Friday, November 25, 2011

Ralph J. Perk

In 1976 the mayor of Cleveland was Ralph Joseph Perk (January 19, 1914 – April 21, 1999) who once famously set his own hair on fire.

Mayor Perk banned Playboy magazine from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. He also banished chewing gum from the facility. He spearheaded a major expansion of the airport, and the creation of the Regional Transit Authority (RTA.)

The Mayor's wife, Lucille Perk, turned down a dinner invitation from First Lady Pat Nixon because it was her bowling night.

Ralph J. Perk won the Republican nomination for Mayor in 1971 against George Voinovich, and upon his election became the first Republican mayor of Cleveland in 30 years. Perk served three two-year terms before losing to Kucinich in 1977.

Perk ran for Senate in 1974 but lost to John Glenn, who then held the seat for a quarter century.

He declared May 6, 1974 as Jesse Owens Day.

He presided over the dedication of Aviation High School on Sept. 1, 1974.

Ralph J. Perk was against women's reproductive freedom, handgun restrictions, and draft amnesty. Perk was also for Nixon before he was against him.

Amusingly, for his 62nd birthday political fundraiser party on January 17, 1976 the theme is the musical Hair. (Get it?)

Perk also appointed Richard Eberling to chair a committee to redecorate City Hall. Eberling was soon convicted of petty thievery, and later of murder. Eberling is also the prime suspect, according to the son of Sam Sheppard, as the true murderer Marilyn Sheppard.

Have you seen the video?

Perk Plaza, named for the mayor, sits at the corner of East 12th and Chester, across the street from the always exciting Reserve Square apartments. It's plain, concrete-slab walls, hiding large parts of the part from street view, are a typical example of late 70s design and short-sightedness and after a fatal shooting in early 2009, plans were quickly made to finally give the place a renovation.

Perk Plaza at Chester Commons was officially reopened at a ribbon-ccuting ceremony on November 21, 2011.

Cleveland Memory Project

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