Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Hart’s Jewelry Easter Ad – March 8, 1956

Regular readers of this blog know that I like to post vintage Hart’s Jewelry advertisements. That’s because there’s almost always something offbeat going on in the ads that's in sharp contrast to the rather staid presentation of jewelry for sale.

There was the Scottish Lassie (1947); the 5 Voice Doll (1950); the mystery blonde (1954); the Wyatt Earp Frontier Marshal Set (1957); and the Giant Panda Doll (1957).

In this Easter-themed Hart’s ad, there’s the promotional incentive of a 27 inch Easter Bunny doll, free with any purchase of $5.95 or more.

It’s an odd looking Easter Bunny. I’m assuming his impressive 27" height includes his ears. But his stiff, rectangular legs (with no feet) appear to have been flattened by a steamroller. And I don’t see any straps making him a possible dance partner a la Lanky Long.
Anyway, I searched online to locate one of these rascals, and this is the closest thing I could find. (Hey, I think I saw someone in Dollar General recently wearing pajama bottoms similar to that.)
But leave it to shopping mega-giant Amazon to sell a pretty similar “Large Easter Rabbit Celluloid Plastic Doll Face Mask” so you can make your own.
Or if you prefer an Easter Monkey, you could make that instead.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Wheat Honeys and Rice Honeys Ad – March 1956

Do you know the name of the very first pre-sweetened breakfast cereal?

Surprisingly, it wasn’t created by Kellogg’s, General Mills or Post. And you won’t find it on the cereal shelves at your local grocery store any more either. It’s long gone.

It’s generally accepted by cereal historians that the first one that was ‘pre-sugared’ was a regional product called Ranger Joe Wheat Honnies. It was a puffed wheat cereal, lacquered with honey and corn syrup. It was a big hit with kids and sales really took off in the 1940s.

You can read about its history here.

Post Cereals must have been paying attention, because it introduced its own sugar-coated puffed wheat cereal, Sugar Crisp, in 1949. (Click here to visit my posts on Sugar Crisp and all the Post Cereals.)

Meanwhile, Ranger Joe Wheat Honnies was sold to Nabisco, who renamed it slightly to Wheat Honeys and rolled it out nationally along with a sister product, Rice Honeys

Below is the introductory ad for both products that appeared in the Lorain Journal on March 1, 1956.

With both cereal variations being honey-flavored, naturally the cereal mascot was a bee. In this case, Buffalo Bee – since TV westerns were very popular at the time. For a while he even appeared in his own comic book.

Wheat Honeys eventually went through a few name and mascot changes before disappearing entirely, getting smacked down by Kellogg’s Sugar Smacks and Post Sugar Crisp. Today Nabisco is completely out of the breakfast cereal business.
It’s funny, but one of my early 1960s memories was seeing Wheat Honeys on the pantry shelf at our house on W. 30th Street. I remember being intrigued by the pistol-packing bee dressed like a cowboy on the box.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Gold Circle Opens – March 1971

Mention ‘Gold Circle’ to a newer Lorain County resident, and they’ll probably give you a blank stare. But many of us who grew up in this area in the 60s and 70s remember this discount department store well from the outlet located across from Midway Mall.

It was fifty years ago this month that the Gold Circle there opened. Here’s a small article making the announcement that appeared in the Lorain Journal on March 1, 1971.

As the article notes, it was the eighth store in a chain based in Ohio, with the first one having opened in Columbus in April 1968.

A few days later this advertisement appeared in the Journal on March 7, 1971.
From a graphic design standpoint, the Gold Circle was very bold and modern, not unlike that of today’s Target stores.
The store opening was covered extensively by the Journal, which devoted two pages to the event. The paper even sent Photographer Michael F. Good there, who took some very fun and creative shots of a few of the Gold Circle employees.

I first wrote about Gold Circle in this post from 2019.
It’s strange to think about regional chain stores like Gold Circle, Fishers Big Wheel, Hills, Ontario, Zayre, etc. as being gone. They paved the way for today’s national giants like Kohl’s or Target.
But they also helped wipe out Downtown stores in cities like Lorain. I guess it's all how you look at it.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Bill Long’s Will – March 1971

Earlier this month, I devoted several posts to the story of Lorain’s pioneer aviator Bill Long and his airports. The series culminated with the account of his passing in early February 1971, and the auction of personal effects that followed.

About a month after Long's death, the news of his will – and the unexpected financial windfall for a close friend – hit the front page of the Journal. Read all about it in this story that appeared on March 3, 1971. It’s a great story. (It kind of reminds me of when the bearded Howard Hughes passed away a few years later, and for a while it seemed that he had left $156 million to a gas station owner.)

