Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Signs of Change in Huron – 1968

Twenty-one years after the subject of Monday’s blog post about the 1947 Lorain street signs, the Journal was still patrolling the local highways in search of signs that weren’t doing their job.

On January 12, 1968, the paper turned its attention to Huron in this article that describes the city’s ambitious program to replace its old traffic signage. The photos above accompanied the article.

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Huron’s Road Signs Hit the Road to Junk Pile
By WAYNE C. PEEKS
Staff Writer

HURON – Old battered traffic signs in Huron are going – going to the junk pile.

A two-phase program to rid Huron’s streets of present traffic signs has been initiated by Robert C. Klepper, superintendent of city streets and parks.

THE FIRST PHASE will see new stop signs on all roadways approaching the main thoroughfares and raised speed limit signs on the major roads within the city.

Phase two of the project calls for revamping or replacement of speed limit, no parking and railroad crossing signs within the city’s numerous allotments.

Klepper said he hopes to start work on phase one this spring and work should be completed by summer.

FIRST TO BE REPLACED will be the stop signs leading to major highways, Klepper said.

He said the present stop signs are 24 inches in width and the state now requires the signs to be 30 inches and also be eight sided. About 75 stop signs will be replaced, he said.

Also to be changed are speed limit signs on the major roadways.

THE SUPERINTENDENT said about 200 speed limit signs will have to be raised more off the ground so the sign will be five feet from the pavement, a state requirement.

Most of the signs are now two or three feet above the roads. Klepper noted that with higher signs, they would not become as dirty with slush from the roads and would not bend as quickly by snow-plows in the winter months.

All “Speed Meter Ahead” signs will be removed from under the speed limit signs, he said. A new state law states the warning signs do not have to be used anymore to warn the traffic of radar.

KLEPPER SAID THE state may help the city to finance and place the new stop signs and raise the speed limit signs.

Phase two will begin in the spring of 1969 and, like phase one, is expected to be completed by summer.

Allotments and side roads will be affected by the 1969 project and will include everything from repainting signs to replacing them, Klepper said.

The superintendent said most of the work in part two will be “bringing the signs up to standards.” He said Chaska and parts of Old Homestead would not be affected because of the new signs already up.

Klepper also said some of the traffic signs will be reflective; mainly stop, railroad and curve signs.

Some of the railroad signs within the community may also be replaced, he said.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Signs of Distress – January 1947

Here’s an interesting little article that appeared on the front page of the Lorain Journal back on January 15, 1947 – 70 years ago this month.

Back then, the Journal was truly a Lorain paper and a watchdog too. In this article, the paper documented a few signs that were in dire need of attention and/or replacement by the Street Department.

Two are humorously mangled. One is unreadable.

The most interesting one to me is the street market that stood at 28th and Broadway that apparently had lost its lettering. The newspaper noted that “it looks like a Civil War monument.” It does!

In case you’re wondering (like me) what one of these looked like when it was readable, here’s one that somehow survived in Warren, Ohio.

Courtesy Leon Reed/flickr

Friday, January 27, 2017

Five Small Lorain County Communities – January 1967 – Part 2

Here’s part two of that great article that ran in the Journal on January 2, 1967, profiling five small Lorain County communities – Pittsfield, Rochester, Brighton, Huntington and Penfield.

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Where Sights, Sounds Still Savored
Life of 5 Area Communities Explored – Part 2
By VIRGINIA WILLARD
Staff Writer

Huntington
Huntington is spread out on either side of busy SR 58, a feeder highway to the Ohio Turnpike and Cleveland-Cincinnati Freeway (I-71).

THE VILLAGE sees much traffic including the heavy summer travel to and from adjoining Findley State Park.

While Huntington has several lifelines, including a school, two grocery stores, a tavern, a grange, a Veterans of Foreign Wars post, much of the social life is centered around the United Church.

Its adjoining Ward Hall is brightly lighted on almost any given evening of the week. It is used by church groups, boy scouts, cub scouts and by county groups as a meeting place for southern Lorain County organizations.

The school houses four grades with approximately 100 students. It is a part of the Black River School District. There is also a pre-school mothers club in cooperation with nearby Sullivan.

Grocery stores are operated by Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Nicely and Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Hall. The Grange has an active organization as have the boy scouts and several 4-H clubs.

THERE IS also a town hall where trustees meet twice a month to discuss and administer affairs.

Penfield
Penfield is a going community, ever busy with school, church and Grange affairs. “There’s always a lot of activity going on,” said one resident recently.

