Tuesday, July 31, 2018

July 31, 1956 - Aerial Shot of Lorain Shopping Center Site

Here’s the kind of thing I really like to find on old newspaper microfilm: a vintage photo that lets me do a little time traveling in my mind.

In this case, it's a nice aerial shot showing where the new Lorain Plaza Shopping Center was going to be built. It ran in the Lorain Journal on Tuesday, July 31, 1956.

That’s Meister Road curving down from the east to meet Oberlin Avenue in the foreground. Where they intersect, you can recognize the PURE service station (also seen below).

At that point in time, Jay’s grocery store and Willow Hardware were already open in the small Willow Shopping Center opposite the PURE station. (Jay’s had opened in 1952 and Willow Hardware in 1953.) You can see the shopping center’s distinctive rounded parking lot with frontage lane paralleling Oberlin Avenue in the photo.
Next door immediately to the right (or south) on Oberlin Avenue is the small collection of buildings anchored by Lezber Floors.
Anyway, it’s interesting to see how a commercial area that we’re all so familiar with grew ‘organically’ in the early days.

And here’s a “now” aerial shot of the same area.

Monday, July 30, 2018

McDonald's Grand Opening – July 30, 1963

It was exactly 55 years ago today that the McDonald's on Colorado Avenue opened. Above is the ad that appeared in the Lorain Journal on July 29, 1963, on the eve of the big event.

It was the second  restaurant with the Golden Arches to open in Lorain, following the June 29, 1960 Grand Opening of the one on West Erie Avenue.

Both of Lorain’s original McDonald’s locations are no more. The restaurant on West Erie no doubt suffered with the lack of traffic due to the opening of the new limited-access Route 2 in the 1960s. The Colorado Avenue McDonalds was possibly too far off the beaten track in a location between the city’s two bridges, unable to take advantage of the traffic crossing either one.

I’m not exactly sure when the McDonald’s on Colorado closed. However, a new McDonald’s appeared just around the corner on Henderson Drive at a former Kentucky Fried Chicken location.

The former McDonald’s restaurant on Colorado Avenue has housed a few businesses since then, most recently the home of the relocated Margie’s Magpie Inn.

The former McDonald’s this past weekend

Friday, July 27, 2018

Masson Creates History of Lorain Course – July 28, 1939

Masson at the time of its demolition in Sept. 2013
Although Masson Elementary and Junior High School are no more, and the elementary school that sits on the former Masson property today was named after Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison, I still think that Judson Masson deserves to be remembered.

As I noted in my series on "Masson Memories" back in 2012, "For 31 years, Masson was an employee of the Lorain city schools. He was an assistant superintendent of schools, as well as being a former president of the board of trustees of the Lorain Public Library. He had been in the teaching profession for 52 years until his retirement in the summer of 1947.

"His civic accomplishments included having helped organize the Lorain Musical Arts Society and the Lorain Philharmonic Orchestra. He also wrote the first Lorain history book: "Our Town, the Story of Lorain, Ohio," for the public schools.”
Thus, the abandonment of the Masson name by the school board also meant the loss of a school honoring a local teacher. Too bad. 
Anyway, the article below, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on Friday, July 28, 1939, covers the creation of that history of Lorain school course by Judson Masson.
If a course on the history of Lorain is not part of the current Lorain school curriculum, it should be.
New 7-B Course Will Be
Introduced; Designed by Masson

This fall, for the first time in the history of Lorain schools, a course will be introduced into the curriculum dealing entirely with the city of Lorain.
General guidelines of the course were designed by J. S. Masson, assistant superintendent of schools. The general outline topics, including city government, industry, commerce, transportation and communication, history, nationalities, recreation, schools, and churches, have been enlarged by a committee  of teachers.
The course will be offered ti 7-B pupils as a one semester course, substituted for the regular social science course, but plans are in the making to broaden the scope to state and national coverage and continue the second semester.
Chance For Research
Masson said the principal values in the course are creating an interest in the community, recognition of the responsibilities of citizenship, and understanding of local affairs and human relationships.
He ventured the opinion that the opportunities presented for personal research on the part of students, and for field trips and other active participation instead of the more prosaic reading of textbooks will stimulate pupil interest.
Students, he said, can obtain a wealth of information by consulting parent and other adult acquaintances and thus find a definite satisfaction in their work.
No textbook will be used in the course, but several sources of information, including the 60th Anniversary Edition of the Lorain Journal and Times-Herald will be used. The board of education has already ordered 75 copies of the edition for use in the course.

