Friday, November 29, 2013

Bob McFadden to Host Mary Lee Tucker – Nov. 28, 1955

Every year the Morning Journal sponsors the wonderful Mary Lee Tucker Clothe-a-Child campaign, in which readers and organizations donate money to buy warm coats for needy school age children. In the old days, however, the newspaper's Mary Lee Tucker name was also associated with a benefit show sponsored by the Lorain City Club made up of local performers.

In 1955, the show was hosted by a nationally known entertainer – Bob McFadden, who was also an Ohioan.

Who was Bob McFadden? Well, before I tell you what I know about him, here is the story announcing his Mary Lee Tucker hosting duties as it appeared in the Lorain Journal on November 28, 1955 – 58 years ago yesterday.


Famed Satirist
Bob McFadden To Emcee Yule Show

To Emcee Christmas Show
Bob McFadden, billed as America's foremost satirist, will be master of ceremonies for the annual Mary Lee Tucker Christmas benefit show.

HE WILL APPEAR with the best local talent available on the fast moving two hour show to be presented Dec. 7 at the Palace theater, Show Director Harold Saladin announced today.

The show is sponsored by the Lorain City Club. Proceeds will be used for the six point program of Christmas sharing of The Journal's Mary Lee Tucker department.

Saladin said a total of 65 acts of local talent have auditioned at the three tryouts held the past three Sundays. Announcement of the acts selected for the show will be made later this week.

"ALL THE ACTS are good," Saladin declared. "But we can not possibly use all of them. We only wish we could. It's going to be a tough job deciding which ones to select."

A comparative newcomer, McFadden is a triple threat in the entertainment field, Saladin said.

"Just to hear America's newest and most hilarious entertainer sing would be anyone's money's worth," Saladin stated. "To listen to his brand of humor would more than suffice in any show. And to hear his impressions of famous personalities would put a smile on the sourest face.

"But in offering all three, Bob McFadden finds a place in show business all his own."

McFADDEN WAS discovered in the U. S. Navy in 1950. He was assigned to work with the Armed Forces Radio Network as singing master of ceremonies at a special navy show called "The Bob McFadden Show."

Sent to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for a a special navy show, he was seen by the manager of the fabulous Condado Beach hotel.

After a successful engagement at the Condado he was immediately starred in the show in Jack's club and since leaving San Juan in 1950 he has steadily climbed toward becoming one of the country's leading personalities.

FEW PERFORMERS have made such a strong impression on the public or played so many top spots in so short a time. In five years in the business, he has appeared in leading clubs in the midwest, at the Dallas State Fair, Canadian Exposition and many of the other state and national functions throughout the country.

He was a winner on an Arthur Godfrey Talent Scout program, has appeared on the Guide Right program and The Courtesy Hour and as a guest artist on many radio programs. He has also appeared in many of the leading hotels across the country.

McFadden is an Ohioan, born at East Liverpool. His father did a singing and soft shoe act in vaudeville prior to becoming a salesman.

McFADDEN ATTENDED East Liverpool high school and then went to a special chemical analysis training school in a steel company where he worked for two years before entering the Navy.

On his days off he studied singing in Pittsburgh. He was classified as a radioman second class in the Navy and kept busy with his radio program when assigned to the Armed Forces Radio.

PATRON TICKETS for the show at $2.50 each may be obtained at The Journal office.

Regular reserved seat tickets, selling at $1.50 each, may be obtained at The Journal, Owens Record Rack, 617 Broadway; the Palace Theater; Rusine's, 822 Broadway; Santarelli's delicatessen, 812 E. Erie; and Henes florist, 2113 Broadway.


Bob McFadden ended up having a great career as a voice-over actor in commercials and in animated cartoons. This Wiki page lists his considerable credits.

Baby Boomers will remember the Milton the Monster Show. McFadden was the voice of Milton and several of the other monsters on that show.

McFadden also worked on many Rankin and Bass Christmas specials and TV movies. He also did several voices on Linus the Lionhearted, including Rory Raccoon (below), Lovable Truly and So-Hi.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Pilgrims: A 1960s Kid's Perspective

In honor of Thanksgiving, I dug out some Pilgrim drawings I did when I was just a kid in the mid-1960s. They provide an amusing (and politically incorrect) perspective that seems to have been influenced by youthful viewings of John Wayne movies.

My first drawing (above) takes place right before the Pilgrims landed. A turkey is perched on Plymouth Rock (which in all of my drawings is already inscribed with the date of the Pilgrims' arrival). An angry Indian pokes his head out of an apple tree, shaking his fist at the Pilgrim landing crew being lowered to the water. Lastly, The Mayflower's mermaid figurehead (drawn maybe a bit too realistically) completes the scene.

In my second drawing (below), the Pilgrims (two of them at least) have landed and The Mayflower has apparently taken off. The Pilgrim male is atop Plymouth Rock and holding a dead purple bird, while the woman (looking like one of Al Capp's Shmoos) sits in the boat. A turkey quizzically looks on. A quartet of identical Indians hide menacingly behind pumpkins, ready to ambush!

The next drawing (below) introduces violence to the Pilgrim proceedings.

