Thursday, September 30, 2010

Johnny Appleseed Follow-up

As a follow-up to my blog about Johnny Appleseed in Lorain County (back here), I paid a visit to the Johnny Appleseed Educational Center and Museum down in Urbana, Ohio last weekend. It was a fairly long drive on a Sunday afternoon (more than three hours one way!) but it was a must-see for fans of the American folk hero.

The reason I went last weekend was because it was the final day of the Johnny Appleseed's 236th Birthday Celebration and Tree Planting Tour sponsored by American Forests.

I'm really not the biggest tree-hugger around, but I think this is a fine organization, and its Historic Tree Program is pretty unique. It's a cool concept to be able to purchase a tree that is a descendant of a variety of famous ones, including an apple tree planted by the tin pot-wearing pioneer himself, or one of George Washington's red maples found at his home at Mount Vernon.

After a pleasant Sunday drive down there (taking as many back roads as possible), I was given a guided tour of the Museum, which is said to have the largest collection of Johnny Appleseed memorabilia in the world. After seeing it all, I believe it.

Since there are no photos of Johnny Appleseed, it was interesting to see the different representations of him throughout the Museum. Some artists saw him as a tall, gaunt figure; others decided he was a chubby, apple-cheeked guy. His image adorned books, paintings, advertisements, collectible plates and even a comic book. I liked the comic book version best (although he looked like Santa Claus), probably because I hadn't seen one of those Classics Illustrated comic books in a long time!

The Museum also has a nice big chunk of bark (at left) from the last remaining tree planted by Johnny Appleseed on display. The tree still stands in Nova, Ohio. (I guess that's a destination for some future Sunday drive.)

Outside the Museum, there was a small festival centered around the Johnny Appleseed Birthday Celebration, with vendors peddling apple treats and other crafts. I spent some time talking with the owner of The Green Owl, a retail store in Urbana specializing in pottery, jewelry and paper crafts. Here's a link to its online store.

All in all, I enjoyed my trip to Urbana and the Johnny Appleseed Educational Center and Museum. It was a nice way to wrap up my brief odyssey into the world of Johnny Appleseed.

One thing for sure, I've been eating a lot more apples lately!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Anchor Lodge Motel Postcards & Ad

Continuing the motel theme a little longer, here are a few undated postcards of the former Anchor Lodge Motel on West Erie Avenue in Lorain.

It was quite an impressive structure compared to the small Mom & Pop places that are nearby, on the other side of Route 6. It first appeared in the Lorain phone book around 1957.

There's not a huge difference between the two postcards, except for some young trees visible in the color shot. (Just like the Slumber Inn shot, I'm suspicious of those clouds in the black and white photo – they look too good!)

Here's the corresponding 'now' shot, showing how the building looks today as part of Sprenger Health Care Systems. After several additions and renovations, it's almost unrecognizable as the former motel. The road leading up to it is no longer the main entrance either, as you can tell by the placement of the table and chairs!

And here's its 1963 phone book ad.
Apparently the Anchor Lodge Motel didn't last very long as a motel. According to the phone book, it was already a nursing home by 1965.
As I mentioned a while back, my family didn't use the stretch of Route 6 from Leavitt Road to the undercut (where Route 611 meets the highway) very often. If we were heading west, we'd just go west down W. 21st Street and pick up Route 6 that way. So that whole stretch of Route 6 containing the motels, the Lorain Arena, McDonald's, the Castle and even the railroad undercut itself were somewhat of a novelty to a kid like me, since I didn't see them very often. That's probably why I'm blogging about them all, forty years later!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Slumber Inn Ads fron the 1960's

Here's a 1965 Elyria phone book ad for the Slumber Inn, showing their unique cartoon mascot.

And here's a newer ad (below) from 1968 with a nice architectural rendering of the building, as well as a map showing the convoluted way of getting to the motel!
I'm not sure why the newer ad had the strange "A-" added to the name. (If anything, you'd want your motel to be A+!) The ads varied from year to year in the phone book, giving me the impression that the motel wasn't part of a national chain.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Slumber Inn Motel Then and Now

Here's a vintage postcard showing Elyria's Slumber Inn Motel, which was located on E. Griswold Road near the Ohio Turnpike exit. It first appeared in the Elyria phone book in 1965, predating Midway Mall by a little bit.

