Friday, July 31, 2020

The Passing Scene – July 22, 1967

Unlike some local libraries, the Lorain Public Library has actually reopened its doors to the public for browsing. So I’m going to have to make it a point to get in there soon and hit the ol’ microfilm again. (My last visit there was in February, before the Coronavirus hit).

Anyway, for those of you that have been missing Gene Patrick's The Passing Scene comics here on the blog, I’ll close out July with one from July 22, 1967 – about two years into the strip’s run. (Click on it for a larger, readable version.)
I don’t know exactly what golf course the last panel is referring to, but it could be Bob-O-Link Golf Course. The proposed golf course in question (according to a later article in the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram on September 19, 1967) required the rezoning of 175 acres between Riegelsberger and Mills Roads in Avon. That’s the location of Bob-O-Link on today’s State Route 83. It opened sometime around 1968.
I took golf lessons at Bob-O-Link in the 1990s, and for a few years, golf was part of my life. I was not so good at driving distance, but had a knack for pitch shots, thanks to much practicing on the huge grassy area by the old Longfellow school. (I lived on Nebraska Avenue and would walk over there with my pitching wedge and a coffee can of balls.) Apparently a lot of other golfers used that same area for practice, because I always came home with more golf balls than I brought.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Ship-to-Shore Article – July 6, 1969

Did you know that Lorain had the first ship-to-shore radio station to serve the Great Lakes?

Here’s the story of that ship-to-shore station as described in Our Town – The Story of Lorain (July 1953), which was used in the Lorain Public Schools to educate the students about their city.

William C. Atwater (Courtesy BGSU)
"The Lorain County Radio Corporation was organized in 1928 to give radio-telephone service to subscribers. In 1933 the company expanded its service to include a Great Lakes ship-to-shore system. The sending and receiving station was built on Meister Road where electrical conditions were favorable. The first ship on which a set was installed was the William C. Atwater in 1934.

"A ship-to-shore set consists of a small radio sending and receiving station with a dial telephone similar to those found in homes. To place a call, the number of the Marine Operator is dialed. When the operator answers, the caller gives her the name of the ship and of the person he wishes to contact. The shore station then completes the call by short-wave radio.

"This system has proven valuable to the companies who own ships and to the personnel on the ships. Sailing orders can be changed, even while the ship is en route, and weather changes can be relayed quickly by the company. A ship captain can report any emergency which may arise on board ship. In cases of illness, a doctor and am ambulance can be sent to meet the ship when it docks.

"Families also have an opportunity to keep in close touch with one another during the sailing season. Shipping company officials feel they would not have been able to meet the heavy shipping demands of the last war without this ship-to-shore service.”

WMI was the ship-to-shore station that was owned and operated by Lorain County Radio Corporation, later known as Lorain Electronics Corp. (LEC).

Read all about WMI in this interesting article from the July 6, 1969 edition of the Journal. 
Aerial showing the location of the WMI station
off Meister Road (circa 1952)
To read the definitive story of WMI, be sure to visit the links below on the wonderful Inland Marine Radio History Archive website. It’s an utterly fascinating part of Lorain’s maritime heritage.
This link takes you to the “WMI - Lorain, OH” page, which includes several photos of WMI operators, as well as a vintage color photo of the WMI station just off Meister Road, back in the days when there was nothing else there. Today of course it is part of a housing development.
This link takes you to the “LEC & WMI Recollections of Ken Bobel, WA8YJW” page, which includes a very well-written, comprehensive account by Mr. Bobel about the history of the company and WMI station. It includes photos of the original company building, which was located behind the telephone company in Downtown Lorain (not surprisingly, since the phone company was the parent company of LEC). There’s also a photo of LEC’s newer building, which was located on Leavitt Road at W. 23rd Street.
This link takes you to two vintage Journal articles about WMI, one from 1966 and the other from 1969 (the same one I found on microfilm and posted above).
All of these pages on the Inland Marine Radio History Archive website have other links that are fun to explore. Be sure to poke around the website and check them all out.

The former Lorain Electronics Corporation building today on the east side of Leavitt Road
(across from O’Hara’s Beverage)

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Vermilion Car Wash & Robo-Wash

Washing a car by hand is one of those tasks that you either love or hate.

