Friday, January 29, 2016

Niagara Falls May Not Be Falling Soon

The scene back in 1969
From the Brady photo album
I read with interest this week the news that Niagara Falls (on the American side) may be briefly “turned off” again as it was back in 1969. The reason this time is that some bridges over the Falls need to be repaired. Here’s the story as reported in the Buffalo News in case you missed it.

I did a post (back here) on my family’s 1969 visit to Niagara Falls to see them “dry.” It’s something that I’ll never forget, as it was a big deal. We did it as a day trip and even brought Grandma along.

It’s strange to think that at this point that “once-in-a-lifetime” event is going to happen for the second time. I’d certainly be tempted to make the road trip to see it again.

For those of you that might not be able to make the trip this time, here’s a short YouTube video with footage showing the Falls as it looked back in that summer of 1969.

Strangely enough, it was only last week that I happened to be watching a Rocky & Bullwinkle DVD (now you know my tastes in entertainment) and one of the cartoons was a Dudley Do-Right episode in which the evil Snidely Whiplash dammed up the Falls on the Canadian side.

Why did he dam the Falls? Because he hoped to make a financial killing by selling Florida tickets to Canadian honeymooners that were disappointed with the dry Falls.

Whoever designed the cartoon for Ward Productions seemed to base their drawings of the Falls on the American Falls, however. Here’s how the dry Canadian Falls were depicted in the cartoon.

And here’s a photo of the American Falls for reference.

Anyway, by the end of the Dudley episode, everything was back to normal and Niagara Falls were falling once again.
Hey, you can watch this cartoon right here (below)!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Signs of Change in Sheffield Lake

It looks like change is coming to Sheffield Lake, at least when it comes to some of the city's longtime businesses and commercial strips.

As shown above, the city's lakefront high-rise luxury apartments – formerly Erie Shore Landing – are now The Perch on Lake. Its website lists its newly renovated apartments and Clubhouse as just a few of the amenities. (I still like the original name – Lakeside 10 – best, though. It has that Southern California beachcomber feel to it.)

Over at Duff Corners at the intersection of East Lake and Abbe Roads, a sign is up for Dee's Lakeside Billiards. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find any online mention of it yet. But it would be nice to have something in there at such a high profile intersection, and I hope it works out.

Longtime residents remember the various gas stations that were there, as well as Donutville and Fraam’s Restaurant. I’m still bummed that Sun Hardware is closed next door, as the staff were always friendly and helpful.

Lastly – although it seems to be taking a while – it looks like Amber Oaks (a favorite topic on this blog here and here) is preparing for an eventual reopening.

A message on the sign at the end of last summer (at right) read, “SEE YOU SOON,” as well as “NEW MENU." Work has been going on both on the inside and outside of the restaurant, and the owners have been sprucing it up nicely.
There has also been some chatter about Amber Oaks on the "You know you're from Sheffield or Sheffield Lake if…" Facebook page, mostly speculation about the hours of the restaurant once it reopens.
Here’s hoping that these and all new businesses in Sheffield Lake enjoy much community support, as well as success.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hillcrest Motel – Then & Now

I saw this vintage postcard for Hillcrest Motel online recently. Noting its location – on State Route 18, 2 miles east of Wellington – I wondered if it was still there.

I didn’t wonder for long, because I realized that I had already photographed it. I could have sworn I shot it last fall, but it turned out it was back in August 2012. That’s when I drove out on Route 18 to photograph the former Penfield Grocery Store. (So my memory was only off by a mere three years.)

Anyway, here’s what the motel looked like back in 2012. I was so startled to see a motel on that rural highway that I had to pull over and get a shot.

As you can see, it has been remodeled and added onto a bit since the vintage photograph. But it's still tidy and attractive.
To be honest, I don't think it was still open as a motel in 2012, as the MOTEL lettering seemed to be painted over on one side of the sign (below). Plus, I’ve found evidence online that the motel units have probably been converted to apartments.
Anyway, it looks like the place still provides a restful retreat out on lonely Route 18.
UPDATE (August 2, 2019)
Here's another great vintage postcard of Hillcrest Motel.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

E. 31st Street Bridge Revisited Part 2

Looking at aerial views of the E. 31st Street Bridge today reveals many historical features of the area.

