Friday, August 30, 2013

Hickory Tree Grange Hall in Amherst - Part 2

Here is Part 2 of the article about the old Hickory Tree Grange, written by June Alexander. It ran in the Lorain Journal on Friday, July 2, 1954.

NEW ADDITION – A new kitchen will be located in the addition of a new
room. The present kitchen will be used as an anteroom.
The business men of Amherst patronized the Grange for non [sic] meals in 1913. These cost the diners 20 cents per meal. Money taken in helped to pay rent on the hall. During World War I this unit also assisted in purchasing Bibles for sailors and soldiers.

Maple sugar suppers were introduced to the public in 1922 and the Grange walked off with a $75 prize at the Lorain County Fair. Several other prizes have been won for displays at the fair, some running to $100.

In the 1920's an active Junior Grange was formed.

At one time the group put on a minstrel show. The men worked different shifts and each time the show was presented a different cast participated.

An item of special interest was brought to light when it was discovered in 1912 six members of the Cotton family served as officers of Hickory Tree Grange. E. F. Cotton was master; George Cotton, overseer; Lydia Cotton, chaplain; Leon Cotton, treasurer; Luella Cotton, Pomona and E. F. Cotton, chorister.

Another disclosed that the Grange building at one time furnished a home for C. A. Alexander and his family while their home on S. Lake was being built. Thus the building has been a school, private dwelling and a meeting place for the Grange.

Today, the Hickory Tree Grange is part of the Sandstone Museum Center. Here is a link to its page on the Amherst Historical Society website.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hickory Tree Grange Hall in Amherst - Part 1

HICKORY TREE GRANGE HALL – Located on Milan Ave., the building
was purchased in 1925 by the grange. Many hours of hard work went into
preparing the hall for a meeting place for the organization. It was wired for
electricity and piped for water.
As you probably noticed, I don't write too much about Amherst on this blog – mainly because I don't know too much about the history of that fine city, nor do I visit it very often.

I do head to Amherst once a week for a workout with my personal trainer. But with North Lake Street closed for weeks (because of the work being done to the railroad bridge), I've had to find another way through that area – and one route takes me right by the old Hickory Tree Grange located on Milan Avenue.

I've wondered for a long time about the Grange, and about the history of that building as well. That's why I was happy to find the article below and am posting it here. It was written by June Alexander and ran in the Lorain Journal on Friday, July 2, 1954.

Here's Part 1 of 2.


Grange Founded Under Hickory Tree Is Named After Meeting Place

AMHERST – The old stone school house on Milan Ave. now the home of Hickory Tree Grange is undergoing a remodeling program with a room being added to the rear.

This building, a landmark in Amherst, was purchased by the Grange in 1925. At that time the members of the Grange, men and women, spent many hours in preparing the building for a meeting place for the Patrons of Husbandry. The hall was cleaned thoroughly, wired for electricity and piped for water and an ante-room and kitchen added to the back. It is this room, which is currently being extended to include the kitchen while the present kitchen is to be used as an ante-room.

Organized in 1874
Hickory Tree Grange was organized under a large hickory tree in front of the home of the late Elmer Cotton. The tree, the historic mark of Hickory Tree Grange, was cut down to make way for road improvements leading to Amherst and Elyria. Mr. Cotton at that time had two very find gavels made from the wood of the tree. These were presented to the Grange as a symbol of its beginning.

The National Grange had been incorporated in 1873 and John Ficht of Fremont was the nearest deputy. He was asked to meet with a group at a little red brick school west of Elyria and N. J. Cotton was chosen as master.

Shortly after organizing, Hickory Tree Grange combined forces with Carlisle Grange, also a new grange, in a grocery store venture with John King, Carlisle's master as its manager. The business prospered for a few years until a difference of opinion broke up the "company" and Hickory Tree Grange became dormant until 1896.

Mr. Cotton who spearheaded the original organization roused enthusiasm among the members and Hickory Tree Grange once more became an active group. The reorganization meeting was held at the little red school house on Jaeger Rd., two miles north of Amherst. Later that year the group moved to the K.O.T.M. Hall as the membership had grown to 171.

