Browse Interviews

  • Contributor contains "Souther, Mark (interviewer)"
80 total

Ed Kowit Interview, 16 March 2023

In this interview conducted on March 16, 2023, Ed Kowit reflects on his life and career, primarily focusing on his role in expanding and managing Jack's Musical Bar in Cleveland, originally founded by his father, Jack Kowit. Ed recounts the growth of the bar, his recruitment of musicians from various cities, and memorable events, including hosting Nat King Cole and dealing with crowd control challenges. He also discusses his eventual shift to the check-cashing business, which led to the bar's…

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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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Charles V. Williams interview, 01 February 2020

Charles V. Williams is a longtime advocate for the Black Deaf community at both the local, state, and national levels. In this first of two interviews, he discusses losing his hearing as a child, growing up on Cleveland's East Side, early efforts to help Black Deaf newcomers to the city, working at Thompson Products and in the Cuyahoga County Engineer's Office, and campaigning for Carl Stokes for mayor.

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Cynthia Harris Allen interview, 29 September 2018

Cynthia Harris-Allen was born in 1946 and grew up in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood on Cleveland's East Side. She discusses her father's work as a bricklayer and how he was among the first African Americans in the Bricklayers & Masons Local 5 union; racial discrimination faced by Black builders and building tradesmen; her father's jazz band; the racial makeup and businesses of her neighborhood growing up in the mid-20th century; hanging out at Shaker Square and trick or treating at Halloween in…

Diane Kelley interview, 29 September 2018

In this brief interview conducted as part of a Literary Cleveland storytelling project, Diane Kelley discusses growing up in Cleveland Heights in the 1970s-80s, moving to Cleveland's Mt. Pleasant neighborhood in 1988. She discusses her poetry and other writing. She also discusses moving back to the northern part of Cleveland Heights in more recent years.

Charlotte Morgan interview, 29 September 2018

Charlotte Morgan discusses growing up in Cleveland, where she grew up in the Hough neighborhood in the 1950s and early '60s and then lived in Glenville starting in 1964. She remembers the large homes and fruit trees in the Glenville area in her youth. Morgan discusses her father's music career, including the musicians' union, his reputation as the Quincy Jones of the area, his band, and Leo's Casino. She details her journalism career, including meeting Ella Fitzgerald, working for Cleveland …

Veronica Robinson interview, 29 September 2018

In this interview conducted as part of a Literary Cleveland storytelling project, Veronica Robinson talks about her parents' move from Thomaston, Georgia, to Cleveland, where her father served in the military and her mother worked as a welder. Robinson was born in 1959 in Cleveland and grew up in the Cedar-Central neighborhood. She discusses St. James A.M.E. Church, the Hiram House camp, East Tech High School, and the Cleveland-based R&B group the O'Jays. Much of the interview focuses on her…

Kamilah Moore-El interview, 29 September 2018

Kamilah Moore-El describes growing up in the Woodland Hills neighborhood on Cleveland's East Side in the 1980s. She discusses Woodland Hills Park, attending John Adams High School, John Marshall High School, and MLK High School, the Sidaway Bridge, and living in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood since 1990. This interview was recorded as part of a Literary Cleveland storytelling project at the Mt. Pleasant branch library.

Bianca Butts interview, 18 May 2017

Bianca Butts is the Director of Marketing and Greater Outcomes at the East End Neighborhood House. As a long-time resident of the Greater Buckeye neighborhood, she compares and contrasts her impressions and views of the neighborhood, from a child to an adult. She strongly believes that the Buckeye neighborhood is on the rise. The beauty, culture, and neighbor camaraderie she remembers as a child still is evident in Buckeye.

James Jones interview, 18 May 2017

James Jones is the Community Ambassador at East End Neighborhood House. As a community leader, Jones expresses the importance of sustainability, beautification and youth empowerment to the development of the Greater Buckeye neighborhood. He believes that community development derives from resident-led initiates.

Annie Byers interview, 18 May 2017

Annie Byers is a Granny at East End Neighborhood House. By working in this capacity, she believes that the reluctance of parents to be involved in their children's lives and their disdain for constructive criticism has contributed to the decline of the neighborhood. She expresses this view by delineating some of her life experiences that led her to become sensitive to the plight of children.

