Friday, October 30, 2015

1961 Neisner's Halloween Ad

Well, here's my final vintage Halloween ad, which ran in the Lorain Journal on October 26, 1961. It’s another Neisner’s ad, one that ran two years after the one I posted yesterday.

By this time, TV characters are the rage, specifically the Hanna-Barbera gang, including stars Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear and Fred Flintstone. But rather than have their commercial artists go to the bother of creating some half-baked illustrations of the costumes, the Neisner’s advertising department merely assembled their ad using some licensed artwork of the characters.

Only the Peter Rabbit costume warrants an inked rendering. The Peter Rabbit mask looks suspiciously like Bugs Bunny.

Interestingly, the same characters in the Neisner’s ad (including the blond Fred) could be found in an ad for Carl’s Basement Toyland, apparently a part of the Carl’s Shoporama store in Schenectady, New York (below). Perhaps the costume wholesaler provided the artwork – which the Neisner’s artist just recycled.
Anyway, to keep that retro Halloween spirit going and to see some vintage photos of 1950s and 60s trick or treaters, click here to visit a great pinterest site.
Hope you have a great Halloween! 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

1959 Neisner's Halloween Ad

Well, yesterday we saw what Halloween costumes Woolworth's was offering in October 1959 – so let's see what was on the sale shelves at Neisner's during that same year.


In case you've never heard of it (like me), Neisner's was a variety or "five and dime” store. The chain had downtown stores in Lorain and Elyria, as well as out at the O’Neil - Sheffield Center.

It first showed up in the Lorain City Directory as Neisner Brothers in the 1926 edition, making it a much older business than I thought. Its very last appearance in the 1963 directory, before the 332 Broadway address went vacant and the only Neisner’s listing was at O’Neil’s.

The Neisner's chain was acquired by Ames in the late 1970s.

As it turns out, Neisner's was peddling pretty much the same Halloween costumes in 1959 as Woolworth's, including Disney's Zorro and Mickey Mouse as well.

The lone TV-inspired costume is Felix the Cat. I’m sure you Baby Boomers remember him and his theme song. Did you know that Jack Mercer – the voice of Popeye – also did Felix on TV?

The Felix costume was pretty easy to find online.
This mask (below) was a little hard to find. Is that a pagoda on her head?
Like all clowns, this fireman is kind of creepy. 
And although I couldn’t scare up a Moon Man costume on Ebay, I did find this photo of a kid wearing it. It looks a lot better than I thought it would.
I feel sorry for the little girl with the mask that doesn’t fit, although she doesn’t appear to mind!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

1959 Woolworth’s Halloween Ad

Well, Halloween is only a few days away – so I’d better start posting some of these seasonal ads.

First up is one for Woolworth’s, highlighting their selection of costumes for trick or treating. It ran in the Lorain Journal on October 21, 1959 (the year I was born) – 56 years ago this month.

Although the ad is from 1959, there are no TV characters in the costume line-up with the exception of Walt Disney’s Zorro. Otherwise it’s strictly big-screen cartoon characters (Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse and Casper), Walt Disney-licensed properties (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty) or generic monster types.

By the way, I don’t remember ever going trick or treating as a skeleton, devil or something scary. I was strictly the type to go as Huckleberry Hound, Woody Woodpecker, etc. (That probably says something about me, but it would take an analyst to figure it out.)

I did my usual internet scavenger hunt to compare photos of the actual costume with the artist’s renderings in the ad.

The Mickey Mouse costume was pretty easy to find.

Finding the Cinderella mask took the better part of my lunch yesterday (below).
On the other hand, it took less than a minute to find the Disney Zorro costume (courtesy of
I managed to find an actual photo of a kid wearing the Bugs Bunny costume.
It sure beats this (ugh) modern monstrosity (below), where Bugs appearing to be gnawing on this kid’s noggin. What fun is that?
Lastly, I had a devil of a time trying to find this mask (below).
Yikes, that thing is too creepy for me, even as an adult. No wonder I went trick or treating as Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Donald Duck, etc.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Li’l Abner Takes on Peanuts – October 1968

I’ve mentioned Li’l Abner, the classic comic strip created by Al Capp on this blog a few times (here and here). It was my favorite comic strip in the late 1960s, and I really looked forward to reading it every night back then in the Journal.

My other favorite strip was Peanuts. Unfortunately, the Journal didn’t carry it in the 1960s, so my exposure to Charlie Brown and Snoopy was limited to the TV specials and the paperbacks that reprinted the strips.

