Thursday, October 22, 2020

Dr. Silkini’s “Asylum of Horrors" Returns to Lorain

Halloween is coming up – so it’s a good idea to revisit Dr. Silkini and his traveling horror show. 

The good doctor made an appearance at the Lorain Drive-in back on September 16, 1959. Here’s the ad for Dr. Silkini’s Asylum of Horrors that ran in the Lorain Journal on that day.

Looks like the three-hour show had quite an lineup: the Frankenstein Monster, Garganta the Giant Gorilla, the Mummy and – if horror wasn’t your bag – ‘Beautiful Curvaceous Hollywood Starlets.’ It’s not clear what movies were shown, but according to the ad there were ‘2 SCREAM PICTURES.’

I’ve written about Dr. Silkini (and similar horror roadshows) before, including this 1957 appearance at the Palace Theater. Although the show might seem more appropriate in an indoor theater, I’ll bet it was spooky out there on the outskirts of Lorain under the stars back then.
Judging by newspaper clippings from all over the country, Dr. Silkini’s horror show seemed to make its monstrous mark in the entertainment world by the 1940s.
This article ran in the Jefferson, Indiana Tribune back on February 12, 1943.
The Louisville Courier-Journal seems unimpressed by Dr. Silkini’s upcoming stage show at the National in this theater column mention that ran on August 12, 1945.

This article from the Evergreen, Alabama Courant of May 20, 1948 about the upcoming Dr. Silkini show advises bobby-soxers to come with an older escort to the show, rather than a younger boy friend, because “some of the young boys can not stand the chills and faint away.”
The Frankenstein Monster was still the highlight of the show when it appeared in Moline, Illinois according to this article from the Sept. 10, 1949 Dispatch.

Lastly, this photo from the Chillicothe Gazette of Saturday, November 17, 1962 gives us a glimpse of some of the Hollywood starlets that were promoted in the “Asylum of Horrors” ads. The hairdos (including the one on the disembodied head) make me wonder, though, if the photo dates back to the early days of the show. The caption notes, “This is the same show that has played theaters throughout the world for the last 25 years.”
For more fiendish fun with Dr. Silkini, visit these other blogger's links.
The “Travalanche” blog features a nice write-up of the Dr. Silkini shows; the writer of “The Big Séance” blog has fun observations as well; and the whole ‘spook show’ phenomena is looked at from a well-researched historical perspective on a blog called "The Chiseler."

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Get Your Lorain County I.D. Card at Midway Mall – October 1970

Ad from the Journal, Oct. 16, 1970
(Don’t ask me who the pretty young woman is)
Here’s a curious idea that was promoted in Journal ads beginning in August 1970: the offer of getting your own ‘personal tamper-proof identification card’ at Midway Mall.

The above ad ran in the paper on October 16, 1970 in advance of the event the next day.

What was the card good for? Mainly for buying booze, apparently, since the whole thing was sponsored by  the Greater Lorain County Retail Liquor Association.

Here’s the explanation from an article that ran in the Chronicle-Telegram on November 19, 1970. By then, the program was well under way and well-received, with almost 2,000 cards issued so far.

The article noted, "Plastic identification cards, useful for proving age and cashing checks, have been issued to nearly 2,000 area residents since local liquor dealers began their "Identi-Proof" card campaign in August. The identification card promotion is sponsored by the Greater Lorain County Retail Liquor Dealers Association in cooperation with the Lorain County Sheriff's department. 

"Every Saturday since August 15th, a sheriff's deputy, working on his own time, has photographed between I00 and 175 people at the Midway Mall for the identification cards. 

"The plastic card shows a picture of the holder and serves as positive identification as proof of age for liquor purchases and for cashing checks in some local banks and retail liquor establishments, according to Boris Lazoff, president of the liquor dealers association.

"Two auxiliary deputies, in addition to the photographer, check papers brought in by applicants as identification for obtaining the cards, according to Sheriff Vernon M. Smith.

"The campaign is completely funded by the liquor dealers, Smith explained.

"No county money is being used in the project. Lazoff said the identification card processing team would be in the Mall every Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. until the end of the year.

