Monday, August 3, 2015

G.A.R. Highway Sign – 1945 Design Drawing

To wrap up my series that I began last week on those ubiquitous Grand Army of the Republic Highway signs now found all around Lorain, Sheffield Lake and Vermilion, I thought I would post this. It’s a reproduction of what seems to be the original hand-lettered plans for the manufacturing of the highway signs.

I found it hanging on the wall of the Ohio Veterans Homes Museum, which is located on U.S. 250 in Sandusky. It’s a great way to spend an hour on a Sunday afternoon if you enjoy looking at memorabilia from all the wars starting with the Civil War right up to now. Best of all, it’s free (although donations are accepted).

The G.A.R. Highway sign drawing is dated January 10, 1945, with several prominent names listed at the bottom. At the lower left is the word “Approved,” and under it are H.E. Moran, Commander-in-Chief, S.U.V. (Sons of Union Veterans) and Captain J.C. Mansfield, Chairman, G.A.R. Highway.

On the lower right side of the sign is the name of John G. Spielman, Chief Engineer, G.A.R. Highway, 207 Roswell Ave., Long Beach.

The signs produced for Lorain (below) follows this layout very closely, right down to the “U.S. 6” found below the word “Highway.”

Friday, July 31, 2015

It’s 103rd O.V.I. Camp Week, Campers!

Although the above vintage postcards – from the book Lorain: The Real Photo Postcards of Willis Leiter – provide a tranquil look at the grounds of the 103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, in actuality the property will be teeming with life beginning this weekend.

Campweek 2015, the organization’s annual weeklong celebration for its members starts Saturday, August 1. This wonderful tradition dates back to 1866, when the Union soldiers of the 103rd decided to hold a yearly reunion to renew their friendships forged during the Civil War.
I’ve written about the 103rd O.V.I.’s reunion several times, including this post that provides a brief history of the organization, as well as offering a look back at the reunion held in 1933. 
This post featured a few vintage postcards. But if you would like to see an excellent selection of postcards related to the 103rd O.V.I., then be sure to get a copy of the book Lorain: The Real Photo Postcards of Willis Leiter that I mentioned above. It has a whole chapter of rarely-seen real photo postcards of the veterans themselves and the O.V.I. property on East Lake Road in Sheffield Lake.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The History of U.S. Route 6

By now you’re well aware that U.S. Route 6 is the Grand Army of the Republic Highway. But did you know it has another historical designation and is named for a famous president?

You can find out all about it in this article I wrote for the July 2009 issue of the Black Swamp Trader & Firelands Gazette. It appears here courtesy of that publication.

