Thursday, September 30, 2021

Lorain’s New City Hall Rendering – Sept. 1971

Back in July, I posted a July 1971 Journal article that included a sketch of what Lorain’s new City Hall was going to look like. It was a little on the cartoony side, and might not have convinced the public that the finished building would justify the $5 million dollar price tag.

Well, by September, the Journal had its hands on a proper architectural rendering and featured it on the top of the front page of its September 25, 1971 edition.

For the residents who were used to City Hall being a musty old mansion, it must have been quite an eye-opening revelation, signaling that Lorain had finally arrived. The ten-story version of the design (compared to the shorter one that was built) was quite impressive.
I’ve been admittedly pretty rough on this building, mentioning more than once that I wouldn’t feel too bad if it met the same fate as so many other buildings in town that were deemed an eyesore or nuisance. But I’ll bet that I could come to like it if it was remodeled somewhat. 
My suggestion? Eliminate the curves at the base of the vertical support structures and paint them white or light grey. Then swap out the windows throughout with dark glass for contrast. In other words, make it look more like the black and white architectural rendering – sleek and modern. Also, covering up the stained fascia of the police station with a modern material would improve it as well. 
Looking at the whole complex from West Erie Avenue,  I’ve often wondered why the Lorain Police Department building is cocked like that compared to City Hall. But a look at the aerial view explains why – it’s placed on the property like that to be aligned with Broadway.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Lorain Journal Front Page – Sept. 7, 1935

September is fading fast – so I’d better post this front page of the Lorain Journal and Times-Herald from September 7, 1935 – a mere eighty-six years ago this month.

Compared to a typical front page of today’s Morning Journal (which contains two ‘soft’ news stories at most and a huge photo taking up half the page) this one is crammed with news.

What caught my attention at first was the photo of what we know today as Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial. It was only twenty years old at that point. Next to the photo of the monument is one of the restored Niagara, Admiral Perry’s flagship that had visited Lorain in 1913.

What’s interesting is that the article accompanying the photo repeats the often told story that Johnny Appleseed (strangely referred to here as Apple Seed Johnny) was listening to the guns firing during the Battle of Lake Erie from some hilltop in Vermilion.

But elsewhere on the Journal front page is the usual Lorain County mayhem: the sad story of a man who murdered his 21-year-old bride in their home on W. 23rd Street in Lorain; a busy night for Lorain’s vice squad resulting in the arrest of eight persons for liquor violations; a tale of vicious dogs on the run in Elyria that killed three lambs, one sow and two geese as well as injuring some goats; a fire in an Elyria chemical factory.

The grisly headline BURN BODIES OF GALE VICTIMS refers to the decision to burn the bodies of the victims of what is today referred to as the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane in the Florida Keys. It’s a horrible, sad story with hundreds of deaths, a majority of whom were veterans that were staying in work camps while working on the construction of the Overseas Highway.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Amherst Drug Mart Opens – Sept. 1971

Drug stores have been a recurring topic on this blog, from Mom and Pop establishments like Whalen Drugs, to small regional chains such as Muir’s. There have also been a few posts devoted to other local favorites, including Kutza’s Pharmacy and National Pharmacy

Well, here’s a post about my favorite Drug Store chain: namely, Discount Drug Mart. Why is it my favorite? Probably because it’s Northern Ohio-based, and there’s always been one nearby, wherever I’ve lived. (I probably live about one minute from the one in Vermilion.)

Anyway, fifty years ago this month, the Discount Drug Mart store in Amherst held its Grand Opening (at its original location on the east side of the highway), with a special appearance by Cleveland TV children’s show favorite, Captain Penny (former Elyrian Ron Penfound). The full-page ad below ran in the Journal on September 30, 1971.

It’s a fun ad to look at now, with some interesting products, such as the gone-but-not-forgotten Thomasson’s Potato Chips (made in Elyria); the Broxodent Deluxe Electric Toothbrush (the first electric toothbrush); Polaroid Color Pack 108 Film (there’s some on eBay right now); Boone’s Farm Strawberry Wine; Sealtest Milk; and Geritol.

