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

Yum Yum Sweet Shop: A Quick Little Post



The front entrance to Yum Yum Sweet Shop in Peninsula Ohio.

One thing about driving down to Peninsula Ohio in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is that parking is hard to come by.  With all the people who come down there to walk the towpath trail, rent a bike, or stop in some of the shops, I usually wind up driving through or parking too far to really feel like seeing what’s in those houses lining Route 303.  Well, Saturday, I was lucky enough to get the last empty space on the street and stopped at finally the Yum Yum Sweet Shop which is located just a few doors down from the Winking Lizard.  It was a good thing too because right next to the front door was  a sign stating that the place is moving soon to Cuyahoga Falls.







There was everything for a sweet tooth there from the standard candy bars you were to find at your drug store to those that have become had to come by here, like the Clark bars that I wound up buying.   There was also homemade chocolates on display, gourmet ice cream and popcorn, and different types of soda pop drinks you would not see in your office vending machine.


Yum Yum Sweet Shop in its’ current building.

The owner plans to move to a new place on Front Street in downtown Cuyahoga Falls next to a new ice cream parlor that someone she knows is going to open.  It will be a “sweet corner” as she puts it and said that she would have a lot more varieties of candies to choose from over there for customers to be tempted with.  I would argue that a place like this would also be a really nice addition to the Cleveland scene; say a shop on East 185th Street for example?  We can always dream….


What was brought home.

Photographs taken by James Valentino.



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

Happy Holidays, and all that.

Thanksgiving 2017 has come and gone that the Christmas shopping season is officially here.

While others may be driving all over NE Ohio to stand in line for deals that may not be there at prices that would probably be lower on December 27th, I am here typing a quick little post unrelated to many of the themes of this blog.  In fact, since I wrote about the Ohio Land Bank Conference a few months back, I really haven’t had the time or, shall we say inspiration, to write a carefully researched piece for this site.  I am thankful that a few people actually keep looking at this blog.  So far, 107 views have occurred this month and that’s something.  I am also thankful that my new furnace is running in the basement, the new roof on the garage prevented anymore leaks when there has been rain, and a little bit of snow, and I managed to have found the money to pay for both (at least on an installment plan).  There are other things to ponder….

Dana Milbank in his latest op-ed piece for the Washington Post (Dear Sarah Huckabee Sanders: I’m thankful that Trump has failed) puts it down so succinctly what I feel so far about this year with Donald Trump as president.  I hope and pray that one year from now I’ll be thankful for a whole lot more; such as the Democrats winning back the Senate, the Mueller investigation leading to some individuals going to jail, and a lot more of those relatives and acquaintances of mine who voted for Trump last year get buyer’s remorse and realize what a disastrous decision their vote has been.  Locally, I am thankful that Councilman Michael D. Polensek received ninety percent of the vote in his ward and won another term.

Enough with the politics.

I am hopeful, instead of thankful, that property values continue to increase no matter how slowly, in North Shore Collinwood and more people move in and fix up houses like I see they are doing.  I hope that Mayor Frank Jackson uses the money from the one percent income take hike we voted for last November hire hundreds, and not just 65 like this year, more policemen to make all of Cleveland’s neighborhoods safer.  I hope that the LaSalle Theater, whose renovation is almost finished, will be a catalyst for even more investment on East 185th Street so and be a launching pad for all those plans to redevelop the street that I attended meetings for a couple of years back.

On a more personal note, I am also hopeful that, next spring, an organization or publisher would take a look at this project of mine that I have been working the past couple of months.  Not only that, it would be hopeful to see that, instead of them sending an email a month after I submitted it saying “thank you for your interest be we decided it’s not a good fit” they would say “this is wonderful, can we publish it?”  Of course, that’s way too early to say if the odds are good or not for that to happen.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays and all that.



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

Election 2017; A Quick Little Post.


The Slovenian Workers’ Home for the Ward Eight Election Party.

Another election day is winding down and I am back from Ward 8 Councilman Michael D. Polensek’s party at the Slovenian Workers’ Home on Holmes Avenue.   As we all told him, the councilman had no problem beating his opponent and earned another term.  Cuyahoga County Councilman Anthony Hairston as was winning last time I saw on the television by a large margin.  This is great because, not only do I think he would make a very good councilman for that ward but he is easily beating the previous councilman there; and the reason why in the last redrawing of the city wards things got so messed up in the Northeast Corner of the city.   However, the biggest surprise is the low voter turn out in the city as a whole.  Mike told me around eight o’clock it was 26 percent and that included absentee ballots like mine.  It’s possible that the numbers changed since then but it does seem that the vast majority of eligible voters in the city of Cleveland just didn’t get out to vote.

