of Lorain; and two grandchildren.

Friends may call tomorrow after 1 p.m. at Edward M. Fisher Funeral Home, 340 E. South St., Vermilion, where funeral services will be Saturday at 2 p.m.

Ely Lodge Masonic rites will be conducted at the funeral home Friday at 8 p.m.

Rev. Earl T. English, pastor emeritus of First Congregational Church, Vermilion, will officiate at the Saturday funeral service. Burial will be in Maple Grove Cemetery, Vermilion.

Special thanks to Carolyn Stringer for her help with the preparation of this blog series. I apologize for the long delay in publishing these posts!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cicco's Tavern Part 4

Vintage postcard of Cicco’s Tavern in its heyday.
Note the tall chimneys; they were all that was left after the fire
Carolyn Stringer, granddaughter of Louis and Edith Cicco, owners of Cicco’s Tavern, provided me with some photos of the tragic December 1958 fire that consumed her family's business. As you will see from the photos, the entire building shown on the postcard above – both the one story portion with CICCO’S on the roof as well as the connected multi-story house – were destroyed.
Today, the neighbor's house next door to Cicco’s Tavern – seen in the post-fire photo above – still stands (below) as a landmark of where the tavern was located.

 Here’s a closer look at the neighboring house (below) to compare with the black and white photo.

Next: Lewis Cicco passes away

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Cicco's Tavern Part 3

In yesterday's post, I told how Cicco's Tavern had been purchased by a Lorain policeman in October 1956, and was being remodeled in June 1957.

Unfortunately, like so many well-known entertainment landmarks in Northeast Ohio, the former Cicco's Edgewater Tavern met a fiery demise. The Sandusky Register of Wednesday, December 30, 1958 told the sad story (below).

Fire Lowers Former Cicco Dining Spot

The former Cicco's Tavern on Routes 2 and 6 near Vermilion, being remodeled for residential use by its new owner, John Kochan, Lorain, was destroyed by a Tuesday night fire despite efforts of volunteer firemen from Vermilion, Huron and Berlin Heights.

The former summer restaurant, known as Cicco's, and widely known for its spaghetti and fish dinners, was operated by Louis Cicco as late as two years ago.

The building was unoccupied but plumbers had been making repairs to the heating system Tuesday with the hope that Edgar Maners, a Ford Co. employee, who brought his family from Memphis recently, could move into their new home.

The Maners family was due to occupy the quarters today.

Meanwhile Maners had stored such possessions as clothing, appliances, sewing machine and TV in the building. All were lost.

Even the report cards and school transfer slips for the two Maners children, William, 13 and Lois, 12, were destroyed. The children were to have enrolled in Vermilion school as seventh and sixth graders next Monday.

The family is temporarily living with the Yarborough family near Vermilion.

Fire Chief Carl Blaser and his Vermilion volunteer firemen answered the alarm at approximately 9:15 p.m. when Mrs. Laura Yarborough, living nearby, noticed smoke. Firemen responded with two trucks and then Berlin Heights and Huron firemen were called. Three pieces of equipment from Berlin Heights answered the alarm.

Other residents of the neighborhood reported smoke odor but said they were unable to trace the source until flames burst out of the building.

Firemen were hampered by lack of water and another call sent to Berlin Heights for its tanker. A gas well located near the building also presented a hazard to firemen.

A large crowd watched the flames engulf the building while firemen concentrated efforts on holding the spread of fire to other buildings.

Only the chimney and fireplace remain standing today.

The Lorain Journal covered the fire that destroyed Cicco’s Tavern as well.

Here’s the story (below) as it appeared on the paper’s front page on Wednesday, December 31, 1958. The article also includes some history of the Shore Inn, predecessor to Cicco’s Tavern.


3 Fire Squads Battle Blaze 
At Cicco’s Tavern, Vermilion

VERMILION – Three fire departments last night battled for almost six hours in an attempt to halt a stubborn blaze that destroyed Cicco’s Tavern, about two-and-a-half miles west of Vermilion on Rts. 2 and 6.

Firemen from Vermilion, Huron and Berlin Heights fought the flames, which were visible a mile away, from shortly after 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Lorain Patrolman John F. Kochan bought the tavern for an estimated $40,000 in October, 1956, from Lewis Cicco of Risden Rd. who had operated it for 20 years, but had not opened it since that time.

An employee of the Ford Motor Co.’s Lorain Assembly Plant, his wife and their three children lost all their clothing and household goods in the fire.

The Ford worker, Edgar Maners, had just brought his family here from Memphis, Tenn., to occupy former living quarters in the building. He had moved in his goods, but Kochan had not permitted the family to occupy it.

Kochan was dissatisfied with the way the heating system was operating, according to Maners.

