Monday, September 30, 2013

Masson's Walls Come Tumbling Down

Looking north from W. 40th Street
I drove by the former Masson School on Saturday to see how the demolition was coming along. (I still don't recall seeing the demolition mentioned in the Morning Journal yet, although the Chronicle-Telegram ran a photo a few weeks ago.)

The demolition started with the Junior High portion fronting on W. 38th Street, and moved west almost in a horseshoe pattern. As you can see, that entire section is gone (below).

Looking northeast from W. 40th Street; the homes off in the distance are on W. 38th Street
Now the only section still standing on Saturday was part of the original elementary section on W. 40th Street. They did start tearing down the eastern end of the building (below).

Looking north from W. 40th Street
I guess it's only fitting that they left the part with the Masson name on it for last (below).

Ah, and for the last time, here's what it looked like in happier times – when it first opened in 1959 (below).

Friday, September 27, 2013

September 1961 Lorain Journal TV Page

Well, I started this week with a TV page from the Lorain Journal from decades ago and I guess I'll finish the week with one too. This one is from September 15, 1961.

I think the layout of the TV page of the Journal back in the 1960s was very memorable. There were just the three Cleveland stations during the beginning of the decade, so the schedule was easy to read. Later, a few of the Toledo stations were included (11 and 13) as well as the "new" UHF stations in Cleveland (43 and 61).

The Journal sure sold a lot of small ads on the TV page in those days. I don't know why they don't do that today. Those small ads are the equivalent of today's internet banner ads.

Of course, the main reason I selected this TV page was because of the photo of Fred, Barney and Hoagy Carmichael promoting the 1961 second season premiere of The Flintstones.

Flintstone checkers
The Flintstones were really big when I was a kid, and my parents made sure my siblings and I had all of the Flintstone toys.

We had the big, plastic, off-model Knickerbocker figures of Fred, Barney and the rest that were about a foot high. I remember playing with them in our backyard on W. 30th Street with Bob Berstling, who always referred to Fred as "Freddy Flintstone."

We had the big, thick Flintstone checkers that were about 3 or 4 inches in diameter and an inch thick. At least they were pretty hard to lose!

We also had the Flintstone playset (by Marx) that included houses, palm trees, cars and the Flintstone characters and other Bedrock citizens as small hard plastic figures. Those we did manage to lose, until we only had a few bits and pieces of the homes and trees left – sort of a post-nuclear version of Bedrock.

My older brother Ken even dressed up as Fred Flintstone for Halloween 1961, a month after this TV page appeared in the Journal.

The funny thing is, as a kid I sort of favored the Jetsons over the Flintstones – and I still do! But both shows had a lot of heart, and popular characters that you liked and welcomed into your home each week.

Anyway, here's the animated version of Hoagy Carmichael performing a tune (on a Stoneway piano of course) that he wrote especially for that Flintstones episode.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

B&L Gulf Ad – Sept 26, 1957

There's plenty going on in this festive grand opening ad for B&L Gulf that ran in the Lorain Journal on September 26, 1957 – 56 years ago today.

There's a nice photo of the owner/operators – Bill and Louise Edmiston – as well as a grab bag of graphics, including a curious "G•DAY" headline, a creepy stylized clown, and a more mainstream 1950s Gulf service station cartoon mascot.

Strangely enough, no free tumblers are offered as an incentive to stop in; instead, just some free POP with a fill-up (which is my kind of promotion), as well as balloons and lollipops for the kids.

The Gulf station was located west of Vermilion at Stop 131, West Lake Road. According to Drew Penfield's Lake Shore Rail Maps website devoted to Lake Shore Electric history, Stop 131 was at Sherarts Road, which was later renamed Coen Road.

I'm guessing the service station was on the commercial property on the south side of the road, kitty-corner from the trailer park (below).

Here's a closer shot of the building (the home of Ink It Press) at the location today. It's not hard to believe that this was once a gas station. Anybody know for sure?
Incidentally, as a postal worker once explained to me, West Lake Road is the designation given to the highway west of Vermilion, while East Lake Road (the road I live on in Sheffield Lake) is the name of the road east of Lorain.

Gee, after living on East Skyline Drive for years, I think it would have been nice to just live on plain old Lake Road. Oh well.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Vermilion NYC Train Station – Then & Now

Over the weekend I headed out to Huron on Route 6 to get some of that dee-lishus Hahn's Sweet Corn, and that took me through Vermilion.

Then I remembered that I had this small clipping and photo (above) about Vermilion's old New York Central train station (which appeared in The Journal on March 19, 1973), so I made a quick detour south on Route 60 to grab a "now" shot.