Rachel Groce interview, 18 May 2017

Rachel Groce is a Rap Specialist at East End Neighborhood House. Groce's relationship to the surrounding neighborhood developed through her work at East End Neighborhood House. She mentions some of the more noticeable changes that have taken place in the immediate Buckeye neighborhood over the past few years.

Christopher Roy interview, 18 March 2015

Christopher Roy shares an extremely detailed account of his life growing up in Cleveland Heights. As Roy reflects on his childhood, he illuminates the changes that took place in the suburb during the 1960s and 1970s. Roy engages on a journey of Cleveland Heights' transformation from a place of ethnic enclaves to the rise of the counterculture. He provides such a well informed history of the neighborhood, while still emphasizing a child's most dearest memories of playgrounds, disengaged teachers…

Robin Yates interview, 07 June 2006

Robin Yates, owner of Brownstone Inn, describes his interest in architecture and the decision to purchase property on Cleveland's east side. Yates colorfully describes Prospect Avenue in the 1970s, then known as a red light district. He describes the relationship between local law enforcement and the residents and property owners in the area. Specifically, Yates notes the importance of citizen advocacy groups and other improvement entities that worked to transform the district. In addition, he…

Virginia Tanno McMonagle interview, 1 August 2016

Virginia Tanno McMonagle, owner of Rickey C. Tanno Jewelers in the arcade of the 925 Euclid Building at 925 Euclid Avenue. Born in 1918, she recalls weekly trips downtown with her father to watch the 1923-24 construction of the building, which was originally built for Union Trust Bank and later anchored by Union Commerce Bank and then Huntington National Bank. She relates the story of the origin and evolution of the business that her future husband Rickey Tanno started in the nearby Swetland…

James Semsak Interview, 23 July 2014

Interview with James Semsak concerning the public image of Cleveland and his work in the marketing of the city. Various marketing campaigns were discussed as well as the affect of some negative events such as the burning river, busing, and the Kucinich era.

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Robert Brooks interview, 12 August 2011

Robert Brooks was born in Cleveland. He spent much of his life in the University Circle area. More specifically, Brooks lived on the corner of East 105th Street and Chester Avenue. He vividly describes and shares some of the experiences he had in that neighborhood. He learned French at the Demonstration School for Foreign Languages and subsequently taught French in the Cleveland Public Schools. Later in life he dedicated his time to volunteering with the program Project Learn, as well as with…

Murray Davidson interview, 12 August 2011

Murray Davidson came to Cleveland in 1967 to work for the University Circle Development Foundation. His main professional purpose was to revitalize the University Circle area. He developed intimate professional relationships with many people of the community from all walks of life. He highlights the importance of the University Circle Development Foundation to the community and the new focus of the rebranded University Circle Incorporated. Davidson provides a multitude of interesting stories…

Oliver Seikel interview, 12 August 2011

When Oliver Seikel was five years old, his newly widowed mother moved to Cleveland for work. He occasionally went to the Cleveland Museum of Art and Severance Hall growing up, but he summered with his grandparents and attended boarding schools. However, Seikel does note the different businesses that came and went from places like the Elysium, mentions the art museum's lagoon, and going to breakfast at Wade Park Manor. He continued his education at a string of institutions including MIT. When he…

Jordan Perlman interview, 12 August 2011

S. Jordan Perlman moved to Cleveland in 1936. Perlman describes his experiences, in the 1940s and 1950s, growing up in the 105th Street Area. He names the theaters, restaurants and other leisure venues that he frequented. After high school he served in the army and went to college, therefore, he became quite estranged from the University Circle Area. However today Perlman has reconnected with his roots by living at Judson and volunteering at the Cleveland Clinic.

