Monday, November 30, 2015

Lorain’s Tucker Automobile Dealership

Last week I did a post about 939 Broadway, currently the home of Dabu Restaurant & Cocktail Bar, and for many years the headquarters of radio station WLRO. I’d mentioned in my post that there was a used car business at that location run by Arlington J. Popp in the early 1940s.

This triggered the memory of local historian and author Al Doane, who contacted me to point out something very interesting: that Arlington Popp had briefly operated a Tucker Automobile dealership at that same location.

It was pretty brief. An ad for the Tucker dealership only appeared in the October 1947 and October 1948 Lorain Telephone Company directories.

A 1948 Tucker Sedan at the Blackhawk Auto Museum
(Courtesy of Wikipedia)
Now, in case you’ve never heard of it, the Tucker Automobile was a revolutionary car conceived by Preston Tucker and known for its innovative design. 

Despite this, the car had only a brief life due to many controversial factors, and only 51 were produced before the company closed. (Preston Tucker and his cars were the subject of Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988) starring Jeff Bridges and directed by Francis Ford Coppola.)

Al remembered one of the unique features of the car. “As the front wheels turned,” he noted, "the head lights also turned with the wheels.”

This is explained further in the Wiki entry on the Tucker 48 automobile. It states, “The most recognizable feature of the Tucker ’48, a directional third headlight (known as the “Cyclops Eye”), would activate at steering angles of greater than 10 degrees to light the car’s path around corners.” 

Not surprisingly – since so few cars were manufactured – Al remembered that the dealership “was never able to get one of the Tucker autos in their new showroom.”

Friday, November 27, 2015

Santa Claus Arrives in Lorain – 1946

I used to think that the immediate shift in seasons from Thanksgiving to Christmas was a modern invention, something that slowly gained in popularity in the 1970s. But then, after I began looking at vintage newspaper microfilm at the library, I realized that this has been going on for a long time.

Here’s some proof of that. Above is the full-page ad that ran in the Lorain Journal on Tuesday, November 26, 1946 – 69 years ago – announcing the kickoff to the city’s Christmas celebration.

The ad charmingly provides a window to the Downtown Lorain of the mid-1940s.

Happily, the Lorain Growth Corporation has been working hard trying to make new holiday memories that people will reminisce about someday, with the 2015 Light Up Lorain Waterfront Winterfest. The agenda is pretty impressive.

The fun begins on Saturday, November 28, 2015 with the big parade at 4:30. Both Saturday and Sunday are crammed with a lot of fun – fireworks, skating, ice sculpture, horse drawn carriage rides, the annual lights at Lakeview Park, a Singing Angels concert, a big brass swing band, and much more.

Here’s the link to the official website that has the schedule and all the details.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving at the Deutschof – 1937

Many people enjoy Thanksgiving dinner out at a restaurant, and thus avoid the unpleasant task of washing dishes.

The older I get, this seems to make more sense to me. Maybe next year.

Back on Thanksgiving Day 1937, one of the choices for a fine meal for Lorainites was the Deutschof . It had a nice menu for the day, with expected items (turkey with chestnut dressing, fluffy mashed potatoes) as well as a few surprises (marinated herring, french fried potatoes and fruit cake). Assorted nuts and mints rounded out the feast.

Here’s hoping that you are able to celebrate the holiday with a fine meal, in the company of your loved ones and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What was playing at the Palace on Thanksgiving 1937?

Many people enjoy going to the movies as part of a holiday celebration.

This is nothing new, as shown in the above ad which ran on Thanksgiving eve in the Lorain Journal on Wednesday, November 24, 1937. It promotes the Palace’s Gala Holiday Show.

But as you can see from the foreboding graphic in the ad, warm and fuzzy holiday fare was not exactly in store for movie patrons.

Seeing as the theater was the Warner Brothers Palace, perhaps it’s probably not a surprise that the main feature was a crime drama: Alcatraz Island (1937). It’s the story of a man railroaded into Alcatraz prison who ends up framed for the murder of another inmate. John Litel stars as “Gat” Brady (no relation).

The second half of the double feature was a little bit lighter: Swing It, Sailor (1938). I’m not sure how it could be playing in Lorain in 1937 when all the online movie websites say it was released in 1938.

This movie featured a whole list of actors that I’ve never heard of: Wallace Ford, Ray Mayer, Isabel Jewell and Mary Treen.

