Thursday, December 1, 2016

Buzzin' Round Books - An Incomplete List of My Yuletide Favorites

December can be the most wonderful month of the year.  As family and friends begin to gather together for the holidays, there is nothing like a heartwarming story everyone can enjoy and relate to.  As a retired  junior high / middle school educator I have had the opportunity to share some of my favorites with students for decades.  Here are some of my favorite holiday books.  As I hold the spine of each of these holiday classics I can definitely experience the depth and love in every stitch.

Timeless Favorites
  • The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
  • The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
  • The Grinch by Dr. Seuss - No explanation needed here
School Favorites
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens-  This 1843 classic was written in six weeks.  Did you know there are other companion books in this series?
  • Gift of the Magi by O'Henry
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
  • The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet Ahlberg- From 2001 this story features letters from the Big Bad Wolf, All the King's Men and more literary characters.
  • Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect by Rich Schneider- Released in 1988 this is the story of Small Pine's discovery on the true meaning of the holiday.
  • Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert E. Barry- From its first release in 1963 this delightful tale of a family Christmas tree and its many uses is sure to reasonate in your head long after the story is finished.
Modern Favorite-Adults
  • Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright - This 2005 novel and the sequel are a must read.

Feel free to share your favorite holiday story with me.  Look for an expanded list to appear in December 2017 with still more books that weave the fabric of the season into all who share in their message.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year! ... A Reprise

Holiday Fast Facts
  1. Four cents - the cost of the first Christmas postage stamp released in 1962.  A simple wreath and two candles were featured.  The initial supply released was 350 million.  One billion were eventually distributed due to its unexpected popularity.
  2. Wassailing is a custom of ancient origins and comes from the Ango-Saxon phrase 'waes hael' which means good health.
  3. Jingle Bells was originally written for Thanksgiving.  It is also one of the oldest holiday songs of American origin.
  4. Electric holiday lights appeared as early as 1882 thanks to Thomas Edison.  1895 saw President Grover Cleveland request an electric light bulb tree.  1903 saw G.E. issue the first kits to the public.
  5. Mistletoe in doorways dates back to the Ancient Druids who used the plant to ward off evil spirits.
Spend the holidays at home in Lake County and make it truly memorable with some of these special holiday events.  Whether it is your first time or an annual family tradition, it is the most wonderful time of the year!  Here are some of my favorite places to visit before the end of the year.

December 3 -  Harbor Holidays and the Grinch Visit to the Lighthouse  10am-6pm
Fairport Harbor remains a best kept secret as this annual event clamors for more visitors.  Local churches, small businesses and the local museums offer up ethnic foods, holiday crafts and unique stocking stuffers for all tastes. Dr. Suess's infamous Grinch may be seen roaming the village, local library and local shops in search of presents.  The annual reading of the classic tale from atop the local lighthouse tower is sure to inspire good spirits.  

December 3 - Letters to Santa with Mrs. Claus  10am -11am
The Old Stone Schoolhouse on Ravenna Road in Concord Township is the site for this children's program.  Mrs. Claus and her elves help craft letters to Santa.  Visit to register

November 27 thru early 2017 - Historic Kirtland's Nativity Display
This free event offers visitors a look at more than 500 nativity sets from around the world.  This display has garnered recognition from publications and travel agencies throughout the U.S.

Other December events include
Country Lights at Lake Metroparks Farmpark - Sold Out is the word till 12/23 but visit the park after Christmas Day and build a toy at the noted Toyshop and see the holiday displays on tractor or horse pulled wagons.  You'll be back every year!
Lake County History Center -  A Victorian Christmas display and more await you here in a most unique setting.
Pine Lodge Ski Center at Chapin Forest - Let it Snow beginning 12/15 thru March 2017.
Holiday Open Houses at Wildwood in Mentor.  Tour the manor house on select December dates - visit

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Lake County mini-profile - " The World's Greatest Light Car"

The 1913 Automobile Journal hailed the Vulcan as "The World's Greatest Light Car."  The two passenger Speedster or the 5 passenger Touring model were the only two vehicles manufactured by the Vulcan Mfg. Company, Lock Box PJ 477, Painesville, Ohio.  Production lasted for only two years 1913 and 1914.  A Vulcan Power Wagon Truck was produced in 1915 under license by Driggs-Seabury.  A June 13, 2015 Cleveland All-Star Car Show held at Ursuline College featured the only known surviving Vulcan.

