Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Lighthouse’s 100th

The view from Hot Waters this past Sunday afternoon
Well, the big 100th Anniversary celebration of the Lorain Lighthouse is this week, with the dedication of a Historical Marker this Friday, June 30, 2017 at 11:00 am at the mile-long pier on the east side. There's also a special presentation down at the Lorain Historical Society that evening (more on that at the end of this post).

It's a big day for the city of Lorain, and the media coverage should do wonders to attract some tourists this summer.

But for me, though, it means I’ve run out of time.

Back in March, I began searching old newspaper microfilm to hopefully locate an ad or article about the original dedication of the lighthouse. It bugs me that I've never seen any newspaper coverage from the early days of the Lighthouse. Unfortunately, despite my hours of squinting at microfilm from 1917 – 1919, I failed to shine a light on any lighthouse dedication.

While reading old newspaper microfilm at the library, I thought it was interesting reviewing some of the coverage from July 1965, when it was first announced that the Lighthouse was to be demolished.  “Historic Lighthouse To Be Torn Down” was the headline splashed across the top of page 17 (!) of the Journal on July 12, 1965. The article matter-of-factly noted that “One of Lorain’s most venerable landmarks, the old Lorain Coast Guard-operated lighthouse situated on the tip of the west break wall, is scheduled to be torn down late this year in connection with the $22 million federally-sponsored harbor improvement program begun in 1962.”

From Gene Patrick’s
Passing Scene
An editorial the next day observed, “If this must be, then farewell, old friend.” It included a few suggestions as to how the lighthouse could be put to use if it was saved – as a museum, restaurant or as headquarters for the Lorain Yacht Club. The editorial noted that “there is still time to save the lighthouse, and the time for those interested to start action is now.”

Thank goodness it was saved. (You can read the whole story of how it was saved here on the Lorain Lighthouse Foundation website.)

Anyway, Valerie Smith of the Lorain Public Library will present "Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Lorain Lighthouse” on Friday evening, June 30th at 7:00 p.m. down at the Lorain Historical Society's Carnegie Center.

It's a wonderful thing that Lorain still has its lighthouse a hundred years later, and that the beloved landmark is finally the star of a big celebration.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Clash of the Burger Titans

It’s been a while, but I’ve featured Sandy’s many times on this blog over the years. The Scottish-themed hamburger chain with Thrift ’N Swift service held the Grand Opening of its Meister Road location in the Lorain Plaza Shopping Center back on June 18th - 20th of 1965.

Since Sandy’s was so close to where we lived, it was the hamburger chain that my family patronized –although it was a rare treat. The nearest McDonald’s was down on West Erie Avenue, and consequently we only caught a glimpse of it on the way to Lakeview Park. (We never passed it when we went to Vermilion, as we always took the short cut via W. 21st Street.)

Since the McDonald’s on West Erie Avenue had opened in June 1960, however, it had a five year head start in Lorain on Sandy’s, which had some catching up to do.

Thus it’s not too surprising to see the section of the restaurants page of the June 24, 1965 Lorain Journal above. Note the ads of the two strange burger bedfellows, right next to each other: recently-opened Sandy’s (with its large ad featuring the winsome Miss Sandy) and McDonald’s (with the now forgotten, bizarre Archy McDonald in a puny ad).

Despite the sex appeal of Miss Sandy, however, McDonald’s eventually won the battle – conquering Hardee’s (the successor of Sandy’s) and even taking over the chain’s location on Meister Road. Today, only a few grizzled local Baby Boomers (like me) even remember that Sandy’s was ever there.

But hold on to your french fries – there’s a rematch of sorts about to happen.

A Hardee’s is planned for Avon as part of a proposed Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores truck stop complex on Chester Road. Its neighbor? None other than McDonald’s.

Click here to visit a terrific, unofficial Sandy's website with tons of links to great vintage photos of store restaurants. Click here to explore three pages of Sandy's memorabilia, such as original napkins, cups and ads!

Finally, be sure to visit the website, which includes a page devoted entirely to former Sandy's restaurants!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Lay’s New Era Potato Chips

I’ve written about potato chips (a weakness of mine) a few times on this blog over the years, usually discussing local favorite Arvay’s Potato Chips.

Well, here’s an article about a popular potato chip brand – New Era Potato Chips – that was gobbled up by Lay’s (which at the time did not yet have its own signature brand).

The story, which ran in the advertising pages of the June 28, 1965 Lorain Journal, tells the tale of how Lays decided to add its name to the package as sort of a transitional effort to rebrand the product. The article is basically publicity for well-known distributor Pete DeSantis, but it's interesting just the same.

If you’re interested in advertising (as I am), then it’s always fascinating to watch how a product become popular, and then – at the height of its success – is often acquired by a competitor, or perhaps a company that has no similar product and wishes to get into the market. The product is then co-branded for a while before it is wholly absorbed into the acquiring company, which grinds the original brand (in this case, New Era) into so many crushed potato chip crumbs to be discarded.

