Friday, March 29, 2013

1963 Hill's Easter Ad

Here's an Easter-themed ad for well-remembered Hill's Department Store (one of my favorite topics on this blog) out in South Lorain that ran on March 30, 1963 – fifty years ago this month.

It seems strange to see the words "South Lorain" in the ad.

I like the loose, sketchy style of the cartoon bunny. That particular illustrative style was creeping into ads and children's books about then; I guess it was a backlash against the rigid, inked line drawings that was so prevalent in 1950s advertising.

Anyway, Happy Easter everybody!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

1913 Ohio Flood Headlines

It hasn't gotten a lot of publicity, but this week is the 100th anniversary of the Flood of 1913. According to this article on the Ohio History Central website, it was the greatest natural disaster in Ohio history, caused by heavy rains.

Here's a link to a particularly great article about the flood on the website, with some eye-popping photos of just how bad a calamity it was. It was basically Ohio's version of a disaster on the scale of Hurricane Katrina.

Here's the link to the website and its flood article, clickable photo gallery and even some movie footage.

And here's how The Lorain Times-Herald reported it 100 years ago today (click on it for a larger view.) Sorry for the poor quality image; the older microfilm material is rather unreadable.

And here's how The Elyria Democrat of March 27, 1913 covered it (below).

And since I have it, here's how The Mansfield News reported it 100 years ago today (below). This particular newspaper downplayed its flood reporting.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New Lorain Journal Plant Rendering - 1954

On March 23, 1954 – 59 years ago this month – the Lorain Journal was on the move, as indicated from the above front-page photo and caption.

The photo's a little dark (it was from microfilm) but it shows the Journal's proposed new home. The caption reads, "NEW JOURNAL PLANT – Architect's drawing shows the new plant of The Lorain Journal as it will appear when completed. Construction of the building is to be started within a few weeks. As previously announced, it will be located on the east side of Broadway and Elyria Avenue at the intersection of these two major business streets. The two-story brick and steel structure designed for architectural beauty as well as utility, will occupy a site which has previously been used as a commercial coal yard. The new plant will have more than double the floor space than The Journal's present location on Seventh Street. The newspaper's expansion program, including the building and new equipment, will require an expenditure of more than $1,000,000. Plans for the newspaper plant were prepared by Weinberg & Teare, architects of Cleveland.

Here's how the building looks today.

The fortunes of Lorain's hometown newspaper have certainly changed in the last 50+ years. A new owner takes over the business in the middle of April (which you can read about here.)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Happy Birthday, Lorain Elks!

It was great to see the article in the Morning Journal over the weekend about the Lorain Elks Lodge No. 1301 celebrating its 100th Birthday today.

If you missed it, you can find it online here.

It's no small achievement, seeing as how many of the other fraternal organizations in Lorain have disappeared over the years. So it's wonderful to see the Lorain Elks thriving in the 2000s. Lorain is richer for it, especially with all the good that the organization does for the community.

I've mentioned my family's Elks connection on the blog before. My mother's father, Louis Bumke, was an Elk.

That's why it was such a nice surprise to see Grandpa in one of the archival photos featured in the Morning Journal article on the Elks. That's him in the sweater on the left-hand side of the photo, chomping on his cigarette holder. I still associate that particular item with him.

Courtesy Morning Journal and Lorain Elks
It's fitting for Grandpa to appear in the Morning Journal, because he worked there for years as a linotype machine operator; he fixed them too. 
Anyway, I digress. Happy Birthday, Elks! Hope you are around for another hundred years!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Weekend Potpourri: Dog 'n Suds & More

The view on Saturday
On Saturday, I swung by Dog 'n Suds on North Ridge to see if it was open yet as a public service to my readers. As you might recall, last year I didn't pay attention – and missed announcing the drive-in's seasonal opening by several weeks. I decided to make sure I didn't make that mistake this year.

Is it open? Not yet – but as the sign says, "See you April 1st."

By the way, the other drive-in in the area – Dinner Bell Drive-in – is open now. I forgot to mention last year that the drive-in installed a handsome new sign (below). I wonder if my blog post highlighting their old sign had something to do with it?

