Friday, December 24, 2010

Round Top

Damariscotta, Represent.

A little summer on Christmas Eve. A trip to Maine is not complete with a stop at Round Top.

My family has been visiting Friendship, Mine for over a hundred years. Round Top is a local ice cream manufacturer. Ten or twenty years ago they remodeled and enlarged their home-base store into a proper, sit-down ice cream parlor (it had been a small, barn-like structure for long, long before I was born) and this summer I noticed all of the old calendars they had framed on the walls. Almost every month from 1936 are represented.

I may not post another entry before the New Year. After January 1 I think I will be redirecting the focus of this blog - the emphasis will still be on Cleveland, but will turn to the 1950s.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cleveland Municipal Stadium

In a nation built on catchy sports-oriented nicknames -- Dizzy, Mickey, Refrigerator, the King, Fuzzy, the Green Monster, the House That Ruth Built, the Fumble, The Drive, A-Rod, Meadowlark, the Great One, the Ain'ts, the Evil Empire, The Big Sombrero, Pronk -- there can only be one:


They called it this because the name BIG CITY FACILITY DESIGNED FOR CONGREGATION seemed too festive. This stadium was built in 1931, which featured the first use of aluminum in a large, multipurpose stadium facility, spearheaded by city manager William R. Hopkins and others (include the Van Sweringen's and the Indians ownership) for the usual reasons; to attract big crowds downtown to spur development and commerce, especially their own.

Cleveland Municipal Stadium was neither a WPA project, nor was it created in an effort to secure the 1932 Olympics, though these are both popular rumors. I was once told and perpetuated the idea that it was built for the 1936 Olympics, which took place in Berlin. That's a sexier legend, but no less false.

The Indians played here in 1932 and 1933, but fans were not happy with the gigantic outfield (which reduces the chance of home runs, of course - see: 1954 World Series) and as the Depression depressed ticket sales, the team moved back to League Park in 1934.

By 1936 the Cleveland ball team began playing Sunday and holiday games here, to take advantage of the potential 74,000 seats (there were 81,000 seats during football season) making it their home for evening games in 1939 because League Park had no lights, and the permanent home of the Indians in 1940.

In 1936 Cleveland Municipal Stadium was home to the Cleveland Rams. On September 24, 1935 the Seventh Eucharistic Congress was held there attracting 75,000 to a midnight mass and an estimated 125,000 Catholics to the service next morning.

Cleveland Municipal Stadium was torn down in 1995, and no one noticed.

Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ohio Criminal Syndicalism Act

The Ohio Criminal Syndicalism statute made it a crime to advocate "the duty, necessity, or propriety of crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform" and to "voluntarily assemble with any society, group, or assemblage of persons formed to teach or advocate the doctrines of criminal syndicalism."

(syndicalism: n. A radical political movement that advocates bringing industry and government under the control of federations of labor unions by the use of direct action, such as general strikes and sabotage.)
The Ohio Criminal Syndicalism Statute was enacted in 1919. In 1927, this Court sustained the constitutionality of California's Criminal Syndicalism Act, the text of which is quite similar to that of the laws of Ohio. Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927). The Court upheld the statute on the ground that, without more, "advocating" violent means to effect political and economic change involves such danger to the security of the State that the State may outlaw it. - UMCK website, Brandenburg v. Ohio
Following the Great War, an anti-communist movement called the First Red Scare began to spread across America. As a result of the 1917 Soviet Revolution, Russia pulled out of WWI which many allies saw as a betrayal. Also, as the Russian Revolution was a violent overthrow of a government, and the ideology of communism called for expansion, it was feared by the establishment that the working underclass may be inspired to revolt anywhere.

These fears were also fueled by the thousands of immigrants coming to America every day, especially from the Southern and Eastern European states.

The Ohio Criminal Syndicalism Act sought to penalize that which is merely advocacy - which is to say, free speech.
Between 1951 and 1954, the Ohio Un-American Activities Committee, headed by House member Samuel Devine, questioned forty Ohioans, asking each person, "Right now, are you an active member of the Communist Party?" Every person refused to answer, citing the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects Americans against self-incrimination. Most of the accused were college students or people during the 1930s who advocated socialist or communist programs to end the Great Depression. Various grand juries eventually indicted the forty people, with fifteen of these accused being convicted for supporting communism.

