Monday, January 31, 2022

The Wilson - Baldauf House – Part 1

The view this past weekend
Like me, you’ve probably driven by the stone house on State Route 83 at Kinzel Road and wondered: How long has it been there and who built it?

Fortunately, back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Journal Staff Writer Hermaine Speigle wrote a series of wonderful articles about historic, landmark homes in Lorain County – including this one, the Wilson-Baldauf House. 

And here’s the story of the house, as it appeared in the Journal back on Sunday, January 24, 1971. I’ll present it in two parts. 


The House That Ebenezer Built – Part 1


ACCORDING TO the present owners of “The Baldauf House,” at the corner of Kinzel and Center Roads, Avon, the ghost of Ebenezer Wilson, who built the house in 1859-61, doesn’t live there any more.

But his spirit is there just the same. It’s built right into the solid, made-to-last-forever, no frills construction of the dour, grey box-on-box structure.

The 34-year-old immigrant from Northhampshire, England, who married in New York before coming to Black River Township, was a practical man. He came with a deed to 180 acres from the Connecticut Land Company, and promptly put up a log cabin for his wife, Ann, and their three children.

Then he started his permanent home directly across the dirt road from the cabin. Walnut and oak trees were felled, and native stone dug. Amherst sandstone blocks and sand from the ridge were hauled in. Purchased materials and labor cost $600, $100 of which Wilson paid in cash. The balance was bartered with leather, whiskey and grain.

Two years later, the permanent home was ready for the family, now with another son, to move in.

Permanent is right. It outlasted Wilson and his children, including three more who were born in the downstairs ‘birthing room’ of the house.

It outlasted his cousin, Robert Faulkner, who bought the house from Wilson’s heirs, and John Baldauf, who purchased it for his bride, Emma, in 1907. Only six of the ten Baldauf children who were born in the birthing room are left.

Emma Baldauf lived in the house for 58 years before she sold it to John and Susan Bernard five years ago and built a smaller house next door for herself. “My boys each had pieces of farmland and homes of their own,” says Emma. “It was better to sell to a stranger.”

Bernard says he is still discovering the structural beauties of the landmark house which was designated a “Historical American Building” in a 1935 survey by the U.S. Library of Congress.

Putting his 'best foot' forward, Wilson had the facade built of blocks of sandstone, and doors and window sills and lintels are sandstone. The other walls are fieldstone, carefully laid in level course, now covered with ivy. The original 24-pane windows were set with reveals one-third of the wall depth.

The fieldstone foundation, five feet thick, tapers into the three foot walls. The basement is split by huge bearing walls into a main room and coal and storage rooms. The kitchen is over a cistern which supplies water for every purpose other than cooking. Piped-in gas from a well on the premises provides fuel for steam heat.

A music room and parlor front the house, with hallway and staircase between. Each room had a chimney fitted with cast-iron, enameled coal burning fireplaces and mantels. In the music room, the original set-up still provides heat, but the parlor fireplace was removed by the Baldaufs and replaced with a brick one.

The hallway is spacious and airy, with east light coming through the panes flanking the door. The wide stairway is rock-hard oak, with turned walnut rails and spindles.

Bernard says his happiest surprise was learning that the gracefully turned walnut newel post, anchored in to the floor, continues on down to the basement! It is really a huge walnut tree, squared off, with only the top showing on the first floor.

Next: The ‘tour’ of the house continues.

Friday, January 28, 2022

A Super Way to Promote a Town – January 1972

Did you know that fifty years ago – way ahead of the current super hero craze gripping the country’s entertainment industry – a city in Illinois decided to promote itself as the hometown of Superman?

I didn’t either until I read about it in one of my favorite books, The New Roadside America (1986) by Mike Wilkins, Ken Smith and Doug Kirby.

As noted in the book, the city of Metropolis, Illinois “tried to fight civic anonymity by claiming to be the home” of Superman.

“In the early 1970s, faced with a decline in local industry, the town cautiously began its first association with the Man of Steel. Fanned by early success and irresponsible prodding by the media, the town was quickly deluded into starting a huge “Amazing World of Superman” theme park, to be complete with a 200-foot statue of the man of steel, legs open for cars to drive through.

“When the novelty wore off and the media quit reporting, visitors stopped dropping by, and Amazing World was scrapped halfway done. Metropolis still blames the gas crisis of 1973-1974.”

Here’s the AP news account of Metropolis beginning its association with Superman that appeared in the Journal on January 16, 1972.

The story in The New Roadside America noted that the Metropolis chamber of commerce (back in 1986, anyway) “gives away packets of multicolored Kryptonite, akin to handing out bullets in Dealey Plaza, to children.”

