History of the West Park
Neighborhood

Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio

Memories & Comments
of the West Park and nearby area

Memories and/or photographs that you wish to contribute would be appreciated.  Please try to include as many details as you possibly can.
Send them to The History of the West Park Neighborhood.          Return to Main Page


Places

 

AGRICO
The Alfred Hitchcock Tree
Asplin Basket Factory
Bearden's on Rocky River Drive
Bono's Barbershop
Corner Food Store at West 140th & San Diego
Diney's Drive In

Dryer/Dreyer's Pond
Ernie's (or Taffle's) Deli
Frankie's Delicatessen
Franklin Ice Cream: Puritas & W. 140th
Gray Drug Store
Gunning Park: Puritas Pool
Herold’s Grocery and Meat Market
Hullabaloo Teen Club
Jefferson Park
Kamms Corner Area
Landphair Dry Goods store
Lorain Avenue & West 120's
Marquard House
Martin Jewelry Store
The Orange Hut
Ortli's Market
Post Office at West 132nd and Lorain Rd.
Puritas Avenue-Rocky River Drive area

Puritas Plaza
Puritas Springs Park
Radke Delicatessen
Reliable Drug
Riverside Theatre
Rocky River Drive
Royal Castle
Settlement School
Stroemple's hamburger stand
Tony's Diner
Tyler Estate
Variety Theater

Vee's Freeze
Verda Brobst Elementary School
Wagenknecht Grocers & Meats
Walton Drug
West 130th Street - general
West Park Branch - Cleveland Public Library

West Park Pharmacy
West Park Recreation
West Park Theatre
West Side Drive-In Theatre

West's Roasted Peanuts

World Theatre West

Zickes Drug Store

 

Miscellaneous
 

Events

Tornado of 8 June 1953

Memories of the nearby area
"Almost West Park"

Linndale Roundhouse

Lyric Theater

Robert Hall Clothes

People

At Home on Lena Avenue. By Carol Nichols Henninger
Barbara Sedio, teacher at John Marshall High School

General

LaVerne Landphair Buch Remembers
     When West Park was Farms and Dirt Roads

   
By Gary Swilik

Responses from West family descendents

The Cleveland National Air Races
          Memories of Mike Moody, Orange Co., CA

 

 

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The Alfred Hitchcock Tree

I was allowed to drive the family station wagon the first night after getting my license. It was a yellow "woodie." Shelia Hanrahan, Carol Kirby, Elaine Stecko, maybe Lori Popa, and some other girls and I drove down to see the Alfred Hitchcock Tree. Unfortunately the ground was wet and we got stuck in the mud. We had to call a park ranger and a tow truck to get us out! As restitution we had to come back the next day, haul dirt up from the river, and plant new grass seed! Thanks to all my buddies who helped repair the damages. Anyone else remember that night?? 

--- Dawn (Shepp) Cartwright, Bloomington, IN. 03 July 2008

  Do you know of the Alfred Hitchcock tree? Lemme know. Wish I had a pic!

--- Joseph McDowell.  13 May 2008

 Hi Joe,
 Absolutely we know of the Alfred Hitchcock tree! Remember asking girls if they wanted to go down the valley and see Alfred Hitchcock?
     For those who don't know, there was once a tree in front of the golf course at the bottom of Puritas Hill in Metropolitan Park. There was a growth on the trunk of the tree that was silhouetted in the light from the golf course at night. It looked exactly, and I mean exactly, like the shadow of Alfred Hitchcock that used to appear at the beginning of his TV show.

--- Gary Swilik, westparkhistory.com.  13 May 2008


Asplin Basket Factory

(Hartville, Ohio, location) I worked for the Asplin Basket Company in Hartville, Ohio, for only one year before it was purchased by Longaberger Baskets in 1982. I started as a braider and was then trained on the banding staple machine. I then worked for the Longaberger Company as a master weaver until 1996. I will never forget the pinkish orange color mold that would grow on the veneer. I often wonder what kind of harm that has done to my lungs.
    Braiding was not as exciting as running the banding machine. There was no safety on these machines and I was told stories of people having staples run through fingers. We were paid minimum wage plus a piece rate per dozen. We worked hard to get the few extra dollars on our checks. The building we worked in was heated by the boiler which was stoked with wood scraps we threw on the floors. Needless to say the heat was poor and we worked with no air-conditioning in the summer months. I remember once standing in a puddle of water in the winter, my feet were frozen, but I kept on working.
    I may have some memorabilia around the house. I used to have one of my brother's business cards and my old time clock punch card, both had Asplin Basket Company on them. Thank you for bringing back the memories.

--- Vickie Black.  28 April 2009

(Hartville, Ohio, location) Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge of Asplin Basket Company. I was employed with the Hartville, Ohio branch of the company from the time I was 16 in 1973 until it was acquired by Longaberger Baskets in 1982.
    Asplin Basket began at West 150th and Lorain Avenue in Cleveland in 1914. I believe this location was closed in the 1960s before I began working for the company. The Hartville operation was owned by Charles T. “Kim” and Wilma Kimberly. Wilma was the daughter of founder W.E. Asplin.
    I have many found memories of the Hartville branch. When I began work at the age of 16, I was a material sorter, sorting out the good veneer for the braiders who did most of the work by hand. Then they would proceed to a banding stapling machine. Then a “maker” would staple the ends. If a handle was required there would be one last type of stapling machine. 
    Later my duties progressed to a “buncher” who would put the baskets into pods of four for shipping. Most of the baskets were 16 or 24 quarts sizes but we also had 4, 8 and 12 quart sizes. They were priced by the dozen and typically sold by the truck load. A truck would hold approximately 175 dozen and I believe they were priced at around $6.25 per
dozen.
    Still later I moved to the warehouse and driving a truck. The baskets did not have the company name on them. They were strictly working baskets, used for lettuce, onions, peaches and other fruits and vegetables. "Asplin" was, however, written on all of the trucks.
    At the time most baskets were delivered to the muck farms (the soil is pure black) in Hartville and Willard, Ohio during the summer and to greenhouses in and around Cleveland in the winter months. We really had a small customer base; I would guess less than 50 customers.
    To my knowledge there was no advertising. Everyone in the industry knew the three local manufactures (Asplin was the largest). The other two manufacturers were MacIntyre Basket in Crestline, Ohio, and Berlin Heights Fruit and Basket in Berlin Heights, Ohio.
    Other duties during the time of my employment were working on the lathes and in the log yard. My parents could always tell when I worked in the log yard because the odor that came from the cooking logs stayed with you for days!
    I believe Hartville was the largest Asplin operation but we only employed around fifty workers prior to Longaberger purchasing the facility. I remember hearing (not sure how true) the plants were separated to keep the work force at each relatively small to help keep union activity out. The working wage at Asplin for all but a few was minimum wage. I remember working for $1.60 per hour!
    Eventually, I became manager of the Hartville plant. I really enjoyed my time at the Asplin company and the opportunity that Charles Kimberly gave a 16 year old looking for his first job.
    Longaberger bought the Asplin facility at Hartville for their veneer capabilities. They did not have this equipment in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the Hartville operation closed a couple of years ago.
   
After Asplin in Hartville was acquired by Dave Longaberger, I relocated to Dresden, Ohio, to become the Executive Vice President of Longaberger Baskets until I left in 1986.

--- Raymond R. Black, Lewis Center, OH.  24 April 2009

As kids we used to always go to the Asplin Basket Factory as a family tradition to choose our Christmas tree. (The large warehouse was used to sell Christmas trees.) It was a unique place because their trees were on the second floor of the large, chilly warehouse, and the trees were suspended from ropes, not on the floor. That allowed we kids to race through the suspended forest, spinning trees as we went. I never knew the full name of that wonderful place until I read your article.

--- Michael McGannon, Aptos, CA.  31 January 2009

My mother, Dorothy Erman Goodyear, John Marshall High class of 1927, worked at the Asplin Basket Factory in the middle 1920s. It was her first job. She used to say she had to stand on her feet all day and it was awfully hot work.
 My Uncle, William Deeks, drove a delivery wagon for Asplin and delivered the baskets to local greenhouses. He did this for many years.
    Personally I don't have any memories of the factory except having it pointed out to me every time we drove past, so I
grew up hearing many stories about Asplin's and feeling I had a direct connection.

--- Alma Goodyear Appelgate, Huntersville, NC. 20 January 2009

I remember the Asplin Basket Company from the early 1950s and the awful odor that occasionally would be generated from the plant.

--- Neil Sheeley, North Royalton, OH. 3 January 2009

Yes, I remember the Asplin Basket Factory. In the late 1940s and early 1950s several Japanese families were employed there. "Gary K." was class of 54 or 55. Melvin Hiramoto(?) was class of 56 or 57.

--- Dave Herrington, Clever, MO. 01 January 2009

The Asplin Basket Factory was owned by the father of a former classmate.  Sorry but I forgot his name.  He told me they were hiring for the summer of 1953.  I went to work there and somehow made it last for two weeks.  There was no air conditioning and it was 110 degrees in the loft of the main building.  Most of the workers were Chinese-born and we were required to make 75 baskets per hour.  My best was 37.  So I was demoted from basket making and wound up in the loft instead.  Since I was only 16 I could not operate any machinery and I was not allowed to run the stapler.  When I was let go, I felt relieved.

--- James Mokren, Jackson, OH.  29 December 2008

Asplin Basket Factory


Bearden's on Rocky River Drive

Bearden's! That was our hang out after going to the movies at the Riverside Theatre. They had the best hamburgers ever. Our favorite waitress (inside) was a classy lady named Hazel. We were just teenagers but we're treated like VIPs!

--- Noreen (Vogelpohl) Gerhardinger Elyria, OH. 14 May 2008

 

My future wife and I used to go to Bearden's on Rocky River Drive. We really liked the hamburgers; they were nice and juicy. I especially liked their sweet pickle relish. I liked it so much I asked for the brand so that we could use it at home. The brand was not available at stores, so I remember Bearden’s agreeing to sell me a jar. The jar was huge, it probably lasted a couple of years.
    I have one story always brings a chuckle to me. We were there one evening when we were about 19 years old. As was our custom, when the food came, we took the hamburgers, french fires and ketchup from the window tray and placed them on the front seat between us. We finished, and I was in the process of clearing things from the seat. I took the first hand full of stuff and turned to my left to place it on the tray outside the window, knowing all I had left to pick up was the ketchup, in those little white cup-like containers they used to use. Just then my wife scooted over to sit next to me, the way girls used to in the pre-bucket-seat days. She didn’t realize it immediately, but she had just sat on the ketchup."

--- Larry James, Dallas, TX.  January 28, 2007

(At Bearden's on Rocky River Drive)....the carhops came out to the car as you ordered over your own individual speaker.  Most of the car hops were "foxes" and served the best darn vanilla milkshakes, served in a tall glass like ice tea or mint julep.  Bearden's was the hangout for most John Marshall High kids but others joined in too. Last time I was there was in 1960 with my hot black Chevy Impala, 8th fastest car at the Detroit NHRA Nationals.  I went to the original Bearden's in Rocky River a couple of years ago, never knew it was there. Lots of fun . . . . The 50's were absolutely great!

--- Jon Dolfurd, John Marshall High School, Class of 1957, Longs, SC. 27 January 2006

I worked my way thru high school working at Bearden's.
    I was a car-hop at Bearden's on Rocky River Drive from June, 1960 to January, 1962. We had dark green uniforms with yellow stripes along the legs, and a dark green vest with a yellow cummerbund. We also wore a small, dark green hat. In cold weather we had dark green jackets.
    Rocky River Bearden's had a 60 car lot with automatic intercom speakers to take the orders, and you could signal for pick up of the trays.  Each car had a number and the car hops carried their food on a tray that fit over the car window. The serving trays we carried were able to attach to all car windows with little problem but you had to be careful they weren't top heavy. It could only carry two milkshakes per order otherwise it would tip over.
    Most of the time we took orders from the speakers but the staff took turns on busy days. . Bearden's was open 7 days a week, usually starting at 11 a.m., till 11 p.m., and two hours later on the week ends. Most days one girl took care of the entire lot but might have more help on Friday evenings. Friday and Saturday nights were very busy!
    We also took turns in chopping up onions one day and making onion rings on another day. We made more tips on "onion day" because we looked like we were crying.
    I only made $.55 an hour plus tips. All our food was free but we had to write it up for their expenses. 
    Yes, I liked the food! People remember Bearden's burgers were great and their onion rings were made fresh.  One other small burger was made with peanut butter grilled on the burger.  Only a few people ordered that but it smelled sooo good when it was cooking!
    The old Bearden's in Parma used the same recipes and made their onion rings the same.  Fast Eddies in Parma had the same food for a while.
    The first fast food to compete with us was "Golden Point" with 25 cent hamburgers.  They were not that good. Big Boys opened after that but they were not any faster and I don't think they hurt our business because we were in the same price range.
    At Rocky River Bearden's they tried serving breakfast for one year but they did not have the staff for it.  I think the Lakewood Bearden's had it longer.
    Howard Hinton was the manager of the Rocky River Drive Bearden's for many years.  His red-haired wife was a waitress at Lakewood Bearden's.  I don't think he was related to the Orange family, but the person that made the recipe for Bearden's used steak burger suet for their good taste.  The Orange family opened many restaurants in Florida, and I think they used the same suet.  There might be some family members that I don't know about.
    Of course all male customers were interested in every good looking car hop! Although Bearden's uniforms were not low cut and mothers did not object to them. Most car hops instinctively knew how to handle wolves. If not they all knew local police! If older men tried to flirt with young girls they usually called them "Grandpa!"

--- June Kreuzer, Cleveland, OH.  19 January 2006

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Bearden's Drive-In
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Corner Food Store  3711 West 140th & San Diego Avenue

My mother worked at the Corner Store at West 140th and San Diego Avenue. My mom and Louise Yanesh were good friends. That meant free penny candies! Stanley, Louise's first husband, used to sneak me candy by the bag. "Shhh! Put it in your book bag" but my mom knew. That all stopped when Stan died and she married Joe. Nice guy but no candy.

--- Patti Daycak, Parma, OH.  13 July 2006

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Corner Food Store


Diney's Drive In

"Diney's Drive-In was located on West 117th, south of Lorain.  It was torn down when the highway (I-90) was built. It was a very popular place for muscle cars to go, almost legendary.  I used to hang out there with my muscle car in the early 70's. I had a 1969 black Camaro SS. Also-known-as the blonde in the black Camaro, the only female on the West Side with a muscle car. I heard stories of a female on the East side with a pretty hot 'Vette but never saw her.  As I recall, the muscle cars at Diney's always backed into their spot.  Some would put money on the dashboard of the car, visible through the windshield to passerby, and wait for a car to challenge them.  Lots of anticipation and excitement in those days!  By that time Diney's had been around for quite awhile.  There was no dining room.  They served great cheeseburgers right to your car."

--- Jill (maiden name Henry) Fennessy, Sand Lake, MI. 15 December 2007

"Diney's had great burgers! I think it was the Velveeta that made them great. My mom even went there back when she went to John Marshall. Her favorite was the peanut butter burger. This is yet another great burger joint that bit the dust."

--- David Rimke, Hesperia, CA.  8 September 2007

The memories come flooding back.  When we were students at West Tech High School (1957-60), my best friend Joy and I would walk from West 97th Street (where we both lived) along Lorain Avenue to West. 117th Street.  Then we would hitchhike to Diney's, telling the driver we would buy him a cup of coffee just to take us there.  Diney's was a great place to go while out on a date.  They had the BEST burgers and chocolate malts.  My husband and I went there a lot and we continued to go to Diney's after we got married in 1961.
    I hesitated about mentioning the hitchhiking in my post but I've told my kids about it so the secret's out.  My best friend, Joy Clark Freda, and I used to hitchhike a lot back then, mostly on Denison Avenue on our way to the tennis courts at Brookside Park.  We never got in a car with a bunch of guys (safety first).  We usually accepted a ride from a family, and since we were carrying our tennis rackets, it was obvious where we were going.  We used to ride our bikes, but holding onto a tennis racket was awkward while riding a bike.

   --- Lois Gollwitzer Dixon, Livonia, Michigan. 15 April 2007.

