Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Cheryl Yourkvitch Wins Miss Lorain County – May 1973

It seems like beauty contests are a regular topic on this blog, doesn't it? But it's not too surprising since they were once a popular form of entertainment. Plus this part of Ohio seemed to dominate that category back in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Jackie Mayer's story of being selected Miss America 1963 has been well documented on this blog. And the Miss Vacationland competition (which Jackie won and used as a stepping stone on her journey) has showed up as well a few times (including this post).

And many of us still remember when Cheryl Yourkvitch was selected Miss Ohio of 1973. But before she could compete in that contest, she had to win a local one first  – and that was Miss Lorain County. 

Ad from the May 19, 1973 Journal
Here's the article from the May 20, 1973 Journal with the story of her victory.

And here's the front page photo from that same edition of the paper.

You might remember that another Miss Lorain County, Irene Sidorowicz of Lorain, came very close to winning Miss Ohio of 1971.
From the July 18, 1971 Journal

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

A Day in the Life of Lorain – May 30, 1963

Here's a nice feature that the Journal ran back on May 30, 1963 – sixty years ago today. It's a collection of seven photographs that nicely document the wide variety of activities that were going on in the city of Lorain at that time. You might even recognize a name or a face of someone you know!

Starting from the top left (and going clockwise) we have local artist Paul Henschke (who has been mentioned on this blog before) doing repair work on Lorain's Civil War statue that used to stand in the park across from City Hall. The statue has been the subject of blog posts as well. 

Next, we have a photo of the Polish Fishermen's Club of Lorain doing some renovation of their own of the launching ramp down at the Hot Waters municipal pier.

The photo at the upper right depicts a group of Troop 325 Scouts constructing a signal tower made of cut tree branches. The event took place at a Scout Exposition held at the National Guard Armory in South Lorain.

Below that photo is one of chemistry students at Admiral King High School; they're using ping pong balls, corks, rubber balls and styrofoam balls to make models that represent the atoms of molecules.

Down at the lower right we have a photo of a group of Ohio Fuel gas employees called the Dogpatchers (named for the hillbilly characters in Al Capp's Lil' Abner comic strip), who were to provide musical entertainment for the annual dinner dance of the Management Club of Lorain Works, National Tube Division, held at Aqua Marine.

At the lower left, we have the fifth grade class at Larkmoor School holding a Mexican Fiesta. The celebration included games, music, a bull fight skit, the Mexican Hat Dance and the breaking of a piƱata, along with Mexican refreshments.

Lastly, we have an American Legion Auxiliary group presenting a check to the Lorain County Cystic Fibrosis organization.

The photos really capture the essence of a vibrant city.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Memorial Day –1901, 1913 & 1950

It's Memorial Day – the day we honor the memory of those who gave their lives fighting for our country.

Originally conceived as Decoration Day to honor Civil War dead, the holiday's scope was expanded over the years with the United States' involvement with each additional war. 

This front page of the Lorain Times-Herald from May 31, 1901 (below) reflects that fact with the most recent war included. "With sincere devotion to a noble and patriotic purpose and honest respect for the memory of the dead heroes of the civil and Spanish-American wars was Decoration Day observed in Lorain yesterday," the article notes. "Never before in the history of the city were the exercises of the entire day carried out with so appropriate regard for the sentiment of loyalty and devotion to the memory of those who offered their lives for the preservation of the Union. Business and labor of all kinds were almost entirely suspended. Nearly every residence and business place showed the National colors in some form, and the people entered into the spirit of the day in its best sense. In every way the day was a credit to the community. By all means let us have more of the same kind. They are worth more than they cost."

The illustration of Lady Liberty standing behind the child who is decorating the grave of a fallen soldier is particularly poignant. Lady Liberty's headgear (not unlike what the Smurfs wear) is rather unusual. Here's a color illustration from roughly the same era giving us a better idea of what it looked like.
Courtesy The Graphics Fairy
Here's the front page of the Lorain Daily News for May 29, 1913 – just before the holiday. There's a nice photo composition of a soldier's memorial in a cemetery with an inset of a Civil War battle. Lorain's Decoration Day parade plans are detailed.
Fast forward to 1950. Here's the front page of the Lorain Sunday News of May 28, 1950. 
It includes an editorial encouraging attendance at the 19th Annual Lorain Memorial Community Service held in the high school auditorium. The editorial is accompanied by a nice illustration with representations of all U.S. soldiers from the Revolution War on. (The World War I soldier looks like Gary Cooper – Sergeant York of the movies – to me.

Anyway, here's hoping you have a great and meaningful Memorial Day.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Vermilion Loses Its Roadside Park – May 1963

While driving through Vermilion heading west, did you ever notice a small park-like property on the south side of U.S. Route 6, just before the Pit and the railroad overpass? It's right on the corner of Route 6 and Highbridge Road. (See photo at left.)

The reason it looks likes a park is because it was a park – a roadside park/picnic area maintained by the State of Ohio. The earliest mention of it that I could find online was from July 1949, when an Amherst group held a picnic there. 

