Friday, June 28, 2013

1924 Lorain Tornado Headlines

Well, today is the 89th anniversary of the infamous 1924 Lorain Tornado, and I thought it might be interesting to look at the front page of the local newspapers to see how it was reported.

As we all know, the tornado struck on a Saturday afternoon, so it wasn't reported in the newspapers until Monday, June 30, 1924.

Above is the front page of the Lorain Times-Herald. Unfortunately, the newspaper that was used for the Lorain Public Library's microfilm looks like it went through the tornado as well.

I had better luck with the front page of the Chronicle-Telegram from the same day.

Click on each for a larger, readable view.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

John Bober's Sohio Grand Opening – June 30, 1956

June 29, 1956 Lorain Journal ad
Gee, this week sure is full of Grand Opening ads on this blog.

Here's a business you might be familiar with: John Bober's Sohio Service, which celebrated its Grand Opening on June 30, 1956. It was located on the northwest corner of Colorado Avenue and Root Road.

As usual in these vintage gas station grand opening ads, tumblers are the free gift of choice.

It's kinda sad that you don't see too many full-service gas stations any more, especially any with one, visible owner that you could get to know and trust. In fact, I can't think of any full-service stations off the top of my head.

It's funny how everyone has their favorite brand of gas. In our house while I was growing up, Sohio ruled for many years; maybe it was because of the all-important Sohio charge card that we often used on our cross-country family camping trips. (Remember how the back of the card showed all the related Standard Oil service stations that you could also charge gas at?) Later, Sunoco was the gasoline of choice for my parents.

But now more than ever, it's all about the price, and loyalty to one brand is pretty much a thing of the past.

Anyway, John Bober's Sohio continued to show up in the city directories until the 1974 book, when the station was renamed Szabo Sohio Service. By the time of the 1975 book, it was Joe's Garage.

Within a few years, the building had left the world of automobiles behind and was repurposed for the selling of things that grow. It was Country Boy Market in the 1980 book, and Spike's Farm Market from the 1981 directory until around '83 or '84.

By 1985 the building housed the Garden Basket, and from '86 to '88, the Flower Corner called the location home.

Very briefly, the address was home to Zinn Refrigeration in the 1991 book, and then it was Linda's Lighthouse Floral in the '93 and '94 books. After that, there was no directory listing at all for several years.

A new travel complex (gas, convenient store and Blue Diamond car wash) was built in the late 1990s, with a Taco Maker restaurant first appearing in the directory in 1999. Within a few years, however, Taco Maker took a siesta and was replaced by popular Burger King, which remains there to this day, much to the delight of Lorain East Siders.

Today, the busy Valero gas station complex at the eastern gateway to Lorain continues the long tradition of services related to automobile care at that corner.



Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Super Kream Grand Opening – June 26, 1954

June 25, 1954 Lorain Journal ad
As a Lorain West Sider, I didn't get out to South Lorain too muc, except for when my mother took us shopping at Hill's Department Store or Pic-way Shoe Mart. But I'm sure you old-timers from that part of town will remember the store in the ad above: Super Kream.

The ice cream stand was located on the northeast corner of Grove Ave. (Route 57) and E. 31st Street, and had its Grand Opening exactly 59 years ago today.

According to the city directories, it seemed to survive at 3029 Grove Avenue until around 1966, when it apparently became Hanna's Drive-in. But the following year, it appears that a brand new Lawson's replaced it.

The Lawson's store and a Sohio service station co-existed on that corner until the 1990s. By then, the Lawson's had become a Dairy Mart. But the Dairy Mart disappeared from the directory after its address was listed as a 'no return' in 1992 and as 'not verified' in the 1993 book.

Today a massive BP station and store sit on the spot with no evidence that Super Kream ever was there. But I'm sure Super Kream lives on in the memories of the neighborhood kids who enjoyed the refreshing treats served up there from 1954 to 1965 or so.

I'm guessing Super Kream was located just north of the current BP station at Grove and E. 31st 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Club Carousel Grand Opening – June 25, 1961

Private swim clubs used to be big in Lorain County back in the 1960s and 70s. If you were a Lorainite, you probably were a member of the Riviera Swim Club on Oberlin Avenue.

But there was another one out in Sheffield Village on Lake Breeze Road: Club Carousel, which apparently got its name from the colorful and distinctive design of its building.

The ad above appeared in the Lorain Journal on June 23, 1961 to announce the club's Grand Opening two days later.
It's interesting that the club referred to itself in the ad as a "family country club."