The view last July
I never did find the photos that I shot of the old Lincoln Park Night Club a few years ago when I drove around the grounds. That kind of trespassing is probably what the owners of the property are now trying to discourage with the barrels and signs currently blocking the entrance to the property.
So I drove over on Saturday and shot the photo below. 

After only seeing the building at night during my bar-hopping years, it's strange seeing it now in broad daylight. Wish I could get closer, but these days I try to avoid blog-related incarceration.


While out at Midway Mall on Saturday, I snapped (or whatever a digital camera does) the shot below of the Wendy's sign of the store on Griswold Road.

Why? Because the Wendy's logo and mascot were redesigned and sooner or later the sign will be a thing of the past.
It's too bad, because the new graphics are pretty bad (below).

It looks more like a logo for a children's clothing line – ugh. I liked the original logo's old-fashioned type font better because, after all, they're advertising old-fashioned hamburgers. Or they used to.
I also liked the original Pippi Longstocking-type mascot better as well. Sure, she was corny, but at least she had some personality and retro appeal instead of this pig-tailed impersonator.
Unfortunately, Wendy's logo redesign follows the pattern of other fast-food giants (such as Arby's) trashing their established logos in favor of a blander look.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Tower Drive-in Reopens March 17, 1956

Well, yesterday you saw what a Lorain Drive-in ad announcing its March 1963 seasonal reopening looked like. Here's the same type of ad, this time for the Tower Drive-in on Lake Avenue in March of 1956.

It's actually a pretty nice ad, with great typography, as well as some great graphics explaining the reasons to go to a drive-in movie.

Of course, here's the trailer for Blood Alley (1955) starring the Duke (below). Strangely enough, I've never seen this one. Guess it's time to head to the library for the DVD, although I'd rather see John Wayne on a horse than as the captain of a ship.

And here's the trailer for the "second action thriller" – Stranger on Horseback featuring Joel McCrea (below).

It would be a couple of years before in-car heaters would eventually be featured at the Tower Drive-in.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lorain Drive-in Reopens March 1963

Although you wouldn't normally think of going to a drive-in movie in late March, the Lorain Drive-in reopened for the 1963 season with a Dracula triple-feature as advertised in this ad, which ran in the Lorain Journal on Saturday, March 23 – 50 years ago this week.
As you can see, it's not your father's Dracula – Bela Lugosi – featured in these late 1950s/early 60s horror movies. In fact, despite the movie titles, Dracula's not even in two of the three movies!

The Drac 3-pack consisted of Blood of Dracula (1957), Brides of Dracula (1960) and Horror of Dracula (1958).

Blood of Dracula features a woman who turns into a vampire under hypnosis as the villain. She also sprouts some major league eyebrows along with her fangs.

Here's the trailer for it (below).

Brides of Dracula, a British Hammer Film, doesn't have Dracula in it either. It stars Peter Cushing as Dr. Van Helsing and Yvonne Monlaur as a schoolteacher terrorized by a vampire named Baron Meinster. (It's actually the sequel to the third movie, Horror of Dracula.)

Here's the trailer for Brides of Dracula (below).

The third feature – Horror of Dracula (titled just Dracula in England) features Christopher Lee as Count Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. The film was so popular that a sequel – Brides of Dracula, as mentioned above – was produced.

Here's the trailer for Horror of Dracula!

At least now you have a pretty good idea of what the people shivering in their cars at the Lorain Drive-in fifty years ago were, uh, enjoying on the big screen.
Hey, I almost forgot my fave-o-rite drive-in movie intermission ad (below). They were still showing it at the Aut-O-Rama out in North Ridgeville the last few years.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Willie Mosconi at Shoreway Lanes – 1963

Several weeks after the Shoreway Lanes ad featured on yesterday's blog post appeared in the Lorain Journal, another ad appeared on March 19, 1963 – promoting an appearance by Willie Mosconi.

What? You've never heard of Willie Mosconi?

Willie Mosconi was a professional pool player who won the World Straight Pool Championship fifteen times between 1941 and 1957 (according to this Wikipedia entry) and became known as "Mr. Pocket Billiards."

Apparently – judging by the Brunswick jacket that Mosconi was wearing (you can see it a little better in the photo at left) – his appearance was part of a promotion for that company.

