Monday, January 31, 2011

Jacob Meyer House Then and Now

Winter is a bummer for someone like me, who likes to go out and photograph local landmarks, as well as 'then and now' shots. Not only are some of the finer details of the compositions covered with a blanket of snow, but winter skies tend to be white and uninteresting. That's why in the fall, I went out and photographed with a vengeance to build up somewhat of a backlog of this kind of thing. Now the only problem is to try and find a particular shot on my iMac, when I have hundreds of digital photos stored in dozens of folders!


Here's the Jacob Meyer residence (above). The photo appeared in the Lorain, Ohio 1903 Souvenir and 1924 Tornado book at the Lorain Public Library. It has a charming inset of the Meyer family in the upper right hand corner.

Along with the photo, the 1903 book includes a nice bio of Jacob Meyer. It describes him as "an example of those enterprising and aggressive youth of this country who have risen in the cycle of their native surroundings to be men of force and public consequence." He was born in Sheffield Township, and after working in Cleveland during the late 1880's and early 1890's, decided to go into business in Lorain.

Meyer became a successful contractor with several local landmarks at that time (St. Mary's Church and the Verbeck theater) to his credit. He later went into politics, becoming president of the Lorain city council during the late 1890's. He also founded the Lorain Democrat newspaper.

Anyway, I had to dig around in city directories from that era to find the address of his residence. The 1903 and 1905 directories had his address as 710 Park. Since many of Lorain's streets were renamed in the early 1900's, I then had to scrounge up a map with the old names and match up the streets on a newer map.

Park Avenue had become Lexington, so I assumed that the numerical addresses would be the same. Wrong! But after driving up and down the street a few times, I found the house. It's amazing how well it held up and how little it changed through the years. I guess Jacob Meyer built a sturdy house for himself.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Roundhouse on E. 36th Street: Then & Now

A few months ago, I received a nice email from a reader named Tom, who recently moved back to the area and was rediscovering some of the area's delights, such as Yala's Pizza. Tom was also interested in any old photos or information about the old B&O Roundhouse that was on E. 36th Street.

Unfortunately, trains are such a specialized area of interest that I have never really been able to focus on them. I was only able to produce the 1936 Roundhouse photo (above) found in the Lorain Images of America book put out by the Black River Historical Society. According to the book, it was built after a fire destroyed the old one in 1904.

Hopefully some more photos or information about the Roundhouse will surface for Tom.

What was surprising to me was that the ghost imprint of the long-gone Roundhouse is still visible in the current aerial view of the area (below), courtesy of the bing™ search engine. (Give it a click for a larger view.)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Abandoned Eagle Market in Cleveland

This really isn't a Lorain County story but it brings the whole Eagle Super Market discussion to a nice close.

I've seen this abandoned grocery store many times over the years when I found myself on the east side of Cleveland near the Playhouse. Much to my surprise, it's an abandoned Eagle grocery store.

A gentleman who goes by the monicker el rebelski has a fascinating flickr® photo set documenting his trip to this store. I'm not sure if this store was part of the chain that was out in Lorain County (the type in both logos seem similar – compare with the logo at left) but it's interesting nevertheless!

The photoset is both interesting and disturbing. (The photo above is one of the shots.)

One thing's for sure – no one is going to mistake this store for a Giant Eagle!

Click here to visit the flickr® site.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Broadway Then & Now

On the same day that I shot the photo of Fligner's, I thought that as long as I was in the neighborhood, I might as well get another 'then and now' in the bag. ( I was already freezing anyway and my shoes were caked with snow.)

The view above is looking north at the corner of Broadway at Twentieth Street, and as usual, the 1960's 'then' photo is from the Images of America Lorain book.

In the vintage photo, you can see First Federal Savings of Lorain, the VL Cinema and an empty Elliot's Drugs. For years, I went into the First Federal branch every Saturday morning, part of my weekly march down Broadway that included Bob's Donuts nearby.

And here's the 'now' shot, from last Sunday.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fligner's Then and Now

Although the last post ended with the transition of the Food Fair chain into Eagle Super Markets, I thought that Fligner's deserved its own post – so here it is. It's the only surviving grocery store from that 1975 list of Eagle Super Markets.