I’ll bet Captain Penny packed’em in. The WEWS-TV favorite was a busy guy over the years in our area, having appeared at the Grand Opening of Westgate Shopping Center in Lorain in April 1958; the Shoreway Shopping Center in Sheffield Lake in June 1959; and Giant Tiger in Lorain in August 1967.
One thing that we never questioned as kids was why he was called, “Captain” Penny. He was, after all, a train engineer. Fortunately, this series of clips from the WEWS-TV 50th Anniversary special (also featuring Jungle Larry and Mr. Jingeling) includes an explaination as to how Captain Penny got his name.
According to this Wiki entry, the Captain Penny show came to a close on September 4, 1971. So his Drug Mart appearance was probably one of many curtain calls.
I’m sure none of Captain Penny’s fans can ever forget his advice to kids at the closing of each show: “ You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t... fool... Mom.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Midway Mall 5th Anniversary – Sept. 1971

Fifty years ago this month, Midway Mall – “Ohio’s Showplace Enclosed Mall Shopping Center" – was celebrating its Fifth Anniversary. At that time, the Mall boasted fifty four ‘fine firms.’ 

Above is the full-page ad that appeared in the Journal on Sept. 19, 1971.

To celebrate the occasion, the Mall booked a grab bag of entertainment acts including Quantrell and Company Magic Show; Lipko’s Human Comedy Chimps (who I previously wrote about here); Arnold & Sir Richard Burton (an organ grinder and his monkey); and Blossom the Clown (an animal balloon artist). There was also Fritz, the Bavarian Glass Blower;  a caricature sketch artist; nightly drawings for gift certificates; and Mini Grand Prix Children’s Rides.

Stores at the Mall at that time included: Andre Duval Beauty Salon; Arnold Palmer Cleaners; Baker’s Shoes; Barricini Candy; Bentley Ties; Blvd. Juvenile Shoes; Clarence Faflik Shoes; Cleveland Fabric Shop; Clowntown; Diamond’s Men Shop; Fanny Farmer Candy; Fisher-Fazio; Foxmoor Casuals; Goodyear Tire & Rubber; Gray Drugs; Midway Opticians; Harvest House Cafeteria; The Higbee Co.; Hobby Center; Hough Bakery; Household Finance; Lane Bryant; Lorain County Savings & Trust; Louis Cohn Mens Wear; Melody Manor; Memory Lane Card Shop; McDonald & Co.; Michael-Angela Hair Fashions; Midway Barber Shop; Midway Cinema; Nobil Shoes; O’Henry’s Pub; Parklane Hosiery; Paul Harris; JCPenney; Petries; Puppy Palace; Record World; Regal Shoes; Richman Brothers; Rose Jewelers; Sam Kleins; Schwede Appliance & TV; Sears, Roebuck and Co.; Seven Seas Gift Shop; Sidewalk Cafe; Singer Sewing Center; Spencer Gifts; Ted Jacobs; Tweed Shop; Union Savings Associates; Walden Book Co.; Winkelman’s; and Woolworths.

In case you were wondering (like me), Clowntown was a photography studio that specialized in children. For some reason, I don’t think this place would succeed today.

Some of the businesses listed were not in the main portion of the Mall. For example, O’Henry’s Pub and Household Finance were in the strip of stores anchored by Goodyear Tire & Rubber (at the north end) and Fisher-Fazio (at the south end). In later years, AAA was a longtime tenant before it flew the coop to Avon.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Ohio’s “Other” Miss America Crowned – Sept. 1971

Everyone has heard of Jackie Mayer – the Sandusky native who was crowned Miss America 1963. Although Mayer's beauty and class initially brought her fame, it was the inspirational story of her recovery after suffering a stroke at the age of 28, and her dedication to helping other stroke victims, that made her someone to truly look up to. 

But did you know that another Miss Ohio captured the Miss America crown just a little less than ten years after Jackie Mayer?
Laurie Lea Schaefer of Bexley, Ohio (a Columbus suburb) was named Miss America 1972, fifty years ago this month. 
But before she became Miss America, she had to win the Miss Ohio competition. Here's Schaefer being awarded the Miss Ohio crown, in an article that ran in the Journal on July 18, 1971. Note that Miss Lorain County, Irene Sidorowicz of Lorain, came very close to winning as one of the semifinalists.
And here’s Schaefer holding her trophy for winning the preliminary swim suit competition in a photo that ran in the Journal on Sept. 11, 1971. 

And finally, here's Schaefer winning the Miss America crown in an article that ran on the front page of the Journal on Sept. 12, 1971.

A day later, this article about her ran in the Journal on Sept. 13, 1971. It’s a refreshing interview in which she states her opinions nicely (unlike being muzzled like today’s Miss America winners).

