Our plan for today was simple: visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Though we had an appointment at 4pm on our schedule, we were feeling relaxed about the rest of the day. Just as well, because once we’d stepped inside and heard the music, we didn’t want to go anywhere else!
There has been a mixed response to our decision to visit Cleveland on our Road Trip, but mostly, it’s been a slightly mystified “but why?” Well, if anyone needs a reason, then let it be “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”! It’s all part of a major lakefront redevelopment – the Science Center and a huge stadium project is right next door.
Anyway, with tickets purchased and guides in hand, we couldn’t wait to get started.
The first displays told the story of how rock and roll grew out of humble beginnings. There were mementos of early blues and gospel singers, rockabilly and bluegrass, each one accompanied by a video presentation with soundtrack coming from overhead speakers. Just as our toes began tapping and we were getting into the groove, a horde of small children from a summer camp descended on the place and the general hubbub and noise was enough to make listening impossible.
We let them steam on through and then resumed our visit.
By this time we were getting into familiar territory – for dare I say, till this point, it was all before my time? But now we were talking – Beatles, Herman’s Hermits and The Hollies – oh yes, we knew all the words!
The story continued, through Motown, Flower Power, Punk, Rap and Heavy Metal. A few items stood out like these handwritten lyrics to The Boxer (one of the tunes which always plays in my head when I’m in New York City) but really, there were so many small things to see, to wonder about and to prompt lots of memories.
And all the time, the music was playing and we were humming, singing and loving it all, because it was aimed at people just like us; our vintage, in fact.
I mean, David Bowie? Look at that suit from 1972! Nicely shaped, eh?
I’d feared the Motown stars would not feature here, since Detroit has a Hall of Fame too, but thankfully, there they were, the Supremes. The mannequins were perfectly posed and couldn’t really have been mistaken for anyone else, don’t you agree?
At the end of this section, sure enough, there he was. The one all those little kids had been looking for – though I’m not sure any of them would have spotted him – or his glove.
Right here was a huge screen, playing live concert performances and we happily stopped and listened for a while – James Taylor is on screen here, singing Fire and Rain – and one after another memorable performance followed, making it very difficult indeed to move on.
But just around the corner was The Beatles exhibit…and the Rolling Stones…and we simply had to stop and listen to them too. I loved the Beatles in particular and we happened upon that show at just the right spot – halfway through “With the Beatles” LP and I was sucked right back into the 1960s.
So it went. Into a theatre to watch clips from 50 years of American Bandstand, which wasn’t at all familiar to us but which featured people like Aha, ABBA, Bryan Adams, Lionel Richie, The Righteous Brothers, Joni Mitchell and – ermmm – Sheena Easton?! Around the corner was another theatre with clips of all the Hall of Fame inductees – Martha and the Vandellas, the Mamas and the Papas, Queen, Earth Wind and Fire, Donna Summer, Pink Floyd, Blondie…and so many others.
We could have stayed and watched it all over again. We loved every minute!
With all of that wonderful music going around and around in our heads, we returned downtown buzzing! Our goal was the central tower in the group of skyscrapers there, which my Hero identified as Terminal Tower – formerly Cleveland Union Terminal; the former railroad station.
Sadly, trains no longer arrive and depart from this marvellous building.
There are shops, restaurants and an hotel where the platforms used to be.
Though there’s still the odd reminder of former glories.
The ceiling is magnificent, too.
In the middle of Public Square, right outside Terminal Tower, is the Soldiers and Sailors Monument - a memorial to veterans of the Civil War – very grand, it is, too. We were on our way to one of the other grand buildings in the group on Superior Avenue: Mary had secured us an appointment for a tour of the Cleveland Public Library.
The Cleveland Public Library is quite an awe-inspiring building both inside and out. Inside, the carpets reflect the pattern and colour of the ceiling and there are murals and reading desks in keeping with the architecture.
The painted ceiling in the entrance hall was finely painted in a rather delicate design, too. This was in stark contrast to the decor and architecture in the newer, modern extension though:
Our visit had been a cool respite from the heat and humidity which had been building outside. Thankfully, we had only a couple of blocks to walk to our hotel and we hoped the rain would hold off long enough for us to get back in the dry.
I couldn’t resist taking a couple of pictures of Tom Otterness’ figures, though.
Remember them from the NYC Subway, too?
We did manage to get back in the dry, though when we stepped outside to go for dinner, there were heavy spots of rain falling. With our raingear in the car, parked some distance away, I returned to the reception desk to ask if, by any chance, they had an umbrella I could borrow. Sadly, the one which had been there was already gone, but Liz, the receptionist offered me her own umbrella to use. I turned to the chap standing behind me in the queue and remarked that this was really beyond the call of duty and incredibly generous of her.
“You’re in the Mid-West”, he said.
Indeed, and how pleased we are to be here, too.