Saturday, December 31, 2016

Death Takes No Holiday – Dec. 31, 1960

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve. Longtime readers of this blog know that means it’s time for another vintage safety ad featuring the Grim Reaper, cautioning us to be careful on the highway tonight (and every day for that matter).

The full-page ad shown above with the clever theme, “Death Takes No Holiday on Our Highways” ran in the Lorain Journal on December 31, 1960 – 56 years ago today.

That’s one creepy illustration. Note how the artist included a small pool of (brrr) blood under the wreck.
As usual, the rest of the ad is a roll call of mostly long-gone area businesses. There are a few survivors – including Janasko Insurance Agency (with whom I insure my house and car) and National Waste Paper.
Like the ad says, don’t be a “Holiday Headline” in tomorrow’s Journal… be safe tonight!

Friday, December 30, 2016

New Year’s Eve at Gartner’s Lounge Bar – 1953

Courtesy Pinterest
If you were looking for a place outside of Lorain (but not too far away) to celebrate New Year’s Eve 1953, a good choice would have been Gartner’s Lounge Bar. It was located out on U. S. Route 20, right across from Bendix near the Elyria/North Ridgeville border.

The above ad ran in the Lorain Journal a few days before New Year’s Eve, 1953. I guess puny party hats were in vogue back then.
Anyway, I did a pretty extensive history of Gartner’s here
It started out as an inn in the 1930s before evolving into a supper club in the late 1950s. Later in the 1970s, it became one of the two Tiffany’s Steakhouse locations. 
The building is still out there on Route 20, now the home of Crissy’s Lounge, where I don’t think anyone is going to be dancing to the music of the Continentals anytime soon. In fact, it’s the employees who do the dancing now.

(I decided against doing any field research for this post, as this is a family-friendly blog.)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

An Ohio Newspaper Looks at New Year’s Eve 1891

Since my blog readership is traditionally very low during the time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I don’t produce very much new content during that time period. Call it my Christmas Vacation.

Along those lines, however, it’s a good time to recycle an article that I wrote for what turned out to be the final edition of the Black Swamp Trader & Firelands Gazette in January 2015.

It’s a look back at the December 24, 1891 edition of the Napoleon, Ohio Democratic Northwest (shown above). The newspaper from Black Swamp country had such a whimsical look at the New Year that I decided to share some of its poems and short bits.

So here’s the article, courtesy of the Black Swamp Trader & Firelands Gazette. (I’m still hoping that the brown ink paper will return some day, as I enjoyed writing for it.)
Not the Same Auld Lang Syne: 
the New Year as Celebrated in an 1891 Ohio Newspaper
By Dan Brady

When the end of December comes around, today’s newspapers tend to run articles that make us glad that the year is almost over. For many papers, it’s a time to look back at the most newsworthy (and often depressing) happenings of both local and national importance. The deaths of noted celebrities during the past year are often highlighted as well. Predictably, many newspapers feature articles about the likelihood that most New Year’s resolutions will be broken.

