Thursday, October 19, 2017

Lorain Slums Article - October 12, 1963

Over the years, I’ve driven by the John F. Kennedy Plaza in Central Lorain countless times, and often wondered what was there before the low rent public housing was built. The story below, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on October 12, 1963, tells the story.

It’s interesting how the area was designated as a slum, and thus had to go to make way for the new housing development. (I wonder how much of Lorain in 2017 is actually worse than what was unacceptable and “shocking" in 1963?)


Will Soon Disappear
Slums Given Last Look By Officials

A number of city, county and state officials got their first look at shocking slum conditions in the heart  of Lorain – which soon will be a thing of the past.

Fortunately, for many, it will be their last since the block, between 17th and 18th streets, will soon be razed and a new Golden Age Housing Center built.

The tour, conducted by Ronald W. Ashley, Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority director, took in the 28 parcels of property and revealed some deplorable conditions.

Attending the tour were Dr. I. C. Riggin, city health department director; Joseph Brunotts, president of the Central Lorain Businessman's Association; George Lanzendorfer, Central Bank Co. official; Robert Oleen, Red Cross representative; Maurice Brown, state representative; J. Norman Thompson, county commissioner; Mr. and Mrs. Thomas D. Mitchell, American Legion representatives; Thomas J. Urban, Democratic mayoralty candidate; Mrs. Rose Coleman and Mrs. Ruth Brooks, Lorain Women's Civic League representatives; and Malcolm D. Hartley, editorial page editor of The Journal.

Construction of the Golden Age Housing units is expected to start by Dec. 1, Ashley said. Appropriation cases are expected to be cleaned up in the next two or three weeks, he said.

Thirty-two of the units will be located in single-story buildings, while 144 of the units are to be in a high-rise section. The building will be the highest structure in Lorain.

There will be 27 efficiency, 144 one-bedroom, 4 two-bedroom and one caretaker unit.

The LMHA complex will include a 10-story, 95-foot high-rise apartment and a series of low-level units. Total cost is $2.2 million.

Courtesy of Google Maps, here's an aerial view of the complex today.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"Bicycle Bill” Schetter Article – October 1975

Here's a great "Bill Scrivo's People" feature that ran in the Lorain Journal on October 5, 1975. It profiles "Bicycle Bill" Schetter, the well-remembered man behind the Schwinn store in the Oberlin Avenue shopping strip where Willow Hardware was located.

I've featured Mr. Schetter a few times on this blog, including this post spotlighting a 1971 article.

I’ve mentioned before on the blog that my high school pal Scott Welko liked to tinker with bikes (this was before we were old enough to drive). We would take them apart, paint them, etc., necessitating many trips to Bicycle Bill’s store. I remember Bill’s pretty sister Rachel (mentioned in the article) working there at the time, and she was a little intimidating to a couple of goofy high school kids like us.
Today, Rachel and her husband Ted own and manage Bicycle Bill’s in Vermilion. Here’s the link to their company website, as well as its Facebook page.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Anchor Lodge: from Hotel to Senior Home – October 1963

In view of the sad fate of the other 1950s motels along Lorain's West Erie Avenue (U.S. Route 6), it's impressive as well as fortunate that Anchor Lodge was able to make a successful transition from hotel to a rehabilitation center/assisted living residence for seniors. (Here’s the link to its website.)

How did it make the transition? The process started back in October 1963, which is explained in the article below. It ran in the Lorain Journal on October 30, 1963.

First Senior Citizens' Unit
Completed At Anchor Lodge


Completion of the first unit of a projected $250,000 residence for senior citizens was announced today by Miss Kathy Nolan, director of Anchor Lodge On Lake Erie, 3756 W. Lake Road.

The senior citizens' home, accenting group living, has been developed from the Anchor Lodge Motel, which was bought and remodeled by James Simon, Cleveland business man and real estate subdivider.

Miss Nolan said $60,000 already has been spent to remodel the motel and incorporate kitchen and dining facilities.

An additional wing is planned which will increase the number of rooms from 26 to 65.

The lodge will continue for the present to be used as a motel, as well as a home for senior citizens.

According to Miss Nolan, Simon bought Anchor Lodge with the "aim of making it a place where I'd like to spend my own retirement years."

