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I am still very fond of my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. I grew up in the suburbs but love to visit the many areas near downtown where early groups settled, some over 200 years ago. Last year it was Little Italy, and this year mostly due to the marathon showings of “A Christmas Story” it was the Tremont area and the house that was built in 1898 that was the setting for just a few scenes. But thanks to author Jean Shepherd’s strong ties to Cleveland it will forever be known as the house where Ralphie almost put out his eye with that treasured BB gun.
It’s old Cleveland. Step into the backyard and you’re gazing directly down into the area where the steel mills fouled the air for so long and a good view of downtown. But despite the fact it’s been quite a while since I’ve called Ohio home, I still have a special place in my heart for the homes that are being renovated and preserved. Not an inexpensive venture and some lots that went up for sale have unfortunately not honored the history of the area. What is a completely contemporary, steel clad, rusted-look monstrosity doing there? It’s right next to a great restaurant called Fat Cats on West 10th Street that makes a tremendous Bahn Mi sandwich. It’s listed as eclectic New American bistro and well worth a stop. And their location is pure Tremont. Right next to the rusty house.
We followed up with coffee and dessert at another landmark transformed from a turn of the century drugstore into a great place to stop and get out of the Cleveland chill. Civilization Coffee is an historic delight on West 11th Street with the interior left intact for the most part. It was the Flandermyer Drug Building built in 1881 with a rich wood interior, plaster ceiling and some of the best desserts that are not budget busters. We won’t get into the calorie-busting part. Well worth a visit.
So yes, I’m a little prone to preservation which also triggered stops with my sister Tricia and brother-in-law Sal to the Rockefeller Park Botanical Gardens on East 88th Street on 270 acres donated to the City by John D. Rockefeller in 1905, with the gardens opening in 1905. One of those city landmarks meant to be visited, along with another stop at the Cleveland Museum of Art and their gift shop with plenty of day-after Christmas bargains. It was always a favorite of my Dad who we lost just a few days before Christmas some years ago.
I can go home again and plan to again soon. It’s absence that does make the heart grow founder for this Buckeye.