Thursday, March 31, 2011

1926 Avon Lake Power Plant Start-up

Here's the Lorain Journal headline of Thursday, July 29, 1926, announcing the start-up of the Avon Lake power plant.

And below is the text of the article itself. It's interesting because since the article is in the Lorain Journal, it points out two specific aspects of the power plant that would be of interest to Lorainites: one is at the beginning of the article and one is at the end.

$15,000,000 Structure to Generate Current for First Time
Lorain Assured of Steady Supply of Power When Operations Start

The Avon power plant of the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co., located five miles east of Lorain, will go into operation August 4, according to announcement today by Robert Lindsay, president of the utility.

Wheels of the immense plant representing an initial cost of $15,000,000 and initial capacity of 90,000 horsepower, will be set in operation by Charles F. Brush, Cleveland, inventor of the Brush electric lamp.

Started in 1925
Construction of the plant, which is regarded as one of the most important industrial developments in the history of Northern Ohio, was started March 16, 1925. When the additions are added to the building and the ultimate capacity of 400,000 horsepower is reached, the station will be the world's largest steam electric plant under one roof.

The ultimate cost of the plant will be $30,000,000.

Members of the industrial development committee and the public utility committee of the Cleveland chamber of commerce, members of the Cleveland city council, educators, engineers, newspaper men, public utility representatives and others have been invited to attend for opening.

"This occasion," said Lindsay, "marks the inauguration of one of the latest developments in electrical generation on a large scale. The plant represents the most advanced engineering practice in the production of electricity by coal and steam in its design, both as a factor and unit in the illuminating system."

Third of Chain
The Avon plant is the third largest power plant to be built by the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. The other two are located in Cleveland. One, the lake shore station at E. 70th St. and the lake has a capacity of 384,000 horsepower and is at present, the largest steam electric plant under one roof.

The new plant is connected is connected with the lake shore station by a 132,000 volt steel tower transmission line, more than 30 miles in length, which surrounds the central and west part of Greater Cleveland with a belt of power. The plant is also hooked onto the high transmission lines of the Ohio Public Service Co. at Lorain and assures Lorainites of uninterrupted electrical service.

Rushed to Completion
According to Lindsay, the initial installation of 90,000 horsepower at Avon has been rushed to completion because of the rapid increase in the demand for electricity. The illuminating company generated in excess of 1,055,000,000 kilowatt hours, in the 12 months ending June 20, 1926, he stated.

The plant is tied in with a super power network serving northern and eastern Ohio, from the lake to the Ohio river and embracing many industrial cities whose development is one of the world's wonders.

Lorain Man Had Part
A Lorain man, W. A. Trigalet, 800 6th St., supervised installation of the boilers – the largest in the world – giant turbines which will produce electricity on August 4. These boilers use pulverized coal for fuel.

Brush, who is to set the wheels of the Avon plant in operation, constructed the first electric motor to be used to drive street cars.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

1924 Avon Lake Power Plant Rendering

I found this newspaper clipping while looking at microfilm in the library recently, and seeing as I pretty much ignore Avon Lake in this supposed Lorain County blog, I thought I'd put it up here.

The photo appeared on the front page of the Lorain Journal on Saturday, December 6, 1924, under the heading $30,000,000 AVON PLANT IS SUPER-POWER PROJECT.

The photo caption read, "The Lorain Journal hereby presents to its readers the architect's drawing of the giant super-power station which the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company is to build at Avon. Inset, Harrison Williams."

Here's my recent shot. The sheer size of the plant makes it hard to photograph. It looks like they pretty much stuck to the architect's vision.

It sure didn't take long to build the plant. It was fired up on August 4, 1926.
It's interesting that the plant was built so close to the road (as opposed to Lorain's recently demolished FirstEnergy Edgewater plant). It's still pretty impressive to me whenever I drive by it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

U.S. Route 6 Bridge over Cold Creek Then and Now

Recently, we decided to enjoy a sunny early Spring day by taking a drive out to Sandusky to get some ice cream at Toft's – another one of my favorite places.

