Some things that matter
I’m the administrator of a Facebook group called Growing Up in Cleveland Heights. I didn’t start the group. I joined the group. And my friend Jim and I used to complain, to each other, about things that people were posting. Then Jim started complaining to the founder and administrator of the group. After a while she asked him if he would take over as administrator. He did. Then he asked me to be co-administrator with him. I did. After several years, Jim died, unexpectedly. So now I’m the sole administrator. But I’ll be handing that off in the near future.
One thing that has been fascinating—and frustrating—is that the same topics keep coming up, over and over. Before people join, we ask them to look through past posts, to avoid bringing up topics that have been discussed a lot already. They don’t. Someone joins and immediately posts, “Does anyone remember Cumberland pool?”
Well, of course everyone remembers Cumberland pool. For one thing, it has never gone away. It’s right there, right where it always was, and every year, from the end of the school year till Labor Day, the pool is open every day and full of swimmer of all ages.
But even if you moved away long ago, and you’re not sure if the pool is still there, if you scroll through the group’s past posts, it will not take you very long to find another recent post about Cumberland, and its 150 comments, and then another, and another.
Cumberland pool is one of those topics that people can’t seem to get enough of. I see the same people commenting every time it comes up—"spent every day there;” and “I lived at Cumberland from morning to evening;” and 37 people who say, “remember they checked between your toes and you had to walk through a solution?” and several who say, “do they still have the high diving board? that was scary;" and there’s always a couple who say, “I climbed over the fence and swam naked at night;” and about 100 more comments like these.
Another topic that comes up repeatedly is Mawby’s Restaurant. Even though people don’t have a lot to say about it, other than about 150 variations of “best hamburgers ever,” it just keeps coming up (the topic, not the burger).
Equally popular is the subject of Clark’s Restaurant at the southeast corner of Cedar and Lee. Someone brings it up every couple of weeks and then a long discussion, including a few arguments, follows. One thing everyone remembers is Apple Pie Johnny’s Toy Chest for members of the Clean Plate Club—if a kid ate everything on his or her plate, he or she could go pick out a toy (a tiny, cheap trinket) from a large chest.
And then the thread shoots off into several tangential discussions, and arguments, about what occupied that space after Clark’s. If you’re a member of the Growing Up in Cleveland Heights group, I’ll tell you right now: When Clark’s closed, in the early ‘60s, it was followed in that space by Inman’s, a similar restaurant, and then, in the early ‘70s, by earth by april, a good vegetarian restaurant. Eventually, that space (after serving as a carpet store) was taken over by the expansion of the Cedar Lee Theatre. There. Now we won’t have to talk about it any more, right? Highly unlikely.
Remember Meither’s? I’m not asking you; I’m just listing another topic that comes up often. Meither’s was an ice cream shop that created its ice cream in-house—many flavors, and all good. It stood at the corner of Lee and Redwood roads, a block south of Superior Road, now the site of Lotus Thai House. Everyone’s always asking everyone if they remember it, and everyone always does. And, soon thereafter, someone asks again. It’s sort of like the definition of insanity.
And then there’s “Does anyone remember sledding at Cain Park?” The answer is yes—the thousands of people who sledded there all this winter. And every winter for the past 80 years or so. Someone actually asked if the hill is still there. I considered holding a contest for creative answers to that question.
Speaking of Cain Park, another popular topic is some variation of “Who remembers seeing Bob Hope at Cain Park?” Everyone over a certain age answers yes. Apparently, tens of thousands of people filled the 2,000-seat amphitheater. It's sort of like the Woodstock of Cleveland Heights residents born in the 1920s and ’30s.
So, one reason these same topics keep returning is that people, especially new members, don’t bother to check. But the other one is that these places really were meaningful to people who grew up here. And that’s the thing I have to keep reminding myself.
David Budin is a freelance writer for national and local publications, the former editor of Cleveland Magazine and Northern Ohio Live, an author, and a professional musician and comedian. His writing focuses on the arts and, especially, pop-music history.