Family lore has it that on Thanksgiving Day, 90 years ago, a little guy to be named Maurice for his grandfather, emerged kicking and screaming out of his mother's womb, hanging on to his twin sister's big toe for dear life.
The event is reported to have taken place at a small hospital converted from an aging apartment house on E.55th St. between Cedar and Woodland Avenues. It was not much of a neighborhood, and in a matter of days young Maurice and his twin, Margaret, were hustled up Cedar Hill to a rented Cleveland Heights duplex on Meadowbrook Blvd. near Lee Rd.
|Everett Mansion Owner: Sylvester T. Everett . Architect: Charles and Julius Schweinfurth |
Construction: 1883-1887 Style: Mature Romansque Revival 1089 Euclid Ave. Razed: 1938
By then a huge swath of land on the south side of Public Square was being cleared for what was to become the grandest railroad station of its kind, topped by an office tower, the tallest between New York and Chicago. And the Van Sweringen brothers were quietly planning a local rail system that would take workers from the city to a new suburban shopping mall and residential suburb, well away from the smell, the soot, and the crime of the city.
|Union Terminal under construction|
It was rumored that the Van Sweringens had arranged to route the sewers from this new development directly into Lake Erie, pollute it, and drive the rich from their lake front Bratenahl mansions to the new Shaker Heights. And it worked.
The wealthy were growing wealthier, building enormous monuments to themselves on Euclid Ave. (known then as Millionaire's Row) and nearby Bratenahl.
The banks were growing mightier. The housing market was soaring. Two of the greatest money houses, Cleveland Trust and Union Trust, were flourishing in spectacular banking halls that looked more like palaces, at E. 9th and Euclid.
They looked strong and powerful.
But, as are most excesses of the free enterprise system, the boom, the good times, were much too good to be true. Too much money concentrated in too few hands. And as it must in free enterprise economies, it all came tumbling down as President Herbert Hoover assumed office. Having studied economics at Stanford the bastion of conservative thinking, he assumed office insisting that the failing economic system must take its course.
Which it did with a vengeance, leaving us with a stock market in chaos and the disintegration of the banking system. (And I lost my entire savings that I had accumulated and deposited from my Union Trust Liberty Bell dime bank.)
Soon Franklin Roosevelt came to the rescue telling us in a speech at Chautauqua N.Y. that "we have nothing to fear but fear itself."
Some believed it. Others were more realistic. After the death of my father in the midst of the Hoover years, my magnificent mother started her own business in Shaker Heights and somehow thrived even as she defied the New Deal and refused to put the NRA sign in her window as ordered by Washington. Our small family made it well enough. Cousin Peggy Krohngold came from Sandusky to get a social work job and shared a room with my sister. Grandma Kolinsky slept in the back room, where it was cooler and got some breeze.
It turned out to be the war and not Adam Smith that brought us out of the depression, and when I left to do my part, my room was protected as a shrine, in the otherwise overcrowded apartment, according to those who were there.
Having survived the war, thrived in Ann Arbor, conquered the Cleveland Press and Cuyahoga Community College and 15 years with RC 2000, I am thankfully here to share the tender moments of this wonderful day. With my spectacular family and friends
I must pause to say that Thanksgiving and this birthday* is reinforcing my strong feeling about this still tenuous political experiment we call America, and our role in it. There is too much complaining, too much finger pointing.
This is not the America that I know and have come to love.
It has been good, very good, to me.
*written on my 2015 Thanksgiving birthday