Was it always like this? Well, in the late 1800s, at least one Ohio newspaper treated the arrival of the New Year with humor and whimsy. Let’s reset the hands on the clock back to New Year’s Eve, 1891 and make a resolution to chuckle and smile along with the readers of the Democratic Northwest – and get ourselves ready to face the New Year.
The Democratic Northwest of Napoleon, Ohio published a special Holiday Souvenir edition, “The Christmas Star,” for its readers on December 24, 1891. Mixed in with the Christmas-themed material were poems and items specifically about the New Year.
While the Christmas articles were heavy in religious or historical overtones, the New Year’s articles were for the most part light and breezy. One article, “Hints for New Year’s Day,” includes some suggestions that are fairly amusing, and others that are a bit racy. One hint even makes a topical reference to Julius Ludwig August Koch, a German psychiatrist who had recently published the first of three parts of his work on psychopathic inferiorities.
• Look not upon the wine list when it is read
• Don’t eat pie with your fingers; try your mouth – it tastes much better
• In conversation, slide over the weather chestnut and talk about Koch and his cure
• Don’t ask how many calls the young lady’s had; you should rather seek to discourage falsehood
• Don’t enter the parlor with muddy boots; you may be taken for a carpet-cleaner anxious for work
• Do not carry a cane; some of the ladies on whom you call may consider one stick at a call sufficient
• Have your boots nicely polished, providing conclusively that if you can’t shine at one end, you can at the other
• Don’t allow the young lady to help you to any one thing on the table more than twice; the third time help yourself
• Be sure you have your own hat and coat when leaving; this may not be for your financial aggrandizement, but it’s safer
• Refrain from spilling coffee down the back of your lady friend’s dress; her best young man may wear lavender trousers, and perhaps objects to having coffee spots upon them
Unlike today’s newspapers, “The Christmas Star” included many poems to entertain the readers. One clever poem – with its lines typeset to form the shape of a grandfather clock – humorously said good riddance to the Old Year. It is entitled, “To the Old Year – Time!” and can be read to the cadence of a swinging pendulum.
TICK, tick how quick time flies! The old year dies as slick as actors on the stage, but does not foam or rage. He simply flits – “gets up and gits,” because, you know, he’s got to go. And like a clock, which we here mock, he goes right on till he is gone. Good-by, Old year! We do not fear that you’ll come back. It would be queer; but now your bier draws very near, so clear the track! You’re now a chestnut, and we hope you’ll skedaddle. Scoot! Elope with bitter memories of the past. Move on, and don’t you dare to cast one shadow on the fair young face of him who soon will fill your place! Tick! Tick! How slow you fly, when we all want to see you die!
And yet we’re loath to have you go, for in another week or so the dread array of duns and hills, accompanied by divers bills will swoop down on us, both root and branch, like some resistless avalanche. But then, again, we bit you flit. Tick, tick, “git,” quick!
Another poem, “The New Year Interviewed,” offered a more thoughtful perspective on the New Year through the use of fantasy. A gentleman makes the acquaintance of the just-arrived New Year and notices his strong resemblance to the Old Year. This gives the man the opportunity to complain to the New Year how the Old Year was untrue to him, making promises that turned out to be false. The New Year wisely shows him the error of his reasoning, and points out what he can do to ensure twelve months of happiness: be a better citizen and help the downtrodden.
Now slowly strikes the twelve o’clock – midnight!
The moon has borrowed her full orb of light,
And who is this, with cold and silent mien,
With slow and noiseless step, come gliding in?
“Your face I’ve seen – ‘tis much like those of yore;
Have I not sometime met you here before?”
“Never before – have just alighted here;
You must have looked for me – the glad New Year.”
“But where’s that fellow so resembles you,
Who stole a year from me – had he got through?
A twelvemonth since what promises he made!
No sweeter thing fond lover could have said;
And has he really gone and left me? Say!
Perchance you may have met him on the way?”
“A glimpse I had of him – the gray Old Year –
He’ll scarce redeem his pledges now, I fear.”
“Gone like the rest, their flattering words all broken;
The pleasant things they said all falsely spoken.
Tell me, New Year, will you, as they, deceive me?
You look so like those faithless years, I fear
To trust again a promising New Year.”
“Before I answer, may I question you –
For now I claim the right to interview –
Have you to these lost years been always true?
“Have you not pleasure asked and madly sought it?
And now, too late, have learned you dearly bought it?
You lost the years, and much you lost beside them;
If they were robbed by you, should you deride them?
With wise advice they came – did you receive it?
No, alas, poor soul, you did not heed it!”
“Oh, say no more! You move me quite to tears;
I robbed myself and all those friendly years.”
“Though lost those years, e’en now a blessing send
To all the worthy poor who need a friend;
Lift up the fallen ones and bid them stand;
Offer to them that need a helping hand.
A prophecy I make – though not a seer –
That you shall fail not of a happy year.”
“Shake hands, New Year – thanks for this interview!
I ne’er will call another year untrue.”
The last page of “The Christmas Star” contains no less than three New Year’s-related articles, each with a different tone and attitude. In one, “Turning the New Leaf,” the author recites all the things he’s hoping to do during the New Year. Here’s one verse:
If you’re waking call me early, call me early, mother dear;
For I’ve a heap to resolute upon this glad New Year;
There’s lots of things I’m going to say that I’m a-going to do,
And I kind of hope in a thousand things I’ll manage to keep a few.
I’m going to do the very best that ever a fellow can,
And I will make no friendship with a very angry man.
Curiously, the last two New Year items have a darker tone than the others. In the poem, “Good-by, Old Year, Good-By,” (which can also be found in an 1886 volume of Good Housekeeping issues) the unknown author equates the end of the year with death. Here are the first three verses:
The bells ring slow, in muffled tone.
The chilling wind makes sadder moan.

The flowers are dead, and all must die –
Good by, Old Year, good-by!
The laughing streams run coldly now;
Stern winter reigns, with ice-crowned brow;
Fair summer is dead, and you must die –
Good by, Old Year, good-by!
Once you were young, but now you’re old;
Our youth can ne’er be bought with gold;
Your youth is dead; all youth must die –
Good by, Old Year, good-by!
The very last New Year piece is both haunting and thought-provoking. In “The Ghosts of New Year’s Eve,” the author uses the occasion to honor those who have passed, and welcomes their ghosts to his festive celebration. He writes, “Some of them, the nearest and dearest, have found a resting place on the wind-swept hills, where tall marbles gleam out whitely in the cold starlight. Sadder, still, others have drifted so far and wide that only a faint memory remains of what was. They are all here tonight, the living and the dead, mingling their voices with the gay music.”
After the celebration, the author bids farewell to the ghosts at the stroke of midnight, promising to watch for them each New Year’s Eve, and to happily welcome them back. It’s a gentle reminder to the readers to remember their departed loved ones.
More than a hundred and twenty years after “The Christmas Star” was printed, newspapers no longer entertain their readers with poems and stories written to amuse them, or make them think. More’s the pity. Perhaps the rich selection of holiday material in the December 24, 1891 Democratic Northwest helped its readers approach the New Year thoughtfully, and with hope and good cheer.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sunday Mirror Comics Page – December 28, 1952

I mentioned several times on this blog how Li’l Abner was my favorite comic strip when I was a kid.

Natcherly, then, I was excited when this Sunday, December 28, 1952 Sunday Mirror comics section – from 64 years ago today – turned up in the basement of our home in the late 1960s.

(I have no idea what the comic section of a New York paper was doing in our cellar. It’s the same one that included this Our Boarding House strip that I posted back here.)

