Friday, September 28, 2012

Tiller's Treasures: Neuman Dairy Bottles

Right on cue, I received an email this week from collector Jack Tiller. You might remember that he has that impressive collection of Lorain memorabilia that he is always happy to share with the readers of this blog. (I'm continually amazed that he is able to produce images of rare items that relate to what I am blogging about.)

Noting the blog's subject matter the last few days, Jack sent me these two images of Neuman Dairy Company bottles – one with J. Neuman as the proprietor (above) and another with J. H. Barres (below) as the man in charge. I guess I'll have to do some more research.

I was fairly surprised to see these bottles, because I was always under the impression that the Neumans were primarily dairymen that sold their milk to someone else who bottled it. But as these images show, the Neumans apparently operated a facility to bottle their own milk.

So far, I've only come up with one address for the facility, in the 1919-20 Lorain City Directory. It had Neuman's Dairy Company at 1002 W. 22nd Street. It's a residence now, with the Lorain County Auditor's website saying that the building dates from 1900 (which usually means before that).

Anyway, thanks again to Jack for sharing parts of his great collection!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

William J. Neuman Dairy Farm Part 3

Here's another copy of the photo with the cows that I shot from the original in the BRHS archives. It enlarges with a little more detail than the one I copied from the Images of Lorain book, so you can get a good look at those buildings in the background.

Personally, I wonder if the 1932 date on the photo is correct. If it was 1922 instead, it might make a little more sense. Perhaps the buildings in the background had been torn down and thus weren't in the 1924 aerials.

And since yesterday, I've begun to wonder if that is really Leavitt Road in the background.

Anyway, there's one final component to this mystery: the Neuman farm house.

My parents told me many years ago that an old farm house originally stood where the gas station is located on the northwest corner of Meister and Oberlin, and that the house had been moved slightly west down Meister Road.

The city directory seems to bear that out. A few years after the Neuman name was no longer listed at that corner, Super's Sohio Station appeared around 1957 – and a house appeared on Meister immediately west of the gas station. It originally was listed as vacant for a few years before receiving a new number address and a tenant – which might make sense if you consider that the house had been moved and would need some work.

The house is still there today (below), and seemingly of a different era than the other 1950s ranch houses next to it.

Was I able to positively identify the above house on the Neuman farm in that 1924 aerial shot (below)? Unfortunately, no. The building that appears to be the main farm house (and closest to Oberlin Avenue) doesn't have a similar roof line to the one above.

But my go-to man down at the Black River Historical Society – Frank Sipkovsky – also says that the grey house on Meister is the old Neuman farmhouse. So that's two votes in favor of that belief.

I'm currently trying to contact one of the families that lived in it to confirm it.

Until then, if any of you old-timers have any knowledge or memories of the Neuman Dairy Farm (or that house), please be sure to leave a comment. With the years rapidly passing by, information and recollections about things like this are rapidly fading away in peoples' memories.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

William J. Neuman Dairy Farm Part 2

One of the things that has bugged me for a while is wondering what view of Oberlin Avenue and Meister Road was being shown in the 1932 photo of the Neuman Farm. There is that paved road in the background which I assumed was Oberlin Avenue, but was that Meister Road on the right?

To try and find out, I headed over to the BRHS to examine the original photo in their archives and see if there was any more information written on the back. Unfortunately, the photo was simply labeled, "1932 Neuman's Dairy Farm."

But then I remembered that Dennis Lamont had provided me with a collection of aerial photos of Lorain from 1924. Sure enough, there was the Neuman farm on the northwest corner of Oberlin Avenue and Meister Road (below). That's Oberlin Avenue running from north to south. (It's hard to believe that a gas station has been at that location since the late 1950s.)


Unfortunately, the aerial photo didn't provide any answers – it only made things more confusing.

The full 1924 aerial photo of the area reveals that all of the farms close to the Neuman property were on the same side of Oberlin Avenue – the west side. So I was unable to find a vantage point from which you could photograph part of the Neuman farm and have another farm in the background across the street.

Groan. The last thing this blog needs is yet another mystery.

Could the barn with the MAIL POUCH sign and other buildings be the Neuman farm? I doubt it. I was unable to match up any of the buildings in the two photos. The other elements of the photo of the cows grazing – the seeming junction of two roads, the electrical tower and the telephone poles – didn't help either.