In 1952, the Ohio Un-American Activities Committee contended that 1,300 Ohioans were members of the Communist Party. Approximately seven hundred of these people supposedly resided near Cleveland and worked in various industrial occupations, while four hundred more resided in other northern Ohio cities. Only two hundred communists supposedly resided in central and southern parts of the state. -
Ohio History Central
It should come as no surprise to the more cynical among us that the Ohio Criminal Syndicalism Act was not struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court until 1969 - in the defense of a Clarence Brandenburg, the leader of a Hamilton County-based chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
Ohio History Central

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cedar-Lee Theatre

"Mae? MAE! Bring me some reefers!"

Go on, it's storming outside. Watch the whole thing.

The Cedar-Lee Theatre (located at the corner of...) opened on Christmas Day, 1925 with a screening of The King of Main Street. It was originally a single, 1,100 seat house.

Just this past December 1 they celebrated their 85th anniversary with a showing of The Gold Rush. Tickets were twenty-five cents. I love that.

In spite of contemporary accounts suggesting the movies were an excellent value and source for escape during the Great Depression, theaters did indeed have to take special action to ensure the audiences kept arriving. One popular attraction was Bank Night, where a lottery was held for a cash prize. In 1936, thirty Cleveland area theaters challenged and defeated an existing police ruling that this was an illegal practice.

There was also Crystal Night and China Night, an event dramatized in the little seen My Summer Story, that little-seen sequel to A Christmas Story.

They used the lobby of the Palace for the lobby scene, but this scene was shot in the Ohio.

Hey, while we're at it ... here is a scene from that forlorn mess, shot in large part in Cleveland during the sweltering summer of 1993 and released never:

Skip the opening bit, what you want starts at 2:06 - the World Exposition. No, no, not that Exposition. In spite of what most Clevelanders believe, the tales of Ralphie Parker take place in Indiana, not Cleveland. And this World Exposition supposedly took place in Chicago. There was, of course, a 1934 Chicago World's Fair, but calling it an exposition in this movie leaves me wondering if they were trying to cut some kind of difference. When do these movies take place, anyway? There is nothing in A Christmas Story to suggest Depression-era hardship. The sequel does in a ham-fisted way (okay, you can watch this whole clip if you want to feel that.)

However. I like to think they did capture some of what it felt like to be squeezed in a "Streets of the World" exhibit, complete with live camel.

And oh, did I mention I'm in the camel scene? You won't see me. I am the young man with thinning hair in the loud shirt, visible from 4:50 to 4:56. No, really, you can't see me.

Wait. What was I talking about?

Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy New Year

I have not run in over two weeks. This in spite of today being a gloriously above-freezing day. I had an allergic reaction to a topical medication on Friday night (we don't need to get into that) and my right foot swelled very painfully, and the infection went all the way up may leg, making it very uncomfortable to stand, walk or even sit upright.

The Christmas shopping is only partially accomplished. The children are going stark-raving insane. And so are we. My wife is horribly overbooked, I have so much to accomplish before the end of the year ... which really ends on December 23, when you look at it realistically. Grant applications, final reports, including the final report for this award. It's about time, but it's also about space. The space in my head. I'm a little overwhelmed, and not particularly happy.

The house is a cluttered mess. I tried to push back a little today, but there's only so much you can accomplish AND take time out for holiday cheer. Went to see A Christmas Carol at Great Lakes this afternoon.

So much to do. No time.

And yet, on this day, December 11, I did compose a first draft. It is there. It is spotty, but I can see the cracks and aim to fill them. Our story begins on New Year's Eve, and ends there, too.

But not in that order.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Satchel Paige

Leroy Robert "Satchel" Paige (July 7, 1906 – June 8, 1982) may have been born anywhere between 1900 and 1908. He may have gotten his nickname as a young baggage-handler from jerryrigging a pole to carry four bags at once - or because he was once caught swiping a suitcase. Depends on who you ask.

