The Sole Gift of Comfort and Craftsmanship

By Patricia Edmondson, Museum Advisory Council Curator of Costumes & Textiles

For many, the holidays are a time to feel warm and fuzzy. We celebrate, spend time with loved ones, and in Northeast Ohio try to find ways to stay literally warm on snowy, blustery evenings. The WRHS collection contains several pairs of slippers that would help do just that.

Needlepoint Slippers, mid-late 19th century

Gift of the University Circle Development Foundation 65.162.2

 

During the 19th century, young women often learned needlecraft as part of their education, and many women continued to practice the art for pleasure and out of necessity. Handmade gifts are one way to show love, and this pair of needlepoint slippers from the second half of the 19th century would have kept Charles Evarts’ (1847-1911) toes warm through the winter. Evarts worked in the insurance business during Cleveland’s early days. Slippers like these would have been made by purchasing the soles and assembling at home, or by taking the completed needlework to a local shoemaker for construction. The gift giver would use patterns to create the reindeer design, done here on a cheerful red background. Women’s magazines like Godey’s offered patterns for sewing projects including slippers. 

Needlework patterns for slippers, Godey’s Ladies’ Book, 1855 and 1863

Scuffie Slipper, 1890s

H.K. Devereaux Estate, 52.256

 

Another option for cozy toes were fur slippers, in this case rabbit fur. Bedroom slippers without backs are called scuffs, or scuffies, for little ones. As children in the 1890s, Julian and Millie Devereux wore these slippers around the house. The Devereux family lived on Cleveland’s “millionaires’ row,” Euclid Avenue, and could afford luxuries like these during the snowy months.

Child’s Slippers, ca. 1983

 

This writer has her own fond memories of shuffling around the house in various pairs of slippers, and following the Mad for Plaid costume exhibition, donated a pair from the 1980s. Jack Edmonson wore these around Christmastime, and then his younger sister Patty, now WRHS costume curator, inherited them for her own use. These slippers represent the type worn by an average American child in the 20th century, rather than the privileged few. Whether you’re making or buying a cozy gift this winter, slippers are like a warm hug from a loved one, helping make the Ohio snow more bearable.

The Gift of Black Sacred Music: Our Stories, Our Songs, and Our Sources

By Regennia N. Williams, PhD
Distinguished Scholar of African American History and Culture

 

 

On Sunday, October 24, 2021, hundreds of gospel music fans helped celebrate the 85th anniversary of The Elite Jewels, “The Gospel Songbirds of the North,” at the Sanctuary Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio. Mrs. Willie Mae Reese (pictured here) is the lead singer and current manager for the Elite Jewels. In the summer of 2021, she agreed to be one of the narrators for the Western Reserve Historical Society’s A. Grace Lee Mims Arts and Culture Oral History Project. An Arkansas native, Mrs. Reese shared stories about her family life and education in the South, her migration to Cleveland, her love for music, and the people who inspired her to tell the world about the place of the Elite Jewels in the history of Black gospel quartet singing. Excerpts from her July 2021 interview are included in this special “Home for the Holidays” issue of our newsletter.

Mrs. Willie Mae Reese. (Photo by Regennia N. Williams)

 

The following passages are taken from a July 2021 oral history interview with Mrs. Willie Mae Reese. Dr. Regennia N. Williams and Ms. Kathryn Oleksa conducted the interview.

 

Early Life in Rural Arkansas

I was born in Jericho, Arkansas, and I grew up on a farm that my grandfather [Walter Adams] owned. He had horses, cows, pigs, chickens, and lots of farmland. He just raised everything there on his farm –including cotton. He had sharecroppers who also lived with their families in one of the other eight houses on our farm. The [Black] sharecroppers would plant their crops, and then they would give my grandfather a certain portion of that crop for staying there . . .

. . .There was a funny thing about it, though. White people would sometimes come to our farm. If you wanted a car, for example, they would drive that car all the way from Memphis, Tennessee, and let my grandfather see it. If he didn’t like the car, they would drive it all the way back to Memphis–and bring him another one to look at! The White people wouldn’t call him “Mr. Adam.” They would only call him “Uncle Walter,” because they didn’t want to say mister. That’s just the way that it was.

 

Music, Education, and Migration

sic, so I guess that’s where I got it from. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved gospel singing. I started out singing solos, and I just migrated into quartet singing. When I was a child, we even had a little singing group with our cousins . . .

I never rode a school bus. My sister Myrtle and I walked to school. When we graduated from the grade school in Arkansas, my sister and I moved to Memphis, Tennessee to live with our aunt. In Tennessee, we attended Booker T. Washington High School . . .

When I moved to Cleveland with my parents, I attended Cuyahoga Community College and studied Office Administration. Later, I started taking bass lessons from a professional [union] musician, and I am still taking lessons!

 

Mr. Arthur Turner and the Elite Jewels: Sources of Inspiration and “The Gospel Songbirds of the North”

In Cleveland, I always heard the Elite Jewels on the radio. They had a regular broadcast, and Mr. Arthur Turner was their manager. I thought that the Elite Jewels had the prettiest harmony that I had ever heard. I really, really wanted to sing with them, but I never thought I would get a chance to do that.

By the grace of God, Mr. Turner heard me singing a solo at a Baptist church in Cleveland, and he invited me to come to their rehearsal. I was about 30 years old at the time, and I started singing with the group soon after that. I don’t think anybody in the Elite Jewels had any formal training. It was just a God-given talent. We enjoyed singing, so we just kept doing it.

Mr. Turner made the Elite Jewels, because he had all of the contacts. He handled all of our management-related activities: he booked all of our concerts, he planned all of the programs, he collected the money, he maintained the equipment up. If we needed new equipment, he would go get that equipment. Of course, we paid for it, since he took it out of our money . . .

We performed with all the big groups, including the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Shirley Caesar, and Inez Andrews’ group . . . We recorded for major labels like Savoy, and James Cleveland even invited the Elite Jewels to head the quartet section of the Gospel Music Workshop of America, because he loved the Elite Jewels, but we decided not to do that . . .

It was a traveling group, and we went everywhere. The Elite Jewels had lots of opportunities, because they didn’t just sing for Blacks; they sang for Whites, too. The Whites loved the music as much as the Blacks, so the group performed for both groups. Sometimes, we couldn’t even stay in hotels; we would stay in the homes of Black people along the way . . . You always feel left out when you are not allowed to eat where everybody else eats, when you are not allowed to stay where everybody else stays, because the hotels were for Whites . . . That’s the way that it was in the South. As a matter of fact, it was like that in some of the Northern states, too, but you never let that stop you. If we had let that stop us, I wouldn’t be singing today.

After Mr. Turner retired and I took over as manager, the group was still travelling. We just kept on pushing and kept on singing.

Members of The Elite Jewels are shown performing during the group’s October 24, 2021, 85th anniversary concert. Mrs. Reese is seated on the far left. (Photo courtesy of Regennia N. Williams.)

