Cleveland storyteller shares stories about the women of Millionaire’s Row

Cassie Chadwick, a legendary swindler who tried to steal from the Cleveland Trust and Andrew Carnegie's estate, is both famous and infamous.

Cassie Chadwick, a legendary swindler who tried to steal from the Cleveland Trust and Andrew Carnegie’s estate, is both famous and infamous.

Cleveland storyteller Dan Ruminski returned to Mentor Library Monday to share stories about the women of Millionaire’s Row—the famous, the infamous and those who were a bit of both.

Laura Mae Corrigan was a bit of everything in her time: waitress, society reporter, (if her reputation is merited) seductress, social outcast, arbiter of London society, millionaire, and even war hero.

She was born in Wisconsin to a family with no money or social standing to speak of; but, through her cunning, rose to the heights of wealth and society.

She married “Playboy” Jimmy Corrigan, the son of industrial millionaire James C. Corrigan. (The father’s Corrigan-McKinney Steel Company would eventually become Republic Steel. Most of what you need to know about the younger James Corrigan is condensed in his nickname.)

Laura Mae left her previous husband, a doctor whom she met while working as a society reporter in Chicago, to marry Jimmy. Her status as both unmoneyed and a divorcee made her persona non grata among the Cleveland and New York City elite.

She and her husband moved to Europe and were accepted (if not embraced) by the European elite who were too happy to trade title for money.

After her husband died, she was left exceedingly wealthy with a value that accrued $800,000 a year in interest alone.

But instead of simply throwing parties, she used  her wealth to good effect.

During World War II, she created and funded an aid group called La Bienvenue. After the war, she was honored with King’s Medal by the British and the Croix de Guerre, Legion of Honor, and Croix de Combattant from the French.

Not bad for a party girl of ill repute.

You probably recognize Julia Drury‘s last name but may not realize why. Hint: If you visit Playhouse Square, you’ll find Francis Drury Theater. It’s named after her husband who was an early patron of our local arts scene.

They lived in the last of the great mansions of Millionaire’s Row. (The home is actually still standing and owned by the Cleveland Clinic.) But Francis fancied himself a gentleman farmer and moved his family to a farm in Gates Mills—which, back then, counted as “the country.”

However, Julia pined for the city. Even after going on a yearlong, all-expenses-paid trip to Europe to buy art for their country home, Julia still preferred her Cleveland mansion.

Ruminski said she loved the house so much she may still be there. There have been several ghost sightings at the Drury Mansion, and Ruminski suggested that Julia may still be disinclined to leave the house she loved so well.

Give Cassie Chadwick her due. She had guts. After all, there weren’t any cowards trying to extort Andrew Carnegie’s estate.

Chadwick had worked as a clairvoyant and had already been divorced twice when she opened a brothel that occasionally catered to Cleveland’s elite. However, it was she who came to the attention of wealthy widower, Dr. Leroy Chadwick.

She then began her largest con, convincing the world (or at least its bankers) that she was Carnegie’s illegitimate daughter.

She used the Carnegie name to coax more than $10 million in loans from banks. Meanwhile, the banks assumed they would be made whole when Carnegie died. Of course, nobody dared ask Carnegie directly for fear of embarrassing him.

Ultimately, Chadwick’s ruse was discovered when a bank tried to pull her loan and she couldn’t pay it. She was sentenced to 14 years for fraud but died in prison before she could complete her sentence.

For more stories from Millionaire’s Row, check out Dan Ruminski’s book, Cleveland in the Gilded Age.

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Make Mondays marvelous at Mentor Library

Violet and Roman came to Marvelous Mondays dressed as The Incredibles.

Violet and Roman came to Marvelous Mondays dressed as The Incredibles.

Why have a typical Monday when you can make them marvelous at Mentor Library?

Every Monday through June and July, we’re going to have super fun with crafts, games, science and more from 1 to 2 p.m. at our Read House.

This Monday, kids came dressed as their favorite hero to make their own masks and play games.

Then, on Monday, June 15, kids will use rubber bands to help their favorite superhero fly.

Each week will have a different theme:

  • June 22, Guardians of the Galaxy
  • June 29, the Avengers
  • July 6, superhero sidekicks
  • July 13, Captain America
  • July 20, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • July 27, Captain Underpants

Join us for one or all of them. No registration is necessary. Just come over and have fun!

Oliver suited up as Iron Man for Marvelous Monday at Mentor Library.

Oliver suited up as Iron Man for Marvelous Monday at Mentor Library.

And while you’re at the library, you can sign up for summer reading. For every hour a child reads or is read to, they receive a raffle ticket that can help them win one of dozens of cool prizes—from telescopes and microscopes to Lego sets and Superhero Barbie. The more someone reads, the better chance they have of winning.

If a child reads 20 hours by Aug. 1, they will be entered into a special raffle to win one of two $50 gift certificates from Toys ‘R Us.

Mentor Library also has a summer reading program (and prizes) for teens and adults, as well. For more information about summer reading, call 440-255-8811 or visit Mentor Library’s website.

Supergirl (alias: Mya) tests her super aim.

Supergirl (alias: Mya) tests her super aim.

For more photos from Marvelous Mondays, visit Mentor Library’s Facebook page.

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Book clubs for kids at Mentor Library

Katie, Mckenzie and Tabitha make a quilt together during the most recent meeting of our American Girl Book Club.

Katie, Mckenzie and Tabitha make a quilt together during the most recent meeting of our American Girl Book Club.

Trying to find a way to motivate your child to read this summer? Maybe they’d have more fun if reading was group activity.