He lives here part time and plans to bring his family and reside at the lodge permanently.

Miss Nolan, a former teacher and once associated with the Lorain YMCA, has an educational degree and is completing work on a master's degree in sociology at Oberlin College.

Special "group living" accommodations include a lobby with fireplace and snack bar, dining facilities, a remodeled lounge with a lakefront view and color TV, and a special room which is being fitted out for library and reading room.

The lodge has a lake shore frontage lending itself to picnic and recreation facilities.

Planned for next year are terraces providing easy access to the beach and a dock.

Rental will be on a current basis, according to Miss Nolan. "We want people to stay here as long as they like and because they like it."

Prices, including meals, will range from $10 per day per person down to $%.75, with the average for couples $15 a day. Room furnishings are provided except where guests prefer to bring some of their own.

Anchor Lodge was featured as a “Then & Now” subject here on the blog back in 2010. In 2014, I posted the full-page ad for the Grand Opening of the hotel in 1948 here.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Beautiful Downtown Kipton – Then & Now

I saw this vintage postcard dated 1910 of “North Main St. East Side, Kipton, Ohio” recently on Ebay and decided it would be a good candidate for the “Then & Now” treatment.

It had been a while since I drove through the small blink-and-you-might-miss-it village of a few hundred people anyway. (I wrote about its Civil War monument here.)

I got my shot (below) this past weekend.

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon when I left Lorain, but of course when I arrived, the sun disappeared for almost a half hour. So I loitered until it came out again, trying not to attract too much attention with my camera so as to avoid being thrown in the calaboose.
As you can see, the railroad right-of-way is now a popular bike path. 
Nearby is the site of the tragic train wreck that took place on April 18, 1891. Here’s a link to an excellent article by Kristin Bauer that ran in the Chronicle at the time of the 125th anniversary of the disaster in 2016.
Incidentally, the back of the vintage postcard – dated August 8, 1910 – was interesting. ‘Mattie’ was writing to her Uncle Frank in Honolulu, Hawaii and told him she was having a week’s vacation and that she was in Kipton. I wonder what she did all week?
I think she should have visited good old Uncle Frank instead.

Friday, October 13, 2017

1960s Ohio State Football Program Covers

To help take your mind off the Cleveland Indians (as well as the Cleveland Browns), remember – you can always root for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

And to close out this week on the blog, here's a nice selection of old Ohio State Football program covers from the 1960s, courtesy of the Ohio State University's Knowledge Bank. They're fun to look at with their vintage views of the campus and stadium. I love the classic simplicity of the designs.

After looking at them, though, I have a few questions. Why do several of the covers have little Brownie-like characters? And more importantly, why is the Ohio State player depicted as an unflattering galoot on the Sept. 27, 1969 cover?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Old Dutch Ad – Oct. 19, 1967

Seeing as I mentioned the Bascule Brewery & Public House yesterday, it's a good time for another post about beer – namely, Old Dutch, my parents’ favorite beer.

My posts about Old Dutch continue to generate new comments years after their original appearance on the blog. So in honor of the long-gone brew’s many fans, here’s another vintage ad found in the pages of the Journal.
My last post noted that the classic label design featuring the elderly couple had been restored in 1966 by International Breweries of Detroit, the brand’s new owners. The ad above – which explores the well-known Old Dutch tagline – ran in the Lorain Journal on October 19, 1967 – 50 years ago this month.

I still like the fact that Old Dutch had such a humble marketing positioning statement: “the Good Beer.”

I would probably drink Old Dutch today if it was still being produced, mainly because of the nostalgia. But until Old Dutch is brought back, I guess I’ll have to stick with Rolling Rock or Black Label. (I realize, of course, that I'm in a tiny minority, in view of the general public's growing preference for artisan beers these days.)

The photo in the 1967 Old Dutch ad is amusing in its depiction of other brands, with words like ‘unbelievable’ or ‘wow’ on their (obviously fake) labels.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Building at 1397 Colorado Avenue

I'm sure that many locals recognize the building above at 1397 Colorado Avenue as the former longtime home of M & M Mower (now known by its new name: Allied Power Equipment). Bascule Brewery & Public House LLC calls it home now (although it's not quite open to the public – yet).

