Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Showboat in Lorain – Part 2

On January 16, 1953, the above ad for the Showboat nightclub ran in the Lorain Journal, promoting an upcoming appearance by Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, who were “opening Monday."

Bugs and Elmer?!

A small series of unusual teaser ads added to the promotional build-up. The two ads shown below ran in different sections of the paper on January 17, 1953.
So who or what took the stage at the Showboat on Monday, January 19, 1953? 
The early 1950s were still a little too early to mount a costumed character show like you would see later at Disneyland. Plus, a Lorain nightclub was no place for children, anyway.
As it turns out, the act was none other than Les Barker, direct from Alpine Village in Cleveland. Here’s the ad that ran on that Monday.
I’ve written about Les Barker before. 
He had appeared at Midway Mall in August 1969. My family caught one of his shows, in which he drew Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd on pieces of acetate, which he manipulated to create a sort of primitive animation using an overhead projector. I even got his autograph (written on part of a Hough Bakeries bag).
Apparently that’s what he did at the Showboat in 1953, as well. As noted on blogtoonnetwork, Barker “created one novel nightclub act called “Quick on the Draw,” where he entertained audiences with a stand-up routine and an overhead projector." 
For his Showboat appearance, however, Barker was billed as not only the creator of Bugs Bunny, but Bat Man as well! (I’m not sure how Bob Kane would feel about that.) As we know, Barker really wasn't the creator of either, but did achieve some lasting success and fame as the cartoonist behind Johnny Canuck.
Anyway, it’s interesting that sixteen years after his 1953 Showboat appearance, he was back in the Lorain area, still doing his shtick.
Next: The end of the Showboat

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Showboat in Lorain – Part 1

I had heard of a night club in Downtown Lorain called the Showboat, but only knew that it had the same name and theme as a restaurant in Huron in the 1970s. Lorain’s Showboat seemed to be a business that had only a very brief time in the spotlight in the 1950s before disappearing, and I didn’t know its story.

That’s why I was happy to see this two page spread in the February 10, 1950 Lorain Journal. It announces the formal opening of the nightclub, lists the two gentlemen involved in its management – Gus Atthanasoff and Joseph Karhusz – and even includes a photo of the outside.

Here are larger versions of each page in case you want to click on them and read them.

Employees featured in a photo of their own included Helen Wilson, cook; Frances Smith, waitress; Howard Ripple, bartender; Dolores Tracy, waitress; and Hallie Moore, waitress.

The ad includes a lot of detailed information about the restaurant itself and its culinary offerings.

It also mention that “A professional photographer will be on hand every evening to make “on-the-spot” souvenir photographs of you and your party for a moderate charge (if you so desire).”

The Showboat was located at 766 - 770 Broadway (the location of the now-demolished Ghoulardi’s).

Two Rusine’s businesses – Rusine’s Menswear and Rusine’s bookstore – had previously been located at that location since at least the early 1940s. (As we know, Rusine’s moved to a new location just a little further down Broadway.)

Tomorrow: Bugs Bunny “visits” the Showboat

Friday, February 24, 2017

Feb 15, 1950 – Ohio Fuel Gas Company Ad

It's been a while since I featured this little guy, the gas flame mascot for the Ohio Fuel Gas Company. The above ad for an automatic gas water heater ran in the Lorain Journal on Feb. 15, 1950 – 67 years ago this month.

(I probably should have posted an Ohio Edison ad with Reddy Kilowatt since the last few days have been all about Thomas Edison. Oh well.)

You might remember that I had been on a unsuccessful quest to come up with the gas company mascot's name until I received an assist from the Michigan State University Library – who revealed that his name was Speedy. (I wrote about it in this two-part series, here and here.)

Anyway, old time hot water heaters are certainly something for me to be nostalgic about.

They used to last for 15 or 20 years, until you found the inevitable puddle of water on the floor – and then it was time to get a new one.

Nowadays they don't last half that long. And because of a change in building codes, mine has to be vented. Thus I have a fan on top of it that I hear almost every time I rinse off a crusty fork with hot water.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Edison Centennial – 1947 – Part 2

I went back and reviewed the Lorain Journals from February 1947 to see how the Thomas Edison Centennial was celebrated in Milan, Ohio where he was born. The Feb. 11, 1947 edition of the paper included this article (below).