Anybody got any ideas?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

William J. Neuman Dairy Farm Part 1

The photo above, which appeared in the Black River Historical Society's Images of America book on Lorain, has fascinated me since I first saw it.

The caption in the book states, "This picture is from 1932, when there were nine dairies located in Lorain. Newman's [sic] Dairy Farm was one of them. It was situated on the northwestern corner of Oberlin Avenue and Meister Road. It seems difficult to believe that cows once grazed there. This farm was later turned into an airport and then a commercial and housing development."

The Neuman name had long been associated with that property.

The 1891 Lorain City Directory (the oldest in the library) listed Hermon [sic] Neuman as a farmer on Oberlin.

In 1905 edition, the whole family was listed, including parents Herman & Fredericka as well as Rudolph C., William J., and John W. Their address was the "Oberlin Avenue extension."

By 1909 the family dairy firm was known as the Neuman Brothers.

The firm had the distinction of being the only one that was in compliance with a controversial August 1909 ordinance requiring dairymen to test their cattle for tuberculosis. The ordinance resulted in a temporary milk famine when dairy farmers balked at the expense and cut off the city's milk supply. The issue eventually went to court and the city backed down, with the end result that Dr. Oden, the city inspector would make the tuberculine test of all cattle himself at no charge to the dairymen. The Neuman Brothers then asked that they be reimbursed the $140 spent on the tests, but according to the Lorain Daily News report, it appears that city officials were "unable to see how they could compel Dr. Oden to pay them for cattle tested a year or more ago."

By 1915, William J. Neuman owned the farm, and the 1915 Farm Journal Illustrated Rural Directory of Lorain County provided some information about it The directory listing reveals that the farm in Black River Township consisted of 25 acres, with 25 cattle and 5 horses.

Here's the list of dairies in Lorain according to the 1915 Farm Journal Illustrated Rural Directory of Lorain County.

Many of the 25 acres of the Neuman farm were later sold to become part of Port Mills Airport, which was dedicated on Saturday, July 27, 1929. But there was enough farmland left for William J. Neuman to continue to run his dairy farm well into the 1930s, according to city directories.

He also lived at the corner of Meister and Oberlin until the early 1950s (see listing below), when the commercial development along Oberlin Avenue began to really take off as discussed in the Hank Kozloski article last week.

1950 Lorain City Directory Listing
Next: Another Mystery

Monday, September 24, 2012

Nickel Plate Railroad Depot Face-lift – Sept. 1949

Here's a nice reminder of the good old days when Lorain had a functioning train depot, and was a stop on the Nickel Plate Railroad.

The article ran in The Lorain Journal on Friday, Sept. 16, 1949 – 63 years ago this month – and was announcing that some ongoing improvements to the depot were almost complete. (Click on it for a larger, readable view.)

Shucks, they even got rid of the pot bellied stove.

Anyway, back here I featured a photo of the depot as it looked back in the mid-1980s.

I'm jealous when I see other local communities that still have their vintage train depots. It sure brings a city's history to life when a building that was so important to the community in its past is still standing today.

If you're interested in old Lorain County train depots, here is a link to a terrific website that features photos of both existing and long-gone structures in Ohio. It's organized by county and even tells you what railroad was affiliated with the station. It's a lot of fun (and if you like it – you can even donate via Paypal to keep it in operation).

Friday, September 21, 2012

Vintage Willow Hardware ads

Before I move on from Willow Hardware as a topic, here's a few vintage ads from the pages of the Lorain Journal. Above is an early ad from April 3, 1953 – the year the business opened.

Below is a full-page ad from July 1955 promoting the newly remodeled store.

Lots of interesting things for sale, that's for sure.

I had to laugh when I examined the ad closely, because while helping my mother clean out her garage the other day, we found the exact same vintage sprayer shown in the ad, on top of a cupboard and long-forgotten. I guess I know where Dad bought it.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Willow Hardware Then & Now

Here's a photo that I shot on June 7, 2008 showing a scene familiar to all Lorainites: Willow Hardware and the rest of the stores at the plaza. The sky is appropriately grey, as the building would soon meet with the wrecking crew on July 28, 2008.