Surviving vehicle literature provide these specs.  The two passenger Speedster, Model 27 sold for $750. The Speedster had a maximum horsepower of 27.  The five passenger Touring Model cost $850 in 1913.  It featured a 4 cylinder L-head motor that generated 33 horsepower.  It featured three foward speeds and reverse.  A 120 inch wheelbase allowed for a 15 foot turning radius.  In 1914 with accessories the cars cost increased to $925 and $975 respectively.  Accessories included an ignition, lights and generator.  The Lake County company called Painesville home for most things Vulcan although some sources claim all cars were built in Sharon, Pennsylvania.

Two county  car history enthusiasts have donated items to the Lake County History Center located on Riverside Drive in Painesville.  A Vulcan radiator is on site from the restored car collection of Painesville's Tony Torre.  Also an impressive 3 ring binder of photos, articles and more was provided by Ken Gladyszewski.  Once again Ohio's smallest county has stepped to the forefront with the most history - this time automotive based.

As more sources become available, this article will be updated.
source: & (collection /artifacts on site)

Monday, October 24, 2016

" You Might Be From Haunted Lake County If..." Part III

 Lake County be Ohio’s smallest county but it has the most history, some of which rivals the best Jack-tales.  Test your County Ghostly I. Q. with these ten Wayward Spirit teasers… Remember none of these facts will be found on the bottom of your Snapple Tea bottle caps.

1.  What was the name of the female specter who many claim still resides at her former 1890s River Farm Estate?

2. This First Lady is said to haunt the upstairs of their NHS home.  Can you name her?

3.  This haunting tale led to the demise of the Medical College in Willoughby in the mid-1840s.  What future Ohio medical institutions rose from this tragic tale?

4.  Although not specific to our county or state, what is the common name of this Ohio Cryptid?

5.  Can you name any of the six haunted buildings on this Lake County campus?

6.  What is the name of the veiled lady of Kirtland’s Historic North Cemetery?

7.  What is the name of the young boy who haunts Fairport’s sentinel?

8.  Spirits are said to frequent this 1870 Victorian Home in Painesville that once belonged to a Civil War General who married a founding member of the suffrage movement.  Name the home!

9.  This 1847 Ohio Cottage is said to be haunted.  Name the community or street location of this multi-use historic facility?

10.  Whose name appears on the solitary gravesite located on Hart Road?

Bonus:  In 1960 a Twilight Zone episode featured this city and event.  Do you know the place or story?

answers-  1. Rebecca  2.  Lucretia Garfield  3.  CWRU & OSU  4.  Melonheads  5.  College Hall, Morley, Kilcawley, Fine Arts, Fowler  6.  Hattie Martindale  7.  Robbie Babcock  8. Casement  9. Middle Ridge in Madison  10.  Levi Smith  Bonus - Little Girl in Blue / Willoughby


Thursday, October 20, 2016

" You Might Be From Lake County If..." Part II - Famous County Women

Lake County's famous women are known throughout the annals of our country and some of these notables garner world-wide name recognition.  How well do you know these women of our community's history?  Let's test your mettle!

1.  Known as 'Gramma G' to many, a 65 acre park is named after Mentor's only female mayor.  Name this pioneering lady.

2.  She was not only a female doctor (1920) but the passage of the 19th Amendment (1919) allowed her to become Ohio's first woman mayor.  She was elected Mayor of Fairport in 1921.  Name her.

3.  She was a graduate of Thomas Harvey High School in Painesville, taught at Champion JHS, became a WASP in 1942, barnstormer after WWII and female racing aviatrix.  Do you know 'Marge' by her given name?

4.  She met her husband in the 1850s when his railroad work caused him to seek right-of-way access thru her family homestead.  She was also a leading member of the women's suffrage movement.  What is her name?

5.  Oz's Wicked Witch was born in Cleveland and was an educator in Painesville and other places during her long and storied career.  What is Miss Gulch's real name?

6.  She grew up in Perry and in 1952 became the personal secretary to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Can you name her?

7.  In 1932 she became the head of the Disney Studio Animation Paint Department.  Do you know this Willoughby animation pioneer?

8.  She grew up in an aviation environment in Willoughby as a young girl.  Shortly after WWII she was the country's first certified woman master mechanic in the aviation field.  Name her.

9.  She was a student, teacher and later a resident at this 1840 one-room schoolhouse site in Concord Township.  What is her name?

10.  She graduated from Thomas Harvey High School, Ohio Wesleyan University and Lake Erie College.  This reknown aviatrix and Airpark owner from Concord Township is a Ohio 2016 Senior HOF inductee as well as a HOF member at  the International Women's Aviation and Space Museum.  Name this notable township resident and current trustee.

answers-  1. Eleanor B. Garfield  2.  Dr. Amy Kaukonen  3.  Margaret Hurlburt  4.  Frances Jennings Casement  5.  Margaret Hamilton  6.  Ann C. Whitman  7.  Grace Bailey  8.  Pat Hange  9.  Elga Pomeroy  10.  Connie Luhta

Thursday, October 13, 2016

" You Might Be From Lake County If..."

