I am a transplant from a sea faring nation. I always wondered why Lorain did not hold her “inland seas” connection dearer to their historical hearts.
“One of the captains Dore shared information about was Capt. Thomas Wilford. She referred to him as the “steamboat master” and explained how he saved his family from a ship wreck on Lake Superior.
Dore said she learned about Wilford 10 years ago, and is in part how she became interested in the history of the Black River and those who helped establish Lorain, formerly known as Charleston Village.
As I read Rene’s remarks I remembered the night she introduced us to Captain Wilford
and his connection, how this led to a continuing journey through the seas of Lorain’s maritime history and her lights along the shore …
Words: Henry Burton, 1877.
by Loraine Ritchey
He has become “my” captain,from the moment Renee Dore came through my front door with his story, this man of the inland sea captivated my imagination and part of my heart.
It all started in frustration and anger -this romance. Charleston Village Executive Board were holding a meeting in my home- we were under threat of blight and had been told that the little park that had been a public green space for two centuries was to make way for “condos”. We were meeting to plan a course of action . What could we do , this small band of neighbors, to show the worthiness of Lorain’s history and this oldest neighborhood, from which Lorain eventually grew, to those that only saw limited revenue for the short term?
As we sat there, Renee mentioned that she had received some papers from a contact at Bowling Green University. Renee, who loves this old neighborhood, played as a child on her streets, and has given back to her three fold, including building a “new” home –
hoping to restart a community, had gone in search of a man- a ship’s captain. Her captain may have lived in the house where she lived as a “wee bairn” and in her search through the archives of the Black River Historical Society and the Lorain Public Library, in order to document the stories and the worth of Portside – before it went to the wrecking ball-
click to enlarge
had come across a story of a ship’s captain who had saved his wife, children and crew from a shipwreck.
I remember Renee coming in that evening, full of excitement, even though the meeting was going to be “dour”, as we started reading the old news paper accounts; I came to the overwhelming realization ,that inspite of what we were facing ,I had to chronicle this man’s tale. It is a tale of love, bravery, adventure and humanity, one that my grandfather would’ve described as a “cracking good yarn” .
I persuaded Renee to leave me the documents and started to piece the tale together, my theatrical background switched into overdrive, in my mind I saw the play , the movie that could be made from this…. my creative instincts saw so many possibilities.
I kept studying the old black and white photo copy of the man in question,
I was experiencing deja vu – I know this face, his eyes -why? I am not even from here originally; he was originally from England , but nowhere near where I had lived. Why was this face amongst the old newsprint so familiar? I asked my mother who came over the next day as I was typing “Her Book“
“Mum look at this picture what do you think?”
He certainly reminds me of someone but who? – well lets get on with “my memories” since you have nagged me to do this for decades”
and the Captain stayed on the desk.
The days went by and the Captain’s face haunted me, as I typed my mum’s memories of her childhood and young life. I would take a break and look at the photo on top of the printer
“you know me- you know – you know me “
it seemed to accuse but I just couldn’t make the connection.
I eventually got lost in the problems facing Lorain,
when a phone call took me back to The Captain. It was my very good friend, fellow actor Dave Cotton. Dave and I have gone through the good times and the bad, we laugh and moan together. It was one of those dreary days –
“tell me something good”
Dave, I have just been putting together a story about a sea captain , it would make a great play even a better movie- the visual , the romance , the tragedy, the bravery I just can’t get this guy out of my mind.
Dave hadn’t heard of such a significantly adventurous tale from Lorain’s past and he and his family had lived in the area for generations.
I then went rabbitting on about this Captain Wilford,
my great grandmother’s name was Wilford
THE FACE – of course that face -it was David- the moustache , the hair was a little different but the eyes – it WAS DAVID!!!!!
Dave IT IS YOU!!!
David who has known my penchant for the dramatic, laughed and said
” I have never heard of this guy in our family stories or documents” Dave.this is just too coincidental ! You have to look and see
after a couple of days research it was confirmed the heretofore unknown Captain Thomas Wilford was Dave’s great,great uncle.