It's hard to believe that it was only a little more than four years ago that Willow closed. It sure seems a lot longer than that to me. At least when I feel like going to an old-time hardware store, I can still go to Sun Hardware in Sheffield Lake.

And here's the matching "now" shot from last weekend.
CVS had never been one of my favorite drug stores (I much prefer Ohio-based Discount Drug Mart), so I never really go into this store. I suppose it is a plus, however, when any national chain shows an interest in Lorain.

Nevertheless, the loss of businesses like Willow Hardware really leave a big hole in Lorain's soul that just can't be filled with a national chain.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hank Kozloski's History of Oberlin Avenue Part 2

Here's the rest of the article from the Lorain Journal of April 2, 1989 written by well-known Journal Staff Writer Hank Kozloski about the history of Oberlin Avenue.

****
Widening Horizons Part 2
Oberlin Avenue grew from farmland into busy commercial center


Lowell Knizell, of the Lorain city engineer's department, observed that the widening has attracted offices, especially professional medical buildings.

The widening project from West 30th Street south to Cooper Foster Park Road was estimated to cost $1.8 million and actually cost $3.4 million. Knizell figures it would cost an estimated $7.75 million to do the project today. Work began on Aug. 7, 1973 and completed Sept. 12, 1975 with final acceptance by the city two months later.

Vlad Nickoloff, former Lorain builder now residing in Key Largo, Fla., recalled how the construction company once forgot to put up barricades and signs after pouring concrete.

"Some lady was shopping at Jay Jursinski's Food Market," Nickoloff said. "She wasn't paying attention when she pulled out of the parking lot and drove right into the wet concrete."

1956 Willow Hardware ad
Before construction began, Oberlin Avenue was best known south of Meister Road for the Neuman dairy farm, woodlands, the site where the Barnum and Bailey Circus pitched its tents, and at the far south end, a well-known night spot known as Old Stone Villa, which today has become TNT Antiques. In between, of course, was Airport Tavern.

Before Lorain Plaza was developed in the 1960s to anchor Oberlin Avenue at Meister Road, it was the southwest corner of Oberlin and Meister that set the pace. It began when Steve Navalinsky built Willow Hardware.

Robert Whalen saw the business possibilities and built Whalen's Pharmacy followed by Jay's Food Market, a business Jay Jursinski later moved further south. That would become Meyer Goldberg's Supermarket, then Gray Drugs and, today, Rite Aid Drugs. In quick order, other businesses appeared on Oberlin Avenue, first Lezber Floors, then Bob Nagy's Plastering.

Dom Rebman, owner of Rebman Recreation Inc. bowling alleys at the southern extreme of Oberlin Avenue, remembers the days long before developers began turning lush farmland along Oberlin Avenue into valuable apartment complexes.

1962 Reman's ad
"When I was a kid my dad was in the meat packing and grocery store business," he said. "He would bring me out here (where the bowling alleys are now located) to the farms to pick up livestock. It was a gravel road then.

His father later bought some of that farmland and built the bowling alleys. It was 24 lanes then. Today, with 48 lanes, it's the largest bowling establishment in Lorain County.

Knizell said he expects Oberlin Avenue to be almost "totally commercial within 10 years" even though a considerable portion of property is still zoned residential.

"The only request we have for rezoning now is from a doctor (Dr. Alexander Boye-Doe, presently at 2100 Reid Ave., Lorain) who wants to build his new medical offices on the west side of Oberlin Avenue just south of Westwood Drive," Knizell said. "Before the year is over, however, I expect many more rezoning requests."

****
Oberlin Avenue at its southern end never did go completely commercial, despite the 1989 article's prediction.

The ubiquitous 'dollar stores' seem to be the only national chains interested in Lorain, and the Family Dollar in the old Meyer Goldberg's store and the newer Dollar General further south on Oberlin Avenue seem to bear out that point.

Hopefully the long overdue repaving of Oberlin Avenue will give that main north-south corridor of Lorain a much-needed shot in the arm.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hank Kozloski's History of Oberlin Avenue Part 1

Here's a great article from the Lorain Journal of April 2, 1989 that's kind of timely in view of the current repaving of Oberlin Avenue. It's a nice history of that road, written by well-known Journal Staff Writer Hank Kozloski.

