Thursday, April 30, 2020

1970 Vermilion Liberty Avenue Streetscape – Part 4

Here’s a final look at a few more businesses listed in that 1970 Baldwin ConSurvey directory, along with what is at their location on Liberty Avenue today.

Lake Erie Drive-in was located at 4503 Liberty Avenue.

Courtesy Ritter Public Library
Ad from the May 26, 1965 Vermilion Photojournal
Ad from the August 27, 1970 Vermilion Photojournal
Rather than paraphrase information about the Drive-in found online, here’s a link to a nice article about its history by Rich Tarrant, webmaster of the "Vermilion Views” website. 
Today, the building that housed Lake Erie Drive-in is the home of Jim’s Pizza Box.
The late, great Elberta Inn was located at 4320 Liberty Avenue. 
I wrote about Elberta Inn a few times in the past. Back here, I posted a fascinating aerial photo of the Inn from the archives of the Lorain Historical Society; on this post I featured some great vintage ads announcing the upcoming May 1935 performance of Duke Ellington there; and on this post, I wrote briefly about the tragic fire that destroyed the Inn in February 2011, and led to the empty lot that is there today.
The view on the day after the fire
Right next door to Elberta Inn to the west was Cavalier China, at 4340 Liberty Avenue.
Now this is a store that I remember – mainly because of the sign on the building. It included a large, 1950s clip-art style illustration of a woman’s head. I seem to recall that she was gesturing or pointing, similar to the illustration below (although her hand was closer to her face). Does anyone else remember this sign? I’d sure like to see a photo of it.
Cavalier China was previously located in Lorain at 1431 Colorado Avenue, before moving to Vermilion in April 1965. Putnam Furniture was the previous tenant of the building.
Courtesy Vermilion Photojournal
The March 31, 1965 issue of the Vermilion Photojournal included an article (along with the photo above) about Putnam Furniture’s move to a new location. Referencing the old building at 4340 Liberty, the article noted that it “was formerly a dance hall and skating rink.”
You can see the former dance hall/skating rink in the aerial photo below (which I referenced above while discussing the Elberta Inn). Only part of the building survives today.
The large, multi-story building to the left of the Elberta Inn would later be the home of Cavalier China
Today the building at 4340 Liberty is home to Pet Depot. Here’s the link to the company’s Facebook page.
The A&W Root Beer stand was located at 4372 Liberty Avenue. I’ve written about it before (here), as it was a place that my parents took us to. 
Today, Wendy’s is at that location.
There are a lot of other businesses in that 1970 directory listing that are gone, but whose buildings live on with new tenants. West Side Federal Savings & Loan’s building at 4400 Liberty is now home to Fifth Third Bank; the Lawson’s Milk building at 4410 Liberty has been repurposed for use by several small businesses.
But the one thing in the 1970 directory that surprised me was finding out that Vermilion once had a Manners at 4566 Liberty Avenue. Here’s a photo of the restaurant that appeared in the Vermilion Photojournal on May 21, 1970.
I’m not sure if it really was a Manners Big Boy or just a Manners. This Grand Opening ad (below) from the June 25, 1970 Vermilion Photojournal doesn’t even mention the famous double-decker hamburger.
The 4566 Liberty Avenue address puts the Manners roughly near the entrance driveway to the Crystal Shore Apartments. But I’m not exactly sure which corner it was on; does anyone remember? And could you get a Big Boy there (or had Manners already lost its affiliation with the famous sandwich by then)?
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UPDATE (April 30, 2020)
If you read the comment section, you’ll note that our friend Bill Nahm has answered my question as to the location of the Manners restaurant. It was right where the Rite Aid drug store is today.
You’ll also note that I’ve acknowledged that some of those 1970 addresses are incorrect in that Baldwin ConSurvey directory. Thus I’ve posted (below) the listings from the 1970 Dickman directory, since they seem to be more accurate.