It shows a Pilgrim hiding behind Plymouth Rock as he blasts an airborne turkey with a pistol. (At least he wasn't shooting an Indian!) To make the drawing "come alive," I drew the turkey on a separate piece of a paper, cut him out, and glued him to this drawing with a tab, so that he "floated." (I guess I was anticipating the current 3-D craze.)

Lastly, maybe a year or so later, I revisited the Pilgrims one last time (below).

This drawing's a little more serious and rendered more realistically, which makes me think it was done at school with some sort of supervision. An Indian passes a bowl of corn on the cob to a Pilgrim man (awkwardly holding a dead bird and leaning on his blunderbuss). A chinless Pilgrim woman (with huge gorilla hands and legs that look like saggy orange trousers) watches. A baby in a cradle rocks inches away from a cooking pot that is suspended over a campfire. Almost everyone has blue eyes!

Anyway, it's fun to look back at something you drew 47 years ago and try to figure out why it was drawn that way. I guess it's not easy to get into the mind of a kid.

Even if you were that kid.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Heilman's Flavor Crisp Chicken Ad – Nov. 7, 1963

Although it's almost Thanksgiving, and everyone's thinking about turkey, here's a chicken-themed ad.

The ad – for the late great Heilman's Ranch House on West Erie Ave. – ran in the Journal on November 7, 1963 – 50 years ago this month. (Lots of 1963 anniversaries on this blog lately!)

I wrote about the last days of Heilman's Ranch House back here.

"Flavor Crisp" currently is both a popular name for restaurants (such as this one), as well as a specific chicken coating product as well. The official Flavor-Crisp coating has only been around for 40 years according to its website, so I'm not sure if Heilman had its own in-house recipe back then or something else.

Anyway, enough with this chicken chit chat – it's time to think about turkey!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hey Mabel! Black Label ad – Nov. 1955

The ad above – from the pages of the Lorain Journal in November 1955 – caught my eye because of the great illustration of the classic Carling Black Label Beer bottle. Mabel's not bad either.

I've mentioned Black Label Beer a few times in this blog (here and here).

Hey, I still have some Black Label Beer in my "beer fridge" right now – I may have to open up a can or two on Thanksgiving! (The rest of my guests will have to choke down some Leinenkugel's Snowdrift Vanilla Porter.)

And before I forget, here's a commercial featuring the pretty Mabel shown in the above print ad.

According to this website, her name was Jeanne Goodspeed, and she enjoyed a 15-year run as Mabel in the commercials and print ads.

Monday, November 25, 2013

American Slovak Home Grand Opening – Nov. 1956

While many other ethic organizations in Lorain have disappeared over the years, there's one – the American Slovak Club – that happily keeps on rolling along in the 2000s.

The ad above announcing the Grand Opening of the club's building on Broadway appeared in the Lorain Journal on Nov. 2, 1956 – 57 years ago this month.

According to the club's website (you can read about its history here ), ground was broken for the building on January 21, 1956. The cornerstone was laid on May 27 of that same year.

It would be practically impossible to live in Lorain and not be aware of the Slovak Club's well-known fish fry, held every Friday (except if Christmas falls on that day). Here's a link to the Fish Fry information.

And here's how the club building looks today (below).

Friday, November 22, 2013

50th Anniversary of Kennedy Assassination

Like many of you, my parents saved the above copy of The Journal from Friday, November 22, 1963 with the tragic announcement of President John F. Kennedy's assassination – which occurred 50 years ago today.

I was too young back then (not quite five) to understand what was going on – so I can't say I remember much about the assassination and its aftermath. I only remember that my normal TV diet of cartoons simply wasn't available. (The three TV networks suspended all their normal programming to stick with the story until after Kennedy's funeral.)

While preparing for this post, I originally went to the trouble of getting the newspaper image from microfilm (below).

After it was all cleaned up, I realized – Mom and Dad have saved that paper!

They also saved the next day (below).
Sad, historic times.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Sun Sets on Hanko's Family Restaurant

Fans of Hanko's Family Restaurant are no doubt shocked and sad about the loss of their favorite restaurant. It closed for good on November 16.
A simple sign taped to the door reads:
"Due to Andy's declining health, we are no longer able to keep Hanko's open. Saturday, November 16th 2013  we will be closing. Thank-you to all our loyal customers over our 49 years in business. Thank-you and God Bless.
– The Hanko Family"
While I was not a patron of the restaurant, I have never heard anything but nice things about the Hankos and great enthusiasm for their food, especially their perch. I know several people that were regular customers, and it was the favorite restaurant of a neighbor of my parents.

Here's a link to the restaurant's Facebook page, where many customers are leaving comments. There's also a nice set of photo albums.

Here's wishing the Hanko Family well and thanking them for being an important part of the lives of many Lorain Countians for so long. It's obvious that they will be missed.

Thanks to Jeremy for making me aware of the restaurant's closing.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Movie Obsession

An early scene in the movie featuring most of the major cast members
This month marks the 50th anniversary of one of my favorite movies – It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. It had its world premiere on November 7, 1963.

