KLEZMER GUY: The Nostalgia Vortex

By Bert Stratton

About half the people I meet in Cleveland are graduates of Shaker Heights or Cleveland Heights High.  (I live in Cleveland Heights.)

The others are often out-of-towners.  (“Out of towner” is anybody who moved to Cleveland within the last 30 years.)

I occasionally run into St. Ignatius and West Side grads too, but that’s not this story.

Cleveland Heights High grads like to reminisce about the Cedar-Lee neighborhood. Their nostalgia nexus is the Cedar Lee Theatre and what used to be around there… Mawby’s, Meyer Miller shoe store, Earth by April.

One Heights guy told me he learned almost everything in life by selling shoes at Meyer Miller as a teenager.

Meyer Miller’s co-owner was Cuppy Cohen.

The pool hall below the Cedar Lee Theatre was Wally’s.

Who cares?  Heights people do.

Sid Abrams, a deceased freelance writer , wrote about Coney Island for the Cleveland Jewish News.  He and the editor grew up near Coney Island.  Two people read the Coney Island stories in the Cleveland Jewish News.  Sid and the editor.

My nostalgia vortex is Mayfield Road, South Euclid.  Mayfield Road was Italians plus a couple Jews, like me.   My elementary school was on Mayfield, as was my high school, Brush.   On my way home from elementary school, I would buy Italian bread at Alesci’s and hollow out the insides.  My mother would say, “Where’s the bread?” as I handed her the crust.

West of Alesci’s was the Cream-O-Freeze; to the east, the Norge Village Laundromat.  It took a village… Jay Drugstore, for baseball cards; Lawson’s, for Hostess cupcakes;  Society for Savings, for uncirculated pennies.

Excuse me, I have to check the Sohio Jackpot winners list.

[Illustrations by Ralph Solonitz]



Yiddishe Cup’s bandleader, Bert Stratton, is Klezmer Guy. He knows about the band biz and — check this out — the real estate biz too. So maybe he’s really Klez Landlord. You may not care about the real estate biz. Hey, you may not care about the band biz. His blog Klezmer Guy (http://YiddisheCup.com/blog) has a gamy twist. It features tenants with snakes and skunks, and musicians with smoked fish in their pockets. Klezmer Guy was a reporter for Sun Newspapers. He has written for Rolling Stone, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the New York Times. He won two Hopwood Awards.

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One Response to “KLEZMER GUY: The Nostalgia Vortex”

  1. Eric

    In the 60s, in Akron, I would check the Sohio License Plate Jackpot list each week for my parents’ cars, and my grandparents’, and two aunts, and an uncle. Never a jackpot winner in the family.

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