More Adele's Memories

This page has been set aside as a repository for other people to share their memories of Adele's Lounge Bar in Cleveland, which had its heyday in the late 60s. My own long-winded ramblings appear here. If you'd like me to add your recollections to this page, send me an email message and I'll append them below.

From Steven, son of co-owner Marty (Oct 2012):

My father was Marty. Here is a a little background on my father. He never spoke about the Holocaust [Marty was a Holocaust survivor] because he wasn't one to dwell on the past. My father and his brothers left Poland in their late teen years when the Nazis occupied the country.

My father left Poland and joined the Russian army. Although my father was wounded during the war, he was still healthy enough to travel to Munich Germany to begin the next phase of his life. In Germany he sold goods on the street before coming to the USA.

My father was not a perfect man. He had as many faults as the next person, maybe more. However, he never felt sorry for himself even though he lost his youth and a great deal of his family members to the war. Luckily, all of my father's brothers survived the war as well.

Sam and my father went on to own a few more businesses together up until the early nineties. All together their partnership lasted about 30 years give or take. There was so much screaming between them you wouldn't know deep down how much they cared for each other. I guess you don't stay in business for thirty years unless you have a deep commitment to the other. On a sad note, Sam has passed away as well.

As for Adele's, as you know, there was quite a diverse demographic of patrons who frequented the bar. Something most people don't know, one night some bikers came to the bar. After getting too rowdy my father told them to get out. A couple of weeks later someone put a bomb in his car. Thank god he heard it ticking, it never went off. My father always suspected those bikers put it there.

Another person who worked at Adele's was Rita. She was the waitress at Adele's. She had a strong german accent and talked very fast. She just passed away a couple of years ago. The one interesting thing about Rita was every time I would run into her she would always discuss Adele's.

I'm not sure there will ever be a time in history or a tavern where a college student, professional, biker, hippie, doctor, lawyer, police, etc could all sit at the same bar have a drink and for the most part get along.

From Eric Ehrmann (Jul 2011):

As I sit here in a hot springs town about two hours south of Brasilia a real mindbender. When one thinks that bars like Adele's in big cities here in Brazil and Argentina during military governments of the same era were places that people disappeared from, not just got paranoid from.

Darryl Levy would later suicide. Even P.J. O'Rourke, once a poet who cut his teeth at the old East Village Other in Manhattan, would write about DA. Frank Story, the Cleveland Police Chief also apparently self-suicided at his Shaker Heights residence on Lomond near Lee.

This was an era where drug enforcement had an overlay of Soviet Cold War propaganda, the Kremlin trying to destroy American youth, when in some ways it was the some of the folks hung out on Murray Hill (Mayfield Road) who were raking in the moolah with their famous "Cleveland cut." And the college bars and coffee houses were of student informers thanks to Jim Angleton's crazy COINTELPRO that Tricky Dick liked so much. None of the laws broken in Watergate exist any more by the way. So those things are no longer crimes. Ironically, Roger Ailes produced a show called "Panorama" when he was at WKYC that did a segment on the Coffee House and the Mr Stress Blues band. He was getting tight with RNC chairman Ray Bliss at the time for sure.

Every city had a scene. And some felt the love more than others. There was a reason Robert Hunter wrote the lyric "Houston, too close to New Orleans" in the famous "Truckin" tune by the Dead.

I was just underage Shaker High School straight boy, drinking Stroh's 3.2 and buying burgers across the street at Dean's Diner where the waitress was described as "she's sloppy but she's fast" by Dean, who was out of central casting for a double of Ike Eisenhower.

Case really took the hit with the merger with WRU. It was right up there with Wiesner's MIT, Caltech, Rice as a top high math school. Reserve was the farm team for Harvard Medical School in some ways, the deans. A nebulous mix and the karma is coming back on the foundation. The Browns can be one of the most profitable teams in the NFL with a mediocre product because of the NFLs sports world socialism share-out, but it is tougher in academics, and health care can't carry it all for the old 6th City.

It may have been more fun growing up in a really bombed out city like Dresden, or Berlin, where war caused the implosion, not The Great Society.

