You’ll never guess where this sunny, sandy shore is.
The water was warm and calm. The sun gleamed off the surface. It was early in the morning. Mrs. Wife and I had the entire beach to ourselves. It was a nice, quiet hour. But we weren’t on the New Jersey shore, as you might suspect. This, believe it or not, was Lake Erie. (Huntington Beach, to be specific.)
For the uninitiated, thanks to Cleveland’s heavy industry, Lake Erie spent decades as a feted, polluted mess. At one time, the Cuyahoga River, which feeds into Lake Erie at downtown Cleveland, was so rank that the waste floating on the surface ignited and caught fire. To this day, Cleveland has never been able to shake the “river that burned” albatross around its neck.
When I grew up here [mumble-mumble] years ago, spending the morning strolling along the shore of Lake Erie was unthinkable. It was that bad. Thanks to a fed up community and a government that had a shred of dignity, things were cleaned up. Mrs. Wife and I took our shoes off and waded in the water. Here I am knee-deep in Lake Erie. Look how clear it is! This is pretty mind-blowing stuff to people like myself who grew up here.
An astonishing turn of events. And people complain about government regulation. Do you suppose this ever would have happened if it hadn’t been legislated?
My brother and I broke away from the family festivities to take a drive around the near West Side where our family roots are buried. We went by the alcohol treatment center at St. Malachi on W. 25th and Detroit where our step father, and many like him, got through the DTs.
This is St. Michael the Archangel Church on Scranton Road. It was built by German and Polish immigrants in the 1800s. My mother went to its school and was married there. My sister was married there. Now, it’s a predominantly Latino parish.
A few blocks away is Buhrer Avenue, where my mother, three uncles, grandmother and grandfather lived. Six people lived in this modest house. It’s a lot smaller inside than it looks! We drove by slowly, like we were casing the place out, and I had sudden rush of memories. I dropped my grandfather’s gold pocket watch down a crack in a window sill and it fell into the house’s foundation. It’s probably still there. He never got angry about it. My grandfather, a gardener, showed me how grasshoppers spit.
The neighborhood looked better than I thought it would. I assumed, because I buy into racial stereotypes without realizing it, that the houses would be a wreck. But they were fairly well maintained.
They closed one block of East 9th Street for a film shoot. Nobody shoots in Cleveland! East 9th Street is THE major north/south thoroughfare that runs through the center of downtown, and it’s a major disruption, but this is for the big Marvel Comics flagship movie The Avengers, due out next spring.
In it, Ironman, The Hulk, Sgt. Fury, Thor and Captain America team up to fight..I don’t know who. Maybe the Republican presidential candidates. Cleveland was remade to look like New York City. I can’t get away from that place!
Someone said this scene involves a fight with The Hulk and Sgt. Fury. Nobody could confirm. Samuel L. Jackson was in town. He was spotted at the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.
The most unsettling special effect was NOT the fake destruction or false fronts built onto the surrounding buildings. The most unsettling effect was seeing a lot of NYPD cruisers on East 9th Street in Cleveland. Very confusing.