Ann Fabens interview, 27 October 2016

Ann Fabens grew up on a farm in Tennessee. She left to attend college and there met her husband. Her husband's love of Cleveland eventually brought the new family to the area. Much of Fabens' life was spent volunteering with the Junior League and Rainbow Hospital. She vividly describes the experiences she had at her various volunteering assignments. When not volunteering, Fabens enjoyed spending time with her family, and much of their leisure time was spent on the lakes. Fabens also frequented…

Beth Hoffman interview, 27 October 2016

Beth Hoffman, a native Clevelander, was born to Hungarian immigrant parents. Her father was a pharmacist and owned two drug stores in the Buckeye and East Boulevard Area. She describes this neighborhood in detail and the Hungarian traditions and culture that was practiced and celebrated. Creative writing, especially poetry writing for elementary students, was a passion of hers. Hoffman became very successful in her profession and eventually earned a PhD. Even at Judson she is still educating…

Alice Palda interview, 27 October 2016

Alica Palda describes her conservative upbringing. Then she explains how she evolved into a liberal urbanite. Her calling was the theatre and storytelling. She was employed with the Cleveland Public Library System and the Cleveland Heights Public Library System. She colorfully describes her life experiences as a children's librarian, a theatre enthusiast and a neighborhood integration advocate. She documents her time at the Karamu Theatre and her encounter with the Hough Riots.

John Bourne interview, 27 October 2016

John Bourne states that his third occupation is being a genealogist. Due to his affinity for ancestral research he provides a lengthy sweep of the Bourne family history and how they came to Cleveland. At a young age he started to work at Central National Bank and he worked himself up through the ranks. He eventually transferred to Bank One. He soon left the banking world behind and got involved with commercial real estate. He has always been very involved in the University Circle area,…

Allan Peskin interview, 25 October 2016

Allan Peskin describes his early childhood in Cumberland, Maryland, and his family's arrival in Cleveland and eventual settlement in Cleveland Heights. The interview offers a colorful insight into the life of a young Jewish man living in a suburb of Cleveland. Peskin vividly describes growing up in Cleveland Heights. The interview also highlights Peskin's relationship to Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University.

Robert Arnold interview, 25 October 2016

Originally from Massachusetts, Robert Arnold discusses growing up during the Depression. He moved to Cleveland to be closer to his wife's family, who were longtime Clevelanders. Arnold actively served in World War II and explains in detail his involvement in the war. After the war Arnold became involved in the real estate business. He speaks to the integration of Cleveland neighborhoods. He enjoyed being involved in the local government and was elected Mayor of Cleveland Heights.

Jenifer B. Garfield interview, 25 October 2016

Jenifer Garfield grew up in New Orleans during the 1930s and 1940s. She describes growing up in the South. She moved to Cleveland after marrying a well-connected husband. She was involved in real estate and describes the changes in the Cleveland and Shaker Heights neighborhoods over the years. She and her husband were very involved in community organizations. She spends a considerable amount of time pinpointing where restaurants and businesses were in the Cedar Fairmount, Coventry, Shaker and…

George M. Rose interview, 25 October 2016

George Rose, originally from the Bronx in New York City, explains what it was like to live in a working-class neighborhood growing up. He vividly describes marches on Union Square and unionization. He was drafted in World War II, but he still completed college. He entered the oil industry and worked for decades at Standard Oil of Ohio in the Midland Building. He lived with his family in Shaker Heights. During the interview, the changes he observed in the neighborhood were detailed. Although born…

Bennie Jean Johnson interview, 10 November 2006

In this 2006 interview, Bennie Jean Johnson, a life-long resident of Cleveland, recounts many of her living experiences as an African-American in Cleveland. She talks about her early childhood homes in E.55th and E.79th Street neighborhoods during the 1950 and 1960 decades. She describes her experiences during the Hough Riots. She talks about Leo's Casino and other well-known Cleveland east side institutions. She also talks about her experiences in moving to the west side of Cleveland--first…

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Nancilee McCormack interview, 08 December 2005

In this 2005 interview, Nancilee McCormack, a resident of the westside of Cleveland since 1966, talks about moving to Cleveland from southern Ohio as a young woman and working for 40 years as a waitress in a number of well-known and not so well known bars and restaurants of Downtown and the west side of Cleveland, including Tony's Diner and the "infamous" Egg Palace. She recounts stories of shopping in Downtown Cleveland with a friend and their children in the 1970s and 1980s before the last of…

Anthony Anzalone interview, 09 February 2006

In this 2006 interview, Anthony Anzalone, a long time resident of the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood, talks about his life experiences in this west side neighborhood of Cleveland. Mr. Anzalone grew up in the neighborhood in the 1950s and recounts memories of his Italian grandfather, who played a trumpet in a local band, playing at the Lady of Mount Carmel annual festival and parade. Mr. Anzalone also talks about Our Lady of Mount Carmel as an anchor of the community, and about Father Marino who…

