About Cleveland, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Interesting piece on the Wade Family heirs and their lawsuit with the Cleveland Botanical Gardens.

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.

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My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Exploring the Portage Lakes.

A view of the North Reservoir from Meyers Island.

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.

Walking downstairs at Pick’s.

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.  

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.

The West Reservoir looking south.

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

looking towards the 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.

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Table 530.

Photographs by James Valentino

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A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Thoughts on El Paso; A Quick Little Post.

Yesterday’s horrific mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, and what has now happened in Dayton, Ohio, threw what was a regular weekend off kilter. I just happened to come home Saturday from an area Kohl’s store when I turned on the television to the breaking news. My thoughts immediately went to the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last year (a place I parked near when I visited that city a year earlier). My thoughts also went to the shooting that have occurred in parts of Cleveland this year.

Friday, at the job, I chatted with someone who works for Cuyahoga County’s Office of Emergency Management. He and a colleague went down to Public Square Thursday August 1, 2019 for Cuyahoga County’s first annual Fun Day. An afternoon of family friendly fun disguising the real purpose of the event; promoting county public service agencies and related non-profits like the YMCA and the Cleveland Public Library, these two lucky souls had to set up and sit at their agency’s booth. One of the first questions I had for him was there enough police protection there. He told me that the City of Cleveland and Sheriff’s Department had their officers in full force with no incidents. I was glad to hear that since i remember another big free event at Public Square years ago under then Mayor Jane Campbell that turned into a brawl in front of the Terminal Tower. Back then, someone shooting off guns wasn’t on the forefront of my mind but Thursday it did; I just didn’t mention it to him.

I will not write here on this site my views on gun rights or control and the polarization our society is afflicted with today. However, people should be able to worship, shop, have a night on the town, and send their children to school without worrying about being shot.

On a tangent away from this but still related to what took place, I want to leave a link to a clip to the ending of the film Lilies of the Field. Unfortunately they left out the previous part where Homer (Sidney Poitier who delivered an Academy Award winning performance) tricks the Mother Superior (Lila Skala) into finally saying “Thank You” for all the work he did helping her, and everyone else, build that chapel. I first saw this simple yet honest film at the Cleveland Cinematheque and the ending always moved me. Recently, it was on Turner Classic Movies and I haven’t seen it in awhile. The America some people are afraid of us becoming already exists and has so for a long time.

https://youtu.be/rn6w255CGkk

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My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Riding the Carrousel in Mansfield.

The Richland Carrousel Park.

Time doesn’t slow down for anybody. For example, who would have thought that my trip down to Mansfield Ohio happened almost a month ago? Then again, many would wonder why I went down there in the first place. Well, for starters, I wasn’t driving and I was curious about the carrousel only a few blocks away from the center of town.

Once a pretty bustling mid-sized industrial powerhouse, like many cities of it’s size in Ohio, Mansfield has slowly rusted.  This city is no different from places like Elyria, Warren, or Painesville in the sense that, once the factories pulled out and left, what remained has been put on economic life support.  Driving into town we drove past empty brick buildings that once churned out refrigerators and other appliances that were the bread and butter for many people living there. Mansfield is the county seat of Richland County and plenty of cars were driving through the center of town that Sunday afternoon. To the north of town is the old Ohio State Reformatory which, thanks to the movie The Shawshank Redemption, has become a tourist attraction drawing thousands of people every year, and bringing in much needed revenue. 

The carrousel at rest.

As for the Richland Carrousel Park, I was pleasantly surprised. For the first time in decades I actually hopped on one of the horses and rode twice around as the organ music played. Of course there were many of children with their parents and a sizeable line developed both times I handed the operator the token to get on.  To obtain the tokens, you walk into the adjacent gift shop which from what I see does a pretty good business. 

One of the displays there.

The guy who I went down with happens to be a big carroussel buff. He believes that this is exactly the type of attraction we need at Euclid Beach Park in North Collinwood. After all, it was an amusement park until it closed in 1969 and, with all the improvements the Cleveland Metroparks have done since they took it over, bringing back a carrousel doesn’t seem too far fetched for him. Now, can what Mansfield has done be replicated here on the North Coast is hard to tell.

I’m sure somewhere in the Neil Zurcher’s One Tank Trip archives there is something about Mansfield’s carrousel. At least I can say that I discovered something rather unique in a part of Ohio I rarely visit.

Photographs by James Valentino

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A Quick Little Post, About Cleveland, Community and Economic Development, My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

City Block is Coming to Tower City Center, A Quick Little Post.

I’m really starting to like what Scene Magazine’s Sam Allard has written lately. This week’s piece on ‘City Block,’ the Blockland Tech Hub for downtown Cleveland really caught my attention. When I visited the Youngstown Business Incubator years ago with its’ founder Jim Cossler, I thought to myself that Cleveland needed to study that and create its own version to generate new companies for the area. While not exactly an incubator, what Bernie Moreno proposes is pretty close. It also utilizes the empty space at Tower City Center far more effectively than any Amazon HQ2 proposal ever could.

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A Quick Little Post, My blog., Uncategorized

Once Again, Another Quick Little Post.

The Cleveland sign at Villa Angela Beach in North Shore Collinwood.

Blame it on writer’s block, having so little time, or just life, but this year hasn’t been one of many posts for this site. To be honest, I still feel rather uncomfortable with the changes WordPress has done to their site, including these new block paragraphs that I now have to work with. Little by little I’m getting the hang of it though, just like I’m getting my confidence back in what I want to do as a writer, let alone for this site.

On a different note, it seems that I am getting something published this year. It’s a short story that will be appearing in the Akron Writers Group 2019 Anthology. It will be nice to see something of mine again in print since it’s been a few years.

So far, there have been 62 views for this month which is pretty good. We will see what comes up next for Mad Man On A Great Lake!

Photograph by James Valentino.

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My blog., Uncategorized

A Smart Reblog and a Quick Little Post.

A few weeks back I came across this post from a blog I follwo called Smart People I know that I find quite nice. https://smartpeopleiknow.com/ It’s a photo essay of Venice at night. Two things I noted besides the great photography; that the canals were at their normal level and there were no hordes of tourists. In a way, this is Venice like a travelor would like it to be, all to himself.

Canadian Bernie Michalik, the creator of the blog, lives in the Toronto area and has had this site for a number of years. Like mine, it’s a bit of a hodgepodge of things of interest but it’s never boring.

Most notably, I like to try some of those mocktail recipes he has posted in the past!

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