A hole in the neighborhood

Posted By on July 21, 2007

schorrhouse1.jpgThe Schorrs moved to Texas on Friday, July 13. Brian, Diane, Warren and Madlyn Schorr were our neighbors when we moved to Belvoir Boulevard more than nine years ago. Our families became friends. We would go for months without seeing each other, particularly in the winter, when Clevelanders spend a lot of time inside, home and elsewhere. But we also socialized fairly regularly, and Karen and I, in particular, became close to Brian and Diane (Warren’s a sports-obsessed boy -I mean boy-about Katy’s age; Lylah and Madlyn had more downs than ups).

In April, Brian was laid off from his job as a title attorney. Diane, also a lawyer, had lost work several months earlier. It wasn’t a good winter for the Schorrs, who have never lived anywhere but suburban Cleveland. Brian was cut from a company that never treated him that well during his eight years there; when he got an offer from another firm in 2006, his boss forbade his departure, citing non-compete. I don’t know the particulars of that situation and never have had to deal with non-compete. I do know it made Brian sour about his work.

So being laid off was a kind of godsend, if a wrenching one. Without an employer to corral him, Brian was free to entertain offers, including one from the Texas firm that had wooed him the year before. What he had to decide was whether to stay in Cleveland and hope he (and Diane) could find work or leave family and friends and try something new. To his credit, Brian went with the latter. I encouraged him all the way, not because I wanted them to leave but because in Cleveland, these days, hope is scarce, good jobs even scarcer.

Over the past six weeks, Brian started work in suburban Dallas. He and Diane bought a home in Frisco, an eight-year-old community north of the city. I was out there the week the Schorrs left – it was the first week of July – on a hotel business story. I visited my cousin and his wife in Dallas, where I was born and my father and mother got their start in the U.S.; I got lost on the freeways north of the city. I marveled at the impersonality and energy of the place. The towns north of Dallas – though not Dallas itself – are booming. Built around consumption (and, from what I hear, good school districts), they’re heavily trafficked and bold, unlike Cleveland, a city in a decline so steep it’s hard to tell whether it’s bottomed out. The place is, to put it mildly, growing. Cleveland, meanwhile, is shrinking.

In addition to missing the Schorrs, there’s a vacant house next door to us. The Schorrs have already dropped their price, but there have to be close to three dozen houses in that price range for sale in South Euclid, our community. It’s gotten more integrated over the years, as African-Americans replace the Italians who used to figure so heavily in its makeup. It’s a city in transition, for sure. I love my neighborhood. I love stepping outside my door (sure wish there was a porch) to marvel at the median on my street, at the trees, at the graciousness, the wildness. But for now, there’s a hole in the neighborhood, left by the Schorrs.

I don’t know what to expect, and I’m apprehensive. The Schorrs can’t carry two mortgages indefinitely. I just hope they sell their South Euclid house to some good people. I hope they don’t rent it. The neighborhood’s changing, and that’s all right. I just don’t want it going.


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I'm a veteran critic and business writer who reads and listens and writes about music, books, hotels and travel. I've been in the business for many years and still enjoy it. My pride and joy is my book, Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories. Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/CarloWolff