In this case, however, it seems New Era may have made a nostalgic comeback in its native Detroit. The forgotten brand was apparently purchased by Better Made Potato Chips, which occasionally cranks up a batch of New Era for local distribution. Click here for the story.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Cristiani-Wallace Circus Comes to Lorain – June 23, 1965

Right after my post last week about the Adam Forepaugh and Sells Brothers Circus visiting Lorain in July 1901, I received an email from local historian and blog contributor Dennis Thompson. Dennis sent me a great vintage poster (above) announcing the impending appearance of the Cristiani-Wallace Brothers Circus in Lorain.

Dennis wrote, "Here is an old poster I found a few years ago featuring a circus at Kew Gardens. If you search for the circus name, you can find some information.”

Although there was a month and day (Wednesday, June 23) on the poster, there was no year. But after researching the circus, and knowing when the Kew Gardens project had come to an end, Dennis figured it out.

"June 23 was a Wednesday on 1948 and 1954, both too early for the circus,” noted Dennis. "Looks like they added the "Wallace Bros" in 1961 after the Kew Gardens were razed. I guess they used the empty lot, it would have been a good spot I think.

"Their 1962 and 1963 schedules are online but no Lorain. Nineteen sixty-five was another year when June 23rd was a Wednesday; that’s probably when they were there.”

Indeed it was 1965 when the circus came to town. A series of small ads in the Journal promoted its appearance, as well as several articles.
June 18, 1965 ad from the Lorain Journal
The first article (which ran June 21, 1965) revealed that the Lorain Youth Center – the organization that had brought the circus to town – had generously voted to a portion of the advance sale price of the tickets to the Carl Baker Hospital Fund campaign being staged by the Lorain Emergency Police. (Lorain Emergency Policeman Carl Baker had been shot the previous February during a robbery and the fund was set up to help him with the monumental hospital and surgical bills.)

The article also provided a nice description of the circus, with Lorain Emergency Police Chief John Sauer noting, “Some of the finest circus acts in the world are going to be here in Lorain.”

A second article appeared on the front page on June 23, 1965, on the day of the circus – 52 years ago today. It provides some nice behind-the-scenes information about the circus. It had left Mansfield that morning and rolled into town around 7 a.m. By 8 o’clock all the tents had been pitched.

A final look at the circus in the Journal occurred on the day after the event with a few cute photos appearing on the front page.
From the June 24, 1965 Lorain Journal

Thursday, June 22, 2017

George May Ford Ad – June 23, 1965

Here's an interesting ad for George May Ford, which I mentioned here on the blog a few times this year. The ad for the Kansas Avenue dealership – which ran in the Lorain Journal on June 23, 1965 – reveals a pretty creative (and adult) approach to lure customers into the new car showroom.

A "Champagne Weekend" was the theme, with sparkling champagne offered to adult shoppers. Music was provided by Barney Freeman and the Jetones, and Jackie Rancourt was the pretty hostess for the event.

The Cleveland Memory Project had a photo of Bill "Smoochie" Gordon and Jackie Rancourt on the "One O'Clock Club" on WEWS Channel 5 back in 1959. I'm not sure if she was a guest or regular co-host.

As for Barney Freeman and the Jetones, it appears that they enjoyed regional success in Northeast Ohio in the 1960s, and that the whole Freeman family was talented musically. Barney Freeman passed away in 2013.
Anyway, it's interesting to see such a sophisticated gimmick employed locally back in the 1960s. I wonder if the sales effort was successful?
Nowadays, it seems like too many car commercials are designed to annoy potential customers with their loud, unfunny banter – making the whole process unappealing. The idea of enjoying an adult beverage while car shopping, as well as some entertainment, sounds like it would be a welcome relief.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Camp Iss-See-Kes Article – June 24, 1965

It's officially summer now, and for many local children back in the 1960s that meant it was time for the annual summer fun at Camp Iss-See-Kes.

The full page article written by Doug Warren above ran in the Lorain Journal on June 24, 1965. The article provides a look at what the YMCA camp was like in 1965, as well as a nice history of it.

I first wrote about Camp Iss-See-Kes and its iconic sign back here in 2013.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Naval Armory Article – June 20, 1947

Back in June 1947, Lorain was getting ready for the construction of the new naval reserve armory at 1840 Cleveland Boulevard on Lorain’s east side near Longfellow School. The article above appeared on the front page of the Lorain Journal on June 20, 1947 – 70 years ago today.

The article is interesting in that it features photographs of intricately assembled scale models of the proposed building.

Here’s a photo of the completed building, courtesy of the Lorain Historical Society.

The Morning Journal published a good article about the armory (and the controversy about the mast of the U. S. S. Arizona) back here in 2016.
And back in 2014, I posted a full-page 1956 Journal article about the classrooms inside the armory here.

The 2016 Morning Journal article states that the building was torn down in 1980. It’s a shame, because it was yet another piece of Lorain’s strong nautical past that was lost to the ages.