Alan Rapoport, former Mayor of Cleveland Heights and active community member, discusses how Cleveland Heights and, more particularly, Coventry changed from the 1960s through to the present. From his tenure on City Council and heavy involvement in the local community organization Coventry Neighbors Inc., he describes key initiatives, events, and innovative improvements that helped ensure that the city remained a vibrant, tolerant part of Greater Cleveland.


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Rapoport, Alan (interviewee)


Nemeth, Sara (interviewer)


Cleveland Heights



Document Type

Oral History


124 minutes


Sarah Nemeth [00:00:02] Hi, my name is Sarah Nemeth. I'm here today with Alan Rapoport. Today is August 14, 2018, and this recording is for the Cleveland Regional Oral History Project. Could you please state your name for the record?

Alan Rapoport [00:00:14] Alan Rapoport.

Sarah Nemeth [00:00:16] And where and when were you born?

Alan Rapoport [00:00:19] I was born March ... 1949. At the time, my parents lived in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

Sarah Nemeth [00:00:26] And what are your first memories of Cleveland Heights?

Alan Rapoport [00:00:32] Well, growing up in Cleveland Heights, I went to elementary school at Fairfax Elementary, which was about seven-tenths of a mile from my house. I was quite frequently walking to and from the school. I remember living on a fairly small street of two-family homes, which had a lot of kids. And we used to play in the street, and we could shoot out of the street from time to time. And I guess those are my earliest memories. My earliest thing I could remember trying to remember back to something was a flood on Meadowbrook Road. Meadowbrook turned into a meadow brook, literally, and people had to help us get kids get across this Meadowbrook to get from one side to the other. That was quite some time ago, but that situation was remedied by the creation of a rather sizable dam in Lake View Cemetery that now has a retention basin so the water doesn't back up the way it once did.

Sarah Nemeth [00:01:41] Is that the same project? Didn't the botanical gardens get flooded at one point in time from that scene?

Alan Rapoport [00:01:48] Well, a lot of things used to get flooded. I remember at one point there were pictures of Volkswagens floating in University Circle because it was that much water that had backed up and had nowhere to go. But the water came from the higher elevation, the Heights. I think that's one of the earlier things that I remember growing up in Cleveland Heights. But, of course, there were a lot of other things. It was a very interesting community.

Sarah Nemeth [00:02:18] By interesting, what would you mean? What were your neighbors like? I know that you were a kid at the time, so it's not like you were- I don't know if you were perceiving the differences, maybe between you and others?

Alan Rapoport [00:02:32] Not particularly. It was a pleasant neighborhood. People got along reasonably well. I knew a number of the other families that were there. I knew a number of the other kids who lived on the street. And it seemed to be a little closed society, after a fashion. Two-family houses with front porches. People used to sit out on their front porches at night, and so it was very sociable feeling to it.

Sarah Nemeth [00:03:02] What was the socioeconomic level, do you think, at that time?

Alan Rapoport [00:03:08] Oh, my. Well, Cleveland Heights occupied a little different position regionally than it does today. I grew up thinking that the known world ended at Green Road. That if you went too far past Green Road headed in an easterly direction, you'd fall off the end of the earth. There was nothing out there. Beachwood was just a big open area, not terribly well developed. Mostly famous for having no street lights. They liked it that way. But Cleveland Heights basically, I think, was middle class to upper middle class. And I think basically the housing stock actually is not that much different than it was then. But it doesn't occupy relative the same place in the market that other places now that are newer that have been developed over the years. And as a result of that, most of the people I grew up with don't live in Cleveland Heights anymore. A lot of them who are still living in the area moved further out east. They might live in Beachwood, they might live in pepper pike. They might live even further east than that. People began to outmigrate over time.

Sarah Nemeth [00:04:26] I think there's a natural trend to usually slowly migrate out.

Alan Rapoport [00:04:33] Well, it's kind of the history of the east side of Cleveland. My parents moved into Cleveland Heights out of the city of Cleveland. And a lot of people did that at the time. In fact, we didn't live in Cleveland Heights the whole time that I was growing up. My parents at one point moved to University Heights, where they were involved with building a brand-new house there at the time. And it's kind of ironic because we moved to- We lived about a block and a half from the high school. And just as I was about ready to start high school, we moved out to University Heights, and we're no longer a block and a half from the high school.

Sarah Nemeth [00:05:11] That's unfortunate.

Alan Rapoport [00:05:13] Yeah, it worked out.

Sarah Nemeth [00:05:14] But was it quick to me, I mean, was it, did you quickly make friends transferring to a different school?

Alan Rapoport [00:05:22] I didn't transfer. I was going to Roxboro Junior High School at the time, which was the junior high school for the district I lived in. I had one semester left to go, so I didn't really want to move into the Wiley Junior High School district and start from scratch. My father would drop me off at Roxboro every day on his way to work. And I would take the bus back out to University Heights to go home. And so I finished up at Roxboro. And I never did go to Wiley. I met a lot of the Wiley kids when I went to Heights, but I went directly after that to Heights High.

Sarah Nemeth [00:06:03] Okay. Was there a large Jewish population, do you remember?

Alan Rapoport [00:06:09] There was very substantial. My family belongs to what was called at the time Temple on the Heights, which subsequently moved, and I kind of privately referred to it as Temple off the Heights after that. But, yeah, it was- There was a very large Jewish population when I was at Heights High School, when the Jewish high holy days came out, they literally closed the school. They kept it open, and there were no classes of the kids who were not Jewish elected to go, and I don't know if they were required to, but the school was largely depopulated at that point the holidays came along.

Sarah Nemeth [00:06:58] When you weren't in your childhood parameters or boundaries, where did your family frequent, like maybe a store or a restaurant or delicatessen in the neighborhood?

Alan Rapoport [00:07:12] They really didn't go out much, to my recollection. They were home bodies, and that's what they seemed like to do.

Sarah Nemeth [00:07:20] Do you know of any stores that were around you maybe that you didn't go to, but maybe someone mentioned.

Alan Rapoport [00:07:30] Well, I don't recall any place, particularly as neighborhood hangouts. I lived at the time near Lee Road. It was about a block away, and it was nice in the summertime to be able to walk up the corner and get ice cream there. There or- They had a variety of different stores that we frequented over time, everything from a bakery to a shoemaker shop to a bank. There were a lot of operations. There was the Heights YMCA on Lee Road, which was also a place that I spent a lot of time at in earlier years, and- But no place I would describe, particularly as a hangout. I think the coffee shop culture is a much later phenomenon.

Sarah Nemeth [00:08:24] Right. So you were in high school in the late sixties?

Alan Rapoport [00:08:30] I was. Graduated in '67.

Sarah Nemeth [00:08:33] What was the atmosphere of high school and youth culture during that time?

Alan Rapoport [00:08:40] Well, I wasn't very active in what I'd call the youth culture at the time. Things, they were changing at the time. It was the sixties. There were people who were beginning to get active in social causes. I remember one woman coming to me with a petition she wanted me to sign against the Vietnam War that discussed the philosophy of Henry David Thoreau, misspelled Thoreau, and I thought that was amusing, but it wasn't anything I was terribly, personally involved in or terribly interested in. There were things going on. The music was fairly evident at the time. There was a place called- It was called La Cave. It was in the basement of a building, was on somewhere by Euclid 105th, somewhere in that neighborhood. I did go there once, and they heard of something called the Blues Project, which I thought was pretty good. There were occasional events. They used to have something at the art museum. I don't know how many times they did it. I only went to see it one time. They called it a be-in, in the area where they had the lagoon, and it was just totally full up with people, and they were just hanging out. I wouldn't say it was Woodstock. I would say it was probably in some ways a precursor of Woodstock, but it was still, it was the Summer of Love, and this was beginning to happen about the time I graduated. I graduated in the last midyear class from Cleveland Heights High. We graduated in January of '67. They used to have graduations in January and in June, and that was very odd at the time, but especially because I graduated in January and I wasn't going to college until September.

Sarah Nemeth [00:10:55] But what did you do to fill your time?

Alan Rapoport [00:11:00] I got a wonderful job by total accident. I ended up working for the United States Post Office. A friend of mine had talked me into going downtown to take a test to get what I thought was summer employment. Turned out we took the wrong test. It was a test for permanent employment, and they called me up and I arrived, and it was great because summer employees worked part time and they got lower rate of pay. Full-time employees worked full time, and they got a higher rate of pay and a uniform allowance. I thought this was great. But at the end of the summer, I told the superintendent I've got to quit now and go to school. And he said, no, you don't quit. I said, well, what do you mean? He said, you resigned for personal reasons. Why would I do that? He said, because then you could apply for reinstatement in June when your school session ends, and then you could do that over and over again. And I thought that was a great idea, too. So that's what I did for four consecutive summers all through college, as I worked for a post office. And part of the time I worked in Cleveland Heights, so I was walking. It was actually, the district was partly Cleveland Heights, partly University Heights, a little sliver of Shaker Heights, Zone 18. So I was walking as a substitute. So I was on different routes, and I was all over the city just walking and delivering mail.

Sarah Nemeth [00:12:41] Well, on your walks, did you ever observe any differences between, like, Cleveland Heights, Euclid Heights, I mean, University Heights, and Shaker Heights?

Alan Rapoport [00:12:51] Well, it's not so much the people is the neighborhoods are very obviously different. There's a tremendous amount of variety in this area. You can walk into one area and it's small, single-family homes. You could walk into another area, and it's all apartments, buildings. You walk into another area and it's all mansions, huge mansions, and then, obviously, commercial districts all over the place as well. So I think that's one thing that's very strikingly obvious when you're at a walking level, as you see a tremendous amount of diversity in the community in terms of the housing stock. And obviously, that somewhat reflects a diversity in the people and the social, economic standards of the people and their lifestyles.

