Enjoying the good life in University Circle

Here’s a first-person glimpse into a typical few weeks in the lives of Judson Manor residents George and Ginnie Havens.

In 2006 Ginnie and I chose to live out our lives in Cleveland, not Montana where we had a home in the mountains for 16 years. In 2009 we chose to live at Judson Manor, a Judson retirement community in University Circle, Cleveland’s cultural, educational and medical hub.

Both were serious and essentially non-reversible decisions. Here are some reasons for those decisions which justify our rationale and illustrate the outcome. Our activities from a typical recent two-week period highlight the multiple cultural advantages and incredible convenience of this lively urban area, which has become the heart of the city.

Monday, October 15: With our Cleveland-based attorney son we viewed The Battle for Algiers, a riveting classic film at the close-by Wolstein Building Auditorium. This free event was sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) as part of its “Revolution” series.

Skating club tennisTuesday, October 16: I enjoyed my usual Tuesday morning doubles tennis match at The Skating Club, an easy five-minute drive from the Manor.

Wednesday, October 17: Ginnie spent the full day at her long-time volunteer job at Towards Employment downtown counseling people coming out of the prison system, to help them prepare for job interviews and re-enter the productive work force.

I coordinated the CWRU Off-Campus Studies class on “Important Constitutional Court cases” that is held at the Manor and led by Marcia Dettelbach.

Thursday October 18: Last spring I developed a seven-session course on “The Giants Who Created Jazz in New Orleans” and taught it at the Manor and Judson Park – Judson’s other retirement community that sits on the border of Cleveland Heights and University Circle. On this day I taught the current class with both lecture and recorded examples at South Franklin Circle, Judson’s third and newest retirement community, in Chagrin Falls.

Ginnie continued her piano lessons at The Music Settlement, nearby and convenient.

That evening we were invited by the Judson’s President and CEO Cynthia Dunn to join 1000 other folks for the Centennial Anniversary of The City Club of Cleveland at the Renaissance Hotel downtown. This gala event encompassed a cocktail reception, dinner and special program where we encountered numerous old friends, former business acquaintances and the movers and shakers of our town.

Founded in 1912 at the urging of Newton D. Baker, later President Woodrow Wilson’s Secretary of War, The City Club is known as “The Citadel of Free Speech” and is the longest, continuous free speech forum in the nation. The long, prestigious list of speakers includes U.S. presidents and most of the important and notable people of those 100 years.

Friday, October 19: Along with Cathy Alfred, widow of the former dean of CWRU’s Weatherhead School of Management, we celebrated Ginnie’s and Cathy’s birthdays – both were born on October 13. We started with a tasty dinner at Etna, a Sicilian restaurant in nearby Little Italy. Ginnie and I both had portobello mushroom ravioli in osso buco sauce.

Then we went to the Slavic Village neighborhood to hear a free concert by the City Music Orchestra including Max Bruch’s magnificent Violin Concerto No. 1 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4.

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The venue was the spectacular Shrine Church of Saint Stanilaus, a splendid structure that is both architecturally impressive and acoustically excellent. The church center aisle is 100 feet long, seating capacity is 800 with extra chairs to handle the overflow audience it attracts for the concerts, and the interior decoration is the equal of many European cathedrals.

Tuesday, October 23: I walked to/from Tomlinson Hall on the CWRU campus and participated in a live telepresence event with a manager in the Netherlands as part of an advisory board meeting for the Case Connection Zone. This project will equip the Manor with a unique gigabit fiber optic-to-suite system to permit distance learning, better health care management and other benefits of this advanced technology. Then I played in my usual competitive Tuesday morning doubles tennis match at the nearby Skating Club for an hour and three-quarters followed by a male-bonding lunch.

Ginnie walked to/from her CWRU class at Clark Hall on The History of Rock & Roll which is the fifth university class she has audited.

Wednesday, October 24: As usual Ginnie committed her full day to her volunteer job at Towards Employment downtown. At noon she had lunch with our attorney son who has offices in the downtown area. Once again, I supervised the CWRU Off-Campus class.

Thursday, October 25: I taught my jazz course at South Franklin Circle and Ginnie took her music lesson at The Music Settlement. That evening, Ginnie attended a special presentation at Harkness Chapel on the university campus on the life and contribution of the legendary Chuck Berry, co-sponsored by CWRU and The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Friday, October 26: Both of us were among a large, enthusiastic group who attended the Towards Employment “Dream Jobs” benefit event at the Slovenian National Home building at 6409 St. Clair Avenue to support the work of this organization and honor its graduates. We were seated at Table 1 with State Senator Shirley Smith and had a chance to talk to Jeff Johnson, our Ward 8 councilman. Amazingly, even in this tough economy, the highly successful Towards Employment program will place some 500 individuals in good, paying jobs in 2012.

Saturday, October 27

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This evening featured our attendance at nearby Severance Hall to hear the Cleveland Orchestra present a strong, stirring concert featuring the Rachmaninoff Second Piano Concerto and the Second Symphony of Jan Sibelius. In both, the orchestra was up to its premier world-class performance level.

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Sunday, October 28: In 2002 the Cleveland Museum of Art embarked on a $350 million capital campaign to dramatically expand and upgrade its presence in University Circle. A centerpiece of this transformation is a great, light-filled piazza sheltered by a curving, soaring glass roof that creates the largest free public space in the city. This stunning atrium at 39,000 square feet is almost as big as a football field and showcases the original 1916 Greek Revival museum building. Today, we joined hundreds of other folks for the opening celebration of this extraordinary place. Note: Among the five major museums in the country, Cleveland is unique with its free admission at all times.

That was the rewarding fortnight that fulfilled our preferred lifestyle as “urban” (not suburban or rural) people. As we used to write at the end of a successful geometry proof: Q.E.D.

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