Friday, September 29, 2023

On Area Movie Screens – Sept. 30, 1953

We'll close out the week (and September as well) with a look at what was playing on local movie screens seventy years ago this month. Above is the movie page from the September 30, 1953 Lorain Journal

Opening the next day at the Ohio Theatre were perennial Lorain favorites Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall and the Bowery Boys in Loose In London. 

In this installment of the popular movie comedy series, the gang travels to London so that Sach (Huntz Hall) can claim his inheritance. Here's the movie trailer:

(I remember the first time I saw the Bowery Boys was in the early 1970s, when Channel 43 showed the old comedies on Sunday mornings, billing them as the Dead End Kids. My brothers and I were soon imitating Huntz Hall, wearing our baseball caps with the brim turned up as we shouted, "Hey, Chief!")

For theater goers who preferred more mature movie fare, there was Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at the Tivoli with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell. (Contrary to the movie title, and I'm probably in the minority, but I prefer Jane Russell to Marilyn, especially since Miss Russell made a lot of appearances in Westerns.)

It's interesting that Howard Hawks was the movie's director. He was also the director of some of John Wayne's best films, including Red River, Rio Bravo and El Dorado, as well as Hatari and Rio Lobo.
Elsewhere on the movie page, we had Audie Murphy (another GRIT TV favorite of mine) in The Duel at Silver Creek (1952) playing at the Lorain Drive-in. It was a pretty good Don Siegel-directed movie – with Lee Marvin in it too! (BTW, during her last few years living at home, Mom was a real Audie Murphy fan too, watching all of his movies on GRIT.)
But what about the Duke?

Contrary to his normal Western roles, at that time John Wayne was starring as The Quiet Man at the Dreamland. It's one of my favorite John Wayne movies, and I watch it on DVD (or TV if it's on) every St. Patrick's Day like a true Irishman.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Workshop Players Tryouts – Sept. 1953

The same view today
Seventy years ago this month, Workshop Players was nearing the end of its first year in its new home, the former Middle Ridge School. The non-profit, volunteer community theater group had staged its first play at its new permanent location in February 1953.

Above is an article that appeared in the Journal on September 9, 1953. It's the first article about the group with a photo of its new home.

Back in 2015, I featured a two-part series about the theater group on this blog. Part 1 was a capsule history; Part 2 included various newspaper clippings.

It's nice to see that Workshop Players is still thriving today in its 75th season.


This new series of clippings (below) document the move to the former one room schoolhouse on Middle Ridge.

November 28, 1952
December 17, 1952
January 16, 1953
February 4, 1953
February 11, 1953

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Willow Creek Golf Ad – Sept. 28, 1963

When I was a kid and we were driving on State Route 2 west of Vermilion, I seem to recall that for years, there was a billboard for Willow Creek Golf Course. It was quite large, with an illustration of a golfer on it. The reason I remembered it was because 'Willow Creek' was the name of the creek near our house on Skyline Drive. 

I wondered where that golf course was located, since we never drove by it in our travels around the area.

Years later, I learned that the creek near our house wasn't named Willow Creek – it was Martin's Run. Willow Creek was the name of the subdivision encompassing W. 33rd, W. 34th, Maurer Drive and Pole Avenue. Thus the park was Willow Park and we assumed that 'Willow' was the name of the creek or stream that ran through it. (The 'Willow' name was also given to the nearby shopping strip with  – you guessed it – Willow Hardware.)

But I still didn't know where that golf course was. Decades after I first saw it, the sign was still out there on Route 2, but as the years went by, it was peeling badly – rendering it almost unreadable.

Anyway, when I saw the below ad for Willow Creek Golf Course from the Journal of September 28, 1963, I knew I had to feature it here.

I was somewhat surprised to finally find out that Willow Creek Golf Club was in Vermilion, south of town on Darrow Road. And, happily, it still is. Here's the entrance sign.

Although I seem to remember the old highway billboard being out near Huron, it may very well have been on the golf course property, which fronts Route 2.
The ad features Bill Hovey, the golf pro at Willow Creek. According to his obituary"He was an avid golfer and made 4 holes in 1 in his lifetime.  He served in the U.S. Navy during WWII, served as Gunner's Mate 2C on several ships, the last being the Nehenta Bay."