Sarah Nemeth [00:13:43] Where did you go to college?

Alan Rapoport [00:13:45] Went to Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, which is near Mount Vernon, which is near nowhere. [laughs] It was established by the first Episcopal Bishop of Ohio, man by the name of Philander Chase. He wanted to establish a school for young men that was in the middle of nowhere and away from the temptations of the world. And how I ended up there remains to me to this day a total surprise. I moved from a large co-educational high school of about 3200 to a small, all male college of 800. Scratching my head all the time. But it turned out to be a wonderful experience. And incidentally, the school went co-ed my junior year, so it went through interesting transformations of its own. But Kenyon was far enough away from Cleveland that I wasn't tempted to come home every 15 minutes and close enough that if I wanted to come home, I could. Small liberal arts school, very introspective, very tight-knit. You could very easily run into your professor at the laundromat, and a great place to sit around and drink coffee and have conversations, which is what got me kind of used to doing that.

Sarah Nemeth [00:15:18] Liberal arts. I went to one myself, so I think that that's one thing. It teaches you how to hold a conversation and to be-

Alan Rapoport [00:15:25] Well, I get to quiz you next.

Sarah Nemeth [00:15:29] I'll get prepared. So when did you- So when you finished college, what did you do?

Alan Rapoport [00:15:38] Well, after I finished college, I wasn't sure what to do. Had two thoughts in mind. I was always used to going to school and then going to school and then going to school, and I was sort of torn between whether I wanted to go to graduate school in history, which was my major, or go to law school. So I took the grad records and the law boards, hoping that I'd get some signal of which I was more ready to go to. And I got about equal results on both of them, so it was no help at all. My faculty advisor and others nominated me for something called a Watson Fellowship, which they said I would be eligible for only if I at least applied to a graduate school. So I did. I ended up not getting the fellowship, but I ended up getting accepted at Northwestern in the PhD program. And I got in the car, and I drove out to Evanston, Illinois. And I booked into the YMCA for the night, planning to get up the next day to get an apartment. And I had some kind of nightmare that night. I woke up in a cold sweat the next morning. And the only thing I could think of at the time was I got to take some time off, think about this. So I didn't enroll. They told me that I could reapply in a year if I really wanted to. I came back to Cleveland. I spent a miserable year living at home with my parents and working in a grocery store, after which I ended up going to law school.

Sarah Nemeth [00:17:28] And where did you go to law school?

Alan Rapoport [00:17:29] Case Western Reserve. Life seems to have dumped me in certain directions. I applied to four colleges, got accepted at one. I applied to several law schools. I got accepted at one. But I personally believe that sometimes life is like being a roulette ball. You fall into the slot you're supposed to fall into and things work out the way they're supposed to. And Kenyon worked out very well for me. So did Case Western reserve. That worked out fine, too.

Sarah Nemeth [00:18:02] While in law school, where did you live?

Alan Rapoport [00:18:05] That's a good question. I moved out of the family home. I moved into Coventry. I moved into an apartment on Euclid Heights Boulevard, which was just around the corner from Coventry. There was a one-bedroom apartment that had come available. A guy that I went to junior high school was living there with his wife and child, and she just got pregnant. She was about to have a second child, so they felt they'd outgrown the place. And I moved into his apartment, which was fairly unique. Peter was a very interesting artist. And he had painted the ceiling of the living room with a picture of Emiliano Zapata in depth in front of the mountains of Mexico in very vivid red and blue and yellow colors. It was extraordinary picture on the entire ceiling. And I was in the front of the building. And people walking up the sidewalk during the summertime when the windows were open could look up through the front windows and see my ceiling. So, interesting place. And over the head of the picture of Zapata ceiling was the Zapatista motto, Tierra y Libertad, Land and liberty. Because Peter was very fond of anarchist themes. And I thought that this was totally appropriate for somebody going to law school to be living under an anarchist ceiling. So I took up residence in that apartment and was literally a stone's throw away from the Heights Art Theater just around the corner on Euclid Heights Boulevard.

Sarah Nemeth [00:19:44] Was there a large student population that kind of lived around you near Coventry, or had they not migrated yet?

Alan Rapoport [00:19:53] I don't think there were a lot of students there that I knew of. There probably were, because there was a lot of rental housing there, and I really didn't know all the people that lived in all the places there. A lot of my classmates had chosen to live in dormitories on campus. Basically, the critical mass of people that I knew in Coventry, at least initially, were people that I grew up with. I grown up in the Roxboro Junior high School District, and Roxboro was composed of people who had come from different elementary school districts. I had come from the Fairfax district, but Roxboro was also the place where the Coventry school district went to. So a lot of the people that I knew from Roxboro and Heights were living in Coventry at the time, and I met a lot of other people through them over time. It was an easier place to meet people at the time because the interactions were very different than they are today. There were places where people actually could get to meet.

Sarah Nemeth [00:21:11] Was that your first experience in Coventry, or had you visited there previously?

Alan Rapoport [00:21:16] I'd been there on occasion before that, but it was kind of episodic and rare. I didn't really hang out there and really didn't have a long history with the place at all. I remember some years earlier going to a movie at the Heights Art Theater. It was well-known at the time as being an art theater, that they would show movies that the other theaters, and there were a lot more theaters than there are now, but the big budget movies were shown at the other places. And then I remember the movie that I saw at the Heights Art Theater. It was The Mouse That Roared, with Peter Sellers, and one would not think of that as an art movie today because you could see it on cable. It shows quite frequently. But at the time, this was the only movie theater in town where you could see a movie like that. And the Heights Art Theater was cultivating an image. If you went into the lobby of the Heights Art Theater, they had in the one corner there a coffee machine and free coffee. They were little cups of coffee. But this, I thought, was just very elegant. And I was just totally blown away by just the image of all of this. It was a great, great place at the time.

Sarah Nemeth [00:22:43] What was your first impression, other than it was a place that you could easily meet people when you first moved to Coventry?

Alan Rapoport [00:22:51] Well, it wasn't just easily meeting people. They were just frequent interactions. There were places where there were interactions. There were two, I thought, critical masses in particular. One was. One was Tommy's, and the original Tommy's was a very small place. And I know from your podcast with Tommy, he's described how people often had to share tables there. What he didn't mention is we bussed our own trays. And by virtue of sitting with people and other people sitting down next to you, you actually started up conversations, and you began to develop relationships. The other was Irv's Deli, which was open late, and you could sit there and nurse a cup of coffee with a bunch of people, and then friends of friends would stop over and sit down in the booth with you. And this is, once again a way that you began to network and develop more relationships. I also got to meet some people who were involved in a local neighborhood group, Coventry Neighbors, and that was another kind of intro to a network of people who lived in the area. And what these people basically all had in common was that they all were renters. There were very, very few homeowners in that general group. We were all relatively poor economically, and we shared a common experience. Some of my friends had spent a lot more time in Coventry. They were very familiar with it. They had much longer history than me. They had war stories of their own. Coventry at the time had a lot more retail activity going on. There was the Leather Shop. There was Record Revolution. There were a number of stores there that catered to specific needs of a neighborhood in terms of commercial activity. Not so much now. A friend of mine once observed that any business where you put food in your mouth does well in Coventry, but he might have added or alcohol, and it's retail is struggling all over this country, and Coventry is no great exception to that. But over time, there were a variety of businesses that came and went.

Sarah Nemeth [00:25:34] So you moved to Coventry, so I guess that would be like the early seventies or mid seventies?

Alan Rapoport [00:25:42] Yeah, it would have been about 1972, I think would be about right.

Sarah Nemeth [00:25:48] Do you know when the Coventry Neighbors started?

Alan Rapoport [00:25:51] Oh, Coventry Neighbors predated me. It had been around for a while. There was a group of people who were fairly active at that time. One or two who are still around, actually, who have a little longer history with the organization than I did. But one of them was Susanna Niermann O'Neill, who's at city hall. She's an assistant city manager now. She and her husband Dennis, were active well before me, and it wasn't a very active organization past a certain level. It was a social type of organization. The newsletter they had was more prone to publish recipes than anything else. And they had regular meetings, but I can't say I know a lot about what they did before I came along. The only project that I know of is that they had had somebody who I never met who had been involved in a tree project. He was trying to get the merchants to pay for having trees put in front of their individual businesses. Worked out some kind of deal with the city where if the merchant would pony up $50, they'd put a tree in front of their store. And when I came along, all the easy sales had been made, but the streets still look kind of bare. And I had been involved in a tree project at Kenyon. So I sort of picked it up and managed to get about another 15 to 20 trees planted on the street, which was really scraping the bottom of the barrel, because these were the people who had said no. And I had to seriously work on persuading them to say yes. But at any rate, I sort of got into the spirit of getting involved with Coventry Neighbors because I kind of liked the people. And I thought it was an interesting way to learn more about what was going on around me. Found that if I was active in Coventry Neighbors, I had an excuse to walk in to see some of these merchants and to say, hi, I'm from Coventry Neighbors. And the first thing they thought was, what is this, the Coventry Neighbors Benevolent Society or something? I said, no, no, no. This is a neighborhood group that just live around here. Most of the merchants didn't live around there, and so they were, in some ways, a foreign group to us. We coexisted in the same space during limited periods of time, but our objectives and attitudes were distinctly different. And there were a few exceptions. Tommy's family lived in the area, but most of the merchants are perfectly happy to get in their cars and leave at the end of the day.

