Friday, September 22, 2017

Woody Hayes Article – Sept. 2, 1967

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I went to Ohio State and, like my father, was a big fan of Woody Hayes. (Back here, I even mentioned how I “met” him once.)

Well, since it’s Friday, here’s a little look back for all you Ohio State fans from the sports pages of the Lorain Journal. It ran in the September 2, 1967 edition – 50 years ago this month – and features Woody Hayes talking about the upcoming season.

It’s strange how few games they played back then (nine, with two non-conference) and how late they started (September 30th). The Buckeyes would go 6-3 during that 1967 season.

The 1968 season would be the one in which Ohio State would earn its fifth national championship. And by the time the Buckeyes won their next national championship in 1970, I knew that Ohio State was where I wanted to go.

Now in 2017, I think too much attention is given to trying to win the national championship. The team should follow Woody’s example and focus on just beating Michigan!

I also hate the divisional realignment of the Big Ten conference that happened in the last few years, and I’ll probably never get used to it. There was something interesting about Ohio State battling just about the same conference teams every year. While I was at Ohio State, the football team played Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Michigan all four years, with only Purdue and Michigan State taking turns. You knew Ohio State might have a little trouble with Indiana, but would usually pulverize Northwestern. There was something reassuring about that.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thistle Building Update Part 2

Rick Kurish was finally able to determine the organization behind the Thistle Building’s construction, as well as a Scottish connection. 

In an early September email, he wrote, "Under the heading “Lorain News” in the Elyria Reporter of September 27, 1905 I found the brief article that describes what I am almost positive is the announcement of the drawing of plans for the Thistle Building (see article below). 

"The article fits both the building location and the interior design of the building. If the plans were being drawn up at the end of September 1905, construction probably didn’t start until Spring of 1906.

"Even more interesting is the fact that the Fleming & Miller Company mentioned in the article as the company erecting the building, would seem to have ties to Scotland. I still don’t have all of this sorted out, but the Fleming & Miller business was listed in the 1905 Lorain City Directory as “Saloons.” The principals in the business were John Fleming and James Miller. According to the 1910 census John Fleming was a bricklayer, who was born in Scotland, and while I could not find with certainty James Miller in the 1910 census, the 1905 Lorain City Directory listed him as an agent for the Hoster Brewing Company of Columbus Ohio, which according to the industry magazine “Ice and Refrigeration Illustrated” dated July to December 1905, had just established a plant for distribution in Lorain, Ohio. Interestingly, the February 1910 Sanborn Map for the building shows one of the ground floor stores as a Tea Shop and the other as a Saloon.
"In the 1910 census John Fleming was boarding with the extended family of Jean Miller, who was born in Scotland and immigrated to the United States in 1899. So the Fleming partner in the business was born in Scotland, and I suspect that the Miller partner was Scotch also. So perhaps, and I think most likely, the Thistle Building was named after the builder’s Scottish heritage, and not after the Thistle Lodge — although I like the Lodge theory better. 
"Perhaps some day you will turn up an article on the completion of the building in the Lorain Newspapers that will definitively answer the question.
I took Rick’s advice and scoured the microfilm beginning around the time of his late Sept. 27 article about the building. I did find a similar mention of the proposed building in the Sept. 26, 1905 edition of the Lorain Daily News.

A few days later, Rick weighed in again on the company that sponsored the building’s construction. "While watching the Indians beat up on the Detroit Tigers this afternoon, I picked up my laptop and started looking at the Fleming & Miller Company that was apparently associated with the Thistle Building. I had never heard of the company before finding the article about the drafting of building plans the other day. Mainly, I was trying to establish a hard link between the company and possible Scottish ancestry of the principals in the company. I didn’t accomplish that, but I did find an article in the Elyria Reporter of September 25,1905 containing an interesting interview with Jane Miller, wife of James Miller. 
"While a portion of the article is a little hard to read, apparently Jane Miller, a business owner in her own right, if the article is to be believed, is the person who was the driving force in moving the company into Lorain. It appears that they had big plans for business in Lorain. I’m not sure if they all came to fruition, but I did find a mention of one of their saloons in Lorain in 1907.”

So what does all this mean? Rick summed it all up.

"Perhaps the origin of the name “Thistle" attached to the building erected by the Fleming - Miller Company is destined to be an enduring mystery.

