Jim Mahony, Mr. Lorain
Oral History of Jim Mahony
- Interview One- 12/1/87
- Interview Two - 12/21/87
- Interview Three - 2/23/88
- Interview Four - 5/2/88
- Interview Five - 10/5/88
- Interview Six - 10/22/88
- Interview Seven - 11/2/88
- Interview Eight - 1/10/89
Interview One - December 1, 1987
.....Birth; parents' and grandparents' background, early childhood; siblings; Lorain Tornado; paperboy job with Lorain Journal
Interview Two - December 21, 1987
.....Memories of early days working at the Lorain Journal; school days and classmates at St. Mary School; living during the Depression; Lorain neighborhoods; siblings' education and employment; family church life
Interview Three - February 23, 1988
.....Graduation from high school; cub reporter days; industries of Lorain; covering sports events in Lorain; reporters and editors at the Journal; City Hall and other city "beats"; Cleveland Indians games; meets future wife; siblings' employment, marriages; life in Lorain before the War.
Interview Four - May 2, 1988
.....Drafted; basic training experiences; ships out to North Africa; works for Stars and Stripes; transferred to Naples, Italy; serves as machine gunner for 534th Anti-aircraft Battalion; invasion of France, Germany, Austria; wartime experiences; is hospitalized in Rheims; France with fever; is sent home from Cherbourg, France;
Interview Five - October 5, 1988
.....Returns home from War; job at Journal as City Editor; covers execution story in Columbus; recounts some big news stories of the 40's; recounts experiences of the 1948 World Series; tells of different sports events; describes various co-workers at the Journal; describes wedding, honeymoon and family life; talks about journalism and the Lorain Journal buildings and operations
Interview Six - October 22, 1988
.....Tells stories of professional boxing in Lorain and Cleveland; discusses other popular area and national sports; helps organize Lorain Sports Hall of Fame; talks about various inductees into the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame; discusses various social and ethnic clubs in Lorain; recounts stories about formation of St. Peter Church and about membership in the Holy Name Society at the church; talks about heart attack and open heart surgery experienced in 1981; described memberships in various organizations; talks about formation of the Lorain International Festival; tells about the Mary Lee Tucker Clothe-a-Child Fund program.
Interview Seven - November 2, 1988
.....Continues discussion of various organizations in which he is a member; explains about the Mahony's Memo column in the Lorain Journal; is semi-retired at work; describes backgrounsd of,and friendships with, fellow newspaper staff; gives more details about start of Lorain International Festival; talks about personal philosophy of journalism; discusses memories of various Lorain mayors;
Interview Eight - January 10, 1989
.....Continues to discuss Lorain mayors; talks about changes in Lorain over the years; tells about wife's family, wife, children; and grandchildren.
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"Oral History" is defined as the audio recording or the transcript which results from planned oral interviews with individuals. These created and preserved interviews are intended for use by researchers and historians.
Jim Mahony was born in 1918 and died in 1998. He was a life-long resident of Lorain. He was also a journalist who had experienced and reported on many aspects of the city's life from the 1920's to the late 1990's.
Jim agreed, in 1987, to help the Library preserve the story of his life and his recollections of Lorain. His oral history helps those interested in knowing about Lorain see the city's history through the eyes of someone who was involved with Lorain through most of the 20th century.
Sheila Ives, Librarian with the Lorain Public Library System's Adult Services Department, conducted eight interviews with Jim Mahony between December, 1987, and January, 1989. Jim spent many hours with Sheila as he graciously shared his recollections of growing up and working in the city of Lorain.
Jim truly earned the nickname, "Mr. Lorain", and those who knew him mourn his loss, as do his friends at the Library.
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This is Part I of an interview with Mr. Jim Mahony for the Lorain Public Library Oral History Program by Sheila Ives at Lorain Public Library on December 1, 1987 at 1:00 p.m.
IVES: Mr. Mahony, would you like to state your name and where you live currently?
MAHONY: Yes, I’m Jim Mahony and I’ve been a native of Lorain. At this time I’m in my seventieth year, so I feel like I have background on what’s been going on in the community.
IVES: Mr. Mahony, could you tell me where you were born?
MAHONY: I was born in Lorain and I’ve been a lifelong resident of Lorain. My present address is 3326 Reid Avenue.
IVES: Where were you born?
MAHONY: In my home at 1120 Oberlin Avenue. In fact, in those days they had midwives and doctors that came to the residence, and I was born, my mother tells me, about 15 minutes after midnight on September 9, 1917 in the kitchen.
IVES: Do you remember who the midwife was that delivered you?
MAHONY: I don’t remember the midwife, but there was a doctor involved and a midwife probably came later. The doctor involved was Dr. Frederick.
IVES: Did you have him as a family doctor as you grew up?
MAHONY: He was the family doctor. In fact, later on he had a son that was a doctor, and we also were acquainted with him.
IVES: What was your father’s name?
MAHONY: My father was James A. Mahony. I’m James E. Mahony. My father came to the United States in 1900 with his brother Thomas. They came from County Kerry, Ireland. County Kerry’s on the River Shannon, and it’s a place where they have grazing areas and quite a lot of farming. At the time when they left to come to the United States, they’d been engaged in farming with their dad, and that was the family project at the time. Their interest in Lorain was focused on their brother John, the older brother, who came to Lorain prior to the turn of the century. And he felt that Lorain was a good opportunity because it was a city of the future. At that time, at the turn of the century in 1900, John J. Mahony, my uncle, was city clerk that’s equivalent now to the city auditor.
IVES: Did your father mention anything about the reasons why he came over?
MAHONY: The limitations, I believe, in employment and things of that nature were quite distinct in Ireland, and the opportunities were beginning to show in the United States.
IVES: Did your father ever talk at all about his parents?
MAHONY: Yes, he did. On occasion he said that they were industrious, and like most folks in the land of the green, they were farmers. They were quite immaculate, I believe, in maintaining their homes and doing things that were good for the family.
IVES: What were your grandparents’ names on your father’s side? Do you remember?
MAHONY: It was John, the same as the oldest son, and I don’t recall, but I’m inclined to believe that Bridget was the mother’s name. She would be my grandmother.
IVES: When your father first came, you said that was in 1900…
IVES: What did he do when he first came here?
MAHONY: He was fortunate to get a job in the Great Lakes, on an oil freighter. At the time lake shipping was a big item, and he was employed as what they would call a coal heaver. A coal heaver was a man who fired the boilers to keep the ship in operation.
IVES: And how long did he do that?
MAHONY: As I recall, it was about six years because it was in 1907 when he became an employee of the Lorain City Water Works as a stationary engineer. Now I can elaborate on that a little bit. His brother, Tom, who also came along in 1900, found an opportunity to become a member of the Lorain Police Department; while Jim was on lake freighters, Tom was doing patrol duty in the city of Lorain as a policeman.
Now Tom later on became a railroader and he worked as an engineer on what they called The Big Four that was a train that operated between Cleveland and Columbus and Cincinnati. It was quite an extensive operation when he was an engineer.
IVES: Do you know where your father lived when he first came here to the United States and settled in Lorain?
MAHONY: He had a rooming house, I believe, on Twelfth Street near Broadway. Tom was also in the same house with him. It was more or less a boarding house at that time.
And, speaking of boarding houses, my mother, Ethel, and her sister, Mary, came in 1900, and they told me about their first experiences in Lorain County. They didn’t come directly to Lorain. This was also in 1900. When they arrived in Lorain County, they were not acquainted with Tom or John or Jim Mahony. They were on their own more or less and they worked in Elyria in restaurants and hotels and boarding houses. After awhile they were introduced to the Mahonys’ on this side in Lorain. Their name was Martin, by the way. There was Ethel Martin and Mary Martin.
John Martin, their father, was a tailor. When they were in Ireland prior to coming to Lorain, they assisted him in the tailor shop. That was his trade. As I recall, my mother told me that their mother died when they were quite young, and as a result they were more or less left in charge of the house and that’s why they assisted in the tailor shop with their dad.
They also had relatives in Lorain, the Martin family of Lorain. There was James R. Martin, who was later Superintendent of Mails in Lorain, and his wife, Stella. Their children were Ralph, Mercedes, Rosella and Bob. The Martins were direct relatives of my mother’s. As a result, the two girls, my mother and her sister, were introduced through the Martins to the Stack family.
The Stack family has been quite wide-spread in Lorain. They were here at the turn of the century and even before that. They may have been here since about 1885. They established a coal company, The Stack Coal Company. And being friends with the Martins, they introduced them, and it became sort of a warm feeling between the Martins and the Stacks. The Stack family introduced my mother to Jim Mahony, who later became my dad, and that’s how they became acquainted.
On the part of Mary, she was introduced to a policeman by the name of Mike McLaughlin. Mike McLaughlin was introduced through Tom Mahony, who was my uncle. And as a result of that, on January 7, 1907, my mother and her sister, Mary, were married at St. Mary’s church at Eighth and Reid Avenue. And it was my dad, Jim Mahony, and also Mike McLaughlin the patrolman, who was the husband of Mary Martin (who later became Mary McLaughlin). It was a case where the two Martin girls became Mrs. McLaughlin and Mrs. Mahony.
IVES: How long had your mother dated or been acquainted with your father before they got married? Do you have any idea?
MAHONY: I’d say about six months, from the conversations I’ve heard. They became acquainted when they shifted their work from hotels and boarding houses in Elyria to Lorain. They held similar jobs in Lorain and became acquainted that way about six months prior to the wedding.
IVES: And where did your mother come from in Ireland?
MAHONY: County Roscommon. From what I’ve heard about it through the years, it was great farming country, and it still is rated as a quality area over there. It’s quite fertile and prosperous.
IVES: Did she ever mention at all about her father?
MAHONY: He was the tailor in Ireland. After the two daughters came to Lorain, they communicated frequently with him and he heard of the good things in Lorain. So it turned out that around the year 1915 he decided, well maybe he would make his way to Lorain. He was also encouraged to come to Lorain by his brother, Jim. Jim had arrived here probably about 1910, and he had had good things happen to him. He had set up a tailor shop on Broadway, about Eighth Street and Broadway, and he was doing a very good business. So John figured, I might as well get over there, and help my brother Jim, and make a little side money, too. In addition to that, after a few years in the tailor shop, my grandfather found that there were many good jobs over at the ship yard. The shipyard was booming and the war times were approaching, too. WWI was there in 1917-1918. They had an abundance of work, so my grandfather went over and became a shipbuilder. Maybe on the weekends, he’d do a little tailoring on the side with his brother.
IVES: And did your grandfather ever remarry?
MAHONY: No, he didn’t remarry. He lived with us at Oberlin Avenue, the same house where I was born. I can remember him living with us. He died in June of 1925.
IVES: How would you describe him?
MAHONY: I’d describe him as being in appearance 100% Irish face, expression, smile, and also he was a determined man.
IVES: What influence did he have on you?
MAHONY: Quite a lot. In fact, I’d say that he was the one that more or less, who led us down the religious road. We had a rear porch on the back of the house and there he would be reading out of his prayer book, which he brought from Ireland. And many times, we’d be out there and he’d say, "Well come on, time to take a little break now and say a few prayers with me." So actually that opened the doors to our Catholic life, and I’d have to give him full credit.
IVES: Did your grandfather keep in touch with any of the other relatives from Ireland?
MAHONY: Yes, he did, but not directly because he was quite busy being a tailor and a ship builder. But my mother, who was his daughter, was in touch with the family over there.
IVES: How did they keep in touch?
MAHONY: By mail. I believe it was at that time when postage in the United States was two cents a stamp, and if you sent a letter to Ireland, it would probably cost you six cents.
IVES: Did your relatives ever come over to visit ever at all?
MAHONY: Not to my knowledge, no.
IVES: How old was your mother when she came over to the United States?
MAHONY: I’d have to say that I believe she was seventeen years old, because she was born in 1883 and she came over in 1900. So that would be seventeen years old, yes.
IVES: Just to get the information about your father, how old was he when he came over?
MAHONY: My dad was about twenty-one years old.
IVES: Do you recall when he was born?
MAHONY: I’d have to say, oh yes, I know for sure. He was born in 1879.
IVES: Did they talk at all about their journey over to the United States?
MAHONY: Not really. I don’t recall them having anything to say about a journey. They were just happy to get here.
IVES: Do you happen to know what their educational level was?
MAHONY: Quite limited. They picked up probably most of it right within their home and within their church.
IVES: After your parents got married, where did they live?
MAHONY: Well, their first location was at 551 Hamilton Avenue. That’s near the present location of Lorain High School. Later on when the family started to grow, they had the four children as a total. As the family increased, they moved to larger quarters than the first house, east of Washington Avenue on West Eleventh Street, near the Nickle Plate railroad tracks. That would be one block from the Nickle Plate railroad tracks.
Then a short time after that, I’d say a couple years later, when I was on the way, (they already had three daughters at that point) they moved to 1120 Oberlin Avenue. And that was their residence for the remainder of their days. My dad died at the age of 76 and my mother died at the age of 80.
IVES: Now you mentioned you had three sisters. What were their names?
MAHONY: My older sister was Mary. She was born in 1907, October of 1907. Ethel was born in February of 1909. Martha was born in November of 1914, and my birthday was September 9, 1917.
IVES: Let’s ask a little bit about your family life. Did your parents have any heirlooms or mementos from Ireland around the house?
MAHONY: Not that I can recall. If so, they were shipped to them because they were traveling at that time and their baggage was quite limited. They didn’t carry souvenirs or things of that nature. Because, for another thing, they really didn’t know if they were going to become established here.
IVES: Did they ever recount to you any episodes of Irish history?
MAHONY: Oh yes. They would go back and tell about the musical days, and they’d talk about the days and the nights of entertainment and the operation and the pubs and also the excitement of the town halls. Also the church activities became quite attractive to them. They liked the church celebrations and all the pageantry that went on. So that was outstanding. They could recall that vividly.
IVES: Did your parents ever mention to you about the potato famine or any events like that?
MAHONY: I don’t recall the potato famine. They always said they had an abundance of potatoes. That seemed to be good Irish potatoes, and that was part of the operation.
IVES: Did they ever express any opinions on the English?
MAHONY: Rarely. It was one of those things that they played it cool. They said, "Let it go just as it is, and it will work it’s way out in years to come."
IVES: Did they practice any ethnic customs at home?
MAHONY: It was rare if they had ethnic customs. I’d say that the only full display that they had, as I can recall, was on St. Patrick’s Day. Normally about a week or ten days before St. Patrick’s Day, they’d receive a package from Ireland. And the package would contain the shamrock from Ireland. It was a real shamrock and it was nicely placed in the box, and it was green. When they opened the box, it made them feel that they were right at home and that was really the highlight of every St. Patrick’s Day through the years.
IVES: Where did you receive that shamrock. Who sent it?
MAHONY: Mostly from Pat, who was my dad’s brother, and also from Michael McLaughlin, who was the husband of Mary McLaughlin. Mary had died in October of 1907. A few years after her death, Mike McLaughlin, who was a Lorain policeman, decided that maybe he should return to Ireland and see how things were going over there, although he was satisfied with Lorain. He returned to Ireland and he remained there. And after a few more years there, as I was told, he was married again and he remained over there for his entire life.
IVES: Did they have any children?
MAHONY: To my knowledge, no, no children.
IVES: Did your parents ever sing any Irish songs at home?
MAHONY: Not really. My dad had a what they call an Edison phonograph. It was a crank model, and it was quite the thing, I believe, at that time. He paid, as I remember the figure, something like $325, which was a fantastically high figure in those days. That was super. He took great pride in it. And he was very careful to see how things were being used and how the records were being placed.
He’d buy the records downtown at the Sauer Music Company. That was on Fifth Street just about where the Greater Lorain Chamber of Commerce is located today. They had records, and he would always take many of the ones that pertained to Ireland, like the Irish jigs. So, that was really the big moment when they’d get some of the Irish jigs and songs like "Mother McCree."
IVES: Who were your parents friends with?
MAHONY: My dad had friends in Pat Ginty and Hugh Reilly. Hugh was a captain of the Lorain police department. They were also acquainted with the O’Doherty’s: John O’Doherty was a fire chief in Lorain. They were also, as I previously mentioned, active with the Martins and the Stack family. That would be the James Martin family and the John Jay Stack family that owned the coal company. The Stack family had twelve children, I believe-seven boys and five girls.
Other people they were active with were Mike Scanlan and Ed Reidy, who owned the Reidy Scanlan Furniture Store. The Reidys and Scanlans also had a funeral home. There was another prominent name in Lorain and that was McDermott. Al McDermott was a great singer. He was an Irish tenor and later on he was a street superintendent of the city of Lorain. Albert McDermott was well acquainted with my dad. Also there was a Ryan family and also O’Brien. I believe they met them through the St. Mary’s Church, because St. Mary’s church was basically an Irish parish.
Another facet that we could mention, in addition to the church, was that we had in Lorain a chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which was comprised of hundred percent Irish Clan. That was the official membership. If you had the true blood of being an Irishman, you were eligible to becoming a Hibernian. So, that’s where they met many people like the Dunlaps, Conleys, and Whalens and many more of the Irish.
IVES: Where did this club meet at?
MAHONY: As I recall, it was on Broadway. It was on the second floor of a building on Broadway in the six-hundred block. That would be the same as half a block south of the Palace Civic Center. IVES
: How long was that club in existence? MAHONY
: I really don’t have a clear picture on it, but I’d have to say it probably got started in 1912, and possibly it continued into the 1930’s. IVES
: What kind of activities did they do at the club? MAHONY
: They had many activities going such as dances and probably a few card parties, so that the women could mix in. They had mixed card parties. They’d also have events where they gathered, and they’d go to see various ball games that were being played in the city, like baseball games and football games in the old days. They’d go as a group and attend, and that seemed to be the true picture of the activities. IVES
: How often did they attend the club? Did they have a regular meeting time? MAHONY
: I believe, as I recall, they probably had two meetings a month. IVES
: What about at your home? Did their friends come in and socialize at your home? MAHONY
: Yes, they did. My mother was quite active in the church. Many people came to the home for that reason. They had in those days what they’d called church circles. The women would bring food or my mother would entertain them with food, and it was a fifty-fifty deal. She’d prepare various food items such as Jello, and they would play cards, listen to music, and talk about various things they had heard and read in the newspapers. IVES
: Now, as the child, how were you involved? Did they have activities for children, or were you allowed to participate in their activities? Or did you have to sit on the sidelines and watch whatever was going on? MAHONY
: Well, I don’t recall much from my early childhood, but I was on the sidelines. That’s right. It was okay to observe, but not to participate in anything. No, I was just an observer. However, later on when I became about seven or eight, I can recall in those days… let’s see, I was born in 1917… so about 1924 my dad took an interest in sports at the Antler’s Hotel. There was a sports arena there and they have what is now a ballroom down there. There was a big gymnasium. The hotel was dedicated in 1923, and I was six years old at that time. At the age of seven my dad would say, "Let’s go! We’re going to the ball game!" or, "We’re going to the Fight!" They had fights at the Hotel Antlers. They featured Johnny Risko, heavyweight from Cleveland who lived in Sheffield Lake. In fact, two of his sisters, two of Johnny Risko’s sisters, still live in Sheffield Lake. They have many scrapbooks of Johnny and his achievements in the boxing ring.
One of Johnny’s main bouts was when he fought his first professional bout. Johnny Risko had 52 amateur bouts and, as I recall, his record was something like 52 wins and 2 losses. So at that time he was encouraged to step into the professional ring and get a little money so he did he stepped into the professional ring. He fought his first professional fight at the Antler’s Hotel. He fought a man from Columbus, Ohio. It was unusual for an amateur boxer in his first tryout as a pro to go ten rounds. The normal procedure is that you warm-up in the pro-ranks. You go four rounds, six rounds… but Johnny said, "No, I’m going to go classy. I’m going to go ten rounds." And he went ten rounds. And he won the decision. He whipped the man from Columbus, Ohio six rounds to four. So, the final judging on the bout was Johnny Risko six rounds, and the Columbus man four. IVES
: How many people could be accommodated at these sports activities? MAHONY
: I’d say thirteen-hundred. In the Hotel Antlers they had a balcony, which is now enclosed, but in those days they had a balcony. They also had a stage they could use for seating. The ring was centered in the main ballroom. In addition to boxing, they had a fantastic basketball team in Lorain. In 1923, Lorain High School won the State Championship, and the final score was 15 to 14. Lorain High School whipped Bellevue, and from that time on that team became close to the heart of every Lorain sports follower.
The aftermath was that the Lorain Lions Club sponsored this team and this team performed with regularity at the Hotel Antlers. They would bring in teams from Battle Creek, Michigan; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Detroit; and Pittsburgh. Sometimes they would have teams that would be barnstorming. Say the teams would be from Alabama or the Carolina’s and they’d be coming up, playing the circuit. They’d put Lorain in the circuit because Lorain had a good sports following here, and the team was classy. And many times the Lorain Lions would go on the road trip, too. They’d play in Youngstown and Erie, Pennsylvania. It was a big attraction, the Lorain Lions Club Basketball Team. It was the same line-up they had at Lorain High when they were high school students. IVES
: Oh, that must have been a lot of fun for you to go to those. MAHONY
: Yes, it was quite an experience. The same kind of excitement happened, I can tell you, back in 1932 at the Cleveland Stadium on July 31, 1932. It was on Sunday and the excursion trains, the Nickel Plate trains, were going through from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Bellevue and coming into Lorain. My dad and I got on a train - there was train after train - and we got on a train and we took it into the Cleveland Terminal Tower, to the Stadium. That was the opening day of the Cleveland Stadium, and Philadelphia was battling the Cleveland Indians. Mel Harder was the Cleveland Indian’s pitcher and Lefty Grove was the pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics. Lefty Grove outscored, out-classed Mel Harder, one to nothing, first game in the stadium! It was a thriller! The big crowd was also a thrill! Eighty thousand capacity crowd! IVES
: How old were you when you went to the Stadium? MAHONY
: Fourteen years old. IVES
: Was that the first time you’d gone out of town for a game? MAHONY
: I believe so… yes, I believe so. IVES
: That must have been a real thrill. MAHONY
: Yes! Then in later years, my dad would take me to the Public Hall to see boxing shows that were at Cleveland Public Hall, and also later at the Cleveland Arena. Well, then by that time I was getting so that I could also go on my own, and sometimes he’d probably go with a couple of his buddies, or I’d probably go with a couple of my buddies. Then we’d go to games and this and that. It worked out very well. IVES
: Was your dad athletic? MAHONY
: Not really. At picnics and such he’d play volleyball and also a little softball and horseshoes. IVES
: O.K., and what about your athletic prowess? MAHONY
: Well, that was quite limited. I’ll just point out that in 1933 I was a member of the basketball varsity team at St. Mary’s. I was a sophomore at that time. It so happened that we played the entire season, which is about nine or ten games, and we were without a victory. So, that started things out at a pretty sour note. And from time to time, we had many problems. We were playing teams like Olmsted Falls, Townsend, Wakeman, Amherst and a few teams like that. So, that should give you an idea. Sometimes we played Brookside also. We really didn’t have that much luck.
And, as a boxer, if you want to get into that field, I can tell you that in 1942 when I was a member of the Army, I weighed 142 pounds. When I got shipped to Little Rock, Arkansas that’s where Camp Robinson was I was a rookie down there. Well, I figured, in order to pass a little time, give a little flash, and have something special to do, I’d try my luck at boxing. So I did, and I had one victory. My first bout was with a red head, a red head from Oklahoma, and I K.O.’d him in the second round. Then I was matched with a Texan whose name was Clovis Honeycutt. He was from Lubbock, Texas. He K.O.’d me in the second round, and I could see stars for 48 hours! That was the end of my boxing career. IVES
: Oh, no! You just didn’t want to pursue it any further after that? MAHONY
: That was the final chapter. IVES
: Well, I’m going to go back a little bit to your childhood, and ask you a little more about your parents. Did your parents ever express any feelings about the United States and being a United States citizen? MAHONY
: Oh, yes. They became citizens shortly after arriving in the United States. I believe that my Uncle John who, as I have mentioned before, was city clerk and was in the government I believe he pointed out to them that it was vital that they become citizens. So they followed on through. IVES
: Did your parents ever express any feelings about, that they had ever felt that they were the targets of the anti-Irish sentiment? MAHONY
: Not really. They never expressed it to me, and if they did, I wasn’t aware of it in any way, shape or form. IVES
: How were their feelings toward some of the other ethnic groups in the community? MAHONY
: Quite nice. In fact, they’d see them at functions that they’d go to like parades and things of that nature; or when they would have city functions and maybe big fireworks displays, they’d mix and become part of the other groups, the Polish, the Hungarians, and the Slovaks… and you could name many, many more. IVES
: Now, your parents, as far as disciplining you, who did the disciplining? MAHONY
: Mostly my mother. She laid the firm hand down, and she had a way of doing it so that she got the message across. IVES
: What kind of things were you punished for, do you remember? MAHONY
: I don’t recall…it was probably being late for meals. That was a big thing I believe, because that meant she had to warm things up again after I got home. Her favorite dish was beef stew and mashed potatoes, and I always enjoyed that… And another thing, since we’re talking about discipline and the family, I’d say that my mother was in charge. My dad probably felt that with his job at the water works, and then he also had a job on the side-on his days off he would work for the John Stack Coal Company delivering coal with them so that was a little extra so he felt that his time was quite occupied. IVES
: Did the disciplining differ between you and your sisters? Did they get treated any differently when it came to getting punished? MAHONY
: I doubt it. I think we were all given pretty much the same treatment. When my sisters became teenagers, they were anxious to get jobs. They got jobs working in an A&P Store that was like a grocery store. They kept busy and they wanted to build up a little jackpot so they could buy clothes for school… so they could look like some of the other kids in school, and try to keep up to that level. IVES
: What kind of responsibilities did your mother have in the household? Did she do all the cooking? MAHONY
: Definitely! 100% all the cooking. Yes, she was doing all the cooking, and also we’d help her occasionally make the beds, but that was rare. And she’d have other things to do like cleaning windows, and dusting and ordering the groceries. She’d have to get on the phone and order the groceries, then the groceries would be delivered to the house. IVES
: Where did you order the groceries from? Do you recall? MAHONY
: I recall, it was at Fourth and Oberlin Avenue - that would be about eight blocks away. Sometimes there’d be a delivery set up from there. Also she had other stores that were nearby that we’d be sent to just for some neighborhood errands. But, if she wanted special cuts of meat, she could call the store and they’d deliver things like that… special cuts. IVES
: Did you have a garden? MAHONY
: Yes! We had a garden and also about four fruit trees in the back. They were quite proud of them my mom and dad were quite proud of them. My dad would do the gardening, and so would my mother. She would go out and weed it from time to time, and she enjoyed being out and getting the fresh air. IVES
: Did your mom do any canning or preserving? MAHONY
: Yes, there was an abundance of canning. From the time the season opened up until the last touch of the fall harvest, she was busy. IVES
: Did you have any live stock at all? MAHONY
: No, no livestock. No. We had cats, I believe. I don’t recall having a dog, but I know we had several cats. IVES
: What about your clothing? Did she make it? MAHONY
: No, she didn’t. She didn’t make any clothing. We bought clothes at the Bond Clothing Company on Broadway at the Loop, and also T.J. Metzger’s and The Klein Store. Those were about the three big stores for boys and young men. Now my three sisters, I believe, most of their clothes they purchased at various apparel shops on Broadway. One of the big stores was Smith & Gerhart. There was also the Lorain Dry Goods.
And speaking of the Lorain Dry Goods, my two older sisters, Mary and Ethel, were employed at the Lorain Dry Goods for a few years. In fact, they were working there at that time on a Saturday afternoon when the Lorain tornado hit in 1924, and that (the Lorain Dry Goods) was in the path of the tornado. Fortunately, they escaped injuries, but they were buried in debris. They took shelter under the counters in the store. Then after the big blast cleared out of their way, they crawled out from under the counters and started to walk home with the power lines down and the poles down, and cars wrecked and all. So it took them a while to get home, but fortunately they were O.K. IVES
: Since we’re on the topic of the tornado, how old were you when the tornado hit? MAHONY
: Seven years old, and my sister Martha was ten years old. And just at that time… let’s see… Saturday afternoon shortly after five o’clock is when the big thing hit. It seems to me that about 4:30 p.m. that day, that Martha was given a grocery order by my mother. She was told to go to the bakery, the Westside Bakery Store at Eighth and Oberlin Avenue. So we walked down there, about four blocks down Oberlin Avenue, and we had just returned a short time before the tornado hit. So, we had brought home things like rolls and bread for the weekend. We were fortunate to be home when the tornado hit. IVES
: What was it like before the tornado? Do you remember… MAHONY
: It was quite warm, and the sky was, well, it was quite dark. And it was a day that the humidity was way up. It was a great day to be on a bathing beach. The bathing beach was Lakeview Park. At that time the beach was jammed when the tornado came roaring in through there. And the loss of life was quite heavy at the tornado site, at what they call the bath house at Lakeview Park. IVES
: Was the area where you lived affected very much? MAHONY
: We were on the "fringe", so to speak. Our loss was mostly roof damage. At that time we had a slate roof, and the slates… I could just see them, they would be just flying through the air, and they’d hit trees and they’d stick in the trees just like arrows. And many times they would go and hit houses, the slates would be coming and hitting houses and going through windows of homes. That was about the extent of our damage. IVES
: How did you feel, do you remember, while the tornado was going on? MAHONY
: No. Just that we were quite quiet, and just followed the orders that my mom and dad gave. They were both there. IVES
: Were you concerned about your sisters? MAHONY
: Yes! We were. Yeah. There was a question mark, as I recall now. I’m sort of guessing at his, but I’d say that maybe it was three or four hours later when they arrived home. It was that kind of thing. IVES
: What did they tell you when they got home? MAHONY
: They were trembling, and pale and very depressed and wanted to make sure that everything was O.K. They started to tell us their experiences, and I believe my mother said to "just cool it at the moment…just take it easy, sit down and rest. And then we’ll hear about this later." She didn’t want them to get overly excited. IVES
: Now, at that point, you had learned that there had been a tornado that came through? MAHONY
: Definitely! Yes! The neighbors informed me. In fact, R.C. Hicok, who was the neighbor across the street, had a crystal radio set. He was quite informed about many things, and he knew at that time that we had been hit with a big tornado because they were describing it on the crystal radio set. Then the National Guard was ordered in and they took over the city. So we were fully aware that the damage was extensive. IVES
: Now, after the tornado had hit, did you see the destruction? Or were you forbidden from going out? MAHONY
: Yes, we were forbidden, more or less. We were confined to the neighborhood because the National Guard took over. They wanted to make sure that the power lines were not becoming dangerous in anyway, for people were walking around and looking around, so they were concerned about that also. I think another factor was that they wanted to sort of… fence off the downtown area to keep looters out and things of that nature. So, the National Guard took over and they were performing a great job for many days. IVES
: Did you still have electricity? MAHONY
: No. We were working on candles at the time. We had a few Roman Catholic candles from the church, but then later on, I believe, the Red Cross brought us candles, also the Salvation Army… people like that came around and asked… gave us supplies and things. And as I can recall, we had problems with the water too for awhile. Our water supplies were cut down, and gas and electric were quite low for some time. In fact, we were cooking outdoors… My dad had to build up a little fireplace with some of the bricks that were knocked out of place. Some of the trees had been knocked down… he even got twigs and started the fire. IVES
: That must have been a very grim period. MAHONY
: Very grim. IVES
: How long did it take for the recovery, before you could even go to the downtown area? MAHONY
: As I recall… seven to ten days. IVES
: Was your father able to return to work? MAHONY
: Oh, yes! They issued special passes to go to the water works. Also men that were involved in the fire department, police department and emergency jobs like that were given passes, probably issues through the Mayor and the National Guard, and I believe the Governor came in too, to take a look at the area. IVES
: Did you hear any accounts from any people besides your sisters who were directly in the path of the tornado… that witnessed first-hand destruction? MAHONY
: Not for a couple days because people were just happy to get to their homes and stay there and tell their story later. IVES
: Did your family know of anyone that had been killed in the tornado? MAHONY
: I don’t recall that there was anyone we knew killed in the tornado. As I recall, the death toll was about 86 and the injuries were a thousand. To give you an idea of how extensive the injuries were, the Lorain High School became a medical center. The Red Cross and the doctors just took over the building. St. Joseph Hospital was limited under conditions like that, so they utilized Lorain High School. IVES
: When you were able to get out and look at the Broadway area, what did it look like? MAHONY
: It was a semi "NO MAN’S LAND". The damage was heavy, and the store fronts were heavily damaged, and it was quite a sight. I’d say that it was frightening all the way, even to look at it a week or ten days later. IVES
: Do, you remember the State Theatre? MAHONY
: Yes! I do. The roof of the State Theatre caved in. Also St. Mary’s Church was heavily damaged that’s the church we attended as was the rectory of the church. So the next day we were there. The roof of the rectory, which was next door to the church was caved in. So we had many things to look at. And the State Theatre that was a heavy loss!
IVES: What was the impact of the tornado on the community?
MAHONY: I’m inclined to think that it showed that the people here who survived had courage and that they also had team work they had developed a team. A togetherness developed out of it because people were working shoulder to shoulder, people who really weren’t acquainted before. And they became friends by removing debris, and carrying bodies, and helping people out in various ways. And it’s hard to say, but there were good things…benefiting from the tornado. Because people were rubbing shoulders with each other, later they became friends. So it was good fellowship.
IVES: How long did it take for Lorain to really recover from the tornado?
MAHONY: I’d say possibly six months. It was just about, maybe about Christmas time, just before the people… they still had lingering thoughts of it and also especially the people who had lost some members of their family or friends in it, and it was a lingering thing. It took a time like Christmas to really turn them around and say well, here we are at Christmas time and we should do a little… have a little jubilation.
IVES: That was quite a shocking period. Do you remember any other natural disasters that affected Lorain, or hear, when you were growing up, of any stories?
IVES: So, the tornado was the big natural disaster?
MAHONY: Yes, that was the big one, definitely. IVES
: Let me turn to a few lighter topics here, for a moment. I wanted to ask about your parents’ influence on you. What kind of person was your mother? MAHONY
: She was very exacting in her dress. She wouldn’t go to the corner grocery store without being dressed just properly. She had to put on a little lipstick and a little rouge or so to cover up and have her hair fixed just right. Many times she didn’t feel like dressing up like she should so she would call the grocer and say "bring over an order of so," and they would deliver it to the house. So, she was sort of unique that way. It always took her quite a long time to get dressed in the morning. She was exacting, go to the mirror, and then she’d be ready to go to the church. She was working on it for quite a long time before she finally finalized it to her liking. IVES
: Did you do any activities with her? MAHONY
: Not really, no. My three sisters were pretty closely involved with her. IVES
: What sort of things would they do together? MAHONY
: Their shopping was their big mission, as all women like to shop. They also went to a few things like parks. There would be concerts at the parks… beauty contests, "Miss Vacation Land," affairs like that where they’d function in a social life. Also they’d go to the bathing beach, probably take a basket along so they would have a few sandwiches on the beach… a couple bottles of pop. IVES
: What kind of values do you think you received from your mother? MAHONY
: Well, I’d say that she was exacting in many ways and she just felt in order to make decisions, you had to study things, you needed a little depth before you made a flashy or hasty decision. She’d say, "Think it over, think it over, and make sure you’re going to make the right turn, and that you’re going in the right direction." So, that impressed me all along, and I’d say that it probably brought some fairly good results. IVES
: And what about your father? How would you describe him? MAHONY
: He was soft-spoken. He enjoyed going downtown. He enjoyed going to various cigar stores and "pubs", so to speak they were called taverns in those days. But he’d have a few drinks, and he’d always be discussing things like… Jack Dempsey and the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees, and various sporting events, and probably the Notre Dame football team. He’d go from place to place and get their different remarks and how they felt. Then he’d probably say to the guy in one store, "Well, I was down there about three stores away then, and that’s not the way I heard. This is the way Tom so and so said it, and he feels that he has full knowledge of what’s going on." So this way he’d get a pretty good cross section of the sports scene.
In 1927 - this was the year the Palace Theatre was built - the Journal erected an illuminated scoreboard. This was during the World Series in late September and early October. They had an illuminated scoreboard and it was quite an attraction, because it was unique in those days to see this kind of thing. They had people up there with headsets on for the radios, and they were getting it direct, they were getting the plays direct from the ball field!