The article is interesting not only for the historical aspects, but also because of the late 1980s time frame during which it was written. At that time, Oberlin Avenue's property values were apparently going up. Now, more than 20 years later, the southern part of Oberlin Avenue sadly seems to be going into decline.

The article's kind of long, so I'll split it into two parts. Here's Part 1.

****
Widening Horizons
Oberlin Avenue grew from farmland into busy commercial center
By Hank Kozloski
Journal Staff Writer

Oberlin Avenue from Meister Road south to Cooper Foster Park Road is a 1.7-mile stretch of residential and business activity in high gear.

Prior to 1953, when the building boom took off, the only attractions were the William J. Neuman dairy farm at the Oberlin-Meister intersection, a golf driving range and the Airport Tavern at West 37th Street.

Everything else was either woodlands or farms.

Not any more. Since Steve Navalinsky built Willow Hardware in 1953, at least 88 businesses – ranging from gas stations to medical office buildings – have altered the city's primary west-side artery into what many consider the fastest growing business area in town.

A vacant lot today might easily turn up tomorrow as a new orthodontist's office, a gas station, a pizza parlor. Property valuation has skyrocketed.

It has also become a traffic nightmare with rush hour testing even the most patient driver.

It wasn't always that way. Prior to 1940 it was a narrow gravel road which carried Model T's and horse-drawn wagons.

The biggest decade of business explosion was 1960-69, when 28 permits were issued. There were 23 in the decade 1970-79 and 15 from 1953 to 1959.

Only a dozen permits are documented from 1980 to 1988, but nine of those came during 1987-88, including five medical office buildings.

Three medical offices were built in the last year: Dr. Yun-Lai Sun Medical Building, 5295 Oberlin Ave.; Dr. Kumar Swamy Medical Building, 5065 Oberlin Ave.; and Dr. Yi-Wen Lai Medical Buuilding, 4520 Oberlin Ave.

Medical office locations are by far the most dominant with 19, followed by eateries and/or lounges (13), apartment complexes (10) and gasoline service stations (5).

The major growing pains occurred in two phases: when Lorain began annexation of what used to be Black River Township in the 1950s and with the widening of Oberlin Avenue to four lanes in the 1970s.

Making Oberlin Avenue four lanes didn't come easy. Most residents and businesses south of Meister Road, including St. Peter Church and School, fought it tooth and nail. They formed an association to combat the project and hired prominent attorney William G. Wickens Sr. to represent them.

"It resulted in a lawsuit involving the assessment of property owners," Wickens recalls. "The association met in large conclaves in the halls of St. Peter's Church to determine what they would do. They didn't want it."

The property owners felt they would bear the brunt of the cost to pave something that was going to be for the general public's use rather than for the homeowners, he said.

"They were going to have problems getting in and out of their driveways and traffic was going to be very heavy through there," Wickens went on. "It was going to create a hazard, they felt. The width of four lanes would be a problem for children crossing over to St. Peter School. Consequently, they felt imposed upon."

Monday, September 17, 2012

Oberlin Avenue Construction Then & Now

Courtesy the Morning Journal and the Lorain City Engineer
Seeing the barrels along Oberlin Avenue during its current repaving reminded me of this photo (above). It shows the view of Oberlin Avenue during its widening in the early 1970s.

Apparently the widening started in 1973 and finished in 1975. Why don't I remember that at all? Maybe it's because the construction coincided with my freshman and sophomore years of high school and I had other things on my mind.

The photo's vantage point obviously is from Tower Boulevard looking south. In the background you can see Big Town, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and off in the distance, Esco.

Hard to believe all of those establishments are gone, replaced by businesses more in tune with Lorain's economic downturn such as Cashland.

Here's the current view from this past weekend.

Although there are no national restaurant chains along that stretch any more, I'm glad that a national retailer like Big Lots is in the old Big Town space. It's one of our favorite stores.

Now if it only stocked peanut butter-filled pretzels more often.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Oberlin's 1812 Harrison Military Road Marker

Usually this blog concerns itself with mid-20th Century local history – but today I'm going to go back a little further than usual. This year is the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812, and much of it was fought right here in Ohio.