Vermilion Fire Chief Carl Blaser said it was “too late” to do anything when the department arrived on the scene. Cause of the fire was undetermined at mid-morning and Kochan could not be reached to learn whether the loss was covered by insurance. Blaser said he could not estimate the loss until he talked to Kochan.

Mrs. John Yarborough, who lives in the former Cicco home, saw the smoke and called the fire department at about 9:15 p.m. Vermilion pumpers made two trips into town for more water since the nearby fire hydrant was not working properly.

Mrs. Cicco said today that her husband had operated the tavern for 20 years and that for seven years before that it was unoccupied. Prior to that, “Greebe and Gorman” of Cleveland operated the Shore Inn there, famous for its spaghetti, Mrs. Cicco said.

Kochan paid about $40,000 for the building, according to records in the Erie County Recorder’s Office.

In April 1957, Kochan obtained a building permit in Erie County courthouse for an estimated $4,000 in improvements to the building and reportedly planned to open it as a restaurant and a bar.

Kochan, who joined the Lorain police department on Oct. 1, 1945, lives at 3565 Toledo Ave.

The Maners family would have moved in today if the heating system had proved satisfactory. In the meantime the family was located in another nearby building.

The personal belongings lost by the Maners family included all their clothing, except for what they were wearing, a sewing machine, television set, cedar chest full of summer clothes, rotisserie, mattress, roll-away bed and other goods.

The Maners family consists of Maners; his wife, Marjorie; William, 13; Lois, 12; and Teresa, 2. The report cards and school transcripts of the two school-age children were also lost.

Next: Fire photos

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Cicco's Tavern Part 2

It seems strange and intrusive today, but the front page of the Lorain Journal on June 26, 1957 was dominated by the news that a Lorain policeman had purchased Cicco's Tavern. Here's the story as it appeared in the Journal that day.

PURCHASED BY POLICEMAN – Here is the former Cicco's Edgewater
Tavern, on W. Lake Rd. about three miles west of Vermilion, which has been
purchased for an estimated $40,000 by Patrolman John F. Kochan of the 
Lorain Police Department. The building is being remodeled.
Lorain Patrolman Buys Tavern in Erie County At Estimated $40,000

Patrolman John F. Kochan, 40, a member of the Lorain Police Department since 1945, has purchased the former Cicco's Edgewater Tavern on W. Lake Rd. in Vermilion Township for an indicated $40,000, according to records in Erie County Courthouse, Sandusky.

Meanwhile, extensive interior and exterior remodeling of the building is taking place, for which Kochan obtained a building permit in Erie County Courthouse on April 1.

Kochan's building permit listed an estimated cost of $4,500 for "new siding, flooring, ceiling and paint."

A warranty deed filed with Erie County Recorder Carl A. Spier last Oct. 9 shows that the lakefront property, located about three miles west of Vermilion was transferred to Kochan from Edith M. Cicco and her husband, Lewis Cicco.

Cicco, a former Lorain policeman, was a member of the Lorain "booze" squad in the late 1920's which cracked down on bootleggers.

A total of $44 in real estate revenue stamps is affixed to the warranty deed, indicating that the property was bought by Kochan for $40,000.

A mortgage deed recorded in the Erie County recorder's office last Oct. 10 shows that Kochan obtained an $18,000 loan on the property from the Citizens Home and Savings Association Co.  of Lorain.

Kochan began making monthly payments of $180 to the lending association last Sept. 27, according to the mortgage deed.

The mortgage deed specifies that the loan be repaid within 10 years at 5 per cent interest.

Asked about the purchase of Edgewater Tavern, Kochan said, "No comment."

A moment later, Kochan declared, "I'm an investor. I'm getting the place in shape so I can sell it."

Kochan, a bachelor, became a city policeman on Oct. 1, 1945, and in this capacity earns $370 a month.

He lives at 3565 Toledo Avenue.

Next: Up in Smoke

Monday, July 18, 2016

Cicco's Tavern Part 1

Vintage postcard postmarked 1941
Here’s a nice vintage postcard of Cicco's Tavern, which was located a few miles west of Vermilion on Route 6.

Lewis Cicco, a former Lorain city policeman, owned and operated the tavern for about 17 years. (I’ll have more on his police career in a later post.)

Before it became Cicco’s Tavern, the facility had been part of a large resort property known in the early 1930s as Shore Inn and later as Roback’s Shore Inn. Shore Inn had offered a variety of amenities, including dinner, dancing, a hotel, cottages and beach facilities.

The Sandusky Register of August 9, 1940 included a small news item from the early days of Cicco’s Tavern.

