Monday, June 15, 2009

"Leave It to Beaver": Is That Mayfield, Ohio?



When I was younger -- meaning when "Leave It to Beaver" was still on network TV -- I thought its town of Mayfield was in Ohio. (I was in Virginia.) Maybe I had heard of Mayfield, Ohio, somewhere. And when there was talk about State University, it has made me think of Ohio State. In fact, Mayfield wasn't supposed to be in a specific state. But there is considerable thought nonetheless that it's the one in Ohio. More after the jump.... . In his 1998 memoir "And Jerry Mathers as 'The Beaver,' " Mather says, "Mayfield is anywhere, USA. ...
Actually, there are twenty-seven Mayfields across the country," the book continues. "Some people think it's Akron, Ohio, because there's a Mayfield near Akron. But at different times Mayfield is described as being only twenty miles from the ocean. Others think it is somewhere in California, but the characters travel to California. We even altered the mileage signs at the bus station when Beaver goes on a trip, so viewers wouldn't be able to go their atlas and pinpoint a town.
But viewers are more dogged than that.

On the fan site Leaveittobeaver.org, the following is part of the discussion of Mayfield's location:

The show makes numerous mentions to neighboring cities and communities, and even street names, that would correspond with the Mayfield located in Ohio. Ohio is always the most popular speculation.
In one of the episodes Wally takes the Beaver to the new amusement park with his friends, to ride on The Giant Dipper. The Giant Dipper is located in Santa Cruz but it is also in San Diego and in Chippewa Lake, Ohio. It is obvious that the contradictions are done on purpose. If they live in Mayfield, Ohio it would have taken Wally 1 hour and 13 minutes to drive to Chippewa Lake, That isn't far but for a teen taking his little brother to a park it would probably be out of the question.
One fan writes to me: It was not California because the people who owned the Haunted house in "Mistaken Identity" moved to California. They are not from Indiana because the new student (young blond girl) that Wally had a crush on, that Mrs. Cleaver invited on the picnic to Friends Lake was from Indianapolis Indiana or "one of those states." This seemed to eliminate Ohio, though the checkbook evidence seems quite positive proof. Illinois Ohio, Indiana seem to be one of those states.
Another fan ... states: 'I live in Cleveland and the references made in the episodes can't be any where else. Grant Avenue, Mayfield, and all the other bits of information indicate Mayfield Ohio. We do have a Mayfield Ohio. '
Finally, closely inspecting the prop checks used in the 1997 Leave It To Beaver movie shows an Ohio address of "211 Pine Street, Mayfield, Ohio."
The reality may be less glamour and more practical. Looking at the occasional exterior shots on Leave It To Beaver, Mayfield’s neighborhood looks pretty like the Pacific area, right around the region where Leave It To Beaver was filmed in Hollywood, California.


I boldfaced the one section, since it is the strongest evidence for Mayfield, OH. The fan site also offers other info, both for and against Mayfield being in Ohio. I still lean toward the Beav being a Buckeye, although Mathers offers this description of the TV Mayfield:

"It's always spring or fall, and it never snows. It's usually sunny, unless the plot calls for rain. It's expensive to make rain, you have to set up rain machines and hire a special effects man."

And a Mayfield where it rarely rains cannot be in NE Ohio.

45 comments:

  1. Other references to areas near Mayfield, OH include: Ward Cleaver was referred to as the "pride of Shaker Heights High School" in one episode. Beaver and Wally mention Euclid Avenue in another episode where the boys go downtown. Beaver's teacher was Miss Lander; Lander Road is the western border of Mayfield, OH.

    The Cleavers also move to Madison, which could be Madison, OH. I too, believe, the references to NE Ohio are too numerous to ignore.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I completely agree that the references are to the Mayfield in Ohio. I grew up near that area and Shaker Heights ... it seems plausible that it was in Ohio. Also, I heard that one of the writers grew up in the Cleveland area, and he modeled Mayfield after his home-town area.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How could it possibly be Ohio when Eddie was going to take a job on a ship sailing to Alaska. The boys went to the shipping company to meet with the captain. Weather was also very warm on the one Christmas episod.

