Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Jungle Larry Comes to O’Neil - Sheffield Shopping Center – August 1957

Captain Penny and Jungle Larry (Courtesy
Most of us local Baby Boomers probably remember good ol’ Jungle Larry.

The gentleman whose real name was Lawrence Tetzlaff left a big impression on us from his appearances on the Captain Penny show on WEWS in Cleveland, and at his attraction on Safari Island at Cedar Point.

(Click here to visit the official Jungle Larry website and learn about his interesting background. Did you know that he worked for Frank “Bring ’Em Back Alive” Buck, and doubled for Johnny Weissmuller in a Tarzan film? The “History” page also reveals that Jungle Larry worked at a drugstore in Lorain after World War II.)

Anyway, here’s an ad for a personal appearance by Jungle Larry at the old O’Neil - Sheffield Shopping Center. It ran in the Lorain Journal on August 21, 1957 – 59 years ago this month.
The ad’s design is a little strange with its circus theme. (I guess the Journal’s art department didn’t have any clip art of just wild animals.) Hope the small fry didn’t go to the event expecting to see clowns!
Note the reference in the ad copy to a sidekick named Safari Jack
Safari Jack? I thought Jungle Larry’s sidekick was Safari Jane (his wife, Nancy Jane Tetzlaff).
It turns out that Safari Jane got her name thanks to Safari Jack. In a 2002 interview (here), she explained, “Before I met Larry, he had a man working for him called Safari Jack. Larry was scheduled to do a full day entertainment at a mall and the newspaper ads read Jungle Larry and Safari Jane. So the name was created before I came into the picture.”
UPDATE (December 24, 2017)
I found a mention of Larry Tetzlaff in the Log of Lorain column that ran in the September 22, 1953 Lorain Journal. It noted, “Larry Tetzlaff, owner of a snake farm near Vermilion, was speaker at assembly exercises at Lorain High School this morning, the first assembly of the 1953-54 school year, according to Principal J. F. Calta.
"He had with him a part of his collection of snakes and lizards and invited some of the students to the stage to demonstrate how to handle snakes."

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Beebe Tavern Comes Down – August 1941

Beebe Tavern Circa 1820
(From the book "Reminiscences of Elyria")
Here's an interesting article that quietly captured the end of an era in Lorain County: the demolition of the Beebe Tavern in Elyria. The article ran on the front page of the Lorain Journal on August 8, 1941. It's kind of sad that the building could not be saved.

One-Time Beebe Tavern Condemed; Other News Briefs
(By Staff Correspondent)

ELYRIA – Workers started this morning to tear down the old Beebe Tavern, a frame structure at Broad and E. Bridge-sts used as a stage coach inn during the early days of this city's history. The property is owned by Fred Jackson, Cleveland.

The house had been condemned by Fire Chief W. N. Bates. The original deadline was advanced to Aug.1 by Bates at Jackson's request. A movement to move the house to the rear of the property, renovate it and establish a city museum was started here among older residents but failed.

Two other properties in the city are also being removed. They are a two-story frame house on Chapel-st, owned by Harvey Winckles, Elyria, which has been sold to a LaGrange resident and will be removed there, and a vacant two-car cement block garage at Lake-av and Oak-st, owned by the Columbia Refining Co.

Fire Chief Bates has requested the state fire marshal to issue orders against two other properties, at the end of Northrup-st and at 327 Lodi-st, both owned by out-of-town persons. Both are in bad condition with taxes delinquent, Bates said. Owners could not be located, bates said, altho he has searched for them several years.

To learn more about the Beebe Tavern and early Elyria history, be sure to visit this link and download a copy of Reminiscences of Elyria (1900) by Mrs. Mary Beebe Hall on the site, courtesy of the Lorain County Historical Society. The Beebe Tavern material begins on Page 10.

Here's a photo from the Arcadia book Elyria by William L. Bird and Robert R. Ebert on Behalf of the Lorain County Historical Society showing the Beebe Tavern before it was finally torn down.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The W. 21st Street Extension

I’ve mentioned before that when I was a kid, if my family was going to go to Vermilion or Huron, we always went down Leavitt Road to West 21st Street and used it as a shortcut to Lake Road. It would have been impractical to go north all the way down Leavitt to Lake Road.