  I sure remember Diney's! Spent many Friday and Saturday nights cruising between there and the Berea Manners. We used to drag race on the street just behind Diney's as well.
    I had a 59 Impala convertible with a 348. Used to hang out with Louie Wagner, Joe Siebert, and Dick Schurk. We were all into cars back then. At that time, my 59 was the one with the biggest engine of any of the other guys. They nicknamed me "Billy big motor." It wasn't all that fast, but made great noise with the cherry bomb mufflers.
    Off to war in 1968, returned in 1972, and still made the trip to Diney's occasionally, then with my 67 Impala SS427 that I bought before going into the Navy.
    Diney's closed sometime around 1975 if I remember correctly. The word got out there would be a final cruise night there. I went in my El Camino, and parked two cars deep. I saw cars from the old days that night, still out running around. One guy even brought a dragster on a trailer, parked across the street, unloaded it and drove across the street to the restaurant. Someone took pictures and sent them to Hot Rod magazine. A photo was put in the magazine, along with a short article about Diney's. I had the magazine at one time, but lost it over the years. Good memories of those days. I still haven't grown out of the old car thing; I have had an Avanti for 20 years now. As in the old days, it is the loudest car on the block.

--- Bill Chapo, Knoxville, TN.  6 June 2006
Originally posted on the John Marshall Alumni Message Board. Edited and posted here with Mr. Chapo's permission.

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Diney's Drive In


Dryer's Pond (Also known as Dreyer's Pond)

 Dryer's Pond was a place where the boys went but not the girls. It was mostly for guys and we just didn't go there. We called it "Bare Ass Beach."

--- Peggy Patton, Cleveland, OH.  17 February 2010

 I found your site earlier this evening and cannot believe I'm still studying it even at this late hour.

Just happened to locate the Dreyer's Pond info and I could go on for hours about that place.  My dad, Aloysius Baechle, was born in 1913 (God rest his beautiful soul) in the area now known as Brookpark.  When he was still a baby his family moved into a home that stood right next to Dreyer's Pond.  He told me many tales about the pond and I've got some, too.

My dad was a supervisor at the old Agrico plant (American Agricultural Company) and before that his father, Andrew Baechle, was a night watchman there.  As a child, my dad would meet my grandfather at that bridge and walk home with him after work.

I would like to correct an assumption concerning pollution of the pond. People think that because of the location of the fertilizer factory it only makes sense it was the cause of ruining the pond.  While the factory may have contributed in some minor ways, it was the Ford Motor Company on Brookpark Road that was the main culprit.  Dreyer's Creek runs from the location of Ford, eventually crosses W.150 Street, and leads to the old Dreyer's Pond.  This creek, I learned, is what really brought the "bad" stuff to a beautiful pond.

Also, a small tree-lined, dusty road, which I believe was called Red Road in the old days, led from West 150th Street straight back to the pond.  It was in a house at the end of this road that my dad lived when he was child.  As a matter of fact, your great photo of the bridge over Dreyer's Pond would have in its background the very end of the road where my dad lived.  Further, I feel that if studied carefully, the photo actually reveals my dad's home, along with another that sat across the road. I have a cousin who visited there often and she insists that is what's shown in the photo.

I have vivid memories of catching snapping turtles from below Dreyer's dam, as well as hunting pheasants and rabbits all around the pond and along the creek.  That was as late as the 1950s and very early 1960s!

Thanks for the memories.

--- Jim Baechle, Westlake  OH  26 March 2009

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Dryer's Pond


Ernie's (or Taffle's) Deli

 The deli at the southwest corner of West 158th and Lorain Avenue was owned by Ernie Chomos and was called Ernie's, or Taffle's for some reason. (Today it is Charlie's Beverage at 15803 Lorain.) There was a four stool soda fountain in there and you could get cherry, lime or lemon cokes. I remember they used to carry the MIDNIGHT tabloid, and it always scared me as a kid because it had front page stories like MOM COOKS FAMILY DOG AND SERVES IT FOR DINNER. Next to that was a laundromat, a couple of other places I can't remember, and of course the Far-Mor tavern. I also remember Wilkie's bakery across the street and the Cork 'n' Bottle. I used to go to Wilkie's every Saturday morning and get doughnuts and pastry for breakfast.

--- Nicolas D'Amico, Cleveland, OH. 02 January 2010

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Frankie's Delicatessen

 Sometime in the spring or summer in the 1950s the Duncan YoYo Company would send a Filipino sales rep to Frankie's Delicatessen (4444 Rocky River Drive just north of Puritas Avenue) to perform tricks in front of the store to induce us to go inside and purchase yoyos. I think Duncan sold 3 models; the Satellite, the Butterfly, and the Tournament. All made of wood. If you bought a yoyo this guy would expertly carve your name and maybe a palm tree on it. A Duncun yoyo was out of my price range so I had a cheap imitation that was ruined by my attempt at doing my own carving. But we would watch this guy do all those incredible yoyo tricks and walk down Rocky River trying to copy him. Years later Frankie's had a reputation for selling beer to minors who had fake draft cards. I think I may have used this service a few times.

--- Doug Viant, Galloway, OH.  25 February 2009

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Frankie's Delicatessen


Franklin Ice Cream - Puritas and West 140th

 I remember Franklin Ice Cream in the shopping center on W. 150th and Puritas.  My girlfriend Bev Brown and I used to meet there on Fridays and hang out. Of course you had to get ice cream or a coke to sit there but we sure had some great times.

--- Sandy Shaw, Daleville, AL.  4 June 2007

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Franklin Ice Cream


Gray Drug Store

Gray's Drug Store, at West 137th and Lorain, was our major hangout in the mid 1950s. After school the girls, mostly from St. Joes, and the guys would meet for a coke or a phosphate. Unless something else was going on, we would drift up there in the evening and congregate. The fountain girls were really nice to us, especially a middle-age woman named Mary and a small rotund lady with a German accent. I get the warm fuzzies thinking about it. We were not too unruly but every so often the pharmacist, who was the "muscle," would give us the heave-ho.

--- David Shepley, Brunswick OH.  30 May 2008

Gray Drug's at West 137th and Lorain was my comic-book-buying headquarters. I used to ride my bike up there almost daily, leave it leaning against a pole outside, and run in to see if any new issues had come out. The DC comics were my favorites. Superman, Batman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and especially The Atom, who could go from full-size to microscopic at will. Comics were displayed on revolving wire racks. There was a sign on top of the rack that read "Hey Kids! Comics!"

    Gray's also had a lunch counter along the west wall of the store, with both a counter and booths. A long, rectangular window behind the counter looked out on Christ Methodist Church.

    When my buddies and I were little it used to be fun to ride past that winortldow on our bikes at lunchtime, when the counter was packed with customers, and make silly faces at them. Not real bright.

    It was fun to get vanilla and chocolate cokes at the counter when we were a little older, and watch other stupid kids ride past the window and make faces.

--- Gary Swilik, Cleveland, OH. 28 November 2007

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Gunning Park:  Puritas Pool

 Does anyone remember the old open-air pool at Gunning Park? To get into the pool you had to go through those monkey bar turn-styles that were as tall as an adult, run through a shower, and then put your feet up on a board, one at a time, in front of the lifeguard. He or she would check between your toes for fungus or athlete's foot, and give you the OK to get in the pool.
    No matter how hot it was the water was always freezing till you adjusted. Actually it was only half water, the other half being chlorine. It smelled like a giant Clorox bottle!
    I seem to always have memories of death but here goes: The pool was usually packed full of people. All you could really do was stand up because it was so crowded. Once a small girl jumped in at the shallow end and hit her head on the side of the pool. No one realized what had happened because of the crowded conditions. You guessed it. She drowned! This put a damper on the whole summer and the pool was not the enjoyable place it once was.

--- Doug Viant, Galloway, OH.  12 May 2009

I most certainly do recall the swimming pool at Gunning Park. We always called it simply "Puritas Pool." It was an open-air pool, not enclosed in a building like the pool in the recreation center at Gunning Park today. So, of course, it was only open in the summer.
    We'd get to the pool by going south down West 140th, then west along Puritas Avenue. The railroad tracks on Puritas, just east of the pool, then crossed at street level. There was no underpass, as there is today. You couldn't see the pool until you came up over the tracks and, suddenly, there it was. It was always kind of exciting for us little kids to get the first glimpse of the pool, shining blue on a sunny day.
    I remember the turn-styles, the showers, and the foot inspections but you also had to walk through a shallow pool of some kind of yellowish-green foot disinfectant. The lifeguard sat at a wooden contraption that looked almost like a shoe-maker's bench, with a place for you to put your foot. You had to carefully spread your toes apart so the guard could look between them for signs of infection. I think one of my buddies was actually denied admittance once, having failed the foot inspection.
    I wonder why no one has to have their feet inspected before getting into a public pool today. Was it all for nothing?
    I learned to swim in a series of early morning classes at Puritas Pool, and since it was outside, it was often kind of cold at that hour. We'd stand around hugging ourselves, dreading jumping into the cold water. Then, once we were in the water, we didn't want to get out and freeze in the cold air.
Yes, on really hot days Puritas Pool was absolutely packed. No room to swim, just stand in the water and bob up and down! But these were the days when home air-conditioners were only for the wealthy and even that lukewarm water felt so good.

--- Gary Swilik, Cleveland, OH. 12 May 2009

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Herold’s Grocery and Meat Market

 I went to Garfield elementary school on West 140th and remember Herold's store across the street. We did the penny candy thing, especially the red licorice sticks.

 

--- Bill Chapo, Knoxville, TN.  17 June 2006

 

I worked at Herold's grocery for two or three years. I'd wait on customers and stock the shelves. Sometimes I'd deliver groceries and Mr. Herold would let me use his car. I think I started at ten dollars a week. Just before I quit to go into the army in July, 1941, I think I was making twelve dollars per week.
    Mr. Herold treated me nicely. I ate lunch there all the time right in the apartment over the store with the family. It was mostly sandwiches but they were good. Mrs. Herold was flamboyant and a flashy dresser. When I worked there she would sometimes wait on a customer but not often.
    Mr. Herold was a very good meat cutter. He was teaching me meat cutting when I went into the service.
    He had a lot of customers that were on the tab. Each customer had their own sheet kept in a drawer. I would just mark down their purchases on a sheet. A lot of customers then came in and paid their bills on Saturday.
    As I recall the store was open about 8 in the morning to 6 at night during the week, and until 8 in the evening on Saturday. It was a busy place. Mr. Herold held his own against Fisher's and Kroger's which also had stores on West 140th.
    I knew the Herold girls, Zita and Dolores. I remember when Zita got married Mr. Herold closed the store on a Saturday for her wedding.

--- Richard "Dick" R. Morrison, Cleveland, OH.  15 January 2007

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Herold's Grocery and Meat Market


Hullabaloo Teen Club

 On Friday evenings I would get my go-go boots and head to Hullabaloo Teen Club on Lorain Avenue where I would do the latest dances: The Hully Gully, Twist, Shotgun, Swim, Jerk, Watusi, The Stroll, Mashed Potato, The Pony, Four Corners, Dirty Dog, and a host of others. Once I even came in second in a Hullabaloo dance contest.
    There was no entry fee and anyone could compete. The winner won a motorcycle. We danced on the floor in front of the stage, similar to the dance contests of the 1940s. They would tag those that were disqualified. I wish I could remember the songs we danced to. I know there was a lot of shimmying going on.
    It came down to two of us, and the other girl won. At the time, I felt overlooked. She was a sexy greaser and I was a “Flower Child.” I have no idea if this played a part or not. They totally ignored me. One minute I felt like a star and the next – I was a loser. Poor soul!
    Another time I remember walking down Rocky River Drive going to Hullabaloo. I carried my shoes and walked barefoot. I had the typical surfer hair style, long and blond. Someone driving by stopped, jumped out of his car, took my picture, and sped off. I always wondered what happened to that picture.
    When I arrived at Hullabloo, I discovered I'd forgotten either my money or my pass. My friend Sherry and I tried to sneak in the back but the security guard caught us. He felt sorry for us and let us in.
    I actually still have an ashtray that I put on my Christmas Tree every year. It says “Swiped from the Hullabaloo.”

 

--- Garland McFarland, New Castle, KY. 8 September 2009

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Jefferson Park

 I just ran across your web site on West Park history. I haven't had time to view and read everything yet but I see no mention of Jefferson Park. I grew up on West 132nd Street and spent many a day in the park. The highlight was in the winter when they flooded the park for ice skating and on Friday nights they would leave the flood lights on until 9:00 p.m. Thanks again for such wonderful memories.

 

--- Brian F. Moran, Fairview Park, OH.  13 June 2008

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Kamms Corner Area

I remember the stores along Lorain Avenue going west from West 165th Street. There was a Rexall pharmacy, next to that was Baby Land, then a department store called Red Robin. I got all of my Aurora monster models at Baby Land and my copies of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine at Rexall. As I recall, there was a Dodge dealer across the street from Rexall, where the U-Haul place is now.

--- Nicolas D'Amico, Cleveland, OH. 02 January 2010

 

Eddie Trsek, policeman working Kamms Corners
    For many years the police department had a foot patrolman working Kamms Corners.  His name, as I recall, was Eddie Trsek (Tree-sick) and he was a nice man.  He ensured that the school kids got across the intersection without difficulty and occasionally directed traffic when things got hectic.  But he patrolled the neighborhood quite well summer and winter and I am sure the merchants appreciated that because at Christmas time he really made out.
    All the merchants loaded him up with gifts in response to his being around the corners day after day.  He must have looked like Santa at times on his way home.  We don't have a police presence like that any more. 

--- Dan Weber, Rancho Cordova, CA.  10 October 2008

More memories of Eddie Trsek2, 3

 

The Home Team at Kamm's Corners
   
In the spring of 1944, toward the end of World War II when I was about 12 years old, my friends and I set our sights on some vacant property where the Kamm's Plaza parking lot is today. There was enough clear space there for a softball diamond. So, leading up to the end of the school year, we got together and cut weeds, smoothed out the field, and installed some white orange crates for bases. It really looked good.
    On the first morning of summer vacation I was lying in bed when I heard a tractor nearby. I got out of bed and raced over to “our” new ball field. My worst fears were confirmed. The owner had decided to plant a Victory Garden on the site! We were one despondent group. We vowed to get even but, in the end, stole only a couple of tomatoes and a few ears of corn that fall.
    The next spring we decided to try again and this time got permission for a diamond although it was a lot more work smoothing out the ruts. We even built a backstop and scoreboard from some scrap lumber and painted them green. It all looked very nice to us.
    At our evening games some of our parents came over and even our dads got involved. It was fun and we all enjoyed it.
    Over the years our group went in different directions. Only one stayed in the area so we pretty much lost contact with each other. Several have passed on and I only really keep track of one fellow who now lives in Oklahoma. Of course, I still see my brother Roger who lives near San Diego. I often wish my own kids could have lived in that era at a place like
Kamm's Corners with valleys to explore, lakes to swim in, rivers to fish, and so many things to do.

--- Dan Weber, Rancho Cordova, CA. 95670.  5 February 2008

Kamm's Corner All-Stars vs. The West 159th Street Gang
   
I was born in 1932 and grew up in our family home at 17504 Allien Avenue. Along with many of my friends, I attended Our Lady of the Angels Elementary School on Rocky River Drive and hung out around Kamm's Corners. In the era after World War II we played a lot of softball on a ball diamond we made on what was then vacant land but is now the northwest section of Kamm's Plaza parking lot.
    One morning I was bragging we had some pretty good players meeting on our ball diamond and, as a result, we were invited to take on the "West 159th Street Gang." A challenge I readily agreed to.
    I use the term "gang" because many of the players lived on West 159th Street or close by.
    The last names of some of these fellows were Birt, Sammon, and Kramer but I'm not certain of the spelling after all these years. They had built a respectable ball diamond of their own on open land northwest of Five Points, where Ernadale, Granton, Tuttle, West Park Road, and West 159th all come together. The neighborhood has changed considerably but I believe the ball field may now be in the area of Saint Anthony Lane.
    So on a sultry Saturday morning my team, including brothers Johnny and Jim Kolonick, (both have passed on) jumped on our bikes and pedaled over to teach the West 159th Street Gang how to play ball – or so we thought!
    Due to the heat, we agreed to play only 5, possibly 6, innings. Besides, that was all I felt we needed to beat them.
    As the visiting team, we batted first. The game started off great. I hit a homer my first time at bat and we immediately scored several runs. Then the roof caved in!
    The 159th Street guys were slamming hits all over the field. We were dropping pop flies, failing to tag runners, and got only a few more hits.  It was a disaster. They scored at will. We couldn’t wait for the end of the game. The final score was something like five runs for us and twenty or more for them.  We had been whipped good!
    We sat around and chatted for a few minutes and then, quick as we could, hopped on our bikes and got out of there. My pals made me promise I would never again schedule a game like this. We headed off to our dairy store hangout to soothe our egos and then, to add insult to injury, I got a flat tire on Lucille Avenue and had to walk the rest of the way back. 

