With this December issue we celebrate 40 years of publishing the Put-in-Bay Gazette. If we go back to 1980, the island was a different world than 2020. Let’s take a look at what you would have found if you could turn back the clock.
According to the 1980 Census, the Village of Put-in-Bay had a population of 146 and the Township 410. There were 68 year-round homes in the Village and 139 in the Township. Seasonal homes were 102 in the Village and 586 in the Township. These numbers have changed dramatically since them, especially seasonal homes.
The mayor in 1980 was Bob Ladd, and Council members were Marvin Booker, Russ Ervin, Herb Mann, Bill Massie, Richard Gump and Jeff Koehler. Duane Dress from South Bass, Dale Burris from North Bass and Art Wolf from Middle Bass were the PIB Twp. trustees. Tom Ohlemacher was chief of police.
One of the big changes between now and then was the difference in traveling to and from the islands. Bill and Mary Ann Market had purchased Miller Boat Line a couple of years earlier and were still running the fleet Lee Miller had built. There were four boats in the fleet, the South Shore, West Shore, Wm. Miller and Put-in-Bay. Each of the ferries was about 65-feet long. Every vehicle was driven onto the ferry by members of the crew as passengers waited to board. Alfred Parker ran two ferries, the Yankee Clipper and the Erie Isle, between Port Clinton and downtown Put-in-Bay. Most of the freight that came to the island came on Parker Boat Line.
In the winter months, there were two workhorse planes, one DeHavilland Otter and one a DeHavilland Beaver. They had replaced the last Ford Trimotor which had crashed three years earlier. There was no Port Authority and relatively few homes around the Put-in-Bay Airport. There were two runways, one grass cross runway that ran east to west and the main runway with a bit of a dog leg. The only hangar was the one at the terminal. And P.S., there was no dog park at the end of the runway.
Once you arrived at the Lime Kiln Dock via one of the ferries, you would have found the restrooms in a little building a few yards above the passenger waiting area. Both the men’s room and women’s room were about the size of a walk-in-closet, nothing like the ones at the top of the hill where the Dockside gift shop is located today. As for freight coming over to the island, Miller’s was not the main hub as it is today.
As for your transportation needs on the island, you either took Skip Duggan’s bus, a taxi or rented a bike. Golf carts were just beginning to come on the scene and were still a bit of an oddity compared to today’s hundreds on the roads. Carl and Chris Krueger’s Mojito Bay was an empty lot. The Boardwalk was an empty dock except for a small garage at the end where you could get gas for your boat.
The top attractions you might have visited were the Monument, Perry’s Cave and Heineman Winery. Before going up in the Monument, visitors would stop at the concession building at the west end of the plaza parking lot. The unattractive building was about the size of a very small living room, but in the day served its purpose. And by the way, a visit to the top of the Monument was free for islanders.
There were several shops downtown, but nowhere near the number of bars and outside venues there are today. One was the Tintype located next to the Snack Shack (now Pasquale’s) run by Dave and Joann Robison.
Both the hardware store, Ted’s Tackle (now the Fishbowl), and the filling station, Parker’s Garage (now the Grand Islander), were downtown. The island post office was on Erie St. across from where First National Bank is now. Speaking of banks, there was no bank on the island and business people had to take their cash to a bank in Port Clinton. On the Boat House corner you could get a hamburger at the Bay Burger on the side of the quanset hut that is still the guts of the popular bar and restaurant there today. You’d recognize the Round House, the Country House and Frosty’s right away. They’ve been PIB institutions for a long time. One of the very popular gift shops was Ken & Greta’s which a couple of years later would be sold to the Cargo Net boys, Bill Timmerman and Robert Stone, who owned Victory Cabs and were running the Victory Woods Resort out by the state park. Ken Reynolds had passed a number of years before, but Greta, his widow, still ran the shop with its huge variety of Put-in-Bay postcards, trinkets and souvenirs, plus the always popular peep show penny machines.
Where Delaware Carts and Mr’s Ed’s are today you could rent bikes from Ralph Zickafoose or stay at Jerry Aurelius’s Commodore Motel, a bunch of mobile homes divided into rooms that opened up onto a swimming pool.
The main street’s most impressive landmark, the Colonial with its huge pillars and impressive dome graced the corner of Delaware and Catawba. On the side of the building facing Catawba Ave. was the entrance to the grocery store. People wept when it burned to the ground eight years later.
Catawba Ave. may be where you find a hot time now, but in 1980 there were just a few shops, the fire station, Tony’s Place and the huge, fenced-in basement of the old Schnoor & Fuchs store that burned in the 1960s. Owner Lynn Schnoor built the new Villager building where the Island General Store is today, but never filled in the basement hole. Tens of thousands passed the eyesore over the years and “Lynn’s Hole” was despised by islanders who wanted him to fill it in. After Lynn sold out, the hole was filled and is now the store’s parking lot.
Parker’s Garage was a place where islanders got their gasoline and had their cars fixed. It was also a prime location for hearing the latest about what was going on on the island. If there was something to counter his neighbor’s ugly hole, it was the beautiful flower garden Joe Parker always tended between the sidewalk and the gas pumps.