Sarah Nemeth [00:28:53] Wow, that's really surprising. I didn't know that they didn't- I mean, a place where they're serving a local community and they don't even live in the community.

Alan Rapoport [00:29:05] Well, I don't think that's uncommon with merchants in general. A lot of people that open up stores that see an economic opportunity, but that's not home. That's not where they live during their free time. And I don't think Coventry was any different that way. I don't mean to suggest that these people didn't care at all about what was going on around them, but sometimes getting them to be community-minded was... difficult. [laughs] We found that out when we started running street fairs, but we reached an understanding of sorts about goals we had in common. And we got along. There were some that were very community-minded. Some that I think others would have been surprised at being how community minded they were. But, you know.

Sarah Nemeth [00:30:05] So I did read the Coventry Neighbors, Inc. Newsletter. And in January 1976, I found this really interesting and fascinating, but you broke this, that the area was slowly running out of cheap apartments. "When the hippie leaves Coventry because he cannot afford to live here anymore, there are some that will be glad to see him go. However, it should be remembered that is the hippie who made Coventry chic." Do you remember seeing that or writing that, rather?

Alan Rapoport [00:30:40] I don't specifically remember writing it, but I'll stand behind the sentiment there. When I first moved into Coventry, my one-bedroom apartment was $96 a month. Yeah, wow is right. And actually, it stayed at $96 a month for quite some time, even when rents all around me were rising because my absentee landlord didn't have a clue what rents were like in the area. He just owned property there. And in addition to that, the understanding was, you're paying low rent, but you're getting low services. [laughs] Furnace didn't always work, but it was obvious at a certain point that rents were rising, that there was more demand. And in terms of supply, supply was actually being reduced. There was a very sizable apartment building just down the block from me on Euclid Heights Boulevard. It was known in the neighborhood as Crazy Susie's building. Crazy Susie Karis. I never met the woman, but she was kind of famous or infamous. And her building was acquired or somehow taken over and the whole building was knocked down. And a parking lot was built over there. So there were residential areas that were being taken out of the supplies chain. There was Rock Court, which was ratty in the extreme and horrible condition housing, but still housing. And that was eventually all knocked down for an expansion of a parking lot, too. So, yeah, there was a definite sense that I had at various times that the demographics were changing. I wouldn't quite call it gentrification, but if you raise the rents, then you're obviously changing the nature of the people who can afford to be there. And there were a number of people who had lived in Coventry over the years who had lived in other places, like East Cleveland or Hessler Road or places where the housing stock was pretty marginal, but the rents were low. And this tended to have the effect of encouraging certain people to be able to live there. And a lot of these people did bring a certain attitude and sometimes talent to the community. They could quite often be very artistic. They certainly did provide local color. I always referred to Coventry in particular in Cleveland Heights in general as being kind of like the Cleveland Zoo. You could come from outside. You could see all of the different kinds of animals. You could ooh and ah, and then you could leave. So a lot of people thought that Coventry was a great place to hang out for that reason, especially kids, teenagers, young adults, because there weren't a lot of places to go and hang out. And it was also a place where you were less likely, if you were hanging out, to get shooed away by the police or complained on by the merchants or anything. There was a certain attitude about Coventry at the time that all these people are kind of crazy and wacko and politically extreme, and they're all probably at least smoking marijuana, probably shooting up heroin. God knows what they're doing, which was totally overblown. But there was this impression that people could be in Coventry who were sometimes really weird. And actually, that part is true, because there was a mental institution called Fairhill. And at the time, there were a lot of people who were basically incarcerated there because they were having bad mental problems and they'd be put on medications. Well, the social attitude began to change at some point, and Fairhill began releasing people. It became a revolving door. Well, if you walked out of Fairhill and you walked to Beachwood Place, they wouldn't tolerate that. But if somebody who walked out of Fairhill walked into Coventry, well, that was local color. So these people could go there and not get hassled or harassed, and they could sometimes be crazy. Like General Stanley Ware, first four-star Jewish general in the Air Force.

Sarah Nemeth [00:35:45] Was that a Coventry character?

Alan Rapoport [00:35:48] He was somebody who hung around Coventry. I was sitting at Irv's Deli one day with some friends, and Officer Mark Lovequist of the Cleveland Heights Police Department came bopping in, and he said, has anybody seen Stanley Ware? We said, no, he hadn't. And he said, well, he's off his meds. He's out of Fairhill, he's around somewhere. So, okay, fine. A little bit later, Stanley comes popping into Irv's, and he walks up to the table, and he says, I can't stay. I can't stay. Okay, Stanley, you can't stay. I can't stay. I have to go meet the Rat Pack. We're going to Vegas. [laughs] He said, Okay, Stanley, that's fine. And he marched out the door. Well, a little later, Officer Lovequist came back, and he said he had found Stanley. And we said, Well, how did you handle that? And he said, Well, I told him that I was his chauffeur, and I was taking him to Vegas. [laughs] And we said, well, what happened when you got to Fairhill? And he said, well, I told him that there was a helicopter waiting on the roof of the building to take him away. But we had people like that hanging out at Coventry from time to time. And like I said, they were kind of like local color and generally harmless. They didn't present a danger to anybody. I don't think they were terribly dangerous to themselves, which is why they got released from Fairhill from time to time, because they were not dangerous enough. But it all sort of contributed to the general reputation of the place as being a site where you could run into the unusual. And, of course, when you began to hear stories from other people about the things that they ran into. And I heard one of your podcasts about the chicken plucker on Coventry. These kind of stories, maybe they occurred in other parts of the community. I wouldn't know one way or the other, but they certainly did seem to be common enough stories in Coventry. We hear these kind of crazy stories all the time and it got to be kind of amusing.

Sarah Nemeth [00:38:13] Definitely. I mean, it's interesting how- Which will be a later question, but just how it evolves from, like, this place that I just don't understand why everyone was just attracted there. I mean, you have a good- You gave a good reason because there was Fairhill that was right there, and some people-

Alan Rapoport [00:38:31] Well, but there were different groups of people kind of coexisting. I think what defined Coventry in a lot of ways, for me, was the variety. And what it taught me personally was a lot about the nature of tolerance. Tolerance is a very, very difficult thing to develop. People do not instinctively feel comfortable with other people who are different from them. I don't care whether you're talking about political differences, cultural differences, racial differences. Anybody who's different than you challenges what you are in way, shape, or form. When you live in a neighborhood like Coventry, where you have such an incredible variety of people, you begin to develop a thick skin about it. You still begin to develop very strong feelings of what your preferences are for, but you begin to develop a lot of ability to defer to other people's opinions, to not get overly worked up about them, to enjoy the interchange of argument that you had from time to time. It made it a very interesting cultural mix that I thought was kind of a unique phenomenon at a certain point in time. And I enjoyed that. You know, Coventry was going through a lot of transformations of its own. Coventry Neighbors before I got involved, one of the things they were involved in was integration in the housing in Cleveland Heights. In fact, Coventry Neighbors was involved with some litigation in federal court that basically ratified the use of checkers to make sure that African Americans weren't being unfairly treated when they were applying for housing in the area. Cleveland Heights was still trying to deal with integration. They had not gotten to the point that they are today by a long shot. There were very few black students at Heights High school when I was there, and obviously, that's a lot different today. There were very few blacks in Cleveland Heights when I was growing up. In fact, there was a bombing at one time that really kind of galvanized the community because a black family moving in was put at serious physical risk because of something like that. And it kind of sent a shockwave through the community. Cleveland Heights is also dealing with what was called blockbusting. Blockbusting was a well-known real estate technique where realtors would come in and basically try to literally scare people into fleeing so that they could drive down the price of housing and sell it to black families who were not as well off financially. This also seemed sent a very big chill through the community, because people were unsure whether Cleveland Heights was going to, quote, turn into East Cleveland, unquote. East Cleveland was a community that was a very wealthy, affluent community at one time. And what seemed like overnight, it flipped from almost all white to almost all black and became poor, decrepit, economically disadvantaged. It's a disaster. It still is. And it's just on the border of Cleveland Heights. And the question was, is it going to happen in Cleveland Heights? That it didn't was probably due to establishment of a lot of strong social institutions in Cleveland Heights and a rather determined attitude that people weren't just going to simply get frightened and pick up and split. Also, I think it helped that we maintained a pretty good set of public services. People felt that they got good police protection, good fire protection. They paid high taxes. But the bargain was, you're paying a lot and you're getting a lot. And I think people generally came to accept that at the time. Coventry occupied a very small area within that larger phenomenon. And it's not like all of Cleveland Heights is Coventry, or that Coventry was completely like the rest of Cleveland Heights. But there's overlap. You couldn't live in Coventry and be immune to what was going on in the wider world.

Sarah Nemeth [00:43:28] So were there varying groups of people that frequently visited Coventry or lived in the near vicinity? So they were more than other, like, more than people that lived maybe on the opposite side going to Coventry? Do you think that they all had some degree of activism? Like an activist mind to join these housing- Trying to keep housing for African Americans fair or trying to plant trees and trying to better their community?