Toy Exhibit Will Bring Nostalgia for Holidays Past

By Pamela Dorazio Dean, MA, CA

Curator of Italian American History

 

A special exhibit on view at the Cleveland History Center for the Holiday Season features popular toys from the 1960s to the 1980s, which often ended up under the Christmas tree or given as Hanukkah gifts.  For the people who were kids during these decades, many of these toys defined their childhoods and will bring back memories of simpler, fun times.

Among the toys of the 1960s on display are an original Cootie, a Barbie doll, and a Chrissy doll.  The 1970s display would not be complete without some Star Wars action figures and an X-Wing Fighter.  There is also a “Welcome Back Kotter” die cut figure with paper clothes.  Highlights of the 1980s selection include a Cabbage Patch Kid, Rubik’s Cube, and Nintendo Game Console.  A special case features Cleveland toys, particularly those created by American Greetings, including Holly Hobby and Strawberry Shortcake.

WRHS is delighted to partner with STAR POP vintage + modern to bring you these wonderful toys.  STAR POP is located in Cleveland’s Waterloo Arts District at 15813 Waterloo Road.  For more than a decade STAR POP has bought and sold new and old toys, classic video games, records, vintage clothing, trading cards and other pop culture collectibles.  Proprietor Troy Schwartz has been collecting toys since he was a kid.  Collecting toys is part of his DNA as his father, grandparents, and great grandparents have worked in or owned toy stores at some point in their lives.  STAR POP is open by appointment. For more info, visit www.starpopcleveland.com.

On “Track” for the Holidays

By John J. Grabowski Ph.D.

Krieger-Mueller Chief Historian

 

It is the largest object in the Cleveland Starts Here exhibit at the Cleveland History Center.   It is so big that one is tempted to see it as part of the structure.   However, the Ferro Enamel Mural is much more than backdrop.  It is a stunning piece of enamel technology and a wonderful example of modernist art executed by Daniel Boza who studied at the Cleveland School of Art.   It is also reflects on the spectacle that was the New York World’s Fair of 1939-1940 where it first came into public view.    But for many with long memories, it is a symbol of travel, for after New York it came back to Cleveland where it was installed in the main passenger concourse of Cleveland’s Union Terminal in 1941.  For nearly four decades it was seen by hundreds of thousands of passengers who may have “read it” as a piece of art, or more simply seen it as a sign of leaving or arriving at home.   Many of those who viewed it would have been making a December holiday visit – to or away from Cleveland.

It is, essentially a reminder of how Clevelanders traveled during the halcyon years of the American passenger railroad.   Today we still travel during the darker days of December, usually enduring jammed airports and aircraft, or crowded chaotic highways that we often transit in bad weather.    But in the end, it is all worth it – families reunite – yes to exchange gifts and to dine – but more so, simply to be together and to reminisce, exchanging stories that often focus on what the holiday season was like in the past – the gifts, the weather, and perhaps stories of the journeys made in good weather and bad.

Up until the early 1950s many of the holiday travel stories would have referenced the railroad.  Trains were often crowded with collegians going home over winter break as well as with families and relatives “coming home” with presents.  During World War II, servicemen and women lucky enough to get leave during December also crowded the trains that came into Cleveland.  Yet, then and during the long history of rail travel in Cleveland (beginning in 1849) there were other stations that witnessed the hustle and bustle of travel and happy reunions.

Cleveland’s first “union” depot, built in 1853, was situated near the lakefront docks at what is now the end of West 9th Street.   In 1866 it was replaced by a massive stone structure near the same site.  It would be the city’s main station until the Cleveland Union Terminal Complex on Public Square opened in 1930 – and one railroad, the Pennsylvania would continue to use it until September 1953 (only a stone retaining wall remains today as a reminder)   As “union” stations each of these three were built to serve multiple railroads, but not all.   So holiday comings and goings could at, one time, end at the Baltimore and Ohio’s station (which is still standing) at the end of Canal Road at its intersection with Carter Road.    The Wheeling and Lake Erie had a terminal up the slope from Canal Road in an area known as Vinegar Hill, while the Nickel Plate (New York, Chicago and St. Louis) had its original station just to the west of Broadway near East 14th.  And, the Erie Railroad disembarked its passengers at a terminal in the Flats just under the east side of the Veterans Memorial Bridge.   All of these stations would eventually be closed when the various railroads began to use the new, modern Cleveland Union Terminal – although it would take the Erie until 1949 to make the shift.

Only the Pennsylvania remained apart from the concourse that housed the Ferro Mural.   After closing its service to the old Union Station in 1953, its station at E. 55th and Euclid became the end of the line for passengers.   And that hints at more places where families likely reunited for the holidays.   Many railroads had subsidiary stations within Greater Cleveland, some of which functioned as commuter stops. The Pennsylvania also maintained a station at Broadway and Harvard near the American Steel and Wire Plant.  It could well have been the site where immigrant workers bound for what is now known as Slavic Village disembarked.   The Erie had a station at East 55th near Bessemer.  It was proximate to a large Czech community.   The Nickel Plate had major station at suburban Rocky River and another in East Cleveland just to the west of the intersection of Superior and Euclid, which it shared with the New York Central.  And one of the major stations on the New York Central’s east-west route was just to the south of Bratenahl and it often saw the coming and goings of some of the city’s wealthiest families, including the Rockefellers.   All told there were dozens of stations in and around Cleveland over the years.

Yet, by the 1940s, the main destination in Cleveland and the place where most journeys started and ended was the Cleveland Union Terminal.  It hosted over 60 trains a day in the 1940s, some, at times, running in multiple sections – particularly during the war and the busy holiday season.  For those who arrived and had forgotten to buy a gift, it was the perfect place to do so with a variety of stores and shops and a department store, Higbees, accessible right from the station.   And there at the end of the main concourse was the mural and a sign, “Welcome to Cleveland”.

Some thirty years later, rail service to the Terminal ended.   Amtrak, created to take over national passenger service, began operation in May 1971 and then left the station in 1972.  Only two through trains a day came to the city at the beginning of Amtrak service.   The last scheduled passenger train to use the station was an Erie-Lackawanna commuter service in 1978.  The concourse that had seen the holiday crowds and so much more was deserted, destined to become a site for indoor tennis courts and eventually the shops of Tower City Center.   The mural was carefully taken down and donated to the Historical Society.   It stayed in storage until 1993, when it was installed in the Society’s new Reinberger Gallery.  The building’s design was literally created around the space needed for its installation.   Today, while it no longer welcomes train travelers, it greets the guests and classes that come to the Cleveland History Center.   As we celebrate the holidays this year, take the time to look at it closely and try to imagine all it has seen over the years.   And if you have guests who have come to Cleveland via Amtrak be certain to have them join you!

 

Photo: Williams, J. Scott. “Huge Ferro Porcelain Enamel Mural Designed by J. Scott Williams.” CardCow.com, Curt Teich & Co., 1938, https://www.cardcow.com/422050/cleveland-ohio-huge-ferro-porcelain-enamel-mural-designed-by-j-scott-williams/.