Celebration for Edison
Reach Climax at Milan
Sleepy Little Town Hums With Activity as It Pays
Tribute to Its Most Famous Son
By Staff Correspondent

MILAN – This sleep little Ohio town took on a gala atmosphere today as it celebrated the 100th birthday anniversary of its most famous son – Thomas A. Edison.

The red brick house that was the birthplace of the famous inventor was thrown open to the public for the first time since his widow approved plans for its restoration 18 months ago; the post office prepared to cancel and mail thousands upon thousands of “first day covers” of the new Edison stamp, and the town’s churchwomen readied a huge banquet for this evening to top off the day’s activities.

Stamps Main Interest
The post office was the focal point of the celebration as a special staff of 50 postal workers prepared the stamp covers for collectors. Postmaster James Lavey said he had a full mail sack of requests from Australia alone, with the furthest request coming from the Bank of China in Hong Kong.

Famous persons who have asked for stamps include President Truman, and Queen Elizabeth and Princess Elizabeth of England.

Third Assistant U. S. Postmaster General Joseph J. Lawler presented the first sheet of the purple three-cent stamps to Mrs. John Sloane, Edison’s only daughter, prior to the opening of public sales.

Today’s events climaxed a three-day centennial celebration giving this village of 700 persons more excitement than it has known since Edison as a boy set fire to his father’s barn and was publicly paddled for it in the town’s square.

The banquet tonight in the Presbyterian church will be served by women dressed in period costumes.

In that same edition of the Journal, a photo feature (below) showed the opening of Thomas Edison’s rolltop desk in his library in West Orange, New Jersey by his widow, son and daughter. The desk had been sealed since his death 16 years earlier.

Also in that Feb. 11, 1947 Lorain Journal, Ohio Edison took out a full-page ad honoring the inventor. (Note the tiny Reddy Kilowatt next to the company logo.)
The Feb. 12, 1947 Lorain Journal included a front page story about the celebration in Milan the day before. It noted, “This village was crowded to its limits yesterday as almost 4,000 visitors milled thru the streets and attended the re-opening of the restored Edison birthplace. The home had been out of the Edison family for some years.
“A high spot of the anniversary celebration was the presentation of the first sheet of the new Edison stamps to Mrs. Madeline Edison Sloane of West Orange, N. J., only daughter of the inventor, who was Milan’s honored guest for the occasion. 
“Mrs. Sloane represented the Edison family at the re-opening of the homestead.”
There was also a celebration in Cleveland. The article noted, “Edison was honored last night at Cleveland in an address by an old friend of his, Dr. Laurence A. Hawkins, consultant in the research laboratory of the General Electric Co.
“Principal speaker at a civic dinner in commemoration of Edison’s 100th birthday, Dr. Hawkins said that “Edison is the greatest inventor that the world will ever see.”
“I can conceive of the possibility, tho not the probability, of another Shakespeare,” Dr. Hawkins said. “I cannot conceive of the possibility of another Edison."

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Edison Centennial – 1947 – Part 1

Back in February 1947 – 70 years ago this month – the country was celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Thomas Edison, often described as America’s greatest inventor. He was born Feb. 11, 1847 in Milan, Ohio.

The small article on the front page of the January 16, 1947 Lorain Journal mentions that Edison was to be honored with a stamp. The celebration in Milan also included the opening to the public of the Edison Birthplace Museum.

Here are some vintage postcards of Edison's Birthplace. We went there at least once when we were kids, like all good Ohioans.

Vintage postcard dated 1924
Vintage postcard dated 1937
There are several first day of issue covers featuring the Thomas Edison stamp available on Ebay right now.

It’s interesting how formal and dignified stamps used to be back when they were engraved and not produced by lithography as they are now. It makes a big difference in how they look.
I wonder if stamp collecting is still a popular hobby?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Luncheonette at 611 Broadway

Here’s a place that I’d never heard of before: Eddie’s Luncheonette. The ad celebrating its reopening ran in the pages of the Lorain Journal on February 2, 1952.

