Friday, August 31, 2018

East Harbor Memories

Well, Labor Day Weekend is here, signaling the traditional end of summer. So it’s a good time to squeeze in one last visit to Vacationland – specifically, East Harbor State Park.

I wrote about the park a few weeks ago and presented a large selection of postcards, including this one of the campground.

Well, here’s a photo from my parents’ old photo album showing the Bradys camping at East Harbor – 56 years ago this month. 
As the caption says, it was 1962 and our first year of camping. From left, it’s my sister, my younger brother (who was one year old at the time) in the stroller, me (in the baseball cap), Dad, and my older brother in the sailor cap. (My parents seemed to have a lot of trouble with that camera, because a lot of photos from those days have the big white streak in them.)
Remember the postcard below showing the beach, and the distinctive slabs of stone that bordered it?
Well, here I am with my brothers on the beach. (You can see the slanted stone in the background.) Hey, now my younger brother’s wearing the sailor hat – and he doesn’t look too happy about it.
My parents only took a couple of photos at East Harbor that year (I think there are only one or two more), but those snapshots left a lasting impression on me. They captured a special time in our lives, when my siblings and I were all very young, and being introduced to camping.
By the way, I took a Sunday drive out to East Harbor a few weeks ago. I was saddened to see that all of the old bathhouses on the beach are gone – probably because there isn’t much of beach in that area anymore. 
To me, these bathhouses were symbolic “gateways” to the beach, giving you a sneak peek of the fun that was waiting for you.
Here’s a photo of one of these bathhouses, courtesy of
I’m not sure when they were removed, but you can still see their “footprint” in aerial shots on Google Maps.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Urban Renewal in Action – August 1968

Demolition has been a regular topic on this blog.

Many times I’ve complained (perhaps unfairly) that all Lorain ever does is condemn and demolish run-down homes and buildings, leaving an empty lot behind on which nothing will ever get built. These lots are all over the city, making it look as if time is running backwards.

Well, believe it or not, there was a time when it was possible to rehabilitate a house using government money, instead of just tearing it down. That’s the focus of the above ad, which ran in the Journal on August 23, 1968.

As you can see, the house at 1639 E. 33rd was slated for demolition. But instead, the property was remodeled by Nickoloff Builders as part of the Urban Renewal program. Apparently it was the city’s very first Urban Renewal project.

Today, the now-stately house looks much the same. I wonder if the current owner is aware that he owns a bit of history?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Kipton Article – August 29, 1963

Kipton just keeps popping up as a topic on this blog over the years. Not bad for a place with a population (as of the last census) of 243 residents.

Here’s a nice, full-page of the Lorain Journal devoted to the history of the village that ran in that paper on August 29, 1963 – 55 years ago today. The two articles were both written by Frances Perkins.

The first article points out that the village had only been incorporated in February 1958. The second article notes the the village was originally named Binghamton (which any TV-watching Baby Boomer remember as the name of the Captain played by Joe Flynn on McHale’s Navy). It doesn’t really say why the railroad renamed it Kipton.

Anyway, the top article includes a photo of Kipton’s Civil War Soldier Monument, which at least to my eye was already beginning to lean.

The Kipton Community Church looks pretty much the same today as it does in the photo. (At least it did in 2012, when the photo below was taken.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Hey, where are the “Passing Scene” comics?

You may have noticed that for the fast few months, I haven’t posted any Passing Scenes comics.

Since March, I had been posting a whole month’s worth of cartoonist Gene Patrick’s well-remembered Journal strip from exactly 50 years ago, providing a nice capsule of what was going on in Lorain at the time.

But I decided to put that regular feature on hold when another artist began drawing the feature on June 22, 1968. The new artist – Larry Alvarez – was certainly talented, but his style was quite different from Gene Patrick's. Here's one of his strips from this period.

Alvarez also created the iconic illustration for the Journal’s Clothe-A-Child program (below) which accompanied articles about the charity drive for years.

The drawing first appeared in the paper in 1969, when the Clothe-a-Child program was making the transition from a glitzy benefit show to a Journal reader donation-driven effort.

Anyway, the “new” Passing Scene strip did not enjoy the prominent place at the top of the second section that had been its home for so long. The comic seemed to move around the paper, appearing at the top of the page one week and at the bottom of the page the following week. Plus, the Journal reproduced it much smaller than before, making it easier to overlook.

Gene Patrick returned to his creation fairly soon, because in the past, I posted a Passing Scene of his from March 1969. There are also posted samples of the strip from the early to mid-70s. So it appears that his sabbatical from the strip was merely a temporary one.

So who drew the strip in September? Watch for the answer here next month.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Just Another Day in Lorain – August 26, 1918

The front page of the Lorain Times-Herald of August 26, 1918 above – published 100 years ago yesterday – originally caught my eye because of an article about a well-attended Irish picnic (of interest to an Irishman like me who likes pic-a-nics).