Dave had passed his home on his way to meetings at the Black River Historical Society , never knowing that he had a connection.
From there the tale continued to grow, in order to raise funds for the Charleston Village Cemetery, Dave, his theatrical talent blessing us, started telling the tale of the shipwreck, and in order to make sure his facts were correct embarked on a journey of his own discovery .
Not only was a remarkable piece of Lorain’s history found, more was uncovered , his wife-Fanny who had had his arms protectvely wrapped around her as the large Canadian ship came out of the fog to slice into their schooner) her own connection to the Civil War
, her family and Lakeview Park , the worth of a rental,
the people who laid this towns foundations, once again living and breathing as we celebrated the two hundred years .
The fact that the State of Michigan deems the story of the shipwreck and the preservation of the wreck as important to the history of the Inland Seas and the archiver of the Titanic- Ken Marschall has also archived the Osborne but Lorain knew not the worth of her people to the maritime history………
Note to access the photos of the Osborne as she rests at the bottom of Lake Superior – near White Fish Point click here and scroll down
to be continued……….
I will admit to being pretty naïve as to how government worked and the tools( aka “study/s”) needed by the City of Lorain. In the early 90’s. Charleston Village Society http://www.loraincounty.com/charlestonlorai/ was pretty new as a 501C3 back then. You see CVSI did it backwards we became a neighborhood organization without anyone’s help or dollars. We did the ground work ourselves , tried to make a difference.
We were ridiculed (as the village idiots) and yes even Community Development for the City of Lorain tried thwarting us at every turn – “the middle class clique “ their term -Chuck Urindrisky and Sandy Prudoff possibly concerned about their ” HUD cash cow” . We became an organization over which Community Development had no control – we were the loose cannon.
Finally, we were recognized and our input was required. We were asked to attend a series of meeting with the “movers and shakers” ( I kid you not that was the term used) at the then Lorain High School on 6th.
We were , Rich Robbin and I, excited- maybe something would finally get going in this old neighborhood and Lorain.
We printed out our newsletter, at the time, with the facts and figures from government sources and handed out the newsletter to the movers and shakers – with the headline of 20 odd years ago FOR RENT ONE CITY – LORAIN. Our figures showed Lorain heading from an owner occupied city to 60 percent rental. Not much has changed over the ensuing decades except the “quality” of the rental market took a downward dive in the older neighborhoods(in my opinion) .
Back to our naivety . We duly attended the meetings , the flip charts , touting Lorain’s assets – the Palace , the Lake, the people , the parks , organizations, business opportunities, history etc. After the third such meeting back in the early 90’s I dared ask –
So what happens to this Plan and when do we start implementation?
Oh well we have the facilitator gather all our recommendations, ideas and issues they will make a report and take it to the Mayor’s Office and Community Development for them to find a way forward.
Oh so we won’t be actually “doing anything ” just telling he powers that be what we think- we won’t be implementing anything?????
No! this will just help determine the city’s way forward……….
Source Dave Brown
of the Independent http://www.independent.co.uk/us
A way forward???? that very term has haunted me and made me nauseous ever since. I don’t know what happened to the “PLAN” from the 90’s and then again the “Visioning Plans of the rest of the decades that we still kept attending. I have the county plan from 1991 ) Vision 20/20 ( total misnomer in my opinion)
We did attend the “plan for the port” and yes! in fact that was one of the very few “plans that have seen implementation in the past 15 years- but one has to wonder if that would’ve succeeded if the Lorain Port Authority had not been accountable directly to the Lorain taxpayer for operating revenue through levies etc.
I attended, on behalf of Charleston Village Society the “Big Idea ” session held at the Lorain Port Authority conference room. This latest study and its outcome apparently will focus on the “zoning ” requirements for this city and determine future zoning/planning based upon the study results . You can find the project schedule the time line – meetings etc. here
There were representatives from a few organizations at the table for this session with Senior Planner Justin Robbins AICP
there were the obligatory flip charts , not much has changed there and it was the “Opportunities ” Page that took me from
Oh well we were asked I will go and listen once more as we go through the motions to help with tools in the box
to the old curmudgeon !