The surroundings of the old station looked so different that I thought perhaps it had been moved at some point. But a quick email to local historian Rich Tarrant, who serves up Vermilion history and nostalgia in regularly scheduled "issues" on his popular website Vermilion Views confirmed that it was the same station in the same spot. Apparently the building still serves as St. Mary's Church Meeting Hall.


By the way, if you're a fan of the old New York Central Railroad, you can join the New York Central System Historical Society, a fine organization dedicated to preserving the New York Central's history and legacy. The organization publishes regular issues of its own magazine (at left) and a calendar as well.
How did I find out about the NYCSHS? 
Well, the company I work for is lucky enough to do the artwork for their magazine and print it for them as well. John, the fellow I work with, does a great job of designing each issue.

To visit the New York Central System Historical Society website, click here.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hey! It's "Ed" – in a 1967 ad!

Well, I finally found it – and I wasn't even looking for it.

What is it? Why, a vintage newspaper ad with the same exact piece of clip art of "Ed," the little man who regularly appears in the current Ed Tomko Chrysler Jeep Dodge ads running in the local newspapers.

The ad for Nelson and Fain (above) ran in The Journal back in June of 1967. The TV repair business was located in the building at 1755 Oberlin Avenue, more recently known as the former home of Biggy's Pub & Eatery.

Here's part of one of the recent Ed Tomko newspaper ads (below) starring "Ed," the little man.

Originally, I thought whoever designs the Ed Tomko ads had blackened out the teeth of the little guy. Now I can see that he's always been toothless.
Not only is "Ed" still featured regularly in Morning Journal print ads, he's also appearing in animated online banner ads that  currently appear on the MJ website. Not bad for a guy who's been working in advertising for almost 60 years.

A screen grab of the current animated Ed Tomko banner ad on the Morning Journal website

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Maverick" Debuts – Sept. 22, 1957

Who is the tall dark stranger there? 
Maverick is the name.
Riding the trail to who knows where 
Luck is his companion 
Gambling is his game.

Smooth as the handle on a gun
Maverick is the name.
Wild as the wind in Oregon
Blowin' up a canyon
Easier to tame.

I'll never forget those first few lyrics to the theme song of Maverick, the classic TV western starring James Garner and Jack Kelly. It debuted on Sunday, September 22, 1957 on ABC – 56 years ago yesterday. (Shown above is a portion of the Lorain Journal's TV page from the day before the premiere episode.)

When you saw this title card, you wondered:
which Maverick brother would star in that episode
Of course, I wasn't even born yet when the series debuted, and I'm too young to remember watching the series in its first run, which ended in April 1962.

But the show was a big favorite of my brothers and mine because of its reruns, which ran for years on Saturday night on Channel 43 in Cleveland. It was part of that classic 1970s Saturday night line-up that included Wild Wild West and Star Trek.

Of course, much like watching the Three Stooges and being disappointed to see Shemp and not Curly, it seemed like the Maverick episodes we watched usually featured Jack Kelly and not James Garner, our favorite. It's not that surprising, though – because while James Garner stuck around only for the first three seasons, Jack Kelly stayed for two more and became the star of the show.

But why were there two (and later, even more) Mavericks anyway?

Well, when Maverick was created by Roy Huggins, there was only one Maverick brother – Bret, played by James Garner. When it became obvious that the production of the TV show was taking so long that it would begin to miss air dates, it was necessary to create a second brother – Bart – so that simultaneous shooting of episodes featuring each of them could occur.

But while my brothers and I – like the TV public – preferred James Garner as Maverick, Jack Kelly was good too, with a charm all his own. Best of all were the episodes that featured both of them, working together to swindle the bad guys.

One of the best (and my favorite) is "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres," which aired on November 23, 1958. In it, a crooked banker cheats Bret out of $15,000. Bret vows to get it back before the sheriff runs him out of town, and he then proceeds to spend the rest of the episode sitting in a chair – whittling. But unbeknownst to the crook, Bret has orchestrated an elaborate sting to get the money back, enlisting the aid of brother Bart and a whole host of Maverick secondary characters, including Gentleman Jack Darby (played by Richard Long), Diane Brewster, and Big Mike McComb. Of course, by the end of the episode Bret has his money back and the villain – having been duped by Bart and his friends – is scratching his head, wondering how he did it!

Anyway, I have a few Maverick episodes on DVD and I pop them in once in a while just for fun. Maverick is still an enormously entertaining show, and watching it always brings back happy memories of Saturday nights in a simpler time.

Here are the catchy opening and closing credits of Maverick, courtesy of YouTube.

And here’s the theme song with a nice little montage of images of from the series (a few from the episode "Shady Deal at Sunny Acres").