I like the vivid color scheme of the doors and the natural wood and brick look.

The sign is great too, along with the cartoon logo of a man fast asleep atop a bed of clouds, wearing an old fashioned night cap. The marketing message is clear: come here and get a good night's sleep.

Looking at the vintage postcard, I suspect that the sky was dropped in via some old-time camera wizardry, since the photograph is perfect for outlining. Plus I know how hard it is to get a sky like that!

Today, the motel is still in business as the Red Carpet Inn. It's received a makeover of sorts, but structurally it looks very much the same.

I'll bet its guests enjoy a lot of meals at the Wendy's right next door.

Both businesses are kind of landlocked on Griswold Road. They are not easy to get to if you are heading south on Route 57 towards Elyria. You must exit Route 57 onto the western chunk of Griswold, and then go up and over the divided highway to access the east side of Griswold. All the time you are encountering Midway Mall traffic.

Although it's hard to get to when you are heading south, the motel is convenient enough for northbound travelers who exit the Ohio Turnpike looking for a place to spend the night.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

1963 Motel Listings in Lorain Phone Book

Lorain and the surrounding cities had a great selection of motels back in the 1960's. Check out all the various choices that were available to travelers in the 1963 motel listings shown above. (Give it a click!)

I love looking at old ads like these. Some of these places will get the full blog treatment here eventually – some very soon!

Sadly, most of these are no longer motels. Anchor Lodge is now a nursing home; the site of Aqua Marine is now a luxury condo development; Vian's is long gone, replaced by the Residence condo development; Beaver Shore Motel has closed. The Kayann Motel & Apartments is still there and looks exactly the same, but no longer advertises itself as a 'motorist motel'.

However, not all of the motels are gone. The Elyria Holiday Inn is still around, as is Motel Plaza in Vermilion. Foster House Motel is now the Lake Motel; the Beachcomber is now the Erieview Motel. And as I pointed out in my previous entry, the Grandview Motel is now Parkview Motel. And the Shoreway Motel is still there too.

I remember looking at these motel listings in the phone book as a kid, wondering what it would be like to vacation in Lorain rather than live here! The ads sure made it look like a vacation wonderland!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Grandview Motel

A few weeks ago (back here), I mentioned my fascination with the Mom & Pop motels along US Route 6 (West Erie Avenue) on the western approach to the city. I guess you can attribute it to my fondness for the heyday of American automobile travel, back in the 1950's and 1960's.

Here's another one of those local motels that is still in business: the Parkview Motel, which is located just west of the undercut where Route 611 meets West Erie. It has gone through several name changes over the decades, but for most of those years it was known as the Grandview Motel.

The Grandview Motel first appeared in the Lorain phone book in 1949 as Grandview Court, and listed its address as W. Lake and Fullmer Roads.

It's interesting that motels were originally called 'motor courts' or 'motor lodges'. Anyway, Grandview Court quickly became Grandview Motel in the phone book in 1951.

Here's a postcard from the early days.

As the years went by, there seemed to be several owners. Later, the buildings received a makeover of sorts as shown in this newer postcard.

The makeover included a new paint job and the addition of large MOTEL signs on the roof at both ends of the building.

Here's a 1963 phone book ad that corresponds with the new look.

The Grandview Motel briefly became the Lakeview Motel around 1989, before settling in with its current name, the Parkview Motel, sometime in the late 1990's.

And here's how it looks today, photographed from the former Garwell's parking lot.

With the Ohio Turnpike and Route 2 siphoning off most of the east-west traffic, things are a lot slower on US Route 6 these days. But it's good to see that apparently there are still enough travelers and customers to keep the Parkview Motel open for business in the new millennium.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More Harbor Shots

Here are a few more shots from Sunday. (Click on each for a super-sized shot.) I drove out to the end of the dock to get as close to the lighthouse as possible, and here are the results. There seemed to be a race going on.

