Monday, April 24, 2017

The Winds of Change Are Blowing on West Erie Avenue

Vintage postcard of the Beachcomber Motel, later known as Erieview Motel
A lot of changes have taken place recently on a short stretch of West Erie Avenue just west of Leavitt Road.

First of all, the long-awaited demolition of the Erieview Motel (originally the Beachcomber) happened a few days ago.

(The Morning Journal’s coverage of the demolition included a link to my blog, as well as some quotes of mine from back in 2015 in which I criticized the city for how quickly it dubbed the West Erie Avenue motels nuisances that needed to be demolished. I groaned when I read my opinions in the article, as it reminded me of how I was beat up because of them on the blog back then.)
Just a little bit to the east of the steaming pile of motel rubble is the former Castle Restaurant. Since 2014, it had been doing business as Castillo Mexicano. Along with a recent change in management, the restaurant now has a new name: Papasitos & Beer Mexican Grill. I wish the new restaurant team well.

Lastly, a little bit further to the east, the Morning Journal has moved into the building that was home to various restaurants, as well as the former McDonald’s
I first noticed the Morning Journal sign there a week ago and did a double-take. 
I wish the Morning Journal good luck in its new home. (It’s going to need it; I noticed that the paper's newsstand price is now two dollars – double that of the Chronicle-Telegram.)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Ontario Store Expands – April 1967

Ontario Store remains one of the all-time most popular topics on this blog, with many comments left on one 2011 post by former employees, as well as shoppers who remember it with nostalgia. I also wrote about the store’s 1954 merger with Cook United here.

Well, here’s an article about how the popular store had already had to expand to meet demand in its early days at its location between Lorain and Elyria. The article ran in the Journal on April 15, 1967.

Ontario Store Expansion Completed

The Ontario Store, well-known Greater Lorain-Elyria shopping complex, has made more changes inside than meets the eye.

A recently completed $100,000 expansion project at Rt. 254 and Elyria Avenue completed the theme of a long common front with Pick ’n Pay Supermarket. Both firms are owned by the Cook Coffee Company, headed by the late Max Friedman.

ACCORDING to Manager John Dimacchia, an eight-year veteran of the Ontario firm, “We originally offered price-competitive products only. We have now elevated quality to give our customers a wider range and price selection of the same items.”

He said although no new departments were added, “every department got a boost in individual items.”

One of the nicest things you’ll like about The Ontario Store is that you can tell clerks, cashiers and service personnel from a distance. Each wears a distinctive blue smock.

THE ONCE small parking lot has been expanded to where 350 cars now have parking spaces. Twelve checkout counters are operating on the SR 254 side and two on the Elyira Avenue entrance-exit.

The older original store has been completely remodeled.

Dimacchia said adding another 10,000 square feet “now brings the total shopping area to more than 50,000 square feet – chock-full of items high on customer priority lists.”

One example (and you’re probably too late) was brand-name golf balls at three for 88 cents.

“They’re going like hotcakes,” said the clerk as she stacked the last of them. “My goodness."

Thursday, April 20, 2017

It’s That Guy Again!

It’s been a while since I posted another one of my discoveries of Ed, the Ed Tomko Chrysler Jeep Dodge mascot appearing in the pages of vintage Lorain Journals. You remember him – he was the little “everyman" who was obviously part of some kind of clip art package that the Journal owned and used from the early 1950s right into the 1970s.

In the Tomko ads, he is shown in a perpetual, toothless holler, as seen at right. Usually these ads depict him in various humorous scenarios by plunking his head on another body for zany effect.

Here on my blog, I’ve already documented five or six of his appearances in vintage ads for just about everything, including TV repair, painting contractors, new houses, furniture, and of course, new cars.

Well, here are two more examples of him quietly working to promote something. Below is a 1967 ad for the Antlers Hotel cocktail lounge promoting “Gene,” who regularly played the organ and piano there. Ed gives his thumbs-up approval. The ad ran around St. Patrick’s Day that year.
And here’s another one from ten years earlier. This ad promotes the well-remembered "Family Weekly" magazine that was part of the Journal on Saturday for so many years and was apparently a new addition locally in early April 1957.

