Murder in the Ginney Block


Francesco Giovanelli and his wife Theresa moved into the Ginney Block in 1926. I remember the year because it was the year that I turned thirteen. In fact, they moved into the third floor flat down at the end of the block two doors from our flat, on my birthday. They were a handsome couple, young, probably in their thirties. They had come from Buffalo, New York, and had recently been married, and moved to Cleveland because of his work. He had come to work for the Tellings, Belle Vernon Milk Company as Sales Manager. Mr. Giovanelli was tall and was blessed with a dark olive complexion, pitch black hair that he wore plastered back, with a part in the middle. He bore a striking resemblance to Rudolph Valentino. He dressed well and wore three piece suits. On Sundays, he wore patent leather shoes with grey spats. From his vest pocket, dangled a gold chain and watch fob, necessary adjuncts to what appeared to be a well cared for Elgin watch. Since he had come from Sicily originally, he soon became known as Il Siciliano.

The day that the Gionvanelli's moved in, he caused quite a flurry among the women folk of the block , especially the younger ones, married and unmarried.

Theresa was the first blonde Italian woman that I had ever seen. She wore her natural blonde hair in a short attractive bob. Her complexion was clear and clean, the kind that some folks referred to as a "peaches and cream complexion."




She was a petite woman, slender and appeared to be quite fragile. She had a wonderful smile that was accentuated by her very friendly demeanor. She apparently loved children and soon became a favorite lady among the young urchins of the block. I, of course, fell in love with her and developed such a crush for her that I allowed myself to become her errand boy, not only running errands, but also doing small chores for her.

I soon learned that Mrs. Giovanelli was blonde and different than her husband because she had been born in northern Italy. The neighbors said that she had told them that she came from Milano.

It wasn't very long before Mr. Giovanelli came to call on us. He had heard that my father was a tailor and came to ask my father to make a suit for him, which my father agreed to do. I recall that since my father had to do it in between jobs that he was doing for his full-time employer, a custom tailor on Euclid Avenue, it took about ten days for my father to finish Mr. Giovanelli's suit. I remember several visits for fittings or "tryons" as tailors used to refer to them in those days. When the day of the final fitting came, I can recall how pleased Mr. Giovanelli was, so pleased that he gave me a quarter. He had selected a blue narrow pin stripe material. The suit was a perfect fit. He looked so elegant in it that he decided to wear it then and there! After paying for it, he wrapped up his old suit in a bundle and walked out of our flat, strutting like a peacock. For months he only wore that suit on Sundays and holidays.




We soon learned that Mr. Giovanelli was having to go our of town on business over weekends and for several days at a time quite regularly. After several months, everyone in the block began to notice a strange man who came to visit Mrs. Giovanelli, as regularly as Mr. Giovanelli went away. As a young teenager, it dawned on me that this man was her lover. My young, romantic, pure heart was broken. I stopped running errands and doing chores for Theresa Giovanelli, and found myself disliking her so much that I could not bring myself to look at her whenever I ran into her accidentally.

One Saturday afternoon in early summer of that year, I was sitting on the back porch, reading a book I had just brought home form the library, when I saw Mrs. Giovanelli's lover come up the back steps at the end of the porch and go into the Giovanelli flat.

About an hour later, I was still on the porch, reading my book, when to my surprise, I saw Mr. Giovanelli come up the back steps and go into his flat. I heard shouts and screams. Within seconds, Mr. Giovanelli ran out of his flat, down the back stairway, and disappeared, never to be seen again in the Ginney Block. I later learned that Mrs. Giovanelli and her lover had been killed, and that Mr. Giovanelli had been arrested.

Until the day that the Ginney Block was torn down, it was reported that the flat once occupied by the Giovanelli's was haunted by the ghosts of Theresa Giovanelli and her lover.