Real Music & Real Estate . . .

Yiddishe Cup’s bandleader, Bert Stratton, is Klezmer Guy.

He knows about the band biz and – check this out – the real estate biz too. So maybe he’s really Klezmer Landlord.

You may not care about the real estate biz. Hey, you may not care about the band biz. (See you.)

This is a blog with a gamy twist. It features tenants with snakes and skunks, and musicians with smoked fish in their pockets.

Stratton has written op-eds for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.



I remember Fail-Safe by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler. Who wrote the Fail part?

I remember Ted Williams could read the label on the ball.
I remember the Cream-O-Freeze.
I remember when the Air Force Academy sent me an application. I was only 10. I wanted a catalog.

I remember Larry and Norm Sherry of the Dodgers.
I remember Summit, the board game.
I remember Burger Chef.
I remember crepe dreidels hanging in the dining room.
I remember the biography of Robert E. Lee.

I remember my mother’s apple sauce. Always lumpy.
I remember the CTS 45 bus to the JCC.
I remember the Boy Scouts’ Life badge.
I remember my dad “hitting them out” to me in the park.

I remember playing “Exodus” on the clarinet at the sixth grade assembly.  I remember playing “Margie.”

I remember the shofar player missing every single note on Rosh Hashanah.

I remember 1950-D nickels.
I remember U.N. stamp souvenir sheets.
I remember the H-bomb.
I remember Continental pants, Pedwin loafers and
alpaca sweaters.

I remember Chemical Bond Approach Chemistry.
I remember Charlene Cohen, homecoming
queen runner-up.
I remember “Hands Off Cuba” graffiti by the Rapid.
I remember Saturday Night at the Movies on TV.
I remember slow-dancing to “Moon River” with a
Christian Scientist.
I remember the Roxy.

I remember the JCC’s vending room and how the pop machine was always broken.  The milk machine worked.  I got a lot of chocolate milk.  Was that a parents’ plot?

I remember Walter Lippmann.

I remember my mother writing: “Bert was absent from school yesterday due to religious observances.”

I remember T.A. Davis tennis rackets.
I remember How to Play Better Tennis by Bill Tilden.
I remember Rich Greenberg lost to Bobby McKinley (Chuck’s younger brother) in the National 16-and-unders.

I remember the bell at 3:30.
I remember Harvey Greenberg got a 799 Math
and 785 Verbal.
I remember more Greenbergs.
I remember Madden Football.  No, I don’t.
I remember Chap’s GTO.
I remember Geronimo, a Landmark book.

I remember Bruno Bornino’s “Big Beat” music column in the Cleveland Press.  (He also wrote “Pit Stop” about cars.)

I remember when I was 21 and remembering all this and feeling old.

This  post is a riff on poet Joe Brainard’s I Remember.

You may not have seen the post below.  It went up this weekend.  The cartoon at the end is super.

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1 Charlie B { 03.21.12 at 11:44 am }

I remember Joe Brainard’s handwriting and line drawings. Who could forget his poem in Z #1? “Eighteen Pornographic Movie Plot Capsules.” Sweet, downbeat, and innocent in wonderful ways.

2 Charlie B { 03.21.12 at 11:46 am }

Oh, also recently sold a Burger Chef “Pyrex” glass coffee cup. Market value: $2

3 Mark Schilling { 03.21.12 at 1:09 pm }

I remember thinking that Milton “Uncle Miltie” Berle in a dress was the funniest thing I had ever seen in my three-year-old life.

I remember putting on shows with Jerry Lewis- and Dean Martin-hand puppets for the neighborhood kids, and charging a penny admission. I remember being crushed when Dean and Jerry broke up.

I remember, as an insomniac seven-year-old, seeing Ron “Captain Penny” Penfound on the 11 o’clock news and feeling as though I’d discovered a rather scandalous secret.

I remember dying at the Battle of the Alamo on a construction site in back of my house about 100 times. Both with and without the coonskin cap.

4 don friedman { 03.21.12 at 2:08 pm }

I remember that I forgot to remember to bring drumsticks to a gig so I could play my drums.

At least I found a pair of chopsticks to use. Now I know I still can’t eat with them, but I can play with them.

5 Jack V. { 03.21.12 at 2:18 pm }

I remember working at the new Burger Chef on Richmond Road in the summer of 1966. It was a great summer.

6 Kenny G { 03.21.12 at 4:11 pm }


You and I must have very little in common, though some of this stuff is local and I wasn’t here…

I did read the Landmark Book biography on Robert E. Lee. (Probably still have the book and I later saw his house in Arlington, Va.)

