Thursday, January 31, 2013

Polish Falcons Post 123 Baseball Champs

Polish Falcons Nest 123 team photo courtesy of Tom DiLuzio.
Old Time Erie needs the help of the Teeming Masses to identify the Team Members in this photograph. We don't have much to go on, but someone out there surely knows the facts. 

The baseball team pictured here is the Polish Falcons Nest 123. The club is located at 602 East 19th Street in Erie, PA. 

Some possible clues:
The Polish Falcons won the 1938 Glenwood League title. Members of that team included: Bully Zawadski, Joe Yurkey, Butch Gajewski, Stan Koniecko (or Konieczko), Slomski (center field), Matlock (catcher), Grabowski (3rd bass), Perzynski (right field), Price (pitcher). Who knows, the photo might be from 1945 or 1946.

I will update this post as the ball players are identified, so get crackin'. 

Batboy: Frank Czulewicz
Front row (left to right):
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Back row (left to right);
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) Stephen Czulewicz.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mason's Department Store 1964 Erie PA

Mason's had two discount department stores in Erie, PA in 1964, one at 2026 Broad Street (just north of the Perry Plaza), and a second store at West 12th and Pittsburgh Ave. Mason's opened its first Erie store in 1959. This discount chain was owned by the M. H. Fishman Co. of Columbus, Ohio.

The advertisement on the left, which was published in the Erie Morning News on May 21, 1964, shows the latest fashion in summer sun-wear. Sun dresses for little girls, tropi-cool Jamaica sets and ladies' new pastel-hue summer dresses were all on sale. 

You could also sign up for a flexible credit card from Mason's and receive $3 off your first bill using the coupon on the bottom right. All you had to do was list the husband's name, age, address, employer and salary, along with bank accounts and references. You also had to list your wife's name, and tell if you rented or owned your residence.

My family shopped at the east side location when I was a kid in the early seventies, and I loved to hide in the racks of clothes. Back then, parents didn't have to worry about someone kidnapping their child from a store.

In the Erie area, Mason's was a predecessor to Miller's, Hill's and Value City department stores.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bob Contich Volkswagen East 5th Street

Bob Contich Motors Inc. was located at 117 East 5th Street, near French Street. The dealership sold Volkswagen automobiles. There is a white VW sitting in front of the showroom. When we were kids we used to punch each other in the arm whenever we saw a VW, which seemed to be quite often. This was a fun game we used to play when we went on a long trip, second only to poking each other and counting the number of different states we would see on license plates.

The Contich building was torn down and the site is now occupied by Erie Insurance.

Volkswagen had a television commercial in the nineties with the slogan 'Fahrvergnugen...Driving Excitement (or something like that). No matter what the literal meaning, it's a fun word to say out loud.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Griswold Sale at Trask's 1936

Griswold cookware and cooking utensils were manufactured in Erie, Pennsylvania. These items included frying pans, dutch ovens, pancake griddles, tea kettles, food choppers, skillets and muffin pans. It's hard to believe that the highly collectible Griswold items once sold for 59¢ to $4.29. The purchase of an entire set of Griswold would have made an excellent investment...if only you had a crystal ball. 

Trask's Department Store was located at 827 State Street in Erie, PA. The advertisement shown above appeared in the Erie Dispatch-Herald on October 28, 1936.

Griswold was also available at the Boston Store down the street:

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Waldameer New Comet Roller Coaster 1951

"Erie's famous, colorful amusement park has been under the guidance of Mr. and Mrs. F. A. Moeller for the past 37 summers. It had been in operation for 20 to 25 years as an old fashioned picnic center before the Moellers transformed it into the beautiful amusement center  it is today. The park boasts completely paved midway, expert landscaping with gay flower gardens, sanitary rest rooms and every convenience for your greater comfort. 

Truly, Waldameer is one of the nation's finest amusement parks.

Pictured (left), the newest of Waldameer's thrilling rides, 'The COMET' put into operation for the first time this season. Other big rides include: Ye Mill Chute, a scenic boat ride; Dodgems, Tumble Bug, a beautiful wood carved Merry-Go-Round and flying scooters." -ad in Erie Dispatch, August 15, 1951.

The Comet is one of the finest wooden roller coasters in North America.

Kiddie Land, featured below, includes a small boat ride and a other rides scaled down to the size of young riders.

Here is a link to the Top Ten Rides at Waldameer in 1941:

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Wesleyville M.E. Church and Underground Railroad

The old Wesleyville Methodist Episcopal Church was located on Buffalo Road in Wesleyville, PA. Frank Henry, Dr. Mark M. Moore, Major Frederick Fitch and the Chambers family used to hide fugitive slaves in the belfry before they were whisked away to freedom in Canada. 

This old church was demolished after its members built a new church at Station Road and South Street. A three-store shopping plaza sits in place of the old church at 3306 Buffalo Road. The old Wesleyville Cemetery is directly behind the plaza. Several of the men mentioned above are buried there, as are some of the founders of Wesleyville. 

