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1940s-50s comes to life at Historical Society event

Published: July 13, 2017 12:00 AM
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The sights, sounds and tastes of Malvern during the 1940s and 50s will be recreated on Saturday, Aug. 19 when the Malvern Historical Society kicks off the first in a series of programs designed to tell the stories of individuals who have left an enduring legacy to the village.

"We have had a tremendous response to the information we post each week on the Malvern Historical Society's Facebook page," says Jason Lombardi, the society's president. "Current and former residents join the weekly online Facebook conversations. Some folks raise questions about our history, others contribute missing facts, and many share warm memories. All the discussions remain on our page for those who would like to visit the social media resource.

"The program we are planning for Aug. 19 will expand this kind of historical exploration to include a big screen program of old photos, music from the era and some little known facts," Lombardi says.

The focus of the first program will be the story of Frank Craig, editor and publisher of the Community News during the 40s and 50s.

Craig moved to Malvern from Brookville, Pa. He became the publisher of the Community News following the 1941 death of Art Lewis. Craig became familiar with every corner of the village as he gathered the news, called on merchants to sell newspaper ads, wrote most of the stories, set the type for his old printing press and printed weekly editions of the newspaper.

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He and his wife, Beulah, loved this small town. They were caring and when they saw a need, they personally worked to make things better. Their daughter, Patricia Craig Schmidt, says her parents "collected used books to start the Malvern Library." She also remembers her father "being very protective of children." She says he advocated for both installing a railing along the sidewalk on the bridge, and for establishing the Malvern Park so that "kids would have a safe place to play."

While in Malvern, Craig served on the Malvern School Board and drove a school bus. He also drove what was called "the youth bus." It was used to take kids to pick strawberries in Augusta, to visit parks as far away as West Virginia, to out-of-town skating rinks and to high-school sports events. Frances Thomas Montella was a cheerleader at the time and says that she and Betty Swisshelm Zartman would not have been able to cheer at away games if Craig had not taken them on his bus.

The Craigs had three children: Patricia who lives in Carmel, Indiana; Augusta, who lives near Lima; and Frank, Jr., a writer and former editor of the Pittsburgh Tribune.

Patricia and Augusta are planning to attend this event. They will share memories of their father and their time in Malvern. Frank Craig, Jr. is currently traveling the country conducting interviews for a new book and will attend if his schedule permits.

Lombardi's program will show how Craig used his passion, influence, time, skills, interests, and intellect to leave an enduring legacy. It will be presented against a backdrop of the sights, sounds and happenings in Malvern during those years.

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The event will include food from the era. The Red Romano family has given its approval for the society to use Red's secret sauce for the popular Coney Island hot dogs he served at Red's Nite Club and Bowling Alley during that time period.

Those who attend the event will be treated to a basket with a Red's Coney Island hot dog, a bag of hot potato chips, like those enjoyed bygenerations of school childrenat the Bazaar shop run by Elsie Schmidt near the old school building on West Main Street. For dessert there will be a selection of cookies baked from recipes found in old Malvern family and church cookbooks from that time.

As guests arrive for the luncheon and program, they will hear songs from the era, played on the piano by Linda Byrd.

Tickets for the event are $10 per person and all proceeds will be used by the historical society to buy materials to preserve its collection of rare and one-of-a-kind photos and documents. Tickets can be purchased at the Malvern Historical Society Building, 108 E. Porter Street, on Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. until noon; or by calling Linda Faa at 330-863-1185, Linda Byrd at 330-863-1222, or Sonia Strock at 330-863-0149.

The option is available to mail a check made payable to Malvern Historical Society, P.O. Box 80, Malvern, OH 44644 for purchasing tickets.

The event will be held at the Malvern School Cafetorium located at 3242 Coral Road NW.

The doors will open at 11:30 a.m. and lunch will be served from noon until 1 p.m. The program will follow lunch.


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