--- Dan Weber, Rancho Cordova, CA. 95670.  10 February 2008

Hello,

Just a couple of comments about the Rocky River Drive 'THEN' photos . . .
    Number 3792 was a small house with a long front porch, sort of a Western motif.  The south side of the house butted up against Vic Gates' gas station.  I see it is now a Shell station.  I used to use their air pump for my bicycle tires.  It also backed up to the Rini's Supermarket which was west of the gas station.
    Number 3788-3786 was an add-on building that came along much later . . . .perhaps in the late 1940s  Our family bought our first 8mm movie camera there.  Next door was the Kamm's branch of the local Post Office.
    Number 3772 was a rather run down house and at one time there were a slew of kids living there.
    Number 3758 was a lovely old home and behind it was a small house with the address of 3744. (The back house with the address of 3744 may have been behind 3740 rather than 3758.  I am just not sure.) My mother knew those folks, probably from church, and they had a daughter that was a substitute teacher at Our Lady of Angels.  Behind that house was the ravine and creek which ran west, north of Allien Avenue (where my family lived.)  In the winter time we could see the back of that house clearly.
    Number 3740 was another rather stately home.  In small towns it might be referred to as the banker's house.  I do not know who lived in any of these homes, although my parents probably did.  Following 3740 northward was a small apartment building and then Oxford Avenue.
    The Kamm's store was on the SW corner of Rocky River Drive and Lorain.  It had been a restaurant and bar for many years under various names such as "Tony's".  The right/west side of the building was a barber shop for many years and when my Dad was too busy to give me a haircut I would go there and have Mr. House cut it.  Then next to that, westbound, was Joyce's Bar which was as close to a neighbor pub as you could find around West Park.
    The northeast corner of Kamm's Corner was the Cleveland Trust building with a number of doctors and dentists on the second floor.  The window looking out over the clock (which was a late add-on) was Doctor Faus' office.  My mother worked there as a dental assistant and met my father there.  He was a patient.  She lived south on Rocky River Drive at a boarding house for girls near St Pat's and would walk or ride the streetcar/bus down to Kamms to go to work.

--- Dan Weber, Rancho Cordova, CA. 95670.  12 June 2006

A place I remember very well is Leader Drug Store located at Kamm's Corner.  I worked there as a stock boy, helped at the soda bar and delivered drugs for Mr. Harold Resnick.  I always laugh now as I look back and compare how far we have come.  I would sometimes deliver up to 20 different drug prescriptions that contained who knows what, and I was only 17 years old.  Helping out at the soda bar was always fun, making sodas, banana splits and helping to grill hamburgers for the lady who was in charge.  I remember scrubbing the grill with I believe it was a soap stone after heating it up and pouring water on it.
    My wife and I used to bowl at Olympic recreation.  My wife was an excellent bowler and was on a bowling team at John Marshall called the "Ten Pins".  Mr. Barthelman ran the bowling center which, if memory serves me right, had only 12 lanes.  The "Ten Pins" represented Olympic Recreation in the City Bowling Tourney one year and won.  I still have a picture of my wife taken at the tourney which appeared in the newspaper.
    Kamm's Corner was always a great area to hang out.  Many places to eat and such.  As a matter of fact I played on the muny football team called the Kamms Corner Merchants.  It was a 125 pound weight limit league, bantam weight, and I was selected to the 2nd team all star team at the quarterback position. Great memories. I really enjoy thinking back to a time that was so important to all of us when things were more innocent.

 --- Lou Diamond, Garland, TX. 4 March 2007

I have many many fond memories of...

+ Kamm's corners
+ Our Lady of Angels School and church
+ Taking the bus to the rapid transit station with a group of friends, then to the baseball stadium to use the free baseball tickets that the Cleveland Plain Dealer gave to "A" students.  I was 8 through 11 years old!
+ "Down in the Valley"
+ Cutting through Alger Cemetery on my bike to go to the library
+ Royal Castle's cheap, great hamburgers and birch beer
+ "Kaiser's" Store, near the Fariview Hospital.  Actually, it was a liquor store that sold candy.  Run in the early '60's by Mrs. Kaiser, later by Alvin.  We went there every day, if we could scrape up a few pennies for Jawbreakers, licorice, gum or a nickel for a candy bar.
+ Eddie the crossing guard  (See also 1, 3)
(A newspaper article appeared in the Cleveland Press or the Plain Dealer circa spring 1966.  There was a photograph of Eddie the crossing guard with four girls.  I was sitting on his lap!  Four OLA sixth grade girls took up a collection for our favorite Kamm's Corner's policeman and crossing guard, Eddie, when he retired.  We collected $20.25!)
The article stated that Traffic Patrolman Ed Trsek had been a member of the Cleveland Police Department for 41 years when he retired circa 1966. Since 1939, he had been assigned to West Side traffic, particularly Kamms Corners. He had escorted two generations of school children across the intersection at Lorain Avenue and Rocky River Drive. Four sixth-grade pupils of Our Lady of Angels School initiated a fund drive for a gift certificate for "Eddie the crossing guard." Patrolman Trsek, a Strongsville resident, was presented a $21.25 gift certificate at the school.

    From birth to 1959 I lived on Westport Ave, near Brysdale St.  I noticed that street is now gone!  I lived at 17231 Bradgate Avenue from 1959 to May 3, 1966, when we moved to California.  (Click for photo. May, 1989.)

--- Joan Gulling Kolb. Whittier, CA. 5 March 2007

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Rocky River Drive - Then & Now

The Salem Dental Laboratory (3873 Rocky River Dr.) used to be a Convenient Food Mart. I stopped here almost everyday on the way home from school. I remember comics were 60 cents and candy bars were 40 cents. A dollar would be enough to get something worthwhile. This was the first store I was allowed to go to alone on my bike. I was about 11.
    Now there's a Papa John's Pizza on the corner of Lorain and Rocky River Drive. Something else was there first (bowling alley?) but it burned down. I remember the black streaks on the wall which is now covered by a mural. Later there was an empty lot with a big hole in the ground which I always wanted to look at but my mom wouldn't let me get close. It became a Dunkin Donuts by the time I was in high school. I went to a father-daughter dance in my freshman year (1986) and stopped there for donuts. When it first opened they had a guy dressed in a donut costume dancing in the parking lot handing out coffee and donut coupons. He was in a foam rubber suit in 90 degrees plus!
    Tops in Kamm's Plaza used to be Pick-N-Pay. I remember being little enough to fit in the seat on the shopping cart. Mom would stop at the spinner rack of Little Golden Books and get me something to read so I'd stay quiet while she shopped.
    I was highly annoyed when the Riverside Theater closed to build a drugstore. That's where I'd seen RETURN OF THE JEDI and Steven King's CATSEYE, the first movie I was allowed to see alone. This was also the first theater where I went on a date to see a movie. The tickets were $3.50 and popcorn was $1.75 so five dollars was almost enough for a movie and a snack.

--- Lisa Fournier, Cleveland, OH.  28 July 2006

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Landphair Dry Goods store

My grandfather, Edwin Landphair, was originally a partner in the Landphair Dry Goods store at Kamm's Corners with my great-uncle William Landphair. I recall going into the store with my Aunt Millie and her buying me Buster Brown socks."

--- Barb McGilvray Fischer, Toledo, OH. 20 August 2007

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Lorain Avenue in the West 120's area

I can tell you a lot about the before of the pics on Lorain Avenue, W. 130th, etc. since I was born and raised at 3465 W. 129th.  I worked for Bill Mather at the car lot and the West Park Lanes was owned by Johnny Klares once BPA's doubles champion, Lunte Drug made some great Malts, and the grocery store on the corner across from Lunte was owned by Al Capp.  Lloydas cafe made some darn good hamburgers and had the first projection TV which folded up to news paper size.  You forgot the old A&P between 126 and 127th., south side.  I could keep going and tell you about all from W. 116th. (Lyric Theater) all the way to almost Kamms corners on Lorain.  I remember the night before I left for the USMC (1957 Sept.) there was a tavern called the 123 Bar on the north side of Lorain Avenue where the bikers hung out.  That night they had all the units lined up outside and they kind of were leaning, well I helped them out and slightly pushed them over just like dominos.  Needless to say they were P___ed!!!

--- Alan Toth, near Crestview, OH

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Lorain Avenue


Marquard House     Go to Marquard House page


Martin Jewelry Store

I remember a Santa Claus figure that used to sit in the window during the Christmas season at Martin Jewelry near the Riverside Theater. (Martin Jewelry, 17021 Lorain Avenue.)  He was a mechanical figure that would play music while he rocked back and forth. He had a red velvet suit and a long white beard. He was gorgeous.

---  Barb McGilvray Fischer, Toledo, OH.  20 August 2007

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The Orange Hut

The Orange Hut was a great place! The best soft serve ice cream in town. They had 10, 15 and 25 cent cones - the 25 cent cones were HUGE. The Orange Hut had a walk-up window on the right front when you were facing it and a water fountain to the immediate left. There was also a diner inside with a counter and booths, although I almost never went in there.

---  Nicolas D'Amico, Cleveland, OH.  02 January 2010

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Ortli's Market on West 130th Street

Your Now & Then photos of Ortli's Market on West 130th answered my question - (what ever happened to the building?), and jogged my memory as well.
    A year or two after your circa 1961 photo was taken, I purchased my first pack of baseball cards inside. The outside of Ortli's was two-toned green, as I recall. It was a common paint scheme for the time: light green with dark green around the entrance and windows. I remember the glass candy counter inside, and the nice lady who waited on us.
    It was the early 1960s , and I was about five years old. I was familiar with the neighborhood because I attended kindergarten at Nathaniel Hawthorne School on West 130th Street. My buddy Timmy Gallagher, who was a few years older than I, walked with me the ten blocks down Linnet Avenue from our homes on West 120th Street. Along the way Timmy explained to me how my nickel would buy a pack of cards, and how Timmy would receive the piece of bubble gum in the deal. He could have it - that pink rectangular flat piece of gum turned out to be so dry and hard it would crack apart in your mouth!
    I distinctly remember that first pack of five cards: No Cleveland Indians players but there was an outfielder from the Milwaukee Braves that Timmy had heard of. The player's name was Hank Aaron.

--- Peter D. Zwick, Columbia Station, OH. 05 August 2010

I have a nice memory of Ortli's candy store. My older sister used to walk me to a barber shop on West 127th and Lorain for an 85 cent haircut. Afterward, we'd walk down 130th and stop at the Ortli's to blow the remaining 15 cents. If we decided to get ice cream instead, we'd walk down to the Dairy Dell at the corner of West Avenue and 130th. My favorite was a two scooper, one lime and one orange sherbet.

--- David Shepley, Brunswick OH.  30 May 2008

We had a small candy store across from Nathaniel Hawthorne Elementary on W 130th. It was called Ortli's.  I can remember some of the kids going there during lunch or after school to buy candy.  But I didn't have any money to spend on that kind of stuff so I would just go in with my friends and look at the candy in the display cases.  Mrs. Ortli was up in years back then. I can still see her face, a stern, no-nonsense woman with wire rimmed glasses. The counter was to the right as you walked in the door. The house still stands but there is no store there now.

--- John Papay, North Royalton, OH.  31 March 2007

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Ortli's Market on West 130th Street


Post Office at West 132nd and Lorain Rd.

I'm sorry to see some of these old places go. One building I really liked was the post office at West 132nd and Lorain Rd. My dad (Bill Cremati) worked there. Back then the mail men would take the bus to their routes and then work out of boxes that would have all their mail for the day - which they had sorted and cased that morning.  The mail was delivered to them by another driver. Some of the carriers would take their cars but that was a big No-No! It was a lot easier to do that than carry their full mail sack to the route. I guess they finally figured out the cost of the bus, time getting there, the other driver drop-offs, then coming back to the station, would pay for the vehicles they now drive. Today of course they all have there own mini-trucks!

--- John Cremati, Cleveland, OH.  April 2006

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Puritas Avenue and Rocky River Drive area

I grew up on Puritas Springs Rd. and used to go to the Park all the time. All my friends in the neighborhood and myself would go to the roller rink on Saturdays and rent skates and have a ball. The time period was between 1955 and 1958. We were just around seven years old but we would spend our time hiking all over Metropolitan Park and fishing in Rocky River. It was a great place to grow up. Sometimes we would ride our bikes down Grayton Rd. which was dirt and gravel at the time, and watch the planes take off and land at the airport. Too much fun!! I went to Puritas Springs Elementary School. At the corner of Rocky River Drive and Puritas Rd. was a little store called "Frankies" where we got our supply of wax lips, teeth, and licorice!! I loved it!!

--- James Martin, Morongo Valley, CA.  7 March 2009

I was born on West 127th Street on April 10, 1917. My folks moved to Fairview Park when I was there months old. My older sister, Eileen, and I used to go to Puritas Springs to roller skate. We'd walk through the valley from our home and climb up the side of the hill to the park.
   
We were walking through the park one Sunday at the time the Cyclone roller coaster was getting ready to open. I was about 11 years old. My sister was older. They were hollering for volunteers to ride it. My sister and I went on. There were about ten of us riding altogether. The Cyclone went up the first hill and stopped. The brakes went on for some reason. We all had to get out and walk down the catwalk along the track.
    The Cyclone didn't open that Sunday but, I think, on the following Sunday. (The Cyclone opened in 1928.) It was a month after that I rode the Cyclone all the way through. It was alright but I liked the Flying Turns at Euclid Beach better.
    I don't recall buying food at Puritas Springs too much. Ice cream sometimes. We used to take our own food when we went on picnics.  They used to have a little ice house right where you went it and you could buy ice. There was a bowling alley, too. When pins got chipped, they'd just throw them down into the little ravines in the park. We used to go and pick them up. I thought Puritas Springs was a great place and had a lot of fun there.

--- Lewis H. Clark, Cleveland, OH.  9 October 2007

We lived right on Puritas Avenue. At night if we had the windows open we could hear Jungle Larry's lions roaring. We could hear the Cyclone going along the track, too.
   
We were at Puritas Springs one time and got on the butterfly ride, and it went on and on. The poor little old gent that ran it sat down and had a stroke I think. We were on that ride about 20 minutes.

--- Nancy Clark Resendiz, Cleveland, OH.  9 October 2007

I follow your recent additions to westparkhistory.com with interest. I remember riding streetcars along Lorain and some of the buildings you picture. As you have worked your way to Kamm's Corners and then down Rocky River Drive, you are getting close to home. The intersection of Puritas and Rocky River is ever so familiar for me - beginning in February 1940. I lived on Flamingo Ave. and crossed this intersection for seven years on my way to Puritas Elementary school. I see there are many changes.
    Puritas, of course, was a two-lane street then and housing did not exist much beyond St. Patrick's Church to the west. This intersection had a stoplight, and a church cemetery on the northeast corner, but the other three corner lots were empty, except perhaps for a billboard or two.
    Frankie's Delicatessen existed but I do not remember the name. It was unusual to go up steps into the store, and as I remember, it was a very small neighborhood grocery, the forerunner of a convenience store. Often, on the way to school or the way home, a schoolmate by the name of Ron Thrasher and I would stop in the store and buy a two-pack of cupcakes (Hostess maybe) to share. I think they were a nickel.
    As I mentioned, Discount Tile Mart didn't exist, neither did the Gulf station, and the other corner lot was empty too. I think Kroger's built a store there. Now it is a Discount Drug Store, or was, when I went there for my father in the late 1990's.
    Homes were few along Puritas from Rocky River to Puritas Springs Park. Puritas was narrow and had dirt paths meandering into fields and even a dump to the north of the street. I wonder if those homeowners realize what exists beneath their home sites.
    Flamingo Avenue to the west of Rocky River Drive was a dirt path until the building boom following World War II. My father pointed out, probably in the 40's, a vaguely visible right-of-way along the western berm of Rocky River Drive heading south where there were signs of the old interurban railway that went to Berea. This evidence disappeared with the widening of Rocky River Drive and the developments that took place to the west.
    There was a street-car turn-around loop and terminal just to the north of St. Patrick's. Streetcars also used to turn around at Kamm's Corners but the extension south, down Rocky River to Puritas, occurred within my memory.
    Probably in 1946 or 47, I was handed a wooden pole, with a cloth "STOP" sign attached, and did my duty to assist the crossing guard at this intersection when school started and ended.
    I think Kim's hardware was a grocery in the 1940's, larger than the one near the corner of Rocky River and Puritas (Frankie's). My mother gave me a grocery list and cash (and meat tokens during WW II) and I would ride my bike there to shop.

--- Henry Kieffer, Lore City, OH. 7 April 2007.