Part of the animated title sequence
I'm a big fan of the movie and never get tired of seeing it again and again. Why? Because it's just plain funny, and features many of my favorite actors and comedians in their prime, such as Peter Falk, Jonathan Winters, Buddy Hackett and Sid Caesar. It's full of great cameos too, including the Three Stooges, Jerry Lewis, and even Leo Gorcey of the Bowery Boys.

The movie soundtrack by Ernest Gold is memorable, and adds immensely to my enjoyment of the film. It's my all-time favorite film score.

My affection for It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World can be traced to the fact that my parents took my siblings and me to see it in Cleveland when it first came out – which was a big deal for us.

Cover of the souvenir program
(Dan Brady collection)
Back then, if a movie was a really big production and shown as a road show with an intermission, the theater sold souvenir programs. It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was indeed a big movie with a star-studded cast and in Cinerama to boot, so a souvenir book was issued. My parents bought one, and we had it for years as a memento of the occasion.

In all honesty, I can't say for sure that I remember seeing it in the theater. I seem to recall feeling bad that Jimmy Durante's character died, and being surprised to see the Three Stooges in their cameo appearance, but I'm just not sure anymore. (After all, it was 50 years ago!)

Nevertheless, seeing It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World when it first came out became a sort of milestone in the Brady family.

I didn't see the movie again until it was shown on TV on New Year's Eve around 1976. I even tape recorded parts of the movie because I enjoyed the music so much. Then, I discovered that the soundtrack record was available at Clarkins, so I bought a copy and played it to death during my senior year of high school.

My copy of the soundtrack record,
which I purchased at Clarkins on Rt. 58
When cassette tapes became popular, I bought a copy of the soundtrack to play in my car. Later, when CDs came out, one of the first ones I bought was – what else? – It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Since that first CD, there have been additional versions released, one with movie dialogue clips and one with the actual background music extracted from the movie soundtrack. Of course, I have all of them – and play them at work to my co-worker's bewilderment.

I have the movie on video cassette as well as DVD. I don't have a Blu-ray player yet, but when I do, you know what the first Blu-ray disc I purchase will be.

I own some memorabilia from the movie, including a few movie stills. Over the years, I've also managed to get autographs from some of the stars of the movie. I started with Buddy Hackett, and then followed up with Jonathan Winters, Sid Caesar, Edie Adams and Peter Falk. (Sadly, all of them except for Sid Caesar are now deceased.)

I have the autographs of four of the six actors
in this scene from late in the movie
Finally, my obsession with It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World came full circle a couple of years ago. I saw it on the big screen at the Palace Theater in Cleveland, when the movie was included as part of the "Cinema at the Square" film series. When the great animated opening sequence began to unfold on the huge Palace screen, I got choked up – thinking of that Brady family outing decades earlier.

Needless to say, I had a great time seeing it in a theater again, and hearing the laughter of the other theatergoers as they anticipated each pratfall and joke.

I'm not the only one with a mad obsession with It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

In fact there are numerous websites devoted to the movie, especially the locations where the movie was filmed. If you like 'then and nows' as much as me, be sure to visit this website.

One of my favorite blogs is that of Mark Evanier, who has enjoyed a fine career writing for television, animated cartoons and comic books. He has devoted many posts to It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, since he is a huge fan also.

And James Rolfe has created a very entertaining documentary in which he makes a pilgrimage to many of the movie's locations.

Lastly, I have a kindred spirit at work who shares my enthusiasm for the movie. My colleague Brian Dreger (who is also an author and filmmaker) has huge chunks of the movie dialogue committed to memory (just like me), and is more than happy to recite some of it – when I least expect it and in the most absurd situation – much to my amusement.

The scene in which the other characters confront Jonathan Winters 
Recently, as I arrived late for work one morning, Brian ambushed me and treated me to a hilariously impromptu recreation of a scene from the movie.

"What happened to you?" asked Brian. "Having trouble with your engine? Run out of gas? What, you bend your tailpipe?"

Of course, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World fans recognize Brian's comments as the questions that Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, Mickey Rooney and Buddy Hackett collectively posed to Jonathan Winters after he had slowed his truck down in an attempt to evade them on the highway.

Without skipping a beat, I replied in my best Jonathan Winters impersonation. "No, it was just one of my tires. I thought... Shucks! Okay, so I was trying to..."

Yup, great minds – and obsessed Mad, Mad World fans – think alike.



My autographed photo of Jonathan Winters
It was sad to see that Jonathan Winters passed away a few days ago on April 11, 2013.

As I've written here before, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is one of my favorite movies (seeing it in Cleveland when it first came out in 1963 was a big event for my family) and much of my enjoyment of it comes from the performance of Jonathan Winters.

His character, the peanut-brained furniture mover named Lennie Pike, probably elicits more laughs than any of the other principals in the movie, which is no small achievement since his co-stars included Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Milton Berle and Phil Silvers. Winters' character not only stars in one of the movie's most memorable and hilarious comic sequences (the destruction of the gas station in the desert) but he also discovers the Big W that everyone is looking for.

