Thursday, January 31, 2013

The House Across from Dairy Mart

The house at 521 E. Erie Avenue
Often as I drive down E. Erie Avenue in Lorain, I'm fascinated to see so many commercially zoned properties located in otherwise fine old residential neighborhoods. I wonder how it came to be like that, and I assume that the neighborhoods were wrecked by greedy developers.

For example, I've admired this stately house (at left) on its large lot at 521 E. Erie Avenue for many years now. Every time I get stuck at the traffic light in front of it, I think about what a great-looking house it is, and how unfair it is that it has to face a Dairy Mart store.

Surely, there had to be some great old house across from it at some point that was torn down and replaced by a Lawson's (the predecessor to Dairy Mart.)

As it turns out, I was wrong. There's been a grocery store at that Dairy Mart location since at least 1905 – maybe even earlier.

In 1905, there was Geiger and Ingraham's. It was followed by a variety of other grocery stores, including East Side Grocery (1912), Matthew Smith Tea, Coffee & Grocery (1921), A&P (1937), and Merves Brothers Food Mart (1942). (The dates shown merely mean those stores happened to be at that location that year.)

Merves Brothers were there the longest, until the late 1970s. Then the address went vacant in the 1978 directory. Lawson's first appeared in the directory around 1980.

As for the house, the 521 E. Erie address appeared in the 1912 directory with Fred A. Burgett, a contractor, as the owner. His name did not appear in any of the previous directories and it can't be determined if someone else built the house at an earlier date.

Burgett remained in the house until around 1952 according to the books. After that date, the house seemed to change occupants every few years.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that a national chain store doesn't always come in and wreck a fine old neighborhood. Often, the chain store – in this case a Dairy Mart – is merely a modern version of what was already an accepted part of the neighborhood for decades.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tower Drive-in Ad January 16, 1958

This ad, which ran in the January 16, 1958 edition of the Lorain Journal – 55 years ago this month – explains how it was that the Tower Drive-in on Lake Avenue in Elyria Township could stay open in the winter months. The very next day the theater offered its patrons in-car heaters for the very first time.

Even with the piped-in heat, though, winter drive-ins are still a strange concept to me. What if it was snowing? It's bad enough when it rains at the drive-in, but it's hard to imagine looking at the screen with the fluffy white stuff coming down. Plus, who wants to risk getting stuck in a snowbank while trudging to the concession stand?

Maybe global warming will eventually make it possible to go to the few remaining drive-ins year-round again.

Anyways, while we're waiting for the Aut-O-Rama Twin to reopen in early April, here's a classic 1950s intermission ad to put us in the mood for some good old concession goodies.

Stock music aficionados (like me) recognize the background music in the animated commercial as "The Cheeky Chappy" by Phil Green. It was used in a couple of Quick Draw McGraw cartoons.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sam Klein Company

January 2, 1958 Sam Klein newspaper ad
1963 Sam Klein logo
While writing about Kline's Department Store a few weeks ago, I was reminded how as a kid I was confused by the fact that there were two stores in Lorain with soundalike names: Kline's and Sam Klein. And although we shopped at Kline's, I don't remember ever going into the Sam Klein store. I guess it was because it was a men's clothing store and not one of my mother's regular stops on the Saturday morning Downtown Lorain shopping jaunt.

Anyway, here's an article (below) that provides a nice history of the beginnings of the Sam Klein Company. As opposed to Kline's, which was part of a national chain, Sam Klein was just one store – and one of the oldest businesses in Lorain.

The article appeared in the Lorain Journal on June 21, 1958.

Sam Klein Established In 1880's

The Sam Klein Company, 425 Broadway, was established by Sam Klein in a small frame structure 64 years ago on North Broadway where most of the business district was located in the late 1800's.

The company claims it is the oldest men's store in the city in years and the youngest in appearance and merchandising of latest styles for men and boys.

Julius Klein, the present owner and no relation to the founder, purchased the company in 1927 when the business was carried on in about 2,000 square feet of space. There were only two employes then.

As the community grew and the demand for more and better clothing increased, the Sam Klein Company expanded and remodeled with the times.

The store, one of the finest dealing in men's and boy's wear in the states, now occupies more than 4,500 square feet and has 10 employes.

In 1953, and expansion program resulted in an increase of 33 percent in selling space. The latest open visual displays were installed to permit customers complete access to merchandise for easier selection.