For more information about activities of the Underground Railroad in Erie County, Pennsylvania, check out Lisa Gensheimer's article in Lake Erie Lifestyle called "Time Travel on the Underground Railroad"

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Guy Lombardo at the Amity Inn in Erie PA

Guy Lombardo photo courtesy of Tom DiLuzio.
Band leader Guy Lombardo was in town on March 20, 1946 to help Father Francis J. Schlindwein break ground for the new Saint Boniface School, 9363 Wattsburg Road, just south of Erie on Route 8. Father Schlindwein brought all sorts of celebrities to Erie, and knew many musicians and movie stars. He met Guy Lombardo in New York City in 1943.

After the ceremony at St. Boniface, Guy Lombardo had dinner at the Amity Inn, 1334 West 26th Street in Erie, PA, with local dignitaries. The men in the photo above include (from left to right): Erie Mayor Charlie Barber, Father Schlindwein, Guy Lombardo and Joseph Ferraro. Ferraro owned the Amity Inn. The identity of the woman seated at the table is not known.

Guy Lombardo popularized the song "Auld Lang Syne" and his band appeared in New Year's Eve performances in the early days of television.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Greetings From Erie, PA

Greetings from Erie postcard courtesy of Tom DiLuzio.
This cool large-letter linen postcard shows several scenes from Erie, PA. The bottom picture shows the old Erie Steamboat Landing, better known as the Erie Public Dock or Dobbin's Landing. The big E has Academy High School on State Street. The big R is the Peninsula, better known as Presque Isle State Park. The big I shows the Perry Monument on Presque Isle State Park. The second big E has the Edison Electric Fountain in the east park at Perry Square in downtown Erie.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Walnut Creek Hotel in Kearsarge, PA

Walnut Creek Hotel postcard courtesy of Tom DiLuzio.
Here is a real photo postcard of an old Erie County hotel, complete with several pieces of luggage sitting in the dirt. The Walnut Creek Hotel, if it existed today, would sit at 5701 Peach Street, on the southeast corner of Peach and Biebel Avenue in Millcreek Township. The site is currently occupied by Roth Cadillac. It's across the street from the Millcreek Mall.

The Walnut Creek Hotel was also a tavern. There are three Erie Brewing Company corner signs on this wooden building, advertising beer, ale and porter. Kids who grew up in Kearsarge referred to this building as the 'Haunted House.'

There are three men in this photo, two on the porch (one in a white apron) and one standing next to the horse-drawn wagon. Unfortunately, there is no postmark on the postcard. At the turn of the century, Peach Street was called Edinboro Road, or the Erie and Edinboro Road. Biebel Avenue was called Zauniger Lane. (Zaunnegger St. now runs parallel to Peach St.)

My theory is that the Walnut Creek Hotel was owned by George and Mary Biebel. They were the parents of William and Edward Biebel. William died in his home at 5637 Peach Street on May 14, 1929. The headline of his obituary read "Well-known Kearsarge Merchant Succumbs at His Home." William and Edward owned a general store near the hotel. 

I'm hoping that one of the descendants of the men shown above will drop me an e-mail to solve this mystery. 

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Gust Seus' Wine & Beer Hall, 9th and Parade, Erie PA

Gus Seus in front of his bar at 908 Parade St. Photo courtesy of Evelyn Konzel Cage.
August 'Gust' Seus had a bar at 908 Parade Street in Erie, PA called The Place. He had a great location, his wine and beer hall was one block south of Kraus' Department Store, and it was across the street from the Parade Street Market. Gust Seus is the man in the white apron in the old photo shown above. He helped his neighbors during the Depression by offering soup and sandwiches. The sign on the left says, "Our Hot Soup at All Hours."

Gust was born in Hammett, Erie Co., PA in 1883, and was married to Mary Ebach Seus. He worked for Terry Reagan at Reagan's Cafe, 913 Parade Street, in 1942. Gust passed away in 1972.

One of the neat details in this photo are the Erie Brewing Company corner signs posted at the top of the front windows, advertising beer, ale and porter. If you can find an original sign, it has red letters, a gold trim frame, and a sky-blue 'B' in the center.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rider's on the Bay with Ice Cream Stand Erie PA

Rider's on the Bay postcard from 1954 contributed by Michele H.
Let's take a look at Rider's on the Bay from a different angle. We ran a shot of this restaurant a couple of months ago and someone said, "Hey, where's the ice cream stand?" If you look hard enough, you can see the giant ice cream cone on the left side of this photo. This card was postmarked 1954. You could buy ice cream and fish & chips at the little stand on the south side of the restaurant. 

Rider's was located on West Dobbin's Landing near the Public Dock in Erie, PA until the 1960s. It had a giant fish on the roof and a cool neon sign which wrapped around the front of the building. The sign for Erie Marine Supply Co. is visible on the right side of this postcard. 

Here is a link to the other photo of Rider's:

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Monday, January 21, 2013

French Street Before Erie Insurance

French Street pre-Erie Insurance. Photo by John E. Baker, used with permission.
A beautiful day in Downtown, Erie, PA. The sun is shining, puffy white clouds are floating by, and gas is only 32¢ a gallon. Life is good.

This scene on French Street between East 5th and East 6th Streets was captured by John E. Baker. The buildings on the left were demolished to make way for the expansion of Erie Insurance. The Gulf station, which sat on the northwest corner of French and North Park Row, is gone as well.

