Monday, June 30, 2014

What was playing at the Drive-ins on June 30, 1956?

Well, let's take a look – shall we?

At the Tower Drive-in on Lake Avenue– the Best Show Bargain in Town – there were three big pictures in the line-up.

Perennial Lorain favorites the Bowery Boys were starring in Jail Busters (1955). In this one, Slip (Leo Gorcey), Satch (Huntz Hall) and the rest of the Boys (in this case, that means Butch) get themselves arrested and sent to prison as part of some undercover work for a newspaper story on prison corruption. Wacky hijinks ensue when they get double-crossed, and as a result become real convicts temporarily.

Here's the trailer. Watch for Fritz Feld as a prison psychiatrist who is almost driven to the brink of madness himself by the Boys' antics.

The second feature was Esther Williams in Easy to Love (1953), filmed at Cypress Gardens. Esther Williams just passed away last year.

The third movie in the triple feature was an oater called The Silver Star (1955), which starred Edgar Buchanan (Uncle Joe from Petticoat Junction) and Lon Chaney Jr. Jimmy Wakely sang the movie's theme song.

Over at the Lorain Drive-in on Lake Road, Commanche! (1956) with Dana Andrews was just wrapping up. The film also introduced Linda Cristal.
Also on the bill that night Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955), starring Jane Russell and Jeanne Crain. The film was a sequel of sorts to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (which also starred Jane Russell). Gentlemen Marry Brunettes also featured Alan Young (Wilbur on Mr. Ed)  – who, happily, is still with us.
The third feature that night was another Bowery Boys classic, Master Minds (1949). It was one of their best. In this one, Sach has the ability to predict the future, which attracts the attention of a mad scientist. The mad scientist actually succeeds in temporarily swapping Sach's brain with that of a vicious hairy monster!

The attractions for Sunday night sounded pretty good too.

First up was a Cartoon Carnival consisting of 6 color cartoons. That drawing of Donald Duck in the ad, though, is one of the worst I've ever seen, with his gargantuan duck head and tiny hands. Definitely not the work of Carl Barks!
The first feature for Sunday night was the creepy science fiction B-movie World Without End (1956) which takes place in the futuristic year of 2508. It features Rod Taylor and a race of violent (and hairy) one-eyed mutants, not to mention some space-babes.

Lastly was – what else? – another Bowery Boys hit: Dig that Uranium (1956)! 
Here's a preview clip (sorry, no trailer available for this one).
Dig that Uranium was actually quite topical, with the Bowery Boys trying to strike it rich by prospecting for uranium. (It was a very lucrative enterprise back in the 1950s; click here to find out more.)
Hey, I almost forgot – what about the Carlisle Drive-in? Well, here's its lineup for June 30, 1956: The Racers (1955), Johnny Guitar (1954), and Salome Where She Danced (1945).

Well, whaddaya know, the Bowery Boys were coming there soon! I told you they were pretty popular in Lorain.

Friday, June 27, 2014

90th Anniversary of 1924 Lorain Tornado

Courtesy Ebay
As most of you probably know, tomorrow – Saturday, June 28th – is the 90th anniversary of the 1924 Lorain Tornado. It's good to see that it's getting a lot of publicity.

Anyone who grew up in Lorain is well acquainted with the tragic events of that terrible day. I remember hearing about it when I was very young. As a result, as a kid I probably worried more about tornados than anything else (with the exception of flying saucers landing).

My father was born in 1921, but was lucky enough to be living at the other end of town on Livingston Avenue at the time of the tornado. My mother hadn't been born yet, but the family lore is that the house that she would grow up in on W. Sixth Street, west of Oberlin Avenue, had been lifted off its foundation. The house is located close enough to some of the severely damaged ones seen in various photos that I believe it.

Last year on this blog I posted some front pages of a few of the local papers in the days following the tornado.

For a different perspective, here's how the 15th anniversary of the event was covered in the pages of the Lorain Journal on June 26, 1939.

The front page article about the 15th anniversary of the tornado is shown below. It has a nice capsule summary of the damage. (Click on it for a readable view.) As noted, at that time the city was about to replace the old swing bridge with the new bascule bridge.
Here's the continuation of the article (below).
Here's the larger article about the tornado found inside the same edition of the Journal. It's an interesting vantage point because only a little time had passed since the disaster. It was still fresh in people's minds as something they lived through, not just a historical event like it is now.
In honor of the anniversary of the tornado, here's some more postcards depicting the damage – all courtesy of Ebay. The first five are part of a series published by Harry H. Hamm of Toledo (below).
By the way, the house shown in the postcard above – owned by H. Hageman – is at 1134 W. Fifth Street. You can see it below. It's a few doors west of Schwartz, Spence, Boyer and Cool Home for Funerals.
Here's a few more postcards. There's four by Photographer A. B. Reinhart, and two more that I believe were also published by Harry H. Hamm.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

McDonald's on West Erie Opens – June 29, 1960

Vintage postcard promoting the McDonald's on West Erie Avenue in Lorain
This is rapidly becoming Reader Suggestion Week here on the Brady Blog...