But what business did the building house originally? I took a look at the city directories and phone books at the Lorain Public Library to find out.

The 1397 Colorado Avenue address first appeared in the directories around 1950 as the address for the East Side Fruit Stand, operated by John Fazio. Just as its name implies, the company's business was listed as 'produce.'

Within a few years, the company's focus changed to groceries and carry-out beverages.

1955 Lorain Telephone Company listing
About a year later, the name of the business became Fazio's Self-Serve Market.

Here's the somewhat racy 1956 phone book ad reflecting the name change. At least the ad has a nice rendering of the building.
Sometime around 1962, the company changed hands and became Sidlo's Self Serve Market
The name changed again around 1970 to become East Port Carry Out. This lasted until around 1982 when U.S. Arcade took over the location and briefly operated a game room.
The building's listing became 'vacant' as of the 1983 city directory. By the time of the 1984 edition, the two Marks of M & M Mower – Mark Fuhrman and Mark Balogh – launched their lawn mower repair company there. The business moved to 4050 Colorado Avenue in Sheffield Village a few years ago.
Best of luck to Bascule Brewery & Public House LLC.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Lorain Creamery Ad – October 5, 1963

Have you ever wondered why Lorain Creamery ads from the 1960s, 70s and 80s usually included the Jersey Lane All-Star Dairies logo, as well as the farmer boy & cow mascots? I know I did.

Here’s an example, from the 1972 Lorain phone book (below).

I just thought that the Creamery was distributing some other company’s ice cream in addition to their own. I remember seeing a huge Jersey Lane sign with the boy and cow down at the Creamery’s store.

Well, the large, full-page ad below – which appeared in the Lorain Journal on October 5, 1963 – explains the whole thing. It announces that Lorain Creamery had just become a member of the All Star Dairy Association.

It turns out that Jersey Lane was apparently the Lorain Creamery’s own brand of dairy products. So when Lorain Creamery became a member of the All Star Dairy Association, the company was allowed to use the association logo and add the ‘Jersey Lane’ name to it. It was just a way of using the marketing strength of the All Star Dairies name to upgrade a local dairy’s corporate identity and product offerings.

Here’s an example of another dairy (in this case, Harmony Farms) customizing the All Star Dairies logo with their name, just as Lorain Creamery did. The logo appeared in an ad found in a 1964 Ohio State football program.
The All Star Dairy Association also made their branded bottles available to member dairies, as well as unique ice cream novelty products, as seen in this 1964 Lorain Creamery ad (below).
The Association is still around today. Click here to visit its website (it’s now called the All Star Association).

Monday, October 9, 2017

Downtown Lorain "Ghost" Story – 1907

In honor of Halloween later this month, here's an interesting "ghost" story from the pages of the January 31, 1907 Lorain Daily News.