What many of you may not know is that Lorain County used to have a historical marker related to the War of 1812. It was located just west of Oberlin on what is now State Route 511.

The marker (shown at left) commemorated a military supply road cut by our troops through Ohio's dense frontier forests. The road went from Ashland north to Oak Point, just west of Lorain. While the road wasn't the scene of any of the battles, it was an important link in the ability to move troops and supplies around – and thus it was honored with a monument.

The whole story of the historical marker is the subject of my article in the latest issue of – you guessed it – the Black Swamp Trader & Firelands Gazette. You can pick up your free copy at the Vermilion Farm Market on U.S. 6, or at the Oberlin Public Library in Downtown Oberlin on State Route 58.

The article is kind of a sad story, because the marker was erected and dedicated in 1914 to make sure that the event it commemorated wasn't forgotten. But now – since the marker no longer exists – it seems that both it and its subject are forgotten – so that's why I chose it as the subject of my article.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Goodbye, Space Spiral!

Courtesy Sandusky Register website
Saw on the news today that the Space Spiral was demolished yesterday. Gee, I never did get that last ride on it. Oh well, it will live on in my Cedar Point memories along with Jungle Larry, the Pirate Ride, the Earthquake Ride, the Mill Race...

Here's the link to some great demolition photos on the Sandusky Register website. And here is the link to the demolition video footage on the WKYC website.

VL Cinema Grand Opening – Sept. 3, 1964

Here's an ad that kind of symbolizes the transition that began to occur in Lorain in the 1960s. The ad ran on Sept. 2, 1964 in the Journal and announced the Grand Opening of the VL Cinema in the former Dreamland Theater – 48 years ago this month.

What the Dreamland was showing in May 1963
An article that ran in the paper the same day explained, "The VL Cinema, 1936 Broadway, opens formally with entirely new exterior and interior trimmings and a new program policy.

Referring to the Dreamland, the article noted "As a popular Central Lorain movie house operated by the Zegiob family and later by State Rep. Maurice Brown, it served two generations of Lorain Movie fans. In its new role it will be the only outlet between Cleveland and Toledo for first-run modern films."

The VL stands for Vic-Lin Enterprises, which was headed by Frank Nardini (who acquired the property from the Zegiob interests).

The inaugural VL Cinema movie, A Taste of Honey, was described as a 1961 controversial comedy-drama adapted from a Broadway stage hit.

I don't know, it's a long way from Cary Grant, Doris Day and Tom & Jerry!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lorain Youth Center Then & Now

Here's another interesting photo from the pages of the Lorain Sunday News, this time from the May 9, 1954 edition. The accompanying caption read, "NEW YOUTH CENTER, which costs more than $40,000, will open this afternoon at 3001 Elyria Avenue."

The caption mentioned that the facility included a 21-stool "coke bar." (Small wonder in view of the large Coca-Cola logos on the building!) It also mentioned some of the names of the many people who played a role in making the Youth Center a reality, including City Patrolman William (Bill) Solomon, City Welfare Director Elfrieda Thomas, Nelson Daniels, Dr. M. C. Kolczun, Mrs. Gertrude Ashbolt, Aaron Lertzman and Andrew Shullick.

This building looked only vaguely familiar to me. What was its history?

Checking the available city directories, the building appears to have been around since either the late 1920s or the early 1930s. The first tenant was a grocer, followed by the Aragon Night Club beginning around 1937.

The Aragon last appeared in the 1945 book, followed briefly by the Hollywood Bar in 1950 and then the Lorain Youth Center, which continued to appear in the directory through 1966. And after that?

While not immediately recognizable due to the considerable changes to its exterior, since 1968 the building has been home to Carter Funeral Homes Inc.

Carter Funeral Homes Inc.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hi-Speed Service Station on E. Erie Then & Now

Here's a promotional photo for a service station that ran on the front page of the Sept. 19, 1940 Lorain News. 

The photo's location kind of intrigued me; it was on E. Erie (U.S. Route 6) at Georgia Ave. and I assumed it was located where Terry's Dairy (the former Dairy Queen) is now – but I was wrong. The Lorain Crystal Ice Company was at that location in the pre-DQ days.

Plus, the service station's address – 854 E. Erie – was on the other side (south side) of the street.