It was interesting to see the lighthouse up close. A few years ago there was a minor controversy as to whether or not the lighthouse was leaning after a ship rammed into it. (Click here to read about it.) What do you think?

I couldn't resist taking a shot of this guy, who obligingly posed.

He lost interest and flew off when he noticed I was more interested in shooting the Water Treatment Plant than him. Remember when you could drive all the way around it so you could park and fish? It's closed off to the public now. Maybe Homeland Security had something to do with it!

I remember going to the treatment plant on a 'field trip' as a kid. It's been there since 1955 – hope the city moves it as planned some day!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

This and That

I found this ad photo of the iconic Sherwood Inn sign while (what else?) looking for something else on newspaper microfilm. It's from June 1969. (Give it a click for a closer look.)

I still can't remember if I ever went in there when it was the Sherwood Inn, but that really doesn't matter. Nowadays, my wife and I spend a lot of time in there on Saturday nights enjoying the Mutt & Jeff's atmosphere. Our favorite waitress Brenda always takes good care of us, and the food is really fantastic. The burgers are great too. 

We never stay for the bands, because that just isn't our thing – we like to eat and run. But if enjoying some great local bands appeals to you, Mutt & Jeff's has an all-day end-of-summer event calling Mutt-Fest coming up next on Sunday, September 26 featuring a lot of local bands and the delicious great food. The event is a benefit for the American Cancer Society.

Here's a link to the Mutt & Jeff's Facebook page.

Mutt & Jeff's/Sherwood Inn/Airport Tavern is rapidly becoming one of my favorite topics on this blog, as it was the subject of my very first post back here, and some follow-up posts here and here.

Loyal reader of this blog (and fellow Admiral King High School alumni) Jeff Rash left a comment last week about my 'virtual trip' on the sidewalk over to the former Charleston Elementary School (which I posted here). He remembered a 'very small creek' on the west side of the sidewalk and noticed that I did not include a photo of it.

I felt a little guilty that I had rushed through that part of the tour, so I went back with the camera to see what Jeff was talking about. Sure enough, there was a small ditch leading to a storm sewer right where he remembered it. It was dry that day, but I am guessing that this is what he remembered.

Here are the photos of that missing portion of the tour, which starts right at W. 28th Street. (Click on each for a larger view.)

Looking back towards 28th Street you can see the sewer grate.

Thanks, Jeff for pointing that out!


My blog entry about Johnny Appleseed in Lorain County has caused me to think more about apples, and I've been plowing through the bag of Honeycrisps I bought last week at Shipula's. 
So Saturday morning I headed out on Route 113 to another favorite roadside stand, the Grobe Fruit Farm to get even more apples and a few bottles of apple cider.
Grobe Fruit Farm is also where I've been getting my pumpkins for about the last twenty years.
Here's a link to their page on the Ohio Apple Association website.

Lastly, I was driving over the Bascule Bridge today and looked over at the harbor and saw some of the first local Autumn color. So, of course, I had to capture it photographically for all you homesick Lorainites living in western states!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Civil War or Spanish-American War?

Here's something I never expected to see... a nice close-up photo of the Civil War statue that used to be in the park (originally Washington Park, later Veterans Park) across from Lorain City Hall. (Click on it for a closer look.) It's from a May 20, 1951 newspaper clipping that is part of the Albert Doane Archives at the Lorain Public Library. (As usual, I was researching something else, with the help of a librarian, when I found this a few weeks ago.)

This clipping is interesting because this time the statue is referred to as a Spanish-American War veteran, instead of a Civil War veteran. Huh?

I don't think that's quite right. It's fairly easy to Google 'Spanish American War' uniforms and get a look at what the soldiers were wearing when they charged up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt. And they didn't seem to be dressed like this.

You might remember that I did a few blogs on the statue before (starting here), examining how its appearance changed through the years. About a year after the above clipping, the article (below) appeared in the Journal on May 5, 1952.

It appears that in the year between photos, the statue acquired the missing brim for his cap, and a paint job as well. He was still missing his gun, though, making him a sitting duck for the cute prank described above.

And here's a different view that I haven't posted before (courtesy of the Black River Historical Society) from around 1959.

