Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Reddy for a Newfangled Electric Refrigerator – July 1938

Flies getting into your home is one of the unpleasant aspects of summer. No matter how hard to try to avoid it, it’s almost inevitable that at least one fly is going to get in at some point. And then the comical chase begins.

Worst of all is when you can’t find it – and you know he’s there somewhere, possibly landing on your food (yecch) or even you when you’re not paying attention. I’m positively neurotic when it comes to finding the offending airborne intruder, and disposing of him before I do anything else.

Our old pal Reddy Kilowatt doesn’t like flies either, judging from his reaction in the ad above, which ran in the Lorain Journal back on July 28, 1938. Of course, that’s one monstrous fly, rendered in disgusting detail.

The focus of the ad is the promotion of the new Frigidaire electric refrigerators to replace the old ice box that kept its contents cool with – what else? – a block of ice.

My mother remembers her family’s ice box well. It was in a little shack-like structure on the back of their house on Sixth Street, where the ice could melt and not make a mess. She also remembers going with her father over to the Lorain Crystal Ice Company to buy ice from the vending machine there, and hearing the various clunks as the ice made its way down the chute.

Anyway, during those Depression days, the refrigerator in the Ohio Public Service Company ad could be had for $4.00 a month (that’s $77.00 a month using one of those online inflation calculators).

At that price, I reckon I might have had to buy a fly swatter instead.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Nathan Perry’s Road – July 21, 1926

For you history lovers, here’s an interesting article from the pages of the Lorain Journal of July 21, 1926. It concerns the effort of two Lorain men (one a city engineer, the other an official with the Chamber of Commerce) to trace a historic road dating back to Lorain’s earliest days. The article illustrates their research efforts and the many challenge of trying to interpret various clues more than a hundred years later.

****

Trace Lorain-Co Road Used By Nathan Perry 125 Years Ago

By A. O. France

A LOST road 125 years old, believed to be the oldest highway in Lorain-co, is being traced by assistant city engineer Edgar Job and H. G. Curtis, secretary of Lorain Chamber of Commerce.

Long since fallen into disuse the century old road is marked now by inaccurate measurements, old hickory and elm trees, and rotten stumps.

This meagre dole of information is supplemented by the startling announcement in an old record book that the road goes “by” the trading post of Nathan Perry.

That word has caused Curtis and Job much perplexity. Job says that he wishes he had the patience of his Biblical namesake. Curtis seconds his wish.

For they cannot decide whether “by” means past, near or misses.

That’s because all other records assert that Nathan Perry’s trading post was located near the mouth of the Black River. Should the road record be authentic Perry’s post must have been near the present site of the post office at 9th-st and Broadway.

History of the road goes back to the year 1808 when the entire western portion of the original Western Reserve was known as Geauga-co. The county seat was at Chardon.

Curtis and Job went to Chardon recently. There they found a record dated Nov. 8, 1808. It contained a petition to the commissioners of Geauga-co praying that a road be established to start at a point 10 miles west of Hudson and proceed to the mouth of the Black River, there to join the road leading from Cleveland to the western line of the “firelands” – what is now the boundary of Erie-co.

Here’s the original “praying” which sets forth the desire of prominent citizens for the road.

“We, the undersigners, being desirous of obtaining a road for the accommodation of the public, present this petition before your honorable board, praying you, the honorable Commissioners for the County of Geauga, and the State of Ohio, to grant a committee to lay out a road, beginning where contemplated road from Hudson westward shall strike the line of the county, thence the nearest and best way to the head of boating on the Black river, thence the nearest and best way to strike the contemplated road from Cleveland to the west line of the fire lands; which committee we do wish to have appointed to do their businys [sic]. The persons we do wish for a committee are Nathaniel Doane Esq., Calvin Hoadley and Bella Brunson, all of which is a desire of yr Humble servants.”

Then follows a list of signers of this petition.

That the petition was granted is evidenced in the fact that Curtis and Job have found definite traces of the road.

Starting near Boston-twp and proceeding westward through Columbia they arrived at a large ash tree near the 10th mile post from the Cuyahoga river. Thence by a series of intricate measurements in chains they arrived at the site of a farm owned by Calvin Hoadley.

From there the directions took them to an old mill. A “creek of water” running northwest was their next clue. Then an old mill mentioned in the record proved that they were on the right trail. They kept on. Old tree stumps, large rocks, and a clump of elm trees rewarded their search.

