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.



Eugene “The Eggman” Brudno sold eggs to bakeries and came to a lot of my gigs. Eugene’s brother, Walter, also sold eggs. Eugene was involved in the Workmen’s Circle. I knew Walter’s son, Marshall, who sold eggs too.

Marshall, now 76, dropped out of Michigan, sold eggs, opened a hippie food store called Marshall’s Grain and Bean; opened an organic bakery (this was in the 1970s) called Stone Oven (different than today’s Stone Oven); closed the bakery; became a plumber; got religious, then got not-so religious; and moved to a farm in southern Ohio.

I was in southern Ohio on a bike trip in 2010 and bumped into Marshall at the Grange Hall in Amesville, Ohio. He offered Alice and me a lift in his pick-up truck. I turned him down but Alice took him up on it. We were on a group ride, the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA).

Marshall is a smart guy who works with his hands. He’s good at snaking drains. He’s good at eggs/ farming/ bread/ plumbing. All hands-on. I think he still does plumbing. I haven’t seen him in 13 years. Marshall knows a lot of Yiddish. He used to daven at an Orthodox shul in Cleveland Heights.

I think about Brudno, the name, a lot because I regularly see Brudno etched in stone on a West Side building. The Brudno building is on Detroit Avenue in Lakewood.

A 19th century Brudno went off to Yale and became a lawyer and novelist. This was in the 1890s! Ezra Brudno. He built the Brudno building in the 1920s. Ezra’s dad ran a cigar-rolling sweat shop. I’ve read about Ezra and his family in the archives at the Western Reserve Historical Society.

The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History states: “He [Brudno] wrote that there was little, if anything, of value in Judaism and Jewish culture worth preserving.” Harsh.

Cigar-rolling shops were common at the turn of the 20th century. The shops were often in houses. In Cleveland, the cigar-rolling houses were called “buckeyes.” I read an account of a worker who worked for Ezra’s father. The worker was a communist. She wrote about what a hole the place was. She also wrote about Ezra: “He had all the luck.”

Marshall — my  generation — was the ultimate hippie. He probably still is. According to Facebook, he has a small finca in Costa Rica, where he goes in the winter, and the rest of the year he lives on a farm in the hills outside Athens, Ohio.

Brudno: the building. The Brudno men, the legends, right here.

Yiddishe Cup plays a free outdoor concert 7 pm. Thurs., Aug. 17, at Walter Stinson Park, 2301 Fenwick Rd., University Heights. Bring a blanket or chair. We’ll play klezmer and Motown. The concert is dedicated to the memory of Walter Stinson, a University Heights community coordinator.

Yiddishe Cup. 1993. (Half the guys in this photo are still in the band — 30 years later. The left half.)

shareEmail this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter


1 Ken Goldberg { 08.09.23 at 9:25 am }

I hadn’t seen the Brudno name for a long time but it reminded me we certainly had Marshall at the house – presumably for plumbing and maybe for other handyman-type stuff. I recall he was sort of “different” and I think I still have a receipt with sort of sophisticated font from him with the receipts of certain contractors I’ve kept in files. Now I have to look him up.

2 David Korn { 08.09.23 at 9:34 am }

Good piece Bert.

3 Stephen Mumford { 08.09.23 at 10:21 pm }

Time seems to melt away in your essays. Brudno grand-pere, Brudno fils… turn-of-the-century Yale, hippie tradesmen in Cincinnati, bike trip reunions, etc.
Very evocative.

4 Bert Stratton { 08.10.23 at 11:16 am }

To Stephen Mumford:
I usually don’t write “thank you”s for comments. But why not. I mean, I don’t know you, do I? So thanks.(Not to say that Goldberg, Schilling, Korn, et al, aren’t worthy of thanks, but I know those guys, and they know I’m brusque.)

Leave a Comment