Thursday, July 19, 2018

D. D. Lewis and the Alligator

Back in 2016, I did a four-part series about the history of Lake Breeze, the historic resort area of Sheffield Lake that dates back to the 1870s. It was located near the northern terminus of the road that still bears its name.

In the late 1890s, the resort property (including an old hotel) was owned by D. D. Lewis, a superintendent at the Johnson steel mill in Lorain. In November 1903, Mr. Lewis sold the land to a company that planned to build a modern resort there. (It was never built.)

Anyway, by July 1929, D. D. Lewis was still living in the area in a lakefront home. He had a rather unusual experience involving an alligator that made the front page of the Lorain Journal of Tuesday, July 23, 1929 – 90 years ago this month.

Here's the article as it appeared in the paper that day.


What would you do if you had a home on the shore of Lake Erie and went out into your backyard and found an alligator calmly sunning itself on your breakwall?

Possibly you would go down into your cellar and throw out all the home brew, or plan to go to a specialist for an examination.

Yet that was the experience which D. D. Lewis, who has a home at Stop [illegible], on the east shore, underwent last Sunday.

Incidentally, he didn’t do either of the above mentioned things. Instead, he went right up to the alligator and found out for himself that it was real flesh and blood.

He could scarcely believe his eyes. He wouldn’t have been surprised had he been down in Florida where alligators are so common.

But to have one of the things come right out of Lake Erie and climb onto his breakwall – my word; and a lot of other expressions.

But there it was. He had made a great discovery. It was a real live alligator, evidently rather young, for it measured only about 30 inches.

He wondered how he could prove his discovery. He solved the matter by proceeding to catch the alligator and tieing it up in his yard where he could put it on exhibition. 

It was then that the mystery was cleared up. One of his neighbors saw the alligator and thanked Lewis for recovering it. It had been sent to him as a pet from a friend in Florida and broken away and got lost. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Reddy’s Whole-house Air Conditioning Ad – 1968

It’s been a rough summer up here on the North Coast, what with all the days above 90º so far. Thank goodness for my favorite invention of all time: air-conditioning. I don’t think I could survive without it. How we kept cool with fans (which I explored in this post from 2011) I’ll never know.

Way back in March of 1968 (when the above ad ran in the Lorain Journal), our old pal Reddy Kilowatt warned us that there’d be days like this. My favorite electric sprite advocated the installation of electric whole-house air conditioning (which ironically is what I have).

Anyway, heres hoping that you are staying comfortable this summer. Hey, maybe it’s time for a Kool-Pop!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Asphalt Ad – July 30, 1956

One of the unpleasant aspects of summer (besides the 90º heat waves we’ve been having) is the ubiquitous roadwork taking place. Although it is much needed, it doesn’t make it any more tolerable when you are driving over a freshly scraped roadbed awaiting its layer of asphalt, throwing up pebbles and dust as you speed along.

Asphalt is almost becoming a regular topic on this blog. Back in November of last year, I featured a 1957 ad by the Ohio Road Improvement Company promoting the economic benefits of using “black, velvety asphalt” for paving roads instead of pouring concrete.

And here’s another ad in that same series. This ad appeared in the Lorain Journal on July 30, 1956. This time, the focus is on the farmer and the ability to get his produce to market quickly thanks to asphalt.
I love the cartoon veggies in the ad, sprinting down the highway with a helpful push by the farmer.

I suppose that only old-timers get the visual pun of the cute “tomato."

Monday, July 16, 2018

How the Kayann Got Its Name

Vintage Postcard
If you live in the Lorain area, I’m sure you’ve driven by the Kayann Motel & Apartments on East Erie, just west of St. Anthony Church, many times.

Once advertised as “Lorain’s Finest Luxury Apartments & Motel,” it was only a few years ago that the signs indicating that motorists were welcome were finally removed.

Did you ever wonder how the Kayann got its name? It’s revealed in the caption accompanying the photo below, which ran in the Lorain Journal on July 15, 1953. At the time, the first apartment building was under construction.

As noted, Ronald A. Whitbeck was the man behind the construction of the apartments. You probably guessed that the name ‘Kayann’ had some personal significance to Mr. Whitbeck. It was the combination of the middle names of his two daughters, Marlene Kay and Patricia Ann. Very catchy indeed!