Fligner's is a true Lorain success story, a family business that's been around since 1924 and happily beat the odds. I'm sure that any present or former Lorainite reading this has been in Fligner's at some point, either for their great meat or wide selection of groceries.

It's not very often in this day and age that you see a family make a commitment to the community like the Fligners have. According to the company website, they're one of Lorain's largest employers.

If you click here, you'll find a nice history of the company.

Here's the corresponding 'now' shot to go with the 'then' shot at the top of this page, from the Black River Historical Society's Images of America book. As you can see, Fligner's has pretty much expanded to take up most of the block.

And since I had to crop the photo to try and match the 'then' shot, here's a nice panoramic view of the whole store.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Further Food Fair Fun

Last time, I showed you an old Food Fair ad from 1951 that included a listing of all the different locations (above). (By the looks of that artwork, I think the commercial artist was either drunk or didn't own a T-square. But at least you can read the locations!)

Four years later, the chain had expanded even more. Here's a 1955 listing (below) from my blog about the history of Food Fair back here.

Here's another store roster from November 1963.

Recently, I headed out into the snowy wastelands of Lorain in a rental car to grab some shots of still-standing ex-Food Fairs.

Here's one that was right at 448 Broadway: Bobel and Hersh Food Fair.

Here's another shot of the Jacoby Brothers Food Fair at 1149 Oberlin Avenue (the summer shot was back here). I still think it looks like it belongs in a western town movie set.

The  Brownell Food Fair was at 1302 Ninth Street; here's what's at that location now (below). There was also a Brownell Pharmacy at 1300 Ninth Street. I guess they were both in this building. Anybody remember these two businesses? They lasted until the early 1960's, but the building was vacant by 1964. It's been used for a variety of businesses since then, including a roofing business.

And lastly, here is what used to be Slutzker's Food Fair at 958 Washington Avenue (below).

After driving by these old buildings all these years, it's kind of interesting to find they all had something in common.

It seems that these Food Fair stores morphed into Eagle Super Markets in the 1970's. Here's a portion of a July 1975 newspaper ad showing the new, reduced roster of stores.

Next: the most successful Eagle Super Market!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Memories of Gilbert's Food Fair & Trains

April 19, 1951 Ad in Lorain Journal
I recently got an email from regular blog reader and pal Bill Latrany. Bill had read my series of posts that mentioned the Hafely Building, and this got him to thinking about Gilbert's Food Fair, which was located in that strip. (The above ad lists the Gilbert's store as one of many Food Fair locations.)
Bill's grandparents lived on Missouri Avenue, and thus he was well acquainted with Gilbert's. But Gilbert's is only the stepping-off point for Bill's reminisces of the fun he had with his grandfather enjoying the trains that passed behind the small grocery store. His email was such a well-written slice-of-life that, with his permission, I'll reproduce some of it right here.

Bill remembers: "My grandfather and I would walk to Gilbert's corner grocery store. Sometimes we would go to the park just to the 'east' of the mini-shopping center, but most often my grandfather and I would get a popcicle or pushup from Gilbert's, then go on up the slight incline to the railroad tracks and wait for a train." 
"I remember the old wooden boxcars and the old steam engine just at the time of switching from steam to diesel...and waving at both the engineer and the caboose keeper.  Seeing the trains approaching from around the bend, miles down the track, was excitement which triggered off a series of events. You first saw the engine light, heard the train whistle blowing for the crossings prior to reaching Missouri Avenue.  The lights on the crossing signal would be tripped and standing next to the gate you could hear the gears grinding away as the arm was lowering.  There was a long moment of silence until the engine came roaring down the track and blasting the horn, accompanied by a bell.  Watching the weight of the engine and the cars rolling along the track make the steel track itself appear to be doing pushups with each passing wheel."

"Wonderment would have me in a daze as I would wonder where those huge colorful boxcars were coming from, and where they were destined.  The old red wooden caboose was the end of the line of cars, and I often dreamed about what it would be like to sit in a lawn chair on the back platform of the caboose and see the countryside of Americana.  Hearing old Depression stories from my parents and grandparents, I would keep a watchful eye for hobo's hitching a ride under the boxcars and tanker cars, but never spotted one."

