Things have been so busy that I haven’t been able to put even a smidgen of what is going on to paper..or in this case a WordPress Blog. However, last week, another piece by the Atlantic’s Derek Thompson caught my eye. In his October 5th article The Best Economic News No On e Wants to Talk About, Mr. Thompson writes about new data from the Labor Department showing not only is unemployment at a 50 year low, but finally a real rise in wages for lower income people. While it is a good read, I must admit that, having had issues with his work before, that again I don’t think all this good news paints the full picture.
Even with the increase in real wages, they are still a far cry from what those same dollars could buy in 1969. Not only that, and perhaps I should look at the reports so that I’m right on this, I suspect many of the jobs created are not full time and not with what many used to call ‘benefits’, real pension, vacation time, and good health insurance policies. I highly doubt that many of these jobs can enable a spouse to stay at home and faise a family like they were able to do 50 years ago either. In other words, while the news last week is wonderful, we still got a long way to go address the income inequality that exists in this county.
Today, I wound up in beautiful Tallmadge Ohio for a cookout. It was at the home of one of the members of the Akron Writer’s Group and, while catching up with everyone I learned that this year’s anthology has been published. It is important to note this on the blog because, for the first time in years, a short story of mine, titled A Night At the Concert, has been included. In fact, to my surprise (and it seems to a few others) mine is the first one.
Kora Sadler, the group’s organizer, plans to do more publications in the in the upcoming year, not just the annual anthology but others surrounding a basic theme for those who are eager to “take their work to the next level” as she put it today. It seems that our group’s reputation is growing. Kora told us that a Canadian literary agent noticed our work and complemented us which is a really nice surprise.
There are plans in the works for a public book signing like they had last year in the Akron area. As a preview of that, someone at the party was nice enough to ask me to sign my name next to the my title in the book and I obliged.
As for the blog, 101 views have been recorded so far for it and there’s still half the month to go.
Talk about how one plan turns into another. I was determined, for various reasons, to drive out east on I-90 Sunday to Erie, Pennsylvania. The plan was to drive to Presque Isle to hop on the Lady Kate tour boat for one last trip on Lake Erie. Instead I wound up behind a school bus and smack dab in the middle of the Erie Marathon and pulling aside for four ambulances to drive past us all. Let’s just say that, after spending more than 45 minutes in a traffic jam and missing the boat, I wasn’t a happy camper. However, right outside the entrance was a remedy.
Opened in 2006, The Tom Ridge Environmental Center is right across the street from Waldameer Park and Water World just before the park entrance. Besides being free with convenient restrooms, the center is in fact very interesting. There are interactive displays ranging from showing the history of Presque Isle (from the Erie Indians that once lived there to bootleggers running boats in the 1920s and everything in between), the various birds that nest there (and recordings of their calls when you press a button}m plus the environmental challenges facing this rather fragile ecosystem. There is also a theater which I didn’t go into, and a children’s area on the second floor. There is even what looks like a pretty nice observation tower you can go up to but, not being able to find the entrance to it and, being light headed enough looking over the railing on the second floor, I decided to pass.
The center if open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. So, if you have a Monday off when so many things are closed this is one place you can visit, and the parking is free. What a way the salvage a morning.
Instead of driving East to Burton Ohio like I usually do on Labor Day Weekend, I was sitting in the front seat of a car driving West Saturday. Our destination was Sandusky Ohio which I haven’t been to in decades. there, on the waterfront, is a small Maritime Museum that proves that old cliche that big things come in small packages. The place was full of artifacts and displays ranging from replicas of some of the passenger boats that took people from Cleveland to Cedar Point to film footage showing ice harvesting on Sandusky Bay when it was a big industry (and Lake Erie iced over enough in winter to do such things). One of the highlights for me was in a building in the back of the property where there was a nice size collection of antique speed boats. There was plenty to see there and the tour guide was very informative.
Practically across the street from the museum is Battery Park and its’ marina. Once the working docks of a busy port, they have now been covered with crass and the slips in between crossed by pedestrian bridges like one sees at Wildwood Park in my own neighborhood. Lining the edges were plantings of native grasses and wildflowers and the over all effect was nice. Walking through there I kept thinking about the East 55th St. Marina and the old First Energy power plant water intake channels. There is much speculation on what to do with that and the adjacent freeway. Are going to restore the East Shoreway’s route to before the late 40’s when it followed the tracks instead of splitting nearby Gordon Park in half? Are they gong to fill in those two channels and remove the bridges over them? No one really knows.
