I woke up early this morning to visit my Great Aunt Mary who still lives in my old neighborhood Slavic Village. The neighborhood has changed so much over the years. I remember fondly as a child seeing older Polish and Slovenian residents cutting their grass and tending their gardens as I walked or rode my bike with my parents to Daisy’s Ice Cream shop on Fleet. As the years went on you would see less of the older people and more of boarded up homes. I started getting used to falling asleep to the sound of police helicopters over my backyard because vandals, thieves and drug dealers would be cutting through the old cemetery that was behind our yard. Unless my neighbors played it, you didn’t hear polka music anymore. But the bass of some assholes car blasting at 3am was what you would get instead. We moved when I was about 13 years old, but would go back to visit my aunt. As the years have passed I’ve seen the changes-good and bad that has taken place in Slavic Village. There has been some good. Near St. Stanislaus Church (one of the first Polish Catholic Churches in America), new homes have been built and businesses like coffee shops have been put in. Central Catholic High School got a makeover and Morgana Field was redone to be the new football and track & field for the high school. New strip malls and businesses were added on and around Broadway, which once looked industrial and tired, to now look more inviting and presentable. The city is trying, but it’s going to take more than this. How do you get rid of drugs, thugs & slumlords? That’s what ruined my neighborhood, as well as so many others. A guy that lived across the street from my aunt was shot and killed in a drug deal gone wrong just a few weeks ago. Not something I feel comfortable with a 70-something year old lady living around. But as I drove around the old hood I had hope. The same hope I had for the city of Cleveland being revitalized (which it has!) I have for Slavic Village. I stopped in the library that I pretty much spent half my time in as a kid and went over to the magazine section. Flashbacks of looking at Dynomite, YM, and Sassy magazines came to me and right there I started crying. I glanced over and saw a little girl telling the librarian about the book she just read and it reminded me of myself at her age. I had to leave at that moment. I didn’t want to hang out in the past too long, just enough to appreciate it. I’m so glad the library is still around and in great shape. And I do miss those old magazines! Then as I pull out of the driveway I see South High, the high school my dad went to, empty. I had forgotten they closed the school down over a year ago. A lot of the city schools are gone. In fact, every grade and high school my parents went to are closed. I made my way back up Harvard to go past my old house. As much as I have hope for the Village, I lost hope in my old home. It looks terrible! What was once a black asphalt driveway is now covered in grass. How the garage hasn’t collapsed yet I’ll never know, and the front bushes under the window that my dad used to keep so well maintained are gone. It’s not my old home, it’s a dump. At least my neighbors have stayed and kept theirs beautiful. Making my way down the road I noticed fewer homes boarded up and more homes in better shape. It’s getting better. Tremont, Ohio City and Gordon Square District had been in bad shape but are now happening, popular and thriving! So my hope is still there that Slavic Village will become the beautiful, cultural place it once was and will get its day in the sun once again.