Monday, September 30, 2013

Dependent and Neglected Children

Four hundred and twenty-nine dependent or neglected children received care from social agencies and institutions in Erie County, PA in 1940. The break-down is as follows: 

184 children lived in institutions (Sarah A. Reed Home and St. Joseph's Home for Children)
164 children lived in foster homes
81 children lived in relatives' homes

Additionally, 69 children with legal residence in Erie County received foster care outside of the county:

35 children lived at Bethesda Home in Meadville, PA
2 children lived at Carson College in Flourtown, Montgomery Co., PA
4 children lived at Girard College in Philadelphia, PA
2 children lived at the Odd Fellows' Home of NW PA in Meadville, PA
1 child lived at the Orphans' Home & Farm School in Zelienople, Butler Co., PA
9 children lived at Pennsylvania Soldiers' Orphans' Home in Scotland, Franklin Co., PA
4 children lived at Ruth M. Smith Children's Home in Sheffield, Warren Co., PA
3 children lived at St. Paul's Orphanage in Greenville, Mercer Co., PA
1 child was under the care of Children's Aid Society in Oil City, Venango Co., PA
7 children were under the care of Conference of Catholic Charities in Pittsburgh, PA
1 child was under the care of Children's Aid Society in Meadville, PA

"During 1939, 38 children were adopted through the Erie County Court. Of this number five were adopted by their own parents, probably after the second marriage of one natural parent of the children. Of the remaining 33 children, 18 had legal residence in the City of Erie and two in Corry, six children came from other Pennsylvania counties, two from Ohio, one from New York State, one from Mississippi and three from unknown localities.

Fifteen of the children were recorded as born out of marriage. In five instances the original placements in the adoption homes were made by social agencies or institutions. The adopting parents were married couple, with one single woman as an exception.

Many instances were cited of placements of children for adoption by doctors and private individuals." -Care of Dependent, Neglected and Delinquent Children in Erie County, Pennsylvania.

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

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hills Department Store Layaway

Every year around Thanksgiving hopeful kids would scour the ads in the Sunday newspaper and compile lists of presents that they wished to receive for Christmas. One of their parents would then go to the store, list in hand, and pick out toys, sweaters and jeans for their kids. 

If they did not have enough money to pay for the merchandise, they could buy the items on credit. There was usually a long line of people with cartfuls of goodies waiting at the layaway window at Hills Department Store on East 28th and Elm Street. This was back in the 70s and 80s, when stores actually ran out of things, before you could find practically anything on eBay and the Internet.

Here's how layaway worked:
Merchandise was held for 60 days to give the customer time to pay for the items. The clerk at Hills placed your items in bags or boxes and they were stored behind the counter in the layaway department.

A minimum deposit of 10% of the total purchase price or $1 (whichever was larger) was put toward the bill.

The total price of the merchandise had to be at least $5.

You had to bring your ticket and cash register receipt with you to make payments or pickup your merchandise.

A small fee was collected with each payment. In 1983, the fee was $1 per transaction.

If you failed to pay for your items within 60 days, the merchandise was returned to open stock, and you forfeited the service charge and handling fees. 

If you had items in layaway, your kids couldn't snoop around the house and figure out what their gifts would be. 

Enjoy more fun facts about Erie PA at: Old Time Erie

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tour Top Historic Sites in Downtown Erie

Charles M. Tibbals lived in this Greek Revival home at 146 East 5th Street more than 170 years ago. Tibbals was the founder of the Chicago & Erie Stove Company, which manufactured the "Invincible," an award-winning, ornate coal burning stove that heated many a parlor throughout the United States. This red brick house is a testament to his wealth and keen attention to detail.

Did you miss your chance to tour this beautiful home, and nine other nearby properties, this Thursday, Sept. 26th? The Erie County Historical Society coordinated this self-guided tour, which included sites owned by Erie Insurance. Many of the buildings pre-date the Civil War. Tickets are $10 each.

Ten sites on State and French Streets, from 3rd to 6th Street, were included on the itinerary. They included the Cashier's House and Erie History Center, Chandlery Corner (4th and State), the Dickson Tavern (2nd and French), Pierre S. V. Hamot House (3rd and French), Sullivan's Pub, O'Donnell House (4th and French), St. Patrick Catholic Church (130 E. 4th), the H. O. Hirt Building (East 6th) and the F. W. Hirt Building on the corner of 6th and French. On street parking is generally free after 6 p.m. downtown.