Winters also makes his character one of the most sympathetic in the movie, as his motive to find the money is not based on greed. One of the things Pike wants to do with the money is to buy a wheelchair and some fresh flowers for the nice old lady that runs the boarding house where he lives. He's one of the more honest characters in the movie, since he's legitimately upset when he realizes that the others have no intention of paying taxes on their share of the money when they find it. As Pike puts it, "Everybody has to pay taxes. Even businessmen that rob and steal and cheat from people every day – even they have to pay taxes!"

I still feel really bad for Pike when he tries to flag down the car driven by Terry-Thomas and, at Ethel Merman's urging, they ignore his plea for help and speed right by him, leaving him alone and stranded in the middle of nowhere. The sad look on his face is heart-rending.

Then I felt bad for Pike shortly thereafter, when Phil Silvers also double-crosses Pike and leaves him stranded on the highway again with only a battered little girl's bike for transportation. That's why it's so satisfying seeing him chase Phil Silvers around with a pick later in the movie.

Every kid in the 1960s and 70s loved Jonathan Winters. When you saw him in a movie or on a TV show, you knew you were in for some great laughs. I remember watching his early 1970s syndicated TV show, The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters (click here to hear the theme) and enjoying the cartoon sequence that ran during the credits. It featured a caricature of Winters marching down the street with a bunch of items, such as a clock, that had sprouted legs.

He was also terrific in The Twilight Zone episode ("A Game of Pool") where he played the pool shark who came back from the afterlife to compete against the Jack Klugman character. Winters' character eventually loses, but he has the last laugh.

Anyway, I was disappointed to see little coverage of Winters' death in the paper or on TV. That's what happens to many celebrities when they pass away decades after their heyday.

At least Jonathan Winters will live forever in the hearts and minds of his devoted fans, every time they watch It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

In fact, I think it's about time I watched it again – for probably the 100th time.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gettysburg Address Anniversary

Here's an interesting article that appeared in the Lorain Journal on November 16, 1963 – a few days short of the 100th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address.

It's a well-written article and perfectly suited for today, November 19, 2013 – the 150th anniversary of the event.


Gettysburg Address: Classic Reaches Century Mark Nov. 19
Few in 15,000 Crowd Recognized Greatness of Address At Time President Lincoln Spoke

(Reprinted from the Nov. 9 issue, Buffalo Evening News)

At Gettysburg, Pa., near mid-afternoon of Nov. 19, 1863, an estimated 15,000 Americans heard – or saw – the President of the United States as he spoke ten sentences dedicating a soldiers' cemetery.

Since Abraham Lincoln's voice carried well, and his habit – in a pre-microphone era – was to say important things slowly, most of those present probably heard him.

Whether they grasped what he said, or realized that they had heard one of history's most thoroughly prepared addresses, was quite another matter.

That many, if any, expecting a long speech may be doubted. The printed program stipulated plainly that the President was to make "Dedicatory Remarks."

Edward Everett, Massachusetts statesman and former president of Harvard, had just spoken ably for two hours. Long before the event, it had been known that he, not Lincoln, was the orator of the day.

That any appreciable number wished for more than a few remarks taxes credulity. Most of the listeners were both tired and hungry. They had stood for hours, missing their noon meal.

The procession from town had been late, and then the crowd had waited until Everett returned tardily from a tour of the battlefield that was the scene of – and the reason for – the dedication.

As it was, the program did not end till after 2:30 p. m.

Even so, the President's actual brevity – popular though it was sure to be – took many by surprise.

The only photographer who might have taken a picture of Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address was still going through the old tripod - and - shawl routine when the former Rail-Splitter sat down.

Surprised or not, the circumstances impose a heavy burden of proof upon all persons – whether in the crowd or on the platform – who later said that they or others were disappointed, or critical, because the President's remarks required no more than three minutes instead of ten, or whatever had been expected.

What John Hay, the junior of Lincoln's two private secretaries, put in his diary next day cannot be overlooked, He wrote:

"...Mr. Everett spoke he always does, perfectly – and the President, in a fine, free way, with more grace than is his wont, said his half-dozen words of consecration, and the music wailed, and we went home through crowded and cheering streets."

Obviously, young Hay did not think that Lincoln had failed in any sense of the word.

Neither did he – a Brown University class poet with a still unsatisfied yearning for letters – show the slightest  awareness of having heard a masterpiece.

If he did not, what then was to be expected of the burghers of Gettysburg and their wives, or of the equally weary and famished politicians, clerks, military men, diplomats and others who, as the Pennsylvania Dutch phrase went, had come "from off."

Only later – much later – did most of those who were there begin to remember things, and they contradicted each other on nearly every detail.

There was "a hurricane of applause," for instance, or there was "no applause whatsoever," or there was just a dignified "ripple." So the testimony ran, all, of course, from witnesses of unimpeachable veracity.

Lincoln's speech was not casual; not dashed off on the back of an old envelope. There was nothing impromptu about it.

It was a speech that had grown within him, one that he was determined to make – and one that he painstakingly edited through five extant manuscript versions, two before, three after he spoke, and all slightly different from each other and what was taken down and sent over the wires.