Erstwhile Morgue is Scene of Terror to Boston Store
Elevator Boy – Hair Raising Story of Herbert Tucker
and His Experiences With Inhabitants of the Spooky Cellar
Did you ever see a ghost, or stating it in a broader and more logical sense, did you ever imagine you saw one?
If you have never come in contact with his ghostship then you cannot appreciate the feelings of Herbert Tucker, elevator boy at the Boston store, as he pushed with blanched and terrified countenance through the store yesterday afternoon to fall limp and terrorstricken into the arms of the clerks just as he was exercising his powers of locomotion in placing the basement of the Boston store as far from him as possible. The young man had fainted.
It’s a story that had its beginnings several months ago and though it reads like a fairy tale it is nevertheless true in every particular, as young Tucker and other employes of the Boston store will readily vouch.
The building in which the Boston store is now located was formerly occupied  by Wickens and Ransom, undertakers, and the basement was used as a morgue. Young Tucker was apprised of this fact soon after taking charge of the elevator and his trips to the dimly-lighted basement were made with alacrity, mingled with awe as his hurried vision swept the large quiet room and his thoughts reverted to the dead that had one time lined its walls.
Several weeks ago duty necessitated a penetration of gloom farther than had been his custom on former occasions the young lad was horrified to see a row of white robed figures barely discernable through the semi-darkness on one side of the basement. Thoroughly frightened, Tucker was unable to move from his tracks for a minute, but with the return of a flash of courage, he seized a club that was lying at his feet and hurled it at one of the figures. Not waiting to ascertain the result of his onslaught, he fled as fast as his legs could carry him. He returned a few days later when the cellar had been equipped with electric light fixtures and was brilliantly lighted to find that his ghost was a dry goods dummy covered with muslim. The club he had wielded on the day of his fright had gone true to its mark and was lodged firmly between the steel ribs of the imaginary goblin.
This tale had barely been imparted to one of the clerks of the store yesterday afternoon when Tucker was called upon to perform an errand in the basement. Descending the elevator the young man was in the act of stepping from the cage when a cold and clammy hand closed over his and he was greeted with “Hello, boy.”
Tucker let out one terrified yell and made a bolt for the stairs. No time to take elevators on an occasion like this.
Tucker came to the end of his flight as he was about to open the door leading to the street where he fell into the arms of a clerk. The strain had proven too much for the little fellow and he had fainted. He was soon revived and only after it had been explained to him that the hand placed upon his as he stepped from the elevator was one of flesh and blood and the property of the electrician who had been making some necessary repairs in the basement, was his fears allayed. The man having just entered the basement from the outside his hands were chilled and possessed altogether too much of that clammy, ghoulish feeling for the elevator boy.

I tried to find out if the Tucker lad remained in the Lorain area after his fifteen minutes of fame, but was unsuccessful digging around in the city directories. I chased down one lead but was unable to determine if it was the same person.

By the way, I did posts about the early days of the Boston Store – later (and better) known as Smith & Gerhart – here and here.

Friday, October 6, 2017

A Farm Mystery Solved – Part 4

Dennis was determined that the vintage photo of Annie Martin's farm get the proper "Then & Now" treatment.

"I can pinpoint exactly where the old photo was taken from," noted Dennis. "It was someone who parked their car on Jeager Rd and stepped over the fence. I have taken a photo from as close as I can get to that spot. 

"You can't really get there, the wetlands has replaced the tiny creek that was there and you would need a 20 foot tall ladder to get the exact photo. In fact, I did take a 6 foot ladder and stand it up at the roadside and climbed up to take my "now" photo. You can correlate many points on the old photo with the 1952 aerial including that point of trees by the left-most cow and the distant tree line."

Here's the photo Dennis took with his ladder.

I couldn’t resist trying to get in on the act myself, although I didn’t bring a ladder to get my version of the “Now” shot. So I ended up balancing my ponderous bulk on a guard rail post.
As you can see, it’s difficult to recreate the photo exactly with all of the underbrush. 
Here’s an aerial view. Dennis and I were shooting from Jaeger Road from where ‘X’ marks the spot. The large transmission tower is circled.
But getting back to Dennis’ commentary.
"Now there remains one mystery,” he observed. "What in the heck is the horizontal white line running in front of the farm everyone thought was a road? It isn't a road. Leavitt Rd is behind the house, as evidenced by the rural electric line you can see running on the back side of the buildings. It seems to have something to do with the fence line.
"So, what happened to the farm? This is a huge story. First of all, the buildings were removed when Leavitt Rd was widened. But the property has a long and hotly contended history since Anna died in 1964.
"She willed the property to the YWCA in perpetuity to be used only for the benefit of women and other humanitarian purposes. Unfortunately, the Y had little money to develop anything, let alone 65 rural acres. Within a few years they began appealing the court to let them sell it. It was fought by everyone, neighbors, other civic organizations, etc. They finally won in 1994 when the court ruled it could be sold to another charitable organization still fulfilling Anna's wish. The land sold to the Church of the North Coast for some $317,000 dollars. The YWCA when belly-up anyway.
"The Church did some things. They built a picnic grounds, a ball field and a scale model western town used at Halloween time. They planned to build a huge sanctuary there, something like 10,000 seats. They didn't. They decided to sell it. Here we go again. This time the citizens formed organized resistance groups to fight it, especially the people in Martin's Run. I spoke to the main organizer a few times. 