I can remember it vividly. It was 1929 and Howard Emhke was the pitcher for the Chicago Cubs. I believe that day he set a World Series record with thirteen strike-outs. And that was the big thing as we stood on Broadway and watched the scoreboard operate and heard the game described by the people who were running the scoreboard. That was the game with impact… because thirteen strikeouts by Howard Emhke was a headliner! My dad and I enjoyed occasions like that. IVES
: Do you think that is where you got your love of sports from? MAHONY
: I’m inclined to think so, yes. Like I said, he brought me to the Antlers Hotel when I was about seven or eight. My father’s liking of sports just happened to work into my blood. I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. IVES
: What do you think you gained from your association with your father? MAHONY
: Well, I’d say that… he enjoyed shaking hands with people it gave him quite a warm feeling. I feel that I enjoy pretty much the same today. I enjoy going to the various nationality clubs in the city… Polish American Citizens Club, United Polish Club, and the Italian American Veterans. Occasionally I’ll stop at the Amvets, the Polish Legion of the American Veterans, and places like that. It just gives you a good cross section of the community. And I’ll also go to St. Ladislaus out in South Lorain it’s a Hungarian church… Hungarian club. And just down the street from there is the Slovenian Club. So, you got a pretty good cross section of our nationalities in the community. IVES
: Well, it does sound like you do take after, in some ways, your father. MAHONY
: Pretty much so. IVES
: Now, was your father interested in politics at all? MAHONY
: Yes, he was deeply involved that is, on the sidelines. He was never a candidate for anything. He really became deeply interested, as I recall, around 1928. He had a favorite. It was the governor of New York. His name was Alfred Smith, and he was very impressive man. And, being one of our best the Smith family traced back to Ireland they had quite many things going in common. So, Alfred Smith decided to run for president in 1928 against Herbert Hoover. Why, it was a colorful event for many, many months! They had things going with Alfred Smith and "That’s our man" and "He’s going to be the winner." Well, it so happened that Herbert Hoover whipped him. But it was quite a jolt. But that’s really, I believe, the year that my dad became interested in politics. Although, as I said earlier, his brother John was city clerk. However, my Uncle John wasn’t in Lorain in the 1920’s. He moved to Cleveland, and there he became involved. He was general manager of the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company, and he continued in that job until retirement. So, he was out of the political field. Although all the brothers, Tom, John, and Jim were all deeply interested in politics.
IVES: Did your father go to council meetings at all?
MAHONY: Yes, many times. In fact, he went to council meetings and he got to know about things by being an employee of the city he was employed by the city Water Works as a stationary engineer. He felt that by going to the council meetings he got the pulse of the community. He’d know exactly what was happening, he’d get it direct. He didn’t have to read about it. He didn’t have to have someone tell him, "Here’s what happened last night at the meeting." He wanted to have it from the ringside seat.
IVES: Did he discuss what happened at the council meeting at home?
MAHONY: Definitely! Yes, he would. Not so much the next morning because he’d be going to work, or I’d be going to school, or one thing or another. But maybe at the evening meal of the next day, that would be the major part of the conversation what happened at the council meetings the previous nights… how’d the vote went, if it was a tied or split vote, and how things worked and some of the arguments that would be on the floor of council.
IVES: Now, did you take an interest when he was talking about these things?
MAHONY: Definitely! Yes, I did. Because I figured that Lorain’s future was right there. This was the thing that was building up from week to week, and day to day, and that all the good things that were happening, why we just kept them going. It was for our own good.
IVES: Were your evening meals lively then? If you had these discussions?
MAHONY: Evening meals lively? Yes, they were. The meals were lively, but not to the point that it disrupted the conversation. I’d be next to him, I’d be seated at the table next to him and my mother and the three girls would be down at the other end of the table. So we’d more or less have our little private conversation. Except in a few things that might be overheard that my sisters or my mother would like to say "Oh, I remember that guy’s name and what did he do last night and how did he vote?" Or "What was his expression, honey." So, they’d get in a few words now and then.
IVES: So, you were at an early age exposed to what was going on in Lorain.
IVES: Would you say that fostered a life-long interest in Lorain’s activities?
MAHONY: Yes, I believe so. I’d have to say that was the basis of it all. Another thing that happened to me, I was a newsboy at the age of ten. I was a Journal carrier. And I had a route that extended from the present side of the Lorain Library at Sixth and Reid Avenue. I had Sixth, Fifth, Fourth Street from Reid Avenue to Oberlin Avenue. In the early days when I was a route boy, we had two newspapers in town at that time. We had the Lorain Times Herald and the Journal. I was a Journal carrier. So that meant that I had, I believe, it was… one-hundred and forty-four customers at that time. And the fellow that was delivering the Times Herald had a set of an equal number. Probably, he had one-hundred and forty or so, so we were pretty much on an equal basis.
Then what happened was in 1932, December of 1932, Sam Horvitz, who owned the Lorain Journal, bought out the Times Herald. So it became a one newspaper town, one newspaper at that time: it was called the Journal, and that was the name that remained. At that point, the route that I had went from one-hundred and forty-four customers to two-hundred and fifty-two, because I absorbed the other ones. So I had the same ride, same areas, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Street, but my total that time went up to 252. So it continued that way for about six weeks, where I was really getting a workout, until they reorganized the routes. They split mine back, and I finished up with about 150 again, so it all worked out OK.
IVES: When would you deliver the papers?
MAHONY: It was much later in those days. The press would probably start at 2:30 in the afternoon. It was gauged that way for many reasons. I believe that the reporters were getting news, and they were on typewriters at that time, so it took them much longer to write their stories. Also the schools were in session until 3:30 or 3:15 in the afternoon, and that made it just right. When you got out of school, you could go in and pick up your papers and start the route. Then, after you peddled your route, if you were involved in any sports like football and basketball, you’d go to your practice. Then by that time it got to be maybe suppertime, and you were ready for your evening meal and to get some homework done.
IVES: How much did the papers cost back in those days?
MAHONY: For a short time, they were a penny. And then later on they went up to two cents. When they were two cents I could remember vividly that would be twelve cents for six days a week. There was no Sunday paper back in those days, so the total take, if I collected, would be twelve cents from a customer. Seven cents of the twelve would go to the Journal and I’d keep a nickel.
Return to Index
This is Part II of an interview with Mr. James Mahony, for the Lorain Public Library Oral History Program, By Sheila Ives at Lorain Public Library, December 21, 1987, at 1:00 p.m.
IVES: Mr. Mahony, would you like to state your name and where you’re currently working?
MAHONY: I'm Jim Mahony and I'm part of the Lorain Journal.
IVES: Thank you. Mr. Mahony, last time you were discussing with me your paper route, and you explained to me that you had one hundred and forty-four customers? Is that correct?
MAHONY: I believe I was a newsboy about six years, and the thing about it was that I made many contacts with people who were influential in the community. Although I was a pretty young guy at the time, I still enjoyed their company. People like E.J. Hawkins, who had the Chevrolet dealership in Lorain; attorney George Resek, who was a prominent man in the Lorain County Bar Association; Phil Austin, who was a member of the Lorain School Board; and Dr. Baldwin, who was a highly respected physician; and the Hagemans, who operated the Lorain Telephone Company. In fact, they owned the Lorain Telephone Company, A.V. Hageman and Herman Hageman. Down through the years I had contacts with the county auditor, Charles Kelser, and also with the county probation officer, Bill Oldham. They were neighbors on Sixth Street. And speaking of Kelser, the county auditor, he had a son called Phil Kelser, who was an outstanding fullback for Lorain High School.
And speaking about being a fullback on the Lorain High School Team, another one of my customers on the route was head coach at Lorain High School. He was Phil Kelsers' coach, E.M. McCaskey. E.M. McCaskey was a great guy, and his days go back to about 1924. He had many successful seasons, and he was the coach when Lorain High School was in "The Little Big Seven." Then, in about 1927, he joined the Lake Erie League. For about ten years, he was the number one coach of the Lake Erie League. The Lake Erie League included Rocky River, Elyria, Lorain, Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, and Lakewood. And it was really high class.
IVES: How long did it take you to do your paper route?
MAHONY: As I recall, about 45 minutes. I'd pick up my papers by 3:15. By 4:00, I had things pretty well under control, and I was ready to go back to St. Mary's. We had various things, depending on the season of the year. Basketball was the main sport at that time. So, I'd have basketball practice start about 4:00.
IVES: How did you deliver the papers?
MAHONY: Another thing that was a factor in those days, was that the papers were smaller than they are today. Today the papers average probably thirty-two or thirty-eight pages. But in those days, the papers were probably 12...14...16 pages. On weekends they would be a little bit larger because of additional advertising, but it was never that much of a load, you might say. As I said, I had one hundred and forty-four customers, but it all worked out well.
IVES: Did you ride a bicycle or did you just walk?
MAHONY: No. I just walked.
MAHONY: I also had another customer on the route, a man who was a columnist for the Journal. He had an unusual name. His name was Winter Rose. He lived in the five hundred block on Sixth Street and, in fact, that's very close to the Lorain Public Library right now. At that time he was a columnist for The Journal, writing farm news. It would be his job to go and check with the farmers on their crops, how the weather had affected their crops, what their potential was, and various things like that. He gave the readers an insight on what to expect when they went to the farm markets.
IVES: That was interesting. Did you have any other part-time jobs when you were a kid?
MAHONY: Yes, I did. I recall that I worked at Eighth and Oberlin Ave - that was an A & P Store. That was the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, a grocery store. And I would work there maybe a few days a week. I was a stock boy. I'd stock shelves, and also weigh potatoes, putting them in ten pound bags. I cut bananas off the stalks and got them ready to be displayed on the counters. So, that took some time. It just took a few hours in the evenings and I enjoyed it, and it was also pretty fair money.
IVES: What did you do with the money you made at these jobs?
MAHONY: I had a little bank account, and I was thinking maybe one day I'd get ready to go to college, or look ahead. But really, I never got to college because I started to work in the editorial department of the Journal the morning after I graduated from high school. So, I really didn't have an education. A short time later, WWII was a factor, so that gave me an education in itself, WWII, without having to go to college.
IVES: I'm sure it did. Why don't we start talking about your education. What school did you attend?
MAHONY: St. Mary's School. I attended there since the first grade. I believe it was 1922 when I enrolled.
IVES: Why did your parents choose to send you to St. Mary's?
MAHONY: Because the church at that time was St. Mary's church. We lived at 1120 Oberlin Avenue,and that was part of St Mary’s parish. Also, St. Mary's Church was basically an Irish parish, and with my mother and dad being from Ireland, why they figured this is a natural, so how can we go wrong on this. They also enrolled my older sister Mary, then also Ethel and Martha in St. Mary’s. They preceded me at St. Mary's School, and their terms and records were very good. In fact, my oldest sister graduated in 1925. Ethel, my second sister, graduated in 1927, and Martha in 1933.
IVES: What did your sisters do after they graduated from school?
MAHONY: My sister Mary was a receptionist and also a telephone operator for the Ohio Public Service Company, which at the present time is known as the Ohio Edison company. They were located at Eighth and Broadway. Then, in the later years, while she was at the Ohio Public Service Company, she was in a beauty contest, and in Lorain County. She was selected in a bathing beauty contest, as "Miss Lorain County," and that qualified her to become a candidate for "Miss Ohio" at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus. The year was in 1925, the same year she graduated. She went to Columbus as a candidate and she came out as third place "Miss Ohio."
Then in later years she became involved with work with the Journal. She worked in the circulation department of the Journal, and her boss at that time was Harry E. Hughes.
Harry Hughes was an experienced man in newspaper circulation. He also had a great many years of training boxers. He enjoyed sports. He enjoyed horse racing and football, but boxing was his number one sport. When the press run at the Journal would be completed, Harry Hughes would clear away all the tables in the mail room - that was the area, adjacent to the press room - and the boxing gang would come in. There would be people like Danny Canalos, Benny Sills, Billy Senders, Joe Galvin, and Bob Tracy. Bob Tracy, that was his re-name. Actually, Bob Tracy was Bob Hoffman. But his parents wouldn't permit him to box, so he went under an assumed name. When he would enter the ring, he wouldn't be Bob Hoffman, he'd be Bob Tracy. So that was his re-name. But Harry just brought these men along, and they ranged in weight from one hundred and twelve pounds all the way up to middle weight, one hundred and sixty pounds. He was very successful in training.
IVES: So that was kind of a sideline of his.
MAHONY: Definitely a sideline. He enjoyed it.
IVES: What do you recall of your early days at St. Mary's School?
MAHONY: Early days...well, it's a good thing to think about, but it's also a little painful at times. In the first grade, I had a small problem of holding the pencil. That may seem a little bit odd, but that's exactly what happened. My teacher was Sister Matilda and she was quite exact. If she walked by my desk, and I had a hold of the pencil and was trying to write with what I would call an unorthodox manner ZINGO! I'd be hit over the knuckles with a ruler, and it was really a stinging. So, she corrected my condition after a few weeks, but I can still remember the sting of the ruler.
IVES: What about any other instructors that you had at St. Mary's? Do you have any vivid memories of them?
MAHONY: Yes, I have some vivid memories of them. Sister Thomas Aquinas was a fine teacher, as was Sister Ann Frances. And just by coincidence, Sister Ann Frances came back in the later years as a principal at St. Mary's School. So, I was acquainted with her in later years.
The coaches we had included Joe McKee, Vince Glorioso, Joe Rath, and they brought us along very well. Our squads were probably only about ten in a squad, on a basketball squad. But we made out pretty well. I'd say that our seasons were mediocre. We were not sensational. We were the first school, I believe it was 1933, the first team to be involved with Lorain High School. Up to this time we did not have any action with Lorain High School, but in this year the barrier came down, and our basketball team engaged in a game with Lorain High School. The junior varsity team, I believe, was called "Lorain High Light Weights." They beat us. They appeared to be a little superior, and the final score was 26 to 14, as I recall. That was the first time that a parochial school had been engaged with a public school in Lorain in a Sports Classic.
IVES: So, were there any other sports that St. Mary's was involved in besides basketball?
MAHONY: Yes, they were involved in football, and they had some pretty fair teams. However, the seasons were quite colorful and quite impressive. As I can recall beginning around 1927, I can remember some of the teams, although I was only ten years old at the time. I took an early interest in it. They had good teams, especially in 1929, 1930, and then by 1933, the football season terminated. I believe the operation at that time became such that they just decided to go with basketball alone. The football team was discontinued until the late 1940's. It was about 1948, a gap of about fifteen years, when football was played again, and they really came out in high gear.
IVES: What kind of teams did you play when you played basketball? With whom did you compete normally?
MAHONY: The teams we competed with were Townsend High School - that was called East Townsend; that’s in Collins, Ohio in the vicinity of Norwalk. We’d also play Norwalk St. Paul's and Wakeman they were called the Wakeman Rough Riders. We also played Olmsted Falls. On occasion we would play Amherst, but many times Amherst had a superior team. We'd also play some Catholic schools from Cleveland, but our schedules were sort of uniform from year to year. But actually, I can't think of any more opponents that we had.
IVES: What about your classes? When you were starting out in grade school, what kind of subjects did you study?
MAHONY: In grade school, I believe geography seemed to be the big thing; also English, of course, that was quite pronounced, and arithmetic. As I recall, that was it. Of course being in a Catholic school, we always had religion classes. If I recall correctly, religion class was the first class of the morning. We'd say our school prayers, then we would go into religion class, and then from that time on we'd go into other subjects.
IVES: How was the class set up? Were boys and girls sitting together in the class?
MAHONY: No, it was quite distinct. I mean there was a barrier there. Say if we had twenty-two in a class, well maybe we even had more than that. In those days we probably had maybe twenty-eight in a class, and there would be perhaps sixteen girls and twelve boys, but they'd be well divided. I mean they wouldn't be divided except that you had twelve on one side of the room. They didn't mingle the boys with the girls. Now in my graduating class in 1935, we had a total of twenty-four, and seventeen were girls, and seven boys.
IVES: It looks like you were outnumbered there.
MAHONY: Definitely, but we still had a good crowd.
IVES: What can you tell me about some of your classmates? Who do you remember?
MAHONY: Oh, I remember Danny Canalos well. He's still around town. He's a businessman. He's the owner of the George Canalos Cigar Company. He also has other things going for him besides cigars, because in these years they have many other products besides cigars and cigarettes and candies. He's been very successful. He has sons involved with him nowadays, and he’s expanded not only his operations in Lorain County, but he's moved into Mansfield, Sandusky, and Toledo. He's quite a successful guy.
Another classmate was John Murray. John Murray was a good athlete, and also later on he was a printer. He became involved with the Ohio Service Printing Company and the Lorain Printing Company. As I recall, he retired from the Lorain Printing Company where he was a pressman for many years. And so that was his trade.
Milton Petticord was a husky man. He was very successful with work at the Lorain Telephone Company, which is now called Centel. He retired after many impressive years as a linemen and a foreman for the company.
We had another man in the class called T.J. Hume...well, Virgil Hume was actually his name; T.J. was his father’s name and the name of the contracting firm. Virgil had contracting and blueprints in his blood from the early stages, so he followed the building business. Then, in later years, I inclined to believe that maybe his wife had some influence on him, and they moved to Florida, so we more or less lost connections.
Donald McGee was another man who was a good worker. He was involved in many things in the community, and he was active in the Lodge work. He was president of the Eagles Lodge, which gave him a pretty good edge and notoriety in the community, because the Eagles Lodge was quite prominent.
IVES: Do you have any recollections of some of the priests that were associated with St. Mary's?
MAHONY: Oh, yes. I can recall when I first started at St. Mary's, there was a priest by the name of...Father Johnston, Father John Johnston. He was a heavy-set man and he was quite impressive. He had an Irish Brogue because he was from the "Old Sod." I can remember in those days, the priests were committed. They were obligated to say what they called an office, and the office was approximately an hour of prayer everyday! You know on the nice days, at the rear of the rectory, there was a nice green lawn and it was an open area, and Father Johnston would be out there saying his prayers. He'd be walking up and down, and frequently, if the weather was just right, he'd be out there in his bare feet, and that's the way it was. He was just that kind of a man. He was also a good man with a heart.
We had sort of a depression, so to speak at that time, and there were many men riding the rails, meaning The Nickel Plate Railroad. When the train would stop at Twelfth Street or along in there, the men would get off. From what I recall, they'd be riding the rails from Bellevue or Fort Wayne, Indiana, to some destination or another. They didn't really know exactly where they were headed. They were just more or less exploring. So if they felt a little hungry, they would go from door to door. It seemed that Father Johnston had a big heart. These men would come to the back door of the rectory and knock, and Father Johnston would always invite them in, give them something warm, and he was noted for that.
In later years, after Father Johnston died, he was replaced by Father Edwin Ahern, who was quite an erect man, standing about six foot-one. He was brought up in Cleveland. He was quite exact and he was firm in his delivery. There was one point about Father Johnston that I'll never forget. Father Johnston had report days. I believe we'd get our report cards about every six weeks. And he'd make it a point on report card day all other business was put aside. It was his primary business to issue the reports. He'd come into the rooms and he'd call them out. He'd call them out by name, and if there was something there...maybe there was a failing mark, or some weak mark, he always commented with a firm voice, "What is this? How long is this going to be? This is not going to be. It's to terminate as of this moment!" So he was quite firm in his remarks when he issued the report cards, and this is what happened. And I believe it was for the good of the students in the long run.
MAHONY: Did he ever single you out?
IVES: On one occasion, I can recall. I was on the basketball team, and it so happened that I had a failing grade, I believe it was in physics or so. I had taken four years of science, and I believe that in my senior year, I had some kind of a stumbling block. I had a failing grade for a six week period, and as a result he told me off, and I was ineligible to play basketball. I was benched until I could recover, and I believe I lost action in two games, until I recovered my status.
IVES: Well, that was a good motivating factor to get your grades back up so you could play again.
MAHONY: Exactly. We needed that firm hand.
IVES: In your classes, would you say that your school was ethnically mixed?
MAHONY: Well, the city at that time was probably mixed. The neighborhoods in those days were more or less confined to certain groups. I mean, if people were of say, Slovak nationality, they were more or less involved in the area around Twenty-Fifth and Elyria Avenue, and that was Holy Trinity Church. The same thing was true with Nativity Church, a Polish parish, at Fifteenth and Lexington Avenue.
IVES: Now, your neighborhood...state again where you lived when you were growing up?
MAHONY: 1120 Oberlin Avenue.
IVES: How would you characterize your neighborhood?
MAHONY: I'd say that ours was a mixed neighborhood because there were many public school people living in the area. Brownell School was within two blocks and Irving school was down a ways on Oberlin Avenue at Fourth Street. Those were factors that gave the neighborhood a mixed composition. The Catholic schools, however, didn't close the doors on anyone. The doors were open if the people were willing to enroll. So, I'm not saying that anyone was barred or there were any distinctions made. It was an open school.
IVES: Did the friends of your family that were Irish, did they live scattered throughout the city or were they concentrated in any particular area?
MAHONY: They were concentrated pretty much in the St. Mary's area. That's right in the downtown area, and maybe in the westside of the community.
IVES: Do you recall anyone attending class that didn't speak English?
MAHONY: Not really. I can't recall any at this time. I just wanted to tell you that we did have students from Sheffield Lake, Avon and Elyria. In fact, on a couple of occasions, why if they had some outstanding athletes that looked to be impressive, the coach would go over and try to encourage them. At one time, we had three good stars from Elyria High School. They were Jack Storm, Bob Carr, and Joe Pineza. They were outstanding football players, and they left Elyria to come over to become part of Lorain's St. Mary’s Football Team.
IVES: Do you still maintain ties at St. Mary's?
MAHONY: Oh, yes I do. But I'd say it’s about 35% because I'm a member of St. Peter’s parish at the present time with my family. So, my activities would probably be 65% St. Peter's to 35% St. Mary's. So, I'm still well acquainted at the St. Mary's parish.
However, this is how it came about that we left St. Mary's parish. When St. Peter’s Church was started, it was on Seventeenth Street between Washington Avenue and Long Avenue. And as the community developed, the families at St. Peter’s Church continued to grow, and as a result a new church was required, and they built a new church. At that time, the new church was built where it stands today, at Thirty-Fifth and Oberlin Avenue. The bishop of Cleveland at that time made a ruling in order to develop a parish properly. He said that all Catholics, residing south of Twenty-First Street would automatically become members of St. Peter’s Church. At that moment with the bishop saying it, that severed our connections with St. Mary's Church. If it hadn't been for that, we'd probably still be there in St. Mary's Church.
IVES: What was the make-up of St. Peter’s Church?
MAHONY: St. Peter’s Church then was definitely a mixture. It was basically an Italian parish when it was organized on Seventeenth Street. But with this new development of expanding the area, it became a mixture.
IVES: When you think about Lorain when you were a child...when you heard the term South Lorain, what did you think, what did that mean to you.
MAHONY: South Lorain. To me that meant hard-working men. The reason I say that is because many of my playmates in the neighborhood, their fathers were involved in the steel plant. And I'd see the dads come home and you could tell they’d put in a tough day. They were working charging cranes in the open hearth. The heat was there, temperatures were hot, they put in long days. Many days they probably put in overtime. They had problems, they had breakdowns, they had emergencies. It was a day of toil. Where in my father's case, my dad was a stationary engineer at the Water Works, so his working conditions were entirely different. For that reason, South Lorain meant work, work, work, and tough, strong guys. Barrel-chested men, strong, muscular guys.
IVES: Where were the wealthy living in Lorain?
MAHONY: I'd say that most of the wealth in Lorain was on the eastside extending from the East Erie area bridge all the way out to the city limits on Erie Avenue. Also in the west side, there were areas developed around Lakeview Park where there were doctors, attorneys and school teachers, and that seemed to be the wealth of the area.
IVES: Just going back a little bit to your experiences at St. Mary's, how else were you involved with the church? Were you an altar boy at any point?
MAHONY: Yes, in the sixth grade they felt that the students, if they wanted to, could try out to become altar boys. By tryout, I mean that they gave us instructions, and if we responded to the instructions, we could become altar boys. Also, in those days the Mass was in Latin. So, that was a big thing, if you could learn the Latin phrases like: "Domine, nos vobiscum," or "Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa," why then you really could be part of the acolyte ranks. And I was fortunate, I'd say...that from the sixth grade all the way through the twelfth grade I was an acolyte. Those years were good. I felt it was time well spent.
IVES: Is there any thing in particular that stands out in your mind about your experiences going to St. Mary's School?
MAHONY: Not really. I'd say that it was just a good continuous experience without any outstanding year. It so happened that I was president of the class in my freshmen, sophomore, and junior years, but in my senior year I was not president of the class. My friend John Murray was elected president of the class, which was all right with me. I mean John was a good man all the way through.
IVES: O.K. since we were talking about St. Mary's. How did your parents feel toward education?
MAHONY: They were very firm about education. I've said that my sisters had been successful in their years of education, and they felt that it was the first and foremost thing to do. In fact, if we had any difficulties, they tried to give us a hand in the evenings, and that's the way it was. If they didn't have the answer, why maybe they would call someone that they were acquainted with to get help. They were keenly interested to see that we progressed.
IVES: You had mentioned at one time someone who became a nurse was an inspiration for you pursuing an education. Do you recall? It was a young lady.
MAHONY: No. I had a sister, Ethel, who was a nurse and she graduated from St. Mary's in 1927. She immediately enrolled in St. Vincent Charity Hospital. She studied for three years to become a nurse. She graduated in 1930 and continued on at St. Vincent Charity Hospital as an RN.
IVES: We had mention Mary, then Ethel and Martha. What became of Martha?
MAHONY: Martha was employed at the Central Trust Bank for many years. Prior to that she was employed at the Lyon Tailoring Company in downtown Lorain as a bookkeeper. She worked for Patrick Pettigrew. He was involved in sports, he was a backer. The Lyon Tailors sponsored some teams, and as a result, she got to know many of the players. They came in to get suited and fitted for trousers and suits. Sometimes they would even get awards for hitting home runs or winning the games.
Then, later on, she worked at the court house, where she worked for probate Judge H. H. Nye, who was a highly respected man. Later on, she was employed at the Central Trust Company on Colorado Avenue as a teller. They had opened a new branch there. Then she was transferred to Twenty-First Street where another branch had been developed. So, she got pretty well acquainted with people throughout the community, and she enjoyed that. Another facet of her life was that she married Frank Pawlak. He was a member of a baseball team, but I don't recall if he played for the Lyon Tailors or not. He also managed a couple of baseball teams, and he was also a good player. Frank Pawlak was also a policeman, and at that time, I believe, he joined the police department in the 1930's. Then War II came along and he was in the infantry. He went to Fort Benning, Georgia and became an officer. He was sent overseas to Germany, during WWII. When he came back, he rejoined the Lorain Police Department and eventually he became Police Chief for Lorain, a position he held for quite some time. However, he died at a young age. He died, I believe, at the age of 49 or 50.
IVES: Did she remarry or. . .?
MAHONY: No, she is still single, and she is residing in the home that they had when they were married.
IVES: What's that address?
MAHONY: 2910 Park Drive.
IVES: What about your other two sisters? Did they marry?
MAHONY: Yes. My older sister married Gene Llewellyn. Llewellyn is a name of prominence in the community. It still is because there's a Llewellyn Pontiac. The Llewellyn family was also part of the Glitsch family. George Glitsch was mayor of Lorain in 1900, and he was also a prominent attorney. The Glitsch and the Llewellyn families were some of the pioneer families of the area. My sister Mary married Gene Llewellyn who was an automobile salesman and also an automobile dealer. They were married for several years, but she died at the age of 43. I believe she died the first week in April of 1951. Just by coincidence, it happened to be the same week that the editor of the paper died. Frank Maloy, the man who hired me at the Journal, died in April of 1951.
IVES: What about your other sister then?
MAHONY: My sister, Ethel. She remained single all her life, and died at the age of sixty. After she graduated from The St. Vincent Charity Church, she remained there as a floor supervisor.
IVES: Did she live in Lorain?
MAHONY: No, she lived in Cleveland where she had an apartment.
IVES: Let's discuss further your parents' involvement with the Catholic Church. You had mentioned that they belonged to the Ancient Order of Hibernians and also that your father belonged to the Knights of Columbus. Do you have any recollections of his involvement with them?
MAHONY: Not really. He was active in it, but it was our relatives who were quite prominent in the Knights of Columbus. James L. Martin, who was a postal superintendent, was one of the original charter members of the Council 637 Knights of Columbus. In fact, I believe about fifteen years ago, they named that council the James L. Martin Council. Today it is still the James L. Martin Council. He was prominent to the extent that he was "Mr. Knights of Columbus" and my dad was also active in it because he was associated with Jim.
IVES: What about your mother? Was she involved in the church?
MAHONY: She was involved in the Altar and Rosary Society and also Church Circles, where the women would go out in the evenings or afternoons and they’d play cards, and they'd also have raffles and conduct fund raising things. That was about the extent of her church activity.
IVES: What would you say is the value of a Catholic education?
MAHONY: I'm inclined to think that...it seems to be that the relationship between the teacher and the pupil is closer. Maybe it has something to do with activities that are held within the church, and the fact that the church is connected, and you see the teachers at various church activities, and masses on Sundays and Holy Days. It just seems to be that there is a closeness of more family-teacher involvement. It gives it a little closer tie.
IVES: What role has religion played in your life?
MAHONY: I'd say a prominent role because I'm conscious of being a Catholic at all times. I say my daily prayers, and I say my prayers at mealtime, and I'm quite conscious of the activities of the church. I like to become involved, time permitting. Sometimes time does not permit, but if it's possible, why, I do what I can, and I think that religion is important.
IVES: I want to just mention a little bit about your neighborhood. Could you tell me some of the people that you lived near you when you were growing up?
MAHONY: Oh, yes. Our next door neighbors were the Reamers. Mr. Reamer worked at the Thew Shovel Company where they made giant cranes, shovels, and earthmovers. Mr. Reamer had an automobile. We didn’t have an automobile in our family until 1930, I believe, when my sister graduated from Charity Hospital. She decided to have a car so she could come home on weekends occasionally. So, that was the first car in the family. But the Reamers decided that they would travel and many times they would take us in their car. They'd take us to places like the Blue Hole, Sandusky, Vermilion, and Cleveland Beach. Cleveland Beach was a big picnic center which also had a dance hall. It was in Sheffield Lake, although we called it Cleveland Beach. So he was a good man to have as a neighbor.
We also had a family called the Floods. They had a couple of children who were about our age, and so we got acquainted with them.
The next door neighbor on the north side of us was Bob McIlvain, prominent athlete in the community and an outstanding golfer. In fact, many times he would practice in the backyard. Later on, he became club champion at the Lorain Country Club. He's still here and still active as a golfer. His wife is also quite a prominent golfer. Her maiden name was Ruth Richards.
IVES: Who did you play with in the neighborhood?
MAHONY: The kids in the neighborhood that were my age were Don Poplar, Johnny Murray, Eddie Murray, Wayne Dieterich. Wayne Dieterich was the son of a fire chief in Lorain whose name was William Dieterich. He was fire chief in about the 1940's. We had quite a good time. We'd play softball. We had teams with the likes of Dave Thomas, Merle Krisen, Kenny Routson, Ted Englehardt, Eddie Tappan, Richard Hyde, and the Allison family. There were three or four boys in the Allison family. They were all sports minded, and they were also pretty good boxers. So, that took care of the neighborhood pretty well.
IVES: Were you involved in softball?
MAHONY: Yes, softball matches. We played in what they called the Universal Field, that was adjacent to the Universal Dry Cleaners at Thirteenth and Hamilton Avenue.
IVES: Did anyone sponsor your team?
MAHONY: No, it was not a sponsored team. It was just a neighborhood gang. However, I did play on a team called the "City Field Midgets." That was a group of twelve- and thirteen-year-olds, that played at the city park, and it was playground supervised. Our coach at that time was Park Supervisor Wilber Tipton, who was later coach at Lorain High School. He was also a man who was a great lover of roses. He had rose gardens. He was quite well known in the community, not only as a teacher and a coach, but also as a rose man.
IVES: Were you a good player?
IVES: Do you have any special recollections of any other particular games that you played in your neighborhood, besides sports, any other things that you used to do as kids?
MAHONY: Not really. Maybe finances had something to do with it. The baseball gloves and catcher’s masks and things like that were pretty hard to come by. We had the good fortune to know that the fire chief would buy us some equipment sometimes, because he made some pretty good money being the fire chief. He made better money than the rest of the people in the neighborhood. Those were difficult years with the Depression.
IVES: Let's ask a little bit about holiday celebrations. You mentioned earlier about St. Patrick's Day, and how you used to always get a shamrock from Ireland. How was your birthday celebrated? Anything special?
MAHONY: Not really, you mean in the early days?
IVES: Yes, when you were a kid?
MAHONY: I'd say possibly my dad would take me to a ball game in Cleveland, because it was in September, and that was at the end of the season. And if he was interested in a team, then he’d say, "Well, you can come along with me this time, Jim. And we’ll go in." Then he would also take me to a cafeteria in downtown Cleveland. It was called Mel's Cafeteria. We'd go there and I could pick out my own food, and it was really high class. That was a special day. That was a highlight. And if we’d go to the ball game, my mother’d probably come along. We’d go on the streetcar and while we’d be at the ball game, she’d go shopping, and then we'd meet her later on in probably another cafeteria.
IVES: Do you remember any St. Patrick's Day parades?
MAHONY: Not in Lorain really, because I think the reason for that was that Cleveland always overshadowed, even to this day. The big St. Patrick's Day parade was a magnet, and it just drew the people from the adjoining communities to Cleveland, and that was it. That was the heart of the celebration.
IVES: Did you ever go to any when you were a child?
MAHONY: Yes, maybe a couple. But that was the early years for me. I'd just go there and stand, and maybe I’d fully realize what was going on and maybe not.
IVES: What about Christmas? How did your family celebrate Christmas?
MAHONY: Christmas was a big event. I'd say that they always had adequate gifts for us because my dad was employed steadily, fortunately. My mother always made many cookies and things like that, and she’d probably fix a fruitcake. I can recall that I always enjoyed cranberry sauce with turkey, and I still do. So, I can remember that from my early days.
IVES: What about the Fourth of July? What do you remember about that?
MAHONY: That was a day where we'd have to go outside the city to buy fireworks because they were banned in the communities. It was not that far to the city limits; the big city limits of Lorain were Thirty-six and Broadway. So, if you got up there, and if you had seventy-five cents with you or so, why you could come back with a pretty good sized bag of fireworks. But they also put us on alert that there were some dangers in fireworks, so we had to be cautious of that. But usually one father would take a carload, and we'd go to that area and make our purchase, then come back, and that was it.
IVES: Do you remember any parades?
MAHONY: July Fourth parades?
MAHONY: Not really. I think that Lorain on occasions like that got to be nationality-conscious over holidays. Many nationalities would have their own cookouts. They'd be at Oakwood Park, Central Park, City Fields, Lakeview Park, and various places like that. They'd be doing it as nationalities. And that condition lasted until about 1965, I believe, when they got this international parade going, and this gave us a complete blend of all the nationalities.
IVES: You mentioned that you didn't own a car and you mentioned about the train and that. What are your memories of how you got around? What kind of transportation did you take to go places?
MAHONY: By streetcar. And to go to a ball game in Cleveland, we'd take a train occasionally because there would be excursions going through Lorain, if there was a big game in Cleveland. There would be excursions coming through from Fort Wayne, Indiana and Bellevue and out through that way, so we would take that. But, at other times, we would take the Cleveland Lorain Highway Coach Line. In those days, you'd get a round trip...it was fifty cents one way and a round trip was seventy-five, so you couldn't go wrong on that.
IVES: No, you could not. What if you just wanted to go to some other part of town? How would you manage that?
MAHONY: Probably walk, most likely.
IVES: When you were a teenager, what do you remember about recreations? Did you go to the movies at all? Do you recall doing that?
MAHONY: I'm not much of a movie man. I can remember my dad and mother took me to the opening of the Palace Theatre; that was in 1927, and I was ten years old, and it was a big event. In fact, I can remember being ten years old, so I was a small guy, and the crowd was jam-packed in the lobby and all. So, I was uncomfortable at times. However, there was a good movie on that day; I can remember it featuring Harold Lloyd, who was sort of a comic guy at that time. He had many good laughs, and that sticks out in my mind as being a special event.
I was never much of a movie-goer, but I liked newsreels, and sometimes cartoons and things of that nature, and sports on T.V. There would be a boxing show on, "Here’s the results, and here we’ll show you the boxing match that took place ten years ago." I was impressed with that.
IVES: What about the radio? Did you listen much to the radio?
