Thursday, December 13, 2018

Ohio Public Service Co. Ads – Dec. 1946 & 1947

It just wouldn’t be Christmas here on the blog without an appearance by Reddy Kilowatt. 

Thus it shouldn’t be too surprising to my longtime readers that I kick-off my annual parade of vintage Christmas ads with one featuring my favorite advertising mascot.

The ad above featuring the ever-cheerful electrical sprite appeared in the Lorain Journal on December 7, 1946. Note the reference to the scarcity of electrical appliances at that time, as the war had just ended in 1945.

A year later, the Ohio Public Service Company ran the ad below in the Journal on December 12, 1947.
By this time, the scarcity mentioned in the 1946 was apparently over. No ‘boudoir lamps’ or electric irons are mentioned this time; huckster Santa is pushing those electric ranges, with Reddy reduced to a mere cameo at the bottom of the ad.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Holiday Scenes Around Lorain – 1957

Here’s a nice look back at Lorain in the late 1950s during the Christmas season. It’s a full page of holiday photos that ran in the Lorain Journal on Dec. 5, 1957.

As you can see, with all those impressive decorations in the Downtown area, Lorain almost seemed like Bedford Falls in It’s a Wonderful Life. (I guess that makes Lorain sort of like Potterville now.)

But you can also see hints of the beginning of the eventual end for Lorain’s Downtown shopping district, as most of the photos seem to focus on the O’Neil-Sheffield Center.

Growing up in the 1960s as I did, I remember that our family made the holiday pilgrimage to O’Neil’s like everyone else to see the displays and yak a bit with the Talking Christmas Tree.

Unfortunately it wasn’t too long before Midway Mall became Ground Zero for Christmas shopping and visiting Santa Claus. Eventually Downtown Lorain and the Sheffield Center became obsolete and shadows of what they once were.

I feel sorry for today's kids that are dragged to Crocker Park or Legacy Village to see a “fake” Downtown decked out for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Christmas Coloring Page - 1935

Yesterday’s blog post featured a 1968 Christmas coloring page that appeared in the Lorain Journal annually for years. Today’s post is about another seasonal coloring page that appeared in the same paper decades earlier.

The illustration that kids were supposed to color this time, however, was much more elaborate. It was part of a contest held by the the Lorain Journal and Times-Herald. The total prize money was $15, with $10 going to the winner who did the best job of coloring and $2 for the second prize. There were also three prizes of one dollar each.

(Don’t feel bad for the kids who only won a buck. Remember a dollar in the Depression year of 1935 had the same buying power as about eighteen bucks now.)

Anyway, it’s a strange illustration to try and color. The Dickensian picture is almost all black already! I’m guessing it was poached out of a book.

At least the kids could color in the large snow-covered tree...white.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Christmas Coloring Page - 1968

One of the surest signs that Christmas was on its way back in the 1960s and 70s was the appearance of this coloring page in the Lorain Journal. The newspaper ran the illustration of Santa playing with wind-up toys above a page of boxed ads during the Christmas season for years.

This particular ad appeared in the paper on November 26, 1968.

I included a few (but not all) of the ads that accompanied the cartoon in this appearance.

Despite the coloring gimmick, the ads include some very adult gifts, such as an Illinois Sesquicentennial Model 94 Carbine rifle being advertised by Bob’s Firearms on Leavitt Road; a gun cabinet priced from $83.90 at Avon Hardware; Mogan David Kosher wines from Meyer Goldberg Supermarkets; luggage and wallets from Givner's at 10th & Broadway; and an Admiral Color TV at Leonard's TV Service & Sales at the corner of Colorado Avenue and Henderson Drive.

If anyone still has one of those Winchester  Illinois Sesquicentennial Model 94 rifles, they seem to be worth four or five hundred dollars today.

Friday, December 7, 2018

McDonald’s Big Mac Ad – December 8, 1968

Fifty years ago, McDonald’s was rolling out the Big Mac nationwide.

Above is an ad that ran in the Lorain Journal on December 8, 1968, introducing the double-decker burger with special sauce to our area.

Obviously, the Big Mac was designed to compete with the iconic Big Boy. But while Big Boys were available only at sit-down restaurants (such as Manners in our area), the Big Mac was a “fast food” offering, which undoubtedly contributed to its popularity.

The Big Mac also became a character on the McDonalds TV commercials: “Officer Big Mac," the symbol of beefy justice.

You can read about how the Big Mac came to be created here on its Wiki page. Interestingly, the article points out that “Big Mac” was not its original name. “Aristocrat” and “Blue Ribbon Burger” were two names that failed with consumers during its early rollout.

Big Mac already had some competition in our area. The Midway Oh Boy sandwich – also inspired by the Big Boy – had already been around since 1953 in the Lorain County area. And the Sooper Hooper double decker burger was being served up at the Hoop Drive-in in the 1950s, until those restaurants became part of the Manners chain and Big Boys replaced them on the menu.

