Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sacred Heart Chapel Then & Now

I don't get out to South Lorain very often, so when I do I tend to drive around and see how much things have (or have not) changed in the last twenty or thirty years.

While driving north on Pearl Avenue from Route 254 this past weekend (heading towards Oakwood Shopping Center), I happened to notice Sacred Heart Chapel and was so struck by its beauty that I had to pull over and snap a picture.

According to the Lorain Images of America book, Sacred Heart Chapel was originally on Vine Avenue. (An article in the Morning Journal here mentions that it opened its doors in 1952.) The book notes that the church opened its new building on April 15, 1974 and that it "was built for over half a million dollars and serves the Hispanic community in the area."

Here is the undated photo from the Images of America book.

And here is my shot (below) from last Saturday. (Click on it for a larger view.)

While in high school, I was a trombonist in a local salsa band for several years. I have a lot of great memories of performing at various events and functions in the Latin community, including at least one outdoor festival at the new Sacred Heart Chapel a couple of years after it opened.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oakwood Shopping Center Update

While driving around this past Saturday, I decided to head north on Pearl Avenue from Route 254 to see if the Schwebel's Bakery Outlet Thrift Store was still there. (It was.) After that, I decided to keep on going and see what was happening with the old Oakwood Shopping Center (or Oakwood Plaza, if you prefer).

I was a little surprised to see how little of it was still there. There's the Family Dollar store and... nothing else!

Here's a link to an interesting blog entitled Lorain County Photographer's Blog. The blogger shot some great photos in the same area back in January 2009, including a nice panoramic view of the whole shopping center. There was a lot more of the shopping center then than there is now.

Pearl the Squirrel (the longtime mascot of Oakwood Shopping Center since it opened in November 1958) would not be amused.

(Regular readers of this blog know that when they see Pearl the Squirrel paying a visit to this blog, that means that I'm plugging my other website! I haven't added any new content lately, but if you've never visited Oakie's Treehouse before, now is a good time!)

Monday, June 28, 2010

So Long, Nickles!

Another piece of old-time Lorain has apparently bit the dust. The Nickles Bakery Thrift Store at 3215 W. 21st Street has closed. I drove by there a week ago and noticed the sign. (In the photo above, the sky looks appropriately bleak.)

I'm a little bit surprised that the store is closed. With economic times as bad as they are, stores like these were a big help. As I noted back here, you could buy an awful lot of baked goods in there for just a few bucks.

The store dates from the mid-1970's, and used to be a weekly stop for our family on Saturday mornings back then. In addition to the bread (including my favorite – Hillbilly Bread) my Mom used to buy huge white boxes of cream sticks.

My other favorite from the store was Corn Toasties. The Nickles company had stopped making them a year or two ago. But then, unexpectedly, they showed up in the store a few weeks ago. I was so excited I almost bought all they had that day. (I generously left a couple packages on the shelf for other Toastie fans.)

It was back in February that the Wonder Bread - Hostess Bakery outlet store on Colorado Avenue closed (click here for the story), so that leaves Lorain with just the Schwebel's Bakery Outlet Thrift Store out at 5075 Pearl Avenue.

Here's a link to the Nickles Bakery website. It's got a store locator just in case you're having trouble finding your Nickles Donut Fair Glazed Twirls (my buddy Chuck's favorite) or Banana Flips.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Lorain Arena Part 4

Recently I was invited to take a look inside the former Lorain Arena (which is currently for sale) by Bill Latrany, the listing agent. Bill has a pretty good connection with Lorain's roller skating heritage, as he was the Disc Jockey at Skate World in Lorain for 14 years.

It was good to get an up-close look at the former Baetz Dairy Bar and later Arena Restaurant (below). I had admired its unique styling for a long time, and wondered why it was connected to the larger barn-like building. Now I know why; this building was there first and the Arena was added later.

The former Lorain Arena and its entrance are to the west of this building. (See photo below and click on it for a closer look.)