During a visit to the chamber of commerce, the book’s authors had a good question. They noted, “When we asked if Superman’s real hometown wasn’t Smallville, a nice chamber of commerce lady said, “Nobody’s ever questioned that.” She seemed nervous, as if the town had realized it years ago, in the hungover aftermath of civic folly, and was keeping quiet about the whole thing.”
Click here to visit the Metropolis tourism website, and follow this link to a great article about Metropolis and its Superman connection.
Click here to visit the Roadside American website.

Lastly, I wrote about my 2018 visit to a great Superman exhibit at the Cleveland Public Library back here.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Emerald Valley Ad – January 17, 1972

There’s been plenty of new development in the last year or two at Tower Boulevard and Leavitt Road (the Shell station and convenience store, the car wash, the urgent care) as well as the new stores by Meijer to the south (Chick-fil-A, Biggby Coffee and Five Guys), making that stretch of Leavitt a very high traffic area. So it’s only a matter of time until the old Emerald Valley Golf Course property nearby finally looks very attractive to some developer. The big ‘For Sale’ sign has been up for a while.

But fifty years ago, Emerald Valley was still thriving, and the golf shop was advertising in the winter months. Below is an ad that ran in the Journal back on January 17, 1972.
Emerald Valley has been a favorite topic on this blog. We learned about the history of it back on this post that featured an interview with Emil and Emily Kucirek, the couple who built and owned  it.

It’s interesting that they originally bought the farmland to build houses on it. But, as they noted in that 1969 interview, Lorain wouldn’t give them water or sewer lines, so the couple built a golf course instead, opening it around 1960.
Driving by the aging Emerald Valley clubhouse today brings back a lot of memories of Lorain in the 1960s to anyone who grew up in the area.
Here are some shots from last spring.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Mid-America Boat Show Advertising – 1961, 1971 & 1972

Although the 2022 Progressive Cleveland Boat Show isn’t until March, many Northeastern Ohioans remember that traditionally the show (previously known as the Mid-America Boat Show) used to be held in January.

It was a nice distraction during the cold winter months to think about boating, even if you’re not a boater (like me). 

I did a post back here, in which I compared the different approaches to advertising the event, promoting it with special appearances by the Osmond Brothers and Jerry Murad’s Harmonicats (1965); featuring a Miss Boat Show in the ad (1969); and enlisting Popeye, the world’s best-known spinach-eating sailor as a mascot (1970).

Well, here are two more examples of Boat Show advertising with different approaches.

Back in 1961, this family-oriented ad appeared in the Lorain Journal on January 14th. 

As you can see, the gimmick that year was “fabulous magic waters that actually dance to the excitement of music under a rainbow of colored lights. A huge 60 foot entertainment marvel that will make a lifetime impression.”

I like the cartoon of the kids in the bathtub playing with the toy sailboat, as Fido looks on.
Anyway, by the time of the 1971 Mid-America Boat Show, the ad men decided to go with the tried-and-true angle of using pretty girls in swimsuits to promote the event.
This ad appeared in the Journal on January 15, 1971.
A year later, in time for the 1972 edition of the Boat Show, the Journal featured these promotional photos of swimsuit-clad lovelies in the sports pages (for fathers to peruse, I guess). On the day each photo appeared, it was positioned right next to the popular “Rambling With Rudy” column, and directly above the bowling scores. The actual 1972 Boat Show ad ran on January 14, 1972 elsewhere in the sports pages.

From the December 17, 1971 Journal
From the January 14, 1971 Journal
From the January 14, 1971 Journal
It’s interesting that the photo caption of the two women at first refers to them as “two youthful boating experts,” and later as “two housewives who know their boating.”
I worked in the advertising field for many years, and had to hire models (male and female) for photo shoots. With that in mind, I'm guessing that the Boat Show models were all happy to get the work, that they were paid fairly well, and that they enjoyed the publicity, as well as the photos which would become part of their portfolio. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Make Way for the New Vermilion Comfort Station

Earlier this month, the house at 479 Main Street in Vermilion – the small white one right next to the beach – was razed to make way for a new comfort station and parking lot, part of the ongoing revitalization of Main Street Beach.

Mayor Jim Forthofer noted that the owners of the house, Linda and Bill Stuchal, had contacted him a few years ago and gave the city of Vermilion ‘first shot at acquiring this property for future park development.'

Although I have made many visits to the beach there in the past three years since I moved to Vermilion, I had already forgotten what the Stuchal house looked like! And since the house was located in Erie County (which listed it as being built in 1955), I couldn’t poach a photo from the Lorain County Auditor website like I usually do. 

Fortunately, Google Maps is there to provide a fairly recent view of the cute, tidy little cottage.

Here’s another view. (Thanks to Doug for the Google Maps shot).

Monday, January 24, 2022

Lake Breeze Estates Ad – January 28, 1961

Lake Breeze Road in Sheffield Lake, as well as its various housing developments through the years, have been a favorite topic on this blog. 

