You may have heard about the tornadoes that ripped through western Ohio last Saturday. The remnants of that weather system made their way through the Cleveland area Sunday morning–and I had a Pepper Martin Tour of Cleveland planned.
Yikes! When I woke to tornado watches, fat, black clouds, rain and wind, I was more than a little worried.
Fortunately, the weather gods smiled on us. By the time we arrived at the Parma Snow Road Library (a branch of the Cuyahoga County Library) for the 1 o’clock tour, the skies had cleared and the sun was shining. Good thing, too, because I had a trolley full of riders who were out to see the places mentioned in my Pepper Martin books.
And see them, we did.
As with other trolley tours I’ve conducted, we did drive-bys on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Science Center, the Cleveland Police Museum, Progressive Field. But this time, we also made time to see plenty of cemeteries. After all, it’s only natural since Pepper, my mystery series heroine, works as a tour guide in a Cleveland cemetery.
We drove through gorgeous Riverside Cemetery and I told riders the story of blues great Robert Lockwood, Jr., whose wife is buried there for a very specific reason. Why? The cemetery is on the route Lockwood took to get to his music gigs–and he liked to wave to her as he drove by.
After that, we visited Monroe Street Cemetery, scene of "Dead Man Talking," the most recent Pepper book. Aside from talking about the book, we made a special visit to the grave of Oliver Parker. His granddaughter and great-granddaughter were on the tour, and they’d never visited his burial site before. It was quiet a touching moment!
We drove by Willet Street Cemetery, the first Jewish cemetery in Cleveland, and through Erie Street Cemetery, where many of the town’s original pioneer settlers are buried. Our next stop was Lake View, the sort of grand, park-like cemetery I pictured when I invented Garden View, where Pepper works. There tour riders got a look at the Wade Chapel, designed and built by the Tiffany company, and the memorial where President James A. Garfield is buried. Since he’s the ghost in the book coming out in less than a month, that was a special stop for me.
One more cemetery stop on our way out of town, Woodland, where last fall, I participated in a paranormal investigation. All our other stops had included plenty of talk about history. This one was all about ghosts. I even showed off some of the misty, spooky pictures I took that night.
All in all, a fun and successful tour. I hope the riders had as much fun as I did. My thanks to Judy at the Parma South Branch for being the organizer, to Mary at Lake View for helping us out, to Alan from the Monroe Street Cemetery Foundation for sending the map that helped us find Oliver Parker, to Bob, our terrific trolley driver, and all the nice folks at Lolly the Trolley. And to all the riders–thanks for coming along on the adventure!
If you live in the Cleveland area and would like to schedule a Pepper Martin tour of Cleveland, contact me.
I always have a lot to say, especially at historic cemeteries.
A touching moment when Oliver Parker's granddaughter and great-granddaughter visited his grave for the first time.
Talkin' ghosts! This is the grave we visited on the paranormal investigation. In reponse to our questions, we heard tapping--from inside the glass!