Frank Kidd Jr. Interview, 25 February 2013

Frank Kidd Jr., born in 1935, has lived in Cleveland his whole life. His parents were originally from the South (Alabama and Mississippi) but moved to Cleveland to seek refuge from harsh racism. Kidd lived most of his childhood with his grandmother, as his father served in the Army. He recalls many aspects of his childhood and teen years. Among the topics he discusses are Karamu House, restaurants in the Central neighborhood, and musical acts that played in Central nightspots. Kidd is a strong advocate for the Central area and aims to improve the neighborhood through his various influential programs. He wants to bring back the vibrancy in the neighborhood that he remembers seeing as he watched his children grow up.

Participants: Kidd Jr. , Frank (interviewee) / Tebeau, Mark (interviewer) / Jane Addams High School Students (interviewer)
Collection: Cedar Central
Institutional Repository: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Interview Transcript

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:00:01] Hi, my name is Frank, Frank J. Kidd Jr. [introduced to students, he greets each one] Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi.

Student [00:00:24] I'd like to know where were you born?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:00:26] You'll have to speak a little louder.

Student [00:00:28] When were you born and where?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:00:29] I was born January... 1935. I was born at 5621 Kinsman Avenue.

Student [00:00:39] How did you and your family come to live in Cedar?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:00:47] My son and my daughter have asthma and they had to have steam heat, so we applied for apartment at 2545 Community College because they provided that type of services. So mainly it was the health issue.

Student [00:01:14] What sort of work did you do [inaudible]?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:01:18] When we moved over here, I was working at Higbee's downtown, and my wife was doing child services for residents. They would be able to, she would be able to watch their kids at our apartment. So that's basically what we were doing. My kids went to Marion Sterling and also Central when we moved over here. They was about, I think they was maybe about six or seven when we moved here.

Student [00:01:54] Take us back to your first recollections of the neighborhood. What did it look like?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:02:01] Oh, well, when we moved here, it was mixed. It was Puerto Ricans, white, it was a mixed-income people, and also the grass, everything was real good. When we moved here, the neighborhood was good. We had good services from CMHA and everything was real good.

Student [00:02:22] I would just like to know what was your favorite food? [inaudible]

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:02:26] Uh, I think I would say meatloaf. Mm hmm.

Student [00:02:41] What was your take on the neighborhood when you lived there? Did you feel it was safe, like you didn't want your kids outside?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:02:49] When I first moved?

Student [00:02:50] Did you like the neighborhood?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:02:53] Well, it was safe. At that time, it was a lot of men head[s] of household. When we first moved here, it was real safe. In fact, when we moved, the college hadn't been built yet. We, it was pretty good. I mean, my kids was going to Central and we had, didn't have- My daughter went to East Tech, so it was pretty safe at that time.

Student [00:03:14] When your kids was a Central, was it high school or middle school?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:03:17] It was high school.

