Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Paul Miller Circus Comes to Town – September 1963

Way back in 2010 (here), I posted a 1960 ad (at left) announcing the arrival of the Paul Miller Circus in N. Ridgeville.

At the time, there were some interesting comments posted, including one by one of the acts – the "Riding Kristensens" – that toured with the circus. But there was another comment that was posted by a local gentleman who had a unique perspective of that circus – namely, from his Lorain front yard!

He wrote, "Dan, the Paul Miller circus was in Lorain in September of 1963. They also were in my front yard. I won a contest that brought some of their  acts to my home. Two clowns, Japanese tumblers and three elephants. Next time you're going through old newspapers, check out page 3 of the September 23, 1963 Lorain Journal.

Well, I finally took his advice! Here is the article (below) and photos of Billy Nahm's memorable experience of the day the circus came to his E. 46th Street home – 51 years ago this month.

And where did all this go down? Over in the area by Clearview High School, east of Broadway on E. 46th Street (below).

Monday, September 29, 2014

Laurel Oaks Ad – September 1961

As long as I'm posting vintage model home ads, here's another one. It's for the Laurel Oaks development, which was located west of Route 57 in the Homewood Drive area.

The ad ran in the Lorain Journal on September 16, 1961 – 53 years ago this month. It's an eye-catching ad, even if it was probably a clip-art layout. Plus, I'm a sucker for these ads showing how Lorain's neighborhoods grew, thanks to countless unsung builders and developers.

In this case, the name associated with Laurel Oaks is Alex Bruscino. According to online Chronicle-Telegram article from September 1994, he was a "pioneer home builder for veterans returning from World War II. His distinguished career lasted into the early 1970's and he built over 4,000 homes in Cuyahoga and Lorain Counties."

I didn't get a chance this weekend to drive out to South Lorain and try and find some of these model homes for "then and now" shots. It's just as well. I probably would have ended up in the Journal police blotter, mentioned as some suspicious middle-aged guy taking photographs from a car seen cruising slowly through the neighborhood.

The House of Enchantment – September 1964

According to this website, the Servel Corporation dates back to 1923, and is credited with pioneering the perfection of an "All-Year" gas residential air conditioning unit, in which the unit became a heater during the cool months. The company also produced a variety of products, including Servel gas refrigerators, and Servel Gas water heaters.

It's that Servel "All-Year" air conditioner that's in the spotlight in this ad (below) for the House of Enchantment, a model home constructed by local builder Clem Rice at 5109 Leavitt Road. The full-page ad appeared in the Lorain Journal on September 18, 1964.

Here's another ad for the House of Enchantment that ran in the Journal the same day as part of a special promotional section (below).
And what about the House of Enchantment today? Is it still enchanting 50 years later?
Today it sits on a beautiful wooded, private lot on the east side of Leavitt Road (below), across the road and just north of the Superior Medical Care building.
It's still a nice looking house in a cozy, country setting. Here's my shot from Saturday afternoon (below).
It'd be interesting to know if they still have the original Servel appliances!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Heilman's Ranch House Opens – Sept. 1961

July 1967 newspaper ad from the Journal
Remember Heilman's Ranch House on Broadway?

I still think it was a neat idea to have a Western-themed restaurant in Downtown Lorain that was open 24 hours a day. (The Western motif was popular back then, as the Saddle Inn in Avon Lake had the same idea.) I hope that they both served Wild West Sarsaparilla.

Well, Heilman's Ranch House opened up for business on September 21, 1961 – 53 years ago this month. Here's the small article that tells the story. It appeared in the Journal on September 16, 1961.

West Style Restaurant Opens Here

A new western style restaurant, Heilman's Ranch House, will officially open Thursday at 211 W. Erie.

To say that the decor of the new 24-hour restaurant, built at the site of the former Park Restaurant, is inspired by the Wild West would be an understatement. The pine walls of the 60 seat dining room are covered with cattle hides, longhorn skulls and lariats.

A hamburger goes by the handle of a "ranchburger."

According to Hubert Heilman, the Ranch House was designed to replace the grill in Heilman's Marine Room, which will be turned into an enlarged bar.

Heilman describes the Ranch House as "informal, masculine, friendly, American." By using modern cooking methods, the Ranch House will be able to offer a wide variety of fine, moderately-priced meals at any hour.

The photo and caption below appeared on the front page of the Journal on September 23, 1961. You can't say that the Journal wasn't supportive of new businesses back then .

