Wednesday, July 31, 2013

When the Three Stooges Visited Lorain - Part 2

This photo and caption appeared on the front page of the Lorain Journal on August 1, 1960
So what were the Three Stooges doing in Lorain at the Palace anyway?

Although their movie career at Columbia Pictures had come to an end in late 1957, their comedy shorts had been made available to TV stations beginning in 1958. Thus a whole new generation of kids were introduced to the Stooges, and they loved them. So the trio experienced a happy comeback.

But with both Curly and Shemp gone, and Joe Besser unavailable to travel, Moe and Larry needed a new third stooge. So Moe recruited movie and burlesque comic Joe DeRita, due to his vague resemblance to the original Curly.

He was dubbed "Curly Joe" and would star with Moe and Larry in several popular full-length features.

The "new" Three Stooges also began touring in 1958, and thus ended up in Lorain on July 31, 1960.

The Stooges performed in 4 shows that day, all for the price of 90 cents for an adult and 50 cents for a child.

If anyone out there was lucky enough to catch their show at the Palace, be sure to leave a comment!

Click here to read about Kevin Conley, who was lucky enough to see the Stooges at the Palace – and have his picture taken with them that day!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

When the Three Stooges Visited Lorain - Part 1

Did you know that the Three Stooges once made a personal appearance at the Palace Theater in Lorain?

They "sointinly" did (as Curly would say it).

Yes, it was during the last week of July 1960 that special ads began to appear in the Lorain Journal announcing the upcoming special appearance of the "Original Three Stooges."

The ad above appeared on July 29, 1960.

Sadly, Jerome "Curly" Howard – often considered the most popular Stooge – had passed away in 1952. Nevertheless, he appeared in the Palace ad (in his costume from 1942's What's the Matador?)

The day before the appearance, this ad (below) appeared on July 30, 1960 – 53 years ago today.

So who appeared on stage at the Palace with Larry and Moe? Tune in tomorrow here to find out!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Bud Bowman Ice Cream Bars – July 1962

With all the writing here about ice cream and spaghetti lately, this is almost turning into a food blog!

I've mentioned a few times that I remember a huge, painted sign for Bowman's Ice Cream on the side of Whalen Drugs in the 1960s. Well, here's a Bowman Ice Cream ad featuring Bud Bowman that appeared in the  Lorain Journal on July 12, 1962.

Courtesy of Ebay
The smiling cartoon archer advertising mascot not only appeared in Bowman ads, but also was featured on other items such as the promotional button shown at left that was recently on Ebay.

Online research reveals that the Bowman Dairy Company was based in Chicago with roots in that city dating back to the 1880s. By the late 1940s, the company had grown to become the largest distributor of milk in that city and employed 4,000 people. 
Bowman expanded into other Midwest cities by acquiring ice cream companies and small dairies in neighboring states. This included some companies in Cleveland, and that's why Bowman had such a big presence in Lorain despite all of the local dairies such as Lorain Creamery.
At the time of the above 1962 ad, Bowman Ice Cream was sold at more than 60 dealers in the Lorain County area. Besides Whalen Drug, the dealer list in Lorain included Bob's Donuts, National Pharmacy, Fligner's Market, Reagan Grocery and Middendorf Pharmacy. In Sheffield Lake, you could find Bowman Ice Cream at the Sheffield Grill (now Dock's Tavern). In Elyria, it was available at the Hess & Hess Drug chain, Ed's Cigar Store, Serfozo Grocery and at Foodway stores.

Unfortunately, the Bowman Dairy Co. experienced some legal problems during the 1950s, being charged with violating anti-trust laws. A declining home delivery market also contributed to its downfall, and in 1966 the company was sold to the Dean Foods Company.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Gang's Food Market Grand Opening – July 28, 1950

Here's an ad promoting the Grand Opening of a well-remembered Sheffield Lake business: Gang's Food Market. The ad ran in the Lorain Journal on July 27, 1950 – 63 years ago tomorrow.

A 1966 view of the expanded building
I've written about this business before, back here and here.

What's interesting to me is the photo of the building as it looked when the business opened. It's pretty small, and was obviously expanded to the east at a later date (see photo at left).

It's depressing to drive by the empty building today. It didn't make it as an internet cafe, which is just as well since they are being forced out of business anyway.

But what's really sad is that the era of the small grocery store chains is pretty much over. It's too hard to compete with the huge chains like Giant Eagle with their loyalty card programs.

A current controversy in Sheffield Lake is that Dollar General wants to build a new store just to the east of the empty former Gang's building on an empty lot. Nearby residents are understandably upset although the property is already zoned for commercial use. (Here's the story).

