To Jericho and Back|
by John Herrington
WMV Web News Cleveland
Story filed April 29, 2003
Only a few weeks ago, I was in Jericho, paying homage... (no; not to Joshua and his horn; that's a different Jericho)... to Wilson Alwyn Bentley and his work in Jericho, Vermont.
More about that later.
I'm back now (yeah; I know: you didn't even miss me!)
It's a time of transition.
Finally, the temperature has warmed. The other day, I watched a neighbor put in a "raised garden." Raised gardens are good. We have three. Our neighbor did as we did with our first one several years ago: he planted his over the near-to-the-ground stump that remained from a chopped-down tree.
It was cold when I visited Jericho... cold and snowy.
Then, it was the thing to do... visit Jericho and Wilson Alwyn Bentley... Wilson Alwyn "Snowflake" Bentley...
In Jericho, Vermont, self-educated farmer Wilson Bentley studied snowflakes. Wow! Did he ever! He hooked up a microscope to a bellows camera and photographed more than 5,000 snowflakes!
Yep... that's where the term came from: "no two snowflakes are alike."
Those miracles and masterpieces made white the canvas around us here in Cleveland (and many other places) in January... and into February... and into March!
Never mind that some saw neither beauty nor masterpiece in what then was the sub-freezing icebox of environment.
In Jericho (my visit was by the Internet), I ordered a "Snowflake" Bentley tee-shirt. It's embedded with a picture of Bentley and his camera and with snowflake designs from his photography. I like it; I'll get it out in memory of "Snowflake" when the dog days of summer return... if we have summer this year.
(At www.snowflakebentley.com you can get your own tee-shirt with snowflakes... and find out stuff about Jericho, Vermont -- even take a peek at the minutes of their town council meetings.)
But now it's springtime and time for raised gardens and the like...
And it's Ohio's Bicentennial Year and time for lots of activities marking that milestone (for more: www.ohio200.org).
They painted a lot of barns with the Bicentennial logo -- one in each of the 88 counties. Painted barns are good.
They even put the logo on a KC-135 Stratotanker used by the 121st Air Refueling Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard for pumping gas into fighter planes on patrol over the U.S. Members of the wing are among other Ohio military units on active duty in the Middle East.
(Footnote: among seven lectures on Ohio and the World -- that's part of the Bicentennial Legacy Project -- only one the lecturers is from an Ohio university. Six are from other institutions. I asked a BiCen spokeswoman why "most of the experts listed for presentations on Ohio and the World are from outside the world of Ohio?" She thanked me for the question and said she would pass it on to a professor at Ohio State for a response. That was months ago. So far, no response. Ah, well.... not to worry... it's a jolly good year for Ohio.)
And, caring about such things gives me segue into the reason for all these bits and pieces that have been brought together as a gathering of news, notes and nonsense about Cleveland (and environs) and Clevelanders (past, present and future) and anyone else who might visit our town (Welcome! Spend money!) or who might just have "stumbled" into this collection and comments.
Passage is what a lot of folks around this town are talking about and planning: passage from the doldrums now existing to the more vibrant town that usta-was.
On the subject of 'usta-was': when the Galleria was built in 1987 (no kidding; it's been that long ago), the talk was that it would be a moving factor in a rebirth of the downtown area. It got name tenants. Over the years, those "names" began moving out. The Galleria was gasping.
Now, there is new hope for the downtown mall with new owner Werner Minshall (Minshall Stewart Properties of Maryland). Minshall says that it will take about a year to "reposition the Galleria," filling it with local tenants "that are uniquely Cleveland." Some of them already have moved in.
That transportation plan for Euclid Avenue isn't dead yet. But some gasping might be heard. Tom Reed has been following the project and updates it in the accompanying column, Reed's Read.
They'e also trying to save the plan to put bicycle lanes and a promenade across the Veterans Memorial Bridge (yeah; that's the official name for what many know as the Detroit-Superior Bridge). Earlier plans were nixed by federal and state types.
And there's been a lot of talking and planning about a new Convention Center. It's been put on "hold" for the moment, but "they" (in these sorts of things, there is always a "they") say the town needs one to get scads of convention people to come here. "They" say it means progress for a rejuvenation of the city.
Basically, there are four locations or five (maybe more by now) under consideration.