Satchel was born in Mobile, Alabama. Entering reform school for shoplifing at the age of 12, he was mentored by Edward Byrd who taught him his loping pitching style. Release early from a five year gig, Satchel went semi-pro. As was common in those days, especially for black players, he played wherever and whenever he could, not only for the team he had a contract with, but off-season games (in Cuba, for example) and “barnstorming” where you might often get to watch a mixed-race game. In 1931 he played for the Cleveland Cubs as part of the Negro League. Playing in a city that also had a white, professional team, had an effect on Paige.
"I'd look over at the Cleveland Indians' stadium, called League Park. All season long it burned me, playing there in the shadow of that stadium. It didn't hurt my pitching, but it sure didn't do me any good."
In 1936 Paige was playing for the Pittsburgh Crawfords.
The Cleveland News - Friday, July 3
Colored Aces to Play Here Sunday

Negro National League baseball will return to Cleveland Sunday with a double-header at League Park between the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords, for years two of the strongest clubs in the loop.

Satchel Paige of the Crawfords rated the biggest crowd pleaser among the colored ball players is expected to pitch one of the two games here. He humiliated the Homestead team two years ago before 12,000 fans, turning them back without a hit.
As a member of the Negro League All-Stars he also barnstormed in Cleveland that summer, facing off against 17 year-old Bob Feller. Each pitched three innings, giving up one hit. Feller struck out eight, Paige seven.

In 1948 at the age of 42, Satchel Paige joined the Cleveland Indians. He is the oldest rookie in the history of the Major Leagues.

The Cleveland News

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Western Reserve University

Western Reserve College was founded in Hudson, Ohio in 1826. Hudwas at that time the most populated area of the region. "Reserve" as it was known was the first college in Northern Ohio.

In 1882, railroad baron Amasa Stone donated half a million dolars to move the institution to Cleveland, where it became a "University." The site was adjacent to the Case School of Applied Science (founded 1880) and the two institutions worked together, sharing buildings and staff, long before they merged into a single entity in 1967.

WRU's undergraduate men's college was named Adelbert College after Amasa's son Adelbert who drowned when a student at Yale. In 1888 WRU establied the College for Women, which in 1932 was named Mather College in honor of Flora Stone mather, the college's second council president. Mather was a liberal arts school which also offered courses in home economics and education.

Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bay Village

Eliot Ness and his wife Edna Staley Ness lived in a bungalow right on Lake Erie in the bedroom community of Bay Village, a town described in a 1936 edition of The Plain Dealer as "A little New England, west of Cleveland."

Their cottage, pictured above, would have sat hidden from Lake Road, behind a much larger house. I have no idea what the address is, and the odds are very good it was torn down in the past decade to create a much larger house.

The Lake Shore Electric would make the trip downtown in about an hour. The Ness home was a gray, one-story affair with a reflecting pond, easy access to the water, a cozy fireplace and plenty of room for their six cats. However, Eliot did not usually get home before 10 PM.


Bay Village (Virgina L. Peterson)
Eliot Ness, The Real Story (Paul W. Heimel)
Bay Village: A Way of Life

Pink Lady

Pink Lady
1.5 measures Plymouth gin (as opposed to the more common London Dry gin)
half measure grenadine
half measure heavy cream
quarter measure lemon juice
1 measure egg white
Dip the rim of a champagne saucer in grenadine and then in caster sugar to make a pink rim. Shake the ingredients with ice and strain into the glass, add a cherry garnish.
- Diamond Dame

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"A second Boston Tea Party!"

The following play script is by David Hansen © 2010.


MAYOR BURTON steps forward.

Cleveland in her Centennial Year warmly welcomes the Convention of the National Union for Social Justice! We cordially invite everyone attending your convention to attend the Great Lakes Exposition. We invite you to share the inspiration of a rapidly growing community confident of its own future and of that of the country under the control of popular government.

Citizens from around the nation, Forty-thousand strong have come to Municipal Stadium to hear the fighting radio priest, Father Charles E. Coughlin give the keynote address at this first Union Party convention, throwing the weight of his ten million listeners behind the candidacy of North Dakota Representative William Lemke. Some sporting patriotic costumes!

Enter CONVENTIONEER in a feathered "Red
Indian" headband, war paint and modern, floral
patterned dress.