MAHONY: Yes, I did. I listened to the radio. I enjoyed things like Hit Parade; the Lucky Strike Hit Parade, that was one of my favorite programs. As I recall, it was on Saturday nights. And that was really good. I remember Snooky Lanson and people like that.
IVES: Did you like to read when you were growing up?
MAHONY: Well, I'd say that I read quite a lot, but not books. I just read things that were timely, such as the Saturday Evening Post and Liberty Magazine. Liberty Magazine at the time, as I can recall, was a nickel. Then I'd always read the Journal because I wanted to keep up on sports, and other things in the news. When my dad would tell me about what happened at the council meeting the previous night, I'd want to see how it appeared in the paper the next day. So for that reason I'd be reading papers, but as for reading books...
IVES: Did you ever go to the public library?
MAHONY: Oh, yes! In fact, I was a regular customer with Marion King. Marion King was the librarian. The library was at 329 Tenth Street. The building is still there. I can remember sometimes the steps were pretty noisy because they were getting old, but Marion King was always a good hostess.
IVES: I’m glad to hear you liked the library. Do you recall any favorite book when you were growing up?
MAHONY: Favorite book? I can recall...I still have a book at home that my sister bought for me for a birthday. It's like a complete sports wrap up of pitchers, including players like Dizzy Dean. Now this was in the 30's or so when these players were active. This was 1932 to 34, somewhere along in there...the St. Louis Cardinals, had a great team, and they won the World Series. The book featured Dizzy Dean and his brother Daffy, and Ducky Medwick, who was an outstanding outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. There are also references in this same book to Babe Ruth and the other outstanding stars. It's a packet of stars of that era, and I treasured it.
IVES: I can tell you like sports. Well, why don't we mention some of your favorite people that were in the medical profession that you had experiences with. Who do you remember in particular?
MAHONY: Well, two of them were sort of close to my heart because they were part of the family. They were Dr. Robert Stack, and Dr. Leonard Stack. They were brothers, and they were surgeons. And for that reason, when I had tonsils and adenoids removed and things like that, why they always came right on through. It was just like talking to your brother or dad, because they were that diplomatic about the whole thing. They were cousins on my father’s side, and we got along very well.
However, there is another thing that I can relate to you that is more painful than that, because I had a dentist and his name was Dr. Tromley. Dr. Tromley was a well-known man in the community. He was Commodore of the Yacht Club, and he had a fine practice as a dentist. He always seemed to be a negative man with me because the drill and other things that he would put into my mouth, and it just lingered with me. In fact, I can still remember some of the pain today. I mean I felt it was painful and that he wasn’t being very good to me. Many times I would make it known, and my mother would get upset and say, "Jimmy this" and "Jimmy that", "Take it easy". I got to the point that one day, after a set of painful work, I came home and I got the phone book and a pencil and some kind of sharp pen, and I just removed Dr. Tromley's name from the phone book, thinking that if it's removed from the phone book, my mother wouldn't have the opportunity to call for another appointment.
IVES: Well, did she manage to get hold of him in the future?
MAHONY: Yes, she remembered the number or she got the number and marked it down in another page of the book. She won.
IVES: What are your memories of the Depression? Do you have any particular ones?
MAHONY: Not really, because as I had mentioned a few moments ago, my father was fortunate in having steady employment. My memories of the Depression were things that I would see on my newspaper route, and also what would be visible in the neighborhood. The fathers of the families that were in the neighborhood would more or less be waiting for a message from the steel plant, when to come into work. And if they got that message that they were to go into work at 11:00 that night, why that was the big news of the neighborhood that day: "Hey, Stan's going to work tonight, he’s going to go in." Or, "John’s going to go in", or "Tom’s going to be there." I remember those things, that they were working probably just a few days a month, and had a family to support. Those were dark moments.
IVES: How did people survive?
MAHONY: It was quite something. We'd have to go back and check out the figures at City Hall; they'd be depressing, though. As I recall, Joseph Conley was the mayor at that time, and he organized the food line and commissary. He was also helped by Martin Pazder, who was a grocer in town, and also Bill LeFever. Bill LeFever came in from Indiana, I believe, Indiana or Michigan, and he became part of this cabinet. He was like the safety or service director under the mayor, and he had some knowledge of food and family menus, so he was helpful in that degree. But, it was quite painful to know that people were going to soup kitchens and soup lines. It was depressing.
IVES: How long would you say it took Lorain to recover from this period?
MAHONY: I'd have to say it was probably about 1937 when things started to turn around, and it was quite a task. Also, some of the banks had problems. There was a bank holiday, as you might recall, when the banks were closed. That was another frightening thing, that people lost some of their savings and things were reduced and there were years of uncertainty.
IVES: Did you notice many businesses closing?
MAHONY: Yes, they had businesses closing, and it was quite something. I believe in those days it related mostly to what they called the "Bank Holiday". Those were the early days of President Roosevelt, in early 1933 when he took over. Bank Holiday. So, it was an era that you remember, but you don't want to think too long about because it was depressing.
IVES: Yes, very much so. Do you recall another disaster, the Hotel Lorain fire?
MAHONY: Oh, yes. I remember the Hotel Lorain fire. It was in the coldest week of the winter in 1937. And at that time the Journal, where I was employed, was only a half a block away from the hotel fire. The hotel was on the corner of Seventh and Broadway, and we were just half a block down the street, so we had a ringside seat. Although it took place at night, we were fully aware of what was going on. We also had some employees and co-workers that were staying at the hotel. John Class, a copy reader who came to us from The New Orleans Times Picayune, (a big newspaper in the South), was staying at the Hotel Lorain. Fortunately he got out, and everything worked out O.K. The block looked like one big ice cube, there was so much water and ice around.
IVES: Did you happen to cover that story?
MAHONY: ...No, I didn't cover the story. I was working mostly on sports at that time I believe. I was covering basketball games and things of that nature at that time.
IVES: Before you graduated from High School, did you have any ambitions for what you wanted to do in your life, that you can recall?
MAHONY: Not, really. That was another thing. Although I had an inkling about newspapers, I wasn't involved in it to any degree. I wasn’t involved because I wasn't even a member of the school newspaper staff. They had what they called the "Academy News" that was published about every month, but I wasn’t included in that staff because I didn't have the "know how", so to speak. But I was interested in newspaper work, mostly because my sister, Mary, was employed in the Circulation Department at the Journal.
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This is Part III of an interview with Mr. James Mahony, for the Lorain Public Library Oral History Program, by Sheila Ives, at Lorain Public Library, on February 23, 1988, at 1:30 p.m.IVES:
Mr. Mahony, would you like to state your name and where you are currently employed? MAHONY:
That's fine, Sheila. My name is Jim Mahony and I’ve been employed at the Lorain Journal and we’re located at 1657 Broadway. IVES:
Okay. Thank you, Mr. Mahony. At the conclusion of our last interview, you were starting to tell me how you started to work at the Lorain Journal and you were saying that your sister Mary worked at the Circulation Department. MAHONY:
I started work at the Journal the morning after my graduation from St. Mary's High School, which, as I recall, was on June the ninth. I was hired by Frank Maloy, who had been the editor of the Journal since 1924. He was a seasoned man, and I seemed to work pretty well with him. I started out as a basic reporter, as some might say, a cub reporter. IVES:
And what were your responsibilities as a cub reporter? MAHONY:
More or less what they’d call general assignment; they’d ask me to do many things. I’d also have some duties to perform around the office such as keeping the offices and desks supplied in copy paper, which was very important for the reporters because they needed it to type. I’d go to the Deveny and McCahon Printing Company, in the 600 block on Broadway. I’d just tell them what size I wanted, and then I’d take it back to the editorial department. The reporters put the paper in their drawers, and eventually they’d just reach in and put it in their typewriters, and away they’d go. IVES:
How did you feel on your first day of the job? Do you remember? MAHONY:
Yes. It was not a difficult one because fortunately I was acquainted with many of the personnel because I had been a newsboy for six years. I knew Harry Hughes, the Circulation Editor, and as I previously mentioned, my sister Mary was employed in the Circulation Department. For that reason, since I knew many of the circulation and also some of the editorial people, I felt like it was really not a job...I was really among friends. IVES:
Do you remember the first article that you wrote? MAHONY:
Not really. I was answering phones, and if I felt that I could take the story over the phone, I’d go ahead and do it. If I felt that it was a little complex, I’d say, maybe this story should be handled by a more senior reporter. And many times it was. IVES:
How did your parents feel about you being employed by the Lorain Journal? MAHONY:
They thought it was really a move in the right direction, because my sister Mary had been employed there for a few years. She felt that the organization was moving ahead rapidly. IVES:
What do you think was the general opinion about journalists at that time? MAHONY:
Journalists were held in pretty high esteem. I'll give you an example. In this community, we had two newspapers, which was a healthy condition. We had the Lorain Times Herald on Fifth Street, and the Lorain Journal on Seventh Street, exactly in the same location two blocks away, just a step up Broadway. The Times Herald was owned by the Brush Moore Company, a big publishing company with papers in Canton and a few other publications in Ohio. It was a highly respected organization. Sam Horvitz, the owner of the Journal, purchased the Journal in 1920, and he progressed rapidly. But in 1932, it so happened that Horvitz had just a little bit more "go-get-em", I believe, than the Brush Moore Company operation’s local management. So, in December of 1932, the Journal purchased the Brush Moore paper which was called the Lorain Times Herald, and from that time on, this community has been a one newspaper community. IVES:
Do you remember what your salary was when you started out at the Journal? MAHONY:
When I started the Journal, I was on a temporary payroll. Evidently, they had me on a 90-day probationary period. And so, I didn't really get a check. They put my accounts on what they called an expense account, and I was getting five dollars a week. IVES:
Were you still living at home with your parents at that point? MAHONY:
Yes, definitely. I was at 1120 Oberlin Avenue. IVES:
Do you remember, when you first started, what type of stories you were covering? Anything in particular? MAHONY:
The first type had to do with nationality groups. We had many nationalities in the community. I’d go to the Hungarian groups in South Lorain and the Polish groups in Central Lorain. I also was reporting on the Central Businessmen's Organization and a very aggressive organization known as the South Lorain Businessmen's Association. Now, the Central Businessmen and the South Lorain Businessmen were equivalent to what is now known as the Chamber of Commerce, but because of the sectors of the community, they had their own businessmen's organizations. They’d meet monthly and on occasions they’d meet twice a month, and I’d go to some of their meetings. I’d also contact these men for various things that happened at times other then meetings. So, it gave me pretty good insight.
In my early days I was also acquainted with the Steel Plant. The Steel Plant at that time was booming, and they had many good things going for them. The door to the superintendent’s office was always open. The only thing was that you just had to get clearance through the secretary. As I recall, the secretary's name was Alvin Fletcher. He was a very well qualified, soft-spoken man. He’d just say, "Jim, wait in the waiting room for probably another ten to twelve minutes. The boss is talking to Pittsburgh right now, and when he concludes his talk, you can come in and talk to him." So, there was a lot of hospitality there. IVES:
What was the nature of the stories that you covered on the steel plant? MAHONY:
The Steel Plant at that time, they’d tell you what they had operating. They had twelve open-hearths, three blast furnaces, and one, two and three pipe mills. They could try to project what was going to happen the week ahead. Maybe on Thursday and Friday morning they’d say that on Monday we’re going to have two blast furnaces operating, and we’re going to have the third one down for repair. Out of our twelve open hearths we’re going to operate nine, and the pipe mills will continue at high level. They'll be operating at 100%. It would give you a good insight of what the employment was going to be for the week ahead. IVES:
Did they then just hire on demand? MAHONY:
The employment seemed to be steady at that time, as I can recall. I believe the figure was around 12,300 employees; that was seven days a week, and that was however they worked. The steel workers were organized at that time, in 1938, in what they called the SWOC (The Steel Workers Organization Committee). The SWOC held massive outdoor meetings at Oakwood Park, and Central Park, but primarily Oakwood Park. Oakwood Park was in the Steel Mill area, and they were organizing the Steel workers; later on the SWOC became the United Steel Workers of America. And that's the operation that’s still out there today. Many of the meetings were attended by family groups, because the whole family wanted to become involved. They wanted to know what this thing was going to be. IVES:
Did you cover any of those meetings? MAHONY:
Yes, I did. Most of the time they were held, as I recall, on Sunday afternoons. They were well attended. They had men like Mike Millis, and Tom Pycraft, the organizers, and then in the early days they had many more men like Paul Schremp, and Archie Broadfoot. Those are just a few that I can recall at the moment. IVES:
What motivated the men to want to unionize? MAHONY:
It was primarily hours, because for many years the Steel Plant was operating under a twelve-hour day. By organizing the union, they not only received a little more money in their pay envelope, but they worked eight hours. So, that was a key thing in the operation, reducing their shifts from twelve hours to eight hours. Plus, they also eventually they got some benefits, too. IVES:
What was it like to go into the Steel Plants? MAHONY:
It was quite nice. I enjoyed going there many times. The thing about it was that the steel plant was more or less an open place. By that, I mean if you identified yourself with the guards, you could walk through. I had many friends working in the open-hearth like Pete Murray was one. There was also a man by the name of Igo, who was the superintendent and Louis Svete, who was also a councilman in Lorain. You could talk to them right on the job. Also in the open-hearth, they had what were called charging cranes. I knew some of the cranemen. There was Stanley Poplar, and his brother John Poplar who ran charging cranes. You could stand by and wave to them, and they’d have goggles on and if they had a rest period they’d remove the goggles and wave back to you. People were cautious, and they knew how dangerous the operation was. If you were just in there visiting, you had to look out for yourself pretty much. The equipment was pretty well protected; they had horns and whistles, and other warning devices so that you’d move out of the way. IVES:
Have you followed the history of the steel plant, throughout the years? MAHONY:
Yes, I have. In fact, I was interested in the steel plant for many years. What I liked about it was that, as the business progressed, the manager would invite you out and say, "We have something new we’d like to show you." In recent years, when they put in the continuous Caster Plant, which is really a very productive unit, I was deeply impressed with that. They invited me out there to show me how it was being constructed, about four or five months before the actual opening.
When they got the unit in operation, I also was invited out. What impressed me deeply was a flashing neon sign high on the wall. It kept flashing and it would flash numbers like 2847, 2872. I was curious, so I said to the man who was along with me, "Now, what does the flashing mean?". "Oh, Jim," he said. "That's the actual temperature of the metal in the ladle right at the present time." It was a 75-ton ladle, and it was being moved from the BOP shop over to the continuous welding. The temperature fluctuates from moment to moment, and that's it. So, those figures were quite impressive to me, twenty-eight hundred and seventy-four degrees. IVES:
You wouldn’t want to put your finger in that would you? What role has the steel plant played in Lorain's history, in it's development? MAHONY:
From 1894, the opening of the steel plant, until this very moment, I'd say that the steel plant has been the complete blood of the community. It was a transfusion in 1894, and that flow of blood has continued with the people, not only steel workers, but all members of the community. IVES:
Did you cover any other industries in Lorain? MAHONY:
Yes! The American Ship Building Company on Colorado Avenue was a great thing. They had a great record for building lake freighters, and every time they had a launching, it seemed like the vessels were just longer and longer. That showed that they were making progress. Later on when things were really working out, they got into six hundred and eight hundred feet vessels, and they had giant ore carriers for the Great Lakes. It was the kind of a thing that Lorain took great pride in. They had as much pride during some periods in the ship building as they did in the steel making.
Another unit that was vital to the Lorain industrial picture was the Thew Shovel Company. The Thew Shovel Company was on Twenty-eighth Street at Fulton Avenue, and it was operated by C. B. Smythe. They also opened about the turn of the century, and they made cranes, shovels and all kinds of equipment that were used in excavation and for building. Many times if you’d go out of town, say like to Cincinnati or Columbus, you’d see on construction sights the name "Thew." They’d have a big sign and it would say "Thew Lorain." Even when I was overseas with the Army in Africa, and Germany, Italy, and France, you would run across things like that. Even in wartime, where they’d be putting in new bridges, and this and that, you’d see "Lorain Thew." It became a name of the world, with international favor. IVES:
Are there any small businesses you can recall, when you first started, that you covered? MAHONY:
Smaller businesses, like Nelson Stud Welding. It started at Twenty-eighth and Denver Avenue. It's been very successful there. It extended over into Toledo Avenue...sort of across from the Thew Shovel Company and a little bit to the west. They had a very good operation. It began as the Gregory Industries, and then later on Nelson Stud came in. In later years, it became known as Nelson Stud TRW, which showed that it was aggressive and progressing. I can recall in the early operation that they had men like Morrison Wright, Gene Hopkins, and Bob Singleton. They were all executives in the front office, and they were good for the community. IVES:
I'm going to go back a little bit to actually how the Journal was operated. At the time when you first started, how would you compare it to how the operation is today? MAHONY:
The original Journal during the mid-thirties operated on one floor. Many times in the summer the humidity was great in the editorial office. On many occasions the humidity was high so we’d leave in the afternoons and come back and write our stories in the evening. We had fans, but really it was before the days of air conditioning. So maybe we’d go up, and spend a little time in the afternoon up above the Palace Theatre. On the second floor of the Palace Theatre Building there was Angie’s pool room. We’d have a few games of billiards or pool and have a few bottles of pop, and that's how the afternoon would be. Then evening time would come around and we would go down and do our work and finish out the day. IVES:
How did you type up your column? MAHONY:
Actually, in those days I was just writing stories that were dealing with sports. Sometimes I’d go out and cover sports events, softball, basketball, football, whatever the season might be. So, I got to know many of the people. I also knew them by being a native of Lorain, and I knew them from school. I didn't have to go and ask players their first names. I knew Carl was Carl and Joe was Joe, and this and that.
We’ve had many good players here, through the years. In 1930, we had men playing very well. Also, in the late 1920's, Joey O'Hailey was a first string lineman at Ohio State University. He played against Red Grange, who was one of the great college players of all times. Red Grange played at the University of Illinois. He was called the Galloping Ghost. Joe Fitzgerald and Sam Busich were other outstanding players. Stan Pincura played in 1933, 34, 35, and he was Quarterback at Ohio State. In later years we had Jimmy Romoser, and many, many more, but I just wanted to mention some of the early, early ones. IVES:
Did you cover all levels of sports? Like from local to professional? MAHONY:
Yes. Really the only professional team we had going at the time was the Cleveland Indians. Although, in the 1930's we had the Cleveland Rams, a professional team, now known as the Cleveland Browns. But it wasn't that extensive, and many times the wire services would cover the games. The Associated Press, United Press, and International News Service would cover the games, and we’d get the stories off of the wire, although we’d be interested to the point that we would go to the games, to actually see what was going on. IVES:
But you relied more on the news services. MAHONY:
Exactly true. IVES:
Now, how does the Journal look today, compared to what it looked like when you first started? MAHONY:
Page wise it was much smaller. I can recall that the pages were probably twelve, fourteen pages daily, and the price was also much lower. It was two cents a copy, and it was a six-day a week paper - no paper on Sunday. Now we have a fatter paper, the price is up to twenty-five cents, and we have a seven-day paper. The staff is bigger, as could be expected. IVES:
What kind of technological changes have you seen in Journalism? MAHONY:
The biggest change would have to be the computer; that was like going from night to day. It was just fantastic, and it sped up the entire operation. In fact, even today we have many things that are still moving in that direction. I can recall when I was working with the Journal our news deadlines would probably be at 1:15. Maybe even two hours before 1:15, at 11:15, the final edition of the paper is on your desk. So, on that basis alone, we’re operating like two hours ahead of schedule. It's been moved up all the way along. IVES:
How do you like working with computers? MAHONY:
Very well. Fortunately, I’ve adjusted to it very well. Although I'm not a speed merchant because I'm a two-finger artist, so that is sort of a class B operation. IVES:
Can you tell me a little bit about some of the people you worked with? You mentioned John Maloy. Is that his name? MAHONY:
Frank Maloy. IVES:
Frank Maloy. What sort of a person was he? MAHONY:
Soft-spoken. If he had something to convey to you, maybe an assignment or some mistake you’d made in the paper, something that he really didn’t want to have happen again, he wouldn't bark at you. He would just call you over and say, "Have a chair." He'd sit down and he would bring this right to your attention, which showed that he was a professional all the way. He was diplomatic in the way he treated his personnel. They had no fear of him. Frequently you have bosses who really shout and embarrass you in front of the entire staff, and that's really not the way it should be. I mean, I feel that it should be person to person. IVES:
What about some other people that worked there at the time? Do you have any particular memories of some of them? MAHONY:
Oh yes. We had one reporter that came in, and his name was Charles Chappelier. He had answered an ad, and he came in to see Frank Maloy. Charles Chappelier was a good reporter, and his records were good. Maloy felt that "Well, he's the kind of guy I want to cover City Hall for us. He could be a City Hall reporter, and maybe also he could blend in a little as a police reporter."
So, Charles came for an interview at about ten o'clock in the morning. Frank said, "I’m glad to see you’re here, Charley. Right at the moment we’re busy with a paper, as you can understand. How about if you come back in a couple of hours and we’ll go to lunch?" So, Charles was curious, and he wandered down into the main stream, down around Sixth and Broadway.
It was a nice day, and he was wearing a dark coat and a dark hat. He stood at the corner of Sixth and Broadway. There was a bank located on one corner, and just to his right was another bank, Citizens Bank, and across the street was the Lorain Bank.
Charles was there and he was smoking cigarettes, just looking around, really not acquainted because he was a new folk in town. Many people became suspicious. And as a result many passers-by wondered, "Who is this man? He must be here for some reason?" It puzzled them, and they notified the police. The police came up and they watched him for awhile, and they became suspicious. They approached him, took him in the police car and they questioned him a little. They drove him to the Police Station, and put him under suspicion until he could fully identify himself.
So, at noon Frank Maloy was ready for his man to come back and he didn't appear. He wanted to go to lunch with him and find out a little about him. The next morning, the Police Chief, Theodore Walker, called Frank Maloy, and said "Frank! We have a man down here, we’ve had him overnight and he states that he is a friend of yours. He was on Broadway yesterday and we picked him up on suspicion because we felt that maybe he had designs on a bank or some business that we didn't want him to become involved with. We took him in for questioning and we couldn't get his full cooperation." Frank said, "Check him out. I'm looking for a Charles Chappelier, who I was to hire as my reporter." The Chief said, "That's exactly the man we have, Chappelier". So, they opened up the gates and he came up to the Journal, and he had his interview with Frank Maloy. They went out to lunch a day late, he was hired, and he was a very good man. IVES:
Well, that was quite an introduction to Lorain wasn't it? MAHONY:
Definitely! That was quite an introduction. It showed efficiency on the part of many people who were passing by, because they had the reason to be suspicious. Also, that the police moved in and clarified the situation. IVES:
Do you remember any of the other reporters, when you were first there? MAHONY:
Oh, yes. I remember a name, Doug Moore, who was a reporter, a City Hall reporter, and then later he became a photographer. He was highly rated as a photographer, and he was a good man. He had a wife and a couple children and lived on Hafely Drive. Then he left us and went to Kent State University as a photographer. I believe he also had some kind of a job in one of the executive offices, and he was highly rated down there, at Kent State.
We had another man named Doug Wallace, and Roy Dickey, who was the church editor. Roy was from Zanesville, Ohio and he was a very good man, a general reporter. On one weekend, he was struck by lightening and survived! He sort of lived in a fear, but he recovered well enough to come back to work, although he really wasn't up to par after that. I mean, he really never got back to his old self, but he was still an impressive man.
One man impressed me deeply. His name was Vincent Sikora, and Vince Sikora is now executive Sports Director of the Flint, Michigan Journal. He was with us for many years, and he wrote with great depth. Another man we had was a Lorain native, Hank Kozlowski. He graduated from Ohio University. From college, he went on to become a sports writer at Lockport, New York. I believe he was Sports editor at Lockport, New York. A job was open in Lorain, at the Journal. He applied for it and he was hired. He’s still on the Journal Staff today, and he's a Courthouse Reporter. He also covers Elyria, and fills in on other jobs. So, Hank is still with us. IVES:
Is there anyone else around from the time when you started, or your first years, who is still there? MAHONY:
Not really. There's one lady in the Classified Department and her name is Peggy Gilmore. Gilmore is a name that goes back into history in Lorain, like Admiral King and names like that. Her Uncles and Grandparents and such, they were involved in the military. Brigadeer General Gilmore was a Lorain native, and Peggy Gilmore is still working in the Classified Department of the Journal. She's probably approaching retirement. IVES:
There are quite a few of you who have been there for quite a long time, and have seen a lot of changes. MAHONY:
True. Exactly. IVES:
I think probably what I’ll do is just pop this around a little bit because we’re getting toward the end. Let’s see. You started at the Lorain Journal in 1935. Is that correct? MAHONY:
That's correct Sheila. Yes. IVES:
Why don't you tell me a little bit about the meeting of the Fraternal Order of Police? MAHONY:
Oh, yes. That was a coincidence. I was there just a few weeks at the Journal, and it so happened that the Fraternal Order of Police in the state of Ohio picked Lorain as being the location for their first State Convention. That came in July of 1935. It's questionable that they picked Lorain. I'm inclined to think, although this had not been verified, that because of the location of the lake and because it was summertime, they probably figured, "We’ll have our business meetings, then do a little boating, and take in the lake shore and relax a little." And that's probably exactly true.
They had some good men in those days. In fact, the Lorain Police Department was headed up at the time by Chief Walker. Theodore Walker. Now his term as Chief was twenty-six years, and I believe that was the longest that any man has been Chief of Police in Lorain, twenty-six years. He was a well-rounded man and had very efficient men working with him. He had Frank Eiden, Clarence Hunker, Chet Deeter, Sid McFadden, Gus McKerty, and Paul Cleaver. These were all the men of the community who were highly respected. Paul Cleaver was later Police Chief, and then we also had Charles Springowski. Now this is a coincidence. Charles Springowski is still living at this moment, and his wife is still living, and you might recall a few days ago, in the Journal, on page one, they were celebrating their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary. Charley is ninety-two years old, and he was a fireball as a policeman and he was also a motorcycle policemen. He was quite a guy all the way along.
We also had another policemen who was outstanding. Walter Knitter. Walter Knitter was a boxer. He was just a man with good talent and he also worked in the shipyard for awhile. He had no desire to be idle. He seemed to keep going all the time, never get rusty. As a boxer, he was outstanding. And of course we can't overlook people like Frank Bark, and George Knapp, who was an outstanding detective in the early days. Pat Ginty, he was a big Irishmen with a square jaw. And we had Fred Meister, Bill Bevin and George Kirk. I can name a few more, but that will take care of it for the moment. IVES:
Now, do you remember how many policemen descended upon Lorain for this meeting? MAHONY:
I'd have to guess at that. I know that all the Lodges in Ohio had delegates sent and their wives came along with them. The Hotel Antlers, at that time, was a very attractive building. It was constructed in 1923, and survived the tornado in 1924, without a scar. So, in 1925, it was really a booming Hotel at that time. And as far as the delegates and the people participating, I really don't have an answer. But through the years, Lorain has had a few conventions. That is a coincidence that this first one would be a State Convention, and Lorain was the site. IVES:
Now, you had mentioned you could say something about some of the council meetings you attended. MAHONY:
Oh, yes! When we we’re talking about city affairs and the City Police Department, this is very appropriate of the time. As a reporter, I attended several council meetings, and I'd say that we had the good fortune at one time or for one period, anyway, to have a split council. We had five Democrats and five Republicans. That made for some very good debates. Often the meetings were many times longer than normal, and under those conditions, when the vote would be five to five, according to the rules, the President of the Council would have the deciding vote. So, he was the Big King. I thought that was interesting. IVES:
Do you remember some of the issues of the day at that time? MAHONY:
I really don’t remember the issues, but I can remember the faces on the council. There was Dave Morris, who was a Scotsman and he had heavy brogue. There was Ed Novack, Joe Petrosky, Earl Frank. Earl Frank was also City Auditor in Lorain for a while. Prior to Earl Frank, Frank Ayers was City Auditor and he later became the Lorain County Auditor. Other councilmen were Art Matchette, a steel worker and steel executive, Leonard Camera, who later became a state representative. We had Andy Parobek, who was the father of Jim Parobek, who is an attorney in Lorain. Andy Parobek's wife, Elizabeth Parobek, was a member of the Lorain Civil Service Commission. At that time, the Lorain Civil Service Commission included Al Shibley, Charles James, and Elizabeth Parobek.
I can recall some of the other councilmen in those days: a man from the East side by the name of Peterson, Bill Thomas from the East side, Chick Grubic from South Lorain and John Jaworski was also councilmen. John Jaworski started in the council as a Third Ward Councilmen. He later moved up to Councilman-at-Large and then he became president of the council. In 1952, he became Mayor of Lorain. He served five terms, I believe! I believe he was the first five term mayor we had! He served ten years as Mayor of Lorain, 1952 to 1962. IVES:
When did you cover the council meetings? Do you remember a specific time during your career that you were basically covering the council meetings? MAHONY:
Not really. My assignments varied prior to World War II; sometimes I was on Sports and then later I was on City Desks. Then the War came along and I was involved in the War for 41 months. When I came back, I was doing a combination of jobs; first, I was a reporter, working on sports. Later on I became City Editor, and shortly after that, in 1948, I was Sports Editor. I can remember that well because that was the year that Cleveland Indians won the World Series.
Bill Veeck was the owner of the Cleveland Indians. The Indians played the opening two games on the road, and then they came home for a three game series. Bill Veeck entertained the news media - at that time television coverage was very light - at the sports’ headquarters, the Hotel Hollenden. So the whole package of media covering the World Series gathered at the Hotel Hollenden. Mr. Veeck put on a three-day party for the news media while the team was in town. I later read in the Cleveland Press, after the Series was over, that Bill Veeck went back to the Hotel Hollenden to pick up his tab for the three day party, and it was $75,000. In 1948, that was a big package of dough! IVES:
Did you actually cover the series? MAHONY:
I had credentials and all for the World Series and I enjoyed it immensely. IVES:
You enjoyed going to the games? Do you remember covering any other big sport event that you enjoyed? MAHONY:
In 1954, Cleveland was in the World Series again, but they had a bad time. They won the Championship of the American League that year; they had most victories of any team. I believe they had 111 victories out of 154 games. But when they got into the World Series, they lost four straight games and the Series was over. They never won a game in the World Series 1954, which was a surprising thing because they had been so fortunate during the regular season.
I attended other events, like football. We had a man named Dick Olson, and he still lives in Lorain. He was a highly respected man. He was Captain of the Navy United States Navy Football Team. They played against in Notre Dame, and he was a key man for the Navy team. I had very good tickets; I was in the Notre Dame Press Box at the time and watched the Lorain man performing. As I recall the score was about 20 to 6; Notre Dame won on their Home field, against the Navy, but it was a delightful afternoon.
I can also take you back to 1931. I was 14 years old and my dad took me to Pittsburgh to see Notre Dame play Carnegie Tech. In March of 1931, Knute Rockne, the Coach of Notre Dame, was killed in an airplane crash in Bazaar, Kansas. The following fall, Huck Anderson took over as the new Coach of Notre Dame. I had a first cousin, Dick, from Cleveland, and Dick was playing on the team. My Uncle John, of course, was happy about his son being on the first team. So, he made the arrangements for us to go to Pittsburgh.
We went to Pittsburgh, and watched, and what a coincidence. The two outstanding men on the Carnegie Tech Team were from Lorain. Jerry O'Toole and Colin Stewart, they were two outstanding men. As I recall, that day Carnegie Tech lost. Notre Dame whipped them, and as I recall, it was about 19 to 6 or 19 to 7, but the Lorain men made a very good showing. I had the good fortune, in the Hotel, to meet up with all the stars on the Notre Dame Team. Tommy Yarr, the center for Notre Dame, was the full-blooded Indian, and Ted Metzger was an outstanding lineman. Frank Carideo and Marty Schwartz, they were outstanding ball carriers and backfield men. So, I had some good moments. IVES:
Yes, it sounds like it. You were able to witness some exciting times in sports. I just wanted to get a little clearer, you work at the Journal. So, you started out as a cub reporter, is that correct? MAHONY:
Now, how long were you in that capacity? Do you recall? MAHONY:
Maybe six or seven months. IVES:
Then what were you assigned to do after that? MAHONY:
I'd say that I was assigned to the Districts. So say the downtown Chamber of Commerce, and various church groups that probably would be having functions, school board meetings, and then eventually I got into council meetings. Also, during the summer, when the Courthouse Reporter in Elyria would be on vacation, I’d become the Courthouse Reporter. Her name was Edith Brillant, a very capable woman from Zanesville.
That was an all new chapter, covering the courthouse, and also the city of Elyria. It provided good insight. I enjoyed it because many of the people I got to know in the courthouse were outstanding men. I can remember Bill Wickens. He's still very prominent in the community. He was county prosecutor from 1940 to 1945. Very outstanding man, Bill Wickens. IVES:
So, what were you doing at the Journal just prior to when you went into the military service? MAHONY:
I believe I was sports editor at the time. I was Sports Editor and I was drafted into the military on July the fourth, 1942. I returned to the Journal in November of 1945. IVES:
You wanted to mention a few of the other people that you worked with through the years at the Journal. MAHONY:
Oh, yes. Some of the early people there. I can recall a few names like Jack LaVriha who is a community figure right up until this moment. He's been active in community affairs and military affairs; he was in the Navy, in World War II, and he’s active in the Lorain Veterans Council. Through the years he was also involved in writing sports. After he got out of the newspaper business, he was still an announcer; he was the ring announcer at boxing shows. And so, he still has a finger in the operation of the sports community. IVES:
Do you remember anyone else in particular that... MAHONY:
Oh, yes. We had reporters at the Journal. I can recall Maurice Merryfield, Ralph Neumeyer, Fred Deibel, Johnny Dunn. Johnny Dunn was an outstanding sports writer. Very good man. In fact, in later years he moved east to New York City, and he became involved in NBC television. He was involved with the Today Show on TV. He is what you would call a man behind the scenes. He’d write the copy for the people who were appearing on camera. That was his job. He’d prepare the news reports. I knew Johnny quite well, and so did my sister Mary. When she worked at the Journal, she was acquainted with Johnny. He was an easy-going guy. And after he got to New York, he’d drop me a line, periodically, and let me know what was happening. He was quite a guy. IVES:
Now, let's see what was going on a little bit in your personal life, while you were working at the Journal. Did you have a steady girlfriend at that time? MAHONY:
Well, not really. Let’s see, on about November the 14th
, no November the 16th
, 1940, I was introduced to my girlfriend, terrific girlfriend, who later became my wife. Her name was Phyllis Dunlap. It so happened that on November 16, 1940, there was a birthday party for Jean Weaver, who was a reporter at the Journal. She was a friend of mine. And Jean was also friends with John Eckels, a reporter and many other Journal staff such as Bert Fowler, Bill Ashbolt, Allen Ashbolt, Rhea Soper Eddy, who was the society editor at the time, and also Mrs. Lou Kepler, who still resides on the East side.
So Jean Weaver invited me to come to the party at her house. It happened to be on a Saturday night, and that Saturday night I was involved in covering sports. The Cleveland Barons, a professional hockey team, were scheduled to play a game at the Cleveland Arena. So, I said, "Well, I'll be going to the Cleveland game. I have to cover the game for the Cleveland Barons. And after the game I'll get to the party, which will probably be along about 11:00 or so".
Well, I started for the Cleveland Arena, and I got to about Rocky River and the snow got heavier and heavier. So, I thought my best bet was just to forget the hockey game tonight. I returned to Lorain, and I got to the party a little more ahead of schedule than I thought I was going to be. At that time, I was introduced to Phyllis Dunlap, and she became my girlfriend, and later my wife. We were married on Thanksgiving Day of 1946. IVES:
And you married her after your military service? MAHONY:
Yes! A year after my military. IVES:
Can you tell me a bit about her family? MAHONY:
Oh yes. Her dad was a native of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, and his parents came from Ireland. His dad moved to Lorain when the Steel Company was in the early stages. And so, Marty Dunlap, he was my father-in-law, was one of the early workers on the Steel Mill. He married a girl by the name of Marie Meesig, who was a telephone operator. They had one child, and that was Phyllis Margaret Dunlap my wife.