"Proof of age in the form of a birth certificate, baptismal papers, or recently issued driver's license, and Social Security number are required at the time the card is processed, Lazoff said. The liquor dealers are trying to introduce the Identi-Proof card campaign to Lorain County Community College and Oberlin College, but have gotten no response from either institution to date, according to Lazoff.

"The liquor dealers association is also hoping to extend the campaign to neighboring towns, Lazoff said.

Its kind of amazing that the card could be used as proof of age to purchase liquor (or perhaps 3.2 beer as the case may be). I wonder how long this gimmick lasted?

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Snoopy at Midway Mall – October 20, 1970

My last surviving Peanuts book

Although Charles Schulz passed away twenty years ago, his Peanuts comic strip remains in the public eye, with a big budget computer-animated movie back in 2015 and many new retro-style products that hearken back to the strip’s original explosion in popularity in the 1960s.

My siblings and I remember it well. Since the comic strip was not in the Lorain Journal in the 1960s or 70s, our main exposure to Snoopy and Charlie Brown were the TV specials that ran on CBS. We eagerly awaited each one.

We also had many of the Peanuts books that contained reprints of the strips, unaware that the comics that we were reading were ten or more years old. (That’s one of them at the top of this post.)

Anyway, as the early 1970s unfolded, Peanuts was in its heyday – and that was reflected in these Journal items from October 1970.

The first is this article from the October 18, 1970 Journal about Schulz and his creation. 

Note in the photo that he’s posing in front of a set of the Peanuts Hungerford dolls (I had a Charlie Brown one, which I wrote about here).

Here’s a color version of the photo in the article. Charlie Brown is really beat-up!

A day after the above article ran, this advertisement appeared in the October 19, 1970 Journal promoting the upcoming appearance of Snoopy, as well as his nemesis the Red Baron, at Midway Mall.

Schulz would surely have cringed at the off-model drawing of Snoopy in the ad.

Was the event something unique to Midway Mall, or was it a traveling show? I can’t seem to find anything online to answer that question – no photos, other ads, etc.


I’ve done several posts about Peanuts, including this one about the “Great Pumpkin” TV special, this one about the Christmas special, and this post about cartoonist Al Capp (of “Lil’ Abner” fame) poking fun at Peanuts.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Grand Opening of Taco Kid on Oberlin Avenue – October 1970

Yes, the Taco Kid rides again on this blog. 

The building at 4300 Oberlin Ave.
that was home to Taco Kid

It seems that I keep coming up with more things to write about this forgotten Mexican fast food chain, which had outlets in Lorain on West Erie Avenue (the building that houses Chapman’s Food Mart) and Oberlin Avenue (where Exhale Hooka Lounge is located). I'm still impressed that this little-known franchise beat Taco Bell to Lorain.

And fifty years ago this month, Taco Kid was holding a Grand Opening of the store on Oberlin Avenue.

Here’s the ad that ran in the Journal on October 16, 1970.

And a day later, this ad ran in the paper.

As I mentioned on an earlier post, the chain was originally called Taco Boy when the West Erie Avenue store opened in 1969. But by early 1970, it had been renamed Taco Kid (which I discussed on this post). 
By October 1970, it seems that only the Oberlin Avenue restaurant was still part of the chain (since it was the only location being advertised). Perhaps a Grand Opening being held so many months after the store first opened was due to a change in ownership or something.
Anyway, a month later, Taco Kid held an unusual promotion – a souvenir poster that was 25 cents with any purchase. Here’s the Journal ad from November 27, 1970.
So why do I think the poster promotion was unusual? Because the poster was for a (fictional) movie called "Midnight Sancho" – a takeoff on Midnight Cowboy. The stars of Taco Kid’s movie was Putsom Meatinya and Bidda Hunkov.
Here’s a copy of the poster. I’m surprised that there are still a few of these floating around the United States.
As you can see, it is indeed a takeoff on Midnight Cowboy’s poster. The burrito on the right is wearing the same fringed cowboy jacket as Jon Voigt did on the Midnight Cowboy movie poster, and the burrito on the left has on the long coat that Dustin Hoffman was wearing. (There’s even a tiny bit of the light pole that was on the Midnight Cowboy poster.)
I wonder what advertising agency thought it was a good idea to tie in the Taco Kid name with an X-rated film about (as Wikipedia puts it) “the unlikely friendship between two hustlers: naive prostitute Joe Buck (Voigt) and ailing con man “Ratso” Rizzo (Hoffman).”
Although the smell of the hookah smoke now wafts on Oberlin Avenue where once the aroma of tacos and burritos drifted, there’s still one tell-tale sign of the building's origin as a Mexican fast-food joint: its windows.
A realty website reveals that the original half-dome windows from Taco Boy/Taco Kid days are still visible from the inside.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Harvest House Cafeteria Ads – October 1970