NO HAMBURGERS – Hamburgers go by the name of ranchburgers 
at Heilman's Ranch House, newest addition to the city's restaurant 
industry. Opened Thursday, the Ranch House carries a "wild west" 
theme throughout its decor, complete with cattle hides, longhorn 
skulls and lariats. Located on the site of the old Park Restaurant, 
the Ranch House was built to replace the grill in Heilman's Marine 
Room. It is open 24 hours a day.
Heilman's Ranch House lasted 13 years before becoming a victim of urban renewal. You can read a great article about its March 1974 closing below (which I originally posted back in April 2010). Give it a click.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Dairymens New Plant on Abbe Road Opens – Sept. 29, 1956

Here's an ad for an Open House at the brand new Dairymens facility that was located on Abbe Road near the railroad tracks between E. Lake Road and Colorado Avenue. The ad appeared in the Lorain Journal on September 29, 1956 – 58 years ago today.

I wonder what the refreshments were at that 1956 Open House? I have a hunch that it wasn't punch – and that chilled glasses of delicious, farm-fresh milk were served instead.

I've written about Dairymens on this blog before, including here.

What I didn't know until recently was that Dairymens had bought out Mackert's Dairy on Abbe Road in Sheffield Village in 1954. Dairymens operated it as a substation, and eventually constructed the new, modern plant (mentioned in the grand opening ad) just north of the Mackert's Dairy cow barn.

You can download a terrific 2009 article from The Village Pioneer that provides the entire history of Sheffield's Dairy Industry by clicking here.  (Actually it's the whole issue.) As with all of his research topics, Sheffield Village Historical Society Director Charles "Eddie" Herdendorf has done the incredible work of digging up the complete story, and then compiling a fascinating narrative, complete with vintage photos and interviews with the people involved.

Whatever happened to the Dairymens plant? According to the Village Pioneer article, Dairymens closed their Sheffield operations in 1969. And Sandy (my source for Sheffield Lake local history) reminded me that the abandoned dairy complex at 1181 Abbe Road later became the home of Patrick Electric and the storefront for Village Lighting.

You can see the Dairymens plant's "footprint" on this current Bing Maps aerial below. The facility was located just south of the railroad tracks on the east side of Abbe Road. Some of the former Mackert Dairy buildings can be seen immediately south of it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The "New" Manhattan Market Opens – Sept. 21, 1963

Courtesy Lorain Historical Society
From an Avon Lake grocery store (yesterday's post) to one in Lorain…

Here's a nice article about the well-remembered Manhattan Market in Lorain. The piece appeared in the Lorain Journal on September 21, 1963 (at the time that the grocery had just opened in its new location) and provides a nice history of the business.

Manhattan Market Opens

Manhattan Market has opened for business in its new location.

For the past 23 years the store that specializes in 50 shapes of bulk spaghetti and macaroni and cheeses from Italy and Greece, has moved seven blocks from downtown to Central Lorain.

"Although we are open for business, our grand opening has been postponed until Oct. 15," Pat Grego, manager, stated.

"We aren't completely settled and there are several things that have to be ironed out before the grand opening," he added.

The store has moved from 1152 Broadway to the old Fisher Store at 1820 Broadway.

"In 1940, I bought the Pat Monaco Grocery and Meats store at 11th and Broadway and changed the name to Manhattan Market," Grego said.

The name came from a store Grego worked at in Morgantown, W. Va., from 1933 to 1940. The new store has been incorporated with Grego secretary and treasurer, Charles Malik, president and Larry Ashebaugh, attorney, vice president.

In moving to the location, the self-serve market has expanded all departments and has added a self-serve meat department.

"Two years after we opened the store in the old location, we went to self-serve, with the exception of our bulk spaghetti and macaroni," Grego explained.

The spaghetti and macaroni is weighed and packaged for customers. Also available are spices and oils from here and other countries.

The store has about tripled in size from 24 feet in width by 80 feet in length at the old location to 50 feet by 138 feet in the new store. There are new modern fixtures and lighting.

Imported cheeses include Provolone and Romano from Italy and Feta from Greece. The Italian cheeses are basic for lasagna and pizza pies.

Besides Grego as store manager, the organization includes his brother, John, as meat department manager and August D'Orazio as produce and grocery departments manager.

The manager pointed out that although the store has added a self-service meat department, it still handles the customers' special custom cutting of meats.

