Cindy Silver describes spending time in Coventry while growing up and living in the area as an adult.
Silver, Cindy (interviewee)
Souther, Mark (interviewer)
Mark Souther [00:00:03] Today is June 18. I'm Mark Souther and I'm doing an interview for the Coventry Reunion. Cindy, could you state your full name for the record, please?
Cindy Silver [00:00:13] Cindy Silver.
Mark Souther [00:00:15] Okay, thank you. And to get started, I'd like to ask your earliest memory of coming to Coventry Village.
Cindy Silver [00:00:23] I was probably single digits, maybe five, six, going to the kosher poultry market that was here and helping my mom pick out a chicken and then wondering where the chicken was later and not putting two and two together.
Mark Souther [00:00:38] Can you describe anything about that visit? The sensory experience perhaps?
Cindy Silver [00:00:46] The poultry market smelled like a barnyard, which is what my backyard smells like now. And just that it was fun. I enjoyed coming down here. There was always people to bump into. And even as a kid, you know, it was never just a straight shot from home to here. And there was always a time lapse because there were people to talk to and there may have been other stores that we went to. I don't, at five or six or seven I don't remember what they might be.
Mark Souther [00:01:14] Who ran the poultry shop?
Cindy Silver [00:01:15] Some guy, some Jewish guy with a big old thing that he wore over... Remember, I said about the chemo brain, the words, so you can throw the words in if you know them, it helps me. It helps the brain.
Mark Souther [00:01:34] I'm actually not sure.
Cindy Silver [00:01:35] Apron. Apron. Big old messy apron that he wore.
Mark Souther [00:01:42] Was it all poultry or did he...
Cindy Silver [00:01:44] No, it was just poultry. Just poultry, that was it.
Mark Souther [00:01:46] Where was he located?
Cindy Silver [00:01:47] He may have had turkeys. I don't... It was in between where Big Fun used to be and where Panini's is now.
Unknown speaker [00:02:01] Behind.
Cindy Silver [00:02:03] Kind of. Well it was set back. It was set back. Yeah. Probably 20, 50 feet maybe from the road. Mm hmm.
Mark Souther [00:02:11] Okay, so it was on the Rock Court side.
Cindy Silver [00:02:14] Not quite that far actually. Yeah. Was before the parking garage, you know. Mm hmm.
Mark Souther [00:02:21] You mentioned that your first individual memory of the Coventry area was at age 11.
Cindy Silver [00:02:26] Yes.
Mark Souther [00:02:27] So that would be in 1972. Could you describe that first individual experience?
Cindy Silver [00:02:29] Yeah. That was, that was an awesome day. I was with my mother and we were coming up Mayfield Hill. I have no idea where we'd been and I was being a brat and she said if you keep it up, I'm dropping you off at the light. And I guess I couldn't stop. So I got dropped off at the light, which was Coventry and Mayfield. And back in '72 it was a place, I mean we had relatives that used to live down here, so she felt perfectly fine dropping her 11-year-old off. And the first thing I did was break all the rules that I'd ever been taught. And I went into the saloon because I had to go to the bathroom and I was never allowed to go into a place like that without my father because we used to go to lunch at different places when I would go with him. And I went... They didn't have... Oh, I'm sure I looked 11, and I walked in and went to the bathroom and I found a $20 bill on the floor. So I knew that my day was made, was completely made. I went up to the guy at the at the counter because it wasn't my money. And I asked him, I found this on the floor. Is the lady that maybe was in there right before me, is she still here? And he said, Get outta here, kid. Use the bathroom. Have a great day. So I had a great day. I remember coming up to the corner here and I didn't... She must have dropped me off around lunchtime because I was hungry. And I remember making it home before curfew, which was when the street lights came on. We lived on Berkeley at the end by where the golf course [Oakwood Club] is. So it was probably a good forty-five minute walk home for a kid my age because I remembered contemplating I've got money for the bus or I could walk, but realizing that the bus would drop me off at Mayfield and Maple Road wasn't so much of a, you know, it was just the same walk. So anyway, I had a great day. I came up to the corner here—there used to be a store here where Arabica used to be and I'm not quite sure what's there now, it's a courtyard—and got something to eat. And honestly, I don't remember what I did the rest of that day for the next five hours. I just know I had a great time. Then it was hit and miss. I would come with my sister periodically down here. I was supposed to be her chaperone, even though I had no clout. I didn't care. So we met a lot of hippies and did what hippies do and, not me at 11. But it started... I was down here much more frequently in '75 'cause somebody we knew had a license at that point and we'd come down for lunch from Heights High and we'd hang out and we met lots of people and I knew this was a place I wanted to work and I eventually found a house down on the north side of Mayfield and it was just wonderful. You could walk to the bars. I could walk to work. I bought my clothes down here. I bought my jewelry down here. I didn't have a car. I had a motorcycle, but I didn't really go too many places.
Mark Souther [00:05:51] I was going to ask you in your own words to tell me, what do hippies do, but I think you just described it in a way.
Cindy Silver [00:05:56] We hung out. We hung out and some people smoked pot and we just hung out all day long, just talked and people were going off and having sex. I didn't know about it. I wasn't really, I didn't really, you know, it wasn't, as far as I was concerned, I was having a much better time just sitting around talking with people. I met enough people in apartments on Euclid Heights Boulevard that I knew which which apartment house I wanted to live in, although I never did live in those apartment houses.
Mark Souther [00:06:32] Which ones?
Cindy Silver [00:06:36] You know, I don't remember the names of them now. I think there might be one named Nottingham that I really liked. And there was another one that was just a little bit further west. Might have been the first apartment building where Hampshire cuts in and they had big brick verandas. And I really liked that apartment building.