Every county, community, structure or location has its facts, local lore, foibles and such.  Today's families are much more transient in their lifetime and being anchored in community is not what it once was.  Today we challenge your general 'County IQ' in the first of a series entitled "You Might Be From Lake County If..."

1. Where were these two Lake Shore Resorts located?  Linden Beach, Shore Club

2.  What town was the site of the Griffith Disaster (June 16, 1850) and do you know the story?  A historical marker shares the tale at the site.

3.  Have you visited the Old Stone School (1840) and do you know the name of the lady who was a student,  a teacher and a homeowner there during her lifetime?  This one-room schoolhouse is located on Ravenna Road in Concord Township.

4.  Where is Arcole Furnance?  What two famous county residents from the 1800s were the owners of this important business?  A historical marker is located on the site.

5.  Wickliffe is known as the City of Millionaires.  Do you know the names of at least four of these men who lived on Millionaire's Mile?

6.  Girdled Road has a storied history dating back to the Western Reserve Era.  Do you know the history?

7.  The Burroughs Club began in 1916.  Foundling members hailed from this county city?

8.  'Stop 47' and 'Stop 61' were daily occurrences from 1896-1926 if you traveled on this line?

9.  The 'Johnnycake Story' is part of this famous stagecoach stop history located at the corner of Rt. 84 & 44.  Do you know the tavern or story?

10.  Archibald Willard's famous painting 'The Spirit of '76' used these two local men as images for the fifer and drummer.  Do you know their names or home communities?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Whatever Happened to Camp Klein?

The title question is simply enough - What ever happened to Camp Klein?, which today has been repurposed into Lake Metroparks’ Environmental Learning Center.  Let’s look back at the history of Camp Klein  prior to its 1997 closing - before the 2001 purchase of the property by Lake Metroparks – and before the 2015-2016 final preservation assured its place in our county history annals.  This is its story.

Before Camp Klein, there were other camps.  In fact, the first fresh air camps appeared in the summer of 1896.  George A. Bellamy of Cleveland and Hiram House fame was its first champion.  These camps were part of a movement to emphasize social and educational development of a population that at the time was mostly immigrant in composition and definitely urban dwellers.  Early camp locations were in Brecksville at the farmhouse of Florence Oakes and the two properties secured by Harley Barnes from Painesville / Concord Township.  By 1904, Barnes had acquired an area in Concord known as Fays Mills.  The Epworth Fresh Air Camp was a reality.  The camp fell under the auspices of the Epworth League of Cleveland and soon thereafter a four-decade partnership with the Methodist Youth Fellowship.The annual camps flourished and the 250 plus children who attended were exposed to religious as well as all- natural experiences.  They were housed in dormitories and their outdoor education supervised by mothers and staff alike.

Despite some lean times resulting from the Great Depression and WWII, a brief suspension of the camp paved the way for the 1945-1952 hunt for a new campsite that would mirror the population move to the Cleveland suburbs.  Dr. John Flynn, Dr. Clarence LaRue and George Klein of the George R. Klein News Company led this search.  1952 saw the purchase of 157 acres in Concord Township and the ensuing three years saw the formation of a camp named after its key investor.  Mr. Klein was not only the founder of the camp but was also the lead chairman for many of the key committees of the Methodist Church that sponsored the site. The camp’s first guests arrived in the summer of 1955.  Cabins, a swimming pool, and additional out buildings supplemented the main structure.  The ‘Camp Klein Years’ encompassed the decade of the 60s and expansion marked the early part of the 70s decade.  Unfortunately for the many  outdoor church camps of this era, their popularity and attendance waned.  Operating at only 50% capacity led to deficits and maintaining these sites became a burden to the church communities who footed the bills.  A church study in 1987 forecast the demise of Camp Klein and others of its kind.  Within ten years warm nostalgia met financial cold hard facts.  Camp was over.

Lake Metroparks formed in the late 50s had an interest in the Camp Klein properties since day one.  In 1994 the park system even applied for federal monies should the site become available.  1998 saw the Camp sold to the Slovene Home.  Rancor and legal wranglings resulted between the interested parties.  By 2001 a remedy was brokered and LMP assumed ownership of the property.  A careful land and resource study was not completed until 2008.  The site was to be repurposed as an Environmental Learning Center.  Renovations, tear-downs and new construction lasted thru early 2015.  Today the property is open to the public with miles of hiking trails, creek access and an educational program building that is the envy to outdoor educators everywhere.  Visit for more information about this site.

  • information gleened from the research of M. Sondey