Anyway, Li’l Abner poked fun at popular culture, and eventually Al Capp got around to lampooning Peanuts – 47 years ago this month, resulting in a highly publicized fracas with Charles Shultz.

In Al Capp’s satire, the strip (as well as the character based on Charlie Brown) was called Pee Wee. Like Peanuts, Pee Wee’s humor was based on very adult and intellectual things coming out of the mouths of little kids.

Here’s the plot. Hilariously, it’s revealed that the only reason that Bedly Damp, the cartoonist (drawn to look like Charles Schulz) was able to make his kid characters talk like that was because a psychiatrist lived next door and was always talking to Damp while he drew the strip. When the psychiatrist moves away, the strip loses its intellectual influence, which is a disaster. The syndicate (worried about their highly profitable business based on the success of the strip) then consequently fires Bedly Damp, and hires the psychiatrist to write it! Seeking someone with no artistic talent (a dig at Charles Schulz’s simple style) to draw it, they end up hiring Li’l Abner, who can barely draw at all.

Pee Wee himself is drawn as a goofy-looking, buck-toothed kid with a belly. His dog Croopy fantasizes being “Captain Eddie Rickenbarker, the flying ace,” but instead of “flying” on top of his dog house as Snoopy does in Peanuts, he merely flaps his ears to get airborne.

Here are the strips, which ran on successive Sundays in October 1968. (They appear here courtesy of Click on each for a larger, slightly more readable version.

Alas, the series ended right there, as Al Capp pulled the plug on the storyline because of Charles Schulz’s unhappiness with the whole thing.

Here is the short article (below) that appeared on the front page of the Journal on October 17, 1968 explaining it all.

Cartoonists at War Over Parody of Peanuts
By Jack Smith
The Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES – Cartoonist Al Capp, whose Li’l Abner strip has lampooned American heroes from Dick Tracy to Lyndon Johnson, said yesterday he has dropped a sequence that parodies the wildly popular Peanuts.

“It is blasphemy, isn’t it?” Capp laughed in disclosing that Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts strip, had protested the parody which first appeared in last Sunday’s comic pages.

“I told him I was flattered by the attention,” Schulz said, “but I didn’t think it was very funny.”

Capp, in a telephone interview, said two more Sunday strips in his Peanuts parody had already been distributed through his syndicate but he has drawn no more.

CAPP SAID he had received a letter from Shultz expressing displeasure over the Li’l Abner takeoff on the Peanuts gang.

In the first parody Capp suggests that Schulz’ Peanuts children talk the way they do because Schulz lives next door to a psychiatrist who always talks to him as he works.

The Li’l Abner spoof also caricatured the Peanuts success in other fields – books, clothing, theater, advertising tie-ins – with a fictional “Pee Wee Unlimited.”

“I DIDN’T THINK it was very clever,” Schulz said. “I don’t mind parody if it’s clever. I thought it was rather dull and heavyhanded.”

“I guess there really are some subjects that one doesn’t laugh about," Capp said.

Capp praised Schulz as humorist and an artist, and indicated he was dropping the Peanuts parody only because Schulz was a fellow cartoonist.

Schulz expressed doubt that Capp abandoned the Peanuts parody only out of respect for his feelings.

“IF THE TRUTH were known,” Schulz said, “he probably couldn’t get anything funny out of it and went on to something else.”

I don’t know if I agree with Schulz or not, as I thought the Pee Wee storyline was pretty hilarious when I was a kid, reading it in the Sunday Plain Dealer.

Nevertheless, if you’d like to read an excellent behind-the-scenes analysis of this historic comic strip confrontation, click here to visit Kim Munson’s blog and read “Al Capp & Charles Schulz: Clash of the Titans."

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sheffield Lake’s Sully Bates, Bowling Icon

Sully Bates Circa 1937
(Courtesy Dr. Jake’s Bowling History Blog)
For all you bowlers out there, this might be of interest.

Did you know that Sully Bates, the man who achieved national fame in the world of bowling by inventing two popular bowling grips, lived in Sheffield Lake? Read all about it in his obituary, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on October 23, 1963.

Sheffield Lake Resident Dies at 73
Sully Bates, Inventor of Two Bowling Ball Grips, Succumbs

One of the most prominent men in Lorain County’s bowling fraternity, Sully Bates, died this morning.

Death came at 5:30 a. m. in St. Joseph Hospital where Mr. Bates was admitted Monday. He was 73.

