Browse Interviews

17 total

David Goldberg interview, 29 June 2016

This is a follow-up interview to Dr. Goldberg’s initial interview. He discusses in detail his experience in prison as a result of refusing his draft induction physical. He relates the prison conditions, various jobs, and means of keeping busy. While at Danbury prison he helped organize a black history course and a series of guest speakers from local universities, including Columbia. He spent time in three different federal prisons over the course of his 19 month prison sentence. Dr. Goldberg…

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Peter van Dijk Interview, 31 August 2006

Peter Van Dijk has worked as an architect in Cleveland since arriving in the city in 1961. In this 2006 interview, he talks about some of the architectural renovation projects on which he has worked, including the Huntington Bank restoration and his work in preserving the theaters at Playhouse Square. Van Dijk shares his general thoughts on Cleveland's architecture and development, lamenting the city's development mistakes and stressing that Cleveland's many assets have been misused. Missed…

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Norma McLaughlin Nelson Interview, 2010

Norma McLaughlin Nelson was born in Alcorn, Mississippi on the college campus of Alcorn A & M (now Alcorn State University) where her father was a professor. The family later relocated to Greensboro, North Carolina, when Norma's father took a position as Dean at North Carolina A & T. Norma's mother was a friend of Jane Edna Hunter, the founder of the Phyllis Wheatley Association and was given a job as a dietitian in the cafeteria. Due to this relationship, Norma and her sister attended Camp…

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Matt Zone Interview, 2005

In this 2005 interview, Matt Zone, Councilman for Ward 17 of the City of Cleveland, discusses his family's history on the west side of Cleveland and his political career. Zone is a third generation Italian-American. His grandparents came to the Detroit-Shoreway area of Cleveland shortly after WWI ended. His father and mother grew up on West 65th Street and were both Councilpersons for the Ward--from 1960-1982. Matt has been Councilperson for the Ward since 2001. Zone talks about neighborhood…

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John Hemsath Interview, 2006

John Hemsath provides an in-depth retrospective of the history and evolution of Cleveland's Playhouse Square. Beginning with Vaudeville and spanning through the ongoing renovations and present, most subjects that relate to the theater are touched upon. However, a majority of the discussion revolves around issues pertaining to restoration and revitalization of the various theaters.

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John Debo interview, 2008

John Debo is Superintendent of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. He talks about the influence of Earth Day and the environmental movement on his decision to seek a job in the National Park Service. He arrived to take a summer job at what was then the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area having never visited. He discusses the state of the park in the 1970s and the work done there in the 1970s-90s. He discusses the Towpath Trail, Environmental Education Center, the formation and early work of the…

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Ronnie and Willis Meyer Interview, 2011

Willis Meyers' family has farmed in the Cuyahoga Valley since the middle to late nineteenth century. Willis grew up in Northampton, and has many memories of family, farm, and community life, businesses, technology, and transportation from the Great Depression era forward. Ronnie, Willis' son, currently owns the farm on Steels Corners Road, where he has had a successful horse farming business. Willis, 95 years old, has many memories of the history of the valley, and shared detailed stories about…

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John Grabowski Interview, 28 April 2008

Dr. John Grabowski, professor of history at Case Western Reserve University, and historian at Western Reserve Historical Society, details the changes that have occurred in the University Circle since his undergraduate days in the late 1960's; the rise of the medical centers, new housing and the new immigration to the area. As a history major at Western Reserve University in 1969, he describes life as a commuter student during the late 1960's and early 1970's, including anti-war activities, and…

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Celestine Beasley interview, 27 April 2006

In this interview, Celestine Beasley describes her experiences growing up in a sharecropper family in rural Mississippi, migrating to Cleveland's Cedar-Central neighborhood, and her career as a nurse at Mount Sinai. The interview also relates information about race, farming, food culture, and cuisine.

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Isaac Haggins Sr. Interview, 6 August 2013

Isaac Haggins was born in New Bern, North Carolina, in 1930. He grew up in Tennessee and Asbury Park, New Jersey. After graduating from West Virginia State College in 1949, Haggins moved to Cleveland to join his brother in the Glenville neighborhood in 1953. In 1956 he bought his first home near Rockefeller Park. After a stint selling shoes, he entered the real estate business, opening an office in Glenville and later in Union-Miles. In 1968 he was the first black real estate broker to open an…

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Taffy Epstein interview, 25 September 2011

At 91 years old and having lived in Shaker Towers for more than 45 years, Taffy Epstein is one of the oldest and longest-standing residents of the towers. Professionally Epstein produced and sold dance and gymnastics apparel. In this interview Epstein relates her many of her experiences she has had living in the towers and how they have changed over the years. Of particular interest are the descriptions she gives of the large parties that she used to throw and her involvement in the integration…

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Buck Harris interview, 20 April 2006

In this 2006 interview, 58 year old Cleveland native Buck Harris, a prominent member of Cleveland's gay community for decades, talks about his life in Cleveland as a gay man and his residency near West 52nd Street and Bridge Avenue in an area of the west side of Cleveland known as Ohio City Heights. Mr. Harris discusses his experience of "coming out" in the late 1970s; some of the prominent gay bars in Cleveland in the 1970s, including, Twiggy's; and his development and activities as an activist…

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Ruth Rubio-Pino interview, 11 August 2017

Ruth Rubio-Pino is a Mexican-American and long-time activist. She has worked closely with Club Azteca and provides a detailed history of the formation and evolution of this Cleveland Mexican-American landmark. She discusses the plight of Mexican migrant workers and urban dwelling Mexican immigrants. She remarks on how the heightened consciousness and enforcement of immigration has affected the Mexican-American community as a whole and in Cleveland. Throughout the oral history, she comments on…

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Robert Madison interview, 02 February 2017

Robert Madison was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1923. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and Harvard, he was the first black man to become a registered architect in Ohio. He opened his firm in Cleveland in 1954 and has worked on major projects locally and worldwide. This 2017 interview was collected as part of a yearlong, community-wide commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Carl Stokes' election as mayor of Cleveland.

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Rob Pryor interview, 22 August 2018

Rob Pryor, co-owner of Record Revolution in Coventry Village in Cleveland Heights, provides a history of the legendary Coventry store and describes Coventry's youth culture in the 1980s and 1990s. Pryor grew up in Cleveland Heights in the 1970s and moved to the Coventry area in the mid-1980s. An avid skateboarder, Pryor started working at Record Revolution, which also sold skateboards. He discusses the diverse and often eccentric "characters" of Coventry's scene in the 1980s-90s. He provides an…

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Charles V. Williams interview, 08 February 2020

Charles V. Williams is a longtime advocate for the Black Deaf community at both the local, state, and national levels. In this second of two interviews, he discusses his advocacy in the Black Deaf community from the 1970s to the present, including volunteering at the Cleveland Society for the Blind, his efforts for greater inclusivity in the provisions of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, getting closed captioning added for the 1980 Democratic National Convention, creating an interpreter training…

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John Nosek and Leon Stevens Interview, 15 August 2023

John Nosek (b. 1949) and Leon Stevens (b. 1948) are native Clevelanders who grew up on the east side. They discuss the Cleveland gay community in the 1970s and '80s, including managing the Gay Educational and Awareness Resource (GEAR) Foundation's High Gear newspaper in its early years and their gay activism in the mid- to late 1970s. Nosek and Stevens detail the early history of GEAR, its Gay Hotline, and its long struggle to establish what eventually became the LGBT Community Center of Greater…

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