Anyway, after getting some ice cream, I was also able to get a then-and-now shot on the way home. The vintage postcard below is from the Arcadia Images of America book Castalia, Cold Creek and the Blue Hole by Glenn C. Kuebeler. (If you're a big fan of the Blue Hole, this is the book for you.)

Vintage postcard of Route 6 bridge over Cold Creek
The book's caption reads, "This 1930s postcard by E.B. Ackley of Sandusky shows the Route 6 bridge, over Cold Creek, after been rebuilt. This view is looking north with Route 6 curving left and the stores straight ahead. Old Route 2 went north to Bay Bridge. Anna Sessler's corner tavern was managed by Frank Trautlein in 1903. This was Nottke's Tavern in later years before being torn down."

Here's the view from today.

The same view today
I don't know for sure, but it might be the same two trees in both views near the intersection. Comparing the two photos also reminds me what a shame it is that we don't build attractive bridges anymore – all that matters is how cheap they are.

Just as a point of reference, if you turned left at the intersection, then you would immediately be looking at Margaritaville on your left, and you would be about 2 minutes from getting back on State Route 2.

As a final thought, if you've never been to Toft's, make it a point to get out there some time. If you've got the time, following U.S. Route 6 west out of Lorain to Sandusky makes for an interesting drive past small Mom and Pop motels. And of course you have that ice cream to look forward to. Or, you can get out there quickly on State Route 2.

Either way, it's a great way to spend a couple of hours.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Paul Attie, R.I.P.

Lorain has lost another local icon. Paul Attie, owner of the well-known Paul's Auto Body in Lorain passed away early Sunday morning. It's especially sad to me, because he was my father-in-law for the last 21 years.

Some people dread going to their in-laws. Not me – I was fortunate enough to have great in-laws who are are fun to be around. Even just sitting around watching Cops or golf on TV with Paul was enjoyable.

Paul's upbeat and easygoing demeanor made him one of those people that everybody liked. He seemed to know just about everyone in Lorain.

Years ago, I was surprised to find out that he knew Alex Visci, my old trumpet teacher. Every so often, Paul would ask me, "Hey, have you seen Bigack lately?" ('Bigack' was Mr. Visci's all-purpose nickname for everyone, and apparently it was used for him as well.) It turns out that over the years, Paul had fixed up or replated many of Mr. Visci's students' tarnished trumpets and mouthpieces – including those of my brothers and me.

Paul was truly a man's man: fun to drink with, a terrific golfer and a guy who liked any kind of cool gadget. He enjoyed yard work, and was very proud of his well-maintained property. He loved to take visitors for a ride in his golf cart for a tour of his yard and garden.

In the last few years, Paul had been sick, but he only complained about it a little when we got together. He handled it so well that you forgot about the severity of his illness. That's why it's so strange to know that he's gone.

Paul was a good guy, and I'll miss him.

Friday, March 25, 2011

1968 Emergency Handbook

Here's another booklet from my collection, this time from March 1968.

It's called IN TIME OF EMERGENCY: A Citizen's Handbook on NUCLEAR ATTACKS – NATURAL DISASTERS. Like the booklet yesterday, it was published by the Department of Defense - Office of Civil Defense.

There's a couple of things that surprised me about this booklet. First of all, the date. Since the 1950's are routinely lampooned as being the era in which everyone was waiting for 'the big one' to drop, 1968 seems a little late in the game for this sort of thing. I guess our government wasn't taking any chances, which is fine with me.

The big difference between this booklet and the one on Fallout Protection from yesterday (besides the battered, faded look of the publication itself) is the look and tone of the illustrations inside. Gone are the happy drawings of the family snug as a bug in a rug in their prefab bomb shelter.

This book is a lot grimmer.

For example, here's a couple pages about what to do if there is a nuclear flash. (Click on the pages so you can read them.)