However, I do think that from what I saw Saturday that the City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Metroparks have an opportunity there. Those two old break walls on each side of the channels can bee expanded a good 100 feet wide and be landscaped like what was done over there. with a second pair of pedestrian bridges further out. As for the other side of the freeway where the water now dead ends into a small pool at least clean up the site and perhaps make that like Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve (better known as Dike 14) and after a few years, if nothing else happens, open it to the public on a limited basis for at least bird watching. Lord knows we need more green space along the lakefront anyway and it can be a nice temporary measures for when the time they decide to convert the East Shoreway into a boulevard or whatever. The point is that what Sandusky has been ab le to do on its waterfront can easily be replicated at East 55th St.
For those who follow this blog, you know I have shared updates on the status of the old La Salle Theater on East 18tth St. here in North Collinwood. Tuesday, at the monthly neighborhood watch meeting, Councilman Polensek told the members that the Planning Commission approved the plan (mentioned previously at another meeting) to demolish the La Salle Tavern, the house behind it and another structure to expand that parking lot. Now, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress has to work with the Cuyahoga County Land Bank and the regional sewer district to secure the funding to do so.
Other projects are coming down the pipeline (or sewerline if may be) and so while North Collinwood may not get the press the Cleveland Plain Dealer has given lately to downtown and adjacent West Side neighborhoods, it’s still chugging along.
While this was published in Scene Magazine last week, I only caught it on Saturday and it piqued my interest. Among other things, I was surprised to see that the heirs to Jeptha H. Wade are concerned enough about his legacy to put forward this lawsuit and I give them credit for doing so. After all, it’s not the first time I heard people criticize the fact that the gardens are walled off and you must pay admission to enter. A lady that used to work with me at the job, now retired, told me that the herb garden which was created in 1969 by the Western Reserve Herb Society was originally open to the public and many of the older members, such as her late mother, were not happy with the present arrangement. As a matter of fact, I remember as a child one time walking across the street from the Art Museum to go to what was then called the Garden Center of Greater Cleveland (as the gardens were then called) and it was free.
While I was a long time member of both the Cleveland Botanical Gardens (or the CBG) and the Holden Arboretum (and now Holden Forest and Gardens) the fact is that some short-sighted decisions from the CBG’s management over the years has led to all this. However, it is to me very interesting that the descendants of one of the big old families of Cleveland’s industrial heyday still care about what is going on in this city. Good for them.
With such perfect weather like what we had this last weekend, it was a no brainer to hop in the car and go somewhere. After all, with all that went on that Saturday it was good to clear the head. Well, the car took me down Routes 8 and 224 to the Portage Lakes of Summit County. For the life of me, this has been the first year I have ever been down there. When I showed a photograph of it afterwards to a coworker of mine she thought it was in another country. While I wouldn’t go that far to describe place, it is certainly nothing that I’d expect there.
There are thirteen lakes in all. Most of these are in fact reservoirs created in the 19th century to provide water for the Ohio and Erie Canal while the rest are glacial kettle lakes similar to those elsewhere in Northeast Ohio. Later, as the city of Akron boomed as the ‘Rubber City’, summer cottages were built along the shores and eventually they became year round residences like similar weekend resorts along the shores of Lake Erie. Today, the Portage Lakes (called locally PLX) is an unincorporated community within Summit County. While the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has a state park down there, cottages definitely dominate the shores as much as the boats in the water. Apparently there is what some call a ‘downtown’ but, from what I saw despite the heavy traffic, it was better described as a hamlet: a small commercial area with a distinctive clock tower with the East Reservoir behind it. However, it is the focal point of the community with a number of businesses and very popular eateries. For one thing, there is Pick’s at PLX.
Like a layer cake, the building has different purposes with each level, a banquet hall on the top, a restaurant called Table 530 just below that (and ironically the floor that is on street level) a very popular sports bar below that, and terraces full of tables with umbrellas and bars going all the way down to the water. When I pulled up, one of the attendants told me they had at least three other parking lots besides the one next to the building and I was lucky enough to have someone leave just as I was arriving so I took his spot. While the view across the West Reservoir from Pick’s wasn’t like one would find in Vermilion or the Muskoka Lakes Region, that’s not the point. The old ramshackle cottages have a funky charm of their own.
As for the restaurant, it wasn’t bad for a Sunday afternoon. Service was kind of slow, but that seems more because the servers were also bringing orders out to the terraces at the same time. I do know that my steak and baked potato were good and the Italian dressing on my salad (included with the meal) was home made. Money was put into the decor and the bar behind me was well stocked and plenty of customers. It was simply nice to look out the window at a fleet of pontoon boats moored at the water’s edge bringing more customers to the place and the adjacent Harbor Front Grille
Would it be worth driving down there again for an afternoon, I definitely think so. If anything, this would be a good spot for some of the Akron Writer’s Group to hang out afterwards. Nevertheless, considering all that was going on that weekend, it was worth the trip.