Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Meister and Kolbe Roads in the News – Sept. 1963

The West Side of Lorain was growing rapidly in the early 1960s, and consequently there was much attention paid to the condition of the roads on that side of town by the Journal (which back then was a watchdog for that sort of thing). 

The Journal’s Jack LaVriha penned front page articles in September 1963 about two well-known roads: Meister Road and Kolbe Road. Meister Road had recently been resurfaced but was starting to fall apart. And two fatal accidents had occurred on Kolbe Road in August (one was at the south end of the road, where it is known as N. Main Street).

The article on Meister Road’s recent resurfacing appeared in the paper in Sept. 5th, 1963 and the one on Kolbe followed a day later on Sept. 6th.

While I was growing up in the 1960s and 70s, Meister Road was sort of a country road. If you followed it west of Leavitt Road to the end, you went past Surf Avenue and Pickett Road and it seemed like you were out in the boonies.

Today, of course, Meister Road is an access way to several modern housing developments that make up what I think of as “New Lorain.”
Strangely enough, I drove it this past weekend in preparation for this post and even though there are apartment buildings out there now, it still seems like you are out in the middle of nowhere when it winds around and becomes Fulmer.
It’s too bad that there isn’t easier access to that area from West Erie Avenue – like there was before the highway was widened in the 1950s and the various frontage roads were created.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

John F. Kennedy Visits Lorain & Elyria – Sept. 1960 – Part 2

The Lorain Journal kept up the excitement of Senator Kennedy’s visit to Lorain by featuring expanded coverage of the story in its Wednesday, September 28, 1960 edition. 

The front page article included a photo from his appearance at George Daniel Field.

Staff Writer Jack LaVriha filed his report while covering the Kennedy motorcade as it made its way around Northern Ohio. He pointed out that it was believed “that Kennedy became an overnight political hero as the result of his first TV debate Monday night with his GOP rival, Vice-President Richard M. Nixon.”

It’s interesting that Kennedy was in Lorain the day after that historic debate.

The rest of the Wednesday, September 28, 1960 issue of the Journal had additional articles and photos related to the Senator’s visit. Here are a few more pages, culled from microfilm at the Lorain Public Library. (The first one is the continuation of the front page story.)

Page 6
Page 32
Page 33
Kennedy’s motorcade also paid a quick visit to Elyria after his appearance in Lorain. For a well-written reminisce by Marci Rich about that campaign event, as well as some great photos (including the one below), visit this Chronicle-Telegram link.
Attorney J. William McCray (left) with John F. Kennedy,
then the Democratic Presidential nominee on Sept. 27, 1960
at a rally at Lorain’s George Daniel Stadium.
Originally published in the Chronicle-Telegram Sept. 28, 1960.
Courtesy Chronicle-Telegram and William McCray family.

Monday, September 28, 2020

John F. Kennedy Visits Lorain & Elyria – Sept. 1960 – Part 1

Sixty years ago yesterday, Senator John F. Kennedy brought his presidential campaign to Lorain with a speech at George Daniel Field before thousands of enthusiastic supporters.

Above is the front page of the September 27, 1960 Lorain Journal.
Regarding Kennedy’s campaign route, the article noted, “His swing through industrial northern Ohio started in Painesville this morning and was to end in Canton tonight.
“On the way to Lorain, the Kennedy motorcade passed through Avon Lake and Sheffield Lake, swung into Lorain on Routes 6 and 2 and went on to George Daniel Field where the Democratic presidential candidate delivered one of the day’s major speeches.
“Kennedy had lunch in a private dining room at the Lorain Moose Hall before going on to Elyria, Mansfield, Akron and Canton.”
Here’s page two of that same edition of the Journal. One article recounts an appearance in Lorain the previous week by New York Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller (kinda sounds like a Flintstones character). 
Here is a link to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum website, where you can read and download a copy of his speech in Lorain that day.
Next: More coverage of the Kennedy visit

Friday, September 25, 2020

City Vacates Former Mascon Toy Property

A few weeks ago, the City of Lorain opened its beautiful new Central Service Complex for its Public Property Department on West Park Drive. 

Despite getting the heads up on the Sept. 13th Open House by my insider in the department (a fellow Admiral King Marching Band Member Alumni), I arrived a little too late on Sunday afternoon to catch the tour. But even from the street, the facility is quite impressive (see photos at the bottom of this post). 

This all means that the former home of the Public Property Department on E. 35th and Broadway is vacant again. The City had been using the property for various uses, including its Street Department, since 1977.

But before that, the location had been home until 1975 to one of Lorain’s lesser-known companies: the Mascon Toy Company. Here’s the front of the main building, facing Broadway, as it looked recently.