Although I had never been inside the Lorain Arena when it was still open (my generation went to Skate World), I was happy to get a tour. While Kerr Beverage, the last tenant of the property, did enlarge the building complex to fit their needs, they did not change the Arena portion very much at all. Here are two views of the interior.

At the time of the Arena's opening, the maple floor was described as costing more than $40,000 for material and labor. According to the Lorain Journal at the time, it was laid by the Cincinnati Floor Company.

The floor is still in pretty good shape as well. Here's a close-up of its unique curved design. A little TLC and it would be ready for another generation of Lorain roller skaters!

Special thanks to Bill Latrany for the opportunity to take a look at a unique bit of Lorain history. I know that he would love nothing better than for someone to purchase the property and put it to use once again for the public's enjoyment. (For a link directly to this real estate listing, click here.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Lorain Arena Part 3

By the 1960's, the Lorain Arena was running this ad fairly often in the Lorain Journal (this ad is from June 1, 1960). But the Lorain Arena was not just for roller skating. Like its predecessor, the Coliseum, it hosted many concerts and big events.

According to this October 2009 article in the Morning Journal, the Lorain Arena once hosted a Dick Clark Review that included acts like the Coasters, Bill Haley and the Comets, Bobby Rydell and Annette Funicello. In the article, Bob Catalano (son of Angelo Catalano, a former owner of the Lorain Arena) offers an interesting anecdote about meeting Annette Funicello there.

Meanwhile, the distinctive building attached to the Arena at the front of the property (the former Baetz Dairy Bar) became known as the Arena Restaurant. Here's one of their ads from June 4, 1960.

I wonder what a Roller-Burger tasted like?
Sometime in the late 1960's, the Lorain Arena finally closed, bringing Lorain's westside roller skating legacy to a temporary halt. But within a few years, Skate World opened up a little further west on Route 6 and it was time to strap on the skates once more.
The Lorain Arena's huge space apparently became desirable for a few companies in the 1970's, as it hosted a motor home business and then Penton Imports Motorcycles. Finally, it became the home of Kerr Beverage for several decades, until it closed earlier this year.
Next: Inside the Lorain Arena – today!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Lorain Arena Part 2

Here's an ad (above) that ran in the Lorain Journal on April 2, 1955 promoting the well-known local company that served as the general contractor for the Lorain Arena, Clem Rice. The ad has a nice construction rendering of the Arena itself (the large building) and the small attached building in front (formerly the Baetz Dairy Bar building).

Clem Rice Inc. eventually evolved into R.E. Rice Inc. You can visit their website by clicking here.


Also from the same newspaper is this ad listing the Skating Schedule for the brand new Lorain Arena.

The owners of the Arena really went all out to make sure their new endeavor was a success. To attract new skaters, they offered classes, as the following article from the Lorain Journal that day explains.


Instructions for Skaters Available

A complete program of roller skating instructions will be available at the new Lorain Arena beginning Tuesday, April 5.

Adult classes featuring 12 weeks of basic instructions will start Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Basic Course
Tony Mayo, arena manager said the course will cover basic and foundation skating in addition to the four basic dances – glide waltz, chase waltz, society blues and collegiate.

Instructions in basic dance will be conducted every Friday from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. The lessons will be a continuation of the foundation class and will include the Cross Tango, "B" Waltz, Siesta Tango, Tea Step, Fourteen Step and other dances.

Children's Classes
Children's roller skating classes will be conducted from 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. every Saturday, starting April 9.

Mayo said all members of classes must pay admission fees for the rink on class nights.


Roller skating is a world that I'm not familiar with at all. I had no idea that there were actual dances to be performed on roller skates. I thought you just went around and around and around....

After reading this article, I now know why I had so much trouble the first (and last) time that I tried to roller skate (which I described here). It helps to take a class first – maybe even 12 weeks worth!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Lorain Arena Part 1

Roller skating has long been a popular activity in the Lorain area. For those that currently enjoy this pastime, Skate World on West Lake Road (US Route 6) is the place to go, and has been since the mid-1970's. For many Lorain senior citizens who grew up in the 1920's, 30's and 40's, the well-known Coliseum (which I blogged about back here) was their generation's choice.