Some of the businesses, from left to right, include Lechtner's Wholesale Company, the Perry Square Cafe, Lake's Electric, Larry's Billiards, Savelli's Tavern and the Erie Achievement Center.

Here is a view of this block from a different angle (and possibly the same blue Volkswagon):

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Where Was Sam Jethroe Born?

1951 Bowman card.
The baseball career of Sam 'The Jet' Jethroe has been well documented. He signed with the Cleveland Buckeyes in the Negro American League in 1942, for the Montreal Royals in the International League in 1948, and was signed by the Boston Braves in 1950, where he was named 'Rookie of the Year.'

I was curious about Sam's early life, having wrongly assumed that he was from Erie, PA. The connection with Erie was through Ernest Wright. Wright owned the Cleveland Buckeyes baseball team and the Pope Hotel in Erie. Sam lived in Erie during the off season with his brother, Jessie Jethroe.

Throughout his baseball career, Sam reported his birthdate as January 20, 1922 in East St. Louis, Illinois. When he died on June 18, 2001, the New York Times reported that he was 83 years old, making his year of birth 1918. Which one was correct?

An article in the newspaper Afro-American, published March 24, 1951, stated that Sam's father Albert owned a farm on the outskirts of East St. Louis. This piece of information helped me find the family in East St. Louis, IL in the 1930 federal census. Albert and Janie Jethroe were listed with their children, Rachel, Samuel and Jessie. 

The 1920 federal census proved to be a bit of a challenge. I finally found them by doing a search for a girl named Rachel (no last name) who was born in Mississippi and lived in IL. Here is what I found:
The Jethroe family was mistakenly listed with the surname 'Jeffro,' with a three year-old son named Samuel. Curiously, Sam's birthplace was listed as Mississippi in both the 1920 and the 1930 census. Which leads to another mystery for another day. Was he born in Illinois or Mississippi? 

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Koehler Beer Old Dobbin Ale ad 1937 Erie PA

Koehler Beer was manufactured by the Erie Brewing Company at 2131 State Street in Erie, Pennsylvania. Old Dobbin Ale was named in honor of Daniel Dobbins, a contemporary of Oliver Hazard Perry during the War of 1812.

This advertisement from the 1937 Erie City Directory shows two styles of Koehler's bottles, the stubby and the tall brown bottles. The clock is a drawing of the one that hung on the exterior of the Koehler building on State St.

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Ferraro & Sansone 1938 Steinhaus Beer Truck

Ferraro & Sansone distributed Steinhaus Beer in Erie, PA in 1938. Photo courtesy of Tom DiLuzio.
Ferraro & Sansone distributed Steinhaus Beer and Old Shay Ale in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1938. Here is a photo of their delivery truck parked on Old French Road next to Jefferson Elementary School. This company existed for a very short time prior to World War II.

Joseph Ferraro was the president of Victor Beer Distributing of Erie, PA, 1602 Myrtle St, in 1938. He later owned the Amity Inn at 1534 West 26th Street. Joseph died on December 20, 1950 at the age of 45. He was married to Lucy Sansone Ferraro.

Philip Sansone was the secretary/treasurer of Victor Beer in 1938. (He was listed as the owner of the Ferraro & Sansone Service Station in the 1937 city directory.)

Anthony Sansone was a laborer at Victor Beer in 1938. He worked as a bartender at the Amity Inn in 1948.

According to, the Victor Brewing Company, located in Jeanette, PA, was sold to Fort Pitt Brewery of Pittsburgh in 1941. The Steinhaus and Old Shay brands were discontinued in 1939.

Enjoy more historic facts and photos of Erie, PA at: Old Time Erie

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Baker's Bird's Eye View of Erie PA

Bird's eye view of Erie, PA ©John E. Baker 2012, used with permission.
This beautiful bird's eye view of the port of Erie, PA was shot by John E. Baker on July 4th. To help you get your bearings, Holland Street is on the left, parallel to State Street on the right. The Bayfront Highway runs between the two. Many of the places that we have visited previously on Old Time Erie are visible in this aerial photograph. Here are a few to get you started:

Oliver Hazard Perry steered the Niagara and the Lawrence through the channel to engage the enemy in the War of 1812:

The Penelec smokestack stands in front of the library:

The old Hotel Ford still stands:

We can't forget the Boston Store:

Or Hamot hospital:

The Perry Square library

The Baldwin Building

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1918 Flu Devastated Erie PA

Influenza was declared a reportable disease by the Erie Board of Health on October 9, 1918. All persons ill with the flu were ordered to stay home. Visiting sick people was forbidden, and funerals were "absolutely private, no gathering in churches being allowed."

Why the extreme measures? Because 500 people died from influenza during the last three months of 1918 in the City of Erie, PA. 

On September 30, every county in the State of Pennsylvania received a telegraph from the commonwealth, "closing every unnecessary place of gathering such as schools, churches, saloons, theaters, and places of amusement of all kinds, also forbidding every sort of public meeting. Street cars and other public vehicles were ordered to avoid overcrowding and everyone was advised to stay at home." Residents of Erie were not happy with these orders.

Hospitals were quickly overwhelmed. "On October 25th, two hospital wards were opened in the Elk's Club. These wards when filled to capacity accommodated 85 patients. A nursing force was hurriedly assembled, consisting of state and school nurses, those from one of the industrial plants, private nurses, so called domestic and practical nurses and volunteers. Many of these women left homes and families to lend a helping hand."