A Look Back at 2021

By John Frato, Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel Training & Volunteer Coordinator

The midway at Euclid Beach Park featured three noteworthy carousels on opening day in 1921. One hundred years ago, three new rides made their debut at Euclid Beach Park. All but one would still be operating on September 28, 1969 when the Park closed its gates forever.

The Great American Racing Derby took its place next to the Grand Carousel built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company and across from the Flying Ponies which were a product of the Herschell-Spillman Company. While both the Derby and Grand Carousel had four rows of horses, the Derby required a much larger footprint. The Derby’s enclosure was 114 feet in diameter while the Carousel was housed in a 90 foot diameter structure. The Great American Racing Derby was a product of the Prior and Church Company of Venice, California. It was a very unique merry-go-round with 64 hand-carved wooden horses that ran four abreast and designed to hold two riders. Unlike a conventional carousel the horses not only went up and down but moved forward and backwards. Another similarity between the Grand Carousel and the Derby was the ability of rider’s to “win” a free ride. In the Grand Carousel’s early years of operation, riders could reach for a brass ring which would entitle them to a free ride. Likewise, riders on the Derby who found themselves in the lead of their row of horses when the bell rang at the end of the ride would also receive a free ride. The ride operator would place a small American Flag in a hole behind the horses left ear and the rider / riders would stay on their horse for the next turn of the Derby. The major difference between the two rides had to do with speed. The much faster speed of the Derby along with the horses’ up and down movement elevated this merry-go-round to a circular “thrill ride”. In 1967, the Derby fell victim to its high maintenance and the need for the Humphrey Company to raise operating capital amid dwindling attendance. It was sold to Cedar Point where it still operates as Cedar Downs.

The two other rides that made their debut in 1921 were the Dodgem and the Mill Chute. Both of these rides were altered significantly during their lifespan at Euclid Beach. The Dodgem building was 143 feet by 90 feet and at the time of its installation was reportedly the largest Dodgem track in the country. The original cars were designed to operate in exactly the opposite direction the driver intended. If for example, the driver steered left the car would go right. With cars that operated in this fashion it was difficult for riders to heed the operator’s instruction of: “Traffic moves one way and one way only, no head-on bumping”. In the 1930’s after more than ten years of mayhem, the ride cars were replaced with cars purchased from the Dodgem Corporation headquartered in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Over the years, the cars acquired a number of different paint schemes, but remained in operation until the park closed.

The Mill Chute was designed and built by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. Riders would board boats and leisurely head toward a darkened “mountain tunnel”. They would travel through a number of scenes painted with luminous paint before ascending the lift hill and plummeting into the “lake” below. As with the Dodgem, the boats on the Mill Chute were also replaced. The renovations went much farther with even the name of the ride changing to Over the Falls. In 1937, the channel was extended, more curves were added, the hill was raised from 30 to 37 feet and the angle was increased from 20 to 50 degrees. The results were a dramatic increase of speed from the top of the lift hill to the bottom.

Making History While Serving a Congregation and the Community

Pastor Richard Gibson of the Elizabeth Baptist Church, a 2019 “Soul of Philanthropy, Cleveland” honoree. (McKinley Wiley, The DarkRoom Company)
Richard Gibson in a 1997 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. program photo. (African American Archives of the Western Reserve Historical Society)

 

*Based on an Interview with the Rev. Richard Gibson

By Regennia N. Williams, PhD
Distinguished Scholar of African American History and Culture

 

Twenty-five years ago, Richard Gibson served as the president of the African American Archives Auxiliary of the Western Reserve Historical Society.  Today, as we approach the end of the 50th anniversary year for the Auxiliary, the Rev. Richard Gibson is pastor of Cleveland’s Elizabeth Baptist Church.  During a telephone interview on October 7, 2021, our most recent for the A. Grace Lee Mims Arts and Culture Oral History Project, Pastor Gibson discussed the importance of history, the current debates regarding the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT), his role as a religious leader, and his responsibility as a community leader.  The following excerpt from the transcript was edited for length and clarity. –RNW

 

 

I went to the Cleveland Public Schools and then went to Yale University for my undergraduate degree.  My first job out of college was as a history teacher, and I taught history to high school juniors and seniors.  I’m passionate about history, and I certainly appreciate the value of history –especially for our people during this time.

 

When I came back to Cleveland, I earned my law degree and my MBA from Case Western Reserve University.  I was at Liberty Hill Baptist Church, and that is where I entered the ministry.  I never intended to pastor, but I began pastoring at Elizabeth Baptist Church 18 years ago. Actually, this month [October 2021] I will celebrate my 18th anniversary as pastor.

 

It is critical that we know our history.  I believe that history is foundational for us in that we can build upon it, and it keeps all of us accountable. You talked about Louis Stokes, for example.  I served on a board with him before he transitioned. He chaired the board, actually, and our work focused on getting more youth of color into medical school.  It was a fascinating approach, and he did things that were important not just in his public position in Congress.  He was working on areas that would have an impact for generations.

 

There is a discussion that is taking place now about history and what should be taught in the classroom.  One of the groups that is fighting hard and is really demonizing Critical Race Theory (CRT) is actually part of the Christian community.  I’ve had to take strong positions with some of my colleagues who have looked at the teaching of CRT as a divisive issue, rather than looking at it as an issue that could be inclusive and looking at history broadly.  So, history in this moment is really critical.

 

The position that I hold creates responsibilities for me.  If I am sitting in a position, I should be doing all that I can do to help our people advance in their relationships with God and their relationships with our neighbors.   We can’t really advance in our relationships with their neighbors if we don’t have that relationship with God—and we also need to own property, own businesses, and have opportunities to participate economically.

 

In this position, I have to push in all of those areas.  Some might view that as making history, but I view it as my calling, my responsibility.

Chief Thunderwater

By John J. Grabowski, Ph.D.
Krieger Mueller Associate Professor of Applied History  CWRU
Historian/Senior Vice President for Research and Publications, Western Reserve Historical Society

Editor, Encyclopedia of Cleveland History\

 

A broken tombstone in  Erie Street Cemetery opens a story critical to understanding an important part of the history of Native Americans in Greater Cleveland.   It marks the grave of Joc O Sot, a member of the Sauk tribe who had fought in the Black Hawk War, and then came to Cleveland in the early 1830s.  While his story is compelling, it leads to another story.   Years after his death, another native American, Oghema Niagara – known to the community as Chief Thunderwater – would hold an annual ceremony at the grave to honor Joc O Sot.

Indeed, Chief Thunderwater, who was active in the Early Settlers Association of Cleveland, became the symbolic Native American in the city.  Dressed in full Iroquois regalia, he often appeared at civic ceremonies as a representative of the true first people of Cleveland.   That is how the public came to see him up to the time of his death in 1950.   But, Oghema Niagara had a far deeper purpose, one that went well beyond being the “symbolic  Indian” in Cleveland.