The following day, this article appeared in the Journal.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

New A&P for Vermilion – 1961

Here’s another ad that didn’t quite make it onto the blog last month. It’s for the Grand Opening of Vermilion’s brand-new A&P grocery store, and it ran in the Lorain Journal sixty years ago on Feb. 28, 1961. 

The A&P was located in the South Shore Shopping Center.

The ad is kind of funny, with the large clip art of a woman’s face (not unlike the one emblazoned on the Cavalier China storefront) and the odd illustration of the man, which looks like it was created on an Etch A Sketch.

A&P has been a favorite topic on this blog. It’s still incredible to me after all these years that the mighty A&P chain is no more. 

My mother dragged my siblings and me to at the Lorain Plaza A&P many times back in the 1960s. I still remember one shopping trip during which a friendly cashier commented on my ‘chubby cheeks’ and gave one a good pinch. (Today the same thing would probably result in a lawsuit and extended coverage on social media.)

A&P hung on in Canada for a while, right into the 2000s. For many years the one in Niagara Falls (now it’s a Metro store) was our final shopping stop before heading back over the border to the good old U.S.A. I would fill the car trunk with all our Canadian favorites: pea-meal bacon, Billy Bee honey, Kraft Peanut Butter, Tim Horton coffee, etc. (The U. S. border agent peeked in our trunk once and said, “What, did you go to Canada just to buy groceries?”)

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Lawson's Restaurant?

Here are two interesting ads from fifty years ago that I didn’t quite have time to post in February. They’re both for the Lawson's Restaurant that was located at 900 N. Leavitt Road in Amherst. The ad above ran in the Journal on Feb. 17, 1971.

About a week later on Feb. 23, 1971 this full-page grand opening ad appeared in the same paper.

I first wrote about how Lawson’s dallied with opening their own restaurants back here. Here’s a promotional postcard showing an unnamed location.

It’s an intriguing concept. But although you might expect the menu to include Dutch Loaf sandwiches with a glass of "Big O" Orange Juice to wash it down, it looks like they had higher culinary aspirations with those char-broiled steak dinners mentioned in the Journal ads.

Nevertheless, the Lawson’s Restaurants apparently didn’t last too long. Within a few years, it was rebranded as L-K Townhouse. Today there’s a Denny’s at the site.
Maybe they should have put Dutch Loaf on the menu, with potato chips on the side and a little bowl of Lawson’s Chip Dip.
Here’s a photo of the Denny’s at 900 N. Leavitt Road,  courtesy of Google Maps.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Oak Point Road Article – March 14, 1971

Mention the name “Killer Crossing” to some Lorainites, and they’ll probably think of the longtime deadly railroad crossing at Beaver Park.

But for a while, there was another “Killer Crossing.” Although it may be hard to believe, where Oak Point Road crosses State Route 2 was once an at-grade crossing. That is, there was no bridge over the limited highway, and you had to skedaddle across the four-lane highway like your life depended on it – and it did.

Read all about the concerns being raised fifty years ago this month in this article from the Sunday Journal of March 14, 1971. It was written by Charles Gray, Staff Writer.

The article mentions the nearby  “Bridge to Nowhere,” (featured on the blog back here).

The name of the limited access highway (today's SR 2) apparently still wasn’t finalized in 1971, as it is referred to as I-90 in the article, as well as ‘relocated State 2 and the Lake Erie Freeway.’


Be sure to visit this 2015 post about the Oak Point Road/State Route 2 interchange, with a great vintage photo of the bridge under construction in 1976 courtesy of Dale Rosenkranz.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Last Rites for Walter Frey Funeral Home

Last Thursday, D-Day – in Lorain, that means Demolition Day – finally came for the former Walter Frey Funeral Home on West Erie.

(It was kind of sneaky that the usual tell-tale fence around the property indicating eminent destruction never appeared before the take-down started.)

The demolition is kind of sad. The house was both a link to the past, as the residence of George Wickens, as well as the home of a well-known funeral business that we all probably visited at some time in our lives.

But in case someone in the far-off future ever wonders what was once there (on what will surely still be a vacant lot), here’s an ample sample of images of it from down through the years. 

Undated postcard from when the house was George Wickens’ residence
Back in the middle of January 2021, I decided I’d better grab a few shots of the building while it was still standing. 

These shots (below) are from the eve of the demolition.
And here are a few Steaming Rubble® shots from Thursday. The weather was appropriately grim and depressing for the start of the demolition.
By Friday, the sun was out again – but the building wasn’t quite down all the way.
I drove by on Saturday and, by George (Wickens), part of the building was still standing (below). It looked like that on Sunday too.