Why Cleveland Needed Cavs’ Victory


To deeply appreciate the Cleveland Cavaliers championship victory, you had to grow up in Cleveland.

LeBron James, CC0 Public Domain

LeBron James, CC0 Public Domain

This is not just about basketball. It is about growing up in a city that since I was born, has taken too many negative hits.

The Cleveland of my youth in the 1970s and early 1980s was the nation’s laughing stock. As far as sports were concerned, all I heard about was how great Cleveland was. The Cleveland Indians rocked the nation in the 1950s, then there were the Browns’ victories in the early 1960s. It was insisted that the Indians, called the “sleeping giant” would once again become triumphant.

When Cleveland became intertwined with comedians’ one-liners, I don’t know. Some say it was when the Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1969. Others say that it was terrible choices made by then lampooned Mayor Dennis Kucinich, now a socialist and a former U.S. Congressman.

Others say it is because Cleveland has generated so many comedians, ranging from Bob Hope to Drew Carey, whose television sitcom did not do Cleveland justice.

Whatever the cause, Clevelanders have been on the defensive for decades. To be a Clevelander is to have unmitigated devotion to an underappreciated city. If you lived in Cleveland during the late 1970s and early 1980s, you might remember Daffy Dan’s t-shirts that offered expressions like “Cleveland: You Have to be Tough.”

Or to quote from the song “My Town,” which was recorded by the Cleveland-based Michael Stanley Band, “love or hate her it don’t matter, for I am going to stand and fight.”

Cleveland has had to stand and fight for a lot of things. Just to have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its rightful place, Cleveland had to fight New York City tooth and nail.

As a displaced Clevelander, I still hear negative comments. “The Mistake on the Lake,” is just one of them. The only time I ever received sympathy as a Clevelander was in 1996 when Art Modell sold the Cleveland Browns to establish the Baltimore Ravens. Cleveland was and always has been a sports city, and the nation understands that.

Cleveland was and always has been a sports city,
and the nation understands that.

Cleveland’s economic demise, along with northeast Ohio, began in the 1970s when blue-collar jobs that could support families began to disappear. My father, a strong blue-collar worker, lost his job during that period. We lived off of unemployment for a time and mom went back to work. After dad found a job, we became a dual-income family before baby boomers made it a social phenomenon.

Cleveland made me what I am today, and like LeBron James, I try to give back as much as I can. As the first person in my family to graduate from college, it was Cleveland that began publishing my articles while I was in high school. Later, Cleveland gave me a radio show when I was a business reporter in the mid 1990s. Cleveland made me a tough, resilient and straight shooter, characteristics that do not generally fit well in the politically correct Washington, D.C. culture were I live today, but have made me a respected national journalist.

When the nation focused on Cleveland in 2013 after Charles Ramsey found girls held hostage and abused for years and saved them, the media was amazed by the “tell it like it is” Clevelander. To me, he was just a reminder of what I miss so much about my hometown: unbridled candor.

Celebrating Diversity

Cleveland is its own culture with its own melting pot. Starting off with a northern protestant culture from Connecticut in the 1700s, the so-called Reconstructionist period after the Civil War pushed often unwelcome white and black southerners to the town for work. From the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution to the end of World War II, Catholic and Jewish immigrants from Germany, Poland, Slovenia, Hungry, Ireland and Italy found Cleveland to be their land of opportunity.

Each group had its own community and sacrificed to build their centers of worship, but they also understood that to be an American, they needed to learn English and assimilate. In the 1970s, groups like the Lebanese Christians found Cleveland to be a welcome respite from the brutal realities of war.

In Cleveland, we did not need
intellectuals from on high
to tell us to celebrate diversity
because diversity is just who we are.

Our ears have become so sensitive to mentioning religion and ethnic background that we risk ignoring the cultural realities that shape who we are. In Cleveland, we did not need intellectuals from on high to tell us to celebrate diversity because diversity is just who we are.

In Cleveland, we do not ask someone about his or her nationality to be nosey, but to relate and find a shared acquaintance or place. Other uptight areas of the country, like the Washington, D.C. area where I have lived for the past 20 years, frowns upon such questions and that’s quite a shame. It is must easier to get to know someone in Cleveland than in the nation’s capital.

