Thursday, June 29, 2006

A new approach to local history, part one: History2.0, SDS and participation

“History2.0” is a term I’ve whimsically adapted from the current dialog about new interactive technologies on the Web, called Web2.0, to explore how such emerging technologies might profitably be employed by those of us working to collect, conserve, catalog, exhibit, interpret and generally use information about the history of our communities in the Western Reserve. Some of this is being implemented experimentally in my work as the Special Collections Librarian at the Cleveland State University Library (disclaimer), and some is just my ruminations on how we could all be working together more effectively. I plan on returning again and again to this subject in future blogs, developing ideas as they come to me and discussing concepts from other realms of library and information science as they relate to local history concerns.

First, a definition. According to the Wikipedia, “Web2.0” is “a second generation of services available on the World Wide Web that lets people collaborate and share information online.” It may also be “an overly vague buzzword, incorporating whatever is newly popular on the Web (such as tags and podcasts), without having any fixed meaning.” Whatever the exact utility of the term, the basic idea is that there is coming into being a new way of interacting with information on the Web, one that allows for more direct participation by viewers than was possible with the first generation of Web sites, which were characterized by static pages and one-way information delivery. Web2.0 technologies include the blogs, RSS feeds, folksonomies and tagging, flickr,, Amazon reviews, and any other technology that invites viewers to add, catalog, critique, share and/or otherwise participate in information creation and delivery.

My interest in this all stems from my work as a librarian and historian in Cleveland. But it goes further back to the Sixties at the Bowling Green State University, where I was one of “Barry’s Boys” in ’64 and later a member of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). I’d like to delve into that period by way of explaining why the philosophy of Web2.0 was so seductive to me and motivated me to apply it to library support of local history research.

I latched onto Barry Goldwater in 1964, recruited by reading his book Conscience of a Conservative. There he expounded upon the ideal of states rights, as a means of counterbalancing the centralization of power at the federal level. Less pleasant associations of states rights with racial segregation in the South and Barry’s hawkish views of foreign policy didn’t concern me then, as I was captivated by the idea that people would be better citizens to the extent that they could wrest control over the decisions that affected the from the federal government and return them to state control. Following Barry’s burial in the September elections, I drifted into political apathy.

In 1966 I read the Port Huron Statement of the Students for a Democratic Society and, after joining SDS, I read more on the subject in their New Left Notes newspaper. The Port Huron Statement said in part:

As a social system we seek the establishment of a democracy of individual participation, governed by two central aims: that the individual share in those social decisions determining the quality and direction of his life; that society be organized to encourage independence in men and provide the media for their common participation.

To me, this was Barry’s states rights philosophy taken to its logical conclusion at the local community level. Many issues may be best handled at the federal or state level, but ultimately it would be society’s ability to move control over major decisions to the local level, to make government human scale, that would ultimately empower people and make for a stronger citizenry in this new “Participatory Democracy” that SDS and the New Left were advocating. Throughout my association with the New Left, I held to the idea that our purpose was to create autonomous, self-reliant, actualized individuals capable of working in a healthy, participatory democracy, not people who were cogs in a social machine. The direction that I see the Web going (unless the corporations get their hands too firmly on it), with the advent of Web2.0 technologies, encourages me to think that it is that “media for their common participation,” that SDS called for, and we could use it for local history projects. The OCLC Environmental Scan survey found a marked increase in self-sufficiency in Web users and an emerging possibility that the Web could be a tool for more informed, involved and self-reliant consumers of goods, services and information than previously possible, with qualitative gains to society in the process.

I'll detail later how the Web2.0 technologies might help build and support an on-line community of participation, as well as other ways we could work together to benefit local history, but let me just say now that the Web may be the Revolution I was waiting for in the Sixties :-)

What happened at the big Hulett meeting June 22nd?