Its address was 611 Broadway, making it part of the Palace Theater complex.
Eddie’s Luncheonette had a classic diner business model, offering breakfast and lunch to people on the go, especially business people. The ad lists all sorts of mouth-watering goodies that were available.
We’ve actually met Eddie – Edward Easton – before on this blog. During the late 1940s, he was running Eddie’s Blue Castle on Broadway in the 600 block. By 1950, he had moved his business down Broadway a block to its location next to the Palace.
By 1955, however, Eddie had become an insurance agent. Thus the business became Alexander’s Luncheonette, operated by Alexander and Lucille Hladik. They ran it for a couple of years before turning it over to the owners who would have it the longest: Mary Lesiuk and her husband Omelan.
Mary’s Luncheonette first appeared in the directory in 1958. The restaurant would have an incredible run at the 611 Broadway location until around 1977. 
As of the 1978 edition of the city directory, Critic’s Choice, run by Leonard DeLuca would take over the location.
Unfortunately, you can’t get a steakburg and fries at 611 Broadway today. It is the Lorain Branch Title Office of the Lorain County Clerk of Courts, where you can get a ‘fast and easy’ passport or auto title.
I think Lorain could use the luncheonette more.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Weekend Wanderings

I took advantage of the nice weather over the weekend to drive over and see how the demolition of the former Charleston Elementary School was coming along. It had started earlier in the week.

It was strange to see it reduced to a pile of tangled metal, crushed cinder blocks and broken bricks.

Speaking of bricks, Lorain had announced that some would be made available to souvenir collectors. I saw a half-dozen of them lying in the mud near one of the construction entrances.

I grabbed one for old times' sake.

One little rascal had made his way over to Pole Avenue before he was abandoned in the grass. I rescued him too (below).

Speaking of demolitions, I also made a trip down to Hot Waters. The usual suspects were hanging around (below).

Although there wasn’t much action down there, it's still a good vantage point from which to see the Lighthouse.
I also watched some activity around the bait shop during the day – things being cleaned out, etc. I think it’s going to be demolished quickly, to put the issue to rest as soon as possible.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Greetings From Lorain

Ebay continues to be a fertile supply of vintage images for this blog, and this week is no exception. I found two new “Greetings from Lorain” postcards that I’d never seen before and added them to my ‘virtual collection.’

Here’s the complete collection so far, some of which I posted piecemeal back in 2011. A few of them are obviously generic, but still fun to look at. Strangely though, there’s not a Lighthouse to be found.
Lorain had an impressive advertising theme back in the late 1950s: “An Industrial Empire in Ohio’s Vacationland.” I still think Lorain needs to reintroduce itself into that Vacationland family, even as some sort of uninvited, unwanted shirt-tail relative.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Early History of the Bait Shop

A 1930s view of the Lorain Yacht Club headquarters (at right)
with the Lorain Waterworks behind it
(Courtesy Al Doane Collection – Lorain Public Library)
As Al Doane pointed out to me yesterday, the small bait and tackle building down at Hot Waters that is going to be demolished has a pretty good historical pedigree.

The Lorain Journal of June 21, 1955 explained its origin in a story about water sports in Lorain County. It mentions how the Lorain Powerboat club was reorganized as the Lorain Yacht Club in 1927 and notes, “With funds from the old power boat club treasury plus money raised through the sale of subscription bonds, a clubhouse was built at Waterworks Park.

“John Dusendon, a popular Lorain small boat builder, and Dewey Moore supervised the construction of this building.”

1930s aerial view
(Courtesy Al Doane Collection – Lorain Public Library)
The article goes on to explain how the passing of L. I. Corthell, commodore of the Lorain Yacht Club in 1931, led to expansion of the building. He had left one-eighth of his estate to the Lorain Yacht Club and, as the article notes, “With these funds the clubhouse was expanded, the Bar and restrooms added and a permanent foundation placed under the building.

“This expansion took place in 1940 during Don Whyte’s term of office.”

In 1951 the Lorain Yacht Club purchased land on Alabama Avenue for a new clubhouse. As for its old one, “The club surrendered its old quarters to the Fraternal Order of Police in January 1953.”

So here you have a building that is Lorain’s oldest connection to its water sports heritage: the original Lorain Yacht Club headquarters. Plus, it has historical significance to the Lorain Fraternal Order of Police.