Born on a reservation near Lewistown, New York, in September 1865, Oghema Niagara became a powerful advocate for the rights and heritage of Native American People in Canada and New York.   His advocacy took place at a time when stereotypes of Indians abounded and when native traditions were challenged by forced assimilation.  In 1914 he established the Council of the Tribes.  Headquartered in Cleveland, the organization fought for the rights of Native Americans on reservations in the US and Canada.   His home in Cleveland became a place where other Native Americans could find shelter and assistance, and later in life he paired with a Cleveland businessman to begin a program to educate students about the history of the first peoples.

Yet, his advocacy (which was stridently challenged by authorities in Canada) has largely been forgotten and likely obscured by his public image at civic events at ceremonies in Cleveland where many who saw him perhaps viewed him as a relic of the past.

Today we know this deeper story of Chief Thunderwater  thanks to the preservation of his papers by the Western Reserve Historical Society.   They were fortuitously acquired at an auction in 1967 and have proved immensely helpful in the research for a new book, Chief Thunderwater: An Unexpected Indian in Unexpected Places written by Professor Gerald Reid of Sacred Heart University.

You’ll be able to learn more about Oghema Niagara when Professor Reid comes to the Historical Society for our By the Book authors series on November  4.

John J. Grabowski

Chief Historian

Día de los Muertos

By John J. Grabowski, Ph.D.
Krieger Mueller Associate Professor of Applied History  CWRU
Historian/Senior Vice President for Research and Publications, Western Reserve Historical Society

Editor, Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

 

This November 1st members of northeast Ohio’s Mexican, community will be celebrating Dia de los Muertos – the Day of the Dead.   It is a time when families get together to remember those who have passed away.   It is not an occasion of overwhelming sadness, but rather a joyful  time – an occasion for recollection and remembrance, a time when offerings ranging from flowers,  food and drink to dolls and toys are placed on gravesites or special altars are erected in a home.   Indeed, it is a time of coming together for families and for the community as a whole.

The origins of the celebration are often traced to the Christian feast of All Souls Day and All Saints Day.   Some also see the celebration related to the indigenous history of Mexico.   Whatever its origins, it is today a central feature of Mexican life that has been carried by Mexican migrants to all corners of the United States and elsewhere.  And that transference reminds us of a commonality shared by all who move from “there” to “here.”   Moving away from one’s home, also often means moving away from the graves of ones ancestors.  Remembering the dead at the cemetery is an important part of Dia de los Muertos.  Thus, it is difficult to break that particular bond for Mexicans and any migrant or immigrant – yet on November 1st, the altars that will be created in many homes in Northeast Ohio, and the recollection and celebration of the departed will, in many ways, provide an important link to family, home, and tradition.

Cleveland’s Columbus Day Parade

By: Pamela Dorazio Dean, MA, CA

 

The earliest Christopher Columbus Day event was held in 1892, as revealed by a review of The Plain Dealer archives.  On the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ 1492 voyage, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation that the United States would mark the occasion as a holiday.  Following this, cities across the country, including Cleveland, organized events and parades.  Many scholars suggest that Harrison also used the anniversary celebration as a gesture to improve diplomatic relations with Italy and the Italian immigrants living in the U.S. after the horrific lynching of 11 Italian immigrants in New Orleans in March 1891.

Not until the 1910s is there another mention in The Plain Dealer of a city-wide Columbus Day celebration in Cleveland.  For a decade prior, however, Italian immigrants had observed Columbus Day on a smaller scale in their own neighborhoods.  Echoes of the New Orleans lynching and the discrimination the Italian immigrants faced in their everyday lives inspired them to celebrate Columbus, who was one of their own countrymen.  Expressing pride in Columbus allowed the Italian immigrants to publicly express pride in their culture, and served as a way to legitimize their presence in the U.S. to those who otherwise thought they did not belong in the country.

In 1910, Columbus Day was declared a legal holiday in the state of Ohio, primarily due to the efforts of Giuseppe Carabelli.  Carabelli was a leader in Cleveland’s Italian immigrant community.  He was the first Italian American to serve in the Ohio House of Representatives and was the proprietor of The Carabelli Co., a stone carving and sculpting firm located on Euclid Avenue, opposite Lake View Cemetery.  On October 12, 1910, a grand celebration of Columbus Day was held in Cleveland, organized by a committee comprised of both Italian Americans and city leaders.  The day was marked with a large parade on Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland that ended with a grand banquet sponsored by the Knights of Columbus at the Hotel Hollenden.

The Columbus Day Parade continued to be held annually in downtown Cleveland until 2004 when the committee in charge decided to move it to Little Italy.  After being cancelled last year due to the pandemic, the Columbus Day Parade will return to Cleveland’s Little Italy on October 11, 2021.  The parade kicks off at Noon and will proceed down Murray Hill Road, turning onto Fairview Court, then onto E. 125th St. after which it will follow Mayfield Road west, and will end at Holy Rosary Church.  It is sponsored by the Italian Sons and Daughters of America.

Building a Foundation for Latinx History

In the 1980s and 1990s the Western Reserve Historical Society began the process of collecting archival materials relating to the LatinX community as a part of its wider “ethnic archives” initiative.   Working with the guidance of Luis Martinez, then Mayor George Voinovich’s liaison to the Hispanic community, a number of important collections came to the Society’s library.   They include the papers of Andreas Castro, community leader and activist; those of Moises Maldonado who was involved in numerous community organizations;  the Felix Delgado family papers which reflect on the family’s journey from Mexico to Cleveland;  and the papers of Luis Martinez.  Of particular importance are copies of the minutes and other documents of the Club Azteca, the first organization established by the Mexican community in Cleveland.

Other collections represent organizations that worked with the LatinX community, including the West Side Community House, the Spanish American Committee, and the Lorain Neighborhood House Association.   Scattered issues of El Sol, an early Hispanic newspaper were also acquired and, importantly, a very complete set of programs from the earliest Puerto Rican Friendly Day celebrations.   Interestingly, one of the older WRHS collections, the records of Hiram House Social Settlement, reflect on that organization’s interaction with Mexican migrants to Cleveland in the 1930s and 1940s.

These collections represent a good foundation of a LatinX archive, one which WRHS is constantly seeking to build upon.

WRHS Italian American Collection

By: Pamela Dorazio Dean, MA, CA

 

In 2006, WRHS partnered with the Northern Ohio Italian American Foundation, the Italian Sons and Daughters of America, and the Italian American Cultural Foundation to establish the WRHS Italian American Collection and hire a curator specifically dedicated to preserving and documenting Italian American history in Northeast Ohio. Pamela Dorazio Dean has filled that role for the last 15 years and is now also serving as director of the new Italian American Museum of Cleveland (IAMCLE.)