A modern store front was built, air conditioning was installed and new lighting, floor covering and store fixtures were added.

The owner had two sons, Warren and Allan, who are associated with him in the management of the store.

As the article indicated, Sam Klein moved his business around a bit in the early years. The 1891 city directory had the company listed as being located above 59 Broadway. The next available book (1898-99) had the business at 311 Broadway.

I'm not sure when Sam Klein actually closed. Its location at 425 Broadway is now a parking lot next to the Driscol Music Company, and the clothing store is just one more fading memory in the mind of aging Lorainites.

If anyone out there remembers the store and/or ever shopped there, be sure to leave a comment.

Monday, January 28, 2013

1956 Auto Show at Lorain Arena

For many years, the Lorain Automotive Dealers Association held an annual Auto Show. This full page ad promoting the 1956 edition of the event appeared in the Lorain Journal on January 11, 1956 – 57 years ago this month. (Click on the ad for a larger, readable view.)

The big show was held at the old Lorain Arena ( a favorite topic of this blog).

In addition to the new car models, the show had entertainment for everyone. Performing artists included the Tracey Twins (who were from Cleveland), Henry George and his Recording Orchestra, and Stanton and Peddie.

Danny Stanton (left) and Eddie Peddie
Stanton and Peddie? Who were they, you might be asking? (I know I was!)

According to the Arena ad, they were a song and dance, comedy and novelty team who had appeared at the Cleveland Auto Show. They were also leaving for a Las Vegas appearance after their Lorain gig.

This website provides a pretty comprehensive account of Stanton's career. Although his stage name was Danny Stanton, his real name was Pete Argiro. In addition to his partnership with Eddie Peddie, he enjoyed success as a jazz pianist and club operator. He passed away in 2005.

The post-Lorain Las Vegas job must have gone well, as they enjoyed a long run at the Flamingo Hotel, according to the same website.

Anyway, the Arena ad also provides a nice listing of Lorain auto dealers from that era – as well as some bizarre 1950's clip art of a female herald to go with the strange castle and curtain graphics.

Here's another photo of the comedy team of Stanton and Peddie. This one appeared in the January 5, 1956 Lorain Journal along with a short article.

The article noted, "Eddie Peddie, the senior member, is a native of Cleveland. He is a singer and plays a number of musical instruments in addition to being a natural born comic.

"He spent considerable time looking for a partner for a floor show act before he found Danny Stanton, the junior member of the comedy team.

"Stanton and Peddie have appeared with Sophie Tucker and were co-stars on the Page One Ball with Phil Silvers and Johnnie Desmond. They have appeared at Cleveland's Alpine Village many times."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Woody Ernhart, where are you?

When I look at old Lorain Journals from the 1950s and 60s, I'm constantly amazed at how many nightclubs and lounges there were in town offering live entertainment. It seems like almost any night you could go somewhere to dance to a combo, sit and listen to the song stylings of a singer, or enjoy a novelty act.

It made Lorain seem like a mini-Las Vegas.

A good case in point is the ad (at right) for Ben Hart's Show Bar at 651 Broadway that ran in the Journal on January 19, 1963 – fifty years ago. The bar offered up a whole lot of entertainment with no minimum and no cover charge. (Click on the ad for a larger version.)

There's The Infernos – direct from the Rubba Club in Columbus; Marlene West, vocalist – direct from Detroit; The Esta Trio, consisting of Esther Chazor on the piano, Billy Molas on the drums and Jack on bass.

But most importantly, there's Woody Ernhart, MC and comedian. I love the photo of him; he has an intense look on his face as he's dropping something into a cup – maybe a very small egg.

I'd love to know if Woody ever hit the big time.

But I've looked all over the internet to try and find out something about Woody and the rest of these acts with no success. Does anybody out there know anything about any of them? If so, please leave a comment or send me an email!
Be sure to visit this blog entry in which we meet Woody Ernhart and learn all about his life as an entertainer and successful magazine publisher! And this post features some reminisces by one of his friends.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What was playing at the Palace 50 years ago this week?

The answer? A double feature of two thrilling, chilling Horror Hits: Tower of London and The Vampire and the Ballerina. That's the ad (above) that ran in the Journal on January 19, 1963.

I wonder how long the theater was billed as the "Now" Palace?

