Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Skylite Memories

July 7, 1966 Journal ad
A few months ago, I received a nice email from a gentleman named Scott. He had found my blog while looking for pictures of some of the long-gone Lorain establishments that he remembered from when he was growing up.

One of these places was the Skylite bar, which in Scott's memories has come to symbolize a very special time in his life in Lorain.

"I lived in Lorain most of the first sixteen years of my life. I have always known the Broadway Building and Bear Furniture and, in later days, the YMCA,” he reminisced. "The 333 bar was a nice, close familiar place and had hot meals at dinner time."

But it was the Skylite bar, two doors south of 333, that left a big impression on Scott.
"The Skylite was a decent bar with about four or five regulars, my grandfather included. All the barmaids were like family to everyone, and especially kept an eye out for me as a youngster.
“The owners were Milt and Fran Del Monte, and Mr. Lerner. From what I could gather by sight, it had a sign saying formerly Kramer’s and was probably one of the booming places in better days. The exterior had been updated with a brick front and aluminum door and aluminum sealed picture windows.”
Scott is right about the bar previously being known as Kramer’s. Its last listing in the city directory by that name was in the 1960 edition.
1962 Lorain City Directory listing
Scott has vivid memories of the inside of the Skylite.
"The interior had a lunch counter installed in the early sixties to replace the tiny one by the bathrooms and the pool table under the namesake Skylite,” he explained. "It was originally a domed steel framing with wire reinforced glass, light filtered by multicolored ceiling panels. That and a small portable fountain were the only upgrades besides its earlier painted over embossed scenic wall panels beside the old straight back booths. Behind the booths, pool table and bathroom was a hallway to the back door through an old open storage to the right and a closed in area left.
"I had heard that this was probably one of the city’s first bowling alleys, and that it or another bar may have been the home of Andorka’s first bowling lanes. The Skylite and the regulars like Red Mercurio, Eddy Olson, Jo Torma, Betty Buga, Carl Greiss and others who were friends of my grandfather, and second family to me. This was a time and a place, though not at its best, that was safe; they protected their own." 
Scott shared an example of the kindness and generosity of one of the Skylite owners.
"The old man Mr. Lerner, when he left, said I was always to have free fountain 7 Up, a nice gesture to remember him, and think of us in good hands as he retired.”
The Skylite especially triggers warm memories of Scott's grandfather.
Scott noted, "“He was the kindest and most respectful person in my life that let me be with him to escape my not fitting in well.”
Spending time at the pool table taught Scott about life.
"I learned to shoot pool pretty well and not to judge or insult people, but to many times be a gentleman when others were not – with terms of ‘please' and ‘thanks' and yes and no, Ma'am or Sir."
"I got to be pretty good at pool by 13 and even beat my grandfather a few times,” he confessed. "One night I was off the table as Red and Eddy were going to play nine ball. I was told I couldn’t play, because they were playing for money, a $2 each pot. So I put in my two bucks and after getting the eight and nine in, two games in a row, they'd had enough. Sorry I spoiled their fun, but I just wanted to play.”

Looking back, Scott realizes that the Skylite was the backdrop for a special time in his life. He observed, “These times with these good folks are a nice reminder of my grandfather, my youth and a different time in Lorain."
Special thanks to Scott for sharing his memories.
1977 Lorain City Directory listing

1 comment:

-Alan D Hopewell said...

The Skylite and the 333 were two of the downtown bars where my brother and I shined shoes fifty years ago.
Does anyone remember the Office bar, behind and below the 333?