A free lot for the store has been provided at the corner of 18th and Broadway.

I had first mentioned the Manhattan Market on this blog back here. Reading that post, I can see that a lot of my dates connected with the store are approximate, since I was using only city directories as a guide. That's why it's nice to have the article above on this post to set the record straight.

Here's the former Manhattan Market building location today.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Own a Piece of Avon Lake History

Now's your chance to own a historic piece of commercial property in Avon Lake. The Avon Lake Wine Shop is currently for sale by owner, along with the buildings behind it.

The Arcadia Images of America book on Avon Lake includes some great photos of the building as it appeared in earlier incarnations. Its principal use through the years has been as a grocery store, and the book dates the building back to at least 1915.

One of the photos from the Images of America book shows the store as an IGA in the 1950s (below).

Courtesy the City of Avon Lake and the book Images of America Avon Lake
From that same time period, here's the store's listing (complete with typo) in the 1952 Avon & Avon Lake Directory. (I've included the listing of the Avon Lake Garage as well, since it was located behind the grocery store.)

1952 Directory listing
The grocery store's official Lake Shore Electric Railway stop was Stop 52, and for many years that was its address.

It's fairly difficult researching the Avon Lake Wine Shop building, as the Avon Lake Library has a very sparse collection of vintage directories from over the years. All I could really determine during two trips to the library is that during a brief time in the late 1950s, there was no business listed at that address.  I also found that the Avon Lake Wine Shop was already located there in 1969.

It will be interesting to see if a new owner finds another use for the building.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Admiral King Vs. Lorain High – for the First Time

Louis Trotta and Carole Wasco pose
with "Harvey," the goat which is the
mascot for Admiral King High School.
Here's the milestone ad for the first ever football matchup between Lorain High School and the then brand-new Admiral King High School. The double-spread ad appeared in the Journal on September 21, 1961 – 53 years ago this past weekend.

The ad has a few interesting features. I had forgotten all about St. Mary High School predating Lorain Catholic High School. And there's plenty of well-remembered sponsor companies listed.

I miss the old Buckeye Conference, which dates back to the mid-1950s. It was a mighty conference, that's for sure, with both Lorain public high schools, Elyria, Findlay, Fremont Ross, Marion Harding, Mansfield and Sandusky.

Anyway, according to the Journal, a crowd of 8,000 watched the first matchup of Admiral King and Lorain High. Admiral King prevailed, winning 28-8.

I had also forgotten about Admiral King's mascot: a goat. A photo and caption (at left) that appeared on the front page of the Journal on the day after the game identified him as "Harvey."

I'm assuming that the high school named for Admiral Ernest J. King adopted the goat mascot as a tribute to the U.S. Naval Academy's football team, which has had a goat named "Bill" as their mascot for decades. (You can read about it here.)

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Vanishing Sheffield Lake Cottages

Sometimes change happens right under your nose – very slowly – and you almost miss it.

For example, back in October 2011 (in this post), I wrote about a pair of adjacent lakefront properties in Sheffield Lake that were both for sale. Located immediately west of the 103rd O.V.I. grounds, both properties had vintage cottages or otherwise very old buildings on them.

Here's an aerial view from 2011 of what I'm talking about. 5475 E. Lake Road is shown in outline.

At the time I wondered if the old structures would survive the sale of the properties. Three years later, I have my answer – apparently not.

While driving to work recently, I noticed that two of the buildings at 5475 E. Lake Road are already gone, and the land is being cleared. The house dated from 1911.

A sign for Colabianchi Builders is posted near the road, signaling that a beautiful new home is in the works.

So these two structures are now history (below).

I wouldn't be surprised if the cottages to the west are the next to go.

There's still plenty of traces of Sheffield Lake's heritage as a cottage community to be found along Lake Road. But they're fading fast and will be gone before we know it – or notice it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Dairy Queen on Route 20

I exchange a lot of emails with the person behind the great Oberlin In The Past Facebook page. As we both feel it's our duty to perpetuate local history online, we have a lot in common. And The Oberlin In The Past Facebook page is a gem, always full of wonderful, rarely seen vintage photos.

A week or two ago we were discussing soft serve ice cream stands in the Oberlin area, including the gone but not forgotten Dari Land on Route 58, as well as the Dairy Twist on Route 20 east of town, which is still in business and very popular.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
I remarked how the Dairy Twist sign is obviously a retrofitted Dairy Queen sign, and a question arose. Did Oberlin have an actual Dairy Queen – and when?

