Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Here's a nostalgic Halloween photo for all you cat lovers, right out of the pages of the September 1955 issue of Ideals magazine.

Ideals was a terrific coffee-table magazine that came out several times a year for more than 50 years, filled with inspiring stories, essays. nostalgic articles and poems that coincided with the change of seasons. It also had great full-page photographs like the one above.

Unfortunately, it ceased publication a number of years ago. I guess its heyday had passed.

I have a couple of vintage issues from the 1950's, and they are a lot of fun to look at. Normally I'm not a big fan of poetry, but the short collection of verses in each issue (by both well-known and anonymous authors) are fun to read and really put me in the mood for whatever holiday that particular issue is celebrating.

Here's one of them from the September 1956 issue.

Hallowe'en
by Fretia Young Miller

While the owls screech
And the huge bats fly,
The old witch rides
Her broom thru the sky


And down in the valley
In the farmer's corn,
Stands the old scarecrow
With the goblin's horn.


And while he blows
There gathers 'round
The eerie ghosts
Of Cemetery Town.


There also are the
Green-eyed cats
That paw and yell
At the huge black bats.


And while I stand
And gaze at the sky,
The phantoms pass
Of days gone by.


All the ghosts
Both fat and lean
Gather together
For a gay Hallowe'en.
****
Speaking of nostalgic Halloweens, for the second year in a row the spouse and I have found ourselves down in Butler, Ohio right in the middle of their trick-or-treat night. It was a real time-warp – and one of the highlights of our weekend.

Let me explain.

Each year we try to head down to Mohican Lodge around the end of October to enjoy the fall colors in the park. On Saturday night we have dinner at Dutch Heritage restaurant, and on the way back to the Lodge, we have to pass through Butler on State Route 97.

Now according to its Wiki entry, Butler only had a population of 921 people at the time of the 2000 Census. And I think every one of them participates on trick-or-treat night, which for the second year in a row coincided with our drive through town after dinner.

The whole scene was old-fashioned and surreal. Friendly firemen had firetrucks parked at both ends of Ohio 97 at the entrances to the city, and were handing out candy and posing for pictures. Parents escorted their kids of all ages, attired in great homemade costumes, along the main street. People, some wearing costumes themselves, sat on the front porches of old houses holding huge bowls of candy to hand out, taking in the whole scene.


We saw no roving gangs of kids running around unescorted; no carloads of out-of-town trick-or-treaters horning in on the neighborhood fun.

I suppose this sounds very much like any other city's typical trick-or-treat night. But there was something heartwarming and nostalgic watching Halloween unfold against the hilly Central Ohio backdrop in the tiny village that dates back to the late 1840's.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Kresge and Jupiter 1966 Halloween Ad

If you looking for cheap Halloween costumes for your kids back in 1966, then this Lorain Journal ad for Kresge's would have been of interest to you. Kresge's of course is the forerunner of Kmart (it officially changed its name in 1977).


As opposed to some of the other Halloween store ads that I've posted here that featured lots of TV cartoon character costumes, this Kresge's one is loaded up with generic types.

For little boys, there's an astronaut, a secret agent, Frankenstein, a skeleton and a devil. I wonder how the devil costume would go over today?

For the girls, there's a rather boring selection: a masked bride (maybe she was going to pull a heist), a fortune teller and a hatless witch.

The only true licensed costumes pictured are Lost in Space and the lone TV cartoon, Hanna-Barbera's Secret Squirrel.

Here's a portion of the Jupiter store ad from that same week. (I always thought it was strange that Lorain had both a Mars and a Jupiter store.)
I like the Tom Cat costume with its now politically incorrect image of what looks like Tom chasing Jerry with a gun!

We also have perennial favorite Casper the Friendly Ghost (we had that one for sure), a generic black cat, Dracula and the Phantom.

The Phantom? What's a comic strip character whose heyday was long past by the 1960's doing in there?

To see a neat website with a lot of vintage Halloween costumes from both the Kresge and Jupiter ads, click here.

