At Pittsburgh Irish Fest, I had a great auld conversation with a photographer I admire very much, for his skill, his passion, his perseverance. He and his wife have had numerous struggles, and I could sense his sense of peril, and wondering at the legacy he would leave. The conversation was great, because it will live on, like all true legacies do.
A week later, I went to the 12th Annual Cleveland Famine Memorial Mass, at the Famine Stone. The Famine Stone is a ten-ton, ten-foot high carved granite stone on the banks of the Cuyahoga River, just around the bend from Irishtown Bend, a place where many of the Irish who first came to Cleveland lived – often 3-4 or more families to a room, houses on stilts. Their legacy is proclaimed in the Stone.
It is an honor when we are asked to preserve the legacy of another. Like any wealth, it gains value, we are richer, when it is shared.
165 years have passed since Black 47. It’s legacy is alive today, and maybe even larger than life, because we not only actively remember, but we respect, what others gave. Maybe it’s in a stone, maybe in the respect for the fact that some gave all. It inspires us. Immigrants, soldiers, police, fire and all who walk on the edge of life are both honored, and haunted, by it.
Our cover features Patrick Campbell and Jason Salupo. Patrick is the owner of PJ McIntyre’s Irish Pub, and Jason, the owner of West Park Station. Their businesses are located a few doors apart – but they do not act in competition.
Each sponsors continuous sport teams, fundraisers, live music of every kind and fun events, often working together, with great acknowledgement of those who came before and impacted their lives; Patrick’s to the Irish heritage, Jason to the Police and Fire men and women so prevalent and impactful in his family and in the West Park / Kamm’s area, since the day the very first building opened – Oswald Kamm’s grocery store, in 1875.
That first building became a stage coach station, the first post office, on the dirt road that became Lorain Road. Much later, it found a renewed legacy in the Cleveland landmark, Tony’s Restaurant. I worked there as a busboy when I was in high school. The first time I drove a car on my own, was to work at Tony’s – my own little stage coach; I am still offering to drive people today.
That building now houses Panini’s, an amalgamation of food, sport, fun and friends – well representing the neighborhood, and way of life. I have seen very early pictures of the building, called Kamm’s stage coach station, and the building, though remodeled many times over, is easily distinguishable, even more than a century later.
I don’t know what Oswald Kamm dreamed of when he stamped “Kamm’s, Ohio” on letters, or even if he dreamed of a legacy. He was an innovator, an entrepreneur, a leader, a man of action. His efforts created a community, then a neighborhood, revitalized again, more than 140 years later.
As two of today’s successful community leaders, Pat and Jason don’t talk about legacy, they talk about love, for their heritage, and their neighborhood. Their generous spirits go far beyond conversation, and have not only fueled a legacy, but rebirthed a neighborhood, that was quietly fading from any borders.
Finding the balance between sharing a legacy, and creating one today, is often better enabled when we concentrate on others, not ourselves. Let our legacy be written by our own generosity of spirit, the joyful noise we live, as men for others.
The children of 1847 found a home and fashioned a legacy, began here in 1875. We have always been cops and firemen, guardians of a station where friends come, and find home.