This installment of Sketchbook Cleveland took me to the Huntington Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks. Back in the Pleistocene, it was simply Huntinginton Park (still its shorthand name) – about a quarter-mile ride on a pink Schwinn Sting-Ray from my childhood home in Bay Village. We'd ride there for fun, and wander in the woods and play in the stream. Cleveland artist and illustrator Tom Shephard, a friend of my parents and the father of my friends Lexi and Tommy Shephard, used to stride with a smile on his face to Huntington Beach on Saturday mornings with binoculars hanging around his neck. Good bird watching – then and now.
The nature center (back then called the Junior Nature Center) was there, though it was the kind of place a kid didn't much bother going into alone when there were all those woods to explore. (My childhood school, Glenview Elementary, was conveniently right across the street, so we usually made an annual visit to the planetarium.)
Coming under the protective wings of the MetroParks system has been good for the park. The nature center has been vastly upgraded, and houses examples of mammals, raptors, waterfowl and reptiles native to Ohio. On a recent visit, a bully turtle kept flipping a smaller turtle onto the back of its shell. I had to take a stick and flip him back upright. The second time this happened, the smaller turtle wisely scampered away.
The beach seems a bit cleaner than it was back then, and now there are restaurants near Huntington Playhouse, which was born from an old carriage barn in 1958 and rebuilt in 1971 after a fire destroyed it; and BayArts (formerly Baycrafters). The place I took for granted as a kid has, like few other things, gotten better.