"After the train would pass, and the event being wrapped up with the grinding of the crossing gate drawn into an upright position, the blinking lights were once again put to sleep until another train came to pass.  Sometimes a double treat of several trains in succession would compliment the event, but that was rare.  I remember being halfway back to my grandparents home after watching a train, to hear the distant whistle of another 'choo choo' coming, and my 65-year-old grandfather and I would race back to the railroad crossing for yet another exciting moment.”

Bill does a great job of recreating the pleasure and excitement that he felt as a child, seeing a train up close with his grandfather. I hope Bill doesn't start up a nostalgia blog of his own!
I had to chuckle at his mention of watching for hoboes under the train. I used to watch for them all the time while I was growing up.  I saw one once – in the 1960's on a train as it rolled through the Oberlin Avenue crossing next to the Lorain Creamery.
Unfortunately, if this economy doesn't improve pretty soon, Bill and I will soon be able to do some serious hobo-spotting! Let's hope not!
Special thanks to Bill Latrany for his story.

Next: More Food Fair (& Eagle Market) Fun!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Last Call for Margie's Magpie Inn

While driving down Colorado Avenue on Sunday, I saw the demolition equipment parked next to the old Margie's Magpie Inn, and figured it was a goner. So I pulled over and snapped a few shots.

Sure enough, both the Morning Journal and the Chronicle-Telegram featured demolition shots today of the building coming down on their front page. Well, at least I have a few shots of it before it was demolished in case someone ever wonders what the building looked like!

According to the Chronicle, the bar "had faced various gambling charges and liquor violations." The article also stated that the demolition had been partially paid for by federal funds through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which was designed to tear down nuisance properties.

I'll never understand why a 'nuisance' property needs to be torn down; it seems like a waste to me.

Anyway, I can't say that I was ever in Margie's Magpie Inn, so I'm not driven by nostalgia in this case. I did like the stonework on the building, though, as well as the bar's logo, which was based on the old Terrytoon cartoon magpies, Heckle and Jeckle.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Saddle Up For Some Sushi

Here's the last of my series (for now, anyway) looking into the past lives of restaurant locations around Lorain This is an easy one to recognize, because the business that was in there closed in the last few years.

An early logo of the restaurant
Of course any Lorain west-sider know that this was the former Ponderosa Steakhouse at 4743 Oberlin Avenue. (That stretch of Oberlin Avenue from Tower to Cooper Foster Park Road is jinxed, I tell ya!)

Raleigh, a regular reader of this blog (and I thank him for that), brought up Ponderosa Steakhouse just the other day in an email to me. He mentioned how good he remembered the food as being; I hated to tell him that the place closed a few years ago!

Anyway, Ponderosa Steakhouse first showed up in the Lorain City Directory in 1971. I remember many great family dinners there, usually for a special occasion. Remember the flames shooting up from the grill, providing a show for those of us in line?

According to this Wiki page, Ponderosa Steakhouse and Bonanza Steakhouse were both based on the popular Bonanza TV series. In fact, Hoss Cartwright (Dan Blocker) himself started the Bonanza chain! Originally the two steakhouses were in competition, but eventually they both came under the same corporate ownership.

Unfortunately, almost all of the northern Ohio Ponderosa Steakhouses closed in 2008 when a check-kiting scam landed their owner behind bars (which you can read about here). The group of restaurants that closed included the one on Oberlin Avenue, and it disappeared in the 2009 City Directory.

The good news is that the Oberlin Avenue location is still serving up some good food, although it might appeal more to Hop Sing, the Cartwright family's cook, than the manly clan of Ben and his sons. Eastern Buffet, featuring American, Chinese, Japanese and grill specialties recently opened. It offers more than 180 items at a great price (Lunch Buffet is $5.99 and Dinner Buffet is $9.99).

