Monday, May 17, 2021

Be Sure With Pure – May 1956

Are you picky about what brand of gasoline that you put in your car or other vehicle?

Sad to say, I’m not. I usually buy my gas in Vermilion from a BP station with a statue of a cartoon moose in front of it. Other times, I go to Speedway. Both companies issued me loyalty cards, and that fact probably influences my purchase habits – even though I don’t even keep track of my points.

But back in the 1950s, 60s and into the 1970s oil companies aggressively marketed their brands on TV and ads in newspaper and magazines, encouraging families to favor their brand for a variety of reasons, including better mileage, etc. 

I know that for years, my father went to Sohio, because the Standard Oil family of gas stations was huge, and we relied on that credit card during our cross-country camping trips. Much later (when Sohio no longer existed as a brand), Dad preferred Sunoco.

Anyway, one brand that was fairly prominent in the Lorain area in the 1950s was PURE Oil. The ad above ran in the Lorain Journal back on May 8, 1956.

At that time, Lorain had several PURE Oil stations: Dusky Brothers at Broadway and 19th; Duran’s Pure Oil at 2117 E. 28th Street; and Jack’s Pure Oil at Oberlin Avenue and Meister.

(I did a post about Jack’s Pure Oil back here in 2010.)

You can find a lot of old PURE Oil maps on eBay featuring this beautiful photography of a typical station.

And here’s Jack’s Pure Oil circa 1955, before the Lorain Plaza Shopping Center was built to the west of it.

As various online histories of PURE Oil note, it was purchased by Union Oil Company in 1965, who eventually converted the PURE stations to Union 76 stations in the early 1970s. This WIKI entry points out that a group of jobbers purchased the PURE brand name and it has enjoyed a limited comeback of sorts. Here is their website, which has great graphics.

That’s why it’s strange to see PURE stations with different graphics around Lorain County, such as the two below (the top one is in Amherst, the bottom one is on East Erie Avenue in Lorain). The corporate parent of these ‘impure’ stations is called Pure Friendship LLC, according to a Morning Journal article.

These stations don’t seem to have any connection with the jobbers’ PURE operations. If they did, I’m sure they would have used the well-remembered PURE graphics to enjoy the equity and goodwill of the brand.
I’ve contacted the PURE Oil Jobbers Cooperative to find out what they thought of these stations, but have never received a reply.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Lorain Times-Herald Front Page – May 23, 1918


I’ll finish out the week here on the blog with yet another vintage newspaper front page. This one is from the Lorain Times-Herald from May 23, 1918 – 103 years ago this month. World War I was still raging but would end later that year.

There’s plenty of interesting things to peruse on the front page. As a card-carrying member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, I probably was most interested in the passing of Moses Rupp, the oldest Civil War veteran in Lorain County at that time.

Like many of his contemporaries, he was quite a character. As the article noted, “The decedent was the oldest Civil War veteran in last year’s Memorial Day parade. At the time he said: “I’m 90, but I wish I was 19. I would like to fight once more for the Stars and Stripes, and for the same principles I fought for in the Sixties.”

Elsewhere on the page, James Carter, Jr. of Elyria was being recognized for his actions in the World War. He volunteered to participate in the hazardous task of blocking of a harbor. Ten of the nineteen men on his ship lost their lives by either German gunfire or by drowning. Carter was likely to receive the Victoria Cross.

Probably the most disturbing item on the page was something that took place at National Tube. As the lead paragraph noted, “Several hundred workmen employed in the skelp mills of the National Tune took affairs in their own hands last night at 6 o’clock and let it be known to the world that they are thoroughly patriotic and will permit no alleged ‘slackers’ to associate with them. Without the knowledge of officials of the company the men drove a workmen out of the mill and painted his back with the word “slacker,” because he refused to contribute to the war chest fund.

