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Vermilion Ohio, A Good Place to Live

Current time in Vermilion -

"Intangible Evidence"

IT'S SURREAL: I am a longtime admirer of the work of Salvador Dali. I find his surreal images to be - oddly enough - very pleasing. I am drawn to his work(s) like a mosquito to a bug-zapper - although the result is fortunately (or unfortunately - depending on personal point-of-view) not the same. But what can I say? Some people like to look at velvet Elvis paintings and automobile accidents.

Surreal:a mixture of fact and fantasy. That's a very compelling notion. But what does that have to do with history? Well tis this:

I've been reading a book called "Midnight Herring" and it is a rather (although extremely subtle) surreal account of "Prohibition and Rum Running on Lake Erie".

The author is Dr. David Frew. He is also the executive director of the Erie (PA) County Historical Society and professor emeritus of organizational behavior at Gannon University in Erie. He has written 25 books and more than 100 aricles and technical papers. His books on maritime history of Central Lake Erie have won both regional and national awards.

This book is Book 4 of a series of books called "The Lake Erie Quandrangle Shipwreck Series". It is a product of Frew's interviews with many of the people once involved in rum running on Lake Erie and their relatives - as well as commonly known histories of the era.

The reason I consider it to be "subtley surreal" is because Frew's treatment of the subject is as if he were there - and he makes no apologies for it. Nor is it necessary.

If you're interested in some of the activities in, on, and around Lake Erie after the U.S. Congress passed the Volstead Act (Prohibition) in 1919 until it was repealed in 1933 this book is a must read.

It is printed by the Erie County Historical Society & Museums ©2006. Hopefully all the public libraries about the Great Lakes have - or will soon have - the series.

9:08 a.m.

Advertisement in The Vermillion News
July, 1897

PARTY AT THE LAKE HOUSE PARK, ETC: This advertisement for the Lake House (later the Maud-Elton Hotel) and Mr. Klaar's harness shop appeared on the front page of The Vermillion News in July of 1897. It was the 2nd issue of the paper.

When the ad appeared the hotel occupied the southeast corner of Liberty and Divison (now Main) Streets in, what was then, the middle of town. The "Park" refers to an area behind the hotel. It was outside. But, like many 19th century dance halls, it was outdoors. Today we'd call it a patio. Although there was likely a place inside to dance - sans contemporary air-conditioning in the summer months - outdoors was a better option.

J.A. Klaar's harness shop was just down Liberty Avenue to the west of the old hotel. Eventually J.A.'s shop was displaced by the advent and popularity of a thing called the "motor-car". On February 3rd, 1936 he would lose his life to another technological development; a natural gas heater. He succumbed to gas fumes while working in the office in the Vermilion Township Hall.

This is another piece of local history gleaned from scanning some of the microfilm files acquired from Bowling Green State University. Someday I hope to find the funds to also acquire a microfilm scanner that will make accessing these files more expedient and easier.

With any luck...

Ollie Abel (with one "el")

Ollie: This pic is courtesy of "VViewer" Eric Eyman. This is Ollie Abel. She was Hattie Abel Rathbun's sister. And she would (I believe) be "VViewer" Lorna Naegele's grandmother. Lorna is the person who afforded "Views" the great photograph of Hattie Abel Rathbun which showed that she was one of the pretty ladies standing by a Vermilion fence in another photograph.

Although I don't do another comparison here Eric's pic shows that the lady standing next to Hattie in the fence photo was her sister Ollie.Some day we may discover the names of all the girls therein.

Coincidentally, I found the following article in my last scanning session with the aforementioned micro-files of The News:

Note that the name is spelled with 2 "els". How old the girls were at the time of this notice is currently unknown. But it would have some bearing on the date of the "fence" photo.

What I do know is that the Abel Family lived on Washington Street, and that Mr. Abel was a barber.And I'm not certain - but I also believe that the Rust Family (Carrie Rust is mentioned in the lower notice) lived on Washington Street as well.

There is a great deal of historic information to be gleaned by looking at these old newspaper articles in detail.

Understanding the Financial Crisis

[Thanks to Sue in Turkey]

Once upon a time in a village somewhere, a man announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for $10.

The villagers seeing there were many monkeys around, went out to the forest and started catching them. The man bought thousands at $10, but, as the supply started to diminish,the villagers stopped their efforts.

The man further announced that he would now buy at $20. This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again.

Soon the supply diminished even further and people started going back to their farms. The offer rate increased to $25 and the supply of monkeys became so little that it was an effort to even see a monkey, let alone catch it!

The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at $50! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would now act as buyer, on his behalf.

In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers: 'Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected. I will sell them to you at $35 and when he returns from the city, you can sell them back to him for $50.'

