Is “Futility” the real F word? or “too many times around the block”

May 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm 28 comments

Lately , I have been delving back in the past of my “life in Lorain” as a volunteer.

It all started with the bus breaking down. True, my husband, fresh out of the US Airforce was heading to Cleveland from Sandusky for an interview and the bus broke down. Not one to waste time , at least then, he pulled out the yellow pages found Lorain Products, Ben Norton and a job.

That is how we arrived here , it was quite a shock from London to Lorain- but I followed my father’s advice to get involved and meet people.

I did , I jumped in and I was involved- boy was I involved- not having a career, being young and no children at the time I was the “perfect volunteer”. I have at one time or another been involved in the beginnings of a great many things and organizations in this city and with that comes the “back story knowledge”.Some of the back stories are great and some ??? well a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

I know the players, the movers and shakers, the way things were supposed to work and if they did work. I know the good the bad and the ugly. I admit to getting territorial when I see how good things have gone bad and how some have been manipulated so they no longer reflect the original intent.

I think I have been around this particular block too many times, in most cases I am disheartened by what has happened and how with each administration or group of “idea ” people revisit as “new” a way forward – I can no longer get excited- I haven’t seen anything new that I haven’t seen before just reinventing the wheel. I watch the latest ‘dog and pony show” hype and wonder will it be any different this time. I am sort of still young enough that I shouldn’t be so jaded but……..

I have tried to bring the “information” to those that have jumped on the “latest” bandwagon the “history ” or “been there done that” scenario- to give them a bit of a “leg up” so they don’t regurgitate that which has been done before or make the same mistakes . I have realized it isn’t wanted. People/organizations want to make their own mark or mistakes, as it should be I suppose.

I believe, over the years, I have been involved too much in Lorain , experienced too much, know too much and have become too cynical in my views to do much anymore but wait and watch.

I think I have become even more annoying-( I can almost see the eyes roll and the oh! not her again as they read my latest emails 🙂 – turning into a ‘old curmudgeon “ myself. You know the one, the one that gets up at council meetings and spouts off, writes letters to the newspaper “back in my day”- expounding upon their frustrations – At least I know now how they got there.

I keep hearing

oh we must look to the future

all well and good but when the future is tomorrow and the yesterdays and waiting have become the “past”- there are those of us who would like the “here and NOW!!! You see of the 25,000 days allotted to most of us we are fast approaching our “sell by date”!

So forgive the impatience- of the old curmudgeon – the block is deteriorating fast……

Source BBC- Victor Meldrew – One Foot In The Grave

The old curmudgeon walks through town

Wearing a scowl or often a frown

Everyone stays away from him

The poor curmudgeon without a grin

They wonder what has made him mad

Why he’s so blue, why he’s so sad

But no one tries to find out why

They cross the street, won’t look him in the eye

If they’d only ask

Then they would know

Why his eyes are sad

Why his face hangs low

But no one will

And it’s so sad

For perhaps a simple kindness

Would make him glad

Day by day, the curmudgeon goes

And day by day, no one knows

And day by day, no one asks or tires

They just look away from the tears in his eyes.


Entry filed under: a Cow -elle opinion, city of lorain. Tags: , .

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28 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Renee Dore  |  May 21, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Well Loraine, after reading this and sometimes hearing and sharing the frustration first hand, just know you have made difference-a very obvious difference. It is a tiring process but your perseverance has made things happened-you have a great way to pull people together for good causes. If you get an eye roll now and then just know it’s because you do challenge to make things better and improve what needs improvement. Not too many take the time nor have the caring citizenship as you do, Renee

  • 2. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 21, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Well Renee you have been there right along side me through all of the neighborhood stuff……. it just gets frustrating waiting for the “new kids on the block” every so many years to get through playing catch up and then back to square one.and I haven’t got time to wait much longer probably down to just a couple of thousand days for the sell by date to come due 😉

  • 3. Brian  |  May 22, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Loraine, While I have no doubt in your abilities or ambitions when it comes to your projects, I am not understanding exactly what it is that you are talking about when you mention that “I haven’t seen anything new that I haven’t seen before just reinventing the wheel”.