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Rocky River Drive


Puritas Plaza

My family moved from Ohio City to Thornhope Road off Puritas Avenue in 1955, so I remember when Puritas Plaza at West 140th first opened. Right next to the W. T. Grant store was Crown Shoes, the first self-serve shoe store I had ever seen. Then Young's Jewelers, which is still there. Then there was Joanne's Beauty Parlor, A&P Supermarket, and Franklin's Ice Cream. I went to Ascension grade school right across the street. We girls would go to Franklin's after school and look at the teenagers in there with awe

--- Peggy Rieger Wagner, North Olmsted, OH. 26 January 2010

I remember the first stores in the shopping center at Puritas and West 140th. I recall when W. T. Grant's opened there in the early 1960s. They had a clown, balloons, and a piano player.
     The property where Puritas Plaza shopping center was built used to be the Peterjohn Farm. They had at least two houses on the property, both now gone.
     I also used to go to Jay Drug at the same shopping center. They had a fascinating section with rather bizarre jokes and novelties. For instance, they sold fake ears, noses, and thumbs sealed in plastic jars in some kind of green liquid. They were meant to look like medical specimens. When I was a little boy I was thrilled to find them on sale locally because until then I'd only seen them in the advertising section of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine. I pleaded with my mom to buy me the ear, which she finally did. It sat on a window sill in my bedroom for years.
     In about 1961 a very unusual attraction set up for a few weeks in the Puritas Plaza parking lot. It was billed as a "petrified man." You paid a small entrance fee and walked through a trailer. Lying upon a slab in the trailer, under glass I think, was what appeared to be a man made of stone. He had a gash visible on his forehead which was believed to be the cause of the man's death.
     I recall asking my science teacher at Garfield School, Mr. McCann, if he had seen the petrified man. He kind of laughed at me and said a man would decay before he would petrify. I don't know if that's accurate or not but I've never forgotten looking at the petrified man.

--- Gary Swilik, Cleveland, OH.  9 March 2008

My family moved to West 135th and Puritas back in 1961 from West 58th and Bridge Avenue neighborhood. I can still smell how fresh the air smelled back then. It felt like we were moving out to the country.
     I have fond memories of Baker’s Bakery in the shopping center at Puritas and West 140th. It would smell so good to go inside the bakery. They had the best Date Nut Cake that I ever had in my life time. I have never ever had one since. On special occasions, that was where we went. I do hope they are still in business.
     I remember the W.T. Grant store well, too. They had a Neanderthal man in a case on display out on their sidewalk.  It must have been in the early 1960s too, Maybe 1964? He was a stone man on display. It was unforgettable.

--- Louise McLaughlin, St. Cloud, FL.  8 March 2008

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Radke Delicatessen

My very first job was at Radtke's Delicatessen. I was attending a Catholic Business High School which required tuition, books and uniforms. In other words, at 16, I was old enough to earn my keep and learn the value of a dollar.. so my parents informed me.
    What? I asked ... Where? I asked ... "Look around ... apply in the neighborhood" was their response.
    We had shopped at Radtke's for years, not for major items but for fresh sandwich meat, bread, milk and the occasional item we discovered we were out of and needed for dinner ... and, oh yes, the ÒpennyÓ pretzels which were part and parcel of Radtke's.
    I talked an idea over with a friend of mine who was in the same boat. We knew the current cashier at Radtke's would soon be graduating from our high school so the two of us decided to apply for her position together. Mr. Radtke and Harold Radtke interviewed us and said they would consider our concept of splitting the job. Shortly thereafter we were both hired and hours were set. We could work alternate shifts during the week (6 - 11 pm) as well as alternate shifts on Saturday and Sunday (1-6 pm or 6-11 pm.) Which nights/weekends to work was up to us as long as one of us was there. Who said job sharing was a new thing? The Radtkes were ahead of their time!
    Here I learned everything about a grocery store on a small scale. I ran the register, bagged groceries, was in charge of penny candy, sliced sandwich meat to the customer's liking when Bob (Mr. Radtke's son-in-law) and/or Harold (Mr. Radtke's son) were out back taking deliveries, priced merchandise, stocked shelves, checked the produce to see that it was always freshly displayed, occasionally swept floors before closing and balanced out the register after the store was closed. Harold Radtke would be there at closing to see that we were safely headed for home.
    Radtke's was a place where an honest day's work was rewarded with an honest day's pay (50¢ an hour to $1.00 an hour in two years). I had good people to work for and good people to work with. Perhaps Radtke's was an omen of things to come? Perhaps my work ethic was established at Radtke's, If so, it has served me well.
    Radtke's is no longer there. It became expendable. Delicatessens became large grocery stores, which became Super-Stores, and neighbors changed their daily shopping routines to weekly shopping routines. Another sign of the times.

--- Fran Hendren, Toledo, OH. 17 February 2010

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Radke Delicatessen
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Reliable Drug

Reliable Drug was originally on the other side of West 134th. The later location, across from St. Vincent DePaul, was Fisher Foods before it was Reliable.
    Reliable had the best vanilla milk shakes at the old drug store in the whole world!
    A lady named Irene, short, dark-haired made them.  Then, when they moved to the new bldg., a Jewish fellow from the east side, Morrie Strauss, took over the huge soda fountain area.  I won a half-gallon of ice cream in an opening drawing. They forgot to take my name off, so I went back again!  Morrie served a super size sundae in a Pyrex casserole dish for $2.50 If you could finish it, you got another one free! What days those were! Brings a tear to my eye!
    There were two brothers owned Reliable, Albert and Charles Ruxin.  Albert could be grumpy but Charlie was a pretty good guy.

--- Jon Dolfurd, John Marshall High School, Class of 1957, Longs, SC.  6 March 2006

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Reliable Drug store
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The Riverside Theatre

Hello,
     Great website!  I grew up in the West Park area and worked at the Riverside Theatre for many years, roughly from 1974 to the early 1980s.  Loews purchased the Riverside from Community Circuit Theatres which was owned by Burt Lefkowich.  At the time Bill Helaney worked for Lefkowich.  I left the Riverside and managed the Berea Theatre and then the Loews West Theatre in Rocky River.  Helaney worked in the theatre circuit for many years.
     At the Riverside I was also the marquee changer.  I would set up the new movie letters on Thursday night for the Friday opening.  In fact, the picture on your site shows the "Omen II" on the marquee which was was set by me. Inside the "letter room" were many scraps of paper, left there by me, of letter lists.  I would cross off letters already on the marquee so I would not carry out duplicates.  I would spell out our next movie and, if space allowed, the star's name.
     There is a statement on your Memories page about the Riverside where it is mentioned that the light in the side alley was always burnt out.  It was not.  It was turned out or broken all the time by kids so they could sneak in the side door.  A friend inside the theatre would open the door for them and the light would shine in, which we would see from the top of the aisle.  So if the bulb was out at night this would aid them.
     I saw many movies at the Riverside.  It was a great place to work and many great people worked there.  I miss those times.  We had Mel Brook's YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at the theatre in 1974, and if filled the place, even the balcony.  The laughter was so great it would shake the balcony and we were sold out for four straight weeks.  I may have some pictures.  If I find them I will send them.  Thanks again for a nice website.

--- George B. Dameron, Olmsted Township, OH.  6 April 2010


  I had some involvement with the Riverside Theater when Loews operated it and later when Bill Helaney took over and ran it as a $3 discount theater. I believe Norm Barr of General Theaters had some dealing with it as well. Norm Barr might have been partners with Bill Helaney but I do not remember. I believe Bill Helaney was in charge when the theater was sold and then closed. It is a shame Bill Helaney was not able to make it work. Those old Theaters were so grand! I loved them!
   
I remember there was an art deco style "penny scale" in one of the bathrooms at the Riverside. These scales, the kind where you put in a penny to learn your weight, were common during the 1930s to the 1950s. The scale was eventually stored behind the stage, probably because it was no longer accurate. Later the scale was given to me and I tried unsuccessfully to fix it. I ended up selling it.
    I’m sure the air conditioning in the theater was once a major draw. The AC compressor room was located in the back of the building. It was forever breaking down and was a major expense to maintain and operate. One of the two open compressors was replaced under my watch.
    There was a large water cooling tower behind the building that was in need of serious repair. There was a huge blower in an upper room behind the screen that was only accessible by climbing a ladder attached to the wall. The room was at ceiling level as the ventilation duct work system went thru the ceiling. The blower motor went bad and it was a real chore hoisting a motor up into that little room. The motor was about the size of a car engine. The equipment was probably as old as the theater and may have been one of the reasons Loews gave it up after their lease expired.
    The neon marquee was also a major expense. Much of the fabricated metal was rusted some thru in parts. I scraped and painted the underside of the marquee one year and tried to get all the neon and incandescent lights working, as many were shorted out on the lower section. The vertical neon tower was a different story as a crane lift had to be brought in to install the neon tubing, but after replacing some of the large transformers I got most of it going. So with out any major expense it looked pretty nice and most of it ran.
    In the neon room located behind the marquee there was a metal basket with balls in it. Apparently this was once used for bingo. The electrical system in that room was in terrible condition. It would cause different portions of the neon marquee to blink. Wires were arcing, and sparks flying! I am surprised no fire had taken place.

--- John Cremati, Cleveland, OH.  23 March 2010

 

I well recall the Riverside Theater and the alley that ran next to it. One Sunday afternoon in the summer, two of my friends, John and Jim (both now deceased) and I were grounded for some reason. The three of us badly wanted to see the film showing at the Riverside. We wandered up there and read all the posters and were very upset we would miss the film.
    We then walked south through the alley and found several bricks stacked up for some repair work. One thing led to another and we decided we would throw a couple of bricks at the huge metal door in the alley, and scare everyone in the theater including our buddies. Then we would run like the devil for Alger Cemetery. I guess we thought we could hide among the tombstones.
    Well, as luck would have it, there just happened to be a couple of ushers standing inside the theater by that door. They were out of there in a flash and we three took off with the ushers in hot pursuit.
    The youngest in our group, Jim, was caught in the cemetery and taken to the manager's office. His brother and I escaped. The manager knew Jim and his parents, who were neighbors, so he got a good chewing out and probably further grounding.
    Our friends in the theater told us later that a huge "boom" echoed in the theater, scaring many of the patrons. Jim's brother and I stayed away from the theater for a long time after that.
    We kids were not vandals and none of us in the neighborhood ever had any problems with the police. This was a one of a kind action that just suddenly presented itself to us.

--- Dan Weber, Rancho Cordova, CA.  24 May 2009

 

 I have fond memories of the Riverside Theater and hated to see it go.  I saw a lot of monster movie matinees there in the 1950s and early 60s.  I recall seeing HORROR OF DRACULA with my sister in 1958 and GOLDFINGER in 1964.
    Remember those little balconies at the side of the theater with regular chairs in them instead of theater seats? They weren't really balconies, more like little theater boxes.  They were not far above the other seats, just separate.  I've recently learned some kids called them "boats." If you were lucky enough to occupy one, you rearranged the chairs, put your feet up, and had a private seating area just to yourself.  The chairs were literally like something you'd have at a kitchen table.
    The drinking fountain had a softly lit glass panel on the wall over it.  There were fish and seaweed etched or painted on different levels of the glass which gave a three-dimensional impression.  I thought it was the coolest thing and wanted one in my house!
    The Men's Room was in the basement with curving, carpeted stairs going down to it.  We used to push each other down the stairs because the soft, thick carpet would cushion your fall and make it fun.

--- Gary Swilik, Cleveland, OH.  28 December 2007

 Another Kamm's Corners institution I miss is the ornate, art deco-era Riverside Theatre, now unfortunately the site of yet another Walgreen's.  I understand the old-time movie theaters no longer make financial sense for the operators but I hate that all we have left of most of them are faded pictures and memories.
    I thought the balcony had the best seats in the house!  We used to both throw, and get hit by, flying boxes of Raisinets, Sour Balls, Goobers and Milk Duds from that balcony.  I forgot about the men's room being downstairs, that's right.  I also remember a drinking fountain with a little light over it.  In my memory the Riverside was always pretty dark, almost spooky.  But it was cool, wasn't it? My kids can't believe it when I tell them my parents used to get rid of us for a whole Sunday afternoon at just 50 cents a head:  a quarter for admission, 15 cents for candy, and 10 cents for popcorn.  The bargain was even greater as that got us a double feature, a news reel, and a cartoon!
   One of the last features I saw was BYE BY BIRDIE which I still love to this day.  Funny thing but I now live about three blocks north of the house where Bobby Rydell (Hugo, in the movie) grew up.  South Philly but it is the birthplace of many pop stars from that era:  Chubby Checker, Fabian, James Darren, Frankie Avalon.  

--- Josephine (Curella) Cardillo, Philadelphia, PA.  28 December 2007

 The Riverside Theater was taken over by a man named Bill Helaney who at one time was manager of that theater for Lowe's.  He ran the theater as an independent until it was forced to close because of the property being redeveloped.  It was Bill's life's dream to run his own theater and he finally accomplished it.  He sold the tickets, ushered, sold candy, made popcorn and did what ever it took to make it.  He operated it as a second-run, $3-admission, independent movie theater.  You should really try to look up Bill Helaney if he is still around.  I am sure he would have some great pictures as he was quite the promoter.  I think he went way-back as a theater manager in the area.  (Note: Several attempts to make contact with William Helaney have not been successful.)

--- John Cremati, Cleveland, OH,  23 April 2006

 I like the website. For a long time I'd been searching online for photos of the old Riverside Theater on Lorain, which closed only a dozen years ago but holds many memories for me. I was born in 1971 and too young to have ever gone to the little theater that used to be in Kamm's Plaza (World West) -- The) Riverside was our theater--that was THE place where OLA kids would sneak into slasher horror movies.  Otherwise, parents would have to drive us to Loews West at Rockport.

--- Pete Roche, Cleveland, OH.  28 September 2006

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More Riverside Memories

Riverside Theater


Rocky River Drive

The Rocky River Drive portion of your website is a trip down memory lane!  You have a picture of the Colbrunn Medical Building.  I certainly remember that place.  Cyril J. Caldwell, who is listed as a dentist, was in fact an orthodontist.  (My mother went to work at W.T. Grants to pay for my braces, costing $900.00 in 1961).  I went to John Marshall High with his son, Cyril Junior.  His mother would drive him to school in her Avanti.
    I mentioned I played for the Valley View merchants and there were pictures of the Valley View Market area!  We had Riverview Pharmacy, Huntley Hardware, and Martens Funeral Home on the back of our shirts.
    Having lived on Rockland Avenue, I certainly remember the Charles Wood Hospital.  I used to play inside it when it was empty before it became a hospital.  I could tell some sad stories about what went on in there.
    I don't remember Wilton Drug, we always called it Homeway Drug.  My dad and I would meet my tipsy aunt at Haburt's Bar every once in a while.  And Topps Beverage was where you could buy "Little Tom's" soda, cheap stuff in tiny 6 ounce bottles, 24 in a wooden crate.
   
There was a gas station called Seeger's Service just north of St. Patrick's on the east side of Rocky Drive.  And in the Valley View area was a shoe repair place called "Guardios" also on the east side of the road.  That was back in the days when you got new heels and soles put on your shoes, instead of just throwing them away and getting a new pair.

--- Doug Viant, Galloway, OH.  6 March 2009

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Rocky River Drive


Royal Castle

I recall riding bikes from home next to JMH (John Marshall High School), to the Castle on 140 and Triskett.   There was a colorful character who worked behind the counter, maybe in his twenties, and undeniably from the deep south.   He had a very pronounced southern accent, and the usual order we placed was 6 royal castles and a birch beer.  He would declare in a loud booming voice to whom I have no idea,   "A BEER FOR HERE AND A SQUARE" !!  A square was 6 burgers, not  exceptionally large order for a teen.  This fellow was always referred to by us as the "Hillbilly at Royal Castle".  Not very PC these days, buy quite funny back then.  Today living in east Tennessee, we enjoy a similar chain called "Krystals".   Not unlike "White Castle" or "Royal Castle", the buildings are small and painted white, stay open very late, and serve small burgers by the "sackfull".  Close, but no cigar, or should I say no birch beer.  To have those small burgers without birch beer is like eating hot wings without draft beer.  Its just not the same!