The WRHS Italian American Collection contains approximately 85 objects and over 300 linear feet of manuscript materials, which include documents and photographs. The objects and manuscripts serve as a way to preserve the people, places, and organizations that comprise the history of Italian American experience in Northeast Ohio. Many of these resources have been used in exhibits, in public programs, and as teaching tools for students. They have also been consulted by researchers, such as author Pamela Schoenenwaldt, who referred to the collection when writing When We Were Strangers and Swimming in the Moon.

A number of items from the Italian American Collection are currently on display in the WRHS exhibit Cleveland Starts Here and in the gallery at the Italian American Museum of Cleveland. A listing of the artifacts and manuscript that are part of the WRHS Italian American Collection can be found doing a search in the WRHS on-line catalog.

Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival closing night at the Cleveland History Center

By Regennia N. Williams, PhD
Distinguished Scholar of African American History and Culture

On Friday, September 17, 2021, the Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) partnered with the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival (GCUFF) to host the closing night event for GCUFF’s 10th Annual Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival. WRHS staff and members of the African American Archives Auxiliary (Quad A) were among the more than 100 guests who came to the Cleveland History Center for the awards program and the screening of “A Choice of Weapons,” the new documentary film inspired by the life of Gordon Parks.

Photographs by Brian K. Artisan and Mychal Lilly

 

Dr. Regennia N. Williams delivered opening remarks and made a special presentation during the program.

 

Pictured here are members of the African American Archives Auxiliary, including African American History Archivist Patrice Hamiter (fourth from right).

 

(left to right) Donna Dabbs, GCUFF’s Executive Director, is shown here with Quad A members Felicia Haney and Rhonda Crowder during the Awards Ceremony.

 

GCUFF team members are pictured here at the registration table in the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum.

Surveying the Artistic Landscape at the Western Reserve Historical Society

By Regennia N. Williams, PhD

 

Those who have not visited the Cleveland History Center for some time may be pleasantly surprised to see the wealth of visual art that now adorns the walls of the Norton Gallery.  This project, the culmination of work that started in 2020, was completed over the summer of 2021, thanks to the visionary leadership of Dr. Dennis Barrie, Chief Curator Eric Rivet, Dr. Mary Manning, Patricia Edmondson, Kevin Barrie, and three external art historians who reviewed the WRHS art holdings.

 

According to Dr. Dennis Barrie, whose extensive background in Art History made this exhibit particularly important to him, “For the last year or so, it has been the desire of the Curatorial staff and leadership to get more of our collections out of storage and available to the public.  We started with Fine Arts storage because, like many of our collection areas, it was not in particularly good shape.”

 

Barrie went on to say that he and the other members of the review team were looking for:

  • works of artistic merit that had not been seen in a long time
  • works of special interest to the history of the Western Reserve
  • works that demonstrated the breadth of our holdings

“The works selected are to be rotated in the future to provide even more opportunities to get the collection out before the world. The Fine Arts exhibits are but the first of what we are deeming “Open Storage” exhibits. Eric [Rivet] is working on getting more of our Shaker collections, decorative arts, etc. on display in the near future,” said Barrie.

 

The approximately 40 works in the current exhibit are a mere fraction of the total collection.  Nevertheless, visitors are able to view 19th-century art, some of which pre-dates the 1867 founding of WRHS, as well as 20th-century and 21st-century paintings.

 

In September of 2021, Charles J. Pinkney and Anna Arnold, two of the living artists whose works are currently on view in the Norton Gallery, agreed to participate in the Historical Society’s A. Grace Lee Mims Arts and Culture Oral History Project. Together, their paintings and the excerpts from their oral histories are part of an open invitation for guests to come and learn more about the WRHS collections. In commenting on the project, Chief Curator Eric Rivet stated, “I chose Anna Arnold’s portraits because her style is unique in our collection. There is nothing else in the museum’s fine art collection that looks like her [work], and I’m quite drawn to it. Her pieces add a lot of color and vibrancy to the gallery.”

 

 

Anna Arnold

*An excerpt from her oral history narrative

 

I am the director for the John C. and Florence O’Donnell Wasmer Gallery at Ursuline College. I’ve been here since December of 2012.

 

I was born in Cleveland in 1960, that time of tremendous change in the country when we had all of this hope. I went to Iowa Maple School. Then we migrated from Cleveland to Shaker Heights in the mid-70s, so I went to Shaker Heights High School.  I later graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art and Case Western Reserve University.

 

Both of my parents came from the South. I believe that they came in the 50s. It could have been late 40s or 50s. My father’s name was Tyler Arnold Jr., my mother is Gloria Arnold, and my sister Lisa is also creative. She’s a writer.

 

I think I’m a teaching artist. I’m not in the classroom, but a lot of students will come to me, and they will talk to me about their direction or something that is going on in their lives, and it’s not necessarily people who are in the arts. So, I feel like I’m still an educator.  Even with the art that I create, I am teaching.

 

I love [Faith Ringgold’s and Vincent van Gogh’s] work and the work of Frida Kahlo. I love their work because it takes all of that emotion, whether joyful or tragic, they put everything in it. They didn’t leave anything out when they painted a portrait, or a flower, or water, or a landscape, or whatever it was. I look at their art and absorb that, the color and the texture. I include that in my own work. I’m always looking. I’m looking at everything to get ideas.

 

I always saw murals as another way to do a larger painting, and it’s a way to engage the public, maybe people who would not come into a gallery. They get a chance to walk up to a piece of art and engage with it, enjoy it, and look at it for years.

 

The Cleveland Museum of Art had a project probably 10 or 12 years ago, and Robin van Lear with Parade the Circle had this idea. She wanted the Museum to do these murals all over the Cleveland area near the art museum. We went into the communities and talked with the people, and got some ideas about what they wanted to do. One of the first murals I did was called “The Storyteller,” and that’s at the Thurgood Marshall Recreation Center.  The storyteller is an older woman, and she’s telling the kids about her life and how important the church was. Now, I’m looking at that, and it’s like that woman is me. I’m the storyteller now. I know I was doing it back then, too, but that I am the elder now who is responsible for the younger people, encouraging them to dream and to have hope.

 

 

 

Charles J. Pinkney

 

I’m Charles J. Pinkney, and I’m affiliated with the Fine Arts Society, a group of individuals interested in the fine arts, as well as some other groups. I happened to be the first President of the San Diego Portrait Society.

 

I was born in Cleveland on East 97th Street, off Cedar Avenue, between Cedar and Quebec.   My parents were Theodore “Ted” Pinkney, and my mother was Mildred Jackson, Pinkney. I was the oldest of three boys that they had during their marriage, and I went to Bolton Elementary School. As a matter of fact, my second grade teacher, Miss Sherman, recommended that my mother take me to the Cleveland Museum of Art to draw on Saturday mornings in the classes for young students at that time.

 

My father was not opposed to the idea, but my mother was very interested.  She got me together and took me to those classes every Saturday morning. It was a wonderful opportunity and experience for me, because my mother certainly encouraged my need to become an artist and to become a painter, because I could draw and paint. Picasso said we are all born to be artists, but we live in a society that conditions us away from being artists. I was blessed to be able to get the kind of encouragement that I needed from my mother early on.