    While I haven’t seen the dog and pony show lately, I haven’t really been paying to much attention to any shows. I think that folks understand where I come from with my opinions because they are fairly straightforward, and I also realize that there are going to be folks that disagree with my points of view.

    The only thing I don’t do anymore is I am very carful not to get sucked in and used by anyone in politics. I figured out that my voice and opinions are only important when the politicos can twist it to further some things that is on their agenda, so I quit.

    Our city has problems and they don’t need me to point them out. Just like you wanting TPTB to see the housing that you feel needs to be taken care of, they are not blind and they know it is there.

    Here’s one. There is a major water leak at Shacks Corner on 21st Street that the utility department drives by ten times a day. Been that way for a couple of years at least and I am betting that it is under the street. That inersection also floods badly when we get a lot of rain. Could it be that the ground has so much water in it that it is a swap and I sure it can’t be good for the road.

    They drive right by it everyday and ignore it, just like the houses in your neighborhood because it is not an easy fix.

  • 4. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I see the same committees and ideas forming that were formed before – talked about -hyped about – glad handed and shoveled – forgotten and then now ” ta da lets do this “ like it is some new “way forward”- I hate that term- way forward errrrrrrrg and as for “we must look to the future” it makes me want to punch someone – because today and what we are experiencing was the future ……

    What you are saying – they already know it is there” is true and you hope that someone will do something but I don’t think that will happen as I said I have been round the block too many times- but at least they ( whoever THEY are 😉 ) can’t say they were ignorant of the facts….. it is there for the www to see ……….. and that is my purpose of documenting it so when the future becomes history their legacy will be documented 🙂

    Maybe when the sink hole appears it will make national news and a google search will bring it to the fore that at least one blog commentor warned of the disaster- good job old Paul Revere didn’t have our problem – but then maybe not 🙂

  • 5. Mark Teleha  |  May 22, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    It’s all frustrating, Loraine. It’s a case of SSDD. Or even “Same $hit – Different Administration”. Bottom line is I’m tired of the same malarkey. If we’re going to look to our future, we need to look at our past: Downtown. I’ve been singing the same tune for a long time, but I really think that’s a key component of turning this City around.

  • 6. Brian  |  May 23, 2012 at 12:06 am

    I bam somewhat “aware” of many of the cities problems are, I don’t really get too worked up over them because there are much larger issues lurking below the surface that I have not been made aware of. I don’t believe that much is really going to happen until many of the “loose ends” can get cleaned up.

    Like my example on 21st Street. There is a fire hydrant that has been painted red for years, fire department knows its isn’t working. The street floods every time there is a heavy rain, street department knows is is a problem, and the water sits there, even when it isn’t raining, so the utility department knows theres a problem with boith water and storm water.

    So the city has a fire prevention problem, a storm water problem, and a water distribution problem. I guess if the road was torn up to find the problem, there is now a street department issue.

    Everyone just drives on by it like it isn’t there….

    until the next million dollar lawsuit rolls in..

    someone gets paid to be quiet,

    and life returns to the norm of chaos…

  • 7. Brian  |  May 23, 2012 at 12:25 am

    While I agree that there is some importance to our downtown, I believe that nothing positive of any significance is going to happen downtown until the neighborhoods that surround downtown regain some of the life that they used to have.

    Downtown is not a destination, except for the Palace. I know that you have strongly supported the premise of the Design Review Board and making property owners more responsible for their properties, but that doesn’t create a destination.

    As an example. Suppose your daughter wanted to open up an lemonade stand on the corner in front of your house.Who is going to buy your daughters lemonade?

    If she seels the lemonade off of a cardboad box, to you building the fanciest smanciest looking lemonade stand around, where are the consumers that buy lemonade going to come from?

