PART TWO —
Once you pick it up, it’s difficult to put down.
That’s the case with the largest newspaper ever published in Allen County — the Jan. 1, 1950, edition of The Lima News — that recently landed on my desk. The 180-page newspaper is a history book of its era, celebrating events from the previous year as well as those from the previous half-century. It also speculated on what was ahead for Lima in the next 50 years.
Some of its stories were shared with you last week and more were promised for today. Here’s Part 2:
Reporter Robert C. Barton asked residents and community leaders if Lima would “change as much in the atomic half century as it had in the last 50 years.” From those conversations, he predicted:
The year 2000 would see a city spread out over a larger area with more suburbs. The business district, he said, would have fewer businesses. He also wrote there would be fewer mansions, coal wouldn’t be the major method of heating, parking lots would increase in numbers, highways would become wider, heat and power would come from atomic energy or the sun’s rays, and there would be no overhead utility lines “strung from unsightly poles” and “no black smoke belching from industrial stacks.”
• Fewer farmers would produce more food.
• It was unlikely that any office building would overshadow Cook Tower, but that was a good thing “because skyscrapers are especially vulnerable to atom bombs.” (an eerie prediction, given 9/11)
• Man would break the chains that hold him to Earth. (Little did they know that the first man to walk on the moon would come from Wapakoneta)
• With the population ballooning to 61,548 in 1950, some city leaders saw Lima’s population topping 100,000 by the year 2000.
What people did
Going to a Lima restaurant in 1950 could mean a stop at The Huddle or Jacks Cafeteria, which proudly claimed to be “Lima’s favorite eating spot.” If a cold beer was in order, Tom and Evans Pseekos had a chair waiting at the Roxy Bar-Grill. A night on the town also saw people stopping at the Rainbow Room in the Barr Hotel.
Among places people shopped were Bungalow Pharmacy, Breckenridge Appliances, Mack Camera Store, Porter’s Music Store, Spellman’s Furniture and Decorating Service, Holmes Pontiac and Sears Roebuck, which reminded residents it had been part of Lima since 1927. Its advertisement noted, “The growth and development of Sears Roebuck and Co. is the typical success story of America.”
Jobs were found found at the Ohio Mushroom Co., Lima Register Co., The Lima Armature Works Inc., Lima Printing and Ledger, Perry Auto Wrecking, W.R. Jewel Tin Sh0p, Fisher Typewriter Co. and Radio Hospital.
Meanwhile, Howard DeWitt, president of Local 106, UAW-CIO, vowed to maintain the purchasing power of local union members during the years ahead and ensure financial security through pensions.
In the headlines
The local, national and world headlines that day noted:
• “Voters See Communism in 5-year Decline”
• “Amazon To Be Common in Year 2000” (The story was referring to women taller than six foot, not the Internet company.)
• “Like Everything Else, Government Becomes Bigger”
• “U.S. Economy Needs More Jobs”
• “We Are Living in Most Hectic Era in World History”
• “Curves to Stay in Gals’ Dresses Next 50 Years”
• “Public School Expenses May Hit Record in ‘49”
• “Parochial Schools’ Enrollment of 1,560 Crowds Facilities”
• “Putnam County Progresses in 50 years, but Farming Still Provides Principal Income”
• “Auglaize County has 32 Polio Cases
Throughout the newspaper were stories looking back to the turn of the century.
Reporter Robert K. Harrod described Lima in the year 1900 as “a hustling, busy, growing town … with oil … 150 trains a day … new schools, new hospital, new library … over 21,000 industrious citizens.” Buggies and electric cars dodged each other while carrying workers to the refinery or cigar factory. Public square was not paved, and farmers hitching their horses there found it muddy in the spring and fall and dusty during the summer.
Like today, City Hall in 1949 was concerned about sewers. Lima’s sewer construction project virtually came to a standstill because of a $201,000 cost ceiling, City Engineer Charles Ash stated.
Lima Schools Superintendent Gordon G. Humbert boasted about the high quality of teachers the system had in 1949, pointing out 60 percent of elementary teachers had college degrees and the high school teachers were near 100 percent.
Readers were asked to provide anecdotes about Lima during the previous 50 years.
First prize went to Harri Jones, of 312 N. McDonel St., who shared the story about the American National bank robbery on Christmas Eve, 1898, when a vault room door was found wide open. Bank officials were adamant the vault was securely locked the night before. Several years later two bank officials were found guilty of neglect, largely based on the testimony of lock experts, who said the doors could not possibly have been opened if they had been properly closed. The truth eventually came out from the wife of a man involved in the heist. She was upset that the crooks spent all the stolen loot and left her with nothing. She told how the janitor hid inside the vault that night and opened the doors from the inside. He and three others then made off with the late deposits made by merchants. The two original bank officials that were falsely accused were exonerated, but only after they had endured much shame.
Second prize went to Mrs. Nina Maurer, of 607 N. Baxter St. She told how a team of small gray horses used to pull one of the fire wagons in the years around 1900. When the horses became to old for that kind of work, they were sold to the J.C. Musser livery stables and used on a horse-drawn bus. One day the horses were hauling passengers to a circus on West Vine Street. The horses were tired and hung their heads as they dragged the bus along. Suddenly the bell on a nearby firehouse rang. With a wild leap the old horses were off, breaking into into a gallop. It took the startled driver nearly a block to get them stopped.
I hope you enjoyed these stories as much as I.
It was amazing how often the old saying holds true: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
ROSES AND THORNS: A man with a strobe light is welcomed into the rose garden.
Rose: To Chris and Jill Sarven, of Lima. They came upon a wrecked car on Interstate 75 near Wapakoneta during a rainy evening. Chris used a strobe light to notify on-coming vehicles of the wreckage in their lane while Jill comforted the injured driver.
Rose: To Arnold Vasquez, of Lima. His idea was featured Sunday in the nationally syndicated comic strip, “Pluggers.”
Rose: To James Leach, 82, of Harrod. Little did he know how gigantic his single vine “Big Boy” tomato plant would become when he planted it in May. It expanded into his driveway and between two out buildings.
Rose: The Cleveland Browns, Notre Dame and Ohio State all won football games over the weekend. The last time that happened was nearly three years ago. On the weekend of Oct. 10-11, 2015, the Browns beat the Baltimore Ravens, 33-30, the Irish disposed of Navy, 41-24, and the Buckeyes defeated Maryland, 45-20.
Thorn: To Brandon Johns, of Lima, and Donald Schulte, of Continental. Both had the not so bright idea of hiding out instead of returning to jail after receiving medical furloughs. It didn’t take long for law enforcement to catch them.
PARTING SHOT: History must repeat itself because we pay such little attention to it the first time.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.