Friday, March 24, 2023

Wellington Sugar Bushes – March 1963

Do you like maple syrup?

I actually work with a few people who really don't like it at all. That's unheard of for me, because I love the stuff. Years of regular trips to Canada (where maple syrup is practically a condiment) has caused me to always have a container of it in the fridge, and a few cans of it in the pantry, eh? I put it on pancakes and English muffins and in my oatmeal. I even have a few spoonfuls as a dessert now and then.

I'm not picky about what kind I buy, either. I usually have some of it from Quebec (in the cool can with the vintage design on it shown above) and some from Ohio. I'm working on a bottle of it from Stumpwater Farm in Sullivan, Ohio that's excellent. In general, I think Ohio Maple Syrup is as good as any I've ever tasted.

Anyway, March seems to be the month that the maple trees get tapped, so it's not surprising to see the full-page article below about two Wellington sugar bushes (where the maple sap is processed into syrup). The article is by the well-known Journal reporter and Society Editor Lou Kepler. Lou grew up in Wellington and was a lifelong resident.

The article appeared in the Journal on March 28, 1963 and provides a detailed explanation of the maple syrup production process, with great photos by Jack Graeff. The two sugar bushes were run by Joe and Ed McConnell on Route 58 in Pittsfield Township, and Gus Knapp, whose maple sugaring setup was located on the Roscoe Campbell farm.


For more information on that classic 1950s Canadian maple syrup can (shown at the top of this post) that's still used in Canada today, follow this link.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Oak Hills Country Club Ad – March 29, 1963

One of the things you learn when you're a kid is that there are different classes of people – rich, poor and in-between. 

In our block on E. Skyline Drive in Lorain, it was all solid, middle class families. Many of the fathers worked in a factory, either Ford Motor Company, U. S. Steel or BF Goodrich. The homes were all ranches and split levels built about the same time. It was a nice neighborhood (except for the occasional rock fights).

But no one was rich. The only example of the wealthy was the Davidsons, whose property bordered almost the whole length of the north side of E. Skyline Drive. We could see their mansion between the trees, and hear their peacocks in the early morning. It wasn't until many years later that I learned that Mr. Davidson (a well-known local lawyer) graduated from Lorain High School with my Dad's Uncle Ben).

Since the fathers in our neighborhood were mostly blue collar workers, I don't think the ad below for Oak Hills Country Club would have interested any of them. The ad promoting New Memberships appeared in the Lorain Journal back on March 29, 1963.

The ad is interesting, with the private club accepting "a limited number of memberships for 1963." The prices weren't cheap; adjusted for inflation, the "Man & Wife Golf Membership" would run about $2,113 bucks today.

Memberships for the swimming pool and cabana club were separate from that of the country club. And the Oak Hills Restaurant and Bar was operated as a Supper Club (meaning it was only open at dinner and was a little more formal that the average beanery, with a limited menu).
The whole thing kind of reminds me of the movie Caddyshack. Even the Membership prices included a special rate for clergy, reminding me of the Bishop in that movie who gets struck by lightning.
Anyway, if there were any golfers among the dads on Skyline Drive, I'm guessing that they would have more likely golfed at Emerald Valley, just a few minutes away on Leavitt Road.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Old Quaker Bourbon Ad – March 25, 1963

I mentioned several times on this blog how the Lorain Journal used to run ads for hard liquor almost every day in the 1940s and 50s, in addition to daily beer ads. You would think that the average Lorainite had a major drinking problem.

The daily parade of booze ads finally began to taper off in the mid-to-late 1960s.

But in 1963, the national and regional distilleries were still doing their best to get Journal readers to have a snort, judging by the ad below for Old Quaker Bourbon. It ran in the paper on March 25, 1963.

I find the ad interesting, because it employs the image of a Quaker to promote bourbon exactly as Quaker Oats does to promote its oatmeal. The Old Quaker mascot looks pretty happy, much more enthusiastic than his lookalike on the breakfast porridge package.

Ironically, for years actual Quakers practiced teetotalism. I understand that's not the case today; drinking is discouraged, but allowed in moderation. (I'm assuming they can eat all the oatmeal they want.)
Anyway, Old Quaker Bourbon bottles are pretty ubiquitous on eBay as well as other online sources. In fact, it was fairly easy to find pretty much the exact bottle.

