How Northern Ohio Looked over 50 Years Ago

Join me now on a tour of an assortment of Northern Ohio's "flypaper towns", all stuck together. Place yourself back in 1946-1948. The war was over, victory was secured. Ladies no longer had to save their fat cans. No one had to consider whether a trip was really necessary. The boys were back home, back at work or school, the wartime economy was just about to turn back to consumerism. Television was a word some people had actually heard (mostly as a future appliance). Yet, alas, a suitable venue for the pent-up needs of a wartorn populace had yet to be developed (television). In a search for ever greater levels of entertainment, it had become unremarkable to travel around Ohio to find the theater with the latest release.

Movie distribution being what it was, it was often more likely a new flick would show up in a smaller town first. That explains (in some part) the spotty coverage of this page. These towns had a small heyday being either the site of the movie house, a nice place to pass through, or a destination when, doggone it, there wasn't a new movie anywhere that week. This is an entirely strange concept these days, that you must leave home to be entertained, let alone travel...without interstates, freeways, or hour or so, to seek that missing fun. But the bragging rights "I already saw that!" would be worth it, and you would also often meet others in the vanguard who would become your new friends in this odyssey.

But what do I know? I'm just a boomer. I have never experienced a waking moment when I was more than a half-block from a working television. I won't go around the block to see a movie when just a few months later (if it was any good) it'll show up on video. And if I wait a little longer, it will be on cable, and soon after that, worn out with repeats.

To set the stage, let's check out the hardware of the era. First, you may wonder where these photos originated. The negatives were carefully preserved in a tin box packed into the inner sanctum of the basement. They would have been taken with a camera much like this:

My brother with his trusted Brownie. My father had the mother of all cameras, a German make long out of business. The better pictures were negatives about the size of a credit card...these scanned the best. The grainier ones were the size of a postage stamp, and probably came from the Brownie. My father developed a special modification to the cameras of the day that permitted the huge negative to hold four or more shots in the same area, conserving film (unhappily at the expense of lost resolution). The scanner and the photo touch up software can improve but not restore elements that were never there to begin with.

The working man would get to these destinations in a nice car like one of these:

Right from the factories!
You could think of buying a new car now...the war was over!

Of course, if you were really intent upon having a swell car (I think that's what they called them in that day) you'd aspire for one of these:

What's our first stop? A not very well kept secret. An enclave to the south, far enough from Cleveland to be considered a separate market, and populous enough to support a bunch of first run houses...Akron!

See Akron in its heyday

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