After much coverage of the Huletts leading up to last Thursday's big public meeting, the Plain Dealer doesn't seem to have ever covered the meeting! Here is a report, "Costly icons of our industrial past," on the meeting from Marc Lefkowitz, published in the Green City Blue Lake newsletter.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Ohio Historical appoints Jelain Chubb as new State Archivist of Ohio

Press release:

The Ohio Historical Society is pleased to announce the appointment of Jelain Chubb as State Archivist of Ohio. Since 1998, Jelain has worked in the Missouri State Archives, serving as Administrative Archivist managing the Local Records Program. From 1994 to 1998, she served as Local Records Archivist at the Kansas State Historical Society. Jelain holds both a Master of Arts in Applied History and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of South Carolina. Jelain is active in state and national archival organizations. She serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, currently serving as Membership Committee Chair and Chair of the Local Arrangements Committee for the 2007 annual meeting. Jelain will begin her duties as Ohio's State Archivist on July 24.

Welcome to Ohio!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Ghost signs and commercial Cleveland

ghost signs for Uneeda Biscuit and United Bank
I've written in past entries about a favorite sign from my childhood, that of an electric milk bottle endlessly pouring milk into a glass. I don't recall where that was located and I've heard suggestions ranging from the Westinghouse Curve to the old Point Building, on Playhouse Square. In the course of trying to track it down, I became aware of a Society for Commercial Archeology and the fact that there are people who research old commercial signs. Today I discovered a flickr collection on the web, ClevelandSGS', where photographers upload and share their images of signs around town, including "ghost signs" from a bygone era on the sides of buildings, such as those depicted above.

Meanwhile, I'm still looking for the definitive answer on the milk bottle sign.

Nominations for Cleveland Heights historic preservation awards

From the Future Heights e-News newsletter:

The Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission is accepting nominations for the second annual Historic Preservation Awards. The commission is seeking properties that have undergone recent exterior and/or interior preservation, restoration, rehabilitation, adaptive use, landscape restoration or sympathetic additions. The Landmark Commission will review the nominations and select award recipients whose properties meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

For a copy of the Historic Preservation Awards nomination form, call 291-4885 or download a form by visiting

Friday, June 23, 2006

Memories of Euclid Avenue

I neglected to report on a big, four-page insert the Plain Dealer ran last Monday, on people's memories of Euclid Avenue. It interviewed ten long-time Cleveland residents about the Avenue's glory days and provided other interesting facts about its post-mansions period. (Rachel Dissell. "Avenue of Memories: In its heyday, Euclid was glamorous street of dreams for visitors of all ages." Plain Dealer. Monday, June 19, 2006. Page A7-10.)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

REMINDER: Public Meeting about the Huletts

From Tim Donovan, of Ohio Canal Corridor:

The city of Cleveland and Councilman Matt Zone is hosting a Public Meeting to discuss the future of the historic Hulett Ore Unloaders on Thursday evening, June 22 at 7:00 pm at the Gordon Square Arcade - located at West 65 & Detroit Avenue.

PD says "Scrap 'em" of Huletts

The Plain Dealer's lead editorial weighed in with a negative assessment of what should be done with the Hulett Ore Unloaders. One cannot fault their argument that too much time has passed with too little support from the public or preservation community and it's time to end the charade that reconstructing the Huletts is a viable option any longer. But one could argue with the tone of the paper's closing comment, "Cleveland needs to embrace its next century, not cling to the last," as being unnecessarily dismissive of a wide range of potential preservation projects in the city's future. I trust that the PD was just speaking of this one instance, as I'd hate to think that it doesn't see much use for preserving the city's heritage -- except as real estate developments with fake history themes -- as part of the region's economic revitalization strategy. (Unsigned. "Scrap 'em." PD. Thursday, June 22, 2006. Page B-8)

WCPN podcast on the Huletts

To listen to WCPN's "90.3 at Nine" discussion about the Huletts and tonight's meeting, which aired this morning, click here for the MP3 file, which you can listen to on your computer, iPod, or other MP3 player.

They said of this program:
90.3 at 9: Thursday, June 22, 2006
The 10-story behemoth machines dominated our industrial landscape for the better part of a century. But their future is uncertain. Just two Hulett Ore Unloaders remain. They've sat disassembled for years, made obsolete with the introduction of self-unloading ships. The question is whether they should be put back together, preserved as a tribute to Cleveland's industrial heritage. We'll talk about whether it's worth the time and money to do so Thursday morning on 90.3 at 9.
Ed Hauser and Councilman Matt Zone were the guests.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Scrap the future for the Huletts?