Now, Marty Dunlap remained as a steel worker, and he was a superintendent of the hot end in the pipe mills. They would be called the finishing end of the pipe mills, the hot end. He was a strong link in the productions pipes for many years. So, he was there until 1955, and it was, I believe, September of 1955, when a strange thing happened. He had a fish sandwich for lunch and one of the bones stuck in his throat. As a result, why he died a few days later from a bone in his throat. IVES:
What attracted you to your wife? MAHONY:
Well, it seemed like she was just a girl who was bubbling over. She was employed at Smith and Gerhart, downtown. She was a sales lady, and then later she worked in the office upstairs. She worked with a girl by the name of Mary Jean Flaherty. Phyllis was a neat dresser and nice appearing, and she had just graduated from Lorain High School in 1940. She was a 1940 graduate of Lorain High School. So, I’d say that she was fresh out of school and she was in full bloom. IVES:
Now, were you still living at home during all of this time, or had you moved out at any point? MAHONY:
Oh, yes! I lived at home, right up until the day of my wedding, in 1946. IVES:
Were any of your other siblings still living at home at the time as well, or was it just you? MAHONY:
Yes, my sister Martha was still at home. My sister Martha was married to Frank Pawlak, who later was Police Chief in Lorain. But she was married to him during the World War II. He was a captain, in the infantry. She was married to him, I believe, in 1944, before he went over seas. IVES:
Is there anything else you’d like to add? MAHONY:
My parents were married January 7, 1970 at St. Mary’s Church. It was a double wedding: My aunt Mary McLaughlin and my mother, Ethel. Their maiden name was Martin. They both came from Ireland in 1900. My dad and his brother-in-law Mike McLaughlin came from Ireland in the same year, but they were not acquainted.
My sister Mary was born October 15, 1907. Two years later, my sister Ethel was born and then my sister Martha. I was the baby of the family and I was born in 1917.
My sister, Mary who was employed at the Lorain Journal, she was interested in theatrical work. Her employers encouraged her to become a candidate for the Miss Lorain beauty contest. So, Mary entered the thing and she was voted Miss Lorain. That qualified her to become a candidate for Miss Ohio. She went down to Columbus and I believe she finished third that time.
In 1927, my sister, Ethel, enrolled in the nursing school at Saint Vincent Charity Hospital in Cleveland. Three years later she was a registered nurse. She lived in Cleveland and never married. She died at the age of sixty.
My sister, Martha, was married to the Police Chief. Her husband died at the age of 50 of natural causes. He had some kind of heart problem which had not been revealed previously. He died at St. Joseph Hospital. Martha still lives in Lorain, in the same home where she was married to her husband. IVES:
I just wanted to ask, was there anything else that you wanted to say about your employment in the Journal, before you went into the military service. Do you remember any other stories or personalities that you would like to include? MAHONY:
Yes, I knew a man who was outstanding, a newspaper man named John Class. He came to us from the New Orleans Times Picayune, which was an outstanding paper. His job with the Lorain Journal was telegraph editor. We also had another man that came to us from Ohio State University. His name was Bill Smock, from Erie, Pennsylvania. His dad was a dentist. He was an outstanding distance man at Ohio State University, a track star.
On a few occasions, I’d go to Erie to visit John’s family, and enjoyed that. His parents both impressed me; I got to be good friends of theirs. In fact, John Class married a girl from Reynoldsburg, Ohio. She was superintendent of the Franklin County Tubercular Home, in Reynoldsburg, and John asked me to be best man at his wedding. So, I consented. One Saturday evening, or Saturday afternoon, the wedding was conducted. IVES:
So, it sounds like you had quite a few friends at the Journal, people who you held in esteem when you first started out there. MAHONY:
Yes, definitely. I’ve been fortunate. We had more outstanding men at the Journal. Ralph Neumeyer was an outstanding man at the Journal. His wife still lives in Amherst. She lives on Orchard Hill Drive in Amherst. Basically he was a historian. He knew Lorain from the early days, and he studied Lorain from the early days. For awhile he went to work at U.S. Steel and he was an office man at U.S. Steel. Then, later on, he came back to the Lorain Journal, and was highly respected in the community. Ralph Neumeyer was a good man; his copy was accurate, it never had to be rechecked. If he said it, that was the way it was. He was really on target when he was a writer for us, and then later when he was City Editor.
We had another man named Ralph Disler, who was an outstanding reporter. He was a Lorain native, and his family, his mother and dad, were well established in the community. His father was a piano tuner. Ralph was a good swimmer; he was on the swimming team at Lorain High School, and as a newspaperman, he was a digger. That man would stay up extra hours just to get to the root of the story, and as a result, he became City Editor. In later years, he was moved to Mansfield. Sam Horvitz, the owner of the papers, moved him to a sister paper in Mansfield. He became Managing Editor in Mansfield, and eventually became General Manager of the Mansfield operation. So, he was an impressive man too. Mostly he was impressive because of his writing, but also because he was a digger. IVES:
Now, you yourself didn't attend college? MAHONY:
You’re right on that, that’s right. IVES:
What about other reporters working there? Did several have college degrees? MAHONY:
I’d say that possibly, 75% of them had college degrees. IVES:
What did they study...were there journalism programs at that time? MAHONY:
Yes, journalism programs, definitely. IVES:
So, you had to learn it on the job? MAHONY:
Exactly, right on the job. True. IVES:
I wanted to cover a little bit about before you enlisted in the military. What was the atmosphere like, do you recall the mood of Lorain, or even broader, the country, prior to when you entered the military service? MAHONY:
Meaning the way that the community felt about the war, what was going on? IVES:
Yeah! Yeah. MAHONY:
Well, it was very depressing. I felt that Lorain was becoming deeply involved, because we had many people that went on their own. I mean, there was a draft, but many of them really wanted to get into the war. They said, well, this can't happen to us. We have to get in there and do something about it. So, they really didn’t want to sit back. You really had to respect people like that. Unfortunately some of them were victims of the war. And I know that some of them were victims of the invasion in North Africa, in November of 1942, and then later we had many casualties at Normandy, in January or in June of 1944. That was an unfortunate thing.
But the overall feeling was that things were going good; industry-wise, things were going good. It was a plus for the community, with National Tube, later known as U.S. Steel, and then U.S.X. Production. Also the shipyard was deeply involved in work, making ships for the military. They were building mine sweepers.
We had a very good reporter at the Journal, Jean Weaver I believe I’ve mentioned her previously. She was an outstanding student, and had been an officer of her class at Lorain High. She’s now a resident of Meridian, Mississippi.
But when I mentioned about the minesweepers, there was a man who came in and he was in the Navy. His name was Cecil Perry. And Jean Weaver…
Return to Index
This is Part IV of an interview with Mr. James Mahony, for the Lorain Public Library Oral History Program, by Sheila Ives, at the Lorain Public Library, on May 2, 1988, at 1:30 p.m.IVES:
Mr. Mahony. MAHONY:
Let me just make sure we get your voice here loud and
clear. Could you state your name and where you currently reside? MAHONY:
I’m Jim Mahony, and I reside at 3326 Reid Avenue. IVES:
Mr. Mahony, when we were last talking, we were just starting to get into the background on Jean Weaver and minesweepers. MAHONY:
Yes, Jean Weaver was a reporter at the Journal for many years. She was a reporter of the religion section and the education area. The church page was always popular with the public. So was the education section, as she would cover school board meetings, as well as various activities in the city schools.
In the past, it so happened the American ShipBuilding Company was awarded contracts, by the Naval Department, to build many ships. One of the most popular ships at that time was a minesweeper. These ships were built during World War II. As a result, the crews for the ships would be dispatched to Lorain in order to take these ships out of the harbor.
One man we became acquainted with was Cecil Perry. He was from, I believe, the state of Virginia. We became acquainted. Later on Jean Weaver got to know him as a reporter. She developed several new stories and they became friends for many years. They started dating and eventually they became husband and wife. They are now living in Meridian, Mississippi. IVES:
Oh, that’s interesting. Now, about what time did Cecil Perry came to Lorain? Do you recall? MAHONY:
I'd say that it was probably in the spring of 1942. IVES:
Now you yourself, were you getting prepared to enlist to go into the services at that point? MAHONY:
Yes, that’s true. My name was in the draft, and I was called July the 4th, 1942. I was enlisted in the Army as a private. It was quite a ceremony because, on July the fourth, because of the holiday, they had a massive induction of all the military forces: the Marines, the Navy, the Army, the Air Force, the Coast Guard, and the induction was held at the Cleveland Stadium. It was a night affair, and it was very colorful. The Cleveland Stadium was packed. I guess they probably had 90,000 or 95,000 people there for the occasion. It was a very impressive ceremony. So, that was my installation, and my induction, into the military. IVES:
Were any of your friends or family present? MAHONY:
Oh, yes! Many friends and many family members, and some co-workers were there, too. It worked out very well; my family was there a hundred percent. IVES:
Do you remember how you felt about being inducted into the military? MAHONY:
Well, it was one of those things we faced as the war was raging on. The draft had started, as you well know, with Pearl Harbor, in December of 1941. The military call was, more or less, a necessity; you felt it was your duty. So, we went from Cleveland. They kept us overnight at Hotel Carter, and, then a day or so later, we later moved on up to Camp Perry. IVES:
Before we get a little bit into your military service, I recall that you indicated originally you had wanted to join the Marines. MAHONY:
Do you want to tell me a little bit about that? MAHONY:
Oh, yes. When the military called, in the early stages, my father said to me, "Jim, here's an opportunity for you. Because of your age, you’re going to be inducted into one of the branches of the service. How about taking a shot at the Marine Corp?" I said, "Oh, that sounds good!"
So, I went into Cleveland, to the federal building, as I remember. There was a Captain Tighe, I believe his name was Jack. Captain Jack Tighe was in charge of the recruiting for the Marine Corp. They gave me an examination. At that time, I was 23 or 24 years old. They checked me in and gave me a full examination. I weighed 142 pounds, and I passed the physical exam.
However, when I came for a dental examination, they said that they wouldn't be able to pass me because I was minus one tooth. They had said, "No way can we pass you, because these are the requirements that you must have, and you’re one tooth short of the quota." Captain Tighe stressed that if they had passed me on that basis and had said that I was healthy, this would be a blemish on their record because, the next stop would be Quantico, Virginia. There you would receive another examination. If they had found that condition, they would have said, "Well, in Cleveland, they must have a pretty shabby outfit going there, because they checked this man over, and he has a dental defect." So, that's how strict they were. A few months later, I was inducted into the Army. IVES:
Do you know what happened to that one tooth that they claimed you didn't have. MAHONY:
I have no idea, but I’ve been getting through the years. IVES:
So, how did you feel about not being able to enlist in the Marines? MAHONY:
It was O.K. My dad more or less took great pride in the Marines and I do, too. I think the Marines are super people; they have many good records, and their records have been holding up through the years. There are always outstanding men in the Marines, where the action is. I believe that's what my dad would have wanted. He said well, as long as you’re going into the military you might as well get with the best. IVES:
So, you then ended up being in the Army. Were there any other people from Lorain who went with you to the induction ceremony? MAHONY:
Yes. Oh, yes. There were 48 men on the bus. We had a full bus of Lorain men, and I was acquainted with many of them, because at that time, I had been active as a Sports Editor of the Journal. I had thus become acquainted with many men because they were softball players, football players, boxers, and just regular guys. I had developed good friendships.
We were at Camp Perry for a few days and then we split up. We were all sent to various places. I was sent to Camp Robinson, Arkansas. Little Rock. IVES:
What do you recall of your brief experiences at Camp Perry? MAHONY:
Camp Perry was quite an impressive place. The thing about it was that they gave us the fundamentals of all aspects of military life. They also equipped us with all the various things that we had: the guns, the uniforms, and, they’d take us out in marches. They put us into action right away. They gave us the fundamentals, and the groundwork, which were important. Also, they told us exactly what the meals were going to be, and the whole thing was more or less what we expected in the military. It was a change, an all new chapter in my life. IVES:
Did you have something similar to basic training? MAHONY:
Definitely. Another thing that was good about Camp Perry was that, after having been within the area along the lake, we had many visitors, especially during the summer time. I was only there for a few days, but it was convenient for people of Lorain County to take a nice drive up there and come visit us. So, we had many visitors. And, after the day’s routine was completed, we’d have a pretty good time at night. IVES:
How did you adjust to the discipline of the military when you first started? MAHONY:
The discipline was quite a thing. I believe that the discipline is similar to that in High School sports. There's so much discipline in sports that I’m inclined to think that had helped me, because I played basketball at St. Mary's. The discipline there was developed by the coach. I felt the same thing with the Sergeants, and with the superior officers in the military. I really didn’t have much trouble with the discipline. IVES:
What was the sentiment of the other men that were enlisting with you at the time? MAHONY:
They were, I'd say, pretty much the same. We had a couple of men that were...what you might call objectionable. They were just sour on life. They really didn't blend in with the routine. As a result, they made it difficult for themselves and also difficult for others.
A couple of them were put in confinement. There was one man I know who jumped the bus. We had stopped at a Greyhound Station for a break. This man just disappeared. They caught him later on; I believe he was caught in Cleveland. He was arrested and brought in. He was a difficult guy. There were a few like him. But usually only one or two out of forty-eight. That's a pretty good record. IVES:
Yes, that wasn’t too bad. So, then you went to Camp Robinson? MAHONY:
Camp Robinson, Little Rock, Arkansas. There was an infantry training camp where I stayed until September. At that time, I had quite an experience, as life became "full speed ahead". They gave us all the things and all kinds of courses to get us in the proper condition and training. There were obstacle courses, and things of that nature. It was quite strenuous and the temperature was quite high. We would take long hikes, and we’d also participate in parades. These would get us ready so that we’d be prepared to participate in what they called a dress parade. These would take place in Little Rock, Arkansas on certain occasions, like maybe Labor Day, and on other holidays. So, it was quite strenuous.
I had, being a former sports editor, an interest in boxing. They had a call down there for boxers. I was never a boxer, but I enjoyed covering boxing shows. It just happened that they were going to have some tournament. So, I became interested, and I thought, "Well, I’ll try." I weighed 142, as I had said before, and I was in good physical shape. It gave me a little diversion from the steady, military routine. But I found out the hard way.
The first bout I had was with a redheaded guy from Oklahoma; I can't recall what his name was. I KO’d him in the second round, and it was quite a thing. It was quite an experience for me, and the fact that I won the bout was gratifying.
A couple days later, I had my second bout. My opponent was from Lubbock, Texas, and his name was Clovis Honeycutt. He was just a powerful guy, and he was fantastic. In the second round he really let me have it. He KO’d me, and KO’d me bad. I could see stars for a couple days after. Just socked me so...I remember Clovis Honeycutt. Later on we became friends. We would meet in Little Rock, and have some times and this and that. But, we split. I don't recall where he moved to, but I had to leave Little Rock. My next station was Camp Edwards, Massachusetts, near Cape Cod. I never did see Clovis Honeycutt after that. IVES:
Did that conclude your boxing career? MAHONY:
Yes, that concluded my boxing career. Two bouts and that was it. I said, "Never again!!" IVES:
Do you recall how it felt for you to be removed from your family and your friends and from Lorain? MAHONY:
Yes, that was quite a jolt. Those were very depressing times. Fortunately, I had good mail call. My sister, Mary, was a speed typist, and she had an office job. So, many times she’d give me a run-down on what was happening around the community. She knew so many people. She had an office on Broadway. As she looked from the second-story window of the office, she could tell me who was walking on Broadway, so many people I had known. That brought back...it was just as if I was in town when I’d read those letters. So, I had a pretty good mail call. IVES:
What kind of news did you get from your family? MAHONY:
Oh, they kept me informed about other people in the community who were being inducted into the service, and about other ones that had been inducted before me. They wrote me where they were, and what their activities were, and if they were given promotions. That's about it. It was mostly about the military. Occasionally they would write about things that they were doing, like shopping trips, or outings. Travel was quite limited because there was gas rationing in those days. IVES:
What about your life on the military base? How long were you at Camp Robinson? Do you recall? MAHONY:
Yes. From July until September. IVES:
July until September. MAHONY:
Of ’42. IVES:
It wasn’t too long a period of time. MAHONY:
Do you recall what kind of social life the military men had? MAHONY:
It was not too bad. It improved as we went along; I'd say the USO was very good. The USO people in Boston when I was at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Camp Bedwoods. At times, they’d take us in to Fenway Park, in Boston. That's where the Boston Red Sox played, and also the football teams, the college football teams. Holy Cross would be playing there and Boston College and Boston University. On weekends, they’d have a convoy truck to take us to the games, and it was quite nice. Then, on one occasion I can recall, we would experience a little nightlife in Boston. The convoy stayed over sometimes, and they didn't take us back to camp right after the game, so we had a few extra hours. We got a little nightlife in. It was delightful. IVES:
Now, you left from Camp Robinson, and you went to Camp Edwards. That was in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. You first came to Camp Edwards in September? Is that correct? MAHONY:
Yes, September. IVES:
And what year was that again? MAHONY:
How long were you at Camp Edwards? MAHONY:
I was there until the early part of December. About the first week in December, they shipped us from Camp Edwards to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. Camp Kilmer was what they called a staging area. That meant that you were slated for overseas duty. However, the shipment didn't move out until after Christmas. It was at that time, when I was in New Jersey, when my parents and my girlfriend came up. My girlfriend later became my wife. When my parents came up to New York on a train, my girlfriend, Phyllis Dunlap, came also. IVES:
Now, before we get into your overseas duty, let’s go back a little bit to your Camp Edwards experiences. Had you ever been to any of those parts of the country at which you were stationed? MAHONY:
Since that time? IVES:
No. Had you ever been to Arkansas or Massachusetts when you were growing up? MAHONY:
No, it was new to me. I had been to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Denver, Colorado, and Pikes Peak, and I believe in 1935, I went out there with my sister, and her husband. But travel was not much for me at the time. I stayed mostly in Cleveland; I’d go to Cleveland and Toledo and places like that, and Columbus. IVES:
How did it impact on you, to be able to see different parts of the country? MAHONY:
It was good. That was one of the pluses. When we left Little Rock, Arkansas, our train was quite long. It was a troop train. They took us, on our first stop, to Camp Clayborne in Louisiana. This was quite an experience. We didn't stop there, however. We just dropped off a few cars of soldiers, and these were assigned to Camp Clayborne, Louisiana. But, we left there, and continued as we headed on a five-day trip, to Camp Edwards in Massachusetts. The closest that we came to Lorain was Mansfield. I had called ahead and said we were going to be in Ohio, but I didn't exactly know... IVES:
So, were you able to go to Boston, when you were in Camp Edwards? MAHONY:
Yes. Camp Edwards. There was a...I told you previously, something about a little nightlife. One weekend I was pulling guard duty. I wasn't in Boston that night. There was a major disaster in the Coconut Grove. There was a fire, an explosion. If I recall correctly, the death toll was something like 482. It was fantastic...the Coconut Grove fire. Just to be in Boston that night would have been quite a depressing thing to see all that happened; however, I was on guard duty at camp. IVES:
Did you get a chance to meet with any of the Boston Irish while you were there? MAHONY:
Oh, yes, several times. There were many names: the O'Briens, the Sullivans, and the McDougals. All these people, yes, all had solid Irish names. IVES:
That must have been fun. What exactly were you being trained to do at these various bases? MAHONY:
Basically, a rifleman. I was what they called an infantry rifleman. They’d take us out to the firing range; it was quite extensive because we’d be out there for hours and hours. We’d probably go out early in the morning... IVES:
What type of rifles did you use? MAHONY:
It was called, I believe, a Springfield Rifle. It was a .30-calibre. IVES:
Was that an area that you’d wanted to go into, or they just assigned you to do that? MAHONY:
That was just my assignment. I didn't have much of a choice then. Later on in the war they put me on what was called a multiple. It was a 30-millimeter multiple machinegun. It had four barrels, and it was an anti-craft weapon. I was in an anti-craft unit in Europe, and that was entirely different. But that gun was just massive. I mean the rifle was just like a beam shooter, more or less, because all of the heavy power in the gun; that was a really new phase. But I wasn’t a machine gunner until Camp Edwards. IVES:
So, after Camp Edwards you went to Camp Kilmer. MAHONY:
Yes, Camp Kilmer, the staging area. IVES:
And that was in New Jersey. MAHONY:
And how long were you there? MAHONY:
Until about the second week in January. IVES:
Okay, and you had mentioned that your parents and your girlfriend, Phyllis Dunlap, were there to say goodbye. You were being sent overseas from this point. Is that correct? MAHONY:
Yes, that was right. Actually, they weren't there the day I took off for Europe or for overseas, but they were there probably a week before in a hotel. IVES:
When did you receive your overseas call. MAHONY:
I believe it was the 13th
of January that I was called for duty. That would be January of 1943. We were in a convoy for thirteen days. No one in our unit knew where we were headed, because convoys were always secret. However, it was in January. As you well know, January is a pretty cold month in the Eastern states, and that's exactly what it was.
When we left Camp Kilmer, it was snowing. It was a blizzard. We were just out a few days, and it became later quite warm. So, I said to one of the men in the crew of the ship, "Say, we’re getting quite warm." He said, "Yes, but don't get your hopes up. We're not going to be landing. We're just about a few miles off Bermuda. But we are not going to Bermuda, so don't get any high hopes." So we then continued on. It was a thirteen-day trip. After thirteen days we landed at Oran, North Africa, in the Mediterranean. It was beautiful scenery, and it was warm in Africa. IVES:
We were just talking about your feelings as you were saying goodbye to your parents and your girlfriend. Could you tell me if you remember how that was for you? MAHONY:
Well, that was the low moment of my entire military career. That was the time when there was really separation, and there was no guarantee when you would be back. It was just as if you were going to "No-Man's Land" and time was not involved. So, those were really dark moments. IVES:
How long were your parents and girlfriend there to see you before you left? MAHONY:
Three days. IVES:
Three days. Do you remember what you did with them? MAHONY:
Oh, we went shopping in New York and enjoyed many restaurants and things of that nature. There were plenty of things to do in Times Square. There was a lot of action. Times Square was always busy, because the service men were just packed in down there, especially on weekends. IVES:
So, that was pretty emotional for you. MAHONY:
Yes! Definitely emotional. IVES:
How did you feel when you got on board the ship and saw the land fading away? MAHONY:
It was a very dark experience. I can say that I remember the Statue of Liberty vividly. Beyond that, there were no great moments, in fact. I don't recall at any time being on a ship. I was just on boats around the Great Lakes, but I was never on anything like this ship. The ship we were on contained 1400 troops. This was, in fact, a small ship in a way because many of these troop ships carried thousands. This ship carried only 1400. The ship we were on was a converted excursion ship that they had used at one time to send people to Bermuda and to other places in Central America. From what I understand, it was called the Evangeline. It had to be repaired, particularly the interior. It was a triple- decker. The bunks and other things of that nature had to be installed. It was changed in many ways from being a pleasure ship to becoming a military vessel.
The biggest jolt was when we’d be having our meals. We hit high waves, and this and that; the sea would be stormy, and we’d lose our meals, because the tray’d slip right away from us, and go down, completely down to the other end. So the tray’d be gone, and the meal’d be gone. Because of the rough sea, our appetites were probably low. There were just so many irregularities. Thirteen days was quite an experience to be on that trip. IVES:
I guess it was. What did you do while you were on the ship during the day? MAHONY:
We played cards and that was about it. I received letters. We all wrote letters and did other things of that nature. But that was about all we could do. IVES:
Do you still keep in touch with any of the people that were on the ship with you? MAHONY:
No, I really don't. No. IVES:
Were you all headed then for the same destination? MAHONY:
Yes. All 1400 or 1700 of us that were on that ship, we all got off at Oran. The convoy was huge. I don't remember how many ships were on the convoy, but it was massive. IVES:
So, there were several ships sailing at once? MAHONY:
Oh, yes, a big convoy, because at that time the war was quite intense in Africa, and the losses were heavy. They had pretty heavy losses in the invasion of Africa in November of 1942. IVES:
When did you know that you were heading toward Oran, Africa? MAHONY:
When we were through the Straights of Gibralter. We thought possibly we were all going to Casablanca. But the battle line had advanced up, and the battle line, I think at that time, was up around Algiers. Oran is midway between Casablanca and Algiers. We were sent into Oran, a big shipping port. It's a nice community; the damage was not that extensive there, although the troops and the war were staged in that area. There wasn’t much damage so things were in pretty good shape when we got in there. IVES:
What was it like for you to be in Africa? MAHONY:
Well, fortunately, I had some pretty good experiences. I made friends with some Arabs and they were mostly fisherman. On occasions when I’d see them, they’d say that they had just been fishing in the Mediterranean and they'd supply me with fish in the evening. They had a little hut and we’d go in there and light a candle. I’d probably bring some chocolate bars, which were a big thing. They loved those. So, that was the trade I’d make; I’d give them a few cigarettes and chocolate bars, and they’d give me my fish and the native bread. The native bread was quite dark, but it was tasty. IVES:
Sounds like you made out pretty well? MAHONY:
Yes, I made out very well. They also had some wine they called Vino. The wine was quite good, and the price was right because, when I’d go to buy a bottle of Vino, it’d cost me fifty francs. If they went to buy it, being natives and all, they’d pay five francs. The servicemen, the military, they got charged a little bit extra. IVES:
Maybe they were trying to discourage you from
That could’ve been. IVES:
How long were you in Oran then? Do you remember? MAHONY:
I was in North Africa for eighteen months. That included the areas in the vicinity of Oran and Algiers, and up into the Tunisian area. That was Tunis and Bizette. IVES:
I'm going to continue with your experiences when you were at Oran. Can you tell me what kind of responsibilities you had while you were at Oran? MAHONY:
At Oran, I had some very good experiences. I was a reporter for the Stars and Stripes, which was the Army newspaper. My boss at that time was Fred Van Pelt, who was an employee of the Dayton Journal. Being an Ohioan, we had a pretty good friendship. I also met another man by the name of Jim Harrigan, who was from Buffalo, New York. He was with the Buffalo Evening News, and he was sports editor of the Stars and Stripes. Another gent I can recall was Harry Shershaw, formerly of the Brooklyn New York Eagle. He wrote a column in the Stars and Stripes. So, I can recall many occasions, during which we had many good times and good moments working on the paper.
In addition to that, there was a radio station called the AEF; that's Allied Expeditionary Forces. The radio station was located about ten miles out of Oran, and the reception was quite good. We were right there in the Mediterranean, so that many ships could pick us up when we were broadcasting. Harrigan had a program on the radio frequently, and on several occasions, he called me and asked me if I’d have a little sports program. So, I helped him out on occasions, and it was quite delightful. IVES:
Now, what kind of sports did you report on? MAHONY:
Well, I’d try to bring them up to date on things that were in the Stars and Stripes, because many of the ships were sea and wouldn't be getting the Stars and Stripes until they’d come into port. Also, I'd probably get some publications from sources in various communities. I'd receive newspapers from other cities, and I’d sort of reflect on events that had taken place in Cleveland or Boston or Chicago, so it was quite good. IVES:
Now, you had mentioned about writing for the Army's Stars And Stripes. What kind of news did you cover for that? MAHONY:
Many times, I really wasn't involved in the battlefront. There were reporters for that, but that wasn't my assignment. I’d visit people that were hospitalized, or who had been wounded in battle. Sometimes I’d go and see them. When they were in their recovery stages, I would get stories from them. It was sort of a good cross section. They had papers in Naples, Italy, and also in Casablanca and Algiers. The chain of papers was pretty good. As the battlefront went on, why, they continued to have Stars and Stripes in other communities too. IVES:
So, what was the paper like? MAHONY:
It was a tabloid paper. In those days, it was just probably eight or ten pages of tabloid, but it was well read. The readership was good, because soldiers just liked to read, and to find out what was going on. And they had standings in baseball and football and all that kind of stuff, so it kept the kids up to date. Although, on occasion they’d hear it on the radio, too. So, the paper was quite informative. IVES:
And how long did you work on the Stars and Stripes? MAHONY:
Actually, I would say, the whole package was probably about six months. At one time, I was transferred to the Naples office. I went from Oran to Naples. At that time, the loss of soldiers in Italy was quite heavy. We had heavy losses in the northern part of Italy. At the same time, the big powers of the military were shaping up the forces for the invasion of southern France. So, people that were on jobs similar to what I had, were removed of duty, and put in combat units. I wound up being a machine gunner, with a multiple-calibre, four-barrel, machine gun, anti-aircraft outfit. It was the 534th anti-aircraft battalion. IVES:
Before we get into your service in that respect, I just wanted to fill in a little bit here. You had mentioned to me in Easter of 1943 that a convoy came into Oran, and that you met 48 guys from Lorain at Sloppy Joes. Do you recall that? MAHONY:
Yes. Oh yes, I recall that. Sloppy Joes. That was the Tavern downtown in Oran. It was near a big hotel, which was quite nice. It was unbelievable. In April of ‘43, it was just like old home week, as it was like my walking out on Twenty-eighth Street in Lorain or down Broadway, where I would meet the old gang.
It so happened that a convoy came in with various divisions. I believe it was the Forty-fifth Division, and the Ninetieth Division, with some reinforcements from the Third Division, and First Division and Ninth Division. There were so many people...and it reminded me of friends in Lorain, when I was down there at Sloppy Joes having a few beers. It was just like the old days. However, it was short lived. It was like for a weekend only, because the troops were shipped out fast, and they needed them in various places. But it was quite an experience. Old Home Week. IVES:
Now then, you said you were moved to Algiers. Is that correct? MAHONY:
Well, yes. I wasn't really stationed in Algiers much; I was in Algiers, but not permanently. There was one experience I can tell you about in Oran. I was on the radio, on New Year's Day of 1944. It was an experience because the Stars and Stripes, and the radio station got together, and Harrigan was more or less a part of it, too. They had the Arab Ball. It corresponded to the football games being played on New Year's Day in the United States with the various bowl games. They thought, "Well, here we are in North Africa, we might as well have a bowl games too."
So, they got the military organized, well in advance. They got people who had been experienced in football games, and they staged the Arab Bowl. I was an announcer for the game. Jim Harrigan was the main announcer, but I was more or less what they would call the color announcer, because I’d recap some of the things that had occurred during the quarter and at halftime. I’d announce what was going on, in the way of a little parade they had. But they had a parade of military equipment, at halftime. And they had many Colonels and Generals there; it was quite an occasion. And I don't recall what the final score was, but it was a good experience. It took your thoughts off the war for awhile. IVES:
Do you know how many people attended that game? MAHONY:
I really don't recall how many people attended the game, but it was a good time. IVES:
So, then you were transferred to Naples? MAHONY:
Yes, Naples, Italy. IVES:
And at this point, did you know that you’d be going into active combat duty? MAHONY:
Yes, that’s right. They gave us special training in one thing or another, and we got ready for the invasion of southern France. The invasion of southern France was in August of 1943, and we went in at the Riviera at that time. There were big landings there, along the Riviera. That was a resort area. IVES:
Okay, and then you said that you were assigned to the 534th. MAHONY:
Right. Anti-aircraft battalion. We were fortunate because the resistance was quite light. During the invasion of southern France, we moved up from Marseilles, up to Dijon and Grenoble. Then we got into the area which was the "Battle of the Bulge", but I wasn't directly involved in the battle itself. I was more or less on the fringe of it, a few miles out. I believe the closest I got to the Battle of the Bulge was a community called Puttelugh. Puttelugh was in Germany, and I know the weather was quite severe at that time. We had heavy snows. It was in December of ‘44. IVES:
Do you remember your feeling as you first went out into active combat? When you knew that you were out where the fighting was? MAHONY:
My first experience was very scary; I mean, I was frightened. I had really no experience before. It was really a new chapter for me. It was scary all the time. There were so many different things they were using to penetrate the lines. Night patrols, all the big artillery guns. There would be all the big heavy stuff roaring over my head. It sounded like a massive thunderstorm, with thunder and lightening. It was just the big guns roaring. They had all kinds of fuel pieces that they were firing, and just going off; we had our guns going, too, and that made big fuel pieces. 155 artillery guns were blasting away. The vibrations were so heavy that the air was just fantastic with all the power that was being used. And the big guns, those big fuel pieces, they’d shake, and be just like a baby earthquake sometimes. You could hear them shake. IVES:
How many men were in your battalion? Do you recall? MAHONY:
I believe, in the Battalion? I believe we had something like 800 men, as I recall. IVES:
Now, this was out of Naples? Is that correct? MAHONY:
Yes, it was organized in Naples at that time. I believe, as I recall, the top man in our Battalion was Colonel Dunagan from Chicago. He's an attorney in private life, and he was quite an impressive man. IVES:
What was your rank in the military at this point? MAHONY:
My highest rank was Corporal. I never got beyond Corporal. IVES:
That was pretty high. MAHONY:
It was fair. IVES:
While you were involved in this action, did you know from day to day where you were going to be? Or how? MAHONY:
No. We didn't know from day to day, because sometimes the enemy would penetrate airlines, and we’d be driven back, so the battle line was uncertain. The big thing was that the planes, the German planes, the Messersmitts, JU 88's, and Messersmitts 109, were well equipped. The German Air Force was powerful. They would come swooping down, and zingo, you’d be there with your machine gun and all, and they’d just come down and away they’d go in and you’d fire away at them. So many times you’d hit and so many times you’d miss, too, because the speed of the planes was great. IVES:
What was a day like during those times? MAHONY:
What was the day like? IVES:
Yes, what was your day like? MAHONY:
Well, when we’d get our orders to move from one place to another, they’d move us with trucks. Our equipment would be pulled along, all these heavy guns. And when we’d get to a new position, they’d have to check the area for mines. On some occasions, if you didn't check for mines, one of your buddies might lose a leg, because he’d step on a land mine. So, they had to check it out to make sure that the area was clear. Otherwise we would have casualties left and right. That was the big danger: mines.
When we would get to the sight, they’d say, "Okay, this is it." We would be spread out in many areas. We had to dig in. So, there was a lot of work there: dig, dig, dig. On occasions, if things moved fast enough, we might have had two guns sights in one day. We could do two gun sights in one day. It was heavy labor. Then after we’d get dug in, we’d have to put on the duty, and stay there on the duty, because the planes were coming in and we’d have to shoot them away. IVES:
How long were you in this particular area? You said you were sent to southern France, and you also moved into Germany as well. MAHONY:
How long was all of this going on, that you were involved with the battalion? MAHONY:
From August of 1944 to May of 1945, we had advanced through France into Germany, and then we moved into Austria. We were just at this stage when the war was ended, early in May of ’45. Our next step was to go up into the Alps, and go down through the Brenner Pass, but we didn't reach that stage because the war terminated. But the idea was that if we went up into the Brenner Pass we’d be meeting the allied troops coming up from Italy. But, it never reached that stage fortunately. IVES:
Let’s see here. During this time when you were involved with this battalion, were you always involved in warfare, or did you have any time, say perhaps when you were in France, that you could relax and... MAHONY:
No, there was very little relaxation. It was mostly duty all the way. You might find time to write a letter; but, aside from that, there was very little to do. Another thing that I can recall, at the end of the war, in May of ‘45, about five days after the war ended, I was running quite a fever. I went to the evacuation hospital there to be checked over because my fever was quite high. So, they put me in this evacuation hospital. They checked me for a few days, and my temperature continued to soar.
They then took me in an ambulance to Munich Airport. And I had a flight from Munich to Rheims, France. In Rheims, France they had a huge hospital, a military hospital. It was a coincidence because on the plane I had a high temperature, and I was really sick, but most of the people on the plane were from the battlefront. Many of them were without arms and legs. There were all kinds of battle injuries. It was quite an experience to see these men. I had all my arms and legs and all, and so I told them that I was just running a high fever.
When I got to Rheims they told me that I’d be put in isolation because I had Scarlet Fever, Rheumatic Fever and Arthritis; I had a combination of problems. My fingers and joints were swollen with the Arthritis and Rheumatic fever. As a result, I was hospitalized for 21 days with Scarlet Fever. But I was hospitalized 56 days, I believe, before they released me. Then they sent me back to my unit, which was in Furth, Germany. They were in a staging area. It was a small community, a railroad junction near Nuremberg. That's where I rejoined the unit. Afterward, the doctors told me that many people are affected by Scarlet Fever, but they said the only thing that had happened to me is that I have an enlarged heart. My heart was enlarged so I was fortunate. IVES:
So, then you got sent back, and how long were you with the troops at that point? MAHONY:
That was, let's see...that would be about two months. I was in the hospital for two months: May, June, and July. So actually I rejoined them about July. By then, I had sufficient points to return to the U.S. They said that if you had over 80 points or more you could return to the United States. So, they made out a passenger list, and they sent me to Cherbourg, France.