I noticed the name of fellow Black River Historical Society member Burton Nesbitt in with the contractor and supplier listings. You may recognize someone in there as well.

One of the guests at the Grand Opening was Dick Korman, who according to the ad "walked Lake Erie." What was that all about? According to a January 29, 1985 article in the Boca Raton News, Dick Korman performed his "walking on water" stunt while teaching in Cleveland in the 1960s. He donned long hollow shoes and "trotted from a boat to a Lake Erie pier among cheers and flashbulbs and a back somersault." Korman was also said to be a "phenomenal swimmer and performer."

I talked to the spouse about Club Carousel a bit. As a Sheffield Laker while growing up, she had a membership at the club during a summer or two, and also went there other years as a guest with a good friend who had a membership.

Sadly, the swim club closed a few years ago and is currently for sale (click here to visit its listing on the Howard Hanna website). The adjacent Breezewood Party Center is also available for purchase.

For many years the Club Carousel property had been the home of the very popular Haunted Forest of Carousel attraction, which celebrated its 31st anniversary in 2012.

The swim club property on Lake Breeze today

Monday, June 24, 2013

Model Home Ad – June 24, 1954

Here's yet another vintage model home ad.

Aladdin kit home at 1405 W. Erie
This ad, which ran in the Lorain Journal on June 24, 1954 – 59 years ago today – is an interesting one because the C. Stewart model house pictured is located right next to a housing landmark: the stately Aladdin kit home (at left) known as the "Villa" (which I wrote about here and here).

I like the C. Stewart advertising mascot; he looks like Egghead in the old 1930s Warner Brothers cartoons.

Today the C. Stewart model home still looks great and is obviously well taken care of. Unfortunately, some trees and a pole get in the way of getting the identical shot as in the vintage ad.


Lorain's World War II Monument Forgotten Again

The scene on Sunday; kudos to whoever mowed the grass and trimmed the shrubs
It was disappointing to read the article in Saturday's Morning Journal entitled, "Marine memorial to be relocated because of theft attempts." It was bad enough to read that one of the two monuments on Henderson Drive was almost vandalized and that both may be relocated, but it was made even worse by the fact that the story contained inaccuracies.

The article referred to the two monuments collectively as "a memorial site in tribute to fallen Lorain Marines" and states that "the site honors Lofton R. Henderson, a U.S. Marine Corps naval aviator from Lorain who died during battle in WWII." It also refers to the older of the two monuments as "the marker that honors Lofton."

In actuality, the older monument erected by Lorain's City Club honors all those from the city of Lorain who died in World War II. The monument – originally dedicated on Memorial Day, 1947 – reads, "THIS AVENUE OF TREES IS DEDICATED AS A TRIBUTE TO THOSE FROM THE CITY OF LORAIN WHO LOST THEIR LIVES IN WORLD WAR II."

(I wrote all about the monument's history here.)

It was originally on the other side of Henderson Drive. But cars kept hitting it, so it was moved to the west side of the road. During the 1950s the monument was neglected, causing an outcry in the community. The city finally cleaned up the memorial site.

Now, in 2013, the World War II monument – dedicated more than 65 years ago and of such emotional impact that a Lorain mother who lost two sons in the war flung herself to the ground in front of it at its dedication – isn't even maintained by the city any more.

The monuments don't need to be relocated. They need to be enhanced.

There needs to be a sign or marker or plaque explaining it all; why the bridge and the drive are named for Major Lofton Henderson; what he did to deserve a tribute; how many Lorainites lost their lives in World War II.

The monuments need to be lit and secure. There needs to be parking so if someone wants to see the monuments, they can safely get in and out of the area. It really needs to be a small park – preferably with some sycamores (the "avenue of trees" referred to on the monument) planted nearby. It could and should be a tourist attraction, another stop on a possible Lorain World War II Trail. After all, what other city – in addition to sending its young men and women off to war – also contributed not only the Admiral of the whole fleet, but numerous war heroes and battleships? The World War II era was Lorain's finest hour.

But I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for anything to happen.

So the markers will probably end up somewhere else, thus weakening the whole historical backdrop for naming the bridge and drive after Major Henderson in the first place.

By the way, did anyone besides me notice that Henderson Drive is misnamed on its nearby sign?


