Friday, March 27, 2015

1965 Palm Sunday Tornadoes

The front page of the Journal the next day
Palm Sunday is this weekend, and for many people, the Sunday before Easter always brings back bad memories of 1965. For it was on Palm Sunday, April 11, 1965 – 50 years ago next month – that an outbreak of 47 deadly tornadoes struck the Midwest, including Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. 271 people were killed (60 in Ohio) and 1500 were injured.

The front page of the April 12, 1965 Journal is shown above.

In Lorain County, eighteen people died. Pittsfield was practically wiped off the map, and nine people loss their lives there. It's still impossible to drive through Pittsfield on Route 58 and not think of the devastation that the small community suffered.

Here's the continuation from page 1 of the April 12, 1965 Journal. It includes a well-written article by Lou Kepler about the damage at Pittsfield.

Here's a small article from the Plain Dealer from April 19, 1965 about how Pittsfield was beginning to rebuild a week after the disaster. It's interesting that the Civil War statue was the first priority.

A year after the deadly tornado, the Plain Dealer published an article by James L. Grisso (below) that explained some of the improved weather warning devices that were now in use. The article also included a few great photos, including one of Pittsfield's damaged Civil War monument and an update on the community since the disaster.

April 3, 1966 article from the Plain Dealer
The 1965 Palm Sunday tornadoes only reinforced my childhood fear of tornadoes (that had already been nurtured with tales of the one that struck Lorain in 1924).

Thursday, March 26, 2015

More Sheffield Lake Fire Department History

2015 is the year of the big Sheffield Bicentennial, so I'm trying to post historical content about Sheffield Lake whenever I find it.

Since my post last month about the Sheffield Lake's Emergency Squad ambulance, I found this photo in the archives at the Domonkas Branch of the Lorain Public Library. It's a formal group portrait of what I'm assuming is the fire department, posing in front of the old station on E. Lake Road.

I'm hoping that someone will see this post and provide some names, as the vintage photo was not labeled or dated.

I also recently found two photos with a corresponding caption on microfilm showing a proposed Sheffield Lake Fire Station. The photos appeared in the Lorain Journal on August 7, 1957.

The caption read, "NEW FIRE STATION – Discussing plans for a proposed new fire station for Sheffield Lake yesterday were (seated), from left, Mayor James C. Markley, Clarence Huebmer, assistant fire chief; Peter Cifranic, fire chief and William Kennedy, chairman. Standing, from left, are Sam Wilson, Charles Miller and Warren Ruff. The proposed station, pictured at top, will depend on a $110,000 bond issue for land, building, truck and equipment. The plans will be presented to council. A public meeting is to be held Aug. 14 at 8 p.m. in St. Teresa School on Harris Rd. to discuss plans and specifications.

I need some help from someone knowledgable about Sheffield Lake history on this as well. The photo of the proposed fire station sure looks different than what is there now (below). I'm not sure if the design was completely changed, or if the building was later modified.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Late March Blizzard – 1947

The first day of Spring was a few days ago, so winter is technically over at last. But anything can happen in Northern Ohio, and just because it's spring doesn't mean we can't have some more winter weather.

That's what happened back in 1947 – 68 years ago today – when a blizzard struck Lorain on March 25, 1947. As the article from the front page of the Lorain Journal the next day noted, "Lorain today was gradually recovering from the effects of its worst blizzard in many years which struck with paralyzing force yesterday, and the weatherman promised it would be warmer tomorrow.

"Elsewhere in Lorain-co, however, schools remained closed today and traffic was still halted as workers continued efforts to dig out from the winter's heaviest snowfall.

"Similar tie-ups were reported thruout Northern Ohio, with 1,500 motor cars still stalled in snowdrifts in the Cleveland area, 8,000 made idle in Canton and interurban bus service suspended on some lines.

"Altho winds, which reached a velocity of 65 miles an hour yesterday, had abated today, most roads in central and southern Lorain-co were piled high with snowdrifts today. Only the Lake-rd, the Lorain-Elyria-rd and the Lorain-Amherst-rd were reported entirely open."

Let's hope history doesn't repeat itself this year.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dairymens Easter Packaging – March 1955

Easter was still a month away in 1955 when Dairymens launched a special holiday promotion.

During Lent, Dairymens Whipped Cream (yum) Cottage Cheese came in special cartons. As shown in the ad, the carton – when empty – could be converted into a mini-easter basket with the addition of a cardboard or pipe cleaner handle. There were six "gayly colored baskets" to collect.

It's a cute idea. Nowadays, though, I'm sure companies would avoid this kind of marketing gimmick, being too afraid to offend someone.

As you can see from the ad, pineapple was the upcoming 'special flavor' of cottage cheese. (By the way, I almost never eat plain cottage cheese. I prep it first by throwing some grape jelly into it, making a sort of "poor man's yogurt" out of it. I learned that culinary trick from one of my Ohio State roomies.)

I had forgotten all about pipe cleaners, though. I wonder if they were ever used to clean pipes?

Anyway, the ad ran in the Lorain Journal on March 10, 1955 – 60 years ago this month.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Easter Bunny Arrives at O'Neil's – Twice – 1955

Over the years, I've done a few posts highlighting the arrival of Santa Claus at O'Neil Sheffield Shopping Center by helicopter – but I had no idea that the Easter Bunny used the same extravagant mode of transportation.

But here are the ads that tell the rabbit's tale, which ran in the pages of the Lorain Journal at Easter time 1955.

The first ad was full-page and ran on March 23, 1955 – 60 years ago today. It announced that the big event would take place on March 26, 1955. The ad has a nice roster of the current stores at that time.
Strangely enough, a second ad appeared a little more than a week later, announcing the same thing. Perhaps the weather was bad for the first go-around.
I wasn't born yet in 1955, so I have no memory of these events. In fact, I don't remember ever going to see a department store Easter Bunny. What could you ask him to bring you besides candy and hard-boiled eggs, anyways?

The whole "Easter Bunny's Arrival" gimmick must not have clicked with kids, as I don't remember seeing another ad like this. The idea of this holiday hare probably works best (and is most believable to kids) as an unseen force of good. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Lorain Public Library Scale Model – March 9, 1955

Sixty years ago this month, the Lorain Public Library was making plans for its new building on Sixth Street. As the article above – which ran in the Lorain Journal on March 9, 1955 – explains, the buildings currently on the future library site were to be demolished on August 1, and construction was to begin a month after that.

The photo shows the scale model that Meyer and Fauver Associates used in their presentation to the Library trustees. (Do architects still build scale models now, or do they merely present soulless computer generated renderings?)

You might remember my 2012 post showing what was on the library's site originally: a Sunoco gas station (shown at left).

Apparently in 1952 the fact that the Sun Oil Company's lease on the property was for four more years really gummed up the works, although it appears that the library managed to get them out a year early.

I'll bet the Cities Service station nearby on Reid didn't mind a bit that one of its competitors was sacrificed in the name of knowledge.

Courtesy Chronicle-Telegram

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lorain Auto Show Ad – March 21, 1955

The Cleveland Auto Show just ended (I went for the first time ever), so this post is kind of appropriate.

Above is a great ad for the 1955 Lorain Auto Show that appeared in the Lorain Journal on March 21, 1955. The big event was held at the Lorain Arena and was the inaugural event for the about-to-be-opened venue.
The illustration of the family in the Journal ad really epitomizes the optimism and postwar prosperity of the 1950s. When I first saw it, it reminded me of something – and then I remembered.

Whether by design or coincidence, it's an updated version of the American family depicted in the famous 1930s billboard (below) that was part of a campaign for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).


I wonder what the equivalent ad would look like today?