The federal government lent beds, bedding, linen and dishes. The Red Cross loaned nightshirts for the patients and masks and aprons for the nurses. City Council raised $10,000. The Directors of the Poor gave money for those who were too ill at home to be able to obtain food.

On October 28, 1918, 378 new cases of the flu were reported to the Board of Health in a single day. Two hundred and seventy-two new cases were reported on December 9th. Sixteen people died on November 6th; 28 people died on November 21. The flu was relentless.

The numbers of those who were ill with the flu in the City of Erie were staggering; 9,512 cases of influenza were reported during October, November and December of 1918. Five hundred people died as a result of contracting the flu, decimating young and old alike.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Erie Sailors 1946 Champion Baseball Team

1946 Erie Sailors, Middle Atlantic League Champions. Photo courtesy of Tom DiLuzio.
The Erie Sailors were at the top of their game in 1946, the champions of the Middle Atlantic League. The Sailors played Class C ball at Ainsworth Field in Erie, Pennsylvania. Three Sailors shown in this photo went on the play in the big league. George Bamberger pitched for the New York Giants (1951-52), the Baltimore Orioles (1959) and then managed the Milwaukee Brewers and the New York Mets. Centerfielder Jerry Scala  played for the Chicago White Sox (1948-49). Pitcher Red Webb played for the New York Giants (1848-49).

In addition to Bamberger, Scala and Webb, the Erie Sailors also included Leo Feldmier, Sam Bartolomei, Sam Marsacano, Charles Muse, Bill Lance, George Sabini, Don Brennan, Fred Voigt, Steve Rushnock and Cal Ehehalt. Also Mike Colombo, Bill Pavlick, Gene Natale, manager Steve Mizerak (not the world champion pool player), Jack Uber, Bill Nichols and Phil Alotta.

Here is a 1948 Erie Sailors Roster

Enjoy more historic facts and photos of Erie, PA at: Old Time Erie

How to Identify Old Erie Business Photos

Erie City Hotel photograph courtesy of Tom DiLuzio.
Are you curious about unlabeled photographs that you have in your possession? It is possible to identify the location if you do a little detective work. I found the location of two old photos in the past couple of weeks, and I thought I would share the my secrets with you.

1. Examine the photo closely. This example is 7" x 9" mounted on heavy card stock. The name of the business, assumed to be 'Erie City Hotel,' is our first clue. Was this hotel located in Erie, Pennsylvania? Unfortunately, no address or street names are visible. Nor is there a name of the photo studio on the mounting card.

2. Determine the year that the subject was photographed. The horse and buggy, telegraph poles and trolley tracks narrowed the search to approximately 1890 to 1910.

3. What street could this business be on? The hotel sits on a corner. It is most likely on a major street such as State, Parade or Peach Street, because of the trolly tracks and high utility poles. State and Parade Streets are relatively flat, so I wondered if this hotel was on Peach St.

4. Get out the magnifying glass. I saw a reflection in the large window on the right side of the building. OITAN= NATIO. There is also a poster in the left window that says Majestic. Erie, Pa had a Majestic Theatre.

5. Head to the library. I checked the 1903 city directory and found a National Hotel at 1801-1805 Peach St., but no Erie City Hotel. I found the Erie City Hotel listed at 1725 Peach St. in 1906, across the street from the National Hotel. They both appeared in the directory from 1906 until 1913.

The Erie City Hotel was run by Louis Behr. Chances are pretty good that he is holding the reins of the horse in this picture. In 1904, Louis worked at the Hotel Colegrove at 1725 Peach St., the same address where the Erie City Hotel was later located. Louis Behr died in his home at 1811 Walnut St. on June 26, 1924.

The old Erie City Hotel took on a different look in later years. Brick was added to the facade, and the peaked roof was removed. Here is a more recent picture of the building:

Enjoy more historic facts and photos of Erie, PA at: Old Time Erie

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Top 20 Credit Unions in Erie, PA in 1970

Back in 1970, nearly every major industry had its own employee credit union. A few of the big employers in Erie, Pennsylvania included Hammermill, Marx and the New York Central Railroad. Let's see how many you recognize from this list:

American Sterilizer Federal Credit Union, 2545 West 23rd St., Erie, PA
Bucyrus Erie Employees Federal Credit Union, 1521 Raspberry St.
Employees of General Electric Federal Credit Union No. 1161, 3525 Main St., Lawrence Park
Erie Fireman Federal Credit Union, 1740 West 26th St.
Erie Hamot Federal Credit Union, 231 State St.
Erie School Employees Federal Credit Union, 1106 East 9th St.
Fenestra Federal Credit Union, 4040 West 20th St.
General Teamsters Local 397 Federal Credit Union, 1918 West 12th St.
Hammermill Employees Federal Credit Union, 1306 East Lake Rd.
Kaiser Erie Federal Credit Union, 1015 East 12th St.
LC-DCF Employees of GE Federal Credit Union, 2154 East Lake Rd.
L T C Federal Credit Union, 218 West 29th St.
Loc & Cont Employees Federal Credit Union 1111, 2230 Broad St.
Lord Employees Federal Credit Union, 1635 West 12th St.
Marx Toy Federal Credit Union, 962 West 20th St.
N Y C Erie Federal Credit Union, 110 West 13th St.
National Forge & Steel Federal Credit Union, 3202 Maple St.
Rubber Employees Federal Credit Union, 962 West 20th St.
Smith-Erie Federal Credit Union, 1602 Wagner Ave.
Toymakers Federal Credit Union, Penn Avenue Ext., Girard, PA
Zurn Industries Inc. Credit Union, 1801 Pittsburgh Ave.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Where did you bank in 1970?