Encourage Pest Hunts
Among the early activities of the organization was the killing of sparrows which were becoming pests. The Grange sponsored a contest and cash prizes were awared. The selling of farm commodities became a feature and business thrived at each meeting. 1906 was a good year, according to an early history, for many socials, oyster suppers and ice cream socials were held at the hall and at private homes of the members.

In 1910 the group went on record as favoring parcel post and rural police on a local level and "The League of Nations." Much correspondence was sent to senators and congressmen expressing the group's approval of these measures.

Tomorrow: Part 2 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

1953 Midway Drive-In Ad Campaign for Oh Boy

A few days ago I mentioned that I enjoyed my usual Midway Oh Boy out at the Lorain County Fair over the weekend. Well, over the weekend, an anniversary related to this iconic double-decker sandwich quietly came and went.

It was on Tuesday, August 25, 1953 – sixty years ago this past Sunday – when something special appeared in the Chronicle-Telegram. Mixed in with the radio and television news and movie ads on page 4 was a small boxed ad (below).

That's all it said: Oh Boy!

It was followed by another ad about a week later, on Monday, August 31, 1953. This one was a little more descriptive (below).

The "An Eaten Treat That Can't Be Beat" ad continued to run during September. I'm not exactly sure how long readers were kept waiting and wondering when Oh Boy would arrive.

Eventually, the teaser campaign came to a close and it was time for the big reveal. Thus this ad (below) appeared in the Chronicle on October 30, 1953.

Check out the price: 50 cents!

So there you have it – the advertising campaign that launched Lorain County's most beloved sandwich. Sixty years later, it's still being served up on Lake Avenue and is as popular as ever.

Here's hoping that the sandwich and the restaurant are both around for another sixty years!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Skyline East Ad – July 7, 1962

Here's an ad I never thought I'd see: one for the Skyline East housing development. The ad ran in the Journal on July 7, 1962 – 51 years ago last month.

The ad kind of fits in nicely with all of the early 60s Grand Opening ads for Lorain west side businesses I've featured last week on the blog.

The Skyline East area came into being because a horse farm (the Louis Hait Stables) kept it from connecting up with W. 35th Street. By the 1970s the farm was gone, and the two streets connected.

You might remember that back here I had done a whole series of blogs about growing up on East Skyline Drive. This ad seems to add some weight to the argument that there was a very big distinction made between the homes on the west side of Leavitt and those (like ours) on the east.

Strangely enough, the map doesn't even show Skyline East connecting up with Skyline Drive across Leavitt. (Maybe that was to make those uppity Skyline West people happy!) The map's not quite to scale either, and Marshall Avenue isn't even labeled. Palm Springs Drive isn't on there either.

It's also strange that the map shows Skyline East extending all the way to Leavitt Road. For a few years after we moved in, the road from our house to Leavitt was a dirt road, and I remember that we had to approach our house from the east.

The ad mentions that Skyline East offered Early American homes in a variety of styles. I guess that meant that there was an eagle plaque mounted on the outside of the house.

Anyway, here's a link to a short article examining why Early American was popular in the 1950s and 60s.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The County Fair/Miss Victory

Ever notice how real pigs look nothing like cartoon pigs?
Well, it was another great Lorain County Fair. The spouse and I made it out there on Friday night, and the weather was perfect for one of my favorite days of the year.

Also perfect were our Rutana's Hot Apple Dumplings – the best we've ever had at the fair. In fact, the dumplings were so fresh, hot and delicious that we decided to add them to our "best ever" list.

For dinner, I enjoyed my usual Midway Oh Boy, while the spouse traitorously opted for a stromboli for the second year in a row. Fortunately, she couldn't finish it, so Ol' Vacuum (me) finished it off.

We walked around the whole fair at least three or four times. I still get a kick out of examining the artwork for the banners of the International Palace of Illusion (below).

Back in 1976 when I spent a few weeks at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus as a member of the All-Ohio State Fair Band, I saw a few of these same freak (is it politically correct to call it that?) shows. One of them I remember was the woman with the body of a large snake. She looked ludicrous, and I'm ashamed to admit that a bunch of us band members acted like wise-guys, heckling the poor performer. To her credit, she ignored us completely to keep the illusion alive.
Anyway, here are a few more sights from the 2013 Lorain County Fair.
Good to see Captain Frosty was there at the Fair as usual!
Now that's what I call "togetherness."

