Friday, August 18, 2017

The Passing Scene – August 6, 1966

To finish out this third week of August, here's yet another edition of Gene Patrick's "Passing Scene" comic strip that ran in the Lorain Journal back in the 1960s and 70s. This strip appeared in the paper on August 6, 1966 and is a little timely in view of what's going on in Lorain right now, school-wise.

In addition to recent U.F.O. sightings, the comic acknowledges the Lorain City Schools having recently hired Dr. Joseph F. Calta to be the Superintendent. Dr. Calta would have the job from 1965 - 1975. (You can read more about Dr. Calta and his long career in the Lorain school system here.)

Some younger blog readers may not recognize Dr. Calta's dropping into the car as a parody of the old Hertz commercial below.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

“Coffee at 10” in Elyria – August 1947

Elyria was in the news lately as it celebrated the 200th anniversary of its founding, so maybe it’s a good time for this post. It features an article that appeared in the Lorain Journal on August 14, 1947 – 70 years ago this month – and it’s about a topic dear to my heart: coffee.

The article, written by Rhea Soper Eddy, examines the fondness of Elyria’s business community back then for taking mid-morning coffee breaks at local eating establishments. The story also includes a little history of a restaurant run by brothers John and Spero Valassis.

‘It’s Coffee at 10’ For Folks in Elyria
Brothers Recall ‘Good Old Days’ When Prices Were
Lower; Eating Habits Changed


ELYRIA – Instead of “cocktails at 5” it’s “breakfast at 10” here in this county-seat.

Unlike some of the larger communities with their swanky afternoon cocktail hour, when friends meet to chat over an ice cold beverage which doesn’t necessarily have to be cocktails, many Elyrians declare recess around 10 a. m. and dash out for coffee and rolls.

Stop in at any of the many eating places around Elyria’s “square” and you’re lucky to find a place to sit down if it’s mid-morning.

“See you at So-and-So’s for coffee at 10” is a popular expression in this inland city, summer or winter. And that goes for office workers as well as the bosses.

Business As Usual
Of course, that doesn’t mean that offices and business places close just so the executives and their helpers can go out for a mid-morning snack. On the contrary, business goes on as usual, all taking turns at storing away a cup of coffee and a roll or doughnut sometime around 10 a. m.

According to John and Spero Valassis, brothers, who have operated an eating establishment on the square here since 1907, when most of their patrons were farmers who hitched their horses to posts out in front of the restaurant, many changes have taken place in man’s eating habits and the mid-morning snack is one of them.

But you cannot get either of the Valassis brothers to testify that the extra meal in the forenoon has anything to do with adding weight. In fact, they agree that most persons were even heavier back in the early 1900’s when they only ate three meals a day.

Eat More Salads
“Perhaps it’s because they eat more salads, fruits and non-fattening foods than they used to,” declared one of the restaurant partners.

“More likely it’s because they’re more weight-conscious and do more exercising,” contradicted the other.

At “breakfast at 10,” at one eating place here, 12 persons, both men and women, perched on stools at the counter, sipping coffee or soft drinks. The latter are substituted for the hot drink when the thermometer soars.

Occasionally a customer who is real hungry will add a roll or doughnuts. Many drink fruit juice along with coffee.

Population 6,000
Elyria was a mere infant back when the Valassis brothers started in the restaurant business in the same room they now occupy. The population then was less than 6,000.

But a more striking contrast than population are the food prices, then and now. According to the restaurant, eggs in those days sold at eight and nine cents a dozen, the best grade of country butter was obtainable at 16 cents a pound. You could buy bread at 2 1/2 cents a loaf, pork chops were 10 cents and steaks 15 cents a pound.

Is it any wonder they call them “the good old days."

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Before Route 611 Was Widened

Back in the 1990s, Colorado Avenue (Route 611) was widened from two to four lanes with a turning lane in the middle, from Abbe Road east to the I-90 interchange.

The widening drastically changed the look of that area and stole a lot of frontage from the properties. It literally paved the way for much of the development out that way.

It’s strange to think of how the Route 611 exit off I-90 used to be. For many years, there was nothing out there but that lonely Sohio station by the highway – with no traffic lights in sight.

Anyway, shortly after construction was underway, I brought my 35mm camera along for my commute and grabbed a few morning shots of the highway view that would soon disappear. (The Camp Wa-Hoo sign mentions "Saturday, April 23" so I guess that means that these photos are from April 1994.)