As the people around the table, only one of whom I have ever seen attend any of these previous decades of “plans”, told of the strengths and the opportunities……. I was transported BACKKKKKKKKKKKK to a time of long ago and a plan far away…
OK! I admit all my good intentions of say nothing went west as I looked at the same “opportunities” being written down on yet another flip chart. The same damned things that were written down in the first planning / study strategy I attended those many years ago.
So I forgot my good intentions and said my say ( on the negative side ). Apparently after 20 odd years of Visions and Plans the positives remained the same so not much to ADD there .
I had my say about Lorain’s largest business – the Rental Business
( As a real estate agent and landlord painted a more than rosy scenario” and Yes there is a lucrative business in Lorain!
10 MILLION 800 THOUSAND A YEAR or 900,000 A MONTH coming from the voucher program alone into the coffers of the landlords , a majority of whom live outside Lorain.
I am sure those stats haven’t decreased probably increased since the post
“Right now ( 1991) you’re giving Lorain away a house at a time , a piece at a time and no one seems to care”
Ward Two the ward that has the Lake, the opportunities for development, itself glutted, decaying and home to even in worst shape now than when the “movers and shakers” held that round table at the Lorain High School cafeteria.( also gone and re planned)
One thing did change the plus side held Lorain City Schools but although the buildings are newer they now find they are in the negative. Back in the time that Lorain forgot ( along with her tangible history) Lorain Schools held many studies and discussions on their way forward – attended more than one – Ironically the last one I wrote about
5 Years ago the Goals for Lorain City Schools coming from http://www.ode.state.oh.us plan
1) Goal 1: By the end of the 2011-12 school year, 78% of all students will meet or exceed proficient level on the OAT and 90% on the OGT in the area of reading.
2) Goal 2: By the end of the 2011-12 school year, 78% of all students will meet or exceed proficient level on the OAT and 90% on the OGT in the area of mathematics.
3) Goal 3: By the end of the 2011-12 school year, the Lorain City School district will meet or exceed state minimum attendance standard of 93%.
4) Close the socioeconomic, ethnic and gender gaps in student achievement
5) Adult Basic and Literacy Education and EL/Civics
6) Expand college preparation course offering at the high school level
7) Career-Technical Education
8. FY 2010 Increase student achievement (Reading/Language Arts, mathematics, and science)
– Improving Teacher Quality, Title II-A
THE OUTCOME 2016 Sept.
We could say no more studies , no more plans but these are part of the government hoops and showing the money boys of government – a way forward and community buy in. I suppose it would be cheating to just update the old studies and plans???
Oh and that Lake it also has to go on the negative and plus ( which cancels it out somewhat) because 1/3 of the area that would normally draw in business is water and that water is usually frozen for 5-6 months of the year and rough for a least a couple of months as well – there goes your “boat” people .
Entertainment District/ Downtown and maybe see the area jumping on weekends for 3 months or so BUT will not support a thriving downtown area or gentrify the neighborhood in order to have foot traffic. It has to be part of a much “bigger idea” and I am not sure I have seen that yet….
So this latest “input from the public” is How do we want our community Zoned ?
Updating Lorain’s Zoning/Planning:
An Entertainment zone?( year round???)
Zoned Historical ( better get on that fast we have very little historical bricks and mortar left)-
Residential ( up market zone)( down market)
Recreational Zone – lawn parking of Rv’s
Light Industrial – street parking of construction vehicles ( note these can be grandfathered in as it happens every day)
Heavy Industrial – and so on and so forth……..