I remember taking that course in seventh grade at Masson Junior High. There was a book by then, and it was well-written and informative.

The Lorain Public Library has several copies on its shelves in the Local History section. The book remains a handy reference.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Lorain City Hall Belles – July 26, 1956

Although it might seem hopelessly sexist today, there was a time when the Lorain Journal could devote a full page to a photo feature highlighting the pretty women that worked at Lorain City Hall. And that time was exactly 62 years ago today, when the full-page of photo portraits by Doug Moore ran on July 26, 1956.

Actually, it’s all in fun – and you get the impression that the women enjoyed being acknowledged for their important contribution in running the city.

The photo captions provide a nice window into operations at City Hall back then, identifying the secretaries to the Service Director, Prosecutor, Safety Director, City Auditor, and Mayor. (Mayor John Jaworski’s secretary is his daughter!)

For me, one of the highlights of the page is seeing Clerk of Courts Frank Katrick surrounded by his staff of deputy clerks. As I mentioned in previous posts, I sat right behind the talented musician and artist in the Biz Grove Orchestra (and a few of its later incarnations) for many years. (Frank played saxophone and I was in the trombone section.) 

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Hot Waters Improvements – July 1963

Yesterday's post featured the Beaver Park Boat Club's headquarters building, which was brand new in 1954.

Today's post includes a photo of the former Lorain Yacht Club's clubhouse, the subject of many posts on this blog last year before it was torn down. I wrote about the history of the LYC clubhouse here and here, its impending doom here and its demolition here.

Anyway, the article below, which appeared on the front page of the Lorain Journal on July 12, 1963 is mainly about improvements to the municipal pier that were being planned at that time.

What's interesting is the photo's caption. It notes, "In the background are the small boat ramps and the Fraternal Order of Police building which will be remodeled into a concession stand and rest room area if approved by council and the state."
Thus even in 1963, the building's potential for tourist purposes was recognized.  
Nevertheless, the building is gone now. I wonder what happened to the anticipated proposals for the empty lot?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

New Beaver Park Boat Club Building – July 24, 1954

Back on July 24, 1954 – 64 years ago today – the Beaver Park Boat Club was getting ready for its upcoming Regatta. Part of the celebration was the opening of its new clubhouse, as shown in the article above which appeared in the Lorain Journal that day.

Beaver Park has been a favorite topic on this blog.

Anyway, the Boat Club building mentioned in the article can be seen on the vintage postcard below. It is the white, beachfront building on the right .

Today, it is hard to tell if the building that is at that location today is a remodeled and enlarged version of the original Boat Club building, or an entirely new structure.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Canada Dry Ad Featuring Esther Williams – July 6, 1956

Canada Dry has been a regular topic on this blog for some time.

Inexplicably, my 2013 post on the old Canada Dry bottling plant on Colorado Avenue remains one of my most-visited, with 576 page views this month, and 15,664 views total – making it second in popularity only to my post about the American flag painted on the old quarry overlooking Route 2.

I sure wish I knew why.

Anyway, I still like to post vintage Canada Dry ads that appeared in the Lorain Journal, and the one below features a celebrity: Esther Williams. The huge ad included a photo of her sons Benjamin and Kimball, and appeared in the paper on July 6, 1956.

