I once wrote columns using one or more old directories that told us a lot about our communities and the people who lived there.
There were names and addresses, occupations, lists of children, and of course, business lists with the appropriate names of the people who owned or operated those businesses.
Fifty years ago, the 1972 Sandusky County Rural Directory brings back some memories and provides insight into how things have changed.
Those of us who today turn to our phones and/or computers to search for information – pretty much everyone – might be interested in a self-help directory ad.
People quickly found names in the directory
“It’s as easy as ABC to find ‘anyone’ in the road guide or ALPHA.”
Granted, it was easy enough, but not as easy as pressing keys or talking into your phone. He provided information that – since times have changed – is not so readily available today.
Given today’s communication options, a national advertisement says a lot about the changing world.
“Help eradicate snail mail,” he said, “Use the postcode.” And, he added, “The mail moves the country – The zip code moves the mail.”
The zip code was introduced by the US Postal Service in 1963, but apparently was not universally used nearly a decade later. (Remember when we could use Route 5, or something similar?)
ZIP stands for Zone Improvement Plan and, according to the advertisement, this meant that the mail traveled more efficiently and faster through its use.
Anyway, this 1972 repertoire contains several other elements that could bring back memories.
Liberty National Bank announced its agricultural loans
Liberty National Bank advertised itself as “your partner in agriculture,” offering equipment loans, livestock loans, and feedlot loans with offices in downtown Fremont at the corner of Arch and State; Potter Village and Lindsey.
The Fremont Oil Co., selling Fleetwing petroleum products and more, had its main office at 1907 W. State St. Many remember, of course, Fremont Oil’s Four Mile Service Center and Mark’s Restaurant at the intersection of States United 20 with County Road 128 (Four Mile Road from the house).
As a rural directory, the book emphasized farming what he called “the best soil in Ohio.” Thanks to the black swamp.
The diversity of agriculture in the county was underscored by the directory, which named soybeans the top money-maker, providing 22% of farm income. Soybeans remain a major crop here, but the list of major revenue producers in 1972 also included sugar beets, which the yearbook provided 10% of the county’s farm revenue. Personally, I will never forget the queues of sugar trucks on Front Street.
Other directory advertisers that might bring back memories include Tschumy’s in downtown Fremont, which has provided “dependable furniture for over 112 years.”
Swint-Reineck was “the most complete material in Sandusky County” on Oak Harbor Road.
Johnson’s greenhouse on Port Clinton Road had served the county since 1892 and promised “prompt delivery anytime, anywhere.” They were “gardeners, florists and designers”.
The Fremont News-Messenger, as it was known at the time (the word Fremont was later dropped from the headline), touted that same-day door-to-door delivery was “now available to many rural homes”.
Roy Wilhelm began a 40-year career with The News-Messenger in 1965 as a journalist. Now retired, he writes a column for The News-Messenger and News Herald.