Alan Rapoport [00:44:07] Well, I think there was a certain level of community mindedness. There certainly was in Coventry Neighbors. We became, over time, a much more mature organization. And a lot more politically savvy about what we were doing. I got involved with it fairly heavily. I became president of the organization. I became editor of the Coventry Village Newsletter. And I decided to be more tactical with the newsletter. We decided to use it as a trumpet of sorts. And we developed the organization around what we subsequently learned would be called smoke and mirrors. That sometimes the image is what people perceive to be the reality. So that, for instance, every time somebody had a business development that they wanted to do in the general coventry area. They often needed to go to the city to get zoning variants of some kind. We made it a point to send a representative to each and every member meeting of the Board of Zoning Appeals and publicly state our position on it, pro or con. We got to be fairly sophisticated in our understanding of zoning as a result of that. And we also raised our visibility. The newsletter- We expanded the mailing list. We stopped printing recipes. We started printing more stories about what was happening in the area. This had the effect, first of all, of educating us about what was going on because we were spending time asking questions and talking to people. But we did one other thing. I put on the mailing list members of the media. There was a lot more media at the time, in some ways and a lot less in other ways. There were three major newspapers at the time. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Cleveland Press. And the Sun Press. I put their beat reporters on the list there. And they would republish information we had put in there. Especially the gossip columnist for the Plain Dealer, a woman named Mary Strassmeyer. She was very fond of reprinting our stuff from time to time. Thank you, Mary. We didn't even pay you for that. All of which had the benefit of expanding the appearance of our activity. Made us, in some ways seem more formidable than maybe we were. But it gave us some influence because, as we - I say we because it wasn't just me, there were a number of other people who were actively involved in this, and they were pretty smart, articulate people on their own. And they did have some impact as a result of that. We were a little bit more in control of our environment. As a result of being a little bit more active and a little less passive about what was going on around us.

Sarah Nemeth [00:47:21] Do you think, in retro, like, where do you think the hippies went?

Alan Rapoport [00:47:29] In some ways, they didn't go anywhere. [laughs] They got older. A lot of the people that I knew are still around. They're working in various capacities. One friend of mine who went into the vegetable business, and he buys stuff at the market and sells it to restaurants, and they- They got married. They had families. They are still, to some extent, around. They don't dress funny. They don't walk up and down the street stoned out of their minds. They- But they're still around. They. And then, unfortunately, some of them just plain old died. They got older. I can think of several of my friends who were living in Coventry that are no longer around now that had passed away over past several decades, who I miss because they were very unique, interesting characters. They were very smart and a little flaky. But they- I think. I don't know whether they would all accept the idea that they were hippies, but, yeah, I think they would fit the criteria to a large extent. On the other hand, I meet a lot of 20-somethings these days who are indistinguishable from the people that I met when I was in Coventry. It's like- [laughs]

Sarah Nemeth [00:49:03] Do you mean hipsters?

Alan Rapport [00:49:04] Oh, well, I wouldn't call them hipsters either. I told one young woman she was absolutely a hippie. And she was exactly what I remember from the sixties just to a T, dressed the same way, acted the same way, same kind of attitude. I don't know. Maybe this stuff is cyclical.

Sarah Nemeth [00:49:21] Perhaps. So, it seems that something kind of happens in the 1980s. Or at least I got that impression from reading the Coventry Newsletter that, I don't know if that's the case.

Alan Rapoport [00:49:41] What do you think happened? [laughs]

Sarah Nemeth [00:49:43] I don't know. It just seemed that there's a whole bunch of people that got together with this youth culture, the counterculture movement. And they really flourished in Coventry in 1970s, in the late 1960s, and then almost the powers that be started to capitalize on what this image and illusion that they created and trying to perpetuate that illusion even though it was no longer there.

Alan Rapoport [00:50:14] I don't think that's entirely fair. I think some of us became some of them in the process of that. I began to get personally politically active in the period of around 1977 on. At the time, there were two political factions in Cleveland Heights. Cleveland Heights had nominally nonpartisan elections for city council. And I don't know how aware you are of the city manager form of government. We have a city manager form of government. Most of the people in this community don't understand what form of government they live under. It's appalling. There were only a couple of communities in Cuyahoga County that have city manager forms. In the city manager form of government, you have a city council that's elected at large and they're elected on a staggered basis, four-year terms. Approximately half the council is up every two years. And then after the council is elected, the council, the seven members, pick one of their members to be the president of consul with the title of mayor. The council as a whole hires a person to be the city manager. City manager is in charge of the entire apparatus of city administration. So the flow chart is you've got the city council, the city manager, everybody else underneath the city manager. That's pretty much it, although there are some nuances to it. But at any rate, elections are nonpartisan. But they weren't really nonpartisan. There were two groups at the time. One was called the Committee for Heights Progress, and the other was called the Citizens for Effective Heights Government. Now, you would have thought that the Committee for Heights Progress were the liberals. You'd be wrong. The Committee for Heights Progress were the Republicans. And Republicans ran Cleveland Heights for ages, for longest, longest period of time. The Committee for Effective Heights Government, which you would think would be the conservatives, those were the liberals, and they were kind of the insurgents. Well, I got involved in the campaign at the time because I had one big issue that was ticking me off big time. Parking. Couldn't find a place to park my car in Coventry. Lived in an apartment building. The city had a deep institutional dislike for on-street parking, but there were no parking lots, so they had no choice but to allow on-street parking. But the rules were bizarre. For instance, on Euclid Heights Boulevard, you could not park during rush hour on one side of the street, morning rush hour on one side, evening rush hour on the other. If you parked your car overnight and you overslept, your car might be towed. I did not find this to be a very pleasant thing when it happened to me. And I felt the attitude at city hall was distinctly bad on the subject of parking. And I got the distinct impression that since we were all a bunch of kids living in Coventry and we were renters, we were sort of disregarded as well. You're not homeowners. We don't think you're serious people. And I didn't particularly like that. So I got involved with the political campaign of the people who were going to kick- The liberals, who were going to kick the conservatives out, and they did. They won two seats in one election. They won two seats in the next election. They had a four to three majority, and bingo, they were going to take over the government. And I thought, great, we'll get better parking situation. We did not. I found that the new team was, in some ways as frustrating as the old team. So in, I think it was 1977, I got involved with a friend of mine. We filed a lawsuit against the city of Cleveland Heights, charging them with not following the terms of a grant for the Rockefeller grant of Forest Hill Park, because they were developing paid parking inside the park and banning parking, free parking on the street. And I thought this was a violation of the terms of the grant to the park. And being somewhat mischievous at the time, I made sure that the filing occurred about a couple of weeks before the election. I made sure that we got articles put in all three newspapers about the lawsuit. Then mayor of Cleveland Heights lost his reelection by 67 votes. Somebody subsequently asked me if I thought I had anything to do with that. I said, I hope so. [laughs] Can't tell for sure, but. So the conservative Republicans took over the council again. And I had learned a lot from this experience about the nature of political activity. I'd been involved in nothing while I was at law school, but we had one interesting incident, and we had a guy by the name of Clarence Peavey. And when I started out of law school, they had an election for student bar association. And all my classmates wanted this on their resume. God knows why, but useless organization. But we'd only been there a few weeks. Nobody knew anybody else. Clarence Beavey had an inspiration. He went out and he went to a mimeograph machine, and he printed out a piece of political literature, and it said, Vote for Clarence Peavey. And that's all it said. And he stuck one in everybody's mailbox. He got twice as many votes as the next nearest person. He didn't complete the first year of law school. Most of my classmates have no recollection who he was. And he won. And I sat back and I thought, well, this is marvelous. This is interesting. This is how it works. So, having seen what political campaigns were like, I decided to run for city council. And I was advised by the liberals in particular. They said, you can't possibly win. And I said, well, gee, I grew up in this community, and I have a lot of friends, and I can compete. I managed to put enough money together to get a piece of literature printed, but I didn't have enough to pay postage to mail it. So I used all my friends to hand deliver it door to door throughout Cleveland Heights. And it's a very big community, and we must have covered maybe 80% to 90% of Cleveland Heights with that piece of literature. And they were right. I lost by about 70 votes. [laughs] And, of course, the next day, I was almost Councilman Rapoport. That didn't mean anything. And people said, well, you'll run again next time, and you'll win. And I said, well, yeah, which of the incumbents am I supposed to beat next time? Well, when the next election came around, lo and behold, two of the three incumbents decided not to run for reelection. So I had suddenly become the second most recognizable name on the ballot, and I did get elected on the city council. And. But we were still- I was somewhat allied still with the liberals, with the Democrats, and we were a minority on the council. I found myself getting along very well with the Republicans on the council because I didn't have the attitude that the- I didn't have the history, perhaps, but I didn't have the attitude of assuming that they were the enemy. I felt that there were things that we could cooperate on. And actually, the Republicans on council had a very refreshing attitude. They said, well, we have to speak to the city manager forcefully, and if we do this by a five to two vote, it's not as good as if we do it by a six to one vote or a seven to zero vote. So they said, well, what can we give you to get your vote too? And I thought, well, okay, fine. I can do this. This is fine. And it's not like we had pressing issues of personality or philosophy. Asphalt has no political philosophy at the end of the day. So I learned a lot about government from that. And as I said before, I had some awkward history with the Democratic faction anyhow because of the parking issue. And I found that the Republicans were actually quite civil on many occasions, and it was just business. So I got shoehorned into politics. Now, all this was happening in the late seventies, and my first election was '77 when I lost; '79 was when I got elected. In '81, or it might have been '79, I'm losing track of the years here, the third time cycle out, a couple more Democrats got elected, and the balance sort of shifted. And at that point, there were five Democrats on the council and two Republicans. And the question was, who was going to be mayor? Takes four votes. Well, we had three Democrats who were interested in being mayor. One was Jack Boyle, who was a former mayor, and he had two votes, and one was Dick Wygant, who wanted to be mayor and he had one vote, and the other was me, and I had two votes. So we had kind of a standstill, and nobody was budging. So I decided to do something terribly nervy. I went to see the two Republicans, and I said, which Democrat would you prefer? And they said without hesitation, me. I said, Why? They said, well, these other guys, past history and everything, they were afraid that these other guys were going to hold party caucuses and they were going to make decisions and that these two Republicans wouldn't have an opportunity to participate. They would just be left out in the cold. And they didn't like that. They didn't trust the situation. And I said, fine, I'll make you two commitments. One commitment is anything serious we discuss, we'll discuss this in committee of the whole. All seven of us will talk about it. I said, I can't promise you that there may not be some split votes from time to time, but you're never going to be backdoored on this thing. The other thing is that I'm always going to do whatever I think is in the best interest of the community, and that's where I'm coming from. And Bob Arnold, who was a real gentleman, I had worked with him on drafting point of sale inspection ordinance for the city for housing, and we put together a really nice piece of legislation on that. He said he could vote for me, but he wanted something in return. Said, well, what is that? And he said, well, the mayor can belong to something called the Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association. And he said they have golf tournaments. And he said he wanted the golf tickets. And I said, well, that's fine. I don't play golf. I said, why do you want the golf tickets? He said he liked to watch the other mayors cheat on their scores. Fine, Bob, you can have the golf tournament. I don't know if he ever went, but that was the deal. So that was the unholy bargain that I took. Bipartisanship, reaching across the aisle seriously. And for that, I became a permanent pariah among the Democrats in town because I had gotten elected with Republican votes. What the heck? You know, this is supposed to be a nonpartisan form of government. Silly me. So when we get into the 1980s already, I'm the mayor. You know, when you talk about them and us situation, I'm the mayor of the damn city. [crosstalk] And we had plenty of things to do. We were quite busy with all sorts of projects that needed to be looked at. We had a very quirky city manager who was a, he was a horrible people person, but he was very efficient. And it was very difficult. When I was president of Coventry Neighbors he was an absolute pain in the ass to deal with. When I was mayor, he was my employee in part, and he was respectful, responsive. It's like Jekyll and Hyde. But he was very good at what he did and very creative on a number of different levels. We did a lot during the eighties to really revolutionize city government. And I really give him the majority of the credit for it. We ratified it, but he initiated just about all of it. I ran for council, accusing the city of having an edifice complex. I thought I was being cute. Okay, great, Alan. So you get into office, and what happens while you're there? You build a new city hall. You eliminate three fire stations and build two brand-new ones. You completely remodel Cain Park and build an amphitheater. You build a brand new police academy. You put in $12 million of waterline improvements. You put in another $10 million of street improvements. You pass a streets and sewers bond issue in order to do it. I'm the biggest hypocrite in the history of the town, but we needed these things. And Rich Robinson did other things that were very cutting edge. When he first got involved, our city treasurer was practically using an abacus to operate the city finances. He computerized it and brought us into the 20th century and so many other things that were done in terms of personnel. The police department was incredibly efficient. And I think a lot of that was we had a very talented police chief, which helped a lot. Relocation of the fire services meant that we had paramedics now who could respond quicker. We decreased cost by moving from three stations to two. We centralized the location, which meant that the response time was considerably less, which is great if you need an ambulance, or a fire truck for that matter. So win-win. Best, better services at less cost. What the heck? So all this stuff was going on in Cleveland Heights as we were trying to develop a more active and energetic and efficient delivery of municipal services. And then there was Coventry. And I still lived in Coventry, so I was still involved with my old friends there. I had been involved in founding the street fair that- Going on and on. Is this okay?