Remember the old days when you had to have your passbook with you to withdraw money from your savings account? When you had to physically go to the the days before the ATM? When the only plastic you had in your wallet was a Master Charge card? 

There were a handful of banks in Erie, PA back in 1970, and most had a main office on State Street in Downtown Erie. Which banks do you remember?

First National Bank of Pennsylvania
717 State St.
10th & State (Baldwin Building)
4645 West Lake Road (Airport office)
2895 West 26th St. (K-Mart office)
Peach & Gore (Kearsarge office)
4101 Main St. (Lawrence Park office)
West Erie Plaza (Millcreek office)
3106 Buffalo Road (Wesleyville office)
26 East Main St. (North East)
114 High St. (Waterford)

Marine National Bank
901 State St.
114 Erie Central Mall
2701 Legion Road
3608 Liberty St.
3823 West 12th St. (Powell office)
735 East 38th St. (Pine Ave. office)

Security Peoples Trust Company
801 State St.
1727 State St. (18th St. office)
21 North Garwood (Fairview office)
110 Main St. West (Girard office)
Peach & Gore (Kearsarge office)
North Lake St. (Lake City office)

Union Bank & Trust Company Erie
1129 State St.
2212 Broad St. (Perry Plaza office)
2256 West Lake Rd. (8th & Nevada office)
3835 Peach St. (Glenwood office)
1129 Parade St. 
815 East 38th St. (38th & Pine office)
1400 West 26th St. (26th & Bauer Lane office)
27 North Main St. (Union City office)

First National Bank at Albion
53 East State St. (Albion)

First National Bank of Edinboro
Edinboro office
South Main St. (McKean)

National Bank of North East
Buffalo Road (Harborcreek office)
Eastway Plaza
17 West Main St. (North East)

Pennsylvania Bank & Trust Company
22 North Main St. (Union City)
Main St. (Wattsburg office)

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Monday, January 14, 2013

War of 1812- Don't Give Up the Ship

Postcard promoting the Perry Centennial in July of 1913.
Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry was a celebrated hero of the War of 1812. The USS Lawrence, USS Niagara and the USS Ariel were constructed at the Perry Shipyard at the foot of Cascade Street in Erie, Pennsylvania.

What follows is a brief account of the Battle of Lake Erie, which took place on September 10, 1813: 
"The battle on the lake- At the moment that Perry commenced the action he hoisted, at his fore-top-gallant mast head, a large flag, until then unseen by, and unknown to his officers, on thick were these words legible to the enemy, 'DON'T GIVE UP THE SHIP.' This had a powerful effect. When he left the Lawrence she had only seven men fit for duty- and the commodore himself helped to fire the last gun that was serviceable, before he quit her." -from Niles' Weekly Register, October 9, 1813.
To learn more about Erie's rich maritime history, visit the Erie Maritime Museum. Click here for more information:

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Sanner Office Supply Fire 1949 Erie PA

Dispatch photo contributed by Evelyn Konzel Cage.
Sanner Office Supply Company lost all of its inventory in a destructive fire on April 29, 1949. Sanner's was located at 1119 Peach Street in Erie, Pennsylvania. The loss was estimated at $100,000 for all of the paper, office furniture and general school and office supplies that were destroyed. Sanner later moved to State St. when this building was demolished.

Other occupants of the building included the Pythian Temple, the Erie Construction Council, the Business Service Employees Union, Specialized Roofing Services and the Lester Zook Insurance Agency.

Residents of the Erie City Mission, which was located next door to the left of the Pythian building, were evacuated when the alarm sounded just before five a.m. It was reported that the Mission had fire and water damage, with three feet of water in the basement. The Erie City Mission later moved to French Street in Erie, PA.

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Strand Theatre Shows Ben Hur in Erie PA

Strand Theatre photo contributed by John E. Baker. Photo ©John E. Baker 2012.
This awesome time-lapse photo of the Strand Theatre in Erie, PA was taken by John E. Baker in 1960. Ben Hur, the massively popular film that won eleven Academy Awards, was in its '10th Great Week' when this shot was taken. Movie fans stood in line to purchase tickets at the outdoor ticket window on the left side of the building. The theater's marquee was bright enough that you could see it from a couple of blocks away at night. 

This is a shot of the newer Strand Theatre at 13 West 10th St. in Erie, Pennsylvania, which is currently occupied by the Erie Playhouse. It was designed by architect Victor A. Rigaumont, and opened in 1948. The Strand had 977 seats and in a stadium style setup. (The old Strand, located at 922 State St., was demolished.)