That's a pretty big difference in art direction from the other booklet, if you ask me. The guy looking for a place to take cover (below) looks like he's already mutated into a lumbering sewer beast.

Here's some useful information in the booklet about tornadoes (which should be of interest to Lorainites). I can't help but chuckle at the illustration of the guy on the phone peering out his doorway as a cyclone approaches. "Uh, hold the phone a minute. Can I call you right back?"

As a graphic designer myself, I like the booklet's use of simple graphics to explain rather complicated topics.
But some parts of the book are still a little curious, such as this page stating, "If anyone has been outside and fallout particles have collected on his shoes or clothing, they should be brushed off before he enters the shelter area again." The man in the tattered raincoat and fedora looks like he is removing the fallout particles like they were just so much pesky dandruff or cat hair!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

1961 Fallout Protection Book

The recent earthquake in Japan and resulting damage to their nuclear plants created some concern of a radiation cloud drifting over to the United States. That reminded me of some old booklets that I have on file.

The one shown at left, FALLOUT PROTECTION – WHAT TO KNOW AND DO ABOUT NUCLEAR ATTACK dates from December 1961. It was issued by the Department of Defense - Office of Civil Defense, and is a pretty handy reference guide for survival.

It covers everything from what happens when a five-megaton nuclear burst occurs, what the effects of radiation are (guess I'd better read up on that), and also how to get rid of fallout during the aftermath of the catastrophe.

The booklet also covers how to prepare for a nuclear attack, and that's the part of the book that is the most interesting to me. Part of my family's lore is that for a little while during the late 1950's, my parents seriously considered building a bomb shelter. It was to be a joint effort with some good friends of theirs, who were also the neighbors living right behind us. Logistically, it would have worked out great, since our yards butted up against each other in the back.

Which leads me to the booklet. Here's a few spreads showing how to build a bomb shelter. (Click on each so you can read it; you never know, it might come in handy some day!)

I just love the two-color inked illustrations. There is a sense of simple optimism that pervades them; maybe it's the cheery yellowish color?

Here's an illustration from the booklet showing the cleanup during the aftermath of a nuclear attack. It looks like fire hoses are going to play a big part.
Anyway, the bomb shelter plans ultimately fell through for a variety of reasons. When my mother explained why, her reasons sounded a lot like that classic Twilight Zone episode "The Shelter". In it, a well-prepared family in their bomb shelter is attacked by neighbors desperately trying to get in, during a perceived nuclear attack. In the story, the neighbors on the outside practically become animals, willing to do anything to survive, even using a battering ram to break down the door to the shelter.

I guess the concerns about what to do about other neighbors, relatives in town, etc. created too many questions for my parents and their friends that were impossible to answer. Thus, it was decided to skip the shelter and cast our fate to the wind (even if it if carried a little radiation).

The prefab shelter in the booklet looks pretty cozy, though. I hope they've got a can opener!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

End of Winter Swift Mansion Shots

Since it was kind of sunny this past Saturday, and I've been itching to go out and take some pictures, I headed out to Brownhelm Township over the weekend to drive down Gore Orphanage Road and tromp around the Swift Mansion ruins a bit (even though it's not Halloween). Surprisingly, there were parked cars all over the place from the 'haunted' bridge all the way to the ruins.

I've been trying to get a then-and-now shot of the Swift Mansion location for a while, showing the remaining gate post (or whatever it is) in both shots. (I'm assuming that it hasn't been moved.) I admittedly don't know enough about the position of the house on the property to know if it can even be done.

This end-of-winter/early spring period is perfect, because there aren't any leaves or brush to hide the post. So this is the shot I came up with, assuming that the post is the same as in the vintage photo.

If you click on the photo, you can see the gate post clearly; it has a greenish cast to it.

I also saw something that I've never noticed before: part of the ruins fairly close to the road. It was a square chunk, perhaps the base of something.

You can see the gate post in the background.

If any of you out there are familiar with these ruins and can shed some light on this for me, be sure to leave a comment.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Meyer Goldberg Memories

One of the businesses that will probably forever remain synonymous with Lorain is the fondly-remembered Meyer Goldberg chain of grocery stores.

