Today I stopped at E. 71st and Harvard to buy gas. I could not pass it up, Gas USA was selling it for $2.54/gallon (and who would have ever thought that would be a bargain). While there, I snapped a photo of the diner at the corner. My Aunt Ann used to hold court there, serving the hungry factory workers on the way to begin their days (and occasionally a niece on her way to junior high). It's now called the Harvard Inn. I have no clue what it was called in the old days lol. A lady named Hattie beckoned me over to her car asking why I was snapping photos. Neither of us lives in the neighborhood anymore: she lives farther East and I live farther West. But she had good things to say and as we parted company I touched her shoulder and she informed me that now that I touched her, I would have good luck. She said "....honey, go play some three digit numbers!...." Yep, that is the colorful neighborhood I remember.
I have a listing in Millcreek and I frequently find myself passing by my old neighborhood. I kept glancing at the intersection of East 71st and Harvard and saying to myself I used to live here! This block was my domain, back when domain meant something entirely different. It amazed me that a beauty salon still exists on the block; has it always been there in one version or another? Karen was the salon owner when I was a kid. My Friend Since Five Connie and I walked to her shop for haircuts on a regular basis. One time she refused to cut my hair two inches from my head (a request she was sure my mother would not appreciate her fulfilling). There was a record store. My Dad and I would walk there and he would buy the latest Hank Williams or maybe a Glenn Miller album. That's how the neighborhood was. Vibrant. There are no vacant shops in my memories.
This was my elementary school. It's still an architectural beauty in it's present incantation as the Harvard Senior Apartments. What was true then is still true now: a city works because of sidewalk activity; a city works because of the businesses that cause people to be on those sidewalks. A city gives us a sense of place because of the neighbors visited on a sidewalk trek around the block. There may be hundreds upon hundreds of foreclosures in this neighborhood but there are still people calling it home.
So if you are in the neighborhood of East 71st and Harvard, have a look around. Strike up a conversation with friendly residents, the shopkeepers, the others like you who are just passing through. Jim Rokakis challenged us to look beyond foreclosure statistics. I decided to enjoy the humanity. I can't really go home again, but I can enjoy the friendliness of people who work and live in what used to be my domain. All is well, it is their domain now. Peace Out - 3C