The only cast member that I’ve ever heard of is Tom Kennedy, who played a lot of policemen in comedy shorts, with comedians such as Laurel & Hardy. In fact, he was even in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World – in which he played a whistle-blowing traffic cop near the end of the movie.

Anyway, the whole movie is on YouTube, so if want to find out if it is indeed a “comedy riot,” here’s your chance. Give it a click below.

I wonder what nameless “cartoon” was shown with the double feature?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Polansky’s Thanksgiving Ad – November 22, 1947

November 22, 1937 Lorain Journal ad
By now, you’ve no doubt finalized your plans for Thanksgiving dinner, and bought your bird.

The last two years, I ordered a fresh turkey from Polansky’s Meat Market on S. Dewey Road in Amherst. It's not cheap, but I think you can taste the difference. It seems a little bit better, at least to me.

Getting your poultry from Polansky's has no doubt been a longstanding tradition for many people. But back in 1937, Polansky’s hadn’t expanded to Amherst yet. There was only the original location at 14th and Long Avenue in Lorain.

The ad shows what was available in the store for Thanksgiving, and ran in the Lorain Journal on November 22, 1937. It's interesting that you could go and check out the live turkeys – sort of like picking out a lobster.

The store also had ducks, geese and pork roasts. (My mother used to fix a duck and a capon for Thanksgiving when I was a kid – never a turkey.)

But a pork roast for Thanksgiving? It would seem un-American!

Monday, November 23, 2015

939 Broadway in Lorain

When Dabu Restaurant & Cocktail Bar opened its doors in July, the Morning Journal gave it a nice writeup. The article mentioned that the Asian fusion restaurant had evolved from the Club Copa, which had formerly occupied the same space at 939 Broadway. I wonder how many people remember some of the other businesses at that location?

The first appearance of the 939 Broadway address in an available city directory at the Lorain Public Library was in the 1940 edition. Arlington J. Popp ran a used car business with that address. Within a few years however, the address was listed as vacant. It continued to be vacant in the 1945 and 1947 books.

By the time of the 1950 edition, C. G. Captain & Sons were operating their company there, which specialized in paint, wallpaper and decorating. Their business continued to be listed at that address until the 1955-56 book. That’s when Sun Finance first appeared at 939 Broadway.

Sun Finance (later listed as Sun Finance & Loan) seems to have been the longest tenant of the building. It was listed from the 1955 book right up through the 1968 edition. But by the 1969 directory, the address was once again listed as vacant.

Next was the company that I still associate with the building when I drive by it: radio station WLRO, run by Lorain Community Broadcasting. (The WDLW Wiki page explains how WLRO rose from the ashes of WWIZ.) WLRO appeared in the city directory through the 1984-85 edition.

But around the middle of 1984, WLRO was sold. The call letters changed to WRKG, and the station moved to the Antlers Hotel at 300 Washington Avenue beginning in the 1986 directory.

That was pretty much the end of glamorous businesses at 939 Broadway until now. The building was vacant for a few years, until Great Lakes Offset (a printing company) appeared in the directory in the 1988 book.

The building appeared to be vacant during much of the 1990s. Lighthouse Laser (a computer repair company) eventually called the location home either in the late 1990s or early 2000s. Then the 939 Broadway listing seemingly disappeared from the directories, including the 2005 - 2010 era. As mentioned, Club Copa was the most recent tenant.

Anyway, here’s hoping Dabu becomes the next longtime tenant of 939 Broadway in Lorain.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Grand Opening of the Hollywood Bar – November 25, 1947

A view of 3001 Elyria Avenue this week
I’m sure many people pass this building (currently home to Carter Funeral Homes) without knowing much about its past.

In May of 1954, it had just become the Lorain Youth Center, (which I wrote about back here). But before that, it was the Hollywood Bar.

Below is the Grand Opening announcement for the Hollywood Bar that ran in the Lorain Journal on November 25, 1947 – 68 years ago this month.
I was unsuccessful at finding out anything about the floor show acts that performed at the Hollywood Bar's Grand Opening, since there wasn't even a tiny internet footprint for any of them: singer Rosalyn Danna, dancer and singer Lorna Chester, Rudolf the Magician, and Charley Brown and His Orchestra.

I’m thinking that perhaps they were locals. Does anybody recognize any of the names?