Interestingly, Mosconi was the technical advisor for the 1961 film The Hustler starring Paul Newman and Jackie Gleason. His job was to make a pool player out of Newman, who apparently had never played before.

Here's part of an early 1980s How-to Video featuring Willie Mosconi that gives you an idea of what his appearance at Shoreway Lanes might have been like.

Five years after his appearance at the Shoreway Lanes, Mosconi was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Shoreway Lanes Ad - March 1963

Here's a little reminder of the good old days in Sheffield Lake when Shoreway Lanes bowling alley was open. The ad ran on March 1, 1963 in the Lorain Journal – fifty years ago this month.

I've mentioned before how my parents tried to make bowlers out of my siblings and me by signing us up for a Saturday morning league at Shoreway in the late 1960s. We all pretty much stunk at bowling, but we did look forward to the great hotdog (in a toasted New England Style bun) and Coke afterwards. I still think about those hotdogs!

It was sad when the bowling alley (by then known as North Coast Shoreway Lanes) closed in Sheffield Lake. The city briefly considered trying to keep it open in 2010, but it backed out of the deal.

Anyway, I never did become a very good bowler. I bowled all through high school with my friends, took Bowling as one of my physical education requirements at Ohio State, and bowl with the spouse every five years or so. But I still stink at it.

Here's the former Shoreway Lanes today, as it sadly sits facing the closed Sheffield Lake Post Office and the empty Shoreway Beverage building.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Way Corned Beef Used to Be

Over the weekend I indulged in my usual St. Patrick's Day orgy of corned beef consumption, enjoying a fine corned beef stew Saturday night at Mutt & Jeff's, followed by a nice corned beef sandwich from old favorite Rubins Deli by Midway Mall on the big day Sunday.

Which got me to thinking about what corned beef used to mean to me back in the 1960s – namely the image you see at left.

To my family, corned beef was something that came in a can with a key on it, like Spam. After you got the can open (being careful not to cut yourself), you shook it until the whole block of, er, meat came sliding out.

Then you sliced it (again, like Spam) and make sandwiches out of it or whatever. The texture was kinda crumbly and the large amounts of fat on it gave it a unique look and taste.

It wasn't until several years later that Mom began to buy a whole corned beef brisket in a bag that came with its own spices. Then I finally learned what corned beef and cabbage was all about.

And it wasn't until I worked in Downtown Cleveland in the early 1980s that I discovered what a real corned beef sandwich from a deli tasted like. I was working on E. Ninth Street, and on one St. Patrick's Day, the fellas I worked with and I walked all the way down to Slyman's on St. Claire. I'll never forget that sandwich, or the line we stood in while waiting for it.

Nowadays, you can get a good corned beef sandwich at a lot of different places. For me, one of the best was always at Joe's Deli in Rocky River and it was a convenient stop on the way home.

I still see the canned corned beef on the shelf at the grocery store, but am puzzled as to who would knowingly buy it. I'm not a meat snob – I buy a few cans of Spam each year, and enjoy canned beef stews such as Dinty Moore and Castleberry's. But I'm not nostalgic enough to go back to the days when corned beef came in a can.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Phony Irishman

My great-grandfather,
Thomas Brady (1867-1916)
Despite the fact that my last name is Brady, for many years I felt funny about my Irish heritage – or the lack thereof.

It probably has something to do with the fact that my Dad's Irish grandparents in Norwalk – Thomas and Anna Brady – both passed away within 24 hours of each other in 1916 – five years before he was even born. So Dad never had a chance to meet them, hear any tales or learn any Irish traditions.

Dad's father – orphaned at 17 – drifted from Norwalk to Lorain, where he married a woman from Austria-Hungary who, for all intents and purposes, was German. Which meant that it was more likely for sauerbraten to be simmering on the stove in the Brady kitchen instead of Irish stew.

Dad's father had a job with the railroad, and was away from Lorain a lot, before eventually going away permanently. After the divorce, he died in Detroit in 1953 and thus – like my Dad – I never knew my Irish grandfather either.

So although I grew up with a rich German heritage thanks to my Dad's mother's side of the family, as well as my own mother's German background – as you can see – there was no Irish heritage to speak of at all.