Friday, June 21, 2013

Keeping Cool in 1954


Although today is only the first day of summer, it's already been hot enough a few times during the spring to turn on the ol' AC. Even we've had it on already a couple of times – and if you've read this blog for a while, you know how much the spouse dislikes air conditioning.

But back in June 1954 – when the above ad ran in the Lorain Journal – most people didn't have air conditioning yet. Thus it was necessary to use a fan like the one our old pal Reddy Kilowatt is pampering the guy with in the ad to keep cool.

I've already mentioned in this blog (here) how we used these fans in our bedroom when we were kids in the 1960s. (I'm still surprised we didn't have a gruesome accident with one of these things.)

Strangely enough, the Westinghouse appliance brand was eventually spun off the main company according to this Wiki entry. Here is the website, and although you can no longer purchase a brand new Westinghouse tabletop fan like that in the vintage ad, you can still purchase a Westinghouse brand ceiling fan for that retro feeling.

And speaking of Westinghouse, we bought a Westinghouse digital TV last year. So whenever I turn it on, I get to see the classic Paul Rand-designed logo (at left) for a few seconds.

We graphic designers (and I use the term loosely) are into these kinds of things.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lake Breeze Welcomes You – May 1927

Here's yet another vintage ad for the Lake Breeze area in Sheffield Lake, but this one goes waaaaay back – all the way to 1927 and the interurban days.

The full-page ad appeared in the Lorain Times-Herald on May 27, 1927 and announced the sale of lots by Sykes & Thompson. It read, "You can build a small home at Lake Breeze and live a lot cheaper than you can in the city. You and your family can enjoy the advantages of beautiful Lake Erie. Our private beach and bath house are at our disposal. You can have a garden if you like and raise fresh vegetables or flowers. Your wife can be healthy, happy and contented. Water, electric lights, good streets are available. You can get to your work by auto, bus or interurban and the assured electrification of the Nickle Plate R.R. will in a short time bring this section as close to Cleveland as Lakewood now is."

The ad also make a direct appeal to investors, stating, "The rapid growth of Cleveland, the scarcity of lake shore property and the very strategic location of Lake Breeze assure a rapid rise in value. Lake Breeze lies in bottle neck between Lorain and Cleveland. Five main highways and two forms of rapid transit are assured of passing directly THROUGH it. Excellent interurban and bus service available, both stopping at Lake Breeze. It will not be long until the outskirts of Cleveland reach the outskirts of Lorain and the two cities will merge in just the same manner as it did in Collinwood and Lakewood and as it is now doing in Euclid and Bay Village. Lots purchased today will double and treble in value in a short time. Will you be one of the fortunate ones?"

The ad is interesting in that it is a veritable snapshot of Sheffield Lake at the very beginning of the process of evolving from a dairy farm community to a bedroom community.

Some of the predictions obviously never came true. But the ad does help explain why much of Sheffield Lake is the way it is today – full of very small lots with small homes on them, but nevertheless close to the lake (and far from the big city), enabling its residents (like me) to enjoy a laid-back lifestyle with country charm.

****
For more information about the evolution of the Lake Breeze area, I suggest you join the Sheffield Village Historical Society. The current issue of its full-color journal – The Village Pioneer – spotlights the history of Lake Breeze Road. The incredibly well-researched story contains amazing vintage photographs of some of the early farms and homes that any lover of local history won't want to miss.

And membership is only ten bucks a year!

For membership information, contact Eddie Herdendorf, President at (440) 934-1514 or email him at herdendorf@aol.com.

And in the meantime, drop by Drew Penfield's Lake Shore Rail Maps website to read more about the history of Sheffield Lake in the interurban days.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lake Breeze House of Harmony – 1955

When it came to housing developments in Sheffield Lake, the Lake Breeze area was where the action was in the late 1950s and early 60s.

Yesterday I posted a 1960 ad sponsored by Ohio Edison that spotlighted a model home in Lake Breeze Estates that had all the latest in General Electric built-in appliances. Well, in the interest of equal time, here's an ad (above) for an all gas home – nicknamed the House of Harmony. The all gas home was part of the Lake Breeze Manor development.

The ad ran in the Lorain Journal on August 1955. It was actually a follow-up ad. A few days earlier, a full-page spread in the newspaper announced the premiere showing of the House of Harmony on August 14, 1955. It was to be the first of 60 new 3 bedroom ranches.

Price tag for the home was $14,950.

The developers even had a celebrity to cut the ribbon to the model home: Miss Vacationland for 1955, Miss Delcie Hall. She was assisted by Mayor Sidney Jordan.

