Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ohio State Fair's Smokey Bear May Hibernate Permanently

Smokey's fur looked a bit moth-eaten when I visited him in 2008 at the Fair
I'm a big Smokey Bear fan. That's why I found the news that the Ohio State Fair was planning to retire their current Smokey Bear – and replace him with a new version – pretty interesting.

The beloved fire prevention bear has greeted fairgoers since 1959. He's been a fixture over in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources area for years.

Here's the link to Smokey's page on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website.

Apparently Smokey is now in pretty poor condition, and the plan is to replace him with a new $80,250 "animatronic" version. (The plan is temporarily on hold, but it sounds like it will eventually happen. You can read about it here on the Columbus Dispatch website.)

I don't go to the State Fair every year, but when we do go, a stop to see Smokey to grab a photo is a must. I don't have a problem with a brand new high-tech version of him, as long as it's the classic Smokey – and not the unsettlingly realistic version that was seen in commercials a few years ago (that I complained about here).

Speaking of the classic, lovable Smokey Bear, I was reminded that Sandy of Sheffield Lake sent me this keen Smokey Bear comic book a couple years ago. (Sandy said that she picked it up at a ranger station at either Cook Forest State Park or Black Moshannon State Park in Pennsylvania.)

It tells the true story of how a badly burned bear cub – rescued in the aftermath of a forest fire in New Mexico in 1950 – became the Smokey Bear who lived at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. for years. (The Forest Service probably gave up the idea when it became apparent that it wasn't a good idea to have a Smokey Bear who would eventually die.)
Anyway, here's the back cover of the comic book (below). It's a reproduction of a classic Smokey poster – and one of my favorites, with plenty of cute critters.
Feel like doing some light reading? You can read an online PDF of the comic book right here!
Here's a look at the NEW Smokey Bear at the Ohio State Fair. He bears a fine resemblance to the famous forest fire-prevention mascot!


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Knickerbocker Knolls Ad – July 1954

Here's a full-page ad that ran in the Lorain Journal on July 24, 1954 – 60 years ago this month – for the Knickerbocker Knolls development in Sheffield Lake. Built by the Great Lakes Realty Company of Lorain, Knickerbocker Knolls represented a huge undertaking of more than 300 Early American homes on Irving Park Boulevard and its many cross streets all the way south to Oster Road.

Amenities included Sheffield Lake's ubiquitous bituminous cold-mix paved streets, the new water treatment plant (built in Lorain in 1954), cooling lake breezes, and a convenient location one mile from stores, school, fire and police protection.

Gretchen of Sheffield Lake emailed me some scans of a photocopy of the promotional flyer for Knickerbocker Knolls last year. I'm glad I could finally use a few of them!

The back of the Knickerbocker Apartments,
facing its parking lot
After I moved out of the Overlook Apartments in the mid-1980s, I moved into the Knickerbocker Apartments on Irving Park Boulevard (foreshadowing my future as a Sheffield Lake homeowner). 
You can see the future location of the Knickerbocker Apartments indicated on the middle plat plan above, as the larger of the two areas proposed for business zoning.
Although they didn't have the classic ambiance of the Overlook Apartments, the Knickerbocker Apartments were pretty nice. I kept a post bird feeder outside my apartment window, and by George I had a pretty interesting mini-crop of various grains growing under it.
I remember having a nice, large storage locker. I used to drop off my dirty laundry at my parents' house in Lorain, and dear old Dad would deliver it – clean and folded – to my storage locker!
The Knickerbocker had a great bunch of tenants, including Mr. and Mrs. Surface and other neighbors. They all sat in lawn chairs out in the parking lot at one end of the building, and were happy to shoot the breeze with anyone coming or going. A real nice bunch of people.
My only bad memory of the Knickerbocker Apartments is that one resident used to play a rollicking electric organ regularly after I went to bed. I'm surprised that I didn't dream about rollerskating every night!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Vintage Postcards of Lorain's Two Bridges

Vintage postcard postmarked 1947 (Courtesy of Ebay)
Vintage postcard postmarked 1950 (Courtesy of Ebay)
Vintage postcard (Courtesy of Ebay)
Here's some old time postcards of Lorain's two bridges across the Black River, both dedicated on the same day in September 1939. The Charles Berry Bascule Bridge is shown above on three vintage linen postcards, and below is the High Level Bridge (now known as the Lofton Henderson Memorial Bridge).