On the evening of July 7, 1863, Lincoln had been serenaded at the White House. Word had come of Vicksburg's surrender to Gen. Grant on July 4.

Responding extemporaneously, the President warmed to a theme.

"How long ago was it? 80 odd years – since on the Fourth of July for the first time in the history of the world a nation by its representatives, as assembled and declared as a self-evident truth that "all men are created equal."

"That was the birthday of the United States of America."

Without naming them, Lincoln then interpreted both Vicksburg and Gettysburg as defeats for opponents of "the principle that all men are created equal."

Prophetically, he announced amid cheers:

"Gentlemen, this is a glorious theme, and the occasion for a speech, but I am not prepared to make one worthy of the occasion."

Clearly, he was working toward – living his way into – a text beginning:"Fourscore and seven years ago..."

Whatever else he was or was not when spoke at Gettysburg on November 19, he was prepared.

At first, he had not even figured in the cemetery commission's plans for the dedication. He received merely a formal invitation – printed and impersonal. He was invited to make his remarks only after he had let it be known that he intended to be there.

Actually, he had been living with his "glorious theme" long before the Fourth of July made memorable by Gettysburg and Vicksburg.

Some of the central ideas had shaped themselves in the mind of a young frontierman who became a prairie lawyer, who would say as Lincoln had, quite forthrightly in New Haven in 1860.

Vaughn Shoemaker political cartoon
that appeared with this article in the Journal
"I am not ashamed to confess that 25 years ago I was a hired laborer mauling rails, at work on a flat-boat – just what might happen to any poor man's son. I want every man to have the chance – and I believe the black man is entitled to it – in which he can better his condition..."

With the ten sentences of Nov. 19 the resolute foe of slavery, the Lincoln agonizing for mankind, revealed himself as he wished posterity to remember him. It was a Lincoln who had been masked at times by Lincoln the politician and Lincoln the statesman.

But it was not a new Lincoln, for his collected private and public writings show that he had been through the years a protagonist of amazing consistency – biding his time.

Ten sentences. With them, he dedicated a cemetery. He also redefined the war's purpose, dedicating himself and his countrymen to an unfinished task.

Above and beyond that, he rededicated a nation to "a proposition" that Jefferson, the Adamses, Franklin, the Lees – and all the other signers of the Declaration of Independence – had accepted as "self-evident."

Monday, November 18, 2013

Howard Johnson's Opens in Lorain – Nov. 1955

Nov. 2, 1955 Lorain Journal ad
Nov. 7, 1955 article from the Lorain Journal
If you're a Lorainite over the age of 50 like me, then you probably remember when Lorain had a Howard Johnson's down on West Erie just west of Leavitt Road. (I've blogged about it a few times before, including here.)

If you've ever wondered how long the building has been there, the Grand Opening ad above answers that question. The ad appeared in the Lorain Journal on Nov. 2, 1955 – 58 years ago this month.

It may seem strange to readers of this blog that I have nostalgic feelings towards a national restaurant chain, but when it comes to ice cream, you can't have too many options in my opinion. My family usually went to Lorain Creamery for ice cream cones, but if we wanted to sit down and enjoy a sundae or milk shake, we might go to Howard Johnson's, since it was in our neck of the woods.

Today, the former HoJo building is the home of Chris' Restaurant (below).

The view on Saturday morning

Friday, November 15, 2013

Elyria's Burger Chef Today

As a follow-up to my post about Burger Chef last month...

I happened to be in Elyria recently, and while heading for home I saw the vision above; namely, the former Elyria Burger Chef located at the bend in the road where Lake Avenue meets West Avenue.

I'm still not sure why the address of the restaurant was indicated as 'Lodi Street' in the 1968 ad (at left).

Anyway, I had known that I was going to pass the old restaurant that day, so I brought my camera along just to grab this shot. Strangely enough – or perhaps by divine intervention – the JESUS SAVES sign was installed earlier that day (I saw the workers putting it up), just in time to make it into this shot and onto the internet for all eternity.

The menacing sky makes me think that it was no accident.

UPDATE (June 28, 2016)
I drove by the building on June 9, 2016 and noticed that the former Burger Chef had recently been torn down. Sorry, Burger Chef and Jeff!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gelman Bldg in the News – Nov. 14, 1963

Here's an article by noted local journalist Jack LaVriha that appeared in the Lorain Journal on November 14, 1963 – 50 years ago today. It's about the impending opening of the Joseph & Feiss Co. manufacturing plant in the Gelman Building (later known as the Gel-Pak building and currently the home of Lorain County Health & Dentristy) and includes a nice history of the building's use up to that point.


POWER FOR INDUSTRY – Ohio Edison workmen install a new pole for
a bank of three transformers to supply power to Lorain's newest industry,
Joseph & Feiss Co., clothing manufacturer, which will occupy the second
and third floors of the Gelman Building, 1201 Broadway, in background.
Feiss Co. Clothing Plant Scheduled Opening Soon

Lorain's newest industry, a branch plant of Joseph & Feiss Co. of Cleveland, manufacturers of men's and young men's clothing, will begin operations within two weeks.