Oh well, it's amusing to see what passed for mass-produced costumes back in the 1960's. Nowadays you see a lot of creative homemade costumes, which is a good thing.

But being raised on TV as I was, I was happy to go trick or treating as good old Huckleberry Hound.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Midway Mall 1966 Halloween Ad


Forty-five years ago, Midway Mall was still new, and here's a cute full-page ad for it that ran in The Journal on October 26, 1966. (Give it a click, although the annoying new Blogger viewer may not size it good enough for reading – for that you need to click on 'Show Original' within the viewer.)

The full-page promoted Midway Mall's Halloween festivities, which included a costume parade and contest for the kiddies, as well as cider and donuts.

I don't remember getting out to Midway Mall much as a kid in the 1960's. Downtown Lorain was still hanging on, and that's where my mother headed to shop on Saturday mornings with my brothers and I in tow for our trumpet lessons. O'Neil's (later replaced by May Company) was still around as well, and a much more convenient choice for shopping than going all the way out to the Mall. (The spouse and I still miss that May Company store.)

My mother's trips to Midway Mall were reserved for Saturday afternoon and, mercifully, my brothers and I didn't have to go shopping too often. Midway Mall wasn't really of interest to me until I began dating, and that's when the Mall's twin theaters came in handy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Woolworth's Halloween Ad 1961

For all you Baby Boomers out there, here's an ad that ran in the Lorain Journal on Thursday, October 26, 1961, a few days before Halloween – exactly 50 years ago today. (Give it a click so you can read it.)

It's funny seeing Halloween costumes in the ad that I know that we had. I've mentioned before in this blog that we had quite a stash of those lightweight masks with eye holes (and small mouth slits) that had an elastic band that kept it on your head. Inevitably the mask would crack where the hole for the elastic band was, and the durned thing wouldn't stay on your head.

We definitely had the Fred Flintstone and Huckleberry Hound masks. I'm sure we had the matching outfits too, but I don't remember them too well – probably because we often wore a coat over the whole thing if it was a chilly night.

Amazingly, you can still find these vintage costumes on Ebay once in a while.

Here's a bunch of vintage Hanna-Barbera masks currently on Ebay. They were found in the basement of a long-closed department store.

Huck and Peter Potamus seemed to have fared the best in terms of being faithful to their appearance in the cartoons. Yogi Bear and Top Cat are hilariously off-model color-wise!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Own a Piece of Sheffield Lake's Cottage Past


The driveway leads to your cottage
I went out to Avon Lake to pick up some firewood on Sunday morning, and on the way back noticed this lakefront cottage (highlighted above) right on US 6 in Sheffield Lake for sale. Its address is 5475 E. Lake Road.

According to the ERA Rath real estate site, the house dates to 1911 – making it a century home. There's also another house, and a garage included as part of the same property. So there's a built-in guest house.

Here is the real estate listing. For anyone who ever wanted to live on the lake in a nice little cottage, I think it's a bargain for $249,500 (although I'm sure the spouse wouldn't agree, though.)

I did a little digging at the library but couldn't come up with much. The earliest listings for E. Lake Road in the Lorain City Directory date from the late 1930's and the only thing listed at this end of Sheffield Lake in those early books is the 103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry complex, which is right next door to the east.

The 5475 E. Lake Road didn't officially become an address apparently until around 1954, when several other listings in the vicinity appeared.

I suspect it was just a summer cottage (originally with no postal address) that eventually became a year-round home like so many others in Sheffield Lake. Its proximity to the 103rd O.V.I., which had its first reunion at its lakefront property in 1908, makes it a little interesting.

By the way, 5465 Lake – right next door to the west – is for sale too, (below).


There are several homes that are part of that property too, and they date from 1940. Unfortunately, the real estate listing indicates that they are tear downs. So it's goodbye for sure to a little bit of Sheffield Lake's past.

It will interesting to see if one buyer purchases both properties, combines them and puts a huge house on the lot.

