Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year's Eve Message – 1951

This illustration appeared on the front page of the Lorain Sunday News on Sunday, December 30, 1951 – 60 years ago. It appeared with the following message, which is just as timely and relevant now as it was in 1951.

"If 1952 is to be a happy year for the people of this community, it would be well for us all to study the past so that we can profit by our experience. Each of us should analyze his life, compare his life with others, and evaluate his understanding of right and wrong.

Most of the great religious leaders of our day tell us that happiness usually comes from hard work, sharing what we have with others, forgetting ourselves in working for some great cause, and by building character.

In wishing everyone in this community a happy new year, we do so in all sincerity, realizing that a happy citizen is generally one who has contributed greatly to the well-being of the community in which he lives."


Here's hoping that all of you enjoy a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Grim Reminder from New Year's Eve 1969

It seems like for many years, every time a holiday rolled around – specifically those during which people celebrated boisterously – the Journal readers were treated to a creepy full-page ad starring the Grim Reaper (such as this one).

And here's another one (above). It's from Wednesday, December 31, 1969. I was fairly shocked to see that even in the late 1960's, these old-fashioned ads were still being produced. This one has particularly hair-raising ad copy: That "one for the road" may well take you all the way into eternity.

Yikes! I think I'll remember that on New Year's Eve. I guess that was the ad's intent!

Have a safe New Year's Eve!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

First Lorain Baby of 1951 Contest

Gee, this blog is slowly turning into an extended commercial for our local electric power utility! (And this ad doesn't even feature Reddy Kilowatt!)

Detail from Modern Troy Laundry ad
The Ohio Edison ad above was part of a group of ads that ran right before New Year's Eve – December 30, 1950 – as part of a "First Lorain Baby of 1951" contest. The rules were that both Mother and Father had to be residents of The City of Lorain; the baby had to be born within Lorain City Limits; the hour, minute and date of birth had to be confirmed by the attending physician.

That lucky first baby was the recipient of a lot of goodies and prizes.

Besides the electric bottle warmer, the lucky tyke could look forward to a wool filled satin quilted comforter from Smith and Gerhart Inc. (see ad below), $10 in merchandise from Sylvester Drugs, a lovely baby blanket from Penney's, a baby scale from Kline's, two weeks of laundry service from Modern Troy Laundry, one can of baby food and one case of emergency milk from Steve Polansky, 100% wood bunting from Lad and Lasssie Shop, a pair of Baby's First Shoes from Art & Kiddie Shop and Invalid Carriage Service from Reidy Scanlan.
The proud Dad could look forward to a box of Student Prince Cigars from Geo. Canalos Inc.

I wonder if new dads still hand out cigars? Or has some new politically correct item replaced them?

Speaking of First Babies of Lorain, my older brother Ken was Lorain's First Baby of 1958. Unfortunately by then, there was no big newspaper contest that year – so no freebies. In fact, while reading the account on microfilm recently, I noticed that the Lorain Journal managed to make it sound like a bad thing being the first baby – because my parents couldn't claim a $600 income tax deduction! The baby born before midnight was actually mentioned first in the article!

 Oh well. Happy Birthday in advance, Ken!!

After all that, I forgot to mention the name of Lorain's first baby of 1951. It was a nine-pound, one-half ounce baby boy born to Mr. and Mrs. Pabon Julio Rentos.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Where to go in Lorain on New Year's Eve 1951

Here's an ad from the Sunday, December 30, 1951 Lorain Sunday News that provides some suggestions for where to spend New Year' Eve. (Give it a click so you can read it.) It's a nice snapshot of the neighborhood taverns in the Lorain area at that time – exactly 60 years ago – especially those in South Lorain.

I see the Airport Tavern on there, the present home of my favorite restaurant, Mutt & Jeff's. I've heard of some of the other ones, such as Miraldi's Cafe.