Anyway, I was able to locate the House of Harmony (and its sibling homes) on Lake Breeze fairly easily, thanks to the map in the ad and information on the Lorain County Auditors website.

Here's my shot from late last fall. It's still a nice house in a nice neighborhood.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Lake Breeze Estates Ad – June 4, 1960

I saw this ad for Lake Breeze Estates in the June 4, 1960 edition of the Lorain Journal and knew I had to post it. It had all the ingredients to catch my interest: a vintage housing development, a bit of Sheffield Lake history and our old pal Reddy Kilowatt.

It's interesting seeing the electric and gas utility companies duke it out in these old ads. Reddy must have won a lot of the battles in Sheffield Lake, because both the spouse's childhood home on Hollywood as well as my apartment on Irving Park both had electric heat.

I like the Lake Breeze Estates logo, although it's vaguely reminiscent of the well-known BirdsEye frozen foods logo.

Note that Lake Breeze was still designed State Route 301 at the time of this ad (before the state route designation was moved over to Abbe Road to the east).

By the way, I drove up and down Lake Breeze several times trying to find this house to photograph it. I'll be doggoned if I know where it is.

Monday, June 17, 2013

June 17, 1954 P.O.C. Pilsener Beer ad

Here's a great ad for Cleveland favorite P.O.C. Pilsener Beer that ran in the Lorain Journal on June 17, 1954 – 59 years ago today.

I don't know the name of the advertising mascot but he reminds me of the old Cleveland TV kid's show host Franz the Toymaker.

The mascot was even featured on bar signs for the popular brew. (The image at left is from the Vintage Cleveland Tumblr blog – pay it a visit and click through the various pages to see some more great Cleveland images.)

P.O.C. was popular in Lorain, and ran a lot of ads in the local newspaper. I featured it here on the blog last year as well.

Anyway, whoever the Bavarian Alpine hat-wearing mascot is, he was part of a whole wave of 1950s cartoon beer mascots, including Bert & Harry Piel (for Piels Beer) and the Hamm's Beer Bear.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Vintage Father's Day Ads

Well, Father's Day is just a few days away, so here are a few vintage ads tied in with that holiday.

The first one (above) is a Hart's Jewelry Co. ad that appeared in the Lorain Journal on June 17, 1954. It shows what a lucky father back in 1954 might have looked forward to seeing on his big day.

No, I'm not talking about the Marilyn Monroe look-alike, I mean the Shavex.

What, you've never heard of a Shavex?
I hadn't either. According to ads, Shavex was a power unit that converted "ordinary household alternating current into a special form of smooth direct current that all electric shaver motors thrive on." It was also a product of the Bing Crosby Research Institute – so maybe the blonde in the ad was an actress friend of Der Bingle. (Anyone know who it is?)

And here's another Father's Day-themed ad (below). It's for Brady's Restaurant and ran in the Lorain Journal on June 14, 1958. 

It shows what a father really wants for Father's Day: steak and pie!

I love the enthusiastic expression on the chef's face.

Anyway, Happy Father's Day to all you fathers out there – especially my two brothers.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Holiday Inn Motel – Part 4

The Holiday Inn Motel as seen on a vintage postcard recently on Ebay
Eventually, having the identical name as the national motel chain became a problem for the Holiday Inn Motel on U.S. 6 between Lorain and Vermilion.

The Holiday Inn Motel did continue to show up in the Lorain phone book through the November 1969 edition. But by the early 1970s, the motel had become the Holiday Apartments. The restaurant also received a new name: the Holiday Steak House.

Why? Well, Brian Finley recalled that Frank Konik – his step-father's father – had become "entangled with the other Holiday Inn."

"He settled with the corporate boys & changed the name to simply "Holiday" and left the Inn part out. The restaurant was the Holiday Steak House, which my step-father operated until late 1974," stated Finley.

While the Holiday Apartments name lasted well into the 1990s, the Holiday Steak House received a new name around 1978: Friar Tuck's. It became Our Place around 1980.

By the early 2000s, the Holiday Apartments name disappeared from directory listings. At some point after that, the property became the McKenzie Woods apartment complex.

Today the McKenzie Woods sign is down (literally on the ground) and the place seems deserted (below).

The same view as the vintage postcard
But for many years, it was an oasis for weary travelers along Routes 6 & 2, as well as many of the hardworking contractors who built the Lorain Ford Plant.