      Delete
    2. Actually, it was possible at that time
      for Mayfield boys to get to Alaska for
      summer work. They could take streetcar
      to downtown Cleveland, transfer to the
      Lakeshore Limited train going west to
      Sandusky OH, transfer to the Pelee
      Island ferry going to Kingsville ON
      or Leamington ON, transfer to the
      heavily subsidized Canada Pacific
      train going all the way to Prince
      Rupert BC (end of the line) and then
      transfer to the Alaska Marine Highway
      ferry and arrive at Ketchikan or
      Juneau. The government subsidy was
      7/8 or more on the Canada Pacific.
      Plus, students got an extra discount
      if they waited until a seat was empty. Of course, Eddie Haskell
      imagined he could hitchhike to the
      job.

      Delete
  3. I grew up in Mayfield Hts Ohio, and went to Lander Elementary school (ie Miss Lander, Beaver's teacher). Not so coincidentally our team/school nickname/mascot at Lander was, you guessed it, The Beavers...we were the Lander Beavers. I'm sure the nickname came after the popularity of the show...I went to school there in the late 60's, so it seems to make sense...that along with the other Ohio references that have been discussed on this page seems to make sense. By the way, Lander Elementary School (on Lander Road) is still serving the kids of Mayfield to this day!

    ReplyDelete
  4. And (continuing from above)...strangely, Beaver's best friend's name is Gilbert. An odd name to be sure, but again another Mayfield Hts reference...Gilbert Drive is located about two blocks from Lander Road and Lander school...I also happened to grow up on Gilbert Drive...I couldn't think of where Lumpy, Eddie or Whitey street was though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. White Road. Eddy Road.

      Delete
  5. I happened to be watching an episode today, and Ward says to the Beav, "Did I ever tell you I was the best kite builder in Shaker Hts.?" Where else but northern Ohio would there be a Shaker Hts and Mayfield in close proximity?

    ReplyDelete
  6. The earlier episodes made references that tended to indicate Ohio, but as the series went on it became more California. For example, in later episodes there were references to the ocean being nearby, to going surfing, to towns and cities in California, and when they showed the outdoor scenes of Beaver's school, it was clearly a California-style school with outside covered walkways connecting separate classroom buildings. However, the clincher was a scene from an episode in about the '60 or '61 season that showed Beav and another character talking in the driveway, and Ward's Plymouth was parked in the background with period correct ('57 issue) black on yellow California license plates, with "California" clearly printed on them.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Larry's father travels to Cincinnati for business.
    I just watched an episode where Mrs. Cleaver is looking for homes in a newspaper. She says there's a home in Fairview Park, which is also a suburb in Cleveland (I have in-laws who live in Fairview Park....and I also live in the Cleveland area.)

    I also remember Mr. Cleaver talking about Shaker Heights.

    I'm watching a LITB marathon now, and they mentioned Lakewood Ave, which is in Lakewood.

    Coincidence?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes. netflix has got all 234 episodes. I usually watch 3 per week.

      Delete
  8. WE HAVE A MAYFIELD NY NW OF ALBANY NY

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ive always wanted to know the actual true location of Mayfield high. They say you can go to jerrymathers.com and ask the Beaver any questions about his show....

    ReplyDelete
  10. In season 5 Wally's team has a game against "Cleveland High".

    While I think mathers is telling the truth its anywhere usa, it is pretty clear they are using Mayfield, OH as a template.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yes. Mayfield OH. All of the references to STATE & Shaker Hts. are correct. I watched it today. June said, Ward! I wish Marlene was from OHIO!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ward also makes several references to growing up in Shaker Heights which is also in Ohio near Mayfield.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The movie new Leave It To Beaver
      depicts football rivals playing
      against Mayfield. The scoreboard
      identifies them as Oak Park and
      Benton. There are communities in
      Ohio called Oak Park and Benton.

      Delete
  13. Crystal Falls is mentioned as being
    90 miles from Mayfield. This distance
    rules out Chagrin Falls OH, Cuyahoga
    Falls OH and Niagra Falls NY. But there
    is a city named after a waterfall about
    90 miles from Mayfield OH. It is Beaver
    Falls PA. Naturally, its name would have
    to be changed, to avoid confusion with
    Beaver Cleaver.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Niagra Falls NY is 200 miles from
      Mayfield OH. Cuyahoga Falls OH is
      30 miles from Mayfield. Chagrin
      Falls is 9 miles fron Mayfield.
      Newton Falls OH is 50 miles from
      Mayfield. Beaver Falls PA is 98
      miles by road, but 80 miles in
      a straight line, from Mayfield.