On a happier note, an article at the bottom of the page noted that Thomas Crump, a Lorain man working as a janitor at the Majestic Apartments, had seven sons in active military service, and fourteen nephews as well in various branches of the U. S. and British armed forces. Crump was a native of England and had served in the British Navy himself; he had moved to the States thirteen years earlier and had been a Lorain resident for some time.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Lorain Times-Herald Front Page – May 13, 1920

One hundred and one years ago, the big story on the front page of the May 13, 1920 Lorain Times-Herald was the escape of a murder suspect, Leroy Duffy, and three other men from the county jail in Akron.

As the article noted, "The men used fine steel saws, thought to have been smuggled into them by relatives.

“They sawed through the bars of their cells, passed down the hallway, sawed through the bars of the cell block and went on their way to the cellar where they lifted a casement window and were free.”

It took a while, but an article in the Akron Beacon Journal on April 1, 1921 reported Dunlap’s arrest (as well as one of the other men) in Florida. A girlfriend of one of the four men had been the one who smuggled the saws into the Summit County jail – earning a sentence of her own in the Marysville women’s reformatory.

Elsewhere on the Lorain Times-Herald front page, there isn’t the usual mayhem. Sorry about that, Chief.

It’s pretty humdrum stuff. Lorain was setting a goal of increasing its population to 75,000 by 1930; the big Miller Evangelistic Campaign was in its closing days in Lorain; the Lake Shore Electric railway was gearing up to make $200,000 worth of improvements in its street railway system; and plans for paving Colorado Avenue from the railroad crossing to the Cromwell Steel Company plant were being made.

The best item on the page was the little item near the bottom, “INNOCENT MAN PRISONER DAILY.” It noted, “Although he has committed no offense, Lorain has a man who has been locked in jail every day for the past 5 years.

“He’s Alex Cooley, jail janitor.

“Cooley spends a half hour or more each day behind  locked doors and barred windows. His duties call for cleaning the prison each morning. 

"“They have to lock me in says, says Cooley, “or the prisoners might escape."

"“I don’t mind it,” he said, “Except when they forget about me some times.””

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

You Be the Judge of Don Hilton’s New Book

Don presenting me with my FREE
autographed copy of his new book
at the Lorain Public Library
You remember Don Hilton, right?

I’ve mentioned him on this blog a few times. He's the local author who penned one of my favorite go-to reference books: Murders, Mysteries and History of Lorain County, Ohio 1824-1956. I consult it when I want to learn the gruesome details about some unsavory incident (a shooting, stabbing, etc.) that appeared on the front page of a Lorain Times-Herald in the early 1900s.

Well, Don’s written another book. But this time, the topic is much more sedate and respectable; the book is called Dearly Departed Judges of Lorain County, Ohio 1824-2020.

Why write about Lorain County Judges?

As Don explained, he had done some of the research while writing Murders, Mysteries and History of Lorain County, Ohio 1824-1956. The short judge bios in that book attracted the attention of Lorain County Court of Common Pleas Administrator Sherry Clouser, who enlisted him to create official bios of Lorain County’s general division judges. These bios are now displayed under the judges' portraits in the Lorain County Justice Center. 

It made sense to make the bios available to the public by compiling them into a historical book, with additional information and research, written in Don’s inimitable light, whimsical style.

Don and his new book got a terrific write-up in the Morning Journal by Kevin Martin a few weeks ago. The article about his new book was actually the front page headline article that day. 

And before I forget, the book is a family affair. Don’s wife Kathleen “Kat” Sikora Hilton did the wonderful illustrations.

You can order the book here on Amazon. It’s also in many fine stores (including Burning River Boutique in Vermilion).

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Lake Shore Electric Accident – May 13, 1905

Usually when I post a front page of the Lorain Times-Herald from the early 1900s, you can expect to read juicy articles about various acts of local mayhem (murders, peeping Toms, etc.) with the result of many Lorainites being hauled off by the gendarmes to the pokey.

But the front page of the Lorain Times Herald of May 13, 1905 is different. It tells the tale of a Lake Shore Electric accident in which an interurban car was teetering over the edge of the Rocky River bridge. 