The Ancient Order of Hibernians (America’s oldest Irish Catholic fraternal organization) had held a big picnic at Lincoln Park, featuring Irish music and dancing. There were also a variety of foot races in which attendees of various age groups could compete. All in all, a day of fun in the sun enjoyed by hundreds.

But as interesting as the picnic story was, a quick glance at the rest of the front page reveals a whole lot of juicy mayhem going on in Lorain at that time, no doubt keeping the newspaper’s reporters scurrying for their notepads.

Some of the happenings included: a woman attacked by a man with a razor in a South Lorain poolroom; raids by state inspectors resulting in arrests on liquor charges (remember, it was Prohibition times); a “Peeping Jack” peering into windows on East 29th Street; a police chase and arrest of two suspected pickpockets near the B. & O. railroad yards; a car crashing through a bridge at the bottom of a hill near Oak Point and rolling over; a woman knocked unconscious by a baseball while attending the Eagles - Knights of Pythias baseball game. We also see some Lorainites injured when their “machine” (car) went off the road near Conneaut while on their way to Toronto, Canada.

All that, and war coverage too, in which those huffy Huns were objecting to aerial bombing by the allies – even though they’d been doing the same thing.

If you like to read about local crimes – specifically murder – from the pages of vintage newspapers and crumbling courthouse records, consider picking up a copy of Murders, Mysteries and History of Lorain County, 1824 - 1956 by author Don Hilton of Oberlin.

Don is a nice guy who I met at the Lorain Public Library while he was working on his research. He has a nice, light writing style that is fun and easy to read, despite the sometimes gory subject matter.

As the back of the book notes, “Murders, Mysteries and History is an entertaining, fast-paced and unique mix of forgotten killings, investigations, and criminal trials culled from court record and mixed with the news of long ago.

“Get the scoop on hundreds of real crimes and unsolved murders. Follow the clues to identify the unknown washed up on Lake Erie shores. Work your way along sometimes twisted paths to imprisonment or freedom.”

The book was the subject of a nice front-page article in the Morning Journal written by Keith Reynolds, which you can read here.

The book is available as a softcover or E-Book through the publisher, AuthorHouse here. You can order it on Amazon, through Walmart, or various other book websites.

It is available locally at the Lorain County Historical Society.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Ohio State Fair Ad – Aug. 21, 1968

Although the last few days on this blog have focused on the Lorain County Fair, here’s an ad for the Ohio State Fair. It ran in the Lorain Journal on August 21, 1968.

I was surprised to see that the State Fair’s schedule that year was much different than it is now. As you can see, it began on Thursday, August 22 and ran through Labor Day that year  – more of an end-of-summer event.

But what really amazed me was the eye-popping roster of celebrities that was to entertain at the Fair back then – all for free.

There was something for everyone of all ages and tastes.

For comedy, there was Johnny Carson, George Kirby, the Smothers Brothers with Pat Paulsen, Allen and Rossi, and Ohio’s own Bob Hope. Hope made regular appearances at the Ohio State Fair for years; I saw his show up close as a member of the 1976 All-Ohio State Fair Band.

Musically, there were a variety of acts, including Ed Ames, the Bee Gees, Roger Miller, James Brown, trumpeter Al Hirt, John Davidson and the Golddiggers.

I’m sure many red-blooded American males remember the Golddiggers, which was a singing and dancing troupe of showgirls that had their own summer variety TV show. It was a summer replacement series (remember those?) for The Dean Martin Show.

And if watching Hollywood types perform was not your bag, there was still more to see: Harness Racing, the Hurricane Hell Drivers, the 7UP Balloon Race and the Buckeye “100” Auto Race.

All in all, a very impressive lineup.

In case you’re curious (as I was) who appeared at the 2018 Ohio State Fair, here are a few of the entertainers: the Beach Boys, Reba McEntire, TLC, En Vogue, the Commodores, Trevor Noah, Brothers Osborne, Jeff Dunham, Lee Brice, STYX, and Cheap Trick. All of these acts required an admission price from anywhere from $25 to $45, to as much as $65.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans at the 1968 Lorain County Fair

Back at the end of April, I posted an article announcing that Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were to be featured performers at the 1968 edition of the Lorain County Fair.

Since performers sometimes have to cancel an engagement due to an illness or booking conflict, I wondered if Roy and Dale did show up. But indeed they did perform, and were a rip-roaring success.

Pat Brady
Read all about it in the article below, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on Saturday, August 24, 1968. In it, Roy and Dale give a hilarious interview to Journal Staff Writer Bill Wilgren. I was surprised to read that not only did the Sons of the Pioneers (Roy’s singing group) appear, but so did Pat Brady – Roy’s comic sidekick. (Hey, I wonder if he was kin-folk?)