The PD reports that the pile of steel that once was the Hulett Ore Unloaders on Whiskey Island is now considered to be in the way of plans for the port operations and since the preservation community lacks the money, inspiration or political will to restore them, Councilman Cimperman's suggesting that parts be displayed somewhere appropriate and the rest sold as scrap. (Sarah Hollander. "Putting Huletts back together might prove to be too much." Plain Dealer. Wednesday, June 21, 2006. Page B-1).

  The Ashtabula Marine Museum already has a Hulett bucket on display and here's what that looks like.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Fire at the historic Akron airdock

In checking the websites of local broadcast media, I came across this video report of a fire at the historic Akron airdock two months ago. The airdock was designed by Cleveland bridge engineer Wilbur J. Watson (whose collection is at CSU) in 1929. (Vic Gideon. "Airdock: a piece of history." WKYC-TV. May 18, 2006.)

Introduction to GIS workshop June 30th

Press release -- could be of interest to history researchers

Mapping Ohio Communities: An Introduction to GIS and Community Demographics Workshop - One Day Workshop

This fast paced, hands-on workshop teaches the fundamentals of how to use a Geographic Information System (ArcGIS 9.1) in a way that is particularly relevant to social service providers, planners and researchers. Participants learn to make thematic maps of their community, geocode addresses and perform spatial queries and analysis. Participants also learn to extract and map Census variables such as race, poverty, language, education, health and many other demographic variables. Exercises are designed for beginners. Intermediate Excel skills required. Each students is assigned a computer on which to work for the day.

When: Columbus: June 27th and 28th, 2006 (8:30 am - 4:30 pm) (Note: These are one day workshops. Please choose which date is most convenient for you.)
Cincinnati: June 29th, 2006 (8:30 am - 4:30 pm)
Cleveland: June 30th, 2006 (8:30 am - 4:30 pm)

Fee: $399 Checks, Credit Cards and Purchase Orders Accepted

To register online, view workshop locations, or for more info visit or telephone us 877.241.6576.

Workshop Materials

Materials include a comprehensive workbook (75 pages), which includes the presentation, exercises and reference worksheets, ArcGIS (ArcView 9.1) software 60-day trial CD set, a subscription to the Planners' ToolBox subscription service which provides access to new 2005 Tiger/Line geography files (already converted to shapefiles) such as streets, zip codes, school districts, voting districts, census tracts and many other useful geographies. The subscription also includes Analyzing Your Community Workshop: Using the Census to Better Analyze Changing Places and People online web workshop.

Workshop Agenda

Lesson 1
Learn the basic functions of ArcGIS 9.1
Adding data and geography layers
Working with Layouts

Lesson 2
Introduction to Census Bureau's American Factfinder
Downloading Census and American Community Survey data to map
Downloading free geography files including tracts, zip codes, blocks and several others
Preparing Census tract data in Excel to import into ArcGIS

Lesson 3
Creating thematic (color shaded) maps to display data
Joining data with geography files
Working with legends and interval breaks

Lesson 4
Address mapping (geocoding)
Downloading business addresses

Lesson 5
Performing location queries
Performing attribute queries
Creating target area shapefiles

Lesson 6
Elements of good maps including colors, fonts and map must haves
Critique of several maps

Praise for the Ohio Introduction to GIS & Community Analysis Workshop

Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland: "Excellent workshop and presenter."

Cuyahoga Community College: "This workshop was a useful introduction to ArcGIS. The instructor was knowledgable and informative and maintained a good pace."

Case Western Reserve University: "What I liked most was the "hands-on" exercises and solving "real life" problems that arise!"

New Urban Research, Inc. is a national social research organization specializing in quantitative and spatial community analysis.
New Urban Research, Inc. 3323 NE 33rd Ave Portland, OR 97212 877.241.6576

Plain Dealer pans Franklin Castle plans

In a deeply suspicious frame of mind, the Plain Dealer reports on the latest plans for the west side's landmark Franklin Castle, closed in recent years after being gutted by a fire. The current owners seem oblivious, the paper finds, and a potential buyer's grandiose plans for a private club are reported with a decided air of skepticism. (Michael O'Malley and Joan Mazzolini. "New strange doings at Franklin Castle: Web ads, not ghosts, puzzle neighbors." Plain Dealer. Tuesday, June 20, 2006. Front page.)

