Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Ford Mustang Goes on Sale to the Public – April 17, 1964

Courtesy Motorcities.org
On this day back in 1964, the production Ford Mustang went on sale to the public. Henry Ford II himself unveiled the car at the 1964 New York World's Fair on April 17, 1964. (Click here for a great article with photos about that event.)

Maybe that's why the ad above for George May Ford, which ran in the Journal on April 16, 1964, doesn't even show a photo of one. Instead, we have a cowboy on a wild mustang.

"The mustang is at the George May Showroom. Not a wild horse, but wild horsepower from Ford," reads the ad copy. "But George May isn't making a production out of it; he's just letting you see for yourself the wild styling... and he is serving refreshments.

"You're all invited... you'll see... in person, a gun-toting cowboy and his horse... plus our model cowgirl hostess."

It all sounds like a lot of fun on a special day.

As a member of an Olds family, I've never been a Ford fan – but it's impossible not to love the look of the Mustang.


Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Fisher Food Ads – April 1964

Sixty years ago this month, the 1964 New York World's Fair opened. (You can read about it and see some great photos here on the NYC Parks website).

Naturally, the Fair provided opportunities for promotional tie-ins with businesses. You can see one above in an ad for Fisher Foods that ran in the Lorain Journal on April 1, 1964, that was a joint effort by the grocery store chain and the Cleveland Zoo.

As the ad copy notes, "Each year, along with the lions, tigers, the elephants, monkeys and the reptiles, the Cleveland Zoo is stocked with several species of the more common domestic animals which are equally interesting to children, among the, pigs, lambs and calves which are corralled in the zoo's Red Barn Yard. It's a famous stop on the miniature railroad at the zoo.

"We at Fisher Foods take pride in presenting these animals to the Zoo this year for the pleasure of you, yours and thousands of children who will be zoo visitors."

(Let's hope the animals that were donated weren't shrink-wrapped cuts and chops suitable for roasting.)

So what was the contest? Kids could win a trip for 4 to the New York World's Fair just for naming 3 pigs or 3 lambs at the Cleveland Zoo's Red Barn Yard and writing one sentence explaining "Why I want to visit the Cleveland Zoo this summer." There were 10 prizes in all: 2 for the World's Fair and 8 Second Prizes consisting of a day at Cedar Point.

The fine print of the contest rules stipulate to "be sure to give appropriate names to males and females." It's kind of sneaky that there's a female piggy in the middle of the porcine trio. I'm not sure if my entry – "Hammy, Spammy and Sammy" – would work.

Likewise, just to throw the kids off, there's a boy lamb centrally placed in the woolly threesome. 

Feel free to suggest names for the Mutton Trio in the comment section. (Sorry, no Greyhound Bus trip to New Yawk for the winner this time.)

****
Fisher Foods also mentioned the contest a week later in its April 8, 1964 ad. But good old Chief Wahoo and the Cleveland Indians ticket promotion dominates this time.
That's a nice rendering of the Indians' beloved mascot.

****

I combed through the Journal's online archives but was unable to locate the names of the New York World's Fair contest winners or their monikers for the two meaty trios. Sorry!

Monday, April 15, 2024

Hot Dog! Dog 'N Suds Better Than Ever in 2024!

Dog 'N Suds has only been open for about two weeks, and I've already been there twice. Its strong presence on Facebook has got me trained like a docile doggie to keep coming back.

On April 2nd, Opening Day, I carried out my meal because rain was in the forecast. It was just overcast while I was there, but by the time I was on Route 2 heading home, the expected torrential downpour came. (By the way, the cute car-hop unintentionally made my delicious Texas Burger & Fries a theme dinner by wearing cowboy boots.)

It was perfect weather for my second visit, this past Saturday for lunch. My chili dog (hold the onions) and root beer were picture perfect too – and I'm not woofin'. The service was great too.

I think the chili dog was quite possibly the best I'd ever had there. The chili sauce was sweet and meaty, the same as always, but nice and thick. And the root beer in the frosted mug was perfect as well. I didn't even mind when some ice flaked off the mug and dropped onto my car seat, providing my Hyundai Venue its baptism of fast food fire, and curing me of new-car-itis.