The article makes me wish that there were still stars around like Roy and Dale, people with old-fashioned principles and values that kids could look up to.

But their era was a simpler, more innocent time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Lorain County Fair Ad – August 22, 1968

Fifty years ago today, the ad below appeared in the Lorain Journal announcing the appearance of Dale Evans and Roy Rogers at the 1968 edition of the Lorain County Fair.

(I posted an article announcing the beloved Western duo as Fair headliners back here on the blog in April.)
So did Roy and Dale both show up for their two Friday night shows? Did Roy bring Gabby Hayes along? And how about Trigger?
Stop by here tomorrow to find out!

Ha, an omen! This morning when I turned on the TV to watch the news while waking up, I caught the tail end of a 1950 Roy Rogers oater on Grit TV, Sunset in the West.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

New Lorain County Fair Building – August 1963

It’s Lorain County Fair week – one of my favorite times of the year.

My visit to the Fair each year plays out pretty much the same: an Oh-Boy for dinner, accompanied by a cup of French Fries smothered with salt and vinegar. And for dessert? A Rutana’s apple dumpling swimming in sauce (hold the ice cream) – that great, once -a-year treat.

The fairgrounds never seems to change very much from year to year, and there’s something comforting about that. But at one time, things were new, and this post deals with one of them: a new arts building. Read all about it in the article below, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on August 9, 1963.

Note that the fair was a little shorter back then.

Aug. 19 Red-Letter Day For County Fair Goers
WELLINGTON –  Aug. 19 will be a red-letter day of the Lorain County Agricultural Society (Fair Board) for it is the opening of the 108th annual Lorain County Fair at the fairgrounds.
As thousands of persons visit the spacious grounds during the five-day extravaganza, they will enjoy the fruits of labors of the 21-member board.
Every event and exhibit in the fair has been carefully planned through the months during the interim between the close of the 1962 fair and the forthcoming gala program.
Each year, for the past several years, a new addition has been made to the physical plant of the fairgrounds, and this year it is a 6,000 square-foot building for exhibits on the southern side of the grounds.
In yesteryear, the county fair was primarily an occasion for farm families, but today it is a community institution and as attractive to the urban and suburban dwellers as to their rural relatives and friends.
The Junior Fair has become a most important part of the county fair. There are some observers who feel that without the youth activities, this traditional annual event might well have succumbed to other competition in the field of entertainment and recreation.
Fair directors are busy grooming the fairgrounds for their “one big week.” (They must do most of the work themselves on the grounds for their budget is very limited.)
During the five-day program all of them will spend most of their time attending to various assignments on the grounds.
They can be spotted by the big button they will be wearing, which says “Director.”
These are the men who have made the Lorain County Fair one of the most outstanding in the state. As public officials they perhaps are the most unheralded of all county officers, yet their contributions to the community are great.
Today, I’m pretty sure that the building mentioned in the article is still being used for either art or photography as it resembles the two buildings near the cluster of trees. I’ll give it a gander when I visit the Fair this week.
UPDATE (March 19, 2019)
Here's a nice map of the fairgrounds from an article in the Journal on August 17, 1968. It identifies the then-new Fine Arts building. Note how the road used to pass much closer to the track back then.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Sunday Journal Arrives – August 1968

For many of you, a lazy Sunday afternoon just wouldn’t be complete without a nice, thick edition of your favorite newspaper to enjoy. Although many newspapers are fighting for survival in this day and age, we are lucky locally to have the Morning Journal and the Chronicle-Telegram to choose from on Sunday.

That wasn’t always the case. I remember my parents in the 1960s having to buy a Cleveland Plain Dealer on Sundays, because the Lorain Journal did not publish on Sunday. It was great for me in a way, because the Sunday edition of the Plain Dealer had a huge comic section that included Li’l Abner, the Wizard of Id, and Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, which became favorites of mine.

But that all changed on August 25, 1968, when the Sunday Journal arrived.

Here’s the full-page ad promoting it that ran in the paper on August 22, 1968.

As you can see, the ad includes the iconic Golden Crescent map and seagull that appeared in miniature on the Opinion page of the Journal for many years.

Anyway – since comics were so important to me as a kid –  I seem to recall that the early Sunday Journal had really offbeat comic strips, such as The Strange World of Mr. Mum and Henry.

I also recall that at some point the Journal used to include a small color comic section with strips such as Lolly and Moon Mullins along with its Saturday edition. Does anybody out there remember this too? 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Prehistoric Postscript

The view back in August 2010 just before it closed
As I was preparing to wrap up this look back at Prehistoric Forest, I wondered: what does the property look like today? So I made a quick prehistoric pilgrimage out to Marblehead earlier this week to find out.

As I approached the shuttered attraction, I was surprised to see that the mountain was still there.