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Gary Motor Sales "Hunting" Ad – Sept. 24, 1953

Hunting was a recurring theme in many ads found in the pages of the Lorain Journal from September 1953. It was a real harbinger of Fall.

Last week, a post from that same time period spotlighted how Willow Hardware was selling hunting attire, knives, guns, shells and licenses. The ad above for Gary Motor Sales makes the case that a used Nash was the perfect car for a sportsman.

"Decide now to enjoy the hunting season to the fullest!" it notes. "Go in America's "Travel Car" – a better used Nash car – with exclusive Nash comfort and safety features. Enjoy in a dependable used Nash car such outstanding comfort features as Airliner Reclining Seats which make up into Twin Beds in seconds. Wherever you drive, wherever you hunt, your sleeping accommodations are right with you! Get the car that's perfect for hunting trips economical to drive all the time – the Nash Sportsman's Used Car Special."

Here's a nice color magazine ad for the 1951 Nash Airflyte with great photos illustrating the same features found in the 1953 ad.

And this 1948 brochure for the Nash "600" Ambassador Brougham Sedan even contained a handy listing of Hunting and Fishing Seasons for the U.S., Canada and Newfoundland.

It was all an interesting marketing effort. Unfortunately (according to this Wiki entry) Nash automobile production ended in 1957.

Dad's Grandpa Esterle owned a Nash. That's my Dad, his mother and sister, and his Grandma and Grandpa Esterle posing in front of it in this late 1920s/early 30s shot. 
It was taken on W. 28th Street in Lorain in front of the Esterle home. If you're curious, here's what the house across the street from the Esterles looks like today.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Journal "Ohio Sesqui" Front Page – Sept. 23, 1953

Seventy years ago, Ohio was celebrating its sesquicentennial and the City of Lorain was onboard for the festivities. 

The actual date that Ohio entered the Union was March 1, 1803, but that didn't stop Lorain from scheduling its celebration for September 1953. As noted on the front page of Ye Lorain Journal from September 23, 1953, there was plenty of fun in store.

As noted in the lead article, "Colorful decorations are up on the streets and colorful moods are in the hearts of Lorain citizens.

"Highlighting the Sesqui events will be an hour and half parade at 6 p.m. Thursday.

"Friday's Sesqui events include an aerial act by the "Mighty Mite" from Cleveland on Broadway at 3 p.m. The night's activities will include presentation of the queen and the Fremont-Lorain football game in Recreation Stadium.

"Saturday will take spectators to Oakwood Park for a Little League exhibition game, a Nationality Pageant and a fireworks display."

The special souvenir edition of the Journal provided a nice capsule history of the city, highlighting key dates. The front page also featured a photo of the 1913 Perry Centennial Celebration in Lorain held in July of that year; a nice editorial about the founding of Ohio; a photo of a member of Lorain High's first graduating class; an article about the 'beardless' pioneers; and a vintage photo of the Reid House.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Nickel Plate RR Overpass Coming Apart – Sept. 1953

I've mentioned many times that I grew up on the west side of Lorain in the 1960s. And if my family was going to drive west of town – perhaps to Huron or Cedar Point – Dad would head north on Leavitt Road and turn left on W. 21st Street as a shortcut to access Routes 6&2. He had no reason to go all the way down to West Erie. It would just waste time.

Coming home was the same thing; he'd take the West 21st Street exit from West Erie. When Dad did have a reason to keep going east on West Erie and drive under the railroad overpass, it was interesting to me as a kid, especially at night. It was kind of like driving through a tunnel.

And my interest in the 'undercut' (as it was often called) continues to this day. Why? Because that location has a lot of history, being located so close to the Pueblo and the Lorain Country Club. Sadly, back in the interurban days, it was the scene of terrible accidents as it was difficult to navigate the 'S' curve at high speeds. 

To improve safety overall, a cloverleaf traffic pattern was constructed there in the mid-1950s, with a four-lane West Erie Avenue and a westbound W. 21st Street overpass parallel to the railroad overpass.