(On a side note, I almost called this post "The Trouble With Tibbals" but I wasn't sure how many of you were Star Trek fans and watched the episode about tribbles.)

Enjoy more fun and fascinating facts about Erie, Pennsylvania at: Old Time Erie

Picture Me In Old Time Erie

I love to look at old photo albums. It doesn't matter if I'm not related to the people in the pictures. It's fun to get out a magnifying glass and look for details in the background. As I'm sure you know by know, I also love Erie history. 

I don't know how many times I've visited a historic site and wished someone had taken a picture so I could reminisce about at it later. Especially some of the places that have been demolished. This got me to can I encourage you to get out and discover the cool places in Erie, PA.

So, my challenge is that I want you to take a picture of yourself in front of a historic site in Erie County, PA. E-mail a copy to me and I will post as many as I can here, on Old Time Erie. It's that simple.

Those of you who grew up in Erie and no longer live here have an option. Look through your old photos and find a picture of yourself at a historic site in Erie County. I will also accept a shot of you in front of a store on State Street. This is not a contest, and there are no prizes. Just a fun activity to get you out of the house before the snow flies. 

Well, what are you waiting for?

Click here to e-mail your picture to Old Time Erie. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pennsylvania's $1 Minimum Wage Law

Ahhh....the good old days. Remember when gas was 19 cents a gallon? Or when the minimum wage was raised to $1?

On January 1, 1962, Pennsylvania raised the minimum wage for men, women and minors to $1 per hour. There were a few exceptions:

Learners made 85 cents an hour.
Employers could deduct 35 cents per hour if the employee got tips at least 75% of the working day which totaled at least 35 cents per hour. There was no such thing as a free meal; if the boss fed you on the job, he could deduct 50 cents per meal. If you received lodging from your employer, he could deduct $5 a week from your pay.

The new law replaced the 1937 Minimum Wage Law, which was on the books for 25 years.

How much did you make per hour at your first job? Click here to leave a comment. 

Enjoy more unusual facts about Erie, PA at: Old Time Erie

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Alms For the Poor House

Some call it the Alms House. Some say the Poor House. Whatever the name, people seem interested in learning about the residents of the facility for the indigent persons of Erie County, PA. The names, ages, place of birth and marital status of the individuals can be found in the federal census records. I'd like to share a description of the living conditions from a report by Dr. Diller Luther, Secretary of the State Board of Charities:

Inmates: 235
Capacity: 300
Number of insane: 50
Number of children: 18

Supplies: sufficient and of good quality. Males and females dine at different hours.

Apartments, ten in number have been arranged in what was designed for a chapel for the chronic insane. The female wards for old women, large in size, with numerous occupants, of whom Miss Ray is one. The house and apartments were generally found to be in good condition. Less crowding and a more general distribution might be beneficial and help the appearance. Closet accommodations are wanting. If Mr. Griffin, the excellent steward, was afforded some conveniences of that kind, he would be saved the necessity of piling up trunks and old apparel in the corridors.

The work of this excellent charity is well systemized and is conducted in the best manner. The cost per capita has not increased by reason of the increased number of inmates. Attention is given to the importance of utilizing the labor of such as are capable, and much help is obtained. Shoes and garments are made in the house, and many engage in the work of the farm.

The condition of the chronic insane in the two-story frame, is by no means bad. It is kept remarkably clean and in good order. Clean floor, clean bedding, and better order can nowhere be seen.
-published in the Erie Gazette, February 27, 1877.

Find more fascinating facts about Erie, Pennsylvania at: Old Time Erie

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mill Creek Flood Roared Thru Erie in 1915

The unthinkable happened on August 3, 1915, when a wall of water raced through Erie, picking up houses, animals, people and everything else in its path, unleashing its reign of terror. The torrential rain fell and quickly saturated the ground. Creeks that flowed wistfully through town rose higher and higher. Debris created a dam near 26th and State. When the pressure became too great, the water let loose.

The banks of the Mill Creek were washed out and bridges crossing from east to west collapsed. The scene in the post card shown above was photographed near German Street between East 6th and East 7th. Some wooden houses were smashed to smithereens. Some houses were picked up off of their foundations by the rushing water and deposited several yards from their original location.

The Mill Creek Flood is nearly forgotten, save for a few postcards in antique shops and online auctions. The creek was enclosed in a twenty-two foot wide concrete tube. which was completed in around 1923 for $1.9 million. Local entrepreneur Jacob Roth (of Roth Cadillac) built two of its five sections. A portion of the Mill Creek Tube runs under Jerry Uht field and across Holland Street. 