Nevertheless, the Big Mac has been one of the most popular and best-selling menu items in McDonald’s history. The classic sandwich is still quite wonderful in its simplicity; no bacon or artisan designation is needed.

And the restaurant chain did not let Big Mac’s 50th Anniversary go unnoticed this summer. As part of the celebration, McDonald’s gave away a special coin (a MacCoin, what else?) with the purchase of a Big Mac that could be redeemed for a free Big Mac at any participating location world-wide. Now that’s global currency.

You can read all about it here.


Thursday, December 6, 2018

Rigbee’s Bargain Town Toy Ad – Dec. 5, 1968

Rigbee’s Bargain Town U.S.A. has shown up on this blog a few times over the years.

The Lorain store  – which also advertised under the name Rigbee’s Kiddieland – had roots dating back to the 1920s to an Elyria auto supply company (which I discussed here). The Elyria store later added hardware and toys, which proved so popular that a store in Lorain focusing on baby toys and furniture was added in the 1950s.

Above is a Christmas-themed ad for the Downtown Lorain store that ran in the Lorain Journal on Dec. 5, 1968 – fifty years ago yesterday.

There’s all sorts of fun items in the ad. Most interesting to me is the choice of the Remco Tricky Tommy Turtle or Tricky Doodle Duck for $7.96 (roughly $57.84 in today’s wampum).

The gimmick was that you could summon either of the two creatures with a tweet of a special whistle.

Tricky Tommy Turtle looks cute with his red hair and freckles.

And I like the Hanna-Barbera-ish collar and tie that Tricky Doodle Duck is wearing.

I’m not sure how I would react, though, if I was a kid and the whistle failed to stop Doodle Duck when he was coming right at me in full feathery fury. This is the stuff nightmares are made of (below).
Don’t believe me? Take a goosey gander at this video to see the malevolent mallard in action.

That Doodle Duck needed a helping hand to get rolling. Here’s one (below) that actually responds to the whistle.

Perhaps a better choice of gift for an easily rattled tyke would be the Rocky Bear Platform Rocker – although how much fun could you have with a chair?
Anyway, many of the other toys in the 1968 Rigbee ad are fairly easy to find today in good condition on Ebay or, proving that Baby Boomers are reluctant to get rid of their toys.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Samuel Cahoon House Article – Dec. 5, 1968

(Courtesy Google Maps)
The Samuel Cahoon House is known as the oldest structure still standing in North Ridgeville. It dates back to the 1830s.

The beautiful and stately house was believed to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. Read all about it in the article below, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on December 5, 1968.

Old Slave Stop Now North Ridgeville Antique Shop
Staff Correspondent

JUST 150 YEARS ago Joseph Cahoon, one of the first of a small group of hardy pioneers from New England, built his home in what is now North Ridgeville.

HE LABORED for many months making the bricks from the kiln which is still on the property. Out of the virgin forest he felled the trees, cutting them into planks for his floors and fashioning furniture for his comfort.

Using his own mixture, and adding horsehair for strength, he mortared the bricks and plastered over walls and ceilings. One ceiling remains intact and the bas - relief design reflects the period of architecture known as Tuscan Revival.

The home, located at 38369 Center Ridge Road, is owned by John D. Beckett of the R.W. Beckett Corporation in Ridgeville. It is now operated as a workshop-store for Florence Billmeyer and Barbara Johnston who run the Plain and Fancy Antique Shop.

Through the years many owners have changed and revised the home to suit their needs, updating it as they went. But the flavor of the pioneer stock is still much in evidence due to the restoration efforts by the two women, their husbands and their families.

ONLY ONE fireplace exists in the entire house and that dominates the room which in pioneer days was known as the “keeping” room, or kitchen in the present day vernacular.

Cahoon chose also not to build a central stairway but instead constructed three separate “back” staircases which lead to a myriad of strangely laid out rooms on different levels.

The oddly positioned windows are one of the most attractive features of the old home. All have the original shutters intact.

THOUGH AN attic tops the ancient house, according to the tenants it was apparently never used and was built by Cahoon solely for the purpose of holding in heat.

The cellar is a mystery writers dream and as yet remains to be restored in any way. Its dark recesses and sudden, incongruous partitions and doorways lend themselves to vivid imaginings.

One of the most exciting parts of the house’s history has been verified by the Lorain County Historical Society. During the Civil War it served as a station on the underground railway.

One of the cellar doorways was made to look like a solid wall of stones. When the doorway was needed the stones could be removed, leading to another room which had a similar doorway and steps leading deep in the earth outside of the home itself. Though now closed off, it was here escaped slaves waited the transportation to the next station on their way to Canada and to freedom.

Proprietors Billmeyer and Johnston are at the shop daily except Sundays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. In their work room they make many items which they wholesale and retail. Many of the antique furnishings of the house are also for sale. Included in their occupation is the restoration of antique dolls.

They enjoy people browsing, and may be contacted by individuals or groups for guided tours through the ancient structure.

A great article about the Cahoon House and its 1987 restoration appeared in the April 6, 2015 News-Herald (here).