Ironically, we rarely traveled that section of Lake Road between Leavitt and the undercut that I’ve written so much about – via stories about the Pueblo, Anchor Lodge, McDonald’s, the Lorain Arena, Taco Boy, Howard Johnson’s, etc.

Anyway, I’ve always thought of that stretch of W. 21st Street as being rather forgettable, notable only because it was the road leading to (yum) the Nickles Bakery Thrift Store.

How long has that stretch of W. 21st Street been there?

The answer’s in this story, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on August 2, 1941.


County Earmarks $35,000 for New 21st Street Route
Other Jobs Placed Ahead of Lorain-Elyria Road Plan

Lorain-co board of commissioners yesterday earmarked $35,000 for extension and improvement of W. 21st-st from Leavitt-rd to an intersection with Lake-rd, just west of the Nickel Plate underpass, according to Board Chairman Oscar Dunn.

The action was taken to provide the county’s share of the cost of building a western outlet for Central High Level bridge.

Use of the county’s $35,000 is contingent upon the state highway department doing the work and making the road a “defense access road” under a new federal works program to relieve traffic on Lake-rd, now the most heavily traveled in Northern Ohio.

The state has agreed to cut the road thru and pave it as soon as federal funds are released to the state for the defense roads.

At the same time yesterday, the county board decided that the county will insist on definite action on the 21st-st extension and three other projects already planned before the board will consider the right-of-way purchase of the old Lorain Street railway for a new Lorain-Elyria road.

The state highway department has asked the county to purchase the right-of-way for the planned new road.

The other three projects given priority by the county board are the completion of Route 611 (Colorado-av) improvement, the widening of two narrow bridges on Route 18 west of Wellington, and elimination of a curve on Elyria-Oberlin-rd at Brookdale cemetery and resurfacing of the road.

It’s interesting that at that point in 1941, the “new Lorain-Elyria road” – today’s Route 57 - had to take a backseat to the W. 21st Street extension.

As usual, the Journal page that I’ve reproduced probably has things that are more interesting to readers than the article that I’m spotlighting. If you have good eyesight (or some good glasses), you might want to check some of them out. Included are articles about the death of Curtis Snyder, one of the “pioneer army of steelworkers who came to Lorain in 1898,” the mention of a Moose Lodge picnic at Crystal Beach, the story of a 73-year-old man who had just left on a honeymoon with his 16-year-old bride, and a fish story told by Gene Mason, a crane man at National Tube.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Back to Bay View

Although I did a post on Bay View last year, I couldn’t resist driving out there again this year.

There’s just something about this charming cottage community that’s very appealing to me. Perhaps it’s because its sleepy main street is missing the visual pollution that you find in bigger villages: dollar stores, chain drug stores, payday loan companies, tattoo parlors, etc.

Anyway, I grabbed a few shots around town. I was there fairly early on a Sunday morning, so there wasn’t too much activity.

I decided to drive out onto what’s left of the old Bay Bridge.
I resisted peeking in the barrel to see if fishermen were obeying the sign
Well, I guess that wraps up my summertime wanderings out in Vacationland here on the blog. Next week, it’s back to my usual Lorain County beat.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Bay View Memories

Vintage postcard courtesy of Dennis Lamont
Summer’s almost over, so I’ll sneak in one last trip to cottage country. Today’s destination: Bay View.

Regular contributor Rick Kurish suggested Bay View as a blog topic earlier in the summer. Back in June, he wrote, "I know you are familiar with the area of western Ohio known as “Vacationland," and have done a few blog postings on the area. Perhaps you might consider Bay View, which I believe is now a part of Sandusky.

"Like Sheffield Lake, Bay View was developed as a summer colony of lake cottages. The area was developed in the mid 1920s, and I have attached a few of the cottage ads which appeared in the Chronicle-Telegram in the 1925/1926 time frame.”

Here are the ads. This one (below) is the oldest ad Rick could find for the Bay View development. It ran in the Chronicle on April 16, 1925.

