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."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Crazy Days in Downtown Lorain – August 1964

A few years ago I remember seeing a vintage postcard of Downtown Lorain from the late 1950s or 60s on which the sender had written that a “crazy sale” was currently taking place. I wondered at that time was a “crazy sale” entailed.

I thought of that postcard when I saw the half-page ad above, which appeared on page 2 of the Lorain Journal on Thursday, August 6, 1964. As you can see, the ‘crazy’ aspect was mainly in the low prices (referred to in the ads as ‘rummage sale’ prices).

The list of participating merchants includes many stores still familiar to Lorain residents.

What’s interesting to me about the ad is the liberal use of advertising clip art, especially the fellow with Beatle-like hair. The ad designer made sure that the eye caught the eye of Journal readers.

Anyway, on the same day the ad ran, the Journal ran the parade photo and caption below on the facing page. It features a few of the store merchants dressed in wacky outfits and perched on bicycles while holding up signs promoting the sale. The cute photo features Bob Raeburn of Fisher Brothers; Gus Sepulveda of Lynns; Art Lipsin of Jax Store for Men; Ted Jacobs of Ted Jacobs Inc.; and George Stemple of Harry’s Men’s Wear.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Thistle Building History

Thankfully, no lives were lost in the terrible fire that destroyed the Thistle Building over the weekend. Due to safety concerns regarding the structural integrity of the building, however, it will have to come down. (Here is the story.)

Thus, another piece of historic Downtown Lorain is lost.

What were some of the significant tenants in the building over the years? I turned to the city directories at the Lorain Public Library to find out.

It appears that before the 1924 Lorain Tornado, there was a Thistle Building at 676 Broadway as early as 1907. There were furnished rooms for rent and offices as well. A real estate company (Hayes-Francis) was at 700 Broadway.

Apparently, the tornado changed that arrangement.

By the time of the 1926 city directory (the next available book), the Thistle Block was now located at 700 Broadway. The main store tenant at that time was Geo. Clark Co., a jewelry store. Geo. Clark Co. would have a long run at that location, lasting until the mid-to-late 1940s – but another well-remembered Lorain business would be there even longer.

Also in the Thistle Building in that 1926 directory were various physicians, as well as the Knights of Pythias, who used the building's third floor auditorium as their hall for most of the 1930s. Later in the 1940s, the Boilermakers Union 358 would take over the third floor.

During the 1930s and 40s, other stores joined Geo. Clark Co. at 700 Broadway, including Jordan’s (a clothing store), and Aquila Bros (a meat market). Various doctors, lawyers and insurance agents continued to occupy the upstairs rooms.

By 1950, Geo. Clark Co. was out – and Harry’s Men’s Wear was in. Harry’s Grand Opening at the 700 Broadway location was in November 1950. Harry’s would continue to call that location home until around 1986.

Other businesses shared the 700 Broadway storefront with Harry’s in the 1950s, including Young Timer’s Shop. But during the 1960s, Harry’s had the address all to himself. Two beauty salons shared the address with Harry’s in the mid-1970s.

Sadly, the building was vacant around 1986 as Downtown Lorain continued to suffer its rapid decline. A few years later, a few new businesses – Bizcomp (1988), Ana Travel (1988), Great Lakes Limousine (1993) – called 700 Broadway home.

But the building’s heyday was largely over by then. And with the tragic fire over the weekend, the book on the Thistle Building's history has been closed.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Lorain County 125th Anniversary – 1947

Although I didn’t find time to include it in my postings last month, a Lorain County milestone was celebrated in Lorain back in July 1947: the 125th Anniversary of the founding of Lorain County. It even had its own special logo (shown at left) featured in various newspaper ads.

The actual creation of Lorain County dates back to December 26, 1822 when it was authorized by the Ohio government. In a short article by Rhea Soper Eddy in a special anniversary section of the July 7, 1947 Lorain Journal, she referred to the state legislature’s action as a "belated Yuletide gift.”

The article noted, “For more than a year the settlers had waited for the legislature’s enactment. The preceding year, Heman Ely, one of Elyria’s early pioneers, had started the movement to secure the organization of a new county.”

Nevertheless, Lorain was the host for the weeklong celebration because it was the largest city in the county. Lakeview Park was where most of the anniversary events were staged, although some were held throughout the county during the week.

On the opening day, there was a big parade from Washington Avenue to Lakeview Park, where a costumed pageant (described as a mardi-gras) was held. The seven-day celebration also included a Founder’s Day Picnic, historical displays, industrial exhibits, fireworks, games, a horse show, special movies, amateur boxing bouts, bathing beauty contests, the traditional Lorain Yacht Club Regatta, and an air show on the last day.