Mark Souther [00:06:57] Did you like it more for the architecture or more because of the associations of people you knew there?
Cindy Silver [00:07:03] More because of how the apartment was laid out. I could at that point, I could care less about the people that lived in it. But it was a very, very cool building. There's a whole bunch of them over there. And it was about how the apartment was laid out and what they were paying. And you know, what I thought I could get. [laughs] That kind of thing.
Mark Souther [00:07:22] I wanted to come back to something you mentioned before we started the quote-unquote tape, it's not a tape any more, you mentioned having yogurt for the first time in Coventry. Can you walk me through that experience?
Cindy Silver [00:07:35] [laughs] Yeah. That at that time we were coming down from high school in 10th grade, and I'm young for my... I started school young. I was four. So I'm like nine months younger than most everybody else. And someone was driving at that point. It was probably someone in a higher grade. And we came down and we went to that place, and I wish I could remember the name of it, and they had all this yogurt. They had all these like cool foods that my parents didn't buy, just like healthy foods and stuff. I also remember... The yogurt. You wanted me to talk about the yogurt. I had blueberry yogurt and it was the best tasting thing I'd ever tasted. And it was cheap. Back then, it was maybe 50 cents. So that was a good price for... Actually, for me f50 cents was probably expensive, but now it's cheap.
Mark Souther [00:08:31] So this would have been, I'm assuming, mid 1970s?
Cindy Silver [00:08:38] It was '75 because I graduated in '77.
Mark Souther [00:08:43] What businesses are still on Coventry that were here in 1975, would you say just from places you remember around that time, are there are ones that are still there that you remember going to back then?
Cindy Silver [00:08:56] I don't honestly remember how long some of the stores have been here, but Passport to Peru. There's a place on the other side. I don't even know if it's still owned by the same people. Like an antique place [Attenson's]. I know there are a bunch of places closed. The deli [Irv's] closed and the hardware store closed.
Mark Souther [00:09:20] What about Tommy's?
Cindy Silver [00:09:20] Tommy's... I remember Tommy's when it was in a different location here on Coventry, but I don't remember what year that was. I'm not great for remembering specific years for everything, you know, just those flashes of memory that really dig in.
Mark Souther [00:09:40] I'm not so concerned about the dates as I'm just interested in businesses that might be able to share some recollections about. You mentioned working in some restaurants.
Cindy Silver [00:09:43] Mm hmm.
Mark Souther [00:09:48] Which restaurants were they?
Cindy Silver [00:09:50] Before... I think this is the third incarnation of Coventry Courtyard [CoventrYard]. In the between the first and the second incarnation, there was a restaurant in the back called the New England Clam House. That place was a riot. I still have friends from that place. Jim Volk, he's a musician. He was a cook and I was prep. I'm still friends with Suzanne DeGaetano, who now runs Mac's Backs, and I've known her since she was down here. They've had three or four locations down here. The New England Clam House had a little bar and it was fun. My brother used to come down and I met a lot of people. I made a lot of friends working there. Good food, filthy kitchen, filthy freezer. That was fun. And then when the Inn on Coventry opened, and I think they've been open for twenty-five or more years, my girlfriend started working there right away and I wanted to work there so bad. Not because she worked there, but because it was a hip place. And at the time, I have no idea how I missed the fact that it was run by two lesbians. I think because of the type of person that I am, I just didn't give a crap. It didn't... I didn't care. They were nice people. So I went to work there and had a short haircut. And I realized after a while that girls were asking me out. Well, I thought it was kinda interesting. I met very eclectic group of people working there because you had your regulars and you had people from out of town coming in. The money was good. The bosses were awesome. And occasionally I got to work with my girlfriend, which was fun. And that just, for me, I remember thinking and I think you had to be... I was definitely 21 because they served beer. For me it was better than college. I remember when I was 19 and contemplating my dad saying, No you need to go to college, and we'd say, no, I don't want to go to the College of Life for a few years. Would you send me to college later, like when I'm twenty -five? No. Okay. So I was out of the house and I was 18 and had support myself. So it was a good time down there. If I'd saved, you know, 10 percent of each check, I'd probably be a hundred-thousand-dollar-aire. [laughs] You know, not a millionaire, but I's have something more than 20 bucks in the bank. But you just had too much fun down here. It was a great way... It was definitely... Right now they're pushing for like in Geauga I have a bumper sticker. It's not on my car, but it says something like. Think globally, spend locally, support Geauga. Spend your money, you know, spend your money where your home is. Support Geauga. So I live in Geauga County now. So it's like, you know, you're supposed to bring your money home. Well, when I lived in Coventry, all the money stayed on Coventry. [laughs] So it was a self-supporting ecosystem down here.
Mark Souther [00:13:16] Is there anything else you like to add before we–.
Cindy Silver [00:13:18] I can't think of anything.
Mark Souther [00:13:20] Well, thank you very much. It's been very interesting, and we will... I have your information so if we would like to interview you further at some time after we listen to this and think about it, would you be interested in that?
Cindy Silver [00:13:37] Mm hmm. Yes, I wrote my email down and, unless you want a phone number.
Mark Souther [00:13:44] Well, email's fine as long as this is an email you expect to have for a while. You know, some people change their emails like they change their clothes.
Cindy Silver [00:13:49] Yeah, I've had that since '85... '85!
Mark Souther [00:13:54] Okay. Thanks so much. It was a pleasure meeting you.
Cindy Silver [00:13:57] Thanks, Mark.
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"Cindy Silver Interview, 18 June 2011" (2011). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 911057.