We are ever-evolving, raised on the hard work and dedication of those who came before us. Our grandparents and great-grandparents saw the collapse of the economy during the Great Depression, survived the unimaginable horrors of war and fought endlessly for civil rights during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s so that future generations could live freely.
As Clevelanders, our city has been built on the backs of immigrants and industrialism. We’ve been raised to understand that we have to work hard in order to be successful and a life well-lived is a life full of struggle and adversity, and love and loss.
“We are all of the people we ever met and all of the things we’ve ever done and all of the things we’ve ever thought,” says Joseph Garry Jr., who at 74 has seen the rise, fall and resurrection of Cleveland’s Playhouse Square.
He’s traveled the world with his late husband, David Frazier, collecting artifacts such as the chains of maharaja swings and silk Indian drawings that hang in their home — symbols of the lives and experiences they shared together each day.
For Joe Dauria, cutting hair at Fratantonio’s Barber Shop in Shaker Heights five days a week for more than 50 years has given him the chance to build a lifetime of connections — seeing generations of families sit in his chair. That job and those relationships he’s formed have been the backbone to what brings him happiness and contentment.
“Gradually, it kind of builds up in you,” says the 70-year-old. “Every day was better than the last.”
We are the products of the generations who bore us. They designed our buildings, built our cars, challenged social norms and brought us harmony. In their darkest hours, they persevered so that we could thrive.
“When life keeps challenging you and turning you inside out, those are the greatest moments of your life,” says Garry. “If you take the time and if you listen, every one changes you in some way.”