The view looking east across Broadway from W. 35th Street
And here are a few shots of the rest of the property.

The buildings facing south
Looking west on E. 35th
The back of the building that faces Broadway
I’ve written about the history of the Mascon Toy Company several times (here), and how it started out as the Steel Stamping Company. The company has enjoyed renewed attention in recent years, being featured with a special display of its products back in 2018 at the Lorain County Historical Society. 

It will be interesting to see if Lorain demolishes the aging buildings or if some new use for them is found.


Here are a few articles about the Mascon Toy Company that I haven’t posted before. 

The one below ran in the Thursday, May 20, 1965 Journal. It’s an interesting look at the company at a time when it had not only changed its name earlier in the year, but also its focus on the kind of toys it was going to be producing (plastic rather than steel).

And this one about the firm’s Christmas offerings ran in the Journal on October 4, 1970.
Here are a few shots of the new Central Service Complex on West Park Drive. 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Admiral King Cheerleaders – Sept. 11, 1970

Back when Lorain had several high schools, the Journal used to feature a photo of each school's cheerleading team in the weeks leading up to the football season. 

The above photo, featuring the Admiral King High School cheerleaders, ran in the paper on September 11, 1970 – fifty years ago this month.
I like that the photo's headline can be taken not only to mean to cheer for the school’s team, but for the man as well.


Even after all these years, I still think the Lorain school system goofed when the Admiral King name was discarded as a high school name, and reassigned to an elementary school.

From a practical viewpoint, having the one high school in Lorain called Lorain High School made sense. And it was nice to let the kids decide what they wanted to be called, with the final decision being ‘the Titans.’ 

But a lot of history and pride was lost when the Admiral King name was abandoned. Never again would the name of Lorain’s most famous and accomplished son get regular exposure on the evening sports reports. Anyone who followed high school sports knew that Admiral Ernest J. King was from Lorain, Ohio. While Lorain will never forget him, he is doomed to be forgotten by the general public.

By going with the Titans, Lorain lost the opportunity to keep a maritime theme (the Admirals) for its sports teams as well, despite the city’s shipbuilding history, its harbor, its river, its iconic Lighthouse, its location on Lake Erie, etc.

Meanwhile, other nearby cities like Vermilion (the Sailors) and Avon Lake (the Shoremen) got it right, and reinforced their lakefront heritage and identity with their team names.


UPDATE (October 4, 2020)

A month later, the Journal published photos of both the Southview Saints cheerleaders and the South Amherst majorettes.

From October 14, 1970 Journal
From October 17, 1970 Journal

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Harmon's Beach in the News – Sept. 1970

Harmon's Beach today

Harmon's Beach was another one of those places – like Lakeview Park and Hole-in-the-Wall – that attracted lots of young people from Lorain and the surrounding areas, back in the days when it was a public beach. 

It made the news in August and September 1970, thanks to some rowdy kids causing concerns for nearby residents.

The article below by Staff Writer Tom Oney appeared in the Journal on August 16, 1970.


Property Owners Petition City Hall

Should Harmon Beach Be Closed?

By TOM ONEY, Staff Writer

SAM PECORA says people are dirtying up Harmon Beach in Lorain and he wants it closed. He is among 29 people to petition City Hall to shut down the beach.

Many of his neighbors believe the beach “belongs to God” and want it open for the neighborhood and the many families throughout the city that use it.

The sandy beach is at the foot of Ashland Avenue in west Lorain. The people who swim there say it’s one of the most beautiful beaches in the city – even if it is only 50 feet wide.

It is one of four public beaches in Lorain.

Pecora and his wife built a lovely ranch style house 17 years ago on the 50-foot lot beside the 50-foot beach access. They raised their five children beside it, but now want the beach closed. They, along with other “taxpaying property owners” say it’s a threat to their very safety, privacy and peace of mind.

A petition, containing signatures from 29 people living in 17 homes in the area, was recently sent to City Hall and stated, “the beach condition is deplorable and disruptive of the peaceful and ordinary use of the property by the owners. We have evidence of glue sniffing, sex acts during the daylight hours and after dark, wild parties and loose dogs. It is really embarrassing to entertain company in our backyards due to the obscene language and vulgar actions.”

OTHER NEIGHBORHOOD people and other residents throughout the city plan to protest the petition.

“I certainly hope they do not close it,” said Mrs. Nancy LaForce, 1138 11th St., Lorain. She is a fourth grade teacher at Fairhome and says she “tries to come to the beach every day.”

“It’s lovely down here. The water is beautiful. You can’t beat this in Lorain,” said Mrs. LaForce.

