Clara Rankin Interview, 12 April 2011

Clara Rankin describes growing up on Fairmount Boulevard and recalls events from her childhood in Cleveland Heights.

Participants: Rankin, Clara (interviewee) / Souther, Mark (interviewer) / Dunbar, Mary (interviewer)
Collection: Cleveland Heights
Institutional Repository: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Interview Transcript

Mark Souther [00:00:01] My name is Mark Souther. Today is April 12, 2011, and we're interviewing Mrs. Clara Rankin Taplin.

Clara Rankin [00:00:10] No, no.

Mark Souther [00:00:12] I got it backwards. We're interviewing Mrs. Clara Rankin Taplin.

Clara Rankin [00:00:17] No, no, we're interviewing Mrs. Clara Taplin-

Mark Souther [00:00:21] Taplin Rankin.

Clara Rankin [00:00:23] That's right. I'm Mrs. Rankin now, but my first name is Clara, and I am so old-fashioned that I'm very often more familiar with Mrs. Alfred M. Rankin, my married name, or I'm Clara Taplin Rankin. So I cherish both. And I think you might like to know when I first came onto Fairmount Boulevard. Would you?

Mark Souther [00:00:50] Yes.

Clara Rankin [00:00:50] I think I was eleven months old in 1918, and my father found this house at 3090 Fairmount Boulevard and exchanged it with the man who had first occupied it. It must have been not more than a year old, I think. So the house might date from 1917, but I'm not absolutely sure. And so, of course, I remember my childhood in that house and all of the fun of exploring the garden and the woods behind, because the property extended from Fairmount Boulevard right back to North Park boulevard being on the south side of Fairmount. So I always identified us as the south side between Wellington and Guilford. And the house was roomy and comfortable and well suited to a family of three children. And the outdoors is of some interest, perhaps to you. Mother used to talk about a lane that had to do with the Shaker settlement, which showed a line of trees. There was no longer a lane, but the line of trees was in the back of our property and was visible as having once been a lane. And it was on a diagonal, so it didn't bear any resemblance to the grid of Fairmount, North Park, South Park, and the rest of those east-west streets. But I do remember that. And there was nothing ever developed about the idea. It was just something she knew. But there were wonderful trees on the property at the back, and my parents took a lot of interest in, and perhaps even, you could say, a little pride in their garden. But it was a great play yard for us. But the thing that I think would interest historians more than anything to do with my family experience on that piece of property is that we walked all through the neighborhood all the time to see our grandparents, the Charles G. Taplins, on Stratford Road. And that was a lovely Sunday afternoon walk. And that was a place that we loved to go and see the electric car. And it would have been in the 1920s sometime. And I think there were family gatherings there. I have a picture of all the three families. The sister, my father's sister, lived across the street in a house, the second one west of Lee Road on the north side. Well, that was one of the houses that we'd walked to on Sunday. And my father was a great walker. He always carried a cane, and he often walked with his men friends on a Sunday morning. But occasionally I went with him as a little girl, trying hard to keep up with his long strides. But that was a precious time for me. I loved going on walks with my father, but in the afternoons we went visiting in the neighborhood, and we had the Brocketts on Wellington, on Guilford Road. The Charles, he was an inventor. The name will come to me. They lived across the street from my grandparents, and on Fairmount, there were the Krauses, at the northeast corner of Fairmount and Stratford. Then came the Robisons, and Mrs. Robison was a sister of Mrs. Bruch, who lived next door, going east. And their daughter was my closest friend at school. And we played together a lot when we were little. And I think we knew who the people were in the next house, the Buries, I think. And then you came along to the houses between Guilford and Wellington, and we didn't know the people across the street from our house exactly as well as the others. But I do remember that there were, you know, names that we knew. And then you went on up from Wellington, and I think it was once the Augustuses on the corner, and then the- Oh my, my cousins, the Bournes. Bournes. The Bournes. And then Doctor Schlesinger, whose son continued to live there for the rest of his life after he was married. And eventually the Christian Science church developed on the corner. So that was the neighborhood. And of course, next to us on Fairmount were the Riehls next door. She admonished my mother about schooling for our, for my older brother, and that was a nice older connection that she had with Mrs. Suhr. S-u-h-r, I think it was. And down from them were, oh, let me see, the Garfields. All kinds of names are slipping away right now. But there was a lot of open property going east of us, and the Van Dorn Rocks lived just east of our house. And then the Hausermans built later, and they had nine children. And we had a lot of fun about that family, though. We didn't know them until I was a little older, and my younger brother and I had friends among their children, but they were Fred, Gene, Ben, John, Dick, Sam, Bill, Tom and Dan. And we had a lot of fun saying those names to ourselves. And we'd hear that the barber came to their house to cut everybody's hair. There were all those eight boys, only one girl. And they would have a whole lamb. And I think they had 24 gallons of milk delivered every day. These were pretty- Probably just legendary things about them that we had fun with. And then there was a family with a sort of big estate across Wellington on the south side of Fairmount. And that eventually was the house where the head of Case Western Reserve University lived, I think. And then there was the Rollin Whites. And that was torn down in favor of building the Carmelite monastery on the corner with that beautiful curved brick wall. Beyond that, we really didn't know anything. The other side of Lee Road. I think the streetcar may have turned around up there in those early days, just east of Lee Road. I'm not sure about where it turned around. But we would take the streetcar, you know, from time to time to go down to Fairmount and Cedar. Miller's Drug was a great place to go down there. I never had a banana split, but some people liked that. We had sodas and loved sitting at the little tables in the drugstore where they would give us our sodas. And sarsaparilla was a drink that people had in those days. Nobody ever heard of sarsaparilla today, but that was unusual. We all knew about ginger ale. And of course, Coca-Cola hadn't been invented. So the famous thing was that when I was married from that same house, and my husband later, before we were settled in Cleveland, had occasion to stay in my house, he just couldn't understand how we could stand the rattle of the streetcar. But, of course, we were so used to it that it didn't make any difference to us. We just didn't notice it at all. But you might have some questions.

