My home away from home, Ashtabula, Ohio

A look inside the travels of Elder Photo Journalist Gus Schlomer ’21 on his trip to Ashtabula, Ohio

Keep+off+sign+on+the+break+wall+of+Walnut+Beach.+

Gus Schlomer '21

Keep off sign on the break wall of Walnut Beach.

Under unfortunate circumstances, I was called to return to my home away from home, Ashtabula, Ohio. While I was visiting, I made sure I purchased ample rolls of film and brought my camera.

Ashtabula is located about an hour Northeast of Cleveland and is home to Lake Erie and my grandparents. The surrounding towns offer some pretty cool attractions and scenery. Geneva on the Lake, Eddie’s Grill, Walnut Beach and my grandfather’s old barbershop; Dege’s Barbershop aka the “Ugly Pink Magnet”.

Street signs on the corner of Walnut Blvd and Duquesne Ave (Gus Schlomer ’21)

An old, rundown town may not mean much to some but Ashtabula is my home away from home. My grandparents have lived here for the entirety of their lives and this goes the same for my uncle and cousins. The journey all starts here on Walnut Boulevard.

 

 

 

 

Remains of the Ashtabula tire fire lay on the private beach of my grandparents house. (Gus Schlomer ’21)

My grandparent’s house is right on the lake. It is home to a private beach that sits right at the bottom of their back yard and a large hill. Before it was overgrown, there was a boat winch, a walking path down, and what stands is a gorgeous view of Lake Erie from any place in the house or on any deck. Many memories have been made on this beach including massive bonfires and my uncle’s birthday party firework celebration.

 

 

Seagulls take over walnut beach around 9 a.m. eating visitors food and causing problems (Gus Schlomer ’21)

Down the street is a much larger beach, Walnut Beach. Walnut Beach is home to a lot, and I mean a lot of seagulls. Many residents from the surrounding area come to the beach to relax, skate, hold family reunions, and search for beach glass for the Harbor Beach glass Festival in the summer.

 

 

 

 

Keep off sign on the break wall of Walnut Beach. (Gus Schlomer ’21)

Walnut Beach is not like any normal beach, the whole lakeside has horrible erosion problems. To fix these problems, the city placed a break wall on the shore on the majority of the beach towards the lighthouse. It was extremely slippery and when I got far enough down this sign was posted. This is one of my favorite shots from the trip.

 

 

 

Walnut Beach seagull comes flying out of nowhere towards camera. (Gus Schlomer ’21)

The seagulls on the beach were causing a lot of issues for many visitors that morning. If anyone knows anything basic about any birds, they like to poop. Seagulls were flying around like no tomorrow and coming very close. A little too close for comfort. I was minding my own business on the break wall and a seagull came out of nowhere from the clouds and flew within ten to fifteen feet of my face. Lets just say seagulls are not the only things that poop.

 

 

Me, sitting on the break wall taking it all in, looking at the lake (Gus Schlomer ’21)

Being on my own shooting film, I tend to be in my own space. I get into this “zen” state where nothing is really moving around me and everything is calming and soothing. This “zen” feeling was really amplified while I was relaxing on the break wall looking out into the horizon of the lake towards Canada. The crash of the waves against the wall, the screeching of the seagulls, and the chatter of the people around me created a calming environment.

 

Litter on the beach, a cracked Bud Ice tall boy left by some hooligans the night before (Gus Schlomer ’21)

Being in zen mode on my own, you start to notice the little things. This is something that was ingrained in me as a child that will stick with me forever. Live in the moment. Living in the moment and being one with something and making some sort of experience is unreal. Being in the state of peace and doing something you love by living in the moment brings a heavy amount of serotonin that is unmatched. I do not think this is what my grandpa and mom meant about living in the moment and noticing the little things. To some this just looks like litter, but to the average high school student, this is gold in a pile of trash.

 

Geneva on the Lake strip. Littered with Arcades, small shops and vintage stores (Gus Schlomer ’21)

Later in the day, we head over to the promised land, Geneva on the Lake. A giant strip of wineries, arcades, long time establishments, and small shops. Geneva on the lake is just over seven miles from my grandparent house and is a must stop on every trip.

 

 

 

 

Eddie’s Grill store front on Labor Day. Home to the best cheeseburgers and root beer (Gus Schlomer ’21)

Eddie’s Grill is a well known establishment and a must stop for anyone on a trip to Ashtabula or Geneva. This long lasting burger shop was created by a gentleman by the name of Eddie Sezon in 1950. The cheeseburgers and foot-longs are immaculate and they have a cute rendition of a cheese coney called a “chili dog”. It is mediocre. To this day, founder Eddie Sezon is still behind the counter flipping some of the best steak-burgers in the world. Nothing beats Eddie’s Grill on a hot summer day after winning big in the Sport Center Arcade and celebrating with a cheeseburger or two and an ice cold root beer.

 

Sport Center Arcade storefront. Located just a short walk down from Eddie’s Grill (Gus Schlomer ’21)

Speaking of the Sport Center Arcade, it is just a short walk from Eddie’s. Every summer, I usually lose a majority of the money I had saved to come to Geneva on the Lake. Always carry a bank roll, kids. (thank you ,Colin) Nothing I usually win amounts to anything because it is ticket based, but it is more about the experience and spending time with my family. Due to COVID-19, I was unable to spend a few Jackson’s to win that giant stuffed dread lock banana.

 

 

My Grandpas old barber shop the “Ugly Pink Magnet” Deege’s Barber shop. (Gus Schlomer ’21)

The final stop, Dege’s Barber shop. My grandpa Tom worked virtually his whole life at the shop under his boss and former owner Dege and then bought the shop in the 60’s after earning enough money and to get the “first chair.” Later on, my grandpa would become a firefighter and work his way up to fire captain while still working at the shop. After owning the shop for a few decades, he sold the shop to his apprentice Julie who still works there today and recently just gave me a fresh cut while I visited.