C-SPAN is working with the Erie County Historical Society to gather information about the history of Erie. Can't wait to see the segment!

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

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Erie Radio Schedule August 1974

This Erie Radio Schedule appeared in the Erie Morning News in August of 1974. Being a long-time fan of local radio, I recognized quite a few of the disc jockeys listed here, such as Frank Martin ("The Morning Mayor"), Ronnie Gee (Ron Seggi), Joey Stevens (later a TV weatherman), Bill Shannon, Tim Earl (another TV weather forecaster) and Ken Olowin.

WERG was the new kid on the block, broadcasting on 89.1 FM. It later moved from 89.9 to its present home at 90.5

A couple of the stations had early sign off times; WMDI cut out at 1 a.m., while WQLN and WERG went off at 2 a.m. WHYP would sometimes unintentionally sign off during the day, and the needle would be stuck in the locked groove at the end of a record for minutes on end.

One of my favorites was Al Knight, or Big Al Knight, All Night, Every Night. I think the interns must have cut their teeth on the overnight shift putting in carts of the pre-recorded voice of "Al Knight" occasionally between songs.

I can still hear some of the jingles in my head. Fun times!

Enjoy more fun facts about the history of Erie, Pennsylvania at: Old Time Erie

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tall Ships Erie 2013 Celebration

Thousands of tourists are in town this weekend to enjoy Tall Ships Erie and to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie. I have never seen so many cars lined up on the Bayfront Highway, practically at a standstill from State Street to the East Bayfront Parkway. Motorcycle police were directing traffic at several intersections as people tried to find a good spot to view the Tall Ships Parade of Sail. A black and white helicopter patrolled the channel and shoreline, while big, puffy white clouds accented the blue sky.  

I see the Niagara so much that I take it for granted. Shame on me. When I walked past the window at work last night, I stopped for a moment to take a picture. I had forgotten how spectacular our sunsets are here in Erie, PA. And this sunset was even more spectacular with the Brig Niagara in the foreground. This view repeats practically every night when the Niagara is not touring the Great Lakes promoting maritime history.

Ten ships took part in Tall Ships Erie, and tours were available for a small fee. I walked around with a few co-workers on our lunch break amidst a sea of 5,300 children from schools in Erie, Crawford and Warren Counties. It's amazing that the teachers were able to keep track of them all.

Enjoy more fun facts and photos of Erie, Pennsylvania at: Old Time Erie

Monday, September 2, 2013

Eichenlaub House on West 26th St

Valentine D. Eichenlaub lived in a 5,658 square foot brick house at 10 West 26th Street in Erie, PA. The house still stands on the north side of 26th St. and thousands of cars pass it each day as they travel from State to Peach St. It was a single family home when it was built in 1887 and it's now a four-family apartment house with a couple of satellite dishes bolted to the roof of the porch. It still had a sidewalk made of bricks in 2013. The Eichenlaub family would have had a bird's eye view of the destructive Mill Creek Flood in 1915.

V.D. Eichenlaub was a businessman who was active in local community affairs. He served on Erie City Council in 1881 and had previously served as county assessor, city assessor and collector of delinquent taxes. He was born in Erie in 1852, the son of German immigrants. 

Mr. Eichenlaub was a sewer and paving contractor who helped build a conduit system for underground utility wires in downtown Erie. He built the Eichenlaub block on the southeast corner of 18th and State in 1894, and he built the Hotel Wayne near 12th and State St. in 1906. Valentine died in 1929 and was buried in Trinity Cemetery in Millcreek Township.

Enjoy more historical facts and photos of Erie, Pennsylvania at: Old Time Erie

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Kindergarten Report Card

Back in the early seventies, the Erie School District had two Kindergarten sessions, a.m. and p.m. Report cards were issued three times during the school year. Richard Hilinski was the Superintendent of Schools.

Progress was measured in four areas: Social Development, Physical Development, Language Arts and Work Habits. The grading system was divided into four sections: Is doing very well, Is making satisfactory progress, needs to make greater effort and Needs more time to develop. The teacher would put a checkmark next to the appropriate response instead of using the A-B-C-D-F grading system.

So, if you hoped to someday attend college, you had to develop good habits at an early age, such as listening, not interrupting, being courteous, keeping your hands off of others and accepting correction. Also, retell stories, run, skip and hop, color, cut and paste, rest and relax, use good English, take part in group discussions and show curiosity. Work habits included following directions, finish work that was started, show originality, work in an orderly manner and make good use of time and materials.

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