Penfield’s school includes first through sixth grades. It is a part of the Keystone School District. An active Parent-Teacher organization takes great interest in school affairs.

Near the school is the local grocery store and filling station, operated by Lloyd and Dorothy Gott. Farther west on SR 18 is another store, Bara’s Market, with Steve Bara as owner.

Penfield has a number of businesses: Billington Company and Penfield Welding on SR 18; Myers Trucking, George Gnandt Electrical Company, Frank Parks nursery, and three dog kennels operated by Mrs. Dewey Abram, Joe Schmidt and John and Bea Chismar. The latter also have a tropical fish business.

THERE IS an active Grange organization, and two 4-H clubs.

The township also boasts an archery range on Foster Road with the Izaak Walton League as owner.

The entire community is served by United Church around which much of the social activity.

There are a number of women’s organizations who meet at Society Hall. Boys clubs and township trustees meet at the Town Hall.

The town is blessed with a beautiful community park which beckons not only to local persons but weary travelers on SR 18.

The crossroads of SR 18 and SR 301 is a dangerous one with a 35 mile speed limit posted but rarely observed by motorists. Local and county groups have sought to have a traffic signal installed at the intersection. The state department of highways has said “no.”

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Well, we know Penfield lost one of its lifelines – the Penfield Grocery Store – a little more than seven months later. The Penfield Grocery Store closed near the end of August 1967, which I blogged about here. I also did a then-and-now photo study of the store here in 2012.

Since the 1967 Journal article, the United Church of Huntington has built a beautiful new church adjacent to Ward Hall and the original church.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Five Small Lorain County Communities – January 1967 – Part 1

I don’t do too much on this blog about the southern part of Lorain County, even though it’s an area that I enjoy for its rural charm. To remedy that neglect, here’s a great article that ran in the Journal on January 2, 1967. It profiles five small communities – Pittsfield, Rochester, Brighton, Huntington and Penfield – and their various “lifelines.” It’s a nice snapshot of what they were like fifty years ago.

The article is kinda long, so I’m going to bust my transcribing of it into two parts.

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Where Sights, Sounds Still Savored
Life of 5 Area Communities Explored
By VIRGINIA WILLARD
Staff Writer

A ‘lifeline’ to the outside world can be a real necessity to a small community.

This lifeline can be a grocery store, church, school, post office, business – anything which gives people a chance to get together and communicate.

THERE ARE five such communities within an eight mile radius of Wellington, and with the exception of Rochester, eight miles to the southwest, the smaller communities are exactly five miles away:

Penfield, east on SR 18
Brighton, west on SR 18
Pittsfield, north on SR 58
Huntington, south on SR 58.

Wellington itself is only a village, yet it is large compared to the nearby hamlets. Standing in the business square of this village of 3,600, and looking to these smaller communities, is much like being a weathervane in a whipping and variable wind.

All of these communities have several lifelines.

Pittsfield
PITTSFIELD has the fewest, being presently limited to a church. The crossroads village has mushroomed with new buildings since the 1965 tornado, but replacements of a town hall and grocery store are needed to complete the pre-tornado picture.

Plans are on file for the town hall and one bid received, but actual construction awaits forthcoming federal funds which will be paid in under the tornado aid plan.

Rochester
Nearby Rochester is the largest of the communities surrounding Wellington yet it has the least lifelines to the outside world.

It has scarcely any business district, no school and no grocery store. Its main outlet, the post office, is being closed down by the postal department.

However, it does boast a mayor and council who meet once a month to iron out problems that concern the community.

THE VILLAGE is located on secondary SR 511 and bisected by the New York Central Railroad. On each side of the tracks are grassy plots with the north area designated as Rochester Memorial Park.

Several picnic tables and swings for children make the park a pleasant spot in summer. Over the Fourth of July weekend the park and surrounding area really come to life when the annual homecoming celebration is held.

The business district is practically non-existent, but there is a combination garage - filling station, saw mill and water hauling business run by Wade Knapp.

THE EWELL family operates the Rochester Elevator. On a back street in the old school house, Howard and Ross Eaton have a woodworking shop called the Town and Country Cabinet Shop.

Newest business is to the north of the park. This is a second hand store run by George Ostro. Jack Hodgkin, Rochester’s mayor for many years, has a cement block business immediately to the south of the tracks.

Norman Wolfe, south of the village, has a Christmas tree business and Harry Rowland Jr., out in the country, has a trucking firm.