You've got to admit, it's a great location. You can walk to the 103rd O.V.I. Pancake Breakfasts!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mill Hollow in Autumn


Although the fall foliage has been a little disappointing up here by the lake, if you venture south a little bit it gets a little better. As usual, I headed down to Mill Hollow to see what was going on, and came back with a couple of shots.

I was lucky that the late afternoon sun gave the iconic Benjamin Bacon House (above) a nice golden glow. According to the Lorain County Metro Parks website, the house dates back to 1845. And I was surprised to read on the plaque out front (at left) that the house had only been open for tours since 1963.

Mill Hollow has been one of the favorite places in our family since it first opened. In the 1960's, it was there that my parents first introduced my siblings and me to camping, so it's still kind of a nostalgic shrine to me that I never get tired of visiting.

Ironically, though, for as many times as I've been to Mill Hollow in the last forty-some years, the Benjamin Bacon House Museum has never been open during my visit. It's almost kind of comical. One of these days, I'll get in there for a tour.

Anyway, there wasn't even a lot of great color down at Mill Hollow either. But it was great to get down there and drive around a bit.



Friday, October 21, 2011

American Legion Post 30 Then and Now


Most Lorainites would recognize the above photo as the home of American Legion Post 30 on West Erie Avenue.

An interesting article ran on September 14, 1963 in The Journal, featuring the photo below, showing how the Post looked back then when it was for sale.
This is the way I see the building in my mind's eye, and I'm still not used to seeing the sawed-of version of it. Can anyone remember what happened, resulting in the shorter version of it?

Anyway, here is the article that explains why it was for sale at that time.

****

Project Is Reportedly Developing

A king-size real estate development reportedly is being planned for the north side of W. Erie Ave. and south side of Second St., between Oberlin and Hamilton Avenues.

Several residents in the area today confirmed reports that they were contacted about optioning their properties to a local representative developer.

No information could be obtained on what type of real estate project is being planned.

There were reports, however, that the project could be either multiple apartment buildings or a large motel with restaurant.

The properties being sought include American Legion Post 30 at 1112 W. Erie Ave., the largest real estate parcel in the area of the development.

Meanwhile, the American Legion property has been put up for sale.

Alex Roth, Lorain realtor, has placed a "for sale" sign in front of the American Legion Home, a landmark on Lorain's West Side.

An official of the American Legion said a contact had been made about selling the property for a new development.

The Legion has occupied the property since the late 1920's.

It was learned that the Legion is interested in constructing a new building smaller than the present quarters, much of which is not being used.

****

Well, whatever it was, the big development didn't happen, although American Legion Post 30 got their wish for smaller quarters.

By the way, I did a little research as to when the Post moved into that house.

Using strictly the city directories for information, the American Legion was at 732 Broadway in 1929. In 1933 they were at 200 1/2 Ninth Street. There is a huge gap in the available books, but the Post was at 1112 W. Erie by 1937 for sure.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

That Burger Chef Roof-line

Last week (here) I was wondering if the former Burger Chef on W. 28th Street in Lorain (now the home of R & J Southern Style Cooking) originally had the distinctive inverted "V" roof-line that was typical of the chain back in the 1960's. The building looked so different now that I wasn't 100% sure that the original structure hadn't been torn down and replaced by the present one.

Fellow blogger Alan Hopewell's got an excellent memory, and he confirmed that the original restaurant did indeed look like the illustration at left.

Anyway, I happened to drive by the building again since then, and swung around to the back of it with my camera. Sure enough, you could easily see remnants of the original structure hidden by the fake 'roof' (below).


Since I was already curious, I also hit the microfilm and came up with the opening date: the middle of September 1968. So Alan's memory is batting a thousand.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Trip to Amish Country Part 2

Vintage Postcard
I've already told you about our hijinks getting lost on the way to Lehman's. Well, since we were already on US 30, we decided to make a stop in Orrville before dinner in Wooster.

Orrville, of course, is the home of  Smucker's®, and the company has a nice store and mini-museum there a minute or so off US 30. We mainly go there to pick up some exotic Jif® peanut butter variations (peanut butter is the staff of life in our house).

