Ruth Graskemper recalls her experiences with downtown Cleveland during her youth and how great it was to be in Cleveland at this time. In detail, she discusses Vaudeville at Playhouse Square, Christmas shopping, and how the downtown has changed.
Graskemper, Ruth (interviewee)
Zima, Amanda (interviewer)
Amanda Zima [00:00:02] This is August 25th in Seven Hills, and I'm with Ruth Graskemper. And if you could state your name for the record.
Ruth Hassock Graskemper [00:00:11] Sure, My name is Ruth Hassock Graskemper and I was born in Seven Hills. April 24th, 1924, so I am 82 years old and I spend a lot of time in Cleveland. And you wanted to know about Euclid Avenue?
Amanda Zima [00:00:25] Yes, feel free to tell any story.
Ruth Hassock Graskemper [00:00:27] Well, my mother was sort of a theater buff, so our folks had a glass company, Hassock Glass, in Cleveland on the west side. So during the summertime, my mother and I would go downtown Cleveland and spend the afternoon going to theaters, and she loved vaudeville. So I was fortunate enough to see a lot of vaudeville in my time. And I remember Amos and Andy and Tom Mix and Trigger was my favorite one. And Jane Withers, I have her autograph. And I visited her backstage. And then I remember Will Rogers. I remember my dad was quite an admirer of Will Rogers' philosophy. So we went to that. And then I remember, which I guess was quite risque because I was just a child, a fan dance. I don't think it was Sally Rand. I think I would've remember that. But I did remember the fan dancing and that was fun. And then I grew up, I went to Lourdes Academy, which was a small girls school on Franklin Avenue and after school, because I had to wait till five, six o'clock to go home to Seven Hills, I would roam the streets in downtown Cleveland, go to Taylor's and to Halle's and May Company. And so I have a lot of things. My father was a fisherman and I have some remembering of the American Canadian Sportsmen Show, which ran from April 15 to 23 in 1939. And then I remembered we used to go to all of them. Here's one I... The show was held in the Cleveland Public Auditorium and this was in 1938 and then they had the May Company, the original Swiss Village. They would have all kinds of things there. And that was in the the 30's a 30 sometime during the 30s. There was no mission charge then. And so May Company was very big, you know, and we were fortunate enough to be able to get downtown almost as often as we wanted to. My husband took lessons at the Wurlitzer Company. That's a very old company. It was a music company on 1017 Euclid Avenue. And that was, he took lessons there at Wurlitzers, I don't believe they're there anymore. The Alpine Village was big. And I for our graduation, my husband and I went to the Alpine Village and that was by Herman Pirchner. I don't know if she's still living yet, but they used to have a beautiful, beautiful resteraunt there. As I grew up, our course, we ran around town and we would go as I'd started dating, go to to...
Amanda Zima [00:03:09] Did you grow up in Seven Hills?.
Ruth Hassock Graskemper [00:03:10] Yes. I grew up in Seven Hills and always I've lived here all my life. And most of the time, though, as I was in high school and dating and that we would go to downtown to Monaco's. And that was right on Euclid Avenue. And then that, I think turned into Gazelle's Restaurant. And then there was Korman's, you know, on East Ninth and the Roxy. I went there once with my girlfriends. But I was that was, I'll always remember that. They had boxes that they would sell candy and for a dollar and some of the boxes had silk stockings in. You know, those were big in the 40s because everything was rationed then, you know. So, yes, Euclid Avenue was delightful. Beattie's. They just closed here, I realize, but my mother shop there and had some jewelry and I still have some of the jewelry that Beattie's made. They used to have marvelous displays in the window and of course the windows downtown were absolutely fabulous. You know, the Christmas decorations, the windows, you would children just loved to come downtown and they usually had a big display in May's and Taylor's and Higbes and Halle's of Christmas Phantasm for the Children, it was great. Mr. Jingeling and Keeper of the Keys. You know, we'd always go to the to the geranium room. And then they had the room in Higbee's, where they had the little stoves for children, for dinner. For lunch they'd bring you a little stove with your food on. It was absolutely a great time to live. They has a fish pond there. And of course, my mother would always want to sit near the fish pond. And it was a lovely, lovely time to grow up. Downtown Saturday, long gloves, hat, you know, to go to the theater. And the Hippodrome, the State, the Palace. That was a big Saturday night. We wore hats and we wore long gloves and we smoked cigarets with cigaret holders. This is all in the 40s.
Amanda Zima [00:05:16] Maybe you can talk how some things have changed.
Ruth Hassock Graskemper [00:05:18] Changed! Oh, my goodness! You don't even know what a streetcar looks like. A trolley, you know? Oh, yes. Those were days. It's changed, of course, Cleveland is upgraded so from when I was a child, it's magnificent. you know. Yes, things have changed. Theaters changed. Our Playhouse Square, of course, is connected now, the theaters and it's just very beautiful downtown. We've lost our big department stores, but that's because we have the malls. I mean, the malls drew away from the downtown stores. And of course, now it's got a lot of apartments downtown. The Fries and Schuele Building has just been renovated on West 25th Street.
Amanda Zima [00:05:59] Do you still go the theater now?
Ruth Hassock Graskemper [00:06:03] Oh, yes. Yes, we go. We belong to the Cleveland Museum Association, the Gala Around Town, you know? Yes. We've been members of the Cleveland Museum for many, we're life members. And we've been there many, many years. And we're very happy about the new expansion. It's going to be absolutely one of the outstanding first great museums in the country. It is a first rate museum. And this big addition will mean so much for our Cleveland. And now, of course, we're in the throes of trying to get the Republican convention. And that's exciting.
Amanda Zima [00:06:38] So, are there any other stories that you would like to tell, any memories that you feel that would be important?
Ruth Hassock Graskemper [00:06:46] Well, I had a pony when I was a child because it was country. You could have chickens. You could have ducks. You could have everything. And fortunately, I had a pony when I was a child. And I used to ride down from Maple View Drive to Broadview Road wasn't paved yet and they started paving that in the 30s. There was a (Spig) golf course here and Seven Hills, but that went through when the depression came. So I think I've told you a pretty bunch.
Amanda Zima [00:07:13] I'm so glad you were able to tell us some of your stories.
Ruth Hassock Graskemper [00:07:18] Well, I enjoyed this recall, it brought back a lot of fun memories.
Seven Hills Golden Agers
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"Ruth Graskemper Interview, 25 Aug 2006" (2006). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 908006.