Yesterday's Magazette

16 – A Cemetery With A View

A Cemetery With A View 

By Linda Masek

People don’t normally think of a cemetery as being the garden spot of an area, but that is exactly what Lake View Cemetery, located on Euclid Avenue in the famous University Circle of Cleveland, has become. The burial place of the rich and famous, the well known movers and shakers, philanthropists, presidents, crime fighters, and even a creative writing teacher and her family who founded the Fisher Food chain of stores, all found their final resting place here.  

Although the views of Lake Erie, which prevailed at the cemetery’s founding in 1869, have long been obscured by the high buildings of nearby Case-Western Reserve University, the flowers, especially in the spring, bring gardeners and flower lovers to this site to view the showplace a daffodils, flowering trees, and tulip lanes on display. The day of my visit, the famous Daffodil Hill was full of bouncing yellow flowers in full bloom. The cemetery has nine miles of roads and over 90,000 graves. Many of the older, intricately carved monuments were created by Americans of Italian descent; these people lived close by in the community named for them, Little Italy.

My association with Lake View Cemetery goes back to fourth grade when my class made our annual field trip to the most prominent monolith found here when entering the cemetery from the main entrance at 12316 Euclid Avenue. Ohio born and bred James Garfield, the 20th President of the United States who was assassinated a mere three months after his inauguration was laid to rest in Lake View Cemetery at the Garfield Monument. This structure reminded me of a medieval stone tower minus the parapets and a princess waiting to be rescued when I first saw it over fifty years ago. Trees obscure the view today, but the intricately styled monument is a showplace for any observer.

John D. Rockefeller (1838-1937) a member of the prestigious family by the same name, became a Cleveland resident at fourteen years of age and attended Central High School for two years before studying business. Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company with multiple refineries making him an extremely wealthy man. In later years, Rockefeller became known as a philanthropist and would give money to children. His obelisk monument is the largest private monument at Lake View.

Wade Chapel, named for Jeptha Wade, is a noteworthy artistic site with Tiffany glass windows, bronze doors and alabaster lamps. The Tiffany glass tells a Biblical story, the triumph of life straight from the Old and New Testaments and always reminded me of a gigantic rotundra. A beautiful reflecting pool is in the back of the chapel, surrounded by flowers with ducks and geese swimming on the soothing waters.

Hollywood is also represented at lake View. I was an avid viewer of the television series “The Untouchables” in the 1960s; imagine my surprise when I learned that the crime fighter Eliot Ness was also honored at Lake View with a stone memorial! He came to Cleveland in 1935 and over the next seven years instituted needed reforms in the Cleveland Police Department besides establishing a police academy. After cremation, his ashes were scattered over Wade lake.

Perhaps the most famous architects in the Cleveland area were the Van Sweringen Brothers, interred in lake View, who created Cleveland’s well-known landmark the Terminal Tower. I took a field trip to the top floor as a fifth grade student and peered out at the turbulent Lake Erie in the distance, a most exciting site for any child back in the 1950’s.

Last, but not least, is Marcella Fisher Anderson, my creative writing teacher, who taught me the basics to produce publishable books, articles and even poetry. Marcie penned children’s books (The Young Patriots) and wrote for many of the children’s magazines such as “Highlights for Children”. She was a vast source of encouragement for me when my first children’s book, Mag~ni-fi-cat, was published in 1992; she also proofread two later published novels The Poison Tree (Avalon Books) and Soul Dance (Fireside Books on Amazon’s Kindle). Marcie and I worked together for a time back in 1980 in University Hospital’s Rainbow library, where she created the most outstanding program for child-life services in the country. She unselfishly gave of her time to writers like myself, who were just beginning their careers, by offering vast amounts of support.

Marcie was a member of the noteworthy Fisher family; her grandfather, Manning Fisher, founded Fisher Foods in 1907 (“It’s Fresher at Fishers”). Fishers grew rapidly in the early 1900’s and boasted of a “complete food store” allowing the customer to purchase produce, (including meat), in one location. Manning Fisher’s legacy to his son, Ellwood Fisher, was a huge chain of popular stores which continued to grow and dominated the Cleveland market until after World War II. Ultimately, the Fisher stores merged with the Fazio Costa chain.

Any visit to such a large cemetery like Lake View must be organized either by section, by theme (musicians, politicians, whatever) or importance in the world-wide chain of events. Regardless, an inspiring time awaits, as young and old journey among the “pillars” of ages past and learn of their place in the archives of history.

Vol. 38 No. 3 – Copyright © Yesterday’s Magazette – Fall- 2011

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