My mother, sister and brother-in-law conveniently (for this blog, that is) went there two days ago and enjoyed an excellent meal. As for me, I still prefer BEEF – (It's What's For Dinner - remember?) – but I'm glad the restaurant is there, providing good food at a good price for west-siders, and hope it's successful for many years.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Name the Previous Restaurants at this Leavitt Road Location!

Here's yet another restaurant whose building was previously home to a series of both forgotten and well-known businesses. Today it is the Marco's Pizza at 2130 Leavitt Road in Lorain, but you may have forgotten some of the previous restaurants (and even some non-food businesses) that called that location home.

Fortunately for you, I'm here to remind you!

Believe it or not, the very first restaurant at this location was Minnie Pearl's Chicken. For those of you unfamiliar with this popular country performer from the Grand Old Opry, that's her at left, in front of one of her franchised fried chicken restaurants.

The one on Leavitt Road first appeared in the Lorain phone book in 1969. It had a sign just like the one in the photo, and I remember as a kid wondering who Minnie Pearl was. But then I saw her on Hee Haw and then it all made sense.

Unfortunately for Minnie, she didn't have much time to compete with Colonel Sanders in Lorain, because the restaurant was gone from that location by 1971. The story of the demise of the chain due to some financial problems is told in a well-written article in Franchise Times Magazine which you can read here.

But the chicken fryers weren't turned off at that location just yet.

From 1971 until around 1976, 2130 Leavitt was the address of local favorite Brady's Chuckwagon Chicken House. As I noted back here, "chuckwagon" fried chicken had been on the menu for years at Brady's Restaurant.

Around 1977, the building was listed as vacant.

By around 1983, a new tenant was in the building and maybe even using the same fryers: Mister Donut. But that didn't last long, because the building was empty again in the 1984 and 1985 city directories.

Lorain Auto Sales became the first non-food related business at that location, being listed in the 1986 city directory. Buy Rite Used Cars followed, in the 1987 directory.

By 1988, the cars were out and the place went vacant again.

Around 1989, someone had a good idea: why not sell pizza at that location? Two Jeff's Pizza appeared in the 1989 City Directory, and by 1991 the twosome was replaced by Marco's Pizza, which has been there ever since.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sledding at James Day Park

While heading out to the grocery store yesterday, I detoured over to James Day Park in Sheffield to see if anybody was sledding. Sure enough, some kids were there having a good time (see photos above). It reminded me of the sledding sequence from It's a Wonderful Life (although the movie urchins had to use shovels as sleds).

It's kind of reassuring to know that kids still enjoy sledding in this day and age of sophisticated entertainment.

As you can see from the above photo, the forest looks denser than ever. Back here, I mentioned that my memories of sledding there included slamming into trees once in a while. That's probably why I can't remember exactly with whom I used to go sledding, or how I even got over there!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Remember Arthur Treacher's, Mate?

I've still got a few more long-gone restaurants to bring up!

A few days ago, I mentioned Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips, so I had to drive over to 2411 W. 21st Street and see if the building was still there. It was, (above) but it's definitely seen better days.

Photo courtesy of the Dallas Observer Blogs
Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips first showed up in the Lorain Phone Book back in 1970. The store looked very much like the photo at left.

According to a short history on the company website, 1969 was the year that the first restaurant opened in Columbus, Ohio. And this article in the Dallas Observer states that at one point, there were more than 800 locations in the United States.

It's not entirely clear why the company fell upon hard times. It could be because the type of fish used in the signature product was changed from cod to pollock in the late 1970's.

According to this wiki page, the restaurant chain's ownership began to change every few years beginning in the 1970's. Eventually, the fortunes of the company sank like a foundered flounder, resulting in bankruptcy around 1983. The company did survive, though, and is still around today. Ohio seems to have the most restaurants.

I remember that my family enjoyed Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips every once in a while. It was certainly a unique product, wrapped in its faux newspaper.

I still love fish & chips today (although it's not the healthiest meal); being married to a Canuck who also loves it means that every once in a while, we have to find a restaurant that does it up right and authentic. We really enjoy the way they make it at The Harp in Cleveland.