It was a staging area, and the ships’d come in there at Cherbourg. I believe it was in October that the ship came in to return the troops. They had many convoys going, day after day, and week after week, but it so happened that my ship didn't come in until October; then they brought me back to the United States where I landed at Newport News, Virginia. From Newport News, Virginia they sent me to Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. And that was the discharge point. It was early in October, 1945 when I was discharged from the Army in Indiantown Gap. IVES:
Do you have any other memories of being in France? MAHONY:
Oh yes. There was another good thing that happened. When they released me from the hospital, they gave me a pass. They said I could have a pass for five days to go to Paris. So, I went to Paris, and it was really nice; but I was handicapped in a way because I was not much of a French spokesman, so to speak. And I had difficulty, for example, on the high-speed trains. If I’d be going to get off, sometimes I’d go maybe eight and ten miles beyond my stop before I could get the conductor to understand that I wanted off. So, it was one of those things where I was really handicapped. I should have had probably a little training in French. But I was cold, really cold. IVES:
What was it like to be in the hospital there. You said there were other casualties there from the war. What was it like to see all the injuries? MAHONY:
It really gave you a true picture of what the war was about, the bitterness of it all, and what men sacrificed. And, the fact that many of them had families; it was really depressing. I also had the experience to meet a Lorain man in Rheims, France. His name was Mike Repas, and he was with the 101st Airborne. That was a highly classed outfit. It was one of the best outfits they had, like the 82nd Airbourne. They were paratroopers, the 82nd Airborne, and the 101st Airborne, which were called the Screaming Eagles. And it had just happened that Mike had been shot up, and he was in Rheims. One day when I was just walking around the corridors, I just met him in the halls. I said, "Hey, Mike." And he said, "Hey, Jim." So we had a meeting. It was great. And to this day when we see and meet in Lorain, we say, "Hey, I remember seeing you in Rheims, France." So, Mike is still around town. IVES:
While you were in active duty there, did you receive news from home, from your family, and your girlfriend? And do you recall what kind of things they were telling you about what was going on in Lorain? MAHONY:
Yes. Many times the letters were delayed. They’d be delayed probably for weeks and months. The mail delivery was quite slow because the battle came first. But also they were fully aware that the mail as important, because mail was an ingredient to boost the morale of the troops. If at all possible, they got mail to the people in order to bolster them so they didn’t get depressed. So, mail was a big thing. The letters sometimes were depressing. They said that they heard this and read this and how things were going along. But they tried to have some cheery notes. IVES:
Well, what kind of letters did you send to them? What did you tell them about what was going on with you? MAHONY:
Well, when I was hospitalized, my hands were such that I couldn't write. So, the Red Cross girls in the hospital and the U.S.O. personnel would write letters to them; I’d tell them and they’d write the letters from the hospital. IVES:
I’m sure that they were concerned about you? MAHONY:
Yes, they were. They were probably concerned about me. That's right exactly. But it all worked out allright. IVES:
How do you think being involved in World War II changed you as a person? MAHONY:
I'd say that it was such a broad experience; I met all types of people and it was great, it was an education. I enjoyed it immensely. I think I felt that it was probably like a couple years of college. I was in the military for 41 months, I was overseas 34 months, and all the experiences were just a good thing. The big thing was to survive, but we knew that this was just one of those things. IVES:
Do you recall your most frightening experience while in the military service? MAHONY:
One time the line shifted rapidly in the line of battle. The Germans broke through one area unexpectedly, and it was a frightening thing. I can recall I was pinned in a basement with an Irish buddy. His name was McGraw, and he was from up in Wisconsin. But this thing came by, we were in a truck and we had been driving along. Suddenly the front changed, and we thought it was about five miles away, but the Germans had penetrated it, and so we took shelter in a basement for several hours. Fortunately, we survived and came out, but there was quite a lot of damage all around. IVES:
How did your perceptions of the world change after witnessing all the destruction and the killing? MAHONY:
It was hard to see the bodies of the soldiers in the battle. Fortunately, most of the ones that I would see would be the enemy along the line. It was rare to see some of our own men being carted off; I didn't see very many dead ones. They were just injured. They were shot up, probably with shrapnel, and things of that nature. And then there were the land mines, as I had mentioned earlier. But the German casualties were so heavy; they were just blown to bits. That was really a frightening thing. IVES:
Now, were you aware, while you were in the military, about the Holocaust and the concentration camps? Were you aware of that at all? MAHONY:
No, I had no knowledge of it whatsoever. It was something, more or less treated as a private action, something that was their own. They really didn't take pride in it at that time, or they didn’t want to have it be known. I guess they figured that the war would intensify if that kind of news was out. So that was more or less a private operation. IVES:
So, as you were heading back home, what were your thoughts? MAHONY:
Very good. I was thinking about many things and going out and having some good times. And also seeing some activities, like football games, and sports activities, boxing shows. I was a great follower of boxing. And so, it all worked out very well, to see my family and to see my girlfriend and the whole works. IVES:
Do you remember when you heard the news that the war was over? MAHONY:
I don't recall exactly, although I was in Innsberg, Austria at the time. It was quite an experience. It was a happy moment. Actually it wasn’t one of those things that was just one announcement. The war had terminated. We were inclined to think that it was because the things that we had hoped to achieve had already been achieved, with the major breakthroughs and all the tanks that had been roaring through countryside. So by that alone, we could tell that the end was nearing, because the way the battle lines were moving ahead. IVES:
Was there any big celebration? MAHONY:
Not to my knowledge, no. There was no celebration; men were just looking forward to getting to an area where they could ship out and go home. And it was just more or less a land of uncertainty.
Return to Index
This is Part V of an interview with Mr. James Mahoney, for the Lorain Public Library Oral History Program, by Sheila Ives, at Lorain Public Library on October 5, 1988 at 2:00 p.m. IVES:
At the end of our last tape you were telling me about how you learned that the war was over, and I was wondering now if you could tell me exactly when you were discharged, and if you remembered your trip back to the United States. MAHONY:
Exactly, the trip back was quite peaceful fortunately. We shipped out of Cherbourg, France, and we came into Norfolk, Virginia, and from that point we were transported in Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. And that was the point of discharge. It was quite an experience all and all. Although that was one of those periods where everyday was different. And, it was very frightening at moments. It was one of those things that I'll remember for the rest of my life, and I’m fortunate to be a survivor. IVES:
What were your thoughts as you were coming home? MAHONY:
My thoughts were that I had been away from my family for quite some time, away from my mother and dad, and my sisters, and also my girlfriend, Phyllis Dunlap. I had been overseas forty-one months...No, pardon me, I was in the service forty-one months, and I was overseas thirty-four months. And I felt that I was approaching three years, and it was time to get home. IVES:
Do you remember any of the people you were with on that ship, that you were coming back home on? MAHONY:
Well, not really, because at the time we shipped out, the units were not together. I had also been hospitalized; maybe that was a factor. For about five days at the conclusion of the war, in May of 1945, I ran a high fever. They took me to an evacuation hospital, near Munich, Germany. I was there for a few days. They checked me over and they said my temperature was quite high, and they diagnosed me as a patient that would require more then just an evacuation hospital. So, I was put on a plane from Munich to Rheims, France where they had a hospital. When I arrived there, they determined that I had Scarlet Fever, Rheumatic Fever and Arthritis. It was all because of being out in the fields and sleeping in tents and one thing or another through the many months that I had been there.
The Scarlet Fever developed, and, as a result I had to go into confinement for twenty-one days. They put me in confinement, because of the contagion. All told, when they had given me a final report, they said that the only aftermath I had of the Scarlet Fever was an enlarged heart. They said that probably wouldn't be anything that I should be concerned about immediately because they said it looked like I was going to be okay.
Altogether I was hospitalized for fifty-six days. By that time, many of my friends had already been returned to the United States in shipments. I was sent to Furth, a railroad junction in Germany. That was to be the point where I was to remain until I got my call to go to Cherbourg, France. So, I remained there for a few weeks, shipped out from Cherbourg and came back to the United States. IVES:
Now, where again did you come to in the United States, when you first got back? MAHONY:
Norfolk, Virginia was where the ship came in and then they moved us up to Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. IVES:
Now, when did you reunite with your family? MAHONY:
I was reunited, I believe, in mid October, of ‘45. So, I actually had about two weeks vacation before I went back to work at the Lorain Journal. I returned to work there in November, early in November. IVES:
Where did your family meet you at then? MAHONY:
I came directly home. IVES:
You came directly home? MAHONY:
And what do you remember of your meeting with them? Who was there? MAHONY:
Oh, my mother, my dad, and my three sisters, Martha, Mary, and Ethel. My girlfriend was also there, Phyllis Dunlap, and her mother and dad, Marty and Marie Dunlap. IVES:
And did they throw a big party or celebration for you? MAHONY:
Yes! It was quite a momentous occasion, and many nice things were happening that day. IVES:
You got some awards for your military service, didn't you? MAHONY:
Well, not really. I was not in the field of battle. I wasn’t involved that deeply. I was in a machine gun unit in France and Germany, but actually I didn't get an outstanding award. Well, later on in the United States I was voted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and other military units in Lorain as Veteran of the Year. So that was quite an honor to receive that. It was in the 1980's. IVES:
Oh, okay. So, you came back and then what happened? MAHONY:
I returned to work at the Journal, and at that time I was City Editor, which was the job that I had prior to going to the military. The understanding had been that I would be put on the same job when I returned. So, it all worked out well. I had the same boss, Frank Maloy, who was Editor.
I had an event happen in February of 1946, which today I feel was the biggest story that I covered. It was the biggest story that I experienced in my entire fifty-three years of newspapering. It was the double execution of two Lorain County men. It was the first time in the history of the Ohio State Penitentiary where they had two men from the same county die in the electric chair in the same evening. It was Ralph Brown and Frank Nieberg. IVES:
And what do you remember of that? How were you involved? MAHONY:
Being City Editor, on the morning of February 9, 1946, I called Governor Frank Lausche's office at noon. In those days, if there was to be a reprieve given, the Governor had to give it at noon. I called the Governor’s office. I identified myself and then said, "How about Ralph Brown, and Frank Nieberg?" And they said, "No reprieve. Seven o'clock, they’re going. Thank you." I reported to my boss, Frank Maloy, and he said, "Okay, Jim. Be prepared to go down there tonight." He said, "Now that it’s snowing, we'll help you a little bit. We'll be of some assistance by driving you to Wellington to get the train."
That's the way the procedure was. They drove me to Wellington to get the train. The train was a little late because of the weather. I was invited by the Warden to have the last meal with the two men, Ralph Brown, and Frank Nieberg. The last meal was to be served about 4:30 because they were to get the chair at seven o'clock. The warden said he felt that I would have an experience by having a last meal with them and I could probably get a much deeper story. I appreciated his efforts. However, because of the train delay, I arrived at the penitentiary at 6:15. And the warden said, "Sorry, but the meal is completed. You missed the opportunity." And that's the way it was.
So, at seven o'clock, I was at the death chamber, and several other newspapermen were there, and at seven o'clock the action started. They brought in the first man, Ralph Brown. Ralph Brown was a Lorain man, and he was found guilty in 1945 of the stabbing death of Helen Platonic. She lived on Streator Place, which was near Reid Avenue, about two blocks west of Broadway, at Tenth Street. I believe they said at one time that he had stabbed her thirty-eight times. It was in an afternoon and they’d had some misunderstanding.
Frank Nieberg was charged in the 1938 murder of Mary Wallace, who lived in the Cromwell District on the Eastside. That happened, as I said, in 1938. However, he was not arrested until 1945, in California. He had left the community, headed for the West Coast, and had a few jobs out there. He applied for a job in 1945 to become a highway truck driver, operating with a big trucking company. When they employed him, they took his fingerprints. The fingerprints, according to procedure, went to Washington. When they hit Washington, the authorities in Washington said, "Frank Nieberg, that's the man we want." That's how Frank happened to wind up in the custody of the law, and they returned him to Lorain County. IVES:
Did you have any chance at all to speak to them before they were executed? MAHONY:
No. I didn't have opportunity to speak to them. However, when Ralph Brown entered the death chamber, he came out and he looked the group over. He said, "Oh, I see a few of my friends here." He said, "I see Jim Mahony." He said, "However, I'm missing the two that I expected to see here. They promised me they would be here. Vernon Smith, a Police Inspector, and a County Prosecutor, Bill Wickens." He said, "Now with their absence, that shows. They promised me they’d be here, because they were the big wheels in getting me where I am tonight, right here in the death chamber." And he said, "It shows to me that maybe they have a yellow streak on their back; they just couldn't stand up and come down and go through this ordeal. Just to see me."
By that time the warden had said, "Okay, enough of that. Just get in the chair there." And they started wiring him up. As he was seated in the chair, they started putting the wires to him, and before they put a hood over his face, he put his head back, and said, "Now I can hear the heavenly choir. How peaceful it is, just to hear that heavenly choir." And he said, "What's gratifying is that I will soon become a member of the heavenly choir. As I look out here with you folks," he said, "you’re here in this ugly world, this world of complications and uncertainties, where I'm going to be in the heavenly choir." At that moment, the warden signaled, and they shot the juice to him, 6900 volts. He was dead a few moments later. IVES:
And then what about the next individual? MAHONY:
A few moments later, after they pronounced Ralph Brown dead, Frank Nieberg came in. Oh! One more thing about Ralph, one more thing about Ralph Brown. The warden told me that he was the only man in the history of the penitentiary who gained weight in the death row. He said he gained thirty-three pounds in death row. And he said normally people are so upset and so disturbed that they’re just becoming shadows, more or less. They’re just wasting away. They’re losing weight. Not Ralph. He said he was a cold turkey; 33 pounds he gained.
Another thing I can tell you as you mentioned a few moments ago about Frank Nieberg. He was an entirely different man. He came in, accompanied by two priests. I'll go back to Ralph Brown and say that he was accompanied by two men of cloth also. They were from the Church of the Nazarene. So, I didn't want to overlook that.
But, when Frank Nieberg entered, he was accompanied by two priests and they immediately said to him, "Frank, you’re here. Say your prayers." And he started with a Hail Mary, and said a few prayers. They said, "That's it Frank, say some more." And as he walked to the chair, he continued to pray. Then he broke the prayer, and he said, "I want to say at this time that when my wife and daughter have thoughts of me, please remember, that all they have to do is look down the big highway. And when they see the trucker going down the big highway, they can say, "There goes Frankie. That's our man, Frankie." By that time the priest said, "Say another prayer." So, he started his Hail Mary as he sat in the chair, and they wired him up and put the hood over him. Just as he said the Amen for the Hail Mary, Warden Henderson lowered his cane, and that was the signal for the 6900 volts to pass through his body. IVES:
Now what impact did seeing these executions have on you? MAHONY:
Fortunately, none whatsoever; I mean I was impressed, but I thought maybe I’d be more deeply moved. It really didn't affect me because I felt that these men more or less deserved it, the death penalty. Right to this moment, I think the death penalty is the real thing; that's the way to go. These men were definitely guilty. There was no indication whatsoever that they were innocent. They were a hundred percent guilty.
Now, I can tell you probably another thing. When my seat was open for the last meal, the warden invited a third man in, and his name was Gordon Wellman. Gordon Wellman was also from Lorain, and he was serving a life term for the October 1945 slaying of Helen Duffield. The warden felt that Wellman would fill my chair. It so happened that Wellman was acquainted with Neiberg and also with Brown, so they had the last meal. In fact, Wellman was a former roommate of Brown. I believed they stayed at the YMCA for awhile.
So, that Saturday evening after the double execution, Warden Henderson said to me, "Do you have a desire to talk to Gordon Wellman?" And I said, "Oh, yes, I do. Is there a possibility of seeing him Sunday?" "Definitely," he said, "I'll make arrangements so you can see him Sunday." So, I talked to him Sunday. I'll tell you more about that in a few moments. What I want to tell you is that while Brown was eating his last meal, he started to hum "Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night of the Week". Wellman, Brown and Nieberg all had something to talk about. They were speaking about their better days. Most of the time, they had things to say about Saturday nights, because that was their big night. So, that's how they happened to get into the song "Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night of the Week."
For Brown's last meal, this was the procedure. When a man is sentenced to death, when he is given the last meal, and he has privilege of ordering what he desires. According to the Warden, Brown had pineapple juice, roast rabbit seasoned with paprika, fried chicken, candied sweet potatoes, gravy, sliced tomatoes, and cucumbers on head lettuce with Thousand Island Dressing, stuffed olives, cottage cheese, hot biscuits, butter, hot peach pie, vanilla ice cream, hot tea with lemon, cigarettes. Now, I had mentioned a few moments ago that Brown gained 33 pounds in death row, and that's an idea. He was there at the last meal. He enjoyed his last meal immensely. In fact, the Warden told me that he was mopping up; he used bread and a biscuit to mop up the juices and the gravies from the plate in the final moment.
Nieberg's meal really didn't consist of that much, however it was a pretty good sized meal. He had fried chicken, gravy, candied sweet potatoes, sliced tomatoes, head lettuce with dressing, olives, cottage cheese, hot biscuits, peach pie, ice cream, lemonade, cigarettes, bread and butter, tea and coffee. So, I’d say that both of them were pretty well taken care of in the final moments. IVES:
Yes, they had quite an extensive menu for them. What if you had been there for dinner? Would you have had to share with what they had or would you have been given something different. MAHONY:
I probably would have been given a separate menu, and I would have taken my favorite of turkey and cranberry sauce. IVES:
Okay, so you would have had your own selection there. Who else was present with you while these men were being executed? MAHONY:
Mostly newspapermen from Columbus, and nearby Cincinnati, Dayton, Toledo, and places like that. IVES:
Where exactly were you seated to witness this? MAHONY:
Within, I'd say, within ten or fifteen feet of the electric chair where the power really hit. You really had full impact. IVES:
What did you do after they were executed? MAHONY:
I left. After that it became a regular Saturday evening. It was then about 8:45 or 9:00 by the time we left the death chamber. So, I just went to a hotel and had a few drinks, and a meal. Later on, I went out to a nightclub and had a few more drinks, and went to the hotel and stayed overnight. Then, the next morning I was invited back to the penitentiary to talk to Gordon Wellman. IVES:
And so then you wrote your story based on what had happened there? MAHONY:
Yes, play by play. Pretty much as I gave you right there. And that's about the way it was. IVES:
Was that a front page story then? MAHONY:
Yes, it was. It was the lead story on page one. It was given about a five-column head, and it continued inside, about nearly two columns of type inside. It was the top story of the day. IVES:
Do you remember any other front page stories that you did? MAHONY:
Oh, yes. I could tell you about a story that involved another murder in Lorain, and it was a thing, I’ll tell you. It was in 1949, and this was called the Feeley murder in central Lorain. The reason I mentioned Feeley is because this family was well known in Lorain. They had males and females in the family and they came from Canada. They were quite prominent. One of the males was found in an alleyway at daybreak on September the 17th, 1949. That's the present sight of Kennedy Plaza, 1730 Broadway.
At that time, that was a business block before the plaza was erected. The police informed me that the body was found, and I went to the scene with a photographer. When we arrived at the scene, it appeared to be a major story. I was happy about it because I figured we had a good story that day. The photographer felt the same way and he maneuvered around the scene. The photographer was Bill Ashbolt, and he was our Journal photographer; he is now a chief photographer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. We covered it fully. We got all the points that were required; we had a good story.
However, when we returned to the Journal office, on Seventh Street (that's where the Journal was located in those days - half a block west of Broadway on Seventh Street), we learned that there was a major story breaking. A disaster had occurred in the morning in Toronto, Canada. The ship Neuronic, a tourist vessel, had burned at the dock and 119 perished in the blaze, including a few Lorain Countians. One of the Lorain Countians was a very prominent man, Joe Thomas, who owned the Thomas Grill. So, as a result, the Neuronic disaster was the number one story, and our murder story was given number two spot. IVES:
Well, in those circumstances. What do you remember about having to do that type of reporting? What did it involve for you to do a story like the one you just mentioned, the murder? MAHONY:
Actually, for a complete coverage, you had to be at the scene, and you had to have conversations with many people. You spoke to the authorities who were there, the by-standers, and possibly people who lived in that area. Maybe they’d recall some disaster from previous years, or other times that may have been similar to it. So, it's important to be there and spend as much time as possible, and get it all. IVES:
Did you like to do that kind of reporting? MAHONY:
Yes! I found it very interesting. In fact, I enjoyed it because it was the top piece of the day, and when you’d go out in the evenings or so, people would say, "Hey, we read your story, and maybe you can tell us some more about it." They were very inquisitive. IVES:
Do you remember any other major stories that you did? MAHONY:
Well, I can take you on the nicer side. I can tell you about 1948. I had a great experience. I was a sports writer in 1948. In fact, I was Sports Editor. As I previously told you, I had been City Editor, but then the newspaper publisher said that he’d like to have my job switched over to Sports Editor. So, I went over to Sports Editor, and that year, the Cleveland Indians had a great team. The Indians were owned by Bill Veeck, an outstanding sportsman and a great guy. And they battled the Boston Braves in 1948 in the World Series. It was a great time. The attendance records were shattered in the World Series with the attendance of 358,362 for six games. Cleveland won four of the six games to cop the title.
On October 10, in Cleveland, 86,288 fans jammed the stadium to see the Indians play Boston. However, on that particular day with the record crowd, the Indians lost 11-5. Now during that three-day period of the Indians playing at home, Bill Veeck, being the owner of the team, he put on a party for the news media a the Hotel Hollenden. The party started at daybreak, and it would continue until maybe two or three o'clock in the morning. It was a 22, a 21-22 hour party. At the conclusion of the series, Bill Veeck went to the Hotel Hollenden and he picked up the tab for the party; the tab was $75,000.00. Now, $75,000.00 in 1948 was a pretty big sum of money. IVES:
I would say. Do you remember any particular moments that stand out during any of those games? MAHONY:
Not really, but I can tell you that in September, prior to the World Series, Lou Boudreau was the manager, and he was also the shortstop. Cleveland was playing a crucial doubleheader. In fact, I took my wife to the game that day, and I said, "This is going to be something, a doubleheader, and we’re really going to enjoy every moment of it."
It so happened that Lou Boudreau was injured. During the game, a tense moment approached; Cleveland had runners on base, every run was important, and Cleveland needed a power hitter at the plate. So, manager Lou Boudreau, although he was injured, came up as a pinch hitter at the plate, and came through with a hit! That hit scored a run, and the Indians went on to become victorious. It was a great double-header day for us. In fact, I'd say that that day was like the turning point to put the Indians into the World Series. IVES:
And so you vividly remember that. MAHONY:
So, then after you reported on these games, what would you do? Did you have to write up the story immediately after that, or? MAHONY:
No, it wasn't immediately, our deadlines, as I recall, were about noon. In those days, the press time was probably, as I recall, about 1:45 or two o’clock in the afternoon. So, if you went to a night event, you had plenty of opportunity to come back and even do it that evening or do it that night, or the next morning. IVES:
So, you could also go out and celebrate and not have to... MAHONY:
Yes, you could! It was entirely different. Exactly. IVES:
Okay. You were telling me about some of the great moments in sports that you were able to witness. Do you have some other stories you could tell about? MAHONY:
Yes, I was telling you about the thrills of the 1948 World Series. However, we can't overlook the 1954 World Series. The New York Giants whipped Cleveland four straight games. That was a disaster! In fact, it was so depressing, because the Indians in that season had a record...112 games. That’s the first time that happened in the Major Leagues. 112 victories in a regular season. Then they get into the World Series and they lost four straight games. So, that was one of the sad moments. IVES:
Well, did you have any consolation after the losses? MAHONY:
Not really. The entire state was depressed. So it's the kind of thing that you want to forget about. IVES:
You don’t want to dwell on. MAHONY:
That’s right. IVES:
What about football? Were you much involved in covering like the Cleveland Browns at all? MAHONY:
Oh, yes! I covered many Cleveland Browns games. They had power houses; Paul Brown was the coach, and Jimmy Brown was the big ball carrier. Marion Motley, Otto Graham, and Lou Groza, were all outstanding players. It was exciting. They drew a big crowd, and it was exciting from the moment of the first kick-off every time. IVES:
Did you ever have an opportunity to interview any of the individual players? MAHONY:
Oh, yes. After, you’d have privileges in the locker rooms. You could talk to Otto Graham, Marion Motley, or Jimmy Brown. . . any player you wanted to talk to, and also the coach. IVES:
Do you have any in particular that really left an impact on you? MAHONY:
Lou Groza was a nice man. In fact, he was acquainted with Lorain Countians because on several occasions he was at Spring Valley Country Club, in Elyria, for social events. He got around pretty well; he was well acquainted and well liked. IVES:
Did you do much on profile reporting or basically were these interviews to supplement your coverage of the game? MAHONY:
Exactly. To supplement the coverage of the game. IVES:
Did you have any that were particularly difficult to interview? MAHONY:
No, they were cooperative - they understood that we both had a job to do. I think it's rare when you run into a professional athlete who’s sort of negative. They’re mostly very thankful to be interviewed. IVES:
Did you basically interview them after the games or before? MAHONY:
Most of it was after the games. Because before the games they have various things to do. The managers and coaches would be discussing the game with them, and there’s also a period of tension. So, after the game they’re more relaxed. IVES:
What about some of the other reporters that were covering the sports events? Do you recall any of them from other newspapers? MAHONY:
Oh, yes. Akron Beacon Journal, and in those days we had the Cleveland News. Ed Bang was Sports Editor, and we also had the Cleveland Press and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Years ago, prior to 1932, we had the Journal and the Lorain Times Herald. The Lorain Times Herald was established in 1879 and it continued as a paper six days a week through 1932, when it was purchased by the Journal. IVES:
Now, I remember somebody mentioned something about a Browns’ Booster Club? MAHONY:
Do you recall anything about that? MAHONY:
It was the Lorain Chapter of the Browns’ Booster Club, and the core of it was at Twenty-eighth and Grove Avenue; that was like the South Lorain Sports Center. Most of their activities dwelled around the 2200 Bar. Curly DeBracy was a co-owner, along with Frank Ursic. They’d charter buses to go to the Browns’ home games, and on occasions they’d even charter a bus to go to the Pittsburgh game. And at the conclusion of the season, the Cleveland Browns would be invited to be guests of the Lorain Chapter of the Cleveland Browns Booster Club, and they’d have a banquet at some hall, like the Slovenian Home, the Slovak Home, or someplace like that. They’d have quite a turn out. The coaches would respond and many times several of the star players would be in attendance. So, it made for really a full night of excitement. IVES:
Did you attend many of those banquets? MAHONY:
I'd say maybe four or five of them. IVES:
Now, how long was this Booster Club in existence? MAHONY:
It was in existence, I'd say, seventeen to twenty years. Actually, what happened was attorney Joey Ujhelyi died. He had been one of the big powers in it. He was a football star. I'll have to take you back to the 1920's. He was a star tackle, a star linemen for Ohio State University. He played against Red Grange, who was a notorious star of the gridiron. Being a sportsman, he was active in organizing the club along with Curly DeBracy and Ursic, who both died. That was actually the termination of the Booster Club. IVES:
So, basically those people were really the motivating force? MAHONY:
Yes! Definitely. The pillars. IVES:
Behind the club. MAHONY:
What about local sports, say, at the High School level? Do you have any particular memories of that? MAHONY:
The High School level. . . I can recall a game that I covered. It was in 1939. Cleveland Shaw High School played at Lorain, and the final score was 27-27. In my book, that was the most exciting high school football game I ever attended. It was a great game. I attended many other high school games, because I was the Sports Editor, and so I'd cover them. Many times I’d cover games on Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening, because that's the way they were going. IVES:
I wanted to go back a little bit to when you came back from the war and started working at the Journal again, just so we can fill in some other parts of your life. Do you remember noticing any changes in Lorain from the time when you had gone off to the war to when you came back? MAHONY:
Not really, I didn't notice any change. The business area was booming and things were good; they were in a good stage as far as industry goes. And it seemed to be a very healthy atmosphere. IVES:
Now, what about when you returned to the Journal, had there been any changes there? MAHONY:
No, not that I can recall. I can recall one reporter, his name was Burt Fowler. He was one of our key reporters. He was a good man. He could cover City Hall, the Council, and school board meetings. He was well versed and he was a victim of World War II. I believe he was in the Air Force in Bari, Italy and the plane crashed, and he was one of the victims. IVES:
The staff was pretty much the same? MAHONY:
The staff was pretty much the same. IVES:
Now, before you had gone out to Service, what had been your position at the Journal? MAHONY:
I was City Editor of the Journal at the time I went into the war. IVES:
So when you came back you once again took over that position? MAHONY:
City Editor. However, as I mentioned previously, I was later moved into the sports department, and became Sports Editor. IVES:
Well, had someone filled in your spot then while you were gone, the City Editor spot? MAHONY:
Ralph Disler, was City Editor and later on he became Managing Editor. He was a Lorain man and he was a good mixer. He enjoyed having lunch with city officials, and going to various city functions, so he got to know them, and they got to know him, and that is what it's all about - togetherness. They can confide in you then and you get along much better if you associate with people like that. IVES:
What about in your personal life. Now you had mentioned you’d had a girlfriend before you went off to the war and then what happened with your relationship after you came back? MAHONY:
It was the same girl, Phyllis Dunlap. It was all fine. Everything worked out, picked up right there. IVES:
Yeah? So did you end up getting married? MAHONY:
Yes, on Thanksgiving Day, 1946. IVES:
And what do you recall of your wedding? How was it? MAHONY:
The wedding was at about 11 o'clock in the morning, on Thanksgiving morning, and we had a friend come from Youngstown. He was a friend of mine, Father John McFarland, and he was the officiating priest at the Mass. And fortunately, the weather was very good. It was Thanksgiving morning and it was sunny and favorable.
At that time, I was acquainted with the Police Department, so, a few of the on-duty policemen were attending the wedding and they had their cruisers. There were two men in one cruiser, and at the conclusion of the ceremony, they said, "Where are you heading now? We'll give you an escort." So, they escorted us, and my wife said to them, "We would like very much to stop at Saint Joe’s hospital."
At that time, the hospital was on Broadway. They pulled up in front of the entrance and we got out of the car, and the police cruiser was ahead of us with the flashers going. From the interior of the hospital, nurses and some of the patients were looking out the window. I guess they figured, "What’s coming on here? It looks like a bridal couple stepping out of a car with the police escorting them. There must be something more here then meets the eye." They thought that we were coming to be hospitalized or something like that. When we got in, right away we were faced with questions, you know. Why? And this and that. We told them that we had two relatives in there that we’d like to visit. So that cleared that air. IVES:
That’s good. You wouldn’t want your reputation ruined. Did you take a honeymoon? MAHONY:
Oh, yes. IVES:
Where did you go? MAHONY:
The first night was at the Lakeshore Hotel in Lakewood, and from there we went to Niagara Falls. Now, I'll have to point this out to you. Niagara Falls is a very beautiful place. Niagara Falls is illuminated, as you well know, and people go there for the sights. However, when we arrived at Niagara Falls, there was a complete blackout because John L. Lewis was head of the coal miners, and all the coal miners were on strike, and, as a result, there was power outage. As we crossed the bridges it was dark, so we lost some of the beauty. And another thing was as we got over into Canada, we’d made reservations to go to Saint Anne d’Vopre. That's in Quebec, a shrine which was to be our most distant point. Then we stayed in Toronto, and went on to Montreal.
It was snowing and snowing. It was beautiful. There were little villages that we’d pass through that looked like Christmas cards, with the small dwellings. It was very picturesque. However, as we got on the main highway out of Montreal headed for Quebec, the State Troopers approached us, and they said, "No more. You have to turn back because the snow is just getting heavier and heavier, and the highway’s being closed for traffic." They advised us to return to Montreal, so that's exactly what happened. We returned to Montreal and spent a few days there and then came back to the United States. IVES:
Well, at least you got to see some of it. MAHONY:
Have you been back there lately? MAHONY:
Oh yes. Several times. In fact next week, I'm going to Ontario, to London, Ontario for a little visit. IVES:
Oh, good. A little vacation? MAHONY:
Yes, about a four-day vacation. IVES:
Well, good. Now, where did you live after you came back from your honeymoon? MAHONY:
I don't recall the first residence, but I believe it was with her parents until we found a place. I believe we stayed there for maybe a couple months. And then we found an apartment, and in 1951, I can recall, we were already married three years. No. We were married about five years at that time. A new allotment developed on the Eastside. Maple Drive and Cedar Drive developed, and Brusena was the construction company from Lakewood.
We went over there when they put in the first foundation, so we picked that house and it was on Maple Drive. When it was completed we moved in, and we were there for several years. We had our first three children there, and then we sort of outgrew the house, because it was a two-bedroom dwelling. The neighborhood was fine. It was mostly people of our own age and we knew many of them. So, from that standpoint it was good. However, we needed a larger dwelling, because we had three more children after that. And so we had six children, and we moved to Reid Avenue; we got a home there with three bedrooms and also we put on two additions on the house later on. It all worked out well. We’re still there today. IVES:
So, how long have you lived in this house on Reid Avenue then? MAHONY:
I'd have to say twenty-eight to twenty-nine years. IVES:
That's quite a while to live there. Did you ever think about leaving Lorain? MAHONY:
I've had a few opportunities to leave Lorain. I was hired by the Plain Dealer to work on the Sports Desk. The Sports Editor at that time was Gordon Gobbledick, and he interviewed me and he said, "Jim, the job is yours." I went home and talked with my wife - this was after we were married. She said, "Well, that’s great. I feel great about it. That's really a step in the right direction. However," she said, "living in Lorain, we’re going to have to move." She said, "I’d prefer to move to Rocky River or to Lakewood, because the driving would be too much for you." I more or less agreed with her, because working at the sports desk at the Plain Dealer, the hours would be like four in the afternoon, till maybe twelve-thirty, one-thirty in the morning. And she felt that if I’d be driving home at one-thirty in the morning that distance, why, maybe I’d be sleepy or one thing or another.
So, we talked it over for about ten days. I finally called Gordon Gobbledick, and said I decided not to take it because we didn’t want to move. However, then I was also hired or given a job if I wanted it at the Fremont News Messenger. I thought about that for awhile; we were going to move to Fremont, but actually we didn't. We decided, well, we'll stay right here. So, those were about the only two opportunities I had. IVES:
Did you ever feel like you would have liked to move to somewhere else? MAHONY:
Not really. Because I felt that I was so well acquainted with Lorain, and that was part of the business, being acquainted with people. It made reporting easier when you ran across a name, if you were familiar with it to a degree. You’d remember a name from being active in sports, or politics, or business, or something along the line, so you didn't have to dig to find out any background. That's what simplified the operation all the way along. IVES:
So, how would you say that your attitude toward your job has changed through the years? MAHONY:
It really hasn't changed. I thought that maybe it would with the computers. That was the big change, going from typewriters to computers. I was always a two-finger typist, and I'm still a two finger on the computer. Fortunately, I've had some pretty good years on the thing, and it has worked out okay. The computer was the massive change in the newspaper business, I’d say. After hours they’d give us training. There’d be a man there who would give us a little advice on computers. So it all worked out. All we had to do was stay with it and spend a little extra time. IVES:
What do you think of today’s style of Journalism, compared to what it was like when you started out? MAHONY:
Well, I'll have to say that today you really can't say the style of Journalism has changed all that much. It has to a degree. However, the world has changed. The people have changed. The whole living conditions have changed. I can say that years ago teenagers were not angels, but, the teenagers of today are something of what I would call a special breed. Many of them are strong-headed, and as a result, they’re not following through with instructions that they’re probably given in school or given from their families. They more or less just think for themselves.
Now the style of Journalism when these things happen, when sensational stories develop, the newspaper has to handle it in just that way because that's the way the readership is. Things are sensationalized because it has to go with the taste of the reader. They’re looking for the big story. And that's another thing. What you might call the story of years ago, where you’d have some city functions and also meetings pertaining to council, and churches and things like that, those stories are now, more or less, on the inside pages. The real fired-up stories that appeal to the readers, zingo, they’re on page one. IVES:
How would you say that your work ties into your personal values? MAHONY:
Well, on that I'm a little bit stumped because I really don’t know if this is a clear picture or not; my work... IVES:
How do you feel your work reflects your values? MAHONY:
Well, I'd say that I have been very fortunate through the years. I've had good connections with civic leaders and business groups, and they’ve helped me in many ways. I'd have to say that the reason for my success is because of my friends, because of the people I've associated with through the years. Many are still here; when I need them, when I call them and I have some problem or I have some question and I want to recall something, they’re more then happy to help me. And so, for that reason I've been given many good breaks. IVES:
Could you have envisioned yourself doing anything differently? MAHONY:
Not really. I'd say that this is the whole ball of wax right here. IVES:
Yes, you felt like Journalism was the right thing for you? MAHONY:
True. I think so. IVES:
I just also wanted to talk a little bit about the history of the Journal Newspaper itself. I cut out an article about when the Journal moved to it's new building. MAHONY:
Yes, what do you remember about that? What was the situation like at the old building and how did that contrast with the new building? MAHONY:
The old building was constructed in 1920. It was a one floor plan, and as I recall, it had a tar roof. The tar roof, in the summertime, would become overheated. It’s easy to understand, and many times in the afternoon the editorial department would be just a little bit too hot to work in. They’d often feel that it was better to give us a few hours off in the afternoon and come back at night.