There is a rumor in Rochester that a grocery store is to be opened in the building which housed the post office. Such a store is greatly needed, say residents, who must now travel to Brighton (five miles); New London (seven miles); Nova (ten miles); or Wellington (eight miles) for a quart of milk or a loaf of bread.

The village has a Methodist and Baptist church with many activities scheduled.

There is a town hall where council and township trustees meet.

TRUSTEES are presently concerned with the condition of the hall which came in for criticism by members of the Rochester Garden Club following their fall flower show.

Rochester also has its own fire department, headed by Paul Harwood, with 4 men on call. The department also has an auxiliary called the Flares.

There is a Boy Scout troop with Mayor Clinker as Scoutmaster and there are two 4 H Clubs.

The village has had a Rod and Reel Gun Club for many years with Postmistress Mrs. Amanda Cariss as the only member.

To the casual passerby, Rochester may seem a sleepy little community.

But looks are deceiving.

To those who live there, Rochester is a beehive of activity.

Brighton
Brighton fought for one of its lifelines recently by voting down a school bond issue which would have called for demolition of its school, a part of the Wellington school district.

BRIGHTON HAS two churches, providing much of the social life for the crossroads community. A proposed merger of the churches is now being discussed.

Always a busy place is the combination grocery store, filling station and auto repair shop operated by the firm of Hough and Caldwell.

The village also has a welding shop run by Andy Davidson, a beauty shop by Mrs. Gordon Green, a custom draperies business by Mrs. Harvey Funk and a truck and implement shop by Allen Harrison, local farmer. The Brighton Elevator is run by the Ewell family who also have the elevator at Rochester.

It may not be apparent that Brighton is an expanding community, but a look at recent amendments to allow for trailer courts, oil wells, rifle ranges, etc., prove otherwise.

Another center of activity is the town hall, modernized with paneled walls and hardwood floors, where meetings by girl scouts, 4-H Clubs and township trustees, are held.

Next: Part 2 and Huntington and Penfield

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

1946 B&O Ore Bridge Demo Revisited

Courtesy Cleveland Memory Project
Since my last few posts have been about the ore bridges at U. S. Steel, I thought I might as well post a few articles that I recently found about the 1946 demolition of the ore bridge at the mouth of the Black River. That’s the bridge above in the vintage photograph circa 1936.

And here’s one of the articles, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on December 20, 1946. It tells how the demolition people were having trouble taking it down.

Strangely enough, while preparing this post, I made an embarassing discovery: I already did a post on the B&O ore bridge demo back in 2015 (here)! With the same article! Sorry about that, Chief.

Nevertheless, I found a couple new things about that demolition that you might find interesting.

The best one is the story about the demolition that ran in the “Log of Lorain,” which was a sort of gossip column that ran in the Journal in the 40s and 50s. Here’s the column (below), which appeared in the paper on December 20, 1946. It tells the story of an unfortunate sparrow that apparently got a little too close to the structure when the dynamite went off. The column also includes a mention of fighter Johnny Risko’s birthday party.
Lastly, here’s an article that ran in the Journal on December 27, 1946. The ore bridge was finally all the way down on the ground, but not without a near disaster.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

More Ore Bridge Lore… and More – Part 2

In his email, Dennis Lamont also had some insights on the Huletts and their gradual phasing out at the Lorain steel mill.
“Lorain's curved dock was a marvel, and the Huletts made it even better,” he observed. "Starting out at ten tons in a bucket, the last monsters took out twenty tons at a bite!  However, as the freighters grew in length, the farther away – and harder to unload – the center of the boat became.  
"Lake freighters have a loading and unloading sequence that has to be balanced to keep the boat from breaking. They get a visible twist to them while this is going on. In order to increase the reach safely, several ingots were wedged into the back of the superstructure of each machine to keep them from tipping."

Here is some footage of Huletts in action at Cleveland, courtesy of YouTube.

But getting back to the Huletts at the Lorain mill, Dennis continued. "Self unloading freighters eliminated all this, and brought in the conveyor system. The river couldn’t handle 1,000-footers to maximize efficiencies; the turning basin was too short. They couldn't back out. U. S. Steel couldn’t afford to transload like they did at the pellet terminal."

