A humid day in June. Sweat was rolling off my head. As I was wiping the sweat off my brow, I realized that I was back in Collinwood and enjoying it. (Yeah, I know TMI…If you ever talked to a native from Collinwood you’ll know this.)
See, Collinwood is a neighborhood in Cleveland with a rich history and a bad reputation.
I was born there, raised there and well, my family moved just before I had to go to high school.
The area was getting bad in the late 80’s. I remember seeing drunks, pimps and a murder victim being pulled from a building when I was 14 years old. The Hells Angels used to frequent the motorcycle shop on the corner of 149th and Lakeshore. I used to have to walk past it to get to and from my school, St. Jeromes
When my parents moved my brother and I to the Westside of Cleveland, I swore that I would never go back to Collinwood. There’s no fun there.
Forward to 2009.
After reading the local paper and reading blogs, I was seeing that my old neighborhood was going through a change. A couple of years back, my mom moved back to Collinwood to live near the Euclid Beach area where she grew up. (She used to rent from the Humphrey family.) One day I decided to drive around the Waterloo area of Collinwood. I was looking for the old black bomb marks left over from a failed mob hit in the 70’s and I was looking for the barber shop my father used to take me to. The barber and the bomb marks were gone.
But I noticed something amazing. There area had color. It was bright. As a kid, I remember the area being dull. There were businesses, colorful bars and even a place called the Beachland Ballroom. I read that there was going to be an art festival there.
I told my wife that I wanted to go a Cleveland art festival and she said, “Why do you want to go to an art festival, you know nothing about art.” I told my wife that I wanted to see what this Collinwood Arts Festival was all about.
To make a long story short, we went to the festival and had a blast. I was very impressed that there was much to do, much to see and a lot of interaction with some of the most friendly people. The whole neighborhood was at peace and came together. I saw just about every nationality, every race, every creed…people that came to celebrate life. It was amazing and in living color.
This was not the Collinwood that I left. But one thing that I realized was that you can take the boy out of Collinwood, but you can NEVER take the Collinwood out of the boy. Some interesting facts I would like to share about Collinwood.
- The old Jepson’s pharmacy building housed the office of Dr. Bowman. He was a pioneer in woman’s mental health. I knew this because my mom would take me to the Friday night meetings. (Sorry mom.)
- A mobster named Danny Green lived on Waterloo Rd. The old school mobsters still think he’s alive because they attempted to whack him a few times and he lived.
- Fanny’s Restaurant was the place to go on Sunday. They had the best breakfasts.
- There are streets in North Collinwood that are incorporated. They are their own entity. These would include Dalewood, Groveland Club Drive, Bonniewood, Overlook Park Drive. (I grew up on Groveland, my grandma lived on Bonniewood and my cousins lived on Overlook Park Drive.
- My late Uncle Paul Brokaw used to have firework shows on Overlook. His daughter, my cousin, is Monica Potter. From Con Air, Last House on the Left, Saw, Patch Adams and more.
- Okay, I’m bragging and talking too much. But if you are a native from Collinwood you would understand.