Colorado Avenue at Route 301, looking east
Colorado Avenue looking east just east of Route 301
Entrance to Camp Wa-Hoo with Colorado Avenue in the background
Colorado Avenue looking east as it approaches Miller Road
Colorado Avenue looking west from the parking lot of Lorrie’s Floral Shop (now a vapor lounge)
The Wa-Hoo Tavern sign (which was wrecked this year in a storm I believe) got me to wondering how long Camp Wa-Hoo has been out there. I checked city directories and phone books, and it appears that the campground opened sometime around 1972 or so.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Grand View Golf Course Ad – August 20, 1965

It’s interesting how golf is generating so much interest on this blog recently.

On Friday’s post about the former Spring Valley Golf Course, a reader named Todd asked about a Par-3 golf course that was located on Lake Road next to the old Roman Villa restaurant. He noted, "You paid in what in what I think was an old gas station and they gave you a club and two golf balls for your round. 

"The short holes if I remember correctly, went behind the station and Roman Villa's parking lot and maybe a motel. My uncle took me there when he was teaching me how to play. That would have been in the late 60s.

Regular blog contributor Rick Kurish provided a good answer. Rick wrote,"Although I do not personally remember the par 3 golf course you mentioned since I was not in the area during the 1965 to 1969 time frame, I did run across an ad for the course a couple of years ago.

"In the C-T of August 20, 1965 was an ad for the new Grand View Par 3 Golf Course. It was advertised as the only course in Lorain County that was lighted for night play and was located at 4881 West Erie Ave., between the Grand View Motel and Roman Villa Restaurant.

"I wondered how a golf course could have existed in such a small space and your description of the layout of the course explains it. I'm guessing that the course was a short lived attraction, since I drove by there every day in 1970 without noticing it.”

Here is the Chronicle-Telegram ad from August 20, 1965 that Rick mentioned.
As Rick noted, the course wasn’t there very long. It first appeared in the 1965 Lorain Telephone Company directory, and was gone by the time of the 1967 edition.
Here’s an aerial view of the Grand View Golf Course circa 1969, courtesy of the Historic Aerial website. You can kind of make out where the holes were located.

Today the former golf course is home to apartment complexes accessible from Fulmer Drive.
Vintage Arnold Palmer
Putting Courses sign
(Courtesy flickr)
For a little while in the 1960s, that stretch of West Erie Avenue was apparently a haven for golfers. 
A little bit to the west of Grand View on the same side of West Erie Avenue was the Arnold Palmer Putting Course at 5007 West Erie. It first appeared in the phone book in the November 1963 edition. 
But it too was gone by 1968. (Today, an apartment house complex occupies the location.)
Perhaps the Arnold Palmer Putting Course suffered from the same handicap as Grand View Golf Course, being just a little too far out there in-between Lorain and Vermilion – and inconvenient to get to for residents of both towns.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Lorain Crystal Ice Co. Article – August 14, 1947

Although it’s been rather nice weather-wise around Lorain lately, we did have our share of days in the low 90s earlier this summer.

Well, back in 1947 it was a very hot summer in Lorain with temperatures in the high 90s, with the result of an increased demand for ice. This was good news for the Lorain Crystal Ice Company.

Read all about it in the article below, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on August 14, 1947 – 70 years ago today.


Any Ice Today, Lady?
Lorain Firm Kept Busy
Heat Boosts Company’s Business; National Tube
Firm’s Best Customer During Torrid Wave

With that mercury flirting with the high 90’s, ice used in lemonade, tea and cold compresses has temporarily replaced bread as the staff of life in Lorain homes.

In many cases, however, the city’s refrigerators, already working overtime, are unable to cope with the demand for ice cubes. So Lorain housewives, always resourceful, are falling back on that old standby – the ice man.

The Lorain Crystal Ice company is distributing between 75 and 90 tons of ice daily to customers in this area, according to Paul Plato, general manager, who says it can’t get too hot to suit his firm.

The high for this summer, he added, was set last week when 98 tons were delivered in the company’s distributing area by its fleet of 22 trucks.

Traces Progress
Tracing the industry from its early days, when ice was cut from the lake in the winter, then stored to be sold in the summer, Plato told how ice deliveries once were made entirely by horse and wagon. He added:

“Horses had it rough, pulling thru the mud after a rain. The best route, in those days, was on Erie-av because it was Lorain’s only paved street.”

Charles Drescher, 1240 6th-st, an employe for 39 years and now superintendent of the drivers and John Toma, 1101 12th-st, the “ice-man who cometh" on the Broadway route and who’s been with the firm 27 years, also recalled those early days, commenting:

“No matter how many electric or gas refrigerators are installed or how many other modern devices are invented, it seems people still prefer ice for many household uses.”