Courtesy Dennis Lamont
Dennis also shared a great photo (at left) of the Huletts unloading his "favorite ship” – the Thomas W. Lamont. Was Dennis related to the man for whom the ship was named?
No, but Dennis has a good story about that anyway. 
As Dennis explained, "When I first started at the plant, I was down at the docks when the Thomas W. Lamont was being unloaded.  
"I turned to the dock foreman and said, “Oh, look! They named a boat after Uncle Tom!" He looked at my hard hat (with LAMONT on it) and said, “WOW!”  
The book A Sailor’s Logbook: A Season Aboard Great Lakes Freighters by Mark L. Thompson notes that “U. S. Steel certainly hasn’t been very creative in naming their ships during the second half of the twentieth century. Most have been named for company officials or former company officials, men who aren’t particularly well known outside the steel industry."
That was the case here as well. Dennis noted, “Thomas W. Lamont was Andrew Carnegies’ right-hand man, and a high ranking government official during WWI – and of course no relation.  
"Thomas Lamont was a genuine Scotsman; the Lorain Lamonts were redubbed that at Ellis Island as being easier on the eye than the original Sicilian.”

Dennis’ “Uncle"

Thanks to Dennis for sharing his reminisces.

Monday, January 23, 2017

More Ore Bridge Lore… and More – Part 1

As Dennis explained, the ore bridges traveled around the semi-circle
formed by the dock line on rails that were about 600 feet apart.
(Postcard Courtesy Dennis Lamont)
Archivist and historian Dennis Lamont normally emails me with information and insights about the Lake Shore Electric Railway, his specific area of expertise and interest. But as a former employee of U.S. Steel in Lorain, he possesses much knowledge of the history of the mill and its operations as well.

My post on Friday about the demolition of the last ore bridge at U. S. Steel triggered some thoughts and reminisces that Dennis was happy to share with me.

Writing about the 1924 Lorain Tornado damaging one of the ore bridges, Dennis noted that the funnel "had such strong winds with it that it caused one of the bridges to lose control of its brakes. The operator was swept along as the bridge picked up speed, and he finally decided to bail out. 

It was pitch black and roaring and raining sideways.  He fell about four feet to the top of the pile. By luck (or foresight) he had positioned the cab there and rolled to the bottom. The bridge proceeded down the track to the end, hit the bumpers and tipped over.

As for his source for this story, Dennis stated, "The tornado story we got from official plant correspondence during the Centennial Museum setup. The plant sent a telegram of the plant condition to headquarters the next day, and it was the only major damage listed. Everything else was up and running.”

"One other thing on the ore bridges,” he pointed out. "I don't know when they installed them, but they had wind indicators on them. When the wind got to a certain speed, they had to take them to the end of the runway and mechanically lock them down to the rails."

Dennis had a funny story to share about the ore bridges.

"I got to ride one once out to the end over the river while it was working. The end was bouncing up and down as the bridge trolley went in and out. My fingerprints were probably still embedded in the handrails the day she came down!”

Next: Huletts

Friday, January 20, 2017

Last of the U. S. Steel Ore Bridges Comes Down

Right before Christmas I received an interesting email from Mr. James Shedron of New London, Ohio, about ore bridges – those large, distinctive looking cranes used for loading and unloading ore. You can see them in the two vintage postcards above.

James wrote to me about the waning days of the ore bridges at U. S. Steel.

He wrote, "I am a retired steelworker from “the Mill" in Lorain. I spent most of my time at the blast furnaces and ore-unloading docks. I want to share with you these old pics of the last of the ore bridges (No. 6) which was taken down on December 17, 1994."

Here are his photos.

“No. 6 ore bridge was the last of the ore bridges demolished, “ he explained. He noted that No. 6 was built some time around 1960, and had more capacity, as well as updated electrical systems. "No. 4 and No. 5, which were much older, were taken down sometime around 1977. These machines became obsolete with the advent of self-unloading Great Lakes ore carriers,” he added.