      Delete
  14. Freeport OH is 110 miles from Mayfield
    OH. If the Cleavers leave Mayfield at
    4:00 p.m. they may or may not reach
    Freeport by dusk, depending on the
    season and whether or not the time zone has made a switch between
    Daylight Savings Time and Eastern
    Standard Time.

    Also, there is a lake in Ohio named
    Friendship Lake. It is near Smithfield
    OH, which is formerly an old Quaker
    settlement (as was Freeport OH.)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Shaker Heights OH does have an all-girl
    boarding school that June could have
    attended for high school years. It is
    the Laurel School and is located on
    Lyman Circle in Shaker Heights. The
    Laurel School moved to Shaker Heights
    from Cleveland in the late 1920s. It
    has long had a community service
    requirement for graduation. Perhaps
    June met Ward off campus during her
    community service stint.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is another all-girl private
      high school in Shaker Heights OH.
      It is Hathaway Brown School.

      But the all-girl private school
      closest to Ward's Shaker Heights
      High is not in Shaker Heights OH. It is in neighboring Cleveland Heights OH. Its name
      is the Beaumont School.

      Delete
  16. Freeport OH is the closest town to the
    most rustic public-owned lake in the
    State of Ohio (Lake Clendening.) Maybe
    the getaway weekend for Ward and June
    was sponsored by Ward's employer for
    the peace and quiet they would surely
    find there.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is another Freeport
      within several hours drive of
      Mayfield OH. It is Freeport Beach
      at North East borough in
      Pennsylvania. It is around 103
      miles from Mayfield, and has
      outstanding sunsets.

      Delete
  18. Is Lake Erie oceanic? Of course not,
    but...

    Lake Erie waters can be as rough as
    any ocean. Attesting to this is the
    famous ballad by Gordon Lightfoot,
    the Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Surf can be found on Lake Erie.
      But the best surf waves occur
      in late summer and early autumn,
      when the water is cold. So
      wetsuits are usually needed.

      Delete
  19. Lake Erie is definitely coastal,
    though not oceanic. And surfing is a
    notable extreme sport there. One of the
    best surfing sites near Shaker Heights
    and Mayfield is called Surfers Point
    Campground. Its at North Madison OH,
    35 miles from Shaker Heights OH.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Madison OH is 30 miles from
      Mayfield OH. Madison-on-
      the-Lake OH is 35 miles from
      Mayfield OH.

      Madison-on-the-Lake has the
      best surfing conditions on
      Lake Erie shore in the Cleveland
      area.

      Delete
  20. Ward went to "State College." This
    may or may not mean a state college in
    Ohio. Or, it may mean the municipality
    of State College in the neighboring
    state of Pennsylvania. This is the
    location Of Penn State, where Ward
    could have learned some engineering or
    surveying before switching majors to
    philosophy. State College PA is 235
    miles from Mayfield OH.

    ReplyDelete
  21. The LITB lake called Friends Lake may
    have been a thinly-diguised variation
    on the finest lake in Shaker Heights.
    This was Shaker Lake. It was built in
    the 1800s by the utopian agricultural
    community, the Shakers.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Many people yearn for a return to the
    red-blooded, all-american family values
    depicted by the fictional characters of
    Ward and June Cleaver. It is reminiscent
    of the finale of the 1930s utopian
    novel and movie, "Lost Horizon."
    Dodge City KS celebrates the characters of Matt Dillon, Kitty
    Russell and Dr Galen Adams.
    Mount Airy NC celebrates the
    characters of Sheriff Andy, Opie
    and Aunt Bee.
    Why can't Ohio, especially Cuyahoga
    County, do something similar to
    give a focus to the unforgettable
    characters, the Cleavers?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Might there be real-life antecedents
    to the fictional names and characters
    of Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver? Maybe.
    The City of Cleveland was originally
    spelled Cleaveland. (It was altered
    for a typographical convenience.)
    Cleaveland's namesake was Moses
    Cleaveland, who had some uncanny
    resemblances to Ward Cleaver.
    Both were college graduates and earned
    their livings as investment managers.
    Both were mariners, surveyors and
    engineers. (Moses Cleaveland had
    served in the newly-formed Army
    Corps of Engineers; Ward Cleaver
    had served in the SeaBees.) Both
    had families with stay-at-home moms.
    Mrs. Cleaveland did not accompany
    her husband on his expedition to
    "New Connecticut," the proto-state
    that eventually became Ohio.
    Incidentally, Mrs. Cleaveland is known
    to have been christened in the month of
    June, though her birthday is not known.
    This could have inspired the name
    June Cleaver.