In the above photo, the view is looking west (with the houses in South Lorain on the west side of the river). You can see the old 1913 bridge approach, which is the short road running parallel and to the left of the modern E. 31st Street. It’s the same road being constructed in that vintage photo shown at left, and the same view.

I used to wonder why there was nothing along that stretch of roadway from E. River leading up to the bridge, such as vintage homes or farms. Now that I know that the road was built on top of slag, it makes sense.

Here’s a look at today’s E. 31st Street Bridge – constructed in 1977 – and its approach, looking west from last weekend. The old 1913 approach can be seen at left, although it is snow-covered.

To refresh your memory, here's that vintage photo again of the 1913 bridge.

Here’s another modern aerial view (below) from the opposite direction.

That’s the Lorain County Metro Parks Day’s Dam Black River Reservation at the bottom of the photo.

If you click on the aerial photo and look closely, you can see several old trestle supports that are to the south of the old bridge causeway. Here are some shots of them (below) from last Saturday evening.

As explained to me by archivist and historian Dennis Lamont, both trestle supports are from the bridge that carried the old Avon Beach & Southern spur of the Lake Shore Electric Railway over the Black River.
Here’s the view from the Day’s Dam Metro Park on Sunday morning.
Unfortunately, the interesting local history in plain sight – the site of the old 1913 bridge, its modern replacement, the causeway built on slag, and the trestle supports of the street car bridge – is not mentioned on the adjacent Metro Park sign (below).
To be fair, however, some of the history is briefly discussed on the Lorain County Metro Parks website.

Monday, January 25, 2016

E. 31st Street Bridge Revisited Part 1

Shortly after my post last week on the E. 31st Street Bridge, regular reader and contributor Rick Kurish made me aware of the photo at left in Dr. Charles Herdendorf’s Arcadia Images of America Sheffield Village book.

The 1913 photo showed the construction of the 800-foot causeway which leads to the bridge. In the photo, the workers are shown building a huge retention wall to help stabilize the causeway. The view is looking west.

As Rick explained in his email, "I was amazed at the size of the causeway, which is undoubtedly still supporting today’s approach to the 31st Street bridge. I'm guessing the free fill to be supplied by the Steel Plant mentioned in the article made up at least a part of the causeway.”

I was wondering what the train was doing in the photo, and asked historian and archivist Dennis Lamont if he could explain. He wrote, "The train you see is the steel plant dumping slag. The whole embankment was a slag dump with a temporary track laid on it.  When the slag got up the level they wanted, they would move the track over and dump some more. When they were done filling where the roadway was to go, they had a fill that was never going to move. When they were done, they took the track up and dumped elsewhere. They filled up the whole east end of the plant.”

It’s strange realizing that the approach to the E. 31st Street Bridge from E. River Road is built on top of a slag dump. And here I thought it was a country road.

I also asked Dennis what bridge was casting a shadow on the causeway in the 1913 photo. Dennis explained that it was used by the Avon Beach and Southern (AB&S) division, a spur of the Lake Shore Electric Railway.

The fascinating history of the AB&S is much too complicated a story to try and feature here, so be sure to visit the Lake Shore Rail Maps website created by Drew Penfield. This page explains the whole story very clearly, and how the AB&S related to South Lorain. The website features some amazing archival photos, as well as newer shots that reveal modern traces of the old abandoned line.

Next: E. 31st Street Bridge Photos from this past weekend

Friday, January 22, 2016

Tonopah Tavern in Sheffield Lake

Yesterday I mentioned Ernie’s Place in Sheffield Lake; today, here’s another business that was located in that city (my city) long ago.

Recently, I saw this vintage matchbook for Tonopah Tavern on Ebay recently, and wondered, "What was a Western bar doing in Sheffield Lake?” But then I remembered that the old Saddle Inn in Avon Lake was entirely decorated with a Western theme, so perhaps it wasn’t that unusual a choice of motif.
The tavern's location on the matchbook is given as Stop 72 1/2 on Route 2 and 6 – which puts it on Lake Road in between Cove Beach Avenue and Abbe Road. The names of Ann and Ed Morley are listed, with Fred Morley as manager.