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Lou Donitis interview, 09 February 2006

In this 2006 interview, 78 year old Lou Donitis aka Lou Donuts, a long-time resident of the Detroit-Shoreway area, talks about his life experiences in Cleveland from the time he first arrived here in 1950. He talks in great detail about the factories, retail shops, restaurants, theaters and bars that lined Detroit Avenue and other nearby streets in the 1950s. Mr. Donitis also talks about a number of the unskilled and semi-skilled jobs he held in Cleveland, including his work at the Forum…

James Levin interview, 2006

In this 2006 interview, James Levin, a founder of Cleveland Public Theater, talks about his early life in Cleveland, especially his love of the Arts-- even while attending law school in Cleveland. In 1979, upon graduating from law school, he moved to New York to become an actor. His experiences in New York, including acting at Cafe La MaMa, inspired him to return to Cleveland in the early 1980s to create a theater for the Cleveland public. While working as a lawyer during the day, he and…

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Bruce Ferris interview, 18 April 2006

In this 2006 interview, Bruce Ferris, owner of Ferris Steak House at 8700 Detroit Avenue, talks about the history of the oldest steak house in Cleveland. The restaurant was started by his grandparents, immigrants from Lebanon, in the 1940s. He is the third generation Ferris to run the restaurant, and his family has now served 5 generations of customers in the Detroit Shoreway area. Ferris also talks about his life, growing up in Parma; working at the family restaurant and other restaurants,…

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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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James Craciun interview, 09 June 2007

In this 2007 interview, James Craciun, an owner of Craciun funeral home, talks about his family's involvement in the Romanian and Italian communities of Detroit-Shoreway. Craciun's Romanian and Italian immigrant grandfathers settled in Detroit-Shoreway at the beginning of the twentieth century. His Italian grandfather owned an Italian Import store in the neighborhood at the corner of W. 65th and Herman. Craciun's father started the family funeral business on Detroit Avenue across the street…

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Chuck Hoven interview, 09 June 2007

In this 2007 interview, 51 year old Chuck Hoven, a life long resident of the west side of Cleveland, and managing editor for the Cleveland Plain Press, talks about the neighborhoods of the west side of Cleveland in which his family (his father was of German descent; his mother of Lebanese) has lived since the 1860s. He also talks about the history of the Cleveland Plain Press, a west side community newspaper, and articles that it published about some controversial events in Cleveland since the…

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William H. Collins Interview, 18 March 2014

William H. Collins, successful architect, spends a lot of time discussing the various projects he worked on throughout Cleveland. He begins, however, talking about growing up in Cleveland Heights, a place where he spent 84 years of his life. He recalls going to the Euclid-105th area and spending time at the movie theaters there. He also talks about the streetcars and how he would take them downtown. He remembers how he became an architect, and he continues by talking about his favorite projects…

Kenneth H. Cooley Interview, 21 March 2014

Kenneth H. Cooley, longtime Cleveland resident and native, discusses how Cleveland has changed over the years. He recalls being a kid and growing up in the Cedar Fairfax neighborhood. There he worked as grocery delivery boy where he got exposed to houses of prostitution, but he did not realize where he was until many years later. He continues by talking about the various clubs, bars, and other joints all around a neighborhood called Little Hollywood. Although, he never stepped foot in any of…

Leonard M. Trawick Interview, 21 March 2014

Leonard M. Trawick, a transplant from Alabama, describes living in Cleveland for over forty years. Trained to be an English professor, Trawick held positions at Columbia University before he came to Cleveland. He describes working at Columbia during the student unrest of the 1960s. In 1969, Trawick took a position at the newly created Cleveland State University. He relates the conditions of the school during those early years. He also has fond memories of the poetry programming that Cleveland…

Margaret Hostelley interview, 10 August 2006

Margaret Hostelley shares her memories growing up in Cleveland, including trips to the West Side Market and other near west side businesses, family ties to Saint Wendelin Parish, visits downtown and to Euclid Beach Park, and changes in the Ohio City and West Park neighborhoods.