The Strand was operated as a movie house for many years, managed by Milford 'Shorty' Parker. 'Jaws' scared the living daylights out of me on this screen. You don't get the same effect on a TV set. Other people remember seeing Spartacus, Love Story, To Sir With Love, Enter the Dragon, King Kong, Halloween, Purple Rain and midnight showings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Lots of great memories were made at the Strand.

Shea's Theatre, across the street from the Strand, also had midnight showings:

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Exchange Building on North Park Row in Erie PA

Postcard of the Exchange Building on North Park Row courtesy of Tom DiLuzio.

Commercial Italianate Architecture on North Park Row

by Tom Weber

"Built in the 1860s, the row of elaborately ornamental commercial buildings extending along North Park Row and State was the showplace of downtown Erie in the Civil War era. Rounded window openings on the ground floor, elaborate window moldings on upper floors, projecting cornices and elaborately shaped pediments carried out the Italianate tradition.

The district was anchored by two outstanding buildings- the Exchange Building on the corner, and the 'Marble Front,' now Purcell's Hardware [in 1982]. A variety of businesses and offices occupied the block, including Marine Bank and Dr. John Carter's pharmacy, birthplace of the internationally known 'Little Liver Pills.'

Below street level, their entrances surrounded by ornamental iron fences, were a series of smaller shops. Further west on North Park Row stood the Park Opera House, considered one of the finest entertainment halls between New York and Chicago.

By the 1920, however, the hub of commercial activity had moved even further south, and the Exchange Building and its neighbors underwent change and deterioration...Jewelers, clothiers and bankers moved their businesses uptown, and a succession of transient owners altered the district's stylistic integrity.

In 1979, the district was incorporated into the National Register of Historic Places, marking the beginning of a period of restoration in Erie's most valuable nineteenth-century commercial block." -used with permission of the author. Check out Tom Weber's latest creation, Troubadour Blues:

The address of Marine Bank, shown in the postcard above, is 518 State St. in Erie, PA. The Exchange Building still stands and is located in Perry Square.

Here is one of the run-down businesses to the west of the Exchange Building:

Here's the Greyhound Station, also on North Park Row:

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Waldameer Park Opening Day 1924

Boating at Waldameer Park, postmarked 1919. Postcard courtesy of Michele H.
Ten to fifteen thousand people visited Waldameer Park in Erie, PA on May 30, 1924. And that was just in the afternoon! About 5,000 people were there in the evening. It was estimated that about one thousand tourists drove from Pittsburgh, PA to enjoy the park, filling every available spot. (Waldameer and Presque Isle State Park have long been favorites of Pittsburgh natives.)

"The kids were given a new treat yesterday in the 'Custer Car.' The miniature automobiles are run by storage batteries and go around a small track. The kids were so tickled at the new racing cars which they drive themselves that at times they were lined 50 deep waiting for a vacant car.

As usual, the Ravine Flyer was popular with young people seeking thrills and a great many of the more timid got their thrill on the Figure-Eight. The Merry-Go-Round was popular with almost everyone. The introduction of new horses and animals, including the elephant, made everybody want to ride the new ponies or the basket on the elephant." -Erie Dispatch-Herald, May 31, 1924.

Waldameer Park and Water World, located at 3100 West Lake Road in Millcreek Township, Erie County, PA, has long been a favorite with many generations of amusement park fans. The park is a favorite for fans of old style wooden roller coasters.

Here is a link to the Top Seven Rides at Waldameer Park in 1941:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Giant Smoke Stack on Erie's Bayfront

Penelec Substation in Erie, PA. Photo by John E. Baker. Used with the permission of the photographer.
Thousands of people drive by the giant smoke stack on the bayfront in Erie, PA every day and wonder "What in the world is that thing?" Well, their words are probably a little more graphic than that, but you get the idea.

You can't miss it, even if you are speeding along on the Bayfront Highway. It's HUGE! 

The smokestack had a purpose. At one time, it was a vital part of the Penelec substation, supplying electricity to the City of Erie. The coal pile on the left side of the picture was a couple of stories high. One building from this complex still stands, and is the home of the Erie Maritime Museum. It's roughly in the center of this picture. The building between the Maritime Museum and the smokestack was demolished; you can drive from State Street to Holland Street on East Front Street.

Construction on the brand new Blasco Memorial Library was completed in 1996. The Hirt Auditorium was added to the south side of the Maritime Museum.

The old Grain Elevator, which has since been demolished, is visible to the northeast of the Maritime Museum. Here is a link to a picture of it from a different angle:

Enjoy more historic facts and photos of Erie, PA at:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Theater Row at 11th and State in Erie, PA

Theater Row in Erie, PA postcard courtesy of Tom DiLuzio.
Talk about competition! How about three movie theaters in a row between 11th and 12th on State Street. When the show was finished, you could walk a few doors south and shop for a brand new Cadillac. No kidding!

This block was called "Amusement Row" or "Theater Row."

The three theaters were on the east side of the street, pretty close to the kid on the bike in the lower right corner, around 1912 or 1913. The one closest to him was the Star Theater at 1113 State St. It was managed by James D. Allen. In the middle was the Grand Theater at 1111 State, managed by William J. Fairgraves. Finally, the Princess Theater at 1109 State., managed by Potter & Burgess. These buildings might look familiar, because they have been occupied by the Plymouth Tavern since 1973.

