Book talk: Remembering Christmas in Cleveland; canal boat history

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Author shares nostalgic tales 
of Christmases in Cleveland

He’s right there on the cover, as you’d expect of a book called Cleveland Christmas Memories. Mr. Jingeling, the Keeper of Santa’s Keys, has an entire chapter of Gail Ghetia Bellamy’s nostalgic book, including the original lyrics to his theme song (the revision added that Mr. Jingeling could be found “on Halle’s seventh floor.”)

There’s much, much more to this sweet, photo-filled book, and Bellamy includes the reminiscences of more than 100 contributors who recalled shopping at downtown department stores (many as children who bought gifts at Higbee’s Twigbee Shop), parades and local delicacies like Hough Bakeries’ cakes.

Some memories reflect the ethnic diversity of Cleveland’s population, as author Erin O’Brien describes her grandmother’s Hungarian jellied pig’s feet as a “dish with very low curb appeal,” Italian families observe the Feast of the Seven Fishes, and Poles and Slovaks serve their Wigilia and Bubulki dinners. Bellamy’s family contributes stories, including one excerpted from a 1951 Cleveland News column written by the author’s mother, in which she depicts a catastrophic cookie-making session with 2-year-old Gail.

Cleveland Christmas Memories (123 pages, softcover) costs $17.95 from Gray & Co. Gail Ghetia Bellamy also wrote Cleveland Food Memories.

Bellamy will sign her book at the Brooklyn branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library (4480 Ridge Road), 7 to 8 p.m. Monday; at the Bay Village branch (502 Cahoon Road), 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday; and at the North Royalton branch (14600 State Road), 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Building a canal boat

The appreciation of the rich canal history of Northeastern Ohio has led to restoration of old locks, forming recreation and entertainment venues, and preservation of buildings like the Mustill Store at Lock 15 of Akron’s Cascade Locks Park. But what of the boats? In Building the St. Helena II, Carroll M. Gantz tells of the efforts to construct the first authentic replica of a 19th-century canal boat.

Work began in 1966. Gantz recounts the financial, political and physical hurdles that had to be crossed to get the project going, and the author enters the picture in the planning stage. The original St. Helena, which operated in Canal Fulton from 1858 to 1933, inspired the name of the new boat, which served from 1970 until it was replaced by the St. Helena III in 1992.

Building the St. Helena II (144 pages, hardcover), an engrossing salute to historical preservation and community cooperation, costs $29.95 from Kent State University Press.

The book will be for sale at Cascade Lock Park’s holiday open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Mustill Store, 248 Ferndale, St. Mary McClure (High Bridge Glens of Cuyahoga Falls), Boone Triplett (Canals of Ohio: A History and Tour Guide; The Bizarro Book of U.S. Presidents), Jeri Holland (Murder & Mayhem in Akron and Summit County), and Lisa Abraham (Famous Chefs and Fabulous Recipes) will sign their works; Gantz will not be present.


Ss. Robert and William Church (351 E. 260th St., Euclid) — Cuyahoga Falls resident Lee Friend signs Sister Said, her memoir of Catholic school, in the church’s gift shop at 12:30 p.m. today.

Ohio Theatre (Playhouse Square, 1511 Euclid Ave., Cleveland) — Best-selling political satirist (Don’t Vote — It Just Encourages the Bastards) P.J. O’Rourke continues the Town Hall Speaker Series, 6 p.m. Monday. $45; call 216-241-1919.

Akron-Summit County Public Library (Norton branch, 3930 Cleveland-Massillon Road) — The Friends of Norton Branch Library annual meeting is followed by Kachina Riley, who speaks about her book Tattered Phoenix, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday.

Akron-Summit County Public Library (Green branch, 4046 Massillon Road, Uniontown) — Lisa Abraham signs Famous Chefs and Fabulous Recipes at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Registration requested; call 330-896-9074.

Mac’s Backs (1820 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights) — Poets Diane Borsenik, Bonnie de Blas and John Burroughs read from their work, 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Cleveland Public Library (325 Superior Ave. NE) — Connie Schultz discusses and signs … And His Lovely Wife, noon Thursday; Laura Taxel signs her book (with Marilou Suszko) Cleveland’s West Side Market, 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library (3512 Darrow Road, Stow) — Charlotte Marky appears as part of the Living History speaker series and talks about escaping communist Hungary in the 1950s, signing her book Journey to Freedom, 7 p.m. Thursday.

Loganberry Books (13015 Larchmere Blvd., Shaker Heights) — Thea Gallo Becker signs Legendary Locals of Cleveland, 7 p.m. Friday.

Berean Christian Store (143 Rothrock Road, Copley Township) — Stow resident Melissa Staehli signs her picture book Charlie’s Gingerbread House, 11 a.m. Saturday.

Books-A-Million (6727 Portage Road, North Canton) — Robert Spirko signs his spy thriller The Palestine Conspiracy, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Barnes & Noble (28801 Chagrin Blvd., Woodmere) — Maria Isabella discusses and signs In the Kitchen with Cleveland’s Favorite Chefs, 1 p.m. Saturday.

— Barbara McIntyre

Special to the Beacon Journal

Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.

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