By Sue Botos
When Lakewood native and former Rocky River resident Angela Zbin saw a story in the May 30 issue of West Life about the house she used to live in, she knew she had a few things to add.
The first item was that she raised not eight, but nine children in the three- bedroom, one-bathroom house on Allen Court. The second was that the silver-painted beams securing the basement ceiling are indeed remnants of the old Silverthorn Tavern.
“We knew the history of the house. My husband knew a lot about Rocky River,” said Zbin, 88, during a recent phone interview from her Lakewood home. She confirmed the story told by longtime Rocky River resident Janet Cipriani that the timbers were transported by horse-drawn wagon to Allen Court after demolition of the Silverthorn around 1917. Zbin and Cipriani met when Cipriani’s daughter-in-law was hospitalized, and started talking about the home.
“The kids would say, ‘No wonder it smells like stale beer,’” recalled Zbin, adding that the beams were hand-hewn.
Zbin said that she lived on Allen Court for more than 60 years, moving into a small house behind her in-laws’ home with her husband James Adam, known as Jazz, in 1946. She said she helped care for her mother-in-law, who was an amputee, but eventually, the family outgrew the house and moved to the larger home down the street in 1960. Zbin moved back to Lakewood two years ago.
“We just made do,” Zbin said of the challenge of raising six girls and three boys in the relatively close quarters. “There are such things as bunk beds and sleep sofas,” she added.
Despite, or maybe because, of the tight space, Zbin noted, “They still all get along.”
Zbin sold the house last year to Paul and Frank Spremulli, who have operated their service station and garage at the corner of Allen Court and Detroit Road since the early 1960s. They said previously that they were unaware of the home’s hidden treasure, but that Zbin had plenty of stories to tell about life on Allen Court.
She was only too happy to share a few. She spoke of evening accordion concerts by a resident, and a party that featured a conga line snaking through the neighborhood that used to back Marion Court, now a ramp for the Clifton freeway. There was even occasional music from a “bass fiddle” player.
“I miss Rocky River. You could walk all over,” noted Zbin, adding that Jan Dell’s was her favorite store. She said that walking was often the only mode of transportation. She recalled that she and her sister would walk to St. Christopher Church from their childhood home in Lakewood. “My dad lived to be 104 and he walked to work every day,” she said.
Zbin’s family still has a strong presence in Rocky River. She said that her husband’s cousin started Zbin Landscaping, which is now being run by the fifth generation. She added that she was glad to hear that the Spremullis are planning on fixing up the old house, preserving a bit of Rocky River history.