"Well, big money won out. The Lighthouse Village Corp (Home Depot, et al) won, because the courts ruled they could make other charitable contributions equal to the present value of Anna's farm.  The land sold for over 3 million. Lighthouse Village donated one million to future projects. Here is their take on it:
"I asked the citizen's group organizer if Lighthouse Village set aside any land, and how much of Anna's land actually meets her stipulations. She replied, "Not one square foot." By the way, the site of her house is a Starbucks.
"There were about a hundred articles in the Chronicle, and many in the Journal about the situation.

"So, it is an interesting story about that old photo, even without the drama that followed,” concluded Dennis.
I agree. Thanks for solving the mystery, as well as the great story, Dennis!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

A Farm Mystery Solved – Part 3

In addition to his field work examining the transmission towers in Lorain, Dennis Thompson also “drove” the route on the internet via Bing Maps. While doing this, he compared their locations to some 1952 aerial views available on the Historic Aerials website

"Tower Blvd itself was not built until the 1960s and that has always stymied me. But what if the towers were there, before the road? wondered Dennis. 

"I carefully followed the present day Bing aerial view and located each tower in turn. And I managed to find every one on the 1952 Historical Aerials, way before Tower Blvd was built. It just followed the path of the 1924 towers. They are hard to spot, but I located every single tower from South Amherst to Broadway.

By comparing the photo from the Lorain Historical Society, the 1952 aerials from and the Bing Map views, Dennis solved the mystery.

"There is only one spot where that photo can fit,” Dennis noted. "In fact, it is the spot I have always favored: the corner of Leavitt Road and Tower Blvd, filmed looking more or less north.

Here is the 1952 aerial showing the farm, located at the bend in Leavitt Road, as well as the two towers. As Dennis mentioned, Tower Boulevard had not been built yet. The X marks the spot where the photographer was standing when he photographed the farm in 1932. (But more on that tomorrow.)

So what farm was it?

"The farm is Anna Martin's, which the Martins owned from the early 1900s,” stated Dennis. “Compare the buildings to what is shown on the BRHS photo. Every building matches. You can make out the little outbuildings, even the back porch on the house.

"There is no question the photo incorrectly labeled as the Neuman farm is really Anna Martin's farm.”

Here’s a 1930 Black River Township map with the Martin farm highlighted.
In the interest of being thorough in his research, Dennis also contacted the Ohio Department of Transportation. 

"I finally got a friendly contact, who searched their archives and sent me the file of the blueprints from when ODOT widened Leavitt Rd., said Dennis. "The prints are very complex with dozens of elevation and layout lines, call-outs, altitude markings, etc that clutter it up. It took me all day to cull it down to the necessary lines.

Heres Dennis cleaned-up ODOT drawing in which you can how the 1964-65 widening of Leavitt Road completely wiped out the Anna Martin farm. The two transmission towers are also indicated.

Next: Then & Nows

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Farm Mystery Solved – Part 2

Photo scanned from the Arcadia “Images of America – Lorain" book
Dennis knew that the transmission tower in the photo of the mystery farm was the key to identifying where the photo was taken. Unfortunately, the photos I posted did not provide him with a very good view.

So Dennis ordered a proper scan of the full photo from the Lorain Historical Society (LHS) from their archives and was in for a big surprise.

Aha!” exclaimed Dennis. "The photo in the book has been cropped, and the full picture reveals a lot.”

Referring to a comment left on my original blog post about the tower, Dennis noted, "First of all, one of Dan's readers wondered why another tower did not appear in the background. 

"The answer is simple: It does. It was cropped out!

Here is Dennis new scan from the LHS showing two towers on the right side of the photo. You can see a lot more of the tower, as well as a second tower off in the distance behind the first.

Close-up of towers
Dennis studied the construction of the larger tower in the photo very closely, and then hit the road for some field research.
"I examined the closest tower very carefully and began driving the line, from where those types of towers began near Falbo Ave, to where I lost track of them south of Amherst, he noted. "There are only two towers built like that one. The distinguishing characteristic is the additional horizontal brace at the top of the first bay, ten feet off the ground. Those two towers are the one where the line crosses Cooper Foster Park Rd near North Main St, and the one on Leavitt Rd at Tower Blvd. 