U.S. 6: A Historical Highway by Any Name
By Dan Brady
Many famous American highways have their fans and enthusiasts. There are associations, clubs and websites devoted to the Lincoln Highway, the National Road and the much-celebrated U.S. 66. But here in northern Ohio, we have an often-overlooked transcontinental U.S. highway that enjoys not one but two historical designations. We know the road as U.S. 6, but it also goes by two other names: the Roosevelt Highway and the Grand Army of the Republic Highway. Let’s look back at how U.S. 6 started out on the road to fame.
In the early days of motoring, various private trail associations developed the nation’s first interstate highways by erecting signs to promote their sponsored routes, such as the Dixie Highway and the National Old Trails Road. Eventually, there were hundreds of these named trails and, with many of the routes overlapping, it began to get confusing for the motorists.
Finally, in 1925 the federal government devised a standardized numbering system that would replace the named roads. Major east-west routes would be assigned numbers ending in zero, from U.S. 10 in the north to U.S. 90 in the south. North-south routes would be numbered odd from east to west, and minor east-west roads would be numbered even from north to south.
With this system in mind, it’s obvious that U.S. 6 was not planned as a major east-west road. It was conceived originally as a short route between Providence, Massachusetts and Brewster, New York. But as roads were improved, highway officials began to extend U.S. 6 on the map until by 1927 it stretched across Pennsylvania.
Vintage Brochure
(Dan Brady Collection)
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania had already designated the road that would become U.S. 6 as the Roosevelt Highway back in 1923, to honor President Theodore Roosevelt. Through the promotional efforts of the Roosevelt Highway Association, U.S. 6 would retain its Roosevelt Highway name after the new numbering system was in place. In fact, the Roosevelt Highway Association envisioned a coast-to-coast highway to rival the Lincoln Highway, and lobbied for additional extensions across Ohio and to the West.
By 1931, U.S. 6 was extended to Denver, Colorado. In January 1937, with the extension of the highway from Denver to Los Angeles, U.S. 6 became a transcontinental route and the longest U.S. highway at that time. The coast-to-coast Roosevelt Highway was consequently promoted as “the scenic way from the Atlantic to the Pacific” in brochures that included attractions such as Yosemite National Park and Ohio’s own Cedar Point.
Even before U.S. 6 had achieved its status as a coast-to-coast highway, it had attracted the attention of two Civil War organizations, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), comprised of veterans of the Union forces, and the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW). The SUVCW had hoped to name a memorial highway to honor the fallen Union soldiers, and U.S. 6 was an appealing choice as it extended across the country.
And so, in 1934 Major William L. Anderson of the U.S. Army proposed designating U.S. 6 as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway. Each of the fourteen U.S. 6 states was asked to act on the proposal, and over time all of the states passed legislation to officially adopt the name. Uniquely shaped highway signs with the star-shaped GAR insignia were erected in all of the states.
On May 3, 1953, a formal dedication of the Grand Army of the Republic Highway took place in Long Beach, California with service organizations including the SUVCW in attendance. A monument was placed in front of the Municipal Auditorium “in memory of the heroic services and unselfish devotion of the Union Soldiers, sailors and marines who laid down their lives on the altar of sacrifice during the Civil War.”
Today, the Grand Army of the Republic Highway designation appears to be making a comeback, with old and new signs found in all fourteen states. In Ohio, Sheffield Lake has one sign in the original design and Andover has two signs at the village square identifying the route.
Although its Roosevelt Highway designation is not well known except in Pennsylvania, U.S. 6 remains the Grand Army of the Republic Highway officially in Ohio and across the country, keeping alive the memory of those who fought to preserve the Union.

Vintage Brochure
(Dan Brady Collection)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sheffield Lake’s Original G.A.R. Highway Sign

Sheffield Lake’s current G.A.R. Highway sign,
located near the entrance to the boat launch
Seeing Lorain’s brand new replica Grand Army of the Republic highway signs reminded me that as recently as the early 1990s, Sheffield Lake still had one of the originals.

A 1980s article in the Chronicle-Telegram by Frank Aleksandrowicz provided a capsule history of the signs and even mentioned the one in Sheffield Lake that had somehow survived. The article, entitled "Grand Army Highway Has Its Own Story to Tell" stated, “In 1942 the G.A.R. National Convention adopted a design for the uniform highway sign and the sons continued to carry out their fathers' plan.

“They urged State Highway authorities to place and maintain the approved signs on both sides of the highway at not more than five-mile intervals. A white background with blue lettering and G.A.R. insignia and a red numeral were proposed.

“Original signs were made with baked enamel on metal and later replaced with aluminum markers as theft and vandalism occurred. The markers now are few.

“Ohio has one visible sign in the original pattern in Sheffield Lake, with the G.A.R. insignia missing.”

I first remember seeing that G.A.R. sign on E. Lake Road back in the mid-1970s. It became sort of a landmark to me whenever I drove through Sheffield Lake.

And then suddenly, it was gone.

I made a few calls to Sheffield Lake City Hall to find out what happened to it. I was told that the sign had been loaned to Vermilion so that the city could make some copies.

About a year or so later, I noticed that Vermilion did indeed have brand new G.A.R. highway signs installed near its park on Route 6. But Sheffield Lake's sign was not back up in its familiar spot.

So I called Sheffield Lake City Hall again and asked about the original G.A.R. sign. “I don’t know anything about that,” the person on the phone admitted to me.

Later that year, several of those newly-minted G.A.R. Highway signs sprouted along Route 6 in Sheffield Lake. One sign was posted by the park (now the boat launch) where Lake Breeze meets Lake Road, and the other was installed by Erie Shores Park at Abbe Road and Lake Road.

I eventually found out through someone at City Hall that the original sign had been vandalized (it was missing its insignia), and that’s why it wasn’t put back up.

It has been many years since all this happened in the early 1990s. The replica sign at Abbe Road has since been removed. The sign by Lake Breeze eventually became faded, so a replacement sign was installed.

But that original G.A.R. Highway sign that somehow managed to survive for decades along U.S. Route 6 in Sheffield Lake is long-gone.