Historic Gateway's Walk & Dine tours

Press release from Tim Donovan:

Join the fun -- Historic Gateway's annual Walk & Dine -- set for Thursday evening -- June 27th -- Starts anywhere from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. start for tours -- tours end at 8:30 p.m. -- then dessert at Flannery's Pub.

Visit unique spaces -- Eat great food -- Drink wine -- Cost is $60 / person -- Call (216) 771-1994 to make reservations.

Act now -- This sells out every year!


Reply form

Sunday, June 18, 2006

More on renovating Public Square

In a long, unsigned editorial, which was promoted in a prominent piece on the front page of the Forum section, the PD supports recent efforts to envision a new, refurbished Public Square, even if it means closing the Square to through traffic. ("Public Square's roots: Cleveland's 'commons' would benefit from a return to the vision of a friendly and inviting gathering place." Plain Dealer. Sunday, June 18, 2006. Page H-2)

Elsewhere on the editorial page, two letters weigh in on the original article by Tom Breckenridge, one (by Bradley Fink and Mark Jackson) challenges the planners to be more inclusive and participatory in their work and the other (by Steven McQuillin) supports the idea of a unified Square. ("Squaring away the city's public space.". PD. Page H-6)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

"Great" people of contemporary Cleveland?

At lunch today, a friend and I got into a discussion of who the "Great People" of Cleveland were and whether there was anyone in the past few decades who would measure up to the titans of the past?

I remembered an exhibit that the Western Reserve Historical Society had mounted a decade ago, speculating on who the city should have been named for, if Moses Cleaveland was out of the picture. Might we have been named after Alfred Kelley, the father of the Ohio & Erie Canal, which put Cleveland on the map?

Anyway, with that in mind, we identified the "Greats" of the city's industrial age as being Louie Seltzer, the Van Sweringen brothers, Tom L. Johnson and Mark Hanna, though my lunch partner made a case for Newton D. Baker as well. Other considerations included Peter Witt, Myron T. Herrick, and Ernie Bohn, but we deliberately left off people who were purely nineteenth century (John D. Rockefeller), businessmen (ditto), or sports and entertainment celebrities (Bob Feller, Paul Newman, LeBron, et al).

Against this short list of five or six people, we then considered the leading lights of the late twentieth century -- the figures of Cleveland's "comeback" -- and found none who we would put on the A List of the earlier period. We considered Peter B. Lewis, the Stokes brothers, Sam Miller, Dick Jacobs, Dennis Kucinich, Art Model, Al Lerner, Howard Metzenbaum, and George Voinovich. These are all important folks in the city's recent history and the jury may very much still be out on them (or others), but so far we would have trouble elevating any to the stature of a Tom L. Johnson or Louie Seltzer in terms of their positive, lasting impact on the city.

My lunch partner, a long-time journalist, said that the A List folks lived in an entirely different city and that those times of growth and the opportunities for influence may've had much to do with putting those people on the A List, so the question remains: who will be on that A List, when historians look back upon the past three decades of Cleveland's history? Any nominations?

News from Cleveland Memory newsletter has ended

Friday evening I sent a note to the 1,100 subscribers to our News from Cleveland Memory electronic newsletter, notifying them that it was no longer possible to keep it going. Being a solo effort, the only ways to sustain it would have been either to eliminate many of the features or to establish a committee to feed it. The former possibility seemed like the beginnings of a downward spiral and the latter never materialized (at least not yet), so pulling the plug seemed the only option. That leaves this blog for the moment as the only replacement. Thanks to everyone who read it and wrote in to say they will miss it!

Open house for Walker Weeks Condominiums

I received a postcard from Progressive Urban Real Estate (PURE) today, announcing an open house celebrating the Grand Opening of their Walker Weeks Condominium project, in the old Walker & Weeks Building, 2404 Prospect Avenue. The event will be Thursday, June 29th, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. and there will be tours of the new units, priced from $129,900 to the mid-$400K range. For more details, consult the PURE site.