Making matters even worse from a traditional Irish standpoint was the fact that my father and mother were both Protestants. My father would have been Catholic, but a family squabble with the Church in Lorain (it tried to take custody of his widowed grandfather's kids) resulted in Dad and his sister ending up being sent to church with their neighbors - who just happened to go to First Lutheran.

And because of this rather casual conversion to Protestantism, I even was hassled by a kid in my Cub Scout troop named O'Brien, who at one point told me, "You're not really Irish – because you're Orange Irish!" (And this was in elementary school!)

So do you understand why I felt like a phony Irishman for many years?

It wasn't until after college, when I started researching my family tree, that I began to discover and embrace my Irish heritage. I learned that my great-great-grandfather Peter Brady came from County Meath, and brought his family over in the mid-1850s, shortly after the Great Famine.

He settled in New Jersey and fought in the Civil War. Afterwards he moved his family to the Ashland-Mansfield area in Ohio. His three sons spread out, with one – Thomas, my great-grandfather – ending up in Norwalk.
It stirred my soul to know that my ancestor left Ireland to find a better life in the United States.

The TV documentary The Irish in America (1995) really helped me connect with the Irish experience. Suddenly I was able to appreciate what Peter Brady went through to get here.
Anyway, my research revealed that I was related to Bradys still living in Central Ohio, and in Indiana as well – all here in the U.S. because Peter Brady took a chance.

I even went down to Mansfield and visited one of my cousins a few years back. She had lived a hard life, and looked much older than her years, although she was about my age. She worked hard in a factory, lived in a small house in a very rundown neighborhood and was obviously poor. But she took a day off work to visit with a complete stranger with the same last name and the same great-great-grandfather, and we had a nice visit.

When I left, I realized that I had just witnessed the true Irish American experience: a life filled with hard work and hope for a better future.

Anyway, when St. Patrick's Day rolls around each year, I no longer feel sheepish about my Irish roots. 
Oh, I do some corny things. I always have a corned beef sandwich for dinner, and I usually sit down in the evening and watch my aging video cassette of The Quiet Man
But most importantly, I think how proud I am to be Irish – and American.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

1963 Colony Bar St. Patrick's Day Ad

Here's another St. Patrick's Day-themed ad for a well-known east side Lorain business of yesteryear: the Colony Bar. It ran on March 15, 1963 in the Lorain Journal.
It's kind of an interesting ad. I wonder what the "surprize" was for the men - aside from the spelling of that word? (I do give them credit for spelling 'corned beef' corrrectly, though. I still see ads for CORN BEEF around St. Patrick's Day each year!)

Anyway, the Colony Bar opened around summer of 1958. It was operated by Gust Atthanasoff, the former owner of the Showboat Restaurant and Lounge on Broadway until it was gutted by fire.

Fifty years later the building still houses a tavern. It was Denny's Place throughout the 1980s, and The Office for many years after that until it became Pali's Night Club Bar & Grill. And just recently it became Off Shore Pub & Grub (below).

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Goodbye A.K.H.S. Band Room

The view this past Saturday morning
For all of you out-of-state ex-Lorainites that read this blog (especially the Texas Brady contingent), the demolition of the former Admiral King High School began last week.

You can read about it here and here.

I drove over there this past sunny Saturday morning to take a gander through the fence. Naturally, they decided to knock down the band room first. It's sad to see it all torn up.

Anyway, it'll be very melancholy indeed to see the whole building eventually leveled. I don't think the controversy of abandoning the Admiral Ernest J. King name will ever be put to rest.

Could anyone watching the pomp of the dedication ceremony in October 1961 (below) have imagined that in slightly more than 50 years, the building, the name and a big chunk of Lorain's Naval heritage would be gone?

Photo courtesy of the Black River Historical Society

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Goodbye Arby's on Griswold

Arby's on Griswold is no more
Sept. 1971 Chronicle-Telegram ad
I didn't feel too nostalgic last month when I read that the Arby's on Griswold Road had ridden off into the sunset. It closed abruptly last December, and then was demolished on February 27.

There's not a trace of it left, not even a scattering of flattened Arbys Sauce packets.

I've got nothing against that particular Lorain County restaurant location or its employees, but I made my opinion known on this blog long ago about what Arby's was calling roast beef these days.