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sept. 1952 – Lorain Telephone Open House

Yesterday I posted an article from September 1950 about a house on Ninth Street that was being demolished to make room for the new Lorain Telephone Co. headquarters building.

Well, here's the ad announcing that the new building was finished, and ready for inspection by the general public in a series of Open Houses. The ad ran in the Sunday, August 31, 1952 edition of the Lorain Sunday News.

I always liked this building. I only remember going in there a few times, but I've always thought it was a modern, attractive building – and it still is as the local offices of CenturyLink (below).

Seeing this building makes me nostalgic for the days before the breakup of the Bell System.

Early 1960s Lorain Telephone
advertising mascot
Back then, your local phone company was the only phone company you needed, and you didn't have to make all these decisions about who you wanted to provide that service.

I still like my land line and will probably never get rid of it. It's dependable, it works during a power outage, and I believe the sound quality is still superior to that of getting your phone service though the internet or cable TV lines.

Call me a Luddite, but I also hate the complexity that carrying a phone around brings to my life. It far outweighs any advantages to me. And I shudder to think how many times I pass a slow-moving car in the fast lane on I-90 driven by someone yakking on the phone, waving their hands around, and totally oblivious to the world around them.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sept. 1950 – Lorain Telephone Demolishes Home

Ever once in a while I poke around the microfilm collection of The Lorain Sunday News at the Lorain Public Library just looking for anything interesting. That's because the quality of the microfilm is usually several notches above what was usually available during the same period from The Lorain Journal – meaning that I can often just post a clean image of an article rather than re-keystroking it – which is fine with me. (I'm a terrible typist.)

The article below from the September 17, 1950 Lorain Sunday News fits into that category. It's about Lorain Telephone Co. demolishing an old home on Ninth Street to make room for its new headquarters. (Click on it for a readable version.)

It's interesting that apparently Lorain Telephone was ahead of its time regarding dial service, as well as its ship-to-shore telephone service.

Besides being an appropriate blog topic since Lorain is currently demolish-happy, the article reminded me that many of the side streets in Downtown Lorain just off Broadway had homes on them in the first block before the commercial properties went up. Indeed, if you drive down a few of those side streets today, surprisingly there are still a few homes that time forgot mixed in there with the businesses.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sept. 1949 – South Lorain Postal Station Opens

Sixty-four years ago this past Friday, Lorain was looking forward to the opening of its new South Lorain postal station on W. 28th Street. It was designed to help the overcrowded conditions at the main post office.

As The Lorain Journal of Sept. 14, 1949 (shown above) notes, the station was still awaiting the arrival of some of its equipment, and would not offer complete postal service to customers yet. But carriers were going to work out of the building beginning on Sept. 16, and it was expected to be full-service in time for the Christmas rush.

Charles H. Tope, a Lorain postal employee for 31 years (and a carrier in Lorain since 1918) was to be the superintendent of the facility.

Fast-forward sixty years, and the U.S. Post Office is continuing to fight for its survival in this age of emails, texting, and the fact that most people don't write and mail letters any more. Making the Post Office put aside $8 billion each year towards retirees' health care benefits doesn't help its financial situation either.

Sadly, the South Lorain station eventually became a victim of the U.S. Post Office's downsizing efforts. It closed in early September 2011, despite an effort by local citizens and government to save it. Sheffield Lake's branch – the one that I patronized – was closed that same year (which I wrote about here). 
Today, the former South Lorain post office is home to Lorain Tool Enterprises.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

More on Spang Bakery in Lorain

As I mentioned yesterday, here is the first page of the special section of The Lorain Journal announcing the opening of the new J. Spang Home Bake Bakeries Plant. (Give it a click for a larger, readable version.)

As you can see by the special newspaper section, the new bakery plant was quite a big deal. The public was invited to tour the new facility, which featured modern automatic machinery in the bread and roll departments.

The new plant was certainly good for the local economy. Together, the Lorain plant and Elyria distribution facility employed about 100 people.

The lead article on the left hand side of the page noted that the J. Spang Home Bake Bakeries had already expanded into Lorain in 1922, and was sponsoring two athletic teams – a bowling team and a girl's basketball team.


How long was the J. Spang Home Bake Bakeries in business in Lorain?

Well, the business appeared in the city directory at the same 522 W. 22nd Street address well into the late 1950s. In the 1957 City Directory, however, the firm shared its street listing with Great Lakes Donut Corp., a wholesaler. Then, in the 1958 edition, the J. Spang Home Bake Bakeries name disappeared and the Great Lakes Donut Corp. remained.

Finally, the 1959 book listed the 522 W. 22nd Street as 'vacant.'