Anyway, this strip provided cartoonist Al Capp another opportunity to parody another comic strip and present it as one that one of his characters is reading.

Normally, Li’l Abner’s favorite comic “Fearless Fosdick,” is the strip-within-a-strip. But this comic does something different. It features one that Daisy Mae is reading: "Sweet Fanny Gooney," a takeoff of Little Orphan Annie, with some Little Annie Rooney thrown in.

In view of today’s headlines, this episodes is somewhat topical, with Russians as the villains. Here, a Communist impostor switches places with Annie’s rich “Uncle Sawbuck” (a take-off on "Daddy Warbucks") and threatens to disrupt our Capitalist system.

I thought it was amusing that the caretaker of the Ritz-Carlton Orphan Asylum for Millionaire Orphans cruelly denies poor, rich Sweet Fanny Gooney a peanut-butter sandwich, stating “Only (Ha! Ha!) poor people, like me, can have (Yum! Yum!) peanut butter sandwiches!!”

I may have to renew my subscription to one of the online newspaper archives services to find out how this adventure ended!

A few panels from the next installment

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Lake Shore Electric No. 38 is all decked out for the holidays
at the Artstown Shopping Center in Avon Lake
To all of my readers, old and new – I wish you the Merriest of Christmases!

I’ll be taking my annual holiday sabbatical from now until around New Year’s Eve. I'll do a few posts between now and then, but mainly I plan to relax and enjoy the holidays. Hope you do, too.

Please stop back on New Year’s Eve for – what else? – another vintage ghoulish “Don’t Drink and Drive” ad from the pages of the Lorain Journal.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Brownhelm Community Christmas - 1932

It’s Christmas Eve.

That means that out in Brownhelm Township, it’s time for their charming holiday tradition of Community Christmas, in which a team of volunteer Santas clad in white beards and red suits deliver gifts, candy and fruit baskets to homes in the community.

How long has this been going on? I reviewed copies of the Lorain Times-Herald from the early 1930s at the Lorain Public Library, and it appears that 1932 was the first year that the visits from Santa Claus received any mention in the press.

On December 10, 1932, a short article appeared in the Lorain Times-Herald (below) explaining how representatives of 15 different local organizations came together to hatch the idea of Santa Claus actually visiting the community in person.

The next mention of the arrival of Santa Claus was in the December 21, 1932 edition of the Lorain Times-Herald. A small item (below) appeared in the section of the paper devoted to news from the neighboring communities.
Finally, an article in the December 23, 1932 edition does a nice job of describing the behind-the-scenes preparation for Santa’s visit, which was to take place the following evening on Christmas Eve.
Happily, the wonderful tradition of a Brownhelm Community Christmas has continued since then without interruption – making this the 85th edition.

Like I’ve said before – it makes you want to move out there just to watch it all unfold each year.

I wrote about the Community Christmas a few times on the blog, including the 1947 edition, as well as the 1963 version.

Here’s a photo from the Journal’s coverage from Christmas 1964.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Eve 1964 TV listings

Back on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1964, the TV page of the Lorain Journal included this publicity photo for a special holiday episode of The Flintstones that was airing on Christmas Day.

As a BabyBoomer, I’ve mentioned before how as a kid I used to look forward to these photos in the Journal for holiday specials (including these for Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol and A Charlie Brown Christmas).

This episode is a pretty good one. Fred gets a job as a department store Santa Claus, working for Mr. Macyrock (no doubt one of the less inspired puns on the show). Ultimately, Fred ends up being recruited to fill in for the real Santa, who has taken ill.

The episode’s got a lot of heart – something that’s sadly missing from most of today’s cartoons. It even has a few special Christmas songs written for the show.

But it also has some funny subliminal marketing gimmicks (below) in it as well, as Fred strolls through the Macyrock store.

No doubt the real versions of the dolls (below) were on store shelves that season.

Anyway, you can watch this episode here for free. So grab a nice, refreshing Cactus Cooler, get comfortable and revisit your old Bedrock pals.

Looking at the other Journal TV listings brings back some memories. Most of the Cleveland TV icons are there: Woodrow the Woodsman; Captain Penny; Mike Douglas; Paige Palmer.

Note that Channel 3 was still KYW at this point; the switch to WKYC would happen a year later.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A 1924 View of an 1840s Christmas

Ever wonder what Christmas was like in Ohio during the pioneer times of the early 1840s? You'll find the answer in this interesting interview that reporter Rhea Soper Eddy conducted with a 90-year-old Elyria resident back in December 1924.

It appeared in the Lorain Journal on Dec. 18, 1924.

Christmas 80 Years Ago Is Recalled by Elyrian
Half an Apple Made the Children Happy in Yule Season
in the Forties, Mrs. Thayer Says


ELYRIA, Dec. 28 –– Suppose you were just a little girl and you were sure there was a Santa Claus but you were equally as sure that when you woke up on Christmas morning you would be mighty lucky if he had left you a stick of candy or an apple.

The Santa Claus of ninety years ago was not the generous old fellow that the boys and girls of today are familiar with, and the Christmas in those days was celebrated in a far different manner from that of today, according to Mrs. Charlotte Johnston-Thayer, 249 Gates-av, Elyria, who observed her 90th birthday anniversary early this month.