Digging up Akron's past

Archeology students at the University of Akron are unearthing clues to the lifestyles of nineteenth century residents, by excavating the outhouse of industrialist John Hower. (April McClellan-Copeland. "Students privy to family's history through unusual research project." Plain Dealer. Saturday, June 17, 2006. Page B-1)

Friday, June 16, 2006

MAC/SOA call for papers

Press release

The Midwest Archives Conference (MAC) and the Society of Ohio Archivists (SOA) invite submissions of proposals for sessions or papers for its joint Spring meeting to be held in Columbus, Ohio, May 2-5, 2007. The Program Committee is interested in proposals on all aspects of archives and archival work. The committee will consider session and paper proposals on all topics, and encourages submissions that will provoke constructive discussion on the important issues facing archivists today. Proposals from professionals in allied fields (records management, public history, museums, etc.) and from graduate students are welcome.

To submit a session proposal, please send a brief (one page maximum) statement for the overall theme of the session, and include a one page summary outlining the topic of discussion of each panel participant. The deadline for submitting session or paper proposals is September 20, 2006. To submit a paper proposal, please send a one-page summary of the topic to be addressed.

Please submit proposal proposals online at or contact the Program Committee Co-chairs:

Angela O'Neal, Co-Chair
MAC Program Committee
Ohio Historical Society
1982 Velma Ave.
Columbus, OH 43211


Stephen E. Towne, Co-Chair
MAC Program Committee
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives
University Library UL 0117A
755 West Michigan Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202-5195

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Steven Litt reviews two downtown preservation projects

This week the Plain Dealer Architecture Critic, Steven Litt, reviewed two projects with strong impacts on historic preservation in the downtown district. One was the reuse of a building in Playhouse Square by Ideastream and the other was the County's emerging process for dealing with the Breuer-built Ameritrust tower at East Ninth and Euclid.

On Sunday he reviewed the Ideastream building, a former home furnishing store designed in 1912 by Walker and Weeks and found the renovation, although hampered by physical, legal and financial constraints, nevertheless very well done and a positive contribution to the future of the city's old commercial and industrial buildings. (Steven Litt. "Studio Arts: Collaborative new Idea Center home squeezes seamlessly into a tight space." Plain Dealer, Sunday, June 11, 2006. Page J-1)

He followed that review up on Tuesday with one on the endangered Ameritrust Tower, a couple of blocks down Euclid on East Ninth Street. The County has purchased the tower and the iconic Cleveland Trust temple building next door, for its new consolidated administrative center and is in the early stages of deciding its future. They have solicited suggestions from architects, but due to state bidding regulations, cannot launch the sort of full-throated cry for designs that Litt thinks this project merits. The 1908 temple building is "untouchable," but the tower is very possibly doomed, despite being designed by world-famous architect Marcel Breuer in 1971, and Litt is perplexed why that preservations are treating that possibility with so little comment. (Steven Litt. "Short on creativity: constrained by rules, county foggy about center's design." Plain Dealer. Tuesday, June 13, 2006. Page E-1).

Part of the problem with the Breuer tower is that few people really see it and as we saw with the Hulett Ore Unloaders, no would-be landmark that is hard to notice will have the constituency to stave off demolition. Unlike the popular Cleveland Trust temple building on the corner, the tower is a relatively-anonymous hulking presence on an otherwise undistinguished section of Ninth Street. The tower is another example, along with the Pei-designed Rock Hall and Frank Gehry's new Weatherhead building, of the city getting forgettable examples of famous architects' works that don't develop much of a local following. The feeling may be that replacing it with another famous-architect-designed building may turn out to be a net gain. However, the bigger problem is that the city and its preservation lobby lack any kind of articulated criteria for what ought to be saved and a sense of which structures or districts are as untouchable as the temple building happily seems to be.

Archives Asst. position opening at YSU

press release

Youngstown State University's Maag Library has a opening for a full-time Classified position as an Archives Assistant. This position does not require an MLS or equivalent, however the position would provide an exceptional entry level experience for an individual interested in state-of-the-art archival practice, including work with digital repository software and metadata creation. This position is one of four classified staff in the unit all reporting to the University Archivist.

NOTE: Because this is a State Classified position, the position will be posted on the YSU HR Jobs page, ONLY during the period Monday June 19 through Friday June 23, 2006 and, all applications for this position must be submitted to YSU HR during this posting period. There are no exceptions to this process and under no circumstances should applications be sent to Maag Library.