To me, the current Arby's advertising campaign to me is laughable. We're supposed to choose Arby's gelatinous, flavorless, faux-roast beef over Subway because the Arby's "meat" is sliced fresh? I'd eat anything from Subway over Arby's fare, even if it was sliced last May – no matter what Bo Dietl says.

And for those of you who need a reminder of what Arby's Roast Beef Sandwiches used to look like, here's a mouth-watering reminder (below): a 1967 magazine advertisement.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Kelly's Jet System Hamburgers – 1963

St. Patrick's Day is almost here, so here's a St. Pat-themed ad for Kelly's Jet System Hamburgers that ran in the Lorain Journal on March 15, 1963 – 50 years ago this week.

What's that? You don't remember that particular hamburger chain?

I gotta admit, I didn't either – even though the fast food outlet was on North Ridge Road right across from the O'Neil - Sheffield Center.

Kelly's Hamburger Drive-in first appeared in the 1963 Lorain City Directory at 1390 N. Ridge Road – but not for long. After only a few years, the outlet was listed as a Casey's Drive-in in the 1966 directory.

And then, by the time of the 1970 directory, the building was listed as vacant. It would take until the 1974 book for another tenant to take over: Mary's Ice Cream Parlor.

The former Kelly's/Casey's building is still there today (below), with a new address – 42675 N. Ridge. The building retains some of the Kelly's diamond-shaped graphics.

There's not too much about the Kelly's Hamburger system on the internet. This Flickr® site included the vintage photo below of a Kelly's outlet in Warren, Michigan.

And this Flickr set includes a vintage Kelly's ad.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Don's Archery Shop – 1963

Archery cheesecake courtesy of the Harry Volk Jr. Art Studio
I got an email the other day from longtime blog reader Rae, who had a pretty good question for me.

"In your media meanderings," she wrote, "have you seen anything related to an indoor archery range in Lorain?"

I had to admit I hadn't.

Rae's email continued. "My Dad took me several times to an indoor range in the early 60's. I remember it being near a park; I remember big trees like Oakwood." She seemed to think it was somewhere in Central Lorain.

"It is one of those memories that hits you as you're waking up," she added.
Well, I can certainly identify with those feelings – I get'em all the time! So I stopped at the library to try and find the answer for her.
Anyway, a quick look in some early phone books revealed that Lorain did indeed have an indoor archery range back then.
1963 Lorain Phone Book Ad
Don's Archery Shop at 326 W. 37th Street advertised its Shawnee Indoor Archery Lanes as "Northern Ohio's Largest Archery Center."
I guess the store was ahead of its time. Who knew that the blockbuster movie The Hunger Games would make archery hip almost 50 years later?

Don's Archery Shop continued to appear in the phone book for a couple years, before the listing was shortened to "Indoor Archery Range" with the same address and phone number. But by 1970 the business was no longer listed.

Anyway, Rae is going to drive over to that 37th Street address to see if Don's Archery Shop hits the bullseye when it comes to her 1960s memory.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Jacob F. Gerhart Obituary – May 13, 1961

To wrap up my look at Smith & Gerhart, here's the obituary of Jacob Gerhart, one of the founders. He lived to a ripe old age of almost 90 years old, and the news of his death appeared on the front page of The Lorain Journal on May 13, 1961.

Jacob F. Gerhart Dead
Founder Of One Of Oldest Business Firms Here Dies

A civic leader and founder of one of Lorain's oldest business houses, Jacob F. Gerhart, died Friday afternoon at the residence of his brother, Frank, 176 Avon Belden Rd., Avon Lake.

Mr. "G", as he was known before his retirement 23 years ago, would have been 90 years old Sept. 21. Born in Carlisle Township in 1871, he attended Elyria schools. At the age of 14 he became an employee of a dry goods establishment in Elyria and then spent his life working in that field.

In 1887, Mr. Gerhart, together with Henry Smith and John Opfer purchased the Boston Store on Broadway and retained the name of the business until Opfer sold his share to the other two. From then on, the establishment was known as Smith and Gerhart until Mr. "G" sold his interest in 1951.

He was a director of the National Bank of Lorain from 1933 to 1952 and active in many phases of civic groups including the Community Chest, the Chamber of Commerce and the Merchants Association.