"Christmas trees and an abundance of yule-tide gifts were unknown in the olden days," says Mrs. Thayer. "Our Christmas celebration consisted in a reunion of relatives with a mid-day feast of roast pig instead of turkey. Oftentimes there were church services in the morning and following dinner the men would spend the remainder of the day hunting while the women would quilt. In the evening everybody danced."

When She Was Seven
The earliest recollection the aged woman has of Christmas was when she was seven. There was nothing unusual about the day except that the family was together and each child was given a half an apple for a Christmas treat.

"Did you believe in Santa Claus?" Mrs. Thayer was asked.

"Oh my, yes," she replied, "we believed there was such a person but we never thought of him as one who came laden with great quantities of gifts nor did we specify beforehand, what we wanted, for we knew we wouldn't get them if we did."

"Did you ever receive a doll on Christmas when a little girl?" was the question asked the little white-haired woman.

"Mercy sakes, no," was her emphatic answer, as she laughed at the idea. "I never had a real doll in my life. All little girls in those days possessed a corn cob with a rag wound around it which we mothered with as much maternal love as the children of today do with their most up-to-date mamma dolls with real hair and eyes that close.

Born in Medina-co
This interesting little lady, who, despite her advanced age, can boast of the fact that scarcely a day passes that she doesn't read the daily paper from beginning to end, was born in Brunswick, Medina-co. She was one of seven children and the last of that number living. When but 17 she taught school in Hinkley and among her pupils now living is Newman Van Deusen of Hinkley, father of Atty. C. E. Van Deusen of Lorain.

When 22 years of age she resigned her position as teacher to become the wife of Linus Smith Thayer of New York. The first 18 months of her early married life were spent on a farm in Michigan, after which the young couple returned to Medina, where Mr. Thayer continued farming. Thirty years ago, they moved to Elyria, where they have since resided. Mr. Thayer passed away in 1899.

Three children were born to the couple, two of whom, Frank J. and Eva May, are living and reside with the mother. Mrs. Thayer has been an active member of the Church of Christ of Elyria, altho of late her health has not permitted her to attend services.

Altho automobiles, rouge or the marcel wave have never figured in this interesting little woman's life, she is not adverse to anything that brings happiness into the lives of others. As for bobbed hair, she is a firm believer in it to the extent that she has her own hair bobbed but not because of the fad but for comfort and sanitation.

"One thing that does vex me" says Mrs. Thayer, confidentially, "why don't the girls of today dress warmer? How can they brave the wintry winds and snow with such scant clothing as the majority of them wear?" and she drew her shawl closer about her at the thought of it.

"Girls of today really are sensible, too," she continued, "and yet they risk their health every time they go out with so little around them. You bet they didn't dress like that 80 years ago. Our clothing was warm and we had plenty of it."

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Midway Mall Ad – December 1, 1968

The view from last weekend
Midway Mall was in the news last month (here), with redevelopment plans presented to Elyria City Council by an outside consultant. The study concluded that changes are needed for the mall to survive in this era in which open-air shopping villages (like Legacy Village and Crocker Park) are the preferred destination for people who want to spend money.

So it’s a good time to look back at the above holiday-themed Midway Mall ad, which ran in the Journal on December 1, 1968 back when the mall was only about two years old. (It opened late September 1966.)

The ad mentions a few of the mall’s seasonal attractions, including Fort Christmas (anyone remember it?) and the Talking Christmas Tree. The ad also includes a great map that shows how today's Route 2 back then only extended from Baumhart Road to Route 57.

The ad also points out that the temperature inside the mall is kept at a comfortable 72ยบ. That was one of the reasons that the mall helped kill both Downtown Lorain and O’Neil - Sheffield Center.

Today, it’s hard to believe that people prefer to walk from store to store – out in the December deep freeze – at places like Crocker Park.

UPDATE (December 23, 2016)
Checking the comments on this post, I noticed there's an interest in which stores were part of the mall when it opened. So I checked the 1967 Elyria city directory and grabbed this listing (below). I had forgotten all about some of those stores!

By the way, I've done several Midway Mall-related posts in the last seven years.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

DeLuca Bakery Opens on Oberlin Ave. – Dec. 1965

Lorain’s west side was exploding with new residents in the 50s and 60s as former farms gave way to new housing developments. Thus many of the iconic Lorain west side family businesses that we grew up with – including Whalen Drugs, Willow Hardware, Meyer Goldberg’s, and Steve's Shoe Repair – were new back then, located there specifically to serve that growing population.

Another of those businesses was the well-remembered branch store of DeLuca Bakery at W. 38th Street and Oberlin Avenue. Its Grand Opening ad shown above ran in the Lorain Journal on December 2, 1965.
(I wrote about my DeLuca Bakery Memories, complete with a collection of vintage ads, in a three-part series here, here and here.)
Like many westsiders, we grew up on DeLuca bread (although Mom did patronize the Nickles outlet store too, with its Hillbilly Bread).

But it was pretty nice to have a family bakery located so close. In fact, just about everything a west side family needed was only a few minutes away on Oberlin Avenue, where all of Lorain's perfectly perpendicular numbered streets emptied out.
Today, just about all of those family businesses on Oberlin Avenue are gone, except for Yala’s Pizza. And all of the new west side businesses in Lorain are on Leavitt Road and Oak Point Road, near the new housing developments.

