Friday, December 6, 2019

Public Art Vermilion Postcard Project

While taking photographs around Vermilion a few weeks ago to accompany some blog posts, I noticed the first of the new Public Art Vermilion postcards in place on the side of the building at 686 Main Street. (Public Art Vermilion is a committee of Main Street Vermilion.)

It was unveiled to the public in early November. (You can read the Morning Journal’s coverage of the event here.)

The hand-painted reproduction of the vintage ‘Greetings’ postcard was a great choice for the first in the series, as it reinforces Vermilion’s longtime status as a desirable destination in Lake Erie’s Vacationland. Artists Mike Sekletar and Brian Goodwin did an incredible job of duplicating the original postcard as a large oil painting.

Here’s the original postcard for comparison.

Hat’s off to Main Street Vermilion for coming up with such a neat project that will enhance the downtown Vermilion shopping experience.

I did a multi-part series on Vermilion as seen on vintage postcards back here in July.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Route 6 Bottleneck in Vermilion Eliminated – Nov. 25, 1955

Sixty-four years ago, motorists heading in and out of Vermilion on the west end of town were enjoying the new alignment of U. S. Route 6.

Here are the newspaper articles from the Lorain Journal and the Sandusky Register announcing the opening of the new four lane highway on Friday, November 25, 1955.

From Lorain Journal, Friday, November 25, 1955
Same article, from the Sandusky Register, Saturday, Nov. 26, 1955
It’s hard to believe, but prior to the road improvements, the highway used to really jog around at the west end of town. For instance, a motorist coming into Vermilion on Lake Road from the west used to have to make a left-hand turn onto Decatur Street, and then a right turn on Liberty Avenue to keep going east on Route 6. The new highway made it a straight shot, eliminating those two turns.
This photo (courtesy of historian, archivist and longtime contributor Dennis Lamont) shows an aerial view of what I’m talking about. 
The new highway was a long time coming. Here’s a newspaper article from late April 1940 pointing out the need to eliminate those two turns.
And here’s an article from the front page of the March 18, 1952 Lorain Journal that makes a case for the needed highway improvement.

Anyway, today you can still see a small remnant of the old bypassed highway on the Google Maps aerial.
And if you’re heading west out of town, you can even pretend that it’s the early 1950s and turn left onto Decatur Street from Liberty Avenue, and then right, onto that old alignment of Route 6. You won’t get very far, but at least you can see the old highway trailing off into the distance and imagine what it was like driving it in the old days.
Courtesy of Google Maps
The old highway heading west out of Vermilion
The old alignment of Route 6 into Vermilion from the west is still very visible in this 1969 view, courtesy of

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Children’s Digest – Dec. 1958

I think I'll keep the kid’s stuff going for another day here on the blog.

At one of the book sales held this year at the Lorain Public Library, I picked up a couple of vintage issues of Children’s Digest. It was published monthly by Parents’ Magazine Press, Inc., a subsidiary of the publishers of Parents’ Magazine.

Above you see the cover of the December 1958 issue, which cost a whopping 25 cents.

It was quite an ambitious little magazine. According to its Wiki entry, the magazine was published from October 1950 to May/June 2009 and was conceived as sort of a Reader’s Digest for children, reprinting the best material from other sources.

As described in an ad that ran in the December issue, it was “124 gaily illustrated pages with a wealth of wonderful stories to be enjoyed again and again. Dickens, Stevenson, Kipling, PLUS best new stories by modern authors. Each monthly issue is full of exciting fun – games, things to do, pictures in color. Good comics, science features, jokes and riddles. Printed on green-tinted “eye-ease” paper.”

Anyway, this issue has all kinds of great stuff. Here are the jokes and riddles mentioned above. I really like the little cartoons accompanying the text.