Mark Souther [00:08:54] I do. You said a few things that I wanted to follow up on. One of which, I don't forget to ask, is where you went to school.

Clara Rankin [00:09:02] I went to Hathaway Brown. And that was a little drive every morning, every afternoon. And there were neighbors who went to that school, too. And in those days, the Hawken School car, I think it was a car then. The school was still young because it was only founded in 1915. But my brothers went there. And they would have to stand on the corner of Wellington and Fairmount for the bus to pick them up.

Mary Dunbar [00:09:42] So you got a ride down in a car.

Clara Rankin [00:09:44] Yes. Yes, I was driven to school. No, I didn't have to go on a bus.

Mary Dunbar [00:09:51] One question that came up when I was doing the [Shaker Farm National Register] application was whether the homes had garages.

Clara Rankin [00:10:00] What about the garages?

Mary Dunbar [00:10:01] About whether they had them because it's so early in the history-

Clara Rankin [00:10:05] Oh, automobile.

Mary Dunbar [00:10:07] But I think they did.

Clara Rankin [00:10:08] Oh, they had garages. They were always separate, detached. And ours was- It was a big garage. It had an upstairs living quarters, and that's where the chauffeur lived. Mm hmm. And his family.

Mary Dunbar [00:10:24] That was another thing that came up is I said, these were all single family homes. And then I started thinking about it and I realized that almost all the homes in that neighborhood have an accommodation for live-in help, either the chauffeur.

Clara Rankin [00:10:39] Yes. In the attic of our house, for instance, there were two maids rooms and a bathroom and a ballroom and a lot of storage space. The ballroom turned out, in our case, to be the place where my brothers had their electric train. Very elaborate and interesting thing for them.

Mary Dunbar [00:11:00] So you had live-in people in the house?

Clara Rankin [00:11:03] Yes, we did. Not a lot, you know, there was always one woman, and the chauffeur was over in the garage. There was a lovely tale about our chauffeur. He had a whole family, wife and several children, and one of them played a lot with my younger brother. And we had this lovely property that was behind the house and gave us a lot of play space, which was heavenly for children growing up. And later his wife died and he married again. And my mother said to him, well, where did you find your wife? And he said to her, oh, she came very well recommended. That was his answer. He had a garage under the space, under the stairway held something that I think is really part of those days, which was called- It was tattered rags that were just strips of cotton, and they called it waste. That's how he always referred to it. I have to get some waste and wipe the oil off the car. And there was a place in the garage under the cement floor that could be removed, a wooden cover so that he could get below level and the car could drive over it, and then he could administer whatever oil changes were needed. It was all amazing.

Mark Souther [00:12:33] I also wanted to ask you about Cedar Fairmount a little bit more. You mentioned Miller's Drugs, and that was on the corner of Surrey, I believe. What were some other businesses that you recall?

