‘For a better living, North Royalton is your home’
A former resident, whose North Royalton family lineage stretches back to the 1800s, found something that has eluded civic leaders for years.
Lucinda Shoaff-Bunsey, a 1973 graduate of North Royalton High School who now resides in Vermilion with her husband Bob, was cleaning out boxes of old things that her parents had given her. The boxes, being stored in her garage for some time, contained old family heirlooms including photos, letters, diaries and one extremely special document left folded in half near the bottom of the box.
“All of a sudden I see an old issue of the ‘Royalton Recorder’ and I unfolded it and took a look at the date. I saw that it said, ‘Volume One, Issue One.’ I had to do a couple double-takes,” Shoaff-Bunsey said. “I thought this has to be a reproduction and I realized, nope, it’s the original.”
Her casual find is a victory for civic organizations, specifically the Chamber of Commerce and the Historical Society, both of which have been on the hunt for the elusive inaugural issue for several years – it’s one of very few issues the groups don’t have. The “Royalton Recorder” first published on Jan. 4, 1941, and was started by Dr. George Rosenbaum.
“It still has the staples in it, and it’s worn on the corners and very thin and fragile, but overall, it looks very good,” Shoaff-Bunsey said in an interview from Vermilion. “I just couldn’t believe I was actually looking at the very first issue, and to think it will be almost 80 years old.”
Shoaff-Bunsey drove in from her Lake Erie community to hand-deliver the historical document to Royalton Recorder Editor, Maria Magnelli. As far as the other historical items, Shoaff-Bunsey plans on donating them to the Historical Society.
“We were so excited to learn from Lucinda that she was donating the very first issue of the Recorder to our office,” said Magnelli, “We have always hoped that the very first issue would show up sometime, as it is the only issue we didn’t have in our archives.”
Don Harris, who serves as president of the North Royalton Historical Society, is thrilled with Shoaff-Bunsey’s treasures, especially the first edition of the “Royalton Recorder,” which has never before been recovered.
“We always appreciate that kind of stuff,” he said. “That issue is the only one we don’t have and we’ve been looking for it for years. We try to get two copies of every issue published. We keep them upstairs, catalogued and preserved in boxes where they won’t deteriorate.”
The Historical Society receives many archival and historical donations and typically displays them in their museum.
As Shoaff-Bunsey paged through the inaugural edition, which came in at a mere eight pages, she pointed out listings for upcoming meetings, calendar events, advertisements and articles, like the one bearing the bold headline, ‘For a Better Living, North Royalton Is Your Home!’ urging readers to explore membership in the local chamber. Another article brought the news that street numbers and addresses were being decided. Vintage advertisements included Shell Service Station, Searles and Bassett Invalid Car Service and Funeral Home, Royalton Beauty Shoppe, Royalton Garage, Rody’s Cash Store, Edgerton Foods, L.C. Pay, Clarence Faflik Shoes, and a write-up on telephone rates and service. The front page has a comical New Year 1940 typo – the year was printed wrong and someone, perhaps a post-master, took the time to hand-write a “1” over the “0” in the masthead.
The find is fitting for Shoaff-Bunsey – her family tree has deep roots in North Royalton. Her great-great grandfather was the “town’s” first blacksmith, she noted, and she grew up on Edgerton Road near the historical Bennett corner cemetery, which served as her playground growing up, along with winter-time sledding and summers spent on rope swings.
She described how today’s “Royalton Recorder” compares to the edition she found.
“I think the newspaper still remains a good source of information for the community,” she said. “When I look at this old edition, I see that they still highlight the same things, like calendar listings, school news and various local advertisements. There are things that are dated and different of course like social news and people and personality articles like the in-depth article they did on the Edgerton Family, but the ‘Royalton Recorder’ has always been a source of information for the community. It’s uplifting and it remains that way even today, providing a positive way to inform the people of this city.”
Contributing Writer