Monday, December 28, 2015

Birdseye View West 6th and Peach

Aerial photograph of the Erie County Courthouse and surrounding area of West 6th and Peach Street in Erie, PA.
The Erie County Courthouse is the 'U' shaped building near the center of this photo. Old Time Erie history blog.
Here is a scene that has seen a lot of changes over the years. The Erie County Courthouse is the 'U' shaped building in the upper half of this photo. The part shown here is at 140 West 6th Street in Erie, PA, before the addition with the jail was built on West 5th Street. It would be interesting to find out how many thousands of people have walked the halls of the courthouse, appearing as jurors, filing a will or applying for a marriage license.

The bulk of this shot is between Peach and Sassafras Streets. Perry Square is in the center on the left, and below that is the old Greyhound Station on North Park Row.

Old Main, part of Gannon University, is partially hidden by trees, but the Erie Club at 524 Peach Street is clearly visible. The old First Presbyterian Church at 502 Peach Street is the one with the whitest roof and steeple. 

The Cathedral of St. Paul Episcopal Church is across the street from the courthouse. The triangle near the bottom right has seen the most change. It now contains green space, walkways and tall apartment buildings housing students attending Gannon University. 

LifeWorks Erie is now currently occupies the building at 406 Peach Street, visible in the very bottom right corner of this picture. The photographer was looking southwest more or less when this was taken.

Enjoy more cool photos and fun historical facts at Old Time Erie!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Soap Box Derby at the Dock

Soap Box Derby on State Street in Erie, PA on July 31, 1935. Old Time Erie photo by William Liebler. 

It's finally here! The big day. The event everyone has been waiting for. The Soap Box Derby! Hundreds of people lined both sides of State Street to see local boys participate in this race on July 31, 1935. Events like these were held all over the country, building an estimated 50,000 cars. The champion of each city went on to the national race.

"On August 11th at Akron, Ohio, the finals drew a crowd of between 75,000 and 90,000 people who watched Maurice E. Bale, Jr., age 13, of Anderson, Indiana, race down the incline to become the 1935 Soap Box Derby Champion." -Boys Life (May 1936).

There was a lot at stake for the boys. The first place national champion won a four-year college scholarship; 2nd place won a Chevrolet Master Coach and third place won a Chevrolet Standard Coach.The first boy who won the local derby in Erie, PA is shown at 5:09 in this short film of the 1936 All American Derby racing in the elimination trials Akron, OH. It's pretty exciting to watch the race, and it's no wonder so many spectators showed up. 

Find more historical facts about Erie, Pennsylvania at Old Time Erie.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Harding Elementary School Addition

The 1951 addition to Harding Elementary School, on 8th and Lincoln in Erie, PA.
Old Time Erie photo from the Erie School District archives. 
Harding Elementary School at 820 Lincoln Avenue holds many fond memories for those who grew up near Frontier Park and the Delaware Avenue Housing Project. So many students attended Harding that the Erie School District built an addition on the north side of the school in June of 1951. The firm of Meyers, Krider, Werle and Ellenberger served as architects and engineer on the project. 

For more fun facts about the history of Erie, PA, check out Old Time Erie!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Words and Music to Dream By

Words and Music to Dream By featured Skip Letcher and Dick Fry. The photo of downtown Erie by Dick Kubeja  shows the west side of State Street from 9th to 7th, from Kresge's to the Boston Store. 
Skip Letcher was the star of a popular children's television show by day, donning a beard to play Pappy. By night he was a radio personality. More about his career in a moment. Skip teamed up with organist Dick Fry for "Words and Music To Dream By," a record album that was released by Rodeo International. Dick played organ, piano and chimes; Skip read poetry written by Ellen H. Eff.

The Pappy Show was legendary. Hundreds of Erie youngsters appeared in the WICU-TV studio audience for a chance to be on television. Skip was very popular with the kids, many of whom remember him 50+ years later!

Skip Letcher's biography appears on the back cover of the album jacket. He was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and got his start in 1944 at CJCH in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His next gig was at CJCB in Sydney and then VON in St. John's, Newfoundland. He appeared in the 1949 or 1950 Columbia Pictures' short "Disc Jockeys, USA." This was a jumping-off point that lead to a dual job at WICU radio and TV in Erie, PA.

"On TV Skip does five children's shows a week and on the radio has the most popular show on Sundays, 'Music For Sundays,' four hours of good music and poetry. Skip's programs are heard over the tri-state area of Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania and also the London-Tillsonburg area in Ontario."

I'm not one for poetry, but Dick Kubeja's photo on the cover of this album is awesome. It was taken from the Baldwin Building (Renaissance Center) at 10th and State, which is why the Koehler Beer clock towers over everything. He also got a nice shot of the Boston Store from a different angle. Other stores in the picture are Kresge, Eckerd's Drugs, Jordan's, Thom McCan and Burt's Shoes. There was plenty of neon to light up State Street.

Thanks to Dale for parting with this sweet record! Enjoy more fun facts about Erie, PA at Old Time Erie.