Clara Rankin [00:12:45] Hardly anything except the barbershop. But the barbershop was everybody's barbershop. It was upstairs above Miller's Drug. It was just a standard thing that that's where people went to get their hair cut.

Mark Souther [00:13:01] Did you ever have occasion to go to the Alcazar Hotel in its early-

Clara Rankin [00:13:05] Yes, there was a dancing school there. But our dancing school that I happened to go to was the one at the Wade Park Manor. Miss Flynn's. She was famous because she said she had eyes in the back of her head in case anybody disappeared, didn't behave, misbehaved.

Mary Dunbar [00:13:26] In those days, Hathaway Brown was down at, oh, 90, where the Clinic is.

Clara Rankin [00:13:32] Yeah, 93rd. You're right. And that- But I moved, the school moved when I was in the fifth grade. And I think I'm remembering the fifth grade going out to Courtland Boulevard a little bit better. But yes, I do remember some of the 97th Street school. It was later bought by Harshaw Chemical and I think later by the Clinic and taken down, I just read. it was a big stone building. So that's the story about Hathaway Brown then. And Hawken, of course, was on Ansel Road at the very beginning until they moved out to some property I think that the Chester Boltons gave them on Richmond Road.

Mark Souther [00:14:21] How often did you go to the Cedar Lee Theatre, if at all?

Clara Rankin [00:14:24] Never.

Mark Souther [00:14:25] Never?

Clara Rankin [00:14:26] No, I don't remember going to the movies. We went down- We went down later when I was probably a young teenager and middle teenager. We went to 105th Street and Euclid. There were a lot of movie houses there. That was a busy spot. But I don't remember Cedar Lee at all. My father traveled a great deal, so we were always driving to the 105th Street Station for the New York Central or down 55th Street for the Pennsylvania Station. So we traveled across Lee Road and over to that station or down Carnegie to get to 55th. And that was just part of life.

Mark Souther [00:15:08] Is it fair to say that the Euclid - East 105th area was the primary shopping center and entertainment center for people in Cleveland Heights at the time?

Clara Rankin [00:15:17] Well, you know, the market was there. So mother would often go down and we'd accompany her to the 105th Street Market. You could buy the live chicken and they'd kill it right for you there. And I can remember as a little tiny girl getting lost in the market, I somehow was separated from my mother. And it's not very- It's scary for a little one. I suppose I was five, maybe six. I don't know. No, that was the market. And I don't remember any other market. It's funny, I don't. And I think her bank was down there close to 107th, 105th on Euclid. So that was what we did, going back and forth.

Mark Souther [00:16:06] The area- Well, the area around Fairmount Boulevard, you mentioned that there were not many houses or maybe any houses going east of Lee Road. What about the area to the south around Shaker Lakes? What are your memories of, not necessarily houses, but just spending time around-

Clara Rankin [00:15:26] Well, you know, we had bicycles, and so we rode our bicycles a lot. And we had a trail, a lot of trails that took us Lee Road to South Park, down South Park and around and up by North Park and back on North Park and around. And, you know, there were the G. G. G. Peckhams. Do you know that that house that's on South Park at where South Park goes into Shaker, it's a great big red-brick house? And that amused us to be because the sign in the front said G. G. G. Peckham. We liked to say that out loud. And the woods was between the North and South Park, the way it is today, part of the park system. And it was a mysterious place. But if you got yourself down to where North Park met that little cross Fairmount, that took you to South Park, that was where we coasted in the winter. There was a hill that, of course, is very mild looking now, but it was a great sledding hill for us long before there was any building there. Oh, and I should tell you, I wonder if anybody will remember the popcorn man. There was a popcorn man who would station his cart at North Park where it crossed that sloping road between the two lakes. And of course, the thing was to see if you could get a box that had a prize in it. And every now and then a box of popcorn would have a little something in the side, like a jacks or something to play with. We played jacks. We played hopscotch on the sidewalks. And I can remember there were Italian women who would come to our front door to ask if they could take the dandelions. So that pleased my father. He didn't want any weeds in the garden at all, in the lawn, so he was happy to have these Italian women come and dig for the greens. I think it was possibly for the wine. I don't know what they did with the. Maybe both. Now, the iceman. I remember the iceman who delivered ice on the leather shoulder pad and came right into the back door, put it into the ice chest. Next to the ice chest, there was a deep, deep bin that you pulled out for flour. I think that's pretty old-fashioned.

