Frank Gerlak interview, 17 August 2018

Frank Gerlak, architect and urban planner, discusses the history of Coventry and, more generally, Cleveland Heights. Throughout this discussion he touches on the topics of streetcars, planned suburbs, public transportation, and the nation's obsession with the automobile, which concludes with thoughts on Cleveland's development, growth, and missed chances.

Participants: Gerlak, Frank (interviewee) / Nemeth, Sarah (interviewer)
Collection: Cleveland Heights
Institutional Repository: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Interview Transcript

Sarah Nemeth [00:00:01] Hi, my name is Sarah Nemeth. Today is August 17, 2018. I'm here today with Frank Gerlak. This is for the Cleveland Regional Oral History Project. Could you please state your name for the record?

Frank Gerlak [00:00:13] Frank Gerlak.

Sarah Nemeth [00:00:15] And where and when were you born?

Frank Gerlak [00:00:18] December ... 1941, and here in Cleveland.

Sarah Nemeth [00:00:26] Where did you grow up?

Frank Gerlak [00:00:28] Well, partially in Cleveland, partially in Shaker Heights.

Sarah Nemeth [00:00:32] What's your first memory of your surroundings maybe outside of the home?

Frank Gerlak [00:00:38] Well, I remember when World War Two ended.

Sarah Nemeth [00:00:42] Was it a celebration?

Frank Gerlak [00:00:43] Oh, yeah. And I was not quite sure why people were celebrating, so I asked my mother, I said, you know, what's going on? I'm three. And she said, oh, the war is over. The war is over. And I kind of said, what should I do? She said, go outside and say, the war is over. I did.

Sarah Nemeth [00:01:03] Were there a lot of people congregating in the streets like-?

Frank Gerlak [00:01:06] Well, yeah, most everybody was kind of out there. Probably in a dream. A number of years later, I put tanks on the street and things like that moving along. And soldiers. I doubt very seriously whether there was enough tanks and soldiers to get them onto Delray Avenue in Cleveland. But it was neat. But I do remember that. I also remember before Normandy, there were hundreds and hundreds of airplanes in Cleveland flying, going that way, going east. And the only reason I remembered that was because I must have got my hand on a flower or something and got stung by a bee, so I figured about the same size, and so he stung me. So whenever planes came over the house, which was often, I ran inside. So I should have just stayed inside.

Sarah Nemeth [00:02:12] Where did you- So where in Cleveland is Delray?

Frank Gerlak [00:02:17] Delray Avenue is in a place that they are now referring to as one of the African American enclaves in Cleveland. I think Mark's been doing some work on that. Well, before that happened, it was actually a gathering place, a living place for Czechoslovak Americans and Delray and Stockbridge and Glendale and all those where, I think it was Glendale school, or forget the name of the school, but it's not even there anymore, was this little enclave just to the west of Lee Road and to the east of, I don't know, 147th or whatever that street was on the other side. We had our own dairy there. And it was kind of a self-sufficient community. And a large number of the people that lived there had Czech names. So it started out that way. My parents built a house there in 1939, and it was kind of one of these transitional brick houses. It wasn't one of these overhangs like you see in places, but it was a sort of had a chateauesque roof on it. I would call it. It's still there. I've never gone back to knock on the door and say, hey, I lived here for the first part of my life, you know, but never did that. But I've driven by it a couple of times.

Sarah Nemeth [00:04:00] So it was predominantly Czechoslovakian?

Frank Gerlak [00:04:02] It was Czech to a certain point. I had friends named Skala, a neighbor, Katina, and let's see, Runtzer. And I'm trying to. Frydek. Frydek. That's a good Czech name. Verdec. So they all lived there. But I think by the fifties everybody was gone. We left in the fifties, moved into Shaker.

Sarah Nemeth [00:04:35] So there was an exodus, a migration, maybe east, like continuing east?

Frank Gerlak [00:04:42] It was an exodus because the Czechoslovak Americans assimilate rather easily. And I wrote- I took planning at Catholic University, I'm an urban planner from there. And I wrote a paper on the Czechoslovak communities in Cleveland that followed the Broadway Union streetcar line. And they literally did. First was St. Alexis, which is no more. The 71 runs over it now. And that was right on Broadway, the first in the line of these parishes. And then it moved to 55th and Broadway, as my grandmother used to say, where Our Lady of Lourdes was. And we went to that church. And then it moved further out, Broadway. But then it turned up union because the streetcar line never forked at Union. Went up the hill and there was a parish that was the holy family. 131st street was where streetcar line ended. And that's where the last parish was built in the twenties. And then, you know, by that time everybody had a car so it didn't matter what streetcar line they were on. And they were disappearing anyway. So I wrote this paper and basically followed the progress of these using records from Our Lady of Lourdes. They were very nice and gave me access to their archives and all that kind of stuff. Oh, yes. When you can get the good. And if they're good records, that's a treasure when you're doing these things.

Sarah Nemeth [00:06:39] So when they followed the streetcar line, do you know why did you?

Frank Gerlak [00:06:45] Sally went to church and they didn't all have cars. You know, the automobile really didn't take hold in America probably until the twenties. And it had been around for maybe 20 years. But it was still kind of a plaything for the rich. And the average person did not have the money to buy a car until Henry Ford came along and was selling them for four to $500. And so people were buying cars in the twenties. I remember my father had a photograph of every car he owned from about in middle twenties on, and he could never understand my complete opposite outlook on automobiles from his. We have a ten year old Honda Fit that for both of us that serves us fine. My camera gear is worth more than my car, so. But obviously the car caught on and once they did, then it didn't matter where they went to church. I mean, really two things, you had a car to go anywhere, and number two, I think people stopped going to church. So, you know, those two things stopped the migration of parishes and, you know, nowadays, I mean, we're not even Catholic anymore, so we go to a Lutheran church. It's close, close to being Catholic, but it's not the same thing. But most Czechs at least, and I've been back there many times, are, there's a heavy Protestant population there, but mostly when they came to America, in many cases, the churches kind of were the focal point of a neighborhood and people would agglomerate - there's a good planning term -around the church. And the joke was, I lived in DC for about 25 years, and you talk about a city that's open immigration, that city is. And the joke was always that the first immigrants from a country that had a revolution produced an army of cab drivers that didn't know their way around and they had to be helped and all that. And then when there were enough cab drivers, then they started opening up restaurants and they started living in the same place. And this happened in DC everywhere. And then finally it grew and grew. They might have had a church by then or something like that. That, and they grew a neighborhood. The problem recently in DC was it's expensive in there. These sorts of people just can't live there, so they have to find suburbs that they can live in anyway. But that happened here, and it happened not only with the Czechs, it happened with the Poles, even the Serbs. Had two churches on the west side, and then one that was in town that moved, I think they split. They had a war and they split. And a lot of Ukrainian, a lot of Russian people here, and they sort of take on Russian, but Ukraine or Belarus or whichever part of. Anyway, back to here.