 

I went to Rawlings Junior High School, and I graduated from Glenville High School, and Kent State University.  As far as my early life is concerned, I grew up on the streets of Cleveland. As a boy, I remember shooting marbles on the Karamu House, parking lot. When a photographer there took me into the dark room and showed me how to develop a  photograph, that was magic to me. I thought that was the most interesting thing.  As a result, I was hooked on photography early on. I had a very interesting and very colorful, pleasant boyhood in Cleveland.

 

I called [the Cedar Avenue Community] the “Harlem of Cleveland.” It was the cultural center for Black people. As a matter of matter fact, the Karamu House, which is very famous, is located near that area, in the Quincy Avenue, 89th Street, Cedar Avenue area.

So I was very blessed to come in contact with many of Cleveland’s cultural leaders, if you will.  There was the Cedar Gardens, which became a very famous place where black musicians and other artistic people came together.  It was a very interesting and diverse area for that kind of activity.

 

Art was my major course of study at Glenville High School.  I wanted to study it, and I kept pursuing it.  Of course, I couldn’t make a living as a painter when I left Kent State, so I picked up a camera, which I learned to use very professionally while “painting” with my camera. I took that camera and eventually became the first African-American person that The Pittsburgh Press newspaper hired.

 

Artist Profile: Hector Castellanos Lara

Gathering images from the majestic volcanoes surrounding Ciudad de Guatemala in his youth, Hector Castellanos Lara brings forth a lament of sorrow, exile and joy from Central America.  His early influences included his father, a well-known commercial painter in Guatemala who worked on giant commercial and political murals from the 1950s through the 1970s.  Castellanos Lara’s mother, who drew inspiration from the folk art of Guatemala as a dressmaker, which included images of daily life, also had a major impact on him.  From this enchanted beginning an environment of art, joy and struggle, Hector’s work flows today.  

 

     In Long Island, New York, during the 1980s he developed his talents as a commercial designer working for El Greco Footwear, Inc.  At the same time, Hector began to explore and develop his work in the Fine Arts.  Now a resident of Cleveland Ohio since 1990 Hector Castellanos Lara has had numerous exhibitions and workshops in the Cleveland Museum of Art, Playhouse Square Foundation – Education Department, Outreach Programs Young Audiences, Outreach Programs Beck Center for the Arts, Immigrant Worker Project, International Community Council, The Arthouse, International House of Blues Foundation, MetroHealth Center, and Broadway School of Music and the Arts.  Including a solo exhibition “Spirit of Spontaneity”, the final exhibit at Cleveland State University Art Gallery and Creighton University “Winter 2015-16” Omaha, NE.

 

     Hector’s participation with many organizations in promoting and working with variety of community arts and cultural programs has established new opportunities for artists in the Greater Cleveland.   Starting with his work with Escuela Popular where he coordinated exhibits of emerging Latino Artists from Northeast Ohio, as well working with artist who came from Central America and Mexico to exhibit in Cleveland, Ohio for the first time.  From these beginnings he started working with the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Parade the Circle and Chalk Festival as well at The Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin as both an Artist-in-Residence and Outreach Artist in schools and community centers across Cleveland.   

 

     This work, organizing community outreach and artists, lead Hector Castellanos Lara to become a co-founder of ALU (Artistas Latinos Unidos), an association dedicated to promoting the art of Latina/os and has served as a connect point for educational, community and social service organizations seeking artists for a myriad of projects.   ALU, in coordination with Cleveland Public Theatre, has mobilized students, immigrant community and members of the general public to celebrate Day of Dead, a multi-day event mixing traditions from across the Americas in art, dance, puppetry and music.  

 

     As a community lead, artist and organizer Hector works with diverse populations to cross borders – both real and imagined.   This ranges from his work as a board member of Spaces Galleries World Artist Program hosting emerging world artists and to work with migrant farm workers through the Immigrant Worker Project.  He has worked with organizations such as the International Community Council, Cleveland Public Library and countless local universities (College of Wooster, Cleveland State University, Baldwin Wallace College, Ashland University, Walsh University, Creighton University) to create interactive community art projects.  These projects not only awaken the imagination of members or students but also help these organizations create new community relationships.   

 

     It is not surprising that another facet of Hector Castellanos Lara’s work is in education and the arts.   He has worked in numerous public and private schools (K-12) on interactive educational projects.  Most important has been his work awaking people to the tradition of the Alfombras – a sawdust and flower carpets that draw on the traditional and modern images from Latin America and Community Mural Projects.   These workshops/projects include presentations on the history and traditions of popular art in the Americas.  Hector’s work has not been limited to traditional settings as demonstrated by his bilingual art therapy since 2010 with ALAS (Alliance of Latinos Against Stigma) a project of NAMI & Centers for Families & Children.   In art, education and community building the core of Hector Castellanos Lara’s work is to reach across the barriers that bind us to the past and together create a new future.

 

sheca73@yahoo.com  216-235-0811

Before Expedia: Travel Bureaus and Immigrants

By: John Grabowski, PhD

Krieger Mueller Associate Professor of Applied History  CWRU
Historian/Senior Vice President for Research and Publications, Western Reserve Historical Society
Editor, Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

In the last twenty-five years the travel industry has seen enormous changes.   Self-booking via the internet has become the way “to go” in terms of arranging transport and accommodation.  This technological shift has taken a toll on independent travel bureaus, the number of which has dwindled significantly.   But some of the still existing businesses have origins that have little to do with going on holiday.   

Many travel bureaus began business by bringing people to Cleveland.   Almost every immigrant neighborhood in the city had a steamship agent whose main business was to get people from “there” to “here”, and also to arrange for money to be sent back to the homeland.   Michael Kniola’s business served the “Warsawa” Polish community along Fleet Avenue, while Joseph Tetlak, worked with the Poles in Tremont, and the Lewandowski bureau served the Poles in the Poznan area near St. Clair.   Henry Spira sold steamship tickets and started a foreign exchange service and a bank in the largely Jewish lower Woodland community.  His customers would have included Jews, Italians, and other nationalities resident in the area.  He would prosper and become a prominent figure in the Jewish Community.   Years later, in the 1950s Louis Depaolo, the unofficial “mayor of Little Italy” assisted Italian immigrants and also sponsored annual tours of Italy.  All of these individuals, and others became important “go to” people in their communities.

Changing technologies in the late nineteenth century spurred the growth of this industry.   The greatest changes were in transportation and communication.   The growth of railroad systems in the US and in Europe and, particularly, scheduled trans-oceanic packet steamship transportation made getting from “there to here” regular and systematic.  The financial success of the great ocean liners rested, in large part, on the immigrant trade — and the immigrant trade was driven by the growing labor needs of industrial cities like Cleveland.  

