Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Year’s Eve – 1950

Here’s one more vintage safety ad from the pages of the Lorain Journal to get you ready for tonight. This one is from the December 30, 1950 issue of the paper – 70 years ago.

Although this full page ad doesn’t feature the Grim Reaper (like so many of the other New Year’s Eve ads I’ve posted over the years), some people might find a policeman (and the possibility of a traffic ticket costing a few hundred dollars at least) even scarier.

As usual, the roll call of sponsor companies is always fun to look at. Lots of auto dealers, repair garages and service stations in Lorain back in those days! 

At least the Muzik Bros. company is still around and thriving!

Anyway, the ad has a great tagline: Safety is here to stay... are you?

New Year’s Eve – 1970

Detail from a Midway Mall ad that 
appreared in the Journal on Dec. 31, 1970

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve at last.

Fifty years ago, if you were trying to decide where to go celebrate, the Journal had plenty of ads in its New Year’s Eve edition to help you choose.

At the Americana Inn Motel (wasn’t that the one with the large fiberglass animals in front?) on Route 57 in Elyria, you could dance to the music of Jerry Manns Quartet. The traditional New Year’s meal of pork & sauerkraut was on the menu.

L-K Restaurant also offered the same pork dish that’s supposed to bring good luck in the New Year.

Now in case those two restaurants were too pricey, you could always head over to Casey’s Drive-in on W. 21st Street.
Over at the other end of Route 611, Boris “Bobo” Lazoff and the gang at The Sands were wishing everyone a Happy New Year.
Over in Elyria, the Alex Burmis Orchestra was providing dancing music at Carey’s Villa.

And out in Sandusky at the Vogue Lounge, The Lynx was supplying the music to dance by.
Closer to home, The Twiliters were providing New Year’s Eve music for dancing at American Croatian Club at 2815 Grove Avenue.
And not too far away at 2156 E. 28th Street at The Buckeye CB’ers, the guests could relax and feel safe because the area was going to be patrolled. (I had to look this one up, as I’d never heard of it. Its address was the home of the Lorain Serbian Athletic Club in the 1964 city directory.)
And seeing as it’s New Year’s Eve, the custom here on the blog is to post a vintage full-page safety ad. This one appeared in the same edition of the Journal as all of these ads. No Grim Reaper this time, and that’s a good thing – he’s gotten way too much press in 2020.
Here’s wishing you a safe and happy New Year’s Eve!

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Spang Bakery Torn Down – Dec. 31, 1970

Ask a Lorainite to name a long-gone local bakery that they remember fondly, and they’ll probably bring up DeLuca Bakery, Hough Bakeries, or maybe even Bob’s Donuts.

But there’s one bakery that only a few residents would probably remember, although it was probably the biggest in town for many years: the Spang Bakery.

The bakery’s roots were in Cleveland, where it had opened on Barber Avenue back in 1888. As it grew, it expanded and Lorain was chosen for the location of the first satellite plant.

I wrote about the much-heralded opening of the Lorain plant in 1925 here and here.

The plant (officially known as the J. Spang Home Bake Bakeries Plant) closed in the late 1950s. The building was used by a few companies after that (including a wholesale donut operation, and a Cotton Club distribution company) before going vacant for good around 1964.

Within a few years, the building had become a nuisance, with kids using it as a place to sniff glue. Finally, on October 21, 1968 the empty building burned down.

It took a few years, but it was finally torn down by the City of Lorain, beginning on the last day of 1970.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Lorain’s Comfort Station Torn Down – Dec. 30, 1970

As the year 1970 was drawing to a close, so was the era of the old Lorain City Hall.

Demolition was just beginning to get underway at the end of December, clearing the properties on the northwest corner of West Erie Avenue and Broadway so that a new City Hall could be built.

And according to the above photo and caption, which appeared in the Journal on December 30, 1970, one of the first buildings to come down was the old comfort station (or rest room, if you prefer).

What, you don’t remember it?

It was the small building just to the east of the old Lorain City Hall in this photo. The Civil Defense Tower was right behind it.

In this photo (below), it’s just to the west of the Dew Drop Inn. I guess someone thought putting a Marine recruiting poster in front of a public rest room was a good idea.

