Thursday, August 21, 2014

O. A. Hafely Ad – August 23, 1930

Here's an ad for O. A. Hafely Home Building & Financing that ran in the newspaper on August 23, 1930. The ad announces a new office that was opening at 1815 Oberlin Avenue.

I was a little surprised to see this ad, since I mainly associate Hafely built homes on the east side of Lorain. I lived in one myself back in the late 1980s on Nebraska Avenue.

I've blogged about O. A. Hafely before, including posting this 1969 article that included an interview with the man himself.

So is the little building shown in the ad still there on Oberlin Avenue? Sure, it is!

I wonder if the people living in it are aware of its connection with a company that helped transform Lorain?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

More Davidson Musings

That's East Skyline Drive running horizontally across the photo, south of
the Davidson property. You can see where Marshall Avenue dead-ends.
I received an email asking about the status of the Davidson house today. It's still there (as shown above) – the estate is as beautiful as ever in its unique setting, sandwiched between the working class homes of Meister Road and East Skyline Drive. I believe it has been enlarged over the years.

In yesterday's post, I forgot to mention a few things. First, the peacocks. I can remember their unique squawks coming from the property on many a morning in the 1960s.

I also forgot to note that my father's favorite uncle – Uncle Ben – was in the same graduating class of Lorain High School as Everett Davidson.

I'm hoping that members of the Davidson family notice this post. Why? Because Lorain dairy farmer William Neuman's daughter (Phyllis) married Lorain attorney Everett Davidson. I'm hoping that a descendant may have access to some old photos or information about the farm, which was located just down Meister Road to the east.

I'm hoping someone in the family can shed some light on this photo of the Neuman farm, as well as any other interesting tidbits about the Davidson home and how it came to be located on Meister Road.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Davidson Home Article – August 20, 1959

For those of us that grew up on the west side of Lorain near Meister Road, the Davison home always instilled a sense of wonderment. It was a real mansion, set back far enough from the road that you couldn't get a real good look at it. We could only see part of the back of it from Skyline Drive.

But it was probably our earliest introduction to the concept of being "rich."

After all, the Davidsons employed a gardener that many kids liked to provoke by sneaking onto the property to steal apples or whatever.

Anyway, the article above written by Lou Kepler – which appeared in the Lorain Journal on August 20, 1959 – profiles the family and gives a nice description of the house and property circa 1959, for those of us who have always wondered what it looked like.

The article includes a few interesting tidbits, including the fact that "two creeks, Martin's Run and Horn Creek, bisect the Davidson property."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Vintage Lorain County Fair Ad – August 18, 1946

Here's an ad for the great Lorain County Fair that ran in the Lorain Journal on August 18, 1946 – 68 years ago today!

That's some great looking illustrations of the farm animals. It looks like the artist actually studied some photos of the real thing before creating his rendering. (That's pretty rare these days; even now, if I had to draw a horse, he'd probably look like Quick Draw McGraw without the hat.)

Anyway, according to some vintage online newspaper articles, a record 4,500 people attended the fair on the opening day that year.

Courtesy Billboard
And in case you're wondering about the evening programs, Klein's Revue consisted of "breath-taking aerial acts," and the Congress of Daredevils was an automobile thrill show (which you can read about here).

The WLS Circus featured its famous White Horse Troupe (see ad at right).

Quite a difference from the fair fare of today.

Anyway, I hope to make it out to the Fair later this week. Gotta get my Rutana's Apple Dumpling fix for the year (extra sauce, please, and hold the ice cream).

Thursday, August 7, 2014

It's Vacation Time!

Vintage comic postcard with art by H. Dean
Well, it's that time of year again when I take a much-needed break from work – and blogging too! So I'm very sorry to say that I won't be posting anything all next week.

But please do check back here on Monday, August 18th when I resume my normal schedule. Hey, that's Lorain County Fair Week!

In the meantime, enjoy the summer – it's fading fast!

By the way, that's one strange looking rabbit on that postcard – Bugs Bunny he ain't. He kinda resembles Curly of the Three Stooges!

