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Posted by Sarah Sphar and tagged with books, Cleveland, history, writer; 12:00am, December 1st 2009

When Cleveland native and Boston area resident Judah Leblang found himself on a Florida vacation without his favorite baseball cap (Cleveland Indians, of course; Leblang hasn't transferred allegiances – yet), he made a quick stop in a strip-mall tourist shop to buy a replacement. Finding one lone cap among the store's motley selection, he quickly paid for it and went on his way. When he arrived at his friend's house to begin his vacation, he displayed his purchase – a white cap with the letters "WWJD" printed above the brim in large black type – and wondered if his friend had heard of this local radio station.

"Wearing my new cap constantly, pleased with bagging a bargain, I walked around town," writes Leblang in his new book of essays, Finding My Place. "Folks seemed even warmer than usual, and Jacksonville had always seemed to me a singularly friendly place." Back in Boston, a chance discussion with a friend revealed the real meaning of the cap's slogan, and Leblang reflected on his experiences in Jacksonville. "For a week, I'd been protected, and passed safely through the land of the moral majority unscathed."

Finding My Place is a memoir, told through a collection of Leblang's essays, many of which have previously appeared in regional publications or were broadcast on various NPR affiliates. In spare, straightforward style, Leblang creates affecting vignettes of his youth in Cleveland and adulthood in Boston and beyond, touching on themes of name and place. This summer, Leblang will return to Cleveland for readings from Finding My Place (keep up with him here) – hopefully, the boys of summer won't give him further cause to start rooting for the Red Sox.

Finding My Place is now available on Amazon, at Mac's Backs in Cleveland Heights and Visible Voice Books in Tremont.

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