Friday, February 3, 2023

Grand Opening of Amherst Foodliner – Feb. 1, 1963

Well, the weekend is here – and many of us that are willing to brave the cold will follow our natural instincts as food gatherers and head out to the grocery store.

Sixty years ago, a brand new option for groceries was the Amherst Foodliner, located on the corner of Milan and Quarry Roads. Above is the Grand Opening ad that appeared in the Journal on February 1, 1963.

Described in the ad not-so-humbly as "the greatest achievement in retailing history," the store boasted discounted prices on more than 1500 items." Free Prizes were also advertised, but were curiously not listed.

I'm not sure when the store became branded as an IGA outlet. 'IGA Foodliner' stores seem to have been fairly common in Ohio and around the country.

I never shopped regularly at this store, but was in there a few times to grab a few items during rides out in the country. After the IGA closed, a fire damaged the store while it was being remodeled as a new La Plaza Grocery store in Feb. 2021.

Here's a Google Maps view, circa 2021.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Groundhog Day in the Journal – 1953 & 1963

Well, it's Groundhog Day – always a fun time on this blog seeing how the holiday played out in the Journal over the years. I've devoted many posts to it, with vintage postcards (such as the one above) dressing up the proceedings.

The Journal didn't always acknowledge Groundhog Day. Sometimes the goings-on in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania made the front page; other years it was ignored entirely.

The paper didn't always go with what Punxsutawney Phil predicted either. A Lorain groundhog was enlisted at least a few times.

And one of those times was on Groundhog Day, 1953, when the Journal editor had some fun with the holiday. In the whimsical article, he hires Woody Woodchuck of Lorain as a freelancer reporter of sorts to get his thoughts on the holiday.

Below is a transcribed version of the story for easier reading.


Groundhog Explodes Old Myth, Shows Religious Connection

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following consists of a correspondence exchange between the editor of The Journal and Mr. Woody Woodchuck. We believe the letters themselves are more appropriate to use today than would be any story which could be written from them.

• • •

Mr. Woodchuck

13 Pasture Drive, Brown's Farm, Lorain, O.

Dear Woody,

This is written in haste and serves a dual purpose: (A) – It's an apology and (B) – it's a request.

Now, as you know, in past years we've managed to free a reporter from his duties for a whole day, just to interview you on Feb. 2, commonly known as "Groundhog Day." This year we find our reporters are all tied up with other matters and we'd like to ask if you might drop us a line or two, furnishing us with your views on said Groundhog Day.

I you can think of anything else which might be of interest, please add that, but keep it short. We'll expect to pay you for anything you send in and we print.


Mal Hartley,


• • • 

Mr. Mal Hartley,

Lorain Journal,

Lorain, O.

Dear Mal:

Enjoyed hearing from you today. Haven't heard anything from you since you fell in the entrance hole of my No. 5 den last spring. Couldn't have printed what I heard then anyhow, so guess it's for the best.

Be that as it may, I started to tear up your letter and give it to Mr. and Mrs. Field Mouse next door to use in lining the walls of their new nest (they're buying under the new FHA regulations, you know) when I happened to see the word 'pay' in it.

• • • 

To make a long story short, this has been a pretty rough winter on me – lots of guests dropping in and all that, and I can use some extra cash. Besides, my wife's brother, Goober Groundhog, dropped in for a short visit and has been with us all winter. (We call him Goober because he's nuts.)

I haven't had the education to write the high caliber kind of stuff you print in the Journal, so I'll just give you some facts about this Groundhog Day business and you can do it up as you please.

For one thing, there's a screwy take circulating about that Feb. 2 is the day we woodchucks are supposed to come out of hibernation to see the approach of spring. Well, that's certainly a wacky story to begin with, one any sensible person would laugh at.

Who cares to leave a nice warm bed just to satisfy an ancient superstition? So that's point No. 1. There "ain't no sech day."

If I see my shadow, that's supposed to mean I'll dive back underground and wait for six weeks of rugged weather. If the day is cloudy, however, I'm supposed to believe the next six weeks will be extremely mild. 

