East Cleveland 1966: Where did everyone go?
(click on picture to enlarge)
Top middle row: Mrs. Beasley, Corine Marcovey, Jim Fisher (me), Mike Cigerella, Paul Gleason, Gary Grey, John Evans, (an unknown student teacher)
Bottom middle row: Grace Parrish, Chris Mates, Rick Hanson, Jerry ?, Sandra Conch, Raymond ?, Pam Marrett, Jeff Conaway
Front row: Ronald Ractko, John Nagy, Charles Seaman, Zack Williams.
East Cleveland was a wonderful little community at the time. We all walked to school and also walked back home for lunch! There was a great place to play called Forest Hills Park. It used to be the summer estate of John D. Rockefeller. He played golf there 100 years ago. We played everything from baseball to army-man to sledding to hide-and-seek to ice skating. We lived that park. Another great place was Shaw Pool off of Hayden Road. Everyone learned to swim there. It had ball fields, tennis courts and the greatest playground.
I lived on Rosemont Rd. which was between Kirk Junior High on Terrace Rd. and Euclid Ave. My mom told us that Rosemont Rd. was the drive to Rockefeller's estate and that his workers built their houses on that street in order to be close to the boss.
All the houses were close together and every street was packed full of families and friends. There were some families with over 10 kids in one house like the Hastings who lived at the corner of our street. Tom Brazitis, the Plain Dealer reporter and Washington correspondent, lived at the opposite corner. At the time he was editor of The East Cleveland Leader. He had a big circular backyard with a fence that edged the outskirts of the three streets along his property. It was always full of weeds and wild plants. We used to take people on tours of his "backyard jungle".
Everyone had friends there. My friends from class were Chris Mates, John Nagy and Ron Hansen. My class nemesis was Donna Van Pelt (she always topped me on tests and grades). My friends from my neighborhood were David and Jimmy Fielding, Mark Drefs, Steven Wild, David Chamberlain and Stanley Anthory.
Everyone knew everyone too. We used to go to the fire station and sit on the trucks or go into the police station and ask the officers to lock us up in the jail. A train track split through the city so that meant putting pennies on the track in order to have the trains flatten them. There was a YMCA on Lee Rd. We went there on Saturdays during the winter to swim and play pool. Many of us were in Indian Guides.
There was a Mr. Donuts on Euclid Ave. in East Cleveland. It had a big picture window so you could watch the baker make the donuts right in front of you. The baker loved it when we watched him especially when he was cutting the doughnuts from the sheet of dough. He would flip each cut-out onto his thumb and then, at just the right moment, he would toss one of the cutout holes at the window in order to startle us. My dad used to give us a dollar Sunday morning to buy a dozen "day-old" donuts. They were the best.
East Cleveland in the sixties was a time of great innocence for many. We knew nothing of Vietnam, hippies, or race riots. But we had to grow up quickly. Within a few years things changed dramatically and East Cleveland was never the same again.
So where did everyone go? If you are from East Cleveland in the 1960's please leave your recollections in the Comments section below.
P.S. It may take some time for this blog to be indexed by the search engines in order for people to find it. So even if this post has been up awhile you may be one of the first East Clevelanders to see it.
For pictures of Forest Hills Park click here and of East Cleveland click here.
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