--- Bill Chapo,  JMH.  Jan 66

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Royal Castle


Settlement School
Located on the northeast corner of West 140th Street and Puritas Avenue.  Demolished in 1978.  (Photo, Jan. 1968)

Back in the 1960s I went to 6th grade at Settlement School at the corner of West 140th and Puritas Avenue. My dad was the custodian at Ascension across the street but I think the church leased Settlement School from the Cleveland Public School system. It was always referred to as ''The Academy." I've heard it was built in 1860.
     Dad spent a lot of time getting Settlement School ready for the fall classes with painting, electrical, and plumbing repairs. I spent many days and evenings in the old school while my dad worked on stuff. I was probably the only student who thought the building was cool with tubular toilets that were always flushing, old-fashion light fixtures, and desks with ink wells.
     The old school had a different feel to it at night. During the day it was an interesting old building but, after dark, it was more like a haunted house!
     The building made lots of noises after the sun went down. The sudden bangs from the old iron radiators added to the atmosphere. My dad told me the noises were the ghosts of bad children thrown into the basement to be eaten by the rats, leaving only the bones. Dad said the nuns used the bones for firewood to heat the building and told me never to open the door to the basement. (Anyone who knew my dad would say "Yeah, that sounds like Ed.")  It was an old steel fire door with weights that automatically closed it.
     I never totally believed dad's tale but one thing for sure -- he didn't want me to open that door!
     Even so, whenever I could I would take dad's flashlight and explore the old school, always one sudden noise from jumping right out of my shoes! About two weeks later I was doing my usual exploring and ''THE DOOR'' was suddenly right in front of me.
     I stood there for a long time, feeling both excitement and terror. Being the ''Devil Child'' my decision was easy.  I put my hand on the lever, gently pushed down, and pulled slowly trying not to make any noise. The door was heavy but I got it open and shined the flashlight in. It wasn't so bad. No spider webs or piles of bones. I opened it a little more and shined the flashlight inside. Suddenly there was movement all around me and bright little eyes everywhere!
     I screamed, dropped the flashlight, backed out of the door and slammed it shut, not caring how much noise I made. I heard dad calling my name.
     ''Did you open that door?'' he yelled. "I've spent three years sealing up all the holes to keep those damn rats from getting up here and if that damn door doesn't stay shut those rats will get in the classrooms. I don't want to get called in to smash a rat in front of a classroom full of kids with a damn shovel! So just stay the hell out of there!" 
     I was disappointed it was only rats and there were no boogie men or ghosts in the basement.
     Dad also told me about the bats in the attic. I'd seen pictures of Halloween bats and was a big Batman fan but had never seen a real bat. I pestered dad until he finally took me to up to the attic one evening. It was approaching Halloween so this was going to be way cool!
     In the light of the flashlight I saw REAL bats hanging from the timbers among the spider webs and dust. Some of them took off and fluttered to the front of the building where they flew out of a hole in the roof to feed on bugs, coming back in the morning. So this really was like a haunted building!
     It was like a punch in the gut when they tore down the old Settlement School. I thought it was a historic building.

--- Larry Polinski, Appleton, Wisconsin.  27 August 2008

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Stroemple's hamburger stand

I remember Stroemple's custard and hamburger stand (on the west side of W. 140th, just north of Lakota Ave) because the milk and cream for it was first delivered by my dad, John Mokren, who had the Dairyman's route around the vicinity of John Marshall High School. The Stroemple's were home customers, too, and one of the reasons Mr. Stroemple opened was the delivery of milk products guaranteed by my dad. I always stayed in school during the lunch hour to see the movies but there was a stretch of time when I went outside instead. Needless to say, guess where I headed?

--- James Mokren, Jackson, OH.  9 June 2008

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Stroemple's/Lou's


Tony's Diner

 

I have some unusual memories of Tony's Diner. Usually it was a late supper of watered -down spaghetti. For the life of me, I cannot remember why we ate the stuff! It was the worse spaghetti but it was cheap. It was a cool place to go since you could see out the windows onto West 117th Street. The waitresses were patient. I don't know how they put up with obnoxious teens. Of course, Tony's was a Cleveland landmark that is still missed, especially by Dennis Kucinich who was spotted there on numerous occasions.

--- Terri Martineau, Milburn Valley, UT.  1 2March 2007

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Tony's Diner


The Variety Theater

We saw many a cheap horror double feature at the Variety Theater on Sunday afternoons.  THE TINGLER had to be the scariest thing ever. My best moment there was when the Beatles movie, A HARD DAY'S NIGHT, opened on a weekday evening. It was the first time I was allowed to go to the Variety at night. We had to buy our tickets in advance. The girls were screaming so loudly I could barely hear the music.
    By the way, we knew the old guy next door as "Charlie." He never failed to chase us when we ventured into his lair. He lived in "Charlie's Cave," as we called the cave-looking alley a few doors west of the theater. I bet it was put there as a fire egress.
    Sometimes for kicks on the way home from McKinley school we would go down in there and, if Charlie was there, he would scream and yell at us and chase us out. We were 9 or 10 so it was sort of scary, but fun.

--- John Cifani, Fairview Park, OH.  26 February 2009

 

I can remember sneaking into the alley next to the Variety Theater. We would get enough money for one kid to get into the show and he'd open the alley doors. We would all rush in and spread out. Some of us got caught but most of us would hide and stay. Emanuel's candy used to be on the corner. It was a great little penny candy store, much like the one across the street from Nathaniel Hawthorne on West 130th Street. Friends of ours owned the Variety Florist Shop and we bought our wedding bouquets there in 1970.

--- Robert Ullrich.  02 May 2008

 

My family and I lived only 3 houses from the Variety and we saw lots of the cool movies back then. Jerry Lewis, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, beach movies, etc. I had to pay 35 cents to get in when I was 11 years old. I was so tall they thought I was older. Wow!  A whole 35 cents!
    When we kids were real young, we used to sneak in and check under the seats for change people lost. I hope they do reopen!! It would be great for the neighborhood wonder if the opening day will only be 25 cents to get in? That'd be great!!

--- Tim Bauhof,  Parma, OH. 23 April 23 2008

I enjoyed the article about the Variety Theater. I once lived on West 123rd Street, the third house south of Lorain. As a teenager I spent many a matinee at the Variety with my high school friends watching cowboy movies with Tom Mix, Hoot Gibson, etc. This was before John Wayne days.
     Did you know that on certain days the Variety gave each patron a plate, soup dish, or cup free of charge? My parents had quite a collection.
     Variety admission was 25 cents. Yes, 25 cents! How do I remember so clearly? Because the Almira Theater on West 105th charged only 15 cents and, money being short in 1936, we'd often walk the extra mile to save 10 cents.
     The Variety justified their higher charge by showing first-run movies, not re-runs like the Almira. Frankly we didn't know the difference. The good guys in the white hats always won in either case.

--- Frank J. Simone, Cleveland, OH. 7  December 2007

Oh, do I remember the Variety!  I used to go there almost every Sunday. I remember watching THE TINGLER with Vincent Price and how the seats vibrated. It brings back so many memories. Remember the policeman that used to walk up and down the aisles checking to make sure you were not causing any trouble?  Many a time I got kicked out for causing trouble. I remember the popcorn and all the other stuff. Sitting up in the balcony was a real treat. I moved from Cleveland 19 years ago and am now living in a little town in lower Alabama but, I sure miss all the fun I had growing up in Cleveland.

--- Sandy Shaw, Daleville, AL. 28 April 2007

At one time The Variety Theater had live performances. They had a full stage behind the movie screen. My mother, when young, gave a performance playing the Hawaiian guitar there. There were some pretty fabulous art deco dressing rooms in the basement.
    I once tried to restore the neon marquees of both the Variety and the Riverside Theaters. Neon was just a never-ending expense for them because of breakage so eventually they just let it go and maintained only the bare essential lights. The marquee wiring was so bad in both places I can not believe they did not burn down!
    I also took care of their heating and air conditioning systems. To heat and cool those barns was an incredible cost! Water towers had to be cleaned and maintained. Fifty horsepower AC Compressors were old and needed to be replaced. Million BTU boilers, steam coils and air handlers with 25 horsepower fans, all old, all needing on-going work ......Big Bucks to run and maintain!

--- John Cremati, Cleveland, OH.  April 2006

I was looking at the site a bit more, and saw an article on the Variety Theater. I remember my Dad taking me to see the original Star Wars there in 1977.  Very impressive! 
    A few years later I started attending the Variety to see bands play. Some of the larger bands I remember seeing were the Dead Kennedy’s, X, REM, Romeo Void, INXS and Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
    We would “camp out” early in the afternoon on the day of the show, waiting to get the best spot in front of the stage. It was like a mini party.  We had our portable tape players, so we could listen to the tapes of the bands that we were going to see that night. The theater was general admission, so whoever was first in line got the best view!
    As far as I knew..  it was the Motorhead show at the Variety that caused the plaster to start to crumble. 

 --- Laura Howard, Cleveland, OH.  13 February 2006

 

I remember going there as a child and seeing movies and at the time it also included 3 cartoons either before or after the main feature.  We usually would not be able to afford the refreshments though. Instead we would stop off on the way at Kamms Rexall Drugstore at West 165th & Lorain Avenue.  There we would buy 5 cent candy bars for our refreshments for the movie. There was a bonus in buying candy at that particular store because we could get 6 nickel candy bars for 25 cents. When we got to the theater I remember the Variety was the only place I can remember where you went into the lobby and instead of walking straight down the aisle to your seat you needed to go to the right before you walked down an aisle. I also remember how fancy I thought the theater looked and how unusual the water fountains were and howrl the large circular shape designs were on each side of the stage. Entertainment then was so much easier to enjoy and the candy twice as large. Slo-pokes and Black Cow Suckers along with packages of Necco Wafers and Caramel Cremes. 

--- Tom McGlynn, Cleveland, OH.  6 June 2006

Was just looking over the article on the Variety Theater at 118th. and Lorain Ave.  I worked there as an usher in 1955-56.  Was a very interesting place.  Lots of interesting items in the back and behind stage.  I bet that was a wonderful place during the 30-40s.  I remember when the marquee was bent over and had to be torn down after the tornado that hit the area.  We got free passes for changing lights on same.  Good memories.  My boss's name was Shelly and he always wore a brown suit.  Nice guy.

--- Alan Toth, near Crestview, OH. 6 September 2005

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Variety Theater

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Vee's Freeze

 

There was a small ice cream shack called Vees Freeze located right between the West 140th Street Shell gas station and the U-Haul place. It was the best! Ten-cent cones and seventy-five-cent banana splits. They also had hamburgers and other foods but ice cream was king there.

--- Bill Fleig, Conroe, TX.  02 February 2010

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Verda Brobst Elementary School
     Verda Brobst school (at West 192nd & Maplewood) and the surrounding homes were razed to create
     a buffer zone for the expansion of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
    The site now is the Verda Brobst Playfield in the Riverside Neighborhood.

My sister Vicki and I just love to stroll down "Memory Lane." The funny thing is we're way more sentimental about our Cleveland past than about the years we lived in North Olmsted. Maybe it's because Cleveland is where we spent our most innocent years before we learned that not everything is black and white. The west side of Cleveland will always hold a special place in our hearts as it really is where we spent our "wonder years."
    Some of my fondest memories occurred when I was a student at Verda Brobst Elementary School from K through 6, '57-'64. I loved that place and was heartbroken when it was torn down back in the 1990s.
    My family lived at 19007 Midvale Avenue. My younger sister Vicki and I had only a five-minute walk from our house to school. I remember going home for lunch every day, watching Captain Penny while eating, and then eagerly running back to school.
    I just hate that Verda Brobst school and that community of little bungalows north of Brookpark Road was razed for an industrial park. It was a wonderful place to live! I still have a Plain Dealer article about the eminent-domain takeover of that piece of West Park.
    Sweet Mr. Joseph DeLuca, who lived on nearby on Forestwood Avenue, was extremely chagrined to be losing his beloved home to a wrecking ball. He raised his family of eight kids in that house. Before vacating the premises he actually buried a time capsule in his backyard.
    Before they demolished our block we visited our old house which had already been burglarized, for scrap material I guess. I pulled our address sign off the front of the house and it now hangs in my walk-in closet. I also pulled a tile off the kitchen wall which I use as a coaster.

--- Josephine (Curella) Cardillo, Philadelphia, PA. 01 May 2008

My family lived at 19106 Maplewood Avenue from 1958 to 1989. Wonderful street! I went to Verda Brobst elementary school from kindergarten up to sixth grade. That was from 1963 to 1970. My brother Jim went there from 1956 to 1962.T  he school was located at 4840 West 192nd Street, west of Rocky River Drive, just north of Parkmount Avenue. It had two halves to it. The old red brick part was built in 1954. Due to us baby boomers, a modern section was added in 1961. The principal was Miss Daily and she was a dead ringer for "Aunt Bee" from Mayberry on the Andy Griffith Show. A very nice lady.

    My first grade teacher was Miss Summerfield. She was twenty-two years old and drove a convertible. We used to have recess and we would always play Duck, Duck, Goose. I remember Miss Summerfield used to play with us while the other teachers leaned against their cars smoking – yes, smoking. I always admired the fact Miss Summerfield could play a mean Duck, Duck Goose in spiked heels and a knee-length skirt! Again, this was 1963.
    Verda Brobst had a playground with a large slide and monkey bars made out of heavy lead pipe. If you fell and opened up a wound, your parents would blame you for being careless, not the school. It was a different time. The swings were bright orange and made out of a combination of heavy wood and steel. If you got hit in the head with those things, it was a ride to Fairview Hospital.
    One of the best memories was on summer nights when the little league was playing in the school ball diamonds. My parents (Richard & Betty Ferrell) would run the concession stand which was an ugly cinderblock building, painted an even uglier shade of bright blue. I remember mom and dad selling Orange Crush and hot dogs while I played on the swings, looking out over the parking lot filled with cars from the 50s and 60s.
   
I would swing on into the soft summer night, safe and secure in my world.

--- Scott Ferrell, Cleveland, OH.  28 May 2007

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Wagenknecht Grocers & Meats

Avenue and West 134th Street. We kids could never pronounce the name so it was lovingly referred to as "Waggies". I remember sitting on my front porch waiting for the man to roll out the awning so we would know the store was open. That store was magical, too, with beautiful woodwork everywhere and shelves from floor to ceiling. They had to use a "grabber" to reach stuff on the top shelves.
     I remember the man in the store as very tall with a belly. He never smiled. I always hoped his wife would be there when I went in. She was very nice and I remember her looking like the grandma on The Waltons. There were fresh fruits and vegetables in the window displays and mom would send me there to buy a loaf of Wonder Bread and a half gallon of milk. I remember 10 cent bags of candy, then later 25 cent bags. Mom and dad would also send us there to buy them packs of cigarettes. Then one day the man, "Mr. Waggie," said the laws had changed and he could not sell them to kids.
     We eventually moved away from the neighborhood but I went back when I was 18. I just had to go into Waggies to buy a pack of cigarettes because I was old enough then and the man couldn't tell me no! LOL! That was my last purchase there because the next year Mr. Waggie died. No more Waggies store! It was like someone in my family had died. I look at the place now, with no awning, no display windows, and it breaks my heart every time.

--- Vicki (Clevenger) Grace, Sullivan, OH.  29 October 2009

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Wagenknecht Grocers & Meats


Walton Drug

I was mesmerized by your website. It brought back many memories for my wife and I. One place I would like to see included is Walton Drugstore at the corner of Triskett and West 141st. Don Walton was the owner and chief pharmacist. I worked there during my high school years from 1962 to 1965. It was an independently owned pharmacy competing with Gray Drug and other early chains of the times. I was delivery boy, soda jerk, stock boy, and cashier - all at the same time. Overpaid at $1.00/hour, I worked 35 hours a week after school and on the weekends. It was the typical neighborhood drugstore with the same customers coming in regularly to shop, get their medicine and medical advice, and just to meet and talk with each other or hear Don Walton spin some of his yarns.
    My mode of transportation when delivering prescriptions was a Chevy Corvair, with the name "The Medicine Dropper " emblazoned on the door of the car. The combination of a hot midget car, with the engine in the trunk and a glamorous he-man moniker on the door, made it a real chick magnet. NOT!
    Don Walton sold the store probably in the late 1960s and it stayed a drugstore until someone fashioned it into a bar. I met my wife there in 1983 when it was called the Caprice Lounge. So that building holds a strong place in my heart for various reasons.

--- Chuck Simak, Parma Heights, OH.  27 April 2010


West 130th Street - general

I can recall West 130th Street and Puritas Avenue as it was before the railroad underpass. I remember when construction was going on. I must of been around 4 years old. My grandparents lived on Lena Avenue, the street almost directly across from the intersection of West 130th and “old” Puritas Avenue; so we passed through that location quite often.
    We used to cut through one of the streets that run south off Puritas near the construction site that led to what was probably a temporary road that came out just north of the house (rectory?) by the old church building next to the cemetery on West 130th St.  I remember it was quite bumpy and dusty and/or muddy. We then used Longmead Avenue, turning north at the first side street to get over to Lena Avenue, which is now blocked at West 130th due to the underpass. I don't know if this temporary road was used by north/south traffic on West 130th Street because Puritas was the only route we used to get to my grandparents' home. The old church isn't there any more; but the cemetery can still be seen from the road when the grass is cut. And old Longmead School, a neighborhood landmark for what seems like forever, is gone  now too.

--- Carol Nichols Henninger, Brook Park, OH.  13 November 2009


 

West Park Branch Library    (Photos from the Cleveland Public Library Image Collections)

What does a library look like today?  Picture it in your mind ... huge windows, bright lights, banks of computers.

