Friday, April 29, 2011

Greetings from Lorain Postcards

I saw this undated postcard on Ebay the other day. I had never seen this particular one before. It combines two other fairly easy-to-find postcards into one, with some distinctive type.

What's strange is that the Broadway scene on the bottom half of this postcard is identified on its own postcard as "Broadway and Main." Huh?

This other 'Greetings' postcard (below) was there on Ebay as well. It was postmarked 1974 – which makes me wonder if the person who mailed it had pulled it out of a scrapbook that belonged to their grandparents.

Here's a few more versions; first, one postmarked around 1940 with a somewhat Art Deco feeling.

Here's one from the 1970's that I remember stocking up on at the drug store (four for a dollar back then). I used them to keep in touch with my college roommates over the summer. 

(I'll never forget when one of my roommates came to Lorain for a visit while we were on break from Ohio State; after showing him around my west side neighborhood, which had been farmland only a little more than a decade before, he nicknamed my hometown "Treeless Lorain." The above postcard reinforces that moniker!)

Lastly, here's one last variation that I never saw before. It's from the CardCow vintage postcard website (and it's for sale). According to its website, is one of the largest online postcard dealers.

I kind of like the red type used on this postcard; it reminds me of the font used on the end credits of many TV shows from the 1960's.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Lorain - 1978

Here's something I found recently at the Lorain Public Library. It's called New Lorain Report No. 4, and was produced by the Lorain County Regional Planning Commission back in August 1978.

The report focused on Washington Park and the nearby Broadway shopping district, and it proposed various ideas on how it could be redeveloped. It was part of a series of five reports that together provided a blueprint for a New Lorain.

The study was pretty interesting and had a lot of great ideas that unfortunately never came to fruition. What was especially interesting to me, though, were the photos used to accompany the text. They provided a look back at the Lorain of the 1970's.

Here are a few of them. Click on each for that you-are-there feeling!

Palace Theater before restoration

Right above Faroh's Candies was Alex Visci's Music Instrument Repair Shop

The Fish House

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

1950's Lorain Dairy Queen Ads

I've remarked in this blog a few times how my family never went to Dairy Queen or any of the soft serve ice cream type places while I was growing up in the 1960's. For my parents, ice cream had to be real ice cream – frozen ice milk need not apply.

I was never really crazy about Dennis the Menace either, so the mischievous moppet's appearances in Dairy Queen advertising did nothing to make me want to patronize the place.

But my wife, who grew up with Dairy Queen, still likes to go there to get one of their signature creations. So Dairy Queen is in rotation along with our other soft serve ice cream choices, such as Avon Dairy Isle and Terry's Dairy. (For real ice cream, though, it's gotta be Toft's in Sandusky!)

Here's a couple of newspaper ads from the 1950's that show the present Terry's Dairy's original identity, as Lorain's Dairy Queen.

The ad at left is from April 16, 1958. It's a real attention-getter with a nice, clean easy-to-read layout and great illustration.

The next ad (below) is more of a curiosity. It's still branded with the Lorain Dairy Queen's 903 East Erie Avenue address, but the ad really isn't directed to the ice-cream loving public. It's more of a corporate ad touting DQ's success and promoting the concept of free enterprise.

If this ad doesn't make you want your own DQ franchise, nothing will!
It's an interesting ad, copy-wise. It even boldly describes the Dairy Queen product not as ice cream but as... er... "dairy-food" that comes out of a spigot. (It reminds me of the similarly-named Kraft "cheese food".)

The ad goes on to say how healthy DQ is for you, since it's loaded with milk.

We had Dairy Queen on Friday night (we went to the newly renovated Amherst one). Somehow I don't think my Chocolate Xtreme Blizzard – full of brownies, cocoa fudge, and chocolate bits (not to mention 660 calories!) – was all that healthy!