The article notes, “Hanging on the edge of the Rocky River bridge, and gazing at a sheer fall of 100 feet is the predicament a car load of passengers on the Lake Shore Electric found themselves in at Rocky River this morning. It was the most remarkable accident in respect to the possibilities of horror without doing any serious harm ever heard of in the history of electric railroading. Had the car gone a few inches farther it would have toppled over the edge of the bridge. Indeed, even after it was stopped, nothing seemed to prevent its falling, and why it did not fall is one of the mysteries of life.”

How did it happen?

As noted in the article, “Car No. 64 was running as the second section of the Limited and reached the Rocky River bridge at 7:30. Motorman Beebe was running the car and President Bicknell stood beside him in the vestibule. Hawkins was the conductor.

"After the conductor got his orders from the dispatcher the car started across the bridge as usual. It could not have gained much speed for it had only proceeded onto the bridge about 75 feet when the left hand wheels of the front truck jumped out of the flange groove. The car ran this way about its length until it forced the right hand wheels off the track and the trucks gave a sudden twist towards the edge of the bridge. 

"The car ran some distance along the edge of the bridge, all the time crashing against the iron fence and getting closer and closer to the edge. Finally it brought up against an iron lamp-post and stopped.

“The experience to all the passengers was like a horrible nightmare.”

“President Bicknell at once took charge of the wreck and was the coolest man in the party.”

Willis Leiter photograph of the wreck
(Courtesy of Dennis Lamont)
Car #64 teetering over the edge of the Rocky River Bridge
(Courtesy of the Cleveland Memory Project)


To read more about this story, be sure to visit Drew Penfield’s Lake Shore Rail Maps website, the online home of all things related to the Lake Shore Electric.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Suburban Lorain Growth Spurt – May 7, 1951

Here’s an interesting article by Doug Moore that appeared in the Lorain Journal back on May 7, 1951 – 70 years ago this month. It provides an early 1950s snapshot of the area surrounding Lorain, when new houses were beginning to pop up everywhere.

As the article notes, “One of the fastest-growing parts of suburban Lorain is the area just west and south of the city.

“New houses there are springing up so fast that one can scarcely drive a mile on any of the roads south of the city without seeing the foundation or skeleton of a new house going up.

“A row of houses on Broadway past Penfield Junction or on Meister-rd west of Oberlin-av is not like the development type community where houses vary only in color and in minor construction details. Here as in some other areas south of the city, each house has its own personality – each is set apart from the house next door and each is one an American family will make into a dream home.

“Many of the owners are building their own houses. Among the others, seldom does one see houses side by side done by the same contractor.

“As these enterprising people build their homes, they are adding both beauty and value to suburban Lorain.”


Today, the 1950s concept of 'suburban Lorain’ doesn’t seem applicable any more. Over the years, houses have replaced farmland to the point where it really is one big, continuous city.

The article does make a good observation about how families were building their own houses (as opposed to being part of a planned development) and consequently created neighborhoods with much variety in home styles. 


I managed to come up with “now” views of two of the photos that accompany the 1951 article.

Here’s the row of homes described as being "on Route 254 at Middle Ridge.”

And here’s the recent Google Maps view.
Here’s the home at “461 W. Foster Park-rd.”
And here it is today – still quite lovely –  courtesy of the Lorain County Auditor website.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Gettin’ Reddy for Mother’s Day – May 1956

Well, Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and I’m looking forward to it.  As to what to get Mom, I’m not sure. 

But if it was 1956 – I’d know exactly what she’d like: a Dominion electric fry pan. At least, that’s what our old pal Reddy Kilowatt recommended in this ad, which ran in the Lorain Journal back on May 1, 1956.

And if Mom wants one in 2021, there’s a couple on eBay right now. This one (below) even comes with the book. Mmmm, those eggs and bacon on the cover look pretty good to me.

This one suspiciously has a copper-colored lid, which is at odds with the Journal ad, which touted a “beautiful silvercraft finish.”
But a look at the bottom of it reveals why Reddy chose this particular fry pan – it was made right in Mansfield, Ohio!