Special thanks to Brian Finley for his help with this post.

****
I made many a visit out to the former motel property since the first week of April trying to get some good photos for this post. That's one reason the post was delayed for so long – I kept driving out there at different times of the day trying to get the best lighting.

Another reason I delayed this post is that I didn't have a good scan of the vintage motel postcard until three days ago, when one was emailed to me out of the blue by ex-Lorainite history buff (and postcard collector) Paula Shorf. (Thanks again, Paula!)

Anyway, here are some more photos of the former Holiday Inn Motel and Restaurant, shot from early April through last weekend. It sure looked like a cozy place to stay in its heyday when it was a motel, or to live at when it was apartments.

And finally – one thing I neglected to mention in all this is the pioneer cemetery right next door to the east of the former motel property (below).

It deserves its own post (later), so I won't lump it in with the motel history. But I appreciate the emailed links about the cemetery sent to me by local archivist and historian Dennis Lamont and Bill N.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Holiday Inn Motel – Part 3


The history of the restaurant that was part of the Holiday Inn Motel property is as hard to research as that of the motel. (That's the restaurant in the photo at right visible behind the motel sign)

In the 1957 article in part 2 of this series yesterday, Richard Konik owned both the Holiday Inn Motel as well as the restaurant, which then was called the Holiday Inn Lounge.

But according to an article (below) in the June 12, 1954 Chronicle-Telegram, another gentleman originally owned and ran the business.

****
Former Meat Dealer Owns Restaurant Near Vermilion On Lake Rd.

Eight years ago Frank Kelsey interrupted his more than 30 years as a wholesale meat supplier for restaurants and stores to spend two years as owner of McGarvey's Restaurant in Vermilion. Now he has returned to the restaurant business with the opening of Holiday Inn on Lake Rd. near Vermilion.

From 1944 to 1946, while the United States was at war and meat was scarce, he and Mrs. Kelsey operated the McGarvey restaurant. Then when meat became more plentiful Kelsey returned to the business which included operation of the Tend-R-Lean Steak Co in Cleveland.

The Tend-R-Lean process was originated by Kelsey and owned exclusively by him from 1940 to 1953 when he had to leave the meat business because of his health.

The Kelseys were practically ready to close a deal for a restaurant being built in connection with Holiday Inn Motel on Routes 2 and 6, just west of Baumhardt Rd. The location seemed ideal to them and the lease was signed.

June 12, 1954 newspaper ad
The restaurant has been open for business for two weeks, although the grand opening is set for this week-end. It has a seating capacity of 75 and will be open every day. There is a staff of 14 at present but this will be doubled during the height of the season, Kelsey says.

Home baked pies are served. The pastry cook is Gussie Romandy, who for the past three seasons has been the cook at The Trade Winds Restaurant in Miami, Fla.

Mr. and Mrs. Kelsey live in Rocky River at present. Their son, William, is to graduate from Ohio University tomorrow and their daughter, Virginia Ann, who will follow her brother at Ohio U. was graduated from Rocky River High School Thursday.

****
Another article in the Chronicle-Telegram that appeared a few weeks later explained why a second grand opening for the restaurant was needed. The article below appeared in the paper on July 3, 1954.

****
Holiday Inn On Lake Rd. Announces Formal Opening This Weekend

A restaurant opening that turned out to be a hasty closing because of a kitchen fire, is scheduled for a second try.

July 3, 1954 newspaper ad
This week-end will be the formal opening of the new Holiday Inn on Lake Rd, east of Vermilion, its second in three weeks, according to Frank Kelsey, owner, who is hoping for better luck this time.

Actually the fire, which occurred three weeks ago, was not serious, resulting mostly in smoke damage, but it did force closing of the place for about four hours and many who came to attend the opening were turned away, Kelsey said.

The fire occurred when fat in the deep fryer broke into a blaze. The Vermilion fire department was called, but the fire was extinguished before they arrived.

Since that time the restaurant has been doing business, and incidentally giving out souvenirs which it had on hand for the first opening.

Now most of the souvenirs are gone, but the food is good as ever and, in the opinion of many early patrons, the best obtainable anywhere.

In Meat Business 30 Years
Mr. and Mrs. Kelsey are not new in the food and restaurant business. Kelsey for more than 30 years was engaged in the wholesale meat business, supplying restaurants and stores, and also operating a well-known Lake Rd. restaurant for two years, in which business his wife was an active associate.

