Saturday, February 26, 2011

Whatever Happened to China Gate?

The landmark Cedar Center restaurant fell victim to greed and mendacity, false promises, vanity and a floundering real estate market.

Okay, you know how the memories are triggered, a scent, a visual, a suggestion from a friend, and the floodgates open. Memories of the plentiful and comforting taste of dishes at China Gate Restaurant on the north side of Cedar Road in South Euclid, Ohio will never vanish. Memories of lunches and dinners with family and friends.  I frequently read online of people who remember the egg rolls, the egg foo yung, the sub-gum chow mein, fill in the blank from column A and column B.  Some of these Chinese-American dishes we can duplicate and many we can't.  The thing is that even if not authentic chinese dishes, they were food we ate when we wanted to feel at home.

The Cedar Center strip of our childhood, of our adulthood,  is no more.

Not satisfied with the unglamorous aging strip mall lined with businesses well-used by the community, having served us for many years, for generations, it was torn down. Rather than funding a facelift, South Euclid decided to go for the promises and vision of a developer rather than respecting the past.  The gaza strip wasn't pretty, it was an amalgam of ugly buildings but we shopped there, we dined out there, we knew it as part of our life experience. It was a comfort place with risky parking in front and plenty of space in the rear. And now it is gone.

According to what I heard, the folks who owned or worked at China Gate restaurant there were given to understand that they would be welcome to return when a new building rose from the ashes. The sad thing is that China Gate never reopened anyplace else.  Their departure took the recipes for their distinctive Chinese-American cooking into limbo.

The affordable Marc's will be replaced by Gordon Foods and soon other big box or franchise retailers. No longer will we see local businesses, the victims again as are we. Until then, we can look at the now empty lot to see the fate of pleasant memories.

3/2012 Gordons is in, there are signs of construction to come. But the process is long and there is no China Gate phoenix yet.
4/01/12 Don't let the date fool you.  According to an announcement by the City of South Euclid, China Gate will be among a few restaurants back in business by the summer.  We'll can only hope.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Sunny Winter Day

This is Cleveland, Ohio where we have so few sun-days
that in my younger years, solar wasn't cost efficient.
It was cold and sunny this afternoon.

Cold isn't that unusual; sun is, so we grabbed our cameras and headed for the car, the dogs leading the way, happy to be off on an adventure.

We debated our route downtown, made a decision and almost immediately had to pull off to make an adjustment to his camera. No problem, we'd head to Lake Erie first via MLK formerly Liberty Boulevard.

It turned out that lots of people had the same idea and there were many photos taken near the East 55 Street Marina of pretty much the same thing.
Fortunately, for each one of us, the sights were unique. But we all got out of our cars, cameras in hand to see what we could capture in the warm sun and cold air.
This was probably the most photographed bench in Cleveland that day.

Lake Erie, sunshine and ice
We're so used to trees as sparkling ice princesses but not other plants. While we could walk on the grass, Lake Erie had frozen itself to the plants which had the courage to remain for winter.

The gulls - an ever present Lake Erie sight - rested on the ice film
... occasionally taking flight - apparently to jockey for position - we never saw them fishing.

Just as the gulls - hundreds upon hundreds - had settled on the thin ice in the harbor, the Canada Geese watched from in quiet dignity from the grass.
They sat quietly in seeming contemplation.
Were they preparing for a migration but enjoying a last few days in Cleveland before taking flight down the Atlantic flyway ...?
Or will they winter here with their mates?
Was Cleveland their winter destination?
Steve says it is their winter home.
The dogs were eager to ask them but they were only passengers that day and we were reluctantly ready to move on. . . and after a quick hunt for batteries for his camera . . .

Friday, December 19, 2008

Looking at Cleveland in the Early Morning

Even though she is a better photographer than I could ever hope to be and subtly lets me know, I still like to go out in the early morning with my sister to capture moments when the sun is rising and the natives are stirring.

She is fussy about where we go and when. She is a morning person who loves the sunrise and its quiet drama. She knows the best times and has her favorite places in Cleveland, especially places to have lunch or dinner.

I love to see the sunrise when I am on the road driving through the night. After hours of driving in darkness, there is a special sound of the sun rising which is both comforting and envigorating.

Personally, I am a sunset person. Easier light and I've always loved the way the late afternoon light draws the heat from red brick buildings. You can tell the time by the color of the brick.

We had decided to go to see the tall ships which were in port downtown on this particular morning.

When we went to pull into the parking lot, the price had gone up to $10.00 for these particular days and she would have none of that.
'We don't pay $10.00 for parking for an hour!"
"I'll pay."
"No one pays! Let's move on."
And so we moved to higher ground. But the ships were cleverly docked so that one could only get a glimpse of why they were called tall ships.