Since my past blogs about this subject, I've talked to a few longtime Lorainites 'in the know' about what happened to the statue. Apparently, it was taken down (in the 1960's?) and unceremoniously dumped in storage at a city park for a while before it was donated to the 103rd OVI in Sheffield Lake, which ultimately disposed of it. Pretty uncivil treatment!

So was it a Civil War statue or Spanish-American War statue? Someday I hope to find out for sure. I guess the best way to find out is to research something else entirely and hope I get lucky!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Johnny Appleseed in Lorain County

Visiting a local roadside produce stand over the weekend to get some apples reminded me that Johnny Appleseed is the topic for my article in the September issue of the Black Swamp Trader & Firelands Gazette.

Johnny Appleseed was actually a real person named John Chapman, and he spent a lot of time in Ohio in the early 1800's, particularly around Ashland and Mansfield. He planted many apple tree nurseries in the Mohican area and eventually three monuments were erected in his honor in that part of Ohio, which is the focus of my article.

Chapman covered a lot of turf while planting his nurseries, basically wandering all over Ohio from Steubenville to Central Ohio and eventually over to the Toledo area before leaving Ohio for Indiana. He had some involvement in a few historical events involving frontier violence during the War of 1812.

An excellent book, Johnny Appleseed – Man & Myth by Robert Price notes that many of the legends and actions attributed to the pioneer nurseryman around Ohio cannot be documented.

Here's a good example of such a legend, with a Lorain County angle. The following article appeared in the Lorain Journal on June 21, 1955.


Fabulous Johnny Appleseed Legend

Every age and every country have certain fabulous characters in their history whose adventures have been retold so often that they have become almost legendary.

The Western Reserve has such a character peculiarly its own – an eccentric nurseryman and servant of humanity whose exploits were of a peaceful rather than a warlike nature.

His name was Jonathan Chapman. History knows him as "Johnny Appleseed" because he devoted his life to planting young apple trees in small clearings for the benefit of the settlers whom he knew would be cultivating the land within a few years.

Story Recorded
Schools have been named for him, monuments erected to his memory and his story has been recorded in school texts for future generations to read.

He was known as the "Paul Revere of the Western Reserve" through his habit of warning settlers of impending Indian attacks.

Legend says that the settlers in Lorain County during the War of 1812 first learned the Americans won the Battle of Lake Erie through Johnny Appleseed.

He is supposed to have stayed on the lake shore bluffs at Vermilion during the battle being waged at Put-in-Bay, near Sandusky, and listened to the sound of the guns.

He was able to differentiate between the British and American guns, the story says, and when the final volleys were from American guns he knew the British fleet was silenced and the day won for Commodore Perry and his Lake Erie-made fleet.

Tells the News
As soon as the battle was over, Johnny Appleseed hurried eastward along the lake shore, telling every pioneer family he passed that the Americans had defeated their enemies in one of the decisive battles of the year.

Johnny Appleseed was born in New England, spent the last 50 years of his life in the wilderness, combining his apple tree planting with missionary work.

On one ocassion, when settlers near Mansfiefld were threatened by Indians, he carried a message through forests filled with hostile warriors, 30 miles to a garrison in Mt. Vernon. The next morning he acccompanied the soldiers back to Mansfield, a 60-mile trip accomplished in two days.

Johnny started his apple tree planting shortly after 1801 when he went to western Pennsylvania and filled several deerskin bags with apple seeds he obtained at cider mills along the way.

As he went westward, it was his practice to halt, clear away some ground and plant nurseries at strategic places throughout the wilderness.


Johnny Appleseed was such a larger than life character in Ohio that it is not surprising that Lorain County would also want to claim a small piece of him. Whether or not the Vermilion legend is true doesn't really matter at this point.  It's a nice story and I'm proud to do my bit to perpetuate it!

And don't forget to stop by the Vermilion Farm Market and pick up your free copy of the September Black Swamp Trader & Firelands Gazette which includes my Johnny Appleseed article.


Did you know that you could own your own genuine Johnny Appleseed apple tree?

