We went to Cleveland for the weekend to participate in our niece’s Bat Mitzvah. It was a great time getting together with family. On our way leaving town today we stopped at a place where much of my family resides – Warrensville Cemetery. While walking around visiting the graves of my parents and all four of their parents I spotted a grave that I had not noticed before, that of Eli Rukasin and his wife. Eli Rukasin was a great man from my youth and the youth of many friends when we were growing up. Eli owned and operated Rukasin’s Drug Store. Back then it was commonplace for drugstores to be small businesses that included a soda fountain complete with a row of stools. Eli supported the neighborhood. He was willing to hire underage guys (I can’t remember any girls that worked there) to work the cash register and the soda fountain. I never worked there but I spent a lot of time there and many of my friends did work there. It was a great place to stop at after school for a soda and/or a new comic book.
Once a year there would be a community parade on Memorial Day. The parade included a collection of marching bands and other groups that all were uniformed and very nice looking. This parade started from Oxford Elementary School in Cleveland Heights. Eli was the guy that formed a band every year with the people that weren’t fortunate enough to be in a serious marching band. Eli would let anyone that had an instrument join in. They would practice a couple times up at the playground and then on parade day this group of all kinds of folks made up the Rukasin band and they were as proud as any other group.
It was nice running into an old friend today.