I had to admit I didn't really know. I remembered my father taking my brothers and I fishing at Oberlin Reservoir in the early 1970s, and getting soft serve ice cream afterwards somewhere out there in that neck of the woods (on Route 20 if I remember correctly). But I have no idea what the name of the place was.

So I had to look it up in the few vintage Oberlin phone books and old Lorain County directories available at the Lorain Public Library.

It turns out that the Oberlin area had not one, but two Dairy Queens.

The first one – as best as I can tell – showed up in the phone book for the first time in the 1957-58 phone book (below). It was on Route 20 West.

The listing promptly disappeared in subsequent editions.

It wasn't until the 1973 edition of the Dickman Criss-Criss Directory that Dairy Queen appeared again, this time on Route 20 East (below).

As you can see, Dairy Queen and many other listings have no address at all, and are arranged alphabetically (for maximum confusion for someone trying to figure it out 40 years later). 
The Dairy Queen on Route 20 West apparently didn't last very long either. It too seemed to disappear in subsequent books.
I did find a listing for something called Polar Freeze Bar on Route 20 West in the 1978 book, but I don't know if it was a dairy stand or a poorly insulated tavern.
Anyway, the Dairy Twist seemed to first appear in the 1981 directory, and an online website that features businesses and their incorporation dates states that it was established in 1984.

At any rate, the company made great use of the former DQ sign, and I'm glad they found the recipe for success in Oberlin.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Joseph Ule's Windmill & Storybook House

For the last two days, I'd been writing about the old house that overlooks the golf course, seen above in an aerial photo courtesy of Bing Maps. (By the way, since I posted that article, I'm thrilled to report that I'm getting a lot of help from some of the area's finest local history buffs in tracking down the history of the house and even – perhaps – the man who built it. I'll have much more to say in a future post.)

Anyway, if you look down in the lower right hand corner of the above photo, you can see the windmill and storybook house that Joseph Ule built on Kolbe Road.

You might remember that I wrote about the windmill before (back here). But what's this about a storybook house?

Well, below is a great article that tells the whole story of Joseph Ule and his creations. The article was sent to me by Rick Kurish and appeared in the Chronicle-Telegram on July 9, 1954.

This photo of the storybook house (below) accompanied the article.

Rick also generously shared his reminisces with me about his growing up in that area.
He wrote:
"I grew up on Kolbe Road, and my parents moved there when it was part of Amherst Township, and they were surrounded by farm fields. A riding stable grazed their horses in a pasture bordering my parents' property. The area is now all built up and a part of the city of Amherst. The pasture behind my parents place is now a woods that is part of Lorain County Beaver Creek Metroparks.
Anyway, I was familiar with the Joe Ule property, passing it several times a week. I believe Joe Ule moved to the area in the early to mid 1930s. 
You can see the township school house that Rick
mentioned in the 1896 map above near the Jaeger property
There was an abandoned brick Township Schoolhouse on the corner of Kolbe Road and Longbrook Road. The bricks from this building were used to build the rather fanciful house now on that corner. The house, is not nearly as old as it looks. Neither is the windmill, which from my almost daily observation was built between about 1954 and 1960. I think the house dates from about 1937.
The Ule property consisted of about 50 acres along Kolbe Road and Beaver Creek. Joe Ule was an amateur gentleman farmer, who preached organic gardening, before it was well known. In fact he planned to grind the grain from his own farm using the windmill. I can remember reading about him speaking before many agricultural groups.
Sometime in the early 1960s, he sold about 40 acres of his property to the city of Lorain. This became Kennedy Park. This still remains an undeveloped park along Beaver Creek, in the area of Jaeger road. Shortly after this he moved out of the area, to Florida, I believe. He died there in a boating accident in 1969 or 1970.
Hope I haven't bored you too much! Regards --- Rick"

Thanks, Rick! It's impossible to be bored when I receive such nice surprises in my email! Thanks for your research help. As always – I appreciate it!

Anyway, here's what the storybook house looks like today, courtesy of the Lorain County Auditor website (below).

I did shoot it myself this past weekend, but it was a cloudy day and my photo wasn't so hot (below).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The House Overlooking the Golf Course Part 2

Here's the full-page article I mentioned yesterday (below). Written by Lou Kepler, it ran in the Journal on September 7, 1961 and reveals the unusual history of the house – which is much older than I imagined.