Wednesday, April 29, 2020

1970 Vermilion Liberty Avenue Streetscape – Part 3

Continuing with our look at the businesses that were located on Liberty Avenue in Vermilion circa 1970, compared with what companies are there now...

I’ve only eaten at The Nest (at 3701 Liberty Avenue) once, but was impressed by the great food, service and decor. It’s one of the few businesses (besides The Pit) listed in that 1970 directory that are still around. Here’s the link to its Facebook page.

June 18, 1970 ad from the Vermilion Photojournal
The Nest today
D&D Sohio Service Station was located at 3714 Liberty Avenue. Surprisingly, it was not on a corner like so many other gas stations. (Gino’s Lounge next door had that honor.) Today the former service station building is home to Ondus Auto Service.

I was genuinely surprised to see that at one time, there was a full-service grocery store literally a few minutes from where I live now. Moats Sparkle Market was located at 3723 Liberty Avenue (just to the east of Trinity Lutheran Church). Today the building is home to Napa Auto Parts (which is still nice to have nearby, but I’d rather have the food).

The listing for Pickering’s Cottages at 4125 Liberty Avenue is intriguing. Unfortunately I’m not sure if the address is correct, since that would put them between The Pit and the gentle upward slope of the overpass. 
Back on this post, I noted that the 1954 Lorain County Farm & Rural Directory – which lists businesses in the order that an observer recorded them, relative to each other with no numerical addresses – indicated that Pickerings Cottages were located to the east on U.S. Route 6 near Ferndale. A review of the historic aerial website does show a small row of cottages/cabins on the southeast corner of Ferndale and Liberty.
Next: A few more businesses

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

1970 Vermilion Liberty Avenue Streetscape – Part 2

Continuing with my look at the businesses located on Liberty Avenue (U.S. Route 6) between Baumhart Road and The Pit, circa 1970, and what is at their locations today.

The Cheese House was located at 3509 Liberty Avenue. (It’s interesting that there were two cheese places within a mile or two of each other.) The building has undergone a quaint transformation during the past few years and most recently has been home to a salon.

Before the Remodeling (Courtesy Lorain County Auditor)
It’s nice to see the listing for Village Motel at 3537 Liberty Avenue in the 1970 directory and know that it has survived for so long (especially when all the motels in Lorain on Route 6 are gone). Today the motel is known as Village Inn.

Willard’s Gulf Service Station was at 3594 Liberty. For many years it was a Marathon station, but recently became affiliated with Sunoco. (For me, it’s been a place to pick up a newspaper and a Mallo Cup before heading home.)

Herb’s Union 76 was located at 3655 Liberty. Today, it’s not obvious at all that the building – currently housing Liberty Ag Feed & Supply (below) – was home to a service station.

Hanna House – at 3674 Liberty Avenue – has been mentioned on this blog before. It was preceded at its location by the popular Fior’s Lake Road Spaghetti House before becoming Hanna House sometime in the late 1960s. Today, the building is the home of Driftwood Inn. The Inn recently experienced a growth spurt during which the second story was significantly enlarged.
Ad from the August 27, 1970 Vermilion Photojournal
The newly enlarged Driftwood Inn
Another view of the newly enlarged Driftwood Inn
Gino’s Lounge was the business in the brick building located at 3700 Liberty Avenue. It most recently was the home of Blind Perch.

Next: The time machine trip continues

Monday, April 27, 2020

1970 Vermilion Liberty Avenue Streetscape – Part 1

Back in January, while researching the history of The Pit for my multi-part post, I spent some time looking through vintage city directories to examine the restaurant’s listings.

The Lorain Public Library had exactly one directory that was devoted entirely to Vermilion: the 1970 edition of the Baldwin ConSurvey. The thin volume had the listing below for The Pit.

Its also included The Pit in its Restaurant’s section.

Anyway, the Baldwin ConSurvey directory also had the listings by address, providing a virtual snapshot of the Liberty Avenue streetscape at that time if you were heading west from the city’s eastern border.