Unlike its competition such as A&P, Meyer Goldberg was just a local chain – but I never noticed the difference when I was a kid. In fact, the store on Oberlin Avenue that we went to was impressive to me, because it was a large standalone store with its own parking lot (which is definitely the preferred trend nowadays for supermarkets).

Meyer Goldberg himself only passed away back on February 1, 2005 at the age of 93. A feature article about his passing on the front page of the Morning Journal written by Scott Patsko had a nice summary of the chain's history, from which I distilled the information that follows.

Meyer Goldberg's parents had already been in the grocery business with their Goldberg Food Stores. He opened his own store back in 1951 on Broadway, and added a second one in 1962 at Oakwood Shopping Center. Later the chain expanded to include more locations, including Oberlin Avenue in Lorain (the one we went to), as well as Elyria, North Ridgeville and Sheffield Township.

Here's a newspaper ad from April 9, 1958 – back when there was just one store in the chain.

Unfortunately, by the end of the 1970's, Goldberg was forced to file for bankruptcy. He ended up filing lawsuits against Pick-N-Pay and Fisher Foods, as he believed they had conspired to put him out of business. (You can read some of the legal documents here and here.) Both companies, along with Stop-N-Shop, were eventually charged with price fixing and forced to make restitution to area customers.

I just remember the Meyer Goldberg store on Oberlin Avenue store as being very spacious, clean and easy to navigate – perfect for grabbing what you need quickly. (Nowadays, some grocery stores are so huge that you can get despondent just trying to find what you're looking for.)

I also remember the red tinted light bulbs that lit up the meat department displays (they certainly made the hamburger look even better), and the great submarine sandwiches that they sold there, with lots of hard salami in them.

Here's what the Oberlin Avenue store looks like now. Remember the old US Postal sub-station on the side?

And here's the South Broadway store. Until recent years, it had been an ALDI store.
It's strange that the two remaining Meyer Goldberg buildings in Lorain both house dollar stores!
Although Meyer Goldberg supermarkets are long gone, Fligner's Market on Broadway continues the legacy of a locally owned and operated grocery store in Lorain.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Supermarket Memories

Every Lorain County Baby Boomer remembers being dragged around supermarkets by their mother when they were a kid.

It's funny to think about it now. Back then, it would have been unthinkable for my father to do the grocery shopping. Now, it seems that modern man has regained his role from prehistoric times as the food gatherer, and he does most of the shopping. (I know I do.)

But while growing up, I remember it strictly being Mom's job, and we kids often came along for the ride. Of course, kids need to be bribed to be good, and I remember that we looked forward to the various gumball machines at the store's exit. 

The cereal aisle used to be pretty exciting too. We were a real cereal-eating family, and my mother used to buy at least three or four boxes a week just for us kids. Best of all, she had no problem with buying us the sugary cereals we craved: Cap'n Crunch, Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes, Cocoa Puffs, etc. Of course she also bought those most boring (to kids, at least) of cereals: Kellogg's Rice Krispies and Nabisco Spoon-sized Shredded Wheat (which ironically is now my favorite cereal.)

As the years went by, Mom began working full-time, and she couldn't shop for food during the day. Friday night (right after dinner) was when she went, and one of my siblings or I would be enlisted to go with her. Our job was to bring returnable pop bottles back to the store, help with the coupons, pick out some cereal, and unload the groceries from the trunk. As each of us hit high school, however, we would balk at going along (because we'd miss our TV shows) until eventually my younger brother inherited the job for good.

Over the years, there were many grocery stores that Mom patronized, including A&P, Sparkle, Edwards Food Warehouse and one that I never realized was a strictly local chain: Meyer Goldberg.

Stop back here next time for a look at this well-remembered, iconic supermarket that lives on in our Lorain memories. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Behind the Scenes at the Blog No. 1: Retouching

(First in a series explaining some of the various aspects of doing this blog.)