Sarah Nemeth [01:07:03] Yeah, this is great.

Alan Rapoport [01:07:06] The street fair was originally started by the merchants. And the Coventry neighbors helped them out because in order to operate the street fair as it was then developed, you had to block off all the side streets and re-divert the traffic. And we provided the manpower to do that. But the merchants were pigs about the whole thing. They just wanted this to be for them and nothing else. And they solicited no input from us about what to do or how to do it. And one of these fairs, I saw Peter, the guy who I'd gotten that apartment from. He was on the street trying to sell some of his artwork. And the merchants got the police to kick him out. And I saw that, and I thought, what the hell are we doing this for? Why are we doing this? And these people are picking on local people here, not letting them participate in it at all. Well, the next year, there wasn't going to be a street fair. Merchants weren't able to get their act together anyhow. So I convened a group of people together in my apartment on Euclid Heights. And I said, why should we have a street fair? I tried to start a tradition of basically discussing that and getting some kind of group esprit de corps about the whole thing. And we came up with a really magnificent vision that, in retrospect, was totally nuts. I mean, here are a bunch of 20 somethings, and we're going to run a street fair. And we're going to block off all the streets that access into Coventry Road. And we're going to turn Coventry Road into one big, huge stadium. Put three bandstands up, one on each end and one in the middle. And we're going to wire them with electricity. We're going to get bands to play on all these bandstands. One of the guys I went to high school, a guy named David Budin, who you really should talk about. He writes a lot of articles about his days in Coventry. David knew a lot of people in the music field. So he was able to get people to play music for free. Just pick a party. We're going to give you a bandstand and give you a slot of time. And we're going to give you electricity to wire up to and great. We took an area of a parking lot and we created a craft area for people to sell art in. One of the people that we knew was very well wired into the local artist community. So she wanted to do juried art. And I said, well, fine, but I'm a little concerned about people like Peter who might not qualify. And we worked out a compromise. The compromise was anybody local who wanted to sell their art, if they didn't make the cut for the jury, we would put them somewhere on the street and give them a plot plot to operate in. Then we took every spot in front of every storefront and we said, okay, we want something going on in front of every spot here. And we went to the merchants. And we said, we have to defray the cost of the fare. The city is going to require us to pay for a certain contingent of police to be there. And we have to pay for the electrical hookups and garbage containers and all sorts of things. And they said. Some of them said, yeah, okay, we'll do that. Some of them said, no. And I said, okay, if you say no, we're going to sell your space to somebody else. And they said, you can't do that. And I said, watch me. I said, if you want to pay us to leave that space in front of you blank, that's fine. But if you don't pay us, we're going to sell the spot to somebody else. Well, a few did pay to keep their spots blank, but most of the merchants did say they would like to participate and have a spot there. And we did another thing. We said to community groups, you want to set up a booth and hawk your pamphlets or whatever, fine. We also told other people if they wanted to set up food booths, we'd give them spots where they could do something like that. And so we had this whole grandiose idea of all of these different activities occurring simultaneously. Then publicity. What were we going to do about that? Well, there were a group of guys who were deejays at WMMS, and they lived in an apartment building around the corner from Coventry. And so we came up with an inspiration. We went to the WMMS and we said, well, we're a nonprofit. How about giving us a public service announcement that we're having a street fair? They said, great. Gives them brownie points with the FCC, and we get all this free publicity. So they put all this stuff out onto the airwaves that there's this big street fair going on. Okay, day of the street fair, I'm standing at the corner of Coventry in Euclid Heights, and I'm looking down the street. It's a Friday. It looks like a typical Friday. And I'm thinking, boy, we just failed. This thing was just a total bust. And then people started arriving, arriving and arriving and arriving and arriving. Oh, my God. The whole street is full up, from sidewalk to sidewalk, just a sea of people. Have you ever been to the Feast of the Assumption? Looked like that, only it was all of Coventry Road. And we had the three bandstands going on, and we had the crafts area, and we had all these crazy social groups doing things. And some of them were really crazy. We had somehow managed to locate two different Communist Party groups across the street from each other that didn't like each other. So they were yelling at each other in their megaphones, at each other, back and forth, crazy stuff. But everybody is having a very good time. And it was just an incredible bust-out social event. I still can't believe that the chief of police let us do it. I'd gone to meet with him about setting this thing all up, and he said, sure, we'll stop here and there and there and there, and everything will be fine. I'm looking at him thinking, really? You're really going to let us do this? And he did. And we had a contingent of police officers there that the city had required, and we had ten police officers, and we must have had maybe 40, 50,000 people. And I'm thinking, this is- I hope this works out good, this works out bad, it can work out very bad. [laughs] But we did the street fair several years in a row, and we got better at it. We learned things over time. One thing we learned was not to do it on Friday night. We changed it to make it a Saturday and a Sunday, two-day street fair. Another thing we learned is to tone down the music. If you want to affect the attitude of the party, affect the atmosphere. So we didn't have, want any heavy metal. We didn't even want any real raucous rock and roll. We had a lot of soft rock, pop, folk type of stuff, good music. And we had occasionally some things that were kind of mixed in. We had a reggae band, I-tal, that was there, and they're still playing, playing around town. But these were very popular groups, well-known musicians in some cases. And thanks to David, we had really good quality musicians there. And that sort of helped with the attitude, too. We discovered things like, how do you make 40 to 50,000 people go home? Not easy. The permit ends at a certain time. And how do you get them all to go home? Well, we came up with a plan for that. What we did was we closed the fair down an hour before the permit actually ended. We told the people who were selling stuff on the street or had stands open on the street that they had to close. Now, some of them were very reluctant to do that because they were making money. And I went up to one of them and they said, yeah, yeah, yeah, I'll close in a few minutes. I said, no, you don't understand. You're closing right now. And they said, well, you know, we got things we're doing here. I said, no, if you don't close right now, don't even bother applying next year, you're not getting in. They closed. I-tal, they're having a great time. The fans are loving it. Everybody's dancing, everybody's happy, but it's time to quit. I said to one of their people, technicians there, I said, you got to stop. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, we'll stop. I said, no, no, you don't understand. You have to stop right now. If you don't stop right now, we could turn off your electricity, period. And by the way, don't bother coming back next year. They stopped. Well, this, of course, gave the general impression to people that there was something ending. But then the real beautiful operation. We had city street sweepers that were going to come through to basically clean up the street. We had put these 55 gallon drums up and down the street for people to toss garbage into. And then all throughout the fair, we would empty these and take the bags and deposit them somewhere. I was in charge of that. Somebody saw me doing this and they said, who's in charge of this fair? And I looked out the little badge I had and said, I was in charge of the fair. I said, oh, yeah, you empty the garbage cans? I said, somebody does the important jobs around here, me. But there was a lot of trash that was just beyond the street there. And the street sweepers were going to come by, and they were just going to come by and swoop it up. Well, we had the street sweepers start coming through. This certainly was an indication to people that something was over and that they should move to the sidewalks, which were full up with people. So as people became uncomfortable being crunched in like that, they began to leave. Now, I mentioned the parking problem, which has always been very bad in Coventry. Where do people park to go to a Coventry street fair? Well, it's a very interesting social phenomena. There's a direct correlation between how bad you want to be someplace and how far away you're willing to park. Some people like to park right next to where they go shopping. Other people go to a shopping mall, they park out in the middle of a parking lot. They walk a huge distance to get to the mall, and then they walk another huge distance to get to a store. Psychological distance, not necessarily physical distance. So people were parking a mile away from Coventry and walking because they had to. There was no place closer to park. But we did learn how to diffuse people out and to get them to go home. And the police cars were going up and down the street, and somebody was blaring out on their megaphone, "The fair is over! Moved onto the sidewalk! The fair is over!" So I grabbed Lester Legata, the lieutenant who was in charge of the detail, and I said, Lester, this is not right. Guys gotta be a little more diplomatic than that. So he walks on his walkie talkie, blah, blah, blah, and next thing you know, the police officer in the car is saying, "Please move to the sidewalk. Street fair is over. Thank you for coming." [laughs] We learned a lot and we got pretty good at it. And when I became- When I got elected, I was no longer in charge of the street fair. And other people took over in subsequent years. Bruce Hennes, who you met, he did it a few years. And I had one big issue with Bruce because Bruce, his first meeting of the street fair committee, they just plunged right into planning the details. And I said, Bruce, whatever happened to sitting down and discussing why you're doing it? And he said, well, we already know that. He subsequently admitted to me that was a mistake. That really developing a group attitude about these things is an important part of a community type of event. And the fair began to get bigger and bigger. And Bruce being Bruce, he would always kind of hype- I thought he was hyping the attendance figures. One year was 50,000, the next year was 70,000, the next year was 100 million. I don't know where he got these numbers from. It's not like somebody was taking attendance or anything. But the fair began to get bigger and bigger and bigger. Clearly bigger in terms of the number of people there. And this got to be a little worrisome because there hadn't been any real severe problems. There have been a couple of problems, a couple of issues. I remember one of your podcasts, somebody was talking about somebody pissing in Dick Weigand's front yard. I'd heard that story separately, but the first year we had the fair. It was a Friday night. There was a bar that used to be on Coventry, was called the C-Saw Cafe, was next to what was then the Pick and Pay, which is now Dave's [Marc's]. And this was a Hell's Angels hangout at one time. And that Friday night of the fair, I was standing on Mayfield Road, corner of Coventry and Mayfield, with the police chief, Chief Lentz, and he gets a call in his walkie talkie that there's some guys standing on top of the C-Saw Cafe chucking beer bottles at the cops. Chief Lentz was a rather large man, and I, to this day, do not believe how fast he moved up the street. I could not keep up with him. And he got all the way down there. And this man had a military mind. He just took his police officers. He said, get those guys off there. Get that cleared up. Boom, boom, boom. It was over. It's over. And most people who were at the fair had no idea this had even occurred. I went across the street subsequently. I ran into Jack Boyle, who was the mayor of Cleveland Heights at the time, and he said, how's the street fair going? He was having dinner. I said, well, except for the riot at the C-Saw, it's going fine. His jaw dropped. [laughs] I said, we took care of it. It's all right. It's over. There's nothing there. It's gone. But we always worried that that Woodstock would turn into Altamont. We were very conscious that those kind of things can happen. And that's where the genesis came of the decision to call the eighties to a close and have the street fair- Decided to end it. [sound of leaf blower] It was decided by the people who were then in with Coventry Neighbors to end it rather than wait for it to become a problem, because it was becoming more and more difficult to deal with all of these little side issues that were developing. And so a community meeting was held. There was a vote taken, and the vote was to stop doing it.

