Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oberlin Avenue Putt-R-Golf and other 1960's businesses

I was recently reminiscing about Lorain of the 1960's with a librarian at the Lorain Public Library main branch, and she happened to mention, "Remember when there was a miniature golf course on Oberlin Avenue?"

As soon as she said it, I remembered it. I vaguely remember playing there at least once as a kid, although none of my siblings or I were ever very good at miniature golf. It was fairly routine for our balls to go rolling into the parking lot and beyond. (That's probably why no one in our family is an avid golfer today, although I tried it for a few years.)
I did a little research and found the miniature golf center in an old city directory. Beginning in 1966, Putt-R-Golf was located at 4354 Oberlin Avenue. In 1968 the address changed to 4290 Oberlin Avenue. By 1969 it was gone, replaced by a Taco Kid restaurant.
From what I can tell, Putt-R-Golf was a chain similar to the more well-known Putt-Putt Golf. A quick internet search seems to indicate that there are still a lot of miniature golf centers that use one or the other of these names.
Looking in the city directory listings for that stretch of Oberlin Avenue brought back memories of other businesses that used to be there in the 1960's. 
There was Esco (or Economy Sales, if you prefer) at 4630 Oberlin Avenue, where my family bought an awful lot of gifts and presents through the years. The gimmick was that the whole place was a showroom. After you found what you wanted to purchase either in the showroom or the catalog, you filled out a small order form with the item's number and handed it to an employee. A few minutes later, your item would appear like magic on a conveyor belt from the warehouse in back.
Esco was a great place because it was minutes from our home and really simplified shopping. Today the old Esco building is home to the Lorain County Board of Mental Retardation & Developmental Disabilities.

Open Pantry Food Mart was another business listed in that area, at 4450 Oberlin Avenue. It had a little different feel than a Lawson store. More seedy, perhaps? (If you want to read more about Open Pantry, here's a link to another blogger's post about the long-gone chain.)

I can see that I'm going to have to research businesses along this stretch in the near future and take some pictures. I haven't even mentioned Lum's yet! Mmmm... I can just taste that hot dog steamed in beer right now!


Anonymous said...


I seem to remember a nursery along Oberlin Ave. too....Forthovers??? I think that is what it was called??

Hoy hoy,

Jeff Rash

Anonymous said...

Also...I like the the name of the Ethical Hypnosis Center!!

Jeff Rash

Dan Brady said...

Hi Jeff,

One of the nurseries along there was Stanley & Son. (Remember the pine tree shaped sign?) It's something else now, although the building is still there.

As for the Ethical Hypnosis Center, hopefully their Oberlin Avenue neighbors (a real estate office and an insurance company) didn't enlist them to help increase sales. "You are getting sleepy... you want to buy a new split level home..."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clearing that up Dan.


Anonymous said...

I grew up near Tower and Ashland - when I was a kid, we used to pick wild blackberries in the area behind Pizza Hut/KFC's parking lot, and there were still remnants of old putt-putt holes among the weeds and bushes. Might be worth a little exploration since that was 25-30 years ago...


-Alan D Hopewell said...

Economy Sales used to be on 28th Street, next to the Lorain Lumber Company.

-Alan D Hopewell said...

The "Vincent Glorioso" listed in the Directory was the Truant Officer for Lorain Public Schools at the time.

Doug Majka said...

I also remember the remnants of the putt putt course behind Pizza Hut, and I'm sure it's still there, since concrete doesn't erode much.

Also across from Open Pantry was Stransky Welding, which now houses Smitties Distributing.

Doug Majka said...

Today I talked with one of the owners of the Putt-R-Golf on Oberlin Ave(He later started Hallmark Cleaners which he ran for 44 years). He mentioned the second year they put in batting cages. He said he gave out alot of rainchecks the first year, so for the first six weeks of the second year almost all the customers were free. After the second year he sold out to a developer who built Kenny Kings Chicken and also Pizza Hut(though Taco Boy may have been in the Pizza Hut building first).