What happened?

According to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, the J. Spang Baking Co. was sold to the Laub Baking Company in 1958. My guess is that the Lorain plant closing about that time had something to do with the sale.

In the 1961 City Directory, Cotton Club took the 520 W. 22nd Street address listing, so it may have used part of the building. It remained there (also listed as Cotton Club Hires Distributing) until the 1964 edition, when that address was listed as vacant again.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Spang's Bakery Ad – April 29, 1925

Drew Penfield sent me the full-page ad shown above announcing the opening of the new Spang Bakery plant in Lorain months ago – so I saved it until I had a good reason to post it.

The ad appeared in The Plain Dealer on April 29, 1925 and has a nice capsule history of the company.

The first Spang bakery plant was located at 2701 Barber Avenue in Cleveland, the same street where the family business originated in 1887.

Lorain was chosen to be the site of the first expansion of the Spang business outside of Cleveland, with a bakery established in the city in 1922. Its success led to the construction of the plant.

Lorain's plant – formally known as the Lorain Spang Home Bake Bakeries – was the second largest in the Spang chain.

While preparing this post, I decided to check the Lorain newspapers to see how the bakery plant opening was reported locally. After failing to find even a mere mention of the new plant in the Lorain Times-Herald during the late April 1925 time period, I was ready to pack it in – when I remembered that Lorain had two newspapers at that time.

Much to my surprise, The Lorain Journal devoted a whole section to the plant opening. In the near future, I'll prepare some of the material for posting here.


More on the Spang Barber Avenue Plant
Detail from April 1925 newspaper ad
I was also surprised to find out that Barber Avenue in Cleveland was only about 5 minutes from where I work on W. 58th Street. It's located right off W. 25th Street just north of its intersection with I-90.

It was easy to drive over there on my lunch hour a few days ago to take a few shots of the former Spang plant.

The long building is located in a residential neighborhood on a very narrow street. In fact, the building runs almost the whole length of the street.

I didn't duplicate the angle exactly (I had to shoot it from memory) but it was pretty close. Plus, I didn't have a lot of room to work with.

Here's my "now" shot (below).
Proceeding west towards the taller portion of the plant, you can still see a little hint of the building's past right on the building (below).

Friday, September 13, 2013

Spang's Glazed Donuts Ad – August 17, 1956

Why do I think of Homer Simpson when I look at this ad?
I've been bringing donuts to my work every Friday since the early 1990s.

Call it job security. There's not going to fire the guy who brings in donuts regularly – right?

For a long time, I picked them up at Bob's Donuts on Broadway (although it required backtracking on my route to work). Later, when I actually tried to get to work on time, I'd stop in Lakewood at one of the last remaining Amy Joy's shops in that chain.

Currently, I get my donuts from the friendly folks at The Doughnut Pantry on Madison. Theirs are terrific (I've mentioned them here on the blog before) and the closest I've ever found to Bob's.

Just like lawn mowing, donuts are always on my mind.

Spang's donuts were featured in the 1953 film
Lorain – An Industrial Empire in Ohio's Vacation Land
Which brings me to today's ad for Spang's Baking Company, which ran in the Lorain Journal on August 17, 1956. Spang's was a family-owned bakery that started in Cleveland in 1887 before expanding into Lorain and a few other cities.

The ad does a good job of getting your attention. A jumbo glazed donut sounds good to me, as good as the jumbo hamburgers featured on this blog yesterday!

Lorain's Spang's Bakery was located at 522 West 22nd Street, which would put it close to the corner of W. 22nd and Oakdale (where the Compassion Baptist Church is today).

A Spang's employee packing glazed donuts in that same 1953 Lorain film
Next: More on Spang's

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Lenny's Drive-In Ad – Sept. 7, 1957

Here's another ad for Lenny's Drive-in on Oberlin Avenue at W. 38th Street (which I first mentioned back here). The ad ran in the Lorain Journal on September 7, 1957 – 56 years ago this month.

According to the ad, there were two other Lenny's outlets besides the one in Lorain – one out on Route 113, and the other at the intersection of E. Broad and Abbe Road. Does anybody out there remember any of these?

I'm still intrigued that this drive-in was located next door to the present-day Mutt & Jeff's.

Anyway, the ad makes a pretty convincing case for Lenny's jumbo hamburger, on special all month for a mere 25 cents. The ads quaintly suggests serving them at showers, parties, and clubs. (I think if more jumbo hamburgers were served at showers, many women wouldn't hate attending them so much – at least my spouse wouldn't.)