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Stevan Dohanos TB Poster – Sept. 1951

So many famous people have called Lorain, Ohio their hometown that it might be easy to overlook Stevan Dohanos. And that’s a shame, because the nationally known artist and illustrator was successful in his field in a way that most people can only dream about.

Dohanos' many artistic accomplishments include creating more than 125 covers for The Saturday Evening Post and designing forty U. S. postage stamps. He also served his country as the chairman of the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee, selecting the art for more than 300 postage stamps and designing some as well.

Seventy years ago this month, Mr. Dohanos was the subject of the article below, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on Sept. 6, 1951. It’s about his latest artistic endeavor, a poster for the Tuberculosis Association advocating getting a chest x-ray. The article relates how TB struck the Dohanos family, claiming several children – and almost the artist himself.

As the article notes, “Lorain’s most noted contribution to the art world has once again drawn on his hometown experiences to inspire a new art work.

“This time Stevan Dohanos remembered his poverty stricken childhood and a family ravaged by a disease when he created a poster which will be used in the fight against tuberculosis.
“This week a quarter of a million copies of the new poster will go to Tuberculosis Associations all over the nation. “Protect the Family Circle, Get a Chest X-Ray” pleads the poster, which carries Dohanos’ impression of a typical American family.
In years past the noted illustrator has delved into his Lorain background in creating other works. The poster used in the 1948 Red Cross campaign was his work entitled “Main Street America,” it was a direct result of his impressions growing up in Lorain.
This latest work is perhaps most directly linked with Lorain and its tragic impact on the Dohanos family. For the family, and the artist himself, know all too well what the dread TB germ can do.
“The artist was one of nine children growing up in South Lorain during the early part of the century. His parents, Elizabeth and Andrew Dohanos, were Hungarian immigrants who met and married in Lorain.
“His father struggled to bring up his large family on the meagre pay of a steelworker. As Dohanos recalls it now, “We lived in a small crowded house and had a bad diet.”
“In this house, as well as scores of similar Lorain homes of the period, disease found easy pickings. TB is the disease that hit the Dohanos family.
“Several of the undernourished children unknowingly picked up the germs. First to die was a daughter, Irene, who succumbed at 21.
“Then another child, Bert, showed evidence of the disease. After a 20-year battle he, too, died last spring.
“The artist himself almost had his career cut short by TB. In 1933, when he was 26, the disease sent him to bed for several months. He recovered and continued his rise in the art world until 1942 when it put him in a sanatorium for 11 months.
Dohanos beat the disease again, but for months after the last battle he had to take it easy, working only three or four hours a day.
“With this background the artist was readily responsive when the National Tuberculosis Association asked him to do a poster which would aid in the fight against the disease.
“Copies of the new poster are currently being distributed on a nationwide basis. They are expected to arrive in Lorain next week."
I’ve written about Stevan Dohanos before, including this two-part series about his 1948 “Main Street America” Red Cross poster; a post about a 1952 Christmas-themed cover of the Saturday Evening Post; this multi-part series about my quest to figure out which Lorain house was featured on a 1946 Saturday Evening Post cover; and a post about a new 1968 stamp that Mr. Dohanos had designed.
I couldn’t help but wonder whether the house in South Lorain that the Dohanos family lived in was still standing. The 1912 Lorain City Directory listings had Andrew and Elizabeth Dohanos living at 1557 E. 30th Street. (Stevan would have been about five years old then.)
The home is no longer there, replaced by modern, attractive housing owned by the Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority. But appropriately, it is just a short distance from Stevan Dohanos Elementary School at 1625 E. 32nd Street.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

What’s Cooking at the Hot Dog Heaven Construction Site

The original Hot Dog Heaven building

Yesterday’s post was about a restaurant that suffered a disastrous fire that wasn’t able to rebuild. Today’s post is about one that’s rebuilding right now.

The construction of the new home of Hot Dog Heaven in Amherst is well underway. It’s interesting watching it slowly take shape.

I’m glad the new building will reflect the warm, homey appearance of the old house it used to call home, rather than some slick, soulless fast-food joint. Here’s an architectural rendering of what the new building will look like when done. The design is quite clever in that it will look like the old building, expanded and enlarged.