By the late nineteenth century a steamship agent/travel broker  in Cleveland could arrange a travel package that would take a European immigrant from a town near his/her home to a port in Europe, across the ocean, and to Cleveland by rail.  These journeys were often arranged by family or friends who had already arrived in the city.   That same agent could also send money earned in Cleveland back to the homeland.   A growing global network of telegraph lines made all of this possible.  This interconnectivity was a harbinger of what we know today.

This trade would flourish up to the first World War and then briefly again after the conflict, until the time when the United States severely restricted immigration in the 1920s.   It would revive after the cataclysm of World War II, but by the 1950s and 1960s, many immigrant travel bureaus were also arranging holidays for the descendants of the immigrant they had brought over – many of which took people back to their ancestral land – and by the late 1960s more often by air than by sea.

Today there are few remnants of this immigrant-based industry in Cleveland.  Kollander World Travel, which has worked with the South Slavic community for ninety-eight years, is an important link to this part of our community’s history.  It still books travel and tours – much of which are back to Slovenia and Croatia.  But, the history also lives on in the archives of the Western Reserve Historical Society.   Henry Spira’s papers are part of our collections as is an enormous archive of the Michael Kniola travel agency.    Kniola’s papers document thousands of trips from the then divided lands of Poland to Cleveland and almost an equal number of fund transfers sent by immigrant workers in our city to family and relatives.   WRHS also holds artifacts from the Kniola Bureau, including the wooden counter over which countless passages were arranged.

These collections reflect on a world well before Expedia – but one which still echoes today.  True, most of us see travel as a holiday experience, but countless other people around the globe still see it as a route to safety and a secure life – a fact that echoes through every daily news report.

Public Library Partners with WRHS to Offer a Free Lunchtime Discussion in October

By Dr. Tonya Briggs, Guest Contributor

Martin Luther King, Jr. Anchor Branch Manager

Cleveland Public Library

 

Branch libraries are constantly adapting to support community learning and development.  On Monday, October 18, 2021, Cleveland Public Library’s Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) branch will partner with the Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) and Dr. Regennia N. Williams to present a free lunchtime program on There’s Something About Edgefield:  Shining a Light on the Black Community through History, Genealogy & Genetic DNA. Edna Gail Bush and Natonne Elaine Kemp are the book’s co-authors.  

The program will take place at the MLK branch, which is located at 1962 Stokes Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio 44106. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.  The first 10 people to register will receive a free copy of the book or a book bag. For registration information, please click HERE

 

This program, the only community-based discussion in the WRHS “By the Book” series, is designed to increase the MLK library staff and patrons’ level of awareness about the services and experiences offered within the University Circle community. Overall, the MLK branch library focuses on programs that lead to personal and community transformation. 

 

For example, I had the privilege of receiving a behind the scenes tour of WRHS’s African American Archives because my mother was a member of the African American Genealogical Society of Cleveland.  The tour increased my knowledge of and appreciation for the city of Cleveland and its African American communities’ historical contributions.

 

When the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) offered free book kits to libraries that would promote health literacy, a program focusing on There’s Something About Edgefield seemed to be a good way to share my mother’s and grandparents’ genealogical research with library users while introducing them to an interesting book about family history, local history, and a community in South Carolina.  

 

Learning about the achievements, challenges, and sacrifices of my ancestors increased my appreciation for how their choices impacted the opportunities that I have today. Thanks to an ancestor who donated land to a college so that his children could be educated for free, I am a fourth generation college graduate.  Until I taught college English, I didn’t realize how fortunate I was to be able to turn to my grandfather for guidance during my four years of college at Syracuse University. 

 

I feel fortunate to partner with Dr. Williams and WRHS to present our book talk on October 18, 2021, during Health Literacy Month.  Just as my grandfather’s experience with college provided a successful path to graduation, Dr. Williams’ experience with WRHS’s African American Archives and her family and local history research will help University Circle community members appreciate and begin the path towards learning about the importance of family health and community history in transforming their lives for the better.  

 

About the Author:

Dr. Tonya Briggs is a native Clevelander and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Anchor Branch Manager. Cleveland Public Library’s Martin Luther King, Jr. branch was established on April 16, 1970. The branch library’s collection and programs focus on social justice and reflects its diverse community. Librarianship is Dr. Briggs’s third career involving books and helping people transform their lives through easy access to information.  She has worked in book publishing in New York City, as a college English, Literature and Rhetoric instructor, and as an academic library dean. 

LAND Moto and Cleveland CycleWerks Gift Motorcycles to the Western Reserve Historical Society

In March 2020, Cleveland CycleWerks announced their newest technological advances with the launch of the Falcon E Moto.  In 2021, their founder Scott Colosimo spun off this new concept into LAND Moto, changing vehicles name to the District.  LAND Moto is focused on their Distributed Energy platform and E Motos.  With the growth of the LAND brand, it signals Scott’s desire to build LAND’s technology and manufacturing base in Cleveland, Ohio. LAND’s new product and direction represent 12 years of consumer insight, deep industry knowledge, and a unique take on the market that Scott has always had.  The first product, the District is a cross between a bike, moped and motorcycle, which LAND simply calls the “E Moto”.

Scott Colosimo, the founder of Cleveland CycleWerks and LAND Moto explained, “We are no longer bound by the physical constraints of internal combustion. Our platform grows with the rider as their skill and desire for speed increases, it was not possible to bridge the gap with gas, so we are building the electric business under the LAND brand.”

The District represents LAND’s entry into the e mobility and distributed energy space. These vehicles represent a shift in focus from high-volume vehicles to lower-volume, carefully crafted product, and U.S.-based manufacturing. With a localized footprint, LAND is able to vertically integrate in the U.S., enabling them to be more self-reliant and independent. Colosimo says, “The team wants to focus on higher craft, innovative materials, and advanced manufacturing techniques while growing our distributed energy platform.

The District will fit into several different categories from E-Bicycle, E-Moped, to E-Motorcycle.  These vehicles can be digitally customized to fit in several different classes with no physical changes needed; a shift from physical changes to digital makes updates to the vehicle possible even after it is in the consumers hands.

Colosimo formally gifted The Heist land speed record bike, an Ace Scrambler, a Misfit, and a LAND District all-electric bike to the Western Reserve Historical Society at the grand opening of the Year of the Motorcycle, August 19th.  The bikes are now on display as part of the exhibit “A Century of the American Motorcycle”.

Alternative “Entrepreneurs”

As we look at the history of business and enterprise in Greater Cleveland, it is worth noting that there was a collaborative model that focused on shared enterprise and societal good, rather than simply ever growing profits.

Many people will still remember the Cleveland Food Co-Op which was established in 1968 by a group of Hessler Road residents.  It started on a front porch on Hessler Road, and quickly had 50 household members.  By buying in bulk, it reduced costs and made food far more affordable.   Eventually the Co-op would move to a site on Euclid Avenue in East Cleveland, then to a location on Coventry and finally back to a site at 11702 Euclid Avenue in 1984.   Eventually, construction, traffic and the establishment of Whole Foods led to its closure in 2011.

