Monday, May 31, 2021

Lorain Times-Herald Front Page – May 31, 1923

It’s the last day of May, and ninety-three years ago today, Lorain was just coming off a very quiet Memorial Day 1923.

Under the heading QUIET OBSERVANCE OF MEMORIAL DAY, a short article noted, “Outside of a strong wind blowing off Lake Erie and scores of automobiles filling Lorain’s main thoroughfares, Memorial Day here yesterday was one of the most quiet in years.

“No public demonstrations of any kind were in evidence. Members of the American Legion, Veterans of the Foreign Wars and Sons of the Veterans Auxiliary decorated the graves of soldiers at both cemeteries in the morning.

“Memorial Day yesterday was the first time in many years that there was no parade or public demonstrations of any kind here.”

Elsewhere on the front page, the big news was that the circus was in town. “Kids, big and small, were having their inning today by reason of the fact the Hagenbeck Wallace circus is in town with all its old time lure and pristine glory.

“The circus, enroute to the west coast, came into Lorain over the Nickel Plate early this morning from Ashtabula, where it played yesterday.

“The circus grounds are at Washington-av and 14th-st on the spacious show lot known as Municipal field.

“Shortly before noon today the big street parade rolled through 14-st to Broadway, north on Broadway to Erie, west on Erie to Washington and back to the show grounds.

“The big feature of the circus this year is the English Hunt scene, which is heralded as the prettiest animated picture ever presented under canvas.

“There are lots of funny clowns, good aerialists, trained animals, pretty girls and every requirement of the big-time circus.”

Finally, of particular interest to me is the article entitled, POSSE SHOOTS DOWN DESPERADO WHO TERRORIZED TOWN FOR WEEKS. From North Bay, Ontario came the report that Leo Rogers, a “21 year old desperado” had been shot dead by a posse. He had been on the run after escaping from the courthouse, (where he was being tried) and murdering, in turn, a Provincial constable and a city policeman when they each tried to arrest him. North Bay had been terrorized for two weeks while Rogers was being tracked. 

The reason I was so interested is because I spent a lot of time in North Bay over the years, visiting the spouse’s grandmother and other family. They were still talking about Leo Rogers in the early 2000s, and able to point out the house where he lived.

Audie Murphy and Philip E. Crisp

I watch a lot of GRIT TV, and in the past few years have become a big fan of Audie Murphy and his Westerns. Even though Murphy wasn’t the best actor in the world, the fact that he was the most decorated American combat soldier of World War II gave his on-screen heroics a touch of realism. 

It was fifty years ago on May 28, 1971, that he died in a plane crash along with four other passengers and the pilot. It was a horrible ending for one of the bravest men who ever lived. Even my mother watches his movies with a tinge of sadness.

Below is the article from the Journal of June 1, 1971 reporting his tragic death.

Strangely enough, on that same page of the Journal was the report of the death of another soldier – Specialist Fourth Class Philip E. Crisp of Lorain – who died at Fort George Mead, Maryland. As one of the unsung heroes of our military, it’s only right to highlight him and his service today on Memorial Day, the day that we honor those men and women who died while serving in the military. 

As his obituary notes, “Born in Lorain, he enlisted in the U. S. Army in 1969. He completed his basic training at Fort Campbell, Ky., and received advanced training in Army Missiles at Fort Bliss, Tex.

“Crisp was one of thousands of men in the military called in during anti-war demonstrations last month in Washington, D.C., and received a broken nose during a melee."

Philip Crisp came from a family who believed in serving their country. His father, Alphonce Crisp, was a World War II, U. S. Army Veteran. His brother Gary Crisp served in the U. S. Air Force.

It’s especially sad that Crisp died so young, and at the beginning of his military career.

I don’t know the Crisp family. But I share their grief today – Memorial Day 2021 – for their loss that occurred fifty years ago.


My older brother Ken and his wife Patty both served in the U. S. Army. 

Ken told me that during Basic Training, one of his fellow recruits was going through their exercises with the chin strap of his helmet unbuckled. Of course, that drew the wrath of their sergeant, who told him to fasten it – pronto.

“Who do you think you are?” the sergeant barked at the hapless soldier. "Audie Murphy?”