I wonder if Urban's was the only bar in Lorain to ever have the words 'rumpus room' as part of its name?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The History of New Year's Celebrations Part 2

Here is Part 2 of the article that appeared in the Lorain Journal around the end of December, 1969. It's an interesting look at the history of the New Year's holiday.


New Year's Eve: It's Mankind's Oldest Holiday - Part 2
By M. J. Wilson
(Newsweek Feature Service)

One of the first customs to be observed in the young United States was the New Year's tradition of calling on friends. George and Martha Washington held an open house every year that the capital was in Philadelphia, and one of the first social affairs in the White House was John and Abigail Adams's New Year reception in 1800.

Almost the only traditions still observed are noise-making and drinking, but the Danes have added a curious fillip to the celebrations. They "blow" the new year in, or, more appropriately, smash it in.

The cool thing to do is save up all of your old broken pottery and dishware. Then, on the stroke of 12, you run around to all your friends' houses and pelt the front doors with crockery.

Except for highway accidents and occasional eye injuries caused by popping corks, New Year's has never been particularly dangerous. The most common affliction is the hangover, for which – though mankind has been tippling for thousands of years – no one has yet devised a remedy.

There are nearly as many putative cures, however, as there are people who drink. The Japanese walk around wearing gauze surgical masks soaked in sake. Haitians take revenge on demon rum itself, by sticking 12 black-headed pins into the cork in the bottle.

THE ONLY PROVEN method is that old favorite, the "hair of the dog" – another drink. Or two. Or three, possibly leading to another good toot and even worse hangover.

But it's all part of the New Year's game, as is another – peculiarly American – custom devised by the capitalistic economy to mesmerize the bleary-eyed on the morning and afternoon after. 

Future social historians will record that on New Year's Day in 20th-century America, no one visited anyone. No one felt compelled even to speak. They rolled out of bed, turned on their television sets and paid silent obeisance to a ritual of 22 armored giants chasing each other around a football field.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The History of New Year's Celebrations Part 1

The following article (and cartoon at left) appeared in the Lorain Journal around the end of December, 1969. It's an interesting look at the history of the New Year's holiday and a good way to buy me some time while I enjoy this week with family!


New Year's Eve: It's Mankind's Oldest Holiday
By M. J. Wilson
(Newsweek Feature Service)

FIFTY YEARS AGO this December 31, American cities exploded in a series of drunken orgies unparalleled before or since. People guzzled as if each drink would be their last, because they believed it would be: the onset of Prohibition was but a few weeks away.

With Repeal, normalcy returned – at least theoretically. But normalcy on New Year's Eve seems to be excess. Urged on by atavistic impulses we don't understand, we will once again this year be observing a series of mad traditions that may end in tragedy on the highway and are guaranteed to cause, at the very least, pangs of headaches, dyspepsia and remorse.

New Year's is the oldest continually observed holiday on record – anybody's record. Babylonians observed it as early as 2600 B. C., with the quaint custom of humiliating their king before the temple of a god named Marduk. If the king wept, the upcoming year would be good. If not, watch out. (Babylonians cried easily.)

UNTIL THE MIDDLE of the 18th century, the new year fell on any date determined by potentates, priests or oracles. The Egyptians started afresh whenever the Nile overflowed. The Greeks chose the first moon after June 21 – a date which itself was none too secure.

In the Middle Ages, some countries started from the vernal equinox, some from Christmas, some from Easter. Finally, in 1752, the Protestant countries (including the American colonies) accepted the calendar devised by Pope Gregory in 1582, and January 1 was agreed upon. (The Chinese and the Jews, however, still observe a free-floating new year.)

Throughout history, the advent of the new year has symbolized death and rebirth. The old year was to be driven out, and the best way to exorcise its tired and testy spirits was with noise – explosions, fireworks, bells, gongs and guns.

And of course, the best way to get into a frame of mind for making a din that would drive away evil spirits was to get yourself good and lit.