That's right. The folks at American Forests, the oldest nonprofit conservation organization, have made it possible for you to own an apple tree that is a direct descendant of one planted by Johnny Appleseed himself! It's all part of the American Forests Historic Tree Program.

You see, the last living apple tree planted by Johnny Appleseed still grows on a farm in Nova, Ohio down in Ashland County. (That's it at left.) Johnny used to drop in on the family that lived there in the early 1800's to rest and visit, during his widespread travels around the Buckeye state.

American Forests takes soft bud cuttings from the tree and grafts them to apple root stock, creating a genuine Johnny Appleseed apple tree!

The tree comes with a certificate of authenticity and would make a great conversation and conservation piece for your yard!

To order your Johnny Appleseed tree, click here. (I'm thinking of getting one myself next spring!)

And for an update of sorts on the Nova tree, click here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Shucks! Sweet corn season is almost over!

Yup, it's almost mid-September and the sweet corn season is winding down in Northern Ohio. Since my wife and I spend so much time out in Vacationland, we've had a lot of really great sweet corn from Hahn Farms on Bogart Road in Huron.

But this blog is about Lorain County – so I headed out this past Sunday for some local sweet corn. There are two right in the same stretch of Lake Avenue: Fenik's Sweet Corn and Shipula Farms. Both are always great, and I try to spread my wampum around between the two.

This time I went over to Shipula's since I also wanted some other goodies, including apples, a melon, tomatoes and a green pepper. Once I get started at these stands, it's hard to stop.

The corn was great and cooked up nice and tender. (That's it above.) I threw a couple tablespoons of sugar in the water while it was boiling just in case. I like things sweet – I've even put sugar on Sugar Pops (I mean Corn Pops) when my taste buds convinced me that the Kellogg's recipe was a little off that day!

Anyway, we're pretty lucky in Lorain County to have so many roadside produce stands minutes from our homes. That's why I rarely go to Farmers Markets – I'd rather just go directly to the farm itself and buy it from the family who grew it.

And there's nothing corny about that.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Charleston Elementary School Memories Part 4

To wrap up this look at Charleston Elementary School, I thought I'd include a little 'virtual trip' down the 'blacktop' starting from W. 30th Street, so I drove over there this past Saturday, parked and hit the trail!

Here is the W. 30th entrance. (Click on this and all photos for that "You are There" experience!)

It was strange to start down this sidewalk towards the school as I had so many times back in 1964 and 1965. I still think it is rather unique that the sidewalk cuts across so many properties. I felt somewhat like a trespasser. Dogs barked at me, and various homeowners turned to see what I was doing – so I wondered if the sidewalk still gets much foot traffic at all in this age of widespread busing and parental 'chauffeur service'. (Although Charleston is no longer a school, Frank Jacinto Elementary is right behind it on Marshall Avenue.)

It was easy to see that time was beginning to take its toll on the sidewalk!

I finally hit 29th Street.
After looking both ways, I crossed and kept going. Very shortly, I hit W. 28th Street.

After that, the sidewalk ran alongside the fence surrounding Admiral King (oops, I mean Lorain High), and then Charleston Elementary came into view.
That was one thing that was interesting as you walked to Charleston, you had a preview of your high school just to the east of the sidewalk. Of course there was a little thing called junior high school that you had to get through first. (I wonder if 'junior high schools' are dead as an educational concept? It seems that middle schools are now the norm.)

Going home, with the high school to the left (east) of the fence, the view looked like this. Fortunately, no big kids blocked my way as I headed back.

Like regular blog reader Jeff Rash pointed out, the sidewalk also ran south to Meister Road, where it hooked up with a sidewalk that went down to Willow Park, and across the bridge over Willow Creek. Then it connected to the sidewalk on Palm Springs that led to Masson Junior High.

I still think it was a great idea to create this sidewalk to funnel the westside kids over to school safely. Out in Sheffield Lake where I live, sidewalks are still considered a pesky, newfangled invention.