Well, you can see for yourself how stupid that is. If it were nice and sunny I'd stay above ground and – well, spring's on the way and there is a good looking little two-year-old over in Joe Williams' pasture. Shared an apple with her one day last fall. Sure is a cute little – oops. Sorry. That doesn't fit with the story, does it?

Anyhow, Groundhog Day is just a superstition. But you probably don't know, is that it's also known as Candlemas and has a religious significance.

Candlemas, that same old Feb. 2, is in commemoration of the presentation of Christ in the Temple. In the West it's known as the "Purification of the Blessed Virgin."

I don't know too much about all this, but my great grandfather, Wilbur Woodchuck, told us that Candlemas used to be on Feb. 14 (now your Valentine Day). You see, that was 40 days after Epiphany and the Armenians still celebrate that day.

But way back after Dec. 25 was finally picked as Christmas, Candlemas was moved to Feb. 2, 40 days after Christmas. In the East it's a festival of Christ and in the West a festival of the Virgin Mother.

I'll admit it's kind of hard to see how a religious observance ties in with Groundhog Day, but this is an American variation of the old tradition in the Christian world that a sunny Candlemas means a cold spring.

As the Scotch say, "If Candlemas is fair and clear, there will be two winters in the year." And here in American, way across the ocean, farmers will tell you, "February, second day, have half your corn and half your hay." That's so the animals will still have food left for the cold spell farmers think'll be coming along.

Maybe this hasn't been just what you wanted, but if it fills the purpose, just pay me off in grass or some other vegetables. I'm feeling kind of hungry after this long nap I just concluded!


Woody Woodchuck


Ten years later, the Journal decided to stick with Punxsutawney Phil's forecast, rather than hire local woodchuck talent. Here's the news item that appeared on the front page of the paper on February 2, 1963. Just as he would in 2023 earlier today, Phil predicted six more weeks of winter

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Admiral King Painting Update

Remember my quest to find out about that painted portrait of Admiral Ernest J. King (shown above)?

It was waaaay back in 2011 that I had been alerted that the painting had been in storage at the Charleston Administration Center (the former Charleston Elementary School), and that it was headed over to the new Admiral Ernest J. King Elementary School to be displayed there.

Here it is, hanging on the wall at the dedication of the new elementary school in 2011.

But who painted it – and what was the story behind it?

That was all answered back here on this post (with additional information on this one), where it was revealed that it was painted by Chris Lewis, chief deputy in the Lorain County Sheriff's Dept.  It was given to the Admiral at the September 1945 Victory Luncheon at the Hotel Antlers.

Courtesy Lorain Historical Society

But sixty-six years later, it was being stored in a cluttered room at the Charleston Administration Center.

If it was given to Admiral King, how did it end up back in Lorain?

Well, I recently found another piece of the puzzle, thanks to the Lorain Public Library's online archives of the Lorain Journal (accessible free through the library's website).

It was back on July 2, 1948 that a small item in "The Log of Lorain" column noted, "The portrait of Admiral Ernest J. King, painted by Chris Lewis and presented to the admiral when he was here for the city's victory celebration three years ago, today hung in the library at Lorain High School.

"The portrait was presented to the school as a gift from the Admiral, according to Principal K. C. Shook."

So that's the picture. The Admiral felt that his Alma Mater should have it, and that's how it ended up back in Lorain.

Did Lorain High School give it to the new Admiral King High School when it opened in 1961? I haven't found any confirmation of that, but perhaps time will tell.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Bills Bungalow Model Home – Jan. 31, 1953

When it comes to buying a home, one thing that hasn't changed over the years is that builders & developers like to build a model home to give prospective buyers a preview of what their home might look like (if they pay extra for all the bells and whistles).

I've featured many of these model homes here on the blog over the years, as it's fun to see what they look like now, and how the development panned out. Here's an ample sample, with most of them in Lorain and Sheffield Lake.

And here's another one in Sheffield Lake. The half-page ad for a model home known as Bills Bungalow ran in the Lorain Journal back on January 31, 1953.

The three-bedroom, Cape Cod-style home sounds pretty nice. It has all the modern conveniences, including ceramic tile in the shower, a full basement, gas furnace, automatic water heater, a modern snack bar for the kiddies, a garbage disposal, a roomy kitchen and lots of cupboard space. Add to that an eventually paved street, and beach privileges (a public beach I assume) and you have a pretty nice home.

