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.

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 Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post.



Every few days I get an email from my synagogue that reads something like this:  “Subject — the passing of Melvin Weiner.”

About three people die per week at my shul.  (I belong to a big shul.). My rabbi must live at funerals.  True, he has an associate rabbi, but still, I think he — the senior rabbi — does most of the heavy lifting.  The senior rabbi told me Costco has the best lox in town. He should know; he must see at least five dairy spreads a week.  (I see my fair share, too.  Love a dairy spread!)

The passing of  Albert “Bert” Stratton . . .

That’s overkill.

I prefer “the passing of  Albert Stratton.”  A bit more consequential than “Bert.”  I wonder if Melvin Weiner went by Mel.  I didn’t know him.

I visited my mom’s grave recently and couldn’t find it because it had snow on it.  (The headstone is flush with the ground.)  I found the approximate location of the grave and drew a Jewish star and Mom.  She’s been dead 10 years.  She’s at Hillcrest Cemetery, as is my dad.

My grandparents are buried on the other side of town, as are two of my great-grandparents.  [Stratton kids, see notes below.]

My wife doesn’t want to be buried in our shul’s cemetery (Park Synagogue / Beth Olam) because it’s too cramped.  I’m fine with the Park cemetery.  I would like to be up close next to a bunch of other people’s bones. My wife wants to be in Lake View Cemetery.

Actually, she doesn’t “want” anything.  For instance, she doesn’t want to discuss this.

I wonder if my rabbi does burials at Lake View, or if his college-age son will someday.  Maybe the kid will become a rabbi, and I’ll live another million years.

I think my rabbi will do Lake View — a nondenominational garden-style WASPy place.  I see Jewish stars on some of  the tombstones there now.  Lake View is in Cleveland Heights.  Nice touch.  It’s not by the freeway.

But I’d rather be in a cramped funky Jewish cemetery by the freeway, like Park’s cemetery.  On the other hand, I do want to be near my wife’s bones, so I guess I’ll go with Lake View.

Maybe I can talk her into Park.  How much time do I have?

You won’t want to read this part unless you’re very closely
related . . .

Bert’s parents, Theodore “Toby” and Julia (Zalk) Stratton are at Hillcrest Cemetery, 26200 Aurora Road, Bedford Heights. Temple Emanu El section,  by the  tree.

Toby’s parents, Louis and Anna (Seiger) Soltzberg, are at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, aka Ridge Road #1, 3740 Ridge Rd.  Cleveland.  (“Front Left Section” — that’s what the cemetery sign says.  The grave is about seven rows in from Ridge Road, before the Section 3 sign).  Also, against the fence, Cecile Soltzberg, baby, Anna’s  3-year-old daughter, died about 1909.

Julia’s parents, Albert and Ida (Kassoff) Zalk, are at Workmen’s Circle Cemetery, 5100 Theota Ave., Parma. Their graves are not in the Workmen’s Circle Section.  They are in the Warrensville Synagogue Section.  Rear Left section.  Section P, Row 11, grave 5.  Here is a blog post about Bill Katz and me sneaking into that cemetery after-hours.

Ida’s parents, Morris and Sadie (Levine) Kassoff, are at Lansing Road Cemetery, 3933 E. 57th Street, Cleveland (Slavic Village). Anshe Grodno Section 1. Row 13. Graves 6 & 7.

Julia (Zalk) Stratton (1920-2004), left, and her sister Celeste (Zalk) Kent (1926 – ) at their grandparents’ grave, 1997.


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1 Ken G. { 02.26.14 at 10:40 am }

Regarding the lox remark, you know the old Jewish joke? Man is dying and he notices wife is cooking something that smells wonderful. He asks her for a taste of it and she replies – “No, that’s for after [the funeral]….”

I take it your parents are buried in a section where one is very limited as to style and size of monument?

I’m so glad I was able to design my parents’ stones, and I went all out; that Rochester cemetery, like most of “Park’s” (whatever it’s called now), allows lots and lots of variety. I was told in Aug., 2012 there is still a fair amount of space in the occupied Park section of that cemetery, but there is a great deal of room on the south end, as one can see driving down Richmond. So that excuse won’t work – one way or the other.

As for Lakeview, technically it’s in Cleveland Heights, Cleveland, and East Cleveland. There’s a border, in fact, by the Garfield Monument and it might even go right through it, which was sort of a problem when we had a photo of it in our Landmark poster. The CH portion of the cemetery is a CH Landmark.