By June 1965, the Sandy's Thrift and Swift Drive-in had opened just down the road at the Lorain Plaza Shopping Center. Their hamburgers were a mere 15 cents. But by then, Lenny's and its successor drive-ins at that location were gone anyway.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ohio Theater Double Feature – Sept 4, 1954

Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall
in Jungle Gents
Here's an interesting double-feature that was playing at the Ohio Theater back on September 4, 1954 – 59 years ago last week – Jungle Gents (with the Bowery Boys) and Fireman, Save My Child! The double feature even came with a guarantee: if you didn't "split your sides laughing" (sounds kinda gruesome) then the theater manager would give you a free pass to any future engagement.

As I've mentioned here before, the Bowery Boys were popular in Lorain, as their movies seemed to be constantly playing on area screens in the 1950s. (In fact, Jungle Gents opened the Lorain Drive-In's 1955 season.) But it's the other film on that Ohio Theater bill that was most likely to make one of the theatergoers ask for that free pass.

Fireman, Save My Child! was originally conceived as a vehicle for Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. The behind-the-scenes story is that Costello fell ill before shooting began, and Buddy Hackett and Hugh O'Brian took their places. And what makes the movie even stranger is that Spike Jones and His City Slickers received top billing.

In the movie, Spike and his band are all firemen working out of Firehouse No. 12. Predictably, they spend more time making music than putting out fires.

Buddy Hackett, Spike Jones (with guns)
and the City Slickers in Fireman, Save My Child!
Now, Spike Jones was always big in the Brady household when I was growing up. My father had a collection of 1940s Spike Jones 78s (Holiday For Strings, Cocktails For Two, Chloe, etc.) which my siblings and I thought were hilarious. But I watched some of Fireman, Save My Child! on Turner Classics recently and it was kind of a stinkeroo.

Anyway, it's too bad theaters aren't confident enough of what they're showing these days to offer a guarantee like the Ohio Theater did. Here's hoping that Slip and Satch (Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall) kept the manager from handing out too many passes that week.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Moore's Lawn Mower Ad – August 11, 1955

It's been a tough summer for lawn mowing this year up by the lake.

Usually in the middle of July or so, the lawn goes dormant and you get a week or two off from mowing. Not this year; my kept on growin' all summer long, to my annoyance.

I doubt if I'll break my record of 41 mowings from a few years ago, though, since I've stopped mowing it every 4 or 5 days. After doing this since April, I'm just plain pooped and I wait until the weekend.

And soon – *gulp* – the leaves will be falling.

Needless to say, lawn mowing is always on my mind. That's why I'm posting this vintage ad for Moore's. It ran in the Lorain Journal on August 11, 1955. (Click on it for a larger view.)

I originally thought Moore's was a Lorain company, but the tiny, barely visible tagline at the bottom of the ad – "Busy Stores Everywhere" – convinced me it was a chain.

A quick internet search revealed that Moore's was indeed a regional chain of stores that offered automotive parts and accessories, as well as paint and hardware. (Here's the link to a short article about the company.)

Anyway, the ad is interesting for a few reasons. The dominant brand of mower in the ad is Monark, which I've never heard of. There are two models listed, the Economatic and the Rotomatic. The Rotomatic does have a Briggs and Stratton engine, same as my Toro.

There's also a Roto-Rugg mower, made by the E.T. Rugg Company of Newark, Ohio. (Here's a link to a vintage mower website with a picture of one, if you're interested.)

It also appears that E.T. Rugg manufactured the Suburbanite model shown in the ad, based on information found in this E. T. Rugg Yahoo Group.

I found the illustration of the woman with the mower (and man admiring her from a distance) rather amusing. Although I see more and more women pushing lawn mowers these days (not at my house, though), I've never seen one dressed quite like that.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Look of Lorain is Changing

Soon this sight will be a thing of the past
On Sunday, I took a break between mowing my front and back yards to grab a few shots around Lorain, "drive-by" style (meaning I was too lazy to get out of the car and just pointed my camera out the car window).

There's plenty going on in Lorain – buildings going up, buildings coming down – that will alter many of the long-familiar city landscapes.

First stop for me was FirstEnergy Corp's power plant at 200 Oberlin Avenue. As reported in the Morning Journal this week (here), the process of dismantling the transformers at the intersection of Oberlin Avenue and E. Erie has begun.

Soon the sight above will be a thing of the past, along with the huge power plant building that was torn down. (Somewhere, Reddy Kilowatt is not smiling.)

Looking east from Leavitt at the construction site of the new Family Dollar store
That's W. 21st Street (Route 611) on the left.
Next I drove over to the construction site (above) of the new Family Dollar at 2325 W. 21st Street. It's at the intersection of W. 21st and Leavitt Road (southeast corner), where the former gas station that housed a fish cleaning business used to be.