Anyway, back here is my post about where the comfort station was originally supposed to be located: across the street in the park.

Comfort stations must have been a popular concept for cities in the early years of the 20th Century. Vermilion still has its 1912 model on Liberty Avenue near Downtown (below).

Monday, December 28, 2020

Happy Birthday to The Pit!

In a couple of days, it will be New Year’s Eve. If that’s not exciting enough, it will also be the birthday of The Pit!

Yes, it was back on December 31, 1968 that the barbecue restaurant founded by Mr. and Mrs. Neil Pinkley and Mr. and Mrs. Noah Tedford at 3909 Liberty Avenue opened. Above is the ad that ran in the Journal on December 28, 1970 – fifty years ago today – observing the second birthday of the restaurant.

The ad is interesting to me because it features a great photo of the restaurant (before it was enlarged) and sign, circa 1970. What’s surprising is that the barbecued spare ribs (available in whole slab or half-slab) were only a recent addition to the menu. 

I also recently found the ad announcing the Pit's one-year birthday (below). It ran in the Journal on December 30, 1969. I wonder what the gifts were for the kiddies – pint-sized jars of barbecue sauce?

I wrote a four-part blog series about the history of the Pit which included an interview with Steve Pinkley, son of the co-founders of the restaurant. (You can read it by clicking here and scrolling down to the bottom to Part 1.)

Anyway, here’s wishing the great people at Your Pit BBQ (the current name of the restaurant) a Happy 52nd Birthday! (I started the party early by carrying out a delicious pulled-pork sandwich on Sunday.)

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Lorain’s “Christmas Story” Connection

Did you know that Lorain has a connection to “A Christmas Story,” the holiday movie classic?

I didn’t either, until Russ Andorka (whose father was well-known bowling kingpin Frank H. “Hank” Andorka) made me aware of it recently in an email. 
"I talked with a “ex-pin chaser" from Andorka’s this week, Russ explained. "Bill used to work at Andorka’s in the 60’s, and left for the US Army around 1970. 
"His dad used to go to Clearview Hobby shop on Elyria Ave. in Lorain. They put together models.
Thats when Hollywood called. 
Russ noted, "The prop department making “A Christmas Story” called the hobby shop, and asked if they knew anyone that could put together some airplane models to hang in the window of Higbee's Dept. Store at the start of the movie, which shows the Terminal Tower in downtown Cleveland. 
"Anyway, the Hobby Store asked Bill’s dad to put together the planes, and Bill helped. 
"So now you know 'the rest of the story.' You like to muse about Lorain, so thought I’d pass this on," said Russ.
"Just a fun story at Christmas.
It is a fun story. You can see some of Bills fathers apparent handiwork in some early movie scenes.
I remember when A Christmas Story was being filmed in the early 1980s, I was working on Triskett Road in Lakewood, just a few blocks from W. 117th Street. When the movie wrapped, the vintage decorations on Public Square and Higbee's were left up for a while so people could go down and take a gander, which I did. 
It wasn’t until about ten years later that I used part of one of my lunch hours to drive over to see the Christmas Story house in the Tremont neighborhood. It was still a private residence at that time and wasn’t easy to pick out among all the other houses on the street.
It was probably another fifteen years after that when I paid a visit to the house again, when it was restored to its movie appearance and open as an attraction.
Seeing the house in its neighborhood setting, and recognizing various movie backdrops (such as the backyard of the house where Black Bart and the ‘bad guys’ were attacking) greatly enhances the annual viewing of A Christmas Story.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas!

Here’s wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas, and a safe and Happy New Year.

I might take a few days off from blogging during the holidays. We’ll see.

As you can see, the Hot Dog Heaven Santa Claus has a new home this year, in front of the Amherst Town Hall. It’s good to see him, and a nice reminder of how great it will be when the new restaurant is built and open.

By the way, I’m now pretty sure he's a double of the Santa that used to be on display at Parmatown Mall in 1960.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve – 1970

Well, it’s Christmas Eve 2020. 