Student [00:03:23] I wanted to know, how did you grow up? Were your parents very strict?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:03:31] And my parents? Yeah, my mother was head of household and my father was drafted when I was going to Woodridge Elementary School, and I think we lived on Griswold for about, I think I was 13 when we graduated. And I went, went across the bridge to Rawlings and my parents, basically, my father and my mother, you know, we had to, when the sun was going down, we had to be in and all of the things that good parents and made sure that you ate properly. I remember my father always said, as far as the food is that you always eat everything on your plate and you drink water afterwards. It was one of the rules that we had. And you had to sit erect in the chair. So it was pretty good discipline as far as compared to the way that it is now. And I had a pretty- My grandmother, I think that my grandmother, they called her Mud. She was half Cherokee Indian. I moved in with her. I think I stayed with her. I think I had to be. I was in second grade or fourth grade, and it was down the street, right across the street from where I was born at. And it was good, strict parents always. She had a philosophy that you always needed to have some in your pocket, you know, to try to do something. Don't beg people. I don't think. I never, ever asked anybody for, you know, like people ask you, give me a quarter or whatever. I don't think that ever happened. She used to ask me to, if I found a handkerchief, she would give me a nickel. And my uncle built me a shoeshine stand. I used to shine shoes, and I think I made about maybe $5, and I used to give my mother $3, and I had $2 that I went to the show. The show was 10 cents then. And it was always a sense of pride in taking care of yourself and respecting the elders. I mean, never, ever would you cuss an elder or do any harm. I used to call the men, particularly my age, wise men. And it was the philosophy then was that we just took care of our, you know, and I never called my daughter those or my kids any of those names that they do now. So it was a thing that- It was pretty good. I mean, it was a discipline. But the key factor is that I always said that if I got married, it would always be a man at the head of the household. That's very important for kids when you're coming up to have a father. And I think that when we got on welfare, that the philosophy was that if the man was in the house, he had to work, or if he wasn't paying, you know, doing his share, then you had to d0 time at the Workhouse. And I know that that was something that a lot of the. That's when we lost the men from the house, because then they would go away, and then they would knock on the door, and mostly all the men would say, the kid would come to the door and say, where's your father? My father don't live here. That was really something that really turned- It was a turning point in my life that you didn't have- The man was basically hiding in the closet, and you didn't have no, you know, because of the welfare, because of the system, they didn't have no job. So I always said that I wanted to always be, stay with them no matter what happened, as far as when welfare called, I was the one that, I'm the head of the household, you know. You have to take that position. I felt for your kids to come up, and so all of my kids came up, graduated, perfect attendance. And all this was in the project, you know, I mean, it was a project experience. And so I was proud of them, and I was blessed that we went through hard times and we were able to survive off of welfare until my wife started working and I started working.

Student [00:08:00] How do you feel like the neighborhood has changed from when you and your kids grew up in the neighborhood till now?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:08:06] Now it's chaos. Now it's really, really, really bad. I mean, it's unbelievable the way that it changed a lot of the people that when I was coming up and I started working with the kids, I had a program I called Save the Children. And we did things at the bath house for the kids and had programs, you know, trying to teach them. In fact, this was one of the things I had for the kids. When we started Afro American Research was a bible that they sold for $5, and I would give them a commission, and I bowled at the Trianon, and I sponsored trips to New York for the girls. I had a class for the young ladies for makeup. I took some of them to New York. I was moving them fast because with no type of activity, you know, with no hope, it's just bad. So I wanted to try to do something to try to curb it. Now it's- When I started the program over, I think I didn't have any men. Most of the housing authority is women head of household. And so I had a program that I was able to get men to come out. Most of them was felon juvenile detention home. You know, you kind of lost, because if you get busted for narcotics or whatever, you get the felony. That's even before you- You know, you're twelve or 13 years old, you're already condemned before you even get started. And then the peer pressure from the kids that want to learn is hurt, because, you know, the way that the makeup is, it's just- It was a change. It was just a sense of responsibility and stuff. The system just basically omitted the poor, and that's the way that the housing authority was. I think Congressman Stokes and Louis Stokes lived on Carver, at Carver Park, and they are products of that. But the question was how it migrated down from that point. For my wife was that case, and whatever. From that point, it just kept going down and down and down. And so as far as the project is concerned. It's really, really bad. I mean, you know, it's just no hope.