Marlene Kay was mentioned on this blog before on this post. As “Miss Vacationland” of 1953, she was featured in a photo (below) congratulating Darlene Ehrlich, the winner in 1954.

Friday, July 6, 2018

On Vacation!

Well, like the first line of the ad above (which ran in the Lorain Journal on July 30, 1956) says: I'm going on vacation! 

I'll be taking my usual week off beginning Monday, July 9. I have a jolly, fun-filled week planned – a real "moving" experience.

Please stop back here on Monday, July 16 when I resume my normal blogging schedule.

Hope you're enjoying your summer, especially the new, cooler weather!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Pre-Revolutionary War Bedspread – July 2, 1953

Although July 4th is passed, this post is somewhat related to the time era surrounding the birth of our country.

It’s about a Lorain woman’s keepsake that actually predates Revolutionary War Days by about thirty years. Read all about this unusual family heirloom in the article below, written by Robert Sanders, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on July 2, 1953.

Handed Down Through Seven Generations
Old Bedspread Prized Possession


A bedspread which antedates the American Revolution is the proud possession of a Lorain woman, Mrs. Frank Irvin, 42, 545 Washington Avenue.

Believed to be over 200 years old, the coverlid or counterpane as it was called in those days has been handed down through seven generations.

Indigo blue and white in color, the bedspread was woven in West Virginia by Mrs. Irvin's great, great, great, great, great grandmother probably sometime before 1731, when the first settlers of record entered the mountaineer state, and 1750.

Made of wool sheared from sheep raised on a farm in Nicholas County, located in the central part of the state, the bedspread had received loving care down through the years.

Its design, of rectangular variations in six inch squares, shows an American Indian influence – probably that of the Powhatan tribe which inhabited West Virginia at the time of the white man's invasion.

In those days weaving was done on a hand loom. After washing the wool, it was carded (combed with a brush - like affair), woven into yarn, dyed and then placed in the loom which had a hand pedal.

In Moth Balls
Measuring nine by six feet, the antique has spent most of the last 50 years in moth balls. An indication of how prized a possession it is occurred 23 years ago when Mrs. Irvin's family was driven out of their home by a fire.

Neglecting much more valuable property, Mrs. Irvin's mother thought first of saving the bedspread and carted it proudly out of the house while firemen successfully battled the flames.

Taken out of mothballs only for special occasions and washings (every four years and in mild soap) the treasured possession is in remarkably good condition.

West Virginia state fair officials have long pleaded with her to allow them to display the bedspread, but Mrs. Irvin had put a determined foot down. "I'm afraid something might happen to it," she says.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

50 Years of Port Clinton’s African Safari Wildlife Park

Many of us Baby Boomers have fond memories of Jungle Larry’s Safari Island area at Cedar Point. It was one of the high points of a visit to the amusement park, mainly because we knew and loved Jungle Larry from his appearances on TV.
But there was (and still is) another safari attraction, west of Sandusky near Port Clinton, that brought wild animals up close – in fact, right up to your car window. Or on top of your car.

I’m talking of course about African Safari Wildlife Park.

It’s the subject this month of a terrific article written by Joseph Gilroy and appearing in the latest edition of Lakefront News. The article celebrates the attraction’s 50th year in business and includes a history of the park and interviews with its owners.

As the article notes, it opened in 1969 as African Lion Safari. Here’s a vintage souvenir pennant, currently on Ebay.

And here’s a vintage brochure, also on Ebay. (Hey, where are the lions? A zebra is fine, I guess, but you can see deer at Deer Park!)

The brochure was a harbinger of tamer things to come.

The park was renamed a few times. Here’s a brochure from its days as African Safari.

Later, the lions were eventually phased out in favor of a more family-friendly experience (apparently one in which you didn’t have to worry about being eaten.)
Anyway, here’s the link to the African Safari Wildlife Park website.
And be sure to pick up a free copy of Lakefront News out in Vacationland. I got mine at Drug Mart in Vermilion on Route 6; there’s also a stack of them out at Toft’s Ice Cream in Sandusky.

The current brochure