One of the properties acquired for the construction of the store was that of the old Dick's Drive-in (which I wrote about here.)

The only drawback of the new Family Dollar is that it replaces the old one – located in the old Westgate Shopping Center nearby.

Lastly, I swung by Masson School to see how the demolition was progressing (funny how the Morning Journal hasn't even mentioned it yet). The building has been in the process of being gutted for weeks.

So far, just a small part of the former junior high portion has been demolished (below).

In the Morning Journal on Sept. 3, there was another article about the possibility of the Broadway Building being demolished (which you can read here if you missed it).

It will be interesting to see how they do it, if it does indeed happen. With the building extending down to the river level, what kind of a hole will be left if the building and the underground parking garage are demolished?

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Style Center's Little Rascal Party– 1955

When I saw this ad with a Little Rascals theme (above) appearing in the Lorain Journal on the very same page as the article about Farina appearing at Ted Jacob's Fashion Revue (that I blogged about yesterday), I assumed it was an ad for it. But it wasn't; it was for The Style Center.

Mary Ellen
Apparently, the two stores were engaged in a minor skirmish with both of their revues having the same theme related to the popular kiddie comedies, which were playing on TV then.

But while Ted Jacobs had a member of Our Gang (albeit from the silent era) appearing at his revue, The Style Center took a different approach, hiring Mary Ellen, the female host of the popular The Little Rascals show on WEWS-TV in Cleveland for their event.

You can read more about the career of Mary Ellen here on the Big 13 website. She had a pretty good TV career in Cleveland and Toledo, hosting children's shows and showing cartoons, before moving to Tampa Bay and continuing her career there. She passed away in 2011 (you can read her obituary here.)

I don't know how both stores came up with the Little Rascals theme. It would have been much more interesting if one of them had brought the Three Stooges to Lorain (5 years before they really did come to town) for some pie-throwing mayhem at a revue.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A "Little Rascal" Visits Lorain – 1955

Back in the 50s, fall fashion revues seemed to be the rage in Lorain. Women's clothing stores and department stores held their own event in which the latest in seasonal fashions were modeled and displayed.

Ted Jacobs, Smith and Gerhart, and The Style Center all held revues the same week in mid-August, 1955. With all of the different stores fighting for a woman's attention, each one tried to make sure their revue stood out from the rest.

Ted Jacob's Style Revue for 1955 was very ambitious and creative and was a benefit for children with special needs. The revue featured the current Miss Ohio, as well as a TV and movie celebrity – Farina, from the Our Gang comedies – according to the article below which appeared on the "News For Women" page of the Lorain Journal on Monday, August 15, 1955. But as we shall see in my comments below the article, all was not as it seemed.

Here's the article, written by Luella "Lou" Kepler.

Our Gang's Farina Will Appear At High School Stadium Fashion Review

One of Hollywood's outstanding personalities, beloved Farina, will be one of the main attractions at the Ted Jacob's Style Review to be staged at the Lorain high school stadium, Thursday, 8 p.m.

Farina, whose real name is Eugene Jackson, will appear in the Jackson Trio, with his younger brother, Freddie, drummer, and Stan Hunter, pianist.

NOT CONTENT with blowing real "gone" notes on his saxophone he adds to the enjoyment of his audience by performing intricate tap dances while playing his own accompaniment. The Trio will play, dance and sing at the show to be staged for the benefit of retarded children.

Two of the featured numbers will be Me and My Shadow, performed by the Jackson brothers, and the favorite swing tune, I Got Rhythm. The group has toured Honolulu and Alaska in addition to appearing in cities all over the United States. They have recently appeared in the film Artists and Models with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, which will be released next month. The trio was organized in 1945 when Farina retired from serving in the armed forces. It is currently appearing at Ben Hart's Show Bar.

Farina makes his home in Los Angeles. He is married and the father of three children, a boy and two girls.

THE JACKSON TRIO – The ex-member of the Our Gang
comedy, Farina, will appear as Eugene (Farina) Jackson
with his trio at the style review for the benefit of retarded
children, Thursday, 8 p.m. at the Lorain high school
stadium. Farina is shown playing his sax. Stan Hunter is
the pianist and Farina's brother Freddie is drummer.
Since the Our Gang comedies have played on TV, Farina has etched his way into the hearts of the children, who enjoy his acting in movies in his early film career. His appearance at the style show should swell the attendance.

MODELING THE LATEST in fall fashions and the correct attire for the problem figure will be Misses Ginger Mitroff, Dorothy Urban, Beverly Bogdan, Dolores Lohrer, Louise Wynne, Mrs. Eula Owens, Mrs. Ella Zieba, Mrs. Jeanne Ciarrone, Mrs. Betty Trebilcock, Mrs. Vince Nagy, Mrs. Alice Flowers and Mrs. Irene Donath.

