January 28-30, 2020, Cleveland and the NFL Hall of Fame in Akron

My good friend Pete and I drove to Cleveland and Canton, Ohio, to visit the NFL Hall of Fame and a few other places, as well as to find a couple of good steak houses. We settled in at the Hyatt Regency Cleveland at the Arcade, a very nice hotel located within what was once an office arcade. The arcade has been well-restored, like the Bourse in Philadelphia, and has shops and restaurants. A nice place to stay, although (Pete found this hilarious) the first night the heat was not working in my room and the outside temp was about 30º. I get a runny nose when I am cold, and I got in bed and was frozen, but I thought I was ill and had a fever. I kept raising the thermostat to get warm.It wasn’t until the next day that I realized the heat was off. The hotel promptly fixed the problem (a capacitor had blown). I got a nice note from Shelby apologizing for the problem, as well as a call and an email from the managers. The response to the problem was outstanding.

Below: the Hyatt Regency Cleveland at the Arcade interior shot of the Arcade:
The Arcade

Anyhow, both Pete and I found the city of Cleveland to be a very pleasant surprise. We enjoyed walking to dinner to the excellent restaurants nearby. We went through well designed and executed plazas, pedestrian streets lined with bars and restaurants and a lively mix of people, and a vibrant city. Right nearby, in walking distance, were the stadium for the Indians baseball and the arena for the Cavaliers basketball. The city is a good place to visit with lots to do in the area.

After the long drive, we went to see something very unusual for me to visit: “A Christmas Story House”. This was the set for the movie of that name, staring the late Darren McGaven and taking place in the 1930’s, though filmed in the 1950’s. It was based on a collection of Jean Shepherd short stories titled “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash”. It is the story of a boy, Ralphie, and his Christmas... and his a-little-bit-looney dad (McGaven). If you ever saw it you would remember it from the famous Leg Lamp. It is up to you to investigate that. We laughed throughout the visit there. When I went into the kitchen, I immediately saw my mother’s washing machine from the thirties, and my grandmother’s gas stove. It was a step back in time."

The evening, after checking in, we walked to dinner at Red, the Steakhouse. We enjoyed a cocktail, an excellent Ceasar salad, a very good steak, and some great wine by the glass. Good service and atmosphere, though not inexpensive.

In the morning we went to the 100+ year old West Side Market and it’s 100+ vendor stands of produce, meats, cheeses, and more. It was an outstanding market to visit. We ate breakfast at the West Side Market Cafe, which I would not have missed given the opportunity. Then we drove to Akron, perhaps fifty miles south, to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

I expected the Hall to be good and it did not disappoint. It was chock full of the history of the the pro game (“The First Century” area), memories of many, many moments, the gallery of the all the inductees to the hall, “Pro Football Today”, a couple of theaters, all of the Super Bowl rings; a Super Bowl gallery, a Black College Football Hall of Fame, and much more. I sat through an inspirational theater presentation that featured Joe Namath on stage, as well as Vince Lombardi and George Halas. They were not on film, but were there in Halographics. The quality of the Halograms was spectacular. It seemed as though Namath and the others were actually moving and talking of the stage right in front of us. Very impressive.

Below: The Pro Football Hall of Fame, near the entrance:
NFL Hall of Fame

Upon leaving the Hall of Fame we noticed a sign on the highway pointing to the McKinley Presidential Libraryand Museum. Who could resist? We found it in another of Cleveland’s beautiful parks, and it had two parts: the burial monument, which was a huge hill with an impressive vault building at the top; and the museum, which housed the McKinley room and several county museum rooms. When I say “room”, that is what it is - a single room with mementos. Not very impressive for a two-term President who was assassinated. We then returned to the hotel, whereupon I had the buidling services guy fix the heating.

That evening we walked about a half mile to dinner at XO Steakshouse. The place, the service, and the food were impecable. Pete and I really enjoyed the place and we could not comprehend why it was not filled with more patrons. You should try this place if ever in Cleveland. Expensive, but worth it.

But that wasn’t the end to our little trip. In the morning, after breakfast at the Arcade, we drove to Kent State University to learn more about and to pay homage to the Kent State shootings of May 4, 1970. This is the incident when the Ohio National Guard shot at a group of students protesting (peacefully) the Vietnam War, killing four and wounding nine. It was an impressive memorial, and very educational.

Again, we were very impressed by Cleveland and its citizens. You should try it.

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