Despite the loss of that vintage sign, Sheffield Lake’s legacy as a Grand Army of the Republic Highway city endures, and complements Lorain’s recent participation.

In addition to the sign near the boat launch seen at the top of this post, another G.A. R. sign is appropriately posted in Sheffield Lake on the private grounds of the 103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry at the east end of town, not far from where that original sign was posted.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lorain’s G.A.R. Signs

Lorain’s beautiful new G.A.R. Highway
sign on E. Erie near Century Park
I was pretty happy when I read in the Morning Journal that a Grand Army of the Republic Highway sign has been installed on E. Erie near Century Park by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War James A. Garfield Camp No. 142 and the Ohio Naval Brigade.

There's also a second sign in Lorain out on West Erie Avenue, just east of the former Ford plant on the south side of the road.

In case you missed the story, here is the link to the article by Ron Vidika that ran in the Journal back on June 17 before the sign was dedicated. It explains the history behind the signs and features some quotes by Peter Hritsko, Lorain, Camp Commander of the James A. Garfield Camp No. 142. (I know Peter from both Masson Junior High and Admiral King High School, where we both graduated in 1977.)

Peter was appointed Grand Army of the Republic highway officer in 2009, and obviously is doing a great job.

I don’t recall Lorain ever having a G.A.R. sign before, so the new signs are pretty exciting. It’s also quite appropriate for the hometown of General Quincy A. Gillmore.

Lorain’s other G.A.R. Highway sign,
on W. Erie Avenue just east of Baumhart Road

Monday, July 27, 2015

Palace Cartoon Show – July 12, 1957

Today is Bugs Bunny's 75th Birthday, so it's a good time to post this ad featuring great artwork of "that Oscar-winning rabbit." The ad is for an upcoming special children's matinee at the Palace theater in Lorain, and ran in the Lorain Journal on July 12, 1957 – 58 years ago this month.

It's nice to be reminded that there was a time when all it took to make children happy in the summer was Bugs Bunny cartoons, Three Stooges and Little Rascal movie shorts and an Abbott & Costello feature film.

While Baby Boomers grew up on a steady diet of the above, I'm sure today's children either have never heard of them, or know them only from crummy revivals (like the Three Stooges movie of a few years ago or the wretched, unfunny talkfest called The Looney Tunes Show.

And more's the pity.

Rice Krispies Marshmallow Treats

The current box of the prepackaged ones
I’m not quite done writing about Rice Krispies yet. I almost forgot to mention one of the main reasons I buy them.

Homemade Rice Krispies Treats are a big favorite in our house.

I make'em when I have the time, and buy'em when I'm lazy. Store-bought or homemade, they don't last very long. In fact, we usually polish off a whole batch of them in two days!

I still remember that when I was a kid in the 1960s, they were called Marshmallow Treats in the commercials – and that Snap, Crackle and Pop would bribe you to make them.

That's right. If you sent in the refund form off the box, and the requested label from the marshmallow package, the elfin trio would send you a quarter just for using up some of their cereal, and hastening the need for Mom to buy some more.

Here’s a 1965 magazine ad (below) with the 25 cents offer. It also features the original, less healthy (but tastier) Treats recipe that used more butter and less cereal.

As often as I make Treats now, I don’t remember ever making them as a kid. I guess something made with cereal and melted marshmallows just didn’t fit in with the more ambitious cookies and bars Mom regularly made.

(You might notice that at the bottom of the 1965 ad it says, “A Nancy Sasser Suggestion.” "Buy-Lines" by Nancy Sasser was a weekly syndicated newspaper column for homemakers. It was all about shopping and featured “new and interesting” products and suggestions.)

Here’s the same basic Treats ad from 1970.

Here's a later ad from December 1974 that ran in the Joplin Globe. Apparently Snap, Crackle and Pop were feeling the effects of the recession; now their bribe was in the form of a coupon and was worth one thin dime!

Just for comparison, here are a few more vintage ads featuring the Treats recipe. This one (below) appeared in a Canadian newspaper in 1941.

And here’s one from the days when Woody Woodpecker was the manic spokes-bird for Rice Krispies.

I don’t know how your Treats turn out when you make them, but I must be using the wrong pan or something. Mine end up very flat compared to the Treats shown in the ads, which would seem to make fine pavers.