The funny thing is, I’ve eaten at Hot Dog Heaven more often since it moved temporarily into the food truck at Hastee Tastee. The service is pretty fast and it’s much more convenient than it was going inside the old building. I’ve joked with the staff a few times that they should just move the food truck across the street to the old location. But the new location will have a drive-through, which will be great.

The view on Sept. 24, 2021


In a manner of years, it’s quite possible that people will wonder what that stretch of Cleveland Street looked like before the new, enlarged Hot Dog Heaven was built. Thus, here are a few Google maps views showing the two houses that were torn down to make way for the new restaurant.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

New Owners for Elberta Inn – Sept. 1971

The view on Feb. 27, 2011

It’s hard to believe that it was ten and a half years ago that Elberta Inn (at that time known as AlizĂ© at Elberta Inn) burned down. It was back on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 when the Vermilion landmark was destroyed by a fire.

The owners had hoped to rebuild, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. Today the former location of the iconic restaurant is still a parking lot.

Fifty years ago this month, the well-known restaurant had just changed hands. Below is the article by Staff Writer Bob Cotleur that appeared in the Journal on September 5, 1971. Bill and Ann Manson were the new owners. 

As the article noted, the couple had owned and operated the Rancho Pillow Motel in Sandusky in the late 1950s. Eventually they sold the motel, and moved to Florida where they owned and operated two eight-suite apartments.  But they decided to come out of semi-retirement and move back to Ohio.

“Back in Ohio he hunted for a business,” according to the article. “This time motels didn’t interest him. But Elberta Inn did.

“"It was a small town and had been in business since 1921,” he explained.

“Mrs. Lucy Hess, one of the founders who is still alive, recently called Manson on the phone and later sent him some snapshots of that era.

“"In those days,” Manson says, “A roller skating rink was alongside. People skated in, sat down and ordered.

The article points out that “Eli,” the former head chef at the Saddle Inn in Avon Lake was now running the kitchen for Elberta Inn.

1971 Lorain Phone book advertisement


Elberta Inn had been a favorite topic on this blog. 

This 2014 post includes a great vintage aerial photo of the Inn, courtesy of the Lorain Historical Society. I wrote about the Feb. 2011 fire back here on this post, noting that I had almost planned to dine there the night it burned down, since it was my birthday.

This post is devoted to Duke Ellington’s appearance at the Inn in May 1935, and this post includes a few vintage ads.

Lastly, this post highlights Elberta Inn in one of those "Golden Crescent Guide to Dining” features that appeared regularly in the Journal.

Monday, September 20, 2021

A B&O Engineer Retires – September 1951

During the 1950s, the days of steam-powered locomotives were numbered. The diesel trains that would replace them were easier to maintain, more efficient, more reliable and required smaller crews to run them. 

But what about the old-time railroaders who had spent their entire careers on steam locomotives?

Here’s a charming story about one of them – Frank C. Fairhead of Lorain – who would not have to deal with the coming changes, due to his retirement from the B&O after 45 years of service.

The article below ran in the Lorain Journal on September 13, 1951. 

The article notes, “Frank C. Fairhead, 65, 2338 Livingston-av, stepped from the cab of B. and O. engine 1057 yesterday afternoon, officially ending 45 years of service on that line.

“Fellow railroaders clustered around to congratulate Fairhead on his retirement, and Douglas Wallace, general yardmaster, was on hand to “order him from the cab of the engine” if need be. It was all in the spirit of fun, but the railroaders showed in their gruff way that the popular engineer would be missed at the local B. and O. yards.

“And Fairhead, by the way he looked back over his shoulder at old No. 1057, showed that he too was retiring with regret.

““That baby’s got the same type boiler our engines had when I started work here back in 1906,” Fairhead said. He explained that all the engines have been modernized, overhauled and safety devices added, but the “boilers remain of the same type as in the early 1900’s."

"Fairhead has been an engineer since 1913 and has spent the past 10 years in the yard. The previous 35 years were all spent on the road as fireman and engineer.

“The retiring railroader has long been associated with the Central Lorain’s Businessmen’s association and has taken an active interest in civic affairs.

“Fairhead won the plaudits of his co-workers and other B. and O. officials upon his retirement.

“Ralph Gohlke, terminal agent, said the veteran engineer was a “regular and faithful worker with an excellent safety record.”

“Now that his days of herding the iron horses are a thing of the past, Fairhead intends to turn his attention to his favorite hobby, flower raising. He will also undoubtedly spend a lot of time working on the model village in his backyard.”

