A Vision, a Ham, and that Smile in Beautiful Ohio

- Courtesy photo
Pam Fitzpatrick speaking at an Arcadia Chamber of Commerce event. – Courtesy photo

By Charlotte Schamadan

It wasn’t often that one could find Pam Fitzpatrick outside of her beloved Old Town Monrovia. As an owner of the Dollmakers’, then Kattywompus on Myrtle Avenue, she was devoted to Old Town’s success.

But the fall months of 1990 found Pam and 29 of her fellow townsfolk traveling to Cleveland, Ohio to compete with 30 other communities for the prestigious All-America City Award. It was my privilege to be the director of the event.

The competition required telling the story of our community’s success in bringing it back from hard times to the good times. Telling the story included a half-hour production before judges, using as many of our folks in the show as possible. And, the night prior to the presentations, cities were to work at a festival, providing information and goodies for handing out.

The Monrovia group created a food specialty they named “Hammatillas,” a concoction of a corn tortilla filled with chopped ham, and my memory doesn’t recall what else; must have been tasty, though. We had no leftovers. We traveled to Cleveland with the tortillas and ham among our luggage.

In fact, once on the bus from the airport to the hotel in Cleveland, we placed the huge ham on the front seat behind the bus driver. Pam and I were seated in the front and noticed the driver sort of sniffing around as if he smelled something funny. “What’s that smell?” he asked. Pam replied, “It’s a ham. Want a sandwich?”

Not to be outdone, the driver announced, “We do sell ham in Ohio, you know!” Why did we take a ham with us from Monrovia to Cleveland? Maybe California pigs are fatter? I don’t recall, but it was fun!

After the festival and the following day’s successful presentation, we had a little time off so my husband Lee rented a car and drove Pam, her sister Jennifer Ranger, and I to Chagrin Falls, Ohio. About an hour northeast of Cleveland, Chagrin Falls had become one of my favorite places in my years of travel. The town was small, had a Main Street full of mom and pop stores, and a bridge that crossed over the river, where there were indeed falls cascading over the river rocks and passing beneath the main street bridge.

The four of us walked Main Street, admiring the vintage stores and noting there were more trees here than in Old Town Monrovia. A beautiful little town, for sure. We bought ice cream cones and walked to the bridge above the river to admire it all.

After a quiet few minutes, Pam turned to her sister and said, “What do you think Jennifer, a Dollmakers’ in Chagrin Falls?” Jennifer smiled sweetly, saying nothing.  I looked at Pam and said, “I think you have a going concern back in Monrovia.”

Pam gave me that great big beautiful smile she was known for, took a lick of ice cream, and said, “Indeed we do.” Then she looked back to the falls, eyes sparkling and that great smile glistening in the sunlight, looking as content as I’d ever seen her.


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