Roseana Bass, owner of Diamond's Flowers, talks about her experiences in Coventry Village. She talks about the previous owners of the store, and how she came to acquire the business. She also discusses the Coventry Street Fair and her involvement. She concludes by talking about how much Coventry Road has changed over the years.
Heidi Fearing [00:00:11] How do you sound?
Roseana Bass [00:00:12] I don't know, how do I sound?
Heidi Fearing [00:00:15] Pretty good. Let's.
Roseana Bass [00:00:15] Can you hear me, can you hear me now?
Heidi Fearing [00:00:17] Yes. Alright. Could you state your name where you're from, and what your connection is to Cleveland Heights?
Roseana Bass [00:00:33] Okay, I'm Roseana Bass. I grew up in Collinwood and I started the store. Well, I started working at the store in 1985.
Heidi Fearing [00:00:46] Other than Diamond's Flowers, do you have any other connection to Coventry or Cleveland Heights?
Roseana Bass [00:00:55] No.
Heidi Fearing [00:00:55] Okay. When was Diamond's Flowers first opened?
Roseana Bass [00:00:56] In 1934.
Heidi Fearing [00:00:59] Could you, could you say Diamond's Flowers was first opened in nineteen. Like, you're having a conversation on the internet and asking the question.
Roseana Bass [00:01:05] Okay. Well, Diamond's Flowers was first started by Mr. Diamond and his wife in 1934.
Heidi Fearing [00:01:14] Could you talk about how Diamond's Flowers has passed from one owner to the next?
Roseana Bass [00:01:18] Sure. Let's see. Okay. It started with Mr. Diamond and his wife. They had it for a long, long time. Not sure how long then a fellow by the name of Mr. Ferris took over from the Diamond family and they had it through 1985. Mr. Ferris and his wife ran the store. And then after that, I took over in 1985.
Heidi Fearing [00:01:46] Has Diamond's Flowers always been on Coventry?
Roseana Bass [00:01:47] Yes, it started here in this location on this spot. And our coolers are all still the original coolers. They were built into the walls, so they're all from 1934.
Heidi Fearing [00:02:01] And they still do a good job. Do you know, anything a little more about any of the owners?
Roseana Bass [00:02:13] I don't know, too, I know Mr. Diamond's wife just recently passed away. I'm not going, I'm going to say within the past ten years, her name was Mary and she was over at the Montefiore home because I remember her son came in from California to see the store. He could not believe it was still here. And so she was living here up till not long ago. But Mr. Ferris actually had a fall in here in the story. He slipped and broke his hip. And that was the end of his career. And then when I came into the store, I actually learned flowers here at this location so that I could do flowers the same way that Mr. Ferris did them and then Mr. Diamond did them. So if you didn't know, you wouldn't know new ownership took over. And, so, I really don't know a whole lot about Mr. Ferris. I know he had a wife and that's about it. [I] never met him. Either one of them, actually.
Heidi Fearing [00:03:11] Can you spell out Mr. Ferris's whole name?
Roseana Bass [00:03:13] His first name was Max, and then his last name was F E R R I S. I think he was very, very active in his church here in Cleveland Heights. He was at the First Baptist, I want to say, because we used to do a lot of work for them back in the day.
Heidi Fearing [00:03:34] So when did you start working here?
Roseana Bass [00:03:36] 1985.
Heidi Fearing [00:03:36] And then you took over in?
Roseana Bass [00:03:39] 1985.
Heidi Fearing [00:03:39] Oh, oh. You. Oh.
Roseana Bass [00:03:39] I started, I trained here for six months and then I bought it from Mr. Ferris.
Heidi Fearing [00:03:46] How did Mr. Harris come to get the business?
Roseana Bass [00:03:48] He got it from Mr. Diamond and I don't know that whole story behind what happened. You know, I don't know that whole.
Heidi Fearing [00:03:56] Oh, okay.
Roseana Bass [00:03:56] The history behind there.
Heidi Fearing [00:03:57] How did you come across the business?
Roseana Bass [00:04:00] Oh, my God, it's crazy. I guess, Mr. Ferris, like I said, he fell and broke his hip so he couldn't do it anymore. And there, there are a couple of girls working here, but nobody wanted to commit into purchasing the store. So there was I was looking for someplace to go into. And one of the girls that worked here got a hold of me. And so I came in and she's the one that actually trained me. Her name was Jill and she trained me and she stayed on because Mr. Ferris couldn't come anymore. And I learned from her. And Mr. Ferris, I think he actually, he just passed away not long ago himself. But of all, the originals are gone now.
Heidi Fearing [00:04:44] Are there any interesting stories that you would like to talk about with the business?
Roseana Bass [00:04:50] Would be, sounds so freaky. I remember when I first came here, I just wanted really hard to keep the name going and the reputation; the store had a phenomenal reputation. And I really didn't want, I wanted to make the Diamond family proud that their store was still around. And I would always get overwhelmed with work. And I would just think, oh, please, Mr. Ferris, Mr. Diamond, help me out here. Help me out here. And I would like literally see, like, shadows and I would think there you are, Okay, you're watching over me. You're making sure I'm doing a good job. But nothing really. I mean, this place just got a really good, you know, following. And, then the, then that person that generation would stop and their children would take over, you know what I mean? So it went from generation to generation where people who purchase flowers or or even businesses right now, right now, our biggest business is funeral work. That's, it's changed a lot from when I started till now, business has changed. A big difference in the type of work I do.
