Pride of Cleveland

Tue 9/10 @ 5pm

By Hollie Gibbs

Berlin, 1936: Close to 5,000 athletes gathered from nearly 50 nations under the cloud of hate and bigotry spouted by the host country’s leader. Adolph Hitler had at first restricted blacks and Jews from competing. However, under the threat of worldwide boycott, he rescinded, stating instead that the competition was sure to demonstrate white superiority. It was Cleveland-raised James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens, though, who silently, and with grace and determination, invalidated the fuehrer by winning four gold medals and becoming the most successful athlete of the summer Olympics.

Now he hovers, strong and sure, over local artists Gary and Laura Dumm’s Love Letter to Cleveland. The mural, installed in three sections on the Orange Blossom Press building, is a Cleveland family album portraying the people, places and things that weave the durable fabric of our city.

Local legend has it that Ernie Anderson sat in the audience in the mid-1950s as Screamin’ Jay Hawkins delivered a lively voodoo-laced shock rock performance complete with rubber snakes and Henry, a smoking skull on a stick. Influenced by that night, Anderson would go on to create late night horror host character Ghoulardi and his sidekick Zelda, a talking skull who often donned bad wigs. Now Ghoulardi shares space with the man who inspired him as well as his very own arch nemesis, the First Lady of Television News.

And speaking of television news, that lovable weatherman better look up soon or Margaret Hamilton will get him and his little dog too!

From spaceships to rocket cars, Cleveland has a history of racing through air. From trolley cars to electric cars and red wagons (many children’s first car), locals travel across the many bridges that span our city and, thanks to a local man, do so with limited accidents at busy intersections.

Two of our youths saw their city as the hometown of a superhero. Cleveland is at once Krypton, Smallville and Metropolis. It is the land of Superman’s fathers, and the place of his origins. It is the intimate neighborhood where he grew into something great; and it is the big city where a man of steel lived and worked and saved.

And yet he’s not the only lifesaver to emerge from our great city.

From Boyardee to Symon, Clevelanders love food along with the hallowed halls from which we purchase it, and visitors to the nearby West Side Market can now enjoy a tribute to all of the above.

Although it may not seem odd for a disc jockey, songwriter, musician, and music critic to sit together alongside a talk show host and movie star, in this case it bears witness to multiple generations of talent. As the politicians, law enforcement and athletes represented pay tribute to dedication and hard work.

Cleveland is a city of theater, art, music, and movies. We are a city on a lake and our daily lives reflect that too.

From world-renowned oil barons to underground comic authors, Cleveland has it all.

Now two of its biggest fans have depicted their love for all things Cleveland across the sky it shares with the Terminal Tower.

Come celebrate all things Cleveland at the unveiling of Gary and Laura Dumm’s Love Letter to Cleveland mural Tue 9/10 from 5pm to 7pm behind Orange Blossom Press, 1935 West 25th, in the West Side Market parking lot. Continue the celebration afterwards with a Love Letter Lager from Market Garden Brewery.


Hollie Gibbs has a BS in journalism from Kent State University and studied photography at School of the Visual Arts in Manhattan. Her articles and photographs have appeared in numerous local and national publications. She can also be found playing guitar with various bands and building life-size monster props.

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One Response to “Pride of Cleveland”

  1. Patti

    Thanks for this article on our friends mural. It was so well written, capturing all about it.

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