But there was another popular roller skating rink in the Lorain area that is often overlooked in nostalgia circles: the Lorain Arena. Perhaps this is because its heyday was from the mid-1950's until the late 1960's; too late for the Greatest Generation and too early for the last of the Baby Boomers.

The interesting thing is that unlike the Coliseum, which burned down, the Lorain Arena is still there. And it's currently for sale, too, listed by Bill Latrany of Coldwell Banker Hunter Realty. That's a photo of it above – the Arena is the large building on the right. (For the last several decades it housed the Kerr Beverage complex.

So you don't know the story of the Lorain Arena? Well, let's get things rolling with Part 1 of this series!


The Lorain Arena owed its existence to the fact that the Coliseum burned down in 1952, leaving Lorain with no skating rink. This article, from the April 2, 1955 Lorain Journal explains.

Popular Businessmen 'Fathers of Arena

Two popular Lorain businessmen, William A. Bauer and Robert L. Baetz, are the "fathers" of the new $250,000 Lorain Arena, Stop 107, W. Lake Road.

The two men, natives of Lorain, talked about the vital need for a roller skating rink and multi-purpose auditorium during a Thanksgiving Day dinner in 1953.

A few days later they began making trips to view skating rinks and auditoriums in various parts of the state.

Financial Support
Within a few months, Bauer and Baetz began getting financial support for their idea and before 1954 was out the building was well on its way to being completed with local capital.

The arena represents an investment of about $250,000 and is located on land previously owned by Baetz. The Lorain Arena, Inc., of which Bauer is president, bought the Baetz Dairy Bar building and land on which to build the arena as an addition to the dairy bar.

Bauer, as head of the Board, and Baetz, as a board member, are the spearheads of the arena operations.

Attended LHS
Bauer, known as "Bill" to his many friends, attended Lorain High School and has been a sportsman most of his life.

While serving as a manager and superintendent for Fisher Food stores in the Lorain Co. area for 18 years prior to 1944, he was instrumental in backing numerous baseball, basketball, football and bowling teams.

He purchased the Park Restaurant at the Loop in 1944 and operated it successfully until he sold it recently to his son-in-law, David (Danny) Cambararo.

Pioneer Family
Baetz, a member of a pioneer Lorain and Lorain county family, is owner of Baetz Dairy and is widely known in Masonic and fraternal circles here.

He entered the dairy business in 1935 and became owner on 1943. His parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. Adam Baetz, got started in the dairy business in 1897.

Baetz was graduated from Lorain High School.

Before the Lorain Arena officially opened on Saturday, April 2 1955, there was a preview of sorts for the building. It hosted an Auto Show on March 25, 26 and 27. Here (from library microfilm) is the full page ad promoting the event.

And here is the full page ad for the Grand Opening of the Lorain Arena that ran on April 2. (Click on it so you can read it.)

At the bottom of the ad the dress code is stated. The rules for men are interesting: "For afternoon and evening, gentlemen must wear ties with dress shirts. Sport shirts with attached collars are permissible. T-shirts, turtle neck sweaters or dungarees are not permissible."

There was quite a build-up for the grand opening. Here is one of many articles from the Lorain Journal that ran the day before, under the umbrella headline "Roller Skating Returns With Arena Opening."


Doors Open Saturday, Large Crowd Expected

Roller skating, a popular sport here for many years until the Coliseum burned down in 1952, will stage a comeback Saturday evening when the giant rink opens at the new $250,000 Lorain Arena, Stop 107, W. Lake Road.

Tony Mayo, nationally known professional roller skating instructor and manager of the arena, said he expects a record crowd for the opening session to start at 8 p.m. The doors will open at 7:30 p.m..

There will be roller skating every night, except Monday, from 8 p.m. to 10:45 p.m.

Matinee skating sessions have been scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays and there will be morning sessions Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Auto Show Scene
The Lorain Arena, scene of the first automobile show here in 25 years last weekend, has what is described as the largest and finest roller skating floor in the state.

