Friday, February 26, 2021

Lorain Aviator “Bill” Long Passes Away – Feb. 9, 1971

As I’ve mentioned a few times, the early 1970s were a time of great change in Lorain. It was like the city was getting a major makeover, and quickly transitioning from the Lorain that our parents grew up in to the city that we know now. 

Besides the obvious physical changes taking place (such as the demolition of structures in preparation for a new City Hall and Urban Renewal projects) there was also the human factor – the passing of well-known local individuals that were larger than life.

One of them was aviation pioneer William “Bill” Long, who passed away fifty years ago this month on Feb. 9, 1971. I’m sure it would be difficult for many newer Lorain residents to believe that there was an airport run by Bill Long on Leavitt Road where the P.C. Campana Industrial Park is now located (or that there was another airport before that, across Leavitt Road and extending east almost all the way to Oberlin Avenue.

Anyway, here is the obituary for Mr. Long that ran in the Journal on Feb. 9, 1971. His passing was front-page news.

I’ve blogged about Bill Long and his airport (also known as the Lorain City Airport) before on this blog, including a post featuring a 1959 interview with him written by Journal writer Edward Brown.
Our good friend Bob Kovach shared these great photos of the hangar and another building at Long’s Airport, as well as a personal reminisce of Mr. Long. This post featured a photo of an old Lake Shore Electric car that sat on Long’s Airport property.
Longtime blog contributor Rick Kurish wrote a post about Benoist Flying Boats that included a mention of Bill Long’s 1917 Curtiss MF “Seagull” hydroaeroplane.
And I wrote about how our house on E. Skyline Drive was on the flight path to Long’s Airport back here, and how a plane crash-landed on a nearby vacant lot.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

U. S. Steel Shuts Down Last Open Hearth Furnaces – Feb. 25, 1971

For many older people that lived in Lorain all their lives, the sight of a sky filled with orange-colored smoke coming from “National Tube" was just part of day-to-day life. I remember seeing it as a kid on W. 30th Street in the early 1960s and wondering what it was.

But that all came to an end when U. S. Steel shut down the “smoke-belching open hearth furnaces” mentioned in the front page article above, which appeared in the Journal on Feb. 25, 1971 – fifty years ago today.
As the article notes, “The new $80 million basic oxygen steelmaking complex will completely replace the open hearths which have been spewing heavy clouds of orange smoke for years.
“The basic oxygen process of steelmaking, known by steel men as BOP, will mark a new era in steel production at the Lorain steel facility founded in 1895.
“One of two 220-ton BOP furnaces is now in operation on three eight-hour shifts daily producing about 220 tons of steel every hour without smoke.”
Of particular interest in the article is the number of employees at the mill. The article notes, “The steel plant is operating at a high pace with an estimated 7,400 production workers to meet increased demands for steel and steel products.
“More than 400 new employes have been hired at Lorain Works since last Dec. 13.”
It sure made for a good life for those workers (who earned every penny), and a robust Lorain as a result.
So when did the Open Hearth era begin at the mill? The year was 1909. Click here to read all about it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Last Rites for St. Joseph Hospital

Over the last couple of months, a monumental demolition has been taking place in Lorain, largely unnoticed: the knocking down of the old St. Joseph Hospital. As noted in a comment left on a previous post, the parking garage will remain.

The demolition kicked into high gear earlier this month when only one portion of the building remained. Here was the view on Feb. 6, 2021.

The view from Broadway looking west
Heading west on W. 21st Street

Ten days later on Feb. 16, 2021 only this chunk remained.

By Feb. 20, 2021 only a small portion of the structure – dangerously close to W. 21st Street – was all that was left.

Here are a few views from the next day, Feb. 21st.
Well, today was apparently the Grand Finale. W. 21st Street was closed between Reid Avenue and Broadway so that the final beams and remaining wall could come down.
The view from Livingston Avenue looking south
Here’s hoping that something gets built there that can utilize the still-attractive parking garage.
But in the meantime – so long, St. Joe’s. Many of the people who read this blog were born there, had operations there, and lost loved ones there. Thank goodness the spirit of St. Joe’s lives on in our excellent Mercy Hospital on Kolbe Road.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Oberlin in the News – Feb. 1961

Yesterday’s post was about the old Green Acres Children’s Home, which as located in Oberlin. Well, here are a couple more Oberlin news items of a historic nature that made their way into the Journal back in February 1961.

The first one, which appeared in the paper on Feb. 7, 1961 features a local landmark: the home of Charles Martin Hall, an Oberlin College graduate who discovered the electrolytic process for making aluminum.

Surprisingly (for this blog at least), the article was not about the house being torn down. The house is still there today at 64 E. College Street.