Tony’s place was about the only place that stayed open all year long. Whether you were a kid with a sweet tooth or an adult hankering for a beer, Mercy Traverso and her brother Val were always there to come to the rescue. And we can’t forget Eloise Burgess who always had a bit-of-an-off-color joke to tell you when you walked in the door.
Next to Tony’s was the Blacksmith Shop, a great little shop filled with gifts, art and more. It was run by Russ and Margarite Ervin.
The fire station was where the Brewery is today. The volunteers were pleased as punch with the building and location because it was a huge step up from where the old Deluge and Model A fire engines were kept in the Town Hall. The door to the fire station is quite noticeable on the town hall to this day. It was some years later before the new fire station and Senior Center were built where they are on Concord Ave. today.
As for Concord Ave., the residents looked to the north and saw nothing but overgrown fields. The school’s gymnasium, the fire station, the Village’s utility facilities, the Perry Holiday, the Niagara Event Center and new Banyan Cove ondos weren’t even micro blips in anyone’s thought process.
The harbor forty years ago had far fewer docks than it does today, plus there were no anchor balls in the harbor. Electric service on the docks came via 110 outlets like you have in your home and often not even grounded. The facilities for the public docks were located in the old DeRivera Park bathhouse. Between the Crew’s Nest office dock (Dodge Dock) and the Yacht Shop (now Topsy Turvey’s) there were no docks at all.
Bill Barlow was the commodore at the Put-in-Bay Yacht Club. Laureen Mooney was the Auxiliary President. Polly Prendergast was awarded the Gardner Trophy, and Scott Parker received the Cheryl Cody Award.
If you were hungry, there were three places to eat away from the downtown: the Skyway at the north end of the airport, Cooper’s which was newly purchased by Steve and Joy Urge and what is called the Goat Soup & Whiskey today, and the Castle Inn out by the State Park. The Skyway and Castle Inn would stay open after the bars downtown closed at 1 a.m. Anyone who was around forty years ago always has fond memories about all three of these places. How can anyone forget Marge Smiley and Dirty Gerty working at the Skyway? Today, you can go to Joe’s bar for food and drink, but four decades ago Art Boyles was running the Press House Bait Store there.
Put-in-Bay’s school was much smaller in 1980. The graduates that year were Betsy Campbell (Drennan), Laureen Dress (Miller), Wayne Fastzkie, Daniel Kowalski, Karl Schulltz and JoAnn Wertenbach (Luecke). Kelly Faris was the principle. Among the staff that year were Linda Goaziou (Mahony), XXX Market, Margaret Naylon, Susan Duff, Justine Bianchi and Thomas Eversole. Annemarie Eriksen was the teacher aid for grades 4, 5 and 6. Martha Marquard was the clerk, the typist and the librarian. Edwin Market was the Driver’s Ed teacher. The Quiz Bowl team consisted of Chip Duggan, Dan Kowalski, Mary McCann (Pepe), Wayne Fastzkie and Chuck Schneider. The younger students from Middle Bass and North Bass were still going to school on those islands before coming to Put-in-Bay for high school.
The island had both Boy Scout and Girl Scout Troops. The adult leaders for the Girl Scout Troop were Pat Thwaite and Kendra Koehler. The Recreation Committee members were Wayne Fastzkie, Butch Seaberg, Bill Massie, Mary XXX McCann and Denny Naylon.
In 1980, the Village of Put-in-Bay was still using a 30,000-gallon wooden storage tank to store water and pressurize the Village’s water system. Sewage ran untreated into Put-in-Bay harbor from both homes and businesses.
Other things about 1980:
- A lot more people waved at each other when they drove down the road.
- There were no 50-room hotels and swim up bars.
- There was no Carillon between Mother of Sorrows and the school.
- The +/- 40-Acre Game Preserve between the Dump Rd. and Mitchell Rd. was not a subdivision.
- There was no Miller Marina for private boats.
- People could dial each other without using the area code.
- Many more islanders left their keys in their car.
- There were no bike paths on either side of Airport Rd.
- TV reception came via analog antennas.
- There were public pay phones in many places.
- The New Year’s Dance was at the Town Hall.
- Smoking was allowed in the Town Hall.
We could go on and on, but you get the picture. Times have changed, and we can’t go back. We can only imagine what Put-in-Bay will be like 40 years from now in 2060 when the PIB Gazette celebrates its 80th anniversary.
Gazette Not the First Island Newspaper
The first island newspaper was the “The Herald. Volume One, Number One” and appeared on August 25th, 1898, declaring, “Everybody Wants It – First Newspaper for Put-in-Bay.” C.N. Whittaker, editor and publisher, had an office for the weekly in the basement of the Graves House. Subscription rates were $1 a year, 50 cents for six months, and to attract summer residents, 30 cents for for three months. After accepting money for subscriptions and advertising in December 1898, Whittaker took the mail boat to Port Clinton on the 17th and disappeared. People on the Bass Islands lost whatever they had paid.
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