This week’s ‘Picture Postals’ is part four of four, of a few notes on the new expanded edition of the Galpin letters. On page 293 Lovecraft usefully recalls the exact locations enjoyed during his 1922 visit to Cleveland. This was a very happy time for him as he was effectively released from his long hermitage. The addresses are…

1537 E. 93rd St. [Loveman’s family home], 9231 Birchdale [Avenue, Galpin’s family home, quite near to Loveman], Wade Park, Clark’s Lunch [north side of Euclid Av.], Taylor’s Arcade [south side of Euclid Av.], Eglin’s [bookshop]

I found a good picture of a Clark’s Lunch on the central street called Euclid Avenue, and dated 1922…

Galpin met Lovecraft at the railway station and immediately took him to eat at a Clark’s Lunch, before they then went back to Galpin’s family home. This same Lunch was where he and the boys mostly ate their ‘meals out’ after that, as Lovecraft told his aunt in a letter.

It’s pleasing to get a photo of the exact date, although the heavy coats and hats in the picture suggests a bright-but-chill springtime rather than the early August heat of Lovecraft’s extended and fatefully cheering visit. However, is this the Clark’s Lunch? The people look rather too upmarket and the hole-in-the-wall too small. Were there other branches? There were. The 1920 American Legion Convention booklet usefully yields the list of the city’s branches…

So, there were two Lunch’s on Euclid. And we now know that the branches were open 24 hours.

But which Lunch is shown? The one at 1325 Euclid or at 5410 Euclid? Enough of the surrounding architecture of one remains to be seen today on Google Street View, and thus the above picture can be confirmed as the central Lunch at 1325 Euclid.

However I’m still not entirely certain, as there were evidently other branches. Indeed there were 15 branches in the city by the 1950s. So let’s look more closely at the place of arrival and see if that helps. Lovecraft was on the Lake Shore overnight sleeper train from New York to Cleveland, seeing the Catskills in the distance as he travelled along the Hudson Valley (he would later that year set “The Lurking Fear” in the same mountains). In 1922 the Lake Shore sleeper drew in to Cleveland at the old and decrepit New Union Depot. This had been renovated in earlier decades, but was still then blighted by “years of accumulated soot and ash which had made the building into a dirty eyesore” according to the railway historians. In 1922 it was all-but defunct. The city’s long-planned gleaming station was still just bare cleared-ground at that time, and would only open in 1930. Thus we can be sure that Lovecraft arrived in the city at the old and decrepit New Union Depot. The question is then, which was the nearest Clark’s Lunch branch for the station?

Sadly, it’s not the one seen above at 1325 Euclid. Pity, but the situation did look rather too posh. The nearest to this station would have been the branch at 228 West Superior, on the west side of Cleveland Public Square and about a quarter mile walk from the New Union Depot. There was a large business college at 236 West Superior, and an athletics store at 226, with together suggest a student-ish atmosphere for the Lunch. The food appears to confirm this student-y supposition. The food there was found to be “humble” and “inexpensive”, as Lovecraft told his aunt (Selected Letters Vol. 1., p. 191).

Unfortunately there don’t appear to be vintage pictures of that stretch of West Superior, and this row has since been cleared. It has long been a parking lot called Jacob’s Lot…

But the local press report that by 2024 the car park will be gone. From the site of Lovecraft’s Lunch will soar a new Sherwin-Williams Corp. mega-tower skyscraper. Suitably enough, for a place where artists and writers such as H.P. Lovecraft and Hart Crane once met, the company is ‘America’s Paint Company’ and makes paints.

What of Taylor’s Arcade? This was on the south side of Euclid Avenue in its central run, and is here seen perhaps circa 1912-ish? A decade before. Not to be confused with another and far grander wrought-iron arcade in the same city, which still exists.

What of Wade Park? This had a large zoo with lions and polar bears and suchlike, and an art museum, as well as fine and expansive parkland with lakes. Lovecraft tells his aunt that he toured the “Cleveland Art Museum” there. Aka the Cleveland Museum of Art. This was housed in a long low classical building.

The museum displayed fine art and crafts from all eras and Lovecraft would have seen full armoured and mounted medieval knights, “Carthage” by the famous British artist Turner, Japanese porcelain, French paintings, and far more. Also the following approximate emulation of a Moorish-style courtyard garden, which appears (from another companion card) to have had a further small garden in a more eastern style with a central Buddha.

The heat of early-mid August 1922 was very heavy, and thus no doubt much to the liking of both the garden and Lovecraft. Strong heat always pepped him up. He also found that he needed to blend in more with the boys and thus he divested himself of his usual hat and stiff collar…

Can you picture me vestless [i.e. without a waistcoat], hatless, soft-collared, and belted, ambling about with a boy of twenty, as if I were no older? … One can be free and easy in a provincial city … What I need in order to be cheerful is the constant company of youthful and congenial literary persons. (Selected Letters Vol. 1, p. 293)

As for the bookshop, “Eglin’s” is the form elsewhere in Selected Letters which confirms the spelling. Also confirmed is that some of the shop’s after-hours reading events were quietly rather gay at that time (as the confirming spelling occurs in the context of Lovecraft’s comments on Gordon Hatfield and Loveman). The journal Phantasmus for 1924 then gives the address “Eglin’s Book Store, 824 Superior Ave.” and the 1925 American Book Trade Directory confirms. By March 1930 the sales-outlets list of The Rosicrucian mystical magazine shows it had moved down the Avenue to 806. Today its old site at No. 824 is a 4,000 sq. ft. modern art gallery, seemingly shelled from the original building and with some of the old frontage still intact.

No. 824 is about a quarter-mile west of the Clark’s Lunch branch at 228 West Superior (see above). This helps to very strongly confirm the likely branch at which Lovecraft, Loveman, Galpin and the Eglin’s crowd ate in 1922. Given the “humble” and “inexpensive” fare, from the branch of a growing and reliable 24-hour chain, it would have been the natural choice as a local eatery.

Loveman would later work at Eglin’s as a bookshop assistant, but when he lost the position he followed the poet and his sometime-lover Hart Crane to New York City. Lovecraft later followed Loveman to New York, and the rest is history.