Twenty-five centuries ago, a Hindu medical writer described the after-effects of such a blast: vomiting, loss of appetite, heartburn, lassitude, continued thirst, tremors of head and limbs, a palpitation, weakness of joints, respiratory difficulty, giddiness and a feeling as if one were wrapped in a sheet.

Once the demons were driven away, there were all sorts of omens and portents for the celebrant to heed. It was widely believed that the first day of the year determined what the other 364 would be like. So people dressed neatly, did a little work, paid their debts, returned borrowed goods and filled their cupboards with food.

In Part 2 of this article tomorrow, we look at early New Year's customs in a young United States, as well as some cures for hangovers!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Here's wishing all of my readers, followers and friends a Joyous Christmas and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Tree Musings

Here's another Ohio Edison ad featuring our old pal Reddy Kilowatt, from the pages of the Lorain Journal around Christmas 1969. It's a public service message touting how cheap it is to light your Christmas tree with electric lights as compared with candles.

Contrary to the ad, I don't think too many people in 2011 remember when candles were used to light the tree (unless they traveled to the present in a time machine).
Speaking of Christmas trees, the spouse and I have different opinions about when to put them up.

Her tradition while growing up was for her family to do it the day after Thanksgiving.

Now if I remember correctly, my family waited until it was closer to Christmas – maybe 4 or 5 days – before putting it up. We didn't like to rush it. After all, it was something special that you only did once a year. We didn't want to get tired of looking at it.

We would decorate the tree while listening to holiday music as part of the ritual (possibly Herb Albert's Christmas Album, which was a favorite in our house). And we did it very reverently and carefully – making sure certain special ornaments got a prime location and were positioned close to a light. Tinsel (the old-fashioned kind that you saw in the 1960's) had to be carefully and evenly draped – not merely slung – over a branch.

Nowadays, as a compromise with the spouse, I put up and decorate our tree around the second week of December.... and then we pretty much ignore it until Christmas! I have to really make an effort to remember to plug it in, despite Reddy's advice.

Now, our cats don't ignore the tree, and make shambles of it daily. Both Louie and Boo Boo could hardly contain their excitement watching me put it up! And I was just asking for trouble when I decorated it with small bird ornaments.

As of last week, amazingly, only one ornament had been destroyed. Louie filched a lightweight cardinal ornament (made out of some kind of styrofoam) from the display, roughed him up and dumped him – Mafia style – in his water dish.

We found the poor bird floating appropriately in a pool of bright red water.

This week it's been a whole nother story. I came home Monday night and the tree was toppled! All of the little bird ornaments – the cardinals and bluejays – had been stripped and were AWOL. The garland was half torn-off and the lights were a mess. So I grumpily took everything off the tree.

And today, Christmas Eve – I'm going to start all over again and redecorate it. Hopefully this isn't the start of a new tradition.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

1969 EST Christmas Ad

Here's a neat ad that ran December 24, 1969 in the Journal for Elyria Savings & Trust (now FirstMerit Bank). It features the actual signatures of the employees as the branches of the Christmas tree – a great, original gimmick.

I showed this to the other artist at my work so we could figure out how this was done. We decided that there was probably an oversized template that all of the employees had to sign, probably with small lines to help guide them printed in non-photo blue (so they wouldn't be picked up by the graphic arts camera).

We also reasoned that there must have been different versions of the tree, with a different branch arrangement depending on the number of employees.

But no matter how it was accomplished, it was pretty clever.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ted Jacobs Christmas Ad 1950

Here's another 1950 Christmas-themed newspaper ad. It's a handsome ad for the much-remembered Ted Jacobs store that ran in The Lorain Journal on Saturday, December 23, 1950.

It has a particularly heartfelt sentiment (click on it so you can read it), reminding us that the local businesses – and the people who owned and ran them – were really the heart of Lorain in days gone by. It is the memory of those stores and businesses that we frequented for decades that seems to stir some of the strongest sentimental feelings among people who grew up in the area.