Sarah Nemeth [00:10:40] So when did you leave? Sorry? Did you migrate? You obviously migrated.

Frank Gerlak [00:10:45] Well, I migrated with my parents and we moved- Let's see, when I was born in 1941, my parents had built the house in 1939, so obviously there was two years I wasn't in it, but then I was. And then I was there until about 1950, somewhere in the June of '50. And we five moved into Shaker Heights and bought a house there and then I was in Shaker until I graduated from high school, which would have been in 1960. And then my parents- Oh, I went off to Ohio State, and I was in engineering and architecture, so that's, next six years that was my life. I got to- I got to enjoy the city of Columbus, not so much. But while I was there, they moved out of Shaker to the west side of Cleveland, to Westlake, to a place that didn't even have paved streets yet. Oh, it was terrible. But it was nirvana, according to my parents. They could never understand why I didn't like it, but I was nice because they put the roof over my head. So, you know, thank you, and, you know, they're helping me out, but there was never much I liked about it. It didn't have the cohesion that Shaker did. Friends that were close. You could walk. You could take the rapid. You didn't have to drive. But out there, you wanted to mail a letter, you had to drive. And so it was that, I think we had postal. We had postal boxes along the main road, and they had to go get the mail. They didn't even do house delivery yet. Yeah, well, they did finally. I mean, you know, they paved the streets, and ultimately, hey, we're going to deliver letters to your home now. Wow. So they did. But I just never liked it there. I mean, just wasn't my kind of place.

Sarah Nemeth [00:13:00] Could you maybe describe what Shaker was like?

Frank Gerlak [00:13:03] Well, it was a cohesive community. It had the benefits of zoning. The residential areas were cohesive. They were together. Everything was residential, and they were nicely landscaped. The streets ran nicely through there, and I just thought it was a wonderful place. I enjoyed it immensely. I went to Shaker High. I could walk to school. Sometimes I did. Of course, in the later, my senior year, you know, you could drive to school. That was - whew - driving to school? Let me think. Now, that was a new thing, and, of course, a very prestigious thing. I was not able to afford a very prestigious car, so I had a 1949 Ford that was deep blue, and it ran most of the time, but that was, you know, that's all I could-

Sarah Nemeth [00:14:17] Yeah, but you still had a car.

Frank Gerlak [00:14:18] I had to deal with. You know, we had people in Shaker. Of course, their parents would give them a Cadillac or something like that. You know, it didn't bother me too much. As long as my Ford ran, that's all that mattered.

Sarah Nemeth [00:14:33] Did you ever come to Cleveland Heights? Did you always stay in Shaker during that time, or did you ever venture out?

Frank Gerlak [00:14:39] Oh, yeah, we ventured out of Shaker boy, I'll tell you, it took a. No, we can't do this. We will. Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights were rivals in football. So that meant that at least one time a year, and maybe for the basketball games, too, Shaker played Cleveland Heights, and so I was in the band in Shaker. So we would come over to Cleveland Heights and watch with great envy how good their band was and how bad ours was. But we would come over here and, you know, just the general- And again, if you have a car, you're more able to kind of cover territory like that. There wasn't a lot, you know, the place wasn't dispersed like it is now. You know, people think nothing of driving 20 miles for something. I don't know. And I still have- That meant, I don't want to go that far. But because the automobile has become such a fixture in our lives, you know, who cares? Just get in the car and go. And that's especially true on the west side of Cleveland and Westlake, where I lived. I mean, that's car city out there. There's hardly any public transportation. And you certainly what little there is, you can't get to it. You have to own a car.

Sarah Nemeth [00:16:08] I'm from Westlake.

Frank Gerald [00:16:09] Oh, you are, huh?

Sarah Nemeth [00:16:10] I am, so I completely understand. I mean, it's terrible. So is there- Were there any stark differences, other than the band between Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights that you observed at that time? I know you maybe were a teenager, so you didn't really-

Frank Gerlak [00:16:30] I wasn't that observant. I was actually dating a girl from Cleveland Heights. I was one of the few in Shaker that did something like that. But we had been- Triple-A downtown had driving lessons. And if you wanted that precious permit, you would be required to take these lessons so your parents would have lower insurance, and you'd get a whole bunch of benefits if you took driving lessons. Well, Karen was my driving partner, so we both showed up, and Mr. Gumpf was our driving instructor. And so he- I guess he sat in the front, and then one of us sat in the driver's seat, and the other one was in the back. So he was the one that had the extra break in case it looked like we were in extremis, and he would stomp on the brake, and we knew one of us had made a mistake. So that's where I met her. And we were friends all through high school. And then she went her way, I went my way, and that's that.

Sarah Nemeth [00:17:48] Did you ever go to Coventry Road?

Frank Gerlak [00:17:50] Yes, I came up here once in a while. Now, this was before Coventry became Coventry. You know, this is in the late fifties, early sixties. There just wasn't that much there. Now I understand the history of it and why there is commercial there at all.

Sarah Nemeth [00:18:14] Could you maybe talk about that?

Frank Gerlak [00:18:16] Well, I mean, again, way back when, this place kind of was building and peaking around, I would say, 1915. And you see a lot of buildings with 1915 on them. I see these things. Yeah. And they're like, it's going to be here forever in stone. It's still here. I took photography. I took the whole photography curriculum at Cleveland State. And Mark- Okay, come on. Why can't I remember his name? Slankard. Mark Slankard, who runs the show there. And that I did for him, we had to do a photographic series, things that are kind of hooked together. So I did a small book because we had to publish something. Well, this is when- This is about ten- Less than ten years ago. And I had spent most of my working life publishing architectural and engineering reports. So, you know. Okay, this is easy. So I did a book on named apartment buildings in Shaker and in Cleveland Heights. All the buildings that had names. This is the Argyle, and kind of a- That's the series. And then interesting facts that I knew about them. So I don't know how I got over here on that. But that sort of piqued my interest in things in this area. I love these buildings. These three-story walkups are sort of a vernacular Cleveland building type. I see some in Chicago when we're there, but not much other, not in many other places. So I call this a Cleveland building type. And I've always photographed- They're fun to photograph. And one day we just decided to buy one. We were in Shaker. Kids are gone. The mother in law apartment on the third floor of the mansion in Shaker. I hadn't been in there for about four months. I think maybe it's getting time to sell this place and play downsize. Well, so we came over here, and it was. Well, you know, being in a condo is here. We were in a building that's 100 years old or so, and we're trying to save its life from mice and other such things. So that's how I got over here. I had been photographing these buildings for years. And I said, well, let's go try to live in one. There's some beautiful- There's some nice ones in Lakewood. And there's an especially good row on East Boulevard overlooking MLK, and throughout Cleveland the east side of Cleveland, there are spots that have these buildings, and they're quite similar. And again, I think they're Cleveland building type. They're very heavily done. I don't think anybody can attribute them to any architect.