Lillian speaks of preferring Lakeview also. As it’s a basic principle (tradition, “halacha,” or whatever, for a Jew to be buried in a “Jewish cemetery”), and many who are not very observant still follow that, I can only say that Lakeview would be out for me, except perhaps the small portion that the synagogue on Chagrin maintains. There are photos of monuments there in one of Marian Morton’s books. Most of Lakeview, as you probably know, is large family monuments and then small markers. I like appealing monuments for each individual.

Of course, we have right next door the “Jewish Lakeview,” Mayfield Cemetery, which I consider the unequivocally old-money, prestigious Jewish cemetery in town. It looks something like Lakeview, with its mausoleum and large monuments. And it’s entirely in the mighty Cleveland Heights, I think.

2 Bert Stratton { 02.26.14 at 11:03 am }

To Ken G.:

Thanks for the in-depth, so to speak, comment!

By the way, it’s Lake View, not Lakeview. (I know you’d want to know.)

3 Bill Jones { 02.26.14 at 11:05 am }

I second the recommendation for Mayfield Cemetery, adjacent to Lakeview. It’s closer to Park’s Cle Hts campus as well as Coventry, so you can have both prestige and funkiness in close proximity.

The Lansing and Ridge Road cemeteries, as you know, are dependent now upon the Jewish Federation’s willingness to help maintain them in terms of volunteer clean-ups. Both in interesting neighborhoods. Always wonder why parts of the Jewish community decided to establish cemeteries in those locations. Of course, when they were established, the Jewish community as a whole wasn’t entirely set to expand ever eastward.

4 don friedman { 02.26.14 at 12:57 pm }

Right now I’m too buried in my taxes to comment.

5 Ken G. { 02.26.14 at 1:13 pm }

As far as the “Lakeview” – yeah, it didn’t look quite right, but I decided it was worth going to only one quick source to check and it’s one word on the AAA street map. For shame!

6 Ken G. { 02.26.14 at 1:19 pm }

In Rochester, where I’m from, the main Jewish cemetery, and another one which is nearby, are in a whole different area from where the Jewish community has concentrated. I used to think, or be told, the Jewish community just wanted it far away. Then, when I went to college, I found that many Jewish cemeteries are near Jewish communities. All depends on what kind of a deal the original purchasers were able to make, I guess. I don’t associate them being next to synagogues, as are true with many churches and their graveyards, but then that may be common in other parts of the world too. I also don’t associate Jews with burying their dead on their own property, as was common in rural areas.

7 marc { 02.26.14 at 2:26 pm }

My parents bought plots for my wife and me years ago when they bought their own. In that part of the cemetery the policy is to have ground level only stones.

What I find really annoying is the trend to not have any Hebrew on Jewish gravestones. The problem is you don’t have the persons Hebrew/ Yiddish name on the stone. The names can get lost between generations, which can present some problems. For example I don’t know my mother’s mother’s Hebrew name. I visited her gravesite in Aachen, Germany, and the stone had only German; no Hebrew.

So now I don’t know my mother’s Hebrew name , since we go by her Hebrew name, daughter of (mother’s Hebrew name) ?????? when saying prayers for the sick.

If you go to the old section of your Cleveland cemeteries you will find the stones entirely in Hebrew. If you don’t know Hebrew or the person’s Hebrew name, good luck trying to find their stone, which presents other problems.

8 Seth { 03.03.14 at 4:57 pm }

When my mother died, I took my first two kids to look at stones at Lake View to see what would look nice on hers. We took rubbings of a few designs and chose two roses, a favorite flower of hers. We also wanted inset letters that were painted black.

Plymouth monuments, if I recall, said the paint would wear off in 10 years…I said I’d repaint it myself. Its been 40 years and looks as good as new.

For my father, I took my youngest son out and we took a rubbing of two lions and used those. I later took him to the stone cutters on the near west side to see how they cut the granite for the stones. We saw a kitchen counter being cut instead.

There was a huge diamond saw that took its good old time but did a nice job. In their factory they also had the front part of a Chevy truck carved out of stone that they had made for a commercial. My young son really liked that.

Having the kids participate in the process was a fun time at a hard time.

Is this too sappy for this blog?

9 Bert Stratton { 03.04.14 at 7:31 am }

To Seth:

Not too sappy for this blog. As long as you mention “death” a couple times you’re OK.

10 Dave Rowe { 04.18.14 at 8:42 pm }

Here in Asheville the major cemetery is called Hillcrest – buried there is Thomas Wolfe (under a stone carved by his father) and a lot of kin, Nearby is the stone for O’Henry, who worked here for a time as a journalist.

As is the case in probably every city in this great and still proud nation, jobs for journalists — especially print ones
— are scarce.

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