Joseph S. Zboray was the man behind his newly expanded business, which was known just a few years earlier as the Smokeless Coal Company. The company was located at 1127 Reid, which puts it right next to the Nickel Plate tracks.
You can see a little of the building in this archival photo courtesy of Drew Penfield. (For a Then & Now treatment of this photo, click here.)
Some of the brands show up in 1947 Zboray Coal phone book ads.
But coal’s days were numbered, apparently. By 1950, the phone book contained only 29 dealers; by 1956, only 18 remained.
It was about this time that the Zboray Coal Co. disappeared from the directory.
Coal continued its downward slide; by the end of the 1950s, the number of coal dealers had dwindled to 11. And by 1970, three remained.
****Like many houses in Lorain, the house that my mother grew up in on Sixth Street had a coal furnace. She told me that the coal bin was located in a corner on the driveway side of the basement, and that there was a little window above it through which the coal company would extend its chute. “I can still remember the sound of the coal coming down that chute into the basement. The whole house shook,” she explained.
I'd never really thought about what a coal delivery looked like until I saw a Tom & Jerry cartoon called Mouse Cleaning (1948). Here are a few frames from the cartoon, in which Jerry Mouse diverts the coal chute from the cellar into the living room to make a big mess (and get Tom in trouble).
Later, my grandparents reluctantly converted their furnace from coal to natural gas. Mom said Grandma felt that a house heated with gas wouldn't be as warm as one with a coal-fired furnace.