The villagers squeezed together their savings and bought all the monkeys. Then they never saw the man or his assistant again, only monkeys everywhere!

Welcome to WALL STREET!

The boys at the Olympic Club

AMERICA'S 1ST SLOPPY "JOE'S" PLACE: Let me begin this tale with a disclaimer. The story you are about to read may (or may not) be precisely accurate. It all depends upon who you talk to - or better still - who you believe. But despite those rather trivial details it is, fundamentally, a sincere account of how, and approximately when, the clubhouse at Vermilion’s Olympic Outing Club (OOC) acquired the name Sloppy "Joe's" Place.

In 1902 a group of men from the west side of Cleveland, Ohio acquired a property along the western banks of the Vermilion River just south of Vermilion Village to be used as a campground. They called it the Olympic Outing Club. The name "Olympic" was adapted from a place they had met / frequented in the city.

In any case, the intent of these men was to create a place of respite from the travails of interurban life. And there, in the flood plain ‘neath the great shale banks that tower above the stream, they pitched their tents, fished, played cards, told stories, sang old songs, smoked a few cigars, drank a little beer; and, to use a tired old phrase, "Communed with nature".

As time passed the tents gave way to permanent structures. Tidy white cottages were built away from the river - most near the cliffs of the valley to avoid severe damage from springtide freshets that naturally find a course across the flood plain. In addition to the cottages a clubhouse was also built. This took the place of the open air gathering place (pictured) that while amenable enough in good weather undoubtedly served everyone a great deal better with walls and a roof.

By 1925 the clubhouse featured electric lighting, a long refreshment bar, card tables, spittoons, and a cash register. And although this was during the era of Prohibition (1920-1933) and no alcoholic beverages were permitted (Hey folks! It was illegal!!) folks at the club still gathered to enjoy one another's company. And herein lies the tale of how the place was named.

Joe Ehrhard was an early member of the OOC. For whatever reason he also served as tender of the bar in the aforementioned clubhouse. Photographs of the clubhouse during that era show that Joe kept the place in very good order. But perhaps more importantly it was said that Joe, himself, was an extremely tidy person. This penchant for Joe to be so fastidious appears to have led his fellow club members to constantly, but good-naturedly, razz him as being “sloppy”. Ergo; the clubhouse came to be called Sloppy "Joe’s" Place. The sign (pictured) that still hangs behind the bar in the present day clubhouse appears to underline the fact that "Sloppy" was not a literal term at all; but was rather one of affection and amusement.

As a matter of public record it might be of interest for folks to note that the famous Sloppy Joe’s Saloon in Key West, Florida did not assume that name until the middle or late 1930’s - well after the 18th Amendment to our Constitution (Prohibition) was repealed. Consequently, the OOC clubhouse is very likely America’s very first Sloppy Joe’s.

But in the end it really doesn't matter. In either place the refreshments are just as wet; the laughter is just as spirited; the music is just as lively; and the times are just as memorable - both today and in the yesteryear.

Ref: Olympic Outing Club Photo Archives; Special Thanks to John and Larry Fogarty, Jay Dorsey, Jeff Dorsey and the general membership of the Olympic Outing Club; Published in the Vermilion Photojournal on 10-11-07.

11:06 AM

Originally part of the Bluebird Subdivision

BLUEBIRD MAP: In rambling through historical data re: Vermilion, O. one invariably comes across a few items that surprise. This is one of them. It is a map loaned me by Vermilionite Pat Creel.

The undated map shows a tract of land to the east of the area most people now recognize as Bluebird Beach. Bluebird - for those unfamiliar with it - is an area on the very west side of the city that lies along Lake Erie just north of Liberty Avenue. Like many of the little neighborhoods around the town it was conceived as a little resort area that later developed into year-round residences. It is, bar none, one of the nicest neighborhoods in the community.

The map, however, is not that of the Bluebird Beach which most folks are today familiar. It is of an area - across an expanse of open ground - to the east of today's Bluebird. The map shows the course of the old Lake Shore Electric Railroad when it ran through the area - just before it turned south to run parallel with the steam rails. That's no real surprise to many folks. What is surprising are the two streets that appear on the map.

Whether either street - "Sunnyside Drive" or "Milton Drive" were ever formally dedicated streets in the municipality is unknown. No vestiges of either the LSE or Sunnyside Drive - which evidently followed the same course as the LSE - remain. But Milton Drive is currently a private (north-south) drive back to the homes in that neighborhood. All of the homes there carry a Liberty Avenue address.

The map is very interesting because those who can get a good look at it will remember some of the names of the folks who owned the properties (aside from the Creels): Sophia Nuhn, Louis and Anna Sherman, Elsie and John Halley, Harry and Freda Peck, Henry and Martha Dotzlaf, and Nelson Parsons, etc.