According to James, there were many changes on the docks beginning in the 1970s.
"During 1975-76 a new conveyor-belt unloading system was built at the USS docks to accommodate those self-unloaders. The Hulett machines, which dropped their buckets into the hatches of the old-style ore-carriers, also became obsolete and by 1982 they were no longer needed.
"Many jobs were eliminated; by the mid to late '80s, there were two guys remaining at the Docks operating and maintaining the self-unloading system.
“I was fortunate to board those ore-carriers when they would come to Lorain to unload their cargo. We had walkie-talkies at the docks, and we would communicate with the vessels out on Lake Erie as soon as they got near the breakwall. We could unload 23,000 tons, a typical boatload, in about 6 hours."
But the No. 6 ore bridge continued to hang on until the 1990s. Why?
As James explained, "The company kept No. 6 to handle odd jobs in the ore storage yard until 1994 when it was demolished."
“One more thing of interest about these ore bridges, “ he added. "That tornado that hit Lorain in 1924 damaged the dock area. An ore bridge was destroyed."
In closing, James couldn’t help feeling a bit wistful about the mill.
He noted, “It’s too bad that the mill is pretty much down and out. Fresh out of Admiral King High School in 1970, I started employment there. My father-in-law worked there along with many of my close family. I had forty years of service when I left in 2010. Those years went by in a flash!”
Thanks to James for sharing his reminisces and photos.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sealtest Ads Featuring Famous Cartoonists – 1947 and 1957

A few days ago I mentioned how the once mighty A&P chain of grocery stores went kaput.  Well, here’s another national brand that advertised a lot in the Lorain Journal back in the 1940s and 50s, but has similarly disappeared: Sealtest. 

Sealtest lives on as a brand of milk in Canada, but here in the Lower 48, it’s nowhere to be found. At one time, it was a popular brand of ice cream, running frequent ads in the Lorain paper.

The ad campaigns were pretty creative too. One featured the work of cartoonist George Lichty, who was well known for his Grin and Bear It comic feature. His loose, sketchy style of artwork is instantly recognizable.

Here’s one ad from the Lichty campaign, which ran in the Lorain Journal on January 15, 1947 – 70 years ago this month.

Toasted hazelnut sounds like a pretty exotic ice cream flavor to me, more like something from the 2000s than the 1940s.

And here’s another one from about a week later. It ran in the Journal on January 23rd. The motorist kind of reminds me of Broderick Crawford.

If you take a squint at the fine print at the bottom of the ads, you’ll see that Sealtest sponsored a radio show on WTAM called Sealtest Village Store, starring Jack Haley (also known as the Tin Man on the Wizard of Oz).
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Ten years later, Sealtest used another well-known cartoonist – Charles Schulz – for one of its ad campaigns, this time for its chocolate drink. (They couldn’t call it chocolate milk?)
Here’s an ad that ran in the Lorain Journal on July 11, 1957. It has a nice piece of custom artwork, unlike the stuff that is cobbled together now since Schulz’s passing. Strangely enough, the ever-present “Schulz” signature is missing.
There’s no doubt that the arguing ballplayers are Peanuts regulars Linus and Shermy, but who is the chubby, indifferent umpire? Did he get fat slurping Sealtest's ersatz chocolate drink?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

"Save Used Fats” Ads – January 1947

Courtesy pinterest
Did you know that during World War II, housewives were encouraged to save their cooking fats and turn them in at their local butchers or meat dealers? The reason: the fats could be used to manufacture bombs.
This article in The Atlantic explains it all.

Here's a great wartime LIFE magazine photo (below) sent to me by regular blog reader Rae. Not only is there a great "Save Waste Fats" poster right on the counter of the meat department, it turns out that it's an A&P grocery store!

Courtesy Pinterest
After the war, the saving of fats was still encouraged, as they were needed for such peacetime items such as tires and soap. That’s the point of the printed public service ad below, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on January 23, 1947 – 70 years ago this month.

Here’s another ad from that same January 1947 time period (this time without Uncle Sam clutching a container of fat as if he was about to take a swig). It ran in the Journal on January 20th that same year.

I’m not sure how long this campaign lasted.

I know Mom saved her bacon grease in one of those ubiquitous metal canisters (with the strainer insert) during the 1960s, but there wasn't anything patriotic about it. It’s what she cooked her eggs in.

(I would have to wait another twenty years to discover – as Joseph Heller described it in Catch-22 – the “smell of a fresh egg snapping exotically in a pool of fresh butter.”)

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If the idea of making soap from used fat intrigues you, then you might be interested in knowing that you can make bacon soap from bacon fat at home! Here’s the link to the tasty instructions.

By George, that’s one soap a meat-loving tyke wouldn’t mind getting his mouth washed out with!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A&P Ad – January 16, 1952

Ad from the Lorain Journal of January 16, 1952
It’s hard to believe that the great A&P grocery store chain is no more.

According to this Wiki entry, it had struggled since the 1990s, and been in and out of bankruptcy – before finally closing all of its remaining stores in late 2015.