"Whatever the plan, the building located on the southwest corner of 7th Street, which was most likely built in 1906, was named the Thistle Building. We can postulate that the building was named “Thistle” by the principals of the Fleming & Miller Company, due to the apparent Scottish ancestry of several of the principals, or that the Lorain Thistle Lodge of Lorain, founded in 1905, was somehow involved in the naming of the building. That may be as close as we come to an answer to the question. I tend to believe the first option relating to Scottish ancestry — at least until a third option appears!

Hilariously, I think I might have found that third option while preparing this post. I had Googled the word “Thistle” and discovered that the flowering plant is the floral emblem of both Scotland and – Loraine, France!

In the meantime, I will continue my search for some sort of newspaper article announcing the completion of the building.

Thanks once again to Rick Kurish for sharing his research.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Thistle Building Update Part 1

The view this past weekend
Although the Thistle Building is gone, the question remains: How did the building gets its name?

Thanks to longtime blog contributor Rick Kurish, we now have some theories about the origin of the name, as well as a lot more information about the building.

First of all, Rick determined an interesting coincidence regarding the name, “Thistle.” As he wrote in a mid-August email, "I found it interesting that you found nary a Thistle surname in any Lorain City Directory. That led me to believe that perhaps the name Thistle on the building was derived from an organization that may have financed its construction. To that end, I spent some time looking for a fraternal organization in Lorain that had Thistle in its name — and I found one.

"In The American Year Book - Directory of Scottish Societies and British Associations, 1915 -1915 on page 85, under the heading “Ohio Societies” is listed Lorain Ohio Thistle Lodge No. 3. Perhaps this Scottish Society financed the building, then rented out the 1st and 2nd floor commercial/residential space, and used the 3rd floor auditorium for their Lodge Hall. 

"It’s an interesting thought, but the only problem is that I can not find a shred of evidence that that was in fact the case.”

I think it is a pretty good theory, and I was able to determine that the Lodge (whose membership was all female) celebrated its 40th anniversary in 1945 – meaning it was in existence about the time the building was constructed. But I couldn’t find any connection between the Lodge and the building either. It sure would have been nice to find out they held their meetings in the Thistle Building!

Anyway, Rick kept digging and was able to clarify something about the building’s address. He wrote, "I was puzzled by two seemingly conflicting addresses for the Thistle Building. The current address (at least before demolition) was 700 Broadway. In your blog posting a week or so ago, you mentioned an address of 676 Broadway for the Thistle building in 1907. 
Using a Sanborn Fire Map from 1918, Rick explained the discrepancy. 
"At that time, Seventh Street didn’t go all the way through to Broadway. As a consequence, there was a grocery at 666 Broadway, and the map indicates that the adjacent Thistle Building, first floor only, was divided by a wall into two commercial spaces. These commercial spaces on the first floor, while listed as 676 Broadway and 700 Broadway, were in fact in the same building. 
"Apparently at the time that 7th Street was continued to Broadway (perhaps after the 1924 tornado), the grocery was demolished, and the 676 Broadway address of the Thistle Building was discontinued. Not an important discovery perhaps, but it clarifies the address of the building.”
Rick also was able to hone in on the approximate construction date using the Sanborn Map. He noted, "One of the news stories I read on the fire indicated that the Auditor’s Office didn’t have a construction date for the Thistle Building. It dawned on me that the Sanborn Maps may hold the key to the buildings construction date. The building does not appear on the attached Sanborn Map dated June 1905, at which time 7th Street was named Chestnut Street. 
"Since you found a reference to the Thistle Building in 1907, that would pretty much lock in the construction date to the late 1905 - 1907 time frame. You also turned up information that the Daughters of Scotland Thistle Lodge No. 3 dates to 1905. Although it proves nothing, it is interesting that the Thistle Lodge and Thistle Building appear in Lorain at about the same time.”
During my correspondence with Rick, I mentioned that I thought it was strange that neither the Morning Journal nor the Chronicle-Telegram mentioned that Harry’s Mens Wear was the longest tenant in the building.
Rick noted, "I shopped at Harry’s regularly after I returned to the area in 1969. In fact, it is the only store that I remember being at that location. 
"The store had parking out back, and both front and rear entrances. They always had the best selection of clothes — especially Levi jeans!”

Next: The company behind the Thistle Building revealed

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Richard C. Beck Remembers Lorain

The trailer park just west of Chris’ Restaurant was home to Richard Beck
I got an nice email a few months ago from Richard C. Beck III, who called Lorain home for a while in the 1950s. Although he now lives in Georgia, Richard has fond memories of his short time in Lorain, and decided to share a few of them with me. 

"My family lived there in 1957- 1958,” noted Richard.  "I was in school there at grade six. My 6th grade teacher was Mr. Davidson.