Anyway, Ilene's Dog 'N Suds on North Ridge Road is the only one in Ohio now, and one of only 20 locations in the whole country! So get out there and support an iconic Lorain County business.
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I've been writing about Dog 'N Suds on this blog since 2009. Many posts were dedicated to trying to determine when it actually opened. 
A few years ago, I finally figured out that it originally opened around the fall of 1963, remained open in 1964 but seemed to have been shuttered during 1965. Then in the summer of 1966, it reopened as Eckstein's Dog 'N Suds.
Grand Opening Ad from Lorain Journal, July 1, 1966
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Years ago, you had to be a real bloodhound to track down Dog 'N Suds memorabilia in antique shops and flea markets. I used to collect a few items, and still have a vintage wrapper somewhere in my files. 
But a quick check on eBay reveals a veritable coney-dog-copia of Dog 'N Suds mugs for sale. 
I wonder if any (the ones with Rover the mascot) are from the early August 1966 theft of 24 mugs from the Oberlin Dog 'N Suds drive-in on Route 58 by a, er, cat burglar?
There are other Dog 'N Suds items on eBay as well, including a paper cup, a place mat and a free root beer card.

The place mat notes that at that time, there were more than 500 locations! With a mere twenty now, it's all the more reason to support our Dog 'N Suds in Lorain County.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Lorain City Hall That Might Have Been – April 8, 1964

Lorain City Hall has been a recurring topic on this blog. Why? Because I'm old enough to remember the old Lorain City Hall, located in an aging, run-down mansion (with the Civil Defense Tower behind it). Its eventual demolition and replacement by the current one has been explored in many blog posts.

We've even debated the attractiveness of the present City Hall. Some commenters like it. I'm not a fan; I think it looks horribly dated and is a poor symbol of a city that is trying to reinvent itself and make a comeback. 

(Maybe I don't like it because the only time I ever go in there is to pay a speeding ticket or go to court.)

Anyway, I was very surprised to see the article and photo below, which appeared in the April 8, 1964 edition of the Journal. The proposed design of the new City Hall is very different from what was eventually built.

This design was estimated to cost less than a million in 1964. According to the article, "The proposed new building would have six floors and a basement. It would be 80 x 80 foot in size, and contain 45,000 square feet of office space.

"The top floor would house a new jail and some the mechanical equipment. Prisoners would be able to have outdoor exercise on the rooftop under the supervision of guards.
"Reflecting pools would flank either side of the front entrances."
Fast forward to July 1971, seven years later. A new City Hall design is unveiled (see below). This one is originally estimated at $8.7 million, but with elimination of some elements, such as underground parking, the hope is that it would only cost about $5 million. (Yikes! That's $38 million in today's inflated greenbacks!)

From July 22, 1971 Journal 
I have no idea what the final cost was, but I kind of wish they had built the 1964 version. Strangely enough, in this era where every new restaurant has a boxy design, the 1964 version of City Hall would look less dated.
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The location for the new Lorain City Hall was also the subject of a debate by city officials in April 1964. An argument was made for building the new City Hall in a central location, specifically at W. 20th and Elyria Avenue, to better serve the citizens of Lorain. There was also an expectation that with harbor improvements, the port would be so busy that the Bascule Bridge would need to be replaced with a high level bridge; as the result, the new City Hall would end up under it at its west end.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Cedar Point's New Rides – April 1964

Vintage postcard of Cedar Point Millrace

Cedar Point
may not be the top-ranked amusement park today when it comes to attendance or public polls, but it will always be No. 1 in the hearts of those who visited it during the 1960s and 70s. It was during that time period that the park introduced many beloved rides that helped transform Cedar Point from the rundown resort of the 1950s to the popular thrill center it is today.

The 1964 season was a big one for Cedar Point, as noted in the article below, which appeared in the Journal back on April 9, 1964. 