Sarah Nemeth [00:22:07] And there weren't- They are not like a catalog, right?

Frank Gerlak [00:22:11] Oh, no.

Sarah Nemeth [00:22:12] So then just a whole bunch of Cleveland. But that was just the style.

Frank Gerlak [00:22:18] Well, but what happened was, I guess I'm go back to 1915, the Coventry area developed because there was the streetcar came up from downtown. It came out probably out Cedar or maybe Euclid. And then there was a lot of tracks down in University Circle on Stearns Road. And there was a streetcar ramp that came up Cedar Hill on the right side. That's where that bike thing is now. And that's why that is so wide, is because there was two streetcar tracks and went up there, and one branched and went out Cedar. One went kind of straight and went up Euclid Heights Boulevard. And the Euclid Heights Boulevard continued, went right past the place here and turned. It needed a wide turn. And it looks as though they had pre-planned not such a wide turn. And then at the last minute said, oh, geez, we've got to fix this. So they turned around, and then it went to Mayfield. And then it turned on Mayfield and went out. I think it went out about as far as Warrensville Center or thereabouts. But before 1925, the Eastern Ohio Traction Company interurban line continued out. And that went all the way out to Burton and places like that. And those cars would come rolling right the street here, past us here. Well, they did a little bit of thinking and planning ahead of time. What's his name, the guy that John Calhoun's grandson that came up here and was trying to make some money, and a lot speculation. I don't think he did very well. They platted this area as apartments. Yeah, right where we are, this whole row. And of course, across the street. That stuff wasn't even there. And then they did houses on the rest of Euclid Heights Boulevard. But back then, when most people were riding streetcars, the streetcar line kind of created their own nodes. It's making this big, sharp turn. Oh, we can't go through here at 40 miles an hour. We're going to go through here at 5 miles an hour. People get off. There was, I believe, for a few years, an interchange. And there was one-track line that ran down the street that Mark lives on, Washington. And it ran, I don't know, all the way up several blocks. And then it stopped and I think it was probably one track. So the car just went back and forth. And according to a very good friend of mine, who is a very knowledgeable person on Cleveland streetcars, the last streetcar ran when the last lot was sold, and then they took the need the streetcar anymore. So that was an interchange there. People would get off one and get on the other. So when there's a break in transportation, things tend to grow. At least that's what I learned in planning. You create breaks in your transportation, and ultimately something is going to which you can't do too many, because then people don't want to ride. So this whole place was taking shape around 1915, I would say. And it was growing and growing. And businesses located here. Heights Hardware claims to have been here since 1910. So I don't know if there were many restaurants. It probably was strictly a commercial thing. I don't think people went out to eat that much. But this building in particular, there's about four or five of these which were built as grand apartments, I have been told. Now you have to do some research to make sure that that's reality and not just hearsay, but supposedly they were built as grand apartments, which meant that people of means would live here that didn't want to mess around with house and all this stuff and all the domestics they had to have. So this was built as three and three, and the basement had a small unit, and that's where one of the domestics lived that were shared by everyone. There was a call board down there, and number three needs such and such and so and so. Whoosh, up they go. And the other side was another domestic. And then the units themselves had a domestic in house, or what we call the blue room down here as a separate bathroom. And it's for an in-house domestic butler, cook, whoever. So there's a butler's call button in the middle of the floor here under the rug. And every time I push on it, nobody comes. So it's- So these buildings were lived in by people that were fairly wealthy. And I know that when I was doing some research years ago, I found that the Halle family of Halle Brothers department store, a rather wealthy family, one of them had lived in this building for a while, for maybe 20 years or so. And what did they call him? The president of the Federal Reserve Bank or whatever his title is, he lived here. So there were some people that were very wealthy that lived in these units. Of course, by the- What was it? Probably by the sixties and seventies, and everything's kind of going downhill. And someone came in here and renovated the building into condos. So they are now condos.

Sarah Nemeth [00:29:02] Do you know when there was that change that you didn't want a house? Has there always been apartment or like this instead of a full house, even if it was a luxury, smaller area?

Frank Gerlak [00:29:20] I lived for years in Washington, DC, and at some point, it was about '76, I think it was, was my first wife and I, she unfortunately is no longer with us, we were going to have a child and we were living in an apartment building on the edge of DC in southeast Washington off of Naylor Road and Branch Avenue, between them. And Naylor Road is famous for one thing, and that was the route that John Wilkes Booth took to get out of Washington after he shot Lincoln. He ended up going out Naylor Road and down Goodhope Road and onto Branch Avenue and headed south for Doctor Mudd's farm out in Maryland. And so we needed extra space, so we moved into DC, right onto Capitol Hill. We found someone's misfortune that they tried to do the house and they just couldn't quite do it. So I fortunately had a little bit of money so I could buy the house and finish it off and still get the house for less than what it would have cost. So I'm used to living in fairly tight urban situations. I always threatened my wife. I said, you know, I'm going, I want to move out of this place. And when they open up that high rise next to in Playhouse Square, I want to get an apartment on about the 24th floor. She's a gardener. Nothing doing. So. Okay. Nothing doing. So. But I'm used to that. I could live in New York without any problem. Actually had a little bit of exposure to that, but- So, you know, I'm used to that. And this probably is about as close to what I would call urban living that I want to dip my toe into here in Cleveland. You know, in Washington, I had a chance to buy. In addition, instead of the house, I could have bought a condo on Connecticut Avenue up in northwest, and that might have been a better investment. They were about the same price. The problem was that in northwest Washington, along Connecticut, the Metro was not going to be finished for about four or five years. And I worked in southeast Washington in the Navy yard, whereas when I bought the house on Capitol Hill, the Metro was going to open in two years. So the day the Metro opened, I called a friend of mine and I said, my house just doubled in value. So. And it did. I mean, it just went up and up and up, and we sold it for a king's ransom and came back to Cleveland.

