Friday, October 22, 2021

People having Fun with Maps at One World Day

 You know who we like to have Fun with Maps.

Each year when the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation hosts the annual One World Day in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, makes sure everyone has fun with maps.

The booth had large 5' x 7' maps of Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, North America and the Middle East. Visitors placed a colorful dot on the map where there ancestors (or they) came from. At the end of the day almost 80 different countries were represented and various areas within countries. A real display of Cleveland's diversity.

Here are a few sample pictures of people finding their heritage on the maps.  See more Fun with Maps

More people having Fun with Maps at One World Day 2021

Saturday, October 09, 2021

Fun with Maps - Lesotho

 There are only 3 enclaved countries in the world. By enclaved we mean an independent country whose territory is completely surrounded by the territory of one other country.  In Lesotho’s case, it is within South Africa.

 Lesotho is a unique and interesting country and the map really defines it.  Did you know that the country of Wakanda in the Marvel superhero movie Black Panther was inspired by Lesotho?  

There’s lots more interesting items about Lesotho. Keep having Fun with Maps. 

Watch the video below"

 See more Fun with Maps 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Beatlemania - Many dreamt it, she did it!

 My Ticket to Ride: How I Ran Away to England to Meet the Beatles and Got Rock and Roll Banned in Cleveland (A True Story from 1964)

By Janice Mitchell

Reviewed by Dan Hanson

September 2021

I didn't expect to really like this book. Of course I like the Beatles music but Beatlemania was a little before my time and I never understood the screaming throng of young girls at concerts. But I soon found myself engrossed in a fascinating story.

In 1964 as Beatlemania swept the US and world a Cleveland Heights teen from a troubled family falls "in love" with the Beatles. She buys every record, magazine and tchotcke she can. She dreams of meeting them and moving to London to be with them. Probably the same dream as thousands of young girls at the time, right?

But this girl went beyond the dreaming stage. Her passion and drive lead her to several adventures including being alone in a room with the Rolling Stones and being kissed by one of them (not the one you might expect!). She saved her money and camped out at Public Hall to get front row center seats for the Beatles concert at Public Hall. That just furthers her drive to be part of their world.

She and a friend actually cash in their meager funds, get passports and travel to London to "Meet the Beatles" just like the record said. Without telling their family or anyone else. It's a fascinating account of their adventures and exposure to a very different climate from their Cleveland Heights homes.

It was suspenseful as the teen girls hitchhiked in England, met and hung out with older guys in bands and took chances that would be much more dangerous in our modern world.

The story grows as Cleveland Heights police and the local radio station start tracking down the missing girls while the girls keep pursuing meeting the Beatles in London and Liverpool. Even the Beatles get involved!

It's a fun read and locals will recognize many of the Cleveland and Cleveland Heights landmarks from the story. It also gives an insider's look at the carefree mod days of early Beatlemania in London as teens flocked to clubs, dressed in the latest fashions.

Click to buy it at Amazon. 

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Big Numbers - Million, Billion , Trillion

Sometimes we throw around numbers like a million or billion or trillion or more very casually. It's good to have a frame of reference to compare to. 

For example, 1,000 seconds is almost 17 minutes. One million seconds are counted off in about eleven and a half days. But it takes 32 years for one billion seconds!  That's how much bigger a billion is to a million.

A trillion seconds would amount to no less than 31,709.8 years!

Think of that when you hear of trillion dollar deficits and budgets.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Bishop Anthony Pilla

We just heard the news about the passing of Bishop Anthony Pilla.  

Instead of doing disservice to the man by rushing a few lines for this blog here are two videos 

First is the video of Sam Miller inducting Bishop Pilla into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame in 2015.

This is Bishop Pilla’s acceptance speech.

