There’s nothing like good, old-fashioned Akron ingenuity.

When solicited for innovative ways to improve everyday life, we come up with clever ideas.

Older readers of the Beacon Journal might recall “Idea Payoff,” a syndicated newspaper feature drawn by Cleveland Press cartoonist Lou Darvas and edited by Jerry Langell. A $2 prize was awarded daily for creative solutions to annoying problems.

Greater Akron residents appeared more than 130 times when the Beacon Journal published the feature from 1948 to 1956. We sifted through nearly a decade of ideas to present some helpful, funny and prophetic suggestions from long ago.

What a great idea!

• There must be someone who someday will invent an automatic potato peeler for the home. (Joan Jastraub, Canal Fulton, 1948)

• Foot-operated switch would let policeman direct traffic from center of street. (Franklin K. Sword, Akron, 1948)

• To help locate articles in supermarkets, each cart to have built-in directory showing place of each commodity. (B.T. Glaze, Akron, 1949)

• Tiny combination locks on luggage would be nice. Then you couldn’t lose the key or leave it at home. (Wanda Hill, Akron 1950)

• For door of baby’s room: A one-way window for mother to look in. Won’t disturb baby by opening door. (Lavonne Hottensmith, Akron, 1950)

• If all toys had a piece of steel inside, then mother could use a magnet to pick up toys from the floor. (Jean Cahoon, Akron, 1950)

• Hot water faucets, as well as cold, outside of new homes, handy for washing cars, porches, screens, etc. (John A. Tate, Akron, 1950)

• Why don’t escalator railings pass through a quick-drying solution to kill germs? (Wilma Kemmel, Cuyahoga Falls, 1950)

• For easier making of iced tea and coffee, how about a liquid concentrate to be added to the cold water? (Jo Mier, Akron, 1950)

• For convenience of patrons, why not have penny vending machines to dispense hand lotion in public washrooms? (Jo O’Dell, Cuyahoga Falls, 1951)

• Why not a paint to cover windows to admit light, but won’t let outsiders look in? (Ethel Teter, Cuyahoga Falls, 1951)

• Why not a washable sick-room straw that bends to patient’s mouth? (Isophene Swendsen, Akron, 1951)

• Nursery books with rounded corners so young children won’t fall against corners or poke their eyes. (Helen Wells, Barberton, 1951)

• Miniature vacuum cleaner to pick up flour, sugar and the like spilled on kitchen cupboard shelves. (Louise Menefee, Akron, 1951)

• Why not locked compartments in refrigerators to keep top secret foods from hungry marauders? (Thomas O. Hill, Akron, 1952)

• Removable cross bar on bicycle to make it either a boy’s or girl’s bike. (Evelyn Fallon, Cuyahoga Falls, 1952)

• Paint cans with top of can an inch or two above paint level so paint may be stirred without spilling. (Anna Mitterbach, Cuyahoga Falls, 1952)

• For wrapping of Christmas gifts, paper that comes in a roll with a cutting bar the same as wax paper. (Catherine Rolph, Akron, 1952)

• To induce the children to eat, why not a “rainbow” cereal in many bright colors? (Julia Ferko, Barberton, 1953)

• Drive-in post office: They’ll weigh and stamp your packages without you getting out of car. (Ada F. Clayton, East Akron, 1953)

• Television sets with built-in electrical outlets for plugging in lamps and electric clocks more neatly and easily. (Allen O. Rom, Wadsworth, 1953)

• Method to dye carpets on the floor in home to harmonize with new color scheme. (Rita Durosko, Akron, 1953)

• Starching attachment for steam irons so clothes may be starched and ironed at the push of a button. (Mary Ann Kress, Medina, 1954)

• Car to have flashing signal on dashboard when ignition is off and key remains. So you won’t leave keys in car. (Betty White, Brady Lake, 1954)

• Tile in knotty pine design for bathroom for people who want to continue this same pattern throughout the house. (Iris Buchard, Akron, 1954)

• Short drivers could see better if car steering wheel had a “V” cut out of top to eliminate blind spot. (Marcella Mellor, Barberton, 1954)

• Washers and dryers that ring when cycles are completed to let homemaker know it’s time for another load. (Margaret Folden, Akron, 1954)

• Why don’t restaurant drive-ins furnish a tray for convenience of riders in back seat? (Wayne L. Burke, Akron, 1954)

• Extra hair, or wigs, for dolls that may have been scalped. (Mary Beach, Akron, 1954)

• Office stapler with an indicator to signal that the stapler will soon run out of staples. (Jennie Cox, Akron, 1954)

• To approve the appearance of your yard, why not a plastic slipcover for garbage can? (Mary Cooper, Akron, 1954)

• For cold winter days, a starter you can set to warm up your car engine 10 minutes before you leave. (W.R. Waite, Akron, 1954)

• Electric mop for home use. Pour in some soap fluid and you’re ready to go to work. (Elaine Meador, Stow, 1955)

• Plastic smock for mothers to slip over small children to keep their clothes clean until the company arrives. (Dorothy Dorsey, Akron, 1955)

• Stores to have a “single-earring day” for girls to replace the one they lost. (Beatrice “Bee” Munro, Akron, 1955)

• Why not ready-made cake frosting in the spray cans for a quick job of icing a cake? (Evelyn Filhour, Greentown, 1955)

• Why not a store where you can rent toys and games if you need them for a party? (Barbara Thompson, Cuyahoga Falls, 1956)

• As an aid to mothers, a door mat requiring at least eight wipes of the feet before the door will open. (Geraldine Colbert, Tallmadge, 1956)

• For quiet when talking, as well as privacy, why doesn’t every new home have a telephone booth built in? (Mary Ferrante, Stow, 1956)

• A horn in the rear of a car so that you may signal a driver coming up on you carelessly from behind. (Jeannette Vachon, Akron, 1956)

• Children to wear a little timer, like a wristwatch, to ring in an hour or whenever mother wants them home. (Justine Trowbridge, Cuyahoga Falls, 1956)


Mark J. Price can be reached at 330-996-3850 or