Mary Dunbar [00:19:01] So you didn't get groceries delivered. You went and got them down at the market?

Clara Rankin [00:19:06] I wonder, there might have been a market that delivered, now that you're mentioning that, because I don't think we went every few days to the 105th Street Market. I have a feeling mother telephoned for the groceries. I think that's what people did a lot.

Mark Souther [00:19:22] How often did you go downtown? I don't necessarily want to get off track from Cleveland Heights too much. But I'm curious how frequent trips were, say, in the 1920s or 1930s, whichever you'd like to comment on.

Clara Rankin [00:19:36] I would say that the things that drew us downtown were for major entertainment. And there would be a musical event in the Public Auditorium. And the public, not the smaller one, the larger one. I seem to remember it was Rachmaninoff or Paderewski. I think it was when Paderewski came. So mother took us to that. She took us to the Hanna Theater to see the student prince. And she loved having us. I think she took us to see the Mikado at the big, what is that big, Masonic auditorium. We went there. Oh, we went to Halle's to shop. We happened to be Halle's, not Higbee customers. But that was just habit, probably. And then, of course, as I was in my teens, there were some wonderful shops for clothes for girls and women downtown. They were today, I think you'd call them boutiques. And that's where you went instead of two Hallie's if you wanted to. There was a milliner in the Bulkley Building. I don't remember ever going to her, but I knew she was there. So that's what took us downtown. The shopping and the entertainment of that kind.

Mark Souther [00:20:58] Perhaps once a week.

Clara Rankin [00:21:00] Was it that frequent? Probably not that frequent. No, certainly not to the entertainment. That was much more infrequent, but important. We had lots of music in our house. And so that interested my family a lot in exposing us to what came along.

Mark Souther [00:21:19] What types of music were you?

Clara Rankin [00:21:21] Well, my older brother was a gifted person in music and played different instruments in the piano from the time he was just a little boy. I used to sing from the time I was little and that ended up being my instrument. And my younger brother had his turn at the trombone. Or was it the trumpet? Trumpet and the drums. There was a recreation room in the basement. Different from the ballroom in the attic. This was a recreation room in the basement. And Tom had to go down there to practice because it was pretty noisy. And drums and trumpet. But we had a Victrola down there. But the piano upstairs was in constant use by my brother, who ended up playing the clarinet and the saxophone as well.

Mary Dunbar [00:22:13] Did the ballroom get used for balls?

Clara Rankin [00:22:15] No, no. And it was a very much of a backstairs approach. Perfect, though, for a play place. Yeah. And I don't know. Whoever was giving balls at that time, I would guess that had more to do with the 19- up to 1920, maybe, than after. But I don't know.

Mary Dunbar [00:22:45] I was going to ask you. I remember there was a canoe facility on the lower lake. Was that-?

Clara Rankin [00:22:53] Oh, my, yes. That used to interest us a lot. The lower Shaker Lake was always considered dangerous because it would freeze, and they put up signs to keep people from going on it on ice skates in the winter when they didn't think it was safe, because I think they must have had some accidents. But across on the south side of that lake was this little house, and we never really did anything about that canoeing or boating, but we always knew about the Shakers because mother said that her father had brought her out when she was a little girl, and it must have been shortly before they closed. Her father was a seedsman, and so he would come out and get what his supplies had to be from them, and he took her out there. So she remembered actually going to the Shaker community, and she took a great interest in the Russell stone, for the man named Russell, who was buried under a tree at South Park and Lee. And she also interested herself in the development of the Shaker Historical Society a little bit, although she had much more interest in the Western Reserve Historical Society for herself. But that canoe place was there.

Mary Dunbar [00:24:22] Yeah.

Clara Rankin [00:24:22] Yeah.

Mary Dunbar [00:24:23] And you said something about the North Park and South Park not being paved.

Clara Rankin [00:24:32] North Park was not paved, no. South Park, I think was, but North Park was still a dirt road. I think it was still, but soon after paved when I was 16 and had my first driving lesson. Anyway, it was a dirt road for a long time.

Mary Dunbar [00:24:54] And is that where you learned to drive?

Clara Taplin [00:24:56] Mm hmm.

Mark Souther [00:24:57] Tell us about that.