” EQUALITY/ACCOUNTABILITY ZONE- SUB ZONE NO ROLLED ROOFS On PITCHED ROOFS ZONE
Yes that is what I would like an equality/ accountability and no rolled roof Zone – where everyone has to follow the ordinances we already have! With “Zone inspections rather than complaint driven ”
But for right now……. I am completely ZONED OUT
We haven’t had many dogs in this old house, truth be told I am somewhat afraid of dogs, always have been. SHEENA came to us as a pup. Some cretin threw soap into the original fish pond killing all the fish . It was then I decided- time for a dog. Excitedly my two children accompanied me to the Rescue Shelter. Among the animals was a fairly large litter of mixed Shepherd and Labrador breed, they were tumbling and rough housing all over each other, nipping and yelping with joy and play.
Each of my children had their favorite. I noticed in the “getting to know” area a little two-year old being introduced to one of the pups. The little girl was pulling the pup’s ears, tail , screaming with delight and this pup just let her and was so calm .
“That is the pup ” I want
Sheena’s intelligence amazed me and there was a knowing look in her eyes you could see her very soul in those eyes . She remained patient with her family even when my mum’s little Tetley would visit. Although she had her ways of showing displeasure
MISTY was the designer dog ( Silver Lab), she was ten months old when she joined the family.
My daughter was trying to find a home for her as her family had to relocate without her. Stopping off here to visit on her way to show her to a prospective family ( I always wondered if this was by design as well) my son fell in love.
Trying poor Sheena’s patience once again Misty entered our lives.
Oh what a dog! She was more like Dino on the Flintstones except when it came to my son, a word or look from him and she became the world’s best trained animal. It was heartbreaking when Sheena succumbed to age and illness and poor Misty wandered the house looking for her friend. Life took a terrible turn and my son also succumbed to Cancer and left us, leaving Misty Morn to a house of grief.
It was Misty that pulled and demanded my husband leave his chair to look after her, it was Misty who insisted on walks, who didn’t leave him. Misty who spent hours sitting with him in the garden at all hours of the day , a nuzzle for comfort, her soft silky fur comforting to his hand, Misty who slept at his feet.
During this horrendous time of grief TETLEY
came to live here, in a house where laughter is now seldom heard, my mum having to give up her home and independence through no fault of hers –
Misty was not as patient as Sheena when it came to Tetley but they managed .
It was Misty who stopped the choking of grief in the night. But her heart too was broken and although she was only 5 it bled out. Oh! there is a technical term but she was Chris’ dog and her true master was no longer there to throw the balls, take her swimming or for runs. I think she stayed long enough to see us through, but once again we felt we had failed our son. We had gone to the Emergency Vet with Misty knowing something was not right And the consensus was she had to leave.
For two days I watched as grief and undeserved guilt once more took its terrible toll. My daughter said:
“We have to get Dad a dog to get him through and give him something to hold onto “
And so an internet search, a call to “Luv my Shepherd Pups” https://www.facebook.com/got2luvmyshepherdpups/ and the breeder Denise Cieslik. There was one pup available – the runt-. Nikki , Gavin and I went to be introduced.
This pup of life and love needed a name- there was great debate, none suggested suited everyone. Her name changed periodically through the ensuring days. I watched as this little bundle of energy, who seemed to know right from the outset that she was here to rescue my husband from his profound grief and bring life back into this house; she shadowed his every move and hence SHADOW , the name seemed to fit.
She has her ways and personality , she will bring the shoe of the person she wants to take notice of her to them , meets family with someone’s shoe or another gift when she likes you. She gives the mailman a heart attack if I have forgotten to close the main door before he arrives and barks around the property every morning to let the neighbors know she is on guard, her tail held high like waving a furry flag. No-one better enter the alley without her OK and she talks to every dog in the neighborhood. She definitely does not know her place- she reigns supreme .
She is my husband’s dog, it is for him she pines when goes out, for him she waits and it was his life she saved.
It has been hot here in Ohio, terrible damning days of unrelenting sun. The property next door needed a lot of work and to that end the summer days were spent getting it in order.