While most people think of book clubs as for adults, Mentor Library has clubs for all ages.

If your kid likes superheroes, Adventure Time or Spongebob, then they might love our Comics Club.

Our Comics Club is for any 8- through 12-year-old who likes to read, talk about or draw sequential art. We love everything from Amelia Rules to Batman to Bone.)

Our Comic Club meets from 7 to 8 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month at our Main Branch. Our next meeting is July 7.

At a typical meeting, the kids talk about a special theme. Then we introduce the kids to graphic novels and comics that can be found in the library’s collection.

We close out each meeting with free time for the kids to draw or read.

Luke and Caleb show off their super gear after the Comics Club meeting.

Luke and Caleb show off their super gear after the Comics Club meeting.

If your kid enjoys American Girl—the books or the dolls—then they’ll love our American Girl Book Club.

They meet on the first Wednesday of each month to discuss a different American Girl book and make a new craft. Many of them even bring their dolls with them, if they like. (Of course, the dolls aren’t required.)

Our next meeting is 4 p.m. on July 1 in the children’s section of our Main Branch on Mentor Avenue. The girls will be meeting Addy.

You can register your child for the book club on our web site or by calling (440) 255-8811 ext. 221.

Claire reads to Ruckus during a Paws to Read session at Mentor Library.

Claire reads to Ruckus during a Paws to Read session at Mentor Library.

If your child is an animal lover, then they’ll enjoy Paws to Read.

Paws to Read pairs young readers (between the ages of six and 12 years old) with therapy dogs, who listen to the children as they read. It provides your child with a sympathetic, furry audience and helps them be more comfortable while reading.

Registration for the next sessions start July. There will be two 30-minute sessions on July 16 at our Main Branch; one beginning at 6:30 p.m., the next at 7 p.m. We only have so many therapy dogs; so, unfortunately, there’s a limit on how many kids can participate each month.

Additionally, those spots tend to fill up quickly, so contact the children’s department at Mentor Public Library soon if you think you child could benefit from Paws to Read.

And remember to read with your child too!

And remember to read with your child too.

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Celebrate Literary Heroes this Summer at Mentor Library

We’re celebrating heroes of all types this summer at Mentor Library.

And, yes, we realize when we say “heroes” most people think of tights and flights, but not every hero wears a cape.

For example, we’re recognizing community heroes like police officers, firefighters and teachers during our Family Story Times on Thursdays this summer. (In fact, you can join us from 7 to 7:30 p.m. on June 11 for a Teddy Bear Clinic with a local nurse.)

We’re also sharing our favorite literary heroes this summer. In the video above, Ms. Lisa explains why Pete the Cat is her hero. (It’s not just his groovy buttons or cool white shoes.)

That’s just the beginning! We’re having a special mixed-up fashion show like Junie B. Jones on Thursday, June 18. After all, what’s June without Junie?

And we’ll be celebrating more of our heroes all summer—Dr. Seuss, The Magic Tree House, Wimpy Kid. Who’s your hero?

By the way, there’s still time to sign up for our summer reading program too.

Everyone who participates in summer reading—either by reading books or attending library programs—has a chance to win prizes. Those prizes include gift cards from Toys ‘R’ Us and Lake County Captains tickets, as well as gift cards from other local businesses. The more someone reads, the better chance they have of winning.

For more information on Mentor Library’s summer reading program, call 440-255-8811 or visit Mentor Library’s website.

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Story times this summer at Mentor Library

Kids color during Rhyme Time at MPL's Mentor-on-the-Lake Branch.

Kids color during Rhyme Time at MPL’s Mentor-on-the-Lake Branch.

Whether you love Tiddlywinks, Rhyme Time, our Family Story Times or all of the above, you’ll be happy to hear that we have a full slate of story times scheduled for this summer at Mentor Public Library.

Come to one or come to them all. See which one your kids love the most. We have:

  • Rhyme Time from 10:30 to 11 a.m. most Tuesdays at our Mentor-on-the-Lake Branch. Children from six months to five years old (along with a guardian) can enjoy songs, stories and a craft based on a special theme.
  • Tike Time from 11 to 11:30 a.m. on Thursdays at our Mentor Headlands Branch. Kids from six months to four years old (with a big person) can sing songs, listen to stories and rhymes, and make crafts.
  • Preschool Story Time, which takes place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 11 a.m. at our Main Branch. This is for kids from three to five years old.  Children are expected to sit in the story time without a guardian.
  • Tiddlywinks, which happens every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. at our Main Branch. These story times are for children 36 mos. and younger, accompanied by an adult.
  • Mother Goose on the Loose story times, which take place on Friday mornings at 10 a.m in the Read House. There are two separate, 4-week sessions: June 12-July 3 and July 10-July 31. These are for children, 36 months and younger, accompanied by an adult. This story time (unlike our others) requires registration because of limited space.
  • Family Story Time, which takes place on Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Fridays at 11 a.m. at our Main Branch and 7 p.m. on Monday at our Headlands Branch. This is for all ages with crafts and stories that are also used in preschool story times.

During summer reading, our Thursday evening Family Story Times will be dedicated to Community Heroes like police officers, firefighters and teachers. A nurse will hold a Teddy Bear Clinic during our first Community Heroes story time on June 11.

Also, if you want to know what books we read during our summer story times, we post them on our website so you can re-read them to your child later.

Finally, we have several super programs scheduled this summer from Marvelous Mondays to celebrations of literary heroes like Pete the Cat and Junie B. Jones. For more information, check out Mentor Library’s online event calendar. And while your family’s here, they can sign up for summer reading.

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