2338 Livingston Avenue.
A funny thing happened while I was preparing this post. 
In an effort to find out more about Mr. Fairhead, I Googled his name and found a few mentions of him in Baltimore and Ohio Magazine. I decided to include this short article (below) from the October 1938 issue about a picnic of the B. & O. Athletic Association of Lorain held at Chippewa Lake. 
As it notes, “a special train of nine coaches left Lorain at 9:30 a. m. with 619 of our employees and their families. They arrived at the Lake at 11:00 a. m. and, after a day of great festivities, the return trip was made, leaving the lake at 6:00 p. m., and arriving back in Lorain at 7:15 p. m.
The article gives special credit to the crew who handled the train at no charge to and from the lake. The crew listing includes Engineer F. C. Fairhead; the fireman; the conductor; and E. J. Brady (my grandfather), one of the three brakemen that day.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Woodsy Owl (Who?) Debuts – Sept. 15, 1971

Everybody knows who Smokey Bear is. The beloved forest fire prevention bear with the ranger hat, jeans and shovel has been around since the mid-1940s.

But have you ever heard of Woodsy Owl? 
If you’re a Baby Boomer, you probably have. Like Smokey, Woodsy is an advertising mascot for the United States Forest Service. But instead of fighting fire, Woodsy combatted pollution. His message was “Give a Hoot – don’t pollute!"
Unlike Smokey, Woodsy wasn’t seen on posters all over our National Parks. The chubby little owl with the archer’s cap was more likely to be spotted on public service announcements that ran during children’s TV programs. A well-designed costumed version of him was created to allow him to interact with kids in the commercials and at public events, making him ‘real.’
And Woodsy was first introduced to the public fifty years ago this month. Here’s the photo and explanatory caption that ran in the Journal on September 16, 1971.
Woodsy was well-represented in his own advertising campaign, which included autographed photos, posters, stickers, small trash bags that hung from cigarette lighters (what are those?) in cars, and even comic books.

Alas, today Woodsy has been redesigned – and everything that was cute and clever about him has been updated to make him more relevant (and less fun and appealing).

He’s no longer chubby and proportioned like a real owl. Today, his body is trim and athletic. 

Woodsy’s lost his hooter (whistle) that hung around his neck too, probably because the powers that be were afraid that kids might imitate him and accidentally swallow the whistle.
Worst of all, Woodsy’s lost his slogan. Gone is “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.” The new, less pun-y slogan is “Lend a Hand, Care for the Land.”
It’s enough to make you cough up an owl pellet.
Woodland Catalog sells both licensed Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl merchandise (with a portion of its sales returned to the USDA Forest Service for the nationwide wildfire prevention campaign). Click here to visit the company website where you can shop or request a free printed catalog.
Best of all, the company sells original, chubby Woodsy Owl stuff (like below) along with the newer items.

Yikes, Woodsy has that whistle in his mouth.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Hills Bros. Coffee Ad – September 20, 1951

I stop in at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Leavitt Road every few days, and I see a lot of Cappuccino Blasts® being sold, as well as any number of frozen drinks topped with whipped cream. Yesterday, the person in front of me ordered twelve bucks worth of drinks that looked like chocolate sodas. 

Indeed, the top three best selling drinks at Dunkin' Donuts nationally are the hot caramel macchiato, the caramel iced coffee and hazelnut iced coffee. (Gee, I thought coffee was something you had with dessert. It’s not supposed to be the dessert!)

Anyway, I’m beginning to wonder: doesn’t anybody drink plain old coffee anymore?

Which leads me to the topic of today’s post, namely a classic plain old coffee – Hills Brothers Coffee to be exact. I’ve written about it before (here), as it was my parents’ favorite coffee for many years.

The ad below for the classic brew ran in the Lorain Journal on September 20, 1951.

It’s an interesting ad, stressing the social aspect of drinking coffee. The pitch is that you can ‘make friends’ serving Hill Bros. Coffee because of its ‘friendlier flavor.’

That sales angle would never fly now. Tastes change, and people drink what they like. The old-time coffees such as Maxwell House, Chase & Sanborn, etc. probably enjoy minuscule market shares compared to Starbucks or Dunkin’ (even if I don’t see anyone buying just plain coffee there).
And many of the social opportunities where you might drink coffee – such as the after-tennis get together depicted in the ad – have probably gone away in the last seventy years as well, resulting in coffee drinking becoming a largely singular experience: something you drink to wake up.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

More on Ashbolt Orchards

June 27, 1941 Amherst News-Times ad
So where were Ashbolt Orchards located?