It not only needs to be saved and restored, it should have a historical plaque out in front of it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Bye Bye Bait Shop

The view on Tuesday night
I read in the Chronicle-Telegram last night (here) that Lorain is planning to tear down the city-owned Hot Waters Bait & Tackle building.

It’s been decided that given the poor condition that the building is in, there is no reason to continue to lease the property to a tenant, or invest in rehabilitating the building.

Once again, Lorain can’t wait to tear something old down.

Courtesy Lorain County Auditor
And that’s a shame. Here you have an old, interesting little building that would be right at home in a New England harbor environment. If it was fixed up and returned to its former glory, it could be something that tourists would utilize.

I don’t know how many people still fish down at Hot Waters, but I’ll bet plenty enjoy the view of the Lighthouse. This building would be perfect to sell pop, coffee, hot dogs, or newspapers – or even hand out tourist information. Or sell souvenirs. In addition to its purpose of selling bait and tackle.

If this building gets torn down, it’s possible that nothing will take its place. And Lorain loses more of its real, nautical heritage.

Authentic heritage that can’t be replaced by pagan fish pageants.

When are the city and civic leaders of Lorain going to start thinking of the city as a tourist destination and make sure every move is geared in that direction – instead of just cutting costs?

Please, Lorain – leave something old standing for a change. Make this building a project. Find volunteers – grants – corporate sponsors – and fix it up.

Got an interesting email from local historian and author Al Doane this morning about this building. Apparently it has a lot more maritime history than I thought.

Al noted, "I remember when that building housed the Lorain Yacht Club until the new club was built on Alabama Avenue, just north of East Erie Avenue, and just north of the East entrance from East Erie Ave. to the Bascule Bridge.

"I remember the old Yacht Club using this old building in the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's. It had a lot going for the building when a regatta was held there, for all the various close yacht clubs would enter the races."

All the more reason to try and save this building!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sick in the Sixties

As I write this, I’m just getting over being sick with the latest virus or bug that's been going around my work since December. It's worse than a cold, but not quite the flu.

It did cause me to miss three days of work last week, though. And all that laying around gave me time to reflect on what it was like for my siblings and me when we got sick while growing up in the 1960s.

First of all, back then there were no "unknown viruses." You either had a cold, or the flu.
The cold was predictable and was really more of a nuisance. You had a sore throat and a cough, and your nose ran a lot. The remedy? We sucked on cough drops continually. This wasn’t so bad, since they were sweet and tasted like candy. We even fell asleep with them lodged in the side of our mouths.
If it was a bad cold, Mom would put Vicks VapoRub on our chest, and then cover it with a piece of flannel, pinned to our pajamas.

We were a real Vicks family. We had the vaporizer, which Mom cranked up once in a while, as well as the small, bullet-like inhalers which delivered a shot of Vicks aroma right up our old schnozzolas.

If we had a real bad cold, then Mom would break out the Citrisun – a hot lemonade drink that packed a powerful punch.

It knocked out the cold – and us too.

And that's how we dealt with colds back then.

Now, the flu – the “real” flu, not today’s modern version – was something else.

First of all, you had to stay home from school. Back then, having the flu meant that not only did you have a pretty good fever, you had diarrhea too.

You also threw up a lot. I remember how we used to sleep with a plastic bucket next to our bed, in case we couldn’t make the sprint to the bathroom in time.

We could hardly hold anything down, and ate mainly soup and crackers. We also were given 7 Up or ginger ale to settle our stomachs. (I'm still not crazy about 7 Up – probably because I associate it with being sick.)

As for doctors, I don’t remember one ever coming out to the house, although I think Mom used to call him to get advice.

Anyway, somehow we survived. I don’t remember ever missing more than a day or two of school for the flu. And the colds used to run their course in a week.

Nowadays, the germs and viruses are apparently more exotic and you stay sick longer. Some people even die from the flu. Medical researchers come up with new flu shots each year, but despite getting the shot, people still get sick anyway.

But some things don’t change. When I first got sick last week, Mom had one piece of advice for me.

“Don’t forget to rub some Vicks on your chest and cover it with a flannel.”