It read, "Cicco's Tavern, formerly Shore Inn, located on the Cleveland-rd. Route 2, two and one-half miles west of Vermilion, has been completely remodeled and redecorated and is proving to be a very popular place this summer. There is dancing every evening music being supplied by Heath Snyder's orchestra. Louis [sic] Cicco, well-known restaurant man, is proprietor of the Tavern and he is specializing in Italian spaghetti, steaks, chicken dinners and seafoods. There are private dining rooms which are available for parties and other gatherings. Cicco's Tavern is open until 2:30 a. m.

The restaurant's popularity resulted in Lewis Cicco deciding to commercially produce his spaghetti sauce. Here's an article (below) from the Sandusky Register of November 7, 1946.

Cicco Plans To Start Factory Next Spring
VERMILION, Nov. 7—As soon as materials are available in the spring, construction is expected to be started on a factory here to house Cicco's Finer Foods. The firm has just been incorporated for $25,000 with Lewis Cicco, Abe Kaplan and Kathryne Owens listed as incorporators. Cicco, manager of a tavern west of here on Lake-rd for a number of years, said the firm is to manufacture spaghetti, Italian sauces and salad dressings.
The spaghetti sauce was produced and distributed to grocery stores, according to this ad, (below), which appeared in the Lorain Journal on April 5, 1947.

Carolyn Stringer, whose grandparents were Louis and Edith Cicco, told me via email last year, "Our sauce was on the market for years in Sparkle Market in Vermilion.” It was also available at Mark’s Market on Perkins Avenue in Sandusky as late as March 1957.
Here are some more vintage postcards (below).
Tomorrow, I'll write about how Cicco's Tavern changed hands in the late 1950s in a very high profile transaction.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Anderson Acres Summer Resort Near Huron

I recently saw this postcard for Anderson Acres on Ebay and thought it was pretty interesting, as I'd never heard of it before.

Anderson Acres was a summer resort located on U.S. 6, just two miles east of the Huron city limits and west of Old Woman Creek.

Here's another version of the same postcard.

This one was postmarked September 1947 and provides a nice capsule history of the resort. The back of it reads:

Settled in 1839 by James Anderson
Along Lake Erie Shore, 2 miles East of Huron, Ohio.
State Route 2      U.S. Route 6
Phone 6012  Huron, Ohio
40 Cabins – Trailer Space – Campers
Cottages – Rooms – Showers

James Anderson's biography is included in A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio (1916) by Hewson L. Peeke. (Here is a link to it.) At the time the book was published, Anderson's property included 250 acres. His biography noted that it comprised "one of the most beautiful farms to be found anywhere along the shores of Lake Erie. For a distance of 1,800 feet the farm borders on the lake shore, and in that state is found one of the finest bathing beaches in Northern Ohio, bearing the name by which the farm is also known: Lake View."

Anderson Acres was a very popular summer resort, judging by the favorable and nostalgic sentiments about it on the internet. So what does the property look like today?

Beachwood Villas Condominiums (the three tall lakefront buildings in the aerial photo below) were built on part of the former Anderson Acres land in the 1980s. The rest of the Anderson lakefront land – still a trailer park in the 1980s – has since been developed, as well as the former Anderson farm.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Corky’s Restaurant & Motel

Note that the original diner building only had eight windows in front.
Vintage postcards of Corky’s Restaurant and Motel in Huron are pretty easy to find on Ebay. What isn’t so easy is figuring out where Corky's was located.

The postcards and matchbook all list the location as “Homan and Williams” with no real address – and it’s seemingly impossible to find Homan on a map. But research reveals that the business fronted on Cleveland Road West (U.S. Route 6) where it intersects with Williams.

So a traveler entering Huron from the west in the old days would have encountered Corky’s on the right (the south side of the street) shortly before they turned south onto Main Street into the Downtown district. 
Here are two more postcards, showing how the restaurant was enlarged from its days as a diner.
You can see the water tower (also formerly located on Williams Street)
off in the distance in the inset photo of the motel.
I believe that the motel sat just east of the restaurant. (Can any longtime Huron resident confirm this for me?) In fact, it appears that the same parked car, chimney, and tree are visible in both photos above.

Anyway, like many other longtime businesses, Corky’s eventually succumbed to Huron’s controversial urban renewal project. An attempt was made to sell the 5-unit motel and restaurant in the late 1950s, with a FOR SALE ad appearing in the April 20, 1957 Sandusky Register.

Here’s a great photo taken shortly before Corky's demolition, courtesy of the Huron Historical Society and the website. The photo’s caption confirmed that it was on the corner of Williams and Cleveland Road.

The demolished houses shown above are on the east side of Williams Street.
Corky’s faced Cleveland Road West.
You can see this photo and many others in the Huron Historical Society’s collection by clicking here.

UPDATE (July 19, 2016)
Regular blog contributor and researcher Dennis Thompson managed to locate an 1896 map of Huron with that elusive Homan Street on it (below). Thanks, Dennis!