The cycle continues, I guess.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Lorain Creamery Ad – December 15, 1964

When I was a kid, our family was really into dessert. (I still am.) Every meal ended with some kind of dessert, whether it was something Mom baked, some ice cream, or maybe just a few (ugh) Fig Newtons.
Mom’s incredible assortment of Christmas cookies took over dessert for the last few weeks of December every year, but somehow my parents found time to sneak in some seasonal, store-bought goodies too on the weekend. That included the Ice Cream Christmas Trees mentioned in the above ad for Lorain Creamery, which appeared in the Journal on December 15, 1964.

A lot of different companies manufactured their own version of these treats around the holidays, and still do. Here is the current Kemps version, which sadly is made of lowfat ice cream.

Judging by the comment on this nostalgic website, ice cream Christmas trees are well-remembered all over the country, and still mighty popular.
By the way, I noticed that there’s a new business in the old Creamery building, replacing the used appliance company.
As usual, I wish them well.

UPDATE (Dec. 23, 2016)
Here's the package to watch for in your grocer's freezer if you live in Northern Ohio.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The History of the Journal's Mary Lee Tucker Program – Part 5

By 1968, changes had taken place regarding the Journal’s charity program. It was now known as Clothe-A-Child. Mary Lee Tucker – the behind the scenes ‘face of the program’ – was still around, but her name was somewhat downplayed in the Clothe-A-Child promotion.

The Journal explained the program in a front page article over the headline in its November 28, 1968 edition. It noted:

“THE CLOTHE-A-CHILD program consists of:

THE TRADITIONAL Mary Lee Tucker Christmas Show, which has been highlight of the holiday season in Lorain.

--CONTRIBUTIONS, which may be sent directly to the Mary Lee Tucker Fund at The Journal, Lorain. Miss Tucker will have special shoppers to take the children shopping in area stores with this money.

--A MILE OF DIMES promotion in downtown Lorain and at various locations around the county, where residents can contribute a dime to help the clothing program.

ORGANIZATIONS, INDUSTRIES, churches, labor unions, civic clubs, nationality groups, and fraternal organizations will be encouraged to participate in one of the most heart warming parts of the program.

They may want to spend some of their own money to clothe needy school children and may personally take some youngsters shopping for new clothes. It takes approximately $35 to clothe one child.”

The traditional Mary Lee Tucker charity show sponsored by the City Club went on as scheduled that year with a “Christmas Around the World” theme and all local talent. Fifty-three acts with performers “from every part of the Golden Crescent” auditioned. Eighteen acts were selected to perform at the show, which was held on Wednesday, December 4, 1968.

Hoolihan and Big Chuck from Channel 8 served as masters of ceremony.

The Biz Grove Band once again performed. Members included Charles Bisgrove, Ed Zaphor, Merl “Doc” McDonald, Frank Katrick, Charles Ensign, Melvin Gymorie, Kenneth Lorence, Mitch Hallie, Leonard Gerace, Richard Cooley, Dave Noe, Ralph Woerhman, Floyd Hayes, Richard Reed, and Bob Gawne.
The Mary Lee Tucker program clothed more than 300 needy children that year. Mary Lee Tucker herself was quoted on the front page of the Journal on December 24, 1968. She noted, “You just don’t know what it’s like to see kids who never had a pair of new pants walk into a store and get them. I just can’t thank the people enough who helped and contributed. This will be a little better Christmas for many children because of their generosity."
The Journal’s Clothe-A-Child program underwent a big change in 1969. 
That was the year that the charity show apparently became independent of the Mary Lee Tucker name. The benefit show was no longer a component of the Journal’s Clothe-A-Child program. It was now known as the Lorain City Club’s Charity Show.
The Clothe-A-Child program benefitted from the unveiling of an illustration by artist Larry Alvarez that first accompanied the stories that year. The logo did a good job of symbolizing the misery and sadness experienced by a child with no warm winter clothes.

The illustration was used for many years and is still well-remembered by longtime readers of the Lorain Journal.
It is certainly a credit to the Morning Journal that the Mary Lee Tucker program survives to this day.
The Journal's original concept of a newspaper employee devoted to helping the less fortunate in the local community, and known only by her name – Mary Lee Tucker – is a charming and magical one. 
I hope Mary Lee Tucker always has a place at the Morning Journal. She is needed more than ever.
To donate to the Morning Journal’s Mary Lee Tucker Clothe-A-Child program, click here.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The History of the Journal's Mary Lee Tucker Program – Part 4

Jimmy Dulio and his Band, a featured act at the 1956 Mary Lee Tucker benefit show
The Mary Lee Tucker Christmas benefit show was the highlight of Lorain’s holiday season for decades. Each year the show got bigger and bigger.

The Lorain Journal did receive help in their charitable effort. Beginning in 1946, the City Club of Lorain donated its service and sponsored the Mary Lee Tucker benefit show, making it their own project. The Club planned the programs, judged talent and selected the acts.