Floor sanders and other workers are scheduled to have the maple floor in top shape for the opening. The floor contains about 24,000 square feet of space for skating. The lobby has more than 4,000 square feet.

Hammond Organ
A glass enclosed, elevated stage has been erected on the south end of the rink for the organist, Harold Kribbs, and his $3,000 Hammond organ.

Kribbs is widely known to skaters in the Lorain-Cleveland area. He played the organ for skating at the Coliseum here before the rink building burned down and has played at Cleveland and Elyria rinks and night clubs.

The arena has a king-size snack bar, which will feature hot sandwiches and beverages, including milk products.

No Alcohol
Mayo said no alcoholic beverages would be sold anywhere on the arena premises and that loitering would not be tolerated.

The arena also has skate repair and new skate sales and rental departments. There is a large check room for skates and clothing and there are two large dressing rooms.

Mayo says the ladies will enjoy the full length mirror in the ladies powder room.

There is ample parking space for more than 800 automobiles in the rear, front and west side of the arena building.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tower Drive-in

While doing my blog series on local and regional drive-in theaters a few weeks ago (which all started back here), I never got around to driving over to where the old Tower Drive-in used to be on Lake Avenue so I could take a few photos. I finally did this past weekend.

Judging by the above 1974 movie ad, it looks like the Tower Drive-in was one swinging place!

The Tower Drive-in is one of the 'forgotten' Lorain County drive-ins, along with the Lorain Drive-in and the Carlisle Drive-in. A 2005 Chronicle-Telegram article by Steve Fogarty mentioned that the Tower Drive-in had gotten into trouble back in 1961 "when the theater was shut down by the Lorain County Sheriff's Department over complaints lodged against films that contained 'scenes of nudes of both sexes' and 'suggestive dialogue.'

Fogarty's article also said that in 1970, "50 mph wind gusts ripped the movie screen down", and that a quick replacement screen was installed. He adds that the drive-in closed in 1985.

I can remember going to the Tower Drive-in back in 1984 mainly because the movie that was playing was so lousy: Top Secret with Val Kilmer, brought to you by the same writer/directors who created Airplane! 

Anyway, here's what the Tower Drive-in marquee looks like today, as part of the R&M Tower Storage complex. Like I said back here, drive-in theater properties seemed to make good storage facilities.

You can see the tower in the background that I assume the drive-in was named for.

And here's a shot of the screen, way off in the distance, now converted to a sign. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's Lake Fly Time!

Call'em what you want: lake flies, mayflies, Canadian soldiers, shadflies... it doesn't matter. The main thing is, they're back!

Here's a link to the Morning Journal's story.

For those living near Lake Erie (like me), the arrival of the first wave of lake flies is something you get used to. You don't really look forward to it, you just accept it. You go to bed one night (last night, actually), and when you wake up in the morning, a wondrous thing has happened. Your light post looks like it grew fur.

My parents have told me many stories of how bad the lakeflies used to get in Lorain in the 'old days'. Apparently the piles of dead ones would get so thick that people would slip on them and fall. And the city would have to use a front loader to scoop them all up and get rid of them.

Living in Sheffield Lake for more than ten years, I have gotten used to seeing piles of dead ones under the street lights along Route 6. Some years they are worse than others. And some years, the lake flies arrive several times over the summer. (They always seem to come about the time the International Festival starts, guaranteeing that the scene down by the Black River looks like a biblical plague.)

So the midges came last week (you can hear the city-wide humming of the pesky critters at night), and now the lake flies have arrived. Did I say that I like living near the lake?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Evans' Grille

Okay, I guess I'm making a pretty big shift in blog topics, from the opulence and majesty of the Castle-On-The-Lake on US Route 6 to Evans' Grille at 126 E. 28th Street. Why? Well, read on!

When I first found this Grand Opening newspaper ad (above) from April 9, 1948 on microfilm, I got a little sentimental. You see, years ago my Dad told me that Evans' Grille was his grandfather's favorite place to hang out. His grandfather lived a few blocks away on W. 28th Street on the other side of Broadway, and he would just walk down there, which is impressive considering he was in his late 70's and then 80's.