But considering the fact that the neighborhood had the Gang's grocery store for decades, followed by the appliance stores and the internet cafe (as well as a few other small businesses), I'm not sure that a Dollar General is going to look all that out of place there. But I can appreciate that many residents are against it (including the spouse, who grew up in this town).

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Vermilion On-The-Lake Clubhouse Then & Now

Yesterday I posted the 1955 ad for Fior's Spaghetti House, which also included the above photo of the Vermilion On-The-Lake Clubhouse and Dance Hall. Apparently Dick Fior operated the Clubhouse in addition to the Spaghetti House.

Vintage postcard
The Clubhouse was originally built in 1919 as a private community center for the Vermilion On-The-Lake lakefront development. The Vermilion-on-the-Lake, Ohio website (here) includes an interesting history of the Clubhouse through the years.

During the 1950s, the Clubhouse hosted a variety of popular bands. The two upcoming bands mentioned in the ad yesterday were Big Jay McNeely (spelled wrong in the ad) and Rusty Bryant.

Today, the Clubhouse is owned by the Vermilion on the Lake Historic Community Center Charitable Trust. It's available for lakefront wedding receptions or as a meeting place. Click here for more information.

Oh yeah, before I forget, here's my obligatory "today" shot.

I played at the Clubhouse several times in the 1980s for either wedding receptions or dances with various big bands. It's a beautiful, rustic building, and the Vermilion-on-the-Lake website notes that the very trees that were cleared to make way for the Clubhouse were used in its construction.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fior's Spaghetti House Ad – June 21, 1955

The former Fior's Spaghetti House
(Now the Driftwood Inn)
I first mentioned Fior's Spaghetti House on Lake Road just east of Vermilion back in June (here) as part of my series on the various businesses on Routes 6 and 2 on that 1957 Vacation Map. Unfortunately, I didn't know very much about the restaurant. This ad, from the June 21, 1955 Lorain Journal, fills in a little more of the story.

The ad notes, "Fior's Lake Road Spaghetti House was started in 1948 by Mr. Jacob Fior and Mrs. Anna Fior, featuring home style cooking with spaghetti as a specialty."

I'll have something about the Vermilion On-The-Lake Clubhouse and Dance Hall tomorrow. (I gotta dig out my shot of that thing!)

It's funny that you don't see many restaurants any more that feature spaghetti, at least around here. I used to go the Spaghetti Warehouse when I lived in Columbus, and never realized that it was part of a chain. I thought it was the only one.

I know there's a restaurant in Port Clinton called Phil's Inn that's supposed to have excellent spaghetti. It's very well-known for its sauce.

I don't know about you, but reading all this about spaghetti reminds me that we haven't had it for dinner for months, and I'm going to have to do something about it (providing that have some garlic bread to go with it).
Be sure to visit this additional post on Fior’s Spaghetti House.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Leidheiser's Restaurant – Then & Now

Here's yet another stop on our restaurant tour following the trail of Routes 6 & 2 on that vintage map I posted back here.

Today's stop: Leidheiser's Restaurant in Vermilion.

Unfortunately, since it was located on Liberty Avenue in Downtown Vermilion, it's almost impossible to research it using the resources of the Lorain Public Library. I don't have much information about the history of the place other than what I gleaned from a few vintage postcards.

One postcard stated that the restaurant was established in 1932. It offered cocktails and fine foods, was air-condtioned and was "recommended by Duncan Hines.

Another undated postcard described some of its culinary specialties. The postcard stated, "Prime Ribs of Beef, No. 1 Pickerel, Roast Turkey and Chicken with Dressing served to the most discriminating." (None of that crummy No. 2 pickerel!)

It added that it was "A good place to bring the family."

Here's some more information about the menu, from an ad that ran in the Chronicle-Telegram on Sept. 18, 1959 (below). Ach du Lieber – it sounds pretty good.

Here's a vintage postcard view with a nighttime view of the place (below).

And here's a daytime view from another vintage postcard (below).

And of course, here is the obligatory shot of how the place looks in 2013 (below). It really hasn't been changed that much. Driving past it in recent years and unaware of its history, I've often wondered why the building looked so quaint compared to its neighbors.

Anyway, today the building is home to the Lake Erie Taphouse. Here's a link to its website.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Gull Motel on U.S. 6 in Huron – Then & Now

I saw this postcard of The Gull Motel on Ebay recently, and knew it would make a good candidate for a "Then and Now" shot. Anyone who has driven to Cedar Point along U. S. Route 6 through Huron probably remembers the motel as being located at the west end of the bridge over the Huron River.