I suspected that the Tonopah Tavern was some incarnation of the restaurant known in the late 1950s as Raptis Sheffield Inn, and later, Bill & Don’s. Sure enough, my blog entry for Raptis Sheffield Inn indicated that Edward Morley was the name associated with a restaurant at the 5348 East Lake Road location in the 1947 city directory.

I did find this ad for the Tonopah in the December 31, 1946 Lorain Journal. It sounds like it was new at that time.
The Ebay listing said the matchbook was acquired as part of a collection that dates back from the 1930s and 40s. But I couldn’t find a listing for Tonopah Tavern in any of the available city directories, and the only telephone book that listed it was the November 1955 edition (below).

A Google search revealed that an ad for the tavern did appear in the Brookside High School Leader yearbook for the Class of 1956.

I’m not sure exactly how long the Tonopah Tavern was in existence before it rode off into the sunset.

It would be interesting to know if the Tonopah Tavern was named after Tonopah, Nevada or Tonopah, Arizona. (The one in Nevada looks more exciting because of its history as a mining town.)

If anyone had any knowledge or memories of the Tonopah or the people involved in its operation, be sure to leave a comment!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Green Lantern Camp Ad – June 18, 1937

Even though I may have concluded a blog series on a particular topic, I often keep on researching it anyway in the interest of tying up loose ends. And that’s what I was doing on Saturday, looking for a Grand Opening ad for Vian’s even though I concluded my blog series on it last week.

But as usual, while looking for one thing I find something else. In this case, I found what I was looking for back in April 2014: a newspaper ad for Green Lantern Camp. Back then, I had been trying to establish a timeline for it and scrolled through months of microfilm without finding an ad.

You can see the small ad in the column under the WHERE TO GO! cartoon.

Also in that same column are ads for Risko & Cifranic’s Place at Stop 84 in Sheffield Lake; Urbanski & Son at 126 E. 28th Street in Lorain; Cleveland - Lorain Hi-way Coach Line; Highland Grill Nite Club at the corner of W. 23rd and Lexington Avenue in Lorain; Ernie’s Place at Stop 84 in Sheffield Lake; Barbier’s Tavern on Detroit Road in Avon; and Mischka’s in Amherst.

For those that are interested, you can also see a small rate chart for the Lake Shore Electric Railway in the next column.

Ernie’s Place is kind of a mystery, lost to time. It had the same Stop number as Risko’s, so it was located nearby. There was a restaurant at 4169 E. Lake Road (just next door to the west of Risko’s) listed in the 1940 Lorain City Directory run by John H. Richards; it was vacant by the 1942 edition. But there’s no way of knowing if it was previously Ernie’s Place or not.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Farmers Demand a Bridge at E. 31st Street – January 1910

January 25, 1910 Lorain Daily News
When you think of Lorain bridges over the Black River, it’s easy to focus on the Bascule Bridge and the 21st Street Bridge, and overlook the one out in South Lorain.

When and why was the bridge built in South Lorain?

In January 1910, the farmers of Avon and Sheffield were demanding a bridge be built at E. 31st Street that would provide them better access to the steel plant district market. Without a decent bridge to allow them to sell their goods in South Lorain, the farmers instead had been transporting their produce to Cleveland.

The article on the front page of the January 25, 1910 Lorain Daily News (above) tells the story.

The road leading to the existing bridge crossing the Black River were often impassible. As described in Bicentennial History of Sheffield, Ohio 1815 - 2015 by Charles E. Herdendorf, “The road leading to and from the bridge was unpaved and climbed steep banks of the Black River on both sides of the bridge.

“As early as 1904, the local newspapers mention the needs for a new bridge and by 1906 farmers and merchants from South Lorain and Sheffield began to express their desire for a high-level bridge to the Lorain County Commissioners.”

A county bond issue to build the bridge was put before the voters. Despite some opposition by the southern parts of the county, it passed.

The viaduct-style bridge opened in 1913; it lasted 64 years before it was replaced by a more modern concrete structure in 1977.

The new bridge at E. 31st Street
(Courtesy of "Bicentennial History of Sheffield, Ohio 1815 - 2015")

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sugar Crisp Ad – January 19, 1950

Breakfast cereal is one of my favorite topics on this blog. (I’ve written about Rice Krispies, Rice Krispies Marshmallow Treats, the Rice Krispies Song, General Mills Monster Cereals and Shreddies.)