Oh well, it was great to walk the path 45 years after I last did. Good to see that it's still there, just as it was in my memory.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Charleston Elementary School Memories Part 3

I couldn't reminisce about Charleston Elementary School without mentioning Edna E. Reiber, my first grade teacher there. (That's a photo of her at left, from her obituary.)
Although my family moved in 1965 during the middle of my first grade year, and I didn't have Miss Reiber as my teacher very long, she taught me something – after I was no longer her student – that has stuck with me for years. 
Let me explain.
Miss Reiber had been my older sister's teacher as well, so by the time I was in her class, I was able to enjoy some of the goodwill left over from her earlier encounter with our family. 
But when it came time for us to move in December of 1965, it would be reasonable to think that my relationship with Miss Reiber would come to an end.
But it didn't. She sent Christmas cards to my sister and me for years. 
In the early years, it seemed to be a nice parting gesture from a former teacher. But she kept it up, and every year around Christmas, my sister and I would watch the mailbox. It became a contest. Often one card would arrive before the other, and my sister and I would always ask each other: "Did you get a card from Miss Reiber yet?"
Years later, when I was in high school, my Mom took my sister and me out to visit her at her place out in the country near Vermilion. She was very warm and friendly, like a grandmother.
Even after college, even after I got married, I still traded Christmas cards with Miss Reiber. Hers always had a few lines on it telling me what was going on in her life, and I would fill her in on mine. As the years went on, she would mention that she still had some of my old drawings that she saved, and that she would dig them out sometime and mail them to me.
As the years went on, her notes got shorter, and her penmanship shakier. Finally, the lines were almost illegible and I feared for the worst.
When no card arrived in 2004, I knew that she had either passed away or was in such bad shape that sending out cards was out of the question. 
She died at age 90 on Saturday, August 13, 2005.
Miss Reiber taught me that friendship and tradition were important. It would have been very easy for her to throw in the hat after that first year and save herself a few stamps and cards. After all, she had a whole new crop of kids every year. Why worry about a couple of former students?
But she was a dedicated teacher – devoted to all her students, past and present – so she obviously thought it was important to maintain that connection.
Miss Reiber certainly left an impression on my sister (who is also a teacher) and me. We think of her every Christmas.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Charleston Elementary School Memories Part 2

Here's a photo of my kindergarten class at Charleston Elementary School. Mrs. Ellis was our teacher for that 1964 - 1965 school year. (Click on the photo for a super-size view.)

That's me standing next to Mrs. Ellis. (My Mom helpfully drew an arrow pointing to me. That's because we have a lot of old family photos where we don't exactly know which person in the photo is the family member – and she didn't want to have the same thing to happen again!)

Anyway, I remember Mrs. Ellis very well. She was very nice, a little stern, but a warm person.

I remember one time when we were about to have our milk and cookies, and I forgot to wait until the prayer (!) was over and just started to dig in. She made it a point to let me know that I made a mistake, and I felt really terrible about it. (I must have, if I still remember the incident after all these years!)

Mrs. Ellis was very encouraging regarding my artwork, and kindergarten was where I really developed my love of drawing. I would basically try to recreate all the cartoons I saw on TV in crayon from memory. I still have a lot of those school drawings today, and it's funny to see how much of an impression TV had on me back then.

On my report card (shown at right) Mrs. Ellis gave me good marks: all S+'s for the first session and all O's for the second. In her remarks about my progress, she noted that "he is interested in his work and feels satisfaction with his results. He plans his work carefully and works with sustained interest. He is able to express his ideas clearly and definitely using color in a dramatic way."

That's better than the last review I got at work!


Looking at the class photo today makes me smile, and brings back memories of carefree childhood days.  

Even though my family moved nine months after this photo, I regrouped with most of the kids years later when we all ended up at Masson Junior High School. A few had stayed in the public schools all the way to junior high, but many had gone to parochial school.

Since graduation, I've managed to keep track of a few classmates. Many of them were at the 20th and 30th Class Reunions for the Admiral King High School Class of 1977. Facebook also comes in handy to smoke some of them out!

Some classmates still live in the area like me. Bill Milks (top row, far left) is a great guy and the owner of Milks Mower Sales & Service on Cooper Foster Park Road in Amherst; he always takes good care of my lawn mower and me.

If any of my old classmates – or anyone who had Mrs. Ellis – reads this, please post some of your memories or thoughts!