Then step back in time to the 1950s.  What did the library at West 157th and Lorain in West Park look like then?  A very different picture presents itself.

Shelves and shelves of books, not too many windows but what was there ran (from a child's perspective) floor-to-ceiling, a huge area as you walked in the door with signs reading RETURNS and CHECK OUT, big stand-up fans moving the air in the summer heat, window seats, and the smell of the ink pads as you checked out your book and the librarian stamped the "Return By" card and inserted it in the book pocket.  Fines?  A penny a day!

I remember riding my bike, rain or shine, from West 166th Street and Melgrave Avenue to the library at West 157th, enjoying the ride on my used Schwinn. As I drew closer, I could almost smell the wax on the library floors and see the shine. If I got caught in the rain, my wet shoes made a squeaky sound on those floors that seemed overly loud, especially considering all the QUIET PLEASE signs at the desk. When the floors were dry (and so were my shoes) and I thought no one was looking, the temptation to slide on those freshly-waxed and shiny floors was too much; on occasion, I succumbed.

But most of all I remember the musty "book scent" at the library.  Pick up a book from a remote corner of any library, even today, and it will emit that musty, much-used scent.  Perhaps it is a little something retained from each reader who had the pleasure of turning the pages.

Find a page with a faded smear?  What was it?  Ketchup from some hasty lunch enjoyed with a book?  Coffee from a morning that was hectic save for a few moments with a good book?  A page turned down?  Was it turned down carelessly by someone who did not stop to consider others would read that page?  No matter. That page remains creased forever.

The atmosphere at the library was a bit different then.  Go there to study ... yes!  Go there to meet friends?  Probably not since the QUIET sign really meant QUIET and it was enforced!

The first time I ventured into the adult section at the West Park Library, my stomach churned!  It was an entirely different room in the 1950's.  So you thought you could walk right in there and no one would notice?  Not so fast!  You needed an adult library card and, if you looked too young to be in the adult room, a librarian was sure to ask "Do you have an ADULT library card?"

I had my adult card but was sure I would get stopped.  Fiction was my addiction!  I had graduated from Nancy Drew books and was ready for romances about destitute governesses and southern belles.  My first adult choices must have been appropriate since I received no censuring looks as I walked out of the adult section and presented the books at the front desk for check out.

Memories of the West Park Library also bring to mind the Summer Reading Club.  "Read 10 books during summer vacation and receive a certificate," the banner said. I loved being 'forced" to go to the library, pick out a book and read it.  I could lose myself in the book of my choice and escape some chores.

The days of the Summer Reading Club are a thing of the past for me; however, my visits to libraries are still something special.  They provide a world of knowledge, fantasy, and mystery which takes me beyond the hum-drum, day-to-day occurrences and into a world that touches on the past and looks into the future.  Each book is an adventure to be enjoyed, free-of-charge, from the library.

It's been said that "a good book is a lifelong friend!"  How true!  I frequently take along a "lifelong friend" to the lunch table, to an appointment, in the car, on a plane or a visit to the park.  My love of books began at the West Park Library.

--- Fran Hendren, Sylvania, OH.  7 March 2010

In the early 1940s during World War II our West Park branch of the Cleveland Public Library had what it called 'The Summer Reading Program.' I was a student at Our Lady of the Angels elementary school on Rocky River Drive and the nuns tipped us off about the program. I jumped on my bike and rode down to check it out. If you joined, your name was added to a large sheet of cardboard kept on an easel in the library. Every book read was noted by a gold star after one’s name. The goal was 10 books for the summer.
    There were checks and balances. We were only allowed to get credit for books assigned to our school year. We could not, for example, read a third-grade book if we were entering the sixth-grade. Also, we had to give an oral book report to a librarian prior to the star being added after our name. But, oh the bragging rights we had!
    We could not only race our buddies through the summer but when school started in the fall there were nudges in class along the lines of 'How many did you read?' Yeah? Well next summer I'll whip you!'
   
I even remember one book I read about Norwegian kids hiding gold bars from the Nazis. It was a neat program but I suppose it faded away long ago because of electronic games or other things kids now do in the summer.

--- Dan Weber, Rancho Cordova, CA.  3 January 2008

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West Park Branch Library


West Park Pharmacy

Your interest in my father's drugstore has afforded me the opportunity to reflect upon memories, many of which were long forgotten.  At this time, I would like to share them with you.
     West Park Pharmacy, located at Kamm's Corners on the northeast corner of Lorain and Rocky River Drive, was part of our family.  Everyone called my dad "doc".  He was totally dedicated to his customers and his profession.  He opened the store at 8:00 AM and closed at 11 P.M.  When my dad was home, we were not allowed to talk on the phone longer than 10 minutes in case "the store" needed him.  Light years away from today's cell phones!
    People loved to "hang out" at the store.  Eddie "the cop"
(See also 1, 2) (I don't remember his last name) was always on the corner helping "us kids" cross the street, but he took his breaks at West Park Pharmacy.  Another name that comes to mind is Mr. Betsicover, the manager of Cleveland Trust Bank.  I was employed there summers when I wasn't working at the store.
    My sister Carol and I were both "soda jerks" at the wonderful soda fountain whenever school was on break.  Milkshakes, sodas, & sundaes were all 25 cents.  During the Christmas holidays my mother, Ethel Weiner Miller, pitched in and we all worked.
    We believe our dad purchased the store around 1945 and sold it in the late 1970s.  (City directories indicate Bob Miller was managing the pharmacy as early as 1941.
    The nuns and priests of the parish were his customers, and he delivered their prescriptions to them.  When the discount stores came on the scene, they maintained their loyalty to him.  When my dad passed away in 1982, one of them wrote a letter saying Robert A. Miller was a "gentle gentleman."
    Thank you again from my sister and me for allowing us to pay tribute to this very special man, and his beloved pharmacy.

--- Nancy Miller Gilbert, South Euclid, OH.  15 May 2008   (Photograph:  Robert "Bob" Miller at the West Park Pharmacy, in the bank building on the northeast corner of Lorain Avenue and Rocky River Drive. Courtesy of his daughters, Nancy Gilbert and Carol Dorsey, and his grandson Alan Gilbert.)

Readers: Have you any memories or photos of Bob Miller's West Park Pharmacy?  If so, please email us.  We'd love to hear from you.

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West Park Recreation

West Park Recreation, at West 128th and Lorain, had a bowling alley in the basement.  I worked there as a pin setter, way before automatic pin setters, for ten cents a game.  League night was crazy, jumping between two adjacent alleys.  If the bowlers liked how fast you reset the pins they would throw a quarter or two down the alley after a game as a tip. Very dangerous work with pins flying all over the place.  I saw many of my buddies taken out of there after being beaned with a bowling pin!

--- Bill Chapo, Knoxville, TN.  17 June 2006

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West Park Recreation
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West Park Theatre

I can recall going to the old West Park Theater up at Kamm's Corners and seeing silent films. I remember when sound films came out one of my neighbors commenting "talkies will never make it.' When the Riverside Theater was built it seemed very modern to me at the time.

--- Richard "Dick" R. Morrison, Cleveland, OH.  15 January 2007

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West Park Theatre


West Side Drive-In Theatre

I remember going to the West Side Drive-In at the corner of Rocky River Drive and Brookpark Road by the airport. You'd be watching the movie with planes going overhead and sometimes you couldn't hear the movie. It depended on who you were with as to whether you cared.

--- Erika (Radtke) Boehnke, Strongsville, OH.  10 January 2007

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West's Roasted Peanuts

At times, I think I can still smell the peanuts.  When I hear "redskins" it definitely does not conjure up the Washington baseball team.  It conjures up West's Roasted Peanut store on the corner of West 162nd Street and Lorain.

Redskins are large peanuts with a crunchy red skin, covered with plenty of sugar roasted into the peanut which comes off in your hands along with the skins.  Yes, it left a mess but was well worth it!  Spanish peanuts were almost as tasty but not quite, and they were my mother's favorites.  The selection at West's seemed enormous to me; freshly roasted pistachios, sugar-coated pecans, macadamias, almonds, hazel nuts, and cashews to choose from but I became a Redskin aficionado at an early age thanks to West's.  We stopped there at least once a week.  West's competed with nearby Wilke's Bakery for my attention but West's almost always won.

Each and every day the proprietor roasted, salted, and sugared those tasty morsels before putting them into bins in glass display cases.  Large scoops in each bin were used to scoop up the warm nuts which were then "dumped" (no other word for it back then) into small brown paper bags.  It always seemed funny to me that the amount you requested (1/2 lb. or 1 lb., etc.) was almost exactly what was scooped out with the first dip.  I'm not even sure there was a scale.

After our regular shopping was done at the West Side Market and Wilke's Bakery we were ready to head for home.  It was then that the fragrance from West's Peanut Store would call to us.  We could not pass that peanut store!  And much to my chagrin I became an accomplice to my mother's peanut addiction and became addicted myself.  Our Saturday nights really started on Saturday morning with our visit to West's.  It was never anything fancy, just something to look forward to while watching TV in the evening. Pepsi and freshly roasted peanuts were a big treat in the 1950s!

West's is just a memory now . . . a good memory of growing up in West Park.

--- Fran Hendren, Sylvania, OH.  7 March 2010

 


World Theater West

The World Theater in Kamm's Plaza seemed to always show off-the-wall movies. I remember going there to see Monty Python's JABBERWOCKY, THE GROOVE TUBE, and BEING THERE. They'd also show a lot of foreign films which weren't of much interest to me. I remember how small the concession stand was. And the ticket-taker stood only a couple of feet from the concession stand.

--- Jay Blazek, Elyria, OH. 20 September 2010

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World West Theatre

 


Zickes Drug Store

I used to live on West 137th Street. In those day Zickes drug store (at 13504 Lorain Avenue) was my second home. It was named after the owner I guess. (Paul Zickes.) Whenever I could scare up a nickel for a vanilla coke, I loved sitting on a stool at the counter and watching the guy mix the drink. The drug store was next to the Catholic Church (St. Vincent DePaul) and I remember running to Zickes to get prescriptions for the old priest, Monsignor Flanagan. He would give me a nickel for the delivery. Guess what I did with the nickel? My family and I moved away from West 137th to Columbus, Ohio, when I was in the 4th grade.

--- Mike Moody, Orange County, CA. 24 September 2007

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Miscellaneous


I grew up in West Park off of Rocky River Drive on Fairway Drive. I was the youngest of four girls who all went to grade school at St. Patrick's. I graduated 8th Grade at St. Patrick's in 1981. However, we all attended kindergarten at Puritas Elementary School.
    During our younger years our summers were sometimes spent playing at Puritas Elementary. In 1970, one of my older sisters, Megan, who was only 5 years old at the time, was with my mom swinging on the swings when a woman came up and asked if she could enter Megan into a beauty pageant. My sister only remembers the woman's name was "Patty" and she had something to do with the summer arts and crafts they did there. My sister spent a day at this lady's home swimming in her big pool. My sister remembers the pageant took place outside on a big stage but, she does not remember where.
    There were several other girls in the pageant, all around the same age as Megan. My sister ended up winning the beauty pageant! She was crowned "Miss West Park." Megan still has the crown, the trophy, and the three sashes that were placed on her along with a photograph. It doesn't surprise us that Megan won the pageant since my mom was a knockout and was quite the looker.
    Does anyone remember the hot summer lunches they had at Puritas School? At the time, we had no idea this was something for those who were less fortunate than us. I remember seeing all of the kids from the neighborhood walking down to the school at noon.
    My sister and I can still see the face of an older women who helped serve the lunch. She was extremely mean looking, at least to us, in her all-white outfit and cap with a hair net. I remember her like it was yesterday, with her light brown 1940s style hairdo.
    We would line up in the hallway outside the gym to get lunch and then head into the gym to sit at one of several long tables that took up the entire gymnasium. It was full of kids from all over the area. It was noisy but everyone got along and it was, for most of us, our first time hanging out with kids from the other side of Puritas Road.
    We would ask what the lunch was for the day, to make sure it was something good. If we found out it was Salisbury Steak, we would immediately run to the end of the line in hopes that they would run out of it before we got there and switch to something else. The smell of that Salisbury steak made us crinkle our noses and not want to eat it. I won't mention what we thought it smelled like.
    They always had the best tater-tots. And if I am correct, pizza was always on Fridays. After lunch they had older teenagers, or young people in their 20s, start a baseball game or kickball outside. There was also a small room just outside the playground where they had crafts. I have no idea what we made but I remember being able to take it home.
    One of the guys who got everyone together to play games was named "Bill." He looked like one of the guys from a 1970s teen movie. He was so nice and we would sometimes run into him during the year getting on the number 86 bus.
    I have so many great memories of growing up where I did. Sometimes it is hard for me to drive thru the area and see the decay of what used to be. Such as the apartment building on the corner of Rocky River and Fairway Drive. That used to be one of the nicest places to live. It seemed as if the classiest, rich people lived there. We would often cut through that apartment complex and pass by the pool. I always thought how cool it would be to live there. I helped a neighbor boy deliver newspapers in there a few times. The neighbors would sometimes come out of the door to pay their bill and they looked like movie stars. At least through a young girl's eyes they did. Now it is a Section 8 complex. How hard it is for me to drive by and remember what it used to look like.

--- Melissa A. Mendise, Independence, OH. June 1, 2012
     Proud daughter of a Korean War Veteran!

My dad, Vince Ruggerio was a musician who played night clubs in Cleveland, the last being the Theatrical Grill. The Gaylord Trio was my dad's group. He did all their arrangements and they sang all over in big cites like Chicago and New York. I have pictures of them and old memorabilia from the 1930s and 1940s. My dad also wrote the song for the Cleveland Indians with Paddy Labatto. It was called "There's No Place Like First Place". It was played at the old stadium in the 1950s and on the radio. I have the sheet music with the old Indian chief logo on it. Dad was also a piano teacher on West 127th Street, north of Lorain Avenue. I can remember all the students coming to our home from 9 in the morning until 9 at night everyday. Adults in the morning and later evening hours, but kids the rest of the time. Our dining room table would be surrounded by high school kids from John Marshall, St. Ignatius, Lourdes Academy., St. Stephens, St. Joe's, Lakewood, etc. Carla Wilke, daughter of the owner of Wilke's Bakery, took lessons from my dad. Mrs. Wilke would bring us bakery every week. My 3 brothers and sister and I would love it. Mrs. Wilke was such a nice lady. Memories that I will never forget.

--- Patty Biggs, Cleveland, OH.  16 December 2011

I was born in 1955 and lived on Brysdale for my first five years. Then we moved to Parma Heights but continued to spend time in the West Park neighborhood because my grandparents still lived there. I remember getting ice cream cones at Puritas plaza with my uncle and going to the butcher shop at w. 140th and Puritas with my Grandma. She and my Grandpa lived at 13603 Ellwood Ave. off Belleshire. Grandpa was a foreman at National Metal. We would all attend church each Sunday at Puritas Lutheran and then go back to their house for a big meal and billiards in the basement. I attended kindergarten at Verda Brobst. My only recollection of that was being the only one incapable of tying my shoes. For that I was punished by having to sit in the cloakroom with a big multi-colored shoe and practice until I got it right. I guess I eventually figured it out. I remember going to Puritas Springs Amusement Park and the fire that destroyed it. Years later I went back and wandered through the woods where the park had been. It was eerie walking through the trees and seeing sections of the roller coaster track sticking out of the ground. I also remember Nagy’s Town House restaurant at the corner of Rocky River Drive and Brysdale. My mom and grandma would always buy me a peppermint patty from a large jar they kept at the cash register.

--- Glenn Kolp, Sheffield Village, OH. Decembet 2011

I spent many days reading and buying comic books at the West Park Pharmacy. Also I would walk with my mother to pay the monthly house payment to the bank on the corner. We lived on West 178th Street and went to Our Lady of Angles and St. Augustine Academy in Lakewood. My cousins went to John Marshall High.

--- Joycelyn Bossard, Panama City Beach, FL. 18 June 2011

I grew up in West Park at 17302 Milburn Avenue and lived in the area for about 23 years, from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. I couldn’t have lived in a better area than West Park! Spending time at Gunning Park or walking to school at St. Patrick’s couldn’t have been better. I have fond memories of going to Puritas Hill to look for remnants of Puritas Springs amusement park, spending time at Hobby Castle, riding my bike to Dairy Deluxe, and having a pizza at Dante’s. I now live in Olmsted Falls but take my family to West Park on regular occasions.
    Thank you for spending the time to build this web page. While I am only 35 years old, I am very fond of my oldneighborhood and love to see the preservation of the area's rich history. Keep up the great work!