Sadly, you don't get to see a true double feature anymore, except at the drive-in. And even then, the two movies never really seem to relate to each other, as these two "spook shows" do.

Tower of London (1962) with Vincent Price was one of those period costume horror films. Here's a poster (below) that gives you a better idea of the kind of mayhem that takes place in the movie.

The Vampire and the Ballerina (1960) was an Italian horror film released in the states by United Artists. Here's the movie poster (below).
(Courtesy wrongsideof
And here's the actual trailer. It's got some nice, moody cinematography.

But by George, that's one ugly vampire. You won't see one like that in any of the Twilight movies.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ohio Snowstorm – January 23, 1963

Fifty years ago today – January 23, 1963 (which was also a Wednesday) – Ohio was also dealing with severe winter weather, as the front of The Journal from that day (at left) describes. (Click on it for a larger view.)

Early morning temperatures that day ranged from 8 to 16 degrees above zero. A low of zero degrees for that night was predicted.

The photo depicts some prankster's little joke: offering snow-covered Lakeview Park beach for sale via a real estate sign.

It must have been a rough winter so far, as the five inches of snow that fell on Lorain County during that storm made it the second big storm of that season, according to the article.

According to one article, "Snow accumulations on city streets during the night were taken care of immediately by the street department crews." Boy, do I miss those days in Lorain.

There's something else to be nostalgic about here. Did you see the price of the Journal back then? Seven cents!

I also miss the look of the paper back then. I like the type fonts; they really defined the personality of the paper for decades. Plus, really large headlines were reserved for big news stories like this.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Last of the Oberlin Avenue Farmhouses?

I passed this old farmhouse while heading south on Oberlin Avenue on Saturday and did a double take. I'd never noticed it before – perhaps because of the mammoth evergreen that literally overshadows it.

I guess I was surprised to see it because it seems that all there is along Oberlin Avenue in that area are various medical clinics.

There's a real estate sign on the property, propped against the tree, but it doesn't appear that the house and property are still for sale, as I was unable to find a current listing.

A quick internet search reveals that this house, at 4860 Oberlin Avenue, was built in 1910. I'm guessing it's one of the oldest on that stretch of Oberlin Avenue between Tower Boulevard and Cooper Foster Park Road.

The house is on a huge lot that in all probability was a farm. It's similar in size to the farmhouses down at the other end of Oberlin Avenue (which I wrote about in this series). Somehow, this house and lot have managed to survive, and not get absorbed into a crowded neighborhood.

Here's a current aerial photo (below). That's the former Riviera Swim Club on the right.

I couldn't find the house in the early city directories at the library, since it was outside of the Lorain city limits. However, the 1954 edition of the Lorain County Farm & Business Directory reveals that Anna Retay and a daughter lived there at that time. Later city directory entries reveal that she was the widow of Antone Retay.
Mrs. Retay was an office worker at O'Neil's, and was retired by the early 1970s, and remained at that address until she passed away in 1987, according to

That pretty much explains how and why the house managed to survive so long and appears to have changed so little through the years.

Beginning with the 1988 directory, a new resident for that address was listed; within two years there was yet another name.

I'm not sure why I found all this interesting; I guess it's because every house tells a story. If you drive that section of Oberlin Avenue, I think you'll agree that this old farmhouse is one of the last of its kind, a link to a bygone era before Lorain was developed.

It'll be interesting to see if it survives, or meets with a bulldozer.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Passing Scene – January 1975

Remembering Gene Patrick, who passed away this past October, today I'm posting two of his The Passing Scene comics from the Lorain Journal that I ran across recently while researching Kline's Department Store. Click on each for a larger version.

This one (below) ran on Saturday, January 4, 1975. It's interesting that calculators were just making their appearance in schools at that time.

This one (below) ran on Saturday, January 18, 1975 and features a few of Gene's funny caricatures, including one of Ohio Governor Jim Rhodes.

As you can see, tax cuts were a big issue back then as well as now.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Kline's Sixth Street Entrance Then & Now

To finally close out my series on Kline's, here's a nifty photo (above) from December 1969 showing Kline's Sixth Street entrance. It sure is unique how the Gould Block wraps around the other building.

My mother says she used Kline's Sixth Street entrance more often than the Broadway entrance, since she usually parked on Sixth Street. If you remember from Part 4 of this blog history, the store's Sixth Street entrance was apparently closed for some time and was reopened in 1955. It sounds like the modern sign was added at that time, according to the article.