Sarah Nemeth [01:23:34] Do you think some of the reason that it also stopped was because people kind of started to lose the whole purpose behind doing it? Like, it started to be not about the local neighbors in the community?

Alan Rapoport [01:23:51] Well, I don't think so. My neighbor Howard, the obsessive-compulsive guy, he's always operating his power machinery at inappropriate hours- You can see there's virtually no leaves there for him to clean, but he's still out there with this power machinery trying to clear the leaves. Sorry about that.

Sarah Nemeth [01:24:12] Oh, no, it's not a problem. This is direct. It will only pick up you.

Alan Rapoport [01:24:15] Oh, okay. Well, I don't know that that was the case, that there was a loss of spirit or passing of the guard or anything like that. It was just a concern that we had been lucky, and we didn't want to run out of luck. That sometimes events are transitory. They happen for as long as they do, and then they don't happen any longer. And then they become fond memories. And I think everybody wanted to feel good about having had street fairs. And there were a lot of people in the general community who kind of bemoaned the fact that there wasn't a street fair, as if they had anything to do with it other than attending it. I mean, street fairs were physically exhausting things to deal with, I was running up and down the street. And even after I got into office. I was still helping out with the street fair. I said, these were my friends at Coventry Neighbors who were running these things. And we were just really, really physically exhausted at the end of these street fairs. It was just. We were elated, and it was just a lot of fun to do. We were all walking up and down through this crowd of 40, 50, 60,000 people with walkie talkies to find each other. And then I'd come up with an idea of- We'd had a Coventry neighbor's logo, and I got them made into a silkscreen and put onto a bright yellow t-shirt, which initially I got some blowback about because somebody thought it looked too paramilitary. And I said, well, how else are you supposed to find each other in a crowd like this? [laughs] Got to have some visual ability to spot each other. So it was great camaraderie and a lot of fun and a lot of challenge. And I think it was kind of important in other ways. Coventry had had a couple of really bad fires during the seventies. And I think that these fires were bad enough and located in strategic enough places that under other circumstances, they could have killed the neighborhood. They could have seriously damaged the commercial image of the area. And there was some serious worry at the time that we couldn't pull off a street fair as a result of that. But we did, and I think that some of that was kind of intended to keep Coventry and the general community vision as a vibrant place. A place where you might want to go to the shop or to go to a restaurant or just watch the weird people or whatever. So I think there was that attitude mixed in as well. We were trying to defend the turf.

Sarah Nemeth [01:27:33] Yeah. Do you think that Coventry was always a destination, or did it become one more so as the years went on?

Alan Rapoport [01:27:42] Well, it's hard for me to say. I mean, there came a point in time when I moved out of Coventry, here, on Compton Road, my country estate where mayors go to die. Frank Cain used to live on this street. Cain Park. First mayor of Cleveland Heights. I don't know, but my sense of Coventry these days, and I don't know if I totally understand everything that's going on, but I don't see the same kind of local culture there that I've seen in the past. I mean, there's still people living in the apartment buildings around that area. It's still a densely populated area. Those people are still- There are people physically present. But I don't sense the infrastructure activity among people who live there. The activities that occur there these days are being done by different kinds of groups. The merchants tried to create a new Coventry street fair. They never bothered asking us about any of our experience with the old one. Subsequently, they had a problem. They didn't know how to close the fair down. So what happened? I was there and I suddenly saw this whole group of kids, like a group of minnows, just flooding down the street. They were all basically texting each other. They'd heard that it was some kind of something going down the street, fight or whatever. And they all go racing down the street. Now, talk about something that's a disturbing image to a bunch of people with their families there. They see a bunch of kids, kids flooding down the street, primarily black, and with no idea what was going on, all of which was avoidable. And if they had asked us about our experience with closing down street fairs, I would have told them, but they had no contact with us, and they were doing their own thing, and they wanted to make use of the Coventry street fair idea to make money. I'm a capitalist. I have no problem with them doing that. But I think they could have run a more aesthetic, interesting type of event than they did. The chief party thrower in town these days is the city of Cleveland Heights. They throw the party, they throw the Cain Park Arts festival, or they get involved with community relations with whatever block parties are going on. So you don't have the same kind of social dynamic that we were able to achieve at the time that I was living in Coventry. It may have been that was a unique opportunity and not easily reproducible. That's one possibility. But the neighborhood is not as conducive to some of those activities as it once was. Tommy's is still there, but Tommy's has gone through a couple of incarnations and is now a very huge place. And if you walk into Tommy's, you may see somebody you know, but you not going to get plopped right next to them at the same table. So the social interactions, except among people who already know each other, they're not the same. Irv's Deli, it's come and gone. Dirty Irv's, as we called it at the time, not the finest establishment in town, but the corned beef was dependable as long as everybody ordered it, because then it was turn over often enough and it wouldn't get bad. Irv was a horrible human being in many ways, but- Chased one of his customers down the street, firing a gun in the air.

Sarah Nemeth [01:32:03] I read about that.

Alan Rapoport [01:32:06] This was not considered to be good form. And so that's one of the reasons, when Coventry Neighbors decided to do a local option to dry him up, it's because there was a long, long, long list of police calls to that location and not just one or two incidents.