Heidi Fearing [00:05:54] At the funeral home?
Roseana Bass [00:05:55] Funeral work is the most popular. Before people used to send flowers for new babies and, you know, all kinds of, we used to have people that just got flowers in their home just because they wanted flowers to have on a weekly basis. Now, that seems to have dwindled away. And I'm usually doing, unfortunately, funeral work and wedding work.
Heidi Fearing [00:06:15] See you are already doing a good job.
Roseana Bass [00:06:17] Oh, yeah.
Heidi Fearing [00:06:18] I already have two clips that I can use, so. Was your business at all affected by the Coventry fire in 1988?
Roseana Bass [00:06:26] I was here when it happened, but I remember we were taking all of our things out when the fire happened down at the upper end of the street thinking because we didn't know how far it was going to come down, but we were like, get the paperwork out of here. At that time, there were no, we didn't have anything on a computer. So we needed all of our files and we took it all out of here. But then they got it under control. But as far as we know, our business going, nothing really changed.
Heidi Fearing [00:06:55] Has being in Coventry Village, do you think, helped or hurt or affected your business in any way?
Roseana Bass [00:06:59] I think Dimond's is a part of Coventry Village. It's been here for so many years. I think there's only myself and the hardware store original, you know, originated here. And then there's Tommy's, of course. But I don't, I wouldn't want to take Diamond's off of Coventry. So you got to keep that Diamond family happy.
Heidi Fearing [00:07:25] Yeah, because Mr. Diamond.
Roseana Bass [00:07:26] Is watching me.
Heidi Fearing [00:07:30] I remember seeing a picture when going through Coventry's street fair pictures of somebody in a smock running Diamond's Flowers. Was that you?
Roseana Bass [00:07:38] Was it a little person?
Heidi Fearing [00:07:39] I can't quite.
Roseana Bass [00:07:40] Because there's, there's my daughter, I used to my daughter's stand out there during the street fairs and she would sell roses for a dollar. Now she's grown up. She doesn't want to do it anymore. But it was fun because people just would see this little person there and they would just buy them just because she was so cute.
Heidi Fearing [00:08:00] And what, what's been your involvement in the Coventry street fair or your business's?
Roseana Bass [00:08:05] I think I don't think that the people come down here to buy flowers, but at least they find that there is a flower shop on Coventry for the street fairs. I think most people are coming down to and just enjoy the day and eat and, you know, see what's going on. But I don't think that I have a big play in, in that so much. But they, like I said, they'll go by, and go oh, look, a flower shop. And I'll be like, yeah, since 1934.
Heidi Fearing [00:08:31] Are there any funny stories or interesting stories you'd like to tell me about in the Coventry street fair? It could be anything that you've been involved in.
Roseana Bass [00:08:40] Like I said, I just stick around because it's fun, it's different, it's fun. It was really a nightmare last time. I'm sure you heard about that. But I think Coventry's got it under control. Cleveland Heights has got it under control and hopefully they'll just continue to have them.
Heidi Fearing [00:08:59] Do you know anything about Coventry Yard?
Roseana Bass [00:09:03] Up the street, you mean? No, I don't know.
Heidi Fearing [00:09:07] What about Irv's Deli? Do you know anything?
Roseana Bass [00:09:09] Oh, my God, Irv's Delli, they've been gone for a long, long time. Are they coming back? Do you know something I don't know?
Heidi Fearing [00:09:17] No, that's just one of our sites that we are going to do.
Roseana Bass [00:09:18] That was down at the end of the street, wasn't it?
Heidi Fearing [00:09:23] I think so.
Roseana Bass [00:09:23] And I think, now is in it like, I think they were where Avalon is at now.
Heidi Fearing [00:09:29] Yeah.
Roseana Bass [00:09:29] When I came here, it was Coventry Pizza or Irv's Deli, and that's, they used to be open all the time. That is so funny. This street has changed so much since, I, since not just '85, because it used to be all little boutique stores, more independent owners, and more unique kind of shopping. Where now it's more, I think there's a little bit more. Well, there's still some unique shopping but there's more restaurants now so people come down more for that, I think, in my opinion, but I may be wrong,
Roseana Bass [00:10:01] But I remember. Well, we used to have, the video store next door that was different and then across the street was Pick-N-Pay, back, way back when I came. There used to be a kosher chicken kosher right next to the Pick-N-Pay. They used to have Trapezoid next door to here on this side of me. So it was, it was fun. It was a lot of fun. It's still fun. But.
Heidi Fearing [00:10:25] Actually the Kosher [Poultry] place, sorry, was my next question. Do you know, how much do you know about it? Can you tell me?
Roseana Bass [00:10:34] It was like at the very beginning when I came, and I'm pretty sure that's when, when Big Fun went back there. And did he not? I, I'm pretty sure he took that spot over or close by. Yeah. They got booted out, I don't know.
Heidi Fearing [00:10:52] Any other stories or information that you's like to?
Roseana Bass [00:10:55] See, I told you, I don't know much.
Heidi Fearing [00:10:57] Okay.
Roseana Bass [00:10:57] I stay in my little hole here and work all day long.
Heidi Fearing [00:11:01] Okay, well then that's done. Unless you'd like any?
Roseana Bass [00:11:05] I can't think of anything else. I really, I don't know much.
Heidi Fearing [00:11:11] Okay. Well, actually, you've given me about two, maybe three clips.
Roseana Bass [00:11:14] Okay.
Heidi Fearing [00:11:14] So you really helped.
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.