1970 Vermilion-Huron Directory ad

I've long admired the classic style of the motel's sign and its great typography. It symbolized a laid-back, beach vacation attitude.

Alas, in recent years the vintage sign has been replaced by a much shorter and plainer sign. Here is a current view (below) of the motel from a week ago.

A current view of the motel from July 3013
Dale Wells, the current owner and manager of the Gull Motel since 2004, explained to me that at some point Huron had passed an ordinance limiting the height of commercial signs, and that the original sign was probably a casualty of it. He said the original sign is still down in the motel's basement.

He pointed out that most of the other tall signs visible in the vintage postcard were long gone as well.

A few changes in the local scenery can be seen if you compare the postcards. The brick building housing Artino Ford next door to the west has been painted white.

The 25-unit Gull Motel, which opened on May 23, 1962, has undergone a few changes since then as well, with the upstairs addition being the most noticeable.

The motel has some good online reviews, and looks like a great economical choice if you're looking for a mom and pop place to stay at while visiting Cedar Point and the Vacationland area. Plus, you have the Pied Piper Drive-In right across the street, and Berardi's just over the bridge to the east. What more could you ask for?

UPDATE (July 31, 2015)
Here's another vintage postcard of the Gull Motel.

UPDATE (March 15, 2019)
Here's another undated vintage postcard of the now-demolished Gull Motel.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Snap, Crackle & Pop Culture

I was at Target on Oak Point Road a few weeks ago when I saw this special Retro Edition box of Kellogg's Rice Krispies. On it was a classic rendering of Snap, Crackle and Pop, looking exactly as they did in the 1960s and 70s.

Kellogg's obviously did their market research well, because I excitedly jammed the box of Rice Krispies into my shopping basket without thinking.

Why? Because seeing those friendly, familiar faces brought back happy memories of being a kid in the 60s and early 70s.

And of course, many of those memories revolved around cereal, because we were a cereal-eating family, especially my siblings and me.

We had cereal every day for breakfast before school, and some more when we got home from school. We also ate it as a snack before bedtime – sometimes polishing off a whole box between my brothers and me.

Cereal seemed to pervade all aspects of our lives.

We grew up watching both cartoons and prime-time shows that were "Brought to you by Kellogg's of Battle Creek!" I still hear that familiar musical tagline in my head: "K-E-Double L... O-Double Good, Kellogg's Best to You!"

Vintage box from my collection
We even took cereal along with us on our family camping trips. Mom used to pack a Kellogg's Variety Pack for breakfast at the campground. Predictably, my siblings and I used to argue over who got which cereal. There were always a few Rice Krispies in the pack, with one of the elfin trio grinning from the upper left corner of the box.

Everyone wanted the Sugar Frosted Flakes, but some had to settle for Rice Krispies.

It's probably a good metaphor for life in general.


Despite the nostalgic feelings triggered by the retro box of Rice Krispies, I must confess that it was never my favorite cereal.

Rice Krispies was one – along with Nabisco Shredded Wheat – that was usually in the cupboard. I guess Mom bought them so that she and Dad had something to eat.

Of course, my siblings and I loved the sugary sweet cereals – Sugar Frosted Flakes, Cap'n Crunch, Frosty O's, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, Post Crispy Critters, etc. And Mom – to her credit – bought whatever we wanted. (How many mothers do that anymore?)

We did eat unsweetened cereals too, such as Cheerios and Rice Krispies – as long as we could ladle on the sugar. I used to put so much sugar on my Cheerios that I'd have a half-inch of gritty sugar sludge on the bottom of my bowl, waiting to be dredged.

But getting back to Snap, Crackle and Pop.

Although their cereal wasn't my favorite, I always did like them. They were so cheerful and friendly.

Their TV commercials were very subtle compared to those of other cereals. Snap, Crackle & Pop weren't trying to prevent others from obtaining their cereal (like Lucky the Leprechaun) or devising schemes to get some for themselves (like the Trix Rabbit.) They had no funny adventures (like Cap'n Crunch).

Quite simply, they just wanted you to try Rice Krispies.

For me, the strange thing about the 1960s commercials was the fact that Snap, Crackle & Pop looked different than how they did on the cereal box. On TV, they had a much more streamlined, simplified look.

Here's a classic commercial featuring the simpler, appealingly designed elves singing the well-remembered "Snap, Crackle and Pop Fugue."

The "Snap, Crackle and Pop Fugue" was written by N. B. Winkless, Jr., jingle writer, copywriter, and creative director of the Leo Burnett advertising agency's television group. Strangely enough, the song was modeled on the "Fugue for Tin Horns" from the musical Guys and Dolls.