Other poets, some hung up at the Euclid Tavern. Others, there was a coffee house up next to the Continental Theatre on Euclid in East Cleveland operated by a church where some read. And commie activists like Ron Lucas (who went to Cuba) hung out. It was the era of early Harvey Pekar, doing reviews for Down Beat. There were a group of poets who read at the home of a guy played cello in the Cleveland Symphony under Szell in the Ludlow area of Shaker. It was his wife, last name Simon (he was a second chair cellist not top like Harry Fuchs who doubled with Karajan in Berlin). A guy name of Jau Billera had a poetry show on WCLV public radio I think, he had a beat edge. Peter Kisselgoffs book store down in the Old Arcade was a magnet for poets, but he was a lefty too and kept it very legit. And there was Lewis Turco, who got a position at Hillsdale College, and the Alabama born wife of violinist Josef Suk, Julie Suk, who read poems, but not in the bars. R. Crumb spent his time at the Euclid Tavern, which is where a lot of the art students hung.

From Susan Eisler (Mar 2011):

I was one of the underage women who hung out at Adele's...and yes, I got served because Marty knew me..when the cops showed up I'd grab my beer and head out the back...through a kitchen-like's a bit foggy because I was rushing out... Then there were the people who did amyl nitrate in Adele's - "Chicken Man" was there almost every night in overalls...rumour had it he had strangled a live chicken under a table one night, hence, the name.... Joe Zill owned the tower house behind Adele's. He was always propositioning the ladies to have his child. His relatives wanted him committed and he wanted an heir.. from what I understood no one ever took him up on it..he was an old dude...The house was full of antiques and one night...Keith England (real name Garrison) who presented himself, English accent and all, as being from England but was really from Indiana, and I took a dragon statue that stood just inside the open door.. off we went on the rapid to downtown...Keith took the dragon, it stood about 2.5 ft. high and headed off. I went home... never saw it again...

I loved that time and Adele's, remember the motorcycle gangs that used to congregate outside? They were all choppers and I've never seen anything like them since. Huge installations of lights attached to the backs and sides...

Skip was I believe Skip Kenny from Cleveland Heights..

I don't know if I ever met you...

Susan Eisler --- my name at the time was Susan or Sue Betyak - long and I mean really long brown hair, thin, tiny....lived in Cleveland southside near Broadway, 55th and Fleet Aves..

From "techwriter" (Apr 2010):

I think after Adele's bar burned down, Eric Ambro bought the actual semi-circular bar and moved it to his place on Hessler Street near University Circle. Ambro might still live on Hessler. In 1969-70, Hessler Street was populated by students from the Cleveland Institute of Art (the CIA). The eclectic collection of people you describe as frequenting Adele's -- beatniks, artists, bikers, gays, curious college students, high-school kids on adventure, musicians, tradesmen, wanderers, weirdos, wannabes, proto-hippies -- continued to stop in Ambro's place, any hour of the night; something was usually happening there. Ambro once appeared in his friend's Phil Sheridan's comic, The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.

From Bucky D. (Aug 2009):

Thanks for your "Remembering Adele's" website. I was there back in 1967 and 1968 although I was only 15-16 years old. Being underage wasn't a handicap at Adele's if you were with older friends as I remember. Fond memories.....bikers, beer, ladies,alternative intoxicants.....first discoveries of an inquiring male youth.

From Randy Rhody (Apr 2009):

Thank you for immortalizing me on your Remembering Adele's page. I'm sure I begged many beers off people in Adele's with my poetic attempts. I'm sorry I don't remember you specifically, so perhaps we only met that once. [Correct. I never saw him again. —plh]

I wandered through Cleveland, and Adele's, many times in 1966. I brought Glenn Nemeth (I was able to copy his web memoir before it was taken down) to Cleveland, I stayed at d.a.levy's and at Diane Petrusiak's. I remember Skip and Geoff Cook. I remember many other names and events from there, but not the faces.

Hang onto that poetry pamphlet I gave you. A digital version of my sister's copy is now in the d.a.levy collection at Cleveland State University. I'm sure they would like an original, but even I don't have one. They informed me that original copies are also in the archives at the University of Connecticut and the University of Virginia.

From Ed Canning (Jan 2008):

I got out of the Army in December 1948 and started Western Reserve University (before it joined with Case) Jan 1949. Rode the GI Bill. Anent the Euclid Tavern, I recall it had a small deli connected to it. Once or twice when my VA check was slow to arrive, my roommate and I had to swipe a can or so of vegetable soup from there — long since repaid. But, Adeles was a hang out for the veterans still in college. [It was] was owned by a guy named Tony DaTillo and also another guy named Sid. Sid — can't recall his last name — had an interest on Seitz Agin Hardware store on Lee Rd near Meadowbrook in Cleveland Heights.