Vintage postcard of Millrace with Blue Streak
in background
It notes, "At least five new rides, representing an investment of more than $600,000 will greet visitors on opening day.

"Heading the list will be a $200,000 roller coaster named the "Blue Streak" which will be 2,400 feet in length and starts out with an 80-foot climb. It replaces the Cyclone which was dismantled 12 years ago.

"Other new rides are the Calypso, a circulating and tilting sensation, the Broadway Trip, which takes passengers on a ride through a three-level dark enclosure, and a French Frolic a swinging ride, which is also being installed at the New York World's Fair.

"Among the rides which has proved a favorite and installed 10 days prior to last year's closing was the Millrace.

The article also notes that "a number of new animated features have been added to the route of the narrow-gauge Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad which operates two trains with four cars each, including a caboose added for the new season."

In case you're wondering what the Calypso was like, here's a nice YouTube video to dizzily remind you.

It's hard not to get overwhelmed with nostalgia thinking about the Cedar Point of the 1960s and 70s. I have many memories about our visits to the park as a family: going to the Millrace first (and getting wet to start the day, much to Mom's annoyance); visiting Jungle Larry's Safari Island; the (long-gone) Pirate and Earthquake Rides; dinner at the Silver Dollar; riding in the Cadillac Cars (a decade before getting a real driver's license); an evening ride on the Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad; and a nighttime view of the park from the Space Spiral.

Happy Days.
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Cedar Point has been a topic on this blog many times. In fact, my 3-part post on "Visions of Cedar Point 1966" is my sixth most visited post of all time.


Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Amherst Houses Demo'd for Service Station – April 10, 1964

Service stations are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Why is this? 
According to a Forbes article written by Elie Y. Katz from January 2022, "Consumers and business owners are facing challenging times at gas stations across the nation. Due to the pandemic, people are making fewer trips to the gas station. 
"The number of people working at home has skyrocketed, and with no commute, they don’t need service stations as often as they did in the past. With the remote working trend likely to continue in the immediate and possibly long-term future, the need for gas will likely not increase. There has also been a decrease in family vacations, which means fewer vehicles fueling up for long road trips. 
"Finally, the federal government’s encouragement of the adoption of hybrid and electric vehicles, by default, disadvantages gas stations. All of this adds up to very small profit margins, an average of 1.4%, or $0.05-$0.07 a gallon."
And yet there was a time when there were gas stations at every major intersection in a city. (Meister Road and Oberlin Avenue in Lorain is a good example, with a gas station on three out of four corners.)
But stations weren't always built on empty, available farmland. In smaller cities, they had to muscle their way in among homes that had been there for decades. So there was a cost: a lot of fine, old houses had to go.
The photo below from the April 19, 1965 Journal shows this process in action in Amherst.
The caption notes, "This shovel went into operation this week in Amherst at Cleveland and Lincoln streets on the northeast corner as workmen started to wreck the first of two houses shown in this picture. The first house was demolished Wednesday, and yesterday the razing of the house shown in the background commenced.
"The two residences are being removed to clear a site for a new Atlantic service station, the second new station to be built on the north side of Cleveland Ave., close to the downtown section."
I'm not sure how long the station was in operation, but today an insurance company occupies the location.
Amherst has a similar situation a little to the east on the corner of Cleveland and Spring Street. Who could have guessed back in the 1960s that these stations located in old-time neighborhoods would eventually close?
I remember what my college buddy Hoob (who worked for BP America) told me back in the 1980s: "We make more money selling chips and beer at these stations than we do selling gasoline."

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Meet Burton Frye – Poet and Steelworker

I admire people who march to the beat of their own drum. These nonconformists live their life the way they want, without worrying about what other people think – and are probably happier for it.

It sounds like Burton Frye was that kind of person. How else would you describe someone who was a published poet that lived in Lorain, worked at the steel mill, and embarked on a 500-mile bike trek to draw attention to the preservation of the historic home of his idol, American poet Vachel Lindsay?

Above is the story about Frye that appeared in the Lorain Journal on April 13, 1954.