Back in early June, I received an great email from Rick Kurish. He wrote, "Dan, how about the grand opening of McDonald's on West Erie Ave, on June 26, 1960? On summer evenings my parents would pack me and my three brothers into the 1957 Ford Station Wagon and drive to McDonald's for a late night snack. No "Happy Meals" then. You could get a hamburger for 15 cents, or a cheeseburger for 19 cents. The treat I liked was the fries for 10 cents."

Rick's memory is right on the money. You can see for yourself with the price list included on the back of the postcard (below). Also, note the West Erie Avenue address imprint.

It really is strange to think of a time when there were no McDonald's in the area. But on June 24, 1960, this small ad (below) appeared in the back of the Lorain Journal on the same page as the TV listings.

A few days later, the ad below appeared – and the dining scene in Lorain would never be the same.
When I was a kid, there was something exciting about seeing that original restaurant on West Erie with its unique Golden Arches and giant flickering sign featuring an animated Speedee. I would watch for it if we were going to Lakeview Park to check out the fountain on a summer night. 
We didn't eat at McDonald's very often; we went to Sandy's on Meister Road instead. But as Rick noted in his reminisce, back then fast food was a treat. For us, it was a rare treat, reserved for a night when my parents were going out to dinner without us kids.

The McDonald's on West Erie lasted until the mid-1990s or so. By then, of course, the original walk-up building was a dim memory, replaced by the newer style restaurant that robbed the chain of much of its identity.
The building was eventually modified and became Dianna's Deli Restaurant & Grill. Since then, there have been a variety of other restaurants there, including Yanni's Delicatessen & Restaurant beginning in the late 1990s, Stratos on the Lake, and most recently Route 6 Family Restaurant.
Today the building sits sadly vacant. The McDonald's portion of the building sits near the rear of the property, undisguised.
But it was 54 years ago this weekend that an exciting new era of modern fast food began for us locally.

(I still enjoy a simple McDonald's hamburger now and then for lunch. No fries, though, although they are still the best of all fast food french fries.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Colorado Avenue Farmhouse Update

The view back in December 2010
Last week I was watching the Captain Aaron Root house come down and the land clearing begin, in preparation for the new Dollar General at the intersection of Abbe and Colorado Ave. Well, just a little to the east near the intersection of Colorado and Miller Road, there apparently hasn't been any major developments with regards to the two farmhouses and the farmland behind them.

I first wrote about them back here in December of 2010. At the time I wrote, "Soon this scene will change" as a caption for one of the photos.

Boy, was I wrong. More than three years later, the houses and farm are still for sale.

Too bad the land won't be used for growing anything when it eventually does sell. It must be pretty fertile, judging by the size of those monster shrubs!
The view this past Sunday morning
By the way, the house shown above is listed on the Auditor website as having been built in 1900, which as usual means that it actually predates that year.
The other house for sale along with the farm was built in 1954. Here's the view from back in December 2010.
And here's my matching shot from Sunday.
Okay, so the view doesn't match exactly (note the fire hydrant). But remember, I was doing this from memory – while driving – and approaching the dreaded construction zone at the I-90 interchange no less!
Special thanks to Bill for his suggestion to do an update on these two farmhouses.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What used to be in that building?

The view on Sunday morning
I get lots of suggestions for blog posts from people, but no one sends me more great ideas than Jeremy Reynolds. His job requires him to be on the road, and as a result, he notices plenty of things of nostalgic interest around Lorain County – and is more than happy to email me about them.

One of his most recent suggestions involved his curiosity as to what business preceded popular Ardick Seafood at its location at 922 Colorado Avenue. The unique architecture of the building with its slanted roof suggested to Jeremy that it might have been a drive-in at some point, and I agreed.

You can purchase an art print of this great Robo-Wash
vintage photo by Brandon Addis on his Etsy store at
I was surprised, then, to find out that the 922 Colorado Avenue address first appeared in the 1967 Lorain City Directory as the address for Robo-Wash. According to this interesting article on, Robo-Wash was one of the first in-bay touch-free automatic car washes.

The Robo-Wash on Colorado Avenue was one of two Lorain locations. The other one was located in the Oakwood Shopping Center.

As usual, the great Agility Nut roadside architecture website is the place to go to see great vintage buildings. It has a whole collection of photos of former Robo-Wash buildings (here). A few even include the car wash's original sign featuring a cute robot advertising mascot.

The Robo-Wash at 922 Colorado Avenue disappeared from the City Directory with its 1975 edition, when the address was listed as "vacant." In the 1977 edition, another car wash – Flash Car Wash – briefly appeared. Then the address went vacant again until Ardick Seafood's listing began with the 1985 edition.

By the way, Ardick Seafood has several great reviews here on People rave about the yellow perch sandwiches and dinners, as well as the lobster bisque. There's even a little picnic table set up outside under an awning so you can eat there. A young family was happily doing just that when I drove by last Saturday afternoon.

Thanks once again to Jeremy for his great blog post suggestion.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fabrizio Homes Ad – May 11, 1957

It's always good to remember the builders who helped shape Lorain during the 1950s and 60s. I have a lot of respect for these individuals who took the financial risk, and provided affordable housing for Lorain's working class.