That’s a good question that I’ve been asked several times, via email as well as comments left on the blog.

Vintage ads for Ashbolt Orchards only list the address as Foster Park Road, or State Route 254. A 1945 article in the Van Wert Times Bulletin refers to Ashbolt’s "Detroit Road farms.” And several ads from the Amherst News-Times lists ‘Foster Park Road’ as the address, with the explanation: First road south of Penfield Junction, between Lorain and Elyria.

That area where the orchards were located was well outside Lorain city limits, so it’s not too surprising that directions were included in the ad.

But I agree with longtime blog contributor Rick Kurish that Ashbolt Orchards were most likely located on today’s Cooper Foster Park Road between South Broadway and Oberlin Avenue. Driving that stretch of highway today reveals many streets on both sides of the highway named for orchards or the varieties of fruits grown on orchards. Borman's Farm still operates a roadside stand offering their seasonal fruits and vegetables.

As Rick noted, Ashbolt Drive can be found on older maps, right at the end of Cherrywood Drive. I suspect that the street wouldn’t have that name unless it occupied at least part of the former Ashbolt Orchards – particularly where cherries were grown.

Portion of a 1960s Champion Map

It’s still on the Lorain County Auditor website. 

But Ashbolt Drive is pretty much just a paper street today. I had hoped to take a photo of the street sign, but there’s no street that I can see. Cherrywood just dead-ends.

Looking at some vintage aerials, there were several impressive orchards where Cherrywood Drive is today, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the location of Ashbolt Orchards. 

The area today
Same area in 1952, showing orchards
A composite of the above two images

As Rick noted, there were and still are many orchards in that area of Cooper Foster Park, so unfortunately I don’t know for sure at this time if I have it right about the Ashbolt Orchards location. Even now, Dennis Thompson – another longtime contributor to this blog – is helping by reviewing old plat maps at the Lorain County Auditor's office, as well as vintage aerials.
Here's another mention of Ashbolt Orchards in the Amherst News-Times. This is from the July 7, 1939 edition. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Meet William E. Ashbolt

While preparing yesterday’s post about the Ashbolt children meeting the stars of the “Our Gang” comedies, I wondered: just who was William E. Ashbolt, their father?

It turns out that Mr. Ashbolt was truly a man for all seasons: family man, newspaperman, politician and orchardist.

Read all about this unique man and his accomplishments in this article that ran in the Lorain Journal at the time of his death on March 30, 1943.



Former Ohio Legislator Stricken Early Today in Hospital


Veteran Newspaperman Won Wide Acclaim as Orchardist

Death early today claimed the life of one of Lorain’s most colorful and widely-known figures when Councilman William E. Ashbolt, who served Lorain-co eight years in the state legislature, died suddenly in St. Joseph’s hospital.

Fifty-one years old, Ashbolt was taken ill Saturday, but was believed recovering when the sudden attack occurred. He died at 12:50 a. m.

25 Years a Newsman

Ashbold went into politics in 1933, when he was elected to the state legislature, after more than 25 years as a newspaperman in Lorain, Cleveland and Columbus during the latter years of which he acquired and developed the Ashbolt Orchards on Foster Park-rd, south of Lorain.

He served as Lorain-co state representative from 1934 to 1942, but dropped out of the legislature at the conclusion of his 1940-42 term to run for county auditor, a race he lost to Auditor Frank Ayres.

On Jan. 4 he was appointed to city council to fill the vacancy created when Councilman-at-Large Leslie M. Burge took up his seat in the state house of representatives.

Started Work at 16

Ashbolt, born in Lorain, the son of a pioneer Lorain family, started making news when he was 14 years old, by walking to Columbus and return. While in Columbus he paid a call to a newspaper and by the time he was 16 had landed a job as copy boy on the Ohio State Journal, a Columbus morning newspaper. 

Possessing an uncanny ability to ferret out news stories, he soon became a reporter and eventually returned to Lorain, where he worked a total of some 20 years on the Lorain Times-Herald.

He also worked several years on the Cleveland Times, in the course of which he ‘covered’ both Washington news and Columbus state offices. It was during the time that he was employed on the Cleveland Times that he was a member of the press section which accompanied a Coolidge campaign train on a cross county tour in 1924.