Yet, it was not the first co-op in the city.  Several immigrant groups created their own system of community owned and operated stores that kept prices low and generated just enough profit to pay employees and cover rent.  The Workers Gymnastic Union, a Czech organization established co-ops in the 1930s.  One location, situated in Maple Heights, continued to function into the 1970s.  In 1936 The Gymnastic Union also known as the DTJ (after its Czech language title) also sponsored an alternative Workers Olympiad at its shared rural settlement Taborville in Auburn Township in response to the 1936 Olympics held in Nazi Germany.   Polish grocers also created a joint association in order to allow independent shops the ability to buy produce at the lowest possible price.  For many years a Polish Grocers Association (PGA) store stood at the intersection of Worley Avenue and East 71st Street.

These stories are part of an alternative, but important aspect of business and entrepreneurship in Greater Cleveland.   At times associated with the Socialist movement (which was quite strong in Cleveland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century) they suggested alternatives for affordable products (often in the most difficult of times) rather than a wider profit margin.    Some echoes of this communal ethos are reflected in the farmers’ markets that are held regularly in our area and in many small craft-based shops that provide unique goods and make enough money to support the entrepreneur – these are the “makers” of today who often settle for the quality of their products rather than the quantity of their profit.

Four WRHS Staff join Northeast Ohio Chapter of Fulbright Association

By: Emily Noggle
Marketing Manager at the Cleveland History Center

  

The Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Fulbright Association recently held annual elections for the Chapter Board. We are excited to announce that Regennia N. Williams, PhD, WRHS Distinguished Scholar of African American History & Culture; John Grabowski, PhD, WRHS Krieger Mueller Chief Historian; and Sean Martin, PhD, WRHS Associate Curator for Jewish History, have been elected to the following positions:

Regennia N. Williams, PhD – President

John Grabowski, PHD – Vice President

Sean Martin, PhD – Board of Directors

Kelly Falcone-Hall, WRHS President & CEO is also a member of the new Northeast Ohio Chapter.

What is the Fulbright Association?

The Fulbright Association is the U.S. alumni organization of the Fulbright Program, which is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U. S. government. They provide grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs. The Fulbright program allows students the opportunity to meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences, with the goal of promoting mutual understanding through cultural engagement and intellectual freedom.

So what does the Fulbright Association do to support the program?

Since their founding in 1946,The Fulbright Association has been making strides to make a difference all over the world. The Fulbright Association acts as a hub for alumni, connecting those who value diversity and international education. Their mission is to continue and extend the Fulbright tradition of education, advocacy and service. According to their website, the alumni represent over 165 countries and contains change-makers in politics, business, science, education, and the arts, including 82 Pulitzer Prize winners, 59 Nobel Prize laureates, 37 current or former heads of state or government, 70 MacArthur Foundation Fellows, and 16 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients.

Our WRHS Fulbright Scholars have taught and/or conducted research in Europe, Asia, and Africa (among other places). Within their new positions, Dr. Williams, Dr. Grabowski, and Dr. Martin have been elected to provide support and create a collaborative environment for the Fulbright Program members and its alumni by creating opportunities for networking, professional development, mentoring, cultural enrichment, and community service. The local Northeast Ohio Chapter will work with visiting Fulbrighters from abroad by introducing them to history and resources of Northeast Ohio and by providing opportunities for them to meet one another while here. Please join us in congratulating the newest members of the Northeast Ohio Chapter Board!

The Guardians of Traffic

By: Pamela Dorazio Dean
WRHS Curator of Italian American History / Director, IAMCLE

 

What are the Guardians of Traffic?
The Guardians of Traffic are eight large figures sculpted on four Berea sandstone pylons on the
Hope Memorial Bridge, formerly Lorain-Carnegie Bridge, in Cleveland, Ohio. Two sets of
Guardians face the east and the other two sets face the west.

The artistic style can be described as transitional, between a stylized classicism and the
Modernistic or Art Deco style. They were modeled after the Greek god, Hermes. The Guardians
have been proudly overseeing the Hope Memorial Bridge since 1932 and have become iconic in
the city of Cleveland.

Each Guardian holds a different mode of transportation in its hands, including a hay rack, a
covered wagon, a stage coach, a passenger automobile, and four types of motor trucks. The
vehicles represent the progress made in transportation over time. Because of this, they are
sometimes called the Guardians of Transportation. The correct name as given by the designers,
however, is Guardians of Traffic.

Who created the Guardians of Traffic?
Many sources on the history and creation of the Guardians of Traffic credit Frank Walker of the
prominent Cleveland architectural firm of Walker and Weeks as the designer and Henry Hering
of New York as the sculptor. There is also mention of William Henry “Hank” Hope, the father
of famous comedian Bob Hope, who assisted with stone carving and whom the bridge was
renamed for in 1983.

A project of this magnitude and depth, however, requires the work of a team of uniquely skilled
and talented people. A few sources do mention that a crew of workmen helped in the creation
and installation of the Guardians. What they fail to mention, however, is that the majority of this
crew were Italian immigrants who not only “assisted” but proudly and diligently applied their
abilities and talents to bring the statues to life.

 

Who was on the crew that created the Guardians?
Many of the stone carvers and other workers on the crew who created the Guardians were Italian
immigrants from Oratino, Italy, a small paese (village) in the Province of Campobasso and who
settled in the Little Italy and other Italian neighborhoods of Cleveland.

This is a list of the known names of the individuals who worked on the Guardians of Traffic in
some capacity:

  • Bill Anslow
  • Thomas P. Campbell
  • Antonio Chiocchio, Lead
  • Carmen Chiocchio
  • Gennaro Chiocchio
  • Anthony Cipullo
  • Frank Cipullo
  • Louis Cirelli
  • Anthony Fatica
  • Celestino Fatica
  • Fiorangelo Fatica
  • Gennaro Fatica
  • Pasquale Fatica
  • Sam Gentile
  • William Henry Hope
  • Charles Iafelice
  • Frank Leonardi
  • Domenicantonio Mastrangelo
  • Jack O’Brien
  • Cosimo Palante
  • Celestino Petti
  • Loreto Petti
  • Peter Salvatore
  • Albert Tirabasso
  • Henry Tirabasso
  • Andrew Waddell
  • Charles Waddell

Where were the Guardians of Traffic carved?

The Guardians of Traffic were carved in Little Italy at the Ohio Cut Stone Company which was located at 2066 Random Road in what is currently known as the Singer Steel Building.  The Italians living in Little Italy were very excited and proud of this project.

 

Henry Chiocchio, related to Antonio and Gennaro, was interviewed for a 1983 Plain Dealer article about his family’s involvement with the pylons. The article states:

Henry said when he was just a little boy living near the stone carving shop in Little Italy, his father and Uncle Jim took him many nights after supper to see the days work. “I remember seeing the heads, the shoulders and the vehicles of the pylons being formed,” Henry Chiocchio said.  “I was very impressed. We Italian people are very proud of what we do, especially in working with our hands.”