That's why I thought this ad for Ben Fabrizio and two of his Fabrizio Homes on Meister Road would make a good post. The two page ad ran in the Lorain Journal on May 11, 1957.

The land on which the two homes in the ad were located were part of the old Neuman Dairy Farm property. Both homes were located on the north side of Meister between Oberlin Avenue and Ashland Avenue.

I love the ad's architectural drawing of the house at 1328 Meister Road. There's something magical about a drawing created by an artist that makes it superior to a soulless computer rendering. But I'm sure I'm part of the minority when it comes to this kind of thinking.

Anyway, Meister Road is still a nice-looking neighborhood, with well kept-up homes including the two homes featured in the ad (below).

1318 Meister Road
1328 Meister Road

Friday, June 20, 2014

Courtwright Tourist Home in Sheffield Lake

Recently while thumbing through a copy of The Avon Lake and Sheffield Lake 1960-1961 Directory (published by the Lake Shore Methodist Church), I happened to notice yet another tourist home on U.S. Route 6: the Courtwright Tourist Home. This one was in my current town of Sheffield Lake and was located at 4689 E. Lake Road – just west of where Harris Road dead-ends at the lake.

The Courtwright Tourist Home was also represented in the Lorain City Directory. Here's its ad from the 1960 edition. Note the slightly different address listing.

I drove over there last weekend to see what it looked like. It's a great old rambling mansion that you really can't see from Lake Road (below).

According to the Lorain County Auditors website, it was built in 1920. Here's a pretty nice shot from the Auditor website (below).

What's interesting to me is the fact that the Courtwright Tourist Home was still in business as a tourist home in 1960. (I'm not sure how long it had been in business.)

It continued to appear in the directory until the 1967 book, bringing to a close its role as a choice for weary travelers along U. S. Route 6.

I went back and checked the directories; the Courtwright Tourist Home first appeared in the Lorain City Directory in 1957 – so it was a late bloomer in the roadside lodging business.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Captain Aaron Root House – Down at Last

The view on Wednesday morning
The house that was once the home of Captain Aaron Root finally came tumbling down on Tuesday night.

As I drove home that night on Route 611 and approached the intersection with Abbe Road, I saw a large, reddish cloud of dust and dirt hovering above the ground – so I knew that the demolition team was hard at work. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera.

All was quiet when I passed it on Wednesday morning. But when I went by it again Wednesday night on my way home, the property was again teeming with activity. I had to drive by a few times just to grab a few usable shots (below).

It's too bad that one of the oldest homes in Lorain County had to go, but at least I had the opportunity (along with several others) to satisfy my morbid curiosity and run amuck in the house before it was taken down.
Plus, I have my souvenirs – a brick from one of the fireplaces and my Donald Duck bubble pipe.

All the trees are down (below) in this photo taken on Saturday, June 21.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Grand Opening of Baetz Dairy Bar – June 10, 1949

Several years ago I did a whole blog series about the former Lorain Area skating rink when it was for sale. The property eventually sold, including the distinctive building in front with the curved corner.

Today the building is known as being part of the former Kerr Beverage property, but it started out as the home of Baetz Dairy Bar, an offshoot of Lorain's Baetz Dairy. The ad above from the Lorain Journal announces the Grand Opening on June 10, 1949 – 65 years ago this month.

My mother remembers getting ice cream there in the 1950s.
September 1949 ad
The Dairy Bar became part of the Lorain Arena complex in 1955, and later housed the Arena Restaurant, as well as a few other businesses (which you can read about here).

I drove past it this past weekend to see if the building had undergone any changes since Rockwell Metals Company LLC purchased it. The new owners have a small sign up, but otherwise it looks the same. It's still a great looking building with a lot of style.

The view this past weekend

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Overlook Road in Vermilion – Then & Now

Last week I did my much delayed post about Fior's Lake Road Spaghetti House in Vermilion that included several vintage photos sent to me by Jim Bearden.

I held one of them back – the one shown above. It's a view of Overlook Road looking north from the Fior restaurant property circa 1950. As Jim observed, "I thought it was a cool shot since it was before the Vermilion On-The-Lake development was completed."

I thought it was pretty neat too, and drove out there this past weekend to grab my "now" shot (below).

In case you're wondering, I couldn't quite determine if the house beyond the tracks in the 1950 photo is still there today. There's a few candidates, but it's pretty hard to tell.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Walter A. Frey Funeral Home Open House - June 15, 1958

I've written about Walter A. Frey Funeral Home a few times.

Back here, I did a "then and now" feature on the building using a photo from a 1945 ad, and back here, I mentioned the home as being the former home of Lorain Mayor George Wickens.

Above is an ad that ran in the Lorain Journal announcing an Open House of the newly redecorated building on June 15, 1958 – 56 years ago yesterday.

Every guest that took the tour of the new building received a free gift. I wonder what it was?

Anyway, it's great to see two of Lorain's oldest businesses – Walter A. Frey Funeral Home and Muzik Brothers side by side on U. S. 6 next to Lorain City Hall.