April 4, 1957 Lorain Journal ad
Could that be Ed’s wife in the ad?
Anyway, to learn more about the history of Family Weekly and other "Sunday magazines," click here.

July 1957 Family Weekly (courtesy Ebay)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Gene Patrick’s Other Comic Strip for the Journal

Anyone who has read this blog for a long time knows that I’m a fan of the late Gene Patrick and his Passing Scene comic strip that ran in the Journal for several years beginning in the mid-1960s and right into the 1970s. At times it must seem like I’m attempting to post the entire run of the strip.

The Passing Scene was great because it commented on the happenings of Lorain County. Politics seemed to provide an endless supply of material for Patrick and his strip included funny caricatures of local politicians such as Lorain Mayors Woody Mathna and Joe Zahorec.

But Patrick must have had an urge to do a classic style strip that would feature his own material and humor, independent of any local angle. He found that outlet in a strip he started a couple years after the Passing Scene was underway.

And that new strip was called Ollie Odd. It was odd all right, and done in a gag-a-day style format.

Here are a few samples of the strip that ran in April 1967 on the 5th, 6th and 14th. This first batch was focused on Ollie’s attempts to come up with a good mode of transportation.
Perhaps it’s fortunate that Patrick's Ollie Odd didn’t take off, as its success might have deprived Journal readers of his well-remembered Passing Scene.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Paul & Bill’s Sinclair – April 1957

Here’s an ad for a service station located at an intersection that I’ve written about before. The service station was Paul and Bill’s Sinclair, located at Ohio Routes 58 and 113.

Paul Cuenin and Bill Bodnar had taken over operation of the service station located on the southwest corner of the intersection and were holding an open house of sorts. The ad for the big event ran in the Lorain Journal on April 11, 1957.

The ‘get acquainted’ event featured all sorts of prizes, including a large boneless ham and free gas. The ubiquitous Anchor Hocking glasses were also given away at the event. (J. F. Medder was giving away the same glasses at his Sinclair station in Sheffield Lake in 1957, as was Bill Thomas at his Lorain Sinclair station.)

By 1962, the service station had become Bob & Bill’s Sinclair Service. Within a few years after that, it became just plain Bob’s Sinclair.

It appears that Bob ran the station for many years, switching to the Arco brand in the 1970s and Marathon in the 1980s. It remained open right into the 1990s, when its address was officially listed as 46005 Telegraph Road.

Today, the former service station at Routes 113 and 58 is shuttered.

Courtesy Google Maps

Monday, April 17, 2017

Edna’s Restaurant – April 13, 1957

Edna’s Restaurant on Route 6 west of Lorain is one of those topics that seem to pop up on my blog again and again. Above is a full-page ad for the Grand Opening of the business that ran in the Lorain Journal on April 13, 1957.

It’s a strange ad. No photo of “the newest most modern family restaurant” – just a bunch of clip art of hands with some space-age graphics thrown in.

As you can see, even in 1957 – decades after the Lake Shore Electric went out of existence – the only address in the ad is still Stop 111 West Lake Road. But after writing about Edna’s Restaurant several times (including this most recent post), I know that the new building in the ad is what we now know as the old Tiffany’s Steakhouse next to Skate World.

Here’s another ad (below) for Edna’s that I found recently. This one ran in the Lorain Journal in the big 125th Anniversary of Lorain edition in July 1959. The ad mentions that Edna had been serving truckers since 1953, but I have no idea where the business was located then; I was unable to find any listing of Ed or Edna Mitchell in any of the older directories.
As I’ve noted in a previous post, by the time of the 1960 city directory, Edna had moved her business to the south side of the highway to a smaller building and acquired a real address: 4875 West Erie.

Why did she move her business? I don’t know; maybe she lost her lease.  I hope to find out someday, or at least find an ad that acknowledges the move.

By the way, there’s been some activity at the former restaurant building on West Erie in the last month, with a dumpster stationed outside for a while. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

The scene down at Lakeview Park on Saturday afternoon
Here’s wishing all of my readers a Happy Easter!
Nothing says Easter like an Easter Bunny scanned from a 1957 Harry Volk Clip Book of Line Art!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Loading up the Lakeview Park Easter Basket – 1957

If there’s one photo that you can count on seeing almost every year in the Morning Journal and Chronicle-Telegram at Easter, it has to be the ceremonial placement of the large, concrete eggs in the iconic Lakeview Park Easter Basket.

