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 is an occasional contributor to the New York Times, the Times of Israel, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and City Journal. He won two Hopwood Awards.


 
 

THE SCHVITZ

If you’re a Cleveland Jewish male and have never been to The Schvitz, you are a disgrace. Real Cleveland Jewish men will malign you, impugning your Jewish bona fides. The Schvitz is at East 116th Street and Luke Avenue, off Kinsman Road, in a lousy neighborhood. The Schvitz has no sign. The Schvitz’s official name is the Mt. Pleasant Russian-Turkish Baths, which nobody uses. Some people call it the Bathhouse. Some people call it the Temple of the Holy Steam. (Lawyer Harvey Kugelman does.) Most people call it The Schvitz. It has photos of Mussolini, Dayan and Patton on the walls. That’s it for decorations. (Plus a photo of Clint “Dirty Harry” Eastwood, reports Mike Madorsky.)

There are three acceptable responses to “Have you ever been to The Schvitz?”
a) I held my stag there.
b) I was there with my father.
c) My grandfather took me there.

The Big Five in Russian-Turkish–style schvitzes are in New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago and Cleveland. I got this list from Billy Buckholtz, the pleytse guy at the Cleveland schvitz. Billy’s grandfather was the original pleytse guy. Pleytse is the rubdown, traditionally done with a broom of soaked oak leaves. Billy uses a seaweed broom and horsehair brush.
schvitzers

Cleveland’s schvitz isn’t coed. Most of the other schvitzes are. The Detroit schvitz even used to have an orgy night. The Cleveland schvitz never went coed, aside from a short experiment in the 1970s, because the neighborhood is so bad. Why encourage women to come to Kinsman?

In The Schvitz’s heyday, it catered to immigrant factory workers who dropped by after work “to get the creosote off their skin, knock down a few shots and get a pleytse,” Billy said. “The immigrants didn’t want to wait in line with their eight kids for the only bathtub at their house.” Billy told me all this at a Yiddishe Cup gig at an art gallery, not at The Schvitz.

I’m not crazy about steam. I get periodic Schvitz invitations from the Brothers in Perspiration, an ad-hoc group of Cleveland Heights Jews. The email subject-line reads: “Have a serious jones for the stench of sweat, mildew, steak, cigar, garlic?” That sounds good, except for the cigar, sweat, mildew and steam.


Rerun

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3 comments

1 Ken G. { 11.01.17 at 9:35 am }

Imagine, women around Kinsman! I wonder if any live in the area….

2 dave rowe { 11.02.17 at 5:01 am }

This sounds akin to the Native American sweat lodge.

3 PaulyG { 11.07.17 at 4:09 pm }

Love both your website and your son’s music. It helps tie together my Jewish past in Atlantic City and love of new music. Bought the new album which debuted today (on vinyl!) from his group. I hope his success brings you much nachas.

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