Over the years, there have been cars that I lovingly took care of; washing them regularly, meticulously cleaning off each splattered bug with Bug & Tar Remover, and applying a good coat of Turtle Wax each fall. But then there were also cars that I had no emotional attachment to, that I just took through the car wash when needed. (That’s the situation now, especially since I don’t have a driveway.)

Which brings me to the first subject of today’s post, the Grand Opening of the Vermilion Car Wash. The ad above appeared in the Vermilion Photojournal on July 15, 1964.

The Grand Opening specials were pretty nice. “Every 10th car washed FREE!” notes the ad. The first 20 cars each day received a free gift as well.

I’m not sure how long the car wash business lasted. But the compact building and great location at 5329 Liberty Avenue has been a good home for the current occupant, Domino’s Pizza.

I’ve done several posts on area car wash establishments, including the Grand Opening of Ace Car Wash in March 1956; and the Grand Opening of Robo-Wash in March 1966.

And speaking of Robo-Wash, here’s a nice photo of the facility on Colorado Avenue, featured in one of those classic Journal business page ‘articles.’ It appeared in the paper on July 15, 1968.

And courtesy of Google Maps, here’s a “now” view of the building, currently the home of Ardick Seafood.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Lorain Sewage Treatment Plant – July 23, 1956

Back in late July 1956, Lorain was putting the finishing touches on its new sewage treatment plant, which was dedicated earlier that year. Above is the photo that appeared in the Lorain Journal on Monday, July 23, 1956.

I can still remember back in the late 1960s, when Dad tried to turn my brothers and me into fishermen, that we used to be able to park in back of the plant and fish there. You can see parked cars in the photo above.

Now, of course, you can’t even access the plant property.

Comparing the 1956 photo with a current Google Maps aerial reveals that the plant (and the fill area on which it sits) has been enlarged over the years.

I remember reading a few years ago that Lorain's intention is to eventually move the plant. I’m not sure of the timeline of that proposal, but I hope it happens in my lifetime.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Liberace at the Rubber Bowl – July 6, 1956

Ad from the July 2, 1956 Lorain Journal
Sixty-four years ago this month, one of the oddest entertainment spectacles ever to hit the Buckeye State was planned for Akron’s Rubber Bowl on America’s birthday.

As the ad above from the July 2, 1956 Lorain Journal notes, flamboyant pianist and entertainer Liberace was to appear at two concerts at the well-known Akron venue in a big 2-hour show on July 4th. Appearing with Liberace was his brother George (and his violin) and a 35-piece orchestra.

But that’s not made it odd.

Also on the slate that day were stock car races, midget auto races, an appearance by Indiana Senator Homer Capehart during the flag raising ceremony, and fireworks at 1:30 in the afternoon, and 8:00 at night.

It sounds like quite a day of entertainment, designed with something for everyone.

Here’s another ad for the same event. This one is from the Massillon Evening Independent and ran on the same day as the Journal ad. (I like the Journal ad better, with the great caricature.)

Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. Both concerts were washed out in a downpour. The big event was rescheduled for Friday, July 6th, but there was only one concert, and attendance was low in the 40,000 seat stadium. It convinced Liberace to switch to smaller venues in the future that he could sell out.

After a successful entertainment career spanning four decades, Liberace passed away in 1987.

Today, the Rubber Bowl is in the process of being demolished.

For many kids, Bugs Bunny cartoons on Saturday morning were their first exposure to Liberace, albeit in an animated parody. In one of these cartoons, Wideo Wabbit (1956), Elmer Fudd is chasing Bugs with his gun around a TV studio, and the rabbit ducks onto the set of the ‘Liverace’ TV show. Bugs makes himself at home in front of the piano, performing for a few moments before commenting, “I wish my brother George was here.”

Here’s that sequence.

This link will take you to a website with the whole classic cartoon (also featuring Bugs doing imitations of Groucho Marx, Art Carney, etc.), if you’d like to watch it while you eat your Cheerios.

Friday, July 24, 2020

1970 Cheyenne Frontier Days – Part 5

Picking up a few souvenirs along the way was always part of the ritual of my family’s big vacation trips of the 1960s and early 70s. It was part of the fun. My parents made sure each of us kids had a few bucks to blow.

I still have a lot of these items. Above is the small carved horse from the trip to Cheyenne Frontier Days, which I had forgotten about until I wrote this post.

I don’t remember my parents ever buying anything for themselves, but at Frontier Days they bought a big souvenir for us.