Student [00:10:39] Do you feel like, if you was to raise your kids over here right now in this period with this generation, do you feel like they would be changed, they wouldn't be what they are now?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:10:44] Well, if I was raising my kids and I had the experience that I had and I was still the head of the household, it wouldn't be no change, because my mother and my family had rules that you had. And as long as I could remember, I never cussed in front of my father. I never heard my father say a cuss word in my life. You know, I never heard a cuss word from him. And the way that it's coming up now, my kids are grown, and my daughter has got three kids. I mean, three daughters. One of them is in college, and all three of them is in college. In fact, one of them, Dana, comes here, and we were there at church Sunday, and I got two grandkids. And it was just a sense of good that to know that they made it through. And now they got daughters, but they not in the project, but they still have the same philosophy that my daughter had that I gave her. So it's the thing that the generations, as it changed, was better. Now, I don't know how it would have happened without a father. I know I can't speak on that, but I know that my kids now, the responsibility and my grandkids have that sense of, just like I had when I was coming up. But when I bring them down here and I do my work down here, they don't- They're not really happy about coming down here. You know, they're not really happy. The area is just. If you go and take a tour like in Carver, Cedar, go to Cedar. Not just go in some of the apartments and look at the conditions that it is and listen to how they talk to the kids. I mean, just to get a feel of what, how it's going down, you have to basically be- And I've been here, so I know the transition that happened as far as what was happening as it came up. But now I always tried to figure, still trying to figure out why the guys wear their pants down over their behind, you know, I mean, I'm trying to figure out certain things. You have to basically let them speak. You can't interpret what you think it is. You have to let them be involved. So when I had my last program, I had a whole lot of, mostly 90% of them was felons, in 2010, and they were good. I mean, you had that man type of thing that they understood. The deal is that you are one way now. I'm going to basically give you employment and help you to get employment. If you- I'm going to give you money, but you have to give me what it is I need. And then you try to make that transformation. And one of the fellows that I have on the program, Mister Dye, I think he's got six kids, I think it's three ladies. And he gets his kids every Saturday. He's a felon. You know, his brother's in the joint, you know, everybody, you know, all the people that I have, you know, it's a thing. But when I had my program at the college, when I had toys for tots in my summer lunch program, and I invited him to bring their kids, they brought all the kids, and the kids were, you know, good groomed. And so the woman, the mother of the kids, took good care. You know, when you see a kid, you go into the apartment, the little girl's hair is nice, and, you know, it's good. You can tell. I mean, you can find out what the mother is doing by the way that the kids look. Just like that incident, the little boy that got killed in the fire from my church, Elizabeth, and he was scared to come out. The mother said, come out, you know, and he was more scared, the flames. He was more scared of the mother, what she would do than the burn. And he died, you know, and that's bad. I remember my daughter when we were staying on Grand, we had a gate. She got out of the gate and we said, don't go out of the gate. She went out of the gate. It was at Van Dorn on 79th, and she was running and there was a truck from Van Dorn turning. Definitely would have hit her. I say, "Stop!" And that's the only thing saved her, because the command has to basically be done. If the kid is scared of you and they running from, she would have kept running, you understand? Because she said, well, if I stop, you know, he gonna beat me or whatever, you know, just the thing that you just have to pay more attention to the kids and what their environment. You can't take for granted what you did 50 years ago and figure that that's gonna happen. But you have to give a sense of pride in what it is that they wanna do. If they wanna do certain things, you have to give him that accountability. That's your kids. And I wonder, well, why would you call your kid that, that name like that? What's the point? But it's so vicious, you know, it's just so vicious the way they talk and where they snatch them. You know, I never, never, you know, I mean, you know, you- A whooping is a thing based with love, but not with hostility and the way that they, that they do. And this is what I seen. I've been here. I ain't been nowhere. You know, I was here when I was telling you when my kids were born, and I'm here now, and I uninterrupted here. So I know exactly what it is that's going on and what's needed. And that was my program to save the children, because, you know, if we don't do something to help them, you know, they're lost. It's just, you know, a thing, because the way that the cuts and things are coming down, the poor, poor people don't have a chance.

