Gloria Ferris

one woman’s view from a place by the zoo in the city

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Letters and Their Meaning over Time

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Over the past few weeks I have been thinking of the letters I have written, sent and unsent, and the letters I have received throughout my life.  The reason for this reflection has been a memory book that my cousins and I compiled for our Aunts-Mick and Connie.

When we began planning the book, we immediately knew we would include memories of Grandpa John and Grandma Esther as well as the picnics and holidays we spent together as children. And then, the Workman cousins asked for memories of their sister Cynthia who we lost way too soon in our lives. I was 21 when she died of complications from pneumonia and kidney failure, so was she. They were much younger, the oldest 15 and the youngest, just 7 years old. 

Their request made me realize that they too had lost someone way too soon. When I sat down to write that short essay I realized that one of the things I cherished most about my cousin Cynthia was her passion for writing letters to stay in touch. When she and her family moved farther away from us, and she didn’t see her cousins as often, she devised a “round robin” letter writing campaign, so that Peg, she and I could stay in touch by writing a letter a month.  She would start the progression, send it to me because she knew I was the procrastinator in the group and then, I then would send it on to Peg, who would write her contribution and send it all back to Cynthia who would then write the next month’s beginning letter, include Peg’s. and send it all to me.  How I looked forward to the mailman towards the end of the month when I knew a letter should be arriving soon.

Lo and behold, today, I received an email from her older brother who tells me he has a box of the letters she sent to him, and he will gladly share them with Peg and me.  To dwell in the past is not a good thing to do, but to be able to travel back to another place and time when you were young opens a connection to people that were very special and important to you and that is a good thing.

How often, when I open a box of the cards and letters that I did keep. I wish that I had kept just a few more of the everyday missives that I received from friends and relatives. I kept many of the letters my best friend Beth wrote to me when I was in college because she always included them with a card that made me laugh or remembered some event that she and I had shared together. She on the other hand, had a mother who saved a box of “school notes” that she wrote to me and other friends. Of course, it again had that “round robin” effect.

The year I had my heart attack I went to spend a week with Beth and her family. She opened that box and we spent a joyous afternoon, laughing until we cried, crying until we laughed because there was some sadness included in the writing of those notes. In the end, she and I were amazed at what we saw then as being obstacles and incidents that had the possibility of changing our lives forever, were in the here and now, not so important after all.

I guess that my intention for writing this post is to warn those of you who have the tendency to purge the past out of your lives periodically to be sure that you ask the question “Will I wish I had kept this letter, note or card when I am sixty four?  


Written by Gloria Ferris

June 30th, 2014 at 2:56 pm

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My Christmas Wish For You

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The other day I created a Rhapsody playlist of my favorite Christmas songs. It wasn’t long before I realized that some of my favorites came to me through my mom and dad. Dad’s favorite  was “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”. When the strains of that song were hummed and sung each day,  I knew that Christmas was right around the corner.

Today, my mother’s favorite “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” by Kate Smith is my topic. I knew the song was based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow what I didn’t know was that the poem was written during the Civil War.  The popular song was based on five stanzas of the poem, not the original seven with two that refer specifically to The Civil War.

What a coincidence that both songs were penned during wars. War is war whether it happened in the 1860’s on our own soil or today in a land faraway that makes it surreal rather than the harsh reality it is. War is violent, and lately, we have experienced an act of unspeakable horror in a town in Connecticut that turned violence on 10 small children and six of their teachers who will never sit down to Christmas dinner again with their loved ones.

Today, the SEVEN stanzas of this poem seem appropriate. Against the harsh reality of war, we again hear God’s promise of “Peace on Earth Good will To Men” Here is the original poem with all seven stanzas.

"Christmas Bells"

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"


My Christmas wish to all of you:

the faith to know that some day this will be. 

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 25th, 2012 at 10:08 am

Celebrating The Life Of A Dear Friend, Gloria Janos

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Earlier today, we gathered at the Wischmeyer-Busch Funeral home to say good bye to our dear friend and neighbor, Gloria Janos.  Although our reason for being together was a sad one, it allowed many of us who had not seen each other for years to catch up, reminisce and mourn our friend.

Her son, Jamie asked Father Bob Andrew to officiate and asked Jim Rokakis, Tim and me to say a few words about his mother.

Here is what I said about a wondeful lady who I am proud to call “friend”.

When Rev. David Bahr replied to my email telling him of the event that has brought us all here today, he replied “what can you say about a neighborhood institution who will be missed by many?”  It made me realize that words are inadequate for me to recount my years of friendship with this incredible lady.

When searching for the proper words, I found three-elegant, security, community that provide a window to the world I shared with Gloria.

Elegance-Her elegance was apparent as she walked the neighborhood with her dog Beau by her side for years or when she represented our neighborhood at city gatherings. Her home was an eclectic array of family photos, antiques, and mementos that were an open book of the four generations that called it their homestead.

