Thursday, March 28, 2024

Smith & Gerhart Easter Ad – March 23, 1951

Smith & Gerhart
is another iconic Downtown Lorain business, well-remembered by the over-60 Lorain crowd. It was one of the few firms that lasted almost a hundred years, opening in 1893 (as the Boston Store) and closing in 1980.

It was one of the many stores that Mom occasionally visited during our weekly Saturday morning trips downtown (along with Kline's and the dime stores).

One of my best friends in high school got a job as a security guard at Smith & Gerhart when we were seniors. I remember visiting him there in the alley behind the store a few times while he was working.

Anyway, above is the Easter-themed ad for Smith & Gerhart that ran in the Lorain Journal on March 23, 1951 (when the holiday was even earlier than this year's). I like that large bunny clip art (although he has been chopped in half by the Journal art department, like so many other ads).

I'm not sure if I buy the premise of the ad – Easter Gift Suggestions – but Smith & G was hoping Lorainites did. And there's something for everyone; tissue faille blousettes, handbags, pearl chokers for Mom; straw bags for kiddies and teen-agers; dress gloves for the kiddies; and ties and socks (sigh) for dear old Dad.

But who was Mrs. Steven, mentioned in the ad as the name behind the chocolate Easter eggs? Was she a Lorain housewife who lived on Reid Avenue and cranked out chocolates in her kitchen?

Nope. As noted on the Roadshow Collectibles website, ""Julia C. Krafft, 98, the founder of Steven Candy Kitchens Inc., was a farm wife in 1921 when she started the very successful, nationwide firm that manufactured and distributed her Mrs. Steven's Candies. 

Mrs. Steven's Candies proved a very popular item in Chicago for several generations. Her three-pound box that sold for a dollar made it possible during the Depression for people with marginal incomes to purchase a quality box of chocolates. 

"Her candy eventually sold through 22 retail stores and 800 outlets across the country. Mrs Krafft was born on a farm near Wayne, growing up in a log cabin there. After grammar school, she attended Ellis Business College in Elgin. After working for a while as an office manager at a threadwork in Elgin, she married Leslie Steven and lived on a farm. They were later divorced, but she kept the name for her candy. 

"Looking for a second income to help out, she followed a friend's advice and started making fudge. She found an outlet, a drugstore in the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad station and began selling as much candy as she could make. She left the farm, and with $1,000 in capital set up her business in Chicago, selling candy out of a drugstore in the Chicago & North Western station. Her business and cooking abilities came together in the company that continued to expand until she sold the company in 1956."


Buster said...

I want one of those "exclusive 'Dali' design" ties that they were touting. I think something like this:,1000_QL80_.jpg

...would be just the thing for a holiday gathering.

Don Hilton said...

Good for Mrs. Stevens.

My kids never bought me socks.

Never bought me much of nothing, really. Whenever they asked what I wanted for my Birthday, Christmas, Father's Day, I'd say, "Just be nice to me and change my diaper when I'm old."

I sure hope the remember!

Anonymous said...

That's ironic about those ties.That "Dali" design is the name of that cargo ship that crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore earlier this week.

Harrison Baumbaugh said...

1951 was a top year for the city. Every business was booming. There was not a vacant store from loop to 28th and there to Grove Ave.I remember as I used to do a count from the back seat of the family Packard.