Here are two more.

Rick also wrote about his personal experience connected with Bay View. He wrote, "I ‘discovered' Bay View in the summer of 1965 when I was living in Toledo. By Ohio Turnpike, the drive between Toledo and Amherst took about two hours. 
"However, one summer weekend I decided to make the drive home a leisurely one along the lakeshore. I ended up crossing Sandusky Bay on the old State Route 269 lift bridge, which took you right into Bay View. 
"At the end of the bridge was a restaurant where I stopped for lunch. I don't remember the name of the restaurant, but it was later named The Angry Trout. 
1960s postcard of Log Cabin Restaurant, predecessor of the Angry Trout
"As I was eating lunch looking at a road map, several people stopped to ask if I needed help or directions. when I mentioned that Bay View looked like a great place to spend the summer, they laughed and said it was the best kept secret on the western part of the lake. Anyway, after I had eaten I decided to drive around the area before continuing on my way. 
"And it appeared the guy was right. While covering a relatively small area, the ambiance was "lazy summer day” – mostly summer cottages, hammocks in the yards, chairs lining the beaches, and people water skiing in the bay. I was impressed, and decided that one day when I had some time I would rent one of the summer cottages for a week or two and see if living there in the summer was a neat as it looked --- but of course, I never did. 
"With the demise of the Route 269 bridge, and the advent of the Edison Bridge which bypasses the town, there is little reason to pass through Bay View anymore. In fact, the last time I was there was over 20 years ago. I think I'll leave it that way, and remember it as it was the first time I passed through in the summer of 1965.”
Thanks for sharing your memories, Rick! 
Bay View is still there and very much the same, as we’ll see tomorrow when I go “Back to Bay View."

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Images of Lorain County Fairs Past

I made my annual trip out to Wellington for the Lorain County Fair Monday night. It’s one of my favorite days of the year – pure fun and good eatin'.

So it’s a good time for me to post some vintage images of the Fair before it's over.

First up is this vintage postcard, recently on Ebay, giving us a glimpse of the Fair when it was held in Elyria. It looks almost like a formal affair (no pun intended).

The postcard was postmarked in Elyria on August 29, 1909 and was published by Bins’ Book Store in Elyria. 
(Click here to visit the Lorain County Fair website and read a short history of the Fair.)

And here a few more images that should look a little bit more like the Fair we’re used to. This ad for the Fair ran in the Lorain Journal on August 16, 1956 – 60 years ago.

Some of the attractions at the 1956 Lorain County Fair: Jack Kochman’s Hell Drivers; the Buddy Morrow Band; the Four Freshmen; and the network country music program Midwestern Hayride with Bonnie Lou.
Ten years later, this full-page ad (below) ran in the August 20, 1966 Lorain Journal for the 111th Annual Lorain County Fair.
Attractions at the 1966 Fair included country music singer Eddy Arnold and His All Star Show, and Dan Fleenor's Hurricane Hell Drivers.
By George, Lorain Countians really enjoy those Hell Drivers.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

John’s Motel & Cabins – Part 3

Wouldn't you know it? Just when I thought I was done with my look at John's Motel & Cabins, I received the above postcard in my email from historian and archivist Dennis Lamont late in the afternoon on Monday!

The caption reads:
RTE. 2 AND U. S. 6

The postcard shows the brick house that many remember as the Kovanic home, as well as tourist cabins – the same ones seen in the John's Motel & Cabins postcard (below). Unmistakably the same view, trees, telephone poles, etc. What a great find, Dennis!

It all makes sense. That 1954 Lorain County Farm & Rural Directory listing included a mention of the Sunnyside Inn being run by John Kovanic (below) with the motel between his house and the Inn. (The numerical listings increase as they move east from the Erie County line.)

I’m guessing that the building on the left hand side of the postcard is the Inn.
After looking at a 1969 Historic Aerial, I’m inclined to believe that there were two rows of cabins: a row parallel to Lake Road (shown on both vintage postcards) and a second row that formed an “L” where it met the first row of cabins. You can see the edge of that second row in the cabin photo.
Of course, the cabins facing Lake Road are long gone, but that second row (in my opinion) are most likely the ones seen in Part 2 of this blog series.

