Monday, November 25, 2013

Yule Love These...The Tannenbaum Trail and more

Tempus fugit...Time flies.  The holiday season is upon us and I don't mean Black Thursday/Friday.  Here are four events that capture the 'spirit of the season' in Lake County.  Each is definitely unique and each may make a memory or start a tradition that is sure to endure.

Tannenbaum Trail     December 6 and 7
A self driving tour that visits 18 wineries.  Each participant will pick up a small Christmas Tree at the first stop you visit.  From then on, a ceramic ornament with the winery's name on it will decorate your tree as you continue along this holiday vine times trail.  Details:

Spirit of the Season     December 7
Painesville invites you to capture the 'Spirit of the Season' from noon to 3:30pm.  A carnival, crafts fair, holiday activities and a parade featuring the jolly red man himself are on tap for the day.  A mailbox in Veteran's Park for children is now in place.  Those children submitting letters will receive a response if a return label is affixed.  Details: please call 440-392-5912

A Christmas Tea with President James A. and Lucretia Garfield     December 8
Ed Haney and Debbie Weinkamer will portray the presidential pair on December 8th at Sisters Tea Room from 1-3pm.  You are invited for cranberry scones, broccoli soup, chicken croquette and corn pudding.  Sisters Tea Room is located on Mentor Avenue.  Details:  sisters or 440-290-6556

Home for the Holidays     December 5-7
A Victorian Display of Christmas throughout Lake County highlights the Lake County Historical Center's annual exhibits.  Every room of the center will be adorned.  Artisians, food, music boxes, and miniature dollhouses await visitors of all ages.  The Center located at 415 Riverside Drive in Painesville is open from 11-4pm daily. 

Part II of this holiday events calendar will appear on December 2nd.  For a listing of all holiday events visit

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bookish Trivia for the Old Fashioned and Analogue -- In Celebration of our County Libraries,

A lot has changed in the last ten years.  More than half of the books purchased today are not actually books.  They are e-books.  Newspapers once the staple of every household on a daily basis have been reduced to twice or thrice weekly deliveries.  Where once seven locals were in existence, now only one is daily in our county.  Remember when Waldenbooks, B. Dalton and Borders were found in neighborhood shopping venues.  Remember when dust jackets seduced you into a sensory experience.  There was even a time not so long ago when public libraries were found in our  public schools.  Books and their repositories, the public library were a great asset and great resource for our community.  Today we celebrate the community library, the one place helping us save our endangered species.

Mentor Public Library Facts
  • The Mentor Library Company was founded in 1819.  Six shareholders paid $2.50 per share to have access to the 79 volumes in the collection.  In a short time the collection grew to 194 and were housed in private homes.  A single book was loaned out for three months.
  • In 1875 the Mentor Library Association was founded.  Membership fees were $1.50 annually and books were on loan for two week increments.
  • James R. Garfield took over the library system in 1890 and served thru 1927.  Village Hall served as the first official library building and had a collection in excess of 767 books.
  • Mentor Public Library became the new official name  in 1895.
  • Abram Garfield helped design the first public library in Mentor.  Over 2,400 books were now housed under a single roof. The building is still standing on the corner of Nowlen and Center Street.
  • Miss Frances Cleveland was the pioneering librarian serving from 1906-1944.
  • The Mentor Headlands Branch Library founded by the Fairport Library became its own entity in 1959.
Wickliffe Public Library Facts
  • Wicliffe's first library was once located inside a pharmacy.  The store's owner loaned out 280 books from the Willoughby Public Library collection.  The year was 1929. It remained a viable book lending institution thru 1942.
  •  1936 saw the creation of the Wickliffe Public Library.  It was housed in what today is the current middle school.
  • The current library located on Lincoln Road is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2013.
Painesville / Morley Public Library Facts
  • The first library was begun in 1878 and was part of the Temperance Society Reading Room.
  • Jesse H. Morley donated the funds to establish the first public library in Painesville in 1899.  Named after his parents, Julia Erwin was its first librarian.
  • 1957 saw the first county bookmobile service get underway.  Morley Public Library continued this service until recent years.
Fairport Harbor Public Library Facts
  • The first library appeared in 1895 as part of the Kasvi Temperance Hall site on Eagle Street.  Over 138 pieces of literature were in the collection including the Anne of Green Gables series and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm novels.
  • The first school library was in 1904 at the Plum St. School and later McKinley School site. A library was also created in second floor classrooms at the high school.
  • 1922 saw the first truly public library established, funded in part by the Public Works Programs of the era.  The building is located on the Harding High School property.
  • A library station was opened at Sunset Point in Painesville Twp in 1955.
  • A library station was opened in 1957 in the Headlands.
Space limits the length of this journey thru the annals of real paper and the analogue era.  I love real books, and I love real bookstores.  I don't want them to go the way of the LP, typewriter, Pontiac, and Life Magazine.  But if they do, go shopping the old fashioned way - at your local community library.