Clara Rankin [00:24:59] Oh, well, it was our family doctor that took me out onto the dirt road for the first time. And I remember going with my father, and I made too sharp a turn on Fairmount going into the driveway, and the car got hung up on the boulder that was marking the entrance to the driveway. And my father really loved me, but he was not happy. He really was upset that I had done that, because I think he cared a lot about the condition of his automobile. He had nice automobiles. So, being the only daughter, I was sort of a favorite to my father, I was always told, but I knew that time that I wasn't much of a favorite. [laughs]

Mary Dunbar [00:25:44] Do you remember what kind of car you learned to drive on?

Clara Rankin [00:25:49] Just curious. I can only remember that we had Packards, and there was at one point a Pierce Arrow, which was extremely interesting because the headlights were on the fenders instead of inside. And my brother memorized all the dates that we got cars. He kept his memory alive by repeating these dates, but I didn't keep them myself. All I can tell you is that I was given when it was time for me to have a car. I was given a four-door convertible Buick. I was- You know, if I'd been somebody else, I would have really been spoiled. And I don't know why my father didn't think he was spoiling me, because who else was going to have such a car? So he did spoil me, but I don't think I ever acted spoiled. I hope I didn't. [laughs] But that's what we had for cars. And, oh, my father cared a lot about the condition those cars were in. So that Andrew Schaefer, that chauffeur, he had to be very particular. If there was a slightest squeak, he had to tend to it.

Mark Souther [00:27:00] Where did the chauffeur live?

Clara Rankin [00:27:02] Right over the garage. There was a backstairs, I mean, a stairs that went up to their apartment. We used to go up once in a while. And there was a little greenhouse behind, very tiny.

Mary Dunbar [00:27:12] Do you know how long he stayed with the family, or was he-?

Clara Rankin [00:27:16] I think he was probably there possibly through almost the thirties, I imagine. He would have been with us a long time. But mother had somebody that came afterwards and did not live there. So she had someone who rented it and was happy to have it as a rental place.

Mark Souther [00:27:45] One question I have about cars versus taking the streetcar. How often did you have occasion you to take the streetcar since you had cars?

Clara Rankin [00:27:56] Not often. The one time I remember was very vivid because I took the streetcar to go by myself. I think I was only eight, and I went to Miller's Drug on my own. And then when I took the car to come back, it was the wrong one. It went out Cedar. And the conductor saw me with tears flowing down my cheeks and steered me back to the right place. So I got on the right car. But my mother was a very open-minded person, and she wasn't going to worry about these things, you know, she believed in letting us spread our wings. We did.

Mark Souther [00:28:38] Okay. I know you had some particular interests.

Mary Dunbar [00:28:42] Well, yeah, I was interested in the live-in piece and the garages of. And the school you went to and just how you spent your time.

Clara Rankin [00:28:54] Well, we really did spend our time playing in our. What was our backyard. And there was a little decorative pool back there that we waited in sometimes. It was not in any sense a swimming pool. And there was a summer house, we called it. It was like not a gazebo. It was- [telephone rings]

Mark Souther [00:29:22] Let's pause for just a second.

Clara Taplin [00:29:24] Just pause, because it's got to be over there. Excuse me, can I get it? Our garden was a very special place. It included the area right behind the house, which was grassy and wooded. I mean, not with trees all over it, but it was shady, is what I mean to say. And then we went into a little tiny place where there were beds and a little birdbath in the middle. And beyond that, through an arch, was an open space that led eventually to an area where the pool, with a fountain in the middle, existed. It was round and ornamental, and beside it was a latticed summer house, and was a nice and shady place. And going toward the east, looking from the latticed house eastward through the pool, was a perennial bed, and it was a pastel bed and very pretty. And at the end of that was a walk that went north-south and cut the whole sort of cultivated part or the flower part of the garden, it separated it from where the vegetables and the fruits grew on the other side. And mother had a great, great interest not only in the flowers, as my father did, but also in all these fruits and vegetables. And we had a nice, big garden that went all the way back toward this wooded section, which was really wooded, full of trees that bordered onto North Park. In the wooded section, there was a little cabin that was just adorable. I think my brothers used to spend the night there once in a while. And near it there was something called a joggling board. And until last year, I had never seen another joggling board. But I was in Charleston and discovered that that's where they came from. I don't know how my family ever found this play equipment that had two pedestals, between which was slung a board that in my imagination would have been 12 feet at least, and it had a spring to it, so that in the south they would say it was for a couple to get closer and closer together as they sat on it. But for us, it was to jump on, and it was a marvelous piece of equipment. And back there on an open, grassy place, is where I had the fun of shooting my bow and arrows at a bullseye. I never knew anybody else who did it, but I did it some and enjoyed it. So we had- Back in the vegetable and fruit garden area, mother grew a border of currants, currant bushes, both red and black. And every year the inspector came and said, you have to take out the black currant bushes. It causes a blight on the white pine, so she would dutifully take it out and then proceed to get another bush right away, because she really loved having that blackcurrant jelly. And she made juice out of the red currants and served it with soda water, and it made a very refreshing drink. There was back there a little underground cold cellar, what would you call it? A place where my father thought he could grow celery or mushrooms. And I don't think we ever succeeded, but it was kind of a cavernous place to go and explore underground. And then that was close to the little tiny greenhouse that was attached to the garage, the back of the garage. So there was a whole area of activity that we could indulge in back there. It was really a gorgeous childhood to have been able to grow up there.