The Holiday Inn is a beautiful new restaurant located just west of Baumhart Rd. and provided with every facility for preparing and serving food on a continuous basis.

Every restaurant has its specialties, however, and these for the new Holiday Inn are fish, chicken, and ham dinners and such tasty desserts as Lillian's cheese cake, which has a local reputation in the Vermilion area, and Bessie Romandy's apple and cocoanut cream pies and homemade rolls.

The restaurant has a seating capacity of 75 and is surrounded by a spacious parking area. A staff of 14 persons assures quick service during the serving hours from 8 a.m. to midnight seven days a week.

****
Curiously, by autumn the Holiday Inn restaurant had a new owner. An ad in the November 13, 1954 indicated that the owner was now Joe LaRocco.


But by the following October, the Holiday Inn restaurant was again for sale or lease.

The former Holiday Inn Restaurant today
Next: the rest of the story of the Holiday Inn Motel and Restaurant

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Holiday Inn Motel – Part 2

That's the Holiday Inn Motel at the bottom of the photo, with Baumhart Road and the Ford Plant at the top
(Photo Courtesy of the Black River Historical Society
)
The Holiday Inn Motel enjoyed a boom time of sorts when the Lorain Ford plant was built nearby in the late 1950s.

The motel and its owner are featured prominently in the article written by Dan J. Warner below, which appeared in The Chronicle-Telegram on February 11, 1957.

****
First 'Boom' Signs Appearing Now
New Ford Plant's Neighbors Anticipate Business Surge

By DAN J. WARNER

BROWNHELM – Tap, tap, tap. Itchy fingers are tapping grocery store counters, bars and motel office desks along Lake Rd. near the site of the new Ford Motor Co. assembly plant, waiting to beat the drums of business which are predicted to yield a loud and ever vibrating, boom, boom, boom.

Not one bar, tavern, grocery, service station or motel owner along an approximately five-mile sector of the road predicts anything but the loudest, biggest and most profitable echo of a boom that ever bounced from business place to business place.

How can they lose, they say, with some 1,500 construction workers moving in to build the large plant this spring and a maximum of 4,500 permanent workers moving in to run the plant when it is complete?

In one place, the fingers have already stopped tapping the counter and are busy hustling food and liquor to the some 100 construction workers who have already started working at the plant site.

Richard F. Konik, owner of the Holiday Inn Lounge and the Holiday Inn Motel, paused momentarily from serving thirsty customers at a crowded bar to tell a reporter that "business is booming."

And he wasn't kidding either. It was mid-afternoon, the "slow" time during the day, and empty glasses were piling up in front of him as quickly as he could fill others.

With a broad smile Konik said business at the Lounge had increased "two or three times" in the last several weeks and that he is going to have to build more units onto his motel to accommodate the increased demand for living space by the construction workers.

He said he has already made plans to add six efficiency units to his motel, which already houses some 78 workers. One section of the Motel has been rented to the O'Connor Construction Co. for office purposes. Its parking lot is constantly filled with cars bearing Indiana license plates, home state of the company.

In the restaurant and bar, Konik says he has been forced to add five additional employees to handle the increased business, which is heaviest during meal times.

Asked whether he thought business would continue to improve, Konik shrugged his shoulders, smiled and said, "I hope so."

Other established owners along Lake Rd., however, had a more definite optimistic view into the future.

Joseph Povich, owner of the Conestoga Tavern, paused from reading a paper in his empty tavern, to say he is expecting "big things."

The boom in business he is sure is coming, according to Pavich, after a summer when local establishments had practically no business due to repair work on Lake Rd and unseasonal weather.

Povich explained that most of the places along Lake Rd. depend on vacationers for most of their business and that last summer there was very little travel along the road due to construction.

The tavern, he said, will not be his only business venture to benefit from the new plant. He said he had purchased some real estate some time ago to be resold when things started booming. "And now it's coming," he said.

Trailer Camp is Full
Another busy businessman is Carl Johnson, owner of Johnson's Restaurant and Trailer Camp, who said that he has had 40 to 50 request for trailer space he can not fill.

Johnson also said that the restaurant has experienced some increased business as a result of construction work at the plant site. He plans to sell his places, now, while the price is high.

"It's getting to be too much work," he said simply.

Curly DeBracy, owner of DeBracy's Bar, an establishment which has only been open a month said he is expecting "a lot of business from the plant."