Sources-  FHHS, Fairport Book    News-Herald, Andrew Case article, websites Mentor & Morley Public Libraries

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Gales of November and the Great Lakes Storm of 1913

'The Gales of November' or 'Witch of November' are but two terms used to report the peak of the Great Lakes storm season.  Mariners have long known and feared these terms used to describe the rapidly changing and often brutal weather conditions affecting the lakes.  The Lake Erie Gale of 1811 was the earliest record of a ship bound from Buffalo to Sandusky meeting its demise to this storied storm.  In 1835 the Comet and Godolphin were lost near Fairport, Ohio due to a similar weather uprising.  Black Friday took place on October 20, 1916 and the fates of four vessels were lost to time.  Of course the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975 was immortalized in song by Canadian songwriter Gordon Lightfoot.  Today's blog examines the 'Big Blow', 'Freshwater Fury', 'White Hurricane' that occurred from November 7 thru November 10, 1913.  Reaching its peak on November 9th, the storm overturned ships on four of the five lakes, left 250 lives lost, destroyed 19 ships, and stranded 19 others.

The Prelude:
On November 6th, The Detroit News called for a storm of moderate strength to begin shortly.  The combination of warm lake waters and Canadian cold fronts heading southbound would be like none before.
The Storm:
November 7-  Hurricane winds develop and blizzard-like conditions arise on Lake Huron.
November 8-  The storm was upgraded to severe.  A brief false lull tempted many captains on the St. Marys River, Lake Erie, Detroit, and St. Clair River to disregard the warning.
November 9- This 24 hour period marked the peak of the storm's fury.  Rotating winds from Erie, Pennsylvania and Buffalo combine with the exisiting conditions to magnify the forces exponentially.
November 10/11th-  The Storm reached London, Ontario.  Day two saw the storm lose power to the warm waters of the Great Lakes.  Cleveland, Ohio suffered a 17 inch snowfall to record 6 foot accumulations in the downtown area.  Power was lost and destruction rampant.  Cleveland's fate was repeated in many other ports along the lakes.
The Aftermath:
This 'Witch of November' lasted over 16 hours at its peak, nearly 11 hours longer than average.  Thirty-eight ships suffered the wrath of the Great Lakes Storm of 1913 and over 5 million dollars of losses were reported.  The bell tolled 250 for the lives lost.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Lake County Mini-Profiles -- Frank N. Shankland the ' Outdoors Diary '

Born in 1880, Frank N. Shankland of Willoughby was a noted ornithologist and naturalist.  His parents were early pioneers and his father a veteran of the Civil War.  The Shanklands came to Cleveland from their home in Kentucky.  A move to Madison was followed by another move to Willoughby which became the home to Frank and his two siblings.  Frank graduated Magna Cum Laude from Willoughby High in 1898 and Western Reserve University in 1902.  From earliest boyhood, his keen interest in nature and the outdoors was noticed.  His study of the American Eagle at Vermilion garnered citations in many leading ornithologist articles of the era.  He became known throughout Ohio as an 'Outdoors Diary.'  Shankland recorded the first occurance for Lake County of the Yellow Tail, Western Meadowlark, Lapland Longspur, and Barrow's Goldeneye.  He also documented the first nesting records for the Sharp Shinned Hawk, Purple Finch, and Piping Plover.

Shankland was a member of the Cleveland Bird Club.  Frank had a series of juvenile bird books published that sold over four million copies and found their way to London, China and such.  He even found time to publish a series of books on the topics of 'famous romances' and 'teen-age romances.'  He became a sought after dinner speaker and even became a first person speaker in the role of Abraham Lincoln.  Other  local history topics he addressed included the Indians and Mound Builders, the first county settlements by whites, the tavern days, and the county's first medical college.  Frank Shankland served locally for many years as a trustee, secretary, and benefactor to Andrews School for Girls.

Shankland even found time to be more civic-minded.  He served at the County Court House for years and achieved perfect attendance.  He was treasurer of Lake County, served 35 years on the Willoughby Public Library Board, and was treasurer / trustee for the Willoughby Methodist Church for fifty years.  Mr. Shankland passed away in 1955 leaving behind a resume that may never be equaled in the modern era.  Frank's legacy may also be one of Lake County's least told stories.

Source -The Historical Society Quarterly, November, 1967  article by Marion Walker Fickes