Cavs’ Victory

Cleveland should bask in its historic victory and party hard as long as possible. Eat, drink and be merry for the republican presidential convention next month presents another mood. Like Philadelphia, which is hosting the democratic convention, Cleveland has been bracing itself for an environment of protest and unrest not seen since the 1968 democratic presidential convention in Chicago. 

Meanwhile, this homesick Clevelander remains an ambassador to the nation’s capital.



Lovin’ My Kirby Vacuum

After stripping the Yuletide adornment from my old Christmas tree, I dragged it to the curb, knowing the job was not yet done.

Faced with layers of pine needles scattered about, I considered using my husband’s beloved Dyson. The vacuum repair guy swears it is the best Dyson model ever made.

The miniature wind tunnel housed in the clear plastic mini can, however, had one problem. Layered with inner filters, I didn’t want to risk clogging her up only to have another project: taking her apart, finding an offending object and putting her back together.

Instead, I sought out grandma’s old Kirby vacuum. Having celebrating a 50th birthday a few years ago, Kirby is older than me. She was built in strong industrial Cleveland when a college education was unnecessary for family supporting work.

Made of thick steel with an easy-to-replace but strong fabric bag, Kirby is not as sensitive as the plastic new age vacuums. Like my hometown of Cleveland, she is tough, solid and not pretentious.

My foot pressed down on the floor adjuster, one solid metal click at a time. Unlike the Dyson, she does not have to kiss the floor to do her job. She’s heavier than the Dyson, and I might not need barbels if I used her more.

As I vacuumed, I recalled Kirby’s constant presence in my life, crawling after her as mom navigated it through the living room, pushing her as I grew up, watching grandma maneuver her with seasoned skill…. Kirby has rarely known a man’s touch.

After my nostalgia trip was over, I carefully emptied the pine needles and dust unto an open newspaper. After folding up the debris, I placed the package in my compost bin. I always love it when being green is really just doing things the old-fashioned way!


I have accomplished enough in my career that I am happy
to support my clients’ achievements.

Grandpa purchased Kirby for about $1,000. That remains a lot of dough for a vacuum cleaner, but it was a ton for a AAA insurance salesman in the 1960s. Given that his great granddaughters still use her, it was a fabulous long-term investment. Kirby can now be found on E-bay for about $25 to $75. But that is not the fate of grandma’s vacuum.

Her days are spent resting comfortably in my sewing room with my other grandmother’s Viking sewing machine. Also built in Cleveland, Viking set my other grandfather back $500 in early 1950s, but like Kirby, she is a workhorse built to last into future generations.

Viking is also from a bygone time when sewing was a necessity and not a hobby. She’s near my great grandmother’s treadle machine. Patented in 1886, she was the blue ribbon winner at the Belmont County Ohio Fair. She works without electricity. Talk about being green!

There is something transcending about using well-built, solid metal machines that were once the tools of the mothers who came before me. But unfortunately, I have little time to sew. Meeting real-time demands with disposable technology beckons me away from the past and requires me to adapt to an ever-changing future.

I’m the first person in the family to earn a college degree and the first woman to have a professional career. For my grandmothers, being a wife and mother – which remains a full-time-plus-job – was their purpose. Their greatest achievements were watching their children’s accomplishments, supporting their husbands and being the chief conductor of household affairs.

Like the matrons before me, I now take more joy in the accomplishments of my children than my own. My hard-earned career achievements do not matter to me anymore. In my office, I moved all my diplomas, awards and articles that have been written about me over the years and now proudly display the work of my young budding artists.

I am learning that the less my life is about me and the more it is about others, the happier I am. This applies to my clients as well. I have accomplished enough in my career that I am happy enough to support my clients’ achievements. After publishing more than 300 articles in my name, I am happy to write under someone else’s.

As far as Kirby, I am not the only one who appreciates her. Much to my delight, I found another fan of the Kirby Dual Sanitronic 50 Vacuum Cleaner. You can watch her at work at




Why Charles Ramsey Is My Hero

Charles Ramsey hero shirts for $20. Proceeds are for the victims. Visit http://store.onpointpromos.com/shop/charles-ramsey-cleveland-hero-tee/

Charles Ramsey hero shirts for $20. Proceeds are for the victims. Visit http://store.onpointpromos.com/shop/charles-ramsey-cleveland-hero-tee/

Charles Ramsey is my hero. It’s not just because he and other brave neighbors freed three kidnapped women and a little girl who lived in the hellacious prison of Ariel Castro’s Cleveland home.