Vintage postcard postmarked 1950 (Courtesy of Ebay)

One of the reasons that I thought that the High Level Bridge was constructed later than 1939 was the fact that for years I had only seen this color postcard view of it (below). 

It's a shame that postcards are pretty much defunct anymore as a way for a city to publicize its civic improvements and beauty spots. 

I'm one of a rapidly dwindling group that still sends out postcards (when I can find them) while I'm on vacation, rather than posting my shots on Facebook where they may or not even be viewed by my "friends," but will certainly be forgotten.

Monday, July 28, 2014

60th Anniversary of Prospect Point Collapse at Niagara Falls

As it was covered in the Lorain Journal on July 29, 1954
I almost forgot – today is the 60th anniversary of the collapse of part of the American Falls at Niagara Falls. It was on this day on July 28, 1954 that a huge chunk of Prospect Point broke off the rim of the American Falls and tumbled down to the base of the Falls.

Niagara Falls has been a favorite topic on this blog (here, here and here, among others posts), due to the numerous times my family vacationed there beginning in the early 1960s and continuing to this day.

Only one person – Mr. Frank O. Seed – managed to get a picture of the event as it was happening. At left is one of his series of shots covering the collapse, which changed the view of Prospect Point forever.

You can read all about it here on the excellent Right in Niagara blog, which includes some other interesting events in the history of Niagara Falls.

Two New Bridges on the Way for Lorain – July 1939

The Bascule Bridge under construction, with the old
Swing Bridge in the background
Back on Wednesday, July 26, 1939, the Lorain Journal was celebrating its 60th anniversary. The front page of the second section (shown above) provided a photographic progress report of the two new bridges being constructed (after county voters had finally approved the bonds).

I still think it's incredible that both the Bascule Bridge and the High Level bridges were built at the same time and were dedicated the same day – September 25, 1940. I never knew that while I was growing up; I had always assumed the High Level Bridge was built much later.

Another upcoming improvement mentioned in an article was the plan to extend W. 21st Street so that it connected up with W. Lake Road. The article also mentions that Broadway had just been entirely repaved from the Loop to W. 28th Street with reinforced white concrete.

Judging from the tone of the newspaper articles, it was an exciting time to live in Lorain.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Lorain Monument Works Then & Now

1939 Lorain City Directory ad
In a world where so many businesses with 'Lorain' as part of their names have closed (Lorain Printing, Lorain Aluminum, Lorain Drive-in, Lorain Diner, etc.), it's good to see one still around in some form. In this case, it's because they offer a product that everyone buys sooner or later – whether they want to or not!

Lorain Monument Works at 1035 Broadway dates back to the late 1930s – but its roots go back even further than that.

The J. A. Ruscher Company first appeared in the Lorain City Directory as a manufacturer of monuments and headstones around 1912. Back then, it was located at 925 Broadway, but the firm soon moved to 1035 Broadway. It continued to appear at that address until around the mid-to-late 1930's, when  the Lorain Monument Works succeeded it at the same address. Irving McCarthy was the proprietor.

Here's an ad for the firm that appeared in the Lorain Journal on July 31, 1939. It's one of those ads masquerading as an article.

And here's a shot of the building today. As you can see, it's stranded on the original alignment of Broadway, above the Frank Nardini underpass.

Whoever owns the company did a terrific job of refreshing the building. It's quite attractive, and I love the fact that they kept the vintage sign.

It looks like Lorain Monument Works is either affiliated with or part of Lewis Monument Company today. Here's a link to the company website.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Vintage Postcards of Johnson Hill in Amherst

Dennis Lamont sent me the link to this vintage postcard, which was for sale on Ebay last week. It depicts a view of Johnson Hill, looking north on S. Main Street towards its intersection with Elyria Avenue. The Plenochrome postcard was postmarked August 1912 and was published by H. A. Williams, Amherst, Ohio.

I'm not very knowledgable when it comes to Amherst or its history, so I wasn't familiar with Johnson Hill.