The kid on the bike leads to another good story. Otto Maya lived at 1103 State from 1888 to 1892. He went on to become a nationally-known super star on the bicycle racing circuit shortly thereafter. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission placed a marker in front of the dry cleaners in 2001, but it went missing a couple of years ago. Let's hope it turns up somewhere.

Here's an article about the the Bicycle craze in Erie:

This article shows Roth Cadillac, which was located at 1117 State Street:

Monday, January 7, 2013

Coal Train and Freighters on East Erie Bayfront

Unloading coal at Erie, PA. Photo by John E. Baker. Used with permission of the photographer.
Here's a shot from the bluff on Front Street in Erie, PA looking north toward the Perry Monument on Presque Isle State Park. John E. Baker captured this great shot showing boxcars full of coal and logs on the lower East Side. The buildings shown in this picture have since been demolished, and most of the railroad tracks are gone. There are still huge piles of sand and gravel at the site on the right. This shot was taken between German and Parade Streets.

The ship on the right appears to be the Sparrows Point, a 616' Great Lakes freighter owned by Bethlehem Steel. I can't see enough of the pilot house for the ship on the right, but, judging by the mark on the stack, it might be another Bethlehem freighter. They used to haul coal, iron ore, limestone and stone material between different ports on the Great Lakes. A number of these freighters were tied up each season for a winter lay-up in the bay. 

Here is a shot of the Grain Elevator, which was slightly west of the photo shown above:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Swimming at the Chestnut Street Pool in Erie PA

Chestnut Street Pool photo © John E. Baker 2012, used with permission of the photographer.
Looks like these girls are having a great time splashing around in the Chestnut Street Pool in Erie, PA. Photographer John E. Baker captured this great shot of girls gathering on the platform, ready to jump into the cool water on a hot summer day. Boys and girls swam on alternate days. 

Lots of Erie kids learned to swim here, and many remember skinning their knees on the rough bottom of the cement pool. Another piece of Erie history that holds a special place in the hearts of so many people.  The pool has since been filled in, but you can still see its outline as you drive by on the Bayfront Highway.

Here is a link to an old postcard of the Chestnut Street Pool:

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Hammermill Paper Company in Erie, PA

The Hammermill Bond, the monthly newsletter of the Hammermill Paper Company, June 1941
Hammermill Paper Company had a long history on the shore of Lake Erie. The company, founded by the Behrend Family in 1898, was purchased by International Paper in 1984. 

If you have an old piece of writing paper, hold it up to a light. Chances are pretty good that it will have the Hammermill watermark. The workers made high quality paper products.

It seemed like there was a never-ending parade of log trucks making a beeline on the lower east side to Hammermill. I was certain that one of those drivers was going to slam on his brakes to avoid hitting a child or a dog, sending a giant log through my windshield. My fears were unfounded. I don't think I've seen a log truck since IP shut down the Mill in 2002. The scene above was reduced to rubble a short time later. Such was the fate of many old Erie factories.

Remember the hot, hazy summer days when the stench of the pulp hung over the lower east side? That's one odor that I do not miss. (As bad as it was, it was never as strong as the Willamette factory in Johnsonburg, PA.)

The Behrend family was quite generous to the Erie community and they left a lasting legacy. The Hammermill Paper Company Collection is housed at the John M. Lilley Library at Penn State Erie, the Behrend Campus. Read the entire June 1941 issue from the Behrend Collection here.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Hamot Hospital and the Public Dock in 1929

Photo from the Hamot Hospital Association 49th Annual Report.
Hard to believe that UPMC Hamot in Erie, Pennsylvania had such humble beginnings, but this 1929 photo shows what a difference eight decades can make. The hospital, which was formerly known as Hamot Hospital and Hamot Medical Center, is located at 201 State St.

The Hamot campus has grown by leaps and bounds, and so has lower State Street. The old Public Steamboat Landing, which is visible in the middle left of this picture, is now the Bicentennial Tower at Dobbins Landing. The trolley tracks in the middle of State Street are long gone. The Peninsula is visible on the horizon.

Here's a 1910 photo of Lower State Street.

Find more old photos of Erie, PA at Old Time Erie

8th and State, Trask's Department Store and Trolley

The east side of State Street near 8th. Postcard courtesy of Ken Sidun.
Erieites used every available mode of transportation to get to the Trask, Prescott and Richardson Company at 825 State Street. You can see the mixture in this postcard, which shows pedestrians, a trolley, a horse-drawn wagon, and early automobiles. 

The Andrews Land Company had an office in the building on the far left. Marine Bank was located in the white building on the corner at 901 State Street. Palace Hardware was in the tall red building near the trolley car, at 913 State St.

Here is an article about the Marine Bank building, which was constructed around 1911:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Lakeside Cemetery Veteran Burials circa 1908

Lakeside Cemetery, 1718 East Lake Rd., Erie, Pennsylvania. Postcard courtesy of Tom DiLuzio.