But it sure was good! (Small wonder that I've ordered the same thing the last four times we've gone to Dairy Queen!)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Admiral's Birthplace Gets Its Due

This Plain Dealer article from April 12, 1942 features Admiral King's birthplace
It was great to read last week in the Morning Journal (here) that Admiral Ernest J. King's birthplace on Hamilton Street will finally get some sort of official recognition, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Charleston Village Society Inc. (CVSI) and the Black River Historical Society.

Photo from King's autobiography
You might remember the newspaper editorial from 1966 (which I reprinted here) in which his house was referred to as "an insignificant old frame dwelling".

Happily, times – and opinions – have changed.

It is finally apparent that while buildings named for Admiral Ernest J. King may come and go, the building that he was born in is special – and worth recognizing.

But the process of trying to get landmark status for the house as King's birthplace has resulted in a 'birther' controversy!

According to Loraine Ritchey of the CVSI, there was not enough positive, documented proof that King was actually born there for the house to have landmark status. Local researchers even found a copy of his birth certificate, but the Hamilton Street address was not on it.

May 27, 1949 clipping
However, King's own autobiography confirmed the house as his birthplace, and the sentimental old salt continued to visit it almost every time he came to Lorain. A short article (at left) from the Lorain Journal of May 27, 1949 shows that even during a brief visit to his hometown, he found time to stop by the old homestead.

Nevertheless, it is a great solution to create a park opposite the house with a memorial honoring King, and the Charleston Village Society and the Black River Historical Society are launching a campaign to raise money for it.

For more information, call the Charleston Village Society at (440) 246-6046. Or, to simply make a tax-deductible donation, make out a check (earmarked with "Admiral King Tribute") to Charleston Village Society, 1127 W. Fourth Street, Lorain, Ohio 44052.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Oakwood Park Easter Basket 1958

Sometimes it seems that Lorain's Lakeview Park Easter Basket gets all the attention – and the Oakwood Park Easter Basket gets ignored.

To help rectify this situation, here's a great photo that appeared on the front page of the Monday, April 7, 1958, Lorain Journal. It show's Lorain's "other" Easter Basket and some of the Lorainites who made their holiday pilgrimage to it on Easter Sunday 1958.

Gee, they get to climb all over their basket out in South Lorain! At Lakeview Park, a moat keeps you from violating the basket's perimeter!

When I was a kid, the only times that I ever saw the Oakwood Park Easter Basket were when when my family went out to South Lorain to go to Hills Department Store. Besides the basket, my siblings and I would also watch for the train in the park.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

Here's an unusual item that I found recently in the Lorain Public Library's Special Collections files. It's a large format postcard featuring Lorain's iconic Lakeview Park Easter Basket.

It's unusual, because it's not the usual ubiquitous Lorain Easter Basket postcard (which I posted waaaay back here) that is so easy to find on Ebay. It's a slightly different angle, and looks like it was photographed in the off-season, so to speak. No eggs!

Anyway, here's wishing you a Happy Easter! See you at Lakeview Park on Sunday! (Better bring an umbrella!)

Friday, April 22, 2011

David Shukait: Creator of Lorain's Easter Baskets

David Shukait And His Colorful, Enduring Easter Basket
To close out this week's Easter Parade of ads and articles, I thought I'd post this great article about David Shukait and how he created Lorain's iconic Easter Baskets. The article is part of the Lorain Public Library's Special Collections file. It was written by Frank Dobisky, Staff Writer for the Lorain Journal, and it appeared along with the above photo and caption in that newspaper's pages on Thursday, April 7, 1966.


But, He Built An Easter Basket
It Just Couldn't Be Done, Shukait Told His Boss

Staff Writer

"It couldn't be done, I kept telling him," recalled David Shukait, now 73 and retired from the Lorain Park Department.

He referred to the constant urging in 1937 of the late George Crehore, then parks superintendent, for Shukait to construct a large cement Easter basket for Lakeview Park.

"He kept after me for six months," Shukait said during an interview, "but I couldn't figure out how it could be done."

THEN ONE night Shukait came home from work exhausted and sat down to relax. While unwinding from the day's labors he began thinking about the idea again – and suddenly a solution came to him.

