J.R. Cipra grew up in Mayfield, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. A teacher, he was laid off at 23 and after an exhaustive search along the Eastern seabord, J.R.'s sister suggested he come take a look at Baltimore.
"I needed to find a new job somewhere and I figured this was my opportunity to get out of Cleveland. I had over 50 interviews all up and down the East Coast for teaching positions. I basically lived out of my car for one week while interviewing. I just about accepted a job in Robeson County SC when my sister who lived in Baltimore said come check out Baltimore," he says.
So, he called and set up an interview with the Baltimore City Schools, who fell in love with J.R. as much as he did with them. "And the rest is history."
Living history that is, because rather than moving to Baltimore, J.R. set up shop in York, Pa. while teaching here in the city. It wasn't until he signed on as the kicker with the Baltimore Mariners, Baltimore's indoor arena football team, that J.R. decided to move closer to the city. "That's when I moved to Canton about six months ago," he says.
So far, his experience there has left him wishing that he was a Baltimore native, he says. "Canton is such a friendly place to live. The people are out going and active. It feels like a little community inside a large city. I wanted to live here because of the close proximity to the arena and my work and most of all, the people."
"You can walk anywhere u want to go down here which really attracted me. Nothing better than being outside in your community. Not to mention my sister, Jennifer Cipra, lives down here," he continues.
A teacher at Montebello Primary Academy, J.R. says he has 401 kids. Ladies, however, take note. "I do not have any to call my own yet, maybe someday. I am still single and trying to find that special someone. It is just hard because my active lifestyle usually scares them off or they can't keep up."How Canton rolls
Living in Canton almost feels like being back in college where everyone knows each other and hangs out together. You bump into the same people in the gym, at safeway, in the bars and out on the street, according to J.R.
"I walk everywhere and with this most recent snow storm I have met a lot people while helping them dig out, get their cars unstuck and even chasing down a dog that ran away."
Because Canton is a pretty friendly place, there is always something to do especially with Patterson Park being so close, J.R. says. "There are always block parties, festivals and neat activities going on at the bars. When I first moved down here i got involved in the Bar Crawl my first weekend here. I met some very funny people that weekend."
The Baltimore Sports and Social Club (BSSC) is another great way to meet people in Canton who are interested in sports, explains J.R.
"However, I was not permitted to join the football part of it because i play pro-football. So i joined the dodgeball league in the BSSC. It's so much fun and a chance to meet new people."
J.R. says in Canton he "likes to run through the streets and the park. I enjoy walking my dog everywhere. Hitting an occasional bar or two to meet up with friends is always a must."
Canton after dark
"I shop at Dogma for my pup. I enjoy going to Loonys and JD's for happy hour with the friends. There are some shops down in Canton Square but to be honest I haven't had time to go in them yet," he says.
"I enjoy going to Matthews Pizza, considering it is about ten steps from my house. Five Guys is a great place to get a big fat juicy burger and my fav italian place is Pasticcios, I gotta have my penne ariabiatta."
For J.R. living in Canton has been a great experience.
"People should come and visit Canton for the unique bars, shops and people. Not to mention the beautiful scenery, you have Patterson Park and the park by the bay. Everythnig in Canton is just a step away," he says.