"The Creator of Bugs Bunny" Comes to Midway Mall – August 1969

Here's the ad promoting the 1969 appearance by Les Barker, "Creator of the World Famous Cartoon Strip Bugs Bunny" from August 11 thru 16 at the Midway Mall in Elyria.

It looks like Bugs is saying, "Ehhh, who is dis guy anyway? Never hoid of him!"

August 20, 1960 article
from the Ottawa Citizen
It's not surprising that the wascally wabbit looks confused. What is this guy's relationship to Bugs Bunny?

I'm still not sure that there is one. But strangely enough, Barker had enough fame and accomplishments as a comic book artist that he didn't really need it.

According to this Wiki entry, Les Barker's real name was Leo Bachle. He was a talented Canadian comic book artist, best known for his World War II hero character Johnny Canuck. Johnny Canuck – with no super powers at all – battled secret agents and fought for democracy, becoming an important national symbol credited with helping the war effort.
After the war ended, Leo Bachle changed his name to Les Barker and became a comedian, giving up his art career. He achieved a certain amount of fame as he traveled around the United States, rubbing elbows with movie stars, and performing a nightclub act in which he entertained using an overhead projector.

And that's exactly what he did at Midway Mall back in August 1969. We caught one of his Saturday performances.

My autograph of Les Barker
His show consisted of him doing drawings on clear overlays that were projected on a screen as he talked and made jokes. It took him a while to actually get around to drawing Bugs Bunny. If I remember correctly, he did a very rough sketch of Elmer Fudd as a hunter getting attacked by bees coming out of a hive manipulated by an even rougher sketch of Bugs Bunny. He drew them all on separate overlays, so he could manipulate the drawings to achieve a sort of primitive animation.

I remember being very excited to see him, and being slightly disappointed that Bugs Bunny was such a minor part of his show. That didn't stop me from getting his autograph, though!
It wasn't until I began to pay attention to reading the animation credits on Bugs Bunny cartoons that I noticed that the name 'Les Barker' was suspiciously missing. Maybe Barker drew some Bugs Bunny comic books or advertising art at some point to legitimize his claim. But it doesn't really matter – I had a lot of fun at the Mall that day.

Les Barker was immortalized when his beloved creation – Johnny Canuck – was featured on a postage stamp issued by Canada Post. Here's a live interview with Les Barker that appeared on CBC Television at the time back in 1995. He was justifiably proud (and he didn't bring up Bugs Bunny, either).

He passed away in May 2003.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Midway Mall Ads – August 1969

Here's a pair of ads for Midway Mall that appeared in the Journal in August 1969.
This one (below) ran in the paper on August 3 and celebrated the 50th Anniversary of 4-H Clubs with a special exhibit.

This full-page ad (below) ran on August 6 – 45 years ago today. I guess the back-to-school ads started just as early back then as they do now.

That vaguely British-looking crossing guard seems to be giving that cocky kid the evil eye.

Anyway, it's interesting that Midway Mall – in its early years at least – positioned itself as sort of the community gathering place for Lorain. Various community events – such as Lorain City Schools art shows – were always held there. With the decline of Downtown Lorain, and the disadvantage of the Sheffield Shopping Center being open to the elements, Midway Mall stepped in and took advantage of its opportunity to become the 'town center' of Lorain.

If you look closely at the newspaper ad, you can see all sorts of fun attractions designed to appeal to kids, including a visit by Scollon's Famous Marionettes, as well appearances by Les Barker, the creator of Bugs Bunny, and…

The creator of Bugs Bunny? Les Barker?

I thought Chuck Jones, Tex Avery and a bunch of other guys contributed to the creation of the Oscar-winning rabbit. Who was Les Barker – and what kind of show did he do at the Mall?

Well, the Bradys caught one of his shows – and I'll tell you about it tomorrow!

In the meantime, click here to learn about Scollon Productions. They're still around, but instead of creating traveling puppet shows, they have shifted their creativity to the production of costumed characters. (Here's a link to their history page, which mentions their mall shows.)