This Week in Toledo History Week of 4/5/2021

Lou Hebert

April 4
1908 -The 524 foot Lake Freighter "Fred Hartwell" is launched at Toledo Shipbuilding Company.

1920 - Safecrackers or "yeggs" break into the safe at Grace Smith Cafeteria on Madison in downtown Toledo and get away with about $1,000 in cash.

1955 - Future film TV actor Casey Biggs in born in Toledo. A graduate of Central Catholic High School in Toledo, and Julliard School in New York, Biggs is probably best known for his role of Damar in Star Trek Deep Space Nine. He has appeared in numerous movies and TV series.

April 5
1867 - The current Toledo Police Department is created when the Ohio legislature approves a full-time police force for Toledo and releases the city marshals from the duties.

1897 - Samuel "Golden Rule" Jones, one of Toledo's most colorful and controversial mayors in elected to office. The Welsh born businessman and millionaire was an ardent social reformer of the era who believed that all workers should be treated fairly, and crime was the product of poverty and not evil. He would go on to be elected three more times to the mayor's office.

1957 - The lake freighter "Champlain" rips loose from its moorings on the Maumee River in heavy winds and crashes into the Fassett Street Bridge. The bridge loses 600 feet of its span and is never rebuilt.

1961 - A discarded cigarette in a basement lounge sparked a blaze at Riverside hospital that forced 135 patients to evacuate into the chilly morning air. Several patients and nurses suffered smoke inhalation and others dealt with shock and hysteria as heavy smoke filled the four-story hospital on Summit Street.

1968 - "Topping out" ceremonies are held for the new Fiberglas Tower under construction in Toledo. When complete, it is Toledo's tallest building at 30 stories high and becomes the home of Owens Corning Fiberglas. The top floor features a very popular restaurant called "Top of the Tower" offering dramatic views of the city.

1980 - Sister Margaret Ann Paul is murdered in the sacristy of the Mercy Hospital chapel. The murder remains unsolved until 2006, when Toledo Police arrest Catholic priest Father Gerald Robinson, a hospital chaplain for the murder. He was tried and convicted and sent to prison where he eventually died. He always maintained his innocence.

April 6
1906 - Construction begins on Camp Perry near Port Clinton in Ottawa County.

1917 - The U.S. declares war on Germany and enters what would later be known as World War I. Thousands of Toledo area young men head for recruiting offices to join the armed forces to take part in the struggle. Toledoans at home begin to do their part with War Bond drives and rallies.

1932 - Arson triggered fire causes heavy damage at the Merrill Company warehouse in the 1300 block of Lagrange.

1941 - Lake Erie commercial fishermen hold a meeting to complain that raw sewage that is being pumped into the Maumee Bay and Lake Erie is killing too many fish.

1964 - The Princess Theater in downtown Toledo is featuring Elizabeth Taylor in the blockbuster "Cleopatra".

1990 - A sad day in Toledo for thousands of workers who learn that Champion Spark Plug is going to close its plant on Upton Avenue after 80 years of production and jobs.

April 7
1905 - The Toledo Fire Department accepts only nine men out of 82 applicants for jobs. Most are rejected for health problems including varicose veins, bad noses, bad teeth, bowlegs, flat feet and husky voices.

1927 - Ohio Bell company is urging telephone users in Toledo to go ahead and use the new "self-dial" system put into place in the city this week. They say that so far the new dial system is working well but people should be patient as they try to learn how to use the rotary dials and stop using an operator to place calls for them.

1956 - The Lucas County Sheriff Department puts together the area's first underwater rescue and dive team.

1963 - The State Historical Society reports that it is getting complaints about plans to prohibit picnics at Fort Meigs in Perrysburg.

1983 -Toledo loses another long-time business as Babcock Dairy announces it is shutting down operations. It had been started in 1919 by Roy Babcock and was the largest independent dairy operating in the U.S.

April 8
1835 - Michigan Militia members storm the home of area pioneer Ben Stickney and arrest two visitors there. The adventure triggers the start of what would become known as the Toledo War in which both Ohio and Michigan claim to own a narrow strip of land which includes the city of Toledo.

1856 - Area farmers are selling potatoes for 19 cents a pound. A day's wages for common labor in the city was $2.25.

1911 - The fiery evangelist Bill Sunday begins a spirited six-week revival campaign in Toledo. He is greeted by throngs of preachers and converts. He says he expects to reach 1,500 people a night in Toledo which will be his largest audience in many years.

1919 - Plans are announced to widen and lengthen the Welland Canal in Canada so that Toledo and other Great Lakes cities can someday host ocean-going ships and cargo. It did happen, but not for another 40 years.

1957 - A surprise winter storm hits the city and area, dumping near 10 inches of snow, clogging roads and dashing the hopes for an early spring.

April 9
1905 - Sewer diggers say they will never go back to a nine-hour workday and threaten to stop all sewer work in the city if they are forced to expand their workday again.

1955 - Plans are being finalized by the city health department for the delivery and mass vaccination of 14,000 Toledo school children with the Salk polio vaccine. As soon as vaccine arrives in Toledo, children will be taken by buses to the Health Center to get their shots.

1973 - Storms with heavy winds from the northeast cause more major flooding at Point Place, and along the Lake Erie shoreline in Lucas County.

2002 - The first baseball game is played at the newly built Fifth-Third field in downtown Toledo. The Toledo Mudhens win their inaugural game 7-4 against Norfolk.

April 10
1915 - Three iron workers are killed, and others injured, when the steelwork for the new Willys Overland plant collapses during construction.

1923 - Toledo railway commissioner W.E. McCann writes in an op-ed that buses have been tried on Toledo Streets as a possible alternative to the Interurban trolleys, but he says the buses "leave much to be desired."(By 1949 the Interurbans would be gone, replaced by buses.)

1978 - Toledo Public School teachers and other school workers launch a system-wide strike over wages and benefits. The strike would become a bitter and rancorous 22-day ordeal for all sides. After some picket line violence, bomb threats and court orders, the strike was eventually settled, and the striking teachers went back to the classrooms


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