Eventually, up and coming celebrities – often at the very beginning of their successful careers – were brought in to emcee the show. Examples of these performers included singer and comic Leo DeLyon, who emceed the 1954 show, and satirist Bob McFadden who was the master of ceremonies for the 1955 show.
Some local acts became popular fixtures of the show. For example, by the late 1950s, Jimmy Dulio and his 14-piece Big Band had provided musical accompaniment for singers and dancers for many years, as well as being one of the featured acts themselves.
A promotional photo for the 1962 show from the December 5, 1962 Journal
By the 1960s, the benefit show was an eclectic mix of local and outside talent. The 1964 edition included WEWS-TV’s Don Webster as the master of ceremonies. Jim “Mudcat” Grant, former Indians pitcher was scheduled to perform a song and dance routine. Acts included singing star Lee Rand (courtesy of the Colony Lounge); vocalist and banjo artist Ron Sluga; vocalist, impressionist and recording artist Jerry Lee; professional dancers Paul and Phyllis Taber; dancing duo Judy Miller and Ron Spangler from the WEWS “Big 5 Show”; 4-year old dancer Little Sammy Willis; and 67-year old Mickey McGuire, who was billed as having danced in every Mary Lee Tucker show since the beginning. Local acts included the Satin Dolls: Nancy Hoyman, Diana Simbell, Donna Sparks and Judy Shilling; Lou Ann Merner, an Avon Lake dance student;

For the 1964 show, Biz Grove (Charles Bisgrove) and his Orchestra – the successor to the Jimmy Dulio band –  provided the musical accompaniment for the acts, as well as being a featured act.

Here’s the article from the December 7, 1964 Journal promoting the upcoming show. It includes a nice history of the Mary Lee Tucker department of the Journal – except it neglects to mention Rhea Soper Eddy.

For 1964, the Mary Lee Tucker benefit show effort also included a Saturday morning “Kris Kringle” version, specifically designed to appeal to teenagers. That show took place on the Saturday before the Wednesday, December 9, 1964 evening edition, and brought the entire “Big 5 Show” to the Palace to the delight of local youth.
As described in the Journal, the star-studded show included recording artist Johnny CymbalDick Blake, Jim “Mudcat” Grant,  and Cleveland’s own Dave C. and The Sharptones.

Next: Clothe-A-Child
To donate to the Morning Journal’s Mary Lee Tucker Clothe-A-Child program, click here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The History of the Journal's Mary Lee Tucker Program – Part 3

December 13, 1926 ad from the Lorain Journal
One of the aspects of the Mary Lee Tucker program that is often forgotten is that for decades, there was an annual fundraising event that was an integral part of the charitable effort.

Apparently the first one took place in 1926: the Mary Lee Tucker Christmas Fund Ball. The dance was held at the Moose Coliseum out on Route 5 west of Lorain. The Lorain Street Railway accommodated the attendees by providing extra streetcar service.

The ball was a big success, with between 700 and 800 people attending. Chauncey Lee and his Orchestra out of Cleveland provided the music.

(I wrote extensively about the 1926 Fund Ball here and here.)

As the years went by, the Mary Lee Tucker program strived to find new ways to spread holiday cheer and happiness.

In 1932, 2,000 boys and girls were treated to a free movie at the Palace Theater courtesy of Mary Lee Tucker. Here’s the announcement that ran in the December 17, 1932 Lorain Journal.

As noted, the movie was Peach O’Reno, featuring popular comics Wheeler and Woolsey.
Possibly the biggest fundraising development in the Mary Lee Tucker program occurred in 1933. That was the inaugural year for the Lorain Follies.

Here’s the front page of the Lorain Journal of November 14, 1933 with the announcement .

The Lorain Follies of 1933 was conceived with the idea of featuring an all-Lorain vaudeville bill of entertainment. Various local acts auditioned before a group of judges for the privilege of being part of the show.

This concept proved so popular that it became part of the Mary Lee Tucker charity effort for decades.

Here's an ad for the 1934 edition of the show that appeared in the Lorain Journal on December 12, 1934.
By 1937, the Mary Lee Tucker department of the Lorain Journal had become a mainstay of the community charitable scene. 
The article below, which appeared in the paper on November 13, 1937, noted that the club did much more than "bringing Christmas cheer to Lorain’s more humble families at Christmas time.”

The article also illustrated that henceforth, 1924 would be the accepted date of the creation of the Mary Lee Tucker program.

Next: Into the 1960s
To donate to the Morning Journal’s Mary Lee Tucker Clothe-A-Child program, click here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The History of the Journal's Mary Lee Tucker Program – Part 2

Rhea Soper Eddy was the longtime Journal employee that is well-remembered as the person behind the Mary Lee Tucker program for decades.

She was the subject of an announcement that ran on the front page of the paper on November 18, 1924. A boxed item read, “Today marks another milestone in the era of Journal expansion. With this issue is begun the regular daily publication of Elyria society, church, club and fraternity events, written by Rhea Soper Eddy, a society reporter of long experience.”

As noted in yesterday’s post, she inherited the role of Mary Lee Tucker following the death of Mrs. Katie Hayes.

But she made it so much more than just a once-a-year act of charity. She became Mary Lee Tucker.

She explained it in a full-page history of the Mary Lee Tucker program that ran in the June 21, 1955 Lorain Journal after her passing.

“Soon after I took charge,” she note, "we decided to start an advice column which was just another angle of the Mary Lee Tucker department. It was not a very important one, perhaps, but one that seemed to create a little interest.”

Here is the announcement of the new daily Mary Lee Tucker column that ran in the Lorain Journal on Feb. 15, 1926.