Beginning Monday June 19, 2006 the job will be posted at

On this page, scroll down to the section for Classified Civil Service. This position is classified as a Library Media Technical Assistant - 2 and will be titled as such on the HR posting.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Proposal to upgrade Public Square

Every few decades the city tires of the look of Public Square and comes forth with proposals for spiffing it up. Over the life of Cleveland there a have been plans to build a city hall on the square, to fence it off, to enter the lower levels of the terminal (Tower City) from there and to construct a intestinal-loop configuration of subways below the square, to name a few that went nowhere. The Square has seen changes, of course, with various new features coming and going, the addition of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and the Tom L. Johnson statute and the removal of the since-peripatetic Perry Monument to various other places. Now a group of Clevelanders are suggesting that it's once again time to refresh a worn-out Square and have some suggestions to share. (Tom Breckenridge. "Civic leaders envision revitalized Public Square." Plain Dealer. Sunday, June 11, 2006. Page B-1) [By the way, Public Square is 9-1/2 acres in size, a figure that's rarely ever gotten correct.]

Friday, June 09, 2006

LEXICONds and regional library cooperation

Rich Morgan and I went on a field trip today, visiting LEXICONds’ book scanning operation on Mayfield Road, in Chesterland. Since its parent is General Bookbinding, we toured its big operation next door as well. The heart of LEXICONds is a $125,000 Kirtas automatic book scanning machine, which uses an overhead camera and mirrors to photograph alternating pages of books and feed the resulting digital images to several people at workstations for cleanup. The output files can be varying degrees of polished text, PDF and/or reprinted paper, depending upon the customer’s specifications.

While a very interesting display of the technology that is reformatting the past centuries of print technology and making these older works a part of the new digital universe, it inadvertently reminded me of other issues we should be dealing with. One of the customer orders we saw on a table was a copy of a Cleveland city directory, being scanned and reprinted for one of our local public libraries. Apparently this sort of work – making digital copies of local history resources for libraries – is not uncommon, but there is no coordination between libraries to insure that only one such digitizing operation is performed. Nothing stops another library from spending hundreds of dollars digitizing the exact same volume, unaware that a fellow institution had already done so and could have provided a copy far more cheaply.

Coordinating such digitizing projects, so none of us accidentally duplicate precious resources, is a primary goal of the Greater Cleveland History Digital Library Consortium, but we haven’t developed the mechanism for sharing such information between members yet and, in this case, we aren’t reaching the libraries who haven’t joined the consortium (this was actually another branch of a member library). No big harm has been done in this instance, but it’s a reminder that the goal of coordinating and sharing such digital production has not been adequately addressed. Cooperation of this sort would painlessly advance the necessary objectives of Regionalism, as applied to libraries, and help us all better manage our dwindling funds, while providing better service to patrons.

Meanwhile, thanks to Steve DiMare and his staff for the tour and to Rich for lunch.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Tremont Trek historic house tour

A beautifully refurbished fire station is one of the historic homes on the Fifth Annual Tremont Trek Home Tour on Saturday, June 24th, at 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. This is a guided tour of six homes that includes dinner and wine at each stop, for those willing and able to pay the $95 fee. (Diane DiPiero. "Fire-station home one jewel on annual Tremont Trek." Plain Dealer. Thursday, June 8, 2006. Page __.) Unlike other local historic home tours, Tremont's doesn't provide an alternative for people who cannot afford to pay that much. The appeal of having fewer people traipsing through the houses is understandable and the fundraising returns may be higher than a traditional tour, but the lesser exposure of the neighborhood to potential residents would seem a lost opportunity for the neighborhood's future.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Wickliffe historian Emily Di Donato dies

Emily Di Donato, who tirelessly collected the recollections of Wickliffe residents and built the collections of the Wickliffe Historical Society, died May 16th and is here profiled in the PD's excellent "Life Story" series of profiles. (Alana Baranick. "Historian loved Wickliffe's past." Plain Dealer. Sunday, June 4, 2006. Page B-4.)

