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Fostoria's Past: A Century of history in the making
By Gene Kinn
Staff writer (The Review Times)


The big story of 1960 was the crash of a chartered airline at Toledo, on Oct. 29, killing 22 persons, including 17 players of the California Polytechnic College football team.

It certainly was not a local story, but many Fostorians were in the stands earlier in the day when the California team played Bowling Green State University. Hundreds more listened to the game which was broadcast by WFOB.

Twenty-six persons survived the crash, but all had injuries ranging from minor to critical.

The C-46 crashed, broke apart and burst into flames moments after taking off in the thick fog.

It was reported to be the first plane crash in history involving a major American sports team.

On June 6, 1960, Fostoria area subscribers of the Ohio Bell Telephone Company received nationwide direct distance dialing capability.

Mayor Ray Coburn made the first call from Fostoria to his granddaughter in Elyria. On his first attempt, he got a wrong number.



Raymond McDonald, 27, and Terry Taylor, 21, both of Detroit, Mich., were arraigned in Fostoria Municipal Court on Jan. 23, 1961, on charges of first degree murder following the stabbing death the previous day of Elmer Walker, a Detroit cab driver, on Brandeberry Road, two miles north of Fostoria.

The men were arrested by the State Highway Patrol on a tip by an employee of the Half-Way Inn, U.S. Routes 23 and 224, that the men had spent some blood-stained money in payment for their breakfast and that they were wearing blood-stained clothing.

The officers picked the men up on U.S. 224, a short distance from the Seneca-Hancock county line and were en route to the police station for questioning when they saw a Detroit taxi abandoned about a mile north of the Half-Way Inn. They found bloodstains in the car and tracks which appeared to have been made by shoes similar to those worn by McDonald and Taylor.

A short time later, police received a report that a milk truck driver had spotted a body on Brandeberry Road, one mile west of U.S. Route 23. Officers went to the scene and found the frozen body of Walker and signs of a fight in a field about 40 feet from the body.

A Fostoria man was shot and killed on Mar. 22, 1961 at the Club Azzar in Alvada and the Seneca County sheriff was holding another Fostorian in connection with the death.

Gene W. Detillian, 33, was shot in the forehead with a bullet from a .38 caliber revolver as he sought to leave the club. The shooting occurred in the presence of his wife and three campanions.

Held for the shooting was Ronald Lee Crawford, 24, a local insurance salesman. He allegedly fired the fatal shot as he attempted to detain Detillian and his party until authorities arrived to investigate the ransacking of Crawford's car at the Ranch night club, several miles away, several hours earlier.

The gun used in the shooting was owned by Bert Azzar, the owner of the Club Azzar, who had reportedly obtained the weapon several days earlier from Sheriff Robert Wagner.

Crawford was later convicted of the killing and sent to prison.



The most disastrous fire in the city's history, on May 19, 1962, destroyed the Hays Hotel, several first floor store-rooms and the second and third floors of the Alcott building at Main and Center streets.

Firemen were called about 3:15 a.m. and found the interior of the three-story hotel building a mass of flames. They called the Tiffin, Fremont and Findlay departments for aid.

Tenants and friends attempted to remove as many belongings as possible.

The Hays building contained a bar and the Burger Shoe Store. Other occupants of the building included City Solicitor Lester Huth; Brown's Collection Agency; H & R Block Income Tax Service; and the Moose Lodge.

Tons of water poured down through the building into the first floor which housed Fostoria Electric Co.; Merit Shoe Store; Guernsey & Guernsey Law Office; Two Guy's Barber Shop; Hedges Cleaners; Kinn & Theobald Insurance; and Beneficial Finance Co., all on the ground floor, and Cliff Stocker's barber shop in the basement.

Damage ran to well ove $500,000. The buildings were all eventually razed and the business owners moved to different locations in town.

The area was reduced to two parking lots, both of which remain today.


1963- (More about the year)

On Oct. 9, 1963, more than 100 people inspected the new Lehmann's Lodge, a $100,000 establishment on State Route 18, just east of Fostoria. It included a modern motel, restaurant, lounge, 175-person banquet room, and recreation areas, including a large indoor swimming pool, billiard room and a nine-hole miniature golf course under roof.

The guests were treated to a buffet dinner which included Chinese food, one of the specialties of the new restaurant.

The new facility was owned by Robert Lehmann of Risingsun and operated by his brother, Richard.



A 19-year-old woman was fatally burned and her husband and two small children injured in an explosion at their East Fremont Street home on Jan. 8, 1964.

Mr. Moore was originally hailed a hero for his efforts to save his wife and children. Later he was accused of stabbing and kicking his wife, then starting the fire which resulted from the explosion of a two-gallon can of gasoline. He was charged with first degree murder.

After several months in jail, Moore was given a lie detector test which he passed with flying colors. The murder charge was dismissed and Moore was freed.

A Cleveland pathotogist suggested that the stab wound was not the cause of death but that death resulted from burns and that the wound could have been the result of falling on broken glass.



All industrial plants in the Fostoria area were out of production, all schools were closed and power outages followed a disatrous tornado which swept through Hancock and Seneca Counties on Palm Sunday night, in April of 1965. At least three people were killed.

Fostoria itself escaped unscathed, but high voltage lines at Lima and Tiffin, which fed the city, were knocked down.

The tornado hit on a line from Bluffton to Melmore to the little community of Rockaway on Route 224, five miles east of Tiffin.

In another big story that year, damage in excess of $100,000 resulted from a 10-car derailment of an east-bound Norfolk & Western freight train at the B & O crossover near South Main Street at 12:48 a.m. on April 10.

One of the cars came within 50 feet of Deck's Tavern where some 25 people were enjoying a Saturday evening out.



In 1966 Ford Motor Company launched a multi-million dollar expansion program at its General Parts Division plant on North Union Street. The project would increase floor space by more than one-quarter and boost the company's Autolite spark plug production capacity by 20 percent.

The expansion was also expected to add another 280 employees to the plant's work force of about 1,300 and to increase the production of spark plugs from 113,000,000 to about 140,000,000 plugs per year.



Fostoria school district voters approved a $33,950,000 bond issue on Nov. 7, 1967 by 326 votes. The victory meant that Fostoria would have a new public high school.

There had been considerable controversy in the community over the need for a new school, the location chosen for the building and the decision to heat the school with electricity rather than gas.

The bond issue had been defeated in three previous elections.



Plans for construction of a huge new food distribution center here, costing more than $800,000, were unveiled on Aug. 7, 1968.

City council had earlier accepted the annexation of more than 57 acres of land in Jackson township north of Jones Road.

Dauphin Terminals Inc., operator of a major eastern regional warehousing firm at Harrisburg, Pa., announced it would open the distribution center in Fostoria to service the principal food consumption markets in the East Central States area.



Plans to pursue the biggest residential development in the history of Fostoria were announced on Jan. 16, 1969.

Community Reality, Inc., a division of Fostoria Corporation, said it was actively considering a $12,000,000 housing complex for the southeastern part of the city.

The project would encompass 106 acres on the east side of U.S. 23 South, immediately north of Zeller Road, the former Mickey farm.

The development was expected to offer single, double, and quadruple residences to between 600 and 700 families. Some 2,500 residents could be added to Fostoria's population, reversing a slow growth pattern here.

The proposal was being supported by a new firm, Environment Conservation of Ohio (ECO Inc.) as a profit-making institution, under the direction of William Jerome III, president of Bowling Green State University.

Information courtesy of William Cline



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