A company spokesman said skilled textile workers are being hired and that the work force would be built up to 150 or possibly 200 people.

Meanwhile, considerable activity is taking place in preparation for the opening of the plant which will occupy the second and third floors of the Gelman Building, 1201 Broadway.

Sewing machines and equipment are being moved in from Cleveland every day.

Ohio Edison Co. has installed a new pole on which is being placed a bank of three transformers to supply electric power to the plant.

The building to be occupied by J&F was formerly used until 1959 by another clothing manufacturer, S. Weitz & Co. of Cleveland. It originally was built for Richman Brothers Co., another Cleveland clothing maker.

Nationally known, J&F has satellite plants similar to the one to open here in Utica, N. Y., and Harrodsburg, K.Y. Its new Utica plant is said to be one of the nation's most modern clothing factories.

Sport coats and suit jackets will be produced at the Lorain plant.

J&F receives its yard goods at the Cleveland plant where it will be cut for suit coats and sport coats before being sent to Lorain for finishing.

Then the jackets will be returned to the Cleveland plant where the trousers are made. Warehousing and distribution will be handled in Cleveland.

The firm expects to produce between 5,000 and 5,500 units a week in the Lorain plant.

Lorain was selected for the expanded operation because of the availability of skilled tailoring employees.

J&F has a two-year lease on the plant, with renewal options that could continue for 10 years.

Wow, those were the days when a big manufacturing plant would locate in Lorain because of its skilled workforce and instantly bring a couple hundred jobs to the area.

By the way, you can still buy a Joseph & Feiss suit. The brand is currently owned and available at the Men's Wearhouse.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November 1950 Reddy Kilowatt ad

It's been a while since I featured our old pal Reddy Kilowatt on this blog, so here's an Ohio Edison ad featuring the electrical sprite that ran during the month of November 1950 in The Lorain Sunday News.

Although Reddy Kilowatt made a brief comeback after his trademark was purchased by Northern States Power Company in 1998, he hasn't been seen since. Northern States Power Company later diversified and changed their name to Xcel Energy; unfortunately, Reddy had no role to play in the new company's advertising.

Finally, I read on this website that apparently Xcel Energy donated 199 boxes of Reddy Kilowatt history to the Smithsonian in 2005. (And here's a link to the Smithsonian's list of the donated materials.)

So it looks like Reddy is officially retired. Here's hoping the Smithsonian assembles a nice retrospective of my favorite advertising mascot.

It's just as well that Reddy is retired, though; he'd be "shocked" to see what has happened to the former lakefront Ohio Edison plant in Lorain!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Polish Legion of American Veterans Post #38

I read in the Morning Journal (here) on November 1 that the city demo crew was going to be at it again, ridding neighborhoods of nuisance properties. One of them was 550 W. 14th Street (above), the former home of the Polish Legion of American Veterans Pulski Post No. 38.

I'm not sure why this building is a nuisance – it's not even boarded up.

Nevertheless, after I took my photo, I went to the library to find out what other businesses or organizations called this building home. I imagined a veritable parade of small businesses through the years

Much to my surprise, the building had no history at all.

It first appeared in the city directories in the early 1930s, listed as vacant. In fact, it was vacant in all of the available 1930s books.

Finally, in the 1942 book I found a business listed at that address: Dietrich's Stop & Shop Bakery, run by Herman Dietrich (President) and Otto Dietrich (Vice President). But by the 1945 book, the building was vacant again.

Then, in the 1947 book, the Polish Legion of American Veterans Post No. 38 appeared – and apparently stayed there as the last tenant.

Our Town – the Story of Lorain, Ohio (1953) which was published by Lorain City Schools mentions the Polish Legion of American Veterans. The publication stated that the organization "aids the poor and gives relief to veterans."

Anyway, one of the interesting aspects of Lorain are these commercially zoned properties left over from the 1920s and 30s, seemingly plunked down amongst the tiny houses and narrow streets. The buildings served their purpose in their day, housing businesses and organizations that contributed to the quality of life in those neighborhoods.

The buildings may be obsolete now, but they still give a certain character to a neighborhood if they are in good shape. It's a shame that these properties are now targeted by a city that thinks it can bulldoze its way back to prosperity.

Lorain's Polish Legion of American Veterans Post may be toast, but the national organization still soldiers on. Click here to visit its website.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Alex Visci Quartet at Three Sisters Restaurant – Nov. 1963

1970s promotional cartoon
of the Alex Visci Quartet
by Bob Lynch
I've written a few times about Alex Visci – the talented musician and popular local bandleader who gave trumpet lessons to so many local kids (including my brothers and me) and made it fun and memorable.

Well, here he is in an ad that ran on November 1, 1963 in the Lorain Journal announcing an appearance at Three Sisters restaurant on Broadway in Lorain.

I almost didn't recognize Mr. Visci in the photo, because his hair is combed way back off his forehead! But he still had his trademark mustache.

I had never heard of Three Sisters restaurant either, and had to consult the city directories to see exactly where it was. Its address was 1942 Broadway, putting it right next to the former location of the main branch of First Federal Savings and Loan.