And here's the corresponding view from today (below).

It's no wonder so much of Downtown Lorain looks so strange to me these days. With the passing of so many decades since its heyday, and the many aesthetic changes made to buildings, it's hard for me to remember what businesses occupied the many empty storefronts.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Gould Block Today

Today, it's great to see the Gould Block – the former home of Kline's Department Store – looking so elegant again like it did when it was first constructed in 1928.

It's quite different from this 1954 view (below) in which the building was literally split in half between Kline's and Kresge's.

Today there is much activity within the renovated Gould building, with the Charleston Coffee House at 630 Broadway and Faithfully Fit Group Fitness Center at 610 Broadway. The fitness center (below) shares Kline's old address.

The beautiful Gardens of Charleston apartment project (shown below) at 610-630 Broadway was purchased by a new developer last year. The project is a key element in the hoped-for rejuvenation of Downtown Lorain.

Courtesy Gardens of Charleston Facebook page

I wish the developer well, and am very glad indeed to see the former home of Kline's getting such tender lover care.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

History of Kline's - Part 6

March 5, 1975 ad
Although it was announced on January 28, 1975 that Kline's Department Store would close in 90 days, it didn't stay open quite that long.

The day after the announcement, the store ran an ad in the newspaper announcing its once-a-year spectacular "Good Old Fashioned Bargain Bee Event," with no mention of the store closing in its ad. But by the beginning of March, the store was advertising savings of up to 80% on remaining merchandise.

Finally, on March 10, a letter from Edward Kline to the people of Lorain (below) appeared in the Journal.

And on March 14, 1975, Lorain's Kline's store closed for good. It was indeed the end of an era. That same day, the below ad ran in the paper.

Downtown Lorain would never be the same.

The closed store in the 1970s

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

History of Kline's - Part 5

Kline's carried on in Lorain right through the 1960s and into the 1970s. But on January 28, 1975, the sad article at left appeared near the bottom of page 3 of that day's Lorain Journal.

Here's the text of the article by Mark Ellis, Staff Writer (below).


Lorain Was First in Chain
Kline's Department Store To Close After 62 Years

Staff Writer

KLINE'S DEPARTMENT store, a downtown Lorain business landmark since 1913, will close its doors in 90 days.

Kline's managment announced the decision yesterday to 34 employes.

The Lorain store was the first in a national chain which now includes 25 stores based in New York City.

Kline's assistant manager, Brian Sekardi, said the store is closing "because we incurred too many losses."

Ever since the Mall opened, we haven't been able to recover. We haven't been able to generate the traffic. We hoped to be able to recover (from the Mall's opening) in two years. It's been nine years.

"The store's sentimental to us. It's the very first our chain had. We've discussed closing it numerous times. We didn't want to close this store."

SEKARDI SAID Kline's management is trying to place employes in other stores in the area.

"We had an unusual amount of longevity here. I've got nine girls who have been here 10 years or longer. We have a loyal employe structure."

Sekardi said there will be no "big give - away sales" at the 610 Broadway store in its last days.

The store was opened here by Jacob and George Kline. It enjoyed success under the 37 year direction of civic leader B.B. Weintraub who left in 1963. Charles Coulson ran the store from 1963 until July, 1974 when Paul Schlobohn took over. He was unavailable for comment today.

The store underwent a major remodeling in 1963.

Monday, January 14, 2013

History of Kline's - Part 4

Kline's – 1955
It was 1955 when Kline's celebrated the 42nd anniversary of its Lorain store by enlarging and remodeling it.

Here's the story explaining it all, which ran on September 22, 1955 in the Lorain Journal. The article includes a listing of some of the longtime employees (including my grandmother), and also provides a description of the store's layout, which I'm sure is familiar to many of you who shopped there.

The story contains one statement that doesn't ring true, however. It implies that the 1924 Lorain tornado was the reason for the store's 1928 move to more spacious quarters. As Part 2 of this blog's series on Kline's explained, the popular store needed more space.

(By the way, the day before I typed up this post, the spouse and I were watching some DVDs of past season Mad Men episodes. In one episode, a secretary made reference to shopping at Kline's (in New York City). I wonder how much of the show's audience had ever heard of Kline's?)