The article notes, "A Phi Beta Kappa steelworker turned part-time poet and ballad singer today launched a 500-mile bicycle trip to help save the historic home of America's "vagabond poet," Vachel Lindsay.

"Using the example of the roving poet who traveled across America on foot and read his verses for his board and lodging, Burton James Frye, 30, 610 Lakeside Avenue, plans to "read my way" to Springfield, Ill.

"There, in the home now occupied by Lindsay's sister, Mrs. Olive Lindsay Wakefield, Frye will end his journey. The house, more than 100 years old, is next door to the Illinois Governor's mansion. It will eventually be destroyed, Frye said, unless enough money is raised to preserve and repair it.

"The Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Miami University is a clerk at National Tube Company's Lorain plant.

"Frye, known locally as "The Moonsinger," has scheduled stops at the Cleveland Public Library, Western Reserve Campus, Oberlin College and Carl Miller's bookshop, Sandusky.

"At each stop he will read selection of Lindsay's poetry.

"He said he would refuse all offers of cash on this trip, but would accept food and lodging.

"Two years ago, Frye, author of three books of poetry, raised $1,200 to paint the Lindsay home.

"A native of Huron, Ohio, Frye will have his fourth book published in September by the American Weave Press. It is called "Moonsinger."

It sounds like Frye completed his bike journey – and promptly set even more goals in his quest to save the Lindsay home, according to this article from the Sandusky Register of July 28, 1954. 

It notes, "Burton Frye, a native of Huron and graduate of Margaretta High school, has a long and winding road ahead of him before he reaches his goal but he has two victories in sight, he told friends and relatives here during a brief visit to the city.

"Frye, a poet, ballad singer and Lorain steel worker, has two immediate goals. One, to hike from Boston to San Francisco. Two, save the birthplace of Vachel Lindsay in Springfield, Ill., as a national shrine to the late troubadour-poet.

"For many years, Frye stated, Mrs. Olive Lindsay Wakefield, sister of the late poet, attempted to preserve the home but is now 77 years old and almost penniless after a period in a hospital. She told the former Erie-co resident this spring when he rode to Springfield on a bicycle that she may be forced to sell the home in order to raise funds on which to live.

"Harry Albacker [featured on this blog many times], nationally known magician and medium, has joined Frye in the campaign. On Dec. 5, the birthday of the poet, Albacker and 75 members of the Brotherhood of American Mediums will travel to Springfield and attempt to contact the spirit of Lindsay, who formerly toured the nation reciting his poems and singing ballads.

Finally, this article from the Edinburg Courier of September 28, 1954, describes how Frye spent the summer. 

It notes, "A Lorain, O., steelworker turned troubadour tramped around the nation during the summer to interest Americans in the restoration of the home of the poet, Vachel Lindsay, in Springfield, Ill.

"Every summer, Burton leaves his work at the steel mills and follows the open road with a guitar and a knapsack over his shoulder, singing the ballads of the country and its folk wherever he stops.

"Burton sleeps beneath the sky, in parks, and sometimes in barns on his jaunts. His food is milk and bread; his clothing a corduroy shirt and rumpled grey trousers and he hasn't a care in the world.

"His fiancee in Lorain, O., wants him to quit troubadouring and enter the real estate business but Burton said: "I want all the real estate, the whole country, the sky."

****

Frye later married Virginia Chapin, who was a poet herself. Between the two of them, they published an impressive number of books of poetry. 

Image courtesy SanduskyHistory.blogspot.com
And what of Vachel Lindsay's historic home? 

Frye was undoubtedly happy that the house was sold to a non-profit foundation by Lindsay's heirs, and opened as a museum in 1960. Click here to visit the Vachel Lindsay Home page on the HistoricIllinois.gov website.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Total Eclipse 1970

Well, today's the long-awaited day of the total solar eclipse! Are you ready?

I hadn't even thought about getting glasses to see it, since I get off work at 3:00 and figured I would be in my car driving home from work when 'zero hour' hits. But on Saturday, during my stop at the Lorain Public Library, an employee kindly fixed me with an official pair of LPL glasses. So I'm probably going to loiter in the parking lot of my place of employment for twenty minutes to be part of the hoopla. 