Although the county's birthday may not be celebrated again anytime soon, back in 1947 it seemed to be an important event. Perhaps the 200th Anniversary of Lorain County (which takes place in another five years) will be acknowledged, and hopefully boost tourism for this lovely area in which we live.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Admiral King Class of 1977 – 40th Reunion

From left, Jane (Kretovics) Stephanchick, George Vida,
Diane (Corrao) Flock, Debra (DiFrancesco) Miadock,
Pat (Derrer) Resor, me, and Karen (Satterfield) Amormino

(Photo courtesy Debi Kretovics)
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my Admiral King High School Class of 1977 40th Reunion, which took place Friday night down at the Black River.

Our reunion committee did a good job of organizing the event, which shared its location with the traditional Friday night Rockin’ on the River concert. Although turnout was a little low for a class of more than four hundred members, a good time was had by all who attended.

Although I was a little nervous when I headed over to the reunion tent, my fears were soon allayed. The committee members immediately made each returning classmate feel welcome, and it was only a matter of minutes before everyone was catching up with what’s been going on in our lives and our beloved hometown since the last reunion in 2007.

It’s amazing how much our Lorain school days of the 60s and 70s left an imprint on our lives that has not faded after all these years. Most of us immediately recognized each other; we knew where each other lived back then, what neighborhood it was, with whom we walked to school, who we played with, etc.

Will today’s students be able to say that someday? I doubt it – and more’s the pity. School is the glue that holds a community together and creates lifelong bonds.

Although all of us at the reunion went to Admiral King High School, many of us had attended kindergarten at Charleston together as well. Even more of us shared Masson as both our elementary and junior high school. Now all of those schools are gone.

But the memories linger on.

There were a few funny moments for me at the reunion. I really disappointed one of my classmates, who was surprised that I wasn’t a doctor or lawyer – and kept going on and on about it. I finally had to jokingly tell him that I was sorry to disappoint him, but if he kept talking like that I was going to have to go home and hit the bottle (or jump in the Black River).

Another classmate pointed out that I looked like I was perpetually twelve years old! He meant it as a compliment and I accepted it as one. But it’s easy to look roughly the same when you still have your original hair (grey as it may be), and haven’t grown a beard or handlebar mustache.

Anyway, it was a special night and I’m glad I attended.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Rick K. Remembers: the Ohio Turnpike – Part 3

This final segment of Rick Kurish’s look back at the Ohio Turnpike includes a topic of interest to me: the moving of a house to a new location.

(I’ve featured several vintage newspaper photos of houses being moved here on the blog, although I have yet to find one showing the Neuman farmhouse being relocated.)

Anyway, as Rick explained in his email, "I know you are something of a fan regarding moving houses, so I thought you might appreciate this move caused by the Ohio Turnpike crossing Gulf Road.

"The house was moved 500 feet south of its original site and the address went from 826 Gulf Road to 370 Gulf Road. The move was documented in the Chronicle-Telegram of July 9, 1953.”

Here is the C-T photo with its caption.

"I wonder if the house is still there?” mused Rick. "Most likely it is.”

It sure is. Here’s how it looks today – none the worse for its short trip – courtesy of the Lorain County Auditor’s website.

I wonder if the current owners of the house at 370 Gulf Road know the house’s history?

Special thanks to Rick Kurish for sharing his reminisces and research.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Rick K. Remembers: the Ohio Turnpike – Part 2

Front page of the Feb. 19, 1953 Chronicle-Telegram
showing the two proposed routes of the Turnpike through Elyria
(Courtesy Rick Kurish)
Along with his warm memories surrounding the construction of the Ohio Turnpike, Rick Kurish also remembers the controversy about the route through Elyria. "Since I was only about 6 to 8 years old at the time, my interest in the turnpike dealt only with the ability to travel to desired destinations in a relatively short time. However, others, especially in Elyria, had concerns regarding the impact on the city of the proposed route.

"There was a northern route (which was finally adopted), and a southern route that basically went through the city of Elyria. It took several years to sort through all the pros and cons, and the inevitable lawsuits, before the route was finalized.