So naturally, when I saw the ad above for Post Sugar Crisp – which ran in the Lorain Journal on January 19, 1950, 66 years ago today – I knew I had to feature it on the blog. (Another introductory ad that was in the Journal on Feb 9, 1950 is at right.)

Post Sugar Crisp was brand new back then, having been launched in 1949, and featured three bears on the package instead of the beloved Sugar Bear still seen on the Post Golden Crisp box today.

You didn’t know that there were originally three bears? Then read my article all about the history of Sugar Bear, which appears here courtesy of the HKM Grapevine.


The Bear Facts About Sugar Bear
After more than 50 years, this bear still can’t get enough of that Sugar Crisp!
By Dan Brady
Some advertising mascots spring from the imagination fully formed and go on to promote a product for decades. Other mascots, like Post Cereals’ Sugar Bear, take a little longer to evolve. The story of Sugar Bear’s creation is an interesting one that bears repeating.
In 1949, Post launched one of the cereal industry’s very first pre-sweetened cereals, a sugarcoated wheat puff called Sugar Crisp. It was a spectacular success. Three identical cartoon bears named Dandy, Handy and Candy appeared on the first cereal packages. The bears were featured in magazine and newspaper ads in which the copy used their names to reinforce the cereal’s attributes: “As a cereal it’s dandy! For snacks it’s so handy. Or eat it like candy!”
The three bears created a sensation when they appeared as puppets in some stop action animated TV commercials for Sugar Crisp, convincing some of the rival cereal companies (like Kellogg’s) that they needed some animal pitchmen as well.

As you can see, the original cellophane bag in which Sugar Crisp was sold eventually gave way to a foil-lined box (below) that helped prevent the cereal from solidifying into a sugary brick.
A 1954 box
During the 1950s, the in-house Post creative team tinkered with the design of the bears on the cereal box. There were the original Betty Boop-like bears with large wide heads, as well as another version in which the bears were rounder and hairier. The bears on the cereal boxes seemed to alternate randomly between the two versions throughout the decade.
Eventually Bob Traverse, the commercial artist who worked on all of the Sugar Crisp boxes, got tired of creating layouts with three bears, and conspired to send two of them into permanent hibernation. He gradually reduced two of the bears to a secondary position on the box before eliminating them entirely.

For the next several years, he explored different layouts with the single “Betty Boop” style bear.
A 1963 box
Finally, Traverse and his art director decided to redesign the single bear to look less wimpy. 
The box in 1964
But this new, beady-eyed bear wasn’t quite Sugar Bear yet, even though he appeared in some TV commercials.
It wasn’t until this “new bear” was planned to part of the Linus the Lionhearted TV show that he received a makeover by the advertising agency and became Sugar Bear.
Linus the Lionhearted was a half-hour weekly cartoon that hit the airwaves in September 1964. It featured all of the Post Cereals ad mascots in their own animated adventures, including Linus, who was on Crispy Critters, an animal-shaped cereal; Lovable Truly the postman (from Alpha-Bits); So-Hi (from Rice Krinkles); Rory Raccoon (from Post Toasties); and Sugar Bear.
Sugar Bear was given the personality of a jive-talking disk jockey, as well as a Bing Crosby voice that was provided by nightclub comic Gerry Matthews. The unflappable bear became an immediate hit on the Linus the Lionhearted show, becoming more popular than Linus. 
A 1965 box
Unfortunately, while the show was a ratings success, the lagging sales of the Post cereals did not justify the show’s expense. It continued in syndicated reruns until 1969, when the Federal Communications Commission ruled that children’s programs could not feature characters based on products. This meant the end of the line for Linus the Lionhearted. A few years later, Linus and Crispy Critters were both extinct, but Sugar Crisp continued to be popular.
A box from 1969
(From the Dan Brady collection)
Sugar Bear continued his cereal commercials for decades as the last of the original Post cereal mascots. In the long-running spots, he outwitted characters including Granny Goodwitch, a kindly witch (voiced by Ruth Buzzi of Laugh-In fame), the Blob, a loose-limbed gangster, and a menagerie of bullying foxes, tigers and other animals. 