With every post I do, I like to have some photo or image that is interesting or unique. Since I don't own any sort of archival photo collection, I have to get my images from somewhere.

Rather than poach images from other websites on the internet, I try my best to come up with things on my own. (Once in a while I do use images from other websites, and 99% of the time I either give them credit and/or a link back to that site so the image can be seen in its original context.)

Books are a good source, and I'm sure the gang down at the Black River Historical Society are used to seeing images from their great Arcadia Publishing Images of America Lorain book on many of my earliest posts. (By the way, if you don't own a copy of this or any of the other books featuring local cities in that series, they do sell them down at the BRHS, including the newest one on Sheffield Village by Charles E. Herdendorf.)

The best source for unique images for me, however, is the newspaper microfilm collection at the Lorain Public Library. Most of the time, the sheer inaccessibility of these images makes them rare and special, and thus desirable for use on this blog.

Images from microfilm, however, tend to look rather poor. They have all sorts of scratches, specks, dark edges and fuzzy blobs on them. Photos usually look atrocious, and ads are only a little better.

Here's a good example of what I mean. Below is an unretouched ad from microfilm.

And here is the same ad after I've cleaned it up in Photoshop on my Mac.
So if you ever wonder about those days when I don't post anything, it's probably a sure bet that I'm busy either looking for, retrieving or cleaning up images. (And that's even before I've written a word!)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Paddy's Day at Heilman's 1960

Here's a wee bit of fun in honor of St. Patrick's Day – a 1960 ad for Lorain's iconic Heilman's restaurant that ran in the Lorain Journal.

The ad's a little curious in that there are no mentions or descriptions of any special Irish menu items. I suspect the whole ad was part of a 'clip book' of prepared artwork that leaves room for a company's name and phone number.

By the way, the long pipe that the leprechaun in the ad is smoking is an Irish clay pipe, which you can read about here.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Carnegie Library Dedication Front Pages

I almost forgot I had these!  Fellow blogger and local history expert Loraine Ritchey and I had traded a few emails about the history of the library building itself, and I realized that I had neglected to do enough research.

So I went back to the library and retrieved these library dedication front pages for some more information.

Here's the one from the Lorain Daily News.

And here's the one from the Lorain Times-Herald. Click on each so you can read it! (Sorry some of it is cut off!)

I also have to point out that the dedication date is May 20, 1904 and not May 30 as listed in various Lorain history chronologies. The date is correct on the official Lorain Public Library history website, which you can find here – check it out! (No pun intended!)

Streator Park – From the Air!

My final look at Streator Park and the former Carnegie Library is a bird's eye view – well, actually a couple of views.

This great 1924 aerial photo is courtesy of Dennis Lamont, local historian and archivist who, fortunately for me, enjoys sharing! Gee, this picture would have come in handy when I was trying to find out where that circular fountain was! It's easy to find in this photo. (Click on it for a closer look.)

And blog pal Bob Kovach sent me this comparison of a 1962 aerial view from and a recent one from the search engine. (Give a click also!) I guess judging by this photo, the fountain was gone by 1962, so I was a little bit late looking for it!

Lastly, here's the full bing aerial.

Thanks, guys, for the images!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Streator Park Photo vs Hand-tinted Postcard

My recent series of blogs on the Carnegie Library and Streator Park generated several emails from my rich network of people and fellow bloggers who are knowledgeable about Lorain's history.

Well-known local historian and archivist Dennis Lamont sent me a great vintage photo of Streator Park, with the Carnegie Library in the background. While admiring it, I realized I had seen it before – as one of the hand-tinted postcards that I had already posted!

I sometimes forget that colorful, vintage 'white border' postcards often have bright blue cloud-filled skies dropped into the composition during the lithographic process. (Click here and here for some nice websites about the history of these 'white border' cards.)

Here's a nice comparison of the original photo and the resulting lithographed postcard. In this case, the outlining of the trees on the colorful postcard is almost amusing (click on it so you can see what I'm talking about!)