Vintage Hi-Speed sign
Checking the city directories, I discovered (much to my surprise) that a Hi-Speed service station had been at that location since 1924. The station changed hands several times, but stuck with the Hi-Speed brand until the 1950s when it became a Pure Oil station.

The service station appeared in the city directory until around 1958, when the 854 E. Erie address was listed as "vacant."

Next, a variety of companies appeared in the directory at that address, including a laundry in the 1960s (The Washing Well) and a beauty salon in the 1970s.

After a macrame supply company briefly appeared at that location in the books in the late 1970s, the longtime business that followed is well-remembered by its fans: Granny D's Pizza.

The two tragedies that took place at that address– the murder of Granny D's Pizza owner Dave Kowalczyk, as well as the suspicious fire at the successor business D'Tutanelli's Pizza – will forever cast a sad shadow on that location.

Here is the 854 E. Erie location today. I don't know for sure if the current building is the same as the 1940s building, but it sure is likely; check out the two thick vertical structural elements on both sides of the entrance that are visible in both photos.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Eagles Building Then & Now

I've admired the Eagles Building ever since I picked up this vintage postcard (postmarked 1926) at a local flea market back in the 1990s.

May 1946 Lorain Journal ad
The Fraternal Order of Eagles, Aerie No. 343 was the primary tenant of the building originally. It was designed by a local architect and constructed in 1918 as a one-story structure, with three stories added in 1924.

The building, one of the tallest in Downtown Lorain, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is in the Second Renaissance Revival style. It contains a beautiful ballroom, complete with a stage and dressing rooms. The building is recognized for being the first commercial structure in the Lorain area to utilize a reinforced concrete frame. This structural decision was due to the shortage of domestic steel shortly after World War I.

J.C. Penney was one of the earliest commercial tenants of the Eagles Building, showing up in the city directories around 1926 and lasting into the early 1930s. The Deutschof showed up as a new tenant in the 1930s, joined by Hart Jewelry in the early 1940s in the other storefront space.

A 1977 view
A 1942 city directory listing showed a variety of organizations were also based in the building. In addition to the Eagles Lorain Aerie No. 343, the groups included the Steel City Chapter (Order of DeMolay), the Typographical Union Local No. 409, the Woodland Lodge No. 223 (Knights of Pythias), the Licensed Tugmen's Protective Association No. 29, the Shipyard Union No. 358 and the Rainbow Girls.

Cane's Surplus, a traditional Army & Navy goods store featuring military goods and camping equipment moved in around 1960.

Sadly, the Eagles club closed in 1984, and Harts was gone by 1987. The Lorain County Central Office of Alcoholic's Anonymous then took over the jewelry store space for many years. Cane's lasted until the owner retired due to poor health in 1999. Eagles Nest Nite Club moved into one of the upstairs floors about this time, maintaining a link to the building's heritage.

Currently a night club called Boat House II is in the old Cane's space.

And here's my "now" shot from this past weekend. The Eagles Building is still an impressive structure.




Friday, September 7, 2012

1960s Sheffield Lake Businesses Then & Now

Old high school yearbooks can be a nice source of vintage photos of local businesses.

Here's a few photos from mid-1960s Brookside High School Leader yearbooks. They show how things used to look in Sheffield Lake along Lake Road (U.S. 6) in those days.

Here's a view looking east at the sign for Shoreway Lanes, with its great lettering as well as bowling ball and pin graphics. My brothers and I used to bowl there in a Saturday morning league in the late 1960s for a while; for us, the best part was the bowling alley's hotdogs – served up in toasted New England style split-top buns!

In the background is the old Phillips 66 gas station.



And here's the view from today. (Hey, it looks like the same leaning telephone pole in both shots.) The sign for the now-closed bowling alley is less interesting.


Just a few doors down to the east is where Lawsons used to be (which I covered back here.)

And even further to the east is where Gang's Food Fair used to be at 4646 E. Lake Road. Here's a 1966 shot (below). I did a history of the place back here.
And here's the "now" shot.
As you can see, the internet café at this location didn't make it.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Girls Wrestling at the Antlers – Sept 7, 1949

Here's what was happening at the Antlers Hotel approximately 63 years ago tomorrow – Lorain's version of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling: a match betweeen Helen Hild and June Byers. It was advertised in the Lorain Journal in this ad that ran on September 5, 1949.

