Sunday, September 11, 2011

Introduction to Robert Dreifort


Since graduating from  Shaw High School in 1958, I have educated myself, married a wonderful wife, raised two great kids, and pursued happiness through a number of interesting hobbies, all of which was supported by a long and checkered career in government, health care and higher education mostly in the Cleveland area. 

Shaw High School
I met my wife, Jean, while we were undergraduates at Western Reserve University.  I have my AB in History and Political Science and Jean earned a BS in Psychology.  Jean went on to get an MSLS at Western Reserve and I have a Master of Public administration Degree from Cleveland State. 

Shaw High School
The first twenty years of my working life involved a number of positions in government at the federal, municipal and county levels.  I was a field representative for the federal Urban Renewal Administration, then a research assistant for the Citizens League of Greater Cleveland, followed by service as an Urban Planner for the Cuyahoga County Regional Planning Commission, and a Budget and Management Analyst in the Mayor's Office for the City of Cleveland.  That experience included service to two Cleveland Mayors, Stokes and Perk.  My last job in government was as the Operations Director for the Cuyahoga County Mental Health Board.  The last twenty years of my working life were almost equally divided between service as a Health Care Administrator at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF) and as a Department Administrator at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU).  I retired from CWRU in 2004 and have been pursuing my hobbies full time since then.

One of my hobbies is Big Band Music as the leader of the Smart Set Band.  Click on this link for more information about that:


Smart Set Band

 Another of those hobbies is the study of Cleveland area  history with an emphasis on the History of East Cleveland.  My youth spent in East Cleveland was a wonderful time.  And I have been spending a lot of my retirement  trying to recapture the spirit of East Cleveland during the time that I lived there from 1940 to 1963.  As I write a section of my memoirs, I will post it to this blog.  

If anyone wants to comment on my memoirs or has some memories they wish to share, please post a comment.  

For more Dreifort family history go to www.dreifort.com

 Some East Cleveland Images

Here are some images of East Cleveland that should bring back some memories.  The first is the old Prospect School before the addition was built to the right of this picture.  When I started kindergarten there in 1945, the School included this building and the addition.  There were two playgrounds, one between the new building and Euclid Avenue and another to the left of this building.  The playground to the  left was behind a wooden barracks style building, which faced Shaw Avenue and was Shaw High School's band room.  Also on that playground was a wooden shed known as the "paper house".  That was used during the wartime paper drives.  I will later post my class pictures, which were taken on the stairs of the building in this picture.

Prospect School
Shaw High School

Above is a picture of Shaw High School taken in 1933.  This is looking South on Shaw Avenue.  My home was on the corner of Shaw and Plymouth just behind where the photographer is standing.  This was my view as I went to school from 1945 until we moved to Nela View in 1953.  More about that later.  Just outside of this picture on the left was the Abel Funeral Home.  On the right was a  gas station and Karl Brown's Colonial Inn, a fine restaurant. 



Copyright  2011  Robert C. Dreifort  All rights reserved

13 comments:

  1. This blog is simply wonderful. You are mentioning things that need to be said. It would be nice if you were connected with various classes of SHS to share this information, for instance, at their reunions. Or, if this website/blog were included in various class reunion programs.

    This needs to be connected.

    AS
    c/o 1977
    Shaw Cardinal Marching Band Member AND
    Shaw High Rhythm Teens "Rhythmette"

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    1. Thank you. I have an East Cleveland contacts list, which includes many of the people I knew at Prospect, Kirk and Shaw. We had our 50th reunion in 2008. I have also make contact with a few of those, who lived in my Shaw and Plymouth neighborhood back in the day. Unfortunately most of those I knew have moved out of the area. I am always eager to meet East Cleveland folks and share memories with them.

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  2. I remember Carl Browns! I attended Shaw, my husband and I both graduated in 1969 (met at Kirk Canteen in 9th grade)..my brother graduated in 1959 and my sister in 1961 (she designed the East Cleveland flag). We lived on Shaw Avenue for a couple of years when we were first married. My husband retired as police captain from ECPD. My mother (and all her siblings) attended Shaw and she graduated in 1940. My father was an Illuminating Engineer at Nela Park and designed much of the wonderful Christmas Lighting...too bad you can no longer drive through the park to see wonderful lighting displays like in the 50's.
    Our best friend told me about your blog..he is the youngest of the Owen family..from Owen's Plantation on Euclid Ave and Shaw....to this day, our best friends are from EC and we have wonderful class reunions so we can all gather and talk about the "good old days"!