    Are they going to come from Amherst if the stand looks pretty and if they do, how many times will they come? The problem with downtown is that it is in a hole, surrounded by a bigger hole. It doesn’t do much good to fix the hole in the middle if everything around it is still a hole.

    Thats just my humble opinion. Before you beat up on my opinion, one of these days we ought to share a pizza and maybe a beer to wash it down.

  • 8. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 23, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Brian the fact that an unhealthy neighborhood equates to an unhealthy down town is something I preached for the last 25 years at least…… and back on WoM I wrote a series “what lies beneath” as I have said ‘you can paint and perfume a diseased old slag but underneath the powder, paint and flowers in her hair she is still a diseased old slag and the perfume is not going to cover the stink for long. ” – sorrry to be so graphic –

    Lorain per se doesn’t have a downtown as such, as you know ,it has a “corridor ” called Broadway- one side of that corridor is the water( river) and the other side is the neighborhoods- the river side was from the beginning was industry based and all that involves- the other homes and neighborhoods -people who worked in those industries, ship building ( early ship building) the port etc. – that was the foot traffic- now the industrial side of the corridor is trying to morph into tourism events and clean up but that isn’t “people based except for a about 3:1/2 months a year and then sporadically- ) the neighborhoods are going to make or break the downtown corridor because you have to go through them to get to the corridor….and people have to be comfortable ….. so I agree…….

  • 9. Brian  |  May 23, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Here are some other “additions” to the list. The burnt out shell of a house that has been sitting on 21st Street for over two years, a main road mind you. It has “disappeared” to everyone who works for the city, but not for the residents. The teeth jattering speed bumps that should be ground down and sealed in front of Metro Housing along 21st Street to about Shacks Corner, three of them, and fill in one forming sink hole mostly in the Northern lanes. I am betting that these UNMARKED ROAD HAZZARDS are dangerous and destructive to residents vehicles.

    Nobody from any department has anything to say about major roadway that needs REPAIRED because I am going to guess that the machine that the city owns to scrape down the roadway, like the sewer grouting machine, doesn’t work so it will get sold for scrap.

    There is absolutely no reasonable explanation why the humps on Broadway and 21st Streets have not been ground down if the piece of equipment worked.

    There are also more burned out buildings in that neighborhood. The burned insurance building on the corner of 21st Street and Livingston, or it might be Lexington, I get them confused, that has been boarded up for maybe five years now?

    Take 21st Street over the high level bridge where it turns into Kansas Ave and look at the Corner of East Erie and Kansas across from St. Anthonys and peek into the doors and windows. The roof is collasping and this building is going to fall. No one in our city sees this, but I bet that everyone that goes to St. Anthoniy’s does and every person driving down yet another major roadway into and out of town do to.

    I understand that you want some building code enforcement on your street, and some of the properties that you would like to see cleaned up are like the ones that I mentioned, but who is going to take care of them? Tall grasses abound our city and every available resourse is on grass detail until the fall. Grass detail or code enforcement?

    I spoke too soon. Speaking of grass detail, I drove down 22nd Street a couple of days ago and there are no less than five pastures between Washington and Broadway. I think the city should invest in some goats and tied them off with a leash to the front porches, but then again, the goats may just pull the porches down…

  • 10. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 23, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Nahhhhh Brian- grass detail can’t be… no grass detail on my street.the house next door

    Oh it is waist high this morning waving gently in the breeze like a mini version of the prairie – little ground hogs play and little skunks are shown the way through by their loving parents, the racoons have taken over the attic of the little house which has kept the two legged varmin away …..we are definitely “back to nature “… oh and the owner “the city!” I have have called and complained more than once ……. but I don’t like to nag( cough cough cough) and the neighbor next door….. well that is a foreclosure but the bank does come every couple of weeks to cut that grass at least……..wonder if they notice 😉

    but I am lucky in the fact that the bushes are now so high I can barely see the open and empty house as bits fall off of her I have looked at for nearly 40 years …….