So, many times we’d start running at probably two o'clock in those days. That was about our press time. We’d scan the paper and then take off for two or three hours in the afternoon and come back in the evening. If we had meetings to cover, then it’d be normal to write that. Even if we didn't, if we had things we’d normally be writing in the afternoon, we’d do at night because it’d be cooler. But aside from that, overall the building was much smaller and the people were a little bit more jammed up. Now we have sufficient room, and the facilities are just very, very good now, it’s quite a massive contrast from the old place. IVES:
So, how did everyone feel about moving into the new building? MAHONY:
Fine. They felt real good. Some things we didn't take with us because the Editor at that time, Ed Lapping, said we’re going to an all new, fresh building, and we’re not going to be taking some of this old stuff along. So, we didn't take all the material from Seventh Street. IVES:
Did your operations change at all with moving into the new building? Were there certain things you’re able to do now that you weren't able to do in the old one? Did the Journal expand at all as far as the staff goes? MAHONY:
Oh yes. They expanded the staff, that's right. Exactly. Also, there is a cafeteria, which was another great thing. It can seat probably forty or fifty people, and so they handled all departments there at noontime. Also, the pressroom is much larger; all the departments are much larger, so the working facilities are highly, greatly improved. IVES:
So, it's a lot nicer to work. Do you have air conditioning now? MAHONY:
Yes. Air conditioning and improved lighting and ventilation and the whole works. It's all 100% and also it's 100% improved in fire protection. The building is entirely different and we've had many good years there. Another thing is, as recent as about three years ago, The New York Times decided to print their paper at about six locations in the United States. The Journal is one of those places. It’s a daily paper, so that's seven days a week that The New York Times is printed at the Journal in Lorain. The press starts approximately at eleven or eleven-fifteen in the evening, and they run off possibly fifty-five thousand papers and they’re distributed probably from airports and trucked out into various areas. IVES:
So, you’ve seen quite a number of changes in your years of working there. MAHONY:
Yes. True. IVES:
Let me think of some other things I want to ask you. What would you say, in your years of working at the Journal, was your favorite position? Did you have anything that you really enjoyed doing the most? MAHONY:
I believe being Sports Editor was the most likeable thing, because I spent many hours away from the office. On the other jobs, like City Editor and News Editor, I was pretty well confined. And I also had people under me like reporters to whom I gave assignments. I made photo assignments, and arranged times for certain stories, and gave assignments for interviews to be taken.
As a sports writer, I was pretty much on my own because I’d set it up and just get in my car. I’d make a note to the people at the Journal where I was going to be and to the phone operator so that she'd be able to answer calls for me and tell the people to call back at a certain time. So, that simplifies it in that department. I'd say that there are many functions that I could go to: basketball games, boxing shows, swimming, and golf tournaments.
As long as you’re talking along those lines, why, I'll take you back to 1932, before I was employed at the Journal. My dad took me to Cleveland Stadium on the opening day of the Stadium, July 31, 1932. The Cleveland Indians played Philadelphia. The big pitchers in those days were Mel Harder for the Cleveland Indians and Lefty Grove for the Philadelphia team. Lefty Grove was victorious, 1-0 on the opening day of the stadium. It was a great, fantastic game, attended by 80,000 people. It was a capacity house on opening day. So, that was a great event I can recall attending.
My dad and I went to the game on the train. There were excursions coming in from Chicago and Fort Wayne on the Nickle Plate Train. The train here pulled in at Twelfth and Broadway, and it stopped. We got on there and went to the Terminal Tower, and then walked to the stadium. It was a day long to be remembered.
There were other good things that I remember about sports. It was February 22nd, 1957, and the welterweight champion of the world at that time was Carmen Basillo. He later became a friend of mine. He wasn't at that time, but he is now, because I’ve been associated with him through the years. He was matched with the top contender whose name was Johnny Saxton. He knocked out Johnny Saxton in the title bout in the second round. Carmen Basillo was just all fire that night, and he just let him have it, and he continued to be the champion.
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This is part VI of an interview with Mr. James Mahony, for the Lorain Public Library Oral History Program, by Sheila Ives, at the Lorain Public Library, on October 22, 1988, at 2:00 p.m.IVES:
Mr. Mahony, welcome. MAHONY:
Thank you Sheila. IVES:
Just once again, restate your name and address, so we can make sure your voice is coming through loud and clear. MAHONY:
Jim Mahony, 3366 Reid Avenue. IVES:
Thank you, Mr. Mahony. When we last met, you were telling me about a welterweight fight between Carmen Basillo and Johnny Saxton. Could you tell me a little bit more about that? You didn't get a chance to finish the story. MAHONY:
Yes, that was the big build up. The bout was a match where Carmen Basillo's title was at stake, and the opponent was highly rated. It was at the Cleveland Arena and I had a ringside seat. I was right next to Jimmy Powers, the TV Sportscaster for Gillette Cable Cavalcade of Sports, so I had one of the best seats in the house. Basillo opened up from the first round, and he continued to give it full blast for two rounds. Near the conclusion of two rounds, the bout was terminated with a knock out and Basillo remained as the champion. IVES:
Did you know Carmen Basillo at all? MAHONY:
Yes. He was from New York State, a small community near Syracuse. An outstanding man. He's still in the area, and he stops in Ohio quite a lot. He usually makes a stop here in Lorain, I'd say, possibly three times a year. He has quite a following here in the community. IVES:
How long did his professional career last? Do you have any idea? MAHONY:
I'd say for possibly eight years, he held championship titles; he was a very impressive man. IVES:
What about the opponent? Did you know anything about him at all? MAHONY:
Not at all. I really didn't expect that he was really a contender. But there was no question about it. His ability and his record were good. I just wasn't that well acquainted with him. IVES:
How would you describe the crowd that was there that night? MAHONY:
It was a full house -sold out- and there was much enthusiasm from the word "go". They were evenly matched, so to speak, until Carmen got in a barrage of lefts and rights and a thundering blast and that was it. It was a big night for Carmen. IVES:
Do you feel that boxing has changed over the years? MAHONY:
Yes, it has changed in many ways. I think that on the local level, boxing has just about reached the zero stage. Most of it is due to heavy employment. People are busy, the youth of the community are busy with other things. Fortunately, many of them are going to college, or they have jobs in industry or other places.
Another thing that’s a factor is the gyms where the boxers would workout. It is very expensive to have a gym, and keep it properly equipped. You have to rent a building and equip it with pulleys, boxing equipment, gloves, and all the other equipment. Proper ventilation is also important to pass certain qualifications, and to be beneficial to the boxers. IVES:
What about in the Cleveland area? Is there still much of anything going on there? MAHONY:
Boxing in the Cleveland area is sort of at a slow pace right now. They had a bout recently, at the XI Convention Center and it went fairly well. It was fairly built up, although I'm not sure exactly what the attraction was. The boxers were scheduled for twelve rounds. At the end of twelve rounds, the count was taken as a tied bout. The officials agreed to have another round to see if they could break the tie, so they completed the thirteenth round and it was still a tie. IVES:
Do you remember who was fighting there? MAHONY:
Not really. The names were not that well known. IVES:
Well, what about the national level? What do you think about the current boxing scene? MAHONY:
The current boxing scene is pretty much like the areas around here. It’s not very popular. There was one lift to it around the time of the try-outs for the Olympics. That was a spark which comes around about every four years. But without something of that nature, things are not really up to what boxing fans expect. IVES:
Now what do you think about the high money these boxers today are commanding? MAHONY:
It's...pretty much way over their head, and the same thing is true with many athletes. I mean, that goes for professional football, basketball, baseball, and so on. To the average person, the athlete’s salaries are way out of line. As a result, the fans are paying because the ticket prices are so high. Then you need to park, maybe get a program, and refreshments. Everything is pretty expensive, so it's pretty much out of line for the average fan. And if you take, say, some member of the family, it requires a big purse of money. IVES:
Do you attend very many professional level sports anymore? MAHONY:
I haven't in recent years. Many times I’d go to the Cleveland's baseball games, and their football games; that was years ago. In recent years, I’ve probably been attending one or two games a year. And so, there really has been a decline. Another thing is that television coverage has gotten much better so the fan can enjoy it just as much at home as on the field. Although at home you don't get the true atmosphere of the fans and all the flavor of the crowd. IVES:
Are there any sports writers today that you respect and think highly of? MAHONY:
Oh yes. I have high respect for many sports writers, and the big papers. In fact, all papers. The New York Times, Los Angeles and Chicago papers, I hold all of those in high respect. IVES:
You wanted to tell me about some other important sport events that you had witnessed. MAHONY:
O.K. As long as we’re talking about boxing, I’ll just tell you about one more bout that I can recall. Sugar Ray Robinson, who was an outstanding man, had a gigantic following in the sports world. He was involved in a fight at the Cleveland Arena, the same place which held Carmen Basillo’s bout; this was another sell-out crowd. Sugar Ray Robinson and Jimmy Doyle. Doyle was a contender, and he made a very impressive showing. However, in late rounds, Jimmy Doyle was a victim of a barrage of blows to the head. He went down and was counted out. He was carried from the ring because he had some damage to his head or brain, and he was hospitalized at St. Vincent Charity Hospital. Unfortunately, he died the next day, and that was quite a shocking thing to the boxing world.
About two months later, Sugar Robinson was involved in another bout, from which he won $75,000.00. He gave the $75,000.00 to Mrs. Doyle who was the widow of the boxer who had suffered the fatal injuries. So, that was a good part of Sugar Robinson. IVES:
Do you think that any reforms are necessary for boxing? MAHONY:
Yes, to prevent some of these injuries? MAHONY:
Not really. Sometimes injuries occur if there’s some negligence along the line. For example, if a man is injured in a bout in January, and he sustained a head injury, he should not have a bout for 90 days. So, if he’s given another bout, maybe in 60 days or so, then that could be damaging to him. The rules are made to protect the boxers, and they’re really concerned about them, because they know the seriousness of it. IVES:
Who do you think has been the greatest boxer ever? Anyone? MAHONY:
From a standpoint of excitement and all, I'd have to say Jack Dempsey. He goes back to the 1920's. Of course, we can't overlook Joe Louis, because Joe Louis has been exciting all through the years. Muhammed Ali and so, those are the boxers who have created the big attraction all through the years. IVES:
Now what about at the local level? You were going to mention a basketball team? MAHONY:
Right. O.K. We can do with some local sports here. Talk about the 1923 Lorain High School Basketball Team. They played at Columbus for the State Title and they were victorious. As I recall, that's the only team from Lorain that's ever won a State Championship. As a result, this team was more or less kept together in the late 1920's; they were sponsored by the Lorain Lions Club, and they became a major attraction. They played all of their home games at the Hotel Atlers, and they drew capacity crowds; they were bringing in teams from Fort Wayne, Akron, Columbus, Dayton, Pittsburgh. They were just sensational. IVES:
O.K. So, we were talking about the 1923 Lorain Basketball Team from Lorain High? MAHONY:
Lorain High School. Later, they became the Lorain Lions Club. They were sponsored by the Lorain Lions. They were an outstanding team. I don't mean to dwell on it, but I can mention three outstanding players: Ralph Faris, Al Grendow, and Howard Ross. They were three of the outstanding players on the team.
While we’re mentioning sports, I think that it's fitting that we go into some football action, because we had some good football teams in Lorain. In fact, another star was Carl Hageman. Also we should mention George Daniel, who was Athletic Director at Lorain High School for forty-eight years. As a result of his success through the years, the stadium at Oberlin Avenue was dedicated as George Daniel Field. It's justifiable to pay that tribute to George.
Through the years, there have been many good athletes active in football. We had Ed Yeckley who was an industrialist in Lorain, but prior to coming to Lorain, he was a college football star. I believe in the early 1900's, possibly in 1906, he was an outstanding player for Penn State University. When he came to Lorain, he was extremely active in sports, and he also took an interest in encouraging football players to go to certain colleges. He’d back them and sponsor them and get them into various schools. As a result, many of the high school men from Lorain were guided properly. They were sent to prep schools to get additional training and then entered the college ranks.
Therefore, we had men like Carl Hageman, who was Captain of Harvard University Football Team in 1933. Later, we had Bill Reith who played with Carnegie Tech and was in the 1939 Sugar Bowl. He later played with the Cleveland Rams. This was prior to the age of the Cleveland Browns, and the Rams was a professional team that was noteworthy. There was also Hank Andorka, who later became active in the Boston Redskins, a professional football team.
Also at that time we had Stan Pincura, who was the younger brother of John Pincura. John Pincura was a football player at Penn State University and Stan was a quarterback at Ohio State University. Later, Stan became a member of the Cleveland Rams in the professional ranks. Sam Busich was another outstanding player. He played with Ohio State, and, as I recall, he was with the Detroit Lions for awhile in the professional ranks.
Possibly we could go back to some earlier days of bowling in Lorain. Some of the big names in the Bowling ranks were bowlers Alex Black, Hank Andorka, and Grant Copeland, who were very active in those days. We can also mention boxing. Boxing was quite an attraction in Lorain in the early days. We had a man by the name of Alvie Miller who was a featherweight, and he fought Johnny Kilbane, who was the Featherweight Champion of the world. He fought Johnny Kilbane on four occasions. One of the bouts was staged in Lorain. It was unfortunate that the champ won all four bouts, but Miller, on a couple of occasions, gave him a lot of competition. So, they were respectable bouts.
In later years, we had outstanding boxer, Louie Nickolette, who was a Welter Weight. He went on and had fifty bouts. He was successful I’d say in maybe forty of the fifty bouts. He was outstanding. To this day, he's still a resident of Lorain County. He lives in Elyria and is now in his seventies, possibly 77 years old.
We also had other boxers who were highly regarded in the boxing world. One was Wally Knitter who fought Johnny Clesh at the State Theatre in downtown Lorain. It was really a sensational bout. The place was packed. I wasn’t there, but my Dad attended, and he said it was a sensational bout. Wally Knitter was respected for many years because he was an outstanding boxer. Later, he was also involved in managing and training boxers. Then he became a manager and also a player in baseball. So, he was a good man for the community. IVES:
Is there anyone else there that you’d like to mention? MAHONY:
Possibly we could go on to say some things about basketball. We had some outstanding basketball men, such as John Ducar, who was known as the Duke, because he was sensational. He had a big following. Another one was John Skolnicki, a high scorer for Lorain High School for many years. He was outstanding. There was also Don Bonko, who played at Lorain St. Mary's and later went on to the Army. He was a basketball player and also a football star for the Army Military Academy at West Point.
Joe Carek was another man who hit the headlines many times. He was good in basketball, in football and was also a good bowler. Leo Bentley was another good one who attracted wide attention. Joe Bartos played with the Naval Academy Team out of Annapolis. Don Fritz was Captain of the University of Cincinnati, and later became coach at Admiral King High School.
Other names we could mention would be: Jack Millerick, Bruce Boehler, and Mike Campana. All these names have been popular through the years in the sports world. Dale Richert, George Simonovich, Jimmy Moon, Leo Pawlak, and Joe Bartos we covered previously. Another man who was prominent was Dick Olson. Dick Olson was captain and a lineman for the Annapolis Navy team. Joey Ujhelyi was a tackle for the Ohio State University in the 1920's and he was a very prominent man. IVES:
Do you keep in touch with any of these individuals who are still living? MAHONY:
Oh yes, I see them on many occasions, and they’re still around town. I mentioned about John Skolnicki, but his older brother, Bruno Skolnicki, was also outstanding. He is still around town. He’s active and many times I’ve talked to him, and we talk about the days of the 1930's and 1940's. We call them the Golden Days. IVES:
What has been done to commemorate these athletes that Lorain has produced? MAHONY:
In 1969, about five or six of us decided it was time to give some credit and some special recognition to the people who had been making headlines in sports throughout the years. We organized and sponsored the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame which inducts members annually. We had the good fortune that our idea had sufficient backing and got off to a good start. In 1970, we had our first banquet and we paid tribute to the men of all the years. We asked members’ families to contribute scrapbooks, records and other items of interest. If we didn’t have some records, then we went to the library and looked them up.
All in all, it has been very successful through the years. Fortunately, every time we’ve had a banquet, it has been sold out. We’d have possibly 640-650 people dining and we’d salute the athletes. IVES:
Now, who was involved with you on this committee? Do you remember the other individuals that were on the committee with you, that formed the Sports Hall of Fame? MAHONY:
Yes, Paul Baumgartner, Hank Kozloski, Ed Cinniger, and there was a man from the Chamber of Commerce, J. Ed Uland. I believe that was about it. IVES:
O.K. How had these men been involved in sports? MAHONY:
Ed Cinniger was an outstanding player in the 1930's for Lorain High School. Then, later, he became active in the school system in Lorain and was a coach. Baumgartner was a sports writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Hank Kozloski, was a Sports Editor at the Journal. He was a Lorain native who played football in the 1940's at Lorain High School. Later, he graduated from Ohio University. Then he went to Lockport, New York, and became a sports editor there. He then returned to Lorain, his hometown. He returned as a sports writer and later became a Sports Editor.
J. Ed Uland, from the Chamber of Commerce, was part of the committee because he was a man who was a good organizer. The Chamber of Commerce, as you well know, is a group that can get things pretty well organized. So J. Ed was a big help in that. IVES:
Where is the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame located? MAHONY:
The headquarters is at the Chamber of Commerce. They have trophies and various things located at 329 West Tenth Street. That's the headquarters for the Lorain Parks and Recreational Departments. Steve Bailey is the Director of Parks and Recreation. Many of the records are there. Some of them, however, are still at the Chamber of Commerce. IVES:
Now, how are members chosen for the Committee for each year? Did they serve a one-year term. . . or how is that decided? MAHONY:
Meaning the members of the Sports Hall of Fame Committee? IVES:
We have about a 23-man board. I call it a board, but actually it is a membership of the Sports Hall of Fame. They meet monthly to choose potential inductees. Names are submitted at each month’s meeting and with the last entries for the following year’s enshrinement being turned in by about the end of September.
For each athlete entered, data is collected from their relatives and from other records: scrap books, school records and clippings of all kinds. Certain committee members are assigned to the entrant and they study the information. Later, they vote on each entrant. Usually, the election is held in February and the banquet is held in April or May. The availibility of the speaker generally determines the date of the banquet. IVES:
Do you remember any of the speakers in particular? MAHONY:
Oh, yes, we have had many outstanding speakers. In fact, Lorain has been lucky to have recruited outstanding people. The speakers have been really off the top shelf. We had Art Modell, the big man of the Cleveland Browns in 1970. He was the kick-off of the whole thing. The following year, we had Don Meredith. IVES:
Another football star? MAHONY:
Yes. A very good football star. An Olympic standout of 1936; his name was Jesse Owens, a Cleveland native and outstanding athlete. In 1948, when Cleveland won the World Series, we had Bill Veeck, the general manager and owner of the Cleveland Indians. And there was George Steinbrenner, who the owner of the American Ship Building Company in Lorain. Steinbrenner was a great follower of sports, and he took an interest in Lorain Sports Hall of Fame. George said to us on a few occasions, if you’re in need of speakers, maybe I could be of help. At one time, it was 1974, he really came through. He had Whitey Ford, and Phil Rizzuto, two outstanding Yankees on the same evening. Normally, one Yankee would be outstanding, but he brought two. Phil Rizzuto brought the house down. That was really a sensational evening.
One year we had another baseball star, first baseman, Bog Powell. He had a great sense of humor and he was sensational all the way through. Then we had John Wooden, who’s a number one man on the West Coast. He was a basketball coach on the West Coast and was highly respected. Speaking of basketball, we also had Digger Phelps, basketball coach of Notre Dame, and he was well received, too.
Another year we had Sam Rutigliano, who was at one time the coach of the Cleveland Browns and Rocky Blier, a big ground gainer for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Carmen Basillo, the man we mentioned earlier as being an outstanding boxer, he was our main speaker in 1982. We also had Bill Reynolds, who was a football coach; football player, Mike Pruitt of the Cleveland Browns; then Ben Davidson, Pat Corallis, and Bob Lanear. IVES:
O.K., we will continue our discussion about the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame. You told me there was another individual you would like to mention in regards to the Hall of Fame. MAHONY:
Yes, in 1971, we had an enshrinee in the Sports Hall of Fame, Al McConihe. Al McConihe was an outstanding player for many years in Lorain and then he went on to the College at Wooster. At Wooster, he set records so that actually, right to this day, he’s on what is what they call an all-time team for Wooster College in basketball. That’s how well he’s remembered. Fortunately, he had a son, by the name of Tom McConihe. He was also an outstanding basketball player, and he continues to be very active in the sports scene. IVES:
Now, you yourself were inducted into the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame, isn't that correct? MAHONY:
Yes, that's correct. In 1981, I had the pleasure of being inducted. In fact, I'll tell you that Earl Andrews, a quarterback for Lorain High School, was inducted the same year. Earl Andrews was the quarterback at Lorain High in the 1930's and late 1920's too, I believe. Another one was Don Fritz, who was later Captain at Cincinnati, and Kritty Calmeier, who was a basketball, football and baseball player. Calmeier was an all-around star. Jimmy Moon was also enshrined. He was the National Featherweight Champion of the Golden Gloves, and was managed by Michael Bulzommi. So was Leo Pawlak, another outstanding athlete. So, I had the good fortune to be in the same class as all of these athletes. IVES:
Have you continued to remain actively involved in the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame? MAHONY:
Oh yes, I continue to be actively involved. I attend meetings, when it's possible. Many times the meetings are at noon, and I'm busy sometimes at noon with my own job, but they understand that. IVES:
You mentioned that they have a banquet every year. Do they usually have it at the same location. MAHONY:
Yes. It’s usually at the Lorain Party Center on Leavitt Road, because of the accommodations available. As I mentioned earlier, the attendance is usually in the field of maybe 640 to 650. I believe that’s about the largest hall in this area, at least that’s what we’ve found. IVES:
Now, you’ve certainly have been involved in a lot of other organizations here. Maybe you could speak a little bit about how you got involved with some of these groups. I see that you are a member of quite a number of different ethnic groups here in Lorain. You’ve got here, for example, that you’re a life member of the Polish Fishermen's Club. Do you remember how you became involved with that group? MAHONY:
Actually, I’m not a fisherman but it's a good group and they're very active in the community. They do many good things, and I knew many of the members so they just said Jim, how about if you get in the ranks? I said, "Why certainly. I'd be honored to." IVES:
Do you go to their meetings? MAHONY:
I really haven't attended their meetings, but they send me newsletters. I'm in contact with the minutes of the meetings and all that. It's rare when I attend a meeting. IVES:
Now you’re also a member here of the Post One Italian American Veterans? MAHONY:
Exactly. That's been a group that many people I’ve known through out the years; they organized it after World War II. Dominic Esposito was one of the big organizers, along with Hoss Kisslo, who is the present commander. Then later, we had a man come in from Buffalo. He moved here with the Ford Plant. His name is Dominic Buccillo, and he has been a very active man. He’s the past commander, and he’s good for the organization. IVES:
Do you attend any of their meetings? MAHONY:
No, I’m not on that basis. I’m just more or less a life honorary member. So, actually, I don't have to attend the meetings and become a voting member. IVES:
Are they located at any specific place? MAHONY:
Yes, 4567 Oberlin Avenue. IVES:
And what about the Polish Fishermen's Club? Do they have a regular place where they meet? MAHONY:
They meet regularly at the United Polish Club, usually in the lower hall. IVES:
And where’s that? MAHONY:
Seventeenth and Long Avenue. IVES:
O.K. and let’s see. You’re a life member, it says here, of the United Polish Club? MAHONY:
Yes, the United Polish Club. That's at Seventeenth and Long Avenue. I've been a member there for, I'd say, possibly eighteen to twenty years. In fact, they just celebrated their Seventy-fifth Anniversary, and the membership is 1,600. It's one of the largest groups in the community. IVES:
What is their basic function? Do they have any particular purpose? MAHONY:
It’s more or less a social group. They have weekly dances, mostly on weekends, and they bring in bands from Toledo, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Youngstown, and Cleveland. So, it's quite an attraction for the music lovers. IVES:
Do you like to dance? MAHONY:
Not in my later years. I was a dancer. I was sort of a Class B dancer, but never Class A. I was striving for Class A, but I never made it. IVES:
Well, let's see what else you have here. It also indicates that you’re a life member of the Polish Americans Citizen Club. Is that different from the United Polish Club? MAHONY:
Yes, definitely. These people organized about fifty years ago, and they stressed American citizenship among the Polish ranks. They took an active part in that. They were interested in having people vote, and become good citizens of the community. It's commonly known as the P.A.C.C., Polish Americans Citizens Club, but in order to simplify it, they just say P.A.C.C. Their membership continues to grow yearly. They have a good organization with events for children and family groups, and things of that nature. IVES:
And do they have a specific location? MAHONY:
Yes. Twenty-eighth Street and Caroline Avenue. IVES:
Now, you're also a member of the Lorain Liedertafel Club. MAHONY:
Liedertafel Club. Lorain Liedertafel Club is the oldest Club in the community. That was founded in the 1800's and it's located at Twenty-third Street and Kelly Place. They have a singing society, upstairs, where they meet about every Monday. They have singing groups that practice, and they welcome new faces to join the singing group. Downstairs they have their tavern, their meeting rooms, and a pool hall. It's an active organization. IVES:
Is there a particular nationality of the club? MAHONY:
O.K. Let’s see you’re also a member of the Saint Lad Social Club? MAHONY:
Yes. Saint Lad Social Club. That's been in recent years. It’s a group that started several years ago. I've been a member for the last seven or eight years. It’s located at 4221 Clinton Avenue. The club has a nice facility, especially for summer outdoor events in the warmer weather. They have a pavilion that attracts many, many people and different organizations because the parking facilities are good. IVES:
Is Saint Lad’s Club a particular nationality then? MAHONY:
Hungarian mostly. IVES:
Well, let's see, what else have do we have here? You’re an honorary member of the Lorain Fire Fighters? MAHONY:
Yes. That’s right. The Lorain Fire Department presented me with a plaque, and the plaque includes a fireman's helmet and some other credentials that make me an honorary member of the Fire Fighters. I’m very happy about that, because that's a good group. IVES:
Do you remember when they gave you this award? MAHONY:
I'd say five or six years ago. It was at a membership meeting of the Fire Department, the active firemen and the retirees. There was a nice social function that night. IVES:
Let's see, you’re also a member of the Lorain Fraternal Order of Police Associates? MAHONY:
Yes, that is a group whose membership continues to grow, because there are many retirees. I receive monthly magazines from them, and also letters. I'm aware of what their activities are going to be and they invite me. IVES:
Are they located at any place in particular? MAHONY:
They have most of their meetings at the American Legion, and that's at 1112 West Erie Avenue, Post 30. IVES:
You are also a member of the St. Peter Church and Holy Name Society? MAHONY:
Yes. That is correct. Holy Name Society. I have been a member of the Holy Name Society since probably the 1960's. Prior to that, I was a member of the Holy Name Society at St. Mary's Church, but with the growing of the community, a new church, St. Peter’s Church, was developed. The Bishop of the Cleveland Diocese set new boundary lines for the parishes, and the new boundary line for St. Mary's Church was North of West Twenty-third Street; if you resided south of West Twenty-third Street, you automatically became a member of St. Peter’s Church. I was and still am residing at 3326 Reid Avenue, so that made me a member of St. Peter’s Church. IVES:
Ok, so that’s how you ended up there. Let’s see, you’re also involved with the American Heart Association? The NorthEast Ohio Affiliate? MAHONY:
Yes, that is an organization with headquarters in Cleveland. They hold quarterly meetings. I had been active in the early 1980's. I was active in the organization along with Dr. John Schaeffer, who is a cardiologist. But in recent years, I haven't attended their meetings. They have not notified me of any of their meetings in Cleveland. IVES:
So, how did you get involved with that particular organization? MAHONY:
I had open-heart surgery in October of 1981. A four-way by-pass, and that was more or less the first step in that organization. Fortunately, I had a good recovery. IVES:
Where did you have your surgery? MAHONY:
The surgery was at the Elyria Memorial Hospital. IVES:
Had you had a heart attack? MAHONY:
Yes, I had a heart attack one day while I was working. It was during the morning, and I had chest pains. Pains down both arms. I felt that something was not normal. My wife came to the Journal, and she picked me up and took me to the doctor's office. The doctor ran some tests on me, and he said to call the rescue squad. So, the Fire Department Rescue Squad responded, and they took me to St. Joseph Hospital for immediate care. They were prepared to keep me going. After a few days, I was transferred for surgery to the Elyria Memorial Hospital. So, it worked out in the long run. IVES:
Well, I am very glad you had good care and a good recovery. MAHONY:
Yes, good recovery. Also, I have had tremendous care at the Community Hospital...Lorain Community Hospital, because I’m part of the rehabilitation program out there. They send heart patients through different phases, phase 1, 2 or 3, depending on the steps as you recover from the heart surgery. So, I’ve been, in recent years, a member of Phase 3, and it has been working out very well. IVES:
Now, is that the highest level? MAHONY:
That's the highest level of recovery. That’s where you can jog, lift weights, and work out daily. You can take your choice of a morning class at eight o'clock in the morning, or at four in the afternoon. There’s usually twenty to twenty-two in a class, of all ages - possibly from forty to seventy years old. IVES:
Well, it's good that you’re keeping up with your health. MAHONY:
Thank you. IVES:
Let’s see what else we have here. What about the Lorain Moose Lodge - 552? MAHONY:
Lorain Moose Lodge. I’ve been active in that through the years. I became active in the Moose Lodge when they were putting on boxing shows. They were sponsoring boxing shows on Broadway. They had their headquarters next to the Palace Theatre, on the second floor of the Palace Theatre Building, on Sixth Street and Broadway. The Moose Lodge had their room adjacent to the Lodge rooms. They could accommodate a crowd of maybe four to five hundred people for boxing shows and they were doing a good job.
As Sportswriter, I became active in the Moose Lodge. However, I didn't continue my activities in the Lodge. In later years, I became active in other groups, or my duties didn't permit me to continue to be active. So, I stepped down, but then in more recent years, was active again. However, I haven’t been an active member for the past couple years, but they still send me newsletters, and tell me what their activities are. IVES:
Where are they located? MAHONY:
713 Fifth Street. IVES:
Now you certainly belong to quite a number of organizations. How would you describe your social life? MAHONY:
My social life is pretty good. In fact, my wife sums it up this way. If I tell her in the evening, "I'm going to the V.F.W. (that’s the Veterans of Foreign Wars)," she'll say, "That's all of the alphabet that you’re going to tonight?" She calls them the alphabet clubs. (V.F.W., P.A.C.C., U.P.C...) and various things. So, that's the way she summarizes it.
I’ve been active in the V.F.W. Post War 451. I believe I became a member in October of ‘45, after the conclusion of World War II, and then I continued for a few years. My membership lapsed for awhile, and in recent years I’ve been an active member again in Post War 451, of the V.F.W. IVES:
Where is that located? MAHONY:
That’s located at 4562 Oberlin Avenue. IVES:
So, you keep yourself busy then with all of these activities. Are there any individuals from these particular organizations that you feel are really involved in Lorain? MAHONY:
Well, yes. Many individuals are deeply involved. All the nationality clubs are involved in Lorain; we have a Polish Mayor, Alex Olejko. He was active in the United Polish Club for many years. The club members are extremely active in the community affairs. We also have the "International Festival" which was organized twenty years ago. The International Festival has been an asset to the community. As a result, these various ethnic groups have been super active. It’s good for the community and good for the clubs. To say one individual is more prominent than another would be unfair. IVES:
So can you tell me anything about the "International Festival?" Have you been involved in that at all? MAHONY:
Actually, I was involved in the first phase of it because the editor of the journal at that time was Irving Leibowitz. He came to us from the Indianapolis Star Journal. This was, I would say, about 1966. When he came to Lorain and got involved, he knew that we had fifty-five nationalities in the community. Many of the nationalities were having their individual parties during the summer. One weekend would be Hungarian, next week it would Polish, and the next week would be Slovenian.
As a result, he said, "Let's take this group and make it one big solid body." So, we organized the fifty-five nationalities into a group to have one big affair, and we called it the "International Festival". That's actually how the thing developed. Being a member of the Journal, and being City Editor and News Editor at the time, I became involved in the early stages. It's been good for the community and also good for the participants. IVES:
What are some other activities you’ve been involved in? You were on the Board of Trustees, in 1955 to 1986, for the Journal's Mary Lee Tucker Clothe-A-Child. MAHONY:
Would you like to speak about that? MAHONY:
Yes, O.K. I’ve been a member of that for many years. The Journal as a whole has been active in this. In fact, the Mary Lee Tucker Program got started when the Journal was located on Seventh Street. There was a lady by the name of Rhea Soper Eddy. She was Society Editor of the Journal and she also took this job on herself to help families that were needy. In the late twenties, we had a depression and many families needed clothes and food. She took it upon herself to write stories so that people would donate cash, and drop off boxes of food and clothing at the Journal. It all worked out so that they could help the needy. Many mothers would come and bring their children. They would outfit them in sweaters, trousers and shoes and things like that.
So, through the years, it has continued. They put on talent shows at the Palace Theatre, and they’d usually draw a capacity crowd. The capacity at the Palace Theatre is 1,800. So, they were doing pretty well in that respect. In recent years it has become a contribution program, where the Journal kicks off a campaign, usually just about Thanksgiving time. They ask for contributions, and it’s been wide spread, even in areas like Huron, Norwalk, Sandusky and from all of Lorain County.
It’s been growing from year to year. As a result, there’s a Mary Tucker who supervises people to take the needy ones shopping. They take them to various department stores, and they outfit them in shoes, coats, gloves and various apparel that they need to take the chill of winter away. It has been very successful. IVES:
A very worthwhile cause. Who was this Mary Lee Tucker? Was she an actual person? Do you know? MAHONY:
No. There was, to my knowledge, no person actually known as Mary Lee Tucker. The original Mary Lee Tucker that I know was Rhea Soper Eddy. And how that name was determined, I really don’t know. IVES:
Now, what was your role as being on the Board of Trustees? MAHONY:
We just had a meeting prior to the campaign and got it organized. We made sure that the facilities were available in the Journal building for the Miss Tucker, where she and the people that were to work with her could set up office space. Also, we had to prepare stories from day to day to keep the readers informed how the campaign was going.
