Friday, February 5, 2016

Cedar Point Totem Pole

I saw this 1965 Cedar Point postcard on Ebay recently, and thought I’d post it here as a nice reminder that spring – and the opening of Cedar Point – is getting closer every day. It’s also a quaint reminder of the Cedar Point of my youth.

Here’s another shot of the totem pole, courtesy of the Retro Postcard Gallery on

Seeing these two postcards reminded me of something (rather conveniently) that I hadn’t thought of for decades. It happened during one of my family’s visits to Cedar Point in the 1960s.

It was late in the day, and we were walking along the Midway. Suddenly, a dollar bill blew into my field of vision, and I quickly snatched it off the ground.

Now, a dollar bill is a lot of money to a little kid who is too young to earn an allowance. Did I bring it home so I could think about what I was going to do with it?


That dollar immediately burned a hole in my pocket. I bought a small wooden totem pole with "Made in Japan" stamped on the bottom of it.

I had that thing for a couple of years, until we made one of our 60’s Western camping trips, and I came home with an souvenir totem pole made by a real Indian. Then, the Cedar Point one seemed kinda chintzy, so I got rid of it. I still have the other one.

Anyway, you can also see the Scamper ride in the postcard at the top of this post. That was such a great ride for a little kid.

Courtesy Cedar Point History Facebook page
Click here to visit a Wiki page with a list of former Cedar Point attractions, along with the years of their opening and closing.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

“Guest" Then & Now: Fifth Street in Elyria

I “meet” a lot of great people through this blog who share my interest in local history. Some of them write me with their reminisces. Others help with research, sending me vintage articles and clippings.

One regular reader even sent me a ready-to-go “then and now!” Here is his story.

Late last year, Dennis Thompson wrote to tell me about a photo mystery that he had recently solved.

He wrote, "I had a great find a few weeks ago that I know you will appreciate. As I have become more familiar with the places my family lived and worked, I like to look over old photos to see if I can notice something that didn't mean anything to me before. 
"In one photo album, the last 8-10 pages are just blank, no photos. You know, those old photo albums of heavy black paper. But, I spotted something tucked in the crease of the spine. It was an old negative and blended in with the paper, no one had spotted it. 
"I held it up to the light and nearly shouted! It was a great close-up of my grandfather's American Bantam panel truck, with his advertising on the side.” (His business was R. E. MacDonald, which was located at 248 Temple Court in Elyria.)
Dennis took the negative to Dodd's and had it blown up. Here is the photo (below).
He continued with his story. "At first I thought it might be his shop in the background, but then I noticed there are tree lawns on the street, and Temple Court was like an alley, just pavement. So where was it taken? There is a steeple that can be seen over the building, so I drove around downtown Elyria to find it.”
Dennis eventually determined that the steeple was St. Mary’s, and began driving around the various blocks until the steeple could be seen. Then he remembered that his grandfather lived at 510 Fifth Street at that time.
"I drove to the site of the old house (the new high school is there) and parked in the school lot and turned around. Bingo! It took me a few minutes to realize that the old building in the photo is still there, heavily disguised."
Here is Dennis’ “now” shot (below).
So who are the people in his charming vintage photo? "That's my Uncle John, 7, and Aunt Betsy, 12, in the photo,” he wrote. "Both are doing well today, 79 and 84 years old."
But what about the dog? "The little charmer is Sandy.”
Dennis also identified the building in the background. "The brick building was the site of Harry Brown Motors at that time," he noted.

Dennis has been pretty busy this week, doing a lot of field research regarding the various bridges that crossed the Black River north of Wellington during the last century. I’m sure his findings will be part of a future post on this blog, as those bridges are another one of my long-delayed topics.
Special thanks to Dennis for sharing his photos and reminisces.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

1443 Colorado Avenue in the News

1443 Colorado Avenue this past weekend
No, you’re not experiencing déja vu.

I did a post on the unique building at 1443 Colorado Avenue waaaay back in November 2011 (here) as a “What used to be in that building?” feature.