Her reminisce continued. “One day about six weeks before my first Christmas program was to be given, several employees offered their help with the project.
“Our editor agreed with our plan to remember the old folks in the county home on Christmas. It seemed that the children in the county home in Oberlin were always being remembered at Christmas time but the old folks had very little share in the yuletide joys.
“The matron and superintendent of the home were enthusiastic about the program. To raise the funds to finance the party we gave a dance at Antlers hotel.
“We arranged a program of home talent and took ice cream, cakes and oranges to the home with us. We gave each person in the home a box of candy. There were about 50 men and women there at that time.
“That same year we made quite a campaign for clothes, food and toys to give out in Christmas baskets. The names of between 300 and 400 families had been turned over to us and we were anxious to do what we could to make the supplies go around.
“Gifts were collected in a storehouse not far from the Journal. Christmas came on Tuesday that year and we decided to pack the baskets on Sunday. Journal employees volunteered to help.
“The articles were to be brought over to the Journal office Saturday night after the employes had left. I went home expecting to come down early Sunday morning to supervise the packing of the baskets.
“Early Sunday morning I received a telephone call from the business manager of the paper. He informed me that there was everything from shoes to potatoes piled in the editorial and business rooms, that the truck drivers still had another load to bring over  and we had no place to put the things.
"A corps of about 25 worked all day Sunday packing baskets with food, toys and canned goods. We finished about 11 o’clock that night and had about two truck loads left over. We called the Salvation Army to take it to their store room so we could have the rooms cleared before employes came to work Monday morning.
“There were bushes of potatoes, carrots, a load of cabbages, bacon, hams, eggs, canned fruit, box after box of jelly, clothes, books, toys, – everything. That was a wonderful Christmas and we all felt happy when we saw the cartons being taken away in Journal trucks on Christmas eve for delivery to needy families.”
The article also described how Rhea Soper Eddy kept the Mary Lee Tucker department busy all year helping the community.
“It was during the depression years from 1929 through the 1930s that the department was called on many times over to help those in need. Here are some of the accomplishments listed by Mrs. Eddy during that time period.
“Bought medicine for the sick, gave out layettes, gave clothes to school children and high school boys and girls in particular, bought glasses for several children with defective eyesight, obtained cans for families who had been given vegetables and fruits but who had nothing in which to can them, averaged 175 interviews each Thursday during the four depression years, had children’s teeth fixed, saw that many children with ailments had medical attention, furnished milk to children in needy families, obtained work for men, women and high school girls, got pianos for two girls who wanted to take piano lessons (the lessons were furnished gratis by friends), bought an average of 200 pairs of shoes each Christmas for four years, got overshoes for children, sought legal advice for several families."
Rhea Soper Eddy passed away on Monday, January 16, 1950. Her obituary appeared on the front page of the paper that day.
Death Takes Rhea Eddy Early Today
Widely Known For Quarter-of-Century as Mary Lee Tucker
Mrs. Rhea Soper Eddy, woman’s editor of The Lorain Journal and head of the Mary Lee Tucker department of the newspaper for 25 years, died early this morning.
Ill for more than a year, she had continued to write the daily Mary Lee Tucker column almost until the last. From her bed, she directed the 1949 Christmas sharing program for the benefit of the old folks at the county home, the children at the Oberlin home and the underprivileged of the community – an annual program she helped institute and which she carried on for a score of years.
Never Had Harsh Word
In a speech recorded for the Christmas meeting of the Rotary club, she told something of her work and said she had found that nothing was more important than forbearance, tolerance and getting along with others by speaking kindly and refraining from anger.
Only a few days ago, a committee representing the women’s organizations of the city called upon her and presented her with a scroll. The scroll expressed appreciation of civic, service, fraternal, patriotic and other groups for “her many years of devoted and unselfish service to the community.”
Mrs. Eddy had spent months in St. Joseph’s hospital, but went home for Christmas. Her son, daughter-in-law and other loved ones were with her at the end.
Mrs. Eddy started in newspaper work as a reporter on the old Times-Herald on graduating from Lorain High School in 1913. She joined the staff of The Journal in 1924, following the death of her husband.
As society editor, she was one of the most widely known and respected women in the community, but she made the name of Mary Lee Tucker even wider known. Friend and counsellor, her advice was sought by hundreds on all manner of problems. And her counsel was always in keeping with her philosophy of speaking kindly and refraining from anger.
She lived in accordance with her advice. Associates on The Journal never heard her speak ill of anyone.
Came To Lorain in 1910
Mrs. Eddy was born at Hamilton, N.Y.. May 5, 1893 and came to Lorain with her parents at the age of 13. She graduated from Lorain High school June 13, 1913.
On Nov. 23, 1917, she was united in marriage to James Eddy who died in 1924 shortly after their son, J. William Eddy, was born.
She was a member of the Congregational church, director of the Beta Sigma Phi sorority, the Lorain Business and Professional Women’s club, Ohio Newspaper Women’s Association, Rotaryanns, Duquesne club, Lorain Sorosis, Lorain Sisterhood, at one time served on the Salvation Army board and was an honorary member of the exemplar club of Beta Sigma Phi, an honor recently bestowed upon her.
She was also an honorary member of many clubs and organizations thruout the city.
Surviving with her son, William, and his wife, Patricia Ann, are a grandson, Rex; her stepmother, Mrs. William T. Soper, and her mother-in-law, Mrs. Alice M. Eddy, all of whom resided together at 445 9th-st.
Funeral services will be held at 12 noon Wednesday at the Walter A. Frey Funeral home. Rev. Herbert Loomis of the Congregational church will officiate and burial will be in the family lot in Elmwood cemetery.
On  December 17, 1950 the Lorain Journal ran this wonderful tribute (below) to Rhea Soper Eddy on the editorial page.
Next: It’s showtime!
To donate to the Morning Journal’s Mary Lee Tucker Clothe-A-Child program, click here.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The History of the Journal's Mary Lee Tucker Program – Part 1

The Morning Journal’s annual Mary Lee Tucker Clothe-A-Child program has been underway for several weeks now, so it’s a good time to look back at its history.