Merely mention Ted Jacobs, Smith and Gerhart, Kline's, etc. to a group of older Lorainites and you discover that everyone has a pleasant personal memory of shopping at those Downtown establishments, as well as of the people who worked there for years.

Here's hoping that the present local businessmen continue to enjoy success and loyalty from the community, and that a new generation will rise out of these awful economic times to continue to carry the torch for our beloved Lorain – and create new memories as well.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

First Federal Savings Christmas Ad - 1950

Here's an ad for my favorite local bank that ran on December 13, 1950 in The Lorain Journal. It's for First Federal Savings & Loan promoting their 1951 Christmas Club.

I still have my Christmas Club there; got my genuine First Federal measuring spoons and gravy shaker as my freebie gift for keeping it open this year.

But as usual, when I went to go Christmas shopping this past Saturday, I looked for this year's club loot which I had stashed in an envelope so it wouldn't get spent on groceries or something else. But as usual, it had been spent for something else!

Wish I could remember what it was.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lorain's Nativity Scene

Did you know that Lorain's official Nativity display used to be set up in Lakeview Park?

The article (above), from the December 1950 pages of the Lorain Sunday News weekly tells the story. I found it in the newspaper clippings file of the Lorain Public Library. (Give it a click so you can read it.)

The Lorain Moose Lodge and the Lorain Junior Chamber (Jaycees) co-sponsored the original Nativity project.

And since my blog is affiliated with the Lorain Morning Journal, here is its version of the story. It appeared in that newspaper on December 21, 1950 against the backdrop of the Korean War. (Sorry for the poor quality of the microfilm material.)

Anyway, the Nativity scene was moved to Washington Park (now Veterans Memorial Park) across from Lorain City Hall the following year. The story from the Lorain Sunday News is below; at the time, the newspaper took credit for convincing the city that the park directly across from city hall should be decorated for the holidays, instead of being "dark and dismal."

I don't think the 1951 figurines are the same ones in the present cramped nativity scene (below).

Lorain's Nativity Scene 2011

Isn't it sad that they have to be stuffed into a hut and then surrounded by chicken-wire in 2011?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sandy Claus - 1969

The gone but not fogotten Sandy's hamburger chain (which I first profiled back here in a multi-part series) did a nice marketing campaign during Christmas 1969. The ad above ran in the Journal on December 4, 1969 and introduced the promotion: 3 sleds that were going to be given away at both the west side (Oberlin Avenue and Meister) and the south side (E. 42nd Street) locations.

The cartoon carolers in the ad are a bit unusual: all male, and the one in the middle looks strangely like a Russian czar.

As you can see, by this time Sandy's had replaced the original full-body dancing blonde lassie logo with the brunette 'head only' version. I never understood why they did that, especially since the blonde was on the twirling signs.

Anyway, this ad was followed by another ad on Thursday, December 11, with a nice touch: a Scottish 'Sandy Claus'.

An article in the business section on Monday, December 15 (below) gave some more information on the promotion and listed the first winner.


Sandy's Has Santa, Sleds and Sandwiches

Lyle Olson, manager of Sandy's Restaurant on E. 42nd Street across from Southview High School, and all his fine staff of lads and lassies wish one and all a Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.

To help keep the holiday spirit in the minds of customers this Christmas season, Olson has been giving away sleds to the luckiest of his sandwich munchers. The first of Olson's hamburger and milk shake fans to win a sled was Robert Gou, of 4225 Camden Ave., Lorain. To be a lucky winner no purchase is necessary – just stop in at Sandy's and register. Another sled will be given away next Saturday, Olson said, adding that Santa Claus made his stop at Sandy's recently with candy for the kids.

But there's another reason to make Sandy's your stop during the holiday season and that's for a rest and refreshment break during those long shopping trips. Wash down a tasty hamburger, cheeseburger or even a Great Scot with a thick fresh milkshake or other beverage and you'll be ready to hit the trail again with renewed zip.