I suppose it might have been the H Bomb we kept discussing in 6th grade.

And my mother wrote plenty of notes to the schools, as I took off every [Jewish] non-writing holiday there was.

Is the “Cream-o-Freeze” the current “Dairy King”? I suppose so, and that’s where Lillian wants to keep going all warmer-season long! She grew up right down the street from that joint.

I think “chunky apple sauce” sounds so much better. Some apple sauce is TOO refined, too wimpy.

7 Kenny G { 03.21.12 at 4:14 pm }

P.S. Any way to edit what we wrote here? Some of the good forums have that option. I see I misspelled a few words….

8 Bert Stratton { 03.21.12 at 4:57 pm }

To Kenny G:

There’s no way to edit your comment. I, however, go through the comments whenever I have time and look for typos, etc.

Once I edited too heavily, and the commenter asked me to un-edit. Which I glady did. (Make that “gladly.”)

9 David { 03.22.12 at 12:32 am }

Bert, I enjoyed the I Remember piece, though the local Cleveland references are, of course, opaque to me. I remember that my dad sold Pedwin shoes in his store, and I also remember paying more than $300.00 for an alpaca sweater several years ago. They’re not for school kids any more.

10 Bert Stratton { 03.22.12 at 8:49 am }

I periodically get private email “comments.” I had to go public with this one (with permission of the email writer):

I remember –
The Mawby’s at Cedar Center, and I think there was one at Mayfield/Warrensville, too. The round swivel chairs at the counter, getting a cigar box from the display case at the cash register, and the lingering sweet, sweet smell of El Productos.

Going to the dime store and picking out a new oil cloth every year for our desks at Rowland. They would cut you one from a big roll. Every new school year – new cigar boxes and new oil cloths. Oh, and crayons, too. The desks with ink-wells, and never realizing what those were or why they were there until years later.

Clark’s at Forest Hills with the treasure chest. With a cleaned plate, you could go to the chest and usually get the toy trapeze monkey on the stick.

Laddie pencils. Alice and Jerry. Runaway Home. Learning to write cursive by copying the placards above the chalk board. Jip. The “cloak room.”

When Burger Chef was 15 cents and tasted charcoal-broiled. Amazing how they could find a chemical to do that. Wasn’t Royal Castle even cheaper, but oniony?

The aroma of the deli counter at Solomon’s Cedar Center … so great

Bowling at Cedar Center Lanes, and almost never finding a ball with holes that fit. The holes were always too big, too small, the balls were always too heavy, too light. The bowling alley by State Savings on Mayfield – it was 10 cents cheaper per game.

Losing my balance on my bike coming down Felton Road, falling over, and the car behind me stopping just in time.

Testing TV tubes on the tube checker at Gable’s Pharmacy, and hoping to find a bad one, being disappointed when they were all good.

Seeing Goldfinger as a first run movie at the Center Mayfield. Seeing the Forbidden Planet there, too, and still having nightmares years later

Uncle Bill’s on Northfield – the first discount store. And, much later, Topps just past Golden Gate.

The 41 bus down Warrensville came only once an hour. So, you might as well walk home. You could get downtown by walking to Cedar Center, taking the 32B to the rapid. Or, walk to Mayfield/Warrensville and take the 9 bus all the way downtown. The bus ride was 25 cents. Plus 10 cents for a rapid transfer.

When Park Synagogue held High Holiday services for a few years at the Richmond theater, but they couldn’t get rid of the popcorn smell entirely in time for Yom Kippur. Staring at the 3 big weird slanted scroll designs on each side wall during services, and thinking there is something very strange about all of this.

Incredible home-cooked meals nearly every night of the week.

The dead cold, black nights of winter. Springtime at high school and junior high – hope for the summer.

The mean hoodlums who hung out at Bexley Park. Chlorine baths (a.k.a. ‘swimming’) at Bexley pool. Nearly drowning when an older kid pushed me away from the side at the 9-feet depth.

When we had gift exchange in first grade, and my gift to give was a book – one of those small “Golden” books. Instead of saying “thank you,” Freddie the ingrate told me that he was planning to tear up the book I gave him. Apparently, he wanted a toy. Maybe he wasn’t the reading type.

Interminably long bus rides home from Park Synagogue Hebrew school.

The loudspeaker announcement when Kennedy was shot – science class, 9th period, Mrs. Strojan. A good friend told me that I shouldn’t walk home that day, since there “might be Communists out there.”