"We lived in the one row small trailer park on Rt. 6 & 2 just west of the (now gone) Howard Johnson's Restaurant. 
"My dad worked as a painter/sign painter for Brady's Restaurant, the Ohio Theater, and the Lorain Drive-In. My dad paid me 25 cents an hour as an apprentice during the summer break.
"Mr. Dick Kline managed the Ohio Theater and the Lorain Drive-In.  We painted and made signs for both of them. Now they both have been gone quite a while.  
Richard remembers the Drive-in well. "Lorain Drive-In had "Buck Night" on Fridays; the total cost was only one dollar for everyone packed inside a car. 
"At the back of the parking lot, there was a fish pond, he noted.
Biking was a passion for Richard during his time in Lorain.
"From Sears and Roebuck on Broadway Avenue in Lorain, I bought an English Racer 3 speed bicycle.  I pedaled it on West Erie Ave/Rt 6 & 2 quite often.
He remembers, however, that the streets werent always bike-friendly back then.
"In those days, all drivers considered bikes as toys – not allowed to legally use Public Right-of-Ways.
Nevertheless, Richards still an avid biker. "At age 71, I still pedal a bike here where I live near Atlanta, he noted.  
Richards lived in a lot of places, but knows which one he liked the best: Lorain. 
"Before we moved there, we lived in Massilon, Lima, Defiance, Hicksville, and Toledo. Lorain was/is my most favorite town. It's made me depressed when I learned about all those big businesses that disappeared from Lorain."
Richard sums up his affection for Lorain quite eloquently.
That city – at the mouth of the Black River on Lake Erie with the Coast Guard station – was always the place I wanted to move back to."

Monday, September 18, 2017

Ghosts of Nationwide Theatrical Agency

Remember when I wrote about the Nationwide Theatrical Agency and its uniquely-shaped sign at 1629 Broadway? At the time, I wondered what kind of acts the agency actually booked.

Well, recently a small window to the world of Nationwide Theatrical Agency mysteriously cracked open, after being literally boarded up for decades, and provided me with my answer.

Here’s the fascinating story, a tale of haunting showbiz images revealed.

I recently received an email from Mark Stadul, who along with his wife owns the building in which the Nationwide Theatrical Agency was located. It's now the home of their business, Steel Coast Trading – which sells used and surplus tools, machines, electronics, test and vehicular goods.

Mark and his wife had been renovating the building and recently made an interesting discovery. He wrote, "During recent repairs, I uncovered a door that had been walled over in the building that had several posters, postcards, and pin-ups from the agency.” It seems that the plywood had been there for decades and only needed to be pried off to reveal the various promotional pieces that hadn’t seen daylight for years

Mark invited me to stop by and take a look at his findings, and I did just that.

The actual promotional pieces seem to be from the 1960s, with a few bearing postmarks. I spread them out on a workbench and grabbed some quick shots of some of them. Most were yellowed, curled and full of pinholes.

It’s quite an eclectic collection of acts, all striving for the bookings that would catapult them to fame and fortune. A few made it big; others, we’ll probably never know. 
Little is known about Tia and her "volcanic, tempestuous and seductive" Tahitian Fire Dance. 
On the other hand, Frank and Denise Agostino had a fine career with their acrobatic balancing act. The back of their postcard was postmarked November 1969 and advertised that they were currently appearing in Minsky’s Revue at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. By 1976 they were sharing the playbill with Joey Bishop in Philadelphia.
Colonel Jerry Lipko and his "Human Chimps” were based in Florence, New Jersey. They also performed as “Lipko’s Comedy Chimps” and were billed as “America’s Finest Chimp Act.” A July 1973 newspaper report in the Monroe Evening Times described the act, noting, "Col. Jerry Lipko has had chimps for 18 years, using them in his shows and lectures. At present, he features Skippy, eight-years old; Roses, five; Hazel, 24, and a new member, George, who is two, and still in training. All Chimps wear shoes and clothing and amaze crowds with their human traits. They roller skate, balance on rolling balls as well as on the high perch. They play musical instruments, ride bikes, and even a Honda, where their working area permits. They have appeared on television shows with Red Skelton, Jimmy Dean and Mike Douglas and with numerous circuses and fairs throughout the country.”
A tragic fire in Col. Lipko’s camper in Dec. 1976 claimed the lives of several of his famous chimps.
Here are a few more promotional photos for Lipko’s Human Chimps.