Somewhere down the line, business leaders are supposed to recommend a site to Mayor Jane Campbell.
And, somewhere down the line, all of it is supposed to be neatly packaged to try to sell to the voters in the county. That's right, folks; hey, you didn't expect the guys who are proposing all this to pay for it, did you? Surely, you jest!
It won't be an easy tax issue to sell.
And red flags are going up all over the place over the issue:
Crain's Cleveland Business quotes convention business types that at least two of the plans "are fraught with design and space problems."
County Commissioner Tim McCormack has said, "This is not going to be Browns Stadium Two," a reference to what many consider as a big goof in putting the stadium where it is now located.
Columnist Dick Feagler writes that the city just plain doesn't need a new convention center and questions just how much of a "draw" it will be if it's built.
And Pete Kotz, editor of the alternative newspaper, Cleveland Scene, writes about any new such center: "Will it work? If you examine virtually any city in America, you'll find the answer is a resounding no."
Stay tuned and if you live here, keep an eye on your pocketbook. If you no longer live here (or are just visiting or have just dropped in on all this), then stay tuned just to see what happens next in the expanding saga of the agony of an ailing city.
"Agony of an ailing city...?" Good grief, things aren't that bad... are they?
Oh, on the subject of the Scene. In case you hadn't heard, it's been the only major alternative weekly in town these days since The Free Times (many believed the Free Times to be the gutsier of the two papers) was shut down by its out-of-town owners and the out-of-town owners of the Scene shut down its paper in Los Angeles. The two publishers said the competition between the papers was too fierce in the two cities, so each one closed one.
Well, that brought the feds into the picture. And the word now is that Free Times is about to return (possibly already has by the time you read this).
Some odds and ends:
Hang on Sloopy: the Music of Ohio is what they call the current exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. It'll be there through December. Cost: $18 for adults; $14 for seniors; $11 for kids.
And next door, at the Great Lakes Science Center, China: 7000 years of discovery runs into September. Ticket packages range from $10.95 (kids) and $12.95 (adults) to $12.95 and $15.95.
On Playhouse Square, The Lion King comes to the State in late June and runs until mid-August. Tickets already are on sale and the well-traveled Disney blockbuster with its fascinating special effects is expected to break the attendance records set by The Producers. That show brought in more than $3.8-million in its three-week run.
You can check the activity in the theatres at www.playhousesquare.com.
One interesting note: Grease plays the Palace May 15-18. The star: Frankie Avalon. That'll blow a few minds (and have some of the younger set asking, "Who?") Avalon, called "the first and most successful of the teen idols from Philadelphia," was born September 18, 1940.
Yep: nearly 63 years old...and starring in Grease. Word is, he has money in the show.
And, finally, on change... on passing... on reality...
Longfellow wrote: "There is no death. What seems so is transition."
In that transition over the past few months:
Mel Harder was 93. For 36 years, he was a Cleveland Indian... a legendary pitcher and coach... and genuinely nice guy.
Al Lerner was 69. He brought the Browns back to town. Owner of the Browns; CEO of MBNA Corporation. Brain cancer.
Eddie Johnson was only 43. He was much more than just a great linebacker for the Browns. So much more for so many to whom he dedicated his efforts and his life through his Christianity. Colon cancer.
Wally Kinnan was 83. In Houston of an aortic aneurysm. For many years in Cleveland, he was "Wally Kinnan the Weatherman". He was with such big TV names as Jim Graner, Virgil Dominic and....... well, it's a long list.
There was a lot more to Wally Kinnan: a World War II bomber pilot, he was shot down over Germany and taken prisoner. Wally organized a band made up of prisoners at the POW camp.
Wally was a talented horn man; he played trumpet on occasion with Dorsey and Charlie Barnett.
After leaving the military in 1953, Wally became one of the nation's first TV weathermen. He didn't have the high-tech stuff that today's weather people have... but he knew weather (he was trained as a meteorologist and helped build a program to forecast severe weather conditions.)
Personal footnote: I did not know Mel Harder or Al Lerner or Eddie Johnson. I am a lesser person for not knowing them. I did know Wally. I am (I hope) a better person for that.
And just a few more words on snowflakes, now that it is unlikely (?) there will be any more of them for a time:
And from "Snowflake" Bentley:
Ah, Wilson! You have a way with words.
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