Thinking that the cinder block walls at our elementary school would probably protect us from an atom bomb. At least, there was some pretty good art work on the bulletin boards that we could enjoy on our way to the safe area of the school, prior to incineration.

Remembering the names of each kid who threw up at school and the custodian who had to clean up. And hoping that could stay at least 3 or 4 rows away from “the incident” for the rest of the day.
All of us Jewish kids singing Christmas tunes in elementary school class, the Establishment clause notwithstanding.

My black flutophone, but some kids had white ones, which sounded pretty much the same, but looked more cool.

Piano lessons downtown at CIM, when it was in a big old mansion on Euclid Ave. Somewhere near the AAA, where you could get trip-tiks.

“I like Ike” buttons – 1956. And kids who didn’t, being ridiculed mercilessly. I guess there were some first graders who liked Adlai.

Seeing John Glenn blast off and splash down on the big black-and-white TV that they rolled into the classroom.

Dodgeball on the playground. The monkey bars. Being a banker in Rowland. It took three kids to handle class savings deposits. There were three jobs in finance – ‘teller’ was one, but I can’t remember the other two..

Tax stamps and dozens of shoe boxes lined up against the back wall of the classroom, with each denomination sorted out. The $500 stamps were very rare. You didn’t really need a shoe box for those, but I think there was one, anyway.

Eagle stamp books and the thrill of filling one completely.

Cub Scouts. Merit badges and projects to earn arrows. Den 5 was terrific – we even published a single edition newsletter, which was mimeographed in purple. What are basements for, but for den meetings? Remembering being petrified at the pack meeting at the Kiwanis Club, thinking that we all would have to pass our hand through the fire of the candles in some strange initiation rite.

Our 6th grade [male] teacher literally picking up Chuck, the “bad boy” of the class, 3 feet off the floor and shaking him silly when he misbehaved. Scary stuff.

Saving the valentine from the hottest girl in 6th grade. But then realizing that she must have sent one to all the boys. We all had to send one to everyone.

Unbelievable luck when we changed our seats in 5th grade and I was put right behind the gorgeous girl with the fabulous-smelling hair. That was stuff dreams were made of … for at least a month.

Radio days and crystal sets, where I could only pick up WJMO, the black station with its antenna broadcasting from atop the building at Cedar and Lee. And a whole life of ham radio, basement projects, Morse code, Heathkits and stereos. I think there’s a whole section of brain with a novella and all of that stored.

The world of 50’s and 60’s TV shows and more – some other time.

Way to go, Harvey. I remember that score.

11 Ted { 03.22.12 at 11:13 am }

Do you remember Isaly’s?

12 Bert Stratton { 03.22.12 at 11:20 am }

To Ted:

I vagurely remember Isaly’s. It was big in Youngstown and Warren, I think. (There might have been a couple in Cleveland too.) I remember going to an Isaly’s with your grandmother after a tennis match in Youngstown.

13 Howard Zuckerman { 03.22.12 at 5:01 pm }

I remember:
The 32 B bus at Cedar Center going downtown
The gum under the counter at Mawbys
Laughing Sal and popcorn balls at Euclid Beach
The smell of the chlorine in the men’s changing room at Bexley pool
South Euclid day and the fireworks
The smell of peanuts on Euclid Ave
Jim Smith, the Brush gym teacher running backwards
Going to the InSpot on weekend
Eating cheap hamburgers at McDonalds on Mayfield Rd
Reading Cliff Notes in 12th-grade English class

14 Howard Zuckerman { 03.22.12 at 5:05 pm }

I forgot about riding my bike to take clarinet lessons from Harry Golub. If I continued my lessons maybe I would have been Klezmer Guy.

15 Howard Zuckerman { 03.22.12 at 5:21 pm }

Birch beers at Royal Castle on Mayfield Rd & Warrensville Rd .

16 Bert Stratton { 03.22.12 at 5:37 pm }

To Howard Zuckerman:

I saw Harry Golub’s widow at a gig on Sunday at a nursing home. I announced I was using a clarinet I had bought from her husband about 50 years ago. I said it — the horn — had held up pretty well. Selmer Signet X.

17 Howard Zuckerman { 03.22.12 at 5:54 pm }

My mother gave my clarinet to my cousin, who lost it. We should have a clarinet reunion with Dale Markowitz, Janice Shafran and Howard Husock. We’ll let you take the lead.

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