Oakie the Squirrel
Oakie the Squirrel was the mascot of Oakwood Shopping Center when it opened in Lorain on November 12, 1958. The cheerful squirrel with a bow in her hair was featured in newspaper ads that cajoled people to shop "at the sign of the thrifty squirrel."
The newspaper ad announcing the grand opening of the shopping center even mentioned that 10,000 free "Oakie the Squirrel" balloons would be given away to the kiddies. Curiously, the official logo art of Oakie wasn't even featured in the ad - just a small roughly drawn copy lumped in with an army of anonymous squirrels! Oakie was, however, featured in an official ad a few days later thanking the public for the great response to the new shopping center.
If Oakie had only been featured in newspaper ads, then she might be largely forgotten. However, Oakie's most memorable exposure was on a huge sign painted on the side of a building near the railroad tracks at the intersection of Route 254 (North Ridge Road) and Pearl Avenue, a few miles from the shopping center. Anyone traveling along Route 254 could not miss the image of the purse-carrying rodent. (My family lived on the west side and rarely went to Oakwood Shopping Center - but since we often drove by the sign, Oakie's image is permanently etched in my mind!)
Unfortunately, like many other suburban shopping centers nationwide, Oakwood Shopping Center went into serious decline. The building with the squirrel mural is long gone, and recent signage at the shopping center was squirrel-less. Happily, Oakie lives on in our memories!
(Above) A newspaper ad from June 1959
A portion of the Opening Day newspaper ad promoting the giveaway of Oakie the Squirrel balloons
(Above) Another portion of the ad promoting the grand opening of Oakwood Shopping Center. Is that a badly-drawn Oakie up in the middle of the 'O'?