Saturday, March 29, 2014


Published 2006 for Gazette Newspapers, on 40th anniversary of that event

INTRODUCTORY NOTE--I have transferred this draft to my blog tonight so that a granddaughter can read about it. She got lost in Cleveland today, but hers was a light-hearted adventure, unlike this 1966 event in which I was caught up:

HEADLINE: The 60s, when 'Happy Days' turned to explosion

Tales of Cleveland's 1966 Hough riots were retold recently in a Cleveland newspaper. Some of you may be too young to remember the riots; some of you might not been born yet; and many of you who lived in the more sparsely populated Lake County at the time may have observed it from afar. As for me, I will never personally forget that summer night of July 18, 40 years ago, when social and racial unrest burst forth like a volcano. I was in my car, driving in that very Hough neighborhood when the riots began. It's a story about which, until now, I have never written.
In those days, before many homes (or automobiles) had air conditioning, we were sweltering through a hot summer drought. In city areas, the relentless heat sizzled up in white-hot waves from the concrete and asphalt. Humans suffered in hot apartments, and even the summer streets at night provided no cooling for relief.

At the time, my first-born son Mark was not quite five years old. He wanted to visit his Uncle Bill, my brother, who lived in Cleveland in an apartment near St. John's Cathedral. So Mark and I, as we frequently did, drove in to spend some time with Bill. In the city, the three of us enjoyed a leisurely walk, window-shopping among the downtown stores

Later, Bill wanted to "take a little spin" in my new Mustang, and he also offered to treat us to dinner in his favorite diner where, he said, the food was very good and the fellowship was even better. And yes, we did have a fine meal complete with dessert, and so many of the diner regulars engaged us in delightful conversations, the time got away from us. Daylight was already graying into evening, and that seemed to be of great concern to my brother.

"We'll take a short cut to my apartment," he decided. "You need to drop me off and hurry toward home before it gets darker." Where were we headed? I didn't ask; I simply followed his instructions; he knew the city well.

SUDDENLY AS WE turned a corner, we heard a roar like surf on a stormy ocean and found ourselves in the midst of a swarming mob. My ears rang with the sound; the anger was palpable, and it seemed to be aimed toward us. More quickly than I could have thought possible, the crush of people grew and swelled around us, and as far as we could see in any direction were dark, fury-filled faces---at our windshield, our windows... Soon we could see nothing at all as they pounded the car, swaying it forward and backward and side to side, shouting threats and profanities.

I shouted at my brother, "Close your window; lock your doors; toss Mark to the floor; cover him with your body... !" The noise was unbearable and frightening; I had no idea what had happened or was about to happen, or why. What was our role in all this? I swallowed fear and decided I had no choice but to press the pedal and move forward, whatever happened and whatever it took to get out in one piece.

Praying I wouldn't be killing anyone, or that we wouldn't be killed ourselves, I moved faster and faster, operating on pure instinct. At times, I wasn't sure our wheels hadn't been lifted off the ground... It seemed we were smothering among those faces and bodies, but soon I began to see bits of daylight, and I pressed forward faster. Soon we were moving out, free for the time being...

AWAY FROM THE neighborhood and out of the city we headed, without looking back. I gave my brother no options whatsoever as we left the city; he was going with us!

All the way home to Lake County---thankfully on the right road now---my arms and legs and hands trembled. I had clung so tightly to the wheel that my hands and arms and shoulders would be aching for days...

Later, I learned a racial incident in a bar had been the tinder that lit a neighborhood that had been seething with unbearable heat and deep-seated frustration. The news people believed the rioting began "around nine in the evening"---just about the time our car was turning the corner into the neighborhood.

For the next six days, Hough nights were filled with violence, arson, firebombs, shooting, looting... Police and firefighters entering the area were fought backward by gunfire. The National Guard was called in. Bars were closed, businesses boarded up, traffic outlawed, curfews enforced...

In this period of racial tension and social unrest, Cleveland was not alone. Such riots were breaking out in cities all across the country.

For a time afterward, Hough stood like a bombed-out war zone, with buildings destroyed or boarded up and sitting vacant until the Cleveland Clinic began buying up land for hospital expansion.