At least I didn't have to hit some Lorain garage sales to find one.
One of the Old Quaker advertising gimmicks was the inclusion of the age of the bourbon right on the bottle in big letters, such as "THIS WHISKEY IS 4 YEARS OLD." As the Journal ad notes, Old Quaker had just added "Two Extra Years of Aging... At No Extra Cost!"
Exciting news for local boozehounds, no doubt.
I've posted a lot of whiskey ads on this blog, including these for Old Log Cabin WhiskeyPM Blended Whiskey, Schenley, and Corby's.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

On Area Movie Screens – March 23, 1963

Sixty years ago there was a veritable smorgasbord of movie fare on area screens, with something to satisfy everyone's taste. Above is the movie page from the Lorain Journal of March 23, 1963.

Although it was only a few days into Spring, the drive-ins were open. Over at the Lorain Drive-in, a cinematic blood bath was taking place with a trio of old Dracula movies: Blood of Dracula (1957), Brides of Dracula (1960) and Horror of Dracula. If that wasn't enough to lure them in, according to the ad there was a "free gift worth 95 cents to each car."

At the Tower Drive-in (with its in-car heaters), Jimmy Stewart was taking a vacation from his normal movie roles by starring in the comedy Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962) along with Maureen O'Hara.

Other family-friendly fare included the bloated comedy Son of Flubber, playing at both Amherst Theatre and Avon Lake Theater.
The Courtship of Eddie's Father starring Glenn Ford was at the Ohio. It sure looks different than the version with Bill Bixby that was on TV. Hey, the movie version had Ron "Opie" Howard as Eddie!
If racy movie fare was your thing, there was The Bellboy and the Playgirls featuring June Wilkinson at the Palace. Somehow I suspect that Francis Ford Coppola wouldn't mind crossing this flick off his cinematic resume.
And lastly, if Westerns are your thing (that's me), then there was one at the Tivoli with a gimmick. Young Guns of Texas (1962), starred the offspring of several famous movie leading men. There was Jody McCrea (son of my favorite Joel McCrea); James Mitchum (son of Robert Mitchum); and Alana Ladd (daughter of Alan Ladd).
Hey, want to check out the movie right now, pardner? Just grab yourself a tin cup of hot coffee, a big ol' plate of beans and watch it below online on YouTube!

Monday, March 20, 2023

Puss 'n Boots Ad – March 20, 1963

Are you a dog person or a cat person?
We had neither in our house when I was a kid. I think it was because my mother had her hands full raising four kids and didn't want to add an animal to the mix. I did have a goldfish ('Frank' was his name during his too-brief life on Earth) and a hamster (Rufus).
The cats came later, when my older brother Ken brought a kitten home from the steel mill – in his lunch box. When Ken joined the Army a few years later, 'Kitty' became my parents' beloved cat. After that, all of the Bradys seemed to have cats; I brought one home from my workplace in Cleveland as well, and there have been three cats since then.
Anyway, the Journal used to carry a lot of national ads, including pet food ads. Below is an ad that ran in the paper back on March 20, 1963 – sixty years ago today – for Puss n' Boots Cat Food .
Lorain Journal ad – March 20, 1963

So what was the story behind the Puss 'n Boots cat food? 

Here's an advertising article that I wrote back in the early 2000s for the HKM Grapevine that tells the tale. The second Shrek movie featuring the Puss in Boots character had just come out at that time.