  • 11. Mark Teleha  |  May 24, 2012 at 12:42 am

    Brian, Downtown COULD BE a destination, IF it were fixed up. I have been to more ‘maintained downtown areas’ than I can count on two hands now, and ALL are busy. Why? Because the places themselves are a draw. Look at Coventry in Mayfield. Downtown Amherst, Elyria, Wellington, Oberlin, Norwalk. Want me to keep going? Restaurants, bars, fun stores with unique items. I

    If Downtown Lorain had some cool restaurants, a few good bars that weren’t a hole in the wall, and some good retail stores, there would be tax money from sales, income tax from new jobs, tax on rent for the buildings. All those taxes could get us more police, fix our roads, upgrade infrastructure.

  • 12. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 24, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Lorain needs to take a multi pronged approach imho…. we don’t have a “downtown” in the accepted sense of the word first we need to define “downtown” – is it from west Erie to the underpass or encompassing aal of Broadway down to 28th street?

  • 13. Brian  |  May 24, 2012 at 11:19 am

    I do not disagree with what you are saying except that besides downtown Elyria, look at what surrounds the downtowns that you mentioned?

    Downtown Elyria is just a little better than Lorains building condition wise but they have a very nice park system and all them gubmit buildings in their downtown that supports a few nice places to eat. Take all the gubmit buildings away and they would have mostly empty storefronts also.

    Your math is exactly correct. IF there were restaurants, stores, and a few pubs that employed folks in downtown, there would be more tax collections for the city, however, the question is, what came first, the business’s or the consumer? Sort of like the chicken or the egg question.

    Business’s simply need to be where they can make money. The only idea that has really come out over the last several years has been building a high school in our downtown so that a few educational salaries would be relocated from one part of the city to downtown and adding a bunch of poorer kids that may have some spare change in their pockets.

    I believe that it will take more than just a little polish and making the outsides of the buildings pretty to get folks to come downtown. The neighborhoods that surround our downtown need “fresh blood”, younger, educated, and folks with jobs to make Lorain their home, THEN businesses will come so they have a place to spend their money.

  • 14. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 24, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I am leaving for babysitting job on the beach in an hour but I would suggest going to sidebar on this blog clicking on Lorain Police and then on their site pull up the “crime maps” for Lorain and the Broadway Corridor
    there are a couple of different scenarios.but all -I believe -speak to the issue of “Downtown- the neighborhood- and the Broadway corridor”
    these stats have to be changed before you can have change .

  • 15. Brian  |  May 24, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Crime destroys neighborhoods, but doesn’t always prevent businesses from locating downtown. Here is another example. Oberlin Avenue. A business DISTRICT like our downtown, that has better stats and better neighborhoods around it. It is struggling A LOT, and it looks pretty, so the ugly arguement doesn’t work here, like our downtown.

    Ponderosa, CLOSED. KFC, CLOSED. Pizza Hut, CLOSED. More than 50% of the available storfronts in the Apples Plaza, CLOSED. AND there is plenty of available commercial real estate that is available.

    As Lighthouse Village gets built up and once development starts on the Amherst side of Route 90, what do you think is going to happen to Oberlin Ave? The city can create a design review board to make sure that any new business that would consider moving somewhere along Oberlin Ave is encumbered with hoops to jump thru, and the city can enforce the building codes to their hearts content, but it isn’t going to make that business district any more attractive to new businesses.

    Now, IF the area around the Oberlin Ave business district has a high percentage of working class people, they don’t even have to be well off, but just working, with KIDS. These families have the money to buy them clothes, groceries, and take them out to eat, businesses will come. It’s a faily simple science. People that work like to shop local and take their families out to eat as a treat, or give mom a break from cooking.

    Please make your checks payable to Brian the NIncompoop for your first lesson in economics 101.