Donna McIntyre Whyte Interview, 24 May 2013

Donna McIntyre Whyte is a Cleveland native, born in 1948, and grew up in the Glenville neighborhood, and then later on to the Mt. Pleasant area. Her father taught her and her sister many domestic and handy skills such as how to work on cars. She lived close to her grandparents, close enough to walk their alone as a child. Her grandparents have interesting stories, and she appreciated them and spent a lot of time with them. She does not recall any distinct instances of segregation, but does…

Sura Sevastopoulos Interview, 30 May 2013

Sura Sevastopoulos was born in Cleveland in 1948. She grew up with her mother and grandmother in Cleveland Heights, originally attended Coventry School, and recalls the walk to school quite vividly. She went to college at the Cleveland Insitute of Art, and while in school she worked at a nightclub called "La Cave," which featured many popular artists such as the Velvet Underground. Sura participated in antiwar marches down Euclid Avenue, and once lived on Hessler Road in the late 1960s. She…

Judith VanKleef Interview, 23 May 2013

Born and raised in the Bronx, Judith VanKleef attended college at the University of Wisconsin. She moved to Cleveland's West Side in 1950 and then to Cleveland Heights in 1964. She discusses the shifting color line on Cleveland's East Side in the 1950s-60s and the impact of blockbusting on neighborhoods including her own. She details a blockbusting campaign in the Grant Deming's Forest Hill neighborhood in about 1967 or 1968 that catalyzed the reconstitution of a long defunct block club to try…

E. Christine Morris Interview, 02 June 2013

Christine Morris was born in Columbus, Ohio, and had one brother. She grew up on the east side, but went to a school in the northern part of the city because her parents utilized her grandparent's address in the northern part of the city. She has fond memories of school and the neighborhood. She went on to Ohio University, and met her husband there, who was originally from Alabama. She finished her internship at the Cleveland Clinic. They lived first in the Mt. Pleasant area, and then moved on…

Dorothy Layne McIntyre Interview, 31 May 2013

Dorothy Layne McIntyre was born and raised in LeRoy, New York. She is the mother of interviewees Donna McIntyre Whyte and Dianne McIntyre. She was one of the first black women to receive a pilot's license in the United States and possibly the first woman in Ohio to receive such a license. She went to West Virginia State College for her training. She was an accountant, a social worker, and finished her career as a teacher, mainly at the Paul Revere School. She first lived in the Glenville area…

Dorothy Silver Interview, 26 July 2013

Dorothy Silver, a Detroit native, describes what drew her to Cleveland. She says that Cleveland was calling her because it was "receptive to various changes that needed to be made." She and her husband began used the theater as a stage to talk about desegregation. She discusses interracial shows at the time of the Hough Riots in 1966. She also discusses fair housing and mixed neighborhoods. She found it surprising that in her experience the people of Cleveland Heights were generally accepting.

Donald Ramos Interview, 24 June 2013

Donald Ramos was born in 1942 in New Bedford, Massachusetts, to a family of Portuguese descent. He attended the University of Massachusetts, served in the U.S. Army, and enrolled in the doctoral program in Latin American Studies at the University of Florida. He accepted a position in the History Department at Cleveland State University in 1971 but soon moved to First College, a newly created unit in the university, where he stayed until 1997, when he returned to chair the History Department. He…

Susan C. Kaeser Interview, 22 May 2013

Susan Kaeser lived in Wisconsin through graduate school. She earned a master of urban planning degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, during which time she met Cleveland City Planning Director Norman Krumholz. Krumholz brought her to Cleveland to serve as a city planner. When she arrived in Cleveland in 1976 she lived first in the Ludlow neighborhood near Shaker Square before moving to Cleveland Heights in 1979. In the interview she discusses how she became a community activist, the…

Russell J. Toppin Sr. Interview, 19 June 2013

Toppin was born in 1940 and grew up in the Cedar-Central and Glenville neighborhoods. His grandparents came to Cleveland from Georgia during the Great Migration, and his paternal grandfather started Majestic Cab Co. His father worked at the TRW plant in Euclid. He recalls the "Gold Coast" entertainment venues along East 105th Street, including in the Euclid-East 105 area, in the 1950s-70s and Motown artists who played the clubs. He describes the racial transition in the area as one from…

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