Here’s a color version of the same ad that ran in the magazines later that year. It has a different glamour shot (of the bottles, not Miss Williams). There are other, subtle differences such as the cropping of the pool photo.
Speaking of Esther Williams, my favorite movie of hers is Dangerous When Wet (1953). Why? Because it features a cute cameo of our old pals Tom & Jerry swimming with her in an extended fantasy sequence created by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbara.

MGM's promotion for the movie included some great publicity photos of the famed cat and mouse team and Miss Williams. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Manners at SR 57 & SR 254 Opens – July 1967

Fifty-one years ago this month, the very modern-looking Manners Big Boy near the intersection of State Routes 254 and 57 opened for business, as noted above in the caption and photo that appeared in the Journal on July 12, 1967.

It’s still hard to believe that after building up such a huge presence in Lorain County, the Manners chain still disappeared before the end of the 1970s.

I remember eating at this particular restaurant in the 1980s (after a late gig, just like the type mentioned in the old Burger King commercials). It was no longer a Big Boy; it might have been part of Richard Head’s brief chain of Tudy’s restaurants at the time.

Anyway, that was when I learned that I could drink a lot of coffee at three in the morning and still manage to go home and fall asleep right away.

Today, the building is long gone and the property is now the North Ridge Park complex.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

D. D. Lewis and the Alligator

Back in 2016, I did a four-part series about the history of Lake Breeze, the historic resort area of Sheffield Lake that dates back to the 1870s. It was located near the northern terminus of the road that still bears its name.

In the late 1890s, the resort property (including an old hotel) was owned by D. D. Lewis, a superintendent at the Johnson steel mill in Lorain. In November 1903, Mr. Lewis sold the land to a company that planned to build a modern resort there. (It was never built.)

Anyway, by July 1929, D. D. Lewis was still living in the area in a lakefront home. He had a rather unusual experience involving an alligator that made the front page of the Lorain Journal of Tuesday, July 23, 1929 – 90 years ago this month.

Here's the article as it appeared in the paper that day.


What would you do if you had a home on the shore of Lake Erie and went out into your backyard and found an alligator calmly sunning itself on your breakwall?

Possibly, you would go down into your cellar and throw out all the home brew, or else go to a specialist for an examination.

Yet that was the experience which D. D. Lewis, who has a home at Stop [illegible], on the east shore, underwent last Sunday.

Incidentally, he didn’t do either of the above mentioned things. Instead, he went right up to the alligator and found out for himself that it was real flesh and blood.

He could scarcely believe his eyes. He wouldn’t have been surprised had he been down in Florida where alligators are so common.

But to have one of the things come right out of Lake Erie and climb onto his breakwall – my word; and a lot of other expressions.

But there it was. He had made a great discovery. It was a real live alligator, evidently rather young, for it measured only about 30 inches.

He wondered how he could prove his discovery. He solved the matter by proceeding to catch the alligator and tieing it up in his yard where he could put it on exhibition. 

It was then that the mystery was cleared up. One of his neighbors saw the alligator and thanked Lewis for recovering it. It had been sent to him as a pet from a friend in Florida and broken away and got lost. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Reddy’s Whole-house Air Conditioning Ad – 1968

It’s been a rough summer up here on the North Coast, what with all the days above 90º so far. Thank goodness for my favorite invention of all time: air-conditioning. I don’t think I could survive without it. How we kept cool with fans (which I explored in this post from 2011) I’ll never know.

Way back in March of 1968 (when the above ad ran in the Lorain Journal), our old pal Reddy Kilowatt warned us that there’d be days like this. My favorite electric sprite advocated the installation of electric whole-house air conditioning (which ironically is what I have).

Anyway, heres hoping that you are staying comfortable this summer. Hey, maybe it’s time for a Kool-Pop!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Asphalt Ad – July 30, 1956

One of the unpleasant aspects of summer (besides the 90º heat waves we’ve been having) is the ubiquitous roadwork taking place. Although it is much needed, it doesn’t make it any more tolerable when you are driving over a freshly scraped roadbed awaiting its layer of asphalt, throwing up pebbles and dust as you speed along.