According to the 1961 article, the house was built by Baron von Bonn, an exile from Germany. It supposedly dates back to around 1851.

The article raises a lot of questions, though. If the house really is that old, wouldn't it make much more sense if it was built by the Jaeger family?

1896 Township map showing the house
(just to the left of the "A. C. Jaeger" name)
At the time that A Standard History of Lorain County (1916) was published, the Jaeger family had already been in Lorain County for more than seventy years, making the family's approximate arrival in the area around 1846. Adam Jaeger is identified as the patriarch of the family. According to the book, he was a German school teacher and "a man of unusual education for his time." The book also notes that "after coming to America he located on a farm in Lorain County in 1843 and lived there until his death, being both prosperous and influential."

I wonder if Adam Jaeger himself was "the German baron" who built the house? I suppose that it's possible that the story of the house's heritage could have been mangled, especially if the Jaegers came from Bonn, Germany.

But this is all speculation on my part. I guess I'll have to do some more research (groan).

I did look in the city directories a bit trying to sort all this out. The bad news is that researching that part of Lorain is almost impossible. Aside from finding it on old maps, there are no listings of the road or its inhabitants until around the 1960s in the city directories, since it was outside of city limits until then.

One interesting aspect of the article is that the house is mentioned as being located on Jaeger Road. For many years, Jaeger ran from Leavitt Road all the way to Oak Point Road.

Detail of 1938 Map
The Kubasak home wasn't on Jaeger Road for very long, though. By 1963, that portion of Jaeger Road west of Kolbe Road had its name changed to Longbrook Road. 
Today, the house looks much the same as it did in the 1961 photo. The beautiful fountain seen in the 1961 photo appears to have been a casualty sometime during the ensuing years.
Here's my photo from over the weekend (below).

It's a difficult house to get a drive-by photograph of, and I apologize to the current owners if they were wondering why the same car kept going up and down Longbrook past their house.
The house is still owned by the Kubasak family, and I hope they have enjoyed many happy years in their wonderful, historical home – apparently one of the oldest in Lorain.

Perhaps one of the family members can shed some light on this Baron mystery through a posted comment.

Here's the link to Part 3 in which a detailed history of the house – with the help of some local historians – is revealed.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The House Overlooking the Golf Course Part 1

If you're driving along Kolbe Road in Lorain and happen to look west towards the well-manicured golf course of the FoxCreek Golf and Racquet Club, you might notice a large, stately white house in the distance.

Turn west onto Longbrook Road and the house looms into view, dominating the wooded, country vista.

Like me, you might have assumed that the house is merely a 1960s or 70s colonial, built by a professional man – perhaps a doctor or lawyer – who wished to be close to the golf course. 
A view of the house from the vantage point of where Beaver Creek flows under Longbrook Road
But the house's stylized facade is quite deceiving, and belies the history to be found within its walls.

Please stop back here for tomorrow's post, where you can read a 1961 Lorain Journal article that reveals some of the surprising history of the house.

Aerial view of house courtesy of Bing Maps

Friday, September 12, 2014

It's That Guy Again

I found yet another appearance of my favorite 1950s clip-art guy (that's currently featured in Ed Tomko Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram ads). This ad is from the 1970s and proves that the little guy had some staying power over the decades.

The ad – for Roberts Specialty Shoppe in Sandusky – ran in the Journal on September 19, 1975. It's a take-off on the Let's Make A Deal game show, even using the same type font. The clip-art man has been slightly modernized with a semi-realistic body.

This particular digital version of him is still available for use through Getty Images®, although a shamrock has curiously been grafted onto his shirt, and he's been streamlined a bit. He's also on a retro-poster offered through www.postersguide.com.

I don't know much about Roberts Specialty Shoppe, since it was located in Sandusky, except that it is closed. (Here's a link to the obituary of Timothy J. Roberts, who worked at the family-run business for more than 30 years.)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Jackie Mayer's Reign as Miss America Ends – September 1963

Courtesy Sandusky Register
Everyone in Northern Ohio has heard of Jackie Mayer (at left), the Sandusky native who grew up to become Miss America 1963. It's hard not to think of her every time you travel on the "Jackie Mayer Miss America Highway" (Route 2) in Erie County.