Clubs entered in the ticket selling competition are Echos, Genies, Hy Notes, Jr. Dots, Jr. Gems, Kaysers, Hy Notes Y Hi Jackets and Y Hi Sweaters.

THE ADVANCE TICKET sale has been tremendous. With Bill Gordon emceeing the show; Miss Ohio, 1955 making her initial Lorain appearance; Jackson Trio and its novelty musical acts plus another vaudeville attraction; added to the array of beautiful models clad in the coming season's most outstanding clothes; a full night of enjoyment is in store for ticket holders and the stadium should be packed.

There is an added attraction of $500 in merchandise to be awarded.

So what was I hinting at earlier when I said all was not as it seemed?

The real Farina
Quite simply, Eugene Jackson did not play Farina in the Our Gang comedies. He played Farina's older brother in a few of the mid-1920s silent episodes, and was nicknamed Pineapple because of his haircut's similarity to the shape of that particular tropical fruit.

Farina was actually played by Allen Hoskins (at right). He joined the comedies (originally known as Our Gang) in 1922 and remained with the series until he became too old and was eased out in 1931. He did come back to the series for a cameo in 1933.

Fans of the Little Rascals might remember Farina as being one of the four boys (along with Jackie Cooper, Chubby and Buddy) who conspired to get out of Miss Crabtree's class in the episode Teacher's Pet, only to discover that ice cream and cake were being served to the students that day!

Anyway, it's unclear how the misunderstanding took place regarding Jackson's billing as Farina in Lorain.

Nevertheless, Eugene Jackson did enjoy a nice Hollywood career and happy life, beating the odds when it comes to being a child performer. He appeared in a variety of movies and TV series (such as Julia and Sanford and Son) all the way into the 1990s.

He published his autobiography a few years before he passed away in 2001. Here's a link to his obituary in the LA Times.

Next: Another Lorain store with its own Little Rascal-themed fashion revue – that same week!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

George Daniel Testimonial Banquet – June 1958

Yesterday I mentioned that George Daniel Field (shown above with its brand new paint job) was dedicated in June 1958. Well, here's the front page article all about it from the Friday, June 6, 1958 Lorain Journal, written by Hank Kozloski (who passed away earlier this year).

Major League Baseball executive Branch Rickey – well known for breaking Major League Baseball's color barrier by hiring Jackie Robinson to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers – was a guest at the banquet honoring George Daniel.


300 Honor "Danny;" Recreation Stadium Renamed For Him

A BACKWARD GLANCE – George Daniel, left, and 
Branch Rickey, a baseball legend in his own lifetime and
now an executive with the Pittsburgh Pirates, turn back
the clock to the days when Rickey was Daniel's coach at 
Ohio Wesleyan University. (Photo by Hank Kozkoski)
Recreation Stadium was given a new name last night and Lorain was graced by a "surprise" visit from one of the most colorful, and sometimes controversial, men in baseball.

"The Home of the Steelers" unofficially was renamed George Daniel Field in honor of the retiring director of physical education of Lorain Public Schools.

Announcement of the renaming was made by George Parks, president of the Lorain Board of Education, at the "extremely successful" George Daniel Testimonial Banquet at Moose Hall.

More than 300 guests and friends of Daniel, including Daniel himself, were especially thrilled, however, when just before the main dinner Mr. and Mrs. Branch Rickey walked into Moose Hall to help honor "The Grand Old Man of Ohio Athletics."

The stadium will be officially dedicated to Danny at the next regular meeting of the school board. Parks told the gathering it had been approved at an informal session, but the press and radio had been asked to  "keep it secret" until last night.

He said, "It is my great pleasure to bring to you at this time information regarding an issue which was discussed at a recent meeting of the board."

"The Lorain City Board of Education, in recognition of the years of faithful service and devotion to duty as exemplified by George Daniel does hereby concur and agree unanimously in the following resolution:

"Be it resolved that the athletic facilities of the Lorain Board of Education, now known as Recreation Field, be henceforth known as George Daniel Field, and that a plaque so designating the dedication be erected at a suitable location within these facilities."

Parks presented Daniel with a bronze plaque whcih stated simply: George Daniel Field, June 12, 1958. The date signifies Daniel's retirement date. It will be placed permanently at the stadium at a later date.

The proposal for the renaming was first made by three Lorain High School head coaches: Don White, track; Art Lave, football; and Tony Misko, baseball.

Although best known as the man who "broke the color line" when he signed Jackie Robinson to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Rickey first gained national acclaim as one of the founders of the famed St. Louis Cardinals Gashouse Gang.