Tony looked out for the vets, and frequently, near the end of the month our dinner would be a ham sandwich and bottle of beer on the tab which was always promptly paid. At that time about 1949 to 1954 or 55, I was living at rooming house at 1654 E. 115. This was a lovely old home run by the Pavlik family. Long since torn down. Adele's was liked by the females because Sid and Tony would see to it they were not bothered. I transferred to John Carroll in 1950 because WRU was going up to $12 a credit hour and Carroll was $11. Something like that!

I recall Tony's son went to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and was a classmate of my sister. When Tony's daughter married he invited the Adele's regulars to the reception and a grand one it was, at one of the major down town hotels.

Among the regulars there were Warren (Smoke) Clements, and his wife Carol, Jim Mateer, King Bishop, my brother, Al Garrett, Curt Weaver and his wife Mary, Jim Drexler and his wife, Mary, Charlie Brunn, Larry Davis, Ed Mundzak, Ronnie LaFleche — and more. They were a colorful bunch, some of whom became lawyers, doctors and so on. Some of the regulars were art students — also vets — who were interested in industrial design. The Brick Cottage was built during this period.

The place has a lot of good memories for me.

From Glen Nemeth (Dec 2007/Jan 2008):

Thank you for sharing your memories of Adele's at I have just uploaded my story of the summer of 1966 as a 15-year-old runaway, and your description of Diane Petrusiak matches my own experience. I was briefly one of her "furries," losing my virginity to her and glad it was someone with so much heart (and not Phyl) who led me across that rite of passage. I also hitchhiked from Chicago to New York with Randy Rhody and lingered in Cleveland about 3 weeks that same summer. As you said, he was fond of handing out copies of his publication, although he never left a copy with me.

I have only dim memories of Adele's and La Cave (where I once accidentally bumped into a very drunk Phil Ochs, who still put on one hell of a performance on stage). Thank you for jogging my memory on this critical period in my life.

From Jim Schneider (May 2007):

I remember after playing as the house backup guitar and bass at La Cave, finishing up by spending many a summer night with Barry Salsberry, the "Mouse", and other members of "The Roaring Twenties" MC club that made Adele's one of their nightly "stops." I also flash back to those days (nights) when I hear "Eight Miles High".

I have some really fond memories (and some I don't remember) of the "back room" at La Cave" sitting with Henske, Feliciano, Gibson, Stills, and others, even sat in for the Underground's John Cale one night (he had too much fun in the back room, and couldn't go on). More than just a little grass got passed around in the "back room." But then it was on to Adele's.

From Romeo Crying (Oct 2006):

I started Case Western Reserve in January of 1966. I was Five /Six, weighed 110 pounds and adorable; philosophy professors like Ruth Macklin thought me a Hobbit and gorgeous blondes like Pat Zion were forever out of reach. My first semester my more experienced friends frequented the Brick and Euclid Tavern; it wasn't so much that Adele's was not on my radar as it was a forbidden zone where the callow and inexperienced simply dare not venture. That first spring someone had been murdered in Euclid Tavern and its doors were closed; afterwards most of my friends congregated at the Brick. One Friday night in my sophomore year, quoting Kerouac to a friend I went in search of the "romance me jazz of the lost American night." I ventured as some solitary and intrepid Tom Horne into the badlands of Stanley Heilbrunner's Coffeehouse and Adele's, squeezing through the doorway past and beneath a crowd of hundreds who choked the doorway and cluttered the streets. The bar was packed; Adele's was an intoxicating collage of sex, sub surface violence, and profound intellection. It was a prayer for all things sacred and profane. There must have been at least seventy five chopped Harleys and a dozen dressers parked six deep on the street and sidewalk. The bar was frequented by several bike gangs, the most infamous being The Roaring Twenties, The Egyptians, The Grim Reapers, The Coffin Cheaters, and the occasional Zulu. Rico Sears eventually became a close friend; he was a powerful black biker who claimed Mexican and Apache blood who would easily have intimidated Woody Stroud. Rico was superb with a knife, and though I was studying Philosophy I supplemented my education with his tutelage in the switchblade. I was with Rico the night he backed down an armed John Salsbury and several gang members using only the intimidation of his skill with a knife.