Mr. Gerhart was also a former member of Lorain Elks and was an honorary member of the Rotary Club. He belonged to St. Joseph Catholic Church in Avon Lake and the Holy Name Society. He was  a longtime member of marathon cribbage players, a quarter of prominent Lorainites, A. J. Ginnane, Edgar J. Craft, James L. Martin and Gerhart.

Surviving are two sons, Arthur of Rocky River and Joseph in Lorain; three sisters, Mrs. Anna Giblin of Lorain, Mrs. Mayme Kilbridge of Berlin Heights and Mrs. Agnes O'Shea in Massillon; six granddaughters, and a great-granddaughter.

His wife, Sebenia, died several years ago.

Friends may call at the Burmeister Funeral Home, 163 Avon-Belden Rd., Avon Lake, from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. today and Sunday.

Funeral services will be held Monday at 10:30 a.m. in St. Joseph Church with Rev. Fr. Carl C. Wernet, pastor, officiating.

Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, Lorain.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Meet Mr. Smith and Mr. Gerhart

Smith (left) and Gerhart circa 1903
Here's a picture of two of the founders of the Lorain business that later became Smith & Gerhart: H. M. Smith (on the left) and J. F. Gerhart (on the right). (Note: different sources alternately have Smith's middle initial as either M. or F.)

The Lorain, Ohio 1903 Souvenir book by George H. Teague includes an entry about the two gentlemen (below).


Five years ago two young men came to Lorain from Elyria and started in business. For over ten years they had been clerking there in the leading dry goods emporiums. They were popular, eminently capable and commanded respect and confidence of all who knew them and their enviable reputations preceded them.  With them they brought the same energy and thrift that had characterized their business apprenticeship, and with these sterling qualities combined with moderate capital the Boston Store was opened.

"Great oaks from little acorns grow," and from a comparatively small beginning exceptional success has followed them, for experience had planted them well. Patronage followed, the trade of the people was appreciated and well taken care of until today after a lapse of only five years the floor space has been increased one-third and the stock carried more than doubled. Thousands of this city's purchasing public know the Boston Store, by which name the firm is designated, but comparatively few know the names of its enterprising proprietors.

The people know that the Boston Store's three distinct departments are stocked with a complete and up-to-date assortment of dry goods, carpets and cloaks. The firm when beginning business decided on a motto that has been rigidly followed: "Keep Stock up – Prices Down," and the result is that the Boston Store has become a household word with bargains as its companion thought. All this credit is due the proprietors, two hustling young gentlemen, H. M. Smith and J. F. Gerhart – Smith & Gerhardt. Our hats are doffed, for the capacity of the store is being taxed to its utmost and more room is again the cry. Keep your eye on the Boston Store, for a magnificent future is not only predicted, but practically assured.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Smith & Gerhart – 1955

Here's an article about another well-remembered Downtown Lorain store: Smith and Gerhart. The article appeared in the Lorain Journal on June 21, 1955 and provides a nice history of the store, as well as a description of what it was like in the mid-50's.


S&G Store Founded in 1893

Courtesy Black River
Historical Society
Many changes in merchandising, alleviation of parking problems and added conveniences for the modern day shoppers have taken place since almost 58 years ago when Smith and Gerhart, Inc., then known as the Boston Store, opened its doors.

The depression of 1893 was over and business was just picking up when three men in their twenties, Henry F. Smith, J. F. (Jake) Gerhart and John Opfer, opened the Boston Store in less than 3,000 square feet of space.

Popular Store
Many old-timers still refer to Smith and Gerhart as the Boston Store, which was popular because of the finest ready-made attire and yard goods which was brought in from Boston and England.

The original Boston Store was located on the present site of the Woolworth Co. in the 500 block of Broadway. The land on which the store stood was owned by another Henry Smith, an Oberlin resident and an uncle of one of the founders.

When the store opened coal was delivered anywhere in the city at $1.75 per ton, men's work shirts were selling at 29 cents each and one bakery was giving away bread to attract customers.

Long Hours
In those early days charge accounts were filed on a spindle, clerks worked about 65 hours per week and took home a five dollar bill at the end of each week.

Today, Smith and Gerhart has a large corps of girls in a modern accounting department, a small army of trained clerks and supervisors, merchandising methods are up-to-the-minute and the 36,000 square feet of space is systematically utilized for convenient and easy shopping.