Monday, August 22, 2016

John’s Motel & Cabins – Part 2

The former Kovanic home at the corner of Hazelwood and Liberty.
You can see the motel cabins in back.
On Friday, Bill Nahm posted a link to my story on John’s Motel and Cabins on the “You Know You’re From Vermilion” Facebook page. Bill was guessing that some of the locals could help provide some answers as to where the motel and cabins were located.

Bill was right.

It didn’t take long for more than a dozen helpful Facebook members to weigh in with information to pinpoint the location of John Kovanic’s business. More than three hundred page views of my original post took place within a day or so (compared to my usual thirty or so hits a day).

Thanks to everyone who helped by leaving a comment.

As more than one person pointed out, the Kovanics lived in the big, brick house at the corner of Hazelwood and Liberty (U.S. Route 6) seen at the top of this post. The house's address is still 3265 Liberty.

Having a real address helped me research what happened to the motel after John Kovanic retired.

Within a few years, it became the Shipwreck Motel – just as one of the Vermilion Facebook members remembered. (When I read that, I vaguely remembered a small, distressed boat that sat in front of the motel over the years.)

The Shipwreck Motel appeared in the Lorain phone book listings until the 1977-78 edition, when its listing was replaced by Sunset Motel at the same address.

Apparently, Sunset Motel was one of two motels that made up a small local chain. The other Sunset Motel was out on U. S. Route 20 East near Oberlin. They both appeared next to each other in the listings until the 1980 directory, when only the one on Route 20 was listed.

There are still motel cabins behind the former Kovanic house. It’s hard to tell if they are the same ones in the vintage photo, or if they were entirely rebuilt.

Often, tourist court operators would update their old, individual cabins by joining them together structurally to form a more modern-looking block of rooms.

Here's what they look like.

One of the interesting things about the Facebook comment is that a few people disagreed about the location of the Kovanic cabins. At least one person remembered them being located further east.
There were actually a lot of cabins along that stretch of highway. The 1954 Lorain County Farm & Rural Directory listed three cabin camps all in that same area on the south side of the highway. Besides the Kovanic cabins, there were also tourist cabins associated with Rich D. Kish and his grocery located near Sunnyside, and Pickering’s Cabins which were listed as being near Ferndale.

Before I wrap up this topic, I would be remiss if I did not mention Adele Kovanic, who was the daughter of John and Elizabeth Kovanic. More than one person on the Vermilion Facebook page noted that she is still living on Hazelwood.

It sounds like Adele is very well known for her musical talents. One person noted, “She taught music at VHS for years and was the organist at St Mary's. Another remembered, "Ask any older member of St. Mary’s, they will know all about her. She was my high school music teacher."

Even Dennis Lamont emailed me about Adele, noting, “She is quite an accomplished musician, having taught music in Vermilion and was one of the organists at St Mary’s.

"She retired a few years ago. She could not only play anything on the organ but effortlessly transpose music as she played. When a priest intoned a high mass she was instantly "in tune" with him.”

Dennis noted that Adele was "One of a kind, we are glad we were able to see and hear her in her prime."

Friday, August 19, 2016

John’s Motel & Cabins – Part 1

Here’s a Lake Road tourist camp that I’d never heard of before: John’s Motel and Cabins. The above real photo postcard postcard recently appeared on Ebay and was postmarked August 12, 1951.