Though that alone would cover it.

It’s because I see more truth and character in him than in many of the privileged and powerful.

I grew up in Euclid, a mostly working class white neighborhood on Cleveland’s east side. Euclid borders Richmond Heights, where Ramsey lived, though he attended Brush High School. Being the first one in my family to get a college education, my journalism degree paved the way for me to become a Cleveland reporter and radio talk show host for the former AM-1300 WERE. For personal reasons, I moved to the Washington, D.C. area and found myself a fish out of Lake Erie among the Potomac River’s privileged and powerful.

A class act, Ramsey is far richer than many of the powerful and privileged. Ramsey has his integrity. He is bold, candid and a breath of fresh air. His language may offend the sensitive, but he speaks truth.

He does not offend me. I would rather hear his slang than live where people walk on eggshells for fear of speaking truth. Our government is reluctant to call the Boston bombing or the shooting at Fort Hood acts of Jihadist terrorism, but you cannot fool Cleveland. Clevelanders unapologetically call something what it really is. The logic is clear: How can you address a problem without honesty?

In rescuing Castro’s victims, Ramsey said he only did what anyone would do. In this, he assumes that most of us value and exhibit true character. But unlike heroes like Ramsey, too many of us are just too chicken to get our hands dirty. But heroes will and do. They have the innate qualities to overcome the idol of self-preservation that ignores the suffering often close to us.

And for his heroic act he will not accept reward money. A dishwasher for a downtown restaurant who lives in a west side working class neighborhood, no doubt he could use the extra bread. In an interview with Anderson Cooperhe said the only thing before for the rescue that kept him up at night was not having enough money. Now he can’t sleep because he feels bad that the victims were next door and he did not even know it.

Given that Cleveland has had a depressed economy with double-digit unemployment for years, he is grateful he even has a job.

And while I suspect his life has not been an easy one, he recognizes that it does not compare to the hell these women have suffered.

A class act, Ramsey is far richer
than many of the powerful and privileged.

While to some, he lacks some social graces, Ramsey has more class than some of the educated reporters and commentators who have covered this story.

During an interview with Ramsey, George Stephanopoulos mentioned he attended Orange high school. What Ramsey full well knew and understood is that George’s alma mater was a high school of the privileged. Ramsey could have pointed out that his Cleveland is very different than George’s. He had the class to resist the “I can’t relate,” kind of comments. Instead, he joked about the high schools being rivals, but that’s all right.

My suspicion is the only things these two have in common are a shared passion for the Indians, Browns and Cavs.

Ramsey certainly has more class than the sports commentators I heard last week on FM-WJKF 106.7. They joked that everyone shown from Ramsey’s neighborhood were missing at least one tooth. Even though they acknowledged Ramsey’s heroism, such negative comments were untrue and in bad taste.

When the media revealed that Ramsey had a criminal history of domestic violence, Ramsey did not freak. Not missing a beat, he acknowledged his past and pointed out ways he is trying to improve his life.

While the media outlet that revealed Ramsey’s past apologized, the journalist in me wonders why. Had the media not reported it, would they have been accused of not telling Ramsey’s whole story? How would Ramsey’s ex-wife have felt?

I am further inspired because he has the guts to face himself. From the revelation, we learned more about the man and witnessed his personal courage. Those who squarely face their issues and make steps to improve are heroes.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Ramsey told the Washington Post over the weekend he was actually suspended from work last week after rounds of ammo from an AK-47 fell out of his pocket when he leaned over.
Now you can find a sandwich named after him at Hodges restaurant.

Blogs are supposed to be short. Ramsey deserves more words than I offer here. His honesty, courage, humility, and selflessness are just some reasons why Charles Ramsey is my hero. If you agree, please share this blog.

And consider buying a “Charles Ramsey Cleveland Hero” t-shirt. The proceeds are for the victims.