On the other hand, what has happened tonight in Virginia is wonderful for a Democrat like myself.  The nine-point lead Ralph Northam had over Ed Gillespie is as significant as what the talking heads on the news are now saying.  If this is a harbinger of things to come in 2018, and the Democrats come up with a strong message and real proposals, then there will be some hope.


Photograph taken by James Valentino


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

Sunday Musings; A Quick Little Post.


A glass of ice wine courtesy of Kosicek Vineyards.

After a busy week at work, and a crazy week’s worth of news, it was time to enjoy the fall colors again gracing Northeast Ohio, drive out to Grand River Wine Country and be with all the other people driving up and down Route 307 on Saturday to stop and buy a bottle of wine here, taste a glass of wine there, and watch the clouds roll in from the south.


Looking Southwest at the South River Vineyard.

Yesterday the wineries out there had their Turkey Trot where many of the wineries participated in pairing wine tastings with dishes for Thanksgiving dinner.   The truth be told, those places which apparently weren’t participating seemed just as busy as those that did.  In other words, it was a very busy time out there on the border of Lake and Ashtabula Counties.  I even met a couple from Pittsburgh at M Cellars who came up to enjoy the wines. It’s nice to see that the Grand River Appellation’s reputation is spreading beyond Ohio.


Two chairs waiting for a couple to sit in at the South River Vineyard.

The first piece I wrote for this blog about the wineries around Grand River was three years ago.  Who would have thought that this blog would be still running in it’s fourth year?   That’s a lot of writing ladies and gentlemen!  It also seems like we were living in a different country, but that is for another time.


Photographs by James Valentino

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

A Walk Down Walnut Street: A Quick Little Post.


Walnut Street looking West.

Pittsburgh called me again on Sunday and I drove down the Turnpike to spend a few hours there.  As a post from last year shows, I have become familiar with some of the neighborhoods on the East side of that city and moved beyond Penn Avenue to see places further afield such as Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill and finally the campus of Carnegie-Mellon.  Another street I went back to was Walnut Street in the Shadyside neighborhood.  This time around, I managed to do something I wasn’t able to do last year; find a parking spot.  As a result, I was able to hit the sidewalk and explore a really unique street.





Walnut was not a major thoroughfare but, as the existence of many old commercial buildings showed, this was a community shopping area of long-standing.  However, besides a drug store, bank and an apparently really busy diner called Pamela’s, there were other stores that seemed to have plopped down there from a high-end suburban lifestyle center.  I saw high end boutiques with designer labels, a smart phone store with millennials standing in front of the new products, even a what looked like a very nice florist shop.  Here in Cleveland, a J. Crew would be at Legacy Village or Crocker Park and not on a street like East 185th or Murray Hill Road, but that’s what has happened in Pittsburgh.

They even had a L’Occitane en Provence, a high end body and skin care chain, in a shop on a corner.   I stopped inside and saw a scene that would be more fitting for Beachwood Mall in the Cleveland area than in the central city.  There were all the various products assembled in appealing displays, a modish decor, and an attentive sales clerk who told me that Pamela’s had the best pancakes she ever tasted.  Since there was a line of people out the door, I did not take up on her suggestion and lunched later in Squirrel Hill, but it just goes to show how busy this street can be even on a Sunday morning.


One of the nearby residential streets.

The presence of such areas within the central city limits is interesting to me as a Clevelander.  In fact, many of these neighborhoods within Pittsburgh’s city limits provide a learning opportunity for many of us here to emulate in our own neighbhorhoods.


Walnut Street looking East.



Photographs by James Valentino


About Cleveland, My blog., Uncategorized

Riding the Rails with the Lake Shore Live Steamers.



A mobbed Penitentiary Glen Nature Park, September 10th 2017.

About twenty minutes from Cleveland in Kirtland in Lake County is the Penitentiary Glen Nature Park.  Originally called Halle Farm, it was the summer home of Sam Halle of the Halle Brothers Department Store who purchased the place in 1912.  Since 1976 the 424 acre property has been owned by the Lake Metroparks.   I have driven past this place over the years and it always seemed busy.  This year, I discovered one fo the reasons why; something very unique.


A view of the station and would be riders.


A train coming into the station.