ABOUT FIVE YEARS later, I recall staying in a hotel near the Clinic while my youngest son was hospitalized. Each morning as I left at dawn to be with my son, I would be accompanied by a uniformed guard who walked beside me with a drawn gun. (If the truth were told, I was more afraid of that drawn gun than I was of the surroundings.)

Decade by decade afterward, the area improved and continues to improve. When I pass through these days, it's hard to imagine it could be the same place in which so many buildings were destroyed, so many people were hurt or killed, and in which my son and my brother and I faced such danger, on July 18, 1966.

As a teen in the mid-to-late 1950s, I could not have guessed that our "Happy Days" were a facade, hiding frustration and unrest for so many people. The riots were merely one harsh symbol of that, boiling to the surface and exploding to make itself known.

                                     ----Rose Moore---

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Happy Birthday to you, Connie! Today I ran across this note I wrote to you for your birthday 20 years ago, when your daughter Kathy hosted a fun little party for you in the Concord Airpark Lounge. I thought I'd share it once again with you!

   Our friendship began in the early 1960's at that small, warm community of flying folk and would-be flying folk at Concord Airpark. Your name was Jones; you had not yet fallen in love with and married Adolph Luhta, who became your husband, dear friend and best companion.
   In those days, a lot of us at the airport sported nicknames. You were dubbed "Chicken Charlie" (Can anyone remember why?) and "Jones" (pre-Adolph, of course.) And I was christened "Flash-Crash" in reference to the fact I was a student pilot as well as a reporter-photographer,  and "Kid" (I was obviously LOTS younger then!)
   Perhaps we might have been just passing acquaintances were it not for a wonderful curmudgeonly character named Karl Naumann... your father! He was so proud of your accomplishments, he contacted me as "the only reporter I can trust," and he would keep me posted on your activities, awards and achievements.
   As a matter of fact, I fell in love with small-plane flying through a trip he chartered to watch you race in Michigan. I was allowed to join the small cheering-section flying that day through the glorious autumn sky to Mt. Pleasant. That blue-sky trip won me over; I promptly signed on for flying lessons.
   Your co-pilot in that Michigan race was Barbara Knapp. Do you remember she drew attention and quite a bit of teasing for those "green legs"--the pistachio-colored panty-hose she wore with her Bermuda shorts? Barb's husband "Evvie" was to become my supremely patient flight instructor.
    Both have since passed on, as has your husband Adolph, and they remain important in my memories and the memories of my family.
   You won several distinctions in Michigan that day. The one I remember best was your becoming an honorary member of the Chippewa tribe. The tribal elders from the Mt. Pleasant Reservation witnessed the race, and they expressed their admiration for "Cloud Woman" by holding a solemn tribal ceremony to make you "one of their tribe forever."
   Over the next few years, you and I flew often together. We gathered at Airpark picnics and dances and airshows with our families and friends. We worked together on a number of projects and along the way enjoyed many adventures. In the process, the groundwork was set for one of the important friendships of my life; you became part of my history and my family.
    As true friends can, we sometimes disagreed, and we could count on mutual respect to sustain the friendship. Over the years, we laughed together in happy times and cried together in grief. And even though sometimes we were enmeshed in our separate lives, we kept the friendship line open.
   Apart from flying, we shared other connections: Your daughter Kathy and my third son Kevin were babies together; my mother-in-law was a frequent babysitter for Kathy, and our kids often played together at her place. We also both have shared an enduring devotion to our community of Concord Township, pursuing that dedication in our individual ways.
   One of your very special qualities has always been your reservoir of kindness and consideration for other people. In 1970, when I faced serious surgery with prolonged recovery, you flew one of my sons out of state to a member of my family who had agreed to care for him during my illness. You calmed that small boy's fears for his mother, and made the flight a happy adventure that he still remembers. And then you wouldn't charge me a dime for that very important, personalized charter flight!
You and I are much older now, but our friendship is still strong. I expect it will see both of us through many more birthdays to come.

Happy Birthday, Cloud Woman from your old friend Rose---(who is even older now, though YOU don't seem to have aged at all).