At the rodeo grounds, various vendors were set up near the parking lot, hoping to drum up some business from the tourists. One gentleman was selling reproductions of Charles M. Russell paintings of the Old West. He had an impressive display of nicely framed art that we admired as we passed by on our way in to the rodeo grounds.

The guy selling paintings was still there when we passed by on our way out, and my parents decided to let us kids pick one out. Much to their dismay, my siblings and I decided on this one (below) entitled, “A Tight Dally and A Loose Latigo.”
Looking back, I can see why my parents were disappointed with our choice. Instead of a scene of a cowpoke or Indian on horseback in a beautiful Western setting, we picked the one with the most action and mayhem, a jumble of cowboys, horses and cattle. 
That print hung in the hallway outside my brothers’ and my bedroom in our house on Skyline Drive for years.

More than once, Mom remarked that she had wished we had picked one that was less chaotic. But “A Tight Dally and A Loose Latigo” was the one we wanted, and that’s the one they bought us.

It’s worth noting that Country Music Hall of Fame member Charlie Daniels, who passed away on July 6, 2020, was the artist who performed the most times at Cheyenne Frontier Days over the years. From 1979 to 2018, he played there a record 11 times.

His spoken word song “My Beautiful America” is a list of of all the things he loves about our country – including Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

1970 Cheyenne Frontier Days – Part 4

Today, we’ll continue our look-see at pages from that 1970 Cheyenne Frontier Days souvenir book.

The two-page spread with all of the small ads is fun to look at. Sadly, many of the businesses have ridden off into the sunset in the last 50 years.
Griff’s Burger Bar is still around, sort of.

Sometime in the 1970s, Griff’s Burger Bar was replaced by Burger Inn, which was a chain. Although the chain seems to have disappeared, Burger Inn keeps on grilling at Griff’s location at the northwest corner of West Pershing and Snyder Avenue.

On the other hand, Taco John’s has become quite a success story.
From those two original locations in the ad, a Cheyenne-based chain of more than 400 restaurants in 27 states has grown. You can read more about the company here.
The Little America travel center ad was a source of fascination to me as a kid, because of the penguin advertising mascot. 
We also had a Little America travel brochure about the various locations. I remember that we drove by one of the two Wyoming resorts, and saw the sign from the highway. Staying at a Little America resort is still on my bucket list.
Here’s a vintage postcard of the Cheyenne resort sign.
Unfortunately, the penguin is no longer used on the signage. Here’s how the Cheyenne sign looks today.
But the penguin hasn’t been put on ice yet. He’s still appears on some social media sites.
The Night Arena Show notes the appearance of comedian Don Rice III. I did find a photo of him online circa 1970 with a Chicago Daily News clipping about him taped to the back of it.
Don Rice was married to Carmen Rice. At the time of her passing in August 2010, her obituary noted that she had been preceded in death by her husband, Don Rice III. She was a professional dancer and had appeared in many nightclubs and theaters across the country. 
According to her obituary, “Carmen and Don met in the entertainment business in Chicago and were married over 40 years. Don Rice III was a comedian and they performed in shows together.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

1970 Cheyenne Frontier Days – Part 3

Today and tomorrow we’ll take a look at some of the pages of that Cheyenne Frontier Days souvenir book that my parents saved.

Inside Front Cover
You might remember Miss Frontier and the Lady-in-Waiting from their parade photos, which I posted yesterday. They both were descendants of Cheyenne pioneer families.

Here’s an ad for an iconic Cheyenne store: Western Ranchman Outfitters, “The Nation’s Finest Western Store.” The business dated back to the early 1930s.

I don’t remember that we went to the Chuckwagon Breakfast (although it sounds like my kind of grub). We probably had breakfast at the campground that morning, right out of the Kel bowl pak as usual.

Next: More Frontier Days Fun

Remember the ad for The Wrangler with the cartoon cowboy tycoon? Here’s a vintage photo of the store from about that time.
Courtesy of Wyoming State Archives Digital Collections
Happily, the store is still there at 1518 Capitol Avenue and looking good, too. Wish I could amble in there right now.
Western Ranchman Outfitters, the other iconic Cheyenne store with an ad in the program, did a lot of advertising. It’s not hard to rustle up old postcards, matchbooks and catalogs of the place on Bay. 
It later became known as Cheyenne Outfitters and primarily did mail order. Sadly, it closed in 1998.