His lone survivor is his widow, Margaret, one of the area’s leaders among women bowlers.

The grip-conscious bowlers of the nation can thank Mr. Bates for one of the sport’s greatest contributions.

The Bates grip, invented by Sully Bates, did away with blistered thumbs, the bane of all keglers.

Prior to his invention, bowlers used the two-fingered grip or a three-finger grasp which placed an unnecessary burden of weight on the thumb.

It was in 1927 that Bates, a mechanical engineer who helped build the first Buick straight-eight in 1910 at Flint, Mich., decided something would have to be done about his blistered thumb which was turning a popular sport into a painful one.

Five years later after much trial and effort, Bates came up with his grip which was first offered to the Brunswick-Balke-Collander Co., which promptly turned him down.

Bates Grip Bowling Guide
(Courtesy Ebay)
A friend of Bates then wrote the Stowe-Woodward Co., Boston about Bates’ grip. Nothing less than the company president (a non-bowler) hustled to Cleveland where Bates demonstrated his innovation. Impressed, the concern purchased the rights to the grip for which Bates was paid a royalty on each ball.

Bates’ invention, like so many, is basically simple. He moved the thumb hole over and changed the pitch which alleviated the thumb strain.

Before he made the change, his thumb grip measured one and 1/16th inch. Having lost the callous caused by the old grip, his thumb measurement was changed to 13-16th of an inch.

Ad from the March 11, 1941
Sarasota Herald-Tribune advertising
an appearance by Sully Bates
Put on the road to sell the Ebonite ball with his grip, Bates found it took a little time before the public would take to his grip. He stayed on the road 10 years, once for as long as 10 months, before he retired to his Sheffield Lake home.

While his first invention developed into a big seller, he worked to develop another grip in 1950. Called the “Flat Grip,” Bates termed it an improvement because it: makes the ball easier to hold; permits more uniform release; permits better lift to the ball; gives better control and a better score.

Proof that the new grip must have something was offered by the Bates Grip team which was captained by his wife.

Turning to the new grip, the women captured the Rebman, Andorka and City Ladies titles for two straight years.

Mr. Bates, long active in bowling circles here possessed an average in the 170s and 180s. He rolled with the Bates Grip team in the Andorka Classic league and with the Crystal Clear Cleaners team of Al Alvarez in the Saxton Club Class B loop.

770 Sheffield Road
(Courtesy Lorain County Auditor)
In May, 1960, Bates was given a special salute by the Lorain Bowling Association. He was spotlighted at the keglers’ annual banquet and lauded for his “special efforts to promote the sport in many phases.”

Mr. Bates resided at 770 Sheffield Rd., Sheffield Lake for the past 22 years. He was born in Olean, N. Y. and worked as a machinist at the Columbia Axle Co., Cleveland prior to his retirement in 1951.

The body is at Reidy-Scanlan Funeral Home. Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

1938 Ad promoting the Bates Grip ball
(Courtesy Dr. Jake’s Bowling History Blog)
If you’re interested in learning more about famous bowlers, old bowling alleys, bowling advertising and stories about bowling, visit Dr. Jake’s Bowling History Blog.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Weekend Photo Fun

Fall is my favorite time of year, so the last few weekends I’ve been making it a priority to head out with my camera for a few hours, usually on Sunday afternoon.

First stop has been to see how the demolition of St. Joseph Hospital is going. Here are my shots from October 10 and 18th.
The Harbor House is all decked out for autumn, although the trees haven’t been cooperating this season. The colors have been very slow in coming along the lake.
Down Broadway, the former Lorain National Bank recently received a larger Northwest sign (below) to replace the puny one erected during the initial changeover (back here).
I stopped out in Wakeman last Sunday to visit an old friend, and shot this old stone arch railroad bridge in town there. I asked historian and archivist Dennis Lamont via email for a positive I.D. on the bridge, and he said it was used by "Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway (LS&MS), Southern Division – Elyria, Oberlin, Kipton, Wakeman and points west." Dennis also pointed out that "the bridge is privately owned and well-preserved.” See, you gotta know who to ask about these things!
Coming back from Wakeman on U.S. Route 20, I couldn’t believe the shapes of some of the clouds (below). It reminded me of the kind of mushroom cloud you might see in an explosion in an old Heckle and Jeckle cartoon.
Since I really wanted to see some fall foliage, at one point on Sunday I headed out to one of my favorite areas – Gore Orphanage Road and the various roads leading to it. Finally – some color.
This is the closed section of Gore Orphanage Road that heads north towards the Swift ruins
Otherwise, most of what I saw driving around in the countryside last Sunday looked like this (below).