Mary Dunbar [00:33:25] Your parents must have had a gardener to help with all of that.

Clara Rankin [00:33:28] Oh, yes, we did. Porgy. His name was George and he was English. George Nielsen, I think. And he was a very sweet, soft-hearted person and was good with all of us. You know, we'd turn on the sprinkler if it was a hot summer day and put on our bathing suits and just go out under the sprinklers and have fun. And we had puppies. So Mother thought that was a good idea for children to experience having some puppies. So we did that.

Mary Dunbar [00:33:59] Was the gardener somebody who lived on the premises or-?

Clara Rankin [00:34:03] No, he came. And so it was an idyllic childhood, I must say. Looking back.

Mark Souther [00:34:12] I wanted to ask also, were you members of a particular church?

Clara Rankin [00:34:15] My mother was. My father had been connected to the Baptist church, but he didn't go to church that I ever remember. We were married in the Baptist church, but mother was a Christian Scientist, so we went to the Christian Science Church on Overlook Road. And that was just a given. We went every Sunday.

Mark Souther [00:34:36] Was that the one that was on the Overlook where the old Howell Hinds mansion, I guess, had been before? There was a stone mansion. I believe it's the one that's still standing, or not the mansion but the-

Clara Rankin [00:34:49] The church has a tower, and it's the one that-

Mary Dunbar [00:34:54] Nottingham Spirk.

Clara Rankin [00:34:55] Nottingham. Nottingham and Spirk have taken over. That's the one, yes. Mm hmm. That's right.

Mary Dunbar [00:35:03] But the mansions that were there must have still been there.

Clara Rankin [00:35:07] I don't remember that it was a replacement for a mansion. I don't really think it was. I think that Mister Wade gave the property for that church, and it was built at approximately the same time, I think, as Severance Hall, because lately I've learned that the church originally was going to be where Severance Hall is, and the same architect, I think, designed them. So that's why there's a similarity in the shape of the church and Severance Hall. I don't know too much of the history of that.

Mark Souther [00:35:43] One other question. We talked a little bit about Cedar Fairmount, Alcazar and that area, could you tell me anything about-

Clara Rankin [00:35:54] Sam Borton. Remember Sam Borton's store? That came along perhaps a little later? He had been down at Korner and Wood. Korner and Wood was the great bookstore downtown, and we did go in there for books and other supplies and even some gifts. And so Sam Borton pulled away from Korner and Wood. He had a little something about antiques upstairs, but he pulled away and established his store at Fairmount-Cedar in the same row, in the same building, as that old Miller's Drug, and he really had a wonderful business there. He was very good. And Louise Langelier took over. You know, she was with him as a partner for a while, and then she took over when he left.

Mark Souther [00:36:46] What about Damon's Restaurant? Do you remember ever going there?

Clara Rankin [00:36:51] Yes, and I think you could go in there and see a demonstration of making chocolates. That could have been a little bit later. Forties, but in any event, yes, I think Damon's was there. Now, Chandler and Rudd might have been the store that mother called for groceries. Yes. Chandler and Rudd. But they were not over on. On.

Mary Dunbar [00:37:15] That was Chagrin.

Clara Rankin [00:37:17] Chagrin. They were not in Chagrin. Then they were downtown, I think. I think so. Mm hmm. What did that remind me of? Oh, McNally-Doyle. They catered my wedding, and they were quite an institution, but they fell by the wayside as Hough came along for a while. I think the two of them were competitors, but Damon's, you know. What was the other one? McNally-Doyle made candies as well as Damon's, so they were competitors for a while.

Mark Souther [00:37:58] Could you describe the candy at Damon's? Anything you remember about any trips to Damon's?