After leaving the Dodgers, he became president of the Pittsburgh Pirates and still holds an executive position with the Bucs. He came to Lorain directly from Pittsburgh and left here immediately to attend a board meeting at O.W.U.

Rickey, who suffered a coronary thrombosis less than a year ago, had been invited by Chairman Meyer Gordon, but business and his recent illness was expected to prevent his coming. He wrote to Gordon, "If I can make it, I'll just walk in."

The more than 300 persons attending, including more than 50 out-of-towners, in general felt his visit "really was the icing on the cake."

Although visibly a far cry from the robust Rickey of a little more than a year ago, Branch still displayed his overwhelming ability to captivate his audience with his eloquent and wonderfully humorous talks.

Despite constant glances from Mrs, Rickey, who didn't want him to overdo himself, Branch said, "I wouldn't have missed George's banquet for anything."

Rickey, who coached Daniel at Ohio Wesleyan University, told the group, "There were two boys in my early coaching days at Ohio Wesleyan – and the other fella should be here – George and Les Stouffer. I often thought that if I should have two sons, I should have liked them to be those two."

His admiration for Daniel was expressed in a typical Rickey remark: "I should congratulate you on having him rather than him having you."

Most of his talk – and he "emphatically" said before being handed the microphone that he'd "rather not talk" – was devoted to keeping the throng in an uproar. To say the least, Branch was an overwhelming hit.

One almost forgot that the main speaker was Carl V. Weygandt, chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, even though he, too, captivated the crowd during his brief appearance.

Judge Weygandt arrived late when his flight to Lorain, from Columbus in a private plane flown by Lorain attorney Joseph Zieba was interrupted by at least four rain squalls. Normally a 50-minute flight, it took almost an hour and a half.

After a hurried meal and a short talk, Judge Weygandt had to leave early because he "had a court session scheduled early in the morning." The judge, also a friend of Rickey, regretted having to miss "his old friend's talk."

He pointed out that "the characteristics a boy develops in athletics are often the ones he carries with him throughout his life."

Once an officiating partner with Daniel, he said, "I need only referee one game with a man and I can tell his character. In all the games Danny and I officiated together, he always called accurate plays."

"College coaches have it easy," he noted. "Boys learn all the fundamentals from men like George Daniel and the rest of the high school coaches, then all they do is give them the plays. Boys never lose what men like Danny teach them."

Paying special tribute to Daniel were Paul Bratton, chairman of the Lorain YMCA physical committee, who read a letter of commendation and presented him with a plaque. The banquet committee presented him with luggage.

William Councell, secretary of the Lake Erie League, presented a portable transistor radio from the league Daniel helped found and of which LHS was a charter member.

Atty. James Parobek, past president of the Lorain Booster Club, announced the club will fund an annual "Danny Award" and scholarship to be awarded to a boy "who excels on the athletic field and in the classroom throughout his high school career."

Also presented by Parobek was a huge, beautifully done sketch of Daniel by Clerk of Courts Frank Katrick. It was hung on the wall surrounded by the school colors, purple and lavender, for all to see.

Others taking part in the program were Mayor John C. Jaworski, the welcome address; Supt. of Schools John W. Evans, the school's farewell; Rev. Harry Snyder, pastor of the First Lutheran Church, the invocation, and judge of the Court of Common Pleas John Pincura, who introduced Judge Weygandt.

Daniel, who confessed to being "still puzzled," called the event "one of the biggest moments of my life. I only wish Mrs. Daniel were here to share it."

He closed the program by relating some of his "memories," then like Tiny Tim of Charles Dickens' immortal Christmas Carol, said, "God bless you, every one."

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

New George Daniel Stadium Sign – July 15, 1958

This past Friday was the kickoff to the high school football season (Midview edged the Lorain Titans), so this photo is fairly topical.

It's from the sports page of the July 15, 1958 Lorain Journal. The caption reads, "NEW ADDITION – Jim Traub (left) and Gene Ferguson fasten the latest addition to the main entrance of Lorain High School's football stadium – now known as George Daniel Field as depicted by the overhead sign. Suspended from the sign are the 1958 varsity and junior varsity football schedules.The figure of a football player is painted in LHS colors as a special tribute from Lew Caywood to Daniel."

The football field (which was dedicated in May 1928) had been known as Recreation Field until it was renamed in honor of George Daniel in June 1958.

Today, the sign that hangs at the entrance is not quite as ornate, and the Lorain High School sports teams are no longer known as the Steelers, but the tradition of displaying the team's schedule below the entrance sign happily has continued into the 2000's (below).