Started Orchards

After the Times ceased publication, he returned to Lorain, working as a newspaperman for the Times-Herald and started his orchards, which now include 4,000 peach and cherry trees. Just coming into maturity is a 1,000-tree orchard of sweet cherries, which Ashbolt characterized as one of the largest sweet cherry orchards east of the Rocky Mountains.

One of the ex-state legislators favorite pastimes was reminiscing of his days in newspaper work and of the fast and furious “news breaks” of the “roaring 20’s” and the reportorial fights during the days when the Times-Herald and Lorain Journal were in competition in Lorain.

Since consolidation of the two Lorain papers, Ashbolt had worked for brief intervals for The Journal doing special assignments and filling in at times of emergency “to keep his hand in as a newspaperman.”

Fought Redistricting

In the legislature, he is best remembered for his battles against congressional redistricting bills that would have been contrary to Lorain county’s best interests, his successful fight to have sale of all intoxicating drinks, including 3.2 beer, restricted to persons 21 years old or over, and his co-sponsorship of the Whittemore-Ashbolt which enabled installment payment of taxes by hard-pressed property owners.

Ashbolt, who had enjoyed exceptionally good health all his life, suffered a heart attack in 1938, which was followed by an attack of sciatic rheumatism which kept him confined for many months afterward. He was not [illegible] recovered when he ran for his legislative post in 1940, but in the past year believed that he had regained his strength and health.

He was a member of the Lorain Congregational church, was a 32nd degree Mason, and was affiliated with the Lorain Elks, Eagles, Moose and Pythian Sister lodges and American Legion post 30.

Body Taken Home

The legislator lived at 1025 4th-st. Survivors include his wife, Mrs. Gertrude Ashbolt, former head of relief administration in Lorain, and two sons and two daughters.

The sons are Pfc. William A. Ashbolt, now in the U.S. Marine corps, stationed at Kearney Mesa, San Diego, Calif., Allen, at home, and Mrs. Cornelius Yingling and Mrs. Russell Warman, both of Lorain.

Also surviving are four sisters, Mrs. William Cable, Lorain, Mrs. Roy Gordon, Croton, Conn., Mrs. Dvid Weins, and Mrs. Fred Newton, both of Lakewood. Five grandchildren also survive.

The body was to be taken late this afternoon to the Ashbolt residence. Funeral arrangements are incomplete pending word from his son in the Marines.


An article in the Van Wert Times Bulletin on August 14, 1945 examined how the late William E. Ashbolt, thought his efforts at his orchard, had hoped to take “two of the biggest headaches out of the annual canning chore of Northern Ohio housewives.”

As the article noted, Ashbolt “was born on a farm in Lorain County and the cleaning and skinning of peaches, and the gremlin task of pitting cherries when canning season rolled around were things he never forgot.”

One of Ashbolt’s solutions was to install "a large tent with open sides at his Detroit Road farm and in this tent he built a conveyor system that washed the cherries three times in ice water while girls sorted them to pick out any that were imperfect.”

"Crowning achievement of the newspaperman turned orchardist was a giant pitting machine housed in the middle of the vast tent top."

As for the peaches, "All peaches sold at the Ashbolt Orchard were brushed by machinery to remove as much of the objectionable fuzz as possible. The fruit was then vacuum cleaned. The de-fuzzing and vacuum cleaning not only made the peaches cleaner but revealed any blemishes or imperfections and assured the housewife she was getting perfect fruit for her money.
"The big top tent is open again this year, and many thousands from the cities and towns of Northern Ohio are flocking there for pitted washed cherries and de-fuzzed vacuum cleaned peaches. Mrs. Ashbolt believes just like Bill did that when a housewife buys food, she wants perfect, clean, fresh farm products and Mrs. Ashbolt sees that Mrs. Housewife gets them.
Advertisement from the Amherst News-Times of July 9, 1935
Advertisement from the Amherst News-Times of Sept. 24, 1937
Advertisement from the Amherst News-Times of August 20, 1942
William A. Ashbolt – the same Billy Ashbolt who was so thrilled to meet the “Our Gang” kids in 1928  – followed in his father’s footsteps, right into the newspaper business.
At the time of his passing in early December 1999, his obituary in the Journal noted, “He served in the Marines during World War II and the Korean War.
“He studied photography at Columbia University and worked for the Plain Dealer, Cleveland, for 36 years.”
Click here for the link to visit the William A. Ashbolt Photography collection on