For those of you that were reading the Journal fifty years ago today, then the above front page reproduction should look familiar. It has the traditional decorative border that appeared annually on the day before Christmas. It’s like seeing an old friend.

And speaking of old friends, regular readers of this blog remember that the artwork was created by Journal artist Gene Patrick (note the tiny “gp” in the corner). 

Anyway, here’s hoping you have a happy and safe Christmas Eve.


Over in Brownhelm, of course, the traditional Community Christmas will take place tonight, just as it has since December 1932. The charming holiday custom has been a favorite topic on this blog. (Click here to read all of the different posts, including a look at how the very first one played out in the newspaper).

The Journal’s coverage from December 1970 has a nice capsule history of the annual event. 

One of my most visited posts is this one, in which I reminisce about believing in Santa Claus. If you’ve never read it before, give it a look if you’re so inclined – and leave your own reminisces about believing in the jolly old elf.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Christmas Ads – 1970

Well, the Christmas Cavalcade of newspaper ads and articles continues – we’re up to 1970 now.

It’s a real mixed bag of old fashioned ads, and “hip” ones that reflected the (ugh) changes in fashion that were taking place.

This nearly full-page ad for Hills Dept. Store seems to symbolize that the times were a-changing. It ran in the Journal on December 24, 1970. The unappealing characters look like they’re right out of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine cartoon.

This Dec. 14, 1970 ad for Sam Klein Co. can’t seem to decide what decade it is. Although the man looks like he belongs in a 1950s beer ad, the woman has those now-classic 1970s ‘big eyes.’

Making his annual appearance in Penneys ads (after being introduced in 1967) is that famous holiday meece, Santa Mouse. This ad ran in the Journal on December 13, 1970. 
(I’ve had several recent dealings with mouse traps and ‘miserable meeces,' so I have to confess that I’m not a fan of Santa Mouse. He looks a little too realistic to me, and a little too hungry.
At least the next few ads are old-fashioned. First Federal Savings of Lorain (now the only local bank with ‘Lorain’ still in its name) had some nice vintage art in its Dec. 24, 1970 Journal ad. I like the dog-like reindeer.
 This Dec. 13, 1970 ad for Llewellyn Motor Company had a nice Santa illustration as well.
Santa’s also in this Lorain Creamery ad of Dec. 21, 1970 featuring ‘Flaming Ice Cream Snow Balls.” Sounds like a weapon! 
I wonder if competitor Home Dairy was not amused by the Creamery’s ad tagline: “LORAIN’S FINEST HOME DAIRY?”

Lastly, what would the holiday be without our old pal Reddy Kilowatt? His appearances in Journal ads were getting pretty rare by 1970, but here he is in one that ran Dec. 15, 1970, inviting us in for a free cup of coffee, and serving up an electrifying holiday meal. And unlike the Lorain Creamery Snow Balls – no flames!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Lorain Banking Co. Christmas Club Ad – Dec. 1960

How would you describe Santa Claus?

Most people would probably say that he has a a red suit and cap, a white beard, and leave it at that. I’m not even sure that they would describe him as fat any more, judging by some of the scrawny, ‘realistic' Santas you see on TV and out in public. 
But what people often forget is that Santa (or St. Nick if you prefer) was described in A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore as having cheeks “like roses” and a nose “like a cherry” and eyes that twinkled. He was a guy who was jolly, non-threatening and instantly likable.
Haddon Sundblom painted that Santa Claus in his series of ads for Coca-Cola. His Santa had tousled white hair, often with some of it sticking out from under his stocking cap. It’s an appealing image, and for many people – myself included – that is what Santa looks like. 
I'm sure whoever designed this ad (which ran in the Lorain Journal on December 3, 1960) for the Lorain Banking Company’s Christmas Club probably agrees. It’s a great looking Santa, and is a close cousin to Sundblom's.
Anyway, within about four weeks of this ad, the Lorain Banking Company would not exist. With the start of the new year (1961), the Lorain Banking Company and the National Bank of Lorain would merge to form the Lorain National Bank.
Today, of course, Lorain National Bank is no more.