Asphalt is almost becoming a regular topic on this blog. Back in November of last year, I featured a 1957 ad by the Ohio Road Improvement Company promoting the economic benefits of using “black, velvety asphalt” for paving roads instead of pouring concrete.

And here’s another ad in that same series. This ad appeared in the Lorain Journal on July 30, 1956. This time, the focus is on the farmer and the ability to get his produce to market quickly thanks to asphalt.
I love the cartoon veggies in the ad, sprinting down the highway with a helpful push by the farmer.

I suppose that only old-timers get the visual pun of the cute “tomato."

Monday, July 16, 2018

How the Kayann Got Its Name

Vintage Postcard
If you live in the Lorain area, I’m sure you’ve driven by the Kayann Motel & Apartments on East Erie, just west of St. Anthony Church, many times.

Once advertised as “Lorain’s Finest Luxury Apartments & Motel,” it was only a few years ago that the signs indicating that motorists were welcome were finally removed.

Did you ever wonder how the Kayann got its name? It’s revealed in the caption accompanying the photo below, which ran in the Lorain Journal on July 15, 1953. At the time, the first apartment building was under construction.

As noted, Ronald A. Whitbeck was the man behind the construction of the apartments. You probably guessed that the name ‘Kayann’ had some personal significance to Mr. Whitbeck. It was the combination of the middle names of his two daughters, Marlene Kay and Patricia Ann. Very catchy indeed!

Marlene Kay was mentioned on this blog before on this post. As “Miss Vacationland” of 1953, she was featured in a photo (below) congratulating Darlene Ehrlich, the winner in 1954.

Friday, July 6, 2018

On Vacation!

Well, like the first line of the ad above (which ran in the Lorain Journal on July 30, 1956) says: I'm going on vacation! 

I'll be taking my usual week off beginning Monday, July 9. I have a jolly, fun-filled week planned – a real "moving" experience.

Please stop back here on Monday, July 16 when I resume my normal blogging schedule.

Hope you're enjoying your summer, especially the new, cooler weather!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Pre-Revolutionary War Bedspread – July 2, 1953

Although July 4th is passed, this post is somewhat related to the time era surrounding the birth of our country.

It’s about a Lorain woman’s keepsake that actually predates Revolutionary War Days by about thirty years. Read all about this unusual family heirloom in the article below, written by Robert Sanders, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on July 2, 1953.

Handed Down Through Seven Generations
Old Bedspread Prized Possession


A bedspread which antedates the American Revolution is the proud possession of a Lorain woman, Mrs. Frank Irvin, 42, 545 Washington Avenue.

Believed to be over 200 years old, the coverlid or counterpane as it was called in those days has been handed down through seven generations.

Indigo blue and white in color, the bedspread was woven in West Virginia by Mrs. Irvin's great, great, great, great, great grandmother probably sometime before 1731, when the first settlers of record entered the mountaineer state, and 1750.

Made of wool sheared from sheep raised on a farm in Nicholas County, located in the central part of the state, the bedspread had received loving care down through the years.

Its design, of rectangular variations in six inch squares, shows an American Indian influence – probably that of the Powhatan tribe which inhabited West Virginia at the time of the white man's invasion.

In those days weaving was done on a hand loom. After washing the wool, it was carded (combed with a brush - like affair), woven into yarn, dyed and then placed in the loom which had a hand pedal.

In Moth Balls
Measuring nine by six feet, the antique has spent most of the last 50 years in moth balls. An indication of how prized a possession it is occurred 23 years ago when Mrs. Irvin's family was driven out of their home by a fire.

Neglecting much more valuable property, Mrs. Irvin's mother thought first of saving the bedspread and carted it proudly out of the house while firemen successfully battled the flames.

Taken out of mothballs only for special occasions and washings (every four years and in mild soap) the treasured possession is in remarkably good condition.