Really Hot in 1921
In 1921, Plato recalled, Lorain experienced an ice shortage because of extremely hot weather. He said:

“That was a really hot time in Lorain; there just wasn’t enough ice to meet the demand.”

That can’t happen any more, he added, explaining that modern manufacturing methods produce a year-round supply faster than it can be consumed. A supply is kept in storage at all times for emergency purposes. The Lorain plant has a storage capacity of 3,000 pounds.

One of the novel innovations in which the local industry pioneered is the ice vending machine, claimed by Plato to be the only one in use in Lorain-co and, perhaps, all Ohio. Plato related:

“When a coin is placed in the slot, the ice falls thru an opening. Some times the gears clog so a buyer hits the jackpot, but generally it works fine.

Plant Best Customer
Ice made here – the Lorain plant employes 24 men – is “farmed” out to several other firms. Plato continued:

“Don’t think ice is limited in its uses. Why, our best customer here is the National Tube company, which uses it to cool water and for other purposes.”

Ice goes to hospitals, for ice packs, refrigeration  and to cool water; it is used by fruit dealers and fish markets and, of course, in night clubs and taverns.

As for the housewife who has her modern refrigerator, she uses ice too, Plato explained, stating:

“You just can’t beat ice for packing any kind of refreshment for the basket picnic or a trip to the ball game."

Friday, August 11, 2017

1920s Spring Valley Ads

Back in early July, I did a post about Rainbow Golf Gardens, Lorain’s “pitch and putt” golf course located near Lakeview park in the early 1930s.
That triggered an email from longtime blog contributor and researcher Rick Kurish.
Rick wrote, "Your blog the other day about the miniature golf course on West Erie Avenue adjacent to Lake View Park was interesting. I never knew that the popularity of miniature golf courses dates to the 1920s; I thought it all started with the Putt - Putt chain in the 1950s and 1960s. 
"Oh well, we Baby Boomers always thought that everything started with us! 
"Just for kicks, I did a little research and found that at the same time the Rainbow Golf Gardens were operating in Lorain, that there were also two miniature golf courses in Elyria and one in Amherst."
Rick’s email ended up being pretty timely.
"I also ran across several interesting ads for Spring Valley, which was being developed at about the same time,” Rick noted. "Since the once iconic course was sold a few years ago and is now being redesigned as the Valley of the Eagles Golf Resort, with a Nicklaus design. 
(You can read the Chronicle’s coverage of the opening of the new Valley of the Eagles Golf Resort here.)
But let’s get back to Spring Valley.
"I remember when it was THE course to play in the area,” reminisced Rick. "According to articles in the Chronicle - Telegram, the land for the course was purchased in 1925 and the first 9 holes opened in 1926 as a public course. 
"Within a year or two the course was expanded to 18 holes and became a private club. 
"The attached ads from June 1927 and April 1928 really push the "exclusivity" of the club and the associated home lots that were for sale. It would seem that golf was one of many "crazes" of the Roaring 20s.”
I never golfed at Spring Valley, but I did play there – during my "big band” days (which I’ll write about sooner or later) at a formal country club dance. I remember being impressed by the first class service provided by the attentive staff.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

"Wild Man" on the Loose in Kipton – August 1932

During the early 1930s, the Great Depression was underway – and many unfortunate citizens found themselves homeless in those terrible economic times.

That may or may not have been the contributing factor behind the above story of a "wild man" living in the woods near Kipton that appeared on the front page of the Lorain Journal on August 6, 1932.

It's kind of a sad story. The poor guy wasn't really bothering anybody. Plus, he was more of a hermit than a true “wild man” (the kind that you might see in a circus sideshow in the old days) or the medieval version (seen at right).

But the Sheriff and his deputies were after him just the same, and it livened up the front page of the Journal – 85 years ago this month.


UPDATE (August 11, 2017)
So what happened with the Sheriff and his posse? Did they throw a dragnet around the "wild man"? Rick Kurish has the answer.

As Rick noted, "Perhaps you already have this info, but since your blog today left a “wild man” loose in Lorain County, I decided to find the “rest of the story.”

"The story ended two days later, and was detailed in the C-T of August 8, 1932."

Here is the article (below). Note how there ended up being another wild man as well!

"Seems like a poor guy just down on his luck — like many others during the depression," wrote Rick. "I hope his story had a happy ending."