That’s why it’s strange to see the nearly full-page ad above, which ran in the Lorain Journal on January 16, 1952 – 65 years ago yesterday. It reminds me of its one-time market dominance, with its great in-house brands (such as Eight O’Clock Coffee, which is still around today).

It’s no wonder that Mom shopped regularly at A&P in the Lorain Plaza shopping center in the 1960s. The chain had a long history in Lorain.

According to an article in the June 21, 1955 Lorain Journal, the first two outlets in Lorain celebrated simultaneous openings on July 1, 1919. One was located at 858 Broadway and the other was at 500 E. Erie. A third A&P store opened on August 1, 1919 on Pearl in South Lorain.

During the 1920s, an incredible thirteen A&Ps opened in Lorain. These small, neighborhood stores were followed by six more in the 1930s!

At one point, Lorain's biggest A&P was at 3809 Broadway, which opened in 1955. A&P even constructed an extension of W. 38th from Broadway to Elyria Avenue. (Don’t look for that street on a map today; somehow it disappeared after that store closed in the early 1970s.)

Sheffield Lake’s A&P opened in August 1959. It was followed by the Lorain Plaza store, which opened in August 1960 (which I wrote about here).

Like I’ve said before, I remember seeing Ann Page products on pantry shelves in our house in the 1960s, never realizing that it was an A&P house brand. I thought Ann Page was a Betty Crocker-like cook who specialized in preserves.

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I still buy Eight O’Clock coffee once in a while. The gimmick of grinding it in the store – and smelling its rich aroma – works for me.

That’s why I could never own a Keurig®. I want to sniff that coffee, man.

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Although I don’t shop for antiques anymore (since I’m rapidly becoming one myself), I still have a few doodads on my shelves at home. That includes the two A&P souvenirs below.

I used an identical A&P scoop for years to make coffee every morning, until it cracked. I then broke down and reluctantly started measuring with a tablespoon.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Frank Meluch of Lorain: America’s "Natural" Ventriloquist

I recently came across this great promotional card on Ebay for a ventriloquist named Frank V. Meluch.

The card was interesting to me; first, because of the great studio photo of the man and his well-dressed, wooden partner; and second, the ventriloquist’s contact information, which included his 320 W. 22nd Street address in Lorain, Ohio.

As you can see from his card, Meluch billed himself as America's "natural" ventriloquist. He must have been pretty good, as the card also stated that no "cover up tricks” were used in his act. He was also quite versatile, as his other entertainment skills included juggling, mimicry, and fancy & trip rope spinning.
So did Mr. Meluch ever hit the big time? I guess it depends on how you look at it.
According to his obituary (he passed away in 2003), he was born in 1916 in United, Pennsylvania and moved to Lorain with his family in 1925.

His obituary noted, "Mr. Meluch served with the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II as a sergeant under General George Patton in Germany. His decorations and citations include the World War II Victory Medal, the EAME Victory Medal with one Bronze Star, Meritorious Unit Award, American Theatre Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.
"Mr. Meluch worked at U.S. Steel in Lorain as a brakeman, conductor and engineer of 110 ton diesel engine for over 40 years retiring in 1977.”

His obituary also includes a nice summary of his entertainment career.

It states, "At the age of 20, he was billed as “America’s Only National Ventriloquist” and was known professionally as Don King. During the war, he and his side-kick Jerry DuBerry entertained the troops.
"He later became a magician specializing in illusion and slight-of-hand with coins, cards and ropes. His coin tricks included using silver dollars that many other slight-of-hand artists said were impossible. 
"Other hobbies in his repertoire included juggling, mimicry and rope spinning. He enjoyed performing locally in schools, hospitals, various clubs and nursing homes.”
"A devoted husband and family man, he was someone who guided and inspired. A true man of God, he healed hearts, souls, minds and bodies of everyone he met by sharing gifts of humor and unyielding faith and hope, even during the most challenging times. He believed anything was possible if you worked at it and never gave up."
It sure sounds like he hit the big time to me.
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I did a little research to find out more about Mr. Meluch. The promotional card seems to date from the late 1930s, since that’s when the city directories show him living at the 320 W. 22nd Street address.
Although there isn’t much of an internet footprint left by Mr. Meluch, I did find an article about one of his performances. The February 11, 1950 Sandusky Register included this article below. It reveals that he had several little buddies as part of his act, and that he had recently performed for Bill Veeck of the Cleveland Indians.
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Seniors Sponsor Ventriloquist At Berlin Heights
BERLIN HEIGHTS, Feb. 10 — Don King, frequently billed as Don King, America's Only Natural Ventriloquist will present an interesting and unusual program at the Berlin Height's town hall Wednesday at 8 p. m. The public is invited. 
King has given his program in schools, churches, and different organizations throughout the country. While in the air force he appeared at army camp shows, billed by the USO, special services, and American Red Cross. He also helped promote the sale of war bonds. 
Last year his act was selected to entertain Bill Veeck, president of the Cleveland Indians, at a banquet held in Lorain. King performs with two dummies, Henry and his heartbeat, Orpholin, at the same time. This is considered a rare and unusual accomplishment in ventriloquism. 
As an added feature, another figure, Jerry DuBarry, mysteriously appears during the program to the delight of the audience. 
The program is being sponsored by the senior class of Berlin Heights High School.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday the 13th Jinx Show at the Palace – January 1967