  • 16. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 24, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    Ok Ponderosa closed ( the food became crap and the clientele became iffy so the reason they closed may not be down to the neighborhood but due to Ponderosa’s own marketing and cost cutting…… same with KFC and the customer service whoa it became atrocious and once people leave it is hard to entice them back……… etc……. as for the Plaza they started bringing in low end retail… and it was panhandlers galore! I stopped going when TJ MAX left and Aj Wright and the panhandlers moved we have a semi Marshals a little more upscale thatnAJ Wright but the damage and reputation has to now be removed before you will get the clientelle back because the other supporting businesses left too……. I hear that people all go apparently to the Target and Khols etc on the west side I have never been in Khols , only twice to run in and pick something up for Nikki at Target and or Avon Lake Commons is it? I admit to going there to Heinans as it is the only supermarket to carry the tea bags we use and World Market to stock up on British cookies and that is it…. but now I have found the British shop in Texas I can get everything I desire and sipped over night

    You see I HATE SHOPPING and I have found since Chris died and I stopped gadding about the highways that I can just about get anything I need on line anymore ( much to my husband’s annoyance) and I don’t think I am alone….. so people who still shop shop for the “experience and pleasure” rude customer service, pan handlers , and poor quality merchandise and tacky strip malls is not going to appeal to the ones with expendable income………….

  • […] NOTE: Remember readers this was 6 years ago hmmmmmm around the block again I have never been able to understand the fact , for the most part, the wonderful stories (and […]

  • 18. Mark Teleha  |  May 26, 2012 at 4:43 am


    What surrounds their downtowns’ is not the draw, it’s the downtown itself. I haven’t “just” taken pictures. I have spoken with councilpeople, Design Review Boards, mayors; the kind of people that KNOW why what they have is working. OK? The people that are actually overseeing it? Running it? When you’ve done the kind of “homework” I’ve done, then you can argue this with me.

    You can cite all your ordinances and codes and all the rest of your founts of knowledge, but when it comes to this, I’M the one that’s done the traveling and the talking.

  • 19. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 26, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Mark has done his homework and you can see some of the results – those photos though certainly shouldn’t be discounted lightly – wow I am also blown away by the content …..but here I will let them speak for themselves


    Community Development

    just to start with enjoy –

    the bottom line is that no matter what path anyone takes neighborhoods, destination ordinances the common denominator is ‘caring”

  • 20. Mark Teleha  |  May 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    THAT was the main word each of the people I spoke with said everything started with. If the merchants don’t care, then you get Lorain. Nothing works if no one cares. Sure we’ve got Art Oehlke, and the jewelers along Broadway, and Slutzker’s and etc. But all those empty shops, the flophouse, etc., they’re the ones ruining it all. If you can’t afford to do something, then step aside and let someone else. And for the record (for those dreamers waiting for it), Lorain is not getting a casino.

  • 21. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 26, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    No Casino – Mark say it isn’t so 🙂

  • 22. Brian  |  May 29, 2012 at 11:42 am

    “If you can’t afford to do something, then step aside and let someone else. ”


    The problem is that there isn’t a mad rush of folks stepping in to replace them. That was my point about the places to eat along Oberlin Ave, Three built already to move in places that look good, but the NEIGHBORHOOD can’t support to keep anything open in them.

    Same thing with downtown, you need a little “bread and butter” to keep any small business open. I just got back from New York City. While I was a tourist, that city cannot pay its electric bill just because I went there for a few days. I had a great pizza in Queens that didn’t cater to the tourist to keep its doors open. I shopped at a grocery store, it also didn’t cater to tourists, it was there for the neighborhood, not vice-versa.

    The subway system that I rode on was great to get around in, but wasn’t built for the tourist, and parts of it wasn’t even pretty, but it FUNCTIONED WELL. It did its job. The subways main purpose was for the neighborhoods FIRST, and it was nice for tourists like me SECONDLY.

  • 23. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 29, 2012 at 11:58 am

    It has to be a muti pronged approach imho- and you have to start somewhere …. trouble is there isn’t one of the prongs that hasn’t been buggered to bits…. and where do we get the money … Mark had a post a few years back about the judge and broken window effect.