It’s been a couple of years since I featured the Harvest House Cafeteria at Midway Mall on the blog. My observation in the assortment of posts was that it seemed to be perpetually Thanksgiving at the restaurant, with a roast turkey dinner more often not being the special.

There also seemed to be an endless parade of clown illustrations in the ads, designed to appeal to the kids (in those days before clowns were seen as sinister or hiding out from the law).

Anyway, here is an atypical pair of Harvest House ads – with neither turkey or clown – from the pages of the Journal back in October 1970 – 50 years ago this month.

The first ad (from Tuesday, October 6th) features ‘All the Fish You Can Eat.’ The special was only good on Wednesday. Why not Friday?

A few weeks later on October 23, 1970 (with perhaps the supply of cod or pollock exhausted), the ad promoted ‘All the Chicken You Can Eat.’ This special was good every Sunday, thus tying in nicely with the movie, play and book entitled Chicken Every Sunday.

Hey, I wrote about chicken dinners recently back here.

Anyway, ‘Chicken Every Sunday’ was apparently the menu that my father got used to while growing up. His grandfather raised chickens (and pigs too) right at his home on W. 28th Street in Lorain. Since they all lived together during the Depression (Dad’s parents lost their house), that’s what they had on the Sabbath. 

Maybe that’s why in later years, Dad couldn’t stand chicken in any form.

Meanwhile, my mother reminisces that she hardly ever had chicken while growing up in the 1930s. Her father liked unusual things, like liver – not exactly a kid’s favorite. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Journal Sign Gets a Paint Job – Oct. 10, 1970

The view this week
Although the Morning Journal is no longer printed at its former facility down at the Devil’s Elbow (or even in Lorain for that matter), its name still adorns one face of the clock tower there. It’s a nice reminder of the days when it was truly a Lorain paper.

As a kid in the 1960s, I used to watch for the Journal paperboy in late afternoon, so I could see what was happening in Li’l Abner, especially if Fearless Fosdick was being featured. 

Isn’t if funny remembering how the paperboy (or papergirl as the case may be) used to come collecting?  Our carrier used to come on Friday night, or Saturday afternoon. The young entrepreneur used to have a little ticket with dates on it for each subscriber, bound on sort of a keychain, and they would punch it after you paid them. I remember a few times having to answer the door and pay & tip the kid if Mom was busy.

It’s too bad those days are long gone – and the era of impersonal delivery via a noisy car (often needing a new muffler) is here to stay.

Anyway, 50 years ago the Journal was still in its plant and thus wanted to leave a good impression on the community. So from time to time the iconic Journal sign needed to be freshened up. And that’s the subject of the photo and caption shown below, which ran in the paper on October 10, 1970.

I featured photos of the Journal sign before, back here and here, in both cases as part of a Daylight Savings Time story. The photographer even had a little fun with one of the images in those long ago, pre-Photoshop days.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Dodge Ads – October 1970

A 1972 ad

The Dodge brand of automobile really had some distinctive advertising back in the 1960s and 70s that set it apart from its competitors. The theme of the cowboy-hatted Dodge Boys, the “Good Guys in White Hats” that were ready to beat the competition to the draw, was an appealing idea that really enhanced the Dodge image, making it memorable and fun.

The ad below from the Lorain Journal of October 5, 1970 – for the Si Gary Dodge and Myers Motors dealerships – is part of that campaign. 