Friday, May 28, 2021

Lake Road Inn Ad – May 27, 1924

Here’s another vintage ad announcing the opening of an establishment coinciding with Decoration Day. It’s for a place that I’ve heard about, but don’t have much information about: Lake Road Inn.

The half-page ad ran in the Lorain Times-Herald on May 27, 1924.

Lake Road Inn was located in Avon Lake at Lake Shore Electric Stop 41, which puts it in the eastern end of the city near the highway’s intersection with Cove Avenue.

There is surprisingly little information available about the Inn itself; I’ve never seen a photo. Any entry in a local history book about it usually mentions that Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played there (which is indicated in the ad above). 

“The Lake Road Inn Co.” in Avon Lake Village did appear in the “New Incorporations” listings of Department Reports of the State of Ohio (1923) as being filed on April 26, 1923. The Inn was also part of the reminisces of gasoline station owner Ted Kekic in a 1968 Lorain Journal interview.


UPDATE (May 29, 2021)

Fortunately, several local history experts have come to my aid to help make this post more complete – sharing their research and archival materials and helping to provide a timeline for the Inn. 

Historian and archivist Dennis Lamont reached out to Tony Tomanek, President of the Avon Lake Historical Society, who provided some wonderful material, including an article with a photograph of the Inn. Bradley Knapp also generously shared his research. My thanks go out to these gentlemen.

Ad from the Cleveland Plain Dealer of May 29, 1923
Note that both the article and nearly full-page PD ad announce that Lake Road Inn was now under the same management as that of The Carlton Terrace Restaurant in Cleveland. That would seem to align nicely with the 1923 incorporation date mentioned in the original post.

Bradley Knapp noted that Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadian Orchestra were at the very beginning of their career when they performed at Lake Road Inn, having only made their first recording a few months earlier.
Unfortunately, Lake Road Inn suffered a common fate as many other entertainment establishments in those days – being destroyed by fire. Here is the front page of the October 13, 1926 Lorain Times-Herald with the sad story.
Under the heading, LAKE ROAD INN BURNS DOWN, the article noted, “Lake Road Inn, Avon Lake village, rendezvous of northern Ohio dancers and diners, was burned to the ground shortly after 11 a. m. Wednesday.
“Inadequate fire protection coupled with the fact that Lake-rd in the vicinity of the inn is blocked to traffic while street repairs are under way prevented any concerted attempt to save the building.
“Origin of the blaze is unknown.
“Wednesday’s fire adds another chapter to the series of mysterious blazes which have been reported along the Lake-rd between Lorain and Cleveland during the last year.”
This article notes that prior to the fire, the Inn had been closed down for the previous six weeks by the Lorain County Sheriff due to alleged liquor law violations.
A small article in the Times-Herald the day after the fire noted that it was being investigated by both Avon Lake and Lorain County authorities.
Lake Road Inn was never rebuilt.
To read a well-researched history of Lake Road Inn and its mysterious demise after the gambling raid, be sure to check out Socialites and Scofflaws – Avon Lake’s Past by Sherry Newman Spenzer.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Beaver Park Opening – May 29, 1923

Here’s another page of the Lorain Times-Herald with ads announcing Decoration Day resort openings. The partial page is from the May 29, 1923 edition and highlights Beaver Park, “Lorain County’s Summer Resort."

Of interest to movie buffs is a Pantheon Theatre ad for comedian Harold Lloyd in Safety Last.

You’ll also find ads for Ruggles Beach, Riverview Park in Elyria, the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus and Vermilion Restaurant, with M. Okage [sic] listed as proprietor. (Okagi Restaurant was a fixture on the Vermilion restaurant scene for decades.


Here is the obituary for Mamaru Okagi from the Sandusky Register of December 27, 1956.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Official Opening of Vermilion-on-the-Lake – May 1924

As Memorial Day approaches, I’m reminded how the holiday (especially back when it was known as Decoration Day) used to mark the traditional opening dates of the local summer resorts.

It was a regular ritual for city dwellers to spend a day picnicking, an evening dancing or even a longer vacation at one of the many lakefront resorts.