It’s a tradition going back decades. I posted the 1958 edition back in 2011.

Here’s the photo (below) from 1957 as it appeared in the Lorain Journal on April 20th, the day before Easter. The caption reveals that David Shukait, the man who designed Lorain’s giant concrete easter baskets, had recently received a patent for the process he used to create them.

Joe Trifiletti and Charles Camera were the egg-bearers in the 1958 photo as well.

On the day after Easter 1957, the Journal published a photo of the crowd down at Lakeview Park.

MAIN ATTRACTION – The huge basket in Lakeview Park, as in other years,
was the main objective of Lorain’s Easter paraders yesterday. Traffic in the
vicinity of the park was slowed to a crawl as thousands gathered at the basket,
including many out of town and out of state visitors.
A lot of people took advantage of the beautiful weather last weekend to get their Easter photos early by the basket in Lakeview Park. I noticed a small crowd every time I drove by there on Saturday and Sunday.

I would guess that the Lakeview Park Easter Basket is probably Lorain’s most-loved landmark, at least by locals.

More beloved than the Lighthouse? I think so. Many residents old and new have an emotional connection to the basket due to the tradition of taking family photos in front of it. It’s a lovely ritual that seems to be growing in popularity again, year after year.

It just wouldn’t be Lorain without its giant Easter Basket. And that’s something the Shukait family can always be proud of.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Central Bakery Easter Ad – 1957

I was fairly surprised to discover that I haven’t mentioned the longtime Lorain business Central Bakery too much on this blog over the years. So, it’s a good reason to post the above Easter-themed ad that ran in the Lorain Journal on April 15, 1957.

There seems to be two dates associated with the opening of Central Bakery. A full-page ad for the company that ran in the Journal on June 21, 1955 states that the firm has been “Serving Lorain Since May 15, 1915.” Other sources (including the Lorain Public Library’s online History of Lorain timeline) say that it was 1904 and that Edward Kowalski started the business.

Anyway, on December 11, 1963 an early morning fire destroyed the Central Bakery plant and offices at 2326 Elyria Avenue. The damage to the two-story brick building which housed the bakery, as well as a retail store in front of it facing Elyria Avenue, were estimated to exceed $250,000.

The bakery did not reopen, and a longtime Lorain business was lost to the ages.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How Lorain’s Highland Park Became Central Park

A scene at Central Park today
Last week I featured an article about Oakwood Park that ran in the Lorain Daily News back in late August 1939. Here’s another article that was part of that newspaper’s series on Lorain parks. This one features a short history of Central Park and ran in the paper about a week later on September 7, 1939.

third in a series of articles concerning the history and development of Lorain city parks

The wading pool at Central Park, located west of Oakdale ave. between West 27th and 30th sts., is constructed over an old quarry hole. The 16 1/2 acre tract purchased by the city in 1911 to be used as park land was all quarry and trees. Old timers in the neighborhood say it was a tale easy to believe that the quarry hole had no bottom. Several drownings occurred that made even the boys who persisted in using the hole for swimming, more cautious. So the city lost no time in filling up the old “death trap” with rubbish, tin cans and refuse, and after it had settled sufficiently, topped it with a thick cement wading pool.

The park was christened “Highland Park” by the city dads, and that name stuck until 17 years later. In June, 1928, persons owning lots adjacent the spot, petitioned the city to change the name to Central Park. The council acquiesced and by ordinance No. 3527, the new name became legal.

More people per square foot use Central as a play spot than any other place in the city, according to statistics provided by the City Recreation Commission. Many games of the city baseball leagues are played on the Central diamonds. The City Park Commission realize only too well, the need of more park space in Central Lorain. A few adequate spots are available, and have been considered pending the time when the city has funds for such a purchase.

