Friday, August 26, 2016

Back to Bay View

Although I did a post on Bay View last year, I couldn’t resist driving out there again this year.

There’s just something about this charming cottage community that’s very appealing to me. Perhaps it’s because its sleepy main street is missing the visual pollution that you find in bigger villages: dollar stores, chain drug stores, payday loan companies, tattoo parlors, etc.

Anyway, I grabbed a few shots around town. I was there fairly early on a Sunday morning, so there wasn’t too much activity.

I decided to drive out onto what’s left of the old Bay Bridge.
I resisted peeking in the barrel to see if fishermen were obeying the sign
Well, I guess that wraps up my summertime wanderings out in Vacationland here on the blog. Next week, it’s back to my usual Lorain County beat.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Bay View Memories

Vintage postcard courtesy of Dennis Lamont
Summer’s almost over, so I’ll sneak in one last trip to cottage country. Today’s destination: Bay View.

Regular contributor Rick Kurish suggested Bay View as a blog topic earlier in the summer. Back in June, he wrote, "I know you are familiar with the area of western Ohio known as “Vacationland," and have done a few blog postings on the area. Perhaps you might consider Bay View, which I believe is now a part of Sandusky.

"Like Sheffield Lake, Bay View was developed as a summer colony of lake cottages. The area was developed in the mid 1920s, and I have attached a few of the cottage ads which appeared in the Chronicle-Telegram in the 1925/1926 time frame.”

Here are the ads. This one (below) is the oldest ad Rick could find for the Bay View development. It ran in the Chronicle on April 16, 1925.

Here are two more.

Rick also wrote about his personal experience connected with Bay View. He wrote, "I ‘discovered' Bay View in the summer of 1965 when I was living in Toledo. By Ohio Turnpike, the drive between Toledo and Amherst took about two hours. 
"However, one summer weekend I decided to make the drive home a leisurely one along the lakeshore. I ended up crossing Sandusky Bay on the old State Route 269 lift bridge, which took you right into Bay View. 
"At the end of the bridge was a restaurant where I stopped for lunch. I don't remember the name of the restaurant, but it was later named The Angry Trout. 
1960s postcard of Log Cabin Restaurant, predecessor of the Angry Trout
"As I was eating lunch looking at a road map, several people stopped to ask if I needed help or directions. when I mentioned that Bay View looked like a great place to spend the summer, they laughed and said it was the best kept secret on the western part of the lake. Anyway, after I had eaten I decided to drive around the area before continuing on my way. 
"And it appeared the guy was right. While covering a relatively small area, the ambiance was "lazy summer day” – mostly summer cottages, hammocks in the yards, chairs lining the beaches, and people water skiing in the bay. I was impressed, and decided that one day when I had some time I would rent one of the summer cottages for a week or two and see if living there in the summer was a neat as it looked --- but of course, I never did. 
"With the demise of the Route 269 bridge, and the advent of the Edison Bridge which bypasses the town, there is little reason to pass through Bay View anymore. In fact, the last time I was there was over 20 years ago. I think I'll leave it that way, and remember it as it was the first time I passed through in the summer of 1965.”
Thanks for sharing your memories, Rick! 
Bay View is still there and very much the same, as we’ll see tomorrow when I go “Back to Bay View."

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Images of Lorain County Fairs Past

I made my annual trip out to Wellington for the Lorain County Fair Monday night. It’s one of my favorite days of the year – pure fun and good eatin'.

So it’s a good time for me to post some vintage images of the Fair before it's over.

First up is this vintage postcard, recently on Ebay, giving us a glimpse of the Fair when it was held in Elyria. It looks almost like a formal affair (no pun intended).

The postcard was postmarked in Elyria on August 29, 1909 and was published by Bins’ Book Store in Elyria. 
(Click here to visit the Lorain County Fair website and read a short history of the Fair.)

And here a few more images that should look a little bit more like the Fair we’re used to. This ad for the Fair ran in the Lorain Journal on August 16, 1956 – 60 years ago.