Here's how it looks today.

But in 1953, the widening of the highway to four lanes and other improvements hadn't happened yet, as you can see in the article below, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on Sept. 18, 1953. The photos and captions note that the Nickel Plate Overpass is "coming apart at the seams."

"The above pictures show the break in the reinforced concrete which is now four-and-a-half inches wide and is widening at the rate of half an inch every 15 to 20 days," notes the article. "The part that is cracking away is a slab of concrete weighing many tons.

"The underpass is being pushed away from the rest of the structure towards the Lake Road. Pushing it is pressure from the Nickel Plate roadbed which it was holding in place."
Anyway, the railroad overpass was largely rebuilt, according to articles about the cloverleaf construction. But it's looking a little beat-up again, judging by my photo taken yesterday.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Giant Tiger Ad – Sept. 12, 1963

A few of you may remember the Giant Tiger discount store chain, which I've featured many times on this blog. Above is a full-page for the Elyria store at 230 Broad Street, which ran in the Journal on Sept. 12, 1963. Back then shoppers used the Layaway plans that were available, so that's why the ad had a Christmas theme.

There's plenty of interesting things to check out in the ad, including the Safety Eye Running Lights with 21-candle power bulbs, which according to the ad would "attract the attention of approaching motorists – DAY OR NIGHT!!" Today, running lights are quite common, and even required in some countries.

What's amusing to me in the ad (as usual) is the appearance of Kellogg's cereals Tony the Tiger doing a side hustle as the Giant Tiger mascot. (I've devoted several posts to this.) What's really funny is that whoever prepared the artwork decided to also superimpose Tony's whiskered face on top of that of a cigar store Indian.

But if you look closely at the part of the ad devoted to boxes of matches, however, you see what's probably the real Giant Tiger mascot on the package.

We've seen that rather tame-looking cat on a piece of Giant Tiger paraphernalia (below) on an earlier blog post. 
Yet, the GrrrrRRREAT one was appropriated time and time again.
Anyway, the tale of two kitties eventually came to an end with the name change to 'Gaylords.' 

At the time of the above ad, Lorain's store hadn't been built yet (destroying the Hopewell homestead at 1867 Elyria Avenue in the process). It wouldn't open until August 1967 (which I wrote about here).

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Own Your Own Home Ad – Sept. 21, 1953


Is home ownership still the classic American dream?

This full-page ad from the Sept. 21, 1953 Lorain Journal made the case that buying a home in Lorain was a worthy and obtainable goal. It notes, "Home ownership is the key to your lasting happiness. Ask any of the thousands of Lorain's home owners about the greater sense of security that they enjoy. See for yourself the terrific amount of money you save when you own a home of your own. Right now you can buy more value, convenience and security than at any time in the past."

The ad was sponsored by the Lorain County Builders - Contractors Association and includes a roll call of contractors with many well-known names listed, including R. S. Shinski, Anthony J. Murello and Vladimir Nickoloff.

But is home ownership going down or up?

I naturally assumed that the trend would show it going down – but I was wrong. According to, "The U.S. homeownership rate in 2022 was even higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic – 68% compared to 64.6% in 2019 – a rebound driven largely by those age 44 and younger, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey/Housing Vacancy Survey."

I'm not sure how the current high interest rates and inflation will affect things, but it is encouraging that younger households are still striving to get into their own home – and accomplishing that goal.

I know that after getting married late in the 1980s, we were determined to get into a house, and only spent a couple years in an apartment. Like many, we had a 'starter house' – one that needed some work. But it was a good way to get used to home ownership (as well as learn how to fall asleep with the burden of a 30-year mortgage dominating your thoughts).

But I never built a house, and I still feel a little bad about it. My parents were given their first house (by Dad's grandfather) and they built two new homes – one on W. 30th Street in the 1950s and the one on Skyline Drive about ten years later. 

But I like my condo, and even though it's the equivalent of a critter moving into another's one's nest (or hole, if you prefer), it suits me fine.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Willow Hardware "Hunting" Ad – Sept. 18, 1953

Do we have any hunters out there – mighty or otherwise?