Official Opening Tomorrow, Saturday
Kline's To Celebrate Anniversary

Kline's department store, 610 Broadway, will celebrate the 42nd anniversary of its founding in Lorain and the official opening of its newly enlarged and remodeled store Friday and Saturday.

H. B. WEINTRAUB, manager of the store for many years, invites the public to see the gleaming, new, modern store front on Broadway and new look throughout the interior.

Weintrab, a member of the Lorain school board and a leader in civic, welfare and social activities for a number of years, said:

"The shoppers have got to see our store and walk through it to appreciate the money, time and effort expended to make it one of the finest appearing and most convenient to shop in."

The original Kline store was founded in Lorain in 1913. It was located in the Victory Building, 710 Broadway, until after the tornado on June 28, 1924, when it moved to its present location.

THE COMPANY, headed by Jacob Kline, of New York City, now operates branch stores in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin and Iowa. Three other stores in Ohio are in Marion, Dover and Newark.

Extensive improvements of the Lorain store include spacious new aluminum entrance doors on Broadway, addition of a new touch to the Sixth Street entrance, moving of the center stairway on the main floor to the right of the main entrance and the enlargement of the fashion departments.

THE SIXTH STREET entrance, closed in the past, has been opened to serve shoppers who park their cars in side street parking areas.

The men's and boy's departments have been combined on the main floor and a new shoe department is now located on the downstairs floor instead of on the main floor.

The fashion departments in the rear of the main floor have been greatly enlarged to facilitate a more attractive showing of larger selections of coats, suits, dresses and furs. The Boy and Girl Scout headquarters have been rearranged on the downstairs floor.

The women's sportswear department had been enlarged in the center of the main floor.

Weintraub said the infants' and girls' wear departments are located in spacious quarters on the downstairs floor where there are attractive displays in apparel selections for tots to teens.

THE CURTAIN and drapery department has been completely modernized and there is a larger and more complete selection of blankets, bed spreads, table coverings, linen and yard goods in store for shoppers.

The extension of the main floor six feet beyond the old front line and moving of the center stairway has increased the size of the store by more than 600 square feet.

Long time employes, departments they head and years of service follow:

LELA CALDWELL, main aisle, 26; John Tomka, men's wear, 25; Freda Brady, domestics, 25; Clarice Manning, coats, suits and furs, 21; Regina Donahue, shoes, 19; Mabel Kennington, infants' and children's wear, 19; Eva Washtak, lingerie and foundations, 15; Rita Novak, dresses, 14.

The Kline department store main office is in New York City where the firm maintains its own staff of alert buyers and stylists. Executive vice president is Edward Kline, of New York City.

Warehouses and shipping facilities are located in New York City and Joliet, Ill.

THE KLINE ORGANIZATION has opened three new stores during the last year and has steadlily improved and modernized existing operations.

Weintraub was named "Man of the Year" in 1940 and 1950. He is a past president of the Lions, Lorain Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Retail Merchants Association and the Lorain Community Chest.

He has been active for many years in the Boy Scouts of America, fund raising efforts of St. Joseph Hospital, work among the blind in Lorain county and numerous other projects.

Friday, January 11, 2013

History of Kline's - Part 3

Here's a sampling of Kline's ads through the years. (Click on each of them for a larger version.) It's interesting watching how the ads changed, and how the logo evolved.

Here's one (below) from the year the store opened in Lorain. It ran on Friday, November 7, 1913 in The Lorain Times-Herald. It's the oldest ad that I was able to find on microfilm for 1913 and may very well be the ad introducing Lorain shoppers to Kline's.

November 7, 1913 ad
This 1928 ad (below) appeared in The Lorain Times-Herald on November 12, a few days before the new store opened at Broadway and Sixth. It's a nice statement of the Kline's business philosophy.

November 12, 1928 ad
This two page spread (below) ran two days later, the day before the new store opened at Broadway and Sixth. As you can see, the store carried an incredible variety of items.

November 14, 1928 ad
Here's a neat Founders Day ad (below) that ran in the newspaper on May 24, 1935. It celebrated the 61st anniversary of the business.

May 24, 1935 newspaper ad

Jumping ahead to the 1940s, here's a 1947 ad (below) that ran in the Lorain Journal. It's amazing how different and modern the ads looked by then. 

May 2, 1947 ad
The 1947 Lorain City Directory ad (below) stated the store's motto very simply.