It turns out that apparently this serene scene was a popular subject for postcards. Here's another version, courtesy of the Amherst Public Library website. According to this link on the library's website, the postcard dates to 1910. (The site also points out a landmark visible in the background on the postcard that still exists today.)

The two-story house on the far left of each postcard, sitting high up from the road, can be seen in this current aerial shot below (courtesy of Bing maps). It's still all by itself at the top of the hill, on a huge lot, more than a hundred years after the postcards were published.
Here's a closer look at the house, courtesy of the Lorain County Auditor's website (below). According to the website, it dates to 1904.
This past weekend, on a cloudy Sunday morning, I attempted to get a through-the-windshield "now" shot to match the postcards. But a century of tree growth made it fairly impossible. As Dennis pointed out, it is "a view that is long gone."
I'll have to try again sometime to get a better shot – maybe in the fall.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lorain Gets its Own "White House" – July 1930

A Leiter photograph of Lorain City Hall
(Courtesy Paula Shorf)
Lorain's former City Hall is a favorite topic of mine on this blog.

Why? Because it's a symbol of Lorain during its thriving days, in which the steel mill, the Ford Plant, the shipyard and all of the other companies and family businesses were booming. It represents the Lorain of my youth.

Ironically, it seems that once the old, decrepit City Hall was knocked down (along with the Police Station and much of Downtown) and replaced with a towering, garish monstrosity, the city's fortunes began to sink.

I've chronicled much of the history of the old City Hall, including a 6-part history (here), a 1934 article about the building's original "life" as the William Jones mansion (here), and the addition of more parking around the building in 1955 (here).

Well, here's another piece of the former City Hall's history – a Lorain Journal article (below) from July 12, 1930 about the impending whitewashing of the building, whose bricks had been painted red for years.

From the article, it sounds like part of the decision to paint the building white was just to keep men employed during the Depression.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lorain Printing Ad – July 12, 1954

Here's an ad featuring one of those iconic companies that really symbolized Lorain in its heyday: the Lorain Printing Company.

The ad – which appeared in the Lorain Journal on July 12, 1954 – announced the company's move to its new home at 1310 Colorado Avenue after decades at its old location.

Edwin G. Koethe founded the company back on May 1, 1905. It began in a 30-foot square foot building on Bank Street (later known as Sixth Street). It quickly established a reputation for quality and workmanship, and embraced each new innovation in printing. It later moved to its longtime location at 219-221 Fourth Street.

In 1933, Urban S. Koethe became associated with the company. He took over the active management of the firm for his father in 1938.

According to an article in the Lorain Journal in 1955, it was the first printing company in the area to become highly specialized in the use of four-color process printing. The firm served a sales area of a radius of 100 miles of Lorain

The business closed in 2002. (The printing company in Cleveland where I work hired several of Lorain Printing's fine employees.)

Today, the former plant on Colorado Avenue serves as the home for Faith Word Community Church.

The view this past Sunday

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 1967 Article on Avon Lake

It's summer time, so it's a good time to look back at the old days – when city dwellers would leave the hustle and bustle of the big Northeast Ohio cities and rent a cottage along the lakeshore to enjoy the cooling breezes and just plain relax.

Here's an interesting article that looks back at those days. It appeared in the Journal on July 13, 1967, and explains how Avon Lake evolved from a cottage community to what it is today.

I'm sure the historic and nostalgic information in the article about cottages applies to Sheffield Lake, as well as those cottage camps that used to be on the western outskirts of Lorain.

The article was written by Staff Writer Sandy Rider.

How Avon Lake Changed from Resort to Small City
Staff Writer

AVON LAKE – Avon Lake was transformed from a summer resort of transients looking for fun to a suburban city with permanent residents willing to take on responsibility. It took less than 50 years.

Then the cottages cost $500. Now a new house costs at least $25,000.

Foresight brought about this change. The village planners threw code restrictions in the way of the rapid resort growth. They knew Avon Lake could be more than a playground for the cities around it.

The men with foresight could envision Avon Lake becoming a honky tonk town. So the village officials enacted a code that would force builders to construct higher cost year-round homes.