Photo courtesy of Dennis Lamont
Vintage Postcard

I wonder how many postcards had those very same clouds?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Carnegie Library & Streator Park Then & Now Part 3

Here's the final installment of my quest to get the then-and-now shots of Streator Park, despite the fact that the sidewalk configuration had changed over the years.

I checked on Ebay again and purchased another vintage postcard of Streator Park. (I began to think that the printers of these postcards were pretty desperate for local subject matter!)

This new postcard provided a different view of the park, with the fountain visible on the left side. Using the sidewalk and the building chimneys as coordinates, I finally had a pretty good idea of where the fountain was located.

Here are the resulting then-and-now shots. They were shot over a period of a couple days (which explains why the sky looks so different in some of the photos).

Here is the fountain shot that was so hard to figure out.
And lastly, here is the lagoon shot. The playground equipment made it impossible to replicate the angle exactly.

It is disappointing to see how much the park has changed. During the early 1900s, citizens could stroll through the park on their way to the library, rest on the park benches and appreciate the park’s beauty. Unfortunately, the park is now dominated by garish playground equipment.

This is one park that I wish could be restored to its original state.
Anyway, the Carnegie Library served the city well until the new library replaced it in 1957. We'll see if the building is put to some new use as a result of Lorain City Council's efforts. (The lawsuit has moved ahead, as explained here.)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Carnegie Library & Streator Park Then & Now Part 2

In the past, I've found Ebay to be a great research aid, as people always seem to be selling Lorain postcards, maps and even photos. I was hoping that some more postcards of the Carnegie Library and Streator Park would help me find where the fountain in the postcard (at left) had been. I was right – although it would only complicate matters, as you will see.

While looking on Ebay, I found two other vintage postcards of Streator Park. Both, strangely enough, showed a lagoon. (In the middle of Lorain?) Since the postcards were inexpensive, I bought both of them, hoping that they would help me understand the park’s layout. When the postcards arrived in the mail, I was surprised to see that they were the same photograph, but cropped, colored and labeled differently.

However, with a magnifying glass I was able to see the fountain to the right of the lagoon on each postcard. (See close-up at left.)

I went back to Streator Park, determined to get my photographs. The lagoon seemed to correspond with a large, mulched play area. Unfortunately I still couldn’t determine exactly where the fountain had been located.

More library research failed to produce any maps or photos of Streator Park to help me.

It was time to head back to Ebay - again. Good thing I had dough to blow!

Next: the then-and-now pix

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Carnegie Library & Streator Park Then & Now Part 1

Sometimes it’s a challenge to get a then-and-now photograph of a vintage postcard because of changes in the subject’s surroundings. That was certainly true with this 2007 project, as I discovered that getting my photographs would be no “walk in the park”!

It started with a postcard (at left) that I purchased on Ebay featuring a fountain in Streator Park in Lorain, Ohio. I’d never heard of Streator Park back then, but I recognized the building in the background as the Carnegie Library (the original Lorain Public Library).

I did a little research and learned that in 1902, the Lorain Public Library Association applied to the Andrew Carnegie Foundation for a grant to erect a public library building. To receive the grant, the city had to meet two conditions: agree to support the library financially and provide a suitable site for the building. The site that was chosen and ultimately approved was Streator Park and on May 20, 1904, the Carnegie Public Library was dedicated.
Since I already owned a vintage postcard of the Carnegie Library, I planned to do then-and-now shots of both the building and the fountain. A mild December day provided the perfect opportunity to have some photographic fun.
Recreating the postcard of the front of the Library was easy. 
It was interesting to see how the landscape had changed after more than a century. 
Unfortunately, the park fountain was long gone, and to make matters more difficult, a playground, basketball court and picnic shelter now occupied much of the park. None of the trees on the postcard seemed to have survived either. After walking around the grounds for an hour, I realized that it would be impossible to determine the fountain’s location without some more information.

It was time to head back to Ebay!

Next: The Lagoon