Miss Victory is Armed Again!
A week and a half ago, Loraine Ritchey (of That Woman's Weblog) tipped me off to something big-big-BIG!
She told me that plans were in the works for the statue of Miss Victory down at the little park at West Erie and Fifth Street to get her sword and palm fronds back, thanks to the efforts of Buckeye Sheet Metal and the Lorain Elks.
So, on Saturday while crisscrossing Lorain on my usual jaunts, I noticed some activity at the park (at left). The scaffolding surrounding Miss Liberty confirmed what Loraine said.   
I drove by a few times in mid-afternoon to check their progress, and on my final drive-by an hour or so later, I was able to see the almost-finished result. 
Miss Victory didn't have her palm fronds yet, but it was sure nice to see her once again brandishing a sword.

But I still don't know who put up the original Big V – or when! Anybody got any ideas?!?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Super's Sohio Grand Opening Ad – Aug. 17, 1956

Here's yet another Grand Opening ad for a business on Oberlin Avenue dating back from the early days of the development and growth of the west side of Lorain. This ad ran on August 17, 1956 in the Lorain Journal and announced the opening of Super's Sohio Service, which was located on the northwest corner of Meister Road and Oberlin Avenue.

Like all 1950s Lorain service station Grand Openings, this one featured free tumblers too!

The date of this ad is of particular interest to me, because I'm still trying to locate information about the old Neuman farmhouse (at left) that was moved a few hundred feet to make way for this service station. At least I know the service station was there by summer of 1956 – so the house was moved before then.

Before the service station opened, the Neuman family had already moved to a brick house further down Meister to the west. Unfortunately, I have been unable so far to find a newspaper article or photo of the old farmhouse being moved.

I wrote about all this about a year ago (here). Since then, I have looked through several years of mid-1950s newspaper microfilm trying to find something – to no avail.

So once again, if any of you have any ideas about all this, please be sure to post a comment!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lorain Plaza A&P Opens – August 1960

Just four days after the Grand Opening ad for the First Federal Savings Oberlin Avenue branch appeared in the Lorain Journal, this full-page ad was featured. It promoted the Grand Opening of the brand new A&P at the Lorain Plaza. (Notice how the ad says Oberlin Road instead of Oberlin Avenue!)

It's fascinating how much hoopla the event generated back then and how many incentives the store offered to get you to drop in. $430 of food certificates were given away, and special prizes were awarded that included radios, cameras, hair dryers, bicycles, coffee makers, waffle makers, toasters and scales. Hundreds of other free gifts were distributed, including Jane Parker angel food cakes, boxes of Jack Frost sugar and jars of Ann Page salad dressing. Non-food gifts included balloons, measuring glasses, plastic rain hats and key chains.

Does any supermarket chain do anything like that nowadays when they open a new store?

The new A&P boasted air conditioning, moving belt checkouts, wide aisles, automatic doors, decorations and wide selections of meat and frozen foods.

My mother shopped at that Oberlin Avenue A&P, and I remember being in there at a very young age. (One of the particularly friendly checkout women used to comment on my chubby cheeks to my mother!) I also remember the gum ball machines at the exit and the tiny charms, toys and prizes (such as miniature trolls).

Ann Page products – A&P's house brand – also filled the shelves of Mom's pantry, especially spices and preserves.

Who would have thought that more than 50 years after that store opened on Oberlin Avenue, A&P would be pretty much kaput as a chain – not only in Lorain but all over the country?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First Federal Grand Opening – August 13, 1960

Here's an ad celebrating the Grand Opening of the brand new Main Office of First Federal Savings and Loan on Oberlin Avenue in Lorain.
The ad ran in the Journal on August 12, 1960 – 53 years ago this month.

It must have been exciting times back then as the west side of Lorain began to explode south of Meister Road with new residents, schools, shopping plazas and businesses.  It was really the only place Lorain could expand back then, and First Federal wisely decided to move their main office to where all the action was.

My parents were loyal customers of First Federal. They financed the two homes that they built there, and opened savings accounts for my siblings and me.

