Those who know me well are well aware that I am a huge fan of rock-and-roll music, especially that from the 1970s and early 1980s genre.
So it should be no surprise that when my cousin Doris offered to include me in her vacation plans to visit Cleveland, Ohio to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this month, I was more than happy to oblige her.
The mini-cation included driving from her home outside Dayton northeast to Cleveland and first visiting the site of The Christmas Story house. The neighborhood was well preserved and the 10-foot statute of Ralphie in that horridly hated pink Easter Bunny costume outside in the yard was the focal point to let you know you had arrived.
The tour guide was a wealth of information about the house, the movie, the history and the general background of the area, leading us through each section of the home. I was lucky enough to talk Doris' husband Tim into posing on the old wall-mounted phone in the hallway of the upstairs while we both snapped pictures of Doris crawling under the kitchen sink, as in the movie. From there, we hit an entertainment section of town where pubs and restaurants and shops were abundant - resembling Fourth Street Live in Louisville for this unseasoned traveler.
Doris had done extensive research in finding a place to stay overnight, landing us a two-bedroom apartment rental that bordered Lake Erie. The apartment had full accommodations - two bathrooms, a living area with a TV, a full kitchen area and dining area - even a washer and dryer. Although our view was that of the freeway, the back side of the building had a patio area where we sat and watched the boats come into the dock and the ducks float in to the jutting peninsula just a couple hundred yards away.
The short drive to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was one of complete anticipation and just upon entering the glass pyramid building, I knew I had come to the right place when the first symbol I saw was a column with Jon Bon Jovi directly ahead of me!
That tour allowed you to wander around as you pleased - and I was certainly pleased! The display of Elvis was, of course, the largest and most extensive of all the showcased items, even a video of Elvis performing in one of the sections. I snapped away with my camera throughout the entire building as I saw displays from ZZ Top, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly and other artists credited for "The Roots of Rock." From the 1960s to the 2020 era, I saw the changes of rock-and-roll that have come over the years, even displays of Lady Gaga's outfit from the 2016 Superbowl halftime show. The Beatles also had a large display area - and, in my mind, remain one of the greatest musical groups in British and American history. I also had to snap a few pictures of the Nirvana and Kurt Cobain display for my daughter, who was a huge fan who still follows Dave Grohl, now with Foo Fighters.
As we toured one section, we had to sit and rest a minute - of course, that being in an isolated area with a large white brick wall - a tribute to Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" that carries special memories for me in that the song was released in 1980 while I was doing my student teaching. Some of my students loved to recite the part where the lyrics are "Teacher, leave those kids alone!" Especially when I was calling them down for excess noise and trying to get their attention back on the subject matter!
Overall, the trip eliminated one of the major items on my personal 'bucket list' that I never thought I would see come to reality. The one drawback was that there are no displays for the Eagles, Journey and several other bands that I believe have earned far more credits to rock and roll than some of those are already included in the display.
But, that's something else to hope for - the recognition of some of that era's greatest performers and the music that will last forever!
Nita Johnson is a staff writer at The Sentinel-Echo. She can be contacted at email@example.com.