THEY STUCK to their guns and the summer village transformed into one of the leading cities in Lorain County.

Now Avon Lake residents realize what they have. They are willing to work to protect it and improve it.

There are still some cottages left to remind Avon Lakers of the past.

Here is how some of the oldtimers remember it:

The cottages were lit by kerosene lamps. They had no foundations undergirding them. The bathroom and stove were outside. The small rooms were divided by cloth partitions.

City-weary folks rented them for the summer. They got up at dawn and draped their tanned legs over the side of a small boat and fished. They caught pike and perch.

At night they congregated on the front porch or steps and talked into the late hours. No one wore a watch. Or they got all dolled up, knocked three times, whispered, "Joe sent me" and danced all night at the speakeasies.

THE AVON BEACH PARK was a big drawing card. The city dwellers often came for a day or weekend at the beach. They left the congestion of the city for the congestion of the beaches along the western shore of Avon Lake. They danced on the big dance floor until late and piled on the interurban and headed east.

The place was really hopping then. Avon Beach Park was the largest on the southern lake shore.

The Lake Shore Electric Railway ran to the Park from Cleveland along the lake shore.

Mixed in with the vacationers were the farmers. The farmers quietly grew their grapes on large farms all over the village.

When winter came all activity ceased except the farmers' battle against the land. There was nothing to do here in the winter. The bands traveled on. The cottages were boarded up.

Then it happened. The codes came in. It became difficult to build small cottages with no improvements in them.

BY THIS TIME investors had realized buying property in Avon Lake would be profitable. They rushed in and bought land with all kinds of promises for water and sewage, according to Dan Straka, building inspector. The farmers realized their land was too valuable to grow grapes on so they started selling it to developers.

The tourist trade slowed down considerably when the Avon Beach Park burned down and prohibition was ended. The city dwellers that had used Avon Lake as a playground woke up to the fact that Avon Lake was determined to be a full fledged, mature city.

The interurban line was discontinued in 1938 when car and bus competition became too much for it. The car barns were sold and transformed into a motel and restaurant, the Saddle Inn, which is still in operation.

Industry started to look west at the open land in Avon Lake. The Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. bought most of the old beach by the Avon Beach Park.

NOW THE COTTAGE owners had to make a decision – whether to convert or tear down their cottages. To make these cottages suitable for year round use the owners would have to put in a foundation and basement, insulate the walls and install plumbing inside. Sometimes it was worth it. Sometimes it was cheaper to knock the thing down and start all over again.

Some cottages were well constructed in the first place and could easily be used year round. Many of both types of cottages remain along the lake and at Stop 45 allotment on the east end of town.

The Stop 45 area was the first to develop because of its proximity to Cleveland.

People bought 40 foot lots in Avon Lake for $2,000 to $3,000 Straka said. It was the thing to do. The strict building and zoning codes forced the prices up.

Straka said Avon Lake was the first city in Lorain County to enforce the use of graded lumber. Graded lumber indicates the actual strength of the material.

"The plumbing and electrical codes were restrictive and therefore safer," Straka said.

AN EVEN STRICTER code was established in 1953. "All these restrictions increase the cost of building a house," Straka said. "You can't build a cheap house in Avon Lake any more. In fact you can't build much for under $25,000/

A developed lot now costs between $5,000 to $7,000. People portion their house according to lot, Straka feels. He said no one is going to build a small house on a big lot. The code requires a 15,000 square foot lot.

There are a large number of people moving about in Avon Lake. Young couples start out with a small home, add to their family and are forced to move into a bigger one in a few years.

"Now buyers want four and five bedroom homes," Straka said. "That makes the size of the home larger."

The most expensive homes in Avon Lake, Straka estimates run around $65,000; the less expensive run at $15,000.

The newer homes built average around $30,000 and up.

Avon Lake clamped down just fast enough to prevent it from becoming a hodge podge of cottages and houses. Land in Avon Lake is a good investment. The planners worked to make it so.


Courtesy Lorain County Auditor website
I'm guessing that the attractive house at 32990 Lake Road (at right) near Coveland Drive – built in 1965 – is the home shown in the photo as an example of "one of Avon Lake's fine new homes on Lake Erie."