But the second Oberlin news item (which appeared in the Journal on Feb. 11, 1961) does indeed involve demolition of a historic structure so that – like the song says – they could “put up a parking lot."
The building being demolished was an old livery stable. As the article noted, “Constructed in 1915 by George Kelly and George Bailey as a livery stable, it was one of the finest such establishments in this area.
“The two horsemen, both of whom have since died, obviously had an eye for the future, for they also provided a space for the storage of automobiles, along with their carriage storage quarters and horse stables.
The livery stable business didn’t last very long, according to the article. By 1917 the business was sold.
The article (by Bob Thomas) sums up the building’s history very nicely. “So in a span of 45 years,” it notes, "a site that once was trampled by the hoofs of fine horses, gave way to the business of motor car repairs then a storage center and is now to become an off-street parking area.”
Hey, I wonder how that Vermilion fox hunt (mentioned in an article right below the one about the livery stable) went. 
There’s a fox that I’ve seen every so often circling the old quarry behind my condo in Vermilion. Maybe he’s a descendant of a survivor from that 1961 hunt.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Green Acres Home – Feb. 3, 1971

Mention the phrase 'Green Acres' to any Baby Boomer, and they would probably think of the 1960s rural comedy featuring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor as the city couple that moved to a farm in Hooterville (where they encounter an endless parade of goofy locals). 

But did you know that 'Green Acres' was also the name of the Lorain County children’s home?

According to a history page on, “In 1898, the voters approved a measure authorizing the Commissioners to build a children’s home.

“The Commissioners purchased 15 acres (at the corner of Oberlin Rd. and E. College St.) for $3675, and the Green Acres Children’s Home was built at a total cost of $32,500.

“Three siblings, ages 6, 8, and 12, were the first children placed there on August 4, 1900. 445 children had been admitted in the first 10 years. 411 of them were subsequently placed elsewhere. Family breakdown was the main reason for placements. A few were orphans, but most were placed due to "drunkenness or infidelity” of parents. The original Children’s Home was capable of housing 65 children at any given time, and during World War II there were as many as 100 housed at a time. The garden, poultry, and fruit trees were depended upon to help feed the children, and the children provided much of the labor to keep them going, and heating fuel was provided by two gas wells on the property.

“In 1969, with a campaign of “Once in 70 Years” the voters approved a special levy to replace the old Green Acres Children’s Home with a modern one."

The article at the top of this post, which appeared in the Journal on Feb. 3, 1971, notes that the new children’s home would provide 18 additional beds for children between the age of 6 and 18. 

It’s interesting to see an actual photo of the original Green Acres Children’s Home after hearing about it for so long.


By the 1990s, it was no longer cost-effective to operate Green Acres, and according to, the facility was becoming too impersonal and lacking in the home atmosphere that children need. The facility closed in 1995 and was returned to the County Commissioners.

The city of Oberlin acquired the former Green Acres Children’s Home site in 2011 and contracted for the demolition of the buildings in order to redevelop the property.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Blog Break!

I’m going to be taking a little break from blogging. Sorry about that, Chief.

Devoting the necessary attention to some personal matters is going to completely tie me up for the next few weeks, so I’ll have very little time to create content, or even monitor the blog comments for that matter. I’ll have the odd pocket of time here and there, but not having to think about the blog will make things much, much easier for me.

Rest assured I’ll be back as soon as I can.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Journal Ad Featuring Dennis the Menace – Feb. 12, 1971

Here’s an cute ad that the Journal ran back on Feb. 12, 1971. The nearly 3/4 page ad promoting the newspaper itself features the comic strip character Dennis the Menace.

The tousle-haired tyke had first appeared in the pages of the Journal back in 1955 (which I wrote about here). The popular one-panel strip enjoyed a high profile location right at the bottom of the editorial page for years.

The ad is interesting because it mentions a few of the things that made the Journal special back then, including syndicated columns such as Ann Landers and Art Buchwald, as well as the great local features, such as Bill Scrivo’s People, the Hot Line help column, reporter Jim Mahony’s column, etc. Unfortunately, too many papers have had to cut their staffs in order to save costs and stay afloat.

I really think newspapers such as the Journal today really need to bring back those kind of special local features and columns, if they want to have any chance at all of rebuilding their circulation numbers.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

City Bank Ad – Feb. 1, 1971

Here’s a great example of how much advertising changed in only a few short years to reflect the massive cultural shifts taking place in American society in the early 1970s.

The City Bank ad above, which appeared in the Journal on Feb. 1, 1971 seems almost unrecognizable from campaigns from only a few years earlier, with its use of a modern, up-to-date graphic designed to appeal to a youthful customer.