I wrote about one of the resort communities – Vermilion-on-the-Lake – in this multi-part series.

And here's a page from the Lorain Times-Herald of May 28, 1924, featuring the earliest ad for dancing at Vermilion-on-the-Lake that I’ve ever seen. Note the ad reads, “Official Opening."

Due to the size of the ad and inclusion of a photo of the clubhouse, I believe it's a pretty good indicator that 1924 was the inaugural season for entertainment there. (This is at odds with some of the commonly accepted historic timelines.) I’ve scoured the previous years of the Times-Herald for any mention of VOL in the summer resorts, and this is the first that I’ve been able to find. 

Anyway, the newspaper page also includes ads for Beaver Park, as well as Riverview Park in Elyria.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Sheffield Restaurant & Bar Ad – May 1956

Many of us remember the halcyon days of the O’Neil - Sheffield Center, with pleasant memories of the grassy courtyard and the talking Christmas Tree. 

The shopping center opened on May 1, 1954 and changed the way that Lorainites shopped forever.

It’s been the subject of many posts on this blog over the years.

When the O’Neil - Sheffield Center opened in 1954, the newspaper publicity noted that there would be a restaurant there. That restaurant was the Sheffield Restaurant, and was included in the shopping center’s ads later that year.

Interesting, the restaurant passed into local ownership in May 1956, as noted in the ad above, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on May 1, 1956. A fire would gut the restaurant in late January 1957, but it would eventually reopen.

I’m pretty sure that the restaurant can be seen at the far right (next to Probst) in the undated photo below.

I’m fairly sure that the Sheffield Restaurant became Sheffield House Restaurant in March 1960, and later, McGarvey’s Party Center in December 1961. Does anyone know for sure?

Monday, May 24, 2021

Campito Article – August 15, 1966

A few days ago, longtime blog contributor Alan Hopewell mentioned in a comment that he had lived in Campito from 1971 to 1976.

That reminded me that I had this article about Campito in my files, which I figured I might as well post for those of you not familiar with that area. The article by Ron Porambo appeared in the Lorain Journal on August 15, 1966 and details the problems in the area at that time.

As the article notes, ""Campito” is a name thought up by people living on the outside or by a Spanish-speaking minority on the inside. The only real name for a place comes from the people who live and sweat there and these know it only as “the other side of 36th Street.” Some of these live in the dark, the “night people, and they know it as “when you cross 36th Street, you’ve got a good chance of making it.” The 17 square blocks across 36th Street sit alongside Lorain and there isn’t any wall to stop a spreading disease, hustlers, marijuana cigarettes, bootleg whiskey, or men who carry guns and all these things can come and go into the city every day and it’s time to think of it that way.”

I remember driving around that area, probably in the late 1970s, and being somewhat shocked by the appearance of some of the homes, which appeared to be only a little better structurally than packing crates. But a quick ‘Google Maps’ cruise around the neighborhood today shows nice homes and roads that are in better shape than the ones on the west side of Lorain where I grew up.

Here is the article.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Wakefield Mansion Cleanup Follow-up

I stopped by down at Main Street Beach in Vermilion to see how the Wakefield Mansion demolition cleanup was going. It’s impressive how much has been accomplished in less than a month. 

The steps leading up to the mansion are gone.

But the pilot house is still there on the hill. I hope someone buys it and uses it for something. It would seem to make a pretty good custard or hot dog stand. 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Mr. Civil Defense Tells About Natural Disasters – 1956

Yesterday’s post about air raid sirens and civil defense in general reminded me that I had this comic book in my file. It’s entitled “Mr. Civil Defense Tells About Natural Disasters!” and enlists the aid of famed cartoonist Al Capp to elevate it a bit, entertainment-wise.

Who is Mr. Civil Defense?

Mr. Civil Defense is an advertising mascot designed by Capp. He’s short and blond haired, with the stylized “CD” civil defense logo making up most of his body. He’s a little cocky, and wears a civil defense helmet, which tilts forward, covering up one eye. 

Of course, the real star of the comic book is Li’l Abner, the star of Capp’s popular syndicated comic strip. Li’l Abner appears prominently on the cover, but by page two (in a good example of bait-and-switch) he is shown riding off in the distance on a donkey, heading back to Dogpatch (for a first-aid lesson) and turning the story over to Mr. Civil Defense.