Signs were posted to keep nosy bloggers from pulling into the parking lot to take pictures.
The sign was still up, but painted over.
Although the dinos are gone from Prehistoric Forest, there’s still at least one monster lurking just a few miles away to the west.
In case you’re wondering, Fort Firelands is still open too.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Prehistoric Postcards

One of my favorite books is The New Roadside America: The Modern Traveler’s Guide to the Wild and Wonderful World of America’s Tourist Attractions (1986) by Mike Wilkins, Ken Smith and Doug Kirby. The book profiles a variety of roadside attractions circa the mid-1980s  – including Prehistoric Forest in Marblehead.

The side-splitting description makes it clear that the goal of Prehistoric Forest was to entertain. The authors noted, "At the Prehistoric Forest in Marblehead all pretense of history and education are abandoned. Tram riders are issued miniature M-16 rifles and are instructed to "kill the monsters." A prerecorded tour guide panics repeatedly and screams, "To the left! To the right! Shoot! Shoot!!!" whenever one of the feebly nodding dinosaurs comes into view. The forest echoes with the chatter of toy M-16 fire spraying in all directions. The tram driver remains unaffected by the mayhem, smoking cigarettes and sipping coffee as the tram slowly chugs along.”

That’s why it was so strange for me to discover a nice series of postcards issued by the owners of Prehistoric Forest in Marblehead that seemed, well, downright educational.

Here they are. The mail panel side of each postcard included a nice description of each “monster” and what it ate.

The owners of Prehistoric Forest were probably hoping that its visitors would collect the whole set of postcards. (There might be more than those shown here, these dinos were “poached” from Ebay over the last few years.)

I’m not sure if we had any of these postcards, but I do remember coming home from Prehistoric Forest with little plastic dinosaurs much like you often found in a cereal box in the 1960s. This blogger has a collection of them and has a nice write-up of how he came to have them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Prehistoric Forest in the Family Album

Prehistoric Forest has long been a favorite topic on this blog, as I noted a few days ago when I wrote about its sister attraction, Mystery Hill.

Well, shortly after my August 2014 post about the now-extinct dinosaur attraction, I received an email from the administrator of the "Oberlin in the Past" Facebook page. The post had reminded her of some old photos in the family album that had been unlabeled, and thus – a mystery.

She wrote, "Could these pictures be from that Prehistoric Forest? I have been wondering where they were taken.” She originally thought that the photos were from a family trip to California in 1963. "The signs are cut off, so I can't be sure – but I have been wondering for years,” she wrote.

Here are her vintage family photos. As you knew from the title of this post, they were indeed taken at Prehistoric Forest. You can compare the photos with the vintage postcard at the top of this post.

I pointed out to her that in addition to the "PRE-" and "-TORIC” signs visible in the photos, there's that Cheesehaven sign on the bench in the first shot which is a dead giveaway as to where the photos were taken! 
"Hah! Isn't that funny,” she wrote back. She planned to upload her now-identified photos to a vintage roadside attraction website.
Anyway, it was very nice of her to share some family memories, and provide a rare glimpse of Prehistoric Forest during its early days.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Hotel Victory at Put-in-Bay Burns – August 14, 1919

The Hotel Victory at Put-in-Bay
Have you ever been to Put-in-Bay? I know a few people who have lived in the Lorain area all their lives, and have yet to visit South Bass Island.

If you have paid a visit to Put-in-Bay, you probably checked out the ruins of the old Hotel Victory, which burned down exactly 99 years ago today.
Here’s the account of the mysterious disaster as it appeared on the front page of the Lorain Times-Herald the next day. It includes a nice history of the hotel and its guests.

For an excellent history of the hotel and the fire that destroyed it, be sure to visit the Midwest Guest blog by clicking here. The well-written post contains great photos, including several of the former hotel property today.

Monday, August 13, 2018

East Harbor State Park Postcards

Since I was writing about Mystery Hill a couple days ago, I think I’ll loiter here on the blog out in Vacationland a little longer. After all, summer is rapidly slipping away. So let’s pay a visit to East Harbor State Park through a series of vintage postcards.
East Harbor State Park has long been a favorite destination of the Brady family. It was one of the places (along with Mill Hollow) where we learned to camp.

According to online sources, the park has been around since 1947. Here are a few early postcards promoting the park, which is located on a peninsula near Marblehead.

Here are a few more beach shots. Who can forget those huge (and hot) slabs of stone leading down to it.
As I mentioned, we enjoyed camping at East Harbor. Here are some postcards promoting the campground. Hey, our tent might be in one of those shots!
When the Texas Bradys come east to Ohio for a spell each year, a picnic at East Harbor State Park is often a highlight of their visit. Here are two postcards of pic-a-nic’ers of the past.
The one was postmarked 1960.
And lastly, a day of fun at East Harbor wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the concession stand for some goodies.