Sandy's has a secret about the way they prepare their foods for the best in freshness and taste. But the raw materials – the ingredients – are so important to good flavor that they don't keep it secret about where they buy their stuff. "It's high quality ingredients," Olson said, "that give us the best possible start on flavor. We buy Oberlin Farms Shake Mix and milk products and get quality ground beef and pork from C. H. Gundlach & Sons Packing Co., Sandusky. They are also the suppliers for the Meister Road restaurant.

Olson and his Sandy's Southview staff keep the restaurant dining area and kitchen spotless so you can eat the best food in a bright, clean place. Eat either at a table in the restaurant or carry out an order for eating in your car or at home. And keep watching for Sandy's chicken. As soon as equipment is delivered and installed, it will be here, Olson said.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Remember the Miles Kimball Catalogs of the 1960's?

1967 Miles Kimball catalog
One of the surest signs that Christmas was on the way in our household was the arrival of the Miles Kimball catalog from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I don't know about you, but I always enjoyed thumbing through it as a kid. (Now as an adult male, I pretty much hate shopping.)

That's why when I saw this 1967 edition (at left) on Ebay, I had to get it. It was only a few bucks, but well worth it – just for the memories it brought back.

As soon as I saw the cover, I vaguely remembered that paintings like the one shown often appeared on them. This one is signed by John McClelland. A quick search on the internet reveals that he did quite a few of them for Miles Kimball, right into the 1980's. (Here's a link to some prints that are for sale.) He appears to still be painting, too – here's a link to his online portfolio.

Anyway, when you opened the catalog, you always saw a letter from Alberta herself. They were memorable because the letter included a cartoon illustration onto which a black and white photograph of her head was plopped. It gave her a whimsical personality, and that, along with the whole "Oshkosh, Wisconsin" thing, made the catalog kind of memorable.

Here's the 1967 letter. (Click on it and all of the items on this post for a larger, readable version.)

The part about the catalog that I liked best were the short little stories with cartoon illustrations that were sprinkled throughout the catalog. In this catalog the theme was the 'history of the origin of toys" (as mentioned in the letter.)
Here are a few samples. They were actually quite creative and you could see someone spent a lot of time making the rhymes clever.
Of course, the catalog itself was very interesting to a kid, filled with all sorts of little toys along with the things for grownups. None of it was very expensive.
Here are a few of the pages featuring toys. On this page I recognize the "tunnel of fun" as something we had in our house, as well as that little rocking horse.
Here's a couple more toy pages. On the first page, I recognize the 'nest of wooden clowns' as something we had; I have no doubt Mom ordered it from Miles Kimball! (I wonder whatever happened to those clowns?)
This page is unusual because there's actually some licensed toys on it (Batman, Bozo the Clown and Laurel & Hardy).
Here's a page with some Peanuts items. I still think the 1960's were the heyday for Charlie Brown and Snoopy and the gang, since that was the era of the best TV specials. (By the way, I still have the Snoopy doll with the aviator outfit shown below.)
Believe it or not, there were also things for men in the catalog too. Here's a sample of some manly-type stuff.
And we can't forget good ol' Fido either. I like the rawhide pipe and the plastic vinyl reindeer head for him to chew on and mutilate. Also– that ScooPup was ahead of its time! Dig the sunglass-wearing femme fatale smoking (with cigarette holder) while she scoops up her pampered poodle's poop. Beats using a couple leaky plastic grocery bags!
I almost forgot a sample page of women's products! Check out some of the zany beauty gadgets. I'm not sure what I'd do if the spouse wore the Glamour Garde to bed! Probably sleep in the other room!
But what about the catalog now, in 2011? What's it look like? Ah, it's in full color as to be expected. But no more painted covers, no letter from Alberta, no little cartoon stories.
Oh well. At least it's still from Oshkosh. 
Visit the Miles Kimball website here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ohio Edison Christmas Ads, 1959 & 1969

1959 Ohio Edison ad appearing in the Lorain Journal
It's been a while since I posted any ads featuring my favorite advertising mascot, Reddy Kilowatt. He's all over the place in Ohio Edison ads in the old Lorain Journals on microfilm at the library – almost every day in the 1950's and 60's it seems. (That's probably why I'm such a big fan of his – I was indoctrinated as a kid.)