It only took me a few minutes to locate it via a Bing maps aerial view because of its distinctive roof and windows.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Li'l Abner Ad – July 28, 1949

Since yesterday's post featured Popeye, I think I'll stay on the comic strip topic for another day.

Here's a great ad featuring the beloved characters of my all-time favorite comic strip, Li'l Abner, including Lil' Abner himself, Mammy and Pappy Yokum, Daisy Mae and one of the popular Shmoo characters. The comic is actually a very entertaining ad for a contest sponsored by Ivory Soap, Dreft and Duz. The ad appeared in the Lorain Journal on July 28, 1949 – 65 years ago this month.

The "amoozin' but confoozin'" contest was to come up with a name for the Shmoo using only the letters in the words: Dreft, Duz and Ivory Soap. Al Capp hisself (the creator of Li'l Abner) was going to pick the winning entry, which was worth $20,000!!

It's very creative (and just a little strange) to have the magical Shmoo "lay" the Proctor & Gamble products just like a hen lays an egg. I especially like the humorous dialogue and amusing gags in the ad, especially Daisy Mae's comment that the contest rules are so simple that "even Li'l Abner could understand'em."

Ah, I remember reading Li'l Abner in the Journal (as well as the Sunday edition of the Plain Dealer) for years, beginning in the late 1960s and right up until Al Capp retired and the strip ended in 1977. I actually liked it first because of Fearless Fosdick, the strip-within-a-strip that was Li'l Abner's "ideel" and a hilarious take-off of Dick Tracy. But I came to like the whole Dogpatch gang and the satiric humor, and I snipped and saved the comic for years.

Just like Popeye, vintage Li'l Abner comic strips has been collected into various bound collections, and it's just as hilarious now as it was when it first appeared.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Popeye & Blondie Salute the Lorain Journal's 60th Anniversary – July 1939

In July of 1939 (75 years ago this month), the Lorain Journal was celebrating its 60th anniversary and everyone was congratulating the newspaper – even popular King Features Syndicate comic strip characters such as Popeye, as well as Dagwood and Blondie Bumstead.

Above is a cute drawing featuring Popeye and the whole Thimble Theater cast that ran in the Lorain Journal on July 26, 1939. Artist Elzie Crisler Segar had passed away in 1938 but I'm pretty sure the drawing is one of his. (I even ran it by the Official Popeye Fanclub – of which I am a member – for verification.)

(If you've only seen Popeye animated cartoons and never read any of the original Segar Popeye comic strips, be sure to check out one of the six collected volumes that are available. They're absolutely hilarious and a totally different type of humor than the mind-numbingly repetitive cartoons made for the theaters. Popeye in the early years of the comics is pretty gruff – his solution to any problem is usually to beat somebody up – and he has a full head of hair too, unlike the baldy featured in the animated cartoons. I own a few of these books and they are laugh-out-loud funny.)

Anyway, below is the Bumstead family congratulatory cartoon drawn for the Lorain Journal by Chic Young that ran on the same page as the Popeye cartoon.
As you can see, the Bumstead daughter wasn't born yet. Baby Dumpling's looking kinda pudgy!

(In case you're wondering how the Lorain Journal (which started publication in 1921) was celebrating its 60th anniversary in 1939, I'll explain. The Journal had purchased the Times-Herald in 1932 and in 1939 was merely appropriating the 60th anniversary of the Lorain Daily Times (a forerunner of the Times-Herald), which started publishing in 1879.)

Hey, that means that it's the 135th Anniversary of the Morning Journal this month! Let's see if they do anything special (or if the paper even acknowledges it).

Maybe Blondie and Dagwood will send another congratulatory note (since their adventures still run in the Morning Journal). There's still a Popeye comic strip but it only runs in a handful of papers.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lorain's War Stamp Bride – July 1942

July 10, 1942 Article from the Lorain Journal
Did you know that a couple once had a public wedding in the storefront window of Smith and Gerhart's in Lorain? It was all part of Victory Corsage Day, a July 1942 "Retailers for Victory" national campaign to sell War Stamps and Bonds.