"I told Crehore the next morning I knew how to do it. He told me to drop everything and get on it," said Shukait, who was a mechanic in the park department.

It took Shukait and an assistant a month to construct the reinforced concrete basket that now stands at the entrance to Lakeview Park off W. Erie Avenue.

SHUKAIT PATENTED his idea, but he never marketed the colorful and sturdy baskets. He built another basket in 1939 that stands in Oakwood Park.

He also built one for a priest in Pennsylvania – a smaller version of the Lakeview and Oakwood models. Then, he constructed miniature versions of the big baskets for display in the yards at his home and at the homes of his sons – Andrew, Louis and Edmond – who live in Lorain. Andrew Shukait is the Third-Ward's councilman.

The first basket was built in the park department garage and pulled on skids by a truck and grader through city streets to the park. It cost $50 for material, plus the salaries of two men for a month to build that first basket.

Shukait estimated a similar basket built today would cost $800.

THE BASKETS in the park draw large crowds when the weather is pleasant on Easter Sundays. The city adds an Easter touch to the baskets annually by putting large, concrete eggs in them.

Shukait, who retired from the park department in 1958, suffered a slight stroke last June and gets around now with the use of a cane. He spends his leisure time reading newspapers and conversing with old friends at the clubrooms of the Polish Legion of American Veterans.

I forgot to mention that the above article contains an incorrect date that seems to forever plague most articles about the Easter Basket (with the exception of those written by Rona Proudfoot!) As pointed out back here, the Lakeview Park Easter Basket (the first of David Shukait's baskets) was installed in April 1941.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

1950 Gilbert's Self Serve Food Store Easter Ad

Back in January, I did a post about Gilbert's Food Fair (the small grocery store located in the Hafely Building on Lorain's East Side) that featured some reminisces by Bill Latrany.

Well, here's an April 6, 1950  Easter-themed ad for Gilbert's, apparently before it had any tie-in with Food Fair. I love the cartoon rabbit chef illustration; he looks positively gleeful to be carving up whatever it is on that plate! (I've tried to figure out what it is.... anybody know for sure? Click on it for a closer look at this mystery meat.)

Hopefully the rabbit isn't serving up one of his own kind (unlike many well-known cannibalistic food mascots such as Hamlet, the Sugardale pig!)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

1958 Kline's Dept. Store Easter Ad

Keeping the Easter 1958 theme going, here's an ad from April 2, 1958 that appeared in the Lorain Journal. It's for the well-known Kline's Department Store and features more great rabbit clip art.

I'm sure most old-time Lorainites remember shopping at Kline's, and I'll be giving the store the proper historical treatment here in the blog in the coming months. My grandmother worked there for decades, so I want to do it up right!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter at Brady's Restaurant 1958

Here's a couple of newspaper ads from the pages of the Lorain Journal from April 1958, promoting Brady's Restaurant, the late, great eatery on Leavitt Road. The above ad invites you to have Easter dinner there, while the below ad suggests that if you decide to eat at home on the holiday, why not enjoy one of Brady's pies?

Both ads feature great Easter clip-art, as well as maintaining the distinctive Brady's Restaurant branding!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Loading up the Lakeview Park Easter Basket – 1958

Here's a classic Lorain holiday ritual captured on film in 1958. (Give it a click for a larger view.) Of course, it is the installation of the giant Easter eggs in Lakeview Park's famous Easter Basket. The photo appeared on the front page of the Lorain Journal on Saturday, April 5, 1958.

Here's a link to the equivalent 2011 scene on the Morning Journal's website, although the function is now performed by Lorain County Metro Park workers.

Friday, April 15, 2011

DeLuca Bakery Memories Part 3

Here's a few 'then and now' views of the two main DeLuca bakery locations of the 1960's, using illustrations from telephone book ads.

First, the one that I was most familiar with – the Oberlin Avenue location circa 1968.

Here it is today (below). By George, look what's right next door to the north – my favorite hangout: Mutt & Jeff's!