The Smucker's mini-museum was pretty good. It's interesting seeing all of the brands that Smucker's acquired over the years. Besides Jif®, there's Pillsbury®, Crisco®, Hungry Jack® and Martha White®.
****
But what about dinner? Well, our Amish Country jaunt ended with a trip to Coccia House in Wooster for pizza. (Remember when I mentioned it back here?)

Since I was first told about Coccia House from that friendly couple at the Lorain County Fair, I've heard about it a few more times. And with all that word-of-mouth buzz, I felt we just had to go there.

Coccia House was very easy to find, since it was close to Downtown Wooster. The business is located in a quaint old house in a residential neighborhood.

The first thing I noticed is that the large parking lot was packed. Once we got inside, I found out why. It's because nobody was going anywhere soon, whether you were picking up a pizza or waiting for a table like us.

It was a half-hour before we were seated, and another ten minutes before our waitress arrived. After that, it was an hour and fifteen minutes before we got our pizza. By then, I was so disgusted that I'm not sure any pizza was going to impress me. (Plus, I think I used up all my dinnertime conversation topics with the spouse for the next few years.)

So how was the pizza? Well, I hate to say this – but we were disappointed! I guess we've been spoiled with so many great mom-and-pop pizza parlors in Lorain and the surrounding areas, such as Yala'sRosie's, our current favorite Selenti's, and even Stella's in Avon Lake, that nothing was going to measure up.

To be fair to Coccia House, I don't like any pizza with the cheese covering the toppings, which is how they do it. Otherwise, it's not a bad pizza. It had kind of a sweet sauce, a thick crust and generous toppings hidden under that blanket of cheese. But it just wasn't our cup of tea.

But despite my complaints, we were glad we went to Coccia House just for the experience of something new. It's obvious that an awful lot of people love their pizza.

As for me, I'm looking forward to my Selenti's pizza this Friday night.

****
So we bid farewell to Amish Country, determined to come back one more time this fall to do all the things we missed. But fate had one last cosmic practical joke in store for us. 
The spouse decided that Dairy Queen would be a good dessert (so much for the whole Amish theme) for our disappointing pizza dinner, and she turned on the GPS unit one more time. The unit took me off my carefully planned route home and all I could do is trust it, since it was already dark and I had no idea where I was.
I followed the GPS directions, all of the turns, etc. and finally heard the unit announce, "You have arrived."
And we found ourselves sitting in a J.D. Byrider used car lot.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Trip to Amish Country Part 1

Vintage Ohio postcard
The spouse and I headed down to Amish Country last Friday. We got a pretty late start, so we missed our usual lunch at The Barn in Smithville.

Amish Country is kind of a funny thing to me. As a kid, I was never really crazy about going there; in fact it was kind of boring. All it really meant was a good dinner at Der Dutchman in Walnut Creek, topped off with some peanut butter pie.

I know I'm getting older because I kind of like going down to Amish Country now, especially in the fall. It's still all about eating to me, although strangely enough we never eat at Der Dutchman. I guess it's because Der Dutchman was the place my parents always took us to, and I wanted to make some new memories.

1960's Berlin Postcard
But one thing's for sure. Amish County is big business now. Berlin is almost unrecognizable to me – the overdeveloped commercial strip, the sidewalks choked with crowds, and especially the rush hour traffic! (Just try to head west out of Berlin late in the afternoon!)

Nevertheless, our favorite place to go to is Hershberger's Farm & Bakery in Berlin. We usually get some produce (squash and multi-colored cauliflower), some bread, maybe some preserves and some whoopie pies. Then it's a short trip down the road to Guggisberg Cheese – although we didn't stop there this time, because I had bought some of their signature baby swiss cheese at Marc's the week before!

The rest of the day was spent shopping and antiquing in Berlin. Then we usually cap off the day with a visit to Lehman's hardware in Kidron. However, we didn't make it there this time. Why? Because the spouse/navigator decided that she trusted her GPS more than my well-honed travel instincts. To make a long story short, somehow she set the GPS to use major highways to get there – so the GPS mysteriously routed us away from Kidron and towards Massillon instead!