Curly admitted that he had the bar and short-order restaurant built onto his driving range as a result of the new plant.

Motel Business Up
"About a 10 per cent increase" in business was reported by Frank DeRose, owner of the Village Motel, who also predicted boom times.

"It's just starting now. It'll be great this spring," he said.

The other business owners, such as Mrs. Richard Kish, of Sunnyside Grocery and Motel, and Mrs. Ruth Winland, manager of Bohac's Mobile Home Court, all predict that business is going to boom and stay booming.

If the predictions come true, it looks as though this area of Lake Rd is no longer going to be "just for tourists."

Next: the Holiday Inn Restaurant

Monday, June 10, 2013

Holiday Inn Motel – Part 1

Continuing on my trip along the old Route 6 & 2 in search of long-gone businesses...

The Holiday Inn Motel (featured prominently in the 1950s Lorain promotional film) was just west of Baumhart Road on the south side of the street. Despite its name, it was a mom and pop motel with nothing to do with the well-known national chain.

What's the story behind the motel?

Fortunately, Brian Finley – a descendant of the man who started the motel – was kind enough to share some of his knowledge in a posted comment on this blog.

"My step-father's father was the guy behind the Holiday Inn," he wrote. "His name was Frank Koniewskowsky,which he shortened to "Konik" when he emigrated from Poland in the early part of the 20th century. He lived on the west side of Cleveland, where he owned a block of buildings. An entrepreneur, Frank bought the property at Liberty Avenue/Lake Road in the early 1950's, because he knew that it was smack-dab on the route to the vacation destinations to the west: Cedar Point, Port Clinton, Kelly's Island, Put-in-Bay, etc. This was before the Interstate freeway would bypass the area."

"Frank installed his sons Richard (my step-father) and Robert as owners/operators of the motel and adjacent restaurant. He named it after the epic Bing Crosby/Danny Kaye movie."
****
It hasn't been easy for me to research the motel in its early days.
Since it was located between Lorain and Vermilion on what used to be referred to as Routes 6 & 2, it was in a no-man's land: outside of both Lorain's and Vermilion's city limits and thus not listed in the earliest city directories.
According to the Lorain County Auditors website, the motel was constructed in 1948. It first showed up in the Lorain phone book (in the Vermilion section) in the December 1950 edition.
The early ads gave its address as Stop 120, hearkening back to its location on the old Lake Shore Electric interurban route.

1952 Lorain Phone Book listing
Although the motel was not listed in the 1950s Lorain city directories, I did find it in the library's copy of the 1954 Lorain County Farm & Rural Directory. Here's its listing along with a partial of some of the others along that stretch of Route 6 (below)

Apparently back then there were no numerical addresses assigned to the properties. So, whoever compiled the rural directory just counted east from Vermilion and numbered the properties as they appeared, noting if they were on the north or south side of the street.

It's interesting seeing the motel listed in there with some of the historic farms along that stretch, including those of the Claus and Baumhart families (both farms were sold when the Ford plant was built in the 1950s).

Next: Boom times for the motel

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fishy Memories

The sign in front of the closed store
I've driven past the former Garwell's store on Route 6 several times in the last few weeks, and it reminded me of how Dad tried to make fishermen out of my brothers and me. The sad truth is that I never developed a fondness for the piscatorial racket.

This is despite the fact that fishing ran in our family. The family photo album is filled with vintage shots of Grandpa Bumke from various fishing trips in Michigan, either grinning with a fish he had caught, or with his buddies in a cabin or boat. Dad liked fishing too, and I guess he wanted to share his enjoyment of the sport with us.

During those fishing years of the 1960s, it seems like almost every Saturday we headed somewhere different: Hot Waters; behind the Water Treatment Plant in Lorain; Mill Hollow; the Oberlin Reservoir; the Kipton Reservoir (now known as the Kipton Reservation); and the grounds of Fathers of St. Joseph out on Case Road in Avon.

The side of the Garwell's store, circa 2009
And each fishing trip started with a stop at Garwell's for bait. I can still hear the bubbling hum of the store's minnow tank.

But unfortunately we weren't very good little fishermen. We were constantly snagging our lines on rocks. Then Dad would have to unsnag them for us, or cut the line and set us up again with hooks. Inevitably, we would snag them again, and he would smile while trying to hide his disgust.

Sometimes we shattered our bobbers on the rocks. We even managed to get our lines caught in trees while casting!