You remember the Bostonians dressed up like Indians when they threw that high-priced British tea overboard? Well, we don't like the high-priced tea we're getting from Washington, and we don't like taxation without representation, so we're going to throw it overboard. We represent a second Boston Tea Party!

What if your man doesn't win the election this November?

These feathers stand for peace. That means we will use peaceful methods -- Not bullets, but ballots.

Here comes the man himself, as thousands rise to their feet in the sweltering summer heat!

FATHER COUGHLIN, a stocky, ruddy
cheeked man in a frock coat and collar, with
round wire-rimmed spectacles, walks through the
audience to the rostrum at center.

(goes wild)

Mr. Chairman, Rev. Dr. Gerald Smith, Congressman Lemke, ladies and gentlemen from every State in the Union. It is my happy privilege to be here today.

That great betrayer and liar, Franklin Double-Crossing Roosevelt, promised to drive the money-changers from the temple, and succeeded in driving farmers from their homesteads. He built up the greatest debt in all history, which he permitted the bankers the right to spend, and you and your children shall repay with seventy billion hours of labor.

My friends, the hand of Moscow backs the Communist leaders in America, and aims to pledge their support for Roosevelt. We are wholly opposed to the Roosevelt taxes, dole, and to the propaganda that has been spread through this land. We are opposed, sympathetically, to the Republican candidate, poor Mr. Alfred Landon. Holy Mackerel, Andy! He doesn't know whether he is going or coming.

Is it Democracy for the President to browbeat the Congress and insist this legislation "must" be passed? Is that democracy?

FATHER COUGHLIN waits for a reply from
the audience. If he does not receive one, he asks
"Is that Democracy?" Even more ferociously.

Is it Democracy for the president to say, "pass this legislation whether it is Constitutional or not"? Is that Democracy? Is it Democracy to have our country filled with bureaucrats and their banks filled with unpayable debts, save for their bankers? Is that Democracy? Why should there be want in the midst of plenty simply to satisfy the Rothschilds, the international financiers, the Jews?

We are Christians. We believe in Christ's principle of love your neighbor as yourself. I challenge every Jew in this nation to tell me that he does not believe in it. The better class of Jews are willing to accept this basic principle of Christianity. When men become so prideful that they believe they can rewrite the eternal law of God - when ballots have proved useless - then as one American, imbued with the tradition of Washington, I shall not disdain using bullets for the preservation of liberty!

FATHER COUGHLIN takes off his coat.

It is not pleasant for me who coined the phrase "Roosevelt or ruin" - a phrase based upon promises - to voice such passionate words. But I must admit that "Roosevelt AND ruin is the order of the day. New Deal policy is Un-Christian! It is anti-God! It is downright asinine!

FATHER COUGHLIN undoes and removes his
clerical collar.

If I don't deliver nine million votes for William Lemke, I'm through with radio forever! I am willing to die in this struggle to liberate America from the money changers!

FATHER COUGHLIN swoons, steps back,
mops his brow, regathers himself and gasps:


FATHER COUGHLIN is helped away from the

This fictionalized speech was created using quotations from Charles E. Coughlin at rallies in Cleveland and Philadelphia, and from the following sources:
The New York Times
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Cleveland Press
Social Justice
Father Coughlin's radio broadcast
Additional thanks to Karen Ketchaver and Donald Warren's biography of Coughlin.

The "tea party" conventioneer's quotation is documented, and not a product of the playwright's imagination. Really. For real.

Sterling Lindner Davis Department Store

Sterling Lindner-Davis Christmas tree, 1936 on grand Euclid Avenue at East 12th Street, this department store was a conglomerate of three other stores (hence the mouthful of a moniker) and as you can see, they always had a very large Christmas tree. Sterling Lindner Davis began the tradition of putting a stupidly enormous Christmas tree inside their atrium, starting in 1927. Legend has it the tree grew a foot while inside the store.

From a 1952 postcard:
A live, 50 ft. tree, festooned with 60 lbs. of 'icicles', 1000 yds. of tinsel, 1500 ornaments, and illuminated by 6 banks of 750 candle-watt spotlights. It requires 650 man-power hours to trim by swinging stages suspended from the skylight.
Their "Santaland" included a device where you could insert a coin and receive a gift that came down a slide, a train, and an enchanted forest display.