Anyway, tomorrow I'll tell you about our decidedly un-Amish dinner: pizza at Coccia House in Wooster!

Monday, October 17, 2011

From the E-Mailbag #4: RMR Ranch

I received an interesting email last week from Rae that was related to the obituary for Mary Lee DeRamus that was in the local newspapers.

According to her obituary, "Mary became one of the most successful African American female entrepreneurs in Lorain County, when she and two friends bought 125 acres of land off Albrecht Road in Elyria and opened the RMR Ranch Club in 1956. The club, which consisted of a riding stable of 17 horses, picnic grounds, restaurant and motel, also was a nightclub where notable entertainers such as Marvin Gaye and Al Green appeared. She later became sole proprietor and renamed the establishment the DMD Ranch. The last acreage was sold to the Lorain County Regional Airport in 1991."

Rae's question to me was,"Where the heck was this?"

That's a good question. And I didn't have a lot of luck finding out!

I hit the Elyria phone books and city directories at the Lorain Public Library and only came up with one listing (below) of the complex, in the 1961 phone book.
That's it. It was not listed under Restaurants, Night Clubs, Motels, Stables, etc. I checked several years before and after 1961 and came up with nothing. It wasn't in the street listings section of the books I checked either.
Looking at the Lorain County Auditor's website, there seemed to have been a few transactions of land on the south side of Albrecht Road adjacent to the aiport in 2006, but there are none listed that have the 1991 date listed in the obituary.
Here is an aerial view of one of those Albrecht Road properties that the airport purchased in the 2000's. At last this map gives you a general idea of where the RMR Ranch Club was located.

And here's a Mapquest map of the same area. According to an old map I have of the area, the intersection of Fowl and Albrecht is kind of Lorain County's answer to the 'Four Corners' area of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado – except in this case it is Amherst Township, Elyria Township, Russia Township and Carlisle Township.


Since there are so many private residences along Albrecht west of Fowl Road, there would have to be some undeveloped Ranch land left for the airport to purchase. So I'm betting that the Ranch was on the south side of Albrecht, somewhere between Fowl Road and West Ridge Road.
I'll try and dig some more in the more recent books, under the other name – DMD Ranch – listed in the obituary.
Does anybody have any recollection of the RMR Ranch? If so, please leave a comment!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Admiral Ernest J. King Painting Update

It's been a while since I did an update on this whole Admiral Ernest J. King painting caper, and a lot has happened since my last post.

To begin with, thanks to Joe Jeffries of the Lorain Public Library, we know a bit more about Chris Lewis, the person who painted the portrait. According to some clippings from the Chronicle-Telegram that Mr. Jeffries found, Chris Lewis was chief deputy in the Lorain County Sheriff's department during the late 30's and early 1940's. Lewis was also a sign painter by trade for 40 years and he made painting his hobby.

He was also a member of the Lorain Elks lodge, and one of the clippings mentioned that on October 20, 1943, "Chief Deputy Chris Lewis presented his own hand painted portrait of Admiral King to the lodge."

It had already been established that the large color painting at left was done by Chris Lewis and presented to the Admiral at the September 1945 Victory Luncheon. So what was this second King painting that was mentioned in the 1943 clipping? Were there really two paintings – or did the one bounce around a bit?

Fortunately, the Lorain Elks solved this mystery rather quickly. When I contacted them through their Facebook page about the possibility of a second King portrait by Chris Lewis, I received a nice reply from member J. Anthony Rich, who mentioned, "I think the painting is in our Lodge as we speak."

Mr. Rich kindly invited me to visit the Lodge, and he took me upstairs to their meeting room (which was very cool to see – especially since my grandfather was an Elk.) Lo and behold, hanging in one corner of the room was the painting that Chris Lewis donated to the Lodge back in 1943.

It's a lot smaller than the one that hung at Admiral King High School, and done on a smaller scale. But it's unmistakably Chris Lewis' work. He really was quite talented.