Note how the Dodge Boys cartoon logo is perfectly designed to appear on a variety of promotional items – and it sure did. Here’s a small sampling of vintage items from Ebay, including a button, a cup, golf tees and even a hot pad.

The early-1960s version of the logo was sans cowboy hats.

The Dodge Boys concept also worked well in a series of animated commercials.

Two days after the above Journal ran, this Si Gary ad for the Dodge Demon appeared in the paper on October 7, 1970. The ad (most likely designed by the Journal art team) featured the cute Demon logo.

Although the Dodge brand has bounced around a bit between owners, it’s still a great looking line of cars (that belies the abuse the brand took as the car that Al Bundy drove on Married With Children).

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Spiegelberg Orchard Ads – October 1970

Here's a pair of Spiegelberg Orchards ads that ran in the Journal back in October 1970 – 50 years ago this month.

This ad from October 9, 1970 touts the selection of apples available – Jonathan, Cortland, Red Delicious and McIntosh – as well as the fresh, home pressed cider. 

It’s funny how fifty years later, tastes in apples have changed. Longtime favorite Red Delicious was edged out by Gala a few years ago, and newer varieties such as Honeycrisp and Evercrisp are gaining in popularity. 

Here’s the current Top Ten List of Most Popular Apples in the World. (Yikes, a Communist apple is number one. Those Rushkies must have tampered with the voting.)

Anyway, on to the next ad. In October 1970, Spiegelberg Orchards was celebrating its 50th anniversary, and that was the theme of this ad from October 16th.

My mother recently surprised me with a story relating to the Spiegelberg farm that I hadn’t heard before.
Back in the 1930s when Mom was growing up, her father knew the Spiegelberg family, and used to buy milk from them at their farm. (Since Mom was a little on the scrawny side, her parents used to make her drink the cream that settled near the top of the bottle back in those days before milk was homogenized.)
Anyway, my grandparents used to visit with the Spiegelbergs for a bit after buying milk, so that left time for Mom and her sister to amuse themselves outside. Mom told me that one time they wandered across the highway to explore an abandoned brick schoolhouse. While investigating it, they found a dusty old 13 star American flag.
(Now that doesn’t mean it was an original. This website points out that 13 star flags were made, and are still being made, for a variety of reasons, including July 4th celebrations.)
Mom and my aunt excitedly brought their prize back to the Spiegelberg farm house. But their joy was short-lived, however, because Grandpa made them put it back where they found it, before the return trip back into Lorain.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Spiegelberg Orchards Article – October 18, 1970

Lorain County is largely rural, and consequently its residents are blessed with ample, nearby sources of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Since it’s autumn, thoughts of apples and cider naturally come to mind, and a variety of local orchards and farms are ready to satisfy everyone’s particular taste.

Although Spiegelberg Orchards is no longer in business (its former site is presently undergoing the transformation for its new use as the home of a Carvana facility), it's pleasant to remember shopping there as it was one of the closest orchards to Lorain.

Read all about Ken Spiegelberg and his family business in the fine profile below, written by Journal Staff Writer Hugh Gallagher that appeared in the paper on October 18, 1970 – fifty years ago.


It’s Apple Cider Time

Spiegelberg Orchards: Business as Brisk as the Air


APPLE CIDER is as sure a sign of autumn as the falling leaves. Ken Spiegelberg is pretty busy at this time of year, as was his father before him, for his business is an orchard and a roadside fruit and vegetable stand.

FOR FIFTY years, Spiegelberg Orchards, 6161 Middle Ridge Road, just south of Lorain, has been providing quality apple cider and many other products to the people of the area.

Spiegelberg pulled up an apple crate in the open air market on a recent brisk autumn day and talked of the changes that have occurred over the years and those he expects to see in the future.

In 1920 Earl W. Spiegelberg opened the produce market which carries apples, peaches, pears, prunes, potatoes and a number of other produce goods. The market developed out of a farm owned by Earl’s father William H. Spiegelberg which he settled in 1899.

Earl began with five acres of planting. Today Ken Spiegelberg manages 125 acres of fruit production.