After all, this might be one of those "Where were you?" moments in our life. 

I've been asked a few times about the 1970 total eclipse. My memory of it is a little fuzzy (I was 11 at the time). I remember being on the side of the house with the little box I made, with a pinhole in it. How did I know how to make it? Maybe it was featured in "Cappy Dick."

Anyway, for those of you who weren't born yet in 1970, as well as those who wonder how the media covered it back then, here's the front page of the Lorain Journal of March 8, 1970. I like how the headline makes reference to 2024. It sure seems futuristic in that context!

And here's the continuation of the front page story.

I know we had saved that particular newspaper for a while. But when I checked the large plastic container full of crumbling Journals that my parents saved, it was not to be found.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Getting Ready for Total Eclipse 1970

Fifty-four years ago – just like now – Lorain County was getting ready for a total solar eclipse.

Unlike now, however, back then we weren't in the path of totality. This map, which appeared in the Lorain Journal back on March 6, 1970, shows the swath cut by the total eclipse through five Southeastern states.

As the article notes, "Tomorrow, millions of Americans will witness an event that would have plunged our ancient ancestors into panic – the awesome spectacle of a total darkening of the sun.

"The Moon will pass between the Earth and the Sun. The shadow cast by the Moon will bring mid-day darkness to a 100-mile-wide strip from Northern Florida's Apalachee Bay to Norfolk, Va., and Massachusetts' Nantucket Island.
"A total solar eclipse is a cosmic coincidence in which the distances between the Earth, Moon and Sun cause the 2,160-mile-diameter Moon to block out most of the 864,000-mile-diameter Sun as seen from certain portions of the Earth. All that remains visible is a pearly white, irregular ring which is the sun's outer atmosphere, or corona. This is the only time that this part of the Sun can be seen."
Looking directly at the sun is a bad idea at any time, but especially dangerous during an eclipse. Here's the safety warning that appeared in the Journal on March 5, 1970.
The only memory I have of the 1970 event is that I made a pinhole project box so that I could safely see the solar eclipse. (No freebie glasses given away back then). I can't remember if it worked very well.
It's interesting that the Chinese originally thought that an eclipse was caused by a dragon eating the sun. That belief is explored in the article below, which appeared in the Journal on March 6, 1970.



Thursday, April 4, 2024

David J. Howat, 1972 - 2024

I was saddened to learn recently that David J. Howat had passed away. (Here's the link to his obituary). Although I never met him in person, we exchanged many emails over the years about topics related to my blog, and I came to feel like I knew him. And he was a very nice guy.

David first reached out to me back in 2017, when he was looking for pictures of Woolworth’s and Harvest House cafeteria at Midway Mall. I provided a few leads for him, including the name of the last manager of Harvest House before it closed, as well as a woman who was a waitress at Woolworth’s. David was extremely grateful, and regularly updated me with news of his progress towards his goal. 


He next turned his attention to the old Westgate Mall in Lorain. This eventually led to his quest to acquire an old Fazio’s sign from the former store there. It took him several years and a lot of effort, but in the end he was successful. (I wrote about this in a two-part post here and here.)


As a collector and nostalgia buff, I came to admire David’s enthusiasm and persistence as he went about trying to obtain some item of interest to him. And it paid off. In one email, he noted, “I've acquired a huge collection of Pick-N-Pay memorabilia and I am going to have it put in a shadow box and displayed somewhere in my house. I also have a ton of Woolworth’s memorabilia, as well as some Fazio's memorabilia.”


So why did he collect all this stuff? It think it reminded him of happy days. 


As David explained in an email, “I do not know if it's a good or bad thing, but I am very sentimental and I try to hold onto memories as long as I can. The memories I have – from shopping at Pick-N-Pay in the 70's with Mom as a little kid, to spending the whole day at Midway Mall – are things that I will always cherish. 