By 1954, there were three such roadside parks in Lorain County: the one in Vermilion, one on Route 10 about a half mile east of Oberlin, and one in Sheffield Lake on Route 6 at Abbe Road.

But all good things must come to an end, and the State eventually decided to vacate these types of roadside parks that were within city limits. And so the park in Vermilion was closed, as noted in the article below, which appeared in the Journal back on May 29, 1963 – just in time for the summer picnic season.

What's interesting is that the State never owned the land, as explained in the article. It merely leased it from the owner, who continued to pay taxes on it during its time as a public facility.

There were a lot of improvements that had to be removed when the State vacated the premises: toilet facilities, a drinking fountain, pic-a-nic tables, bulletins boards and a flag pole.

I'm kind of bummed that the park is no longer there; I could have walked there in a matter of minutes from my palatial rustic retreat on Woodland Drive.
For a photo of the roadside park in its heyday, click on this link to Rich Tarrant's 'Vermilion Views' website.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

A HoJo for Sheffield Lake – May 1950

At one time, Howard Johnson's was the nation's largest restaurant chain, with its distinctive orange roofs dotting the roadside landscape from coast to coast.

Lorain had one down on West Erie Avenue that opened for business back in early November 1955 (which I wrote about here). But judging by the article below on the front page of the Lorain Sunday News of May 21, 1950, it was supposed to be in Sheffield Lake.

Unlike the final version that ended up in Lorain, the proposed Howard Johnson project in Sheffield Lake was going to include a motel in addition to the restaurant. (Lorain did have the Beachcomber Motor Lodge behind Howard Johnson's, but it was not affiliated with the restaurant.)

Anyway, as noted in the article, the Howard Johnson's restaurant/motel was opposed by Nicholas Vian, who owned a restaurant and cabins just west of where the development was to take place. The property would have required rezoning as it was currently restricted for residential building; the rezoning was eventually voted down by the village rezoning commission and – voila! – the restaurant ended up in Lorain five years later.
Today, the former Hojo building has been the home of Chris' Restaurant for many years, minus its orange roof.
Vian's has been a favorite topic here on the blog, having been the subject of an eight-part series back in 2016. I've also devoted several posts to Howard Johnson's, as well as Chris' Restaurant.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Barnaby Shills for Januzzi's Shoes – May 24, 1963

Thousands of Northeast Ohio Baby Boomers (like me) remember watching "Barnaby," the host of a children's show on Cleveland television played by the talented Linn Sheldon. Barnaby – who was originally conceived by Sheldon as a leprechaun character with pointed ears – showed Popeye cartoons and entertained kids in his gentle manner.

The most remembered aspect of the "Barnaby" TV show (which bounced around on different channels over the years) was the haunting theme song, A La Claire Fontaine. You can hear it on this post I did on "Barnaby" back in 2015. 

Anyway, by 1963, "Barnaby" had been on the air for about six years. The show was extremely popular and it's not surprising to see the character in an advertisement for Januzzi's in Lorain. The ad below appeared in the Journal on May 24, 1963 – sixty years ago today.

What's strange is that Barnaby isn't even mentioned in the ad – making me think that perhaps his image was poached from some other ad campaign or source. But no doubt any kid that happened to be perusing the Journal would know who he was.

Linn Sheldon's "Barnaby" straw hat sold for a whopping $830 a couple of years ago, as seen on this online auction website.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Employee Transit Lines 25th Anniversary – May 1963

It's hard to believe, but it wasn't all that long ago when you could get around Lorain by taking the bus.

Mom talked about it once in a while, and how convenient it was for her when she was going shopping Downtown. Unlike my father, she didn't remember the streetcar era too much, which immediately preceded the buses.

And sixty years ago this month, the Lorain Employee Transit Lines was celebrating its 25th anniversary of serving the city. As the article below notes, "The bus line received its franchise March 7, 1938, from city council with the stipulation that operation be instituted May 1, the day the street cars of the old Lorain Street Railway Co. stopped running."

"The buses first operated from a vacant lot in the 1900 block on Broadway, near Rudy Moc's photography studio. Later the present garage was built at 219 N. Broadway," according to the article.

As part of the anniversary celebration, the bus company was offering free rides on all city routes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Merchandise certificates valued at $1 each for various stores were to be given out every ten minutes on the buses.

It was only about eight months earlier in Sept. 1962 that Employee Transit Lines had added eight new buses to their line (which I wrote about here).


It appears that in 1967, Employee Transit Lines was purchased by William W. Cumming of Indianapolis, a retired Cleveland district sales manager for Ford Motor Company. New management was installed at that time.

By the early 1970s, the well-remembered SBS Transit was providing some local bus service, making trips from the Loop in Downtown Lorain out to South Lorain and then to Midway Mall and Elyria, and then back.

Today, at least there is the Lorain County Transit, which I'm sure helps some people get to work or school. Its website includes information about its Fixed Bus Route Schedule here.