West Virginia state fair officials have long pleaded with her to allow them to display the bedspread, but Mrs. Irvin had put a determined foot down. "I'm afraid something might happen to it," she says.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

50 Years of Port Clinton’s African Safari Wildlife Park

Many of us Baby Boomers have fond memories of Jungle Larry’s Safari Island area at Cedar Point. It was one of the high points of a visit to the amusement park, mainly because we knew and loved Jungle Larry from his appearances on TV.
But there was (and still is) another safari attraction, west of Sandusky near Port Clinton, that brought wild animals up close – in fact, right up to your car window. Or on top of your car.

I’m talking of course about African Safari Wildlife Park.

It’s the subject this month of a terrific article written by Joseph Gilroy and appearing in the latest edition of Lakefront News. The article celebrates the attraction’s 50th year in business and includes a history of the park and interviews with its owners.

As the article notes, it opened in 1969 as African Lion Safari. Here’s a vintage souvenir pennant, currently on Ebay.

And here’s a vintage brochure, also on Ebay. (Hey, where are the lions? A zebra is fine, I guess, but you can see deer at Deer Park!)

The brochure was a harbinger of tamer things to come.

The park was renamed a few times. Here’s a brochure from its days as African Safari.

Later, the lions were eventually phased out in favor of a more family-friendly experience (apparently one in which you didn’t have to worry about being eaten.)
Anyway, here’s the link to the African Safari Wildlife Park website.
And be sure to pick up a free copy of Lakefront News out in Vacationland. I got mine at Drug Mart in Vermilion on Route 6; there’s also a stack of them out at Toft’s Ice Cream in Sandusky.

The current brochure

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

July 4th Barbecue Kroger Ad Illustration – June 30, 1958

There’s no beer visible in this charming illustration, which ran in a Kroger ad with a July 4th theme back on June 30, 1958 in the Lorain Journal. But a beer would go mighty well indeed with the steaks being grilled on the backyard barbecue shown in the idealized 1950s rendering.

Down in the lower right corner of the drawing is a signature: NOWAK.
I kind of suspect that the artist was Leo Nowak. Nowak is known for his work on the original Superman comic book series. Michael Sangiacomo of the Plain Dealer interviewed him about those days back in 1996. (Here is the link to the interview on Cleveland.com.)

According to this article, Nowak left comics and went into advertising after World War II.  He enjoyed a 25-year career as the chief illustrator for Stamps Conheim Newspaper Advertising Service in Los Angeles. Perhaps that’s how his work ended up in a Kroger ad, if it is his work.

Nowak developed a wonderful style of illustration. Google his name and you’ll find an impressive body of work.

But if you look at the Kroger ad with the well-drawn people, you can see his comic book roots.

Could that be the Man of Steel doing a ‘super’ job of grilling those steaks?

Monday, July 2, 2018

Buckeye Beer Ad – July 2, 1956

Keeping the beer theme going for another day, here’s a cute ad for Buckeye Beer that ran in the July 2, 1956 Lorain Journal.

Buckeye Beer? I’d never heard of it before; it would have been a natural for pre-game festivities back when I was at Ohio State in the late 70s. But the brand had ceased to exist around 1974.

Happily, though, the brand made a comeback in the mid-1990s thanks to the Maumee Bay Brewing Company. (Click here to read a great article about the beer’s history and comeback on the Toledo.com website.)

Anyway, I love the illustration of the smiling sun and wholesome young couple.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Abandoned Brewery – July 16, 1926

Last Friday’s post mentioned how Prohibition resulted in non-alcoholic or “near beer” versions of products such as Old Dutch Beer.

But in many cases after Prohibition began, bottlers simply switched to bottling soft drinks in an attempt to stay in business. William Seher, who had operated the Lorain Brewing Company, did just that – opening a new business in a new facility that focused on soft drinks.

Seher’s new venture was quite successful. But the original brewery, located nearby at 330 W. 12th Street, would never be used again, even after Prohibition was repealed.

Today the former brewery's location is a vacant lot.

The article below, which ran in the Lorain Times-Herald on July 26, 1926 provides a poignant look at the shuttered brewery.