Tedder's Steakhouse
steak markers
(courtesy Paula Shorf)
What was in that building before Three Sisters?

Well, the brick building at 1942 Broadway has an "1894" inscription at the top so it's been around a while.

Although the address was 'vacant' in the 1912 book, the 1915-1916 book listed the address as the home of People's Cash Market. By the 1919-20 book, the Jacoby Brothers Grocery Company was the tenant.

By 1937, Thomas Grill was listed at the 1942 address – and would continue until about the late-1950s when Tedder's Steakhouse moved in. Three Sisters Steak House took over the address sometime in the early 1960s.

Perhaps some helpful reader (Alan?) can help me with what businesses were in there after that.

Thanks, Rae for your help – your comment jogged my memory a little (I banked at the First Federal Savings branch next door too) and prompted me to hit the books again.

Three Sisters remained in the city directories listed at that address until the 1970 edition, when the address went vacant. It would be a few years until the Ted Cap Inn showed up, beginning in the 1975 book.

The Ted Cap Inn continued to be listed at that address until around 1986 or 87. After that, the address was vacant again and not even listed in the early 1990s books.

There may have been some businesses after that.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Great Lakes Storm of 1913

Here's another anniversary, but of a more serious nature than yesterday's Ghoulardi event. This Saturday is the 100th anniversary of the Great Lakes Storm of 1913, the deadliest natural disaster ever to hit the lakes.

It had a Lorain angle too, as you will see when you read the story below, which appeared in The Lorain Journal on Nov. 7, 1963.


Lorainite Recalls Raging Lake Storm of '13

Ex-Seamen Alfred Hacke, (L)
'Ernie' Williams Recall Disaster
Just 50 years ago this Saturday the worst storm in Great Lakes history took a toll of more than 30 ships and 254 seamen.

Great Lake sailors still shudder at the terrible wintry "blow" of 1913.

Alfred Hacke, 821 13th St., now 79, was one who survived for four days in a ship foundering on the storm-battered shore of Lake Superior.

He took a train home and has never sailed since.

Hacke and his long-time friend, A. E. "Ernie" Williams, 1413 S. Lakeview Blvd., often talk over the lakes' greatest disaster.

Williams, who was also on the lakes at the time and is a shipping hobbyist, had just reached port in Lake Erie when the storm broke.

Of the 10 bigger ships listed by the World's Almanac as victims of the storm with a loss of 20 to 30 seamen in each case, five were built in the Lorain shipyards.

The World's Almanac, in its laconic, unemotional style, gives the blunt facts:

"Nov. 9, 1913 – Storm destroyed on Lake Superior, Henry B. Smith 26 (lives lost), Leafield 18; on Lake Huron, John A. McGean 23, Charles Price 28, Isaac M. Scott 26, Hydrus 24, Argus 24, James Carothers 22, Regina 25, Wexford 24."

The toll of dead from these ships alone adds up to 240. But there were many more.

The McGean, Price, Scott, Hydrus and Argus were Lorain-built ships.

The storm roared the length of the lakes for five days, but concentrated its fury particularly in Lake Superior and in the southern end of Lake Huron.

One vessel, the G. J. Grammer, was driven ashore off Century Park in Lorain. The crew was rescued.

As 1913 Great Lakes Storm
Battered Foundering L. C. Waldo
In spite of a rough four-day ordeal for the 26-man crew, Hacke feels that his own ship, the L. C. Waldo, was one of the more fortunate. Hacke was an oiler on the ship.

A day out of Two Harbors, Minn., with a load of ore, the Waldo was hit suddenly by 90 to 100-mile winds and a snow and ice storm.

With the shoe and rudder lost, it drifted aimlessly and pounded ashore at Manitou Island, near the west end of Lake Superior.

High waves split the ship at the middle and smashed the rear of the boat. Aboard were the cook's wife and mother and "Capt. Henry Duddleson's dog" in addition to the crew.

The location was an isolated point many miles from any habitation.

The 26 people on board huddled in an ice-coated cubicle of living compartments in the forepart of the ship and tried to stay alive, Hacke relates.

To keep warm a stove was improvised from an iron tub, a metal stack was devised and the wainscoting from the captain's quarters was chopped up and used as fuel.

Food was a more difficult problem. Hacke and a fellow crew member crawled to the rear and found two big tins of food that had not been washed away.

The label had been washed from the tins, but it was decided that whatever was in the tins would be put together as a mulligan stew. In the tins were peaches and peas.

With no means of communication with the outside world, the crew did not know how or when they would be found. But on the fourth day a tug showed up, rescued all 26 on board, took the group to Houghton, Mich., and put them on a train heading south.

The Waldo held together long enough to be patched up and towed to Lorain, where it was repaired at the Lorain shipyards. At last report, it was still sailing the lakes as the Mohawk Deer, for the Upper St. Lawrence Navigation Co.

As for Hacke, he became a stationary engineer at the Bessemer Power House at the Lorain National Tube Division, Lorain Works. He retired from the plant in 1954 after about 32 years of service.

The storm was blamed on the collision of two mighty hurricanes, one rolling out of the south seas across Lake Michigan to meet the second, roaring north above Lake Superior.