I am sure that Sam and the Bishop are joyfully reconnecting in Heaven.  RIP Bishop Pilla.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Rocky Colavito statue unveiling and 88th Birthday

Rocco Domenico "Rocky" Colavito Jr. (born August 10, 1933) is best known playing baseball for the Cleveland Indians in right field. In 1959, he hit four consecutive home runs in one game. In 1965, he became the first American League (AL) outfielder to play a complete season with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.

Rocky Colavito was an All-Star for six seasons (9 All-Star Games). He is the fifth player in the history of the AL to have eleven consecutive 20-home run seasons (1956–1966). During that span, he exceeded 40 home runs three times and 100 runs batted in, six times. He also led the AL in home runs, RBI, and slugging average once each. Colavito ranked third among AL right-handed hitters for home runs (371) and eighth for AL games played at right field (1272), at the end of his MLB playing career in 1968.

But Rocky is so much more than a bunch of all-star caliber achievements. He was a hero to Cleveland and every kid in little league copied the stretch and other batting nuances of #6. The fans loved Rocky and when he was unexpectedly traded to Detroit on April 17, 1960 by Indians general manager Frank Lane to the Detroit Tigers for Harvey Kuenn the fans were devastated. They missed "The Rock" and cries of Don't knock the Rock were everywhere.

The Tribe was extremely unsuccessful after the trade and it was blamed on "The Curse of Rocky Colavito" which became a book by sportswriter Terry Pluto.

In January 1965, Rocky Colavito was brought back to Cleveland from Kansas City by Indians general manager Gabe Paul.

The Cleveland fans never stopped idolizing Rocky and he had a triumphant return in August 2021 for the unveiling of a statue in his honor in Cleveland's Little Italy neighborhood.

The day included a lunch with a birthday cake and the packed house singing Happy Birthday to Rocky.

Happy 88th birthday Rocky Colavito

I was fortunate to be one of a handful who got to ask Rocky questions at a press conference.  I asked about the many Italian American stars in baseball. I asked who would be his all-time Italian outfield with him in right field and Joe Dimaggio in center. Off camera we talked about other positions. For example, he said while Mike Piazza was great the best Italian catcher was Yogi Berra. No contest.

The highlight of the day was the ceremony and unveiling of the statue in Little Italy.

See lots of photos and videos of Rocky Colavito ceremony

Saturday, September 11, 2021

When It’s Polka Time in Cleveland


Fred Ziwich and his “International Sound Machine” has a new CD release out called “When It’s Polka Time in Cleveland.”  (Now and Then).  Some of the 23 songs were recorded in 2021 (Now) and others were recorder in the past.

 If you don’t know Fred Ziwich, here is a little about him from when the National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame gave him the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

 “Fred Ziwich is known as just about the most versatile nusician ever on the Cleveland polka scene. He is a virtuoso on several instruments, a prolific recording artist,  and an expert music arranger. His band, the "lnternational Sound Machine" has mastered, performed and recorded all of the major polka styles. Fred also plays a large repertoire of popular music. There is no music he can't play and perform well.”

See more from Fred Ziwich’s Lifetime Achievement Award bio. 

 The 23 songs cover a variety of Polka Styles.  I especially liked the title cut, Achtung Los (Watch Out!), The Beer is Good (Die Goass is’ Weg) and Oktoberfest is here.


There’s a unique arrangement of In Heaven There Is No Beer and Cleveland Girls Polka.  Fred also does several covers that were a surprise such as The Accordion Man – Billy Joel’s Piano Man with the words adjusted.  Who would expect covers of “Can’t Smile Without You”, “The Way You Look Tonight” and the classic “Does your Chewing Gum lose its flavor (on the bedpost overnight)?

There are a lot of styles on this CD and a lot of music.  Something for everyone.

You can get it when you see Fred perform live or at and other websites.  You can also email him at

Thursday, September 09, 2021

The scale of the German Cultural Garden

 I took this photo at One World Day on August 29, 2021.

It shows the scale of the Goethe-Schiller monument in the German Cultural Garden.  Impressive!