Sugar Bear enjoyed a brief recording career with the Sugar Bears.
Sugar Bear’s signature tune – “Can’t get enough of that Sugar Crisp” – had to be adjusted a few times: when the addition of extra vitamins changed the name of the cereal to Super Sugar Crisp, and when the name of the cereal was changed to the more nutritionally friendly Super Golden Crisp (strangely, the cereal is still known as Sugar Crisp in Canada).
More than 50 years after his introduction, Sugar Bear is still around. In one of his last TV commercials, he was seen hanging out at a breakfast table with live action husband-and-wife Baby Boomers, nostalgically cajoling them to try Golden Crisp again. He also received a makeover on the box when Post Cereals was spun off on its own.
The current box
Today, Golden Crisp is somewhat of a cereal anachronism, a leftover from a time when Post seriously challenged Kellogg’s and its other rivals. But although his beloved cereal is known now as Golden Crisp, Sugar Bear retains his own sweet moniker.

Can’t get enough of that Sugar Crisp history? Check out this massive collection of vintage Sugar Crisp commercials featuring our old pal Sugar Bear! There’s one with the three original bears as well.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The House at 35955 Detroit Road in Avon

When I first found this January 1955 article (at right) about a landmark Avon home, I Googled its address (35955 Detroit Road) and saw that its location was smack dab in the middle of the modern shopping area out there near State Route 83.

I assumed the home was lost to development long ago and put the article aside as being of little interest.

But when I revisited the article a few months ago, I did a little more research, and was surprised to find out the house was still there and I knew which one is was. I had even wondered about its history for a long time. Let’s see if you recognize it from the article too.

So here’s the article as written by Lillian Alten as it appeared in the Lorain Journal on January 24, 1955 – 61 years ago this month.


On Detroit Road
Antiques, School House Make Village Landmark

AVON – Many people, villagers and visitors alike, have often noticed the lovely home of Mr. and Mrs. O. W. Schrader, 35955 Detroit Rd., but not many know the history behind it.

The property was originally known as the village school grounds and dates back to 1836, when it was School District No. 7. The house was originally a school. The first building on the site was moved, and the present building was used as a school until 1924, when the tornado and other circumstances caused the school to be closed.

Colonial, Georgian
The Schrader home, of colonial and Georgian structure, retains its antique charm, and visitors have little trouble realizing that it was once a two-room school house. A blackboard used in the school is now sealed in between the kitchen and breakfast room walls, which used to be the cloakroom in the school.

The floors throughout the house are the original maple floors of the school, and the floored attic had huge, old exposed beams, which serve to show how permanently the building was put together.

The Schrader’s say the present building was erected just before the turn of the century. The front and back steps of the house are the original steps used by the school children. The handrail at the back steps is worn smooth from use given it by children going in and out of the old schoolhouse.

Vestibule Cloakroom
The front vestibule, once the school cloakroom, has a ceiling six feet higher than the other rooms in the house. The windows have been shortened and ceilings have been lowered six feet. The basement walls are of sandstone.

The exterior of the house is of white painted brick with green shutters. The grounds are beautifully landscaped, and a sunken patio and huge double fireplace and located in the back yard.

Treasure Trove
The interior of the Schrader home is a treasure - trove of glass, silver, brass, copper and sandstone pieces, some of which came with the house. Mrs. Schrader’s hobby is antiques, and she collects antique dolls, glass and china. She is constantly searching for additions to her collection.

The house is furnished predominantly with Early American pieces, with some Victorian and some primitive furnishings completing the picture. Adding to the “antique” atmosphere are poster beds, complete with old fashioned pillow covers and dust ruffles.

Shown by appointment or invitation only, the house gives a feeling of welcome to all who enter, and is a charming village landmark.

Here are two shots of the house as it looked for many years, courtesy of the Lorain County Auditor website.

I remember driving by this building after construction commenced on the nearby shopping center, wondering what was going to happen to it. It looked particularly forlorn back then, surrounded by a sea of dirt and mud.
But happily, the structure did survive the construction of the shopping center. It housed a home decor business at some point (below).

Courtesy Lorain County Auditor website
Today, the landmark former school house serves as the home of Beauty Bar David Scott Salon.
UPDATE (November 26, 2020)
Here’s another 1950s article about the house. This one is from the front page of the August 30, 1956 edition of the Lake Erie Times