It’s interesting seeing the names of long-gone businesses located on that stretch of U. S. Route 6. 
Some of them, like the Holiday Inn Steak House, have been written about on this blog before. Right about that time, the Holiday Inn Motel was transitioning into the Holiday Apartments, and the restaurant was in the process of dropping the “Inn” portion of its name as well.
Ad from the July 9, 1970 Vemilion Photojournal
Holiday Steakhouse building today
Other listings bring back memories of businesses that I remember seeing from the back seat of my parents’ car, such as Willmay’s Gift House & Cheese Shop. I couldn’t find much about it on the internet, except that it was there as early as 1962. I seem to recall large German cutout characters in front. Today its location is occupied by the Vermilion Farm Market.
Courtesy Google Maps
Margie’s Restaurant was located at 3249 Liberty Avenue. Today that address is the home of Miss Kitti’s, which specializes in home baked goods, including poppyseed rolls.
Right next door to the west was the Shipwreck Motel, another place I remember seeing when I was a kid, especially the small, beat-up boat in front. Regular readers remember that I wrote about it back here, when in its earliest days was known as John’s Motel & Cabins.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Cereal Box Time Capsule

Last week’s posts about cereal reminded me that it was only last month when I belatedly opened up my cereal box time capsule.

You see, as part of the turn of the Millennium celebration back in late 1999, General Mills offered a special version of Cheerios called – what else? – Millenios. The back of the box noted, “Now’s your chance to be a part of history! Use this collector Millenios box as your own unique time capsule to store your special mementoes. We’ve provided some ideas to get you started, but use your imagination and leave behind a memory to share in the future.”
The suggestions included coins, stamps, collectible toys, newspaper and fashion clippings, family videos and photos and favorite music.
The box also had some “Millenios Predictions” on the side in which you had to fill in the year that you thought they would come true, such as "Scientists will find life on another planet by the year ______.” (By the way, I answered it: NEVER.)
Anyway, I decided to seal my Millenios box for 20 years, a la Rip Van Winkle. With no kids of my own, I figured I might as well plan on being the one to open it.
So last month, after digging through a lot of storage boxes, I found the Millenios box and opened it up. Since my memory isn’t always that great, I had forgotten what I put in it and looked forward to seeing what kind of cool stuff I had stashed.

I discovered I was pretty unimaginative when it came to deciding what went into the box. The contents (old coins, newspaper clippings, grocery coupons, a Green Lantern comic book, a couple of photos, etc.) looked like the same junk in my desk drawer now.
The one thing in the box, however, that I remembered putting in there was a letter I wrote to my future self. (I know, it’s a nutty idea.)
“Dear Dan,” it began. “Hello from the Past. It is New Year’s Day 2000 and I am writing this letter to you so that you will open it in 2020.
“You are an old geezer now of 60 and I hope that you have had a good 20 years.”
The letter then went on to mention some things that had happened in 1999, including the beginning of my father’s health problems – leading me to make the following observation: “I guess the most important thing I learned is to appreciate your loved ones, as you never know when they might not be around. Also, appreciate each day of your life, as you never know when you’re not going to be around.”
The rest of the letter is much too personal to share here. But it provided some nice memories of what my life was like then, with details that I’d long forgotten.
The letter to myself closed with these thoughts: “I hope that you have enjoyed the last 20 years like you did your first 40. I hope and pray that the Lord has continued to smile on you and your family.”

Well, He has. And I’m happy to say that I’m still following the advice I gave myself twenty years ago.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Elyria L-K Restaurant

Back in March on Election Day (or what was supposed to be Election Day), I posted a vintage L-K Restaurant ad from March 1970. It listed two restaurant addresses at that time: Lorain (Rt. 58 and Cooper Foster Park Road) and Elyria (Rts. 10-20).

Although I remember the Lorain location, I was never at the Elyria one. But as longtime blog contributor Dennis Thompson pointed out in a comment, the former restaurant building is still there, out on Oberlin - Elyria Road (Old U. S. Route 20).