Thursday, October 22, 2015

New Avon Lake Police & Fire Station – October 25, 1946

I don't write too much about Avon Lake, so I thought it might be nice to post this article. It's from the Lorain Journal on October 25, 1946, announcing that the new Avon Lake police and fire station was ready for public inspection.

It's strange to think of that small building as being the headquarters of the city's safety forces back then.


Public Invited to View Village Building Next Week

AVON LAKE – Open house will be held all next week beginning Sunday at the new fire and police station at the corner of Avon-Belden-rd, and Lake-rd, Avon Lake, according to plans arranged by the village council and the police and fire departments.

Hours for inspection will be from 1 to 10 p. m. Sunday and from 6 to 10 p. m. the remainder of the week. Invitation has been extended to all residents and others interested.

Landscaped Grounds
The new building does not resemble the typical fire station as of old, but is of residential design of red brick, set well back from the highway. It is attractive in appearance and the grounds surrounding are well kept and landscaped.

The office entrance is on Lake-rd and the fire department and police car exit is on Avon-Belden-rd.

The fire truck, a pumper mounted on a 1938 chassis, carries 1,000 feet of two and one-half inch hose, 200 feet of one and one-half inch hose and 150 feet of one inch hose. Approximately 550 gallons of water can be pumped in a minute.

Booster Tank
On the truck also is a 300 gallon booster tank, which enables the firemen to start pumping almost immediately when arriving at a fire, before the connections are made with the hydrant. If a farm fire, it can be used until connections are made with a cistern or well.

The interior of the apparatus room is white glazed tile. In the building is the fire and police office, dormitory, which includes showers for the men on duty, two jail rooms, and a hose tower in the apparatus room to protect and dry out the fire hose.

The architect was Silabee and Smith, Elyria, and the contractor, R. P. Carbone Construction Co., Cleveland.

The fire chief of Avon Lake is Carl Haag, Chief of police is William J. Arnold.


I drove out to Route 83 a few weeks ago to get my now shot (below) and was fairly surprised to see how much the building had changed and was slowly being hidden by landscaping.

Today, the building is known as the Old Firehouse Community Center, which provides recreational programs for seniors and teens. Here’s the link to its page on the website.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

1936 Reichlin - Reidy - Scanlan Phone Book Ad

I found this in the library last week, and thought it was pretty appropriate to post it. It's a full-page ad for the Reichlin - Reidy - Scanlan Company that appeared in the 1936 edition of the Lorain Telephone Company directory.

It's strange seeing the building in its heyday and in all its glory, with nice signage.

The sign with the words "The Outfit Store" confuses me a bit. I couldn't find a listing for another business that rented space in the building by that name in any of the phone books or directories of that time period. So I’m guessing that it refers to the Reichlin - Reidy - Scanlan Company, since it was not only a funeral business but also a company that sold furniture, rugs, carpet, lamps, stoves, radios, refrigerators, etc. However, none of the ads or listings I found used “The Outfit Store” as a tagline.

Anyway, this building will be coming down soon, and more's the pity.

Here’s the sad “now” photo (below) that I shot a little more than a week ago. It still looks to be in good shape, as opposed to the crumbling Broadway Building.

It sure had a lot more sidewalk in the vintage ad. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

F. J. McFadden, Lorain Architect

Listing from the 1936 Lorain Telephone Company directory
(Note the McFaddens were still living above the Pueblo at Stop 109)
Local historian and author Al Doane emailed me last week about F. J. McFadden, the Lorain architect who, along with his wife, conceived and built the Pueblo.

442 Oberlin Avenue today
still has a picket fence around it
(Photo Courtesy Lorain County Auditor)
Al wrote, “As a kid I remember that he and his wife lived on the northwest corner of Fifth Street and Oberlin Avenue. When each spring rolled around, his wife would paint the wooden picket fence that bordered the corner lot.”
This was very helpful to me, because it made me aware that while the McFaddens were not listed in the Lorain City Directories in the early 1930s (because they lived above the Pueblo restaurant which was outside city limits), they were still in the area. They were easier to find in the phone books later on the 1930s when they apparently sold the restaurant and moved back into town to 442 Oberlin Avenue.
I did a little Googling and discovered that F. J. McFadden enjoyed a fine and productive career as an architect, which is highlighted in this front page account of his passing which ran in the Lorain Journal on July 14, 1954 (below).

