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.

9 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.

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  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.

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  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!

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  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.

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    1. White Road. Eddy Road.

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  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?

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  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.

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  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?

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  8. WE HAVE A MAYFIELD NY NW OF ALBANY NY

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