Dad also told me one of his grandfather's favorite routines was to order a beer at the bar, then after it was put in front of him, head for the restroom. Then upon returning, he'd point to the beer (which by now had a lot less foam) and express mock indignation, exclaiming, "Who's been drinking my beer?" Then the bartender would good-naturedly fill it up the rest of the way again.

Anyway, Grandpa was sitting on a barstool in Evans' Grille on the afternoon that he had the stroke that killed him a few hours later. I guess that's a pretty good way to go – doing what you like, in one of your favorite places.

That's why this ad struck a chord with me.

I'm intrigued by the photo of the Eddie King Trio. That's a name that seems to pop up with regularity on the local entertainment pages of old Journals, along with the Alex Visci Quartet. (Hopefully someone with knowledge of the King Trio will Google the name, find their way here to this blog and post a comment!)


The building that housed Evans' Grille first showed up in the Lorain City Directory in 1924 as J. Urbanski & Sons, which was a grocery store with both 124 & 126 E. 28th Street as its location. Around 1929, an A&P occupied the 124 address, while the Urbanski's ran their meat market from the 126 side.

By the 1940's, the A&P was out and John Urbanski was running a restaurant and bar that occupied both addresses. Around 1947, the restaurant was listed as being run by a Mrs. Mary Evans, a widow. And according to the Grand Opening ad, it became Evans' Grille in 1948.

Here's a June 1956 newspaper ad. My Mom confirms that they did have pretty good fish dinners there.

Evans' Grille lasted until around 1971, when it became the Carousel Lounge. I'm not sure if it is still in business.

The neighborhood has gone through a lot of change in the past decades. The building is still there, and I snapped this shot of it last Saturday. Actually for a building from the early 1920's, it still looks like it's in good shape, although it has traded the homey look of its Evans' Grille days (flower boxes and shutters) for more of a fortress feel.

Places like Evans' Grille were really the heart of a neighborhood.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Castle On-The-Lake Part 3

Here's a vintage postcard of The Castle On-The-Lake, followed by how it looks today as El Arriero Mexican Restaurant.

There's been a few structural modifications (I kind of miss that suit of armor in the window) but otherwise the building still looks great, and the signage was tastefully applied.

For a comparison, here's what it looked like back when it was the Castle Feast.

I had forgotten those trees, and didn't even miss them in the newest photo. So I guess the building has come full circle.

UPDATE – April 2024
Since this post, I've posted an ad for the 1941 Grand Opening of the Castle-on-the-Lake as a 'dinner-dance club here. There's also a 1952 'Sixth Anniversary' ad here. Click on the 'Castle-on-the-Lake' label on this post (or on the list of labels at right)  to bring up all of the Castle posts over the years.
And here's a recent photo.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Castle On-The-Lake Part 2

Here's another phone book ad for the Castle On-The-Lake, this time from 1953.

I'm kind of surprised that the place is referred to as a 'supper club' in the ad. (If you've never heard that expression before, then click here. But be sure to come back!)

I mentioned that I had my wedding rehearsal dinner at the Castle, back in 1989. It wasn't very long after that (within a year or so) that the place closed. (I guess it's a good thing I got married when I did.)

But that wasn't the end of the Castle's story. It was just the end of the Castle's carefully maintained image. From then on, when you drove by the place, you were never sure what you were going to see.

Around 1991, the placed reopened as Tequila Charlie's. Two years later it was (believe it or not) the Sugar Castle Amish Buffet. Then it was the Castle Feast.

Around 2000, it was closed again.

Shortly after it closed, it reopened as Castillo Grande. Finally, it seemed like a formula for success. And it was, until it closed in March of 2009. Then it became El Arriero.

I wish the owner of El Arriero a lot of luck in this latest venture. While I hate to see 'old Lorain' fading away, I'm glad that the building is still being used as a restaurant, and is still creating good times and memories.

Next: Then and Now Photos

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Castle On-The-Lake Part 1

A few doors down to the east of Chris' Restaurant is the location of one of the all-time classic Lorain restaurants. Right now the majestic building houses El Arriero Mexican Restaurant, but you and I remember when it was The Castle On-The-Lake.