I met D.A. Levy three times. For me Levy was an intense, meditative, furtive, and desperate man; he was transitioning from guru to deity then though not necessarily by choice. I was always appreciative of both the man and the work, but deliberately maintained my distance fearing my absorption into the vortex of the cult that grew around him. I remember being there when D.A. unveiled his America poem. It was more than clever, and less than genius. Its brilliance resided in its assertion of what everyone else had until then been reluctant to say; America was a lie. Like the little boy who had toppled an Emperor, Levy had simply cried out America has no clothes.

The people at Adele's not only shared their common estrangement, but a common, unique, and yet universal possibility. The truth shall always be ineffable, and we collectively teetered on its brink. This expectancy we shared with history, and it appealed to all its great moments. We knew when the bar closed we were capable of anything from storming the Bastille to starting the Renaissance.

You must remember the greater social context of the mid 60s. Those who hungered for justice were branded criminals; the three peak years of Mr. Johnson's War had already claimed 30,000 of our schoolmates; poets who had only reiterated the whispers of angels were tried for obscenity; John Kennedy was dead, Martin Luther King and Bobby were digging there own graves with the rhetoric of emancipation. As ludicrous as Star Trek was, it was profound by default. Our generation had been marching by the numbers to our own oblivion, until some of us, upon entering Adele's, had discovered the temple of our own awakening.

I am certain that my memory of the physical plant of Adele's is distorted. I was never in a position to see the whole bar from any angle; it was usually so crowded you were lucky if you could command an awareness of four square feet. I remember it as an apotheosis of smells, textures, gang colors, buttons, and gorgeous ethereal women with waist length hair. It was a thousand HOWLS uttered simultaneously by a legion of broken demented geniuses. I suppose that is why the jukebox was so important; through it we coalesced losing our boundaries without transgressing them. My generation had begun with the innocence of lace; songs like Peter and Gordon's World Without Love and the Association's Windy were everywhere and Adele's was no exception. Along Comes Mary was seen as scandalous by some and fed the paranoia of the establishment. Other songs intimated the possibility of a new conciousess not necessarily triggered by the drug experienced; Just Dropped in to See What Condition My Condition my Condition was In. Though drugs were available to the savvy (marijuana, psylocybin, and LSD), most I knew would rather read books about drugs and discuss their impact on Blake, De Quincey, or Stein. One bizarre night in the hot, moist spring of 1968 , last call having been made the last two songs on the jukebox played out the evening's melodrama; Barbara Streisand sang People and Tiny Tim, Tiptoe Through the Tulips, as a hundred odd choppers roared into the night every other one with a gorgeous levied goodess each wrapping their thighs tightly to the steel frame of their own leathered Adonis' street rocket while their gleaming red and gold, and raven tresses sailed in the night wind.

The raucous beat of Sunshine of Your Love (flip side, Tales of Brave Ulysses) was fitting counterpoint to the revved choppers and the maddened imagination of hammering out a breathless chance encounter with a pristine, exquisite, angel faced and angel headed "hippie chick." We were Born To Be Wild and we knew it cuz Steppenwolf told us we were.

Aretha screamed "R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me," and Otis lamented not being able to do what 10 people wanted him to do Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay.

My best moments at Adele's came in the mid to late afternoon. I would catch lunch which consisted either of a cheeseburger or three sizzling hotdogs plucked from a rotating rack, drink a Stroh's, and read John Maynard Keynes, Ezra Pound, or the now prophetic Joseph Conrad's "Ah Youth." One fall day I hitched home and was picked up by a high school classmate, Florian Osredkar, in his bright new Navy uniform; Florian begged me to go to the "shipping out party" of another friend who had joined the Marines, Raymond "Bud" Chasser. Knowing my own nascent rejection of the Viet Nam War, I was reluctant to go; frankly I felt it would be inappropriate. He begged me to attend, and only when he averred that no one else would be there, did I agree. It was a sad affair held in a newly opened McDonald's with burgers and fries. I was doing well in school, and I was shocked that Chasser was eager to see me. He lauded my achievement and professed what had been for me an unexpected admiration. Despite being the smallest boy in school and frequently sick, I had been an honor student, class officer, and altar boy. Needless to say the more he praised me, the lower I felt. There I was living an idyllic life of academic scholar, and there he was facing a jarhead's death in a distant rice paddy at the age of 20. The damndest thing about it all was that there was no one to say goodbye to him except me!

