This morning I felt like a smart aleck and wrote a smart aleck piece about the Republican convention in Cleveland. I pushed it and it wasn’t very good.

I shouldn’t have hit “publish,” but I did.

I just deleted it.

After writing it and feeling off, I went to the NY Times website, as I do everyday.

There was a variety of headlines about our nation being on edge, about the anguish deepening on the police forces throughout our country. One headline asked the question …”What is a Terrorist and what is Deranged?”

It was when I saw a video from the NY Magazine, titled “Crisis in Cleveland,” that I was drawn to click the button.

I have a history with Cleveland.

That is where Nick is from. He grew up in Cleveland, on the near west side.

Since 1970, I have been going to Cleveland. For years, we went up several times a year, as Nick’s mom was alive. Since her death, we haven’t been up as much. It is more difficult. Emotionally, difficult.

A lot has changed in Cleveland, and not just with our family. Besides my mother-in-law dying, so have my two sisters-in-law and nephew. The memories are of when we were younger, our children were little and the family was large.

Cleveland was the first place I had lasagna or heard of a pierogi or kielbasa. It was a bit of a foreign city to me. It wasn’t Cincinnati.

It was much more ethnic, and that intrigued me.

We’d go to the West Side Market on each visit, and go thru downtown and see the lake.

Nick knew the “iffy” areas because he drove cab one summer.

When we first began going up there, the steel mills still fired and at night, you could see the bright light of the flames down in the valley. It was just the beginning of the evacuation of our plants to other countries.

People in Cleveland had good jobs at the steel plants and at the car manufacturing plants. There were bakeries and butchers and towns that had drug stores and corner stores, like “Sally Ann’s” around the corner from the house Nick grew up in. That was the place to get the good, dark, German rye bread.

As years past, downtown Cleveland changed. The big department stores like Halle’s and Higbees, closed. The huge buildings that were built with earnest longevity, emptied. Other, smaller stores, followed.

The dominoes fell.

The lights went out on the steel mills.

People moved to the suburbs.

Blight set in, especially on the east side.

One by one, Nick’s family passed away. Cousins grew up. Aunts and uncles died. Our kids grew up and moved on.

When we went to Cleveland, about 25 miles, out, we both got quieter. So much of our minds were in the past. You know the visions you are supposed to get before you die, your life flashing before your eyes? That is what it was like.

The ghosts of a life lived, our youths and a time when our future was more in front of us and not already made into our past.

We’d drive around downtown Cleveland, in the shadows of tall, empty buildings, hoping that one day it would turn around. But what does it even mean to hope a city, “turns around?”

I clicked on the video and watched it. It was difficult not to be upset. I had written a goofy piece about the Republican convention, and I would write the same goofy kind of piece about the Democratic convention, but it really isn’t funny.

What is happening to our country isn’t funny.

Our small towns have been dying for years and many of the big cities are falling apart, too. Our policemen are dying. Our citizens are, too.

There is no humor in that.

The video showed house and abandoned house, being demolished, and the people left in the other houses on the streets, torn up by what is happening.

God, there are things about life that I am finding very hard to deal with.

I can say that I know that life isn’t, “fair,” and that people are created “equal” and that at some time, people will pay the price for what they have done, but I just don’t know if that is enough for me.

Someone in the video mentioned that the delegates and the candidates will only see the 50 million dollar downtown renovation, but they won’t see the real Cleveland, what the people are going through … the suffering and despair.

I feel that way about all of the small towns that I have driven through. The dead ones and the dying ones. I want to take the president and every member of congress, by the scruff of the neck, and take them on a tour of what lies outside the beltway.

THIS is America. We are dying a slow death. The moral compass is gone. Our hearts are breaking. Where do we go from here?

Do you see anything funny about any of this?

I don’t.



4 Comments Add yours

  1. Karen says:

    When we biked across the U.S. in our tandem five years ago, I observed the same process if decline in the small (and not so tiny) towns. As we usually weren’t permitted to ride on interstates, we passed through countless abandoned/just scraping by town centers. What was most personal was eating curbside at gas stations because the local diners were GONE. Although I laugh about eating gas station meatloaf on an Easter Sunday, I realize it’s a bad joke, in reality. I told my husband the ride wasn’t so much about the physical effort as it was about the sociological and economic observations (which were sometimes more painful than my aching legs). I would LOVE to take a few politicians on a bike ride for a reality check. Thanks for your second thoughts. My sense of humor is not so good these days.


  2. Susan DeBow says:

    That is great that you get to see so many things up close and personally, Karen. Biking is such an eye-opener to things we wiz by in cars. It is sad, isn’t it? We can and must keep our sense of humor, but good, gravy, our humor is being tested. Maybe we want something that can’t exist anymore? I don’t know, but I don’t think so. It is going to take a lot to turn things around. The course we are on seems very self-defeating.

    Keep riding and writing, Karen. Thank you for sharing.



    1. Karen says:

      My brain runs a lot faster than I ride!

      Liked by 1 person

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