While she was busy fussing with my digital Nikon - she was out of film and was using my other camera-
I wandered into the next garden, stopped in ay surprise I had not expected, took my one shot and left.

I did not stop to smell the lavender - it was not mine to smell that morning.

I have not forgiven myself for being so timid. There was time and it was quiet. But what more was there to say with the camera?

We stood side by side taking the same photos

No question, she had the better camera...which she kept on what
we call a permanent loan, not pleased when I borrowed it back one day. I did return it unused because it needed a battery charge, which was all I had time to do with it.

No matter, I was happy with what we could see
and fascinated that we could see so much.

Cleveland has so many vantage points from which to bear witness to the life that was and the life that is.

Thanks to the glaciers and the receeding of the lake eons ago, the series of ridges descending to Lake Erie offer many different heights from which to see the city and the lake. The man-made extensions into the lake provided more flat lake shore.

It is easier to see the one of the newer downtown loop transit stations from above. Part of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, you can take a rapid to the flats from here.
Albeit the east side of the river which has repeated a decline but you will get a feel for the city.

Freight trains were still traveling regularly and the AmTrak passes through from time to time but that railroad runs like a clock with a dying battery. Clevelanders who don't like flying and do want to get to somewhere's else have learned to have their drop-off remain for a few minutes in the event that they need to return home for a few hours due to a delayed arrival and even longer delayed departure.

So there we were just off the shoreway and looking at the buildings behind us as they rose magestically into what I called early morning fog and she called smog. And we looked across the shoreway and knew that we had some walking to do - perhaps we could see the ships from the lake side of the stadium. After a walk down the stairway
over the railroad overpass
under the freeway underpass,
we arrived at the new Cleveland Browns stadium.
This is one of the same paths that Browns fans take regularly, filled with enthusiasm and beer they make this trek with a similar hope to ours on the foggy morning. To achieve victory.

We walked around the stadium with the sure that we would suddenly see the tall ships.

To the west there are still warehouses and working cranes. As we rounded the curve, we saw the masts, only masts. We never did see anything more than masts.

But we did see something better, at least I thought so.
While my sister walked off in search of better photos
I kept snapping photos.

This is the soliary wind turbine.
Standing tall against the early morning moon as I saw it that morning.
The sky looked busier on the warm morning, the moon peeking through the overcast.
The vanes of the Vestas 225 moved slowly and steadily.
It was imposing although it is just a scale model shielded from the lake winds by the stadium.
So much wind in northeast Ohio, so much potential.

We returned to the car and moved on down the freeway.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sailing Lake Erie through a Storm

In another lifetime I was a very young girl whose father had just bought an old mast-heavy sailboat because he needed to find his peace on the waters of Lake Eire.

The decision followed one unfulfilled many years earlier when he had decided to buy a motorcycle. Responding to an ad in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, he went to the owner's house where he was met at the front door by that gentleman unsteady on crutches and full leg cast. He said his hellos and a rapid goodby.

Buying the boat was easier but not without problems. He bought the boat and then learned that he had to move it immediately from its current berth because the seller needed the slip for his newer, sleeker boat in a matter of days.

My father located dock space at a yacht club a few miles away. Convenient for him to sail after work because it was so close. The next day - the last day - he took his 11 year old daughter with him to sail out of one harbor over the lake and into another.

It was not a day like this one. The Lake Erie waters were neither calm nor serene. It began as overcast but not stormy. We set the sails, cast off the moorings and left the security of the marina harbor.

As we sailed through the late afternoon, the skies darkened, the troughs became ever deeper. I could look up and make out the sky between the tops of the waved high above us.

We pitched onward, we had no port behind us. The seas became rougher and I wondered if the skipper was a madman.
"Dad, I'm scared."
"So am I" he replied.

All was right with the world at that moment. My father was not crazy. He knew as I felt that this was a dangerous passage but we were together in this crashing sea and we woult either ride it out or not. The fear disappated and we made out way through the interminable late afternoon storm.

Years later when my father sailed with the men and boys in the family, my husband, who once raced hydroplanes on the Miami River, returned from a sail with Dad to tell me a small detail of that stormy day if my childhood.

After they had tied off the boat, not the huge, top-heavy one but the Dragonfly, a norse racing boat which cut easily through Lake Erie , they went for a beer at the clubhouse. This is where the oldtimes sit in their chairs watching the skies, the lake and the boats navigating in and out of the harbor. These are the same old timers who sit at every yacht club and indeed were the very same ones who had seen us sailing in more than ten years earlier.

They told the guys to look at the sky. The same storm sky they had witnessed ten years before when dad had sailed in for the first time with his young daughter.

And they looked at the sky and at each other and headed back to the boat to take her out again so that first hand they could see the waterspouts.