“The way the routes were described was kind of confusing. The Turnpike commission route, which was the southern route, went through the north side of Elyria, while the Elyria city-preferred route would have been in the area where Interstate 90 is today.
"I was surprised at the resistance of various elements of city government to the route proposed by the Ohio Turnpike Commission. The legal fight started almost as soon as the initial route was surveyed, and lasted until the fall of 1954 – only a few weeks before the first eastern section of the turnpike was set to open in November. Because of the dispute, the roughly four-mile section of the road through Elyria was the final section in Ohio to be bid out. The city fought the commission route virtually until they started pouring the concrete! I have a hard time seeing what the big deal was."
Rick found a pair of great ads sponsored by the Elyria Chamber of Commerce that illustrated the effort to fight the Ohio Turnpike’s planned route through town.

"The ads from the CT of June 30, 1954 and July 6, 1954, would seem to indicate that the fight over the route had become rather intense.” (I like how the Turnpike Commission is depicted as a blackjack-wielding goon.)

"The city of Elyria may have had a rough several years before the turnpike was complete, but I was happy,” noted Rick. "I could get to Cleveland in a half hour!"
The December 1959 edition of the Rotarian magazine had a nice look back at the whole controversy.
It read, “In Elyria, Ohio, the proposed route of the new Ohio Turnpike was fought tooth and nail in 1954. The right of way was to skirt the northern part of the city, coming pretty close to an exclusive residential area, and it was from the wealthy and influential residents of this section that the most vocal opposition came. Much to-do was made of the “depreciation of valuable real estate” and the “withdrawal from the tax rolls of income-producing land” which, actually, was almost marshland.
“But in the end common sense prevailed and the proposed route went through as originally planned. “The immediate benefit,” says J. Grant Keys, who was Mayor of Elyria at the peak of the battle, “was the alleviation of a critical traffic problem on our streets. This alone was a gift which makes the other dividends pure velvet.
“The first of those was the immediate filing of plans for seven different housing developments along the proposed route. Thus, instead of reducing the tax rolls, the Turnpike promptly increased the ratables. And I was greatly amused to note that the lots which sold first for the highest prices were those immediately adjacent to the right of way!
“In the five years that have elapsed none of the dire prophecies have materialized: indeed, they have all been completely reversed. And today’s most avid promoters of the Ohio Turnpike are its erstwhile bitterest foes: the prominent industrialists, business and professional men who still live happily in the area which feared extinction, and whose advertising and promotion men busily extol the facility they fought because it has made Elyria 'the crossroads of the world.’”

Next: Move it!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Rick K. Remembers: the Ohio Turnpike – Part 1

Last month regular blog contributor Rick Kurish emailed me about his reminisces about the Ohio Turnpike, which would seem to fit in nicely with all of my recent posts about local highways. Rick also made me aware of an interesting controversy in the early 1950s regarding the Ohio Turnpike’s planned route through Elyria.

Rick wrote, "Over the years your blog has covered the opening of various sections of Interstate 90 across northern Ohio during the 1960s and 1970s. While I'm sure that I would be in the minority of your readers, my memory of travel in northern Ohio not only predates I90, but also the Ohio Turnpike!

"When I was in grade school, in the early 1950s, the turnpike was being planned and built and was an interesting topic to us kids. I can still remember the pre-turnpike car trips my parents would make to Cleveland with us kids. The best route was Route 254, and the drive seemed to take forever.

"When my grade school teacher told the class that after the turnpike was completed, you could be in Cleveland in about a half hour with virtually no stops or traffic lights, I remember thinking that would be the best thing ever!”

Rick had a ringside seat for the construction of the Ohio Turnpike.

"At the time the turnpike was being built, one of my uncles lived on Gulf Road in Elyria just south of the proposed route, and the future site of Elyria Catholic High School,” remembered Rick. "When the pike was constructed in that area, it required a fair amount of blasting to get through the sandstone bedrock. The blasting caused some cracking of basement foundations in the area, including my uncle's, resulting in claims and payment of damages.

"I remember that after the turnpike opened, my cousin and i would walk up the road to the Gulf Road bridge over the turnpike, and wave to the truckers, who almost always replied with a blast from their air horn. In that simpler time there was no chain link fence on the bridges, just a railing about two or three feet high, and no one worried about be hit by something thrown from the bridge.

"Good memories from over 60 years ago!”
Next: Controversy

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Planned Expressway to Lorain's Port – 1965

The 1950s and 60s were a time of much highway planning in Lorain County. Many of the road projects eventually happened; others were scuttled for some reason or another.

Here's one of those scuttled projects, which was the subject of a study in 1965. It was an expressway designed to connect Lorain's port area with the area to the south. An article in the June 22, 1965 Journal stated that the planned highway would start on Route 57 north of Vincent and then extend north and west, crossing Pearl Avenue and then following the B & O railroad tracks north.

The map accompanying the article is shown at left.