Here are a pair of Christmas-themed ads, one from 1959 and one from 1969.

The 1959 ad (above) suggest electronic Christmas gifts of electric ranges, refrigerators, dishwashers and washer and dryers. (I'm not sure that would be such a good idea; it wouldn't fly in my house, that's for sure.) The ad has a lot going on in it; Reddy is almost an afterthought.

The ad from ten years later is smaller and a little more subdued. At least Reddy gets to play Santa.

1969 Ohio Edison ad from the Lorain Journal

In 2011, you can still buy some products from Ohio Edison. On the FirstEnergy website online store, you can buy a variety of things, including ceiling fans, lighting, portable heaters, thermostats and even water heaters.

But the Ohio Edison appliance store in downtown Lorain, selling refrigerators, electric blankets, mixers and lamps, remains a quaint memory.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lakeside 10 Apartments, Then and Now

Keeping the lakefront apartment theme going...

Here's a vintage postcard of the former Lakeside 10 Apartments located right in my town, Sheffield Lake. (The postcard currently is listed on Ebay by Hogan's Postcards and Collectibles.)

The apartment building looks quite nice here and really evokes a feeling of the California lifestyle. But that battered Plain Dealer box in the lower left hand corner kind of wrecks the mood. (I wonder if that qualifies as product placement?)

The advertising slogan back then was "Elegant Living on Lake Erie Shores." Some of the amenities listed on the vintage postcard include a heated outdoor swimming pool, tennis court, putting green, indoor parking, a party house, saunas, whirlpool and exercise room, central air-conditioning and dishwashers.

Anyway, many people may not know that the Lakeside 10 Apartments were built on the site of the old Sheffield Lake City Hall, which was sold to a developer in 1967 for $20,000.

Lakeside 10 Apartments first showed up in the city directory in 1970 as being under construction, and in the 1971 book as its first real listing.

Today the name of the apartment complex is Erie Shore Landing. Here's a link to their website.

And here's the current view. The apartments still look quite impressive and modern.

At least the old Plain Dealer box is gone – but the tree on the right seems to have gone through a rough time since the days of the vintage postcard. The fence isn't looking so great either.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Big Town and Big Lots

I'm sure a lot of Lorain Baby Boomers have pleasant memories of shopping at the Big Town store at the corner of Oberlin Avenue and Tower Boulevard. It was conveniently located nearby, and seemed to have just about everything you needed – similar to Walmart today.

I know my family was in there a lot when I was a kid. It was only a few minutes from our house, so it was a great place to pick up small stuff that we needed.

The Big Town out at the Ridgeville Shopping Center opened first. Then the Lorain outlet opened on Thursday, November 17, 1966 with the ad below appearing in the Journal the day before.

Big Town lasted into the early 1980's, but sadly the building was vacant by 1985. Fortunately, another business with 'Big' as part of its name recognized the location as a good one: Big-N-Small Lots. It first showed up in the 1989 book.

By 2003, the more familiarly-named Big Lots was listed at that location.

The Big Lots store on Oberlin Avenue in Lorain, located in the former Big Town store
Big Lots is a weekly stop for the spouse and me, part of the Saturday night routine after dinner at Mutt & Jeff's a few blocks away. It's a great store, a real necessity if you want to save money during these bad economic times.

But I'll probably always think of Big Town when I walk into that building.