I still bank at the Oberlin Avenue branch (below) about once a week as part of my Saturday morning ritual. It's a handsome building, and I love its simplicity of design.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Death Waits for the Careless Driver - August 1955

Here's another ghoulish public service ad (that seem to appear on this blog regularly) starring none other than Death himself. This time, though, the creepy phantom isn't warning you to avoid drinking and driving; the theme here is back-to-school safety – specifically, kids crossing the street while on the way to and from school.

The ad appeared in the Lorain Journal on August 17, 1955. (It must have been a two-page spread since I only have the businesses listed from A-L – sorry!)

It's a pretty effective ad that packs an emotional wallop. Despite the ad's age, its theme is timeless and more appropriate than ever in today's era of cell phones and texting.

School is back in session in many parts of Lorain County. Let's all be careful out there!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Goodbye, Masson School

I took a detour on Saturday morning to see what was going on over at Masson School. Earlier this year the school system had indicated that it was next on the list for the wrecking ball (or more accurately, the bulldozer).

Sure enough, there was a fence around the whole complex (above) – the elementary school portion as well as the former junior high part. The building has already been stripped of most of the windows.

So I poked my camera through the fence for some shots (below).

It was a strange sight.

This "Exit Only" sign at the former entrance to the parking lot really drove home the point that times had changed in Lorain.

I'm pretty much emotionally detached from Lorain these days. The Lorain of my youth is long gone, never to return, and I just shrug my shoulders at school demolition sites while I take my pictures. But I have a lot of good memories of Masson, and I still have more in common with my Masson classmates than anyone I've met since those school days long ago.

Friday, August 16, 2013

When the Falls were shut off – Summer 1969

Like I mentioned yesterday, we made one last family trip to Niagara Falls during the summer of 1969. It was a special once-in-a-lifetime occasion, because the American Falls were "turned off." (It was such a big event we even brought along Grandma to see it.)

From the middle of June until the end of November that year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers diverted the flow of water over the American Falls so that erosion could be studied to determine if the rock formations at the base could be removed to improve the appearance. It was ultimately decided that the best thing to do was let nature take its course, because the huge pile of rocks may well be holding everything up.

It was a weird thing to see and something I'll never forget.

Here's the view from Prospect Point.

If this sort of thing is interesting to you, here's some more photos on the NBC News Photo Blog website.

Well, thanks for letting me indulge myself this week with my nostalgic look at Niagara Falls. Next week, I'll return to my normal Lorain County topics!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

1963 and 1967 Visits to Niagara Falls

I didn't realize it until recently, but it turns out my recent visit to Niagara Falls was the 50th anniversary of my family's first trip there in 1963 – which was a nice coincidence.

Above is one of the photos from the family photo album, obviously taken from the world-famous Maid of the Mist. (Looks like one of us kids was enlisted to label the photo; it wasn't me, because I was only four.)

Here's a shot of two of my siblings and me on Maid of the Mist (below). Being the middle brother, I'm appropriately in the middle.

I don't know when the company that operates the boats stopped providing the rubber raincoats. It's too bad, because they were very effective. Now you just get a blue plastic disposable one that I'm assuming very few people bother to dry out and keep as a souvenir.

Anyway, that first family trip to the Falls in 1963 left a big impression on me, mainly because of that boat ride. We also stopped a few years later (below), while on the way to Expo 67 at Montreal.

That's the Skylon Tower in the background, which had just opened in 1965.
My parents took us one more time to the Falls in the 1960s – when the American Falls were shut off.

Tomorrow: The Falls all dried up

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

1951 Niagara Falls Handy Guide

I picked up this 1951 Niagara Falls Handy Guide a few years ago somewhere, and always bring it up to the Falls with me for a touch of nostalgia. The guide does focus a little more on the American side (which I haven't visited in years), but does include a section on the Canadian side almost as an afterthought.

The book is interesting to me because it captures the Falls and the surrounding area at a time shortly before a lot of change began to take place.

Probably the most interesting thing in the guide is the photo of the American Falls (below).

Within a few years, its look would change forever – thanks to nature, as well as the United States and Canada eventually diverting most of the water to power plants on both sides of the river.

On July 28, 1954, the largest rockfall ever recorded at Niagara Falls took place near Prospect Point. A section that was 360 feet long and 130 feet wide fell, adding a considerable amount of debris below the Falls.

Compare the view above with a photo I shot during my recent visit (below). The difference is shocking.