40th Anniversary graphic from company website
I've got to admit, however, that as a kid, I had no idea who Arthur Treacher was. I saw his image on the sign (at left), and assumed he was some retired member of British royalty by the way he was dressed, or more likely, some made-up character. When I finally saw him as a butler in an old movie, I couldn't believe there really was an Arthur Treacher!

What I didn't know was that Arthur Treacher was also Merv Griffin's announcer and sidekick, so he was more famous than I realized.

Arthur Treacher passed away in 1975. That may explain why his likeness was phased out of advertising and signage in the late 1970's.

As for the Lorain location, the restaurant disappeared from the phone book in 1982. A new restaurant, Joella's Fish & Chips, appeared at the location around 1983. It lasted roughly until 1986.

Then, strangely enough, the Lorain City Directory lists Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips at the location again in 1987 and 1988! I don't remember this comeback at all, but I was living on the east side of Lorain at that time.

Finally, a Mexican restaurant called El Pan De Vida showed up in the books at that address around 1989. It appears to have lasted until about 1993, when the address went vacant again - and entirely disappeared from the directory around the early 2000’s.

Joella's Fish & Chips ad from May 1984

Thursday, January 13, 2011

1960 Northern Institute of Cosmetology Ad

Here's that 1960 Lorain telephone book ad for the Northern Institute of Cosmetology.

Unfortunately, it doesn't include the same graphic that decorated the outside of its building at 212 W. Erie. The illustrated gal in the ad looks more like the kid sister of the flower-wearing temptress.

The ad does a pretty good job of glamorizing the career opportunities available after graduation from the school. Working on an ocean liner... in a TV studio.... as a beauty editor.... and best of all, it's G.I. approved!

All joking aside, the school must be doing something right to still be in business. I've driven by the place several times lately and the OPEN sign was lit up.

And anything that's still open in downtown Lorain is a good thing indeed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Face of Northern Institute of Cosmetology

Back in my post about the Dew Drop Inn a few days ago, I mentioned the Northern Institute of Cosmetology next door, with its large illuminated signs of a woman's face adorning its building. When I saw the photo, I immediately recognized them (from our weekly trips downtown for trumpet lessons with Alex Visci) and consequently my brain conjured up my childhood impression of them.

The funny thing is that when I was a kid, I thought that the building (with its very few windows) was the home of some sort of wild nightclub, the kind you see in the bad part of a big city with signs advertising GIRLS-GIRLS-GIRLS!

I guess the signs (with the woman wearing a flower in her hair) reminded me of a hostess in an army canteen or something. "Hey, Joe, you got gum?" she seems to be saying.

Anyway, I unsuccessfully scoured the phone books at the Lorain Public Library, trying to find an ad that featured the same sign graphic. I discovered that the school ran a variety of ads over the years, none of which featured the iconic head.

I did find one ad from 1960 that included a small graphic that represented the building. Note the rather formal-looking heads in silhouette!

I also learned that Northern Institute of Cosmetology was the oldest school of its kind in Lorain County, dating back to 1949 – and that it's still in downtown Lorain at 669 Broadway. Good for them!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Another Oberlin Avenue Mystery Restaurant

Diso's Bistro at All Nations
A few months ago, my realtor, Jenae Pavlich was telling me how excited she was that she was going to be having dinner at Diso's Bistro at All Nations that evening.

I hadn't had the pleasure of eating there yet, but I knew where it was located: right in that ever-changing restaurant row on Oberlin Avenue, south of Tower Boulevard, that I mentioned yesterday. I've driven by the building many times; it had been the All Nations Social Club since around 1974.

But what was it before that? I had to hit the Lorain City Directories and phone books to find out.

To my surprise, 4286 Oberlin Avenue had started out with a double listing as Olde English Fish 'n Chips and Olde English Ice Cream Shoppe in the Lorain Phone Book in 1970. At first I assumed it was a branch of the well-remembered Old English Parlour restaurant which was part of Lorain Creamery (that I discussed way back here and here). But it didn't seem to be, with different owners – and a different spelling.