    ReplyDelete
  24. The Cleavers went to a cabin in season 2. The elevation was over 6000' . Is that possible in Ohio?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No. That much altitude might
      occur in neighboring West Virginia
      or Pennsylvania.

      Delete
  25. The Connecticut Yankee pioneers who
    followed Moses Cleaveland to the proto-
    state of New Connecticut were well
    aware that they were pilgrims bound for
    a promised land. There is even a physical resemblance of New Connecticut to the Land of Goshen
    given by the Egyptians to the Israelites. Both were located on
    the right bank near the delta of
    a northward-flowing river that
    empties into a vast inland body
    of water. Both were blessed with
    good pastures, good soil for growing vegetables and good fishing.
    Moreover, both were gotten without
    bloodshed. Unlike most Western settlers, the pioneer-pilgrims to
    New Connecticut arrived heavily laden
    with gifts for the Native Americans.
    (These peace offerings included
    livestock, trinkets and even some
    whiskey.) Generous gift-giving was
    possible only because they came by the
    watercourses, not overland by
    Conestoga wagons pulled by draft
    animals. So peacefully was the land
    transferred that Moses Cleaveland
    decided there was no need to construct
    a fort, though site was very well
    situated for a military stronghold.
    If ever there was place suited to
    pilgrims seeking to sojourn in a new
    Land of Goshen, at that time NE OH
    was it.

    ReplyDelete
  26. The first name of Ward Cleaver, Ward,
    comes from the ancient anglo-saxon term
    "weard." Weard meant herd-driver or
    horde-driver. This meaning is an apt
    functional descriptor of the patriarchal figure of Moses.

    ReplyDelete
  27. The highest altitudes in West Virginia
    are at Spruce Knob and Snowshoe Mountain. Both are closer to Cleveland
    than Cleveland is to Cincinnati OH.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Ohio has its well-known Amish country.
    It draws is visitors from far and wide,
    even from overseas.
    What the world needs now is a special
    place where people can go to celebrate
    the nuclear family lifestyle with a stay-at-home mom and a single-paycheck
    household economy. Do we look for such
    a Brigadoon-like place in Ohio? If not
    Ohio, then where?

    ReplyDelete
  29. I am watching Beaver as a hero and he rescues a canoe...Belleport is mentioned where Whitey visits for the weekend and Aunt Martha calls from Belleport where she lives which is located in New York which is not very far from Ohio. I believe that the fictitious Mayfield is in Ohio.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bellport may be a portmanteau
      of Bellaire OH and Bridgeport OH.
      These two towns are about 4 miles
      apart on Ohio Route 7, across the
      Ohio River from Wheeling WV.

      Delete
    2. Aunt Martha is also associated with
      a town called Riverside that is several
      hours drive from Mayfield. There is
      a Riverside OH, near Dayton OH. It
      is about 212 miles (3.5 hours drive)
      from Mayfield.

      Delete
    3. Aunt Martha says "It is good to see
      such an Eastern-looking town so far
      West." Northeast Ohio is famous for
      its New England architecture and town
      planning. Tallmadge OH is especially
      famous for looking more typically
      New Englandish than any single town in New England.

      Ward told Beav that New England is
      just a few hours away by plane. The
      distance from the mouth of Conneaut
      Creek in OH to the mouth of the
      Connecticut River is around 425 miles.

      Delete
    4. There was another village named Riverside in Ohio. It was annexed by
      Gates Mills OH in the late 1920s.
      Both are close to Mayfield.

      Delete
  30. There is a stereotype about the nuclear
    family folkway so well portrayed by the
    Cleavers, especially June Cleaver. Every
    one knows the cliche: nuclear families
    were a short-lived, post WWII American phenomenon that arose from suburbs,
    automobiles and industrialization.
    This stereotype is just plain wrong.
    Nuclear families came over on the
    Mayflower and have been the norm here ever since. The Puritans and Pilgrims
    were very intentional about this, and
    called nuclear families "the little
    commonwealth" or "the covenant family."
    It is no accident that Mayfield resembles NE Ohio. It was Connecticut
    Yankees, descendants of the Puritans,
    who originated the place.

    ReplyDelete