A four-part post featured the reminisces of Dr. B. W. Donaldson, whose father worked for the Johnson Steel Company and vacationed at the Lake Breeze resort area along with the other steel executives and their families in the late 1800s/early 1900s.

I’ve done posts on the summer cottages that were promoted there in the 1920s (here and here) as well as the modern housing developments of the late 1950s/early 1960s (here and here).

Well, here’s another ad for Lake Breeze Estates. It ran in the Lorain Journal back on January 28, 1961. It features the same illustration that was in the 1960 ad, but it reproduced a little lighter so you can get a better look at the house style.

Note the inclusion of the Dorothy Malone lookalike, also seen in the 1960 Rock Creek Run ads.

As noted by someone who kindly left on comment on my last post about Lake Breeze Estates, the house seen in the ad is actually the style of the homes on Knickerbocker Road, just off Lake Breeze. It’s a nice, simple style home, as well as being affordable, which is always a good thing. A drive through the area today reveals that each house is a little bit different, but with similar well-maintained yards.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Sandy’s Ad – Jan. 17, 1972

It’s always nice to put a face on some of the old businesses that I write about here, so here’s a chance to do exactly that with Sandy’s, a favorite topic on this blog.

Above is one of those ads masquerading as an article that appeared in the Journal’s business section. It appeared in the paper back on January 17, 1972. It features a nice photograph of Sandy’s manager Larry Rounds and veteran counter waitress Opal Roark. They both worked at the restaurant on Meister Road.

Strangely, the article makes no mention of the fact that Hardees had bought all of Sandy’s stock in late November 1971. I guess that’s because the original intention was that the two hamburger chains would maintain their own brands. But as we know, that wasn’t the case, and the Sandy’s name would soon disappear – and be largely forgotten fifty years later.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

WOBL Hits the Airwaves – Jan. 1972

Here’s a nice ad announcing the arrival of local country radio station WOBL that ran in the Journal back on January 18, 1972. The station had first gone on the air the month before.
As explained on the radio station’s website,”WOBL first began broadcasting on Christmas Eve of 1971 when Harry Wilber broadcast his first words and played the first record. 
"WOBL Radio was first heard on AM 1570 and then moved to 1320 AM in September of 1976. Most recently it began simulcasting on 107.7 FM. From day one, WOBL 1320 AM / 107.7 FM has kept its finger on the pulse of the community it serves. 
"50 years later, WOBL Radio remains one of the longest running country music stations in Ohio. The station currently broadcasts under the "Gold Country" banner staying loyal to the genre’s roots with a classic country format.
Click here to visit the WOBL website.

The home of WOBL and WDLW on U. S. Route 20, east of Ohio 58

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Sheffield Lake in the News – Jan. 1971

More than fifty years ago, the Journal was a Lorain newspaper, focused on the city and what was happening in it. But the paper still covered the surrounding communities well, devoting space and often whole pages to what was going on in Lorain’s neighboring cities.

Above is a good example of that coverage – a nice summary of Sheffield Lake community news that appeared in the Journal on January 21, 1971. We get news about the upcoming Pinewood Derby held by Cub Scout Pack 305; profiles of some of the members of the city’s Civil Service Commission; and list of gifts presented to the city to help make it a better place.

One of those gifts is the sign located at the corner of East Lake Road (U. S. Route 6) and Harris Road. 

As noted in the article, “As their gift to the new city hall, the Jaycees are “lighting the way” to the Sheffield Lake municipal complex at Harris Road and Richelieu Avenues. Last week Mayor Jack Miller accepted an illuminated sign from the organization which has been installed at the intersection of Harris and Lake Road to guide visitors and new residents to the city’s municipal center. A Jaycee civic affairs project, the sign was built by the Winko-Matic Signal Company of Avon Lake and will be lighted 24 hours a day.”

The new city hall complex had been dedicated in June 1970.

I first moved to an apartment on Irving Park Boulevard in Sheffield Lake in the mid-1980s (after a memorable year in the Lorain Overlook Apartments). The Jaycees sign on Lake Road was a big help, as the city was largely a mystery to this transplanted Lorainite. 

I later lived in the Tradewinds Apartments on Harris Road, and eventually bought a house on Lake Road in the late 1990s. I guess I really liked Sheffield Lake.

By the way, there is still a sign on that corner, although it has been enlarged.

The view yesterday

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Camp Iss-See-Kes Toboggan Run – Jan. 18, 1972

It’s been somewhat of a mild winter so far up here in Lorain County. Not much snow (except for yesterday), and it’s only gotten into the teens temperature-wise a few times. 

Fifty years ago it was much the same. At this point in January 1972, Lake Erie was unfrozen – much to the consternation of ice fishermen, and the businesses that depend upon them.