--- Jason Lowbridge, Olmsted Falls, OH.  22 September2009

West Park has endless memories for all who've lived there. Both of the times, places, and unrepeatable experiences that have shaped the lives of those who were lucky enough to live there.
    I was born one of nine children in a "starter home" on Barbara Ave in the horseshoe off of Puritas Avenue. The house on a slab, had no upstairs, no basement, and no garage. It was a new neighborhood where my parents bought the house in the 1950s. My parents still live there and will be celebrating their 60th anniversary on October 7th, 2010. There is still no garage.
    It was a unique area to live. We were in the direct flight path to Hopkins airport and the planes were so low you would swear you could throw a rock and hit the roaring DC-10s as they flew over, sometimes every four minutes. You would not be able to hear each other, the TV, or transistor radio as they flew over. Somehow, everyone was just used to it.
    Also within sight past the west end of the street, behind Eleanore Drive, was the railroad and rapid tracks with a creek running along side. It had open access at that time and no fences. Many coins were flattened on the tracks by the trains flying down the tracks. We also picked wild black raspberries which my mom made into delicious pies or we just let soak in sugar in the fridge before eating.
    Behind the tracks was the hill we would climb to cross over I-71 (which was not yet opened) to get to Gunning Field, which was indeed a field back then filled with grasshoppers, butterflies, toads, praying mantis and the like.
    The ball fields were there, as well as the pool (with 2 diving boards, low and high dive), playground equipment, and a cement wading pool. During the summer, The Traveling Zoo would come to Gunning with animals. The hill behind the tracks was also used for sled riding in the winter.
    If you walked or rode your Spyder bike to Gunning by way of Puritas Avenue, you had to cross the railroad tracks which were then at street level and had no gate. Apparently living dangerously, in those days kids simply just looked and didn't cross if there was a train coming on any of the tracks. Imagine that! In 1969 a bridge was erected there. Walking under the bridge, one would see many toads that came from the adjacent Gunning Field.
    Ours was definitely a children's neighborhood. The only way in and out of our neighborhood, the horseshoe, was back to Puritas Avenue. And that definitely had it's advantages for us kids.
    It was made up of Eleanore Drive, Mina, Leigh Ellen and Barbara Avenues, and West 156th Street. There were close to 40 school age kids to play with at any one time, even in the summer when friends were gone on vacation. We had 8 kids in our family at the time and the family directly behind us had 8 kids as well.
    The whole neighborhood was made up mostly of families with kids, a lot of kids! We all came out to play games. Whether it was Flashlight Tag, Capture The Flag, Spud, Red Rover, Kick the Can, Four-Square, Kickball, Dodgeball, street baseball (with tennis ball or wiffle ball), street football (even tackle in the street at times), Ghost & Goblins, and even a few made up games. Skating and skateboards were a past time. The younger kids played Mother May I, High Water/Low Water, Hopscotch, etc.
    There was always activity. We used walkie-talkies. We made homemade go-carts. My brother made a mini bike with a bike frame and a lawnmower engine. The kids had neighborhood type fairs where we'd make and sell things such as sno-cones and had games with prizes.
    When the kids slept out there, they ALL slept out. Tents filled with kids in EVERY yard. There were night games as well. The kids ran the streets at night but in quite a different way then they do today. Back then it was all in fun, enjoying each other and the summer.
    And no adults complained or worried about what we were up to. They all knew when something was going on and took turns keeping tabs on us. Pools were really tested with all those kids packing in, diving in over the sides, cannonball contests, etc., but none of the parents ever seemed to mind. It was more like one big family than a bunch of smaller ones.
    Like I said, it was a very unique neighborhood, one I doubt could ever be recreated. Sometimes we'd have homemade street parties where the residents would just decide to block the streets off themselves. And no one ever complained. We played in the Riverside Park Projects as well and it was no different then in our own neighborhood. Basically all good people.
    We walked and rode our bikes to the valley in the MetroParks. I used to hike and sleep there with a sleeping bag and radio by the wading pool at the Cottonwood Picnic Area, although my parents never knew. Guess I could tell them now, huh?
    I knew the park opened at 5 am and even though the rangers drove through, by the time it was light enough for them to see that far, it was past 5 am.
    I delivered the Cleveland Plain Dealer at 4:30 am to about 200 customers. I walked to Dairy DeLuxe to get my papers which actually was very quiet and enjoyable. The people up at that time would stand at their door waiting for their paper, which was kinda amazing to me. I also delivered the weekly West Parker on Thursdays which was free back then (it's called the West Side Sun).
    I attended R.G. Jones for kindergarten and still remember my teacher, Ms. Prucia. From there, I attended the now unfortunately defunct St. Patrick W.P. grade school until the 8th grade.
    Most of us attending public school in West Park, attended Clara E. Westropp Junior High which had a huge aviary with free-flying birds and a unique round library among other things.
    Likewise, at John Marshall High School, we had the underground track, indoor pool, gymnastic and weight rooms, The Marshall Room - a school restaurant, a senior lounge, and many other great things which were under-appreciated at the time.
    Even people like myself, who didn't not know anyone living there, still miss Riveredge Township, which was on about 50 acres at the corner of Old Grayton and Brookpark Roads just north of the airport. It had about 200 residents in mobile homes and its own police officer. I still have one of the Riveredge Township Police patches.
    The Dairy Deluxe Ice cream stand on Puritas Avenue with its sit-down counter was always a great place to go. I'm happy when I see it still open every year when I'm in town. In fact, I pass by specifically to look, just to make sure it is.
    I guess I'm afraid it will go the way of other memories and businesses such as Lawson's, W. T. Grant's, J.P. Snodgrass ( a great place selling only jeans and records), A&P, Pick-N-Pay, Marshall's Drug Store (with their soda fountain & jukebox), Kresge's with their dining area, and Leader Drug with their food area, and so many others.
    Neighborhood people and kids would enjoy spending their time together in these places, not just shop. It's something important that is missing these days and quite a different environment than mall food courts or Mickey D's.
    I remember rocket model kits, model cars, and Duncan Yo-Yos from Hobby Castle on Rocky River Drive On the other side of the street was Bearden's and Dante's Pizza. Simply the best pizza! I even used to buy them frozen and then keep them in the freezer until I wanted one.
    We saw the last of the outdoor Talking Christmas Trees on the strip at Great Northern Shopping Center. We saw the end of Mr. Jing-a-ling on TV, but my kids did get to see him several times downtown in Tower City.
    As a teenager I first rented the downstairs of a house by the month at 3977 West 157th Street. When I finally stopped renting monthly and moved, I was married with two children, 10 and 8 years old.
    The kids and I took many walks and bike rides in the neighborhood and to the library, Drakefield Park, and Kamm's Corners. We also used to stop at the mom-and-pop store one street over. My daughter would talk me into buying an instant scratch-off lottery ticket and several times she won $50. She was always very lucky. Me, not so much.
    The kids and I belonged to the West Park Indian Guides/Princess program through the YMCA at West 159th and Lorain Avenue and we would march in the 4th of July parades.
    Along with outside activities such as camping, we enjoyed events such as sleepovers and the Pinewood Derby at the Y. The kids belonged to the Four Corner's Baseball League and played baseball at Mohican, Tyler, Impett, and other areas parks.
    It reminded me of when I used to play for Hollywood Cleaners as a kid at Maplewood Diamonds near Verda Brobst School, both of which are sadly no longer. Verda Brobst even had its own outdoor swimming pool with slide.
    When we moved, it was only streets away, and ironically to the same address, now 3977 West 165th Street. I was visiting friends and someone from across the street had mentioned to them that they were thinking of selling their house in a year or so. We walked through it, went home and called them back with an offer. We hired an attorney to write a contract and that was that. The street has about 10 houses and Alger Cemetery is at the end on Bradgate Avenue.
    I've always enjoyed Cleveland cemeteries. So much history and one can find all the street names there and see who they are named after. Many interesting headstones in Alger Cemetery, especially the first one, Nathan Alger's, which is inscribed stating there is room for more, and another one inscribed for someone killed by lightning at age 29. There is only one mausoleum in this small cemetery.
    This also a monument to four children who all died in the 1800s, from some plague I believe. There is a little known baby-children area in the southeast corner with small markers.
    We used to walk and drive through the cemetery a lot to get to Lorain Avenue via West 164th Street On the back end where 164th Street was, there was a U-Haul on the east side of West 164th Street which also parked some trailers on a small strip of land (which I guess they owned) on the west side of the street.
    One day the rear gate to the cemetery on West 164th Street was locked and the U-Haul was repaving its lots. Then it paved over the street and connected the lots, the street sign disappeared, and our strolling street was no more.
    We continued to enjoy the area including the ten-lane Olympic Bowling Alley. I had kept a bowling pin from the alley when it closed. By that time, the last of the "big 80MM screens", at Riverside Theatre where I had seen 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, was gone.
    My children attended Our Lady of Angels School and my daughter attended St. Joseph's Academy. My daughter now teaches at Our Lady of Angels and her first assignment was teaching in the same room where she once attended kindergarten.
    My son wrestled for the St. Mark/OLA team as OLA had discontinued its wrestling program by then. They enjoyed that same family West Park-neighborhood-type experience that I had and, although we moved to Eaton Township in Lorain County when they were in high school, and they are now 29 and 31. Just like the rest, they treasure the relationships they developed with their friends from West Park.
    West Park is its own never-ending story where "it's a small world" refrains with regularity whenever the talk turns to the subject of West Park. And out roll all the enjoyable memories and stories. Those lucky enough to have experienced living in this special area have memories for a lifetime. More than anyone could ever write about.

--- Jay Blazek, Elyria, OH, 28 September 2010

 

I thought I would add a little history to your excellent web site. My parents and sister moved from West 52nd and Denison Avenue in June, 1948, to a brand new house at the corner of Rosemary Avenue and West 152nd, just off Warren Road. I was born on December 7th, 1948. Thus I am a true West Parker.
     The earliest story which has been told to me was my mother's refusal to get my curly blond locks cut. When I was two years of age, in about 1950, my father had taken me into Smick's Bar and Bowling Alley at West 50th and Storer Avenue at lunch time. One of the patrons told my father what a cute little girl I was! Being embarrassed my father took me to a beauty parlor, owned by Herb Hegewaldt and his wife, which was located next to the Riverside Theater. He got me a haircut without my mother's knowledge. Did he get hell when we arrived home! As I remember that beauty parlor remained next to the Riverside through the 1970s.
     Remember Riverside Hardware a few doors west of the theater? I still have a clambake steamer that I bought there in 1972 which has a shipping label on the carton with the hardware's name and address.
     Remember Sam Crimaldi's barber shop at the intersection of Warren and Munn Road?
     When the Warren Village Shopping Center opened in the early 1950s the major tenants were A&P, Neisner's Five and Dime, Scott Ladd Foods, and Ohio Savings. Scott Ladd Foods gave away S & H Green Stamps with each purchase and that's how I got my first fishing pole and reel. My girl friend worked at the Montgomery Ward Mail Order store at Warren Village in the 1960s.
     Howard Schreibman and his father had the jewelry store next to Royal Castle across from the Riverside. I also recall a men's store at Kamm's Corners owned by Bruce G. Morris. I thought these memories would help.

--- Bill Schneider, Fairview Park, OH. 28 April 2010

American Agricultural Chemical Co - AGRICO.   I grew up on Carrington Avenue and at the end of the street was the Agrico Company. It was a dark red presence that caused rainy days to smell a certain way. Do you have any photos of it to put on your site? Now that it's gone, I wish someone had taken photos of it. When my sister and I were very young we would pull a wagon down to Agrico and try to sell lemonade to the men on their break. I think we sold a couple glasses, not much more than that. But there were a lot of wild strawberries along the tracks and we'd pick those to take home.

--- Gayle Wohlken, Burton, OH. 19 February 2010

I remember when the West Park World War I Memorial (now located in front of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post on West 150th Street south of K-Mart) used to sit on the front lawn of George Washington elementary school on Lorain Avenue. The trees that were along the circle walkway in the front of the school were planted on Arbor Day. That was in the mid 1960s. So long ago.

--- Jim Hasselbrack, Bristow, OK. 24 January 2010

I remember Leader Drug store at Kamm's corner. I worked behind the soda fountain in my senior year.  I also remember when they use to freeze some of the area at Jefferson Park (at West 133rd and Lorain Avenue) for ice skating. Later they built the ice skating rink at Halloran Park. I also use to hang out at Herzog's restaurant after school and have a coke and sometimes fries, with Diane Rogers, Marsa Stofcheck and Rick Forrester.

--- Laurel Rieger Hastings, St. Cloud, FL.  5 October 2009

I lived at 13417 West Avenue for the first 15 years of my life, from 1971 to 1986. Mom worked at the Lawson's (no longer there) at the corner of West Avenue and West 130th Street, across from the First District Police Station. Later she also worked at the Lawson's (also no longer there) on Lorain Avenue near West 138th Street.  Dad worked down at Republic Steel and part time at Joe Fox's Garage at the corner of West 130th and Lorain. I just drove through my old neighborhood on Sunday. It was not as pretty as I remember but I still love it. I'll always consider it “home.” I miss the good old days.
    I remember Fazio's grocery store and Hough Bakery on Lorain at West 139th. I thought I'd be grocery shopping there when I grew up but it closed and became Marc's.. Hough bakery was the best! We'd take home cakes and cookies in a paper box tied with string.
    We never would have moved from the neighborhood if Cleveland hadn't started busing. When I was little I dreamed of the day I'd walk down the street and go to John Marshall High School, but that would never happen. The school district wanted us to go to Kennedy School. So we moved to the Medina area. In my mind busing was the worst thing to happen to Cleveland.
    I also have fond memories of  Santa Claus at the Sears store on Lorain at West 110th.  That whole building was magical to me as a kid, with lots of different aisles, staircases, and escalators. I keep trying to redraw the interior of the building in my mind.
    I recall hopping on my bike and riding to the Rockport Library. I even remember going there for free square-dancing lessons. We'd ride our bikes everywhere, for blocks and blocks! We'd leave from home on West Avenue, go up to West 134th, turn on Cooley, and then up West 133rd to get to Jefferson Park. I played tennis there with the National Junior Tennis League for three years, from about 1981 to 1983.
    When I was a kid, I remember waiting in my front yard every year when the high schoolers from John Marshall would drive down the street on their last day of school. We'd wave at them as they passed and they'd honk their horns.
    I wish everyone could share the wonderful childhood I had growing up on West Avenue.

--- Vicki (Clevenger) Grace, Sullivan, OH.  30 October 2009

I grew up in West Park at 17302 Milburn Avenue and lived in the area for about 23 years, from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. I couldn’t have lived in a better area than West Park! Spending time at Gunning Park or walking to school at St. Patrick’s couldn’t have been better. I have fond memories of going to Puritas Hill to look for remnants of Puritas Springs amusement park, spending time at Hobby Castle, riding my bike to Dairy Deluxe, and having a pizza at Dante’s. I now live in Olmsted Falls but take my family to West Park on regular occasions.
    Thank you for spending the time to build this web page. While I am only 35 years old, I am very fond of my oldneighborhood and love to see the preservation of the area's rich history. Keep up the great work!

--- Jason Lowbridge, Olmsted Falls, OH.  22 September2009

 

I went to Valley View School and lived on Rocky River Drive across from a laundromat.  It was next to a Dairy Dell (now Brown's Flowers at 4202 Rocky River Dr) where I picked up Laub's bread and Colby cheese.  The laundromat later became Kentucky Fried Chicken.  There was a utility pole next to KFC.  I used to shimmy up it to the roof and look out at the people going by.
    One time WIXY 1260 radio came to the parking lot and tried to give away a car. We each got a key and tried to open the door.
    Later I would run down to Kamm's Corner to a local drug store where I would test my TV tubes, buy a gross of Beatles trading cards and stock up on my favorite candy: Zero, Bun, Laffy Taffy, Black Cow, Walnettos and some Teaberry and Blackjack gum.  For lunch I would go to Beardens, at the corner of Sedalia Avenue, for baked beans.  That's all I could afford.
    On Saturdays it was up to Gunnings Pool on Puritas Avenue or down to Kamms for the Saturday double feature at the
Riverside Theatre.  One time the Mouseketeers‎ came, Annette and the whole group!  That's also where I saw the THE BLOB and A HARD DAYS NIGHT.  One time they played the film ZOTZ and gave each of us a magic coin.