Strangely enough, he didn't sign either painting.

Anyway, Mr. Rich was nice enough to remove it from the wall at my request, since I was having trouble photographing it. But no matter which way it was held, or in which lighting, it was practically impossible to shoot without getting a reflection off the paint.

The shot at left is the best I could do.

Anyway, now the mystery shifts back to the original painting at the top of the blog. If it was presented to Admiral King himself as a gift, how did it ultimately end up at Admiral King High School?

I put this question to some of Admiral King's relatives at the dedication ceremony of the new elementary school, where the painting is now hanging. I happened to be standing by the stage while the family was being photographed, and when they started to disperse, I ran up and shouted, "HOLD IT!!! Do any of you ever remember seeing that large painting of the Admiral before, maybe in his house?"

Although most of the family probably thought I was a kook, one courageous women did talk to me. She assured me that she did not remember ever seeing the portrait before.

So my new theory is this: the Admiral decided to donate the portrait to some local organization or group, and it never left the area. Later, that same group decided it belonged at the high school.

We'll see.

Thanks again to Joe Jeffries for his assist with the research, and J. Anthony Rich and the Lorain Elks for the invitation to visit their Lodge and photograph the painting. And thanks of course to fellow sleuth Lisa over at Buster's House for inviting me along on this merry hunt.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

From the E-Mailbag #3: Westgate Dairy Isle

Yesterday I noticed a comment posted on my blog entry from late April about 1950's Lorain Dairy Queen ads (back here).

A person asked, "What was the name of the ice cream stand on W. 21st Street in Lorain, Ohio during the 1960's and 70's? It was located just past the Westgate shopping center and on the same side of the road. It is now for sale and from the picture it looks like the name on the large cone says Dairy Twist. However, we lived nearby and patronized it often but remember the name to be Dairy Isle. Can anyone refresh my memory?"

That's a great question. I thought about it, and even though as a kid I rode my bike there a couple of times from Skyline Drive, I couldn't remember what the name was originally, or even what it was when it closed. So I dropped by the library Wednesday night to find out.

It turns out that the official name of the ice cream stand when it opened around 1971 was Westgate Dairy Isle, at least according to the city directory. It kept that name all the way up to about 1994, when it became Mr. Twister.


It's kind of interesting that whether you enjoyed eating ice cream here, or at Lorain Creamery (like my family did) you had the train tracks running right alongside for entertainment.


Anyway, in case you have a hankering to run an ice cream stand, here's the link to the real estate company that currently has the business at 2910 West 21st Street listed for sale. It comes with two Taylor Ice Cream machines and a pizza oven!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Burger Chef - Then and Now (Sort of)

A typical mid-1970's Burger Chef (Courtesy JSF's Burger Chef Tribute Website)
Way back here in 2009, I blogged about the Burger Chef at 28th Street and Broadway in Lorain.

Readers of this blog might remember that Burger Chef, at that location since September 1968, is where fellow blogger Alan Hopewell used to hang out and swill coffee with his buddies (read about those days right here in Alan's blog). It's also where my pal Debi used to serve up those hot, crispy, golden-brown french fries during the summer of 1977.

The restaurant later became a Hardee's in the early 1990's before eventually closing.

Anyway, I happened to drive by the former Burger Chef this past weekend and grabbed a shot. It's now R & J Southern Style Cooking (below).


Here's a link to their website.

I wish them the best of luck with their restaurant. Besides its unique concept, it's got a nice high-profile location with a lot of good Lorain food memories.

****

Visit JSF's Burger Chef Tribute website for some great Burger Chef memories!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What used to be in that building?


While stopped at the light at 30th and Broadway this past Sunday, I looked straight ahead and saw this distinctive building that resembles an airplane hangar. What businesses were in that building over the years, I wondered – and what was it originally? Do you remember?

I had a vague idea that it was connected with cars, although I had no specific memory of it at all. A quick trip to the library answered my question.

The building at 2950 Broadway dates back to about 1950, when it was the home of Kunick Motor Sales. Within a few years, Vogt Oldsmobile was at that address.