THE OLD MARKET is no longer the same, even the crate that Spiegelberg sits on will soon be a thing of the past. It will be replaced by a corrugated cardboard carton.

But still around is the old fashioned feel of autumn. Bags of large fresh red apples, jars of apple butter and jugs of cider fill the shelves. In the back fresh cider is being made. People from all around the Lorain area come on the brisk October afternoon to buy what Spiegelberg calls nature’s greatest asset to health, apples.

The last fifty years have provided a number of changes both in production methods and customer taste.

“When my father started out apples were primarily packed in bushel baskets and sold. People used to store the apples in their cellars,” Spiegelberg said. “Today our largest seller is the peck bag because people buy smaller quantities at a time.”

People are buying a different kind of apple today too, Spiegelberg said. Years ago they bought most cooking apples to make pies, but today it’s mostly eating apples like the Delicious variety.

Improvements in farming techniques have meant improvement in the quality of the produce, said Spiegelberg.

“We try to insure top quality. To make a quality product it begins in the orchard. You must have a good pruning program to produce a top quality fruit crop. You must have a good fertilizer so trees have good nutrition. That way you don’t have soft apples. And you must have a good spray program to keep out insects and diseases,” Spiegelberg said.

HE SAID THE orchard uses only pesticides under Federal Food and Drug Administration jurisdiction. The orchard also uses a new piece of washing equipment to thoroughly wash the fruits before they are stored.

“We pick the fruit at optimum maturity and put it in our cold storage facility which has a capacity for close to 30,000 bushels,” Spiegelberg said. “We get the fruit in cold storage within 24 hours to insure top quality produce through the winter months.”

The continuously expanding storage space allows for winter consumption of fresh fruits and apple cider that was once impossible.

Spiegelberg said that business at the orchard is always increasing. He said they sell thirty to forty thousand bushels of apples a year and tens of thousands of gallons of apple cider.

For the future Spiegelberg sees many changes, but he is optimistic that the changes of the next fifty years will be as beneficial as the changes of the last fifty years.

“I feel there will be a trend toward the small dwarf trees. These trees are about half the size of the old apple tree. They allow for easier handling and the apples come into production sooner,” Spiegelberg said. 

“There will be better methods of pest control by the systemic method. The pesticide will be injected into the tree. As more is being discovered and as the public becomes more aware of the nutritional value of apples, the demand for them will be even greater.”


These views (courtesy of Google Maps) of the former Spiegelberg property area are already obsolete, as the farmhouse and all of the buildings in the rear (the market building, barn, etc.) are all gone and the land cleared.

You can see the Spiegelberg property (numbered ‘1’ and ‘2’) on this map representing the northwestern part of Elyria Township, circa 1912.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Western Reserve Beef Ad – October 1, 1970

Here’s something that might look familiar to those of you who read the Journal regularly in the early 1970s: an ad for Western Reserve Beef, which was located in the North Ridgeville Shopping Center. The ad ran in the Journal on October 1, 1970.

Whoever designed the ads for this company did a great job. First, the extra-thick border really drew the readers’ eyes to the ad. And second, the ads all featured the great drawing of a cowboy hatted steer, providing continuity (as well as encouraging us to eat his own kind).

There’s not much else to say except that although the company went out of business in the early 80s, it was somewhat ahead of its time. Early during the coronavirus panic this year, there was fear of a beef shortage, and I saw on the news that some people were actually buying a whole steer and having it custom butchered & frozen.

Now that’s someone who really likes their beef.

As for me, as much as I like beef (it’s “What’s for Dinner,” after all) I still prefer to buy it fresh – preferably from Polansky’s. 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Fire Prevention Week – October 4 - 10, 1970

October 4-10, 2020 is Fire Prevention Week™ - so it’s not too late to post this almost full-page Journal ad commemorating the same event 50 years ago. It’s always a good idea to remind everyone to be careful.

There’s not much to say about the 1970 ad. Not even a cameo by Sparky the Fire Dog!

As usual, the fun is checking to see which businesses and organizations are still around, although you can usually count them on one hand. American Crucible is one major business listed that’s long gone.