Clara Rankin [00:38:05] No, except they made the chocolates upstairs, I think. And they were in- They were in that building where Grimby's used to be. In that same building.

Mark Souther [00:38:16} Heights Medical Building?

Clara Taplin [00:38:19] Yeah, that one, yes.

Mark Souther [00:38:21] What about the Coventry district? Did you ever go to Coventry? And if so, what do you remember about it?

Clara Rankin [00:38:27] I don't remember that there was ever much of a commercial district the way it is now at all. But my grandmother lived west of Coventry on Euclid Heights Boulevard, so we would go to her apartment when we were youngsters after church and visit with her. That was the other grandmother.

Mary Dunbar [00:38:51] When you were married, were you married at home?

Clara Rankin [00:38:55] Well, I was married in the Baptist church, and the reception was at home.

Mary Dunbar [00:39:00] Okay. So would that have been the church up.

Clara Rankin [00:39:04] Yes, that's where it was. Terrible. March 30, rainy, dismal day, and the organ players stopped playing. When I was only partway down the aisle, because the aisle was so long, you couldn't see. So I thought I was at the altar, but I wasn't. That's hardly germane to the history. But no, it was McNally-Doyle, I think, who did the wedding, the catering for the wedding. And it was on a terrace which was built at some point after the purchase of the property behind the house. And there was a big tent. And who was, I think there was a, you know, the photographer named Edmondson. Everybody went to Edmondson. You had to go into town somewhere, partway to town, to get to that studio. But I look at the number of pictures of my childhood and my siblings, and I wonder if we did anything else but go to the photographer. Probably it was every year, you know, but that was the one that everybody went to. When I was about three or four, I was taken down to a school run by the Mademoiselle Robert, and it was a little French school, and they taught us little bits of French, and there were lots of children of friends of my family who also went. But I was very young, and I've saved the little things that I did there. You know, like the. They gave us cards with a picture of the item and the object and the name of it in French below. I've got those cards and a little notebook of all the cut up papers that you had to put in place to. They were geometric sort of designs. So I do remember that.

Mark Souther [00:41:03] Where was this located?

Clara Rankin [00:41:05] It was East 93rd, I think. If Hathaway Brown was 97th, then the French school was at 93rd. Otherwise it's vice versa.

Mark Souther [00:41:15] Near Euclid?

Clara Rankin [00:41:17] Close to Euclid. Right. And at the time I went to that school, I can remember they had a different telephone system. Everything was not the same company for the whole city, and I think it was called the Western Reserve Telephone Company. Not really sure about that, but there was a secondary one, and they happened to be on the one that my family didn't have. So I don't know how they communicated.

Mary Dunbar [00:41:45] Are there any.

Mark Souther [00:41:46] I know we're getting about close and that you need to leave. Are there any other stories that you'd like to share in the next few minutes before.

Clara Rankin [00:41:55] Oh, I'm afraid I've spilled out all too much. [laughs] Oh, it's fun to think back.

Mark Souther [00:42:03] Is there anything you'd like to add? This is Mary Dunbar, by the way. Who's also conducting an interview with me.

Mary Dunbar [00:42:11] I was wondering how long your family lived on Fairmount Boulevard.

Clara Rankin [00:42:16] Well, my father passed away there, and I was married in 1940 there. He died in 1938. I was married in 1940, and my mother passed away in 1963. So we sold it to the Sharps. And I went back for my first visit since then, because Mrs. Sharp and I have encountered each other here and there in the ensuing years. And she always encouraged me to come. So one day I decided to take my, one of my daughters in law, and we went for a visit. She gave us a cup of tea and showed us the whole house. And it was really amazing. She's never wanted to change anything. She loves that house so much. And it was interesting, you know, we were three children and lots of music. Piano. All the instruments my brother played. And my mother played the piano a little. And my father loved listening to Caruso Records. And you can't believe it, we sold that house to the Sharps. And they had five daughters at that point. I had five sons, and they were all musical. The mother taught music. The children have all grown up and become musicians here and there. Most interesting. And so when I went back to the house for a visit, there were two pianos in the living room. It was pretty exciting.

Mary Dunbar [00:43:46] Yeah.

Mark Souther [00:43:49] Well, I think we will-

Clara Rankin [00:43:51] I think you've got. You've got the- The Prescotts was a family that lived straight across the street. Do you remember that name?