It's a miracle that Dad ever got any fishing done himself, since he was constantly interrupted by our comical hijinks. But, he was a patient man and almost always caught at least a few fish.

After Dad gave up fishing with us, he fished with a few of his work buddies in the 1970s and 80s. One of them had a boat, and they would go out on Lake Erie, usually by the David-Besse Nuclear Power Station near Port Clinton.

During those years, we ate a lot of fish. The family freezer was always jammed with perch and walleye.

When I came back to Lorain after college, I tried once again to take up fishing. (I was unemployed and had plenty of time.) So I would head down to Hot Waters with one of Dad's old rods. Dad even brought me along fishing out on the lake a few times with his pals. I just remember being nervous and nauseous in the boat. So that was the end of my fishing career once and for all.

Despite Dad's best efforts to make me a fisherman, I just never got hooked.

But I cherish the memories of those days in the 60s when Dad spent all that time with my brothers and me on those Saturday afternoons.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Johnson's Restaurant on Routes 6 and 2

Here's yet another business that was featured on the 1957 Routes 6 and 2 map: Johnson's Restaurant.

As the small blurb on the 1957 map said, it was right across from the Lorain Drive-in movie theater. The restaurant was also part of the Carl R. Johnson's Trailer Court complex.

It's interesting that there were so many of those trailer courts along the lake there on Route 6. There still is today, in fact, giving the area a unique feeling as you drive west to Vermilion.

Anyway, you can see the restaurant building in the circa 1955 photo below. (Click on it for a larger version.)

Courtesy Black River Historical Society
Johnson's Restaurant is the large building directly across from the Lorain Drive-in screen, fronting on the road. A gas station sits to the left of it.

Once again, it was a difficult business to research as it was outside Lorain city limits and thus not in the earliest city directories.

The 1954 Lorain County Farm and Rural Directory did list a restaurant – Mac's – adjacent to Carl Johnson's Trailer Park, but I'm not sure if it was in the same building or not. If it was, it didn't last long, because an ad for Johnson's Restaurant appeared in the November 1955 Lorain phone book.

Here's the ad (below).
Strangely enough, the Johnson's Restaurant name didn't last very long either despite the proximity of the Johnson Trailer Court.

By the 1957 phone book, the name of the business was now Lakeshore Drive Inn (or Lake Shore Drive Restaurant – I saw it both ways.) It remained by that name in the books from 1957 to 1962.

In the 1963 and 1964 directory, the restaurant had a new name: Ye Olde Hen House Restaurant.

The 1965 and 1966 books revealed yet another name: Renea's Restaurant. And in the 1967 book, the restaurant was listed as Lighthouse.

Finally, in the 1968 directory the restaurant was listed as Chris's Restaurant. It would remain by that name until the late 1970s. (As we all know, Chris's Restaurant moved over to the former Howard Johnson's just to the east on Route 6.)

Angela's Restaurant was the name of the establishment in the 1978 - 1980 books, and Harry's Family Restaurant was there from 1981 - 1992.

The restaurant was listed in the 1993 book as Windrose Restaurant. By 1995 it was the Blue Marlin.

Finally, beginning around 1999 the business became known as Jack and Diane's Lounge, and it remains that today at 5100 West Erie Avenue in Lorain.



Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Fior's Spaghetti House on Routes 6 and 2

There wasn't very much information available (in the Lorain Public Library, that is) about Fior's Spaghetti House, one of the businesses on the 1957 Routes 6 and 2 vacation map that I posted last week.

Since the restaurant was almost in Vermilion, it did not make it into the vintage Lorain City Directories, making it difficult to research. There's no date listed on the Lorain County Auditor's site either as to when the restaurant was built.

The small blurb next to the restaurant's location on the 1957 map stated, "Absolutely the best spaghetti this side of Florence, Italy." The text indicated that if you dropped in, you could plan on "shooting the breeze with Dick Fior." It also mentioned the "new building."

Here's the 1959 Lorain phone book ad (below).


A very helpful anonymous commenter on that post pointed out that Fior's Spaghetti House eventually became Hanna House. I did find a listing for Hanna House in the 1968 phone book.

Here's the 1970 ad phone book for Hanna House, also known as Hanna's Italian Village (below).

I'm sorry that I don't have any information as to when the restaurant became the Driftwood Inn. The anonymous poster thought that it had been the Driftwood Inn for the last 20 years or so. (Thanks for your help with this!)

Here is the building at 3674 Liberty Avenue today (below).