Burlesque performer Von Ray, the “Texas Tornado” also enjoyed a successful career with her novelty act. She often performed while standing on her head, which is why she was also billed as “the Upside Down Girl." She owned her own bar in New Orleans as well. 

Here’s another promotional shot of Von Ray from the late-1960s.

But getting back to the other acts...

Mississippi Rain was a Southern pop group based out of Jackson, Mississippi. The band recorded an album for Polydor Records and was represented by Fras-Co Productions. Here’s a link to a nice collection of photos of the band on Facebook, collected by the man who wrote and arranged their album.

Buck Buckley and his “neoteric wit” unfortunately seem to be destined to remain a mystery, with no internet “footprint” to reveal anything about the man and his act.
Of all the acts represented here, Eddie Floyd was by far the most successful, with a long career as an American soul/rhythm & blues singer and songwriter. Heres Eddie today (below).
And heres the link to his website.
Lastly, and happily, Walter Blaney and his big one-man show featuring 100% clean, wholesome fun, comedy and magic" are still around as well. 
Herethe link to his website.
Also included in the collection of items retrieved from behind the plywood wall was, appropriately, this postcard of Fremont Street in Las Vegas as it used to be in all its original neon glory. 
It was postmarked August 17, 1970 and was sent to Frank Gimello from Ralph, one of his employees. “Hi Boss,” it read, “Looking things over for anything new you might be able to use or interested in…”
Sounds like Ralph had a great job!
Special thanks to Mark Stadul of Steel Coast Trading for sharing his findings. Heres the link to the Steel Coast Trading Ebay store.
While preparing this post, I researched Mark’s building a little more. It was built around 1948 and was originally known as the Central Lorain Commerce Building.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The One-Room Schoolhouse at Meister and Leavitt – Part 5

I’ve compared the available photos of the Black River Township schoolhouse and I’ve come to the conclusion that the photo in the Arcadia Images of America – Lorain book (shown above) is not the school once located at Meister and Leavitt Roads.

First of all, the pitch or slope of the gable roof in the photo found in the Lorain book is different from the Rudy Moc photos found in the Port Mills newspaper coverage. It is not as severe as the building shown in the airport photos.
Next, the front of the schools are quite different. (We can identify the front of each building because they all have a chimney in the rear.) The window in the peak above the front entrance is different – round in the Arcadia book, more ornamental in the airport photos. The detail around the windows is different as well.

Lastly, although the school in the Lorain book has the same number of windows on it side, they all have a rounded brick design at the top, as opposed to a more pointed and separate arc above the windows in the airport photos.
Anyway, there were many old schoolhouses in Lorain County and some are still standing. Perhaps some day we can determine which school that actually is in the Lorain book – as well as figure out if that is a small black dog in the photo.

Be sure to visit the great flickr site, “Ohio’s Historic One-Room Schoolhouses,” where you can see structures very similar to those presented here on the blog this week.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The One-Room Schoolhouse at Meister and Leavitt – Part 4

So when was the Black River Township schoolhouse torn down?

An obituary for Mrs. Martha Opfer that appeared on the front page of the Lorain Journal on August 4, 1941 provided an answer.

With the heading “LORAIN PIONEER RESIDENT DIES,” the obituary noted, “Mrs. Martha Opfer, 90, a lifelong resident of Lorain and a member of one of the city’s oldest families died at 2:30 a. m. today at her home, 936 Reid-av, after an illness of one month.

“Death came to Mrs. Opfer in the house where she had lived for the last 50 years. She was born in 1851 in a log cabin on Leavitt-rd in the village then known as Charleston and attended school in the little red building at the intersection of Leavitt and Meister-rds, recently razed.

It’s impossible to know if the reporter defined ‘recently’ to be during the last few days, months or years. I meticulously checked the microfilm several times, going back to March 1941 and was unable to find any mention of the school being demolished; I did it again the other night in a last-ditch effort to find some mention of it.  At least we know that as of the beginning of August 1941, the school was gone.

Next: Is it the same school?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The One-Room Schoolhouse at Meister and Leavitt – Part 3

Aerial view of Port Mills Airport, 1929
My first big break researching the Black River Township schoolhouse occurred while I was researching the opening of the Port Mills Airport, which was located at the intersection of Meister Road and Leavitt Road. The airport stretched east about halfway down Meister Road.

In the above photo you can see a clump of trees at the intersection of Meister and Leavitt. And in that clump of trees is the old schoolhouse, which was about to be put to a new use.

Here’s a small article with a photo of the school by Rudy Moc that appeared in the Lorain Times-Herald on July 26, 1929.