Student [00:16:31] I want to know, when you went to school, how is it more different from what it is now?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:16:36] School? Well, when I went to school, I remember I was in the second grade or third grade at Kinsman, at Woodridge, and it was mostly white teachers. And I think it was one black teacher, Miss Barnes, Miss Gluekoff, Miss Woeland, I know them. I remember them closely. And she sent, Miss Tratler sent my mother a letter saying, your son is like an animal crawling on his belly. I got it. It was on vanilla paper. I still got it. They gave it to my mother and they used to chastise you. It was prejudice. Really, really, really prejudice. Super prejudice. And through my grandmother and things that was going on, I didn't- My mother stopped me. We went. My father was in the army, and I got- And I sat on the front of the bus. We went down to Springfield, I think it was Springfield, Georgia. I forget exactly where. That's where my father was stationed at. And at the schools there you had little huts, little huts where you go to English you walked out and it was a mud hut, and you would walk over to the class. And what happened is that they didn't have no shoes. I mean, most of them was barefooted. And I was saying. And so they used to say, oh, he got shoes, you know, when I got there. But they didn't know when I was at, when I was at stand in Cleveland, they had a rummage sale. My mother had got me a black pair of shoes, but the shoes, the points was like the same, but the design across the top was different. So it was two different shoes. But all I had to do was put polish in that crease to make it look like it was. And they thought I would- I mean, when me and my sister went there they said, whoa. You know, they thought we was king because we had shoes. And my mother always made sure that when I got from school, I took my clothes off and hung them up and whatever. So it was that discipline. And it was just a thing that they thought I was somebody. But I didn't try to be greater than thou because I knew that it might be this way for you but if you go back where I'm at, it's just as close as where you at. So you try to communicate with people, like, I guess you say, doing as you wish them to do, love their neighbor as yourself. It's just a thing that you have to have that bond that you had. When I was in school, they had bullies. I mean, super bullies, you understand? I'm running. My grandmother used to come and get me from Woodridge with a stick. If you go to Woodridge and you look at where I lived at on 5621 Kinsman, you'll see that, you can see the school from there once you come up the hill. So the bullies was waiting for me, you know, so I said, okay. You know, so when I get outside, I run. And so when I get up that hill and I see my grandmother, I stop. Now she's 60, you know, I stop because I knew help was coming. And she used to come and she's looking and say, you got your grandma. I said, yeah, and I ain't gonna stop her from coming neither. So that was the thing, the bully thing and all those things was there. But to excel, you try to find out what it is that you do to try to get along. Not the peer pressure to make you sell drugs or whatever, but trying to figure out how I can go to school and basically come out ahead as far as, you know, getting back and forth to school. It was really a challenge when I was in school. And now my daughter, when they was in school, they just like school. They did what they- I think that I had a little book that they had, The Wizard of Oz. When I was selling these bibles, they used to have a little twelve pack of books, Huckleberry Finn and all that. And I used to sell them, and my daughter still got that 50 years later. You know, just those little books that they had. And so it's just a thing that I think that school is very important, but we have to. I would. And what I'm trying to do now is to get a charter school to work with the kids that's in that particular position, because we need to have communication. You can't leave them out. We're not gonna go away. You know, you might move away, but we're not gonna go away until we do something to help them. Then it's gonna be bad.

Student [00:21:11] If you could go back, like now, into the neighborhood and change one thing, what would you change?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:21:16] Go back to where I used to live?

Student [00:21:18] No, like now, in this town, if you could go through the neighborhood and just change one thing, what would it be?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:21:26] The father head of household. I would like for the father to take the responsibility of their kids. That's the most important. There's nothing that you can change without that figurehead. I mean, you know, you need daddy. I mean, you might say that daddy ain't important. And the woman now, with the way they got jobs and stuff, they kind of degrade them or whatever, but if you got a dad, then I always wanted- I always said it. I say, I don't never want my kids to come up without a father. Never. And my father hugged me one time in my life, he hugged me.