Sarah Nemeth [00:32:41] So when Coventry was started, like 1915, how much of the history do you know, like, from 1915 and how it developed in your own research that you've done?

Frank Gerlak [00:32:55] Well, I know that there's a- You can tell that there's sort of a mix of housing types, apartments, there are houses and other things, and above commercial, above-store housing and stuff like that. So it tells me that they probably were- Whoever was trying to do this was looking for a mix of people, not just the wealthy, not just the poor, but kind of a mix. And this is long before- Yes? This my wife, Louise. So it looked like there was some kind of thought being given to this. Usually, for the most part, housing and neighborhoods and stuff, like, just kind of happened. And people moved in and made the best of the situation. But Cleveland Heights, and to a greater extent, Shaker Heights, was actually foreplanned and Shaker around the rapid lines and Cleveland Heights around- Well, they had the Cedar and the Euclid Heights-Mayfield streetcar line, and that was it. So around those, but they were not. I mean, the streetcars really fell out of the picture pretty early. You would look at ads for subdivisions. You know, they've built Cleveland Heights by subdivisions. Meadowbrook Road, that does that. There is a subdivision, and there are ads in Cleveland papers in 1910, 1912 that say Meadowbrook subdivision. Da-da-da-da-da-da-da. Ride the Cedar Road car line to, what was it? Cedar. Didn't get as far. The Cedar road car line just got up the hill, but didn't get past Lee. Cedar and Lee, or Euclid Heights Boulevard car to Coventry and we'll pick you up. So that if you wanted to go see these things, you know, they would. These people didn't build houses. They sold lots. But they had to have a few houses there so they could say, well, this is, you know how you would. This is what you could do here. Yeah. Yeah. Demonstrator home. That's the way Shaker went. They built demonstrator homes on corners and different places, and then everything else was fill in. But the Van Sweringens sold lots, not houses. So that's how it happened here. And there were a number of subdivisions being, I don't know, some developer would get this whole chunk of land like Meadowbrook and would then put Meadowbrook Road in. It's my favorite shortcut to get to Lee. And the houses were, then followed. And I think in Cleveland Heights, the caveats, okay, the caveats on what you could build were a lot lighter than what in Shaker. They had a small book that said, these are the colors you can use. These are what bricks look like, that you can use, and so forth and so on, you know, so it was very tight in Shaker. When my parents built there. That had pretty much gone over the hill. And you can. But that's when the overhang house showed up, and everybody was building overhang houses, so you can just see them all over the place. They are probably one of the most uninspired versions of architecture I've ever seen. But they lend themselves to a rubber stamp. I just finished doing all the photography for the house tour here, and believe it or not, there's an overhang on the tour. But that's because I think someone finally said, look, we've got to really do a cross section of houses. Every house is not Harcourt Manor. So even though I must have taken- That's one of the reasons that I couldn't. Because I was right in the middle of Harcourt Manor, and I had to do inside, outside, I had- I must have taken 200 exposures in there. There's a lot of things she would pictures of in there. It's a neat house. We got to get to know. We got to get to know the owner real well. She's very nice, and she was very accommodating and all that. But where did I go? Or where did I come from?

Sarah Nemeth [00:38:24] One of those houses on the tour.

Frank Gerlak [00:38:27] Oh, yeah. Overhangs, which just kind of filled in, filled in all these spaces, you know, when things were built and, you know, the market and everything was going up in the twenties, they were building all these wonderful houses, brick, and Shaker was being filled with maybe too many Tudors, but the housing quality was fantastic. Then, whoosh, depression. No one was building anything in the depression. I don't know how my parents managed to do it, but my father was a pretty savvy guy, so he was good with money and all of that, so I thank him. And then. And then there was the war. Nobody built a thing during the war except military use. Finally, at the end of the war and in the late forties, then the overhang house hit. And when there were just all the holes that hadn't been built in the twenties, just, boom, got filled with these houses. And that's what happened on Delray. It's very interesting. When I lived there, because that was a subdivision set up in the twenties, but only about four or five houses were built. And a couple of them are huge. This was going- These are going to be huge houses, but it's probably one of these johnny come lately places. And whoever what the developer was unfortunately, he got to the ballgame at the end, and so he probably got, you know, he was lost everything. And it all went into receivership. And when things went into receivership in 1920, 1930, they were going to stay there for ten years because there was no one that wanted to buy it. And when it finally came out of receivership, probably in the late thirties, nobody was going to build any houses like that over there anymore. So they redid lots, made them smaller, and boink, boink, boink, boink, boink. Started getting these smaller homes, which is like what my parents did, and so it just filled up. Late thirties and forties, they're still brick. And then after that, overhangs, wooden overhangs all over the place.

Sarah Nemeth [00:40:57] So the same thing happened here. Well, you said it was planned, though. It was planned.

Frank Gerlak [00:41:02] It was planned. I think that these Shaker plan, what they had done and the Van Sweringen Company had done, was this kind of overall vision. And they bit off probably more than they could chew. But who knew that a great depression was coming and was going to put almost everybody out of business? So the Vans were planning stuff out in Gates Mills, out in Chesterland, places that you can see the road layout that was built by them, and just nothing ever happened. If the depression had occurred 20 years later and the Van Sweringens were allowed to do what they were going to do, wow, Cleveland would have been one heck of a place.

Sarah Nemeth [00:41:54] Yeah. Coming back maybe to Cleveland Heights a little bit. So when does the- When does the streetcar leave?

Frank Gerlak [00:42:08] Well, the streetcar line here. And again, I'm quoting a very good friend of mine. His name is Bill Vigras. He now lives in Philadelphia. He was the operations manager of the Patco line, which is the line goes over the bridge into New Jersey from Philadelphia. Photographed every streetcar in Cleveland, knows the whole thing. And so I would just, you know, sit at his knee and listen. The streetcar line up Euclid Heights boulevard lasted until about '47 or '48. I could give you an exact date. It's in a book somewhere. I have plenty of those. And of course, this was just part of what was happening in Cleveland. War was over. We're going to just get rid of all these damn streetcars, and we're going to open up the roads, and everybody can drive, and no one will ever be caught in traffic. Okay? So Donald Trump's not the only person that lies. So about 1947 or '48, they stopped the Euclid Heights line, the northern, the one that ran out to Burton and all that. Eastern Ohio Traction Company had a maple leaf on the side of the car, they went out of business in '25. They were just really a miserable excuse for a railroad, even though it was an Everett Moore investment, it was the worst one they ever did, and they had much better lines. So that went out in '25. '47-'48, there was just this bow wave of getting rid of all the streetcars because they're not progressive. We're going to replace them with buses. And besides that, all the roads are paved. Everybody's going to drive. So they did. The last streetcar ran in Cleveland in January of '54, and that was on the west side, and that was only because West 117th Street blew up in an explosion and they couldn't get the cars off. So they had the temporary tracks there until they. And then they went. However, this was an exception. They didn't take the tracks up. They didn't take the traction poles up. They didn't take the wires up. They kept it there until 1956, because the idea was that when Cleveland built the rapid at University Circle, there would be a branch off and would come up Euclid Heights Boulevard and would go to Coventry. It was on the maps and everything. The only problem was the cars that they put on the rapid were completely incompatible with running on Euclid Heights. Platforms versus no platforms, heavy rail versus light, and so forth and so on, just wouldn't work. So finally, by about 1956, I just, you know, took it out, and that's that.