Here's a Valentine's Day-themed ad from 1956 that seems pretty racy (below)!
February 10, 1956 ad

Here's one (below) that's a little more conservative, from May 1959.
May 1959 ad

Here's one from 1964 (below).  
June 1964 ad

And here's an ad from the end of Kline's days in Lorain – the year it closed: 1975 (below). 

January 1975 ad

Thursday, January 10, 2013

History of Kline's - Part 2

Here's an article (below) about the background history of Kline's new home in the brand new Gould Block.

It appeared in the Wednesday, November 14, 1928 edition of The Lorain Times-Herald. The above drawing was featured in the same edition.

Work Started Last May Now Practically Completed

Out of the ruins of a disastrous fire has risen a new building at Sixth-st and Broadway. It will be dedicated, figuratively, Thursday with the entrance of Kline Brothers store, a store for years one of Lorain's largest.

The new Gould building is the successor to the old Gould Block which was destroyed March 3, 1928 when fire razed the building for more than ten hours. Damage at that time was estimated at more than $500,000 including contents. It was a three story structure and all that remained after the smoke had cleared and the ice had melted from the watered debris was a pile of jumbled girders and wreckage – a pile of junk. Twenty-eight business firms were out a home and sought new quarters. Documents were gone and business had to start anew.

Early in May steam shovels started removing the debris and way was made for a new building. Now it is completed and a building costing more than $175,000 stands as a memorial to the staunchness and faith in Lorain held by Joseph Gould, 3455 East Erie-av the owner who saw his building stricken by fire.

The ground upon which the throne of achievement stands has been valued at $275,00. It is one of the most valuable pieces of Broadway property and stands in the heart of the business district of Lorain. The property has a frontage of 107 feet in Broadway and 60 feet in Sixth-st. It has a depth of 134 feet, back to the alley. A small corner of the block is taken up by the Lorain Banking company which suffered a loss of $65,000 in the blaze.

Gould's new building is of most modern construction and has one of the lowest fire insurance rates in the city because of its resistance to fire, according to the owner.

It is a two story-basement type of steel, concrete and terra cotta build. The front alone is terra cotta, a white stone construction. Floors have been made of concrete and composition. The building is entirely fireproof.

Not more than two or three store rooms will occupy the new building on the first floor. Kline's will take up space both on Broadway and Sixth-st. The new concern will be alloted more than 19,000 square feet of space on the first floor in addition to a selling basement.

Nineteen office 'suites,' entirely up-to-date, will occupy the second story. More than half of these are now rented according to the owner. Each office will have an 11-foor ceiling and will be equipped with hot and cold water and gas. Rolling copper screens will be supplied on every window. Every wire running to the building has been concealed in the walls. This includes phone and electric wiring. Even telephones have base plugs.

A new vapor system operated by two large boilers in a section of the basement will furnish heat to tenants.

Although Kline's enter the building and open to the public Thursday, the building will not be entirely complete for some time.

Shortly after the fire Gould returned all rent payments to tenants. They had paid for the month and three days later the building burned to the ground.

Here's another article (below) from the same newspaper describing the Kline's store itself.

Basement First and Second Floors Will Be Utilized

One of the most modern and completely equipped department stores in the county is the boast of Klines for their new store which opens Thursday in the Gould Block Broadway at Sixth-st.

Housed in a fire-proof building of concrete and steel construction, which was erected to replace the old Century Building, destroyed by fire last spring, the Kline store now has much more floor space and other advantages over the old quarters, according to H. S. Kolbert, manager.

The first floor of the store will be taken up with ready-to-wear clothing for men, women and children. It includes coats, dresses, millinery, hosiery, underwear and other articles of clothing for women and young girls, and all types of clothing and furnishing for men and boys, it was announced.

The offices and executive department of the store will be located in spacious quarters on the mezzanine floor at the rear of the store.

In the basement will be located the shoe department, and quarters for rugs, linoleum, beds, bedding, drapes, and other articles. The basement also will contain the storage room and stock room of the store.

The new store is finished throughout in golden oak and all new fixtures of the most modern type have been installed. A new lighting system, which is expected to make the store as light as day at all times.

In addition to all new fixtures, the entire stock of the store will be new, Kolbert said. There will be no stock brought over from the old store, he declared. A force of 60 employees will be used.

The new Kline store has four entrances – two in Broadway and two in Sixth-st. Large island display windows have been erected in the two Broadway entrances. Another feature of the new store is the automatic change conveyor, which has been installed.