The Handy Guide includes several other black and white photos showing the part of Prospect Point that would later tumble into the river gorge below.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Niagara Falls Then & Now: Cadillac Motel

Vintage postcard of the Cadillac Motel in Niagara Falls, Canada
I've never stayed at the Cadillac Motel in Niagara Falls, Canada, but we've passed it many times on the way to our favorite restaurant, Swiss Chalet. I love the stylized motel sign that is only vaguely suggestive of the real Cadillac logo.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a very interesting sky on the day that I was out shooting. Plus, the motel is on a busy street and it was a real challenge to get a shot without a vehicle or a pedestrian in the middle of the photo.

It doesn't look like too much about the motel has changed, except for the monstrous shrubs and the addition of a new old-time street light. It also looks like the neon sign might be out of commission, judging by the spotlights mounted above it.

Many of the online reviews about the Cadillac Motel describe it as a real retro experience. To visit its website, click here.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Niagara Falls Then & Now: The Refectory

To keep my summer vacation theme going for a few days, I'm posting a few 'then and now' shots that I took while up in Niagara Falls, Canada, last week.

1952 Refectory Menu
I saw this 1953 postcard (above) of the Refectory Restaurant on Ebay before we went up to the Falls and knew it would be an easy "then and now" subject to shoot as we would pass it many times during our stay. It faces the Falls.
The back of the postcard reads, "Dining at the famous Refectory Restaurant situated amid the gardens and beautiful trees and within a view of the Falls is a treat to be anticipated with pleasure by every visitor to the Niagara Parks. The restaurant is one of the three owned and operated by the Niagara Parks Commission."

An online timeline of the Niagara Parks reveals that the restaurant was built in 1904, and replaced an earlier version built in 1860. It also explains that the word 'refectory' refers to the room used for meals in a monastery.

Here's a link to a page on the Niagara Falls Public Library website about some ghostly goings-on at the restaurant. There's also some great vintage photos of the place through the years.

Anyway, here is my "now" shot of the restaurant (below), which is now apparently known as Edgewaters Restaurant.

The restaurant has been expanded and modified many times in its more than hundred years of existence. That's part of the Skylon Tower visible in the background.

Here's a link to the restaurant's website.

Monday, August 5, 2013

It's Vacation Time for this Blogger!

Part of my vintage Canadiana collection
Yes, it's time once again for this blogger to take a break for a week as I am now officially on vacation. Although I'll still be in the area for most of the week, the spouse and I will sneak in a quick trip to Canada (her native country) for a few days to see the Falls.

Niagara Falls is one of those places I never tire of. It's practically a religious experience to gaze at the Falls. Plus, there's a lot of fun things to do on Clifton Hill, eh?

We also stock up on Canadian groceries while we're there too (such as Billy Bee Honey, Kraft Peanut Butter and peameal bacon). Sometimes the U. S. Customs agents think we just went up there to go to the Metro grocery store.

(A couple of years ago, they searched our car thoroughly and saw the several jars of Kraft Peanut Butter – the spouse's favorite – in our trunk. "Don't they have peanut butter where you live?" one of them sneered. "Not with teddy bears on the label," I cheerfully replied. I'm lucky I didn't get strip-searched!)

Anyway, please stop back in a week when I resume my normal blogging schedule.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Demolition Ball to Take Aim at St. Joe's

Well, for all you out of towners (or in case you missed it), it's finally official. Soon the view above will be a thing of the past, and another familiar site in Lorain will meet with the wrecking ball.
The oldest portion of the St. Joseph Community Center – formerly St. Joseph's Hospital – will be torn down along with several other sections of the complex. Up until now, local news reports had been a little vague as to what part of the complex would be torn down.

An article by Evan Goodenow published in the Chronicle-Telegram on Tuesday reported on the plan "to demolish 140,000-square feet of the approximately 300,000-square foot center to reduce cooling and heating costs and attract new tenants."

The C-T article noted that demolition will occur in October or November and be completed by the spring of 2014.

It's interesting to see how much of Lorain has been demolished, is planned to be demolished, or may potentially be demolished.

I think the kids goofed when they picked the Lorain Titans as the new name of the high school sports teams.

The Lorain Wrecking Crew would have been much more appropriate.