PIX 1 (courtesy of Ray Dell) The dedication of the Fostoria Post Office on September 22, 1933 was the occasion for the Fostoria merchants' Fall Festival, an air show and a Redmen- Mohawks football game.
It was sunny and warm so Mrs. Maude Schlatter of West Center St. decided it was a perfect Saturday morning to go to the post office and mail a letter. So did Mrs. W.M. Duffey of Van Buren St. and Mrs. Ormond Walsh of South Wood St. Maude put hers in the letter slot. Mrs. Duffy and Mrs. Walsh handed theirs to mail clerk J.F. Stone.
At first glance, there's not anything special about that. People by the boatload do that every Saturday. What made those letters distinctive was that they were the very first pieces of mail posted at the newly dedicated Fostoria Post Office at the intersection of Wood and Center Sts. The date was September 23, 1933.
The previous day, Friday Sept. 22, was a noteworthy one in Fostoria history. That day 4,000 residents turned out for the dedication of Fostoria's new post office.
The first order of business was the parade which formed up at Crocker and Main Sts. Organized by chairman Harry Burkett and led by the Fostoria High School Band, the parade included the Fire Dept., the Grand Army of the Republic (Civil War veterans), Spanish-American War veterans, World War veterans, Mayor George Cameron and other city officials, fraternal organizations and distinguished visitors including Joseph Betterly representing U.S. Postmaster General James Farley, Congressman W.L. Fiesinger and President James A. Garfield's son Abram.
At 3 p.m. the parade, with the band playing and banners flying, marched north on Main St., turned west on Fremont and proceeded south on Wood to the new post office or "Federal Building" as it was sometimes called. The City requested that all citizens, especially those in the vicinity of Wood and Center display the flag.
With the throng assembled at the post office, the veterans' groups raised the stars and stripes over the new edifice and the Civic Melody Chorus sang "America." Rev. C.E. Clessler of the Lutheran Church gave the invocation.
Congressman Fiesinger told the crowd, "We are met here today to dedicate this temple of communication and service to the citizenry of Fostoria... This building, this Fostoria post office is a part of the great housing facilities of a service more universal than all other government services combined. It daily touches the lives and activity of all our people."
Fostoria Postmaster Fred Hopkins said, "I am extremely happy in the thought that you folks, all the Fostoria folks and all the folks receiving service out of Fostoria have a post office building to which you can point with pride and joy. Go where you may, you will not find another like it or more beautiful."
St. Wendelin's Rev. O'Connor gave the benediction.
From there the festivities adjourned to the Fostoria Country Club for a community dinner. The featured speaker was Abram Garfield, son of the 20th president. The younger Garfield was a senior member of Garfield, Stanley-Brown, Harris & Robinson, the architectural firm that designed Fostoria's post office.
Beginning at 7:30 p.m. the Fostoria City Band presented a concert and from 8-10 the new building was thrown open for public inspection. Postmaster Hopkins was kept jumping arranging the many congratulatory baskets of flowers that were continually delivered.
"Five young ladies" wore themselves out trying to register all the visitors. One fellow had benn posted near the doors by Mr. Hopkins with an automatic counter. During the open house, that gentleman clicked his device 4,721 times. He estimated that he missed at least 1,000 people.
Sports writer Virgil "Poody" Switzer was told by the editor of the Fostoria Daily Review to cover the dedication from a sports angle. "Nice guy, the boss," grumbled Poody in his column. "What's he think I am, a magician?"
But Poody was pretty resourceful. He dug up some information that older readers might recollect. One building torn down in 1932 to make room for the new post office was the Central Gym where St. Wendelin once played its basketball games. There was also an adjacent warehouse that was home to boxing and wrestling matches. Sometimes they even set up a miniature golf course in the warehouse when the sweet sciences were out of town.
Built of Ohio sandstone at a cost of $130,000, the new post office was designed to be "modern in detail and classical in feeling," according to the architects. The five central bays are aluminum and glass.
On the exterior, in the center of each bay between the first and second story windows are bas reliefs which depict various means of transport used to carry the mails: the Pony Express, stage coach, railroad, steamship and airplane. These are still plainly visible today.
Lower on the second and fourth bays are two eagles which, if my history isn't too rusty, might be the eagles of the Depression era National Recovery Administration.
The lobby floor is made of geometrically laid green, black and gray tiles. The lobby wainscot is St. Genevieve Golden Vein Marble.
Significant as it was, the dedication of the new post office was only the centerpiece of a weekend of spectacular doings here in Fostoria.
On Saturday the 23rd, FHS and SWHS squared off in the season opening gridiron tilt for both teams. The Mohawks made a game of it in the first half, holding the Redmen to a single touchdown while punching over a TD of their own. At the half it was St. Wendelin 7, Fostoria 6.
In the second half the Redmen were on top of their game, intercepting several Mohawk aerial attempts and cruising to a 33-7 win.
The Fostoria Post Office dedication dovetailed with the Fostoria Merchants' annual Fall Festival and Bargain Carnival. Thirty-one local businesses including Bill's, Montgomery Ward, the White Front, Fruth Hardware, Kresge's and the Jacob Preis Store.
The Fall Festival ran Thursday through Sunday. The Daily Review reported that "merchants have fully stocked their places of businesses with new fall and winter merchandise, all to be offered at unusual prices...for the pleasure and profit of residents in the Fostoria trading area."
Throughout the entire downtown flags, banners, streamers festooned buildings, storefronts and light poles. We bet the place looked great.
And the Fall Festival merchants weren't just puffing their gums when they promised bargains. "Monkey Ward" had sturdy cow hide work shoes on sale for $1.39 a pair. Winter weight union suits could be had for an economical 59 cents as could percale house dresses.
White Front sold sweet potatoes four for a dime.
The grand finale of the Fall Festival was an event the like of which quite possibly has had no counterpart in Fostoria before or since - an air show sponsored by the Fostoria Exchange Club.
Six Thousand people watched 41 aircraft open the show with an air parade over the city. There were aerobatic competitions, air races, glider demonstrations, parachute drops and rides for the public.
Four army planes from Selfridge Field in Michigan participated. One of those pilots was Lt. George Schlatter, Maude's son.
The sky was full of outside loops and inverted spins including some performed by local aviatrix Shirley Reitzel.
Willis Sperry of Akron got in his glider and was towed by Shirley to a height of 2,000 ft. where he was cut loose. Before gently touching down, he performed many exciting glider loops, though he did not approach his personal best of 35 loops in a single glider flight.
A Fostoria Daily Review writer who identified himself only as the "Air Ride Chiseler" (probably because he talked his way into a free flight) went aloft for his first airplane ride. I suspect this was Poody Switzer again.
Poody had this to say about his inaugural flight. "Perhaps the most impressive thing of the whole flight was the appearance of beauty and cleanliness of the city of Fostoria and the countryside. Green, yellow and brown fields appeared like a giant crazy quilt, tall stately trees seemed so small; the reservoirs were like small mirrors, the little island in the county line street stone quarry looked like a little flaw in a smooth peice of topaz; roads seemed like thin straight wires; everything was so wonderful."
Another first time flier was