I wrote about some of the program’s early days back here in a 2013 four-part series, but this new series will cover its history from its inception to the late 1960s, when the program underwent a major change.

Anyway, for the past few years, the Morning Journal has boiled down the history of the program to a single paragraph: “Rhea Soper Eddy was a journalist at the Journal, precursor to the Morning Journal, when she started the program back in 1924.”

But it’s a much richer story than that, to be found only in vintage editions of the Journal itself.

The earliest Journals available on microfilm at the Lorain Public Library reveal that the paper’s Christmas charitable efforts predated the Mary Lee Tucker program.

In December 1922, the paper launched its Good Cheer club. The front page of the paper’s December 11 edition introduced the program, which had the goal of collecting used toys that would be distributed to children who otherwise would not receive any gifts.

On December 12, the paper announced in another front page article that the Red Cross would be aiding the paper in this endeavor.
Surprisingly, I could not locate any mention of a Journal-sponsored Christmas charity effort for 1923 or 1924 (the year of the tornado) in its pages. Perhaps some behind-the-scenes work was done by its staff, but there was no publicized, front page Christmas charity program during those two years.
Fortunately, the Journal itself shed some light on how the Mary Lee Tucker program got started in an article that appeared in the June 21, 1955 edition. It attributes the program to a Journal staffer whose name has been lost to time.
The article noted, “The Mary Lee Tucker department of The Journal was organized in 1924, the idea of a Chicago woman then a member of the editorial staff of the newspaper.
“Naming the department Sally Joy Brown, she later discovered that name was being used by a western paper, was copyrighted and could not be used by The Journal. Mary Lee Tucker was the second choice.
“Work of the department at the beginning consisted mostly of obtaining clothes for needy persons. Even though this was before the depression of 1929 and the 30s, there was a need for this kind of help.
“When the Chicagoan left The Journal a short time after organizing the department, her work was turned over to Mrs. Katie Hayes. An elderly woman, Mrs. Hayes was a long time Lorain resident well qualified to do the work since church and civic activities had acquainted her with the people she contacted.
“Six families were helped in the first Christmas program conducted by Mrs. Hayes. She gathered clothes from her friends, solicited toys from merchants and asked various groups for baskets of food.
“About a year later Mrs. Hayes moved to Florida, became ill and died. After her death Mrs. Rhea Soper Eddy, then The Journal’s courthouse reporter in Elyria, took charge of the department and remained in the position until her death Jan. 16, 1950.”
Next: Rhea Soper Eddy talks about her early Mary Lee Tucker work.
To donate to the Morning Journal’s Mary Lee Tucker Clothe-A-Child program, click here.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Casey’s Drive-in Grand Opening – December 1968

Forty-eight years ago this month, a new fast food drive-in “stepped up to the plate” to take on McDonald’s and Sandy’s on the west side of Lorain.

As seen in the full-page ad above which ran in the Journal on December 13, 1968, Casey’s Drive-in was that rookie hamburger chain. It celebrated the Grand Opening of its West 21st Street location on December 14 and 15, 1968.

It would later be joined by another location in Lorain on Route 254, as well as outlets in Vermilion, Elyria, Rocky River and North Royalton.
Drawing on the 1888 baseball poem "Casey at the Bat" for its theme, Casey’s Drive-in had a great old time ballplayer advertising mascot. The restaurant also had a real, live Casey to make personal appearances (as noted in the above Grand Opening ad). This real Casey also appeared in some ads in place of the cartoon mascot, such as this late 1960s ad from the Elyria phone book.
Casey’s used its baseball theme to good marketing advantage, sometimes employing personal appearances by Cleveland Indians players (which I wrote about here).
Today, the largely forgotten restaurant chain's West 21st Street location in Lorain is home to the popular Pine Garden Chinese-American Restaurant.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Mr. G’s Food Mart Article – December 17, 1965

I had never heard of Mr. G’s Food Mart until I saw the article below, which ran in the Journal on December 17, 1965. The convenience store was located at 3750 S. Broadway.

I suppose the store was conceived as a competitor to Lawson’s or 7-Eleven, being open seven days a week until 11:00 pm.

What’s interesting is that although the article doesn’t say it, Mr. G was well-known local grocer Meyer Goldberg. I guess it makes sense, since the first store in his grocery store chain was located right next door at 3810 South Broadway.

Mr. G's Food Mart appears to have been in business from 1965 until around 1972, when it disappeared from that year's Lorain City Directory.

The Lorain County Auditor website listing for 3750 Broadway included a photo (below) of the former Mr. G. building.

I drove over to the store’s location over the weekend so that I could get a fresh “now” photograph of the building.

As usual, I was a little late. All I found was another empty lot!

Courtesy Google Maps