Another swimmer on the beach, Walter Riegel, 44, 1603 12th St., Lorain, said he has been coming to the beach since he was four years old.

“I’ve been bringing neighborhood kids here with my four children for the past 16 years,” he said. “For an unsupervised piece of property, you can’t beat this,” he said and strolled into the water with two children.

SAM PECORA has a different point of view – that of a homeowner – only a few feet from where several hundred children and adults who walk from their cars, parked on the narrow street, past his house to the beach.

“There are no toilet facilities, no place to change clothes, no lifeguard, no one to pickup the trash and no patrol,” he said. 

“It’s something everyday and everyday,” said his wife.

The Pecoras’ home fills their lot and they spend much of their time on a rear patio facing the lake, the beach and the swimmers several feet away from the path to the beach.

“They walk past and swear at us. They bring beer and wine to the beach to defy us and last week we saw a young girl completely stripped by a kid on that bank,” he said, pointing to the edge of the lawn, part of the path to the beach.

“The police cooperation has been damn good,” he said, but added, “Last weekend about 30 kids were running through the lawns, knocking on doors and saying they were going to cut a kid’s head off wth a hatchet. It’s just got to the point now it's completely out of hand.”

BUT OTHER neighbors deny many of these charges and others charge Pecora just wants the beach himself if it is closed. Still others, who do not live in the neighborhood, say they have seen no daylight escapades as described by Pecora.

“He (Pecora) talks about savages down there and I think he’s making a savage environment for those who want to use the beach,” said Ken Jones of 935 W. 21st St., Lorain, who used to live on the lakefront near Pecora.

“He’s got a fence down there – half inch steel cables – that is coated with heavy grease. If you touch it or throw a towel against it, it won’t come off,” he said.

Pecora says he puts grease on the cables to keep “them from rusting.”

“They (Pecoras) have filled in the beach access with dirt and planted grass and shrubs – leaving only a six foot path, not 50 feet, to the beach,” said Riegel. “They used to stand on their back patios with a megaphone and take turns yelling at the kids,” he said. “I don’t blame them for their attitude, but this beach has been here longer than their house. It’s one of the oldest beaches in Lorain.”

“THE MAIN trouble is after dark,” said Mrs. LaForce. “When I come down here, I see bottles on the beach, but I’ve never seen anyone drinking down here during the day. If the city would make sure it would be closed after dark, that would end many of their troubles,” she said.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Mrs. Marie Koppenhafer, who lives across the street from the Pecoras. “I don’t think it should be closed. This block to the east of them is for it being open and the block to the west want it closed. To close it would be a crime,” she said.

“I bring my grandchildren down and I’ve heard this woman (Mrs. Pecora) complaining,” said Mrs. Nancy Preston of 1218 Westwood Dr., Lorain. “I spent a lot of my life in Florida and the beaches there are for the people. Say that, for the people,” she stressed. “It should be that way here, too.”

ANOTHER RESIDENT, who lives on the west of the beach, said he didn’t sign the petition.

“If you shut it off, you will create law breakers and more problems for other property owners,” said William Stark, 1365 2nd St., Lorain.

“I feel it should be patrolled by proper policing,” he said. “I feel the present legislation City Council has enacted (11 p.m. curfew) has been adequate, but it does need work.”

“In no case would a lifeguard have saved any of the people who drowned down there. I won’t permit my kids to go to Lakeview Park swimming because that’s more of a threat to me than this,” he said.

But on the flip side of the coin, Pecora and the other petitioners, feel their safety threatened with beach activities and gangs.

THE NEXT FIVE houses on that side of the beach are either widows or divorcees, he said. “They are scared to death. They have seen the activity and are afraid to yell at the kids because they might [sic] with them that night.”

James King of 1312 2nd St., has lived in his house for 23 years. Several years ago he was deputized by the city on a voluntary basis to patrol the beach.

“I wouldn’t take that job now even if they paid me,” he said. “I don’t think anyone else in Lorain would want to live here and put up with what we do.”

King said that most of the activity on the beach takes place at night.

“I WOULDN’T go down there at night. I’d be taking my life into my own hands,” he said. “We’ve looked the other way for a number of years, but we can’t any longer.” He said his garage and property has been vandalized and boats stolen during the night.

Police Chief John Malinovsky said he has had complaints "about the noise from certain people. But most of our complaints are in the evening hours. With the night activities at the beach, we certainly can take care of that by enforcing the curfew now in effect,” he said.

“I’m sure the traffic down there is nothing what it used to be when I was a kid and the lake was clean,” he added.


