Monday, October 5, 2015

Hard Times

While Cleveland's Public Square is fenced off and under construction until 2016, there's no place for people to congregate, and downtown feels less cohesive and more sinister than usual.

Panhandlers are using ever more abstruse gambits ("Hey, I know where you got those shoes, Big Man!" a man calls out to every passing gent. Another walks down Euclid Avenue holding a small cardboard sign that reads, with admirable candor, "WHY LIE NEED BEER."

Above, a Dickensian scene befitting the old-fashioned carriage-ride business. As loud cheers emanated from a local bar where patrons were watching a Cleveland Browns game, the man in the clerical collar, who was holding the horse's bridle, asked the driver if he could go check the score.

The driver, cigarette dangling from his lips, barked "No, you're not checking the score. You'll do your job!"

"I'm not checking the score," the driver continued, with the puffed pride that comes of being boss. "I'm doing my job!"

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Quality Shoe Repair

Men hard at work on a Wednesday afternoon at Quality Shoe Repair and JC's Shine, a small, efficient shop at 708 St. Clair Avenue downtown.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Mr. Gilbert's Hats

This gentleman, Robert Harris, sells hats from a stand on Buckeye Avenue, next to his church. His business, Mr. Gilbert's Hats, and his little white truck with the top hat and cane logo, are often seen around town. Over Labor Day weekend, he'll be selling hats to sun-baked spectators at the Cleveland International Air Show.

Harris, 70, has been in the hat business for decades, having worked at the famous Cleveland store Mike the Hatter. He would like to open his own store, maybe at Shaker Square where he lives, and sell upscale hats.

I have passed his stand many times while driving, but today decided to stop and chat with Mr. Harris, who regaled me with stories about his life and his views on modern mores "Kids today don't have respect. I had a teacher at the old East Tech, she was a midget of a lady. But she'd take you by the ear to the principal's office. We didn't disrespect her."

He reflected on his earlier years. "I was into some bad things, selling drugs and that. The pastor of this church saved me. He believed in me. I love that man."

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Buckeye Learning Farm 2015

Scenes from my visit today to the Buckeye Learning Farm on Woodland Avenue. A group of students were working on growing the crops -- tomatoes, several varieties of peppers, squash and corn, among others -- and enjoying one another's company. Top and bottom photos, my tour guide Elonte, a nice, soft-spoken young man. It is Elonte's second summer working at the farm.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Jesse Owens Mural Unveiling

A beautiful "I Am Jesse Owens" mural, created by Danny Carver with help from his students at the Cleveland School of the Arts, was unveiled in a ceremony Thursday, July 30, 2015 at the Lonnie Burten Recreation Center in Cleveland.

Carver spoke passionately about the struggles and triumphs of Cleveland-born Olympic gold medalist Owens. "He affirmed that individual excellence, rather than race or nation, distinguishes an individual. His legacy remains strong not only throughout Ohio but across the nation." Carver urged young people to elarn about history and "make a difference. Leave some kind of legacy." (Photos by Pamela Zoslov)