It’s a pretty distinctive building (below), very unlike the boxy Lorain restaurant. An online search seems to indicate that after its L-K days, the building was the home of Brown’s Family Restaurant. Today, however, it’s the home of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6273.

And here’s a vintage photo of the Elyria restaurant circa 1969 – with watermark – courtesy of VintageAerials.com (a subsidiary of Thompson Enterprises). You can see the L-K letters on the building.
Although you can’t see the signage near the highway in the vintage shot, you can get a pretty good idea of what it probably looked like. The empty sign brackets on the “today” shot seem to match up well with this old postcard (below).
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Right out there in the same general area, just a few miles to the north on Oberlin-Elyria Road, is the old and deteriorating rainbow arch bridge

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Sandusky Drive-in Theater Revisited

Sept. 16, 1948 ad from Sandusky Register
Aerial view of Sandusky Drive-in Theater
(Courtesy Sandusky Library)
One of my favorite Sunday drives (when I’m not under lock-down, that is) is following U. S. 6 from Vermilion to Sandusky. There’s still enough old motels and cottage camps on the highway to make it an interesting ride. But a lot of roadside landmarks have disappeared in the last twenty years.

But I’m a creature of habit, and even though something may have been torn down – like the Sandusky Drive-in Theater – I can’t resist taking a look at where it used to be. It was located on the eastern outskirts of the city. It first opened in May of 1948, according to the Sandusky Library’s Sandusky History blog. (A newspaper ad from later in the year is shown above.)

I first photographed the Sandusky Drive-in Theater back in 1991, when it was still in operation. Here’s the photo (below). It was a rather unappealing sky that day.

Later, I went back and shot the theater again after it closed in 2001. This photo (below) with a menacing sky is from June 2007.
And here are my shots from this week (below). Today the former drive-in property is part of the East Sandusky Bay Extension 200 Acre Preserve. You can still see the little road that wound around in front of the theater, and where it comes out onto Cleveland Road West (U. S. 6).

(I first wrote about the Sandusky Drive-in back here in 2010).

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There are a lot of great photos of the Sandusky Drive-in Theater (including one of mine), as well as some newspaper ads & clippings, over on the Cinema Treasures website. Check it out!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Bonnie Dell Motel Revisited

Back in the early days of this blog, I used to take it on the road once in a while – outside of Lorain County – to some of my favorite destinations around Ohio, including Ashland.

Driving around the Ashland area always takes me right past the former Bonnie Dell Motel on U. S. 250. I gave it the “Then & Now” photo treatment back here in 2011 using the vintage, stained postcard shown above.

Although the strip of motel rooms behind the main house is long-gone, the property is of historic interest today. That’s because right next door is a historic monument honoring John Studebaker and the location of his farm and blacksmith shop. (Studebaker later founded a wagon works in South Bend, Indiana that evolved into the well-known automobile brand.)

Anyway, last month I received an email from Andrew Bennett, whose parents owned the Bonnie Dell property. He took the time to write me in appreciation for the post about the motel. 

Andrew noted, My father was the person who bought that property right before I was born and ended up tearing down the motel when I was only a few years old. If my memory serves me correctly, that was the result of some zoning dispute." 

He also had a few treasures that he wanted to share.

"I was doing some cleaning and went through another box of his belongings that I hadn't checked in years, only to find the key to Room 5.

Andrew also had a color postcard of the motel. Its view is very similar to that of the black and white one (although there are subtle differences in the trees and landscaping, as well as a parked car). 
Here’s my new Now Photo (belowto go along with the color postcard.  


(The photo wasn’t easy to get, as U. S. 250 there is a narrow two-lane highway with a lot of traffic zipping to and from I-71, which is nearby. This was shot out of my car window as there was no place to pull over safely and park.)

Anyway, Andrew was pleased to see that the Bonnie Dell Motel isnt entirely forgotten. He noted, "Your blog posts appear to be the only remaining evidence online that the motel ever existed aside from some vintage aerial photography. Thank you for preserving local history.