It's pretty hard to find any trace of the Big Town department stores on the internet. The words 'Big Town' seem to have been attached to several malls or shopping centers across the country that had nothing to do with the two Lorain County stores. I'm guessing it was purely a regional chain.

If anyone has any information about the Big Town stores, please leave a comment.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lorain Overlook Apartments Open – March 1928

After posting the "Then & Now" pix of the Lorain Overlook Apartments last week, it bugged me that I didn't know when the apartments first opened. I had mentioned in the post that the apartment house had first appeared in the 1926 City Directory, so naturally I assumed they opened in 1925. So I hit the 1925 microfilm, looking for a grand opening ad or article and hoping I would get lucky.

Late March 1928 Classified Listing
After fruitlessly searching for an hour and a half through various months of 1925 and 1926, I finally used my noggin. Why not check the "For Rent" classified ads?

I jumped ahead to 1927 – and found no listings for the Overlook. Skipping ahead to a 1928 roll, I finally found an Overlook listing. From there, it was fairly easy to backtrack and find the Grand Opening article.

The result of my search is above, from the Lorain Journal of Tuesday, March 6, 1928. (Give it a click so you can read it.)

The article reveals some of the features of the Overlook. The locked main entrance doors could be electronically unlocked from each unit, Seinfeld-style. Each suite had an in-a-door bed in the living room. (My apartment still had the door but no bed.) A private bathing beach was provided for the tenants as well.

When I lived there in the mid-1980's, being able to sit behind the apartment house and enjoy the lake up close was the best part of living there. I still miss it.

Friday, December 9, 2011

1959 Deluca Bakery Christmas Ad

1959 newspaper ad
Here's another Lorain Journal ad from Christmastime 1959 (the year I was born), promoting holiday goodies prepared by well-known Lorain icon DeLuca Bakery. As I've mentioned before in this blog, we went to the branch on Oberlin Avenue in our neck of the woods, as opposed to the one on Reid.

It's too bad that it is so difficult for the family bakeries to survive in these times. The in-store bakeries in the locally-owned Apples grocery store are really good, with a lot of great, tasty items – but somehow it isn't the same as going into DeLuca's, Bob's Donuts, or Bill's Bakery.

There's something about going into a real bakery that can't be duplicated by a self-serve grocery store bakery. It's not only the aroma of fresh-baked items, but it's also the interaction with the people who actually baked the goods.

Every once in a while I do head up to Amherst to get something good from Kiedrowski's, or a fantastic pie from Mama Jo's. The stuff isn't cheap either, but both places are always busy.

Here's hoping that someday, Lorain can produce and support another full-service family-owned local bakery.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

1959 Welch's Sports Christmas Ad

Here's something you don't see anymore: an ad showing Santa Claus recommending guns as ideal Christmas gifts! (Give it a click so you can read it.) As a card-carrying NRA member, I don't have any problem with it. But I can understand how it would be rather politically incorrect in these violent times.

The ad, for Welch's Sports at 1330 Broadway in Lorain, dates from the November 25, 1959 Journal. It's also interesting to me (since I started out as a paste-up artist) that the ad seems to have been cobbled together from different sources (clip art, bits of other ads, and some new typesetting).


The ad's theme of 'a gun makes an ideal gift' made me think of that Little Rascals episode called Birthday Blues with a very young Spanky, and Dickie Moore as his older brother. In that episode, their father is too cheap to buy their mother a birthday present, so the boys decide to raise some money and buy her one themselves. They go window shopping for a present, and Spanky suggests buying their mother a gun.

Spanky: "Oh Boy! Let's get that gun for her!
Dickie: "What would she do with a gun?"
Spanky: "Shoot Papa!"

Of course, the boys raise their cash by raffling off pieces of that infamous birthday cake that sounded like a slow-motion foghorn and was stuffed with 'prizes' (such as a hairbrush or pair of galoshes).