The location of John’s Motel and Cabins is inscribed on the front of the postcard – East Lake Road, Route 2 & 6, Vermilion, Ohio – with a phone number of 2204. (The back of the card was blank.)
It was fairly easy to find it and its matching phone number in this 1950 Lorain Telephone Company directory listing of Tourist & Trailer Camps (below), which was the earliest book that included it.
The telephone directory listing provided a better description of where it was located: Stop 124 1/2, which would on Lake Road east of Vermilion, near Sunnyside Road.
The location was further pinpointed by the motel’s listing in the 1954 Lorain County Farm & Rural Directory as being on the south side of the highway. The listing also mentions an inn.
Best of all, the listing also revealed the name of the man behind the business: John Kovanic.
Here’s a later listing from the Lorain phone book. This one appeared in 1959. Note the many motels and tourist camps that have been featured on this blog during the past seven years : Anchor Lodge Motel, Beachcomber Motor Lodge, Beth-Shan Motel, Foster House Motel, Grandview Motel, Hialeah, Holiday Inn, Kayann’s, Lakeland Lodges, Peck’s Cottages, and Vians.)
John’s Motel continued to appear in the Lorain phone book until it disappeared as of the 1962 edition.
John J. Kovanic passed away on October 11, 1972. His obituary that appeared in the Journal the next day revealed that he was born in Czechoslovakia in October 1887 and came to New York at the age of 23. He had been a resident of Vermilion for 52 years.

As for his career in tourist lodging, his obituary stated that he had “owned and operated the Home Restaurant on Main St., Vermilion, from 1920 to 1930 and then later operated the John’s Motel, East Liberty Ave., Vermilion, from 1930 to 1962, when he retired.”

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Peck’s Cottages – Part 4

I had real difficulty getting a nice “now” shot of the above postcard showing the Peck store with the cottages in the background. The weather comically conspired to make my task difficult each time I drove out towards Vermilion to get my photo.

Even though it was sunny in Sheffield Lake, by the time I got to the former Peck’s, it was either raining or overcast. This happened twice.

On another attempt, the weather was again crummy when I arrived. So I kept on going towards Huron, hoping the weather would change. It did, and got sunny – so I turned around and roared back towards my destination at “ramming speed" – only to find that it was overcast again. Sigh.

Eventually I got this shot (below).

By the way, the large building in the photo is now called “the Cafe.”

Here’s a view of the cottages behind it.
Remember the vintage Peck’s postcard of the pool that I posted yesterday (below)?

Although it’s just a memory now, you can still see it near Lake Road in this outdated aerial view. Hey, wha' happened to the trees?
Hope you enjoyed this look back at Peck’s Cottages. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Peck’s Cottages – Part 3

All postcards courtesy of
It’s impossible not to feel the pangs of nostalgia when looking at vintage postcards of Peck’s Cottages.

The postcards reveal a different era, when many families headed to the shores of Lake Erie for their annual week at a cottage. There, they enjoyed the cooling lake breezes while they played, swam, sunbathed and relaxed.

The resort amenities listed on the backs of the cards above include: a heated swimming pool, restaurant, basketball, shuffleboard, horseshoes, badminton, ping pong and a children’s playground.

Here’s another one, courtesy of the great Post Card Spinner Rack website, where a vintage postcard aficionado has lovingly put his collection on display for all to enjoy.

The back of it reads:
"PECKS TOURIST AND VACATION COURT on Lake Erie is a complete Vacation Center. 38 all modern cottages and cabins, restaurant, shuffleboard, outdoor fireplaces, swimming, horseshoes and joyous loafing. 4 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. Ohio Route 2 and U. S. 6. 4 miles west of Vermilion, Ohio.”

A 1964 Cleveland Press photo of the swimming pool at Peck’s Cottages recently appeared on Ebay (below).
Harry J. Peck passed away on August 10, 1967. His obituary in the Sandusky Register stated that he had been a Vermilion resident and former teacher that “formerly owned and operated Peck’s Cottages, five miles west of here, for 14 years.”

His wife, Freda Peck, passed away in 2003.

Lloyd Moats, the original owner of the cottage property when it was one of his many tourist camps, passed away in September 1977. His obituary in the Lorain Journal noted, “Born April 7, 1889 in Berlin Heights, he had been a fruit grower in his early years and later owned and operated five motels on West Lake Road.”

Through several changes in ownership, Peck’s Cottages managed to hang on to around 2000. The cottage listing disappeared from the Lorain phone book in 2001; a listing for Peck’s General Store – with the same address as the cottages – last appeared in the 2002 book.

Today, the former Peck’s Cottages is part of the Beulah Beach Camp & Retreat Center.

Next: The Inevitable Then & Now photo