The "graveyard" of ships was in the 100 miles above Port Huron, where the hurricanes met for the second time and consumed, according to Detroit historians, 13 of the finest and newest steel-hulled freighters.

Even new steel-hulled freighters were no match for the 80-90 mile winds and waves whose crests were often 70 feet high.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ghoulardi at Meyer Goldberg's – Nov. 7, 1963

Today's a big day in local pop culture history. It was November 7, 1963 – 50 years ago today – that Ghoulardi  made live appearances in Lorain at the two Meyer Goldberg supermarkets.

Ghoulardi, of course, was the popular late night TV movie host character played by Ernie Anderson on WJW Channel 8 in Cleveland from 1963 to 1966.

(Here's a link to a great article written by John Petkovic of The Plain Dealer about the 50th anniversary celebrated earlier this year of Ghoulardi going on the air, complete with some great clips.)

What was Ghoulardi's visit to Lorain like? Here's how The Journal reported it the next day on November 8, 1963.


Ghoulardi 'Knifs' His Way Through Thousands In City

Ghoulardi visited Lorain last night and had to "knif" his way through the crowds that turned out to meet him.

The Pied Piper of TV reportedly met an estimated crowd of 10,000 at the Meyer Goldberg Supermarket in the Oakwood Plaza Shopping Center and another 5,000 at the Meyer Goldberg Supermarket on S. Broadway.

Youngsters climbed on every available step and even hung from the tops of cars to get a look at one of the hottest personalities in the entertainment field in this area.

The situation got so hot that even Ghouldardi was unable to "cool it with the boom-boom" and Lorain police, sheriff's department units and state patrol cars were called out to help control traffic.

Goldberg reported that all autographed photographs of Ghoulardi were used up. More copies will be available to parents next week at Goldberg's stores, he said. He also said efforts will be made to bring Ghoulardi back for a return engagement.

Although the crowd was generally well-behaved, two persons reported damage to their cars and youngsters even climbed on a Lorain police cruiser to get a look at Ghoulardi. The cruiser was also damaged.

Charles A. Dalton, 30, of 4504 Maple Rd., and Larry L. Cordova, 18, of 1620 E. 29th St., reported dents and scratches in the roofs of their cars made by children climbing on them.

One of the cars had its front license and the radio aerial torn off.

Being born in 1959, I don't remember Ghoulardi; instead, my brothers and I watched and enjoyed the Ghoul on Channel 61 in the early 1970s– which was basically Ghoulardi as performed by Ron Sweed, Ernie Anderson's intern. I had no idea that that Ghoulardi even existed until my older brother told me about him.

(Click here to visit the Ghoul's website.)

And of course we watched Hoolihan and Big Chuck (at left), the successor show to Ghoulardi. If you've never read "Big Chuck" Schodowski's book– Big Chuck! My Favorite Stories from 47 Years on Cleveland TV – be sure to read it. It's a terrific, fun book and a must-have for fans of the show.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Memorial Forest Shrine at Mohican – Then and Now

Vintage postcard
This past weekend the spouse and I spent the weekend down at Mohican State Park Lodge, one of my favorite places not only in Ohio but just about anywhere. Just like last time (here), I paid a visit to the beautiful Mohican Forest Shrine, which is dedicated to the memory of 20,000 Ohioans killed in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War.

It was formally dedicated on April 27, 1947.

Here's my shot of the Shrine from this past weekend. What a difference 66 years makes!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mathna vs Urban for Mayor – November 1963

Full-page ad that ran November 4, 1963 in the Journal
Back on Election Day 1963, Republican Mayor Woodrow W. Mathna was battling his opponent, Thomas J. Urban. Mathna was seeking re-election to a second term, and Urban was a former city treasurer.

What was interesting was that both men resided in the same neighborhood and voted in the same precinct – 4-G, in the predominantly Democratic Fourth Ward.

Nov. 6, 1963 Journal
When the smoke cleared, Mathna prevailed. As the Journal put it the next day, "The 50-year old former three-term Fourth Ward councilman rolled in on a record wave of 21,433 votes in an off-year election to hand his Democratic opponent, Thomas J. Urban, a shellacking by a 1,688 vote margins. The 21,433 voters in the election represented 75.8 percent of the city's 28,264 voters."

Mathna won a majority of the votes in the First, Second, Fourth, Seventh and Eight wards. He lost the Fifth Ward by a 1,272 to 921 margin, which according to the Journal was not a surprise, since it was a Democratic stronghold where Joseph A. Ujhelyi, chairman of the Lorain County Democratic Party, had lived most of his life.

The Journal noted, "A tireless campaigner, Mathan tramped door-to-door and shook thousands of hands in his quest for a second term." (In 1961, Mathna had become the city's first GOP mayor in 16 years.)

The newspaper summed up Mathna's 1963 re-election as follows: "The Mathna victory was the most sensational since November 1939, when former GOP Mayor Harry G. Van Wagnen defeated the Democratic incumbent, Albert R. Matuszak, now Lorain postmaster, by a 1,448-vote margin."

Journal ad of November 9, 1963