It states, “Here is shown an exterior view of the administration building at Port Mills. This structure houses the offices of the company and the “schoolroom.”

“The building was formerly an old country school house but has not been used for several years. It is located on the southwest corner of the 136-acre site of the field.”

The Times-Herald also mentioned the school in an article in that same edition. It noted, "The "little red school house" located at the southwest corner of the big flying field already has been remodeled into a general administration and air pilot school room.

"In it is located the offices of the company and rooms, filled with desks and blackboards for the teaching of the pilot pupils in their ground course."

Another page featured the Rudy Moc photo again.

The Lorain Journal also covered the opening of Port Mills, and included a few photos of the schoolhouse in their article.

From the front page of the July 22, 1929 Lorain Journal
Next: Demo Time

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The One-Room Schoolhouse at Meister and Leavitt – Part 2

Looking at old Black River Township maps, it seems that a school was not located at the intersection of Meister and Leavitt until the 1874 version.

A school also appeared at that location on the 1896 map.

So the 1827 date associated with the school in the Arcadia book may be a little early.

The Herrick Memorial Library website includes a great photo of a one-room schoolhouse and also helps establish a timeframe for them in the county. Its caption reads: “From 1850 to 1925 Lorain County crossroads were dotted with brick, stone and wooden one-room school houses similar to the one pictured here, now a residence.

An article in the May 13, 1955 Amherst News-Times includes a glimpse of the Black River Township school when it was in use. The article was about the retirement of Mrs. Ethel Eppley from the Central school in Amherst that year. The article noted that she started teaching in January 1910 at the Black River school, where she taught 2 1/2 years before her marriage to Frank Eppley.
A great photo of her with her class in front of the Black River Township school states that the “photo was taken of her first class, back in 1910, in Black River Twp., at the site where the Black River Fire Station is now located, Meister and Leavitt roads.
Mrs. Eppley is in the back row, at the far right
Another article in the Amherst News-Times may possibly shed some light on when the Black River Township school was no longer used for its original purpose. The September 14, 1922 edition notes that school enrollment had reached its highest number in years, and that “W. V. Marshall is bringing the students from the Black River school, which is north of town, to Amherst and is using the bus which was used to bring the Clough Quarry children last year.”

I’m not certain, however, if the “Black River school” mentioned is the one at Meister and Leavitt, or the one that was located at the corner of Kolbe Road and Longbrook Road that was dismantled and used to build Joe Ule’s Storybook House.
Next: A new use for the Black River schoolhouse

Monday, September 11, 2017

The One-Room Schoolhouse at Meister and Leavitt – Part 1

One of the more intriguing photos in the Arcadia book Images of America – Lorain is the photo above of an old one-room schoolhouse, part of the collection of the Lorain Historical Society

The photo caption reads: “On November 9, 1827, the first school board for Black River Township was elected and $200 was appropriated for the construction of the schoolhouse. It was located at the northeast corner of Meister and Leavitt Road in the township. At that time it was not a part of what was to become Lorain, but the site was later added to the city. The brick building served students for 20 years and was replaced with a fire station.”

Here’s a vintage photo of the fire station (now used by the Lorain Police Department). An online Chronicle-Telegram newspaper article indicates that the fire station was there by September 13, 1944.

But before the fire station could be built and put to work, the school would have to have been torn down.

But when was it actually torn down? That's a question that I’ve been trying to answer since I started this blog back in 2009. One would reason that the demolition of such a historic landmark at Meister and Leavitt would surely have been covered by the local newspapers. But despite hours of searching, I've been unable to find an article about its demolition.

Nevertheless, I’m happy to report that I now have a pretty good idea when it was demolished. Unfortunately, I’m also pretty sure that the photo above in the Arcadia book is not of the one-room schoolhouse at Meister and Leavitt as believed.

Friday, September 8, 2017

A Look Back at the Old Red Schoolhouse – 1938

Northeast Ohio is still dotted with old former schoolhouses which somehow managed to survive. What was it like to attend one of these schools? Read all about it in this article that ran in the Lorain Journal on Saturday, July 9, 1938.

Pupils Happiest in 
‘Old Red Schoolhouse’
So Says 80-Year-Old LaGrange Man
as ‘Scholars’ Await Reunion

The little red school house of nearly four score years ago turned out a happier group of "scholars,” fostered a greater co-operative spirit, and promoted more enduring friendships than do the imposing structures of today.