As part of that post, I did a capsule summary of the building’s history. As I noted then, Ashyk’s Interior Decoration (also known as Ashyk’s Drapery Shop) was the first tenant, although much earlier than I originally thought. The business run by Stanley and Mayme Ashyk first showed up at the 1443 Colorado Avenue address in the 1950 Lorain City Directory.

Here’s the ad (below) celebrating the first anniversary of the opening of the Ashyk's business. It appeared in the Lorain Journal on February 22, 1950.
You can read Mayme Ashyk’s touching obituary here. Her work resume prior to opening the drapery business with her high school sweetheart is a veritable Who’s Who of well-known Lorain companies, including Smith & Gerhart, Mascon Toys and National Tube. 
The business moved to another location on Colorado Avenue by the late 1950s (1373 Colorado Avenue to be exact), making the building available for its next tenant: Central Bank. The bank would call the building home right into the 1970s.
But it was on January 13, 1967 that the bank building was the scene of a scary daytime robbery. Here is the account (below) as it appeared in the Journal the next day.
Women Tellers Tied Up,
Bank Robbed of $10,000
THREE MEN ROBBED the Colorado Branch of the  Central Security National Bank of more than $10,000 yesterday afternoon after forcing three tellers to the basement and tying them with a clothesline.
THE TRIO entered the bank about 1:30 p.m. One walked to a counter and acted as if he was filling out a blank.
Another walked up to a teller’s window and displayed a pistol.
The third walked to the door to the basement and opened it.
BECAUSE THERE were no other customers in the bank, the tellers were working at a table rather than at the windows.
Mrs. Harold Tisdale, 48, of 2016 W. 14th St., wife of a vice president of the bank.
Mrs. James E. Strehle, 26, of 516 E. 41st St.
Mrs. Wayne Bryant, 28, of 3339 Dayton Ave.
As the one bandit brandished his pistol, the one who opened the basement door told the tellers, “Get down here.”
The women obeyed.
The man followed them down and tied their wrists together with a clothesline.
THE WOMEN UNTIED themselves quickly because they had been tied rather loosely.
When it became quiet upstairs, they ventured up and found a chair had been placed against the door to bar its being opened.
It was about this time that Glenn Evans, 30, of 1507 New Jersey, a customer, entered the bank.
“I heard the girls screaming when I walked in,” he said. "They wanted to know who I was so I called out my name and started for the basement door to let them out.”
Before he got there, however, the girls pushed the door open.
ABOUT 1:45 P. M., police arrived. Later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation entered the investigation.
The tellers described the bandits, all Negroes, to police.
The man who wielded the gun was five feet two, 140 pounds and 25-30 years old. He wore a light, checkered trench coat and has a goatee, they said.
The others were 25-30 years old, five feet 10 and weighed 180 pounds. One man had a round face and was clean shaven.
Gregory Sanders, branch manager, was at lunch when the robbery occurred.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Grand Opening Ad for Shields Rest Clinic - Feb. 11, 1950

If you’re familiar with Lorain’s West Side, then you’re probably aware that for many decades, there has been a nursing home on Oberlin Avenue near the intersection with Tower Boulevard.

Although today it is part of Sprenger Health Care Systems, it originally opened as Shields Rest Clinic. The ad above, announcing its Formal Opening and Dedication ran in the Lorain Journal on February 11, 1950.

Judging from the photo in the ad, I suspect that the building started out as a farm house. Unfortunately, the nursing home was outside of Lorain city limits when it opened, so its address is not in earlier city directories and I’m unable to determine for sure if it was a private residence originally. But it sure looks like it was, with farmland behind it in a 1952 Historic Aerial photo.

I drove by the facility on Saturday to try and see if I could get a matching shot of the building shown in the ad. But that building's been swallowed up by the expansion of the campus through the years. But in my photo below, you can see how the flat-roof portion of the building in the vintage photo has been given a second floor and a roofline to match the house.

And, you can still see part of the original brick house and its chimney in this Bing Maps aerial (below) that looks at the facility from the back.

