I'm talking about Coventry—again

This a picture of the backs of a lot of people's heads; and me, up in front, apparently trying to find my place in my notes, at last year's talk at the Coventry Village Library.

I was talking to a guy at a party, a couple of weeks ago, a guy who owns a business on Coventry Road. Someone else walked over to us, and the guy I was talking to introduced me to them, and said about me, “He writes for the Heights Observer about Coventry.”

I know that’s the perception some readers have, because I do write about some aspect of Coventry’s history (usually as it relates to my own) fairly often. And I guess that’s why the Heights Libraries’ Coventry branch asked me to speak about the history of Coventry last year, around this time.

Library staff originally thought that as many as 25 people would show up for my talk, so they planned to use a meeting room downstairs. Then, when reservations started coming in, they added a few more chairs. Then, when more came in, they decided to hold the presentation upstairs, in the main reading room, and they planned on about 50 . . . Anyway, 84 people showed up.

The next day, the library asked me if I would do it again, in about a year from then. I said, “Oh—you mean for the three people who wanted to come last night, but couldn’t?”

Well, I am doing it again. It will take place on Thursday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. So, if you’re reading this after that date (of which there’s a very good chance), and you didn’t know about it already, and you would have been interested in attending, well . . . maybe next year.

And, by the way, if you did attend last year, and you read the description of this year’s talk in the library’s bulletin, and you think, because the bulletin’s blurb implied, that I might be covering new topics this year, and that’s the only reason you’re interested in coming, you might want to do something else that night. It will be pretty much the same as last year’s. And, no, I’m not going to make up a new story for you. History is history.

And this presentation is the whole history of how Coventry Village formed, and why. And when I say the whole history, I’m talking about going back to the beginning of the city of Cleveland, because Cleveland Heights grew out of that; and then the origins of Cleveland Heights, because Coventry was an important part of the city’s early development.

So, I go through all of that, and up to the present. In about an hour. With about 80 projected pictures. And maybe some jokes, if any occur to me. (But no songs. Those are different kinds of events.)

When I was in the middle of my talk last year, standing in the library’s main reading room, telling my story, I remembered that, as a 7-year-old Coventry Elementary School student, I used to come to that very room after school on Tuesdays for story hour. Possibly ironic. But maybe not, because, I mean, I’m still in the neighborhood. And I’m a storyteller.

My mother worked at that library for several years when I went to Coventry School. She was the secretary for the head librarian, Nell Lynch. I remember only a few things about that. One was that on a nice autumn day in second grade, when they let us out for morning recess at about 10, I thought it must be lunch time, and I walked over to the library to get money from my mother to buy my lunch at the Merit Drug lunch counter. (Merit Drug became Ace Drug, and that seven-stool soda fountain became the original Tommy’s restaurant.)

I guess I thought it was lunch time because (1) I was always hungry, (2) I never had any idea of what time it was, and (3) I never listened to anything that the teachers said, so I wouldn’t have known what the next activity was; I just knew they were opening the doors and letting us out, which was all I ever cared about.

Another thing is that one time, Benjamin Spock­­—then author of his first book, the 1946 self-help guide Baby and Child Care, which is still being continually updated—called the library. My mother answered and started taking a message, and when the caller told her who he was, my mother said, “Dr. Spock! I’ve read all of your books.”

The third thing I remember about my mother working at the Coventry library is that one day she answered the phone, and someone asked for her boss, and she said, “I’m sorry, Miss Lunch is out to lynch.”

I hope to see you there. And if you’re reading this after Nov. 2, well, be sure to have been there.

David Budin

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.

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Volume 16, Issue 11, Posted 11:46 AM, 10.30.2023