And here are a few renderings of the downtown location, followed by the 'today' photo.
8th and Reid circa 1968
8th and Reid circa 1973
8th and Reid today

Thursday, April 14, 2011

DeLuca Bakery Memories Part 2

Here's a nice selection of DeLuca Bakery ads from over the years.

This first one is an attractive 1962 ad from the pages of the Lorain Telephone book, promoting their signature product: that great Italian bread that so many of us grew up with.
Here's another nice phone book ad, this time from 1968.
Lastly, here's a 1973 ad from when the bakery business began winding down and they were back to just the one location.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

DeLuca Bakery Memories Part 1

1960's advertisement
Reading in the Morning Journal about Kiedrowski's Bakery's wonderful success in beating eight other bakeries nationwide to win the Best Bakery in America title reminded me of all the great bakeries that used to be so prevalent in our area.

I've mentioned Bob's Donuts in this blog many times, as well as Bill's Bakery, but this time I'd like to mention another local favorite: DeLuca Bakery.

I'm sure many of you are familiar with DeLuca's Place in the Park, but a whole generation has grown up that didn't have the privilege of stopping in at one of the DeLuca Bakery locations, where the whole present-day catering business started.

The main location was at the corner of Eighth and Reid Avenue, but the one my family went to was at W. 38th and Oberlin Avenue. It was probably the final stop on our weekly 1960's Saturday morning jaunt around town that included shopping and trumpet lessons in Downtown Lorain.

I remember one time going into the bakery with my mother on one of these stops. We noticed that on the counter next to the slicer were all these heels and ends that were left over after the bread and rolls had been sliced and wrapped.

To many people (myself included), those ends and crusts are the best part!

"What are you going to do with those?" my mom asked. I can't remember what the reply was, but the counter person happily offered them to my mother, sliding them all into a big bag. In the car, we munched on them all the way home, and they were great!

Anyway, the 1960's ad (above) shows the beginning of the company's shift in focus from the bakery to that of the catering business.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Elks Club Then and Now Part 2

While doing a little research at the Black River Historical Society back in March, I found this undated vintage photo in a collection of Lorain Elks paraphernalia.

Lorain Journal ad from January 1954
I feel kind of sentimental about the Lorain Elks, because my grandfather was a member of that lodge for many years and it meant a lot to him. According to my mother, her father was a "hail fellow well met" type of guy, who enjoyed stopping at the Elks lodge on the way home from work. (Maybe a little too often!)

Grandpa was also a Mason. Basically, he was one of that dying breed of men who, back in the 1940s and 1950s, belonged to several different fraternal organizations. It really seemed to be a necessity back then, career-wise.

Anyway, here is another recent shot of the Lorain Elks building at 203 Sixth Street. According to the City Directories, it was the address for a barber, as well as a few residents, in 1945. It wasn't listed as the address for the Elks until 1947 or so.

Recent photo of the Lorain Elks building

Monday, April 11, 2011

Elks Club Then and Now Part 1

Residence of A.N. Garver, M.D.

Last week at the library, I was thumbing through a facsimile copy of the 1895 Lorain Evening Herald Industrial Edition book (which I also mentioned back here) when I saw this photo. The caption read, "Residence of A.N. Garver, M.D." The article provided a short bio of the doctor and mentioned that "He has his office both at his handsome residence at No. 8 Bank Street, a cut of which appears in this article, and also at the "South End."

The photo is great, we see someone (maybe the good doctor?) watering the tree, as a child looks on from the porch steps.

Of course, I hoped I could do a 'then and now' shot of the house. Since Lorain renamed all of its streets (and renumbered addresses) just in time for the 1912 Lorain City Directory, once again I had to do a little cross-referencing.

It turns out that 8 Bank Street is now 203 Sixth Street – which is why the photo looked vaguely familiar to me. Today it is the home of the Lorain Elks. I pass it every time I go to the library!

And here is my shot from Sunday. I guess that tree that was being watered is long gone.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Memories of Those Famous Brownhelm Eagles of the 1920's

Mother eagle & eaglets in the Great Nest of Brownhelm
Have you ever heard of the Great Nest of Brownhelm?