Sarah Nemeth [01:32:27] Right, like 140 something-

Alan Rapoport [01:32:28] Well, Coventry being the fairly tolerant place it was, you have to imagine what it takes to get somebody to get really ticked off there. And Irv had managed to do that, and. But it's unfortunate, but you don't have that. Some of the more colorful merchants who have been there over the years, they've come and gone, too. So the ones that are there, they may be interesting people, but I don't know who they are and they don't really raise their profile very high normally. Coventry has a local development corporation, which I helped form, by the way.

Sarah Nemeth [01:33:09] Oh, really?

Alan Rapoport [01:33:10] Oh, yeah. In order to do that, there had to be a petition signed by a sufficient number of merchants and there had to be some paperwork put together and everything. And Bruce Hennes was involved in it, and he got me to get involved in it, to do a little bit of legal work, to put the thing together. And they, of course, do things on Coventry. But that's, once again, a group of merchants, that's not a group of residents there. You don't have the outside impact and you don't have the outside priorities necessarily reflected. These are the priorities of the people that are there to run commercial enterprises. Not the same. But as I said to you before your- Four years there is the golden period. Everything before that is ancient history, and everything after that is when the place goes downhill. [laughs] It wouldn't be fair for me to say it's gone downhill. It's different. I still spend time down there. I don't spend as much. I personally find Lee Road to be more interesting, in a lot of ways, than Coventry.

Sarah Nemeth [01:34:23] The only period of time of Coventry that I haven't got anyone to talk about yet is really the nineties. [laughs] And we just kind of skipped it.

Alan Rapoport [01:34:33] It's kind of a black hole?

Sarah Nemeth [01:34:36] It is the black hole of Coventry for me right now in just its history. I know that you moved out of Coventry at that time, right? Or was it a little bit before?

Alan Rapoport [01:34:46] Well, it was sometime within that time frame. I don't remember the exact year I moved here, off the top of my head, but would have been somewhere in the nineties. I don't think I could add much to the general information about what happened in the nineties. When I walked away from stuff like that, when I- Well, I had changes in my personal life, too. We had a kid. When my daughter was born, I found myself in a very awkward position because I was trying to practice law. But being mayor of Cleveland Heights was a part-time job, and I'd had clients who came to me and said, well, I didn't bring my case to you because I thought you were a mayor and not a lawyer. I said, well, would you be interested in knowing that I get paid $4,800 a year to be mayor? Oh, really? They said. And, oh, by the way, I don't have an office at city hall. City manager does, but I don't. Oh, okay. And I thought, well, this may be getting in the way of me earning an income, and someday I may want to send my kid to college, and maybe I need to start doing a few things personally and take a different tack. So I decided to do that. I decided not to run for reelection to council after my second four-year term. I served three terms as mayor. The mayor terms were two years, every election. And I elected to try to run for a full-time political job. I ran for judge, municipal judge. That was a horrible political decision, really. I was running against an incumbent female Democrat, and the Democrats were still ticked off at me about how I became to be mayor. So I got beat pretty solidly. I wasn't totally embarrassed, but I got beat very solidly. And I thought this was a sign from above. And I felt I had been at a fork in the road. It's an old Yogi Berra joke that if you're at a fork in the road, take it. And I decided, okay, if I can't be a full-time public official, I can be a full-time lawyer. That's what I did. And when I did that, I walked away from city government. I stopped worrying about the cracks in the street. No longer my problem. I had my time and somebody else's time to deal with it. I moved out of Coventry, and I'd long since stopped being in charge of Coventry Neighbors. Other people were still doing it. The organization eventually dissolved, and we had one final get together at Tommy's, of course, all the former people Coventry Neighbors who were still around. And I had made a suggestion at that time that we take the archives of the Coventry Village News and donate them to the Cleveland Heights Historical Society. The other people thought that was a great idea. I didn't have any idea what they would do with it. I thought, well, they might stick all of these boxes in the back room somewhere where they get moldy and fall apart. But I later found out that they put them up online and that they were going to be preserved for whatever interesting value they might have. But I don't even recall how far those go chronologically. Do those go into the nineties? I don't know.

Sarah Nemeth [01:38:42] They go all the way through the 2000s, like 2003.

Alan Rapoport [01:38:46] Oh, okay. Well, it shows how much I know. I wasn't even getting the Coventry Village News at a certain point in time. And I guess part of this was that I felt, personally, that I didn't want to be the dead hand of history trying to tell everybody what we used to do in the good old days, all the things you're asking me about right now. People have to have an opportunity to do things their way and bring some freshness to the situation and maybe improve on what we did. We certainly made plenty of mistakes. We were not totally perfect at everything, and there were missed opportunities as well. And somebody else's turn comes up and they get a chance to see what they can. What they can do. And so I really don't personally know about all of that, except for brief impressions here and there. I watched the street turn over as some businesses that were very familiar, and I felt very nostalgic about, came and left. There was a business called High Tide Rock Bottom that I was- I knew the Polevois very well, and they were great, and they were very instrumental in helping us with things like street fairs and the like. And they left. And Steve Presser moved in with Big Fun eventually, and now he's gone. A lot of businesses have turned over there over time. Some are still around, some are very quirky, like Manny at the laundry there. He's been there, like, forever. Other places relocated from place to place. The Grog Shop was at one location. Now it's at a different location. But the bar that used to be there before the Grog Shop was a pretty hard-edged place, and these things come and go, too. There used to be a gas station across the street. That's the one that where the convenience store is now. That's where the bombing took place. Funny story. My friend Carl Callenborn told me. Carl was a bit of a drunk and a bit of a crazy, and he was in that bar across the street from the gas station at the time and the people in the bar got ticked off at Carl, and they threw him out of the bar. So he goes walking out the front door just at the time the explosion took place. The force of the explosion threw him back inside the bar. [laughs] The people inside the bar said, what are you doing back in this place? And they threw him out again. That's Carl. And I missed the characters there and the interesting, quirky things they used to do. Like my good friend Melvin. Melvin used to like to walk down the street. And as he walked down the street, he would throw his leg over the parking meters one at a time. Very limber. I mean, that's not an easy thing to do. One of the beat cops came over and was going to ticket him or arrest him or something for- And I was standing there and I said, for what? And he said, well, he was hitting the parking meters. I said, no, he was not. I was here. And he missed 'em clean, each and every one. Officer shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Urban areas tend to have those kind of interactions. It's what makes them kind of interesting and exciting at times, because you've got the people activity, and just the conjunction of things that people do in proximity with each other is sometimes just very amusing.

Sarah Nemeth [01:42:57] It makes a place.

Alan Rapoport [01:42:59] It can and does. There are- And I don't think that it's as easy to do today. Not impossible. I mean, there are attempts to try to recreate that from time to time on Coventry. The park-type things that they've set up in a couple of locations, I think, are attempts to do that. My kid was at Coventry school when that playground was built. I was one of the people who was digging stuff in there and putting posts in the ground. And it was people in the area there who built that park, built that recreational equipment there. I only had one major problem with it that ticks me off to these days, which is they put these benches there with no trees to create shade. So nobody sits on the benches because who wants to sit and have the sun beat down on them? Nobody. And if you're going to be there with your kid and you want to sit there on the bench and watch your kid play, it would have been nice if they had thought about that. Other places. That park that they call Pekar Park now has gone through several different incarnations where they've tried to do design to create a people dynamic there. I think most of them have been fairly unsuccessful because they've- My opinion is because they've tended to create rigid seating patterns. And I don't personally think people like rigid seating patterns. They like to go to places where they can move their chairs around and they can congregate and they can have more people join them or fewer people join them, or be sitting facing each other, or sitting facing away from each other. When you just basically have birds on a perch and you just have a long line of people to sit there like birds on a perch, the social interaction doesn't occur quite as well under those circumstances. But some of these things are learning experiences. They may come to do them better in the future. I think one factor I would say is very prominent about Coventry up to the present day is that it tends to have a lot of survival power. It tends to create a new identity from time to time. It tends to change in a reasonably orderly fashion. And I've seen some interesting news stores that have popped up there from time to time. I don't know if they'll make it, but they do. I watched the theater go through several incarnations. Doesn't seem to be doing super well right now, but I watched it move from the Heights Art Theater with the art movies to the porno theater. That was hilarious. They used to have a sign on the marquee that said - didn't have the names of the movies - it said two films daily. George Fitzpatrick, who you met, told me once that that's how I could tell whether the owner was coming to town, because George didn't want to pick a fight with anybody. He knew about the Jacobellis case, but he also knew he had a show the porn movies, but two films daily on the marquee. And then if they had the names of the movies, if it said the Stewardesses, XXX, you knew the owner was in town for some reason. And then down the street they had a business that rented DVDs. And that was basically sufficient to put things like the movie theater out of business. Why buy your porno in a movie theater when you could rent it, take it home with you? So these things sort of changed over time, one way or another. Sometimes responding to the market, sometimes responding to the local demand. And there are things there that appear to me to do rather well and are interesting activities. I think the Grog Shop is an interesting shop. I suspect it has a local following. So I suspect that it's a critical mass of people who somehow get to know each other within- I don't go there, so I don't know that absolute certainty, but it looks to me that way.

Sarah Nemeth [01:47:48] Yeah, there's like a little network of people.

Alan Rapoport [01:47:51] Well, yeah. And that's not always visible to the outsider. I mean, I think that we were visible to the outsiders because we made it a point to be visible. It was tactical on our part to be visible with things like the Coventry Village News. I don't think all of these people who live around there are friendless by a long shot. So I'm sure they do have networks of some kind. And Coventry has not fallen into dust yet, so. But I don't know what the model is going to be going on in the future. I'm not sure that retail is a really sustainable model for Coventry or anyplace else in the age of Amazon. There'll still be a place for restaurants. People still are going to want to go someplace where they have an experience and good food, rather than just simply having Amazon deliver it to them. Social activities. Coventry is now history. So the Coventry PTA and the people that developed the PEACE Park, they don't have quite the same raison-d'etre to have a social organization there. I don't know how that's going to proceed. It's interesting to me, but it's kind of abstract and hypothetical in a lot of ways. I'm still trying to cope with my personal situation. [laughs] I'm trying to retire. I'm doing a really lousy job of it.