More on 2021 One World Day

Berj Shakarian inducted in Cleveland International Hall of Fame

 Architect Berj Shakarian was inducted into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame.  Berj was the driving force behind the Armenian Cultural Garden in Cleveland as well as the Centennial Peace Plaza among other projects. 

Armenian Cultural Garden

Berj Shakarian in the Plaza

Cleveland Cultural Garden Federation president Dr. Wael Khoury introduced Berj and then previous inductee Paul Burik presented Berj and gave him his CIHF award and pin. 

 Berj then gave his acceptance speech.

More on the Cleveland International Hall of Fame 2020 inductions

Monday, June 28, 2021

How Estonians fooled the occupying Soviets

The Estonian Cultural Garden was dedicated June 19, 1966. Each year, the Estonian community and friends gather to celebrate Estonian Victory Day (Võidupüha) and St John's Day (Jaanipäev).

Toomas Tubalkain served as MC and introduced speakers including Lithuanian Honorary Consul Ingrida Bublys, Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Estonian Garden delegate Erika Puussaar.

Erika Puussaar and Toomas Tubalkain

Estonian Garden Group

Estonian Garden Monument

Here’s how they fooled the occupying Soviets. (from our Ambassador Toomas Tubalkain).

Victory Day is the day Estonia won its final battle in the war of independence on June 21, 1919.  St. John's Day is always celebrated as midsummer on June 24th.  Victory Day and midsummer are linked through history.  But during the Soviet occupation, Victory Day was banned, but midsummer (a pagan holiday) was allowed.  Estonians decided to celebrate the two together, without informing anyone that Victory Day was being combined with midsummer celebrations.  

See the Estonian Victory Day celebration

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Serbian Cultural Garden in Cleveland Ohio USA

 The Serbian Cultural Garden is one of over 30 ethnic heritage gardens in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens in Cleveland Ohio. 

The founder and driving force of the Serbian Cultural Garden is Serbian Honorary Consul Alex Machaskee

Alex gave some history and led a tour of the Garden explaining the various features including the large icon of St. Sava and the busts of Nikola Tesla, King Peter 1, Mileva Maric, Nadezda Petrovic, Michael Pupin, Milutin Milankovic, Petar Njegos, Stevan Mokranjac, Vuk Karadzic and other Serbian cultural figures. 

See more of the Serbian community of Cleveland

St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Cathedral Choir Master Ken Kovach

 On June 1, 1971 Ken Kovach became Choir Master at the historic St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Cathedral in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland Ohio. In his 50 (and counting) years he has witnessed many things in the Cathedral.

  One of which is being part of the filming of the movie The Deer Hunter, a 1978 American epic war drama film. Ken met and worked with Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep, writer/director Michael Cimino and others.

 Ken is an Ellis Island Medal Recipient and inductee in the Cleveland International Hall of Fame.  

He also sings with a Russian folk group called the Cuyahoga Cossacks

 In this video, Ken tells about the Choir Master role and some of these stories. And then he gives a brief example of his great singing voice – singing The Lord’s Prayer. 

St.Theodosius Orthodox Christian Cathedral in Cleveland

 St. Theodosius Cathedral is the oldest Orthodox Christian Church in the State of Ohio. 

It is located in the historic Tremont area of the City of Cleveland. The historic cathedral was constructed between 1911-1912 and is considered one of the finest examples of Russian church architecture in the United States. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the United States.

 The parish of St. Theodosius Orthodox Christian Cathedral was organized by immigrant Russians living in Tremont in 1896. St. Theodosius Cathedral was the "Mother Church" for most of the Orthodox Christian churches in northeast Ohio today. 

The cathedral is perhaps best known for its appearance in the 1978 Best Picture winning film, The Deer Hunter with Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and Meryl Streep

 Ken Kovach has been Choir Master at St Theodosius for 50 years.  He gives us a tour of the inside of the Cathedral and shares some thoughts on the Eastern Orthodox Church. 

See more of the Cleveland Russian community