Some of the attractions at the 1956 Lorain County Fair: Jack Kochman’s Hell Drivers; the Buddy Morrow Band; the Four Freshmen; and the network country music program Midwestern Hayride with Bonnie Lou.
Ten years later, this full-page ad (below) ran in the August 20, 1966 Lorain Journal for the 111th Annual Lorain County Fair.
Attractions at the 1966 Fair included country music singer Eddy Arnold and His All Star Show, and Dan Fleenor's Hurricane Hell Drivers.
By George, Lorain Countians really enjoy those Hell Drivers.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

John’s Motel & Cabins – Part 3

Wouldn't you know it? Just when I thought I was done with my look at John's Motel & Cabins, I received the above postcard in my email from historian and archivist Dennis Lamont late in the afternoon on Monday!

The caption reads:
RTE. 2 AND U. S. 6

The postcard shows the brick house that many remember as the Kovanic home, as well as tourist cabins – the same ones seen in the John's Motel & Cabins postcard (below). Unmistakably the same view, trees, telephone poles, etc. What a great find, Dennis!

It all makes sense. That 1954 Lorain County Farm & Rural Directory listing included a mention of the Sunnyside Inn being run by John Kovanic (below) with the motel between his house and the Inn. (The numerical listings increase as they move east from the Erie County line.)

I’m guessing that the building on the left hand side of the postcard is the Inn.
After looking at a 1969 Historic Aerial, I’m inclined to believe that there were two rows of cabins: a row parallel to Lake Road (shown on both vintage postcards) and a second row that formed an “L” where it met the first row of cabins. You can see the edge of that second row in the cabin photo.
Of course, the cabins facing Lake Road are long gone, but that second row (in my opinion) are most likely the ones seen in Part 2 of this blog series.

Monday, August 22, 2016

John’s Motel & Cabins – Part 2

The former Kovanic home at the corner of Hazelwood and Liberty.
You can see the motel cabins in back.
On Friday, Bill Nahm posted a link to my story on John’s Motel and Cabins on the “You Know You’re From Vermilion” Facebook page. Bill was guessing that some of the locals could help provide some answers as to where the motel and cabins were located.

Bill was right.

It didn’t take long for more than a dozen helpful Facebook members to weigh in with information to pinpoint the location of John Kovanic’s business. More than three hundred page views of my original post took place within a day or so (compared to my usual thirty or so hits a day).

Thanks to everyone who helped by leaving a comment.

As more than one person pointed out, the Kovanics lived in the big, brick house at the corner of Hazelwood and Liberty (U.S. Route 6) seen at the top of this post. The house's address is still 3265 Liberty.

Having a real address helped me research what happened to the motel after John Kovanic retired.

Within a few years, it became the Shipwreck Motel – just as one of the Vermilion Facebook members remembered. (When I read that, I vaguely remembered a small, distressed boat that sat in front of the motel over the years.)

The Shipwreck Motel appeared in the Lorain phone book listings until the 1977-78 edition, when its listing was replaced by Sunset Motel at the same address.

Apparently, Sunset Motel was one of two motels that made up a small local chain. The other Sunset Motel was out on U. S. Route 20 East near Oberlin. They both appeared next to each other in the listings until the 1980 directory, when only the one on Route 20 was listed.

There are still motel cabins behind the former Kovanic house. It’s hard to tell if they are the same ones in the vintage photo, or if they were entirely rebuilt.

Often, tourist court operators would update their old, individual cabins by joining them together structurally to form a more modern-looking block of rooms.

Here's what they look like.

One of the interesting things about the Facebook comment is that a few people disagreed about the location of the Kovanic cabins. At least one person remembered them being located further east.
There were actually a lot of cabins along that stretch of highway. The 1954 Lorain County Farm & Rural Directory listed three cabin camps all in that same area on the south side of the highway. Besides the Kovanic cabins, there were also tourist cabins associated with Rich D. Kish and his grocery located near Sunnyside, and Pickering’s Cabins which were listed as being near Ferndale.