There’s the ‘groovy’ type; the use of the drug-related phrase ‘Turn On’ as part of a slogan; and illustrations of people that include some of the ‘hip’ new hairstyles and clothing. Ugh.

It’s a long way from this competitor bank’s ad of only a couple years earlier. It may have been corny to some, but it caught your attention and drove the point home.
For me, advertising largely stopped being interesting beginning in the 1970s because of the change in selling tactics. Too often, the new campaign objective was to make the consumer feel that he had to buy or use a product to be ‘cool’ – instead of selling the product’s attributes in a fun or clever way.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Bob Beck Chevrolet Ad – Feb, 1, 1971

Remember my post from early December about the out-of-state gentleman looking for a vintage Bob Beck Chevrolet keychain? 

He had purchased a 1965 Corvette that had originally been delivered to the Bob Beck dealership in Lorain, and thought that it would be nice to have a Bob Beck keychain to go with it.

I told him that the search for a keychain would have been a lot easier in the 1970s or even the 80s, rather than fifty years later. But after some detective work, we may be closing in on one. I’ll let you if and when it happens. 

In the meantime, here’s a nice Bob Beck ad that ran in the Journal on Feb. 1, 1971. Although Bob had passed away in February 1970, the dealership knew the power of his name was still strong. I like the tagline: “A Name That Means A Great Deal.”

Maybe someone connected to one of the men pictured in the ad (including Roger Noak, Buzz Gibson, Frank Camera, Ron Crowe, Roth Garrett, Darwin Harmon, Ron Kokinda, Joe Krall, Dewey Mann, and John Mitchell) has an old keychain or other piece of dealer memorabilia in their junk drawer.

The funny thing is, after looking at this ad, I remembered that my parents bought a used 1970s Chevy Impala for my sister to drive. (I don’t remember what Chevy dealer’s name was on it.) It was the rare used car they bought that wasn’t a Cutlass.

That Impala was huge – about as big as the boat-like 1963 Buick LeSabre that we later drove to Admiral King High School.


All this Chevy talk reminded me that your humble blogger posted what is probably the only image on the whole internet of the cartoon caricature of Commander Ray of West Park Chevrolet.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Happy Groundhog Day!

This isn’t Phil; it’s an anonymous groundhog
in Shenandoah National Park
Hey, this isn’t Phil either. It’s just some
Wisconsin groundhog.
Longtime readers of this blog may feel like they’re experiencing their own Groundhog Day time loop as they read today’s post. 

That’s because as usual, I’m posting some vintage postcards and reviewing some of Punxsutawney Phil’s forecasts of the past as reported in the Journal.

We’ll start out on Groundhog Day 1961 – sixty years ago today – which fell on a Thursday. It had been pretty frosty in Lorain, with a low of 4 degrees forecast for that night. (I hope everyone took Reddy Kilowatt’s advice back then and bought one of those newfangled “electric bed coverings.")

While the Groundhog forecast made the front page that year, the article curiously neglected to name which furry meteorologist was doing the predicting. 

At least the Journal gave Mr. Groundhog’s forecast priority on the front page over a rather boring article about the possibility of nuclear war being triggered with the push of a button.

Ten years later on Groundhog Day 1971, Lorain was once again in the icy grip of Old Man Winter. This was the Journal front page article the day before. 
(Note that the cute photograph was taken by our man Gene Patrick. He had a real rapport with young people – in this case, Lorain High School students Colleen O’Brien and Brian McNulty.)
Unfortunately, Punxsutawney Phil didn’t make the front page that year. His forecast (six more weeks of winter, what else?) was buried like an ill-tossed Journal in the snow at the bottom of the Page 2 article about the weather.
Anyway, here’s hoping you have a fun and safe Groundhog Day!

For more Phil-related Phun, er, fun, why not visit some past Groundhog Day posts?
UPDATE (Feb. 3, 2021)
Here’s a screen grab of Phil yesterday as the members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club read the "six more weeks of winter” prediction from the scroll. Phil looks kind of ornery!

Monday, February 1, 2021

Amherst’s Triangular House Gets National Attention – 1961

Did you know that a home in Amherst was featured in the October 1960 issue of American Builder, and the January 1, 1961 edition of the New York Times because of its unusual design?

The house is triangular in shape and is still located on Rainbow Drive. William E. Brandt, president of Brandt Construction, was the designer and builder.

Read all about it in the article below, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on Jan. 6, 1961.

Here’s the floor plan and a photo, courtesy of the Lorain County Auditor website.

Curious enough to drive over there and take a look? With the weather the way it is, let’s go for a convenient Google Maps drive instead.
Its good to see that the house retains its original early 60s charm.