The Castle On-The-Lake (or The Castle if you prefer) first appeared in the City Directory in 1942. According to the Images of America Lorain book, it was built in 1925 as a private residence. I have tried to do some research on the original owner, but unfortunately since Leavitt Road was the western city limits for many years, the early city directories didn't include any address listings west of it.

Shown above is an ad from 1961.

The Castle is one of those Lorain icons that everyone remembers and has some special memory associated with it. For me, it was the choice for dining on the night of my senior prom, as well as my wedding rehearsal dinner.

Be sure to post a comment about your special Castle memory!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Remember the Howard Johnson's on Route 6?

I recently enjoyed a great lunch at the popular Chris' Restaurant at 2812 West Erie Avenue in Lorain. I've driven by this place for years without stopping, and just had to find out why it was always packed. My lunch (a lake perch sandwich) was great, and the service was excellent too, but I also enjoyed myself for another reason. It was a chance to check out the building! Old-timers like me still remember when it was a Howard Johnson's.
Here's an article that appeared in the Lorain Journal on March 29, 1955 announcing the construction. (Click on it for a closer look.)

The clipping makes mention of the fact that the new Howard Johnson's was being built on the site of the old Coliseum (which I wrote about way back here.)
I think it is fascinating to think about U.S. Route 6 back then being a coast-to-coast highway, and its western approach to Lorain being dotted with so many motels. It gives the area a sort of roadside charm, and certainly a Howard Johnson's cemented that 'national highway' feeling.
My family stopped there for ice cream at least a few times on special occasions. Of course, back then there were a lot of places competing for the family buck, including Brady's Restaurant (which I've blogged about so many times, I won't even bother giving you a link) and the Lorain Creamery
Although I think of Howard Johnson's as only being a place for ice cream, apparently they had a great fish fry. Here's an ad from June 2, 1960.

Anyway, Howard Johnson's survived until sometime around 1976, when it disappeared from the phone book. I was actually surprised it lasted that long. Its location down on Route 6 between Leavitt Road and the spot where 21st Street joins up with the highway meant that we almost never went passed it if we were going west. (We'd take 21st Street instead, bypassing Howard Johnson's, the Castle and McDonald's.) I'll bet a lot of other families did the same.
But getting back to Chris' Restaurant. Here's a recent shot of the place, followed by a vintage Howard Johnson's of roughly the same era for comparison. It looks like a dead-on match to me.

The inside of Chris', to me at least, looked unchanged from its days as a Howard Johnson's, with its 1960's era booths. So of course that meant that I loved it! I'll be back for sure. And soon.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Avon Dairy Treat 1956 Grand Opening Ad

Over the weekend, we hit one of our favorite spots for the first time this year: Avon Dairy Treat. It's out on Route 611 where it meets up with Route 254. We've been going there for about the last 20 years. It's just far enough away to make it a nice drive.

The above photo was taken about a week ago, on an overcast Sunday in the middle of the afternoon. That's why it isn't packed like it normally is. (Click on the photo for a closer look.)

I really like the classic drive-in architecture and ice cream cone sign. I guess I'm influenced by things like that when it comes to what businesses I patronize. (Oh, and it helps if they have good food and good service too, like Avon Dairy Treat!)

While gawking at microfilm in the library recently, I happened to stumble upon the June 9, 1956 Grand Opening newspaper ad for Avon Dairy Treat. Here it is.

It's kind of interesting that the vintage ad says Dairy Treats instead of the current 'Treat'. (Maybe the 'S" didn't fit on the sign.) I'm also a bit confused about the 'no carry outs' ad copy! I guess you had to eat it there!

Anyway, I'm glad this place has survived all these years - it's a Lorain County classic. So take a short drive out in the country and visit Avon Dairy Treat!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Carlisle Drive-in Gala Opening 1955

Gee, my drive-in movie blog series just keeps going and going...

I found this ad accidentally during some recent research.