Student [00:22:09] What was your favorite restaurant you ever went to?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:22:12] The Forum. It was downtown on 9th and Prospect. They used to have meatloaf and strawberry shortcake, and we used to go there. That's what we used to do. Charles Bibbs and I was going to Rawlings, and that's where we would- That's where we went, to the Forum. And my kids, they knew I liked meatloaf. So all my birthdays and stuff like that, like Sunday, we had meatloaf. And my wife passed on September 16 last year. And we had been together 56 years uninterrupted. So, you know, it was a blessing. I mean, you know, you blessed by God. I mean, I just feel as if my life has been blessed because my kids is all good, you know, sometimes they sick or whatever, but I'm proud of them, you know, and I think they respect me, and they basically- And it's just so important to see my kids relationship with me as a daddy and how it's important for you to have a daddy to help you. You know, dad is important. He's in the background, like, but he's. He's very important. That man and head of the household is important. The housing authority is 95% women head of household.

Student [00:23:28] That's a lot.

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:23:31] That's everything. And then incarceration. If you go to the jails, you'll find out that 90% of the men in the house, in the jail is from the housing authority. You know what I'm saying? You take the daddy away, you understand what I'm saying? And then the woman becomes head of household. And her attitude changes. [school bell rings] Her attitude changes. And, you know, it's just so important. I mean, it's just so important that we get an equal shot at the title. It's just important for you to get an equal shot. But don't try to do it by yourself if you got kids, you know, try to hold on to dad if you can, you know. So I was just lucky that I stayed 56, you know, we stayed together 56 years. And this was her bible that I gave her and she got all the kids in it. And my Gretchen, she went to Marion Sterling. She got perfect attendance. And my wife always participated in all the programs and stuff like that. But my daughter always says when she do speeches, and she's a librarian and my son is a teacher, that I got ghetto in me. She be talking about me, you know, I got ghetto because my wife, she was learned, educational, and stuff like that.

Student [00:24:53] Could you tell us particular restaurants, neighborhood churches, or community institutions that you and your family attended?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:25:02] Say again.

Student [00:25:04] Could you tell us about particular restaurants, churches, or neighborhood institutions that you and your family visited?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:25:10] Could you say it again for me?

Student [00:25:13] She wanted to know, like, what church you went to, what restaurants you like, what did you like to do?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:25:19] Okay. The church I went to was Venning Elizabeth Baptist Church. And I think it was New Hope was on 80, on 50, 50- It was right across from Griswold. And when we went to church- Are you talking about when I was a kid? Okay. We went- We had to go to Sunday school, church, Bible school, school, school, school. Anything was in the church that was a must that you went and you basically, I went to church there. My mother was there. Reverend Hall was the pastor. And we've been in that church- I think my mother was the oldest. I think I'm the oldest member of Elizabeth at the church. And I like to went there. I didn't have no particular things at the time. When I was coming up, a lot of the foods that you haven't heard of, they had kidneys and they had buttermilk. And, you know, we didn't have the luxury of, like, the steaks. And so I can't really identify with the foods that y'all basically have because if you got, the father got the breast and you would get, if you were lucky, would get the wing and then the neck was dumplings. You know, it was just the way the hard times was. They had the P. A. It was a relief program and they gave you butter and cheese and stuff like that. And so that was- [school bell rings] I just couldn't identify with no special food until I got married. And my wife liked salads. She wanted to make sure you was healthy. So we got- I think I was 20 and she was 16 when we got married. And so the food changed at that particular time. But when I was coming up, I didn't really have- I like crackling, crackling bread and stuff like that. But buttermilk- And you crumble the cornbread up. Then we had red beans. And when we were coming up, basically, the mother, the grandmother would fix a big pot because we all stayed- We all stayed in one house. The family, like, stayed on the same street. And everybody ate the same thing. I mean, they fixed a bit just like the army. And then my mother said, I ain't gonna do this no more. So we. When my father went to the army, she took over as woman head household. And she always- We always. We never was hungry. I mean, you know, we always had something to eat. It was just according to what it is that you like to eat. Now, for the entertainment I used to go t They used to have the Globe. And that was right on 55th and Woodland. The Haltnorth. And what happened is, on Friday at the Globe, they showed a picture. And then on Saturday, they showed a picture at the Haltnorth. It was two shows. So I went to all three. I went to all three days. And then they had show on Kinsman. And I used to go there. And I used to go to the Pla-Mor. I used to like to dance and used to go by relatives' houses. And they let you dance, and they give you a nickel or dime or whatever. And I shined shoes. And I worked at Crosstown Supermarket. At that time. You had to have stamps for coffee and sugar. So when I went to the store, I just went in the store and started putting up the corn flakes. And he said, well, you want a job? He said, we'll give you $5 a week. I said, well, could I get sugar and coffee? Can I get three pounds of coffee and some sugar? So the house that we were staying in when I was young was like, the built-on shed. And it was real cold. So my mother had a fur coat. I slept in that fur coat. It was that cold. And then I had a little window. And the people, the elderly people say, knock on my window and say, I want coffee. Just give me enough to color it, you know. So I was selling coffee and sugar. And I was able to kind of help- I always liked to help, try to help my mother. You know, like you supposed to be the man in the house. So, you know, you always tried to help. And it was just- It was fun to basically be independent. I mean, it was. I didn't want to be no crook. You know what I'm saying? And my mother wasn't going to allow it. And I mean, when they used to have a knife, they used to have boots and they had a knife in the little pocket. Every time I used to, I was, every time I get, I say, I want them boots as soon as I get them boots. My grandmother called me, give me the knife. So I never had, never had a weapon in my life. Never had a weapon. And it was just that ran up. It was that family tie. It was that thing that everybody was neighbor, if that neighbor seen you doing something and she beat your butt, then that's what happened. At that time, everybody could just- Now if you say something wrong to the kid, you gotta fight. Even if the kid is wrong, you know, I got the summer lunch program now and I got good discipline. Don't have no problems at all because I demand that and they will respond to it if you had something.