Security- My first choice for this second word was safety but when I ran down the list of all the things this woman started in our neighborhood to make us feel safe and secure, I decided security described things more completely. From her founding of Archwood Denison Concerned Citizens , now called the Brooklyn Centre Community Association, BCCA for short, her relationship with Commander Baeppler, the community officers, the gang unit, and her leadership with Court Watch made it so our community knew what to do, when to do it, and how to do it effectively.

Community-Most of all, to me, Gloria embodied community. When I moved into the neighborhood she immediately welcomed me into the fold asking me to become involved in the first Christmas Candlelight Tour for the neighborhood. This would become one of our many collaborations over the years. More important, to a county girl relocated to the city were the picnics and potlucks she organized with friends and neighbors. Any occasion was a call for celebration.4th of July, Cleveland Public Theater performing at the Zoo, an out of town trip to Sandusky for a bit of architecture and history. You name it and she called oldsters, inbetweeners, and youngsters to gather together for food, a bit of drink, and a whole lot of fascinating conversation. She made Brooklyn Centre a small town in the heart of the city.

Neighbor Laura McShane may have said it best about this lady “I think the fact that my street last night included grandparents, parents, single couples and kids…sitting on their porches, reading, eating, talking and laughing…counts for something and should make the world proud of the legacy of Gloria Janos. I couldn’t agree more.

I know there is a man who called you Claude eagerly awaiting the day when you would join him again, so I am trying not to be too sad. . You both have left us with so many wonderful memories. Thank you!

Godspeed dear friend.

Written by Gloria Ferris

September 5th, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Have A Happy And Safe Fourth of July!!

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From our friend Barb Spaan, Old Brooklyn Safety Coordinator;



Sounds like some good advice by a woman who cares about her community.  I have heard that the police will be arresting and/or ticketing people who are illegally shooting off fireworks.

This year is extremely troubling for our safety forces who realize how the extreme drought conditions and hot, hot temperatures can be the catalyst for make for an especially unsafe and unhappy Fourth of July.

Let’s celebrate our nation’s birthday the old fashioned way with ice cream, picnics, band concerts and fireworks if elected officials deem it safe to shoot them into the sky!

Happy Fourth of July!

Written by Gloria Ferris

July 3rd, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Reminder: Brooklyn Centre Memorial Day Service

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I just sent this email out to many of our friends and neighbors in the Cleveland area.  Although I posted about the Memorial Day service here a few days ago.  I decided it couldn’t hurt to do it again

I hope you are having a relaxing, enjoyable weekend.  here in Brooklyn Centre we will be taking time to honor and reflect on why we celebrate this holiday.  Please join us.  For 33 years, we have been gathering at the Brooklyn Centre Burying Ground to honor the dead and buried Revolutionary War thru World War II veterans at the cemetery.  Led for many years,by neighbors and friend, Rick Nicholson, we will again have this service.

In addition, we will be using this memorial service to begin our year long celebration of Brooklyn Centre’s Bicentennial.  Through the coming months, we will be letting you know of events in and around Brooklyn Centre which will celebrate our long history in Cleveland.

But first, come join us to solemnly reflect and honor the sacrifice of so many so that we can be "the land of the free and the home of the brave:

Click here for details.

The ceremony begins at 11:00 am.  There will be music, the placing of flags on the graves and veterans, and time to visit with friends and neighbors.

Tim says I should mention that Rick Nicholson is a member of the Cleveland Grays, and even in the hottest weather, he dons his wool uniform and beaver hat.  Get there early if you want to see it because tomorrow is supposed to be a scorcher.

Written by Gloria Ferris

May 27th, 2012 at 3:03 pm

I Gotta Crow About

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A group of neighbors, community volunteers, our community development staff and friends who did an awesome job last Saturday.  Yes, while many of use were dodging raindrops or simply stayed inside out of the weather, this group of volunteers took on the daunting task of clearing years of neglect from an 1880’s farmhouse on Woodbridge Avenue. Here is an email I received telling all about the team’s efforts.

The yard cleanup last Saturday at the vacant house and adjacent lot at 3105 Woodbridge in our newly minted Jones Home Historic District turned out to be a resounding success.

A ton of thanks is due to so many people for their participation and without whom the event could not have taken place:

  • Bob Gardin whose vision of 3105 Woodbridge as a model/demonstration project for our Jones Home Historic District is one of the driving forces.
  • Brian and Johanna, and Megan’s incredible SCFBC staff including:
  • Adam Stalder who pitched in with me before anyone got there;
  • Greg Baron (who moved heaven and earth to save the property from demo),
  • Joe Narkin and Adam Gifford who made sure crews got there for us;
  • and the great Dave Reuse who carted off the mountain of yard debris in multiple trips.
  • The CCS team of 4 terrific guys under Bob Shore’s efficient supervision.  They tore into the decades’ growth of unruly trees and bushes that had long hidden that side of the house providing cover for vandals, thieves and squatters; the cutting tools they brought were a big help.
  • The bus load of eager kids from the Church of the Saviour youth group in Cleveland Heights under the leadership of Curt Campbell their dynamic youth director.  They came down from Cleveland Heights and poured their energy and enthusiasm into pulling, raking, bagging, dragging yard debris etc. into piles by the sidewalk for Dave to load up. 
  • How does one even begin to thank such a wonderfully focused group for such an encouraging bestowal of grace upon our neighborhood?…
  • Chris Vacario who volunteered to mow the adjacent vacant lot which was still wet from drizzle.  He set a fine example of community spirit!

