Here’s an interesting historical article from back when the Journal
was still a Lorain paper.
It’s from November 6, 1965 and is about the annual reunion of the 1918 Lorain Board of Control (consisting of Lorain’s mayor, safety and service director from that year).
The three gentlemen – Albert Horn, Thomas McGeachie and W. A. Pillans – provide a lively interview as well as a fascinating look at Lorain in 1918. They also look at what was currently going on in 1965.
Save City Hall, 1918 Trio Urges
by MOLLY CUTTS
The difference between the Republican administration today and yesterday was a thread tightly woven into an hour-long discussion of the 1918 Lorain Board of Control.
As a private joke the three men opened their discussion with the announcement that “this afternoon we are going to purchase additional fire hydrants because of the increase in the dog population.”
The board also decided the “Save the Lighhouse Committee” is a waste of time and that there should be a “Save City Hall Committee.”
IN THEIR HOUR-LONG
meeting the boards discussion ranged from Lorain’s fire hydrants to President Johnson’s reasons for trying to push through the District of Columbia home-rule bill through Congress.
Members of the 1918 board are Albert Horn, 85, Thomas McGeachie (who would rather tell a story than his age), and W. A. Pillans, 74. In 1918, they were, respectively, mayor, safety and service directors of Lorain. Pillans and McGeachie still live here, and the annual meeting is held when Horn visits his sister, Mrs. F. C. Locke, 1037 Fifth St.
Pillans and McGeachie are retired, but Horn is employed by the Metropolitan Board of Trade in Washington, D. C. Usually he comes to Lorain a little earlier in the year, but he had to wait until Congress adjourned because his job requires him to report to the board of trade all Congressional action affecting the district.
The men met at Pillans’ lakefront home, at 1352 Second St., which has a large picture window giving a beautiful view of the doomed lighthouse, which is much lamented in some quarters. All Pillans said about it is that “you can’t stop progress.”
TO WHICH MCGEACHIE SAID
, “When I was county commissioner, 12 years ago we would have had a 10-story annex to the courthouse with a nice jail on the top floor except for that 100-year-old elm tree which stood in the way. Did the people ever raise such a fuss about that?" So far the tree has also resisted Dutch elm disease.
Horn wants City Hall saved for its historical importance. His story, which he stoutly denies was the beginning of any shenanigans connected with the building, happened about 70 years ago.
His aunt, Elizabeth Horn, took him to what was then the home of John Stang, who was then building the shipyards. Both Stang and Miss Horn were part of the German community which “stuck together” and she asked him if he would give a job to a “relative” then living in Germany. Stang said yes, and some time after John Ickler came to Lorain, he had Miss Horn were married.
Horn’s explanation was “They were relatives, second cousins I believe, and anyway they never met until he got here.”
THE HORN ADMINISTRATION
lasted two years, losing by 17 votes to William Grall in a bid for reelection.
Horn’s explanation was that “we offended too many people by cleaning up the city.”
They bludgeoned Lake Shore Electric into removing the tracks in the loop, they brought back the then ambassador to France because they wanted a building he owned to be properly wired, and they shut down the "largest gambling den between New York and Chicago.”
McGeachie as safety director fired 18 policemen and zipped a $2,500 appropriation through council with Democratic help. He used the money to hire private detectives from Chicago to do undercover work.
HE STATIONED A
patrolman outside the gambling house 24 hours a day who took down the names of those who entered. He said, “Granted there were an awful lot of people named Smith, “but it wasn’t long before the operator of the house called City Hall and said, “Don’t you know you are ruining my business?”
“We knew and we didn’t make any fuss. After a while the house went out of business.”
The Horn administration also knew how to handle the public.
When council decided the lake was getting dirty and the drinking water should be purified they voted to buy a chlorinator. At that time Cleveland was dumping raw chlorine into the intake pipes in the crib. It didn’t mix properly and the water was turning boiled-potatoes black.
LONG BEFORE THE
chlorinator was installed City Hall was deluged with calls saying the water smelled and tasted terrible. The administration decided to try and keep the public from knowing when the chlorinator was installed. It was successful and City Hall was able to go about its business without a single disrupting call after the chlorinator was actually installed.
All during their conversation, McGeachie kept musing, “I wonder if there is a Board of Control anymore?”
So yesterday afternoon the present City Hall reporter knowing there still is a Board of Control called Service Director George Zunich and asked, “Mr. Zunich, could you tell me what is the purpose of the Board of Control?”
Zunich, evidently unable to define the board’s purpose, answered, “I suggest you check your law books at The Journal.”
When asked about the head of the present administration, McGeachie said, “I don’t like him. I didn’t vote for him.”
HORN, WHO HAS BEEN
away from Lorain since 1920, said, ”Oh, I do. I congratulated him on his reelection.”
Getting back to a more pleasant, though still political question, Horn talked knowledgeably about Washington’s home-rule question. He said he was very much against it.
When asked why President Johnson pushed for the bill he said, “He must have promised someone. I don’t know why. Washington votes four-to-one Democratic. What does he want those three little electoral votes for? I know he doesn’t like to lose, but I don’t understand this.”
Back in Lorain in 1918, McGeachie said the people were taking about impeaching Horn for buying Century Park. Why? “We never did figure that out,” he said.