O’Hara’s Beverage Spot Sleigh – Dec. 1960

Here’s a nice little article circa December 1960 about well-known Lorain business O’Hara’s Beverage Spot and its unique Christmas decoration: an 150-year-old sleigh.

The article ran in the Lorain Journal back on December 26, 1960.

What’s interesting is that even though it is shown on the roof of the building, the antique sleigh was going to be pressed into service once the owner was able to buy a pony.

Back in 2017, I interviewed Ralph O’Hara about his family’s longtime Lorain beverage store, which you can read here. Since then, Ralph and his wife have sold the business and hopefully are enjoying retirement.

Mary Lee Tucker Christmas Show – 1960

Although these days the Mary Lee Tucker effort at the Morning Journal is focused primarily on the Clothe-a-Child donation program, back in 1960 the big Christmas benefit show featuring local talent was still the main component of fund raising.

There was usually some well-known regional and even national talent as master of ceremonies, such as Lynn Sheldon (TV’s “Barnaby") (1950), Leo DeLyon (1954), Bob McFadden (1955), Frank Fontaine  (better known to many as Crazy Guggenheim on the Jackie Gleason Show) (1957), Don Webster (1964), and Houlihan and Big Chuck (1968).

(Click here to pull up all my posts about the history of the Mary Lee Tucker program, and then scroll all the way down to the bottom to read the multi-part posts in order.)

Anyway, in 1960, Cleveland KYW radio personality “Big” Wilson was the scheduled master of ceremonies for the Mary Lee Tucker benefit show. Here’s some of the pre-show publicity from the Lorain Journal of Nov. 15, 1960.

The Journal also provided a preview of the scheduled entertainment in its Nov. 28th edition. Acrobatic hand balancers Kay and Kay were the featured act. 

As usual, Biz Grove and his Orchestra were to provide background music.
The Capris (featuring well-known local guitarist/musician Ron Zehel) would provide music in the Palace Theater lobby prior to the performance.
Although bad wintry weather prevented “Big” Wilson and Cleveland Indian Jim Piersall from appearing, the show went on as scheduled on Wednesday, November 30, 1960. Cleveland Brown player Bobby Mitchell did show up, however, and was a big hit. Hosting duties were shared by Journal reporter Jack LaVriha and professional emcee Joe DeSantis
The Journal's detailed coverage provides all the information on the various acts.
Even with the setbacks, the show was still a big success with a standing-room-only crowd of 2,000 – the largest turnout in the past 15 years.

Wouldn’t it be great if somehow the Mary Lee Tucker benefit show was resurrected in the 2000’s?
It was nice reading about Biz Grove and his orchestra. Along with my older brother, I was a member of that band in the 1980s while Charles “Biz” Bisgrove was still the leader, and in several different incarnations of the group after he passed away. I’ll write about my experiences as a band member here on the blog eventually – maybe even in 2021!
Kay and Kay, the acrobatic act that performed at the benefit show enjoyed a long career. I found a few online references to them, mainly in Billboard magazines from the 1940s and 50s, appearing everywhere from Montreal to Aurora, Indiana to Galesburg, Illinois. They were usually billed as hand balancers.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Christmas Ads – 1950

Well, it’s Christmas week. Let’s start the celebration by taking a look at some ads from the pages of the Lorain Journal in December 1950, and get a taste of the city of seventy years ago. 

Speaking of taste, wine was – and still is – a great gift for many people. This ad for Stone’s Grills (I’m not sure why it's plural) is fun to look at, with many old-time brands listed, including E & K Wines, Virginia Dare, Golden West Wines and Duff-Gordon Imported Wines. (By the way, Francis Ford Coppola literally brought the Virginia Dare Wine brand back to life in 2014, which you can read about here and here.)

I wrote about Stone’s Grill a few times, including this post about the Helfrich Building, and this January 1950 ad.

The other ad with a wine theme is for Zim’s, advertised as “Lorain’s Leading Beer & Wine Stores.” 

‘Zim’ was Willard B. Zimmerman. I like how the ‘Z’ makes up the body of the little mascot. The ad lists two store locations, 1247 Broadway and 1762 E. 28th Street. (I suspect that the ad has a typo or two, because the 1950 city directory had the two locations as 747 Broadway and 1246 Broadway in both the alphabetical, as well as the street-by-street listings).