At last they reached what is referred to in the record as “a trading camp on the Black river.”

From that point on, it was easy to follow the directions given in the 125-year old manuscript.

But the result was mystifying. The record commanded that they cross and re-cross the Black river arriving finally at the spot where the road goes by the trading post of Nathan Perry.”

Curtis and Job are still puzzling over the original location of Perry’s post. Was it at the mouth of the river? Or was it at 9th-st and Broadway?

Until they solve that problem the greater puzzle of what happened to Lorain’s lost road after it reached Lorain will remain a mystery.

****

I’m not a historian, but to me, the whole thing seems like an odd premise. 

You would think that if a road was carved out of the wilderness from Hudson to today’s Downtown Lorain (slightly more than 50 miles) that it wouldn’t have been ‘lost’ or have disappeared. It would seem that such a road would have appeared on at least one township map from the 1800s, and eventually would have evolved into a well-traveled state route or county road.

Interestingly, the Ohio Turnpike would seem to be the modern-day equivalent for most of the route.

Monday, July 26, 2021

From Indians to Guardians

So the new name of the Cleveland Indians is going to be the Cleveland Guardians. 

With all due respect to the Native Americans that were offended by the old name, all I can say is: Ugh. 

I really thought that they would go with no mascot – and be known simply as ‘Cleveland.’ It would have been a good solution. The offensive ‘Indians’ name would go away, but it would still be there in our memories. Plus, having no mascot would be unique, and sort of fit in with the minimalist approach of the Cleveland Browns and their plain orange helmets.

My second guess was that the team would go back to an earlier name – the Cleveland Spiders. Although I don’t like spiders (or any kind of insect or bug, for that matter), at least it would have introduced the concept of heritage. It wouldn’t even have needed a cartoon spider logo. The team would benefit from the historical equity of the earlier name, with some old-time lettering in the logo to drive the point home. 

In my mind’s eye, I can see how the team could have creatively transitioned back to the Spiders name, with a special ceremony at the old League Park where they played. The new Spiders could have worn vintage 1920s uniforms for the first season. It would have generated a lot of publicity and goodwill.

One of the stone Guardians
(Courtesy Wikipedia)
But no, the team will be called the Cleveland Guardians, a completely meaningless name. 

The Guardians name has a similar cadence to ‘Indians’ with the ‘-dians’ at the end, so it rolls off the tongue in a familiar way. But what does it honor? Carved stone gods on the Hope Memorial Bridge that very few people in Northern Ohio (much less the rest of the country) even know as ‘the Guardians of Traffic.’

I stopped being an Indians fan long ago, so I’m not too upset. I still root for the team for the sake of its fans. But the fans don’t seem to be too happy right now, judging by comments left on news websites and social media.

Anyway, a ‘guardian’ is defined as a defender, protector or keeper. 

What will the Cleveland Guardians be guarding or protecting? Not their historical legacy, that’s for sure. Maybe home plate?

But I wish the team good luck as they go forward next season with their new name, while the old team name heads off to the Happy Hunting Ground.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Lorain City Club’s Kids Baseball Day – July 19, 1951

Here’s a nice reminder of a different time, a time when Lorain had an active City Club that sponsored an annual trip to take a group local kids to see a Cleveland Indians game.

The full-page ad ran in the Journal on July 18, 1951.

It was a total community effort (not to mention the involvement of the Indians as well). 

The list of local industries and organizations that helped make the event possible included the various ethnic societies (such as Sons of Italy, United Polish Club, Slovenian Home, Saxon Club, etc.), the unions, fraternal organizations (such as the Elks), service organizations (such as Lorain Lions Club, Lorain Kiwanis Club) the veterans organizations, the utilities, the area’s industrial giants (National Tube, Fruehauf, Nelson Stud, B. F. Goodrich Chemical, etc.) and of course the Journal itself.

It was a great game too – the Indians versus the Boston Red Sox. The Indians and pitcher Early Wynn prevailed, winning 5-4.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Lorain Fight Party – July 26, 1928

Ticket stub from the fight
currently on eBay
It was back on July 26, 1928 that heavyweight champion Gene Tunney defeated New Zealander Tom Heeney at Yankee Stadium. The fight ended with a technical knockout when it was stopped by the referee in the eleventh round.

