Friday, June 27, 2008

Cleveland’s Great Mustard Debate

Forget Paris…well, I mean Dijon. Mustard, that is. There are only two kinds of mustard for true Clevelanders. One is Stadium Mustard, and the other is Bertman Original Ball Park Mustard. Stadium Mustard is currently the official mustard of Progressive Field, is featured at 150 stadiums and arenas throughout the United States, and has been served to astronauts on the Space Shuttle. Bertman’s had been used at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Both mustards are a not so pleasing color of brown, and both have a distinctive spicy, tart/tangy taste.

But trying to say – or even think – that one is better than the other could start a war, or worse yet, a hockey game could break out. Bertman lovers call Stadium Mustard an “inferior counterfeit” and a “knock-off”; Stadium Mustard lovers say theirs just tastes better and the proof is that it's used in so many sports arenas. So I won’t tell you which one I like best. But I did a little research to bring out the details of who was the first stadium/ballpark mustard.

There are some details in the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History about Bertman’s:

The company was founded in 1920 by JOSEPH BERTMAN who was born in Lublin, Poland, and came to Cleveland as a child with his parents. He began the company in a garage at the Bertman home at E. 147th near Kinsman, where spices and pickles were processed and packaged. The firm relocated to 653 E. 103rd by the mid-1930s, and was then known as the Bertman Pickle Co. Soon afterward, the company relocated to 2180 E. 76th near Cedar. It is now located at 7777 Grand Avenue….Bertman's Original Ball Park Mustard is the company's best known product. Bertman himself said that the Cleveland Stadium was his first customer in 1932, but some sources indicate that the mustard was first sold at LEAGUE PARK baseball games in 1938. The spicy, tan mustard, considered by some to be the best available, is custom-blended from a secret recipe. Until the early 1970s it was only sold in gallons, but afterwards was carried by supermarkets. It was available at the Cleveland Stadium as well as the new baseball park, Jacobs Field.

David Dwoskin, President, Davis Foods Company, who makes Stadium mustard, says on Stadium Mustard’s web site:

When I was only twelve years old, my father took me to the Cleveland Municipal Stadium for the first time. I don't remember who was playing, but I do remember biting into my first hot dog with this delicious brown mustard on it. This was part of growing up in Cleveland. For more than fifty years, this mustard was served at the old Stadium, "a true Cleveland tradition". Thirty years ago I made that same mustard available in supermarkets and gave it a name - The Authentic Stadium Mustard, named after the Cleveland Stadium.”
So it appears Bertman’s is truly the ORIGINAL. But whose mustard is the best? If you want to taste test and you’re living here in Cleveland, you can easily get both. Well, maybe not so easy; I get Bertman’s at my local Heinen’s (who only carries the best stuff, by the way) but I couldn’t find a slot for Stadium mustard on the shelf…Oops, did I just tip my hand to my house favorite?

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Lake Erie “Beyond the Surface” Part 4

The fourth and final installment of “Lake Erie Beyond the Surface” will be airing on Cleveland’s WKYC Channel 3 on Saturday, June 21, 2008 at 7:00 PM, hosted by Mark Nolan.

So far, this series has been excellent, and I encourage everyone in the Channel 3 viewing area to catch the show. Lake Erie is a vital resource that we should all understand, respect, and protect.

More information and links to the on-line videos of previous episodes of “Lake Erie Beyond the Surface” can be found on WKYC’s web site, here.

Two videos are below. The first is a “behind the scenes” promo for part 4 of Lake Erie Beyond the Surface; the second is a “classic” special report from KYW done in 1964 that speaks to the state of Lake Erie.

Behind the Scenes "Lake Erie Beyond the Surface"

KYW 1964 Special Report on Lake Erie

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pete Townshend’s Ode to Cleveland

Pete Townshend - of The Who and also a very successful solo artist in his own right - said that he only wrote one song about one city, and that city was Cleveland. It’s one of my favorite tunes from Townshend’s solo career, titled "Sheraton Gibson," appearing on his “Who Came First” album that was released in 1972.

Here are a few versions of the song performed by Townshend. The first is a live version (from a concert with the Who in Cleveland in September of 2000) where he explains that he wrote the song after an afternoon at a barbecue with the members of the James Gang (also Cleveland favorites).

So here are a few versions for your listening pleasure. The lyrics are listed below so you can sing along if the urge strikes you.

Live Version performed by Pete Townshend in Cleveland

Live verion performed by Pete Townshend

Live Version, performed by Eddie Vedder and Pete Townshend

Sheraton Gibson
From “Who Came First” by Pete Townshend

I'm sitting' in the Sheraton Gibson playing' my Gibson
And boy do I wanna go home.
I'm sitting' in the Sheraton Gibson playing' my Gibson
And boy do I feel all alone.
Cleveland, you blow my mind.
Cleveland, I wish I were home this time.
Don't want to be unkind .

But I'm sitting' in the Sheraton Gibson playing' my Gibson
Thinking' 'bout a sunny barbeque
I'm sitting in the Sheraton Gibson playing' my Gibson
And my mind is a Cleveland afternoon.
Cleveland, you blow my mind.
Cleveland, I wish I were home this time
Don't wanna be unkind.
Cleveland, you blow my mind.
Cleveland, I wish I were home this time.
Don't wanna be unkind.

Oh Cleveland, you blow my mind.
Oh Cleveland, I wish I were home this time
Don't wanna be unkind.

But I'm sitting in the Sheraton Gibson playing' my Gibson
And boy do I wanna go home.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

The William G. Mather Maritime Museum

The Steamship William G. Mather Maritime Museum has been a familiar sight on Cleveland’s Lake Erie shoreline since October 1990, initially at a berth at the East Ninth Street Pier on Cleveland's North Coast Harbor, and now located just north of the Great Lakes Science Center at Dock 32.