Before I wrap up this topic, I would be remiss if I did not mention Adele Kovanic, who was the daughter of John and Elizabeth Kovanic. More than one person on the Vermilion Facebook page noted that she is still living on Hazelwood.

It sounds like Adele is very well known for her musical talents. One person noted, “She taught music at VHS for years and was the organist at St Mary's. Another remembered, "Ask any older member of St. Mary’s, they will know all about her. She was my high school music teacher."

Even Dennis Lamont emailed me about Adele, noting, “She is quite an accomplished musician, having taught music in Vermilion and was one of the organists at St Mary’s.

"She retired a few years ago. She could not only play anything on the organ but effortlessly transpose music as she played. When a priest intoned a high mass she was instantly "in tune" with him.”

Dennis noted that Adele was "One of a kind, we are glad we were able to see and hear her in her prime."

Friday, August 19, 2016

John’s Motel & Cabins – Part 1

Here’s a Lake Road tourist camp that I’d never heard of before: John’s Motel and Cabins. The above real photo postcard postcard recently appeared on Ebay and was postmarked August 12, 1951.

The location of John’s Motel and Cabins is inscribed on the front of the postcard – East Lake Road, Route 2 & 6, Vermilion, Ohio – with a phone number of 2204. (The back of the card was blank.)
It was fairly easy to find it and its matching phone number in this 1950 Lorain Telephone Company directory listing of Tourist & Trailer Camps (below), which was the earliest book that included it.
The telephone directory listing provided a better description of where it was located: Stop 124 1/2, which would on Lake Road east of Vermilion, near Sunnyside Road.
The location was further pinpointed by the motel’s listing in the 1954 Lorain County Farm & Rural Directory as being on the south side of the highway. The listing also mentions an inn.
Best of all, the listing also revealed the name of the man behind the business: John Kovanic.
Here’s a later listing from the Lorain phone book. This one appeared in 1959. Note the many motels and tourist camps that have been featured on this blog during the past seven years : Anchor Lodge Motel, Beachcomber Motor Lodge, Beth-Shan Motel, Foster House Motel, Grandview Motel, Hialeah, Holiday Inn, Kayann’s, Lakeland Lodges, Peck’s Cottages, and Vians.)
John’s Motel continued to appear in the Lorain phone book until it disappeared as of the 1962 edition.
John J. Kovanic passed away on October 11, 1972. His obituary that appeared in the Journal the next day revealed that he was born in Czechoslovakia in October 1887 and came to New York at the age of 23. He had been a resident of Vermilion for 52 years.

As for his career in tourist lodging, his obituary stated that he had “owned and operated the Home Restaurant on Main St., Vermilion, from 1920 to 1930 and then later operated the John’s Motel, East Liberty Ave., Vermilion, from 1930 to 1962, when he retired.”

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Peck’s Cottages – Part 4

I had real difficulty getting a nice “now” shot of the above postcard showing the Peck store with the cottages in the background. The weather comically conspired to make my task difficult each time I drove out towards Vermilion to get my photo.

Even though it was sunny in Sheffield Lake, by the time I got to the former Peck’s, it was either raining or overcast. This happened twice.

On another attempt, the weather was again crummy when I arrived. So I kept on going towards Huron, hoping the weather would change. It did, and got sunny – so I turned around and roared back towards my destination at “ramming speed" – only to find that it was overcast again. Sigh.

Eventually I got this shot (below).

By the way, the large building in the photo is now called “the Cafe.”

Here’s a view of the cottages behind it.
Remember the vintage Peck’s postcard of the pool that I posted yesterday (below)?

Although it’s just a memory now, you can still see it near Lake Road in this outdated aerial view. Hey, wha' happened to the trees?
Hope you enjoyed this look back at Peck’s Cottages.