The article noted, "A small section of U. S. Steel Lorain Works would be spanned after the highway crossed E. 28th Street from Fulton Avenue. The study called for the road to link up with the W. 21st Street bridge and then up Henderson Drive in the city.

"In actuality, the plan, proposed in May, 1956, was estimated to be an $8 million arterial project. This included an elevated freeway through the heart of Lorain's industrial area which would provide a direct connection from Erie Avenue to the Ohio Turnpike."

I don't know why the project was never built, but it's a shame. More than 50 years after the 1965 article, Lorain's industrial base is gone and tourism is the city's only hope for the future. Providing a way for tourists approaching from the south to access the lakefront quickly via an elevated highway made sense then – and now.

Monday, July 31, 2017

103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Camp Week – 1961

Well, there are cars parked all over the lawn at the 103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry grounds in Sheffield Lake - so that can only mean one thing: Camp Week 2017 is underway. The weeklong celebration is a tradition dating back to 1866, when the Union soldiers of the 103rd decided to hold a yearly reunion to renew their friendships.

Thus, it’s a good time for me to post the article below, looking back at a previous reunion.

Back in 1961, the annual reunion of the 103rd O. V. I.  was an even bigger celebration than usual. The 100th anniversary of the Civil War also took place that year, as well as the rededication of U. S. 6 (Lake Road) through the community as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway.

A big parade commemorated the occasion, which was described as “Sheffield Lake’s biggest celebration in its century and a quarter history.”

Read all about it in the article, which ran in the Chronicle-Telegram on August 14, 1961.

Here’s another small article (below) about the celebration, which ran in the Chronicle on August 9, 1961. 
As you can see, it was quite a big event, with nineteen area mayors attending, and marching units of the U. S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and National Guard in the parade. The Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court was the featured speaker.

Friday, July 28, 2017

I-90 Public Hearing – August 1964

I found this article after I prepared yesterday's post about Route 254. It ran in the Lorain Journal on August 6, 1964 and is a report on a public hearing about a proposed I-90 segment designed to connect up with the Ohio Turnpike just west of Route 57.

The idea was to allow I-90 traffic to have its own Ohio Turnpike interchange to alleviate congestion at the Route 57 interchange. As we know, it was eventually built.

Here's the article (below). Note how State Route 254 figures prominently in the article; indeed on the accompanying map, you can see that today's State Route 2 was originally indicated to be the "proposed SR 254."

Perhaps the real reason the terminus of Route 254 was later moved from Route 58 to Route 57 is because that's where the road connected up with I-90, the Ohio Turnpike and State Route 2.


IR-90 Backed At Public Hearing

ELYRIA – Reactions to the proposed IR-90 route from the Ohio Turnpike to SR-57 were recorded yesterday at a public hearing at the Holiday Inn on SR-57.

The majority of the 35 persons present endorsed the new four-lane, limited access 3.7-mile-long road which begins on the turnpike in Amherst Twp., and is planned to connect with SR-254 at Rt. 57.

But some individuals who live close to the proposed road expressed fears about possible devaluation of their property by the construction of the route.

Donald H. Timmer, deputy director of Division Three, Ohio Department of Highways at Ashland, who conducted the hearing, said the need for the road has been determined through a joint study made by the U. S. Bureau of Pubic Roads, the Ohio Department of Highways and the Ohio Turnpike Commission.

The route reportedly will make it possible for all IR-90 traffic, estimated to be about 8,000 vehicles per day, to have its own turnpike interchange, thereby relieving the traffic load at the Lorain-Elyria turnpike exchange on Rt. 57.

The highway department does not plan to build the road until the late 1960's, Timmer said.

The new route will begin on the Ohio Turnpike 6 miles west of West Ridge Rd., and will swing north and east, crossing over Murray Ridge Rd., .2 miles north of Griswold Rd. It will continue east to connect with the proposed relocation of Rt. 254.

Timmer said the highway department has a Relocation Assistance Advisory group to help individuals or firms who have to relocate because of the new route. In cases where buildings must be moved, the person affected may get moving expenses paid, he added.

Toll facilities for the new route will be located on the Ohio Turnpike in Amherst Twp.

J. Norman Thompson, speaking as the chairman of the Main Thoroughfare Committee of the Lorain County Regional Planning Commission, said the committee, composed of representatives of cities, villages, townships, labor and industry, was 100 percent in favor of the route. He estimated that traffic from the proposed interstate system will help cause a spillover of 10,000 cars daily on Route 57 which will be mainly absorbed by the through route of IR-90 traffic.