More than just a museum, it had a busy life as a Great Lakes bulk freighter that transported cargo such as ore, coal, stone, and grain to ports throughout the Great Lakes. Built in Detroit by the Great Lakes Engineering Works, River Rouge, Michigan in 1925, it served for a time as the flagship for the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company. It was also nicknamed "The Ship That Built Cleveland" because Cleveland's steel mills were a frequent destination. The steamship was named in honor of the man who was president of Cleveland-Cliffs at the time it was built, William Gwinn Mather.

According to Wikipedia:

In order to supply the Allied Forces need for steel during World War II, the Mather led a convoy of 13 freighters in early 1941 through the ice-choked Upper Great Lakes to Duluth, Minnesota, setting a record for the first arrival in a northern port. This heroic effort was featured in the April 28, 1941 issue of Life. She was one of the first commercial Great Lakes vessels to be equipped with radar in 1946. In 1964, she became the very first American vessel to have an automated boiler system, manufactured by Bailey Controls of Cleveland, Ohio.

After a long career, the Steamship William G. Mather was retired in the 1980s, and remained in Toledo. On December 1987, Cleveland-Cliffs, Inc. donated it to the Great Lakes Historical Society to be restored and preserved as a museum ship and floating maritime museum. When the steamship arrived in Cleveland in late 1988, funding was obtained and restoration began. But soon afterwards, a fire damaged the Mather's galley and some cabins, meaning even more work would be required to get the Mather back in shape. In October 1990, the Mather was moved to a berth at the East Ninth Street Pier on Cleveland's North Coast Harbor, and relocated in 2005 to its current location north of the Great Lakes Science Center at Dock 32. In October of 2006, the William G. Mather was acquired by the Great Lakes Science Center.

The Mather is also an American Society of Mechanical Engineers National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, designated in July of 1995. The Mather is recognized for its 1954 installation of a single marine boiler and steam turbine engine, its 1964 installation of the Bailey 760 Boiler Control System and American Shipbuilding AmThrust dual propeller bow thruster, which all were firsts for U.S. Flag Great Lakes vessels.

Detailed information on the Mather and the museum can be found at the Mather's web site here.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Cleveland's Love Affair With Beer

My treasured beer bottle bank cap

The other day while sifting through a box of items I’d had packed away years ago, I found a giant beer bottle cap. It came from a giant glass beer bottle bank that belong to my grandparents that they used to save money for their grandchildren. They would start saving loose change, and then whatever was in the bank at the time one of their grandchildren was born, they would put all that money into a bank account. Since my parents had 6 kids, it seemed like my grandparents were always saving change. When my mother stopped having kids, my grandparents allowed me to have the bank, and I began saving my change in it as well. The day before my wedding – almost 33 years ago – as I was getting ready to pack up the bank, it tipped and I broke that beer bottle into a million billion pieces. After getting very upset about it, I decided to at least hang on to the bottle cap. When I found that bank bottle cap today, it made me think of the deep history of beer in Cleveland.

The giant beer bottle was for none other than P.O.C. Beer, produced by the Pilsener Brewing Company, located at Clark Ave. and W. 65th St. It was founded by Bohemian brewer Wenzel Medlin in 1892. The name Pilsener comes from the Czech city of Pilsen, where the light Bohemian lager beer was first made. The P.O.C. stood for many things, such as “Pilsener On Call,“ “ Pilsener of Cleveland,” and “Pleasure on Call”, but many Clevelanders, most of them probably growing up with beer in their veins, called the beer “Pride of Cleveland.” Since I grew up in a Bohemian family, beer was a huge part of the their heritage, in some cases, to their detriment!

The beer boom for Cleveland took place in the early 1900s. According to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History:

The industry in Cleveland reached its zenith in 1910, when 26 breweries were operating in the city. In addition to Bohemian, Cleveland, Columbia, Gehring, Schlather, Star, and Fishel (all in the Cleveland & Sandusky fold), there were the Beltz, CLEVELAND HOME BREWING COMPANY, DIEBOLT BREWING CO., Excelsior, Forest City, Gund, Leisy, Pabst, PILSENER BREWING CO., Schlitz, STANDARD BREWING CO., and Stroh breweries. Leisy, Pilsener, and Standard, all located on the near west side, were the most formidable independents. (The full history of Cleveland brewing can be found at the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History’s web site, here.)

Then, dark days for breweries in 1920 when prohibition happened, changing the focus of some local breweries, and putting some out of business. After prohibition was repealed, some breweries restarted and continued to flourish in the city. While over time the number of breweries decreased, their overall output increased. Over the next 30 years, smaller breweries closed and some merged with larger companies. Later on, national companies would soon grab up the bulk of the Cleveland market share and the last Cleveland Brewery (Schmidt) closed in 1984.

Since it’s been said that nature abhors a vacuum, it wasn’t long before Cleveland got another brewery of its own. In 1988, Patrick and Daniel Conway established the microbrewery Great Lakes Brewing Company on the west side of Cleveland, producing Dortmunder and Vienna-style beers. The company has quite the following, especially with their seasonal beers such as Christmas Ale, plus favorite brew Burning River Pale Ale, gaining them widespread popularity. They are also very involved in the community, sponsoring, for example, the Burning River Fest this August.

So while there may be fewer breweries in Cleveland than there were 100 years ago, Cleveland can still be proud of its beer heritage, and that Great Lakes Brewing Company has continued the tradition. Sadly, I haven’t had a beer in years, it gives me terrible migraines. But, if I can just find a giant Great Lakes Beer Bottle Bank…. I'd be happy.

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