The City of North Olmsted Ohio

North Olmsted Ohio
North Olmsted Middle School

I’ve lived in northeast Ohio nearly my whole life, but North Olmsted Ohio will probably always mean the most to me.

It’s my hometown, the place I grew up before heading off to Kent State University.

North Olmsted didn’t have a local attraction like the James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor. But I left with countless memories – building snow fortresses in my backyard, getting my first goldfish at a Mardi Gras at Butternut Elementary School,  playing Little League baseball, and cruising around with my buddies in my Matador (at one point it kept running even after I turned off the ignition).

It was fun to watch the city develop. Today, many people shop at Great Northern Mall, which has plenty of diverse stores. When I was 12, the mall didn’t exist (it would open a year later); the retail focus was a shopping center owned by Saul Biskind. A freestanding May Company building stood nearby (today it’s Macy’s).

I wasn’t a big soccer fan, but I couldn’t help be filled with pride each year as the North Olmsted Soccer Organization brought a major tournament to town. Some Friday nights, I’d climb a tree in my parents’ backyard and watch the North Olmsted Eagles football team compete just a couple hundred feet away.

I learned a little but about business while delivering the Cleveland Press in nearby neighborhoods. One winter, I braved the 1978 blizzard to get the paper to customers (a sled came in handy). I think I preferred indoor jobs, although the work was sometimes pretty tough. As a 15-year-old, I hauled 50-pound bags of flour and surgar at Mr. Donut on Lorain Avenue – the main road in town. I’d later work as a sacristan at St. Richard’s Church (taking care of vestments, supplies, lights and locks).

Eventually, I became an usher and cashier at Great Northern Theatre. I started when it was two screens (it would expand to seven before closing). On some Thursday night – regardless of the weather – I helped an older worker update the movie names on a large marquee. Once the theater was just one screen with more than 1,300 seats – large enough to accommodate St. Richard’s Sunday services during a church remodeling project (those red cushioned seats were a nice contrast to traditional church pews).

North Olmsted Ohio was my home base for a lot of other activities outside of the city that included frequent treks to Geauga Lake and Cedar Point amusement parks. I can still hear the Cedar Point jingle in my head: “Cedar Point 72. It’s like you’ve never been there before.”

I saw plenty of Indians games at Cleveland Municipal Stadium – with tiny crowds and large ones. It was always a thrill to see homeruns – like two in a game by Andre Thorton. I often rode my bicycles through Cleveland Metroparks and gave it my all to reach the top of the Cedar Point Road hill by the Rocky River Reservation. On some Sundays, my dad would take us to Fairview Lanes in Fairview Park for a few bowling games.  In the mid-1970s, I spent an entire day at Fairview Theatre to catch all five “Planet of the Apes” movies (yes, they got progressively worse).

Before going off to college, I capped off my teen years in North Olmsted by joining the Class of ’82 for our commencement at the old Richfield Coliseum.

I return to North Olmsted Ohio a lot to visit my folks who have lived in the same home for about 50 years. The best memories, of course, are the times we spent as a family with meals, TV, games, goodnight stories, and so much more.

Mike Murray