Thompson said he would like to see the route programmed sooner than 1970.

Mrs. Ruth Collins, Elyria, said she was opposed to the additional traffic noise the route might bring but felt that the county must have good roads.

Mrs. Rose Bodor, who lives near the proposed route but not in the right-of-way path, expressed fears for her rental property's possible devaluation because of the road noise.

Robert Mascero, Elyria, who lives immediately south of the project, requested additional consideration because of possible devaluation of his property.

Mrs. Andrew Trimmel, Elyria, said she was worried that vibrations from the traffic would affect their newly built greenhouse there.

Mrs. Walter Halin, who lives 250 feet from the turnpike now, said she felt the county needed the road, but said she would not continue to live that close to both routes.

James P. Horn, chairman of the Lorain County Commission, said the commission favored the route because it would alleviate traffic on Rt. 57 and that it had been working toward necessary four-lane arterial highways for Lorain County.

Oliver E. Schubert, an Oberlin teacher and former resident of the area of the proposed route wanted more talk about plans to help the people and said the objectors should be represented by someone to talk for them.

A. J. Lehman of Lehman and Johnson Real Estate Brokers endorsed the route as being beneficial to most of the people. Lehman said realtors as well as individuals have suffered individual losses by new highways but that they were beneficial in the long run to all concerned.

Art Neiding, 624 Murray Ridge Rd., said he felt that the route should be started even farther westward on farm land and not in built up property.

Timmer said that a court recording of the hearing would be forwarded to the Ohio Director of Highways for his consideration before the route is journalized.

Here's the map of the same area today.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Route 254: Where Will It End?

A few weeks ago, there was local news coverage (here) about an effort to extend Route 254 from where it currently ends at Route 57 all the way west to Route 58. The reason behind the proposal is that it would eliminate some of the confusion created by the various names of the currently unnumbered highway as it passes through two townships on its way west to Amherst.

Strangely, no one interviewed for the newspaper article mentioned that for decades, that 4.4 mile stretch of road was Route 254, before its terminus was later pushed east to Route 57. I’m sure many readers were scratching their head over that.

When did the state highway officials move the terminus to Route 57? I’m guessing that the change occurred in the 1990s, although I don’t have the maps to prove it. I can’t remember the reasoning either; I think the state was trying to save money and pass along the road’s maintenance to the county. Either that, or resistance to widening the road (it’s pretty narrow west of South Broadway) made it rather deficient as a major state highway.

Here’s an early 1960s Arrow City Map (dating from before Route 2 was built) clearly showing Route 254 extending to Leavitt Road (Route 58).

And here's a wider view of the map. These vintage maps are always fun to look at!
Interestingly, when the current limited access highway Route 2 was under construction, for a while no one knew what it was going to be called. I posted a 1966 article about this confusion here.

One of the possible designations for the highway mentioned in the article – in addition to the rather cool-sounding "Northwest Freeway” – was none other than Route 254.

It probably would have been better if it had been designated Route 254. Calling it Route 2 destroyed the old, comfortable “6 & 2” name for the local lakefront road.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

1976 All-Ohio State Fair Band Panoramic Photo

Well, the great Ohio State Fair opens today, so it’s a good time for me to post this photo. It shows the 1976 All-Ohio State Fair Band.

I spent two weeks down at the Fair that year as part of this group, which I wrote about here. Even as a crusty 58-year old, I still get a lump in my throat when I think about how much fun it was.

Fellow Admiral King High School Band member Dave Szabo was a member of the State Fair Band too that year. Consequently, we missed summer band camp, as well as being in the AKHS marching band photo for the 1976 football program – but it was worth it.

The All-Ohio State Fair Band tradition continues today (here’s the link to its website).

As for the photo, I still remember the day they took it because we had to sit perfectly still for what seemed like a long time while the panoramic camera did its job. It was a sunny morning, too, and I was really squinting.

To reproduce the photo here on the blog, I had to scan it in pieces and reassemble it, so there’s a visible seam (sorry about that). But since this photo is nowhere else on the internet, I thought it would be nice to post it.

And since the blog software automatically reduces large jpegs to a maximum of 22” wide, here it is below in larger, cropped sections (in case some 1976 Band members would like to pick themselves out in the crowd.

The red, white and blue personalized jumpsuits we wore (remember, it was the Bicentennial year) were a little gaudy, but they created a distinctive look for the Band – especially the groovy scarves that would look right at home around the neck of Fred on Scooby-Doo.
(By the way, your humble blogger is in the bottom photo, in the back row with the other trombone players, seventh from the end.)