Of course, today's home buyers (at least those that can afford to build) are more demanding; they'd probably snort at the idea of a knotty-pine bedroom. (No snorting here, I wouldn't mind knotty pine paneling in my condo.)
Anyway, today the Bills Bungalow house at 922 Warwick looks cozy from the street and is nicely shaded by a tree that has grown over the last seventy years.
Courtesy Lorain County Auditor

Monday, January 30, 2023

Restaurant & Movie Ads – Jan. 15, 1953

Here's the kind of page from the Lorain Journal of the 1950s that's a lot of fun to look at. It's the January 15, 1953 entertainment page of 70 years ago, with something for everyone.

I know I've been doing this blog for a long time, because I've researched and written about just about every restaurant or bar mentioned on this page, including Showboat, Lorain Diner, Vian's Barbecue, Gartner's Inn, and Stone's Grills

There are also indications of the booming economy at that time, with Help Wanted ads for Fruehauf and Thew Shovel.

There's also a large ad for the Brand Names Foundation featuring what I believe is an illustration of a cocker spaniel (remember, I'm a cat person).

I'll leave you to peruse the movie ads. There's some zany fare in there, including Bonzo Goes to College (at the Ohio), and Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (at the Dreamland) with a comedy team – Mitchell & Petrillo – that's an unapologetic clone of Martin and Lewis!

Friday, January 27, 2023

Zehner's Roasties Ad – Jan. 22, 1953

Here's one more regional ad from the pages of the Lorain Journal in January 1953 to finish out the week. The ad is for Zehner's Roasties, which I assume is a brand of hot dogs (or frankfurters if you prefer).

The ad ran in the paper on January 22, 1953. I like the illustration of the enthusiastic kids, which reminds me of the work of artist Dick Dugan (mentioned on this blog many times over the years).

The ad indicates that 'Zehner Bel-Vue Brand Roasties' were produced by the Zehner Packing Company out of Bellevue, Ohio. 

The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museum website provides some history of the firm. It notes, "Established in 1884 in Bellevue, Ohio, brothers John and Charles Zehner specialized in selling wholesale smoked and salted meats and lard. They incorporated the business in 1894, and expanded with a second facility in Toledo, Ohio, in 1906. They established a reputation for excellence in processing Dresden ham under the name Bell Vue Brand. After the closing of the Toledo plant in 1922, The Zehners modernized the Bellevue operation. Zehner’s Packing closed in 1971."
You can find some vintage Zehner's Bel-Vue Brand items on eBay, such as this attractive lard bucket.
Hot dogs seem to be a recurring topic on this blog, with posts about Hot Dog Heaven (BTW I enjoyed a good meal from there last month), Frankies, and even an 8-cent hot dog promotion at Hills.
It's small wonder that I like to write about hot dogs, because chili dogs are one of my favorite guilty treats. I made some just a few days ago with Castleberry's Hot Dog Chili Sauce and they were great. The whole dinner might have shaved 36 minutes off my life, but it was worth it!

Thursday, January 26, 2023

A Better Phone System for Avon – Jan. 1953

Here's a quaint reminder of the days when everyone had a land line, and the Lorain Telephone Company had to construct these similar brick buildings to contain the dial equipment needed to improve or add service to a specific area.

In this case, the Avon building was getting an addition that would 'increase capacity of the Avon central office from 300 lines to 500 lines,' according to the ad copy. The ad appeared in the Lorain Journal on January 27, 1953.

Note the appearance of the little telephone mascot (the subject of many blog posts, including this one showing examples of him in ads over the years).

And here's a full-page ad showing the 13 Lorain Telephone exchange buildings in use ten years later in November 1963. The Avon one is shown, looking like the illustration in the 1953 ad, but not enlarged as shown.

Who could have imagined that Avon's population would explode from about 2,700 in 1950 to about 26,000 today – and that the historic Lorain Telephone Company name would be a dim memory? (Even dimmer now that the successor company CenturyLink has been taken over by Brightspeed.)


Those little brick exchange buildings have popped up on this blog several times, including this post (as well as this one) about the one on Meister Road near my boyhood home.