Sarah Nemeth [00:45:34] And they never decided to put anything back in?

Frank Gerlak [00:45:37] I'll understand that, also at the time, there was this man who I was the county engineer [Albert S. Porter], who I refer to as Albert Ass Porter, who was so taken with automobiles and freeways that he thought everybody wanted to have a freeway jammed down their throats. And so transit, there was hardly. There was. They built the rapid, and they actually built the rapid out of profits that the Cleveland Transit System, which was the name at the time, made during World War Two, because during the war, the streetcars, there was hardly a place to stand. They developed these cars with sort of slanted seats. You'd kind of lean back on them, but the pitch of the seats could be closer. So there were just millions of people riding these streetcars. They couldn't help but make money, so they did, and they took the money, and they got a government grant, and they built the rapid from Windermere across to, well, they started, it ended at 117, and then ultimately took it out to the airport. So that was it. So there was no attempt. People talked about it, but there was no attempt to add transit here. Not going to be.

Sarah Nemeth [00:47:05] I guess that goes to show, like, maybe why Coventry kind of hits this-

Frank Gerlak [00:47:11] You want to go to Coventry, you better bring your car.

Sarah Nemeth [00:47:15] And then there's no parking.

Frank Gerlak [00:47:16] That's right. And there's no place to put it.

Sarah Nemeth [00:47:19] So that's a reason why Coventry doesn't do so hot in the 1950s.

Frank Gerlak [00:47:26] Mm hmm. And then when they started building parking garages behind it, they never- They provided places to park. They look terrible. They don't really pull the thing together, you know? So, unfortunately, transit, once it left, it went a different direction. As opposed to 1915, when everybody's coming, you know, bringing their green oilskin shopping bags with their stuff that they had bought, I think you'll see that the merchant, the type of merchant or person that's up there, is completely different than what would have been there in 1915. Heights Hardware, yeah, they made it through, but I don't know if anyone else did. All those stores are new. Restaurants. Who went out to eat in 1915? Unless you were wealthy and the butler was sick or something. There just was. But now you've got a resurgence. You still do have two bus lines that go through here. Nine and seven, which are good. And we can walk to either the Little Italy rapid station or the one down here. Not hard to do at all. We made a trip to Europe two years ago. We were spent time. We had rented an apartment in Rome and then came back on Royal Caribbean across the Atlantic. And the first leg of the trip was with our suitcases. Closing the door, going downstairs, closing that door, and walking down Euclid Heights Boulevard to the rapid station so we could get to the airport. Why not? Why pay $50 for a cab to take you to the airport? You can pay 225. So, I mean, that's what transit's here for. But there's- You just have to understand, this is a mentality that I carried with me was probably given to me by my parents to a certain extent, and understand it. And when I talked to people that went to Europe, I've been to Europe many times. They have great transportation there. And they said, well, the first thing we had to do was rent a car. The hell are you renting a car over here for? Well, I mean, you can get around. There's plenty. You just have to kind of figure it out. But it doesn't take long.

Sarah Nemeth [00:50:21] No, I've been there multiple times myself, and we never rented anything.

Frank Gerlak [00:50:24] No, I never rented it. Rented once. Once in Germany, because Louise's uncle wanted to go from someplace to some other place and was just completely undoable by either any of the train, the Deutsche Bahn, or the local things. So, okay, I rent a car. So I rented a car and drove on the autobahn, you know. Whoopee. That's the only time I ever rented one. But here in America, it's just completely different. And to kick the automobile habit, which is just tremendous, is really hard. I mean, I go downtown quite a bit. And, like, I went yesterday because my. I worked for the federal government for 41 years, many of them in Washington and some of them here. My credit union is still downtown, and I absolutely refuse to bank with any commercial bank or anything like that, because the credit union is so good. And there is an office here that I can walk into, see a person. All the clerks know me, and so. But I'm the Thursday guy, and it just- I drove yesterday. I keep thinking to myself, why the hell are you driving? And I did. It was, you know, it was just easier. I parked right in front of the building. And where can you do that? We're going to New York in October, and I have just gone through in the last week an incredible number of conniptions to get from the New York City Transit Authority two senior citizen fare cards. The applications were four pages long. I had to have them notarized.

Sarah Nemeth [00:52:35] Oh, my goodness.

Frank Gerlak [00:52:36] I had to put a picture of me and Louise on there. Let's see. What else did I have to do? I had to give them access to my checking account so they can, like New York, it's really great once you get it in New York and the other cities are following. But for just being there for a week, it's worth it because you get it. It works like EZ-Pass on the turnpike. So you get a- Set up an account, and they have access to your checking account. And instead of having a little thing that you stick in your windshield, you get this fare card and you keep the fare card, don't lose it. And then you just go in and pass it through the thing, and it gives you the deeply discounted fare, and then, of course, you get it back and stick it in your wallet. Four pages. That was amazing. I just hope they got it. I even air, you know, what is it, the $24.70 postal overnight.

Sarah Nemeth [00:53:45] So you priority overnighted?