If you're the hunting type, then you'd probably like the ad for Willow Hardware below, which ran in the Lorain Journal back on September 19, 1953. It has a pleasantly nostalgic hunting theme, with a man holding two pheasants, while his female companion (touting her own rifle) looks on. Both are sporting nifty Fuddsian caps.

Willow Hardware, which was still in its early days back then, apparently could outfit the hunter with everything needed, including guns, shells, gun cleaning rod sets, hunting knives, as well as the shell & game vest – and the hunting license too.

The ad notes that Double Owl Stamps were available on Friday & Saturday, perhaps triggering (no pun intended) thoughts of blasting away at the nocturnal, hooting birds of prey.

We never had any hunters in our family - just fisherman, including Grandpa (Mom's father) and my own Dad. No one even owned a gun.

I don't hunt or own a gun either, but I subscribe to American Hunter as part of my NRA membership. The magazine is always interesting, despite the fact that I don't think I could ever shoot anything – not even a squirrel. 

However, one of my good friends (that I met in college) has been a hunter all his life. His family built a small cabin on some wooded acreage they own south of Akron, and he hunts there sometimes. It's his little oasis, a place to get away to once in a while.


As a parting shot, here are some more 'hunting'-themed ads and articles that I've posted over the years: this 1946 ad for Spaid's Sportsmen's Shop in Lorain; this matchbook cover for Grandview Motel; a 1958 for Welch's Sports; this 1962 article about Lorain County moose hunters in Canada; and this 1962 ad for Pic-Way Shoes.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Lorain Sunday News Front Page – Sept. 17, 1950

It's always interesting to sneak a peek at the front page of a Lorain Sunday News, the weekly that provided Lorainites with an alternate journalistic take of the local happenings in the 1940s and 50s.

The above front page is from September 17, 1950 and includes an article about Norman C. Muller and the small traction car that he built for his sons' amusement that turned out to be a source of joy for many visitors as well. 

As the article notes, "Mr. Muller's ability to provide an unusual home playground for his two small sons, Robert and Carl, has earned the plaudits of visitors from every state in the Union, and a few from other countries.

"The small "Toonerville Traction" car pictured above has an honest to goodness electric drive, tracks and trolley. It can be safely operated by any one from one to 99 years old.

"Other items produced for the Muller sons, neighbors and friends include a mechanized and electrically driven merry-go-round, built out of Model A parts; a three-wheel tractor built out of bicycle and washing machine parts.

"The Mullers welcome visitors to their home and keep a guest book record of all who stop to see the products of a father's love for his own two boys."

I did a three part series on Norman C. Muller's Arlington Traction Company attraction/museum at the intersection of what is now South Broadway and Cooper Foster Park Road (where Broadway Assembly Church is located). You might want to revisit Part 1 (here), Part 2 (here), Part 3 (here) and a final post (here) with some great photos of the Toonerville Trolley.


Elsewhere on the two pages shown: an ad for Lorain Cab and Dick's Taxi (decades before Lyft muscled in their turf); an ad for Stone's Grill; random jokes sprinkled in among the articles; and a plea for a Civilian Defense Unit for Lorain by the city's Safety Director. (I assume he was successful, as within a few years Lorain had its own civil defense tower.)

Friday, September 15, 2023

IGA "Mickey Mouse Party" Ad – Sept. 10, 1953

Although The Walt Disney Company currently acknowledges November 18th as the birthday of its beloved character and company mascot Mickey Mouse, there was a time when his birthday bounced all over the calendar.

Why? Well, as explained on the company website, for many years his birthday was simply moved to tie in with some promotional campaign of one of the company's many licensees. Thus, the famous rodent's natal day was celebrated over the years on a variety of dates, from September to late December. Finally, in 1978 the corporation decided to go with the premiere date of Steamboat Willie, the Mouse's first onscreen appearance: November 18, 1928.