The Nine Lives of Puss ’n Boots® Cat Food
By Dan Brady
One of the highlights of the newer Shrek films for me was the addition of Puss in Boots to the cast. The suave cat stole the show with his swashbuckling antics and proved to be so popular with audiences that he will reportedly star in his own spin-off film. 
Although fans of this feline may not realize it, there has been a cat food called Puss ’n Boots® since 1934. The story of this cat food may seem a little fishy, but it has a happy ending anyway.
According to the book Brands, Trademarks and Good Will by Arthur F. Marquette, Puss ’n Boots cat food started out as a dog food! Coast Fishing Company in Los Angeles had created a dog food made entirely of fish and named it “Balto” after the famous Husky sled dog. Despite the product’s name, it was more popular with cat owners than dog owners. So Balto was renamed Puss ’n Boots and marketed as the first canned cat food.
The can’s label featured a charming illustration of the boot-clad fairy tale cat carrying his belongings (including a can of Puss’ n Boots cat food) on a hobo stick. It is interesting that the literary Puss in Boots, unlike the Shrek movies’ sword-wielding cat, was a clever conniver who made his master rich through a series of schemes designed to curry favor with the king.
In the early 1950s, the Quaker Oats Company attempted to create its own cat food to compete with Puss ’n Boots, which by that time was America’s largest selling cat food. Much to Quaker Oats’ frustration, taste tests showed repeatedly that cats still preferred Puss ’n Boots to any new culinary creations from its kitchens! Eventually Quaker Oats gave up and bought the Coast Fishing Company, adding Puss ’n Boots to its product line. (Quaker Oats already had the leading canned dog food, having bought the manufacturer of Ken-L-Ration back in the early 1940s.)
During the 1950s, Quaker Oats promoted Puss ’n Boots cat food with full color magazine ads. The ads touted the product’s nutritional benefits and featured beautiful cat photography, as well as testimonials from happy cat owners. Perhaps in response to increased competition from other brands, during the mid-1960s the Puss ’n Boots label was redesigned to look more modern. The fairy tale cat mascot was greatly reduced in size before eventually being relegated to a tiny spot on the back of the can.
Eventually Quaker Oats decided to get out of the pet food industry, and the Puss ’n Boots brand was sold to the H.J. Heinz Company during the 1980s. In 2002, Puss ’n Boots became part of Del Monte Foods Company when Del Monte and Heinz merged, joining other cat food brands including 9-Lives® and Kozy Kitten®. According to the Del Monte website, Puss ’n Boots is still produced at the Bloomsburg, PA cannery.
Today, Puss ’n Boots is in very limited national distribution according to a recent email inquiry to Del Monte Foods Consumer Affairs. Recently I found a bag of Puss ’n Boots Choice Blend Dry Cat Food at a local Apples grocery store and was pleased to see that the advertising has returned to its fairy tale roots with a handsome new rendering of Puss in Boots adorning the package. Although this cat may not resemble the debonair movie character, it is still great to see the ‘star’ of the original canned cat food back in the spotlight more than 70 years after his debut.
Since the above article was first published back around 2005, Puss 'n Boots Cat Food has been discontinued. In 2011, there was an attempt by a company called Retrobrands U.S.A to revive it (presumably to cash in on the popularity of the movie franchise) but this ploy was apparently ignored by a finicky public. 
And as for the sword-wielding Puss in Boots, he has continued to star in his own popular film series, most recently in Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (2022).

Friday, March 17, 2023

Oberlin Inn St. Patrick's Day Ad – March 1973

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Are you having corned beef today? Fifty years ago, you might have decided to celebrate with a special meal at Oberlin Inn, with its famous Buffet, "the Best Buy in the County." The above ad ran in the Journal back on March 15, 1973.

Of course, you won't be chowing down on corned beef at Oberlin Inn today. It was torn down in 2016 (which I documented in this 3-part series here, here and here) and replaced by the much swankier and modern The Hotel at Oberlin.

St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated on this blog almost every year since I began writing it back in 2009. And I devoted one post to my Irish heritage, and another to good ol' corned beef in a can.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Downtown Lorain St. Patrick Day Ads – March 1963

In honor of St. Patrick's Day on Friday, here's a full page of ads from the Journal of March 15, 1963 with that theme, promoting Downtown Lorain stores. Participating stores included the Style Center, Ted Jacobs, Penney's, Kline's, Ohio Edison, Smith & Gerhart, Jupiter Discount Store, Harry's Men's Wear, Lee Furniture, Sears, Lorain Hardware, Bear's, Allen's Shoes, Sylvester Drugs, Bazley's, McKee's Shoes, Skylite Bar, and Jax.

It's odd realizing that every single one of the local stores is long gone. 

Even the national stores that once had a presence in Downtown Lorain are in sad shape, with Sears having dwindled down to about forty stores in the whole country. JCPenney is trying to make a comeback, and still has 670 stores. (And to think that we used to order a lot of things out of both companies' catalogs.)

The ads are a grab bag of generic sales items, with few illustrations to show what's exactly being promoted. The Jupiter Discount ad, however, includes a photo of the Hy-Fry Cooker Fryer. (You can pick one up on eBay fairly easily for about thirty bucks.

The only real St. Patrick's Day deals are Green Ties ($1.50) and Green Sox ($1.00) at Harry's Men's Wear, and Corned Beef for 39 cents a pound at Bazley's.

The one thing that caught my eye was the small logo for Red Goose Shoes. 
It's interesting remembering how shoes used to be marketed to kids, with brands like Red Goose as well as Buster Brown and his dog Tige.

I remember seeing this kind of sign in shoes stores when I was a kid and thinking that Buster looked strange, with his hat and bangs. Buster's dog was kind of bizarre too, with his toothy grin.