Back here, I posted a photo that I took of the old Carlisle Drive-in on Route 20 shortly before it was torn down. The only information I had about it was from a Chronicle-Telegram article from about that time. The C-T noted that the theater opened in 1949.

Well, at least I know when the Carlisle Drive-in opened for the 1955 season: April 9, 1955, the day this ad ran in the Lorain Journal. It's interesting that the Carlisle had a CinemaScope screen.

If anyone remembers going to the Carlisle, be sure to post some memories in the 'comments' section!

This drive-in was too far out in the country (like the ad says) for me to have patronized it. Plus, I'm not even sure the Journal ran very many of their ads.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lorain Drive-in Aerial View, Then & Now

Here's a photo scanned from my copy of the Black River Historical Society's Images of America book on Lorain. It's a nice photo of the Lorain Drive-in from 1955. (Click on it for a closer look.) As you can see, the area was still mainly farmland, at least on the south side of US 6.

And here's a Google Earth screen shot of the Hold It Self Storage property today along with the real estate shown in the 1955 photo (roughly).

It's interesting just how much development has sprung up in the last fifty-five years. The lake side hasn't changed too much in that area, but the south side has exploded with apartment complexes, such as the West Lake Apartments (immediately east of the drive-in in the photo) and residences.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lorain Drive-in Ad 1957

I just can't seem to finish up with this topic – I keep finding more stuff that I want to put up here!

Here's a newspaper ad for the Lorain Drive-in that ran on August 3, 1957. I like it because of the classic ad art. The Lorain Drive-in logo used here is nice in its simplicity, and I really like the old style movie ads, with the bold typography and good use of figure-ground relationship.

It's quite a smorgasbord of movies making up the triple feature: Walt Disney's The Great Locomotive Chase, The Doolins of Oklahoma and Boy on a Dolphin. So you have a western, a civil war story and Sophia Loren – something for everybody!

The next pair of movies are strange bedfellows: the epic Giant, with Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean, and Spook Chasers, with the Bowery Boys (a favorite of mine). I have to chuckle at the Spook Chasers ad, because by that time, Leo Gorcey had left the movie series, leaving Huntz Hall to carry on without him for a few more movies.

Believe it or not, Boy on a Dolphin and Spook Chasers were the only current movies. The others were either a year old or older (the Doolins being the oldest – from 1949.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lorain Drive-in Pizza

Here's a newspaper ad for the Lorain Drive-in from June 15, 1960. It's interesting because it doesn't list the names of the movies being shown, as it is a special Appreciation Night promotion. It also advertises that every 15th car gets a free pizza.

That got me thinking about transplanted Lorainite Alan Hopewell's blog, which is called Pointing the Cannon, and his story about the first time he ever had pizza – which according to his story was at the Lorain Drive-in. Want to read the story? Then head over to his blog and enjoy this story and many more thoughtful essays about growing up in Lorain.

Lorain Drive-in Site Today

As one of my regular readers pointed out in a posted comment, the Lorain Drive-in property has been the home of Hold It Self Storage since 1990. (Click on the photo at left for a larger view from US 6.) The old drive-in marquee is still there, retrofitted as the company sign, and that's just a hint that the owners of the company realize that the site of their company is something special. But more on that in a minute.

Former drive-in locations, usually surrounded by fences with only one way in and out, must make good storage facilities, because the site of another Lorain County drive-in, the Tower Drive-in over at 6187 Lake Avenue, was also converted into one. Today the Tower Drive-in is now R & M Tower Mini Storage.

But let's get back to Hold It Self Storage. The company website is unique in that it has a nice section entitled Drive in Nostalgia which reveals that the drive-in's concession stand, projection booth, and entrance/exit booth are still part of the property.

Here's a photo of the entrance/exit booth as it looks now. (Give it a click!)

I'm going to have to contact the owners about that sign; if they ever decide to repaint it, they need to get the date right on it! Readers of this blog (you lucky devils) know that it should read 1946 instead of 1956!

Anyway, it's nice that Hold It has decided to maintain a bit of Lorain history and help keep the memories of the Lorain Drive-in 'alive'.