That’s the name commonly used to refer to a famous American bald eagle nest that was located on Lake Road halfway between Vermilion and Lorain. It was the largest known bird tree nest before it fell in a storm in March 1925. The Great Nest, and several of the nests that followed, were the subject of considerable on-site research by Professor Francis H. Herrick of Western Reserve University.

But while the Great Nest has attracted a lot of national attention over the years, the local angle of the story of the eagles that called it home, and the nests that came after it, has often been overlooked.

Well, now you can read the whole story – in my article in the latest issue of the Black Swamp Trader & Firelands Gazette! It's on the newsstand now, and as usual, it's FREE. (For you locals, it's available out at the Vermilion Farm Market.)

My father used to reminisce about his grandfather taking him and the rest of the family on a Sunday drive to the outskirts of Vermilion back in the 1920's, to see the famous eagle nest in the treetops. It was a happy memory for him, and one he never forgot.

This story was written for him, and I hope you have a chance to read it. (For those of you that can't pick up an issue of the paper, I promise to tell the story here in a future multi-part blog series.)

Observation tower erected by Prof. Herrick next to one of the nests that came after the Great Nest
Photos by Professor Francis H. Herrick and are courtesy of National Geographic

Thursday, April 7, 2011

William H. Root House Part 2

This article appeared in the June 21, 1955, Lorain Journal and provides a nice capsule history of the William H. Root house, as well as the Root family, particularly Miss Harriet Root. She had quite an accomplished career.

Root Home Landmark in Region

Pen and ink sketch of William H. Root house
Historic Lake Road landmark dating back to 1850 and located a few hundred yards from a row of expensive and ultra-modern ranch type homes is the old Root homestead, residence of three generations of one of the pioneer families of Sheffield and Sheffield Lake.

The pen and ink sketch (at left) was made by a Detroit artist for a family postcard. The house is familiar to all older Lorain residents and is on the lake side of the road, just east of Root Road.

It is believed to be the oldest home in Sheffield Lake that is on the present Lake Road. The original Lake Road, long since washed into the lake, was farther north.

Fourth Home
This was actually the fourth Root home in Sheffield, according to Miss Harriet Root, granddaughter of the builder, William H. Root. The Roots arrived in the area in 1816 and built two log homes and a frame house before erecting the present building.

Miss Root recalls that her grandfather was a farmer and also a commission merchant in the days when there were rows of warehouses on North Broadway.

Included in the family collection are account books showing transactions indicating amazingly low prices for pork, potatoes, etc.

Headed Car Line
Miss Root's father, Orville Root, was a Lorain businessman, one of the early leaders in the Lorain Banking Co., and was at one time president of the Lorain Street Railway Co., which operated a horse car line in the late 1880's and early 1890's.

Miss Harriet Root
Among her interesting souvenirs of the past is an 1898 receipt given her father for $240 paid toward securing a suitable 19-acre site for the proposed Cleveland Shipbuilding Co. plant in Lorain – preparing for one of the "big moves" in Lorain history and Lorain industry.

Miss Root is a story and a celebrity in herself, a leader in many local civic and welfare activities who was for many years a public official in Washington. She went to Washington in 1932 to work three months with the Red Cross, and stayed for years. In 1934 she became director of the government information service, in charge of offices in Washington and New York. She service answered about 100,000 inquiries a year.

Special Mission
So proficient the service became that the New York branch was asked to set up the important information service at the New York World's Fair.

During World War II, she was sent to Sydney, Australia on a special government mission. Since returning to Lorain she has been active in the Salvation Army, Civil Defense, Business & Professional Women's club, Red Cross, American Association of University Women, United Appeal, church and other activities.

Photograph of Miss Harriet Root courtesy of

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

William H. Root House Part 1

Recent photo of William H. Root House

A little further down U.S. 6 (Lake Road) to the west is another fine old lakefront home from the 1800's – the William H. Root house. It is located at the extreme western border of Sheffield Lake, opposite Root Road.