The Victory Corsages included both flowers and war stamps. The one dollar corsage consisted of a large gardenia and seven 10-cent war stamps. A pink carnation and two 10-cent war stamps made up the 25-cent men's boutonniere. The women's boutonniere, which sold for 50 cents, included a white carnation and four 10-cent stamps. All were tied with red, white and blue ribbons

A War Stamp album; when full,
it could be redeemed for
a savings bond
The national goal was to sell a large number of the corsages in order to dispose of a billion dollars worth of war bonds and stamps in retail stores that month. People who purchased the corsages and boutonnieres could later remove the stamps and affix them in their stamp books, which when full could be redeemed for savings bonds.

But what about the War Stamp Bride, you ask?

Miss Irene Ketchum and Joseph G. Anthony were married on Saturday, July 11, 1942 in a public ceremony in the show window of the Smith and Gerhart Company on Broadway as part of the climax of the observance of Victory Corsage Day.
Miss Ketchum was given in marriage by Council President Andrew Parobek, and the marriage was performed by Mayor Harry Van Wagnen.

The bride carried a large corsage made of war stamps that was given to her by local florist Lou Carek. He had also designed the Victory corsages being sold by "Minute Maids" on Broadway that day.

The Minute Maids (who included Virginia Rath, Dorothy Kuzak, Connie Smith, Jean Saville and Margaret Moon) were also present at the ceremony to sell Victory corsages to the women and boutonnieres to the men as part of the patriotic celebration. Anyone purchasing one dollar's worth of war stamps or a one dollar corsage was entitled to a ride in a Coast Guard boat Sunday at the Yacht Club regatta on Sunday at Lakeview Park. Speed boat rides were also available with the purchase of five dollars in war stamps; sail boat rides only "cost" $2.50 in war stamps.

The ceremony was heard on the street through an amplifying system set up by the Ohio Radio Company.

After the ceremony the bride and groom appeared at the Yachtsman's Ball. The entire bridal party were the guests of Harry Wong at dinner at the Deutschof.

Some online newspaper accounts revealed that the happy couple ended up moving to Texas, as the groom was stationed there at Ft. Sam Houston (which incidentally is where my father was discharged from the Army in 1945).

I had some limited email correspondence about a year ago with the daughter of the couple who were married in the window of Smith and Gerhart's. She was very interested in knowing how her mother happened to become a "War Stamp Bride."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Taco Bell Update

Saturday was a beautiful day, so I thought I would drive around and check out some of the change taking place in Lorain. 
I checked on the progress of the new Taco Bell at the former Muzik Brothers location on Oberlin Avenue, between St. Peter's and First Federal Savings of Lorain.
The building is coming along nicely – and quickly.
I had my usual difficulties grabbing a quick drive-by photo, though. Maybe my camera sticking out the window is being mistaken for a gun barrel or something, because the worker in the photo was keeping an eye on my car as I slowed it down to focus. It took two passes to get my two measly shots.
Here's my other one.
This store is going to have the brand new high-tech design, too – none of that ersatz Mexican mission look.
Here's a store with the same design (below) so you can imagine what the Lorain store will soon look like, as well as a link to a story explaining the new look.
Why do I get the idea that all new commercial store designs (fast food, drug stores, etc.) are specifically designed generically so that (heaven forbid) if the store fails, the building can easily be recycled as something else?
I dunno about you, but I can still remember this store design (below) – from the days of the first store in the area which was up in Amherst on Cooper Foster Park Road. But I don't remember a cool mascot statue out front.

Boy, did we love Taco Bell tacos back then. It's still pretty tasty, but just not as special. It's probably due to the fact that there are good Mexican (at least what Americans think is Mexican) restaurants everywhere. Plus, it's pretty easy to make tacos at home with the various kits (or Penzeys spices) so it's not necessary to go out for fast food tacos as often.
But rest assured, I will be a patron of the new Taco Belch, er, Bell on Oberlin Avenue.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Tale of Two Chester Dombroski's

1939-40 Lorain City Directory Listing
Last week I posted an article from July 1942 in which an army corporal wrote to the Lorain Journal to tell about the heroism of Chester Dombrowski, a soldier in his Landing Combat Team that was from Lorain.