It was usually along about February when they got the final figures in on expenses for clothing and various things like that. Then we would have another meeting; we’d have a final tally and see how much we spent, and how many families were taken care of. So, it really boils down to about two meetings a year. A starter and a finisher. IVES:
Now, have there been certain individuals who’ve been in charge of this? I think you had mentioned a woman at the Journal that had started this. MAHONY:
So have there been any other individuals? MAHONY:
Yes, we’ve had many young ladies. I can recall when Linda Nardini was active as Miss Tucker, and also there was a girl by the name of Petticord who was active. I can't think of the Petticord girl’s first name. IVES:
Were these members of the community? MAHONY:
They were members of the Journal staff. However, the present one is not a member of the Journal staff. Her name is Jean Howard. Jean Howard is Mary Lee Tucker. She is not a member of the Journal staff. However, she works closely with the Journal staff and with the people who are members of the board. IVES:
Let’s see some other awards here that you have received. You were voted, "Best Lorain County Citizen" in 1985 at the Amherst Potato Festival. MAHONY:
True. That's exactly right. I believe that as members of the committee had a vote, my name just happened to be tossed in for discussion. I just happened to come out the winner. I was quite honored, and I was in the lead car in the parade or so, and went waving and jubilating at the affair. It was a three-day festival. IVES:
You were also recognized for volunteer duty by the Lorain County Easter Seals Society. MAHONY:
Mary Jean Bloom was the head of that, and I was active in that, mostly by writing stories. They gave me recognition for my time spent writing and preparing stories. It was nice. Nice honor. IVES:
How did you get involved with the Easter Seal Society? MAHONY:
Just by making acquaintance with...she’d come into see me on occasion and many times would call me up about affairs that they were having: activities about wheelchairs, repairing wheelchairs, and the need for new wheelchairs, and Easter Seal Campaign. So, it all worked out, hand in hand. IVES:
And you were also a blood donor for several years for the Lorain County Blood Bank. MAHONY:
And you went to other hospitals as well? MAHONY:
Yes, true. IVES:
So, you’ve really been involved in all kinds of different types of clubs. MAHONY:
Yes. Because of my age and my surgery in 1981, I wasn't permitted to carry on any longer as a blood donor. IVES:
Now, you did receive some military honors that we should mention. The first one listed here is the European African Middle-Eastern Service Medal with Six Bronze stars, and a Bronze arrowhead. MAHONY:
Well, how this comes about depends on how you serve in the various areas. Your service record shows where you served. For example, I served in Casablanca, which would be the North Africa Campaign. So, I received a ribbon for that. Later on, I was in what they called the Rhineland, and Germany and France, and other places. As you go from area to area, you get ribbons. I also had a medal given to me for the invasion set in France, in 1944. I believe that's about it. IVES:
Do you remember what year you got that service medal? MAHONY:
It was possibly in 1944. After the invasion was set in France. IVES:
And how would that have been given to you? Was there a ceremony or... MAHONY:
I don't recall that there was a ceremony, no. IVES:
You were also honored by the U.S. Air Force, in 1965, for consistent and devoted service to the Air Force, and you’ve been involved in Air Force Recruiting. MAHONY:
Right. Exactly. As a result of that, I wrote stories about recruiting. Also, as a result, the Air Force said to me, "At this time, at Lackland Air Base, (that’s near San Antonio, Texas) we have forty-eight men from the Lorain area. We feel that the forty-eight men are all one platoon, so we call it the Lorain County unit. We’d like very much for you to see these men in the military ranks. You’ll be a guest to the Air Force, along with Mayor John Jaworski, who was active in recruiting. They gave me permission to become sort of a member of the Air Force for a week’s time or so, because we were guests. We were unofficial members of the Air Force.
They had a flight out of Cleveland for us, just the two of us, and we went down to San Antonio and Lakeland Air Base. We stayed there for about seven days. We’d go out to the various activities they had, for example, where these men were training. We’d go out and see them, and then at night they’d take us around and show us other things. They took us to Austin, Texas one evening and things like that. They kept us busy. We stayed at the Officers’ Club, and we had good quarters. That was just a thank you for cooperating, and helping them out in their recruiting. IVES:
Well, then, you were also honored in Lorain as Veteran of 1986? MAHONY:
True. There are fourteen veterans’ organizations within the Lorain Veterans Council; they have meetings and they also vote for who the Veteran of the Year might be, who’s been helping them out, and who’s been active. So, I just had the honor.
It was a banquet, and it came to me as quite a surprise, because they don't actually announce it in advance. They just announced it as part of the concluding of the big meeting. It’s usually a full house, whenever they have their meetings. They rotate the meetings from, say the Disabled American Chapter, to the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, I.A.V. Hall. They rotate it from year to year. The vote was that I had the sufficient points to become the number one man. It was quite an honor. I was really happy about that. IVES:
Yes, I bet it was. Now, since there are so many groups and activities listed here, is there anything that we’ve missed? Are there any clubs or organizations that you belong to that we’ve missed? MAHONY:
Not that I can recall. Well, although I am not a member, sometimes I go to the Slovenian Club. I am permitted to go there as sort of an unofficial member of the Slovenian Club. There are other nationality groups in the community, but I think we’ve pretty much covered them all. IVES:
Do you basically keep your activities? MAHONY:
Another one is American Slovak Home, the American Slovak Club. That’s at 2915 Broadway.
Return to Index
This is Part VII of an interview with Mr. James Mahony, for the Lorain Public Library Oral History Program, by Sheila Ives, at Lorain Public Library, on November 2, 1988, at 2:30 p.m.IVES:
Mr. Mahony, would you state your name and where you’re working now? MAHONY:
Yes. I’m Jim Mahony, I’m employed at the Lorain Journal. IVES:
Thanks, Mr. Mahony. When we were last talking, you were mentioning some of the clubs that you belonged to, and one of the last ones you mentioned was the Slovak Club. Could you tell me where that’s located, and what kind of activities they have there? MAHONY:
Oh, yes. The Slovak Club is located at 2915 Broadway. Years ago it was called the American Slovak Home, because at that time they dealt primarily with the membership, and in later years we had expanded into becoming a dining hall and a bowling establishment. For that reason, they changed it from home to club. So, that made it American Slovak Club. That, more or less, took the privacy out of the title. It became more or less members, and the public was also welcome to partake in their dinners and also their bowling activities. It’s been super active. IVES:
How often do you get over there? MAHONY:
Oh, possibly once or twice a week I just drop by. Sometimes I just stop into the bowling alley just to look around. Other times I drop in and have a few drinks. On occasions, I’ve been there for fish on Friday. IVES:
Sounds like a nice place to go. Now you had also mentioned the Slovenian Club, and I forgot to get the address of that. Where is that located? MAHONY:
Slovenian Club is located at 3114 Pearl Avenue. That's in the heart of South Lorain. The organization has been well established. I’d have to say that it has been there for possibly seventy-five years. IVES:
Okay. That’s quite a while. What kind of activities do they have there? MAHONY:
They have what they call jamborees on Sundays in the afternoon, possibly from two o’clock to five o’clock. They feature several bands, not every weekend, but possibly one weekend out of the month. In addition to that, they have their clubrooms operating and members and guests visiting seven days a week. Many times on weekends, they have their fish dinners on Friday; then on several weekends they have such things as steak fries and other nationality dishes. It’s well attended. IVES:
You also wanted to mention something about the Amvets Post 47. MAHONY:
Amvets Post 47 is a very active outfit. They were organized after World War II. At the present time the Commander is Al Urbanek, who was the Commander of 1988. Prior to that, the commander was Dale Livingston. Dale Livingston has been a prominent man of Lorain County. He’s a native of Lorain. He was a graduate of St. Mary's High School in 1933. He’s been active in the political field, because he’s been a member of the Lorain County Board of Elections. At the present time he’s a retiree from the Board of Elections. IVES:
How often do you get over to the Amvets Post? MAHONY:
Amvets...possibly once a week. IVES:
Where is the Post located? MAHONY:
Thirtieth and Broadway. IVES:
Thirtieth and Broadway. Any other clubs you want to mention? Anything else that you think you’ve left out?
MAHONEY: Well, not really… IVES:
Why don't we turn a little bit back to your career at the Journal, and talk a little bit about some of the other things that you’ve done there. You mentioned being City Editor and Sports Editor, and you’ve written a daily column called Mahony's Memos. Could you give a little background on that? MAHONY:
Correct. I had a column that was just with my name, Jim Mahony. At one time, the editor, Irving Liebowitz, said to me, "Jim," he said, "that’s a good column. However, maybe we could go a little step further. Maybe we can have a name put on it, in addition to your name." I said, "O.K. Irv, I’ll suggest it to my wife and see what the two of us can come up with." So, my wife came up with the idea of Mahony's Memos. IVES:
When about did you start doing this column. Do you recall? MAHONY:
Possibly twenty or twenty-two years ago. IVES:
Had there been anything similar to it before that? MAHONY:
Yes. In the Journal, we had what we called the "Log of Lorain". That was a staff effort; that is, all members of the staff contributed. Frequently, while they were on their beat, they’d have a conversation about what happened the previous night, some social event or something that occurred. It didn't have to be social, it could be something else. As a result, the reporter would come in with those notes and type something out to be inserted into the "Log of Lorain".
So, the information came from many sources, because the beats in those days were City Hall; Police; the downtown beat, which involved from the Nickel Plate tracks north to the lake, including the Chamber of Commerce; and many organizations and attorneys’ offices along the way. We’d stop in and get news and also make some brief stops at the banks.
From the Nickel Plate tracks south and east, approximately to Twentieth-eighth and Fulton Avenue was called the Central Lorain Beat. That included the Central Lorain businessmen and other various organizations and business establishments that were newsworthy, plus St. Joseph Hospital. The Thew Shovel, the Steel Stamping Company and Nelson Stud Welding companies, all those organizations were newsworthy.
Then, east from Twenty-eighth and Fulton Avenue, all that became the South Lorain Beat. That involved the South Lorain Businessmen's Association, plus many industries in South Lorain including the big one, the National Tube Company. Later, it became known as the U.S. Steel and at the present time, it is known as U.S.X. of the U.S. Steel Corporation. IVES:
Was anyone in charge of that particular column? MAHONY:
It was handled by the City Editor at that time. They consolidated and the space would be available. Many times they’d have a column that basically would be a twenty-two inch daily column. IVES:
Now you had mentioned there were various beats that the reporters had. Do you have a similar system today for covering the news? Or how is it done now? MAHONY:
It’s similar, but basically they’re not covered to that point. I mean, now we primarily cover council meetings, school board meetings and other functions. Take, for example, a meeting of the Central Businessmen's Association. If it hadn’t been covered, but people were aware of the meeting, they’d make contact the next morning with an officer. Then they’d find out actually what happened at the meeting. Sometimes, they’d have proposals that would later be coming before city council, and that way they’d get a little edge on it. That could involve the South Lorain Businessmen, Central Businessmen or the Chamber of Commerce. IVES:
Now, for those people that aren’t familiar, could you describe what "Mahony's Memos" is? What kind of column it is? MAHONY:
It deals with all ages. Primarily, I have events that take place in Vermilion, Huron, or Avon Lake. The column involves the entire circulation area of the Journal, which includes: Lorain County, Erie County, Huron County and portions of Cuyahoga County. So, on that basis, I have a pretty good input. Many people phone me with ideas. They also mail postcards and letters; and many people come in to see me from time to time. So, their input is the core of the operation on many occasions.
However, I have to draw a line sometimes because I feel that many of the items submitted to me belong on what we call the living page. That’s more or less the social page of the paper. It is primarily about female organizations so, for that reason, many times I take them and just pass them on to the girls that are in charge of the living page. IVES:
Now, in addition to upcoming events for clubs, do you have any other types of features in your little column? MAHONY:
Oh, yes. I have school activities. I have things that involve students who are going to compete in Columbus or Dayton or Akron for various honors. I include that because the school board sends me a lot of information through the school advisors, and form various other school departments. Sometimes they give me details on the Student Council representatives and elections, and so forth. So, I carry those, because that’s an important thing.
There are also various activities, say, along the lake front which involve boating. For example. I accept those events and things that deal with the Great Lakes Historical Society activities. There is the Black River Historical Society, for example, or the Lorain County groups, such as the Black River Astronomical Society. They have meetings about once a month in LaGrange. They always keep me informed of speakers they’re having and what the program will involve. IVES:
I also noticed that you sometimes have birthday or wedding anniversary announcements. MAHONY:
That's very true. That was my idea when I started. Well, names are the important thing in a column, and it just happened that it worked out that way. I receive many calls from time to time. Also people mail me letters and cards. They put down birthdays and wedding anniversaries. Frequently, I ask them, are they employed? So, that way the reader will read that Sally Smith is having a birthday. I'll clarify for them who Sally Smith is. She's a hairdresser at such and such beauty parlor. Or something like that. Or she might be employed at Lorain Products. That way it gives them a pretty good idea who Sally is. IVES:
You also have a trivia question in there occasionally don't you? MAHONY:
Right. I call that the Nostalgia Test. IVES:
Where do you get your ideas for that? MAHONY:
Many times I go to books or to television and movies. On many occasions, I go to the Lorain Public Library and look up some data like that. Also, I've had the good fortune through the years to have many sporting books. Sometimes my son Pat supplies me with books on baseball and football, and that’s very helpful. IVES:
How do you feel about doing the column? MAHONY:
Good! It’s no effort whatsoever. Some days I really look forward to it because I feel that people get a little charge out of it when they see their name in print. IVES:
How long does it take you to get the column together? MAHONY:
I'd say about two hours each day. That's actually preparing it. In addition to that, I have to allow time for calls and visitors. So, it’s a little more than two hours. I'd say with all told, about three or three and a half hours. IVES:
I also noticed that on Sundays you have a historical feature. Can you give a little background on how you got started doing that? MAHONY:
Well, it just happened that I have had some ideas. The Journal is on microfilm, like most newspapers are. I look back on the microfilm, and I see that the microfilm that we have at the Journal goes back into the 1800’s. On occasions, if I happen to think of something, like the underpass under Broadway (that’s the present construction now for the Broadway Underpass, at Twelfth Street), I could look up a file on the microfilm. It showed that about sixty-six years ago, the first move was taken on the underpass under Broadway. It was taken by the Chamber of Commerce, by the City Council, and by the Railroads. They were all putting their heads together, thinking that this is the thing to do. Actually, all through the years, it's never "gelled". So, on one occasion, I prepared a story about that, that this project has been talked over for many, many years. Actually, I had the original story, where it went back to the Nickel Plate Railroad, and it’s been a topic of discussion for a long time. IVES:
So, when did you start doing theses historical features? Do you recall? MAHONY:
Possibly, I can recall, that it was about 1965, 1966-along in there. IVES:
Was it someone's suggestion that you do this? MAHONY:
I believe it was the editor, Irving Liebowitz, who said that there could be added interest in giving a little history of the community. He was also interested because he was a newcomer to Lorain. He came to us from Indianapolis, and it was beneficial to him to see how things originated here. IVES:
Now, are you still doing that column? MAHONY:
Not really on the historical basis. I do it sometimes on historical points, but in recent months, I’ve been dealing with individuals and organizations. I believe that I can give you an example. A recent column I did was on Stanley Orlowski; he has been an artist around town for a long time. I call him an artist because he paints gigantic signs for organizations that are having functions, anniversaries, or meetings of some type. He has a wall of posters that are many times injected with a sense of humor. And so, I featured him because, as recent as two weeks ago, he was honored at Tom's Country Place, where the Knights of Columbus and the Shriners had their annual dinner. Because of Stanley's work through the years and his cooperation, they presented him with a special award. As a result, I made that my feature the following Sunday. So, that went into another category.
Also, the previous Sunday, I prepared a story on Paula Scrofano, who was a graduate of Lorain High School. She is now a mother of two children and lives in the Chicago area. She’s been more or less very prominent in theatre work in the Chicago area. And she’s been more or less given a high award for her presentations. She met her husband while he was a student at Northwestern University. He was and still is also involved in theatre work. I feature things like that. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Scrofano, live on Garfield Boulevard in Lorain. So, they supply me also with information. I give them a call and they update me. IVES:
Well good. Now, what exactly is your status at the Journal? Are you semi-retired? MAHONY:
Semi-retired is correct, and I am listed as a columnist. IVES:
So about how much time do you actually put in at the Journal itself? How much time are you there in the building? MAHONY:
Maybe four, four and a half hours a day. That goes for five days a week, and then it’s also maybe two hours on Saturday and two hours on Sunday. IVES:
Now, when did you go into semi-retirement from the Journal? MAHONY:
February 1, 1988. IVES:
And what made you decide to do that? MAHONY:
The new ownership came in from Princeton, New Jersey, the Ingersoll Publishing Company. They took over in August of 1987. They were moving various members of the staff, creating different positions on the staff, and at that time they checked my records and found out that I was seventy years old. They said that I was in a retirement status. That’s the way they wanted to treat me. So, I said, "Well, that’s perfectly, alright." So, they termed it semi-retirement. IVES:
Now, you had also kind of maintained the files there for awhile didn't you? MAHONY:
Yes, that’s true. Library duty. For many years, I was in the library helping out. That’s the place where you’re talking about historical things and about stories prepared on Sundays. Well, that was another avenue for me. While I was working in the library, I came across many things that gave me an idea. I’d say I have to check that and maybe get a little more depth on it.
The readers responded pretty well to the historical stories. I’d get a pretty good input from the people that had their names or names of their relatives appear in the paper. When they’d read the name, they say, "That was Charlie. He was my grandfather or he was my uncle." So, they’re really happy about that. IVES:
Now, when people think of a library they usually think of a place which has books sitting neatly on shelves. What does your newspaper library look like? MAHONY:
We have many revolving drawers of file clippings. Everyday, the newspaper is clipped; we have things that are what you would call continuing stories. I’ll just give you an example: council meetings might have something that would deal with the Marina Development, or the Lakefront Development. So, you’d know what was going to be a story that would be continuing through the years. Automatically you make a file, like on the Lakefront Marina. From that time on it just builds, builds, builds all the way through. Also, you have files on the Fire Department, or the Police Department and even on individuals. Professional men, politicians, school board members, teachers and various things of that nature, community leaders in general. IVES:
Now you are also sort of a goodwill ambassador for the Journal, and when new employees arrived...could you talk a little bit about your role? MAHONY:
Well, it is nice of you to say that. Sheila, I'll have to tell you that that has happened on a few occasions. I can recall that we had a man come from Pennsylvania and his name was Bill Scrivo. He came to us on a weekend. The editor at that time said, "Jim, you are acquainted with the community, and we have a new face coming in, and he is going to be with us for several years, we hope." So, Bill Scrivo, arrived on Saturday afternoon. I met up with him, and, as a result, I took him to my home. We had a little gathering in the backyard; my wife had an evening meal for us, and we had some chilled drinks to cool us off, because it was a summer evening. After that I took Bill out around the community, and showed him the Steel Plant and the Thew Shovel Company, Nelson Stud, and took him to the west side of town and showed him many things out there, out along the lake. We spent the evening pretty much doing that.
The next day was Sunday so I spent some of that time with him too, to show him various things in Lorain County. I took him over to Elyria and showed him the courthouse, downtown Elyria and then down around Wellington and Oberlin. Oberlin was important because it was the college community, and he was aware of that because he was a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. So, all in all, we had a full weekend, and Bill said that he enjoyed it. It gave him a pretty good background on what he could think about or be acquainted with in years to come.
There was another occasion where we had a man come in from Chicago and this was also on a Saturday about noon; I was working then as City Editor. The Journal was then on Seventh Street. Sam Horvitz was the owner of the paper. He said, "Jim, when you complete your job on today's paper, and the press is rolling, after you come back from lunch, I would like to introduce to a new member of the staff." So, I came back at two-thirty, and we had a meeting; he introduced me to the new staff member. His name was Ed Lapping. He was retired from the Chicago Herald American, and had held a high position at the time of his retirement.
So, Sam Horvitz brought him in, and advised me. He said, "I hope your social events aren't too heavy this weekend Jim, because I’d like to impose on you a little. This man would like to become acquainted in the next day or so with the operation before he moves into his new post on Monday morning." So I said, "Okay, I’ll see to that." So, I went along with the proposal and I took Ed around; I showed him the main places of Lorain County and it worked out very well. He appreciated it because it gave him a good insight on what to expect and that way he got to see the sprawling steel mills. That was an eye opener for him. He said he has known about steel mills in other places, like Gary, Indiana, and that but he said Lorain was an all-new chapter. IVES:
As a result of taking these two men around, did you maintain friendships with them? MAHONY:
Oh, yes, definitely, yes. It was fine. In fact, I am still a friend with Bill Scrivo, who’s a resident of Amherst. IVES:
What is he doing now? MAHONY:
Bill Scrivo is associated with the Oberlin News Tribune. Also, he works on a part-time basis, as a public relations man for Amherst Hospital. On several occasions, I would get press releases from him, and also photos that he’s taken. Ed Lapping was with the Journal for possibly four or five years, and, as I recall, he left to accept a position with The Buffalo News. I had a few letters from him after he got to Buffalo, but his whereabouts today are unknown. IVES:
Now, you mentioned today that you just recently found out that you are going to have a profile of yourself in the "Senior Years"? MAHONY:
Yes! Just a couple of hours ago, I received in the mail a copy of the "Senior Years", and it was really quite a surprise, because it said that I am a man of gusto. Which I guess that probably speaks pretty well, because I am seventy-one years old. IVES:
Who wrote that story? MAHONY:
Bill Scrivo. IVES:
So, you have maintained a good connection there over the years? MAHONY:
Yes. Bill Scrivo, and also his wife Joanne have been good friends, because for several years, she was a correspondent for the Journal at North Ridgeville, and later she became a columnist. She was writing the Hotline for the Journal, which was a well-read portion of the paper. Now Joanne is an employee of the Better Business Bureau in Cleveland. IVES:
So, you kept in touch with them over the years. You had told me some stories about some people. Well, there was one in particular, about an individual who started working at the Journal. Well, actually, before he even started, he didn't have a very pleasant introduction to Lorain. Would you like to say a little bit more about him? MAHONY:
Oh, yes. I can recall, Sheila, the one you’re probably referring to. He was a man that came to us in the morning. He had read an ad in the Editor and Publisher; that is a newspaperman’s magazine and there was an ad in there that said there was a job open at the Lorain Journal. So, in replying to the ad, he came into see Frank Maloy, the editor. It was about ten o'clock in the morning when this man - and I will call him Charlie, because that was his first name, Charlie arrived. He arrived at about ten in the morning and Frank Maloy was quite busy with the operation of that day’s paper. IVES:
You were telling me about a gentleman who was set to begin work at the Journal, do you want to continue with that? MAHONY:
That was a busy time of day at the Journal, because our press time was about 1:30. Frank Maloy, the editor, said, "Charlie, I could talk to you for a few moments now, but I want to have a more involved conversation about 1:30. Can you stop back"? Charlie, said O.K. Frank then suggested that in the meantime he could just take a walk around the avenue, and get to see a few of the sights. Charlie said O.K.
At 1:30, there was no return of Charlie. Frank Maloy went to lunch and later came back. He asked the staff members, "This new man that was here, has he returned"?, and they said, no. There was no sign of him. So, that was it.
The next morning the Police Chief called. The Police Chief at that time was Theodore Walker. He called Frank Maloy, and he said, "Frank, I want to verify something with you. We have a man down here who was in jail over night. We have him as a suspicious character". He described him and Frank said, "Oh! That’s what happened. I had an interview with him yesterday morning, and I told him to come back at 1:30". The Chief said, "Well, he didn't make it to 1:30 because, at about 1:00, we had reports of him being a suspicious character; he was standing at Sixth and Broadway, and his actions were noted as being suspicious by some of the shoppers that were going by. With the location of Harts Jewelry Store, the two banks, other businesses in the area, these people figured, this man is a strange face in the community. They notified the police. "
"The police took the same attitude as they approached him. They couldn't recall his presence in the community, so they decided to confine him." The Chief said, "We still have him here, Frank". Frank said, "Well, that is our man. He was in here yesterday morning at ten o'clock, applying for a job as a reporter". He said, "I know the man is a good character, because I checked him out before he came here. If it is possible, just turn him loose, and I will take the responsibility for him." So, Charlie was turned loose, came to the Journal, and was interviewed. He became a reporter. IVES:
Now you yourself had kind of a brush with the law, didn't you? MAHONY:
Yes, but before I go into that, I will tell you more...a concluding chapter on Charlie. IVES:
Charlie told me that he sensed that the people looked upon him as being a little bit suspicious. Then the police arrived a few moments later. He said, "I thought, ‘I know I am innocent, and this is an opportunity to write a good story.’ So, that’s exactly the way it went. I just went along with it. I knew I would not be harmed in any way; I felt quite secure about that." So, the first story that he prepared was, "My Welcome to Lorain". Charlie was quite a guy. Oh, yes!
I did have an occasion with the law, ...it was sort of an unpleasant experience to a degree. It so happened that I was at Erie Avenue...well, in fact, that was the heart of the downtown section, which at that time was called the Loop. I was standing on the corner at Heilman's Restaurant, which was a restaurant and nightclub. They had many activities going on around the clock. As I was standing there at about 3:30 in the afternoon, a police cruiser pulled up and it was Lt. Bob Hirbe. He said, "Jim, come over." I went over to the police cruiser, and he said, "Do me a favor. We are having a police line-up, and the man we have in question is just about your size. You would be very helpful to us if you could join us in this. You just show up at the police station; Inspector Vernon Smith will take care of you, and also Detective Bill Reed over there, and they will see that you get in the line up."
So, I cooperated, and about forty-five minutes later the line-up took place; there were about seven or eight men. Some of them were inmates they had brought them up from the jail because they were of similar size to the man they had. They also had the suspect on the line-up. All the lights were directed in our area, so that when they gave a command to front-face, or to turn right, turn left, and about face, and this and that, they got full view of us. After that went on for about fifteen minutes or so.
You see, that same Saturday morning, about 1:15 a.m. there had been a hold up at the Steel Mill Tavern, in the Twenty-eight block of Pearl Avenue. The Steel Mill Tavern was a busy spot for businessmen, for some of the professional men, and for steelworkers. For about eighteen hours a day, it was a pretty busy spot. In the lower chambers, the basement, so-to-speak, they had a place they called Barboot Game. It was a gambling game, and it involved money. At times, it was a pretty good sum. On this particular occasion, two men had gone in with machine guns. They went down into this lower basement. There had been quite a group of participants down there in this Barboot Game. After their machine gun tactics, the men had come out with $5,000.00, and they fled the scene. Later on, in the police chase, the one man was apprehended. The second one was at large and was free. But the one they had brought in was confined, and he had been brought up for the police line-up. This was what the whole thing was all about, and they were trying to pinpoint this man.
So, they had some of the people who had been victims of this machine gunner. They had them out in the gallery there, more or less to identify the machine gunner. As the questions went on and they viewed us after we had turned about, and face, and this and that, why the one man in the audience said, "There he is! I know him, there he is. I know who he is. I know that is the man! There is no doubt about it." He then pointed to me, Jim Mahony and I was quite surprised. I was the only one in the police line-up that was identified as being the machine gunner.
So, a few moments later they were all dismissed and I was kept there. I was quizzed by Vernon Smith, and Bill Reed, and they questioned me about my whereabouts. I told them that I was with my girlfriend, who later became my wife. I told them we had been out doing a little night clubbing, so-to-speak and, at approximately 1:00 a.m., she was driving me home in her car. I lived at 1120 Oberlin Avenue which, at that time, was just two blocks north of the Nickel Plate Railroad Crossing.
I said, "I can tell you exactly when it was. There was a train that was due from New York-Cleveland, and was headed for Fort Wayne, Indiana." I continued, "Being on schedule, that train intersected at the crossing of Oberlin Avenue at about 1:00 or 1:05 a.m. We had stopped at crossing as the train passed through the intersection." I said, "That will give you an idea that I was not at Pearl Avenue at 1:05. I was stopped by a train." Then my wife later, after the train passed through, drove me to my residence. I got out of the car, she went on her way, and I went in the house. Even so, they still felt that I was not entirely clear. Although they knew me throughout the years as being a newspaperman and all, they still said, "Jim, we could still see the possibility of your being picked up by some man, some friend of yours, taken from your home, and after a twelve minute drive you would be at the scene at that exact time. I told him, "No way." So, they turned me free, and I was put on the clear.
Later, I would say about three or four weeks later, I just happened to meet Inspector Smith at one of the cooling spots that we have in Central Lorain. I stopped in there for a few drinks, and I happened to meet him. I said, "I am curious. Can you tell me who identified me in the police line up?" He said, "Oh yes, Jim. I can tell you that." He said, "It was an unfortunate thing...it was nice that you cooperated with us to be in the police line-up. The man, he's is a businessman in South Lorain." I won't tell you the man’s name right now, but he was a friend of mine. Not overly friendly, but I was acquainted with him through the years. And he pinpointed me as being the machine gunner. His vision was not 20/20. IVES:
So, I take it that you have not volunteered for any another police line-ups have you? MAHONY:
You are exactly right, Sheila. IVES:
Well, hopefully, that is the only brush that you have had with the law. In that regard at least. MAHONY:
Exactly, true. IVES:
Before we get off the topic of the Lorain Journal, I just want to ask you to just briefly comment about some of the editors you have worked for. Just brief your impressions of them. MAHONY:
O.K. I can recall, my first editor, Frank Maloy. He came to us in 1924, and that is a coincidence, because in 1924 there was a major story in Lorain, the Lorain tornado. There were about 86 deaths and 1,000 or more injured in the tornado, which struck at 5:00 on a Saturday afternoon, June 28, 1924. Frank Maloy was the editor at that time and he had been in Lorain just a short time. On that particular weekend, his wife was in a Youngstown hospital - I believe it was called St. Elizabeth's Hospital. She had delivered a son and that was the first child for the Maloys. So, Frank, on that Saturday, after the press roll, went to Youngstown to see the new baby. And he told me that on Sunday morning he went to the newsstand, and he picked up the paper, the Youngstown Vindicator, and the Pittsburgh paper, and they had headlines saying an Ohio City had been leveled. The tornado had ripped through Lorain. It told about the disaster, and the loss of life, the loss of property, and the extent of the damage.
So, he said, he went immediately back to the hotel...or to the hospital, showed his wife, and he said, "Dear, with a story like that, I can’t be away much longer." He kissed his wife, and his son Richard, and said, "I’ll be back in a day or so to see you." So he headed back for Lorain. He said he had great difficulty getting back into Lorain, because the Ohio National Guard had moved in and they held him off at the city limits in Sheffield Lake. He said, it took me a few hours to identify myself and get clearance to get back on the job, so he was a little late in reporting. He felt that that was one of those big things that happened, and it was a big story and yet he was away from it. So, he had to do some catching up. IVES:
So, what kind of person would you say he was? MAHONY:
A very nice man. On several occasions he had parties at his own home on Waverly Place. 108 Waverly Place was near the banks of Lake Erie, and he would have staff members out there on a Saturday evening. In those days, we didn’t have a Sunday paper. So, the editorial staff, after about 2:00 on Saturday afternoon, would sort of ease up except for sporting activities and some social things that were probably being covered, as well as some church activities. But, aside from that, there was not that much weekend coverage. So, sometimes on Saturday night he would have parties out there for the members of the staff.
He was a nice man, and he was a churchgoer; he was good for the community and his family. His son Richard became a member of the editorial staff. He graduated from the University of Michigan; he also had a daughter Joanne, and another daughter Molly, and they were interested in newspaper work too, but not to the extent that Richard was. Richard became a newspaper reporter at the Journal and later moved on. At this moment, I believe he is employed by the Thompson Newspaper Syndicate in Washington D.C. IVES:
Now, how long did Frank Maloy serve as editor of the Journal? MAHONY:
He was editor of the Journal through 1951, and I recall that he had died in the first week of April of 1951. He had some internal problems, and a touch of cancer. IVES:
Was he still editor when he died? MAHONY:
Yes. He was still editor when he died. In 1951, when he died, we had an editor brought in from the Mansfield News Journal; that was the sister paper of the Lorain Journal. Malcolm Hartley was the man who was brought in; he was Sunday editor of the Mansfield paper, and was well qualified as the editor. Hartley was a fine resident of the community, and he was editor for many, many years. He lived on Lexington Avenue...824 Lexington Avenue, and later his son, Joel Hartley, became involved at the Journal, as well as his daughter-in-law, Joel's wife. The newspaper ink was in their veins. Although they were not members of the Editorial Department, they were members of the Production Department, both Joel and his wife. IVES:
And so how long did he serve at the Journal as editor? MAHONY:
I believe he served as editor for about eight or ten years, and then Ed Lapping came into us as editor. Then Wayne Jordan, who was a professor of Journalism at the University of Maine, came in as editor. We also had a man by the name of Ed Themak, who served a short time as editor, I'd say possibly three months, then he was given a job with General Electric at Nela Park. That is an area in Cleveland, Nela Park. From about that time, there was Irving Leibowitz, who came to us in the mid-60's from the Indianapolis Star, a Scripps Howard paper. Irving Leibowitz remained with us until the time of his death, which was about maybe ten years later. IVES:
What kind of a man was he? MAHONY:
Irving Leibowitz was a community-minded man. He was deeply interested in Lorain; he felt that this Lorain had special meaning because of the 55 nationalities involved in this community. At that time, on the weekends from spring through summer, each ethnic group would have outdoor festivities at various places. There would be a Polish weekend, a Slovenian weekend, a Slovak and so on. It was Irving Leibowitz’s idea to organize the various functions into one big festival. He suggested the name of "International Festival". It would be one big celebration, possibly a week-long celebration and that’s exactly what happened.
To this day, I believe we have reached the twentieth anniversary of the International Festival. It’s usually something that takes place about the last week of June or the early portion of July and it involves all 55 nationalities. IVES:
So, that was a nice thing that he helped get started. MAHONY:
Yes. True. IVES:
Who replace him then after he died? MAHONY:
John Cole, our present Editor. He is a native of Springfield, Ohio. He came to news as a young man, and he was a good newspaperman when he came to us. He’s a graduate of Dennison University. He came to us with a good record and was doing an outstanding job. He was appointed Editor, and, to this hour, he is still the Editor. IVES:
Who would you say had the most influence on your career in Journalism? MAHONY:
Well, I'd have to say that it goes back to the early stages. Two men, in the early stages would be Frank Maloy and Irving Leibowitz. They were at a time when I was more or less going through many changes. I mean, I was Sports Editor and News Editor, and a columnist, and things like that. So, those people really had a strong bearing on my development. IVES:
How would you describe your relationship with the Lorain Journal over the years? MAHONY:
It has been quite harmonious. I'd say that we had good years. The only time that I have been absent is through surgery, or things like that, and I have had a couple of surgeries. Aside from that, why, my presence has been 100%. IVES:
What advice would you give to journalists who are starting out today? What words of wisdom do you have? MAHONY:
I'd say the most important thing in Journalism is to research your subject, because you must have depth, and you must have some knowledge of what you are writing about. That is the basic thing. You have to get more or less to the core. Another thing is that you must be accurate. Accuracy, spelling…time is also vital. Many times, times are important on stories, and on some other stories they are not. Many times, time is a factor in determining the real importance of a story.
Another thing with which they must become acquainted is the style of interviewing. I mean, they must be more or less mellow, you might say, in their conversations with people, that they just don't cut them short, that they’re warm to them. They should give them a handshake, and meet them at least half way. Don’t say "Well, I’m a newspaper guy, and it’s important to me that I get it and get out of here". I am sure that it is important that you meet your deadlines, but, at the same time, you must have a little diplomacy, you must treat these people with respect. And that way you will get a better story, and they’ll give you just a little deeper story, and you will get the facts that way. IVES:
What do you think are the rewards of Journalism? MAHONY:
The rewards of Journalism are...well, many times now with the way things are going, the rewards are that you can get into other phases of communication. In the days when I started it was newspaper, newspaper, but now there are many avenues. It is a great opportunity when you’re a newspaperman, you can also spread into other fields of communication (radio, television). Many things are there for you, and so the limitations are actually unlimited. No limitations what so ever. It’s what you make it. IVES:
All of that stuff sounds like very good advice. I just want to ask a little bit as well, before we hit another topic, is there anything else that you would like to say about your experiences at the Lorain Journal, or about the paper itself? MAHONY:
I'd say that the through the years, the Journal has been highly respected, because they have had good staffs. They have been very accurate in their reporting and they’ve more or less treated the people on an even keel; they didn’t cater to one side or another. It was strictly down the middle, and that’s how newspapers are to be because you have readers of all types. When the reader has an open mind, he wants to read a paper that is writing and preparing stories with an open mind, and is not slanted in any way. IVES:
Could you also speak a little about recollections you have of some important political figures in Lorain? Do you have any particular memories of some of the Mayors or... MAHONY:
Well, through the years, my father was a city employee. In 1907, my dad was hired as a stationary engineer at the City Water Works. He was an employee of the city of Lorain from 1907 until 1956. That gave him employment of 46 years. During that time, being a city employee, he was interested in attending council meetings. By attending council meetings, he became a little closer with the City Administration and the mayors through the years. Many times he would be talking at the family table discussing things that took place on his job, or what took place in council meetings. So, these names became part of the family conversation.
I was born in 1907, and in my early days, I can recall that I became a newspaper boy at the age of ten. I was a newspaper boy for the Lorain Journal and my route was downtown, so I became interested in people, too. I had attorneys, doctors, other professional men and businessmen, coaches, and teachers at Lorain High School on my route. They were my customers. So, I became interested in affairs although I was a young tot. I would deliver their papers, and collect their money on weekends, Saturdays and that. So, I got to know them.
In the 1920's we had men like Mayor Standen, and Mayor Grall; in the 1930's we had Ed Braun, and Joseph Conley, who was also superintendent of the American Ship Building Company. We later had Harry VanWagnen, who was a banker at the Lorain Banking Company. He was a very active man. He was a sportsman and a bowler; he was Mayor of Lorain for six years.