Next: One of my favorite teachers: Miss Reiber

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Charleston Elementary School Memories Part 1

I happened to be driving by the old Charleston Elementary School building (above) in Lorain recently. For years it's been the administrative offices of the Lorain City Schools, but for me it's the place where I attended kindergarten and spent half of first grade before my family moved.

According to a local history compiled by Lorain Board of Education Member James Smith, Charleston Elementary dates back to 1956. It was named in honor of the former name of the City of Lorain, as well as a previous Charleston School that was destroyed by the 1924 Lorain Tornado. (Also, its location was originally at Charles Street and Pole Avenue; Charles Street is now W. 23rd.)

Even though it's been about 45 years since I attended Charleston, I still have vivid memories.

One thing I remember is how my siblings and I managed to walk to school (which was several blocks away) without getting lost. We did this by following our parents' instructions to "follow the blacktop." Let me explain.

That part of Lorain used to be farmland, and when it was finally developed, the streets were laid out in a very rigid pattern. There were no gentle curves and winding lanes. Practically all of the streets were perpendicular to each other, running north or south. The numbering system of Lorain's west side made them even more generic-looking. (There were cul-de-sacs every so often, but even they looked alike.)

But one good idea that someone had was to create a sidewalk that ran right through the neighborhood towards both Charleston Elementary and Admiral King High School. Thus, if the kids could stay on that sidewalk, it would channel them all the way to Pole Avenue and school. Kind of like following the Yellow Brick Road.

You can see it in the MapQuest aerial photo; it starts at the first 'e' in Meister Road at the bottom of the map and runs straight north. (My family lived on W. 30th Street, approximately 5 houses to the right of the sidewalk.)

Back then in the early 1960's, the sidewalk had been paved with asphalt, making it easy to follow.

Here's the official Brady "first day of school" photo from September 1964. (I wonder if families still do that?)  I'm off to kindergarten, along with my older brother (who was in first grade) and my sister (who was in fifth). It must have been chilly that day!

Like many families back then, my parents only had one car, and Dad took it to work. So if it rained, we walked to school and got wet. Good thing we had those spiffy raincoats!


Click here to visit the "Old Ohio Schools" website that has photos of almost every school in Lorain County, past and present. It includes great archival photos, as well as a status report as to whether the school is still in use, threatened or demolished. The schools are grouped by city, so scroll down to visit your town's places of learning.

Next: Mrs. Ellis' class

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back to School: Charleston Elementary School

Starting tomorrow, I turn back the hands of time with a multi-part blog series about my old elementary school: Charleston Elementary School in Lorain, Ohio.

Built in the late 1950's, Charleston was a classic one-story brick building, the likes of which isn't being built any more. Nowadays, it seems like too much attention is paid to how new the building is, and whether or not it has all the high-tech bells and whistles.

But school is about much more than buildings – it's all about the teachers. At least it used to be. And in the second and third part of the series, you'll meet two of my most memorable teachers – who also happen to be the first teachers I ever had.

So I'll see you tomorrow – and don't forget your cigar box containing paste, scissors, plastic ruler, and big fat stubby pencil!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Happy Labor Day!

Well since it's Labor Day weekend, I pulled out my trusty Harry Volk Jr. Art Studio Clip Book of Ready-To-Use Art from 1953 to find a stock illustration to scan and drop in here. Here's what the book had in terms of "Labor Day" artwork. Oh well, I won't belabor the artwork (heh-heh) as to whether or not it still represents the 'working man' in 2010.

Today was a beautiful day in the Lorain area, sunny and just perfect in terms of temperature. It was also the perfect sky for photographs, so when I went out for groceries, I brought the camera along to capture a couple shots for all of you transplanted Lorainites who miss your beloved hometown.

As you can see, I took the circuitous route to Marc's & Apples at the Sheffield Center, oops, I mean Centre of Sheffield!

You're probably wondering (along with my wife)... if I was supposed to be going to the grocery store in Sheffield Township, what was I doing west of Lorain out on US 6 where Route 611 meets it at the undercut?

I'll explain in a future blog!