Fast-food-wise, only Arby’s is still around, since Sandy’s and Burger Chef turned off their burger grills years ago. In 1970, Arby’s had just opened its Griswold Road location (since closed).

There are a lot of insurance companies listed in the ad, but the only one I recognize as still being in business is the one that I use: Janasko. The company was still in the Broadway Building in 1970 and wouldn’t move to their present home at 562 Broadway until 1975.

Other than that, I only see theaters that closed, and banks that changed their name or were taken over by others.

Anyway, in the Sandusky Register yesterday, I noticed that Sparky the Fire Dog had paid a visit to the Erie County Fairgrounds on Tuesday, where local first responders representing Sandusky and Huron, as well as Perkins and Margaretta Townships, filmed some cooking fire prevention videos.

Courtesy Sandusky Register

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Cooper’s Hollow & Gobler’s Knob in the News

Looking north on Gore Orphanage Road as it winds around
and becomes Darrow Road. Cooper’s Hollow is down below to the right.

Cooper’s Hollow
has long been associated with the valley through which today's Cooper Foster Park Road once crossed the Vermilion River, since at one time the Cooper family owned all the land there.

To some, the Cooper’s Hollow name might sound vaguely spooky. It brings to mind other hollows such as the haunted Sleepy Hollow from Washington Irving’s story, or Swift’s Hollow, the setting for the local Gore Orphanage legend. 

And Cooper’s Hollow does have a connection to a graveyard – an automobile graveyard, that is.

A quick check through some Vermilion Photojournals from the 1960s reveals that Cooper’s Hollow was a favorite dumping ground for stolen or stripped autos. The Darrow Road/Gore Orphanage Road intersection was ripe for accidents as well.

Here’s a small sampling of news items mentioning Cooper’s Hollow from the pages of the Vermilion Photojournal. Not all of them involve cars. 

This editorial is about shooters doing a little illegal target practice in Cooper’s Hollow from the November 11, 1965 Photojournal. It mentions Gobler’s Knob, as being at the top of the cliff overlooking the valley. 

This item from the May 5, 1966 Photojournal shows a car stolen from Yepko’s Tavern in Vermilion that was stripped, and dumped in Cooper’s Hollow.
The car in this October 6, 1966 Photojournal article just missed going over the cliff. The article mentions Gobler’s Knob as well.
This article from the November 24, 1966 Photojournal notes that ‘thieves tried to push this car down the abandoned road into Cooper’s Hollow.'
The Vermilion Photojournal of December 22, 1966 included this photo of yet another car pushed over the cliff at Gobler’s Knob.
The car shown in this photo from the October 3, 1968 Photojournal just missed going over the cliff.
A June 1966 article about a tragic drowning not far from Cooper’s Hollow makes a reference to a swimming hole located “about a half-mile north of the old bridge.” So it looks like the Cooper Foster Park bridge might have still been standing at that point, although the road had been abandoned according to a November 1966 article posted above.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Cooper Foster Park Bridge Over Vermilion River – Part 2

 It’s a bit of a hike to get to the abandoned bridge abutments nestled in the Bacon Woods.

Starting where the new Great Nest reproduction is located, you have to follow the Bacon Woods Trail (red markers), then the Bluebird Meadow trail (blue markers), and finally the Coopers Hollow Trail (yellow markers).

But if you keep bearing left and follow the trail closest to the Vermilion River, you can’t miss the abutments. At one point, you will see the one on the one on the west bank of the river peeking through the trees, and a little path leading to it. 

If you follow the narrow path towards the river, you will see the abutment on the east bank immediately on your left.

Stepping out onto the river bank, you can get a better look at it.

It looks a little nicer in the late afternoon.

And let’s not forget the one on the west bank of the river. Here are morning and late afternoon shots of it as well.
Lastly, here’s a Google Maps view showing roughly where the west abutment is located. You can’t really see it, but I know that’s the approximate location because of the appearance of the riverbank opposite it. I tromped around it a few times in preparation for this post.
If I hadn’t dropped out of the Cub Scouts, today I might be able to identify some of the tracks left there by the wildlife (below). Oh well.