Thursday, February 4, 2016

“Guest" Then & Now: Fifth Street in Elyria

I “meet” a lot of great people through this blog who share my interest in local history. Some of them write me with their reminisces. Others help with research, sending me vintage articles and clippings.

One regular reader even sent me a ready-to-go “then and now!” Here is his story.

Late last year, Dennis Thompson wrote to tell me about a photo mystery that he had recently solved.

He wrote, "I had a great find a few weeks ago that I know you will appreciate. As I have become more familiar with the places my family lived and worked, I like to look over old photos to see if I can notice something that didn't mean anything to me before. 
"In one photo album, the last 8-10 pages are just blank, no photos. You know, those old photo albums of heavy black paper. But, I spotted something tucked in the crease of the spine. It was an old negative and blended in with the paper, no one had spotted it. 
"I held it up to the light and nearly shouted! It was a great close-up of my grandfather's American Bantam panel truck, with his advertising on the side.” (His business was R. E. MacDonald, which was located at 248 Temple Court in Elyria.)
Dennis took the negative to Dodd's and had it blown up. Here is the photo (below).
He continued with his story. "At first I thought it might be his shop in the background, but then I noticed there are tree lawns on the street, and Temple Court was like an alley, just pavement. So where was it taken? There is a steeple that can be seen over the building, so I drove around downtown Elyria to find it.”
Dennis eventually determined that the steeple was St. Mary’s, and began driving around the various blocks until the steeple could be seen. Then he remembered that his grandfather lived at 510 Fifth Street at that time.
"I drove to the site of the old house (the new high school is there) and parked in the school lot and turned around. Bingo! It took me a few minutes to realize that the old building in the photo is still there, heavily disguised."
Here is Dennis’ “now” shot (below).
So who are the people in his charming vintage photo? "That's my Uncle John, 7, and Aunt Betsy, 12, in the photo,” he wrote. "Both are doing well today, 79 and 84 years old."
But what about the dog? "The little charmer is Sandy.”
Dennis also identified the building in the background. "The brick building was the site of Harry Brown Motors at that time," he noted.

Dennis has been pretty busy this week, doing a lot of field research regarding the various bridges that crossed the Black River north of Wellington during the last century. I’m sure his findings will be part of a future post on this blog, as those bridges are another one of my long-delayed topics.
Special thanks to Dennis for sharing his photos and reminisces.


Anonymous said...

Love these blogs!!! Dennis reminds me of myself, but I make my husband drive me around places to jog my memories of places Ive sadly forgotten , but he rremembers everything. Yesterday went to james day park and saw old stone foundations from days gone by,it was fun . Thanks Dan!!!!for all your hard work and to people like dennis. Judy

Dan Brady said...

You're welcome, Judy! Glad you are enjoying these posts.