Not quite a month later, the Journal did a follow-up article about Harmon's Beach. The article below appeared in the paper on September 11, 1970.

Harmon’s Beach: Should Lorain Close It to Public?

By TOM McPHEETERS, Staff Writer

TO A MAN, woman and teenager, residents of the Harmon’s Beach area agree that they have a problem with rowdy people using the beach. What they don’t agree on is whether the problem is any worse than when they were kids, and what should be done about it now.

Lorain City Council’s Building and Lands Committee listened last night to an hour’s arguments on a petition to close Ashland Avenue north of Second Street, and decided to ask for full reports within two weeks from the Police Department, the Park Department, the Port Authority and City Solicitor John Hritsko.

Police Lieutenant George Malden spoke for Chief John Malinovsky: “He is quite concerned. But he doesn’t feel the conditions are as bad as are being painted.”

Malden noted that only a few feet of Lake Erie beach remains open to the public and that Malinovsky “hates to be in a position to deny the beach to the general public. He would not like to see this street closed. If there is a problem, then the police should be called immediately.”

Malden admitted that the department is now sending extra patrols to check the beach, and that this does not seem to be eliminating the complaints, but stressed that often people fail to call the police until too late. It is not true that people with complaints about illegal behavior have to swear out a warrant if the offender is on private property, he said.

“THE POLICE have done a wonderful job,” said Mrs. Sam Pecora, 1350 Second Street. “But it’s gotten to the point now where we’d have to have a full-time policeman down there.”

In a low, hesitant voice, Mrs. Pecora told how she and her late husband, who initiated the petition, tried to “keep law and order” on the beach for 17 years, often giving first aid and shelter to people who came to their door.

“I think in the last three years, you really can’t talk to them any more. It has gotten to the point where we had to sign the petition.”

She and a neighbor, Mrs. Dean E. Buchanan, 1362 Second Street, told of the fear of elderly persons in the neighborhood, of loud, obscene language late at night, of “sex acts day and night,” of the danger of swimming off the break wall, and of the hazard of power boats using the area for water skiing. They presented councilmen with glue-sniffing apparatus as evidence of that kind of activity.

KENNETH JONES, 1303 Fifth Street, pointed out that to effectively close off access to the beach Lorain would also have to close Brownell Avenue north of Second Street. “And even if you do this, I don’t think you are going to do anything. You are still going to have people using the beach,” he argued.

“I don’t know about politics, but I think it is time to stop denying things to people and try to make things better. Try and stop these atrocities.”

Several teenagers were in the audience. Debbie Wedo, 1129 Fifth Street, agreed there is a problem. “Kids today are a heck of a lot different than they were 20 or 30 years ago,” she said. “I know, and I’m ashamed sometimes.”

Mrs. Betty Burton, 1320 Second Street, showed pictures of the beach to back her argument that conditions are exaggerated by the people who want to close it. When James King, 1312 Second Street, told the committee that “you couldn’t pay me enough” to continue as a special policeman for the area, Mrs. Burton replied:

“And yet your wife and children go and use it. I can’t understand it.”

Roger Doane, chairman of the Lorain Port Authority, as well as an area resident, warned that Lorain may face legal complications if it tries to close the street because the right-of-way is used by the U.S. Coast Guard to reach cables serving the lighthouse.


Ultimately, the decision was by Lorain City Council made to close the beach. Here’s the Journal’s editorial from April 20, 1972.

The former access to Harmon’s Beach, now barricaded

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Kroger Ad – Sept. 30, 1959

Here’s a nice full-Page Kroger ad from the Sept. 30, 1959 issue of the Journal. The grocery store giant had four area stores at that time: Shoreway Shopping Center in Sheffield Lake; O’Neil-Sheffield Shopping Center (halfway between Lorain and Elyria); 103 Second Street in Elyria; and 328 E. Liberty in Vermilion.
In addition to the usual novelty in comparing prices from more than 60 years ago (Ground Beef at 49 cents a pound back then, $3.99 today at Kroger), for me the most interesting thing about the ad is the illustration promoting Kroger as “The place to go for the brands you know.” It’s a group of some of the best-known American advertising mascots, including the Jolly Green Giant, the chubby Campbell's Kids, and Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger

It took me a while to figure out who that rabbit was, though. It turns out that he had been appearing in 1959 Kroger newspaper ads promoting their dew-licious lettuce and other produce. 
It’s kind of funny that Kroger decided to have their own mascot muscle his way in with the better-known national advertising giants!

Monday, September 21, 2020

What was playing at the Ohio on Sept. 20, 1970?