A Christmas-themed rebus was featured.
This page (below) was aimed at those kids interested in science.
(In case you’re wondering what the answer is, here it is as it appeared in the magazine: “It is not possible for a star to be inside a crescent moon. The crescent is simply an edge of the moon illuminated by the sun. The rest of the round moon is still there, only it is dark and you cannot see it against the dark sky. To be inside the crescent, a star would have to be between the moon and the earth, but no star is that close to us.”
For stories, this issue had some good ones. Our pal Paul Bunyan is featured in a winter-themed tale. 
And Leo Tolstoy,  the author of War and Peace penned this nifty story. (Hmm, maybe it’s not a good time in this country to be promoting something Russian.)
But the story is a good one (you can read it here), and stresses the importance of working hard to get ahead, comrade.
If Communist fairy tales aren’t your thing, there was also a classic story from the Brothers Grimm.
For me, though, the best thing in the magazine was the reprint of Babar and Father Christmas by Jean De Brunhoff. We had one or two books about the famous, cultured pachyderm when I was a kid and it was nice to revisit an old storybook friend.
I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog how I work for a printing and direct mail company. It was interesting to look at this book from a printing perspective.
The ‘eye-ease' paper seemed kind of low-quality. I’ve never seen so many particles and bits of ’stuff’ in paper before.
I got a kick out of the two-color illustrations throughout the issue. Back in those days, the art had to be separated by hand using overlays, giving the finished product a rough, offbeat charm. We were still doing it that way back in the early 1980s when I started at the company.
From a mailing perspective, the business reply card bound in the magazine was pretty outrageous compared to what we are used to seeing now. No zip codes yet at the time when this issue came out; they were still a few years away.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Remember Cappy Dick?

Yesterday’s post about the Ann Landers advice column got me to thinking about other special features that ran for years in the newspaper.

One of them that I remember from when I was a kid was Cappy Dick.

(Cappy Dick didn’t run in the Lorain Journal. It was in the comics section of the Sunday Plain Dealer, which my parents used to buy before the Journal launched its own Sunday edition in the late 1960s.)

So what was Cappy Dick? It was a feature designed specifically for kids that contained an assortment of small cartoons with puzzles, useful tidbits of information, simple tricks and suggestions for activities using things found around the house to have fun. The strip's mascot was the kindly, pipe-smoking sea captain after whom the feature was named.

There was also a weekly coloring contest with prizes awarded to local winners in each city, as well as one at the national level who received a pretty nice grand prize.

Here are a few samples of the feature.

March 16, 1965
June 10, 1973
Here’s an article that ran in the Arizona Daily Star on December 1, 1979 that profiles some of the local winners. It reveals the secret of their success!
The article also tells a little bit about the man behind Cappy Dick: cartoonist George Cleveland. “He started it during World War II, when he thought kids needed something special to do,” it notes. “The character Cappy Dick looks like Cleveland’s father. He made the character a ship captain for fun."
Here’s a more detailed look at the man from an article published in the Chicago Tribune at the time of his passing. As it notes, “He did not have children of his own, but with his mental-exercise comics, he found a way to be someone special to hundreds of thousands of preteens.
From the Chicago Tribune of May 2, 1985
For more on Cappy Dick, visit this link, which will take you to a blog written by a gentleman named Matt Tauber. Matt wrote a nice piece about his memories of the strip, and reveals an interesting connection between the Cappy Dick strip and a current one called Slylock Fox (which I read and find pretty amusing).

Monday, December 2, 2019

Ann Landers Debuts in Journal – Dec. 2, 1957

Thanksgiving was last Thursday, so you might have a few leftovers in your fridge. Similarly, I have one or two leftover blog bits from November, so I guess I’d better serve them up before they get too old and rancid.

Above is the front page of the Friday, November 29, 1957 Lorain Journal. Although there are a few items of general interest (President Eisenhower recuperating from a cerebral attack, Ortner’s Airport under construction), the thing that caught my eye was the announcement that the Ask Ann Landers advice column would be starting on Monday, December 2, 1957 – 62 years ago today.

It’s interesting that the “real” Ann Landers who writes the column is openly identified in the paper as Mrs. Jules Lederer (whose full name was Esther Pauline “Eppie” Lederer). Click here to read the Wiki entry on “Ann Landers."