The "new look" Snap, Crackle & Pop from TV slowly infiltrated print ads. Here's part of a 1973 magazine ad.

A portion of a 1973 magazine ad
Eventually, the simplified cartoon designs of Snap, Crackle & Pop pushed the old, realistically rendered designs off the front of the box.

Here's how they looked on the bottom of an early 1980's box (below).

Since then, Snap, Crackle & Pop seem to be redesigned about every couple of years. The current versions look so deranged and manic that it's almost hard to look at a box of Rice Krispies without getting annoyed.

Anyway, I bought a couple of the Retro Edition boxes, so I can visit some old pals – and revisit some memories – for a little while at least.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Thew Mausoleum in Elmwood Cemetery

This past Sunday, I detoured on the way to the grocery store to grab a shot of the Thew Mausoleum in Elmwood Cemetery. It's an imposing, but beautiful structure.

The Thew Mausoleum after
being vandalized

(Photo courtesy of the Morning Journal)
It's too bad there isn't a historical plaque or something to educate cemetery visitors about the story of Captain Thew and his company. It's an important part of the history of Lorain.

It's still hard to believe that it was vandalized back in November 2011 along with several other mausolems. (Here's the link to the story and its aftermath.)

Sadly, unlike the other buildings, the Thew Mausoleum did not receive new doors. Apparently it was sealed and then covered with a sandstone overlay.

Here's the link to the Captain Richard Thew page on the Find A Grave website.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Thew Shovel Ad – July 17, 1949

Here's a reminder of the good old days when Lorain was truly an industrial giant, and its name was known all around the world thanks to Thew Shovel. It's an ad commemorating the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of the company, and it ran in the Lorain Journal on July 17, 1949 – 64 years ago today.

The ad gives a nice snapshot history of the company.

Our Town – The Story of Lorain (July 1953) included a few paragraphs about the company and the man behind it. It noted, "Another industry responsible for Lorain's tremendous growth in the last ten years of the Nineteenth Century was the Thew Shovel Company. The inventor of the first successful commercial shovel was Captain Richard Thew. Captain Thew was a lake captain and he got the idea of the full revolving shovel while he was sailing. He gave up sailing and settled in Cleveland. The shovels were manufactured there from 1892 to 1899. In that year the company was moved to Lorain and became the Thew Automatic Shovel Company."

Part of the former Thew complex on W. 28th Street today
"Captain Thew took an active interest in community life in Lorain. He was active on many committees and boards in the city. He helped establish and was the first president of the Lorain Banking Company. After he sold the controlling interest in the company in 1920, he divided his time between Lorain and California. In 1923, while out in California, he contracted pneumonia and died. His body was returned to Lorain for burial. It rests in the Thew Mausoleum in Elmwood Cemetery."

The Thew Shovel Company was purchased by the Koehring Company in 1964. The facility closed in 1974.

In 1987 Koehring was acquired by Northwest Engineering, which later changed its name to Terex.

Today the former Thew complex is home to P. C. Campana.

Here's a link to an excellent article about Thew Shovel on the Construction Equipment® website.

Greg Holcomb – who is a regular reader of this blog – found this old Thew-Lorain envelope while assisting his mother with the cleaning of his grandmother's house a few months ago. (She had passed away and I extend my belated condolences.)

Greg's grandfather had worked at Thew, and the envelope was in a pile of old paper work. Greg figured the envelope was at the very least 37 years old. Thanks for sharing, Greg!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Baetz Dairy Bar Ad - July 1949

Here's a sure sign of summer: a newspaper ad for ice cream, in this case for the Baetz Dairy Bar that used to be on U. S. 6 (Lake Road, or West Erie Avenue if you prefer). The ad ran in July 1949 in the Lorain Journal  – 64 years ago.

I've written a lot on this blog about the Baetz Dairy Bar and the Lorain Arena, which was built right behind it.

I find the 1949-era ice cream flavors indicated in the illustration kind of interesting: maple walnut, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, cherry, lemon and pineapple (yuck!). Nothing too exotic there. But it is 1949, don't forget. (I can't read the flavor on the top left banner; it might be butter pecan.)

Compare that to the 15 most popular ice cream flavors in 2012 (here). Vanilla is still the most popular flavor, with chocolate at #2, strawberry at #4 and cherry at #11. So the illustration is still fairly current except for the appearance of the kids. (Do little girls still wear bloomers?)

While growing up, I seem to remember that we ate a lot of the basics: chocolate, vanilla and neapolitan – with some raspberry sherbet tossed in the dessert mix fairly regularly. Usually Bowman ice cream too for many years.