"Each location is a more stressed location. The one at Cooper Foster Park has an exceptionally long stretch to the next tower, and the one at Leavitt Rd is where the line changes direction and heads more south.

Thanks to Dennis' meticulous attention to detail, he was able to determine conclusively where the towers are located.

Next: The Mystery Solved

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Farm Mystery Solved – Part 1

One of the longtime mysteries here on the blog involves this vintage photo, which appeared in the Arcadia Images of America – Lorain book. The photo was believed to be that of the old Neuman dairy farm in 1932, which was located at the northwest corner of Oberlin Avenue and Meister Road.

The problem is that the photo shows a transmission tower. There simply aren’t any near Meister Road, which made me wonder just where this photo was taken. (I explored the possibilities in this 2012 post, entitled "A Towering Mystery.”

It seemed to make sense that the photo was taken near Tower Boulevard, either near Oberlin Avenue or Leavitt Road, since the towers that are there today seem to be of the same style in the vintage photo. But I didn’t know for sure if the photo was even taken in Lorain.

Well, thanks to the tenacity of longtime blog contributor Dennis Thompson, we now know exactly where the photo was taken, and what landmark farm it depicts.

Here’s the story.

Like me, Dennis Thompson was intrigued by the above photo. "Dan had run the photo a few times,” he noted, "and generated lots of interest because it clearly does not match the Neuman farm that we can see in the older aerial photos.
Heres what Dennis is talking about. As you can see, the size and shape of the buildings in this 1924 aerial photo of the Neuman farm do not correspond with those in the other photo.
Dennis didnt have a lot to work with in his hunt to identify the farm in the photo. "The only real clue was the high voltage tower in the photo, he observed.
So Dennis began by looking into the history of the tower.
"Ohio Public Service started business in 1921 when Trumbull Public Service, Massillon Electric and Gas, Alliance Gas and Power, Lorain County Electric, and Utilities Construction Company merged,” he noted. "In 1922 the new company gained control over Ashland Gas and Electric and began to connect its subsidiaries by constructing a high voltage transmission system. By 1924 Ohio Public Service had purchased Sandusky Gas and Electric, Port Clinton Electric Light and Power, and Northwestern Ohio Railway and Power Company. Shortly after acquiring these companies, Ohio Public Service extended its high voltage transmission system to Toledo.
"So if the photo is accurately dated, that tower shown has to be one of the original high voltage towers in the area.”

Dennis believed that the tower was still standing, and he was determined to figure out where it is.

"I was going to find that tower if I had to walk the whole line!” he joked.

Next: Cropped out

Monday, October 2, 2017

639 Broadway

It’s always interesting when an old building is remodeled (or otherwise modified) and something hidden is revealed.

Recently while photographing the vacant lot where the Thistle Building used to stand, I noticed that across the street, the front of 639 Broadway was being worked on. A neat bit of artwork – a large painted ‘639’ – was exposed.

Here’s a closer view. That’s craftsmanship.

So what did the building’s facade look like before the current construction work? Here’s a Google Maps view (below), circa August 2013.

Courtesy Google Maps
Of course, I got to wondering what companies were in the building during Downtown Lorain’s heyday, and just had to hit the city directories.
Apparently just before the 1924 Lorain Tornado, a building called Olympia Hall was at that address. The main tenant at that time was the Independent Order of B’nai B’rith.
Beginning in the next available city directory post-Tornado (1926), the building at 639 had no name, unlike the many named blocks in Downtown Lorain. Early tenants were William H. Emery (a physician), the Universal Bearing Company, and the Lorain Brass & Bronze Foundry Company.
The building’s tenant list stayed the same for years. Here’s the 1931 listing.
Within a few years, Attorneys Austin O’Toole and John D. Pincura called the building home as well. The O’Toole law firm would eventually become the building’s longest tenant.
Here are a few more random listings from over the years.
By the early 1980s, things were winding down at 639 Broadway. The Warhola, O’Toole & Lumley law firm was the last holdover tenant from the glory days; by the time of the 1985 city directory, the building was vacant.
A few more companies called the building home in the 1990s, including Epic Video Film Production and Cardinal Driver Training

Today I believe the building at 639 Broadway is home to Nesbit Physical Therapy.