When it came time to leave Bud and I said farewell in the parking lot; he told me that I should not worry about him; as soon as he got to Viet Nam he was going to crawl in a hole and stay there for 1 yr. He would be back and visit me in college. We both started to cry as we said goodbye, and I looked at him AND KNEW HE WAS GOING TO DIE. I had to look away, and at that moment, I knew he knew what I knew.

Six months later, sitting in my accustomed stool at Adele's, I opened the paper and read on page 16 of the CPD that PFC Raymond Chasser had been killed by a mortar round at Quang Tri. Estrangement even when shared is a poor word for what I felt. Adele's had become for me a church, and in truth I never was so close to God as when I studied there. Ralph Delaney was another customer of Adele's; he was an ex Marianist novice who dedicated his life to improving relationships between blacks and whites. In the mid 60s Ralph opened a settlement house on Hough Avenue and pursued his private ministry among the poorest and most violent of Cleveland's poor. Years later Ralph was murdered in a vicious street crime while tending to his flock. Ironically Ralph may someday be a Saint in the Roman Catholic Church so saying I found God in Adele's should come as no surprise.

My favorite spot was just inside the door, three to four stools down. This allowed me to monitor each new entrant to the bar, and watch the grim parade of street and sidewalk traffic. America was racing home to watch Lost In Space; I was reading everything from Hegel to Frantz Fanon, lamenting the Spanish Civil War, and salaciously dreaming of an odalisque ala Delacroix. Estrangement? The abysmal gulf between myself and the rest of America, prompted by disposition and education, placed me firmly on the far side of the moon and my only home was Adele's.

I read Verlaine; "No wealth but the gold of his glance, he goes untamed in rags along the road of chance, you whom all things spurn and wound, when death shall finally come, even the wolves will spurn your cadaver starved and numb."

My junior year I acquired a desperate affinity to love and be loved by a beautiful young woman named Jean; she never knew I existed. My response was to work, study, and salve my wounded heart at Adele's. I read The Sorrows Of Young Werther and Cyrano de Bergerac there. This of course brings me back to the jukebox; now all the songs I hitherto mentioned were in fact on most of the jukeboxes and Adele's was no exception. What made Adele's jukebox unique were the extended play versions of the songs from artists America then did not want to hear.

      Though I know that evening's empire has returned into sand,
      Vanished from my hand,
      Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping.
      My weariness amazes me, I'm branded on my feet,
      I have no one to meet
      And the ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming.
                                                                 —Bob Dylan
That pretty much described for me what sitting in Adele's was like peering through my doorway on America. I nursed my unrequited love and Judy Collins commiserated with me.

      Moons and Junes and ferris wheels the dizzy dancing way you feel
      As every fairy tale comes real, I've looked at love that way
      But now it's just another show, you leave 'em laughin when you go
      And if you care don't let them know, don't give yourself away.

That year of '68 was claimed by some to be the worst year in recent American History; clearly for many of my friends it was the worst year for them. Martin Luther King was murdered, followed by Bobby Kennedy; The Well was closed; The Coffehouse was run out of business; Fred Ahmed Evans and the Afro Set self destructed in the Glenville Shootout; D.A. Levy committed suicide, Jean married someone else, and Adele's burned down allegedly torched by organized crime fronting the agenda of a development corporation.

My life would take me down many roads. Dropping out of school my senior year, I criss crossed America with bike gangs, hippies, and poets. I was in the face of the Justice Department following the shooting of students at Kent State, and can proudly claim to be one of Richard Nixon's bums. I even made contact with insurgents outside Morelos Mexico, and was detained by the FBI. Returning to school I graduated with honors, and went on to grad school summa cum laude receiving multiple commendations for the work I did with children.

But of all the places I've ever been, I never found any place quite like Adele's. It was a peculiar mixture of hope and despair, supercharged by the strident discovery of meanings in a world that since has had few. That last day in September of 68 I looked around an empty afternoon Adele's on a drizzly bleak day and walked away.

The last song the juke box played was...

      Broken windows and empty hallways,
      a pale dead moon in a sky streaked with grey.
      Human kindness is overflowing,
      and I think it's gonna rain today.

      Scarecrows dressed in the latest styles,
      the frozen smiles to chase love away.
      Human kindness is overflowing,
      and I think it's gonna rain today...

      Bright before me the signs implore me:
      Help the needy and show them the way.
      Human kindness is overflowing,
      and I think it's gonna rain today

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