But back in 1953, September was still his birthday month, and that's the idea behind the ad above for the IGA grocery store chain with a 'Mickey Mouse Party' theme. It appeared in the Lorain Journal on September 10, 1953. (According to the Walt Disney Archives website, 1953 was celebrated as Mickey's 25th birthday.)

Anyway, the ad includes a nice illustration of Mickey atop his cake (yuck), surrounded by Goofy, Pluto Pup, Minnie Mouse, and Donald Duck Bongo the Bear.

Bongo? Why not Donald Duck, arguably a more popular cartoon star than Mickey?
Did Mickey plot to keep his animated, web-footed rival from drawing attention away from him on his special day? Did Donald's position as spokesduck for his namesake citrus juices (and appearance in other grocery chain ads) prevent him from being in the ad? Or was Mickey simply worried about getting feathers on his cake?
I suppose the question could be directed to Donald Duck, if someone ran into him at one of the many Disney theme parks. But we probably wouldn't be able to understand the unintelligible quacking of the irascible waterfowl anyway – so I guess we'll never know.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Old Log Cabin Whiskey Ads – Sept. & Oct. 1953

Regular readers of this blog know that Old Log Cabin Whiskey ads that appeared in the Lorain Journal in the 1950s are interesting to me. 

Why? Maybe the brand appeals to me because of my secret wish to live in a log cabin. Or perhaps I just played with Lincoln Logs too much as a kid.

On earlier posts, I featured several ads from an early 1950s campaign with the theme, "There's Bourbon Enjoyment Inside!" Each ad consisted of a picturesque log cabin in the background, with someone pointing at it. The ones doing the pointing included a hunter cradling a rifle, a pipe-smoking rustic type with a Stormy Kromer-style cap; a flannel-clad chap with an armful of wood, and even a friendly squirrel.

Eventually that series of ads ran their course, and it was time for a new approach. But rather than focusing on the log cabin (and the alcoholic pleasures within), this new campaign staggered off in a different direction. 

Here's the result – an ad that ran in the Journal on Sept. 18, 1953. It featured a frontiersman practicing the pioneer equivalent of drinking while driving, and a vocabulary lesson.

A similar ad appeared in the Journal a few weeks later on October 2, 1953. This time the frontiersman is referred to in the ad as a '49er.
I'm sorry, but I'm not buying the coonskin-cap-wearing character as a California gold miner – his attire is all wrong. I'm not convinced he would be using such high-falutin' words either.
I'm just not a fan of these ads, which lack the charm of the previous campaign.

But you gotta admit, they were ahead of their time. They appeared a full year before the Davy Crockett fad began with the airing of the five-part series about the famous frontiersman on Walt Disney's Disneyland series in December 1954.
UPDATE (October 12, 2023)
Here's another ad from the campaign. It ran in the Journal on October 30, 1953. 
I just Googled 'bunkumsquint.' Yep, it's a real word!

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Revisiting Jackie Mayer as Miss America – Sept. 1963

Sixty years ago this month, Jacqueline Mayer of Sandusky wrapped up her year as Miss America 1963. The Lorain Journal covered the end of her reign with several articles. This one appeared on the front page of the September 6, 1963 edition. (I transcribed this article back on this 2014 post.)

And on the night of the Miss America pageant during which Jackie would crown her successor, Sept. 6, 1963, the front page of the Journal featured the article below. 

It humorously notes, "She traveled more than 200,000 air miles and only once went through the womanly agony of looking down to discover a run in her stocking creeping up her leg.
The TV page of that same edition of the Journal included this photograph above the program grids.

And the next day's Journal of Sept. 9, 1963 included this photo on the front page of Jackie crowning her successor.

Here's a photograph of the same scene from a different angle, found earlier this year on eBay.
Well, to wrap up this blog's series of posts looking back at Jackie Mayer's selection as Miss America 1963, here are some photos of Jackie culled from eBay. Many of them still have their wire services caption attached. There's also the cover of the Miss America 1964 program in which she was preparing to crown the next winner.
Jackie inspecting the Marine Color Guard Aboard the
USS Independence in Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
A month after the end of her reign as Miss America, Jackie was back in school at Northwestern University, as noted in the photo below which ran in the Journal on October 24, 1963.