Over the years, the Palace Theater in Lorain used a variety of creative gimmicks to sell tickets.

Some of these gimmicks included a 1957 show featuring a ‘live’ appearance by the late James Dean, a 1957 show by Dr. Silkini & Company and the Frankenstein monster, a 1960 live stage appearance by the Three Stooges, and a 1964 ‘back to school’ cartoon carnival.

Well, here’s another creative effort. Above is the ad for the Friday the 13th Jinx Show, which took place on January 13, 1967 – 50 years ago today. The ad ran in the Journal the day before.

To be honest, though, I’m not sure what the hubbub was about. Despite the great illustration and ominous tone of the ads (“AT THIS SHOW anything can happen… AND PROBABLY WILL!), it seems like it was all just a cute setup to present a 1962 movie called Tales of Terror.
Poster courtesy of cathode13.blogspot.com
Here’s the terrifying trailer.
Apparently, the Jinx tie-in was that one of the Edgar Allan Poe stories that made up the movie was “The Black Cat.” Here’s a jolly frame from the film.
Courtesy of catsonfilm.net
Anyway, all of the ads for the Jinx Show featured the same black cat artwork, so I don’t think there was any advertised stage show to accompany the on-screen mayhem.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Finishing Ohio Route 2

While the Generation Gap was a big deal in the 1960s, there was another gap at that time that was probably of more interest to Lorain Countians.

That was the Vermilion Gap, the unfinished portion of Route 2 between Baumhart Road and Huron.

I've mentioned before how Ohio Route 2 was built in stages, and the above article – which appeared in the Journal on January 5, 1967 – explains how the Vermilion Gap was going to eventually be eliminated by 1973.

According to the article, there was supposed to be an interchange at Vermilion Road. I guess the highway designers decided to move it a little east, perhaps to avoid dealing with the river right there.

And the “super dooper” roadside park mentioned in the article did became a reality, with a trail leading down to a river view. (I haven’t walked it since the late 70s; maybe I’m overdue.)

The “Super Dooper” roadside park on Route 2
I've done quite a few posts on the “new" Route 2, which shouldn’t be surprising since it had and continues to have a big impact on our lives in Lorain County. Topics included the Oak Point interchange, the American flag overlooking the highway, a 1966 construction progress report, and the opening of the portion from Baumhart to State Route 61 in 1975.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What used to be in that building?

Recent photo of 215 E. Erie
I haven’t done one of these types of posts for a while, so here’s one to start off the new year.

For decades, eastbound traffic coming over the Bascule Bridge may have noticed a small boxy building on the north side of E. Erie. Of course, locals recognize the building at 215 E. Erie Avenue as the home of Mary’s Sweet Shop since 1976.

Here’s what it looked like after the business closed in in 2010 (which the Morning Journal covered here).

Courtesy Lorain County Auditor
Once the newer signage was removed, a vintage sign painted on the west wall was revealed (below). It was later painted over.

Courtesy Google
But what was in there before Mary’s Sweet Shop?

The earliest listing for the 215 E. Erie address in the Lorain city directory that I could locate was in the 1947 edition. (It was not listed in previous available editions, including the 1945 book).

Heisner Radio Inc. was the first tenant listed in that 1947 directory. The company listed ‘radio repair’ as its business. By the time of its 1958 listing, it had expanded to offer radio, TV and marine radio equipment. But the business was gone by the time of the 1959 edition.