One July night, I was exhausted from daily life and routine and went to bed early , my husband downstairs with Shadow. It was 2:30 in the morning when I was rudely awakened by Shadow pawing at me and licking my face , not something she usually does unless there are fireworks or thunder. I told her
go away- downstairs
. I am selfish when I am asleep as there aren’t many such nights since my son passed.
Soon she was back again this time more insistent, I listened for thunder, fireworks nothing-
Go away Shadow go find Ritch
– she did .
However, he next thing I knew was she was literally thumping me with my husband’s shoe insistent once more I get up with her.
Grumbling, thinking he had fallen asleep in the chair and she wanted out I got up and went downstairs. Well he had fallen- but not asleep – he was stretched out- collapsed on the floor . Whilst I took in the sight before me, Shadow immediately went to him lay beside him and wouldn’t move – she stayed there whilst the rescue squad was called , it took two of us to get her outside – she wouldn’t leave him and the paramedics were leery of such an animal. Shadow barked and barked, waking the whole neighborhood as they put him on the gurney for the ambulance she tried jumping over the fence to follow . My mother told me she cried and whined the whole morning, pacing and off her food.
Had Shadow not woken me my husband would’ve died it was that serious! He passed out from severe dehydration and ended up with a condition called Rhabdomyolysis http://www.medicinenet.com/rhabdomyolysis/article.htm
In all their ways these dogs , including Tetley who brought comfort, companionship and love to my mum before he too passed this summer, give us their everything and unconditional love. Shadow though, is truly a rescue dog because she has rescued this family from so much and we owe her so much
I have some of your work from Cleveland Institute of Art http://www.cia.edu/
displayed appropriately in most rooms , even the bathroom.
One of your first tries at glass making- the glass frosted and slightly wonky but it holds the Daffodils of spring, red Roses and Lavender of summer and the Chrysanthemums of fall , reminders the seasons and years as they continue to pass.
Your work has brought me comfort, longing, as well as tears. I went through your portfolio in those first “tearing” weeks when we all were so fragmented – one didn’t know where we began and ended, lost in a maelstrom of disbelief and pain. I found the photographs , “another assignment” – A Day in the Life of a College Student. There you were in those photos brushing your teeth, making breakfast – such as it was- all the things that are so everyday- studying , taking care of the garbage ,
playing X- box –
working on projects, having a beer – all there . These simple acts of living archived and not meaning much of anything to anyone else but to us the world.
The wall of your apartment adorned with another photography assignment , and the subject Angela- http://my.clevelandclinic.org/staff_directory/staff_display?DoctorID=16147 less the angelic person her name implies (in my opinion .)
The work showed another side to this young woman – one I came to know all too well during the dying days and afterwards. You captured in the lens of the camera something hidden to the eye. I remember saying to you
“there is a darkness in these photos- Chris and I don’t think her mother would be pleased so I wouldn’t show them to her .
There they are on the wall frozen in the camera lens and time . A part of your day and your life but one I would so like to forget.
I have a day in your life , the simple acts of living, stopped by the camera just as your life was stopped and now we are frozen in the loss of you. In amongst all the projects , drawing, design a very special piece of your work has given to us something that is always lost when someone dies – captured in the amber and gold glass – your breath. This work is cherished above all else because it contains the breath of your body locked in beauty.
We have such a lot of YOU but not enough to take away the pain, only YOU walking through the door once more could do that …. I love you
It has come around once again – your birthday- the day when I first held you outside of my heart- looked at your little screwed up face, smiled down at you in my arms and promised you the world , as much of it as I could give. Excited phone calls to the UK – a boy!!! Nana always wanted a boy – at last she had one.
Another hospital , another birthday , another invasive test – and hope and promises dissolving in our tears.
The trouble with cancer it ignores special days, it ignores a mother’s tears, it just does what it is good at doing ……….. and on your birthday – a day remembered with such hope it took that memory and took away hope.
I will look for your face and your spirit tomorrow – try to hear your voice in my memory and try not to dissolve completely…