Thanks to all of you for making the day such a success.  It is another step toward reclaiming the viability of this property which can contribute to the strength of our community.

Thanks to you, Alan Forman for this wonderful recap!

Written by Gloria Ferris

May 1st, 2012 at 2:18 pm

God Speed, Callie!

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Today, The Ferris and the Mewett families are very sad because our beloved Callie has left this earth. Callie had many fans, friends and family that span God’s great earth.  She had friends as far West as British Columbia and as far North as New Hampshire.  Her family members span many continents  and includes the countries of England and Wales, New Zealand, and South Africa.

She will be missed by many humans but it is comforting to know that she was greeted on the other side of Rainbow Bridge by many of her friends who have gone before her.  It is comforting to know that she will romp and play without any reminders of the age and infirmity which slowed her down toward the end of her life. She lived for 16 years which is quite an advanced age for a large size dog.

We will miss her welcoming bark, her smiling face and her expressive eyes but most of all, we will miss her head placed in our lap when we most needed love.



At Rainbow Bridge

By the edge of a wood, at the foot of a hill,
is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
when their time on earth is over and done.

For here, between this world and the next,
is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
On this golden land, they wait and they play,
till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
for here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.

They romp through the grass, without even a care,
until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.

For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
the time of their parting is over at last.

The sadness they felt while they were apart,
has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,
and then, side-by-side.
They cross over . . . together.

                                                                           —Inspired by a Norse legend

God Speed Callie!

Written by Gloria Ferris

April 19th, 2012 at 3:17 pm

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Heart Attacks, Strokes, Recovery and More: My Perspective

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Two years ago today I started a journey that not only changed my life, but also the lives of my family and friends. Looking back, it seems hardly possible that two years have passed since that eventful day.  When I woke up in December after spending 20 days in ICU, I could not walk, use my left hand, or stay awake for more than a few hours.

Days, weeks, and months went by and I although some days the steps seemed very small I continued to progress . My amazing friends and family have stuck by me the whole way.The staff at MetroHealth everyone included still tell me at every opportunity that if anyone was going to pull through they thought it would be me because of the wonderful support group that called, visited, and sat by my side during my recovery.

And, that brings me to the perspective  of my post today—friends. Before going further, I want to explain that family are friends and friends are family.  The two have been interchangeable all my life.  My mother fostered that mindset from the time I was small. Since I was an only child, she made sure that I was surrounded by cousins and friends on weekends and in the summer so that I would not become bored and the handful that I could sometimes be.  Ask Tim, he can tell you a few of m “brat” stories as he call them.

When facing a health crisis, I cannot stress enough how important a support system becomes and is.  I am not going to chronicle those important people in this post because I wouldn’t do anyone justice, but I am sure that through the coming years I will write about many of them and those i don’t will know that the reason I do not write  a vignette about them is probably because the connection is cherished in my heart and I feel I do not have the words to properly express the encounter.

Being a friend to someone who is facing a chronic illness can be a challenge, but not if we each realize that one in three of us will face such an illness or be a bystander to someone we love faces the challenges of a health crisis.  Dropping a card in the mail, stopping for a visit at the hospital, taking a meal for everyone to share when the patient comes home , many, many things that take a lot of time or just a smidgen of time can make someone’s day brighter and sunnier.  I know because my days have been much fuller and richer by the random acts of kindness that I have received from friends.

Two years later, they are still supporting me with words of encouragement, conversations over coffee, and including me in projects and decisions they are making so that I can forget my limitations and focus on the possibilities of my life.    

Written by Gloria Ferris

November 17th, 2010 at 9:31 am

Valentine’s Weekend BigBrothersBigSisters Benefit

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One of our neighbors in Brooklyn Centre is hosting a Valentine’s Weekend Benefit for Big Brothers Big Sisters at his establishment, mlang clothing & cocktails, located at 1275 Euclid Avenue in the heart of Playhouse Square. Mr. Lang is giving us plenty of opportunity to visit his establishment by holding the event not one day but two days!

I LOVE the flier don’t you?


My New Year’s Wish For You

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Another year gone, added to our past.

Remember the laughter, the smiles, the bright sunny days.

Cherish the friends, the family, the time you spent together.

Reflect on the hopes, the dreams, the promise of a new tomorrow.

Be thankful for good health, for second chances, for all the good that came your way.

Another year waits to become our present, to create our future.

Bring the memories, the reflections, and the thanks with you.

Build a foundation of strengths within you and those around you.

Use each day to make the world a better place by being you.

Embrace your dreams by making them reality.

Dear Friends, on this New Year’s Eve, straddle the new and the old and make the future yours by living each day fully.

And as for me, I wish a New Year filled with health, prosperity, and happiness for each and every one of you.

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 31st, 2009 at 6:50 pm