Next, an Elyria company that most Lorain Countians are familiar with was briefly listed at 215 E. Erie in Lorain: Dick Stewart Inc. (later known as Stewart’s Appliance). The Elyria store had already been open for more than a decade, originally starting out as a radio store as well. But the Lorain location was only listed in the 1959 directory. After that the listing became vacant for two years.

It wasn’t until the 1962 directory that a new, soon-to-be longtime tenant took over the building: Domestic Upholstering.

1970 Lorain phone book ad
The same ad (shown above) ran in the Lorain phone book for many years. It’s a reminder of the days when Lorain had an incredible array of crafts and services available right in the city.

Domestic Upholstering would continue to be listed at the 215 E. Erie address through the 1975 city directory; Mary’s Sweet Shop took over the building after that.

Anyway, here’s hoping that whoever currently occupies the building at 215 E. Erie also has the same success at that location by the bridge that the previous tenants enjoyed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

More Harvest House Clowning Around

Last week I posted this January 1967 newspaper ad (above) for the Midway Mall Harvest House cafeteria. It just happened to be the only ad that I had on file.

Since I work in advertising (at the low end: direct mail), I found the ad somewhat interesting because it seemed like Woolworth’s was aiming strictly at the kiddie crowd with the clown and balloons. I wasn’t a real big fan of the clown art either. He looked a little creepy.

That’s why I was surprised to find this July 7, 1967 ad (below) on microfilm a day or so ago. Whoevever was in charge of Harvest House advertising must have felt the same way about that clown, because apparently he was fired (maybe out of a cannon).
Note how the layout is exactly the same, but better. This clown looks like he could have Ringling Brothers on his resumé.

The clip art of the parents is a little less cartoony too. (I wonder if Marlo Thomas was the inspiration for the drawing of the woman?)

Another ad (below) from January 19, 1968 featured the same clown. No balloons or Mom & Pop this time.

I’m beginning to think it was always Thanksgiving at your local Harvest House.

And lest you think that Harvest House’s advertising department was a bunch of clowns, here’s another ad, from April 7, 1967. This one tried a different approach – actually showing food and a chef.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Another Downtown Lorain – Then & Now

Here’s a postcard (above) of Downtown Lorain that I’ve never seen before. It’s kind of an unusual view in that it doesn’t include the Broadway Building or Loop area, which were seen on many postcards through the decades.

This postcard – published by Ohio Natural Color Card Company of Cleveland, Ohio – is offbeat for other reasons as well. The west side of Broadway is completely cloaked in shadow, including the Ohio Turnpike sign on the light pole. Parked cars seem to dominate the scene, and there are no visible store names on the buildings.

At least it gives the appearance of a somewhat healthy, bustling downtown. The back of the undated postcard stated that "About 600 retail stores are located in this area."

What’s the date of the postcard? I’m guessing it’s from the mid-to-late 1950s, mainly because the Ohio Turnpike opened in 1955. It also predates the use of modern zip codes in 1963, since both the printer and the company that did the color work (Howard Studios) use the old two-digit postal area codes as part of their addresses listed on the back of the card.

As for my sleepy “now” shot from last weekend (before the snow hit us again this week), it’s hard to believe it’s the same view. It’s cleaner, that’s for sure.

Gone is the Lorain Block, home to the Moose Lodge (at 361-371 Broadway) seen in the “then” photo. Also missing are all of the addresses between the still-standing Duane Building (at 401 Broadway) and 445 Broadway (where the now vacant Driscol Music store building is).
And the entire west side of Broadway seen in the vintage photo – from West Erie down to Fourth Street – is history.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Last Baby of 1946 / First Baby of 1947

Well, it’s just about the end of the first week of the New Year, so I’d better post this article (above) posthaste. It ran in the Lorain Journal on January 2, 1947 – 70 years ago this week.

It celebrates Lorain’s first baby of 1947: Michael William Kuhar, son of Lorain army recruiter Sgt. William Kuhar and his wife, the former Eileen Ardo. Kuhar was a veteran of World War II. He and his wife resided in a quonset hut in Kew Gardens.

The charming photo in the article, however, is of Lorain’s last baby of 1946, the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Matchison. Matchison was also a veteran of World War II.

By being born in 1946, the Matchison baby (who I believe was eventually named John Matchison) entitled his parents to claim a $500 income tax deduction.

But even though the Kuhars did not get the tax deduction, at least they got the usual gifts and goodies from area businesses (below).

It’s kind of comical that even though the mother does all the work of delivery, apparently there’s no gift specifically for her! Even Dear Old Dad gets 50 bus tokens!