Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Those Oakwood Shopping Center Squirrels

Yesterday I mentioned Lake Erie Oil, which was located at the intersection of Route 254 and Pearl near the tracks and was a familiar site if you drove that area in the 1960s.

Well, the other familiar site in that same area was the huge squirrel (at left) that was painted on the side of a building to promote the nearby Oakwood Shopping Center, which was just down Pearl. According to the city directory listings, Lake Erie Oil had a warehouse on the south side of Route 254 right at Pearl, east of the tracks, so it just may have been the building with the squirrel on it.

The original opening day ad for Oakwood Shopping Center made reference to free Oakie the Squirrel balloons – and since the squirrel at left was the only regular mascot in ads as well as signage, I've always assumed that it was Oakie.

Since my family never went to Oakwood Shopping Center, the huge cartoon squirrel painted on that building was an ongoing mystery to me when I noticed it from the back seat of the family car. But it was a familiar landmark to watch for.

This particular version of Oakie was featured in the early ads after the shopping center opened in November 1958.

At the same time, however, other squirrels would also appear in the newspaper ads from time to time (such as the one below).
May 1959 Squirrel
I guess whoever was coordinating the ads for the shopping center just told the Journal's art department to "put a squirrel in the ad."

Here's another of these "unnamed squirrels" featured in an Oakwood ad. He actually looks more beaver-like to me – and I suspect he's a piece of clip art because of that word balloon he's straddling.

September 1959 squirrel
Finally this custom-drawn squirrel (below) was used regularly and the ads specifically tagged him as Oakie, with an "Oakie says..." caption. I guess the advertising department thought a male mascot was more appealing, as the purse-carrying bow-wearing squirrel seemed to disappear from the ads in the early 1960s.

Anyway, my ongoing quest is to uncover a photo of that original squirrel on the building, or even the Oakwood Shopping Center sign. There's gotta be one out there somewhere!


-Alan D Hopewell said...

As I recall, there was another version of Oakie, which was on a billboard on 254 near the tracks; check your previous entries, asd we discussed this before. I can't remember exactly where it was.

jack said...

Another one the midway mall wiped out as it did downtown Lorain

Anonymous said...

We lived only a few blocks away from the Oakwood Shopping Center. My mother grocery shopped at the Meyer-Goldberg's there and we got prescriptions filled at the Gray Drug store there. I went with a friend to $1 movies at the cinema because they were air-conditioned although you could hardly hear the movie over the loud crowds that usually showed up.

John Kovacs