Mr. Civil Defense then narrates the story, appearing on every page to interact with the citizens of a typical small town to offer educational tidbits about preparing for natural disasters and other emergencies.

Here is the book in its entirety. It’s copyrighted 1956.


The comic book gives you a lot to think about. 

For me, the scenes of the flooded city strike home. Living in Vermilion for the past few years, I’m easily reminded of the massive flooding that occurred as a result of the notorious July 4, 1969 storm. Those illustrations of the city under water also bring to mind the Vermilion River overflowing its banks when December snow melts too quickly during a warm, rainy January.

Although I’m skeptical that any of the local communities are as well prepared as the city depicted in the comic book, at least Lorain County has the Lorain County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Air Raid Signal Test – May 1951

In the spring of 1951, Lorain was still taking steps to prepare its residents for possible enemy attack. World War II may have been over, but the Cold War was just getting started.

From the front page of the May 3, 1951 Lorain Journal comes the story of an upcoming test of an air raid signal.

As the article notes, "Lorain’s first city-wide air raid signal test since World War II will be staged at 10 a. m. Friday when four industries cooperate in a 3-minute whistle test to determine how well the whistles can be heard in various sections of the city.

“Arrangements for the civil defense tests were announced by Raymond Lucas, chief air raid warden and chief of the air raid warning setup. National Tube Co., Thew Shovel Co., American Shipbuilding Co. and the B. and O. car shop whistles will be used in the test.

“The signals will be a 10-second whistle followed by 10 seconds of silence. A check of various sections of the city will be made by wives of auxiliary police to determine effectiveness of the signal, according  to Ralph Thibaut, chief of the auxiliary police.

“Lucas also announced at yesterday’s civil defense board meeting at the Hotel Antlers that they first training session for air raid wardens was held at the American Legion hall Monday night, with 18 prospective wardens from all parts of the city in attendance.

“The plan of civil defense organization was outlined by Lucas and the film, “Pattern for Survival,” was shown. First aid classes will start next Monday, and the course also will include chemical warfare, radiological warfare, decontamination and instruction on rescue and fire defense procedures, etc.”

Three years later, the city was testing air raid sirens of its own (which I wrote about here).


Publicity photo of Laurel and Hardy
for the movie Air Raid Wardens (1943)

Civil Defense has been a favorite topic on this blog.

I’ve written several posts about the old Civil Defense Tower, repurposed from its original function as a Coast Guard lookout and moved to a new location behind the old Lorain City Hall for use by the Ground Observer Corps.

Other related post topics include: a 1961 Fallout Protection Book; a 1968 Emergency Handbook for Nuclear Attack and Natural Disasters; a two-part series on Fallout Shelters; and an original Fallout Shelter sign that was mounted on the now-demolished Garfield Elementary School Annex.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Vintage Litterbug Sign

I rent a storage unit at Hold It Self Storage in Lorain. The facility is located on the site of the old Lorain Drive-in Theater, which made it a nostalgic choice for me. But the employees there are nice, and the price is right too. 

While giving me a tour of the grounds, the manager pointed out that their office is actually the old theater’s concession stand. The old original entrance structure where cars stopped to buy their movie tickets is still there as well.

(I first wrote about Hold It Self Storage back here in 2010.)

There is an old, faded ‘Don’t be a Litterbug’ sign on the premises, which adds to the retro ambience. The sign may or may not be a leftover from the theater days. 

As you can see, the litterbug isn’t the classic “tough guy” design (shown below) that was used in a national campaign, which I wrote about here.

But the litterbug on the sign at Hold It Self Storage is obviously an old style illustration, sort of a cousin to the vermin on the old Raid TV commercials. 

I took it into Photoshop and reversed it to get a better look. I like the spots on his nose.

Anyway, a website that offers retro-style signs must have liked this guy too, since a slightly modified version appears on one of their throwback products. You can see that they simplified the illustration a bit, slimming him down and eliminating some of the garbage strewn about. They also made ‘litterbug’ two words.