Next: A calvacade of Kline's ads through the years

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

History of Kline's - Part 1

Kline's original Lorain store
(courtesy Black River Historical Society)
As I mentioned yesterday, the Kline's Department Store in Lorain was not only part of a national chain, but was the very first store in the chain (outside of its Pennsylvania and East Coast roots).

The Lorain store opened in 1913 and was originally located at 710 Broadway (see photo at left).

I was unable to determine the exact date that the store opened, but the earliest ad that I was able to locate ran in The Lorain Times-Herald on Friday, November 7, 1913. The boxed ad (which was all type with no illustrations) explained that since there were 17 Kline's stores, they bought in large quantities and thus were able to give their customers the full benefit of that buying power. A typeset list of items for sale and prices followed.

After more than a decade at 710 Broadway, the popular store moved to more spacious quarters at 610 - 614 Broadway in November 1928.

Here's an article (below) that appeared in The Lorain Times Herald at the time of that 1928 move that explains the history of the company.

Now, Great Chain Including Lorain Department Store, Reaches From Coast to Coast

The first Kline Brothers' store was opened more than 54 years ago in Philadelphia, and since that time, the organization has grown by leaps and bounds until now it ranks among the biggest and best department stores in the country.

Little did Herman Kline think when he opened that store in Philadelphia in 1874 that it would be the first of a mighty chain reaching from the East Coast to the Mississippi river.

Soon after opening the store in Philadelphia, Kline was greeted with the happy realization that it was a huge success, and a short time later, stores were opened in Allentown, Reading, Altoona and Faston, Pa., and all were successful from the start.

The business was then taken over by his four sons – Nathan, Ignatz, Henry and Charles, who further contributed to the growth of the chain and many stores were added throughout the eastern states.

The third generation of Klines, the present proprietor opened their first western store in Lorain at 710 Broadway. Since the opening of the Lorain unit in the big chain of stores, 26 new stores have been added throughout middle west in the states of Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin. New stores are constantly being added to the chain.

There is also a decided contrast in the buying facilities of the first Kline store and the great chain of Kline department stores of today. The founder purchased in small quantities when he made his seasonal trips to New York and other markets.

1928 Logo
Today Klines maintain New York offices in spacious quarters. Here a large efficient staff of skilled buyers are constantly combing the markets of the world for merchandise to supply the needs of thousands of Kline patrons.

Klines today have a tremendous buying power, running into millions of dollars annually. They buy direct from mill and manufacturer, eliminating the middleman's profit, it is said.

Many officials of the Kline company in addition to store managers will be in Lorain Thursday for the formal opening of the new store. Among them will be Jacob Kline, William Katzinger, general district manager; Larry Hersch, general merchandise manager; William Rivits and Fred Miller of the shoe department, and scores of Kline store managers from all sections of the country.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Remember Kline's?

Kline's Department Store, December 1969
Kline's Department Store.

The very mention of its name evokes memories of a Lorain of a different age, a time before the coming of Midway Mall, when people shopped Downtown for almost everything they needed.

I never realized that Kline's was part of a national chain; I always thought it was entirely a local store. But with the many longtime employees, as well as the personalized service that every shopper received, it might as well have been a family-owned store.

I'm sure every Lorainite over 50 remembers Kline's, or has some fond memory of the store.

Kline's meant a lot to my family. Grandma Brady was a sales clerk there for thirty years, and was a good friend of the manager – Ben Weintraub – and his wife. Grandma's best friend – Mrs. Kennington – also worked there as a sales clerk.

My parents both had a Kline's connection as well. Dad worked there in his teens as a stockman, and Mom worked there while she was in high school.

Of course, Mom shopped there too. Kline's was one of the stops during the weekly excursions to Downtown Lorain for our trumpet lessons in the 1960s. I remember that while shopping there, we would go downstairs, and say hello to some of Grandma Brady's old work friends.

Anyway, please stop back here next time as I begin a series on the history of Kline's in Lorain.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Weekend Musings

Terry's Dairy For Sale
I noticed there's a FOR SALE sign in the window of Terry's Dairy on East Erie Avenue recently.

It's not too surprising. It's pretty tough as an independent to compete with national chains like Dairy Queen (its former franchisor) and the various other popular frozen treats out there now, such as Menchie's Frozen Yogurt.