The Boston Store grew from the start. In 1903, the firm purchased from the Wickens family a building at 506-508 Broadway which adjoins the present structure.

Name Changed
1957 version of S&G logo
In 1927, the Boston Store name was changed to Smith and Gerhart, Inc., but continues to remain on the company letterheads and some of the advertising. In this year a three floor store at 510-520 Broadway was erected. With the one floor in the adjacent building added and called the "second floor annex," the firm had floor floors.

A third floor was added to the old building of which the first floor was occupied by another company and a children's department was opened in March, 1939.

In 1941, 1944, 1945 and 1946 the second and main floors were modernized, a fourth floor was added to the 506-598 Broadway structure and a "Youth Center" was added.

Air Conditioning
In the summer of 1946, a warehouse was established in the basement of that building.

Current view of the S&G Bldg
Modern shopping in recent years resulted in Smith and Gerhart becoming the first commercial establishment to install air conditioning throughout the building and the first retail outlet to open a parking area for customers.

Dan C. Smith, the present owner and son of one of the founders, said Smith and Gerhart is continuing to progress and live up to the reputation established more than half a century ago for excellence in stock, quality of goods at low prices.

In early July 1980, it was announced that Smith & Gerhart was going out of business when its present inventory was sold. At the time, the store was the oldest business in downtown Lorain.

A Chronicle-Telegram article of July 4, 1980 stated, "The store has gone from a four-floor operation with 119 employees to nine employees working on two floors."

Monday, March 4, 2013

Lorain Youth Center – Feb. 1968

You might remember that I featured the Lorain Youth Center – the 1954 version that was on Elyria Avenue – last September in this post.

Well, here's a photo and accompanying caption that ran in the Lorain Journal on Feb. 5, 1968. It features a few teens enjoying themselves at the newer version of the Lorain Youth Center on Leavitt Road between W. 21st Street and Meister Rd.

The caption reads, "Lorain Youth Center celebrated its new building in grand style Saturday drawing more than 500 teenagers to the open house. Completed in late December, the new building at 2501 Leavitt Road is nearly three times the size of the old center on Elyria Ave. at 30th St. Shown dancing to the music of "The James Gang" are Janice Sennhenn, 16, of 1302 Maple Drive, and Dennis Kish, 17, of 1220 Root Road. (Journal photo by Terry Thomas)

When the Lorain Youth Center opened its new digs in 1968, its address in the city directory was briefly 2507 Leavitt Road. That particular address formerly belonged to H. N. Wieland Printing since about 1954, when it and the airport were the only things out that way.

Although I'm not sure, I suspect that the printing company's building was just adapted or remodeled for its new function as a teen center.

Anyway, according to the city directories,  the building served as the Lorain Youth Center until around 1980, when it was listed as the Lorain City Catholic Center. By 1983 its directory listing had changed to the Lorain County Catholic Youth Organization Center.

Around 1985 it became the Lorain Party Center & Catering Service.

The view this past Sunday afternoon
Strangely enough, although I didn't live that far from the Lorain Youth Center, I don't remember ever going in there while I was in high school. It wasn't until it had become a party center that I played a few wedding gigs there in the 80s and 90s.

Friday, March 1, 2013

More on that 1910 Oberlin Avenue Farmhouse

The view a few weeks ago
I was hoping that someone would have some information about that 1910 farmhouse on Oberlin Avenue (next to the Croatian Club) that I wrote about (here) in late January. I had no idea that the someone would be Bob Kovach, who has contributed many an interesting comment on this blog over the years.

It turns out that Bob's father grew up in that house in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

As Bob wrote in an email, "My father remembers the property had a large barn and many small sheds for housing all types of animals such as pigs, chickens, goats and rabbits. He also remembers the house was divided in two, and that a Mrs. Barry lived in the other side."

That makes sense, since the listing of the house in the 1954 Lorain County Farm & Rural Directory showed two tenants: Mrs. Anna Retay (who would continue to live there until the late 1980s) and G.D. Varney.

Bob noted that his father and his brother would ride the bus to Clearview School from there. He also added, "One other bit of information was that the property went all the way back into the Seven Pines area."

Thanks very much to Bob and his father for revealing some of this interesting house's history.