Mary Dunbar [00:44:01] I actually have a list here of what we- This is- I had to create a database. There's Prescotts.

Clara Rankin [00:44:08] Yeah, the Prescotts. And next to them.

Mary Dunbar [00:44:10] You were mentioning some of these people as we went along. And here's your father.

Clara Rankin [00:44:13] Oh, that was Gaffney that he bought the house from. That's right, yes.

Mary Dunbar [00:44:17] And this was the builder. And this was the architect, I think it is.

Clara Rankin [00:44:23] Oh, I'd love to know who the architect was. Frederick Baird. I've never known.

Mary Dunbar [00:44:28] I don't have any information on him. But I could send you a copy of this if you're interested.

Clara Rankin [00:44:33] The Hopkins were at the corner. There were the Prescotts, and then the Hopkins, I think.

Mary Dunbar [00:44:37] Yeah. And then there's the Hausermans.

Clara Rankin [00:44:39] The Hausermans. Rock, Herman Rock. Van Dorn, I think, was the son. Oh, the name I'm trying to think of, I can find here.

Mary Dunbar [00:44:51] I have the other ones, but I don't have it on this list. Further along. I just brought a short list. I'll send you the whole thing, and you can look at it, if you're interested.

Clara Rankin [00:45:04] Oh, my. Morton. That's the name I was trying to think of. There were the Suhrs, S-u-h-r, next to us. And then Borton and Marlat. And then there was a vacant. May have been another house.

Mary Dunbar [00:45:18] Yeah, there's Marlatt. Maybe we have the dates too. We had your house listed as 1914, I think.

Clara Rankin [00:45:25] Well, I wonder if that isn't right. Maybe mister. Well. Oh, Augustus and Olive Suhr. [laughs] There were the two Prescotts. And they had houses that somehow had no barrier between them. And they were the famous people in the literature world, publishing, writing, Prescotts, maybe. They were quite well-known. I think one moved to New York and became a critic. It's dim, but-

Mary Dunbar [00:46:01] We can look them up. I didn't focus- These were already listed.

Clara Rankin [00:46:06] Oh, the Hitchcocks. They were up there. The Morley Hitchcocks? They were next to the Augustuses.

Mary Dunbar [00:46:14] These were all the ones that were on the previous Fairmount Boulevard district. And the district I'm doing is bigger. So this is just the-

Clara Rankin [00:46:20] Yeah, well, this is the area that I really knew.

Mary Dunbar [00:46:22] Right. You knew. You knew people east of Coventry, too, I think, between.

Clara Rankin [00:46:30] Lee and Lee and Wellington.

Mary Dunbar [00:46:32] The district only goes as far as Wellington. East, west of Wellington.

Clara Rankin [00:46:36] Yeah.

Mary Dunbar [00:46:37] So now the district is going to be bigger. It's going to- The district I'm working on will encompass the Fairmount Boulevard district from Coventry to Lee to Wellington. But then it goes over as far as Ashton.

Clara Rankin [00:46:52] Yes, mm hmm, but, you know, I think there were farms, and you can still go up Fairmount there and see old apple trees or front porches that are definitely early. There are farm-like looking houses. But there was so much building after the war, so much everywhere, so quickly developed.

Mary Dunbar [00:47:15] Yeah, there was a- So almost everything in that part of Cleveland Heights was developed. Two thirds of my district was between 1910 and 1919, and then the rest was pretty much in the twenties.

Clara Rankin [00:47:29] I just thought that book was fascinating that you sent me.

Mary Dunbar [00:47:32] Yeah, I'll send you another one.

Clara Rankin [00:47:33] Just fascinating. I love that.

Mary Dunbar [00:47:38] I sent Clara the Deanna Bremer Fisher's book on the-

Clara Rankin [00:47:43] How it got- [crosstalk] Euclid Golf. Very interesting. [crosstalk] Don't you think you've got plenty?

Mark Souther [00:47:52] I think we did today. We got a lot of good stories.

Clara Rankin [00:47:55] Well, I don't know whether, you know, they won't all fit, obviously. And I'm sure I spilled over too much in other places. You'll figure that out.

Cleveland Heights

Initial interviews in this series were conducted between 2011 and 2013 at the Coventry Village Reunion in support of Historic Heights App Tours, a Cuyahoga Arts & Culture-funded grant project sponsored by FutureHeights, Cleveland Heights Historical Society, and Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission. Additional interviews were collected in 2018 in coordination with the Cleveland Voices podcast.