    Enjoyed very much reading your blog! Thank you!

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    1. It looks as if we share a lot of memories. I moved to Nela View in 1953, when I started eighth grade at Kirk. I had a whole new group of friend and experiences there. A lot of the folks in that neighborhood had Nela Park connections. The Dreiforts had GE connections going back to 1912, when my grandfather and his brothers started working at GE. I recently had an opportunity to tour Nela Park as a part of the 100 year celebration. I hope to write more about the Caledonia neighborhood soon.

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    2. If your husband was with the ECPD, he may have known a Chief named Murphy. I am pretty sure that was his name. I know that name, because he purchased our house at 1021 Nela View in about 1960. I have been by that house lately and it is one of the best maintained on the street.

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    3. I enjoyed reading your blog and learning about your life on Plymouth Place! My late grandfather, Carl Opitz Jr, and his family lived there during this time. He raised my mother there, along with her older brother Art. Art was born in 1936, played baseball, and passed away in 1950 from Leukemia. Because I knew so little about him, I decided to look online, hoping to find a perhaps map of the area. Much to my surprise I find your map, with stories which are very insightful and now help me to know better an uncle I never met. Thank you so much!

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    4. Angel:

      I remember your family well. They lived on the second floor in the last house on the North side of Plymouth Place. They lived above the Morris family right next the the field, which was our playground. Your uncle Art was four years older than me. He was the first person I knew of about my age who died. That was a shock to me at the time and I still think of Artie. His mom gave me a few of his things; one of which is a book about magic, which I still have. If you would like to talk about the old neighborhood, call me. I am in the phone book.

      Robert Dreifort

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  3. Thanks for the memories Robert. My school, from which I graduated in 1948, was St. Philomena's and we lived in an apartment building directly across from the old Windermere streetcar barns on Euclid Ave, & Beresford. What a great time to have been a kid! I picked up a coin or two shining the shoes of the streetcar conductors after school and at three cents & free transfer would ride downtown to see my beloved Indians - this in the era of Boudreau, Keltner, Gordon and of course Bill Veeck. I believe this was the year that also sparked my life-long love for the Browns and the arrival of Otto Graham, Dante Lavelli and Lou Groza. You were so right about us kids walking to school in those days and never thought the least of it. Didn't have a dad so trying to build my own soapbox for the Derby was doomed to failure - as was trying to fix my old bicycle with a pair of pliars and constantly skinned knuckles. My best friend in school...mostly Irish kids, was Tommy McGonigle. (Deceased). He and I were rightly regarded by the long-suffering but tolerant nuns as the biggest "cut-ups" in the history of the parish. Entertainment was limited to the Windermeer theater two or three times a week and that meant much exposure to Roy Rogers - and by extension, a longing for the return of traditional values, Thanks again Robert for dusting off a few images long forgotten. Bill Gallagher, Lubbock, Texas

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    1. Bill: Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog. Those were great times and East Cleveland was a great time to grow up. I am probably about 5 years younger than you. However the memories we share are quite similar. It seems as if the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Browns were at their best when we were young. I was eight years old in 1948. The Indians were the center of my life that year. When the tribe beat the Red Sox in the playoff game, they played the final innings on the PA system at Prospect school. I remember running home yelling "the Indians won the pennant". I clearly remember the 1950 championship game when Lou Groza kicked the game winning field goal. I was lying on the living room floor listening to the game on the radio. I was in despair until Lou kicked that field goal in the final seconds.

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  4. Robert, I am Karl Brown's grandaughter. Lived on Shawview and went to Chambers Elementary

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    1. Laurie: Thanks for reading my blog. Your grandfather was a big part of East Cleveland history. Not only did he have a great business; but he also was a member of the School Board. I would love to hear some of your memories of East Cleveland and your grandfather. You could comment on this blog or contact me at robert@dreifort.com.

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  5. My memories don't extend back as far as most of these, but I did attend Prospect Elementary, Kirk Middle School and graduated from Shaw High. Such fun times, such great memories.

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  6. Thanks for reading. The East Cleveland experience was similar for those of us living there from the 1930s through the 1960s. Our memories may be slightly different if we lived there in different decades; but the basic community institutions and atmosphere were very stable throughout that period. They were great times.

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