The Last Days of Cleveland Introduces a City with a Past
What do you know about Cleveland? Let’s see…it’s located on the southern shore of Lake Erie...and…it’s the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, right? Yes, and if you know that much, you know at least twice as much as most people.
Even if you live in Cleveland, you don’t know as much about this city--rich in culture and history—as John Stark Bellamy II, the author of The Last Days of Cleveland and More True Tales of Crime and Disaster from Cleveland’s Past. In a collection of true stories taking place in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, Bellamy exposes the darker side of Cleveland—its murderers and petty thieves—and a few of the Forest City’s heroes (firemen and policemen, not politicians). He has made a career of chronicling Cleveland’s rowdy and sometimes funny past.
Fans of true crime and forensics will appreciate the sorrowful tale of a pair of sisters, ages 10 and 11, who died (probably by their own hands) from ingesting rat poison. While their grandmother claimed that the children were genetically inclined toward depression and suicide, it seems more likely that granny’s cruelty and negligence drove them to it.
The very sad story of a family that seemed to be cursed, the Corrigans, details a summer sailing trip that resulted in the death of six family members, and subsequent tragedies the family suffered.
There are gruesome tales of murder—two fathers kill their sons in two very different stories—and the funny title story about an Adventist fringe group who predicted and prepared for the Second Coming and the end of the world.
Perhaps the best is a personal memoir by the author. In it he recounts a mid-twentieth century attempt to build a tunnel and escape from his backyard. In a Jean Shepherd-like story, Bellamy recalls a youthful attempt at life imitating art as he and three other boys construct a tunnel to escape from the Nazis in their neighborhood. They were inspired by a number of movies, particularly The Great Escape.Continued on the next page