After looking through the available city directories, I wasn't sure if Chester made it through the war and returned to Lorain. That's because the names Dombrowski and Dombroski were interchangeable in the directories, making it difficult to figure out who was who after the war. A person with the last name Dombrowski living at a specific address might see his name spelled as Dombroski in another addition – and vice-versa.

Adding to the confusion is that there were two Chester Dombroski/Dombrowski's living on W. 18th Street that served in World War II.

Anyway, I managed to sort it all out. Here are short bios of each of the two Chester Dombroski's.

Chester W. Dombroski – the soldier in the 1942 article – did indeed survive World War II. He worked at U. S. Steel before moving to California. He passed away at Los Angeles General Hospital at the age of 60 in 1966. Surviving him was a daughter, Mrs. William Astorino and four grandchildren; four sisters, and two brothers. (As a final indignity, one brother's name was spelled Domborski in the obituary, and the other, Dombrosky.)

Chester A. Dombroski of Lorain also proudly served his country in World War II in the European Theater of War. He also worked at U. S. Steel, employed as a peeler operator in the conditioning mill. He was a member of Nativity BVM Church as well as the Polish Legion of American Veterans, Pulaski Post 38, and the Polish American Citizens Club. Surviving him was his wife, Angela; two sons,  his mother, Mrs. Mary Dombroski, and two sisters. He also passed away at the age of 60, in 1973.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Brownhelm Township Wanderings

I made several trips out to the Aufdenkampe Family Farm on North Ridge Road to get strawberries during the last few weeks, and each time I drove past the stately old Brownhelm School. I finally grabbed some shots of it last week.

According to a February 2, 1998 article in the Chronicle-Telegram, the school was built in 1889 and was used by township students until its closing in 1988. The article also noted that after the Browhelm Township Trustees purchased the old school, the original school bell was taken down from the top of the school and placed in front of the building.

Additions in 1905 and 1922 provided the school with its present appearance.

To read a well-written and interesting history of Brownhelm Township as well as the school, click here to visit the history page on Brownhelm Township's website.

I also couldn't resist grabbing a shot of the beautiful Brownhelm Congrational United Church of Christ on North Ridge Road located near the school. The sign in front of the church announced that the church is celebrating its 195th anniversary.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Black Swamp Trader & Firelands Gazette Promo: Turkey Foot Rock

Turkey Foot Rock (circa 1860)
The latest issue of the Black Swamp Trader & Firelands Gazette is now on the newsstands. My contribution to the newspaper is an article about the legend of Turkey Foot Rock.

What, you've never heard of Turkey Foot Rock?

Turkey Foot Rock played a role in the Battle of Fallen Timbers, which took place on August 20, 1794 – 220 years ago this August. During the battle, General "Mad" Anthony Wayne and his troops battled a confederacy of Native American tribes.

Late in the battle, one of the Wyandot chiefs jumped atop a large boulder and attempted to rally the warriors to keep on fighting. He was shot by one of General Wayne's men and was later buried (as the legend goes) under the rock. His fellow tribesmen carved turkey foot markings into the rock to honor his memory. The rock became known as Turkey Foot Rock (and the late chief was forever referred to after that by white men as Chief Turkey Foot).

The rock and its legend both became quite well-known in the area. At a time in our young nation's history when we weren't erecting monuments and memorials yet, the rock achieved prominence as a symbol and landmark of the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

It was featured on many picture postcards through the years. It was a place for boy scouts to hike to, and a great place to have a picnic. In other words, it was a beloved part of the scenery in the Maumee region.

Strangely enough, for a rock that weighs several tons, it even had a few adventures. It was moved several times (the last time ending up upside-down), and at one point was even stolen!

But now in 2014, it's virtually snubbed by snobbish modern-day historians who say the legend isn't true – even though an Indian skeleton was found under the rock when it was moved. Turkey Foot Rock sits forlornly in a park just off a frontage road to US 24 that is almost impossible to get to, with no signage to even guide you there.

So if all this sounds interesting to you, be sure to pick up your FREE copy of the Black Swamp Trader & Firelands Gazette and read "Turkey Foot Rock: The Rocky Story Behind the Legend." (For you locals, it's available at the Vermilion Farm Market.)