My sincere condolences to David’s family and friends.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

On Area Movie Screens – April 3, 1954

There's plenty of things of interest on this movie page from the Lorain Journal of April 3, 1954 – seventy years ago today. 

Reaffirming my observation that Lorain moviegoers loved the Bowery Boys, there's two of their movies on the big screen : Paris Playboys (1954) at the Ohio, and Loose in London (1953) at the Tower Drive-in.

I've mentioned before how our first exposure to the Bowery Boys movies was on Sunday mornings in the mid-1970s on Channel 43 (billed as the Dead End Kids). Soon my brothers and I were walking around with baseball caps with the brim turned up, trying to work up a good vocal imitation of Huntz Hall's "Sach" character. "Hey Chief!"

What really leaps out at me on the page is the article and photo of Judy Holliday, as well as the ad for her movie It Should Happen to You! at the Tivoli. She was such a pretty and appealing actress, with a natural flare for comedy and an irresistible vulnerability. It's so sad that she had such a short career, passing away in 1965.

It's odd to see future Rat Pack member Peter Lawford as the male lead in It Should Happen to You! The movie also is the first for actor Jack Lemmon.
Surprisingly, there aren't too many Westerns playing. There's Gun Fury with Rock Hudson and Donna Reed at the Avon Lake Theater.
Conquest of Cochise was at the Tower Drive-in, and The Great Sioux Uprising with Jeff Chandler (who's always good) at the Grove. GRIT-TV does a Jeff Chandler marathon once in a while.
Grandma Brady's favorite actor, Robert Taylor, was in Above and Beyond, also at the Tower Drive-in.

Elsewhere on the same page are ads for Castle-on-the-Lake, Vians, and Avon Isle Park.



Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Donald Duck Orange Juice Squeezed Out of the Picture

Everyone's familiar with Walt Disney's famous cartoon character Donald Duck. Thanks to his comical temper tantrums, during which he quacks angrily (and unintelligibly), the sailor-suit-wearing waterfowl is arguably more popular than Mickey Mouse.

Well, here's something that's really going to ruffle Donald's feathers: his same-named orange juice – first introduced in 1940 – has been quietly discontinued. 

It disappeared from shelves in the Lorain area more than a month ago – first the cartons (available at Fligner's) and then the small bottles at Dollar Tree. An online search showed that it had been available at Walmart, but was out of stock.

Since Donald Duck Orange Juice was my favorite, I contacted Florida's Natural Growers, the manufacturer, to ask where I could find it.

A Consumer Affairs representative responded. "Unfortunately, we have discontinued our line of Donald Duck products, including the Donald Duck Orange Juice No Pulp, Donald Duck Orange Juice with Pulp, Donald Duck Orange Juice with Calcium, Donald Duck Apple Juice, Donald Duck Kiwi Strawberry Juice Cocktail and Donald Duck Fruit Punch Juice Cocktail. 

"This elimination of Donald Duck products was undertaken in order to focus on our flagship Florida’s Natural brand of juices, lemonades and drinks as well as other existing and emerging brands in our portfolio," she concluded.

Ah, there is no joy in Duckburg tonight.

Anyway, I first wrote about Donald Duck Orange Juice here and here. It had been one of the longest running products featuring a popular, licensed character. Most of all, it tasted good. But for Florida's Natural, eliminating the product was probably a way to save a lot of money. 

And so a mighty brand ducks out.

****

Do you start your day with a glass of orange juice? I do, but it wasn't always like that. 

When I was a kid, orange juice was something we only had on Sunday mornings, along with a Sara Lee coffee cake or Hough Bakeries k├╝chen. And it was always the frozen, canned variety. But later, after I came home from Ohio State (where we had it every day at breakfast in the dormitory cafeteria), Mom started buying it regularly for me. And she and Dad drank it everyday from then on.

I've had house guests who preferred freshly squeezed (something I only did once in my life). I actually like the concentrate version better myself. As long as the container has a picture of an orange on it, I'll drink it. 

Guess I'll have to find another brand now. Hey, maybe I should consider the longtime choice of Der Bingle.