I sure hope for Helen Hild's sake that the photos weren't in actual proportion to each other.

It looks like it was a pretty good program with something for everyone. For those who liked to see women "rassle," there were the two beauties above. And for the ladies, Mr. America was known for his showmanship and elaborate entrances.

I was relieved to find out that Whiskers Bulba was not the name of another girl wrestler; instead, it was the nickname of Ivan Bulba.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Downtown Lorain Then & Then

Archivist and historian Dennis Lamont saw my late 1950s postcard yesterday of Downtown Lorain, and sent me some fascinating images of the same scene decades earlier.

Here's one from the early 1900s (below). Dennis notes that the double car tracks dates the photo around or after 1906. Also note the 'Babcock & Veon Insurance' sign at left, which was useful to me in determining a time frame for the photo as we shall see below.

Here's a RPPC (Real Photo Post Card) from the Willis Leiter Studio in Lorain (below). This is after the above photo, because now (according to the sign) A.H. Babcock has his own insurance and realty company as per the later city directories.
And here's a postcard variation (below) of the identical Leiter shot – angled differently, cropped, hand-tinted and with telephone poles and wires removed! No wonder the scene on this postcard (which I've seen before) has always made Lorain look like a one horse town, as opposed to the bustling town in the Leiter photo.

I had a copy of this postcard a few years ago that was postmarked 1912.

Special thanks to Dennis Lamont for sharing his photos.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Downtown Lorain Then & Now

I saw this postcard on Ebay a few weeks ago, and thought it might be a good subject for a "then and now" shot.

This is the thriving Downtown Lorain of my youth that I remember – a busy place with stores galore, including national chains such as Sears and Woolworths. Off in the distance you can see the iconic B&O dock.

I believe the postcard dates from the 1950s, based on a few of the stores that I know were in business then. (Wish I knew my vintage cars; the one on the left reminds me of my parents' 1958 Savoy.)

And here's the "now" shot from this past Saturday morning. As expected, I had no trouble with cars or pedestrians interfering with my shot.

It's funny how some buildings didn't change one bit and others are completely different. And even though the B&O Dock is gone, you can now see the Lorain Lighthouse – which is a good thing.

It's not a totally depressing scene when you compare it with the vintage postcard, but it's close. Until some of these storefronts get some occupants, it's going to have that ghost town feeling.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Back-to-School Show at the Palace – Sept 2, 1964

Remember the summer movie series for kids in Lorain?

Well, here's a Lorain Palace Theater ad for a back-to-school show aimed at kids that ran in the Lorain Journal on Sept. 2, 1964. In the good old days, kids didn't start school until after Labor Day.

Not only did the moviegoing kids get to see six cartoons (which I assume included classic Tom and Jerrys) and a feature, but they also received a nifty pencil box filled with school supplies. All for 40 cents!

It's funny thinking how in the 1960s school supplies used to consist mainly of pencils, paste, scissors, a ruler, maybe a protractor, etc. Now in 2012 (depending on their grade level) elementary school kids in Sheffield Lake also have to bring Kleenex, wipes, hand sanitizers, head phones, and paper towels. (Here's the actual list). Avon Lake's list is even longer, including such things as USB flash drives.

Yessir, times change.

But getting back to that Palace promotion. It seems the feature film was ahead of its time. Interestingly, it was a 1960 Japanese anime film about a monkey, and one of the earliest of that type of film released in this county according to this Wiki entry. To make the film more appealing to audiences for its U.S. release, a soundtrack was prepared featuring the voices of Jonathan Winters, Arnold Stang and Sterling Holloway (the original voice of Winnie-the-Pooh) as well as the singing voice of Frankie Avalon.

Nevertheless the ad is a throwback to simpler times, when kids had a longer summer, and all it took was a cartoon marathon to make them happy.

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Hey, Dennis Lamont just informed me that part of Alakazam the Great is on YouTube. It's a random assortment of clips, but you get a pretty good idea of what those Lorain kids sat through 48 years ago at the Palace.

Sterling Holloway is the narrator, Arnold Stang is the mustachioed Lulipopol, and I believe Jonathan Winters is the pig character.