The park as it is, has a number of improvements listed for it by the Park Department book of “must be dones,” according to Supt. Geo. Crehore. A new wading pool, a new rest room and shelter house, new baseball bleachers, more tennis courts, baseball diamonds, and more picnic tables and benches are necessary to equip the park satisfactorily for the use of the people it serves.

I remember my father late in life expressing his annoyance at the park’s name change from Highland to Central Park.

I guess it was because he spent a lot of time playing there as a kid in the 1920s. It was only a block from the house where his grandparents lived on W. 28th Street, and just a couple blocks from where he grew up on Livingston. Thus the name change probably trampled on his memories.

Nevertheless, today the Highland Park name lives on as the name of the boulevard running east off of Oberlin Avenue towards the park’s northern limits.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Cleveland Indians Home Openers – 1947 & 1957

Well, today is the Indians’ Home Opener – so I thought I’d better prepare something appropriate.

At the top you see my genuine Twins Enterprise, Inc. Collectible MLB Bobbing Head Chief Wahoo Doll fron the 1990s. It was inexpensive, and not a bad facsimile of the type of bobble heads that my brothers and I used to ogle down at the old Municipal Stadium souvenir stands in the 1960s. Those same original nodders now run about 300 clams on Ebay (that’s a lot of wampum), so this one will have to do for now.

Anyway, I went back to see how the Indians did on two other Home Openers – 70 years ago and 60 years ago.

In 1947 the Indians were still a year away from the season which ended with them winning the World Series. Bob Feller took the mound against the Chicago White Sox on April 15, 1947. Unfortunately, he was “trumped” (very appropriate now) 2-0 in front of a record crowd of 55,014 fans.

Here’s the story from the April 16, 1947 Lorain Journal.

In the 1957 Home Opener, the Indians played – who else? – the Chicago White Sox. On April 16, 1957, the day of the game, the Lorain Journal ran this article featuring great illustrations of Cleveland Manager Kerby Farrell and Chicago White Sox Manager Al Lopez.
Unfortunately, the Tribe lost this one as well, 3-2. Herb Score pitched all 11 innings of this three hour and 28 minute game.
Let’s hope the Indians make out better against the Chicago White Sox today.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Penfield Avenue Looking North – Then & Now

Vintage postcard postmarked January 19, 1910
Although the look of Downtown Lorain was altered forever by the 1924 tornado, the buildings of the Central Lorain business district have remained largely intact for more than a hundred years.

A good example is this vintage postcard (postmarked 1910) of "Penfield Avenue Looking North" that was recently on Ebay, and ripe for the “Then & Now” treatment.

Some of the signs in the photo are legible. I was able to find a few of them in the closest available city directory, although in the 1912 edition the Penfield addresses have already been replaced with that of the new name – Broadway.

We see a sign for DOCTOR GRILLS on the far left side of the photo. Dr. A. T. Grills was a physician and surgeon with his office there at 1948 Broadway. There are also signs for a hotel and a dentist that I could not identify in any available directories.

Further down the street is a sign for FURNITURE & CARPETS that corresponds with Reichlin, Reidy & Scanlan, whose address was 1930-1934 Broadway in 1912.

Today it appears that many of the original buildings from the vintage postcard are still there, though greatly modified through the years.

UPDATE (April 11, 2017)
I finally noticed that the sign advertising the hotel in the vintage postcard is actually on a pole – not attached to the building as I originally thought. Consequently, I believe the sign is pointing down W. 20th Street towards Livingston Avenue where the Commonwealth Hotel was located at 1950 Livingston. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Cincinnati Red Stockings Coverage in the Elyria Independent Democrat Newspaper – 1870

To end this week, here’s something of interest to you baseball fans courtesy of regular blog contributor Rick Kurish – although it’s really more for devotees of the Cincinnati Reds than our Cleveland Indians.

Rick enjoys researching, and contacted me a few weeks ago with some baseball lore that he dug up – namely some very early baseball coverage as reported by one of our local newspapers.

He wrote, "Since the opening day of the 2017 baseball season is rapidly approaching I thought I would share one of the earliest reportings of a baseball game that I have come across in the local newspapers. The attached article is taken from the Elyria Independent Democrat of June 29, 1870, and relates the local fervor over the result of a game played between the Cincinnati Red Stockings and the Philadelphia Athletics on June 22nd.