Frank Gerlak [00:53:47] Absolutely. Because I have to have it in October. And I'm, you know, they said, please allow four weeks. You know, in my case, it'll probably be eight weeks. So, you know, and if I. If it comes after I'm gone, well, you can use it on your next trip. Well, I haven't planned that one yet. So, anyway, the automobile has just been- I think it's really kind of smacked coventry in the face. And, you know, what happens in Cleveland. I mean, what is this thing? This Pinecrest thing? They just opened out there somewhere and, you know, more sprawl. You know, that shopping center, I don't even want to go there. And they're just yanking Cleveland apart by the edges, and the middle is getting empty. And this is happening in many cities. And if it weren't for the Millennials that came along and said, I don't like cars. [in a snapping voice] What? What? And I want an apartment downtown. [in a snapping voice] What? What?
And, you know, it's got all the 50 somethings, 40 somethings, all upsetting because they're repudiating their lifestyle. We don't want children. [in a gasping voice] Oh! Oh, my. That's why people hate Millennials, right? I love them. [laughs] It's great. I'll ride on their bow wave, and maybe that'll change. But right now, that really smacked Coventry in the face, because, again, you get cars coming in. We can walk, and we do. And yet, if you want to park there, you've got garages behind it and all of that. I mean, it works kind of like, you know, Lee Road, the Lee Road area. There's several very fine restaurants up there that we like a lot. The restaurants here are not quite so fine, so, you know, they need better restaurants. But then I'm a senior, and I will judge a restaurant, usually, by the kind of martini I can get there. And there's not really many good ones down there. Fairmount martini bar is still there, best of all, and we can just about walk there.

Sarah Nemeth [00:56:03] So I guess in the 1960s, the late 1960s, when a whole bunch of youth come into Coventry, it's kind of already vacated. So they just took up a spot where no one was, and everyone freaks out.

Frank Gerlak [00:56:17] I know. They're probably in here for all I know. And because there are things that are more important to them that are not so important to the generation before. I mean, the generation before is going, going, gone. They're getting out of this place because they're worried about, you know, African Americans are coming. Oh, my God. My parents, same thing. When they were in Shaker, there was this sort of aura that the Negroes are coming, and this scared people left and right. And if you look at the section of Shaker from Lee Road east to about Avalon or Daleford, that area there, it did happen, and there just were people that would have nothing to do with mixing like that. And so suddenly, the flight was on, I'm sure aided and abetted by certain realtors or saying, hey you, how much you want? It finally ended up that everything did switch. Now, that really doesn't bother me that much, but my parents, highly bothered, and the value of their house is the biggest thing they have in their life, and if that thing is threatened, they're just not going to put up with that if they can. And I'm a little more lightheaded about it, but that's mainly because I was in DC and I was in mixed neighborhoods, and so what? And you know, as long as they were in kind of the same economic strata and or have the same aspirations and, you know, working for the government, you know, in sort of these middle-management positions, so what? And now it's kind of changing here. Of course there's an influx of students here and are you, you're, you know, you're a student full time?

Sarah Nemeth [00:58:59] I graduated. I'm done.

Frank Gerlak [00:59:01] Oh, you're finished? So you've got your master's in?

Sarah Nemeth [00:59:05] History.

Frank Gerlak [00:59:06] Okay, it's good. Now what are you gonna do?

Sarah Nemeth [00:59:10] I have to find a real job.

Frank Gerlak [00:59:11] Oh, you gotta find a job. Ah! That's tough.

Sarah Nemeth [00:59:14] Or just keep going to school-

Frank Gerlak [00:59:15] Yeah, well that was the other one. Yeah, well I was lucky when I got out, I got engineering and architecture degrees, and when I graduated was in '66. There was a war on and I wasn't going to get away from it. So I said, let's see here, what can we do to make the best of this? So I joined the Navy and I joined the Naval Reserves. So I went to meetings for four years and I don't know what the hell was I, I was a quartermaster, he's a guy that steers the ship basically, and you know, navigates. So I was like a 2nd, 3rd, 2nd class quartermaster, and I'd only been to sea for four weeks. So anyway, but then I said, okay, I'm going to go to OCS, Navy OCS. So I went, I got in, I got through. Now I'm a newly minted ensign, I got one gold bar on my shoulders, but I brought the navigation and stuff with me and that was kind of like having that knowledge and all that helped me a lot. Well, ultimately when I got out of school, I was able to use the VA, the GI bill, which they still had, which was still going to pay enough tuition that you could go to Harvard part-time if you could get in, which I did, and then I could finish off at Catholic University in Washington, which was more expensive than Harvard. They had planning there.

Sarah Nemeth [01:01:00] So you got your master or your PhD?

Frank Gerlak [01:01:03] No, I don't have a PhD.

Sarah Nemeth [01:01:04] Masters.

Frank Gerlak [01:01:06] Catholic.

Sarah Nemeth [01:01:06] So it went Harvard and then Catholic?

Frank Gerlak [01:01:09] Yeah.

Sarah Nemeth [01:01:10] And then you were in Washington, DC, and you got hired by the federal government.

Frank Gerlak [01:01:15] I worked for a private firm for about two years. Once I got there, I got out, I went to DC as part of the service, and then I got out there and then I went to work for a private firm, which wasn't really very good. So I went to the Navy department and I knew they had this branch in Washington that was doing all kinds of neat stuff. They're hiring planners and architects, said, this may be what I want to do. So I did that. And then I was able to get the GI Bill and go to school. Night school, they used to call it, and finish up that way.

Sarah Nemeth [01:02:02] That's fantastic.

Frank Gerlak [01:02:04] I know, and it didn't cost me a nickel. It's just the books. It's kind of like going to Cleveland State now on that senior program. What is it? [crosstalk] Project 60, which I have made great use of. I thought it was wonderful. Did photography. I did most of the music curriculum. I did a couple years of French and, let's see, a couple hours. Meteorology. That was a great class I took there. Yeah, it was, because I can, it's raining. And that was interesting because I had always been interested in meteorology. And especially when you're at sea and you're on a ship and you're navigating, you need to know what the weather is doing, and more importantly, you need to know what the weather is going to do. So I'd always kind of had that cross interest, so I took that class. It was great. It's a great class.

Sarah Nemeth [01:02:59] Did you always have an interest in photography or did that just come-

Frank Gerlak [01:03:05] From my first Kodak Brownie, which my father gave to me probably in 1952 or something like that. And it has always been a passion with me. And wherever I worked, there would be two things that would always fall on my desk, and one was I would do the publications. And number two, I would do the photography. Now, the office I was in in Washington back then, oh, we had sort of an unlimited budget, and so we were doing a lot of photography. Someone came up to me and said, well, would you like to map out a purchase plan for this? I said, well, sure. And looking at my own pack of cameras and stuff, which I was a Nikon photographer at the time, said, well, we probably should buy Nikon equipment. I don't mind interchanging or borrowing a lens or something like that. So I did it there and then I continued. I worked for the Coast Guard for about ten, maybe it was almost 20 years, I don't know, here. And we had to do the same things. So I said, here's how you do it. But then when I retired, and fortunately have a pretty nice retirement, she has Social Security, so life is okay. We don't have a lot, but we have enough, as our friend used to say. Rest in peace, Margaret. Then I decided, well, look, I'm going to only be able to do this once in my life, so let's get on the Leica camera bandwagon. So now I'm fully immersed in Leica equipment. My camera gear, I have, I think, three of them. My camera gear is worth more than my car. That's what you do, you know, and people say, how did you able to pay for a Leica M10? Well, I drive around a ten-year-old Honda fit. I saved my money for a year and I got there. It's like, you can do that, too, but if you want four cars and you don't want to save anything up, then you're not going to get there.