McFadden Dies at 63
Heart Attack Fatal to Lorain Architect
A Lorain architect since 1918, F. J. McFadden, 63, 442 Oberlin, died at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday in his home. He was stricken with a heart attack.
A native of Titusville, Pa., Mr. McFadden graduated from Chamberlin Military Institute, N. Y. Valparaiso University and the University of Michigan.
Served in Two Wars
He served in both World War I and II. During the latter conflict he enlisted in the Army Engineers where he held a rank equivalent to colonel and supervised construction of war plants.
He is widely known for his architectural work here in designing and remodeling many buildings in the Lorain public school system. Currently four of his designs are under construction, Washington School, additions at Lakeview and Larkmoor Schools and remodeling of Garfield School.
Designed Two Atomic Plants
He was also architect for the original Larkmoor and Lakeview Schools, the high school arts building, Boone, Palm Avenue and new Fairhome Schools, the addition to Longfellow and Hawthorne Schools and remodeling of the high school auditorium and cafeteria.
Since the end of World War II he continued his association with the government, designing two atomic energy plants.
Mr. McFadden was a member of First Congregational Church, Lorain Masonic Lodge 552, Moose Lodge and American Institute of Architects. He was a past president of Lorain Rotary Club and an active member for 17 years.
Survivors are his wife, Mallie; one daughter, Mrs. Geraldine Kuhn, Marion, O.; his father, Jerome, and a sister, Miss Jessie McFadden, Hydetown, Pa.; four brothers, George and Byron, Lorain. Jerome, Cleveland, Sydney, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Friends may call at the Schwartz Home for Funerals this evening after 7. Masonic rites will be conducted Thursday evening at the funeral home.
Funeral services will be at 2 p. m. Friday in First Congregational Church with Rev. H. F. Loomis officiating. Burial will be in Ridge Hill Memorial Park Cemetery.
The family requests that memorial tribute be paid through donations to the Rotary Club for work with underprivileged children.
The Marion Star also published a story about F. J. McFadden on July 14, 1954 since his only daughter resided in that city. It reported that he died “while watching one of his favorite television programs.” It noted he had been in excellent health and had “returned home from the annual All-Star baseball game in Cleveland only a few hours earlier. He ate a hearty supper and sat down to watch TV after his return home.”
The article also included a few facts about McFadden's life. His wife was the former Mallie Ridgeway of Hydetown, the city where they were married in 1913.

They had resided in Lorain 35 years.

Incidentally, a small item in the October 1, 1919 edition of the American Architect mentioned that "H. O. Wurmster [sic], architect, of Loraine [sic], Ohio, has formed a partnership with F. J. McFadden and G. L. Slater. Both are graduates of the University of Michigan.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Pueblo – Part 9

As I’ve noted before, the widening of U. S. Route 6 west of Lorain in the 1950s created fragments of bypassed highway both east and west of the undercut. But by the early 1960s, the businesses and residences located on these short road segments still had their West Lake Road addresses.

Apparently, the decision was made to give these access roads new names to avoid confusion with the main highway. Unlike similar road fragments west of Vermilion, however, they were not called ‘Old Lake Road.'

The short road on which the Pueblo had been located for decades was named Pueblo Drive as a tribute, first appearing in the 1963 edition of the Lorain City Directory. The old numerical addresses for the businesses and residences located there (such as 4015 for the Hialeah Tourist Court) were simply retained for their new Pueblo Drive designation.

Today, Charles Akers Construction, Inc. sits at the western end of Pueblo Drive, approximately where the restaurant was located.

Unlike many other iconic Lorain businesses (such as the Castle, or Heilman’s), apparently there are no postcards of the Pueblo that have turned up on Ebay. Matchbooks (such as those from Paula Shorf’s collection that I posted on Parts 4 & 5) have shown up from time to time.
A vintage Pueblo Barbecue menu (below) appeared on the Lorain, Ohio By Photos Facebook page in the last few years.
Al Doane’s archives at the Lorain Public Library included what appeared to be a later Pueblo menu (below).
Today, the Pueblo is remembered only by those Lorain Countians old enough to have enjoyed a fine meal or night out there. It remains a colorful piece of local lore that deserves to be remembered not only for the good times experienced there, but for the bold vision of F. J. McFadden in creating something so unique. It’s a shame that it met a fiery demise like so many other Lorain businesses through the years.