--- Garland McFarland, New Castle, KY, Sep. 7, 2009

 

I used to live at 17413 Bradgate Avenue from April 1969 to July 1972. Our side of the street (south) belonged to St. Pat's parish while the other side of the street was OLA's parish. The Weber family used to live in the house at the end of the street near Rocky River Drive. Next to the Weber house there was a giant tree and a field we used to play in.
    On the satellite map I see that two houses have been built into the space we used as a playing field. It seems the big tree is still there, too.
    There was a corner house and, maybe a year before we moved away to Europe, they built a car shop. Its parking lot made cutting through the field on our bikes a difficult job because it was higher than the old path. (I notice there was a house built in between since then!) My five younger brothers used to play a lot of baseball there with the other kids of the neighborhood.
    My brother used to deliver the Westside Sun newspaper every Thursday morning. We started out about 4:30 a.m. so the 200 copies were delivered by 7 a.m. when we had to leave for school at St. Pat's. We serviced Chatfield, Larchwood, Naomi, Sheila, and Susan Avenues, Riveredge Road, West 176th and West 179th Streets.
    I remember Dairy Queen, Baskin-Robins, Lawson's, and going to Gunning Park and Wilke's Bakery – delicious! Do kids still go down into the "valley" by the Metro golf course to go sledding? That was a lot of fun!
    Keep up your work on local history. Time flies too fast and one day we will regret not having asked or written down what our elders know. Hello to all those who knew me and those who don't!

--- Bernadette (Hanacek) Friesznegg, Graz, Austria.  4 August 2009

 

ONE JULY AFTERNOON
    My friend Larry and I were always making things, such as wooden go carts, scooters and the like, down in his cool basement on hot summer afternoons. Larry, a couple years older than I, was not a craftsman by any stretch and I recall seeing him pound in screws with a hammer. But the wood was soft as it was probably orange crates made of pine from Rini’s Market at the corner of Rocky River Drive and Lorain Avenue, known as Kamm’s Corners. That Rini location is now a parking lot for Kamm’s Plaza...
    On this particular construction project Larry decided to put lights on whatever it was and that we would require an electric soldering iron. My Dad had one, but I wasn’t about to let Larry borrow it. I knew better. But Larry remembered that the Scott’s Five-and-Dime had them and they would be just fine for our project. So we hopped on our bikes on this hot afternoon and rode up to the big store. This one was located across the street from the Riverside Theater. We purchased the iron and returned home.
    But for some reason Larry decided that this iron was not heating up fast enough and of course I did not know the difference. So he decided to take it apart and see what, if any, problem there was. He soon became exasperated and finally jammed all the wires and insulation back into the handle and announced that he would get his money back. So, back on our bikes and off we went to Scott’s
    The same young clerk was there and Larry told her the problem and she decided to check it out by plugging it in to an outlet by the cash register. Simultaneously in the store there was a huge blue flash, a very loud pop and a scream from the clerk as she was knocked back on her butt. Larry and I both froze not knowing what had happened. All the store lights and ceiling fans quit leaving us all in the dark and frightened customers heading for the door.
    In just a few seconds the panicky store manager started running through the aisles asking everyone in a loud voice what was going on. Finally our clerk called him over and explained in a very shaky voice what had happened. Quickly the manager yelled that she should refund the money and pointed us to the front door. We were happy to leave and as we got on our bikes we heard the siren from the first responding fire truck.
    Larry, being a good friend, then decided he would buy us both an ice cream at our hangout, Blain’s Dairy. (17439 Lorain Ave.) I suppose he thought he had put me through enough for the afternoon. It was several weeks before I even went past Scott’s Five-and-Dime and a very long time before I went in there again.

--- Dan Weber, Rancho Cordova, CA.  9 July 2009

At one time I did some research on West Park bars that dated back to the end of Prohibition in 1933. I believe I found our six oldest bars. Three of them are now gone. The Little (?) Bar on West 130th between the tracks was the first to go and may have been the oldest. The Impala at West 119th and Lorain is also now gone. Loyda's Café at West 127th burned just a few years ago. This leaves Daily's at West 143rd and Lorain, The Far Mor at West 127th and Lorain, and the Public House at Kamm's Corners.
    Other reminiscences: Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Clinton have paraded through West Park. Someone has to have pictures. That would make a good story.
    Most know about San Francisco and the "summer of love" in the late 1960s, and the Coventry area on the east side. But how many people remember that every Sunday hundreds of teens from all over Greater Cleveland would gather at Tyler field here in West Park.
    How about the El Dorado Drive In at Kamm's Corners where Steak N Shake now stands? Later it became Manner's Big Boy. West Tech kids had Diney's but John Marshall kids had the El Dorado.
    I seem to be one of the few people who remember when you used to be able to drive your car right into Rocky River and wash it. Someone needs to tell these stories, and others, before they are lost forever.

--- Ross Bassett, Strongsville, OH.  17 June 2009

What a great site! Talk about memories!
    Kenny Kings and their cole slaw, Tony's diner and their spaghetti. My older brother proposed to his wife at Diney's. The 1953 tornado photos are something else, too. I grew up on Summerland Avenue so I always heard about it.
    I saw STAR WARS at the Variety Theater, and my best friend and I sat through six hours of GONE WITH THE WIND there.
    Do you remember the old Wards gas station that sat on the corner of West 130th and Summerland? It was ran by the Ward brothers and torn

down to build the police station. When I was a little girl I would ask my dad how the moon got broken when it wasn't full. He would say, "I don't know but I bet Wards could fix it!"
    Thank you for all the wonderful memories.

--- Rene Rudd, Marietta, OH.  21 May 2009

[Thanks for the kind comments, Rene. And thanks for sharing your reminiscences of West Park.
    We don't personally remember Ward's gas station but we do have a photo of it. Apparently it stood at the corner of Brooklawn Avenue and West 130th Street. It was built in about 1947. We assume someone named "Ward" once owned it but for many years it was run by Arthur E. and Edward A. Zeinert. They may be the two brothers you remember.    ----  Gary Swilik]

I grew up in West Park and have very fond memories of it. I worship the Kamms Plaza area and have shopped there forever, and still will. My father, David Schroth, owned the Shell Gas station on Rocky River Drive next to Marten's funeral home. I went there a lot when I was young and helped my dad. We also enjoyed the very best pizza in town from Dante's. Unfortunately it caught on fire right after I ate there one week before. I was so saddened by the story of what happened that I actually walked by the place and cried.  My best times were in West Park. I loved the Riverside Theatre where I saw many movies. I can’t tell you enough about West Park, although you already know with your wonderful stories and great pictures.

--- Dana Everett, Cleveland, OH.  2 May 2009

In 1958 or 1959 I played Little League for the Valley View Merchants team. I was the only left-handed third baseman in all of organized baseball! Back then the sponsors would support both a minor and major team. You played on the minors and moved up with age. Minors wore colored t-shirts and caps. Ours were dark blue. When you got to the majors you wore a real baseball uniform.
    Geiger's Men's Wear was one of our opponents. Some of the other teams were sponsored by Hollywood Cleaners, Corrigan's Funeral Home, the George Blaha Insurance Company (he was our councilman), Kamm's Merchants, and Homeway Drug. There may have been one or two more.
    We played at Gunning Park on Puritas Avenue, behind the projects on Rocky River Drive, and way back behind Puritas Springs Park after it burned down. We played on fields without outfield fences so if you hit it far enough you had to run like hell for a home run. I only did this once, against the Kamm's Corners team.
   
Once a guy had a heart attack and died behind me when I was playing left field. I think the game he was watching had ended and he was walking to his car. The ambulance had to come all the way thru the remains of Puritas Springs Park to get to him. That didn't help. I have no idea who he was. Just remember all the commotion. Too bad there were no cell phones back then
.

--- Doug Viant, Galloway, OH.  26 February 2009

We Kamm's Corner kids were very familiar with "Hogs Back" hill in the middle of Little Met Golf Course, at the foot of Old Lorain Road below Fairview Hospital. Our interest in the hill was sledding in the winter time. This was done on the northern end of the hill.
    There was more sledding available in the valley on the other side of the river, at the south end of the golf course, just below present Golf View Drive. Those kids had a steep, fast hill for sledding. The Hog Back runs were lower and not as steep, meaning not as fast. But the advantage of the Hogs Back was that it was so much closer to home. It was a long cold hike from Kamm's Corners down and back to the Golf View Hill.

--- Dan Weber, Rancho Cordova, CA, Feb. 2, 2009

My family lived at 19702 Elsmere about two blocks from Verda Brobst Elementary School. The street is long since gone as, of course, is the school. I went there for kindergarten and first-grade with a teacher named Mrs. Male. I remember playing on the school fields in the summer.
    I've lived on the east side for 35 years and almost never get back to that area but, once in a while if I'm waiting for someone to arrive at the airport, I'll drive by the old neighborhood. It's so sad the school is gone.
    For second to fourth grades I went to St Pat's at Rocky River Drive and Puritas. Then we moved but, when I was in the tenth-grade, we moved back to the West 150th-Puritas neighborhood and I went to John Marshall High. I graduated from JMH in 1972.
    I have such wonderful memories of those years!
    You have done fabulous work with your website.  I love the old photos, with the old cars. Thank you so much.

--- Victoria Ashley, Beachwood, OH.  03 November 2008

I lived in West Park most of my life until I was married. My dad still lives there. I am only 35 but remember so many of the great buildings that have come and gone.
    My grandpa used to work in the Ohio Bell building. My greatest memories, however, took place in two buildings not mentioned.
    One is the G. C. Murphy Company at Kamms Plaza where my grandma used to take us to their lunch counter for hot dogs and floats "like in the old days."
    The other was the airport Brown Derby. I'm not sure if that was West Park or just outside of it. Our neighbor used to work there so we got to go out one Friday per month for the salad bar and French bread pizza on the kid's menu. We would eat at the salad bar and take the pizza home for Saturday night. Thank you for the memories in these money-grubbing times. I wish I had pics but I hope you can find some and add them to your site.

--- Tina Combs, Parma Heights, OH.  30 April 2008

Sure like your website as it reminds me of the days growing up as a teenager and hanging out around "Hank's" delicatessen and Garfield School. I understand the school is gone now.
    I went to Garfield in 1951 before going on to Marshall High. In fact, it was on the steps of Garfield that some friends and I tattooed ourselves using a sewing needle wrapped in thread and dipped in India ink. I was 16 at the time. I still have my initials tattooed on my left arm.
    I attended Boy Scout meetings in the basement at Christ Methodist Church on the point at the intersection of West 137 and West 138th.
My crowd did get around town and we didn't spend all our teenage years in the immediate neighborhood. As we grew older we went to places like Bill's Bar on Lorain near West 143rd Street. We also frequented Bearden's drive-in and Kamm's Corners, too, along with occasional outings at Rocky River Park and late nights at Royal Castle or Manners Drive-in restaurant.
    When some of us got cars it expanded our horizons and we ventured far and wide around Cleveland, even going out to North Olmsted where one of our buddy's parents owned a farm. We had many parties in the woods out there.
    Just in case there are some visitors to your site that may wonder who's who, I'll include a few names of the old gang and see if that stirs up any interest. This is pretty much the local gang that hung around Garfield School and Hank's Delicatessen at the northeast corner of Lyric Avenue on West 140th:

Myself - Larry Phipps, of   W. 137th Street, Dave Shepley, Frank Savel, Tom Cleary, James and Pat Patton, Jack Kilbane, Art Yurek, Lee Calbrunner, Bob Farrell, Louie Reese, John (Yohan) Petrilla, Bob Onicilla, Jim Ravotti, Jerry Knipper, Tom Daly, Tim & Tom Terry, Bill Vanderlind, Charles (Butch) Miller, Bill Burke and Ron Fuller.

AND THE GIRLS:  Patti Abel, Carol Zietz, Carol Leitz, Joanne Szpak, Margaret (Cookie) Walsh, Mary Ellen Joice (Or Joyce), Sarah Cormier, Patty English and Sally McNally.

    Many others were around from time to time. Forgive me if I left anyone out. It's purely the passage of time that leaves the memory vague.
    By the way, "Hank" (Henry S. Kurzynski), of Hank's Delicatessen, died in an airplane crash. He had a pilot's license but I never heard what went wrong with his flight. I had left to go into the Navy by then.
    That's when everything started to change. One by one we entered the military and began to lose touch with each other. That and marriage was the end of "Our Gang".
    Soon we were all scattered to the wind. It was only a few years ago that some of us, through the internet, re-established contact. A few remained in touch throughout the years but most had left Cleveland for other places. Florida, Tennessee, California, etc.
    I'm hoping to get back to West Park next summer for a reunion.

 --- Larry Phipps, Chico, California. 4 December 2007

I remember a swamp just west of West 137th on the north side of Lorain Avenue. I think a building supply was eventually built there. My friends and I loved to explore that swamp. We'd bring home frogs and clams. Can you imagine clams in a swamp in the city?  I wonder how clams got there. In fact, I wonder how a swamp got there.
    Do you remember when the streets were all brick?  Can you imagine how labor intensive that must've been to build?  The wet bricks ere so slippery.  Funny we didn't see more accidents.
    I also recall the little 'woods' that existed on West137th at Lorain. It later became a big phone company building.  I believe there was a small phone building there originally, but it didn't affect the woods.
    How about the ice man?  It was the '50's, and some people still had their old ice boxes.  In the summer, I'd stand at the curb and wait for the iceman to drive up. Before he'd hook the blocks with his tongs and make his delivery, he'd lift the tarp off the load of giant ice cubes and, without a word, chip off a big chunk of ice and toss it to me to eat. I think we kids were much easier to please in those days.
    I remember ice cream man, too. The ice cream trucks were kind of unique, with the open cab and dry ice box in the back. Apparently refrigeration wasn't in for the frozen section, so they loaded it with dry ice. Crazy as it sounds, we would put our faces inside the freezer box and get dizzy. The dry ice was carbon dioxide. 

--- Mike Moody, Orange County, CA. 24 September 2007

We loved growing up on West Park Road because we had so many wonderful neighbors!  Many of us walked to school together to Our Lady of the Angels.  I remember so many wonderful families and I hope they are all doing well: The Connors, the Ryan's, McNamee's, the Gallaghers, the Schwinn's.

--- Mary Jo Wagoner.  23 September 2007

 

My friends and I are really enjoying your website.
    A couple of things to pass along. First of all, Garfield Elementary School, West 140th, is now history. It was recently razed and is totally gone.
    The article about Herold's Store was fun to read. As teenagers in the mid-50's, we spent countless hours sitting on the steps of the store just talking.
    One store I spent a lot of time at was Hank's Delicatessen on the corner of Lyric Ave. and West 140th. The owner Hank, and his wife and two children lived in the back of the store. Hank was killed in a small plane accident in the 60's. Hank had sold the store and it became Lally's.
     Relative to the 1953 tornado, I was at a Boy Scout meeting at Ascension Church, at West 140th and Puritas, when a report of serious weather approaching sent us all home. I was terrified as I rode my bike home as fast as I could. Luckily I was heading north on West 140th and was going way from the tornado. It was certainly the most horrific rain and thunderstorm as I headed home. The next day, my friends and I headed back to the school and viewed the damage. 
(three snapshots)

--- David Shepley, Brunswick ,Ohio.  20 September 2007

We used to have a deli at the corner of West 140th and Lakota called Racer's. All the school kids knew the owner because he was selling them cigarettes at a penny a piece.

--- Kenneth Weiss, Cleveland, OH. 29 March 2007

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Memories of places near West Park


Robert Hall Clothes

 

I remember the summer of 1969 when EASY RIDER came out, and I wanted a buckskin fringe jacket. My parents bought me a suede jacket with lots of fringe at Robert Hall. I had it for about a month when one day I took it out of the closet and found my mother had cut all the fringe off! She said it would make a nice car coat. I was 12 years old, what did I need a car coat for?
    Here's another Robert Hall commercial jingle from 1961:
   
  Robert Hall beats them all,
     Shop and see
     You get more, you pay less
     Shop and see
     Look at all the clothing values for your family
     Robert Hall beats them all,
     Shop and see.

    --- Scott Ferrell, Cleveland, OH.  8 August 2009

 

My husband, Don Dixon, remembers his mother shopping there for new Easter suits for her sons. I think that's where he bought his suit for our wedding in 1961.

    --- Lois Gollwitzer Dixon, Livonia, Michigan.  5 December 2007

 

My parents bought a First Communion suit at Robert Hall for my oldest brothers. It was stored and used as a hand-me-down for 5 additional First Communions!
   
My one and only Leather came from Robert hall! It took forever for me to save the 67 Dollars to buy it! It disappeared after I wrecked my car at W. 117th and Detroit in early 1968! I sure missed that coat! I left for Florida in April of 68 and never looked back!

    --- Earl Maki, Largo, FL. 18 May 2007

 

The name "Robert Hall" sure bought back memories of the past. At Easter time and the beginning of the school years we would make the trip there for clothes. I remember going there and buying suits. Yuck! I wasn't a suit person back then, and some things never change. LOL. I was over in that area about a week ago. It's sure a lot different than when we were kids growing up.

    --- Russell Kingery, Old Brooklyn, OH. 18 May 2007

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Robert Hall Clothes


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Updated by: Charles C. Chaney
Updated 05 August 2012