Just a few yards away from the nature center on the edge of the woods is a train station which serves as the depot for the Lake Shore Live Steamers; whose miniature trains ride the rails through the trees.  These are not toy trains however, but more like the one that  Walt Disney rode on in his home movies.  Volunteers, such as fellow North Shore Collinwood resident (and former radio guy) Dennis Crislip, operate the locomotives and people can ride on top of the freight and passenger cars they pull.  Twelve times a year, the public is allowed to join in the fun.


One of the trains.


Riding the rails towards the covered bridge.  Taken in August.

Established in 1969, Lake Shore Rails came to Penitentiary Glen in 1983 when the back orchard track was laid out.  Since then, more routes have been added and there are 30 trains in total operated by the members. All of them are privately owned, built from kits and on  a few occasions completely from scratch.  They are powered by gas operated engines with hydroelectric pumps.  The train cars have an incredible amount of detail to them.  In the case of the Boston Main Locomotive that really caught my attention, the story behind the Pullman cars it pulled is worth noting.  The man who built it wrote the Pullman Company to see if he could obtain a swatch of their paint color so he can match the paint as authentic as possible.  The company must have been quite impressed with him since they wound up sending him cans of paint in the original color.


The layout of the railroad routes.

According the President Ken Brooks, there are clubs like this all over the county.  In fact there is one large one in Arizona that attracts a national following.  However, they don’t run until January because of the heat.

Naturally, the Lake Metroparks take the opportunity to use these free ride events as a way of promoting their own events.  The second time I went, September 10th, was Bug Day and the Nature Center was almost as busy as the railroad with families exploring the rooms and looking at the displays. As it turned out, what I thought was the Halle residence is in fact the stables with an addition built when it became a nature center; doubling its size.  The horses were sure living in style back in the day!  There are a few other buildings associated with the farm to the north, including one where the railroad enthusiasts store their trains.


One family poses for the camera.

The Lake Shore Steamers will be having their free Sunday rides from 1:00-3:00 PM off and on throughout the rest of the year, including today, October 9th, and December 2nd. Dennis mentioned that they are always looking for volunteers which can mean those lucky individuals can hop on the rails twenty-eight other times of the year.   This is really one of the hidden gems of NE Ohio.


The Nature Center.

Photographs taken by James Valentino.

My blog., Opinion, Uncategorized

Friday Night Musings


This evening, before I attended a sold out Summers at Severance concert featuring Mozart’s Requiem, I visited what was once the Cleveland Botanical Gardens.  I say once because it’s now along with the Holden Arboretum called Holden Forests and Gardens.  Anyway, the first words to come out of the mouth of Librarian Gary Esmonde were “Don’t tell me you are still involved in politics!” Then, he was the one to tell me that he heard Steve Bannon was finally let go and showed me the article in the newspaper he was reading to boot.  Wow, Neo-Nazis converge on Charlottesville last Friday, Steve Bannon gets the boot this one.  Things happen faster than I can write.

What I saw on the television last Saturday stunned me.  I knew that with Trump in the White House much of the discreet bigotry that we still see in Society will roar back into the public mainstream.  However, what took place there, leading to an Ohioan to drive his car like a would be Isis Jihadist into a crowd of people killing Heather Heyer and injuring so many others shocked me.  That day, I did a quick post on the blog regarding this.  Later, I received via on of my social media accounts a comment from someone I know from the neighborhood.  This individual (who I won’t name to protect) wrote that it sounded like sides were wrong in Virginia; just like the President this person voted for in November would say.     Initially, I was so angry I invited others to chime in, and I usually don’t like doing that.   The subsequent cyber-debate between this person and a guy I know pretty much reflects the polarized mood of this country right now.  However, where we are at now didn’t just come out of the blue; and that’s the problem. The thing is, this person is not the only one I know who would side with Trump on this matter.

The mass resignations of CEOs and now members of Trumps Evangelical Advisory Board (of all things) I pray will put more pressure on his enablers in Congress to do something.  Former president Barak Obama’s tweet that went viral said what many people out there wanted to hear. So did John Brennan in his letter to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer where he writes,  “If allowed to continue along this senseless path, Mr. Trump will do lasting harm to American society and our standing in the world.”  Unfortunately, the Donald has apparently already done both.


Is Howard Fineman right in saying his Huffington Post article that Donald Trump will want to be the “last man standing” amidst the chaos he sows or is Tony Schwartz in saying that he will resign by the end of this year if Mueller gives him immunity.  Both choices are tough ones, and so much damage to the nation has been done in the meantime.

I wonder what will happen next week.