According to the book Preserving our Past (1976), published by the Lorain County Regional Planning Commission, the house was built by William H. Root, the son of Sheffield pioneer Henry Root. The book states that William H. Root ran a mill on the Black River where it meets French Creek,

Architecturally, the house is wood frame, circa 1850 and is an example of the Greek Revival style.

Reproduced from the book "Preserving our Past"
This grand old house is about 500 feet from mine (and on the opposite side of the street of course), and it's a pleasure to drive by it several times a day!

Tomorrow: More history of the William H. Root House

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Peter J. Miller House Then and Now

Since I've just spent a few days focusing on the Avon Lake power plant, I might as well go next door to the Peter Miller house, which is just west of it. The undated vintage photo (above) is reproduced from The Avon Lake Story by Milburn Walker.

I've always enjoyed seeing this house while commuting to Cleveland for the last thirty years. It's nice that something that historical and special has managed to survive for 180 years, and that a group of people had the foresight and love of the past to make it happen.

The house received Avon Lake's first historical marker on July 4, 2010. (Here is the link to the Morning Journal's coverage of the event.) Rather than just paraphrase the content of the marker, I'll transcribe it here.

The marker reads, "The Peter Miller House was constructed around 1830 and is one of the last remaining pre-Civil War lakefront houses in Lorain County. The architecture is Greek Revival. Peter Miller married Ruth Houseworth in 1828. They had five children. In 1851 Peter Miller died and it's believed that his family continued to reside on the property until 1925. The City of Avon Lake purchased the property in 1962. The house was opened for tours, and restoration proceeded as funds were available. In 1975 the water heating system burst and caused extensive damage. In 1985 a new committee took over and was successful in restoring the house. Volunteer trustees have overseen the operation of the house as a museum since September 1989."

And here's the 'now' shot. The house is still quite handsome. If I remember correctly, the modifications made to the house in the years since the vintage shot was taken were made to restore the house to its original appearance.

One of these days, I'm going to have to take one of the tours through the house. But until then, why not take a tour from the comfort of your computer? If that sounds like a good idea, click here.

And before I forget, here's the flip side of the marker, which gives the history of Adam Miller, Peter Miller's father. (Give it a click.)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Weekend Grab-bag of Stuff

For all my out of town readers (both of you), this was the scene (at left) in Lorain just a few days ago, on March 30th. Since then, the snow melted and it appears that Spring is underway again.

It was just a week ago (on the way home from the grocery store) that I swung by the proposed site for the new Lorain High School over by the Black River. I wanted to understand where the school was going to be, as well as grab a few shots of the undeveloped site for use in a future 'then and now' photo pairing.

Here are a few of my shots.

The sign from the other photo is seen off in the distance.
However, the 'now' photo to go with this 'then' photo will never take place. On Thursday, it was announced that the riverfront site was officially dead as a location for the new high school. This is due to the fact that Lorain was unable to come with $3 million to set aside to cover any 'potential extra costs associated with the riverfront site. (You can read and watch the story here on the Morning Journal website.)

I've gotta admit, I was never of fan of the riverfront site. And after driving over there to take a look – and seeing the boat launch nearby, the railroad tracks, the power lines and the river behind behind the site  – I couldn't see it at all.
My recent blogs on the Avon Lake power plant seemed to trigger some sort of cosmic coincidence.

After writing about the 1926 opening of the plant a few days ago, I stumbled upon some more information regarding the plant on microfilm a few days ago. (That's usually the way it happens.)

The photo (at left) appeared on the front page of the May 24, 1950 Lorain Journal and tells of a major addition. (Give it a click so you can read it.)

I received a few emails from regular readers about the power plant blog posts; Dennis Lamont sent me this neat aerial view of the plant and the surrounding area from the bing search engine. The aerial views from that site are always pretty remarkable.

It's interesting to compare the photo of the 1950 addition to the recent aerial view. It's incredible how many additions have been added in the last sixty years.