Now, when the spouse and I go to Toft's (our favorite ice cream), I prefer the 'cake' flavors – cake batter and wedding cake – along with the occasional Moose Tracks.

What are your favorite flavor and brand of ice cream?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Frostie Root Beer Ad – July 15, 1959

Pop sure does seem to be a regular topic on this blog.
Here's a vintage newspaper ad for Frostie Root Beer that ran in the Lorain Journal on July 15, 1959 – 54 years ago today. The ad was promoting the fact that the root beer was distributed locally by Dr. Pepper, which had a facility back then on Lake Avenue in Elyria.

It's funny that there used to be so many ads in the Journal for soft drinks in the 1950s and 60s. Maybe it was because pop wasn't something that people drank every day (like they do now), and the bottlers were aggressively competing for the same limited market share.

Anyway, I've always liked the Frostie Root Beer mascot. The bearded guy with icicles on his hat has been around a long time (the beverage has been bottled since 1939), and you can find him adorning many antique advertising signs.

When I was a kid, I thought the Frostie Root Beer guy bore a striking resemblance to a character in an old Golden Book we had – The Golden Goose – with haunting illustrations by Gustaf Tenggren. Here's what the mysterious little old man (who set the whole plot in motion) looked like in that book (below).

We must have drank a lot of Frostie Root Beer as kids, because at some point we sent away for Frostie Root Beer mugs that looked just like the mascot. I don't know what ever happened to our mugs, but they seem to pop up on Ebay frequently. Here's one (below) that was for sale a few weeks ago.
Over the years, the appearance of the Frostie Root Beer mascot was tinkered with once in a while, making him look a bit odd at times. Here's one of the later redesigns (below).

But the owners wisely went back to the original, classic design and that's what's on the bottles today.

Frostie Root Beer is still available today. One place where it is available locally is Vermilion Farm Market. Every once in a while I pick up a carton just for old times sake.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ghost Signs From the Past

I was driving along Broadway a few weeks ago and noticed the above building – at 1434 Broadway that is apparently undergoing some renovations. It's a unique building with its attractive geometric design pattern.

What caught my eye were the vintage signs that I'm guessing had been hidden for decades behind other structural elements. The signs advertise Central Furniture, along with some of the items the store carried, including beds, washers, and linoleum.

So when was Central Furniture at that address? Being curious (and having the time to waste), I hit the city directories.

The building appears to have been there since the mid-1930s. It started out as the home of a confectioner (Jennie Rouse) before being associated with the furniture business in the early 1940s. That's when Julius Margolis and his furniture company were there, until 1945 or so.

Central Furniture appeared in the 1947 book at that address, lasting until around 1960.

A recent view prior to the current renovation
(courtesy of the Lorain County Auditors site)
After that, a variety of firms had the 1434 Broadway address, including Klein Radio Equipment Company (1961-62), Essex Electronics (1964), and Crystal Clear Dry Cleaners (1966-1983). (All dates are approximate.)

The late 1980s saw the Lorain County Goodwill Store as the tenant, followed by Kathy's Bargains in the early 1990s, before a long period of not even being listed at all.

Anyway, it's always good to see an old building in Lorain being used for something instead of being torn down. Here's hoping that whatever is being done to the building gives it new life and a role on Broadway.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

G. A. Boeckling Retires – July 10, 1952

I'm too young to have taken the Steamer G. A. Boeckling to Cedar Point, but the article below kinda chokes me up just the same. It's about the steamer's retirement and sad departure from Sandusky Bay, and it ran in The Lorain Journal on Friday, July 11, 1952 – 61 years ago today.

Farewell For 'Old Lady'

More than 300 Sanduskians turned out 'neath the blue skies yesterday and bid farewell to an old friend who has been with them for many years and had served them well.

Handkerchiefs waved as the "old Lady," the Steamer G. A. Boeckling, ferry which commuted between Sandusky and Cedar point, was towed away by a huge tug.

The Boeckling was retired from active service this spring and was replaced by two smaller diesel ferries to handle the throngs from the Bay City to the big amusement park.

Purchaser of the "old lady" was the Peterson Shipyards Company of Sturgeon Bay, Wis. The Boeckling was under tow today, behind the tug, for Sturgeon Bay where the new owners will put her into service as a waterfront warehouse.

The story didn't end there, however. A local group purchased the steamer from the Peterson Shipyards Company, and it was towed back to Sandusky in 1982 (see clipping below).

June 12, 1982 Toledo Blade article
Unfortunately, it burned to the ground several years later before it could be restored. All in all a sad tale.

Click here to visit the fascinating Graveyard Rabbit of Sandusky Bay website to learn about the man – George A. Boeckling – for whom the steamer was named.