Although the fight did not draw as many fans as expected, it was a big hit in Lorain. 

As the article above from the July 27, 1928 Lorain Times-Herald notes, “more than 1,000 wildly excited fans milling around in Fifth-st with ears strained to catch every word broadcast of the thrilling encounter for the world’s heavyweight championship.”

“Shortly after seven o’clock the crowd began to gather.

“They were entertained with popular music furnished by the Wickens Furniture company until the preliminaries were started. 

“Shortly before the main bout started, police were forced to stop traffic between Broadway and Reid-av in Fifth-st when the huge crowd completely blocked the street.”

The photo accompanying the Times article features heavyweight boxer Johnny Risko of Sheffield Lake congratulating Tunney. The caption notes, “It’s a pretty good bet and the smile on Johnny’s face indicates it too – that the Risk will get a crack at the title ere long.”

But Johnny would not get another crack at Tunney, who announced his retirement five days after defeating Heeney. (Click here to read a great account of the bout written by author Paul Beston.)

****

Click here to read my past posts on Johnny Risko.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

New Design for Lorain City Hall – July 22, 1971

Fifty years ago this month, Lorain was in the process of reviewing the design and cost of its brand new City Hall, which would replace the aging yellow mansion that had been in use since the early 1900s.

Below is an article that appeared in the Journal back on July 22, 1971. The Journal’s J. Ross Baughman created the sketch of the building.

In the article, Architect Warren Finkel explains the various steps being taken to bring the cost down to  about $5 million (from the original $8.7 million). Cost-cutting measures being proposed include the elimination of underground parking and reduced space for various departments.

****

I was never a big fan of the current City Hall. Why? I guess it’s because I always thought that it was simply too big, and too pretentious, especially in view of what had been serving as city hall for decades (at right). The current City Hall just doesn’t have any heart, in my opinion. Plus, it wiped out a whole city block’s worth of businesses, stealing much of the character of Downtown Lorain.

And if you think about it, the city began its slow slide into decline within a few years of the new City Hall’s completion. Coincidence? I think not.

I think the current proposal about possibly moving to a new city hall somewhere else in the city is a good idea. Perhaps if it becomes a reality and the current City Hall is demolished, some demons would be exorcised and the city can begin a new path towards a rosier economic future.

Yessir, a demolition brick from a demolished Lorain City Hall would make a mighty fine addition to my collection.

****

The old Lorain City Hall has been a recurring topic on this blog since the beginning.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Vermilion to Buy L.S.E. Right-of-way – July 1938

Last week I posted a July 1928 newspaper article announcing that construction bids were soon to be accepted to replace the highway bridge over the Vermilion River.

Ten years after that article appeared in the Lorain Times-Herald, Vermilion’s main east-west highway through town (Liberty Avenue, U. S. Route 6) was in the news again. This time, the focus was eliminating the two crazy curves that the highway took at the western border of town.

The plan to eliminate these two turns, and create a straight route for Liberty Avenue through Vermilion, required purchasing the right-of-way of the defunct Lake Shore Electric. 

As you can see on this page from the July 13, 1938 Lorain Times-Herald, it was pretty big news.

As noted in the article, “the tracks of the now unused traction line go down the middle of the Main Street.” Acquiring the land on which the tracks were located and using the properties for a relocated Liberty Avenue made sense.

Elsewhere on that same page of the Lorain Times-Herald, the Lake Shore Electric was also in the news in Avon Lake. An article at the bottom of the page notes, “The stone waiting room at Stop 56 by the L. S. E. tracks was no sooner deserted by the commuters than its possibilities for a No. 1 clubhouse was realized by a group of boys who had just organized themselves into what the community now knows them by, the Doodtlebug [sic] club.
“Six boys who lacked an outlet for their ambitions now hold their meetings regularly in this exclusive clubhouse and have as their aim the spreading of happiness for some one else.”
Unfortunately, the Doodlebuggers couldn’t send any sunshine out to Vermilion to help expedite its road proposal.
As noted on this blog post, by 1940 the State of Ohio was still talking about and studying the highway plan. By March 1952, the two curves still hadn’t been eliminated and the Lorain Journal was calling it a deathtrap.
It wouldn’t be until November 1955 when the new 4-lane highway would finally open, providing a straight shot through town and ending the decades-old bottleneck.