Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Oberlin College Landmark Endangered – Feb. 1963

Throughout the 1960s, the Lorain Journal seemed to regularly feature photos of fine old homes and other buildings that were scheduled for the wrecking ball. In some cases, there was a public outcry from citizens who wanted to save the historic structure, but their efforts usually failed, because it's difficult to fight progress.

But sometimes the citizens win – and here's just such a case. The article above, entitled "Apartment Now Faces Opposition," which appeared in the Journal on Feb. 19, 1963, tells the tale of Barrows House, the former home of Oberlin College President John M. Barrows. The Oberlin College building was slated to be demolished to make way for a proposed retirement center.

And then a funny thing happened. As the article noted, "City Council was presented with a petition Monday night bearing the signatures of more than 160 citizens who object to the destruction of Barrows House, 207 S. Professor St., to clear the two-and-a-half acre site for the proposed retirement center."

From the article, it also sounds like there were critical variances that were needed to make the project happen. 

The petition accomplished its goal. According to oberlinlibstaff.com, "The house was threatened with demolition, averted in 1963 when Professor Warren Taylor led a community campaign to prevent the Firelands Retirement Center from rising on the site."

Happily, Barrows House is still there on South Professor Street, sixty years later. Click here to visit its page on the Oberlin.edu website.

Courtesy Google Maps

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Formal Opening of Candle Lite Park – Feb. 9, 1963


Sixty years ago this month, Candle Lite Park housing development was formally opened. Above is the ad that appeared in the Lorain Journal back on Feb. 9, 1963.

Where was it located? Since I had never heard of it, I assumed it was in Amherst or some neighboring community. Surprisingly, it is out in South Lorain. It's a little hard to tell, but it looks like the model homes were located on E. 41st Street, just west of the street's intersection with Clinton Avenue. Spot checking a home or two on the Lorain County Auditor website shows 1963 as the year constructed, so I think I have the right street.

Interestingly, two of the three model homes shown in the ad are named for businesses in some sort of promotional sponsorship deal: T. N. Molas & Sons, and O'Neil's.

A Google Maps 'drive by' shows a very nice neighborhood. 

I think I found the three model homes. The three homes shown below were all built in 1963, and are on the same side of the street very near Clinton Avenue – two of them right next to each other.

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I've posted many of these types of ads for model homes and new developments before. 
Besides the one for Bills Bungalow last week, there was a house in Lorain on Park Drive (1931); the Master Model Home on Hawthorne Avenue in Lorain (1931); a house in Sheffield Lake on Dillewood Avenue (1941); new homes on Root Road (1950); an Avon Lake model home (1951); one on West Erie Avenue in Lorain (1954); Knickerbocker Knolls in Sheffield Lake (1954); the House of Harmony in Sheffield Lake (1955); Oberlin Estates (1957); one in the Sherwood Allotment in Lorain (1957); Rock Creek Run with a second post here (1960); Lake Breeze Estates (1960); a home in Lorain on G Street (1961); Laurel Oaks (1961); a house on Colorado Ave. (1962); Kimberly Oaks (1962); Skyline East (1962); Valley View Estates in Vermilion (1962); one in South Lorain (1963); Skyline Park (1963); one in Amherst Township on Oberlin Road (1964); the infamous House of Enchantment on Leavitt Road (1964); and Skyline Park again (1965).

Monday, February 6, 2023

Business & Industrial Review Page – Feb. 5, 1973

Just like it's fun to look at the movies and restaurants on the entertainment pages of old Lorain Journals, it's the same (for me at least) to examine these "Lorain County Business and Industrial Review" pages. The 'articles' found on these pages (written as part of a package deal when an ad was purchased) provide a snapshot of the profiled companies.

This page, which ran in the Journal on Feb. 5, 1973, contains several old favorites, businesses that many of us remember: Januzzi's; Cliff Nolan's Genie Door (not yet at his familiar location by City Hall); Tudy's; Pecora and Son Sunoco on East Erie; and Brotherton Disposal (with their clever "Our Business is Picking Up" slogan; and Bobel's Business Products (their daughter Jane was in my design classes at Ohio State, and still runs a thriving design company today).

Of course, one of my favorite restaurants – The Pit – is on the page as well, one of the few surviving businesses fifty years later.

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A variety of reasons conspire to make traditional, small family businesses less likely to exist today. Competition is fierce, and the reluctance of family members to keeping longtime companies going isn't surprising, when you consider you can buy just about anything online today. Convenience is the key today, and fewer people seem to want to drive anywhere to make a purchase – even when it comes to shoes.

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.

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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.

Cordially,

Mal Hartley,

Editor

• • • 

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!

Sincerely,

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