History View- Lorain- Can you see what I see

May 1, 2014 at 7:52 pm 6 comments

Very early handwritten map of Lorain ( then Black River Township/ Charleston Village)

I can’t explain it to those that don’t have “past vision”- it isn’t 20/20 and it isn’t demo vision. Lorain’s history isn’t my history per se my Lorain history is very recent 1st generation- I too, was an immigrant from Britain. Actually Lorain was built upon “immigration” and had an influx of immigrants coming here for work in the last century . Lorain’s history is pretty recent history for those whose grandparents or parents settled here to work at the steel plant, Ford Motor etc .

They settled here because of work. A number of different groups Italians, Polish, Irish, Hispanic apparently clung to their “cultural backgrounds” and although they built homes, worked for the all American dollar, they celebrated and still celebrate their traditions and their homelands heritage. The clubs where they gathered now have for the most part gone the way of http://www.pulselorainmag.com/Main/Articles/Ethnic_Lorain_County_90.aspx Lorain’s older “history” .

In fact, I marveled when I came here as a young bride and was taken to the Royal Canadian Legion as that is where the Brits gathered. Although there weren’t many English, as I remember, some of the “old guard” at the Legion had come as War Brides etc. 1939-45. And in fact only the post commander Jake Verroni (sp) and I had any “Canadian” affiliation whatsoever.

I was welcomed into the Ladies Auxiliary being very young not yet 24 I was totally confused as to what this was all about. Fresh from London and a “happening London” to Lorain was definitely a culture shock. This was not my scene at all but I didn’t want to be impolite to the neighbor that introduced me to “culture” club 🙂

drill team
Marching down Broadway for parades in a kilt and velvet jacket and very unflattering argyle socks was even more of a shock too my system but you try to fit in in a new country and community and celebrate the traditions of that country and community . I will say the kilt, jacket and socks were soon left behind and community theatre and a small repertoire company in Avon Lake – Chef Henri took up more of my time.


However, the Pipe Band appealed to my husband and we dug up some Scottish ancestry for him in the way back and beyond ( His name was Ritchey after all) .

Ironically when the Scots were being spotlighted in , I believe 1983, I was the one they approached to chair the Scottish Spotlight Committee for that year. I politely pointed out to the “committee” having an Englishman ( woman) head the Scottish committee and Scottish Culture would be frowned upon by true Scots!

My family and I did get involved and a wee girl( my wee girl) rode upon Nessie as it pulled the float with castles, golf courses, covered in bluebells and heather, dancers and pipers, the front and sides covered in tartan. Only to lose the trophy to the Polish float with a huge picture of the Pope on a flat-bed truck – as the All American judges ( who obviously knew very little about Scottish culture said

there wasn’t enough representation of Scotland.

AHH ethnicity – depends whose is most prominent in the diversity of a community 🙂 Note to the International ( old Guard) Now you know why there was never another float like Nessie-;)


One day the little girl was asked if she would like to ride on top of the Loch Ness Monster in a parade (the day of the parade the temperature hit 102, a drummer plopped his Glengarry on the little girls head as she rode 10 foot in the air on top of Nessie. (What was that mother (me) thinking?) The resulting photo did win a National award for the photographer Tom Whittington). Would she also like to learn a dance called the Fling? Everyone thought this sounded like great fun. So began the little girl’s journey of the dance


Today , there is no longer a Canadian Legion and a lot of the ethnic based clubs have also gone . I could never understand why this community and now indeed the USA needs to be hyphenated – Polish- American, Scottish- American – Mexican- American what is so wrong with just being American?This was strongly brought home to me when taking my citizenship three years after arrival that according to the Department of Immigration and Naturalization there is no such thing.

My thinking is back in the early days of Lorain the settlers were content in just having people of any nationality around to help build the cabins , cut the trails and hunt for food, prayed to their God all together in a little meeting-house, sent their children to learn from one another and with one another. Those early were not a hyphenated community – they couldn’t afford the luxury of being “hyphenated” .
Lorain still celebrates her ethnic diversity each year with the Lorain International Festival. More and more I have noticed the diverse ethnic clubs and churches of the past have in the Bazaar itself been replaced by commercial concerns and the selections have narrowed .

Ironically at the Celebration of Trees for the Light Up Lorain , as CVSI were decorating the “Lorain” tree with lilacs and heritage of Lorain’s past

I was taken to task by the lady trimming one of the Hispanic trees for not following the international flavor of the trees –

Lorain 365

Lorain 365

What nationality of tree is that she asked – you are supposed to be celebrating Lorain’s ethic community.

I smiling pointed out to her without the settlers and captains etc carving a community ( as one people) -the “sufferers” -there would not be an “International Community” at all to trim trees

to be continued……….

Entry filed under: a Cow -elle opinion, Charleston Village, city of lorain, Lest we forget, Lorain's Magical History Tour. Tags: , , , , , , .

History Mystery – Lives of Lorain- Gillmore May 3rd – The pipes were calling- Chris Ritchey

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rich  |  May 1, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    Great article, can’t wait for more 🙂

  • 2. Barb Macgregor  |  May 1, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    This is a beautiful article, and so true. Everything was more authenic back in the day for International. This no longer exists. Most of the older booths are gone and replaced with Food Trucks and the food is not as good. Even those that attend are a different crowd and I am sure they really don’t even know what the International Festival is..

  • 3. Tammy  |  May 1, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    Sad to say, our greatest claim to fame are those that left Lorain!! There are Lorain days in Florida, Arizona, Texas and other states, when those who grew up here and now live elswhere get together and celebrate. I’m not sure what they celebrate….maybe just growing up here. And the International Festival is the time when most of them return to visit others who left.

  • 4. thatwoman  |  May 2, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Back in the day ( don’t I sound my age now ?) there was such a lot of fun between the vendors – I liked the huge tents ( although it did get hot) at the May company ( the Greek Café at the one end of the big tent , and the moussaka and Greek donuts and although I didn’t think I would, at the time ,when the festival was held at Veterans Park it had more of a community atmosphere somehow. I am not complaining about Lorain International Festival……but as all things things change evolve . not always for the better….they just change… just like Lorain has changed different vibe from those days of community so long ago we are a pass through city………

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