The Strong Vincent Post No. 67, Grand Army of the Republic decorated the graves of soldiers and sailors of the Civil War and the Spanish-American War for Decoration Day in 1908. The most famous veteran buried in the Lakeside Cemetery in Erie, PA is Captain Charles Vernon Gridley

Gridley was the commander of the U.S.S. Olympia during the Spanish-American War. His grave overlooks the bluff of Lake Erie at Lakeside Cemetery. John P. Vincent Gridley, a  U.S. Marine who was killed aboard the U.S.S. Missouri during the Spanish-American War, is also buried in Gridley Circle.

The G.A.R. also decorated the following graves in Lakeside Cemetery in 1908:
James Anderson, Co. H, 5th Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery
Charles A. Baker, U.S. Navy
James N. Beebe, U.S. Navy (served on the U.S.S. Michigan 1869-1891)
Harry Benning, U.S. Navy
Jotham A. Black, Co. K, 10th Vermont Volunteer Infantry
Frederick Boltze, Co. F, 6th Maryland
L. W. Bright, Co. D, 55th Pennsylvania
Lena Bruegel, Army Nurse
Lorenz Burkel, Co. G, 98th Pennsylvania Volunteers
Charles E. Butler, Co. E, 125th Pennsylvania Volunteers
Zacheus Churchill, U.S. Navy
Henry Gernhart, Co. G, 169th Pennsylvania Volunteers
Francis M. Gifford, Co. A, 44th New York Volunteer Infantry
H. C. Gully, U.S. Navy (possibly Henry Gully from the U.S.S. Michigan)
Richard Johnson, Co. D, 83rd Ohio
Ambrose Kennicott, Co. K, 120th New York Volunteers
J. K. Lamphire, 3 Months Erie Regiment
Sigismund Leuckart, U.S. Navy (served on the U.S.S. Michigan)
Robert H. McKay
Clark Nichols, U.S. Army
Amba Orcutt, Co. K, New York Heavy Artillery
George Platt, U.S. Navy
William H. Price, Co. F, 6th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry (Civil War)
George Pulling, Co. K, 47th Wisconsin Volunteers
James C. Rice, U.S. Navy
Fred A. Roth, Co. G, U.S. Cavalry
Martin Ryan, Spanish-American War
A. J. Simons, U.S. Army, Co. D, 112th New York
John R. Smith, Co. C, 98th Pennsylvania
Stephen Strong, Co. K, 98th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry
A. J. Thomas, U.S. Navy
Benjamin Tolbert, Co. H, 7th Pennsylvania Reserves
Frank Torrence, Co. F, 30th Michigan Volunteers
Oscar H. Tourtalott, Co. F, 168th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry
Philip Wagner, Co. L, 56th New York Volunteer Infantry
Phineas Wheeler, Co. A, 53rd Illinois (he was reinterred at the Erie Cemetery)
Henry N. Ziegler, Co. E, 33rd U.S. Infantry

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Parade Street Market Vendors circa 1923

-Detail from the 1917 Mueller Atlas of the City of Erie, PA.
Parade Street was a thriving business district in Erie, Pa when A. H. Mueller drew this map 1917. 

The Parade Street Market was located on the northeast corner of 10th & Parade, the current site of a laundromat and car wash. The two movie theaters, the Isis and the Wilkay, are long gone.

The market was located in a large building at 915-931 Parade St. In 1923, the following businesses occupied stalls at the market house. See how many you recognize: 

William Ziegler, produce
Anthony Scolio, produce
George Field, produce
Margaret Denning, baker
Marie Nutter, produce
Transylvania Bakery
Samuel Bovo, produce
Joseph Giamanco, fruits
Herman Potratz, florist
Sperides & Manos, confection.
Smiths Bakery
George Reisenberg, produce
George Del Porto, fruits
Erma Agar, produce
Frieda Bailey, butter, eggs
Katherine Wetterauer, produce
Samuel Lifshitz, produce
Ira Bartlett, butter & eggs; Oscar Marquardt, butter & eggs
Henry Karl, produce 
Henry Tillman, florist
Leonard Spoden, florist; William Denning, grocer
Anton Fetzner, produce; Karl Brown, poultry
Mary Hoehn, produce; Sophie Lang, produce
Enterprise Poultry Company; Anna Eichenlaub, produce
Eliz Youngbluth, produce; Florence Wilkes, baker
Rosanna Meisel, produce; Doretta Renz, baker
Joseph Del Porto, fruits; Eugene Loesch & Sons, fish
Henry Heibel, produce; Annie Peters, produce
Behanna Trajowski, produce;  Barbara Wurst, produce
Emma Caskey, produce; Anna Kuhn, produce

Theodore Tarnesky, produce; Bertha Zimmer, produce
Everhardt Rosenthiehl, produce; Anna Fetzner, produce
John Hubert, butter & eggs; Kate Buettner
Scharrer Fish Company; Frank Leuschen, produce
John Goman, produce; Martin Christensen, produce
Theodore Kapp, meats; Gustave Carlson, meats
Frank Dylewski, meats; Thomas Morrow, produce
Charles Burger, produce; William Spiegel, meats
Charles Jones, meats; Sol Kahn, meats
Carl Paulson, meats, Steve Cvitkovitz, meats

As you can see from this list, a number of people had retail stores in addition to renting a booth(s) at the Parade Street market. 

Find more fun facts about Erie, Pennsylvania at Old Time Erie