Cleveland | A Continuous Lean. - Page 2


Nov 3rd, 2009 | Categories: Cleveland, Michael Williams | by Michael Williams


Growing up I spent many a fall Saturday delivering firewood for one of my father’s businesses. It was one of the best jobs I have ever had — my Dad still talks about how much I loved the work. Firewood season was in September, October, November, so I would only really work on the weekends because I was still in school. Most of the firewood would end up at homes on Cleveland’s affluent East side. Places like Pepper Pike, Beachwood, Shaker Heights, Waite Hill, Chagrin Falls, Orange and Russell Township. It was in these places that I mastered the art of stacking firewood and it was on those roads in which I cut my teeth driving a dump truck. I can still maneuver a truck in reverse down a curvy 200 yard driveway, loaded to the gills with firewood. Surprising that that doesn’t become more handy living in Manhattan. Anyway, people would inevitably want us to stack the wood as far away from the truck as possible. So we would hand carry a cord (About 10 pieces at a time and around 400 pieces of wood total. That would make a 4 x 4 x 8 foot stack.) or two across decks and yards and through garages. Past their Saabs and Range Rovers and Porsches, it was awesome.

All of the wood would have to be counted, twice. We would load the truck and count every piece, planning for however many deliveries we had. Many times we would have to come back to the yard and reload several times on a busy Saturday. Then, when back at the delivery spot we would have to count each piece again as we unloaded. This made it difficult to bullshit with your coworker, because you would lose count and that was a major pain in the ass. But the work was good and you were your own boss. Once the wood was all delivered you were done and it was easy to see the progress and gain a sense of accomplishment. That is the real beauty of manual labor — you have a job to do for the day and when it is done, so are you. Every fall I remember those firewood delivery days fondly.




Wanted & Acquired | Raleigh Superbe

Sep 6th, 2009 | Categories: Americana, Bicycles, Cleveland, Cycling | by Michael Williams

Patience is a virtue and I do my best not to live by that motto. I am pretty tenacious when it comes to getting something I want, so it is often hard to wait to see what will come to market. As it turns out my English 3-speed timing worked out perfectly and I found a really nice looking green  all-original Raleigh Superbe in Clearfield, PA, right off interstate 80. Since I was headed to Ohio this weekend via I-80, the 3-speed is now mine and for nearly half the cost of most of the Superbes that have been popping up in NYC and on eBay. Update: I almost forgot to mention that I added a bunch of different bicycle makers to The American List — check it out if you are interested.


The Bygone Days of U.S.Textile Manufacturing

Aug 12th, 2009 | Categories: Americana, Cleveland, History | by Michael Williams

At one-time we actually made things in America. I know that sounds strange, but I assure you it is true. Not only that I offer proof via the 57th edition of the Davison’s Knit Goods Trade book from October 1947. The book was a resource for all things knitwear related, wholesalers, dyers, manufacturers, agents and all sorts of other related pursuits and a symbol of our post-industrial existence. The owner of the book is Mr. Steven Tater of Ohio Knitting Mills (link here) from Cleveland. Back in the day, Ohio Knitting Mills and my hometown of Cleveland was one of the centers for knit wear production in the United States. Start American manufacturing rant. Not so much anymore. These days you would be hard pressed to find anyone in the U.S. that manufactures knits. The only makers left would most likely still be in business as a result of the Berry Amendment (the law that gives preference to domestically made goods). People say that this is just protectionism, but the fact of the matter is Berry is one of the main reasons that any U.S. textile and apparel manufacturing survives today. End American manufacturing rant.



Industrial Shelter | Cleveland Art

May 4th, 2009 | Categories: Americana, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Shelter, Vintage | by Michael Williams

I’m a sucker for that whole industrial salvage furniture look. The guys from Billykirk have it going on in their design studio. Tons of crazy old tools and machines salvaged mostly from factories in Los Angeles. If I lived out in LA I would be all over Sonrisa, Retro Office and especially a recent discovery, Cleveland Art. I know what you are thinking, why the hell is it named Cleveland Art when it is based in LA?


The Schvitz

Dec 29th, 2008 | Categories: Cleveland | by Michael Williams

When I was seven years old my father took me to a place my family calls ‘The Bathhouse.” The official name is “The Schvitz,” and my dad has been going with his high school buddies since around 1968. The Schvitz has been in operation since 1927 — when it actually functioned as a proper bathhouse on Cleveland’s east side. Back then, 116th Street & Kinsman was a thriving neighborhood full of Hungarian immigrants. Today the area has changed but The Schvitz remains in its original location. Tucked away in a windowless brick building on Luke Avenue that can barely be seen from the street. If you don’t know it is there, you aren’t going to find it. I clearly remember a run-in with the Cleveland Police as a seventeen year-old on my way to meet my dad and his friends for some steam. It seems Cleveland’s finest assumed the only reason I was in that part of town was to score drugs. When they pulled me over, I politely explained that I was in fact looking for The Schvitz and asked if they could point me in the right direction. Removing all suspicion, the cops were happy to let me go and escort me over to little Luke Avenue.