Vogt continued at that location until around 1959, when it then became the home of Kaminski Oldsmobile. Here's a 1959 Lorain Phone Book ad.

However, Kaminski moved out after about two years (to its new location on Henderson Drive) and the address was taken over by Si Gary Dodge.

Si Gary Dodge stayed there the longest, lasting until around 1977. Then a variety of businesses took over the building, including Witter Ignition Inc. during the late 1970's and Top Shelf Auto Electric Clinic in the late 1980's.

The building was most recently the address of R.J. Stovicek & Associates, a landscaping firm.

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Lorain – 1977

Last week, while browsing in the Local History section of the Lorain Public Library, I found another one of those books full of proposals for the redevelopment of Downtown Lorain that never took place (similar to this one, which I blogged about back here). This one was produced by the New Lorain Association in November 1977.

Like the 1978 book with the same theme, this one has many photographs of Lorain sprinkled in with the text. A few of them, reproduced from the book, are below.

Kline's Department Store, which was closed by the time of the book
Note the Eagles Aerie 343 was still at 575 Broadway back then 
Hot Waters
Looking West on Sixth Street from Broadway; note the now-gone houses next to the Lorain Public Library





Friday, October 7, 2011

Admiral King Birthplace Through the Years

Although the hoopla over the dedication of the Admiral Ernest J. King tribute space was last month, I'm still involved in some Admiral King-related research and still coming up with material to post. 
It's interesting (to me at least) how the Admiral's birthplace has changed through the years. Here's a view from the 1952 autobiography of Admiral Ernest J. King.

Here's a clipping (below) that I found recently in the Special Collections file of the Lorain Public Library. It's from the Journal and shows Admiral King's birthplace on Hamilton Avenue as it looked back in 1967, when it was for sale for $12,500. It's a shame that it wasn't purchased by the city back then for a museum.

Lastly, here a view from the tribute space dedication last month. That little porch/room on the right side seems to have gone through the most changes over the years.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The John Studebaker Monument near Ashland

August 2009 photo
Five miles east of Ashland on the top of a hill on US 250, right next door to the former Bonnie Dell Motel is a large granite boulder with a plaque on it: the John Studebaker Monument.  A few concrete steps and a hand rail lead up to it.

Cars and trucks whiz by it daily at top speeds without noticing it. (I passed it dozens and dozens of times in the late 1970's going back and forth to Ohio State University in Columbus, and never even knew it was there!)

What does it commemorate? Here is the explanation, according to my battered 1940 copy of The Ohio Guide (compiled by workers of the Writer's Program of the Works Projects Administration).

The JOHN STUDEBAKER MONUMENT (R), 16.2 m., a large granite boulder with an inscription plate, marks the site where in 1835 John Studebaker erected his house and blacksmith shop. In 1852 two of his sons, Henry and Clement, with a capital of $68 founded a wagon works at South Bend, Indiana – a plant that later entered the fledgling automobile industry with the now well-known Studebaker.

August 2009 photo

Several people had the idea of erecting a monument on the site of the original Studebaker blacksmith shop on what was then part of the new coast-to-coast Lincoln Highway, according to an article by Richard Quinn in Turning Wheels (official publication of the Studebaker Driver's Club). A Studebaker distributor in San Francisco, as well as W. A. Duff, the editor of the Ashland Press, had the same idea. But Duff appears to have pushed it the most in his newspaper, and the monument was most likely his brainchild.
In a letter written in 1914 to the last surviving son of John Studebaker, Duff wrote that he wanted to present the monument "to the rising generation that they may emulate the example of the good and the grand and the noble who have wrought in their native county and state." Duff also added that he wanted the Lincoln Highway in Ashland County "to be remembered by the thousands who shall pass over it every year."
The monument was dedicated on May 18, 1927 by the Studebaker Historical Society and has been there ever since. 
Although the monument now sits on private property, various owners through the years have permitted visitors to climb the steps to view the monument. (While photographing it, I have parked briefly in the driveway just to the left of it.)

August 2009 photo