Sarah Nemeth [01:05:43] Exactly.

Frank Gerlak [01:05:44] So, you know, it's your choice.

Sarah Nemeth [01:05:47] How do you choose, now that you're to take images of anything that you want, how do you choose?

Frank Gerlak [01:05:55] Well, I'm an architectural photographer with an architectural degree behind me. This kind of opens your eyes to a lot of, a lot of things architectural. And when you see it, you know, well, I'd like to record it. And so when we, when we were, the last time we were in Rome, Rome has 933, I think it is, churches. Go get 'em! So, you know, there's just beautiful churches to photograph and all this kind of stuff. And you kind of- And now I do a lot of plant photography. My wife is very heavily into gardening, and so she's in this Northern Ohio Perennial Society. So they have tours every weekend, and I've managed to get some gear that I can do, plants, closeups, flowers, leaves, whatever, hyper- [inaudible]. And so I do that. But it's, it's always been a passion with me. It was with my father, too. He liked photography. He had an old Kodak folder holding camera. You open it up and put bellows in it and do all this stuff, too. When I bought this condo, there had been a guy that lived here that left behind a whole bunch of camera gear. Most of it wasn't much of anything. I just gave it away. But I got a Zeiss Contaflex folder that I actually used when I was at Cleveland State when I was doing that book. I did the overalls with this Zeiss Contaflex. And that camera was made about 1937, and it's still taking, doing well. And it makes these sort of two and a quarter by two and three quarter images. So it's, like, long- So, it's fun. And that camera hadn't been used in years, so.

Sarah Nemeth [01:08:12] Is everything you do like digital, or do you go to a dark room?

Frank Gerlak [01:08:17] Oh, hey, I've got a- I've got two bags over there full of film. And I have a Rolleiflex, which is the ultimate camera. That's like, greatest cameras ever made. One Rolleiflex. And I have one Leica, that's an M3, which is. I just loaded the other day. We were going to go out to somewhere, and so I had a roll of film in the refrigerator, so I put it in the Leica. I'm ready to go, snd then we didn't go. So.

Sarah Nemeth [01:08:46] Well, kind of back to- When did you move here? This area?

Frank Gerlak [01:08:50] This area? Probably 2002 is when we moved here. Halloween.

Sarah Nemeth [01:09:00] Before then when you were in shaker, did you ever come down to Coventry?

Frank Gerlak [01:09:04] Yeah, I used to photograph these buildings. I probably photographed this one.

Sarah Nemeth [01:09:08] Maybe in the nineties? Or were you still in Washington, DC?

Frank Gerlak [01:09:13] No, I left Washington in '89, came here in '89. I know I was photographing these buildings somewhere between '89 and when we moved over here. I knew about them. So I wanted to decide, actually, she got on the bandwagon and we went and found this unit, which was empty, which was, shall we say, somewhat distressed. So distressed means cheaper price. And so we finally put in an offer, and we really lowballed the lady. She was in Boston, and I had lived in Boston for a while when I was at Harvard, when I was with the Navy. And so I kind of knew where she lived. And I said, do you know your expectations for- I said, this is not on the Green Line. This is in Cleveland Heights. So I said, I'll give you an offer that I think is not Green Line offer, Cleveland Heights offer. She was [makes sound to suggest seller's indignation]. Well, I think a realtor finally knocked some sense into her head and said, take it, because she's paying 500 a month in condo fees and wasn't even here. She had to pay that. You don't pay that- You don't stop paying that until you sell and the new person moving in, then they get to pay it. So if your place is empty, you're still paying the condo fees. You can't get out of it and in any kind of a foreclosure, and it happened on the third floor up there, the condo fees come first, and then everybody else gets in line. Yeah. Because the condo fee is a commitment to the building for the upkeep and utilities and stuff that you are getting through the condo association. So, we had lady on the third floor default.

Sarah Nemeth [01:11:32] Are all these in the same condo association?

Frank Gerlak [01:11:37] Yeah, by the building.

Sarah Nemeth [01:11:39] Okay.

Frank Gerlak [01:11:40] So we have- Every unit is owned. The one across the hall, the owner of the unit does not live there. He's renting it out to Sue, who's paying him rent. However, whatever they arranged, I often- She's Indian. I often tell people I don't need to go to an Indian restaurant for food. The best Indian restaurant is right across the hall from me. She makes great Indian food. Oh, we love it. [laughs]

Sarah Nemeth [01:12:16] That's nice. When you were taking images of Coventry in the nineties, did you observe what it was like there?

Frank Gerlak [01:12:27] Well, kind of. You know, it's going through so many metaphor- It's, pardon me, metamorphosis, you know, from hippies and sixties. And then they just kind of went away. And then it started drifting downward. And I think a lot of these buildings were kind of being subdivided as best they could be, which is an indication that the value is going down and the rent is also going down. And I think what kind of saved it, and probably in the nineties was that students began to discover that this is not too far from Case Western. And I think Case Western actually extended their bus line that they run. Goes right past here. I can ride it if I want to.

Sarah Nemeth [01:13:30] So the youth rediscovered Coventry?

Frank Gerlak [01:13:32] Yeah, they rediscovered Coventry. And then as things started changing, there started to be some condo conversions. I don't think that the term "live in Coventry" sells much these days. But yet when you say, I ask you, where do you live? I say, I live in Coventry. You go, hmm. That's not just, I live in Westlake. Oh. It's kind of like, hmm. Because it's a place that has some appeal to it. It's a place. It's a place that is identified by what's here. And you can still identify it. Identify Westlake for me, please. Won't work. So. It has that appeal. But there still are a lot of people that think Solon is better. Now, if you've got kids, and that's a big one, you know, our kids went through Shaker, so okay, even though Shaker isn't what it used to be, but it's still a very good, very fine school system. Cleveland Heights, unfortunately, having lots of problems with their school one system. They just can't keep up with Shaker, I think, and let alone keep up with Solon and these other school systems that are, you know, that are state champions in academia or something like that. Not good academia, but just kind of academia that will get you into law school, and then you'll know what you need to do there, but you won't know a damn thing about the world. Whereas, you know, you go through Shaker, you can say, I took Hebrew, and [makes befuddled sound]. Sure, you know.

