By Sercy Mayer, as told to Cindy Washabaugh
I got married and moved to the Buckeye neighborhood from St. Louis, Missouri, where I’d lived with my older brother. I was just 19 years old. It didn’t take long for me to make friends with my neighbors, but I waited a long time for my sweet daughter to come along. When the time was right, my husband took me up to Saint Luke’s Hospital. I can still remember climbing the stairs and the bright lights when we opened the doors. Debbie was born September 26, 1962. I was 38 years old. Her father’s face lit up so when he first looked at her--I never saw him so happy.
Sercy Mayer is an active member of the Senior Wisdom Keepers group at East End Neighborhood House, where she attended a Who We Are, Where We Live workshop. She still lives in the Buckeye neighborhood. Historic Saint Luke's Hospital, where Sercy’s daughter was born, was founded in 1894. After many births and rebirths, it has become Saint Luke’s Manor Senior Community.
The car is running; the air is breezy; the car is getting foggy. His dark skin shines and his eyes are bright. I’ve never blushed before. I hold his shoulder as he grabs the side of my face. Our foreheads touch and my face is hot as I close my eyes and feel his lips. Oh no, I’m not enjoying this. I open my eyes and see his eyes. They’re shut, determined, he likes this. His tongue. It’s in my mouth. I feel it moving, looking for my affection. It finds it. I cannot move. How do I breathe? My hand on his shoulder won’t release its tight grip. How long will this last? I close my eyes again. He moves his mouth. I breathe aloud. I finally can move. He smiles at me. “Did you enjoy it?” he asks. Then we do it again.
Hailey Barnett lives in Cleveland and is a student at Villa Angela and St. Joseph High School. She ventured into the Who We Are, Where We Live writing workshop at Rice Library and says she loved being part of it and connecting with so many poetic and passionate neighbors.
I lie back on my couch seat in the café. Sound and movement fill the room as everyone goes about their own pressing matters, so we’re aware of our closeness yet also oblivious to each other. I revel at Solomon’s calm demeanor, how he appreciates this moment we’ve found to spend together without our usual four, five, sometimes six-piece family set. He sips my drink and complains about the sweet froth coating, “the top.” “That’s my favorite part!” I explain. He returns his attention to his favorite: tuna croissanwich and coconut water, the only thing he ever orders. The smelly popcorn burn wafts through in the air and with it all my week’s frustrations melt into one deep breath and a dramatic sigh.
“Solomon," I say, "let’s do this again.”
“Mommy, I was thinking that too.”
Ginaya Willoughby wrote this memory piece at a Who We Are, Where We Live workshop at Rice Library, where she is a librarian. She's worked there for over five years and “loves the influence that the library has on people’s lives to learn, grow and connect.”
A year and a half after meeting at the Academy Tavern, Gerry and I were in the thick of wedding planning and completely stuck in the mud about a venue. We didn't belong to a church, we didn't have the money to get married at any of Cleveland's grand institutions, and we didn't want to battle bad weather with an outdoor wedding.
While we took in an afternoon show at Shaker Square Cinemas, inspiration hit. The theater had seats … and an aisle! And we did love the place, with its art deco remnants and popcorn aroma. I mean, hadn't we spent an afternoon here just about every week since we met?
We made a phone call to the sales office and though they hadn't done a wedding before they said they were game to try.
On Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, Gerry and I said our vows in Theater 2, with guests watching from stadium seating, snacking on popcorn. During the ceremony, our nephew Colin toddled to the "altar" in front of the big screen, intently looking up at us, eating his popcorn while we exchanged rings.
I feel fortunate that we were able to get pictures with our wedding party by the mural in the basement before it was walled up. But mostly we love being able to return to the theater that holds so many happy memories for us.
Gerry and I pass Shaker Square Cinemas every day as we make our way to EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute where we both work helping others in Buckeye-Shaker create new opportunities for themselves. And every Oct. 1, you'll find us in theater 2 celebrating our anniversary and a place we cherish.
Valerie Maczak-Grim is proud to serve as development director at EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute, and she has been a member of the Buckeye-Shaker community since 2008. However, her family legend has it that during the Great Depression her grandfather grew and sold mushrooms in the basement of his aunt’s house on Buckeye Road.
Community Anthology Table of Contents
About the program
Who We Are, Where We Live is a free community writing program giving voice to people who live and work in the Buckeye/Shaker community. Participants write stories, learn about their neighborhood, and share with their neighbors. Annually, selected writings are published here in an online anthology and presented at a final reading and celebration.