The spouse and I tried to do our bit to help out, by favoring Terry's Dairy over its competitor K-Cream Corner. I just figured that the store at the intersection of Oberlin Avenue and East Erie Avenue always seemed to be packed, so Terry's Dairy needed all the help it could get.

But too often we were the only ones there.

Anyway, here's wishing the Haines family good luck with the sale, along with my thanks for decades of great soft serve at that location.

The Great Mister S and Gyro House Debate
There's a Facebook group that I'm sure many of you are familiar with that's called You Know Your From Lorain. (I know there's a typo in its name, but that's part of its charm.)

The Facebook group has almost 5,000 members, and the comments are a lot of fun to read if you are indeed from Lorain. (UPDATE – for some reason, the moderator for that group has made it a closed group – so if you're not a member already, you can't read the posts.)

Every once in a while I drop in for a visit, and occasionally I've seen my namesake blog mentioned in some of the current postings. It happened recently, and it reminded me that I'm not perfect in my research.

The discussion was about when the Mister S Drive-in had become Gyro House, and someone mentioned that on my blog I had said that it was around 1985. Then a lively discussion followed in which there were a few claims that I was wrong and that it was a few years earlier than that. (One person even thought they had worked at Gyro House in the 1970s.)

As it turns out, I was a couple years off, so thanks to those who noticed and pointed it out.

While rechecking the city directories this past weekend, I saw that the last appearance of Mister S in the city directory was 1982, and the first appearance of Gyro House was in the 1983 edition. The phone book (which I didn't consult at the time) had Mister S last appearing in its 1981 edition and Gyro House in the 1982 edition.

I was probably just a little sloppy in my research that day. Sometimes I'll stop at the library on the way home from work (half-starved), dash inside, quickly paw through the available books to look up something, scribble some notes, and then head for home – and dinner. Later on, I try to decipher what I wrote.

The whole thing reminded me that although I try to be thorough in my research, I do make mistakes. And feel free to point them out – there are plenty of them out there already in books and articles about Lorain, I certainly don't want to add to them!

My Rosie's Pizza
Why isn't Rosie's caricature on the box?
This past Saturday night was a 'girl's night out,' and the spouse left me to fend for myself for dinner. I was tempted to hit Mutt & Jeff's by myself, but I wasn't ready to join the regulars at the end of the bar just yet.

Anyway, I decided to treat myself to a Rosie's Pizza while I watched my John Wayne DVD from the library. Although I love Yala's Pizza (the pizza I grew up on) and Selenti's (the pizza we get most often), I really think Rosie's is my favorite now.

It's such a unique pizza that if you've never had one, you don't know what you're missing. It's a totally different mixture of cheese and spices than the rest. The crust is great too.

See for yourself (below).

I ordered a large (shown above) and had no trouble inhaling half of it even before John Wayne had left the fort with the cavalry on their big mission into Injun country. But I managed to use remarkable restraint and save half for the spouse for a later snack.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bill Thomas Service 1957 Grand Opening

Wow, I never intended to spend three days on the Bill Thomas Service station. Oh well – I promise you a new topic on Monday!

A few years after its ad with the Davy Crockett tie-in, the business celebrated its Grand Opening with this May 1957 ad that appeared in the Lorain Journal.


Actually, the Grand Opening was apparently a sort of reboot of the station, which was switching from Fleet-Wing gasoline to the Sinclair brand. (You might remember that both Fleet-Wing and Sinclair gasoline were refined locally by Lake Erie Oil.)

There's plenty of stuff being given away as part of the promotion, including one of them thar newfangled clock radios, a pop-up toaster and an automatic coffeemaker. Plus more glasses (this time without Davy Crockett on them, however.)

The ad also is a quaint reminder of what full-service service stations used to be like. Uniformed attendants to pump your gas, comprehensive automotive repair services, and tires for sale were standard features in the old days.

Nowadays, you get to stand out in the cold and pump your own gas (with no apparent savings), and heaven help you if you need a mechanic.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bill Thomas Service Then & Now

I was so preoccupied with Davy Crockett yesterday that I forgot to include my obligatory 'then and now' photo set of the Thomas Service building.

Above is the photo from the ad, dating from June 1955. (I think those are flags or pennants strung across the front of the building.)

Today the building is home to Whittguard Security & Patrol Services. (Here's a link to the company's website.)