Thursday, January 28, 2016

Saving Mentor's History -- Part I

For many years now I have shared brief glimpses of local history with my followers, both in print and at select events in person.  These stories offer a glimpse into a past that the general public has never seen or known.  Most of what is shared has been the result of the diligent research, time consuming detective-work, and passions of those who came before me.  As time marches on the past history is being stream-rolled into oblivion, soon to be lost to current and future generations.  Much like the seven day newspapers, LP's, bookstores, cameras and typewriters- these photos, artifacts and personal histories might never to be published or shared.  Recent news stories, on-line postings, apps, and social media now reach readers and draw attention or a glance followed by a "like" or "dislike".

Late in 2015 a new Images of America book was released on Mentor, Ohio.  Its author  is Thomas G. Matowitz Jr. and he is a 25 year resident of Lake County's biggest community.  His interest in this collection of images and histories took root nearly 50 years ago when Mentor was first becoming a city.  However the history of Mentor spans more than two centuries.

It began in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War.  Mentor was one of the first towns settled in the Connecticut Western Reserve beginning as an outpost in 1797.  Growth was definitely slow and steady as Mentor did not explode onto the county scene till 1963.  Rather it began as a series of farms, artisans and nurserymen.  In Mentor's earliest days circa 1820 the family names Hopkins, Corning, Hart, Munson and Newell were prominent.  Our 20th U.S. President called Mentor home when he purchased the old Dickey Farm on Mentor Avenue.  The early twentieth century Cleveland's business giants established Great Summer Estates along the Mentor Avenue corridor.  An interurban railroad line and Great Lakes shipping industry put Mentor at the epicenter of a growing county history.  Eleanor B. Garfield served two terms as Mayor in the '50s and transformed the city from an agrarian based to industrial centered community.

Unfortunately the progress of the late '70s and early '80s razed much of the original architecture and early history of the village.  If one looks hard the 1868 Mentor Knitting Mills, 1915 Mentor Christian Church and original 1950's Mentor Recreation Park can be recalled.  These images and many more are waiting to be experienced as you go 'old-school' and turn the pages in Matowitz's newly-released book.

source:  Images of America - Mentor, 2015, Thomas G. Matowitz Jr.  et al.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Go 'Snow Wild' at Chapin Forest in 2016

Have yourself a 'Winter Blast' in the next three months at one of Lake County's best kept secrets - Chapin Forest and Pine Lodge Ski Center.  Located at 10381 Hobart Road in Kirtland, the ski lodge has been recently renovated and a truly unique S-ring fire pit awaits all those who embrace this winter wonderland.

 In 1949 Frederick Chapin saved this Gildersleeve Mountain area acreage from suburban sprawl.  Saved were over 390 acres and nearly 6 miles of trails now dot the site.  A scenic overlook is part of the Lucky Stone Loop and on a clear day the Cleveland skyline is visible - a distance of 18 miles.  While hiking the property one will see blue paint on trees.  These trees were part of the original Buckeye Trail many years ago.  The Quarry Pond area was instrumental in providing building material for many of Lake County's historic landmarks including the Kirtland Temple (1833).

On the Hobart road side of the forest is a ski center managed by Lake Metroparks that offers snowshoeing and cross country skiing opportunities as yet another means of fighting off cabin fever.  A one mile lighted trail provides another unique hiking opportunity available to the public until 11pm nightly.  Today the 403 total acres include the Twin Ponds Shelter, Forest Shelter, Quarry Shelter and Ledges Shelter as well as the Pine Lodge Ski Center open noon-9pm weekdays and 9 to 9-pm weekends and holidays. Snowshoe rentals start at $3 an hour while x-c skis begin at $5 an hour.  Weekend lessons are available in the mornings. Class size is limited so please call in advance to reserve a spot.  Private lessons or group programs are possible upon request most days.

For more information your possibilities are- --- includes a 'live' webcam of Chapin Ski Lodge 
Call the winter sports hotline daily at 256-2118 x. 4178 for conditions
Call the lodge directly at 256-3810 from noon-9pm weekdays, 9am on weekends to talk to staff
Walk-ins are always Welcome!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

tempus fugit...tempus mendaci & MMXVI

2016 rang in for me in Port Clinton, Ohio.  The annual Walleye Drop and local madness can now be struck off my wife's bucket list.  For many years I resisted the idea of celebrating New Year's Eve by reeling in the New Year there.  However as I get older, it is apparent that time flies (tempus fugit) but also time lies (tempus mendaci).  It was time to change, to reach outside my margins, to be more spontaneous as my wife preached.

Time - it flies and it drags.  It is precious and it is wasted.  It is a gift and it is a thief.  When I was younger summers whooshed by in a blur.  As a local educator the final five minutes before the dismissal bell lasted an entire geological epoch.  In 2015 the nights seemed longer and the year shorter.  Time - it seemed I had too much of it on my hands and not enough of it in the day.  Time waits for no man / woman, yet supposedly stands still.  The bottom line is " Where did the time go?"  Time has lost all credibility as we start 2016.

Time is a shape-shifter.  The truth is we all have enough time right until the very end.  Time is a constant and time stays.  It is we who pass.  My wish to you in 2016 is the same as always.  May this be your best year ever.  And if you have read my blogs since 2010 I always challenge you each New Year to volunteer at one of Lake County's local historical sites /organizations.  They exist today because the current volunteers continue to pass on that which was passed onto them.  Monetary donations are nice but the gift of time to a local society is the one New Year's Resolution that will genuinely keep on giving and defy 'father' time in the process.

Local Historical Societies with volunteer opportunities include-
Fairport Harbor Lighthouse & Marine Museum / Fairport Harbor Historical Society
Indian Museum in downtown Willoughby
Lake County Historical Society in Painesville
Willoughby Hills Historical Society
Wickliffe Historical Society at Coubly Estate
Kirtland Temple
Downtown Willoughby Welcome Center / History Society

Time concept source - Steve Rushin editorial