Monday, November 15, 2010

More Unremarkable Buildings in Lorain, OH

Moving on slightly from Ashtabula to Lorain, Ohio, land of my birth.

When we were kids there were well-defined areas we were comfortable exploring.  But the most exciting ones were on the edge of our range.  To the east was Dairy Queen, but to the west it was Chapman's. 
Chapman's Food Mart was cool.  There were entire aisles of junk food.  Kids were not particularly welcome, probably because of shoplifting.  You could buy one slice of bologna for 10 cents.  I'm pretty sure my older brother introduced me to it, as he did most of the questionable experiences of my childhood.  For some reason I'm glad to see that it's still there, and possibly still under the same ownership.

It's good to see Ardick's Seafood is still around.  Unless you've lived close to Lake Erie it will be hard for you to understand the importance of perch in maintaining mental health.  I can't really explain it.  You can buy fish here or you can have them fillet your catch.  Despite living in Lorain for 18 years I never once caught a single fish worth eating. I try not to be bitter about it.

For the life of me I can't remember what this diner was called when I was a kid.  My Dad used to bring us here on walks in the winter.  We would drink hot chocolate at the counter and play their tabletop video game.  It was Popeye, which was state-of-the-art at the time.  Only now do I realize that these long winter walks were probably designed to give Mom a break from the three of us.  Probably four of us, including Dad.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Geneva-on-the-Lake, OH

Back to Ohio!  Maybe 2 more entries before I return to Chicago.

One of the more enjoyable destinations when visiting Ashtabula is a drive west to Geneva-on-the-Lake, which is basically an old cruising strip and linear carnival.  And if you're wondering where all the biker bars are in northeast Ohio, look no further.

This is the type of summer resort town that you might find on the east coast, not on Lake Erie.  There are wine gardens, putt-putt golf courses, arcades, water slides, hamburger joints and bars.  Lots of bars.  This is where local folks come to relax, especially those that can't afford an expensive vacation.  Given the current economy, I wouldn't be surprised if Geneva-on-the-Lake received a big bump in visitors. 

In addition to the strip, there are tiny cottages and bungalows that people can rent for extended stays. According to my wife, most of these were strictly seasonal (meaning uninsulated) until recently.  Unlike an amusement park, this is a real place, and must be a lot of fun late at night.

The buildings are worth a study in themselves.  Many of these look temporary, but must have been in place for 50 years or more.  Above are two connected Quonset huts.  These were a popular and cheap way of creating space after WWII.  Some of the buildings look like old frame houses converted to commercial uses, but others look like elaborate hot dog stands that just kept growing.

I can't help but wonder how a town like this develops.  There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason, but somehow it works.  Other, more modern developments have located on the edges of the district, but they're too far to impact the character of the area.  I have to wonder when the tipping point is reached- when there are too many cars and people to be absorbed into the network of spaces.  But I've been there maybe half a dozen times, and have yet to see it overwhelmed.  And sure, they don't have enormous roller-coasters, but no one is charging you $45 just to walk around.  And $45 can sure buy a lot of insanely sweet Ohio wine.