Her post-pageant life and career is well-known as well. In 1970, she suffered a stroke at the age of 28, and spent the next seven years in rehabilitation, relearning how to walk and do simple tasks. After her recovery, she later became a successful spokesperson and is still a much sought-after motivational and inspirational speaker.

Here is the link to her website, as well as the link to her page on the official Miss America website.

The big 50th Anniversary of her selection as Miss America took place back in November 2012. At the time, the Sandusky Register covered it with a great interview (which you can watch online here).

In the meantime, below is an article that ran in the Journal on September 6, 1963 – 51 years ago this month – as Jackie's reign as Miss America was winding down. It's a nice look at what she was thinking after spending an exciting and fulfilling year as Miss America.
Jackie Sad To See Reign End
ATLANTIC CITY, N. J. (AP) "It's quite sad to see it come to an end."
Thus spoke Jacqueline Jeanne (Jackie) Mayer, the reigning Miss America who will relinquish her title about midnight Saturday to one of 52 girls who has been vying in beauty and talent competition for the past two days.
“It’s been a marvelous experience,” Jackie said as she recalled the past year which saw her travel over 200,000 air miles throughout the United States and England. "I just hope that girl I crown will have as wonderful a time as I had."
Courtesy Ohio History Connection
The 21-year-old brown-haired beauty from Sandusky, Ohio who plans to return to her studies at Northwestern University, spoke as she watched the contestants of this year's contest rehearsing their roles Thursday.
"It's very nostalgic to be here she said. "I'm very envious of them. I would like to go through the whole thing again.
"It's been a busy year. Sometimes we would make five to seven personal appearances a week but I've learned a great deal.
"Coming in contact with the outside world and the people in its has given me an education I couldn't get in a year's time at school,” Jackie said. "I've also made so many wonderful friends. It will be very sad not to see them again."
The reigning beauty will return to Northwestern as a sophomore and will major in radio and television. She had completed one year at the school before being crowned.
"I don't think I will have much trouble getting back into the swing of things at college,” Jackie said. "Maybe the first month will be awkward. Perhaps some of the students will stare at me, but they will learn to accept me.
"I know I want an education and will study very hard for it,” she said. "A woman must have an education these days."

From the Lorain Journal of September 7, 1963
By the way, I was a little confused during my research for this post when I read that Route 2 in Erie County was only officially named the "Jackie Mayer Miss America Highway" in August 2002. I remembered "Jackie Mayer" signs many years before that – going back to the 1960s.

A little online research revealed that the shorter name "Jackie Mayer Highway" did indeed precede the current highway designation, dating back to the early 1960s. Jackie Mayer herself cut the ribbon in a ceremony opening the new Route 2 bypass from Huron through Rt. 250 on November 2, 1962.

 Miss America 1963 Jackie Mayer cuts the ribbon
opening the "Jackie Mayer Highway." The man 

whose face is adjacent to Jackie's in the photo is
Ohio Governor Michael DiSalle.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Harts Signs on Lake Road in Avon Lake

Looking east on U.S. 6 this past weekend
Anyone who has commuted to Cleveland on Lake Road (U.S. 6) through Avon Lake during the last 20 years has undoubtedly noticed the homemade sign in front of the Hart family's property at 32842 Lake Road, just west of State Route 83.

Well, it looks like the end of an era, because the property was recently sold – meaning that the sign will almost certainly be coming down.

For decades, James and Doreen Hart greeted passing motorists with their large, colorful sign, whose theme changed with the seasons. (The Thanksgiving version had a pilgrim hat, the July 4th had a firecracker, etc.)

Each sign has the family's "signature," THE HARTS enclosed in a red heart.

I've always watched for the Harts' sign during my commutes on Lake Road, going back to the 1980s. It was sort of a checkpoint that indicated what kind of progress I was making on my commute, since much of the route between Avon Lake and Bay Village looks much the same.

There was something reassuring about seeing that sign year after year, especially in an era in which people are constantly on the move, and lakefront properties are rapidly changing hands. Plus, it was fun watching to see which version of the sign was currently on display.

So, I'm going to miss those signs. They were not only a unique touch of roadside Americana, but also a reminder of a simpler, more innocent time.

UPDATE (9-23-2014)
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Hart, and was informed by him that although the house on Lake Road has been sold, the tradition of the seasonal HARTS sign will happily live on. His son Jeffrey and his wife plan to install the sign post at their home on Deerfield Drive in Avon Lake and continue to offer curbside greetings to the community.