But there was enough snow to open the toboggan run at Camp Iss-See-Kes in Vermilion, as you can see from the photo below, which appeared in the Journal on January 18, 1972. The photo was by Journal Chief Photographer Tom Whittington.

The caption reads, “Streaking down the toboggan run at Camp Iss-See-Kes in Vermilion over the weekend were back, William Makay, 2550 Oberlin Ave., Lorain, and Randy Staveski, 4645 Oberlin Ave., Lorain. The toboggan run opened for the first time last week.”

I wrote about the popular Camp Iss-See-Kes toboggan run back here. It had been damaged in the infamous July 4, 1969 storm.

Monday, January 17, 2022

The Persistence of Old Cartoon Memories – Part 2

Last Friday, I wrote about seeing a weird cartoon when I was a kid, thinking about it years later, and trying to figure out what it was I was remembering. Well, here’s another one that’s even more bizarre.

For almost all of my life, I’ve remembered seeing a cartoon about a rabbit that lived in a giant carrot. Near the end of the cartoon, there was a count-down to the launch of some kind of rocket that was going to save the day, all to the strains of some dramatic music.

That’s all I remembered – for close to sixty years! Did I hallucinate that?

Now, I know it wasn’t Bugs Bunny in this cartoon. So what cartoon bunny was it?

For a while, I thought perhaps it was Crusader Rabbit, although I don’t remember watching those cartoons at all. As it turns out – thanks to the internet – the rabbit I remembered was a character on an episode of Beany and Cecil.

Beany and Cecil?!?

Don’t you remember Cecil, the Sea-Sick Sea Serpent and his little pal, Beanie? I doubt if anyone but a true Baby Boomer would even remember this show at all. 

But we watched it. We had a Beany and Cecil story book as well as a Beany and Cecil Jack in the Box.

And one of the episodes was about this genius rabbit named Harecules who lived in a giant carrot with his father, Ben Hare. 

Harecules was an inventor, and in the cartoon constructs a secret weapon called the Guided Muscle – a sort of creepy living rocket – to combat this wolf that is out to capture him. Towards the end of the cartoon, Harecules sics it on him.

And here’s the cartoon, entitled "Harecules Hare and the Golden Fleecing." The outlandish plot doesn’t make any sense at all to me as an adult, so I can’t imagine what I thought of it when I was a kid. (I’m sure I missed all the puns and in-jokes, as well as the Al Jolson impersonation by the rabbit father.)

Friday, January 14, 2022

The Persistence of Old Cartoon Memories – Part 1

Have you ever remembered seeing something odd or unusual on TV when you were a kid and wondered, decades later: “What was that? Did I imagine that?”

It happens to me a lot, since we watched a lot of TV in our house when I was growing up. Fortunately, the internet is here to help me figure out just what it was I was remembering.

Here’s a good example. For many years, I have thought of a cartoon in which a car pulls up and someone in the car tosses a sack out of the window with something live inside. What left an impression on me was that the person dropping the bag was very creepy – almost scary.

Although I probably only saw this cartoon once, I’ve wondered about it for years.

Now, there are many cartoons that begin with this same scenario. There’s a Tom and Jerry cartoon called Puppy Tale (1954) in which someone tosses a bag in the river with puppies inside, and Jerry has to rescue them. But we never see who does the dastardly deed.

From the late 1950s TV era, there’s a Super Snooper and Blabber Mouse cartoon called Puss N’ Booty (1959) that starts out the same way. (That’s no surprise because it and the T &J cartoon were both made by Hanna and Barbara.) The cat and mouse detective duo watch as someone in a mysterious car deposits a bag in the river. They retrieve the bag, and rescue the cat inside. But again, we never see who was in the car.

It wasn’t until I was watching some old Heckle and Jeckle Terry-toon cartoons on YouTube, that – thanks to YouTube cueing up suggestions for me to watch – that I finally stumbled upon the cartoon I was wondering about all these years. It was a Terry-toon called Mystery in the Moonlight (1948). Since Terry-toons haven’t been on TV for a generation or two, that explains why I never ran into Mystery in the Moonlight.

It’s a weird cartoon. While ominous music plays, a mouse turns on a TV and sees a car speeding along a road. The car stops, and inside is a really creepy goon – sort of an evil “Kilroy” – with eyes that have a hypnotic glow. The mouse is scared, and I was too when I first saw the cartoon as a kid.

The goon in the car drops a sack in the road, which turns out to contain a black cat. 

What’s really odd is that the cat ends up getting into the house, where it bedevils the mouse, as well as the typical Terry-toon bulldog who lives there. 

At the end of the cartoon (which features the usual Terry-toon violence and comic hijinks), the goon in the car comes back and picks up the cat, and they both make faces and laugh (via the TV again) at the mouse and bulldog.

The mouse shrugs (and so does the viewer, apparently).

Here's the cartoon. I hope it doesn’t stick in your head like it did mine!