Wholesome family fare at the Tower Drive-in on Sept. 20, 1970
The year 1970 was certainly a turning point from a cultural standpoint, if you take a look at what was showing on local movie screens on September 20, 1970 – 50 years ago this month.

Biker flicks seemed to be the big thing, at least at the drive-ins.

The Tower Drive-in on Lake Avenue was running a devilish double feature: Hell’s Bloody Devils, starring John Gabriel and Anne Randall and Satan's Sadists, starring Russ Tamblin and Scott Brady (no relation). Hell’s Bloody Devils actually sounds pretty entertaining, since it featured a cameo by none other than Colonel Sanders. (See screen grab from the movie.) Now that’s product placement.

The Carlisle Drive-in wasn’t much better from a socially redeeming standpoint, but at least it went with angels instead of devils. Angel Unchained and Scream & Scream Again were the “2 Big Hits” featured in its ad.  

At the Lorain Drive-inBonnie and Clyde was the starring attraction, with its well-remembered shoot’em up finale.

In the regular movie houses, the fare wasn’t too uplifting either. At the Ohio Theater was the student protest comedy-drama Getting Straight. The political thriller Z was on the Midway Cinema screen. The Palace was showing the British horror-comedy film GirlyAmherst Theater was running A Walk in the Spring Rain, a downer romantic drama about a middle-aged couple’s affair and the unhappy consequences of it (including accidental murder). The theater should have scrounged up something with the Duke (John Wayne) instead.

So with all these depressing movies clogging up the screens, what was left for the kiddies?

It was up to iconic TV cowboy Dale Robertson (Tales of Wells Fargo) to provide something they could see, as well as a positive image they could emulate.

Robertson's animated feature The Man From Button Willow provides the answer to the question posed as the title of this post. The full-length cartoon featuring a cartoon version of the cowboy actor was showing at the Ohio, as well as the Liberty in Downtown Vermilion. It had been released a few years earlier, but had apparently missed the Lorain area (I couldn’t find any indication it had played here).

The animated film was a pet project for the Oklahoma-born actor (who really was a cowboy, with his own ranch). He introduces the movie in a nice live-action introduction.

His character in the movie (below) is fairly realistic, unlike the cartoony villains.

The movie boasts a topnotch voice cast (including Edgar Buchanan, who guest starred on Tales of Wells Fargo many times). You can find The Man From Button Willow easily on YouTube.


I’ve mentioned before that I watch a lot of Grit TV, including daily viewings of Tales of Wells Fargo. I’ve become quite a Dale Robertson fan. Here are a few clippings about him and the show, in case you’re a fan too.

Santa Maria Times, Feb. 14, 1969
The Times Tribune, June 13, 1959
Wisconsin State Journal, Jan. 18, 1960
Fort Worth Star Telegram, May 1, 1960
Lorain Journal, September 16, 1960

Friday, September 18, 2020

Mickey Mouse’s Birthday Article – Sept. 19, 1970

Back when the Lorain Journal’s front page was jam-packed with news, the reader never knew what they would find in addition to the many items of local and national interest.

Often tucked in the lower right corner was something light and fun. During the holidays, it might be a little cartoon with a countdown of the number of days until Christmas. But other times, it could be anything; in this case, on the front page of the September 19, 1970 edition, it’s a small announcement of Mickey Mouse’s birthday.

As the article notes, the Sept. 19, 1928 date is when Mickey Mouse was ‘created.’ That was the date that the first Mickey Mouse cartoon with sound (“Steamboat Willie”) was shown in New York. Since the 1970s, however, the Disney people have changed the date of the famous cheese-eater’s official birthday to November 19th.

Anyway, the Journal ran the Mickey Mouse comic strip on its funny pages for many years. Here are a few samples from that paper over the years.
This strip from Sept. 16, 1961 has a fairly dark theme. Is that a pre-prison Beagle Boy with the gun?
The comic from December 7, 1963. Apparently Goofy was ahead of his time in motion sensor technology.
The strip from May 1, 1971 had a drive-by cameo by Horace Horsecollar.
This June 18, 1973 strip features one of those lookalike mousey ‘nephews' of unknown parentage.
Pluto comes a-running in this September 1, 1973 comic. No leash laws in Mouseville, apparently.
In this strip from June 3, 1977, Goofy has traded his iconic turtleneck and vest for a sweater.
As you can see, in this gag-a-day format Mickey is depicted as a middle-class mouse living in the suburbs. He’s sort of a gentle Jerry Seinfeld type, with his own, goofy Krameresque friend (Goofy, who else?) to sometimes provide the laughs. But don’t look for Donald Duck in these comics; the ill-tempered fowl was busy starring in his own comic strip. (He lived in Duckburg anyway.)