That’s the opinion of Will O. Turner, 80, LaGrange, who with some 80 former classmates of the Old Grafton-twp School district No. 5 and their families will gather Sunday for the fifth annual school reunion at the Wells-Chamberlain homestead, Belden-LaGrange-rd.

In the old days children were happy with ordinary, simple things of life. They didn’t need swings, “teeters,” and other playground equipment to have fun at recesses. The chance to play was enough, his wife recalled.

Recalls Hickory Stick
Then, too, they weren’t so crowded in their school work, added Turner.

Interwoven in his memories of “the good old days” 74 years ago are incidents when the school “marm” decided ‘reading’, ‘writin’, and ‘rithmetic’ should be taught to the tune of a hickory stick.

“I’ll never forget the day that all the boys except two went down to ‘the ole swimming hole’ in the river and were tardy for school. The teacher never said a thing, but when we were up in front to recite, she closed her books, asked us to roll up our pant legs, and whipped our legs severely. The two boys who by refusing to go down for a dip escaped punishment were the late Frank Turner and George H. Chamberlain, former state senator and practicing Elyria attorney,” Turner recalled.

The original old school house in the Grafton-twp was really a small frame building heated by a center wood stove. Fifty-five years ago it gave way to a new school across the road. The district was included in the Belden-twp school system about three years ago.

Following tradition set at the first reunion, an informal program will follow a basket picnic lunch Sunday. Will Turner and George Chamberlain arranged the first reunion at the Well-Chamberlain homestead which is located approximately where the “scholars” attended school.

Reunion officers are Dewey Aldrich, LaGrange, president; Mrs. Nellie Wise, Belden, vice-president; Mrs. Louise Harold Wolf, Elyria, secretary-treasurer.

The Elyria Chronicle did a story on the reunion on July 11, 1938. Approximately one hundred former teachers, students and friends attended, and enjoyed a picnic dinner at tables set up on the lawn of the Wells-Chamberlain homestead. As the article noted, “The oldest former teacher, Mrs. Lucelia Denham, aged 85 years, of Elyria was again present and told of some of the escapades of her former students.”

“Professor Clark Chamberlain of Michigan spoke upon the travels of “Johnny Appleseed” who is reported to have sown the seeds from which apple trees near the old school site grew. It was suggested that a cutting of one of these trees be obtained and planted at the site upon which the reunions are being held. A reading was given by Mrs. J. E. Mennels of Grafton which was greatly enjoyed. Letters from several absent members were read."

Thursday, September 7, 2017

School’s Back in Session – 1932

Although school starts in August for today’s kids, I still think of early September as being the beginning of the school year.

Vintage local newspapers seemed to always address the start of the school year with at least one article on the front page. Here’s one that ran in the Lorain Journal on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 1932.

Lorain, Amherst Pupils Have Week More Vacation;
Rural Enrollment Figures Boosted

The long summer vacation at an end, some 13,000 pairs of feet went marching back to school in Lorain-co today as parochial, rural and Elyria schools began their 1932-33 term.

Another 11,000 children will have another week to wait, as Lorain public, St. Mary’s academy, Zion Lutheran and Amherst schools do not open until next Monday, Sept. 12.

St. Mary’s was the only Catholic school to delay the start of the new term. Repairs to the building have made it necessary to delay to start, according to Rev. J. J. Johnson. The Zion Lutheran parochial school also begins at the same time as public schools in Lorain. East Carlisle begins tomorrow morning.

The opening of school is the biggest of all fall events. It touches more lives intimately than any other happening.

At most of the schools the opening day was a brief one. Children remain only long enough to get their book lists and assignments. Classes do not get underway until tomorrow.

No enrollment figures are yet available, but are expected to be announced within the next day or two.

The only big increase in enrollment is expected in the rural schools where officials predict a gain of about 300. This is some indication of a back to the farm movement.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Elyria’s Grandma Allen – Part 2

Here’s Part 2 of the article which appeared in the Lorain Times-Herald on October 23, 1905 about Maria Allen of Elyria. At that time, she was the oldest woman in Ohio at 105 years old.


Elyria, Oct. 23 – (Staff Special) – On her twenty-second birthday she was married to Thomas J. Allen, a blacksmith of Pompton, and on her thirty-first birthday Mr. and Mrs. Allen and five children, all boys, began their journey to Ohio in a canvas top wagon. In just one month from the time they left their home in New Jersey they arrived at Bucyrus, Crawford county, this state. A great section of Ohio was then unsettled and some portions of it was a wilderness. After a brief residence in Bucyrus she moved to this city, and has since resided here.

