Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lake View Cemetery: 7 Mile Isle

One doesn't often think of a cemetery as a prime location for concerts, but that's what my girlfriend and I found ourselves taking in on a beautiful Tuesday evening.

For those who don't know, the nearly 300 acre Lake View Cemetery -- whose walls form an imposing presence along the North side of Mayfield Road from Little Italy well into Cleveland Heights (engineering factoid: Home to a concrete dam that was, at least for a while, the largest such structure East of the Mississippi) is a beautifully maintained facility and final home to a veritable who's who of notable Clevelanders -- ranging from the magnificent memorial to President James Garfield to Western Union founder Jeptha Wade to where, more recently, the ashes of American Splendor creator and cartoon writer Harvey Pekar were spread.

Although it's been a while since I've ventured in -- mildly paranoid about the possibility of getting locked within the campus's imposing gates* -- it is a beautiful and typically tranquil escape, where you're more likely to see joggers and dog walkers than mourners. Every once in a while I've noticed signs outside the main gate offering concerts but for various reasons have never ventured further.

On Monday, my girlfriend texted that there would be a concert on Tuesday and wondered if I would be interested. I was. We met up and walked to the cemetery, once inside the gates, shortly after the 7pm start, we let our ears -- and a few signs -- lead us to the music.

That trail ended at the lawn in front of the Garfield Memorial where the band 7 Mile Isle was offering music from a combination of steel drum, bass guitar, and drums, with a group of perhaps two dozen scattered across the lawn covering a wide range of ages. Something about the sweet sound of the steel drum has always seemed Summer-y to me, and Tuesday evening was a great fit for that sound.

After listening for a while we both succumbed to hunger and worked our way out of the cemetery and down the hill into Little Italy where we enjoyed couple slices of pizza before the sun started to quickly recede and I walked her home, and then made my way back up the hill to my house.

I've often thought that it would be wonderful to be able to walk a date home, and with my girlfriend's recent move to Little Italy made that possible or the first time.


*- Though a small sign adjacent to the gates offers "Locked In? Call the Cleveland Heights Police Department at 216-321-1234 and advised that you are locked inside the Lake View Cemetery main gate."

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