Today, the facility's formal name is Autumn Aegis Retirement Community. Here is the link to its page on the Sprenger Health Care Systems website.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Demolition of Original Brookside High School Begins

In case you missed it, the demolition of the former Sheffield Middle School/original Brookside High School began late last week. I drove over there on Saturday morning to grab a few photos of the beginning phase.

The building had been a favorite topic on this blog, including then-and-now treatments here and here, and most recently, a post about its vintage boot scrapers here.

Although I attended Lorain City Schools, it’s hard for me not to feel a little sad seeing the building get reduced to rubble. However, to the Sheffield - Sheffield Lake City Schools’ credit, the building was utilized for more than ninety years. It had served the community well, first as a K-12 school, then for many years as the high school and finally, as a middle school.

But just like the old one-room school houses that eventually gave way to modern structures, the building had outlived its usefulness – and it was time for it to go. At least the sight of the beautiful new school campus nearby will help to take some of the sting out of losing something that had been part of the landscape for so many decades.

Looks like there’ll be plenty of souvenir bricks to go around!
Soon this view will completely vanish, providing Colorado Avenue travelers
with a clear view of Dick V. Sevits Stadium.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Niagara Falls May Not Be Falling Soon

The scene back in 1969
From the Brady photo album
I read with interest this week the news that Niagara Falls (on the American side) may be briefly “turned off” again as it was back in 1969. The reason this time is that some bridges over the Falls need to be repaired. Here’s the story as reported in the Buffalo News in case you missed it.

I did a post (back here) on my family’s 1969 visit to Niagara Falls to see them “dry.” It’s something that I’ll never forget, as it was a big deal. We did it as a day trip and even brought Grandma along.

It’s strange to think that at this point that “once-in-a-lifetime” event is going to happen for the second time. I’d certainly be tempted to make the road trip to see it again.

For those of you that might not be able to make the trip this time, here’s a short YouTube video with footage showing the Falls as it looked back in that summer of 1969.

Strangely enough, it was only last week that I happened to be watching a Rocky & Bullwinkle DVD (now you know my tastes in entertainment) and one of the cartoons was a Dudley Do-Right episode in which the evil Snidely Whiplash dammed up the Falls on the Canadian side.

Why did he dam the Falls? Because he hoped to make a financial killing by selling Florida tickets to Canadian honeymooners that were disappointed with the dry Falls.

Whoever designed the cartoon for Ward Productions seemed to base their drawings of the Falls on the American Falls, however. Here’s how the dry Canadian Falls were depicted in the cartoon.

And here’s a photo of the American Falls for reference.

Anyway, by the end of the Dudley episode, everything was back to normal and Niagara Falls were falling once again.
Hey, you can watch this cartoon right here (below)!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Signs of Change in Sheffield Lake

It looks like change is coming to Sheffield Lake, at least when it comes to some of the city's longtime businesses and commercial strips.

As shown above, the city's lakefront high-rise luxury apartments – formerly Erie Shore Landing – are now The Perch on Lake. Its website lists its newly renovated apartments and Clubhouse as just a few of the amenities. (I still like the original name – Lakeside 10 – best, though. It has that Southern California beachcomber feel to it.)

Over at Duff Corners at the intersection of East Lake and Abbe Roads, a sign is up for Dee's Lakeside Billiards. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find any online mention of it yet. But it would be nice to have something in there at such a high profile intersection, and I hope it works out.

Longtime residents remember the various gas stations that were there, as well as Donutville and Fraam’s Restaurant. I’m still bummed that Sun Hardware is closed next door, as the staff were always friendly and helpful.

Lastly – although it seems to be taking a while – it looks like Amber Oaks (a favorite topic on this blog here and here) is preparing for an eventual reopening.

A message on the sign at the end of last summer (at right) read, “SEE YOU SOON,” as well as “NEW MENU." Work has been going on both on the inside and outside of the restaurant, and the owners have been sprucing it up nicely.
There has also been some chatter about Amber Oaks on the "You know you're from Sheffield or Sheffield Lake if…" Facebook page, mostly speculation about the hours of the restaurant once it reopens.
Here’s hoping that these and all new businesses in Sheffield Lake enjoy much community support, as well as success.