Reunion aims to capture Coventry Village history
This wood cutting made in 1978 illustrates the “feel of Coventry” during the 1960’s, ‘70s and ‘80s, according to Ellen Strong, owner of Strong Bindery and one of the organizers of the Coventry Village reunion. (Image courtesy of Ellen Strong)
At a reunion this summer, merchants and local residents who were active in the Coventry Village Business District during the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s can swap stories with friends and help document community history.
Coventry residents Ellen Strong and Marcia Polevoi are organizing the event with Steve Presser, owner of Big Fun Toy Store and president of Coventry Merchants Association. Strong said that although the reunion is aimed at bringing back merchants who were present during that time period, as well as customers, residents, and former members of the now-defunct Coventry Neighbors, the reunion is open to all who would like to attend.
Participants are encouraged to share their recollections with Mark Souther, a Cleveland State University professor who will be taking histories. Strong indicated that video and audio recordings collected during the event might be included in a segment for the Cleveland Memory Project, a searchable collection of digital resources on Cleveland history.
"A remarkable number of businesses that were established in that time period are still around. We’re putting out the call to anyone and everyone who was there at the time, to come on in and tell their stories," Strong said, explaining that she and others in the community had noticed that the era has not yet been documented. She hopes the reunion will make a difference.
"It was a time of great change. Coventry went from being a small sleepy neighborhood to a place that was opening up to new ideas. I am looking forward to seeing old friends and people that I haven’t seen for 40 years, and people who are going to come in from as far away as Australia to hang out with us." Hundreds of people are expected to be there, Strong said.
The reunion is scheduled to take place on June 18 from about 2 to 5 p.m. at Coventry P. E.A.C.E. Park, where attendees will be able to buy food provided by Tommy’s Restaurant. More information about the reunion is at www.coventryvillage.org.
Kelli Fontenot is a journalist living in Cleveland Heights.