Sarah Nemeth [01:15:39] Right. So, I mean, could you maybe, I guess I'll end the interview today by you describing Coventry today.

Frank Gerlak [01:15:48] Coventry today, I find to be- I consider it an exciting place. I enjoy living here. I not planning on leaving based on everything that I know today, and no surprises that might hit me in a year or something like that. I like it here. And most importantly, I like to say I'm from Coventry. I live in Coventry. That's not anything to be ashamed of. It's an enjoyable place. Could it be better? Of course. I'd like to see- Unfortunately, most of the fairly good restaurants that were here- Who was it? The one downtown that has the- Hyde Park had a restaurant here. First-class restaurant, gone. So it would be nice to see a couple more restaurants show up that are good. But I also see that a lot of what's happening here is the younger people are here, and they're more into the- What's that big one? Begins with C. It's a wing place across the street. It's on the east side of Coventry. I think that's where Hyde Park was.

Sarah Nemeth [01:17:15] But they want to go to, like, bars-

Frank Gerlak [01:17:18] Yeah, yeah, they're into bars, the bar action. And it's always fun, especially in the summertime. We can watch it and we'll be on our porch. And, you know, if it's Saturday afternoon, you see people showing up. Of course they all want to park down here because they're- They don't have to pay to park. And then they walk up and all of that, and you'll see these folks parking here, leaving the cars up there, and 5 hours later, they're sort of staggering back, and they manage to find their car and, let alone drive it anywhere. But it's just kind of fun to watch, and we think it's interesting, but we also go up there. So. Remember a couple years ago when they had that big, big brouhaha up there because there was someone on social media said, "It's on at Coventry at 4:00!" or whenever it was. And, you know, a couple thousand people showed up. The flash mob. Yeah, yeah. Well, we're part of the flash mob.

Sarah Nemeth [01:18:24] Oh, you were part of the flash mob?

Frank Gerlak [01:18:25] We didn't go for the flash mob. We went to Bodega for dinner because that's the only place that I can get a decent martini in Coventry. And as we were getting ready to leave, there was all this swirling around of people, cops and everything all over the place. And we're looking out the door and the cops kind of hold the door shut on us so we don't get into this. I said, hey, I live down there. Oh, okay. I said, I'm not going to join this thing. I just want to go home. So I always tease people. We were part of the flash mob. Not for very long. And you know, that kind of stuff, you know, doesn't help, but I think as long- I don't know what the percentage of owners to renters is over here. And that's usually a, that's usually a rather important statistic to planners and to home builders and stuff like that. But I would guess that the ratio of owners to renters is probably much lower here. Whereas if you go down the street about maybe a thousand feet, when everything becomes homes down there, they're all homeowners, most of them. It's when you get up into the multi-unit buildings that it starts to change and go down. But even that doesn't bother me, the students that live here, other than for an occasional party that they may have, throwing a couch off a balcony or something like that, I say, well look, you can party until midnight and we'll, you know, we're seniors, we need our sleep. And it doesn't bother me as long as I can't hear it. So, you know, if you're out here, you can hear motorcycles going by and all that. But fortunately whoever laid this place out, put the bedrooms back there.

Sarah Nemeth [01:20:41] So Coventry still is not accepting but accommodating to multi generations?

Frank Gerlak [01:20:48] Yeah, I think so. I guess. Again, it's not perfect. It needs again, like I say, a couple of fairly good restaurants here. The Hunan, which is at the corner of Coventry, and that's Hampshire maybe. Okay. The Thai restaurants down there, the one is actually pretty good. Pacific East is top notch. That's- We like that. And that is a little expensive, but we like it and we go there every once in a while. Again, it's nice to walk there. The Hyde Park is gone and I think that's what that other, that wing place took there. Put the big balcony out on the outside balcony, the patio and all that, and we went there on the 4 July. Nothing open on the 4 July. And so we walked up to Coventry. They were. All right. So we went in. You know, Luis and I are not heavy eaters. You know, we can split a hamburger. We're just- Hey, come on. We're seniors. We don't eat that much. But it was just terrible. And the funny thing was that the waiter was telling us, there's a bunch of people sitting at this table that looked about like me and Louise, they're older people. And he said, they're my problem. They're always in here in the morning and causing all these problems. I said, they're too old to cause problems. Oh, no. Oh, no. So anyway. But I think, of course, if you want to buy something, there's not a lot. That's actually the Big Fun was probably one of the neat. Our grandkids, when they come up and visit us, that's the first trip. And now I have to say, well, guess what happened? He ain't there anymore. You have to go to Columbus to see the Big Fun. And I'll bet you that's nothing like the Big Fun was here.

Sarah Nemeth [01:23:15] The one that just opened that's connected to Sweeties or-

Frank Gerlak [01:23:19] And that's the one, yeah, that's out in that, whatever it's called.

Sarah Nemeth [01:23:24] Someone that I know went there. They said it wasn't- It was just like, not all hectic, which-

Frank Gerlak [01:23:31] Yeah- [crosstalk] Yeah, it was neat. I had a friend, I know him through Facebook. He just graduated from Cleveland State, just got his planning degree in the school, and he is going to leave Cleveland and become a planner, maybe the head planner in Sandusky, Ohio. That's probably a single person's job. I mean, a single job, there's no assistants and whatnot. And he went out to Pinecrest and he was taking pictures, and they just looked horrible. And he didn't do it purposely. He was taking pictures of what they put out there. And he said, at the bottom, he said, can you really take this? And I said. I said, I don't plan to go out there unless someone drags me here, you know, or if suddenly I can buy the hope diamond for fifty cents at the store out there somewhere. But short of that, I'll stay here and I'll go to Coventry or I'll go to Lee Road. We have to drive there. And I will go to Cedar Fairmount because that's good. Except for that Mexican restaurant. That's awful. Well, there's no food in there. Drink. Just go in there and drink. You get a three-dollar taco. But Fairmount is good. We like them. And Luna is a great bakery. We love that for breakfast. And, you know, it's here. But that's not Coventry. It's just we're kind of halfway in between this.

Sarah Nemeth [01:25:17] Which is nice.

Frank Gerlak [01:25:18] Yeah, you can walk either way.

Sarah Nemeth [01:25:21] Right. Well, unless there's anything else you'd like to add?

Frank Gerlak [01:25:24] Well, I don't know. I probably talked more than I should have.

Sarah Nemeth [01:25:28] I enjoyed it. So, thank you.

Frank Gerlak [01:25:32] Are you going to enjoy it, Mark?

Sarah Nemeth [01:25:37] [laughs] Hopefully.

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.