If you preferred to enjoy your spirits in a comfortable bar setting, then this ad for the well-known Lincoln Park Nite Club would have been of interest.

Of course, Lincoln Park Nite Club and the various bars at that location have been the subject of many posts here on the blog.

Switching over to non-booze-related ads, here’s one for Lee Furniture. It has a particularly nice sentiment.

The company was owned by Joseph and Carl Lepon, and was located at 453 Broadway.

Here’s one for Bazely Cash Market, the subject of this 2017 post. (I guess they didn’t barter or take IOUs)

And I’ve written about Central Bank (whose one forlorn, lonely pillar still stands on Broadway) many times.

Here’s one for a business that I’ve never mentioned before on the blog. It’s a full-page ad for Agnes Kay Ladies Specialty Shop at 433 Broadway. The business was established by Agnes Kay Webber on Sept. 4, 1947 and featured a bridal salon for outfitting all members of the bridal party.

The business moved to 436 Broadway in the early 1960s; it closed around 1966 and its location on Broadway became the Downtown Lorain home of Faroh’s Candies.
The next ad is an interesting one. It’s for a WTAM radio broadcast of “A Christmas Carol” starring Lionel Barrymore as Scrooge. The local sponsor for the show as indicated in the ad was James Renker & Son Plumbing & Heating.
Lionel Barrymore, as we all remember, played the evil Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life. But did you know that an imitation of his voice was used for the diabolical mad scientist Simon Bar Sinister on the cartoon series Underdog?
The last ad is for Hart’s, a jewelry company that has provided me wth some offbeat, but memorable, posts over the years. Remember the ad with the Marilyn Monroe lookalike? The Wyatt Earp Frontier Marshall Set? The creepy ‘panda doll' that looked like a genetic mistake? The leggy Scottish lassie? All were found in ads for Hart’s.
This time out, the highlight of the ad is the 24” high “Magic Skin” 5 Voice Doll, an exclusive PARO creation.
As the ad notes, “Just squeeze her little right arm and SHE CRIES. Touch her cute, dimpled right leg and SHE SIGHS. Pinch her chubby left arm and SHE CRIES AGAIN. Squeeze her adorable left leg and SHE WAILS. Turn her over on your knee and SHE CRIES LIKE A BABEE.”

Sick, man, sick. This is worse than Ol’ Lanky Long! (Throw him! Drop him! Toss him!)
According to the ad, she has 5 different voices, moving eyes, rubber arms and legs, rose rubber panties, a full size petticoat (what’s that?), Ninon dress & bonnet, lace trimmed shoes and socks.
As usual, I tried to find a photo online of an existing doll – although after all the pinching and squeezing committed in the name of fun, I was doubtful that any doll would still be around with its limbs intact to cry and wail today.
I could be wrong, but this doll currently on Ebay (listed as 22” tall) kind of looks like one.
If you look closely at the doll in the Hart's ad, you can see the raised ridges of the hair on its left temple, similar to the Ebay doll.

I feel like buying the doll just to see if I can get it to make some kind of noise!
At least any abuse or torture dished out to my G. I. Joe "doll” (or action figure, if you prefer) when I was a kid was all in the name of war.
UPDATE (December 26, 2020)
Longtime contributor and all around good guy Bob Kovach solved my little mystery as to why the ad for Stone’s Grill at the top of this post had the name of the business as plural (as in Stone’s Grills).
Bob wrote, "Yesterday I was looking around eBay and I came across an old Stone's Grill match book. I figured I purchase it for a very good friend of mine, whose father owned the Stone's Grill on Broadway. 
Anyways, when I looked at the pictures I noticed that there were many Stones Grills! 
Inside of matchbook
Bob continued. " I'm going to ask my buddy about it because he always talks about the place, and I even did some work on the building for him some years ago when he still owned it. So it was really neat this morning when I started to read your article about Christmas ads, and saw that you wondered why it was plural.
"So I thought to myself, 'I can answer that for Dan!’”

And I’m glad he did. Thanks, Bob!