    Trouble is if we target say a one block area in the city – say Broadway ( which they are trying to do with volunteers now to paint and spruce up ( although I am not sure that is one block) and painting and cleaning ….
    but if we tried the multi pronged approach, clean up , enforce the ordinances sweep the surrounding neighborhoods I am sure there would be a hue and cry about discimination ( against landlords building owners, social service agencies and WHY ME!!!)

    they did that when the city last year tried to do something about Catholic Charities and their clientele who were effecting businesses.and whilst I appreciate the fact Veterans Park was useful having the “homeless handout” event may have a feel good result and show the granting authorities that fund the agencies involved ( and therefore director salaries) they are doing something . it certainly DIDN”T help Lorain’s image sorry ……

    I haven’t any answers because it is the “people” who need to make change because they want a better quality of life….. and those that are left are outnumbered but those that prostitute Lorain ……

  • 24. Brian  |  June 5, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Reading in the Chronicle Telegram today, , is an example of how poorly our city has been run in the past. The untold message of the story is how inefficient our city has been operated because the tools and equipment that the few workers that are available to perform their jobs is JUNK.

    I remember a post on where Council woman at large Anne Molnar stated that she was going to talk to the administration about the “speed bumps” on 21st Street but never had the courtesy of posting what the outcome of that meeting was. I am going to bet either the machine that used to grind down the asphalt is broken because it was never properly maintained or that it was sold for scrap like the sewer grouting machine that the city at one time owned that was sold for scrap.

    I own a lot of tools and equipment and there is a certain level of care and maintenance that they need. I INVESTED in purchasing them to make me more efficient in doing what I do and I take the time to maintain them because they have a value beyond there actual cost in efficiencies.

    Lets read into the Chronicle story a little deeper. There are 14 workers left in the “street department”, 3 doing potholes leaving 11 to do what? I am going to guess that most of them are cutting grass or on vacation now that summer is here.

    Throwing patch in a hole doesn’t fix a thing because it only lasts a year according to the story and the grass keeps growing meaning that it will have to be cut again. This is what paying 2% of my paycheck gets me in Lorain while other cities are getting more done with a smaller percentage of their taxpayers paychecks.

    Somehow something needs to change…

  • 25. Brian  |  June 5, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Also reported today in the Chronicle Telegram, , is the other activity that eats up most of the employees time that work for the STREETS DEPARTMENT, cutting grass.

    The city has three employees to maintain 211 lane miles of roadway and three times as many to cut grass. Is mentioned in the other article that was mentioned in my post above that the city street department hasn’t done any paving in a DECADE, so why even have a streets department?

    According to the earlier article, “Workers usually use about 6 tons of asphalt per day when asphalt is available. A hot patch will usually last about a year, Stanley said. Cold patches are quick fixes that usually only last a couple of weeks until being undone by moisture or warmer temperatures.” , where does the 30 TONS of asphalt PER WEEK go when it falls apart? Where are our brain surgens out there that have the answer?

  • 26. Loraine Ritchey  |  June 5, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    down the storm drains when it rains????

  • 27. Brian  |  June 6, 2012 at 10:46 am

    DING! DING! DING!!!! You win the prize. It might be a good thing that the city has ONLY three people throwing 120 tons of patch down the sewers every month. That should keep a three or four man crew of city employees busy in the sewer department busy power flushing sewer drains for most the year and blasting all that tar laden gravel into Lake Erie. At the pace the city is dumping asphalt into Lake Erie, we should be able to park on it in a few short years after we get rid of all those pesky fishies.

    Back to saving history. Who in the city has the time and experience to help you out saving some history???? Hmmmmmm

    I was kinda thinking that since Howard Goldberg can work for Purple Heart Homes for the vets on the side doing property aquisitions, he has to be the only person who works for the city with some spare time. Maybe Howard can come up with some kind of idea to save some structures and preserve some history.

  • 28. Loraine Ritchey  |  June 6, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I doubt there is even the remote possibility of preserving Lorain’s history- unless we can do it ourselves—- and not many care…… Futility………………….

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