This is, by the by, a photograph of the map. I temporarily attached it to a piece of poster-board, set it on a chair, and took the pic. It worked famously.

Mill Hollow

THE MILL IN THE HOLLOW: This 1876 snapshoot of the mill in the place that eventually became Mill Hollow was scanned from one of the metro-system's history books. My brother-in-law, Dave Wilkes, loaned it to me. It is the only photograph of the mill that I've ever seen. But I'm certain that deep inside a chest in someone's attic or closet there are others.

I made a point of marking the position of the Bacon House and the mill so that "Viewers" will have some idea as to there position in the hollow. Just visible to the left of the house is the road which led into the hollw from the northeast.

A mill existed when Benjamin Bacon purchased it in 1835. The house was constructed in 1845. And when Bacon died in in 1868 the mill was sold to a J. Hyman.

In 1876 the mill burned to the ground and another - a steam powered mill - was built the following year. Bacon's son, Frederick, bought the mill back in 1879. And sometime in 1890's it was sold to an "A" and "D" Christman. They moved it to the Village of Vermilion.

Apparently the mill that once occupied the site of what is currently the "Mill Manor" elder-care facility on south Exchange Street was the place where the mill had been re-located. The owner, one David Christman, his wife, Elizabeth, and his children, George, Maggie, and Arthur, lived in a home on nearby State Street.

Now, who would've thunk that Vermilion's old mill was the same mill as the one once located in Mill Hollow? Not, not, I.


Take a cyber visit through my on-line store.

Christmas is coming and I'll be designing some new items. So stay close; and take a virtual tour of the shop. I keep it nice and clean.

And for those who might wonder - this is my shop - and I do make a few bucks selling the items therein...


Support This Site

Podcasts - "forever under construction..."

Photo overlooking the future home of
Vermilion's First Congregational Church

PODCAST #103: This week the Vermilion Views Podcast #103 is a slide presentation re:the construction of the First Congregational Church building in Vermilion c.1957 (through 2000). It's a long presentation - so it'll take some time to load. As I have previously suggested - ye might want to turn the volume control on the speakers on your pc down, down, down. I've not toned the music down so it will be a little loud.

Also note that all the video (MP4) podcasts (where used) are done in the "Quicktime" format.

Stay with me on this project. Things will get better. (I pro-mize.)

NOTE NOTE:Past podcasts are no longer available in the on-line archive. They just take up too much disk space. But if one really, really, really wants to acquire a copy of a past cast it can be had by contacting moi - and I will place it on a disc and send it to ye for a minimal fee.

LOCAL ANNOUNCEMENTS: After giving it much thought this link has been "put-down". During the last year most of the folks who used to use this page as a bulletin board have acquired their own and, consequently, no longer need this forum from "Views". I have, however, kept links (in the links section) to Larry Hohler's "Hope Homes" in Kenya - and to Bette Lou Higgins' Eden Valley Enterprises sites. They are historically and socially relevant projects.

If, however, something important crops up it - it will appear here.

Join Bette on Saturday, December 6, 2008 at 11 a.m. in Vermilion when the Christmas Tree Ship arrives! Dave Childers will sing Christmas songs and read the story of the Christmas Tree ship at the dock by Red Clay on the River at 5150 Liberty Ave. in Vermilion.

The Beat Goes On: The page is generated by the dreaded Macintosh Computer and is written and designed by (me) Rich Tarrant. It will change weekly ~ usually on Saturday. Bookmark the URL (Universal Resource Locater) and come back at your own leisure. Send the page to your friends (and enemies if you wish). If you have something to share with those who visit this page, pass it on. And if you see something that is in need of correction do the same. My sister, Nancy, is a great help in that respect. It only takes me a week to get things right. And follow the links. You might find something you like. If you experience a problem with them let me know. Also, if you want to see past editions of this eZine check the new archives links below.

If you're looking for my old links section (pictured) I've replaced it with a pull-down menu (visible in the small box next to the word "Go"). If you're looking for links to more Vermilion history check that menu.

How the old links menu looked

Links to additional Vermilion Ohio pages:

For Persons who would like to donate to the cause (to keep these "Views" on-line you can send whatever you would like to me at the following address. And THANKS to everybody who has already donated to the cause. I doth certainly appreciate it):
Rich Tarrant
1041 Oakwood Drive
Vermilion, Ohio
Telephone: 440-967-0988 - Cell: 440-522-4459

"The 3 Stooges have been reborn with Alan, Bob, and Rick as players. They also star in a new docu-drama: The Stooges Talk To Congress."
-Professor Roselyn Picher

Vol.6, Issue 36, November 22, 2008

Archive Issue #297

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