Urban renewal has taken the flash and glamour from Short Vincent, the Cleveland street where gangsters mingled with bookies and B-girls during much of the 20th century. Alan Dutka’s book Cleveland’s Short Vincent: The Theatrical Grill and its Notorious Neighbors tells of the neon-lit bars and eateries that lined the street, officially named Vincent Avenue.

What was it about The Theatrical? As Dutka notes, neighboring restaurants had better food and other clubs had better entertainment. But “for decades, the Theatrical Grill reigned as Cleveland’s premier place to see and to be seen.” Mobster Shondor Birns was a part-owner for a time, and every celebrity and sports star visiting Cleveland was sure to appear. It, like most of the street, is now a parking garage (the former Roxy burlesque theatre was replaced by a bank). Dutka bemoans the decline “from risqué fun in the 1930s to blatant sleaziness in the 1960s.”

Dutka rounds up the “Odds Fellows,” the bookies and gamblers of Vincent Avenue, with names like Racehorse Richard, Shoes Rosen and Benny the Bondsman, noting the similarity to characters in Damon Runyon stories.

Cleveland’s Short Vincent (95 pages, softcover) costs $18.95 from Cleveland Landmarks Press. Alan Dutka previously wrote East Fourth Street: The Rise, Decline, and Rebirth of an Urban Cleveland Street.

Author offers life tips

“Don’t be afraid to try something new or explore new ways to live your life” is the primary counsel offered by North Royalton resident Nanci J. Gravill in her book Fresh Hope … Cleveland: Resources to Help You Navigate through Unsettled Times. The resources are a combination of personal advice for saving money, like packing lunches, negotiating dental fees and shopping at thrift stores; and improving emotional well-being by setting goals and being around people with positive attitudes.

Fresh Hope has a strong Christian emphasis, recommending that readers meditate and read the Bible. There is a chapter on prayer and counseling, including help for those with substance abuse and domestic violence problems.

Fresh Hope … Cleveland (141 pages, softcover) costs $19.99 from online retailers.

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Events

Akron-Summit County Public Library (Fairlawn-Bath branch, 3101 Smith Road) — Beacon Journal food writer Lisa Abraham discusses and signs Famous Chefs and Fabulous Recipes, 6:30 p.m. Monday.

Malone University (Johnson Center, 2600 Cleveland Ave. NW, Canton) — The 2012 One Book One Community series begins with Chris Spielman, who will speak about the selected book, That’s Why I’m Here: The Chris and Stefanie Spielman Story. Book signing at 5:30 p.m.; lecture at 7 p.m.

Akron-Summit County Public Library (Ellet branch, 2470 E. Market St.) — Sarah Vradenburg discusses and signs Steps in Time: Ninety Years of Metro Parks, Serving Summit County, 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Mayfield branch, 6080 Wilson Mills Road, Mayfield Village) — Sharon Kreighbaum, author of Is Your House Overweight?, appears at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Registration requested; call 440-473-0350.

Market Garden Brewery (1947 W. 25th St., Cleveland) — Poet George Bilgere and author Thrity Umrigar (The World We Found) conclude the Brews & Prose reading series, 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Coventry Village Library (1925 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights) — Kent State University writing instructor Varley O’Connor reads from her novel The Master’s Muse, about ballet master George Balanchine and his wife Tanaquil Le Clercq, 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Copley Creekside Farmers Market (1245 S. Cleveland-Massillon Road) — Authors from the Akron Manuscript Club sign their works, 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday.

Akron-Summit County Public Library (Nordonia Hills branch, 9458 Olde Eight Road, Northfield) — John Carroll University professor Joseph Kelly talks about Halloween traditions and his book, The History of Halloween in America, 7 p.m. Thursday.

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens (714 N. Portage Path) — Sarah Vradenburg signs Steps in Time at 1 to 3 p.m. Friday; Beacon Journal columnist Mark J. Price signs The Rest is History, 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Admission charged to Ohio Mart festival.

Visible Voice Books (1023 Kenilworth Ave., Cleveland) — Liz Ferro signs her memoir Finish Line Feeling, which tells of her childhood in foster care and surviving sexual abuse to become the founder of the running organization Girls with Sole, 7 to 8 p.m. Friday; Cliff Anthony reads from and signs his comic novel Page-A-1, 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday.

Barnes & Noble Booksellers (28801 Chagrin Blvd., Woodmere) — Dan Krokos reads from and signs False Memory, his debut novel for teens, 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

Cleveland Public Library (325 Superior Ave. NE) — Crime novelists Karin Slaughter (Will Trent series), Linda Fairstein (Alexandra Cooper series) and Mark Billingham (London detective Tom Thorne) talk about their work, 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

Books-A-Million (6727 Portage Road, North Canton) — Robert Spirko signs his spy thriller The Palestine Conspiracy, 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Learned Owl Book Shop (204 N. Main St., Hudson) — Mystery writers Julia Spencer-Fleming (the Clare Ferguson series), Jeri Westerson (medieval detective Crispin Guest), Elizabeth Hand (Available Dark), and Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Icelandic crime fiction) sign their works, 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Oberlin College (Finney Chapel, 90 N. Professor St.) — Anna Deavere Smith, author of Letters to a Young Artist, appears as part of the college’s Convocation Series, 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Free, but ticket required; call 440-775-8169.

— Barbara McIntyre

Special to the Beacon Journal

Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or lsherwin@thebeaconjournal.com. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.