The restaurant showed up in the 1971 and 1972 phone books as well. But it was in the 1973 directory that an ice cream - loving Lorainite had a confusing choice: the Olde English Ice Cream Shoppe at 4286 Oberlin Avenue or the Old English Parlour on 14th Street.

Apparently, thar was only room for one Old English-themed ice cream in Lorain – one of them had to git outta town!

When the smoke cleared in the 1974 phone book, the Olde English Ice Cream Shoppe had apparently packed up its extra e's and skedaddled – leaving the Old English Parlour as the winner.

The Old English Parlour (a favorite of our family) continued on until the mid 1990's.


I don't remember eating fish 'n chips at the Olde English restaurant either; we preferred Arthur Treacher's on W. 21st Street. By the way, Arthur Treacher's is still around! Click here for details!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Name That Restaurant on Oberlin Avenue in the 1970's

Do you remember the restaurant in this building at 4650 Oberlin Avenue back in the early 1970's?

Although I live in Sheffield Lake, I still spend a lot of time in Lorain, going up and down Oberlin Avenue.  Every once in a while, I notice that another restaurant has come and gone in that stretch of road, south of Tower Boulevard. It seems to be a veritable graveyard of national chain restaurants: Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a few others.

Even though the franchised businesses may have closed, the buildings usually remain. Iconic structures like a Pizza Hut or KFC, especially if they closed in the last decade or so, are easy to identify. However, the more obscure ones require the efforts of a modern urban archeologist to determine what used to be in that building.

Fortunately, this blogger has a good memory when it comes to foodstuffs. There's one building along there, at 4650 Oberlin Avenue, with long-forgotten restaurant roots. Today it is the offices of Dr. Paul J. Alton, O.D., but back in the early 1970's it was briefly a Lum's Restaurant.

Photo courtesy of Don Boyd's website
According to this Wiki entry, Lum's was a family chain that was founded in 1956. The business grew slowly, from a single hot dog stand to a chain of more than 300 stores by the 1970's.

As the sign in the photo at left (courtesy of says, their specialty was hot dogs steamed in beer.

I remember my family eating there at least once, and all of us enjoyed their signature dish.

The Lum's on Oberlin Avenue in Lorain first appeared in the City Directory in 1970, wedged between an apartment complex and a private residence. It also appeared in the 1971 book, but by 1972 it was gone.

But that wasn't the end of tasty goings-on at this location.

The 1973 and 1974 City Directories revealed that a restaurant called Italian Gardens took over the space for a few years. (I'm not sure if it was affiliated with the longtime restaurant with the same name in Sandusky.)

After that, none other than Mister Donut was in there from about 1975 until the early 1980's. (Strangely, I don't remember that at all – but don't forget, I was a big Bob's Donuts fan.)

From around 1984 on, the kitchen was pretty much closed at 4650 Oberlin Avenue, with City Loan & Savings Company (also known as City Loan Bank and City Loan Financial) occupying the space. Very briefly, Xena's Restaurant returned the building to its original purpose from around 1999 until the early 2000's.

At least one more non-food related business was located there until Dr. Paul J. Alton, O.D. moved in.

And what about Lum's? The chain fell upon hard times when its parent company filed for bankruptcy in the early 1980's. Today there is reportedly one restaurant that is still open, in Bellevue, Nebraska.

You can find Lum's items pretty easily on Ebay, and if you Google the name, you'll find that a lot of people still have fond memories of those hotdogs steamed in beer, as well as their Ollie Burgers.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Brady's Restaurant & Pizza Puppies

One of the interesting things about doing a blog like this is the fact that many people don't read what I've written until months, or perhaps even years, later. Thus, even if some topic generates only yawns right now, it might result in comments or feedback at some point in the future (which makes me happy that the topic wasn't a dud)!

A good example of this is the ad (at left) for Brady's Restaurant, which ran as part of a 3-part series back here in November 2009, discussing the history of this popular, well-remembered business. You'll notice that the ad very prominently mentions that the restaurant is "Home of Pizza Puppies."

I had mentioned that I had no idea what Pizza Puppies were, and that if I ever found out, I would let you know. Well, that time has come, you lucky reader.