"As most baseball fans are aware, the Cincinnati Red Stockings were the first professional baseball team, going professional for the 1869 season. As a result, they went undefeated that year, finishing with a perfect 65-0 record.

"The next year they continued their dominance, stretching their consecutive win streak to 84 games. Finally on June 14, 1870 they were defeated by the Brooklyn Atlantics by the score of 8 to 7 in 11 innings at Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn. The following week they were scheduled to play the Philadelphia Athletics, another baseball powerhouse, in Philadelphia.

"Since Philadelphia had recently defeated the Brooklyn Atlantics by the lopsided score of 19 to 3, they harbored the idea that perhaps they were the better team. The game played on June 22nd between Cincinnati and Philadelphia for baseball supremacy proved to be a slugfest that ended in a Cincinnati victory by the score of 27 to 25.

"The attached article details the importance of the game to excited local fans and affirmed Cincinnati's claim to be the best team in baseball.

"I have also attached a photo of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings baseball team. The photo is from a web site devoted to the team and is in the public domain."
In closing, Rick expressed his hope for a good season for our favorite local team. "Lets hope the Cleveland Indians can run off several winning streaks this year,” he noted. "I would even settle for something less than 84 straight wins. Go Tribe!!!!”
Amen to that. Thanks for sharing, Rick! 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thew Shovel Demolition

Undated aerial photo of Thew Shovel
(Courtesy Dennis Lamont)
Courtesy P. C. Campana
I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the demolition of many of the original Thew Shovel buildings that’s been going on at the P. C. Campana complex on E. 28th Street since last year.

I happened to pass by it on the way home from Oakwood Park on Sunday and thought it was strange to not see the buildings that were so familiar to generations of Lorainites.

Thew Shovel is sometimes overlooked when it comes to celebrating Lorain’s glory years as an industrial powerhouse. Perhaps that’s because after a merger in 1964 the name was changed to the Thew – Lorain Division of Koehring Co.
Nevertheless, Thew Shovel was an important part of making the name ‘Lorain” known all over the world.
July 1949 newspaper ad
Anyway, I took a few photos from my car as I proceeded west on E. 28th Street. 
The intersection of Fulton and E. 28th Street
For great and poignant photos documenting the gradual demolition of the former Thew Shovel buildings, visit the always interesting website.
I did take a few photos on another Sunday morning back in 2013. I’m kind of glad I did.

Speaking of the Thew Shovel buildings, it didn't take long for the company to expand its operations in Lorain in the early years. As this news item that appeared in the Norwalk Reflector of December 12, 1901 explains, a 100-foot extension to the shop on the west end was planned.
(Courtesy Drew Penfield)
Also, according to the May 26, 1913 edition of Industrial World, a 125 x 60 extension to the Thew Automatic Shovel works main building was being pushed to completion.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Oakwood Park – Part 2

It’s a good thing that Google Maps has an outdated view of Oakwood Park from July 2014 (above). At least we can see how Oakwood Park used to look before the park improvements began late last fall.

It’s pretty shocking if you compare the above photo to how it looks now with so many trees cut down.

Although the story had been in the news for months, I hadn’t had a good look at the park since last December. So I drove over there on Sunday to take a look as well as some photos. Of course, the leafless trees and soggy grounds made it look even more barren and depressing.
Looking east towards Grove Avenue (Route 57) from the center of the park
It seemed like a good idea to make $9 million worth of major improvements to the park, which had seen better days. To be fair, it was known all along that the first phase of the project would require the removal of existing trees. 
But somehow, seeing a bunch of park trees cut down has a way of making one feel empty and sad – especially with the long wait expected between the cutting down of the trees and the next phase of the improvement project. Thus the whole thing has been more or less put on hold for now, according to this story.

I snapped this photo (below) of the park back on a Sunday in late December on the way home from Elyria. With the fresh stumps dotting the landscape, it looked as if Paul Bunyan and his Seven Axemen had laid waste to the place.

The view from Route 57
Here’s hoping that the community decides what it wants in a new, improved Oakwood Park and that the plan unfolds smoothly and quickly.