Then we later we had a man by the name of Patrick J. Flaherty, who was well acquainted in the community with many people because he was a motorman, a streetcar motorman. Being a streetcar motorman through the years, he had a big following of friends because he had streetcars that were operating throughout the city. So, he got to know many people that way, and he was also a warm hand-shaker.
Later on we had John Jaworski, who was Mayor of Lorain for five terms. That was a total of ten years. In those days, the mayor was a two-year term. John Jaworski started as a councilman. He was the third ward councilman. He was later a president of City Council. Then a big step, he was mayor for ten years.
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This is Part VIII of an interview with Mr. James Mahony, for the Lorain Public Library Oral History Program, by Sheila Ives, at Lorain Public Library, on January 10, 1989, at 2:15 p.m.IVES:
Mr. Mahony, would you like to state your name, and where you are working? MAHONY:
Yes, Sheila. Thank you. I’ve been employed at the Lorain Journal for fifty-three years, and everything seems to be going well. Now I am a Journal columnist. IVES:
Thank you, Mr. Mahony. When we were last talking, you were recounting some of your recollections of Lorain's past mayors. We had ended up talking about Mayor Jaworski. John Jaworski, is that correct? MAHONY:
Yes, you are correct. Mayor John Jaworski. He was an impressive man in the community. He was a long time steelworker; he had a good job on the docks, and in addition to that, he was a councilman. He came up through the ranks. At one time, he was Council President. Later, he became Mayor of Lorain. He has a unique record, because he’s the only man in the history of this community to be elected to five consecutive terms. He served as Mayor ten years.
In later years, we had men like Woodrow Mathna, who also came up through the ranks. He was a fourth ward councilman who also became Mayor. Bill Parker was a councilman of the seventh ward. He was also quite a sportsman. He was an outstanding hockey player. Many times he’d be performing at Lakeview Park, or at the Cleveland Arena. I believe he competed in some matches at the Cleveland Arena. So, he was an outstanding man.
In later years we had Joe Zahorec, who was also quite impressive as a Mayor. Unfortunately, Joe was a victim of an auto accident, and that terminated his career. He was succeeded by Alex Olejko, who is the present Mayor of Lorain. IVES:
Where you a personal friend of any of these mayors, would you say? MAHONY:
Oh yes. In fact, being a reporter for the Journal for many years and a City Editor, I’d attend council meetings. On many occasions I would cover the council meetings. In addition to that, I’d also meet these men at social gatherings, at the Nationality Clubs. So, I became quite well contacted. Good, good friendships. IVES:
Do you have any particular memories of any of them? MAHONY:
Not especially. They’re just all unique guys, and special, good people for the community. IVES:
Do you have any dates for when some of these Mayors served? Do you recall about the dates? MAHONY:
I believe that J.C. Standen, served about...well, I'll take you back to the tornado. There was a man by the name of Mayor Hoffman. I believe his name was George Hoffman. He was serving in 1924. That was the year when the tornado hit, in June of 1924. So, he had quite a depressing term, because we had some very, very dark moments. But the record of the Mayor yet was outstanding under those conditions.
We also had Mayor Braun, E.A. Braun, who was an officer in, I believe, the Peoples’ Bank. J.C. Standen was also a Municipal Judge, and I can recall Joseph Conley, was Mayor about 1930. Joseph Conley, in addition to being Mayor, was also the Superintendent of the American Ship Building Company which, in those days, was a pretty good on-going company, and he had double duties. The mayor and number one man at the shipyard. IVES:
And about for how long did he serve? Do you remember? MAHONY:
I believe two years. IVES:
Okay and then you mentioned Harry Van Wagnen? MAHONY:
Harry Van Wagnen. Yes. Harry Van Wagnen was quite a sportsman; he was a good bowler and he was also a teller at the Lorain Banking Company. At one time, he owned a service station at the Loop. He was Mayor of Lorain, I believe, for three terms. It seems to me that he was mayor during World War II. At the termination of World War II, Harry Van Wagnen was Mayor, and Admiral King came back for a victory parade in Lorain, and he was welcomed by Mayor Harry Van Wagnen. So, that is pretty well the time basis on that. IVES:
Since you mentioned Admiral King, had you ever met him personally? MAHONY:
Not really. That’s one person I missed out on because, when he came back to Lorain for the victory party, I was overseas at the time. I’d been overseas for thirty-four months for World War II. It was, I believe, in September, early September when he was in Lorain. I arrived home in mid-October of ‘45. So, I really missed connections with him. But that was one man missed, and he was like Lorain's number one citizen. He still is. IVES:
Now, what about Charles Berry? Did you ever meet him? MAHONY:
Oh, yes. Charles Berry. I knew him when he was a student at Clearview High School. He was a Congressional Medal of Honor winner and was a very, very impressive man. And, I should say a youth, because he was a young man when he was in the Army. Also, his parents lived on Missouri Avenue in Lorain. He was an outstanding man. IVES:
Did you know him well, personally? MAHONY:
Not really. I didn't know him that well, but I did have a few contacts with him. IVES:
Now let's see. I think the next Mayor that you mentioned was Patrick Flaherty? MAHONY:
Yes. Patrick J. Flaherty. He was an outstanding man. He just had a warm handshake and a big smile. He was known throughout the community, because he was a motor man on the Lorain Street Railway. We had streetcars in Lorain until May 1, 1938. On that date, streetcars went by the way and were replaced by buses. Employers’ Transit Bus Line took over. But Patrick Flaherty had a major input on the community. He was a good man with a warm heart. IVES:
Now, was he a friend of your family? It sounds like he was Irish? IVES:
Yes. He was a friend of my father for many, many years. He was 100% Irish, and he was a good man. IVES:
Did he ever come over to your house that you can recall? MAHONY:
I can recall that he did come over to the house, because my dad was an employee of the city of Lorain for forty-six years. He was a stationery engineer at the Water Works and my dad would attend many council meetings. And prior to being mayor, Patrick Flaherty served several terms as city treasurer. So, being a city official, my dad would see him at council meetings, and there was a strong friendship there. IVES:
Now, was he first generation Irish? Do you know? MAHONY:
I really don't know. Sorry. IVES:
And about when did he serve then? Do you have an approximate date? MAHONY:
I believe he served from about 1946. I believe it was January of ‘46. He served three terms, which took him up to about 1952. Then John Jaworski took over about that time. IVES:
And then you said that John Jaworski served how many terms? MAHONY:
Five terms. Five two-year terms. IVES:
So, he ended up when, what date? MAHONY:
About 1962 is when Jaworski stepped out. IVES:
Okay, and then who succeeded Jaworski again? MAHONY:
I am inclined to think that it was Woodrow Mathna, and Bill Parker, John Jaworski, and Alex Olejko, in that order. IVES:
Well, you’ve had quite a vantage point over the years to see Lorain develop. How has Lorain changed over the years? MAHONY:
I believe the big change in Lorain came about when the population, as I recall, was around 44,152. I can remember those figures 4...4...1...5...2. For a long time, and then after World War II, and in that period about 1947-48, things just began to mushroom. They were going well. Thew Shovel was going well. National Tube Company, later known as U.S. Steel, was doing very well, American Ship Building Company was booming, Nelson Stud Welding was doing well. It just seemed to be that everything was a glow. So, the community was on a fast rise, and the population increased. At one time, I believe, the population exceeded 80,000. Now, as I recall at this moment, I believe we’re at about 75,000. IVES:
So, during what particular period would you say Lorain was most prosperous? Do you have a certain time frame for that? MAHONY:
To my knowledge, it would be Post War II. It was an era there that just seemed to boom, and things were going well, and it was for a long period of time. IVES:
Now, when did you see a sort of a reversal of this prosperity? MAHONY:
I’ll have to say there wasn’t a reversal of prosperity. However, I’ll have to point out to you that in 1958, the community got a major transfusion. That was the year when the Ford Motor Company opened, and they opened this massive plant that’s still going strong. In fact, they’re going better and better. The plant was opened on Baumhart Road, and continued to expand. The employment rate is really going. So, that’s been a plus. I'd say that possibly, if anything, we leveled off because at one time, U.S. Steel employment was probably at 13,200. Right today, I believe the employment is 2,600. However, many of those workers have been absorbed into the Ford Plant.
Another thing that came about with the development of the Ford Plant in Lorain was that many new residents came in. I personally know men that came here with the Ford Company from Buffalo, New York, and also from Somerset, Massachusetts, and other eastern cities. They were experienced men, and Ford moved them right into Lorain and they became good people of the community. IVES:
How do you feel about Lorain? MAHONY:
I’d say that it’s a city of the future. There’s one thing right now that seems to be the key to it, and I hope it works out okay. That’s the proposed casino. The casino, under the guidance of Alan Spitzer and Dennis O'Toole, will work with a great combination. They’re already doing a great job on the lake front, and they’re so successful on the Lake Front that I feel, with their intense work throughout the years, that the casino is going to be successful. IVES:
Well, how do you address the people that are saying that it will bring a lot of crime into the area, and cause a lot of problems that way. MAHONY:
Well, I’d have to say...we’d have to give it a trial. Let's give it a shot for five years and wait and see what happens. Just because crime has developed in other communities, you really can’t say that’s going to be the story in Lorain. Other communities have been updated on security and on crime waves, and things like that. They have new ways that they can offset those things. It is much more updated then it had been in other years. IVES:
What would you say are Lorain's weak points? MAHONY:
At the moment, you’re sort of catching me off guard on this. I really don’t see a weak point. There are many pluses in the community. I’d say at the moment, as I see it, things are going quite well. IVES:
What would you like to say then are Lorain's pluses? What would you say to someone that either didn’t know the area or heard bad things about Lorain? What would you like to say to people about Lorain? MAHONY:
I would say that, number one in Lorain, we‘ve had very good, many good years with the education in the community. That goes for the public school system, and also for the parochial schools. We have many parochial schools, including the big one, Lorain Catholic High School. All public schools in Lorain have been good, athletically, and also strong in the classroom. That proves it because we’ve had many people that are successful in the business world in other communities; there have also been many graduates that go on to college. Then, with their connections in college, they get key jobs in other communities. Many of them come back to Lorain, too. IVES:
Do you have any other points about Lorain that you think make it a very attractive community? MAHONY:
The fact that Lorain has 55 nationalities makes it a super community. It’s this city, it’s a boiling pot, you might say the boiling pot of the world. With fifty-five nationalities, there is a lot of togetherness. We still are having International Festivals, and have had them since about 1969. That alone...the harmony and all the good fellowship spreads out over the year. So, the festivals alone speak very well.
Another thing that’s a plus for the community is that we have many churches in Lorain. Of course, that’s understandable with all of these nationalities, but that’s good for the community. People are spending time in churches, and they’re spending time with church organizations. We need more of it. IVES:
Now, you had mentioned about the casino being a good idea, to bring about some positive things for Lorain. Do you see any other changes that are necessary to revitalize Lorain? MAHONY:
As I mentioned a few moments ago, the waterfront is rapidly being developed in Lorain. Now that’s a point that’s been neglected through the years. I’m not blaming anyone in particular, but in recent years, people have fully realized, what a lakefront really means; now Lorain is going great guns. So, we’re a little late in starting, but what they’re doing already is paying off. The lakefront is an asset. IVES:
And what do you think about the downtown area? What do you think needs to be done with that? MAHONY:
I feel that men like Carl Gumina, who has had many interests and developments in the downtown area, will continue his good ways, with his rebuilding of the Broadway building. He’s already developed the Meridian Plaza, a shopping area that’s a very popular spot downtown. With Carl being available and ready to do things, it’s good for the city. Then other leaders in the community are going to say, well, he is successful, we’re going to follow the same trend, and I think that’s the whole thing. IVES:
Ok, now you mentioned the Broadway Building, for those who might listen to this interview or read the transcript, where exactly is that located? MAHONY:
West Erie Avenue in Broadway. It’s on the corner, and for a long time, that area was known as the "Loop" downtown. The Loop Streetcars would come in there, and there was a loop where they could turn around on North Broadway, and that’s known as the loop area. That was the big business area through the years. IVES:
And what about Meridian Plaza, where exactly is that located? MAHONY:
That’s in the four-hundred block on West Fourth Street. Just west of Broadway, about one block west of Broadway. IVES:
Ok, now that we’ve talked about Lorain, why don't we turn a little bit and talk about your family. I am sure that they have played an important part in your life, and we do not want to forget about them. So, why don't we start first with your wife. You’ve already told us a little bit about her earlier, but if you’d like to expand and say a little bit more about her at this point. MAHONY:
Fine. That’s good, that’s a very good idea, Sheila. I appreciate your thoughts. I was introduced to my wife on November 6, 1940, and at that time, why, things were working out very well. Within a few weeks, I was introduced to her parents. Marie Meesig was a native of Norwalk, Ohio. Her dad was Martin Dunlap, a native of McKeesport, Pennsylvania.
Like many steelworkers from the east, they came to Lorain when the big development came with the National Tube Company. So, that’s the way Marty Dunlap came to Lorain. In his years at U.S. Steel, and National Tube Company, he was superintendent of the hot end, the seamless mill. That was a very responsible job, and he was there for many, many years. IVES:
What did he do on that position? What was the hot end seamless mill? MAHONY:
Hot end, seamless mill was when the pipes came out in their final stages. They were checked in that hot condition for any flaws that there might be in the pipe before they sent them through the final stages. So, it was analyzing the pipe, in the effort to make sure things were just right and that the pipe was of the proper texture. IVES:
And how long did he work there? Do you recall? MAHONY:
I believe forty-one years, and it was terminated with his death. IVES:
So, how old was he when he died? Do you remember the date? MAHONY:
I believe he died in 1955, and he was about fifty-eight years old. So, he started at the mill about when he was sixteen or seventeen years old. Young man in those days. IVES:
What do you want to say about his wife? MAHONY:
Oh, yes. Marie Dunlap, she was active in many organizations in the community. She was an officer in the Elk’s Club. Thirteen Lodge...Elks Lodge 1301; they had the Emblem Club, and they also had the Ladies’ Auxiliary. She was president of the Emblem Club on several occasions. IVES:
Do you remember where those clubs were located? MAHONY:
Yes. The Elks Club was located at 203 Sixth Street, just a half block west of Broadway. It remains in that location at the present time. She was also involved in the Saxon Club, that was a German Club in Lorain, at Twenty-ninth and Apple Avenue. The location still remains the same for the Saxon Club. It’s still active, and she would enjoy going there because many of her friends and associates were there.
She was active when they resided in South Lorain. At one time, in the early stages, they lived on Clinton Avenue, which was near St. John's Church. So, they were members of St. John's church. Later, when they moved to Reid Avenue, the thirty-three hundred block on Reid Avenue, they were members of St. Mary's Church at Eighth and Reid Avenue. So they had their moments where they were active in the church, and also active in community activities. IVES:
Ok, you had mentioned something called the Emerald Club? Is that correct? Or did I misunderstand? MAHONY:
The Saxon Club. IVES:
Oh, the Saxon Club. MAHONY:
That’s a Transylvanian Club. Actually, they’re Germans. Basically, they’re of German descent. IVES:
How would you describe them as people. How did you feel toward them? MAHONY:
The Germans... IVES:
No, your in-laws. MAHONY:
Oh, very nice. I’d say that from a sociable standpoint, they were good entertainers. They enjoyed going to events like various sporting events: baseball games, football games, the Cleveland Browns, the Cleveland Indians. Being a Sports Editor at the Journal, I was deeply involved, too. So, our thinking was pretty much alike. In later years, when television came along, we also enjoyed watching it on television. We had many things in common.
But, being active in large groups, I was a member of the Elks. So, we’d have functions and activities at the Elks. My wife would attend with me, and her mother and dad also would attend. So there was quite a lot of togetherness. On occasions, her dad would take a few, probably a stag group, four or five of us would go to Pittsburgh to a football game. . . probably to see Carnegie Tech, or Pittsburgh. Then we’d probably go to Notre Dame and see Notre Dame play in South Bend, Indiana. So, there were many good things that happened. Sometimes, we would go to Ohio State to see Columbus play...or to see Ohio State play. IVES:
Well, it sounds like you were very compatible. MAHONY:
Right. Exactly. IVES:
That’s good. Now, when did your mother-in-law die? Do you recall? MAHONY:
She died at the age of eighty-four, about four years ago. IVES:
Oh. Had she been in fairly good health up till that time? MAHONY:
Yes, up ‘til that time. She had surgery, and she was coming along pretty well. But eighty-four was her final year. IVES:
Had she still been living on her own? MAHONY:
No, the last about six years she lived with us and she was good to have at the house, because she enjoyed being with the grandchildren. So there was a lot of togetherness there. Also, they’d have family reunions. Her side of the family would have family reunions...like in mid-July. About every year, they’d go out there to an area near Pittsfield. Just west of Pittsfield, on Rt. 58 - that’s a farming country - and it was an ideal location for these functions that they had. IVES:
Did you attend any of those reunions? MAHONY:
Oh yes. Every one I attended was very impressive. The one that I missed was last year. It was in 1988, and the reason I missed that was because I had surgery on July 1, and so I was sidetracked. IVES:
How many people showed up for that reunion? MAHONY:
I believe about seventy-five. That’s a pretty good group, and it’s gaining slowly; maybe in recent years they’d have 68, 70, 72, 75. I believe 75 has been about the peak. IVES:
Where do the people come from? MAHONY:
Well, a few come from other states. I believe some came from St. Louis, Missouri; a couple came from the Youngstown area, and also some of them are full-time residents from Florida. So, they come up from Florida for a couple of weeks to spend in the summer. Most of them, however, are from this immediate area… I’d say within three counties, within Lorain, Erie, and Huron County. IVES:
That’s convenient then. Has your side of the family had any family reunions? MAHONY:
No. We haven’t, unfortunately. IVES:
Just your wife’s side. Now, I think earlier, you had told us how you’d met your wife... MAHONY:
True. That is right. We did end the discussion. Yes. IVES:
When exactly did you marry her? MAHONY:
On Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1946. We were married at St. Mary's Church at Eighth and Reid Avenue. It was a morning wedding. I can say now that I can remember the morning. It was an impressive morning; weatherwise, it was very good. So, we had a very successful wedding. My wife was born in Lorain, October 12, 1921. She has been a life-long resident of the community. She’s a former employee of the Smith and Gerharts store in downtown Lorain. That was a department store in downtown Lorain, at Fifth and Broadway. In later years, she was employed at the Central Trust Company, and she is now a retiree. IVES:
Where was the Central Trust Company? MAHONY:
Central Trust was the main office at Broadway and Twentieth Street. IVES:
Was that a bank? MAHONY:
What position did she have there? MAHONY:
She was a File Clerk, checking accounts, and things of that nature. She was a general clerk, so to speak. IVES:
When did she retire? MAHONY:
About three years ago. IVES:
So, what’s she been doing with herself now that she’s retired? MAHONY:
She has been taking care of the grandchildren. We now have nine grandchildren. But that’s not been full-time for her. She also has functions around the house. She enjoys painting, that is, I mean painting rooms in the home. You know, painting the walls and the ceilings and she loves that. Also, she’s a good cook. She enjoys cooking, and she has her girlfriends that she goes to various functions with, too. Sometimes they go to club meetings, and social gatherings. So, that works out O.K. IVES:
Could you mention any of the clubs that she belongs to in particular? MAHONY:
Not really. They’re not official clubs. They’re just informal groups that she has...little gab sessions more or less. She also spends a little time working at crossword puzzles. She feels that’s a challenge. IVES:
What would you like people to know about your wife? MAHONY:
Well, I can just say that I’ve been very fortunate in having a wife like that, because she has brought up six children. We had two sons and four daughters. I believe that I’ll have to give 80% credit to her for raising the family, because she was deeply involved, and I was away from home many times on my job. Also, I’d be going to other events like sports events, and things that were away from home, but she always took care of matters. IVES:
How has she assisted you in your employment? How would you characterize her involvement? MAHONY:
In my employment? IVES:
I’d say that I’d have to give her credit for my employment because she was a girl that would become acquainted fast with employees and with fellow workers at the Journal. When they’d have picnics and various gathering of that nature, Phyllis was always present, and she made good conversation. She enjoyed being with them. Also, I think that had a lot to do with it. It was just as if she was part of the group. I’d say that on that basis she was helpful to me. IVES:
How many years have you been married now? MAHONY:
Forty-two years. IVES:
Why don't we talk a little bit as well about your children. You said you had how many...six total? MAHONY:
Yes. Two sons and four daughters. IVES:
Why don't we just start off chronologically with your first child, and who would that be? MAHONY:
Martin. Martin’s the first child, and he’s now forty years old. He just had his fortieth birthday last month. He’s the Sheriff of Lorain County. He’s a graduate of Dayton University. His wife is Nanette, and she is a native of North Ridgeville. She’s a graduate of Eastern Kentucky State University. At the present time, she’s a teacher at Lorain County Community College. IVES:
O.K. You were mentioning about your son Martin’s wife, Nanette. MAHONY:
Yes, Nanette. Now, they have a family also. They have two sons, James and Michael, and a daughter Meghan, and they reside in Amherst, at 140 Walnut Drive. IVES:
What was Nanette’s last name before she got married? MAHONY:
How did he meet her? MAHONY:
He met her at Gem Beach, that’s near Catawba Point on a vacation when they were about teenagers. They just met on the beach. We had a cottage that was across the street from the Fritz family. John and Martha Fritz were her parents. It just happened that our cottages were across the street. They were just friends on the beach at first. IVES:
How old were they when they met each other? Do you recall? MAHONY:
I’d say about fifteen years old. IVES:
When did they get married? Do you remember? MAHONY:
They’ve been married about thirteen years, as I recall. IVES:
Now how did your son get into a career in law enforcement? MAHONY:
He studied police administration. This degree, and his major study were at the Dayton University. When he completed his graduation at Dayton University, he was contacted by Sheriff Vernon Smith. Sheriff Vernon Smith was a friend of mine, and he was aware that Marty was studying Police Administration. So, he arranged for Marty to meet up with him at the Sheriff's office, and they had a contact. They had a meeting, and Marty went to work, I’d say about a week or ten days after he graduated from Dayton. He was there for about six years, and then he decided he’d take a change, and he transferred over to the Lorain Police Department. He was at the Lorain Police Department under Chief Malinovsky for six more years. At that point, he decided to become a candidate for Sheriff. After twelve years of police enforcement work, he was elected Sheriff. He’s now serving his second four-year term. IVES:
Has he indicated how he feels about being the Sheriff? MAHONY:
Well, he is a pretty active man. He’s called on to be a speaker on many occasions. In fact, he’s going to speak tomorrow to a group at the Hawthorne Junior High School, where they have a class of 107 students. Attorney General Anthony Celebreeze has organized this class state-wide. But, this one in Lorain involves 107 students, and they’ve been studying for 27 weeks on drugs and various things that are harmful to the young.
So, as a result, the Deputy Sheriff by the name of Fred Hughes, had been conducting the classes from the Sheriff's department, and it terminates tomorrow with their graduation class. It’s quite an impressive thing I believe. It’s going to be in the afternoon. IVES:
Who is the next child following Martin? MAHONY:
Mary Ann was our next child. Mary Ann was a graduate of Admiral King High School in 1969. Then she was employed at the Journal as a teletype operator, and she decided while she was working at the Journal, she could also attend classes at Oberlin School of Commerce. So, she attended there, and it also helped her pick up some knowledge at her job at the Journal. She continued there until she graduated. IVES:
When was that, do you remember? MAHONY:
I don’t recall. But after that, after she graduated from there, she was hired as an employee of the Nordson Corporation, and she worked in the office of the Nordson Plant in Amherst. IVES:
Where is that located in Amherst? Do you recall? MAHONY:
On Jackson Street. It so happened that her husband, Ralph Jaworski, was a student at Bowling Green University. When he terminated his study there, he became a teacher at Vermilion High School for a few years. Then he applied for a job at Nordson Corporation; he’s still there and he’s been very successful with the Nordson Corporation. They lived in Lorain until about six months ago, then they moved to Elyria. They have a daughter Sara, and they also have twins, Kristina and Andrew. So, they have a young family, and they’re doing very well. IVES:
How old are the kids? MAHONY:
The twins are two years old, and Sara is four. IVES:
Now, what about Martin? Does he have any children? MAHONY:
Martin. Yes, he has three: James, Michael and Meghan. IVES:
Was James named after you? MAHONY:
Yes, exactly. IVES:
Was Martin named after anybody in particular? MAHONY:
Yes, after my father-in-law, Martin. Martin Dunlap. That was the idea. IVES:
When was Mary Ann born? Do you recall? MAHONY:
Mary Ann was the second of the family...Marty is forty years old. Mary Anne would be about thirty-seven, I believe. IVES:
OK. So there’s a three-year difference. Now, who followed Mary Ann? MAHONY:
Patrick followed Mary Ann. Patrick is a graduate of Admiral King High School also. Well, in fact, Martin, Mary Ann and Patrick were all graduates of Admiral King High School. Patrick, for a while was…while he was attending Admiral King High School, he was employed at the Journal in the Circulation Department. After he graduated, he continued to work at the Journal. Then he was hired at the National Tube Company. He was a Lab Analyst in the Coke Plant, checking the quality of coke. So, he worked there for ten years. After ten years they had a slow down, and he was one of the ones that was included in the slow down. So, he went searching for another job, and he was hired at the Terminal Garage Company. That’s in the Terminal Tower in Cleveland. He accepted the job as a parking valet, and he has continued to be on that job for all those years.
I believe it’s probably been ten years that he’s been working there. Driving back and forth everyday, he enjoys it. He enjoys the people that he is making contact with, because they have many, many, big business leaders in the community that have offices in the Terminal Tower. He gets to know them all by their first name. That goes for males and females. He’s also a father of two daughters. Lynn is a Lorain High School sophomore, and Jennifer is an eighth grader at Irving School. IVES:
How old is Patrick? MAHONY:
Patrick would be thirty-five years old. IVES:
Is he currently married now? MAHONY:
No, he’s divorced at the present time. IVES:
After Patrick comes who? MAHONY:
Joyce. Joyce is a graduate of Bowling Green State University. She is the wife of Carl Rhodes, Jr. They’re residing in Amherst. Carl Rhodes was a resident of Avon Lake for awhile with his mother and dad. Carl Rhodes Sr. and his wife had eleven children, and Carl was one of the eleven children. Now Carl Rhodes, Sr. and his wife are reside in Key West, and they are in a business down there in boating, off Key West. So, they’re doing very well in that part of the country.
To go back to Joyce, I can tell you that she is very intent. She is an intense worker, and she is enjoying the job that she’s been on since she graduated from Bowling Green. Her job at the present time is Admissions Coordinator at Bradley Road Nursing Home in Bay Village. That nursing home at the present time has 110 residents. So, she’s a pretty busy girl, but she enjoys it that way. IVES:
How old is she now? MAHONY:
Joyce would be, I'd say, twenty-seven. IVES:
Who else do we have left? MAHONY:
Maureen is...now also, I can point out to you, I pointed out that the first three children were graduates from Admiral King, and the next three children we have are, as I said, Joyce, Maureen and Monica, and they were all graduates of Lorain Catholic High School. So, we had three at Admiral King, and three at Lorain Catholic.
Maureen was active at Lorain Catholic; I believe was a cheerleader. While she was a student at St. Peters’ Elementary School, she was active in cheerleading. When she completed her High School education, she was employed by the Lorain National Bank. She was a...I can’t recall what her job was, but she was at the Lorain National Bank substation. The branch office is what it actually should be, on West Twenty-first Street, just west of Leavitt Road. There’s a large shopping area out there, and she was employed there. Now her name is Mrs. Richard Rhodes...Mrs. Rich...Ric Rhodes, and Ric Rhodes is a brother to Carl Rhodes. So, the sisters married brothers, and they are residing...Maureen and Ric are residing in Euclid, Ohio, and they are the parents of Ric Rhodes II. IVES:
How old is he? MAHONY:
Ric Rhodes II. He’ll be a year-old on Valentine’s Day...Valentine baby. He’ll be a year-old come next month. IVES:
What does Maureen's husband do for a living? MAHONY:
He is a computer installer, and he’s also like a troubleshooter. Some of his companies where he is servicing the computers would be like the Cleveland Clinic, which is a big, big account. His business that he is employed by is located in Solon, Ohio. IVES:
What’s that business called? MAHONY:
It’s something in the...I can’t think of the official name of the company, but it has to do 100% with the computers. IVES:
Then that brings us now to your youngest daughter? MAHONY:
Yes. Get to the baby daughter, and that is Monica. Monica has been active in many things around the community, as far as...she is a good follower of sports. She enjoys baseball...the Cleveland Indians, and also the Cleveland Browns. She enjoys attending some of their games and also watching them on TV. Monica is a receptionist and secretary for a Certified Public Accounting firm in Amherst. The firm has been long established out there, and the name of it is Frank-Seringer & Chaney. So, she’s very happy in her work, and she’s single. IVES:
How old is she? MAHONY:
She is about twenty-four. IVES:
So, it sounds like you have a very nice family. MAHONY:
Thank you. IVES:
Now, let's turn a little bit to you and ask a few questions. What do you see yourself doing five years from now? Do you have any goals? Plans? MAHONY:
Well, not really. I am satisfied with what I’m doing, and if I’m still in good health, I hope to be doing the same thing I am doing today. I’m at the stage they call semi-retirement. But some days I feel like I’m working full-time, because I have many people making contacts with men, and that’s what the job is all about. It’s input. I need contacts, I need people to write to me, I need people to call me, to come in to visit me and that’s how the news is developed.
I also go places, too. I go many places, I make many stops at various groups around town, including nationality clubs, and veterans organizations. I attend church regularly. And I believe that’s what it’s all about. I’ve been very successful. I mean, thank the good Lord I’ve been successful. IVES:
So, you really don't seem to have any plans for retiring do you? MAHONY:
That’s exactly right, Sheila. IVES:
Well, very good. Now I know. MAHONY:
I’m only seventy-two. I’m seventy-one and a half really. IVES:
You also enjoy traveling, don't you? MAHONY:
Oh, yes. I enjoy traveling. IVES:
Do you have any future plans that way or. . . MAHONY:
Not really. I’ve been told by relatives to take a trip to Ireland, but I really don't know. I’m not too sold right now on the trip to Ireland. I enjoy trips to Canada where I can drive and do things I like. I also enjoy flights. I have had many flights, and I’ve had some flights in the service in World War II, but I suppose that this thing will work out year by year. Right now I’m satisfied with motoring where I go. IVES:
Is there anything that you’d like to talk about or mention that hasn’t been covered up to this point? MAHONY:
I really can’t think of a thing, because I believe, Sheila, you touched all the bases. You’ve been super. IVES:
Thanks. So, just to conclude in a sentence or a paragraph, what does James Mahony stand for? MAHONY:
Well, that’s pretty hard to say. I’d have to say that it probably means that I’ve had many good years of community life. I’ve enjoyed the people I’ve been associated with, and people have been good to me. I’ve been trying to retaliate and be good to them, and it all works out very well. I’ve had good years. Thank you. IVES:
O.K. Thank you for the interview. MAHONY:
Return to Index
Fri., Jan. 8, 1999
OBITUARY: Jim Mahony, 81, Journal legend, Lorain's heart
LORAIN -- James Edward Mahony, 81, of Lorain, died Thursday, Jan. 7, 1999, at his residence, after a brief illness.
He was born in Lorain and lived here his entire life. He was a 1935 graduate of St. Mary's Academy.
Mahony served in the U.S. Army as a reporter. He received the Good Conduct Medal, the European African Middle Eastern Service Medal with six Bronze Stars and a separate Bronze Star.
He was a journalist with The Morning Journal from 1935 until his retirement in February 1998.
Mahony was a member of the Church of St. Peter and the church's Holy Name Society. He was a member of the Polish Legion American Veterans, the Italian American Veterans Post 1, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 451, the American Slovak Club and the Moose Club. He was inducted into the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame in 1981.
Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Phyllis (nee Dunlap); sons Lorain County Sheriff Martin Mahony of Amherst and Patrick Mahony of Avon; daughters Mary Ann Jaworski of Elyria, Joyce Rhodes of Springfield, Ohio; Maureen Rhodes of Mission Viejo, Calif.; and Monica Flores of Tulsa, Okla.; 13 grandchildren; and sister, Martha Pawlak of Lorain. He was preceded in death by his parents, James A. and Ethel (nee Martin) Mahony; and sisters Mary Llewellyn and Ethel Mahony.
Friends may call Sunday from 2 to 9 p.m. at the Reidy-Scanlan-Chambers Funeral Home, 2150 Broadway, Lorain, where the I.A.V. Post 1 will hold memorial services Sunday at 7 p.m. Services will be Monday at 9:30 a.m. at the funeral home, followed by a 10 a.m. Mass at the Church of St. Peter, 3501 Oberlin Ave., Lorain. The Rev. Kenneth Wolnowski, pastor, will officiate. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery. V.F.W. Post 451 will conduct full military honors at graveside.
Contributions may be made to the Church of St. Peter or to St. Mary's Endowment Fund, 310 Eighth St., Lorain, 44052, or to a charity of the donor's choice.
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Fri., Jan. 8, 1999
An Editorial: Jim Mahony's legacy good will, dedication
Few people achieve the kind of gentle, kind-hearted greatness that was the mark of Jim Mahony. He personified the good will and support for the people of Lorain felt by all of us at The Morning Journal. He was a constant reminder that our mission includes keeping in touch with the lives of the little people, the unsung heroes of our community, and doing so joyously.
Mahony's death yesterday at the age of 81 has momentarily taken away our joy, but his life has given us an ageless example of cheerful enthusiasm and dedication to Lorain.
When Mahony retired for the second time last year we noted his practice of offering, to all in the newsroom, his wish for them to "Keep up the good work." It was both praise for what we were doing and encouragement to carry on in that spirit.
Mahony's "good work" in recent years was that of a columnist. He was the most popular of any who ever served the newspaper and its predecessors. But he was also a famed sportswriter, and he served well in the old days as city hall reporter and later as news editor. He worked for the newspaper more than 62 years. He was a walking encyclopedia of regional sports lore and local news history.
Words like "inspiration" and "treasure" come to mind in describing what Jim Mahony meant to this community and its newspaper. We will certainly miss him. We will try to be faithful to his admonition to "keep up the good work.
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Fri., Jan. 8, 1999
COMMENTARY: Jim Mahony graced newsroom with humanity, cheer
By RICHARD J. OSBORNE, Morning Journal Columnist
Sometimes the newspaper business is pure joy. When one of the local high schools wins a state championship, for example, or a courageous cop saves a life. It doesn't get any better than that.
There are other times, however, when the sadness of the news squeezes out the joy. Today is one of those days. The worst of the lot.
But as I face the task of saying goodbye to Jim, The Morning Journal's -- and the Lorain community's -- dearest old friend, in my mind's eye I can see Jim sitting across from me on the news desk where he held court for more than a generation.
He is smiling, as always, and he is silently nodding encouragement.
"You can do it," his expression says. "It's just another story."
Well, Jim, no it's not.
The truth is, in many ways Jim Mahony didn't fit in a newsroom. The perception that it can be a brutal, ego-driven place is, alas, too often accurate. So what on Earth was Jim Mahony doing in a place like this?
Giving it humanity. And what a rare and beautiful gift that was.
Jim was the newsman we should all strive to be. Caring and careful, always searching for the positive story to balance out the madness and sadness.
Which is not to say that he couldn't handle the tough stories too. He could do it all, and always with style and grace.
In the years before computer terminals overtook the newsroom, Jim was our production czar. Like so many other young editors, I never did master the complicated formulas we needed to figure out if a headline fit. So, like the others, I'd scratch out my best guess and drop it in the basket on Jim's desk.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I'd watch him retrieve it and instantly compute its dimensions. With a flourish of his red pen, he'd mark where it went over or under the space.
In more recent years, he reigned over The Morning Journal's archives. But when it came to the history of Lorain and its people, he really didn't need newspaper clippings or books. He carried it all in his head -- and, more importantly, in his heart.
He put much of that heart in his column. There you could always find the small, otherwise overlooked items that truly defined the community's life. Kids and sports. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Couples celebrating the glories of children and grandchildren.
In Jim Mahony's world of newspapering, those were the stories that really counted. And he knew he was right. After all, in his own life it was always, always family first.
And that, Jim, is perhaps the most significant lesson you taught us. Because of you, the newsroom is a more civil, kinder and gentler place. But today it's an emptier place too.
Thank God you left us your smile. It's in every joyful story we write.
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