Hardware history may be wiped out

Lakefront Hardware, in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood, is not only an old-fashioned hardware store with roots 101 years deep, but it's also the site where automatic automobile windshield wipers were invented. Owner Ray Zelch needs to sell the store and he and the neighborhood are afraid that there won't be a buyer willing to continue this legacy of service. (Kaye Spector. "History may go way of hardware store," Plain Dealer. Sunday, June 4, 2006. Page B-2.)

Kiddie coaster's continuity congratulated

"The oldest operating steel roller coaster still standing in its original location," is the designation bestowed by the American Coaster Enthusiasts upon the Little Dipper roller coaster, which has thrilled kids in Brooklyn's Memphis Kiddie Park for 54 years. (James Ewinger, "Coaster rewarded for staying put." Plain Dealer. Sunday, June 4, 2006. Page B-1)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Passing of a fascinating fellow

I received a call from a woman the other day, saying her father had died and since he may have given some railroad material to us at CSU some years ago, perhaps we would be interested in receiving more. I was embarrassed to admit that I didn't remember her father or the donation until she started describing him and then it all came back as a very pleasant memory.

About a decade ago, Jerry Adams, the fellow who donated the huge Cleveland Union Terminal Collection to us, took me on a social call to see Vern Murray, the last C.U.T. employee and the fellow who'd facilitated Jerry obtaining the collection in the first place. When we arrived at Mr. Murray's house, we met a lively, interesting friend of his, Fritz, who had been a maintenance worker for the C.U.T. and colleague of Vern's and who entertained us with some marvelous stories about the terminal.

The Cleveland Union Terminal (which is now Tower City for those of you new to Cleveland) ran underneath the streets and buildings on the southwest corner of Public Square. He related how, in one instance, he had to dam up leaks coming down into the Terminal from Prospect Avenue overhead. He got his tools and materials together, laid down on a mechanic's dolly (the little rolling platform, like a big skateboard, that mechanics used to use to work under automobiles) and pulled himself hand-over-hand along in the crawlspace between the Terminal's ceiling and the underside of the street. It was pitch dark up there and filled with spider webs, rats and, in some cases, homeless people and other disturbing discoveries he'd make.

He was a delightful, enthusiastic fellow and I'm sorry to hear that he'd died in April, without my ever having visited with him again. He would have made for a fascinating oral history subject. I'm also saddened to note that with his death, I'm the only survivor of that meeting, Jerry and Vern having died in years previous.

Stokes heirlooms recovered!

Congressman Stokes' suitcase of missing family heirlooms has been located by the airline and returned to him, much to everyone's relief. (Michael K. McIntyre. "Lost bag found: history preserved." Plain Dealer. Saturday, June 3, 2006. Page B-__) See earlier story, below.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Changing of the guard at Hiram's Special Collections

I understand that Lisa Johnson, the University Archivist at Hiram College, has left her position there and the college is in the process of replacing her. As I reported on January 29, 2005 (below), Hiram is home to the wonderful Maurice & Ethlynn Fox Map Collection, among other important historical materials befitting Hiram's age and place in local history, and those of us who love old maps will be glad to meet her successor (they are currently interviewing a large field of candidates). And we wish all the best to Lisa!

Restoration Society says renovate schools

The Cleveland School District is planning on demolishing four K-8 schools -- William Cullen Bryant in Old Brooklyn, Robert Fulton in Mount Pleasant, Albert B. Hart in Slavic Village and Audubon in Woodland Hills -- and replacing them with new buildings, but the Cleveland Restoration Society has issued a report claiming the district could save $17 million by restoring the historic buildings instead. (Stephen Litt. "Study calls for fixing Cleveland's old schools." Plain Dealer, Friday, June 2, 2006. Page ___)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Local history marathon on WVIZ

WVIZ will be running documentaries on local history topics in the coming weeks. They report: Documentaries about local restaurants, department stores and the steel industry are part of WVIZ Channel 25's Homegrown Marathon from 7 a.m. Saturday, June 10, to 7 a.m. Sunday, June 11. This 24-hour marathon includes eight locally produced programs that spotlight Northeast Ohio. It includes "Akron Memories," "And Then We Ate," "Cleveland Memories," "Faces of Steel," "More Cleveland Memories," "Sites Unseen," "The Way We Shopped" and "WVIZ/PBS Cooks! Classics II." (PD "Quick Takes." Thursday, June 1, 2006.)