Mrs. Allen is the mother of seven children, all of whom are dead save a daughter, Mrs. M.A. Butterfield, of Elyria. She has five grandsons, one granddaughter and twelve great grandchildren. Notwithstanding her advanced age she is quite supple. During warm weather she walks through the yard with the aid of her cane for exercise, but during winter she rarely, if ever, leaves the house. She possesses splendid hearing, had splendid eyesight, weighs about 120 pounds and is exceeding fond of company.

She says life to her is as dear as ever and attributes her long life to the fact that she has worked moderately and lived on plain diet.

Mrs. Allen has lived under the administration of twenty-three presidents and recollects the inauguration of reach from President Monroe down. With many thrilling events of the early days and the advent of the railroad, the steamboat and the sending of the first message, “What had God Wrought,” by Thomas Morse, from Washington to Baltimore.

When she located in Elyria this town consisted of only a few houses. Lorain was not yet born. Withal many of the other towns in Ohio which now have a population of several thousand.

“Grandma Allen,” as she is called by all who know her, is a very cheerful old lady, and is beloved by all. Surrounded by her daughter, grandchildren, great grandchildren and friends she takes great delight in relating stories of those strenuous times of the days agone.

As it turns out, Grandma Allen was featured in several newspapers across the country, beginning in her early nineties as a result of her work as a member of the W. R. C., and being its oldest member.

The Saturday Evening Mail of Terre Haute, Indiana did a story on her in November 1895 as she celebrated her ninety-fourth birthday. It included a nice quote from her in response to the reporter asking if she hoped to reach the century mark. She answered, "I hope not. There is such a thing as living too long. I have enjoyed life and have no fault to find. 

"What marvelous changes I have seen in my time! People live better now than they used to in the alleged good old times and have vastly more comforts.”

Grandma Allen was also featured prominently in the October 19, 1901 Chronicle-Telegram on the eve of her 100th birthday, in which she was described as hale and hearty."

Grandma Allen passed away on April 12, 1906. Click here to visit her page on the Find a Grave Memorial website.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Elyria’s Grandma Allen – Part 1

With Elyria celebrating its bicentennial all year, it’s still a good time for me to post this article. It’s about Maria Allen of Elyria. At the time of this article, which appeared in the Lorain Times-Herald on October 23, 1905, she was the oldest woman in Ohio at 105 years old.

She had lived through a lot of history, including being a member of the Women’s Relief Corps, Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic, which she shares in the article. It’s a little long, so I will present it in two parts.


Elyria, Oct. 23 – (Staff Special) – Happy and contented and hoping to live many more years, residing with the family of J. E. Boynton, No. 837 Lake avenue, is Mrs. Maria Allen, the oldest woman in Ohio, and by far the oldest member of the W. R. C. in the United States.

Last Friday she celebrated her 105th birthday in a quiet and unostentatious manner by receiving a number of friends and fellow members of the society to which she has belonged since its inception. She was the recipient of a number of useful presents sent to her by admiring friends and several large bouquets of flowers, among which was a handsome piece presented by department officers of the W. R. C. at Cleveland. She also received a large number of letters of congratulations from friends throughout the state, some of whom she has known for over sixty years.

Born in Pompton township, Bergen county, New Jersey, Oct. 20, 1801, or a few years after the father of our country was inaugurated president of the United States for his second term, she is certainly a remarkable woman for one of her age. Possessing her full mental faculty, she can talk intelligently on all current events and endeavors to keep herself well informed and has a good memory. She can remember distinctly the breaking out of the war of 1812, although at the time she was but 11 years old. She had two uncles in that war who offered their services at the first call of the chief executive to defend the country. They served under General Skiller. After the close of this struggle and to celebrate the declaration of peace an entertainment was given at Pompton, which she attended. There was great rejoicing and gladness over the end of that short, but bloody struggle.

She remembers all about the Mexican war in which she had one son, William, who also served in the navy during the civil war. Two other sons, James, who was a lieutenant in Co. H, 103 Regiment of Ohio, and Richard who was Captain of Co. 1, Eighth Regiment of Ohio, participated in that long and bloody struggle between the North and the South. During those exciting times Mrs. Allen was kept busy in making bandages for the wounded, caring for the sick and mending clothes for the soldiers and in other ways made herself generally useful.

