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Out & About in Cleveland

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Violins of Hope and Torque Transmission

On Wednesday, October 7th, we started the day with a tour of Torque Transmissions in Fairport Harbor which was put together by the Painesville Chamber of Commerce. Mr. John Rampe, Sr., the former president of torque Transmissions, showed us around. He told us how he made his son, John Rampe, Jr., the president of the company about two years ago so his own job is to be "less important" but it seemed like Mr. Rampe, Sr. is still a vital part of the operation.

mww ona torque rampe oct2015Torque Transmission was Torque Transmissionfounded in 1956 in Cleveland but moved to Fairport Harbor in 1969. It is a power transmission component manufacturer that makes things like roller chain sprockets, thrust bearings, and pulleys. Their products can be found inside medical equipment like MRI machines. It sells to companies all over the world, large and small, but their biggest market is now in China.

When we told Mr. Rampe that we worked for Margaret W. Wong and Associates he said that he had never met Ms. Margaret W. Wong but he had heard her speak and was very impressed. He went on to say that one of their best employees is a person who immigrated to the United States from Russia about 20 years ago.

Also on the tour on this day was Mr. John Stoneback of J & M Machine, Inc. who, along with Mr. Rampe, is a member of Alliance for Working Together (AWT) which strives to "enhance the image and reputation of manufacturing careers." All of us talked about this for a few minutes and we all seemed to agree that, as the AWT website states, even though manufacturing is now growing in Northeast Ohio "there is still a critical shortage of skilled workers to satisfy growing demands and replace baby boomers who are approaching retirement."

Ms. Andrea Tracy, Program Director for Lake/Geauga Educational Assistance Foundation, is very supportive of the efforts of AWT to reach out to young people in schools and let them know that manufacturing is indeed a viable career option. Mr. Stoneback said that the place to start is with the parents and try to make them see that college might not be the best option for their particular child so they may want to direct/re-direct him/her towards a career in manufacturing.

From what Mr. Stoneback has seen, he believes that "it starts with the family and then you make the community a family and then you take off!"

That afternoon we drove to the Maltz Museum on Richmond Road in Beachwood to see "Violins of Hope" a very special exhibition which features 19 violins that were played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust.

These violins were initially located and restored by Mr. Amnon Weinstein, a violin maker who is regarded as one of the best and who lost 400 members of his own family to the Holocaust.

People who visit this exhibit can read the stories of the musicians who owned and played these violins as well as watch a brief testimonial film featuring the musicians who now play them in concerts to help keep the memory alive. Also featured is a blasphemous Nazi propaganda which featured staged scenes in an attempt to convince the world that people in the camps were treated well.

When one enters the exhibit, one sees an inscription on the wall that reads, "embedded in Jewish culture for centuries, the violin assumed extraordinary importance during World War II. For some it was savior, sparing lives in ghettos and concentration camps. For others, it provided comfort in perilous hours. Nineteen violins and their stories-shared through video, imagery and live performances-honor the past and give us hope for the future."

One account that really shook us to the bone talked about how the Nazis created orchestras that played as work details were formed and new prisoners arrived at the camp as well as to entertain the SS officers and their families. One quote read that "day in and day out the orchestras played joyful tunes as a macabre counterpoint to the brutal realities of existence within a factory of death."

On September 27th, 2015 the Cleveland Orchestra played a "Violins of Hope Cleveland Opening Concert" and in the upcoming weeks several other such concerts are planned involving the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra and the Cleveland Women's Orchestra. We urge everyone to contact the Maltz museum to obtain a schedule.

As we left, we noticed another inscription that read, "And they play on...for some playing the violin was a final act of spiritual resistance before being murdered. For others the music of a violin was the last sound they heard before being marched to their deaths. The Violins of Hope bore witness to the most horrible atrocities of human history. They are memorials to all who perished and now like then they represent belief in a future in which music life and beauty persist. Because wherever there are violins, there is hope."

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