It was shocking to me when I found out that rival column “Dear Abby” was written by Mrs. Lederer’s twin sister using the pseudonym “Abigail Van Buren.” I suspect that they did not exchange Christmas cards.

Mrs. Lederer passed away in 2002.

Anyway, I read Ann Landers for years. It was as much a part of the Journal while I was growing up as Today’s Chuckle, Mahony’s MemosTell Me Why and the glorious two-page spread of comics (that included my favorite, Li’l Abner).

Click here to visit the Ann Landers website.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Santa Arrives Downtown – Nov. 28, 1968

One of the things that I don’t like about the day after Thanksgiving is the immediate shift to Christmastime. Most of the time, I’m just not in the mood yet.

But this phenomena is nothing new, as the full-page ad from the November 26, 1968 Journal above suggests. It announces the arrival of Santa Claus in Downtown Lorain the next day.

Downtown Lorain was still in the midst of its Christmas counterattack against both O’Neil - Sheffield Center (which opened in 1954) and Midway Mall (which opened in 1966). But it was probably a foregone conclusion that even Santa (or a reasonable facsimile of him) on a fire truck couldn’t compete with a magical talking Christmas tree.

Anyway, the Palace was showing two free movies as part of the campaign to lure kids (and their parents) downtown. The two flicks – Rhino! (1964) and Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1961) – weren’t exactly jolly Christmas fare, however.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

A Lorain Family Gives Thanks – 1937

On the same front page of the Lorain Journal that contained the article that I posted yesterday was this inspiring news item (below). It’s about the Rev. and Mrs. Herbert Veler of Lorain (he was pastor at First Lutheran at the time) and why they were so thankful on Thanksgiving 1937.

You see, their son Richard Paul had been born on October 29, 1936 but only weighed a little over four pounds. Consequently he was an ‘incubator baby’ that required special attention. Thanksgiving 1937 provided the perfect opportunity for the newspaper to catch up on his progress; read all about it in this article that appeared on the front page on November 24, 1937.

So what became of young Richard Paul Veler?

It sounds like he enjoyed a fruitful and meaningful life, although not in Lorain. But he remained a Buckeye.
An article in the Springfield News-Sun at the time of his passing in August 2016 noted, "A lifelong learner with a passion for literature, Veler went on to earn his B.A. in English from Wittenberg University in 1958, followed by his M.A. in English from Harvard University where he was also a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. 

"In 1964, he completed his Ph.D. in English at The Ohio State University before returning to Wittenberg to begin what would become a career spanning more than three decades as a beloved professor, Mark Twain scholar, editor and senior administrator. Called "the conscience of the university" by former Wittenberg President Baird Tipson, Veler led several initiatives at his alma mater. 

"Veler chaired the English Department for 12 years and served as University Editor for 14 years, which included editing Wittenberg Today, the flagship alumni publication, and the Wittenberg Review: An Undergraduate Journal of the Liberal Arts

"The recipient of multiple awards, including Wittenberg's top faculty prize, the Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1977, Veler went on to earn the University's highest recognition, the Wittenberg Medal of Honor, in 2010. 

"In presenting the award to her colleague, fellow Wittenberg Professor of English Robin Inboden shared that Veler embodied Wittenberg's mission, noting how he inspired hundreds of students "to love literature, as well as his ardent devotion to a life fully lived and not measured, as T.S. Eliot would say, in 'coffee spoons.'" In her words, "he achieved the elusive wholeness of person," and "modeled a faith in students that continues to guide and sustain" his colleagues and friends alike. His personal and professional career was defined by creativity, service, compassion and integrity with one colleague calling him "a man of elemental human goodness. 

"His family's name lives on at Wittenberg through the Mildred L. Veler Meditation Chapel inside Weaver Chapel, and through an endowed scholarship. Veler was preceded in death by his wife Suzanne, and his parents, both of whom graduated from Wittenberg in 1929."