And it's right in our backyard. Or, er, in a neighbor's basement. Really.
Cleveland already lays claim to polka king Frankie Yankovic and the Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame, so it's only appropriate that there's an accordion museum here as well. It's just a little more DIY than you would expect.
Jack and Kathy spent their Saturdays and Sundays trolling Ohio's flea markets and music stores, looking for instruments. "Every Saturday, we'd get up early and look in the phone book for a music store we hadn't been to yet," Kathy says. Then they'd print out directions, and hop on the road, finding parts of the state so small they weren't printed on maps.
Most trips ended in success. Everyone, it seemed, had an accordion or 10 they wanted to get rid of. No one used them anymore. Just like the city's abandoned factories and vacant buildings, accordions were the remains of a past that people had left behind long ago.
On the plus side, it made collecting the instruments cheap. And after Jack had bought about a hundred of them, the accordions started finding him, Jack recalls. "I started getting phone calls like, 'My grandfather died. No one knows what to do with an accordion. Do you want it?' "
Jack and Kathy took them all in. They had a system: Kathy would scrub the instruments down, and Jack would try to get them working again by tinkering with the reeds and keys. It wasn't long before the couple began to see themselves more as preservers than collectors or scavengers.
Soon, as the collection starting creeping into their bedroom, Kathy decided they required a larger home. They ended up settling on a house in Rocky River with an extra-large basement.
And that's where you'll find hundreds of accordions. If you don't feel the urgent need to go check it out, there's something wrong with you. After all, polka is the biggest thing in the tri-state area, at least according to this guy who was trying to woo LeBron James with that very fact.
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