I recently received a very nice email from Dave Shook, who has kindly allowed me to quote him. Here is his long-awaited explanation about Pizza Puppies:

"On one of your pages there were pictures of Brady’s Restaurant along with some newspaper ads. You made the remark that, if you found out what a pizza puppy was you would pass on the information. I, like my brother before me, worked at Brady’s. He worked at the restaurant, as among other things, as a car hop. Twelve years later I went to work for John at Brady’s Dairy Land and often helped out at the restaurant.
The pizza puppy was a hot dog, always deep fried, in a toasted bun, with a pretty decent pizza sauce and cheese (maybe cheese wiz?). It was great! John invented the dish and even patented the name - but not the recipe."
Thanks, Dave, for sharing your memories of working at Brady's and solving the mystery!
I don't know about you, but that recipe sounds pretty good, almost a cousin to a Chili Dog. I may just have to rustle up one at home sometime (and send a royalty check to Mr. Brady!) 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Manning Lorain's Civil Defense Tower in the 1950's

Seeing that photo of the Dew Drop Inn with the Civil Defense tower in the background reminded me that I had this article. It's from the November 26, 1953 Lorain Journal and tells about the 'skywatchers' who used to man the tower.

Lorain Skywatchers Acquire Additional Knowledge On Canton Inspection Tour

Some 35 conscientious skywatchers are still talking today over their recent journey to Canton to learn more about skywatch activities from the Filter Center there.

Ranging in ages from 12 to past 60, the sky-scanners of Lorain share one common interest despite their diversified ages: that of keeping tabs on the air lanes of the nation in the event of a possible enemy attack.

Youths of junior high age and women who have been grandmothers for years all flocked onto the bus near the skywatch tower on Erie Avenue, eager to visit the Canton center which filters plane information from skywatch stations of northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
At the filter center, the Lorainites were briefed by volunteer and Air Force workers there on the efficient procedures used in filtering plane information. Many of them listened to conversations from Columbus, Youngstown, Warren, Sharon and Pittsburgh, Pa., and other main skywatch points in the two states. The Canton center relays most of the information received to other stations lying in the paths of air traffic.
In the middle of the floor at the filter center is a large, odd-shaped table containing a chart where aircraft positions are marked. Around the table, volunteer workers use direct telephone lines installed at certain points to converse with stations in other cities. Complete records of every plane spotted are kept and are passed on immediately upon receiving warnings from other skywatch workers.
The trip, arranged by Co-Chairmen Mrs. Mary Rieger and Mrs. Ann Miller, kept the scanners in Canton four hours, learning filter center procedures. They also learned that the same problem facing them in Lorain faces the center in Canton – both stations lack volunteer personnel to do a thorough, highly efficient job.
Over six million dollars have been allotted this year by the government for civil defense activities. In the Canton center a poster is displayed on the wall revealing a photo of President Eisenhower appealing for support of skywatch activities. Even with the President's backing, many of the skywatchers said, there is still a need for more and more volunteers.
At present, the tower in Lorain, next to City Hall, is operated by volunteers who work four-hour shifts. Mrs. Rieger said that one woman, over 60 years of age, put in more than 20 hours in one week along with her regular duties at home. More volunteers would mean that the shifts could be cut down to two hours.

OFF TO CANTON – Some 35 members of the Lorain Skywatchers, Ground Observer Corps, met in front of the skywatch tower near City Hall over the weekend preparing to visit the Canton Filter Center. Shown awaiting arrival of a special bus, skywatchers, old and young, anticipate viewing Canton's methods of spotting planes and recording airplane information from eastern part of Ohio and western part of Pennsylvania. Skywatchers ages range from 12 to past 60 and all hold an intense interest in their jobs as part of the Civil Defense's all-out effort.

I remember seeing that tower next to City Hall as a kid (I even drew it here). According to some online research, there doesn't appear to be very many of these towers still standing today.
For more information about "Operation Skywatch", here's a link to a great article in AIR FORCE magazine about the history of the Ground Observer Corps.  Here's a link to a Wiki page, as well as another website, if you prefer a shorter version.

1950's government sticker promoting the Ground Observer Corps