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lorain Overlook Apartments Then & Now

Here's an undated photo of my old apartment house: the Lorain Overlook Apartments at 2715 E. Erie. (Thanks to the Black River Historical Society for allowing me to copy this photo.)

The vintage photo is hard to date. There's no real landscaping, so the barren view makes me think that the photo dates back to the apartment's early days. There are also structures visible to the east of the building (I've been told there were garages at some point) – instead of the present parking lot – so that also makes me think the photo is earlier rather than later in the building's history.

The Lorain Overlook Apartments first showed up in the city directory in 1926 at 2709 E. Erie. (The previous person who had that address was Gurnie Randall; that makes sense, since the Overlook Apartments were supposed to have been built on or near the site of the old Randall's Grove picnic grounds. (Click here and scroll down a bit to read more about the history of Randall's Grove as it relates to the interurbans and local streetcars on the Lake Shore Rail Maps website.)

I've been told, and the city directories seemed to confirm it, that at one point the Overlook was the only real apartment house in town.

Here are some recent views from last weekend. (I couldn't exactly match the angle without standing on the front porch of the house directly across from it – sorry about that.) There are some minor differences in the fascia above the entrance, but the building is still in great shape.

Like I said, I used to live in these apartments back in the mid-1980's. I thought my apartment was pretty nice for a one-bedroom. And cheap too – I think I was paying $185 a month.

1985 City Directory Listing
My living room at the Overlook
My apartment had rounded archways between rooms, beautiful wood floors and even an ironing board that swung down from inside a door in the wall (right out of a Tom & Jerry cartoon.) I loved hearing the lake at night, and seeing it up close when I went to and from my car. I could see the lake from my windows too.

The faucets in the bathroom sink were interesting. You had two faucets; one for hot and one for cold. You would have to mix it up yourself to get lukewarm so you could shave.

My biggest complaint? Being so close to the lake, my apartment occasionally had huge centipedes. They might show up anywhere: on the floor, on the walls, in the sink, on my bath towels, etc. There were also some pretty exotic-looking spiders and beetles in the hallways. But that's all part of living in an old building I guess.

Back then, the Overlook was also on the bus route out of Downtown Lorain (since it's right on US 6) – so for a while I could step right out my front door and catch the bus to Cleveland. But it was on a limited schedule, and it was cheaper to drive to Aqua Marine Resort in Avon Lake, leave my car there and ride the RTA.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Broadway and Route 6 Then & Now

My 2011 "Then and Nows" continue to wind down with the crummy weather...

Here's an undated photo from the photo archives of the Black River Historical Society, showing the intersection of Broadway and Route 6. The view is looking east toward the swing bridge with the Broadway Building on the right. (Click on it for that "You are There" experience.)

To me, it's a fascinating photo of a thriving Lorain. Just seeing the gas station and other buildings on the left side of the photo is amazing. (Today, you would never guess there was anything there – ever.) I like the old US 6 and Ohio 2 signs too.

I tried like crazy to find something in this photo that would nail down a specific year, to no avail – sometimes research is like that. We know the Broadway Building was built in 1926, and that the Swing Bridge was replaced by the Bascule Bridge in 1940. I couldn't determine whether the corner service station was always a Gulf station, or if it had become one at some point, because it is not listed by gasoline brand – just by owner. (For another view of the service station, click here.)

I couldn't find the Primrose Beauty Salon in the available books either (but the Library is missing all three books from 1934 to 1936, making it an incomplete search). I'll have to recheck the books for that Zoric Laundry & Dry Cleaning business and report back here later.

The canvas awning on the Broadway Building to the right of the 'Billiards' sign is pretty tattered – so the Broadway Building can't be all that new. And I don't see the Bascule Bridge under construction either to the south of the Swing Bridge. So I'm guessing the photo is early to mid-1930's.

Perhaps one of my more knowledgeable readers (Hi, Dennis!) has an idea of when it was. Or maybe somebody who knows their old cars!

Oh yeah – here's the now shot from this past weekend.