Long before the advent of steam railroads, the steamboat, the telegraph and while the old stage coaches were the only means of traveling from one point to another throughout the country, Mrs. Allen was a young girl at Pompton, N. J. She was the daughter of Capt. and Mrs. John Lowndes. Her father was captain of the ship Rising Sun of New York, and was murdered in Lisbob, Portugal, in 1809. The following year her mother died in New York City, where she now lies buried in St. Paul’s cemetery. After the death of her father Mrs. Allen resided with her grandfather, Capt. William Lowndes, and when her mother died she lived with her grandmother on her mother’s side, a Mrs. Tice, of Pompton.

At this time there were very few schools and churches in the country. She thought nothing of walking three or four miles to church or a longer distance through an unsettled country to school.

Next: In Part 2, Grandma Allen moves to Ohio

Monday, September 4, 2017

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Mom at Lakeview Park, 1947
As I was wondering what I could possibly write about Labor Day, I suddenly realized that today is also my mother’s 90th birthday.

While many people my age are only able to wish their mother a Happy Birthday in Heaven, I’m very lucky. Mom is still with us, doing pretty well and living in her house. She’s one of her neighborhood's few remaining pioneers now.

I quote her on the blog fairly often, as she still has a razor-sharp mind about Lorain in the old days.

Mom is genuinely surprised that she has made it to 90. Her mother and father passed away fairly young (70 and 65, respectively), so she’s now lived longer than anyone else in our family tree. (I hope she is ushering in a new era of longevity in the Brady family.)

She often wonders why she has lived so long. But I remind her that it’s not that surprising. She takes good care of herself, and does everything in moderation – something she’s long advocated to my siblings and me.
Mom’s had a good life. But it was a tough one growing up. She was raised in the 1930s during the Depression and her family never seemed to have much money. Her father wasn’t too thrilled to have two girls, either.

But she has plenty of good memories. Her parents were both from Michigan, which meant many trips back to Manistee and Ann Arbor to visit relatives. And despite the money woes, her parents still were able to afford tap dancing lessons for Mom and her sister. Mom had a great singing voice too, and sang the lead in the Irving Junior High School operetta one year.

However, she never had the opportunity to go to college, which I think she regrets. Like many other girls in her Lorain High School class, she went right to work after graduation as a secretary. She worked until she married Dad and started a family.

Unlike now, when child daycare is common and necessary, most mothers stayed home back then and raised their children. Mom has always said it was hard raising four children, especially with three of us (my brothers and I) all in diapers at the same time. But she instilled in us the values needed to have a good, productive and happy life.

Once we were all in school for the whole day, she went back to work as a Kelly Girl to make money to help put us through college. Eventually Mom and Dad became empty-nesters, in-laws and finally, grandparents. After Dad passed away, Mom soldiered on, learning how to be a widow and handle all her own affairs.

Today, Mom takes it easy, devouring the books about history that I bring her from the library, and enjoying her shows on TV.

Anyway, Mom pretty much made me into who I am today – and for that I am grateful. Thanks, Mom, for fifty-eight years of unconditional love and support. Happy Birthday!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Jellystone Park

Although I haven’t been camping for a couple years, I’ll go again at some point in the future. And when I do, it’ll probably be at my favorite chain of campgrounds: Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts. (I’ve mentioned Yogi Bear many times on this blog.)

I’ve stayed at quite a few Jellystone locations over the years in the U. S. and Canada, including Mill Run, Pennsylvania; Niagara Falls, Ontario; and the one outside Toronto.

Locally, there was a Jellystone Park out on U. S. Route 20 just outside of Bellevue back in the 1990s, but I never camped there.
We never camped at a Jellystone Park when I was a kid, either. My parents usually looked for a K.O.A. or private campground instead. So that’s probably why I enjoy going to Jellystone now. I’m just a kid at heart.

I still remember seeing the small ads in the Journal during the early 1970s, looking for Jellystone Park investors. I even sent away for a campground directory, and brochures from specific parks. They all featured the drawing of Yogi shown at right.

It’s interesting today to look at some of these early promotional materials.

The early postcards are fun to look at. Then – as now– the parks had a huge statue of Yogi Bear out front.

Some of the postcards show the great cartoony signs that used to be out by the highway near each park.
Best of all are the postcards showing Yogi himself. Back in the early days of the campground chain, the costumes were seemingly homemade.
Although the artwork now used to promote Jellystone Park is first-rate, many of the early promotional illustrations of the smarter-than-the-average bear were lousier-than-the-average. But these off-model efforts still had a wacky charm.
This postcard featured a gluttonous Boo Boo Bear.
To learn more about the history of Jellystone Parks, click here.
July 25, 1980 Plain Dealer ad
June 18, 1973 ad from the Lorain Journal