Talespinner Children's Theatre presents Adventures In Slumberland by David Hansen, Nov. 30 - Dec. 22, 2013. 

Cleveland Christmas Memories (
Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
Cleveland Memory Project
POSTCARDY: the postcard explorer

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Trip To Lubberland

Took advantage of MOCA Cleveland's "Free Fridays" admission to take in Duke Riley's exhibit, An Invitation to Lubberland. I was hoping for good art. I was looking for an education. I got a small amount of both.

The video part of the art event was a bit of a disappointment, a man in a bowler and frock coat (is he the man from the government who counts hobos, is he a hobo himself ... is he one who becomes the other ..?) was difficult to watch and included inter-titles which led to a conclusion which one unfamiliar to the history of Kingsbury Run might find interesting. They did not rise to the level set by the artist's very interesting and well-crafted drawings and mosaics (see above.)

I do not know why I have been put on this earth to be the guardian or avenger of Eliot Ness' tarnished reputation, or rather a "Speaker for the Dead" hell-bent on providing an depiction of his humanity, his goodness and his failings, free of all of the mythic bullshit. This exhibit goes so far as to state that it is because of Ness' failure to catch the so-called torso murder, and his torching of the shanty town that he lost the 1947 election. I have nowhere else seen this to be the case.

However, the claim (as etched into a Buffalo nickel) that the citizens of Cleveland were so appalled by the destruction of the hobo city of Kingsbury Run that during the election they threw mannequin parts up into the trees ... it is an evocative image, though I question whether many had their own mannequins lying around to expend on such public art.

By the way, I do not think it was actually part of the exhibit that the MOCA docent follow me around like a fucking stalker. That was really irritating. He kept bobbing in and out of my line of sight, or standing right behind me like I was going to swipe something. Get lost pal, you are creepy.

I did learn a very helpful hobo sign:

officer of the law lives here

UPDATE: The Plain Dealer really loved this installation:
"A triumph for him and for MOCA. It also sets a benchmark for any local art institution that commissions an artist -- local or otherwise -- to create something new. It's a mark that will not be easily surpassed any time soon." - Steven Litt, 12/14/2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

George Gund

"Proof that George Gund loves us and wants us to be happy."

- Ben Franklin

George Gund (April 13, 1888 - Nov. 15, 1966) was the son of a Cleveland brewer. Yay! He was in the first graduation class of Harvard Business School, began his career in banking in Seattle before returning to Cleveland to make a killing in the business of processing decaffeinated coffee. Boo.

Gund actually assumed control of the Gund Brewing Company in 1916 ... but that was bad timing. No wonder he turned to coffee.

He invested wisely during the Depression, picking up cheap stocks, was hired by Cleveland Trust Co. as a director and eventually Chairman. In the year 1936 he married his wife Jessica. In spite of having six children to provide for, Mr. Gund eventually left $600 million (1960s dollars) to The George Gund Foundation, which he founded in 1957. As the dedicated servant of the non-profit sector, I am grateful to the George Gund Foundation for paying my mortgage and feeding my children.

Did I mention he also studied animal husbandry and for a time was a rancher in Nevada? George Gund II was an unstoppable American force for all that is good.

Sources:Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
The George Gund Foundation
Brewing in Cleveland (Robert A. Musson)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cleveland Trust Company

Founded in 1894, the Cleveland Trust Company opened its offices on the corner of East 9th and Euclid in 1908. By 1924 it was the sixth largest bank in America, with Harris Creech as its President. The company survived the Depression well.

The Cleveland Trust building (closed to the public since 1996) was designed by George Post and the famous rotunda features murals by Frank Millet. He and his assistants worked for a year to complete the 13 paintings, depicting the "rise of civilization in the Midwest." Millet lost his life in the North Atlantic in April, 1912 aboard a very large ship.

The stained-glass dome of the rotunda is 85 feet high and sixty feet across, and designed "in the Tiffany style."

Rotunda In Action

For the record, Cleveland Trust employed my father, my grandfather, and my great-grandfather.

Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
Great Lakes Titanic Society

UPDATE 8/28/2015: The Cleveland Trust Building was destroyed in the Battle of New York.