Sarah Nemeth [01:49:40] Well, that was my last question for you. And you've honestly, like, went through everything that I basically had written down. It was just kind of-

Alan Rapoport [01:49:49] What's your last question?

Sarah Nemeth [01:49:50] My last question was, what do you think the future holds for Coventry? You said you don't know what the model is, but it will survive, most likely.

Alan Rapoport [01:49:58] Well, I don't know. I don't think these things are totally predictable. Anyone can develop their opinion about it. There have been some attempts to do retail on the street still. There are things I think they could do better and different. Not my job to tell them that, so I don't know if they'll find their way there or not. We used to do something that we called midnight sales. We would advertise that all the stores on Coventry were going to be open late on a Saturday night. And the theory was that when it got to be late Saturday night, there was no place to go to do anything. The malls were all closed. Individual businesses might be, but not a whole group of businesses. And they did a Saturday midnight sale, and it was tremendously successful, I think. But then they stopped doing it. I asked some of the merchants, well, why aren't you doing this anymore? And they said, oh, we have trouble hiring people that are willing to work that time and night. That's baloney. I didn't buy that for a second. They just didn't want to come on Saturday night themselves. And so they just- They just let it go. I think that the theory of shopping malls and I grew up in the age of Severance Center. Severance Center was one of the first shopping malls anywhere in the country. And the idea there was that if you went to the shopping mall, you would not go there to go to one store, but you would go there to basically walk up and down and maybe you go to several different places. Well, Coventry seemed to be ready made for something like that at one point in time, that you could go there and you could shop at a variety of different stores, and maybe you could have some activity, activities on the street, somebody playing music or something. It didn't have to be the Coventry Street Fair. There's a lot you could do at a much lower level than that and still make it an attractive, interesting area that people would want to go to. They don't do it. They don't get it. And that was always a constant source of frustration. I remember during the Coventry Street Fair one year, I was talking to one of the merchants who had set up a booth on the street, and he was complaining bitterly about how he wasn't doing very much business. And I looked at him and I said, I don't believe you're saying that. We just put 60,000 people in front of your store and you're telling me you're not doing much business. Do you think possibly this has to do with your product? Not selling something that 60,000 people out there are interested, any of them are interested in? [laughs] As I said before, I'm a devout capitalist. Some of these things are designed to fail as well as to succeed. Sometimes some of these people have creative ideas that I would have thought were absolute hooey, but they work. People who put together a good product can be very successful. Even a neighborhood like Coventry, even when the parking situation is lousy. The parking situation isn't quite so lousy anymore now that they built a parking garage in the middle of the street. That used to be a little business called Coventry Pizza, which was a real hole in the wall, slimeball place, but they sold pizza, pizza by the slice, late at night, which was kind of neat. And then up the alley, next to the store, up into the woods, was a little house that you couldn't see from the street, which I nicknamed as Birdland because it was tucked in like a little nest up there. And some of my buddies lived in Birdland there and also named it Birdland because Bill, who lived there, had a business. He was selling these mechanical flying birds. You wound them up and you put them in the air, and they flew around. And then I first met him at a Coventry street fair, walking down the street fair and looking for problems. And sure enough, I see these birds flying through the air, and then they run out of gas and they dive bomb into the crowd. Holy hell. So I find the guy who's selling these birds and I said, what are you doing? Well, we had given him a permit, even though he was selling mass merchandise crap because he lived on the street. We had a rule, if he lived on the street, we would make an exception for you and let you sell your stuff. I had no idea he was going to be flying these things up in the air and they'd be dive bombing down into the crowd. Told him he had to stop doing that. He said, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I walked away. I came back a few minutes later, he was doing it again. I made him stop. We subsequently became very, very close friends. I've known Bill, like, forever since then, but these things that sort of come and go and change in terms of the activity. If somebody had told me a store like Big Fun was going to be successful, I would have laughed in their face. Sell mass merchandise crap to nostalgic people? And. But he had a good run and he's not done yet. He's locating into that new development that's out in Chagrin Highlands.

Sarah Nemeth [01:55:58] Yeah, he's open.

Alan Rapoport [01:55:59] Only he's going to be trying to probably be upscale there because he's an ambitious guy. I don't know what's going to replace it in Coventry. There's now like a gap in the smile where the tooth is missing. But that's happened before, and that happened when High Tide Rock Bottom closed up, and then subsequently he moved in. So something else will probably happen. I think one of the big deterrents to activity in Coventry has been the rents. Everybody complains there about the rents are too high. They've always complained about the rents being too high. I like the story that Tommy told you about his interaction with Mr. Zipkin, because I know them both. I know Lou Zipkin very well. I know Tommy very well. And from Lou Zipkin's point of view, it was just business. Tommy was paying ridiculously low rent. I think Tommy even admits he was paying ridiculously low rent. He just feels that he couldn't afford a lot more than that. And my old apartment, the $96 a month, it's not $96 a month anymore. And if the rents go up too high, then they'll have trouble renting the place, and then they'll have to consider lowering the rent. And if you miss one month's rent, you never get it back. So that rent increase you were trying to get is gone for a long time if you miscalculate. So there's pressures on both ends to be moderate about that. And there appears still ability to make a buck, because there are businesses there that haven't gone out of business, and some of them are in the same building that Steve Presser was in. So I'm sure they're paying the same rents that Steve is complaining about, or will be. I don't know how it will shake out. The city has done its part to some extent with amenities there. I think they could have done a better job. Once again, I always have my own take on these things. I told you about that tree project I was involved in. All those trees are gone now. They put their own trees up there. They're little leaf lindens. They don't grow big. They don't create shade. I go to Europe, I see cities where you have these big, majestic trees all over the place. And the shopping districts in the boulevards are glorious. Here we seem to like these little teeny weeny trees. I lost two big trees on my tree lawn that got sick and just died, and I got the city to plant trees there. These are actually elms, and they're supposed to be, hopefully, a disease-resistant form of elm. And they're supposed to grow very fast and grow very tall, because I like to practice what I preach as opposed to some of the other trees on the street that are just these little flowering trees. Missed opportunities. Ugly is ugly for a long time when you plant a bad tree, but planting trees is complicated. When they planted trees on Coventry, I talked to the project manager for the city, and I asked him about that, and he said, well, we put in a lot of underground conduits for different reasons. And that creates a real practical difficulty in where and how you plant trees because of where the roots are going to go. I understood his point. I still wish they had purposely try to plant large trees there and tried to figure out a way to do that, but it still looks nicer than it would look otherwise without putting something in there. So I like to think that I created some momentum for planting trees on Coventry, that, I mean, it occurred to them when they did all of this stuff that there had to be trees, because I see other parts of the city where they haven't done that, where it looks kind of barren. [siren in background] And Coventry isn't as bad, as bad as some of these other places. And the merchants dress it up a little bit at holiday time. They put a few lights up there, a little cutesy from my point of view, but it's festive, and so it will go forward without me. [laughs] But for your podcasts and everything, everything that I have by way of opinion will either be forgotten or possibly forgiven. So people will just simply- I'll be a historical footnote. Hopefully, they'll. They'll spell my name right on the tombstone or something but- Other than that, did I cover everything?

Sarah Nemeth [02:01:23] You did. You did and you gave me a lot more, and I really appreciate it. So thank you.

Alan Rapoport [02:01:28] Well, I can give you one more thing, if it's of any help. I can give you some names.

Sarah Nemeth [02:01:33] Yeah, definitely. I'll write-

Alan Rapoport [02:01:34] I don't know about tracking them all down, but these people are available. And, you know, based on who you've talked to, I think these people have their own perspective about some of these things. Some of these people have perspective that predates mine. Certainly several of them have perspectives that are different than mine.

Sarah Nemeth [02:01:56] Well, that's important. So I want to thank you for this oral history.

Alan Rapoport [02:01:59] Some may even tell you that I'm full of beans. [laughs] It's entirely possible.

Sarah Nemeth [02:02:05] Well, all these perspectives kind of work together to create a more encompassing history, which is nice.

Alan Rapoport [02:02:11] Well, and I'm glad you're doing that. As I told you, my major was history and, in college, and I never considered history to be a matter of rote memorization of everything. It's somehow an appreciation of the process and the development and the evolution. And there's this Hegelian notion that history doesn't repeat. It sort of travels in a spiral, it travels in a direction, and it does have some repetitive nature to it, but never repeats exactly the same way. Although there are recurrent similarities.

Sarah Nemeth [02:02:51] Yeah, there's themes that you can trace-

Alan Rapoport [02:02:55] Like I said, if the people that tried- If the merchants, when they tried to renovate the Coventry Street Fair, had bothered to consult history, they might have done a considerably better job of crowd control than they did. They wouldn't necessarily have done it exactly the same way that we did, but they would at least have appreciated that crowd control was something to be concerned about.

Sarah Nemeth [02:03:15] Right.

Alan Rapoport [02:03:16] And that's the lesson I think you get by studying the past sometimes, is that not that you have to do things the same way, but that subjects reoccur from time to time and require examination. I'm glad you're reexamining Coventry.

Sarah Nemeth [02:03:39] Well, thank you. I appreciate it.

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