Student [00:30:34] What type of education did you have?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:30:37] I went to Woodridge. They put me out when I was 13. Cause you had to go. And then I went to Rawlings, then I went to John Hay. And that's where my wife was. I quit John Hay. My wife went there. So I went back and I think I was 19 and I got engaged and then I left. And so then once we got married, then I went, when they built the college, I said, I used to go across the college to play spades. You was gambling, you know, so you was playing spades and hustling. And so the Black Student Union guy came and said, well, why don't you get in the Black Student Union? You know, I say, well, okay, what does the Black student union do? He say, Black Student Union basically helps us. So we get- Cause the college at that time was pretty prejudiced. So I went over and I got on Black Student Union. I got on the board, they had a program council and I went and I was taking courses. Cause you had to be a student in order to get into the building. So they called me up. Nancy Harrington called me up and said, you got enough credits to graduate. I said, Ooh, I got enough credits to graduate? You know. She said, you coming? I took gym and stuff like that. And I always liked political science. So I was able to get my degree, associate degree. Then Nick Seropolis told me about small business management and I took that. So I had May Day Bazaar. That was when you had different students from different countries. And I had that. And then we took resident students to New York. I had Ophelia DeVore from New York City. I had Miss Ohio Beauty Bibb and Kidd. And I did that with student government money. And I did residents. We had discos for the residents because the college wasn't really doing nothing for the residents at all. And so I brought you a thing with my education and basically what I had said so you would have it for your things so you would know what it is that I did and some of the pictures of- [shows documents to students] This is the college thing that we had. This was 1979. These are the girls that I was telling you about that I took on- [long pause] And this is the associate degree at the college and where my kids went. And I was born and raised elementary. It's got all that information. I had, when I was the director of CMHA's program. So all that's on there, I'm going to leave this with you. I got copies, but I mean, I was just on there, I think I had- That's when I took the people of New York. That story is in there. And this is. I had a picture with earth the kid. And I was at Karamu with Sidney Poitier.

Mark Tebeau [00:33:59] Tell them about Karamu House and your involvement. That's something most people don't necessarily know about. Maybe where Karamu was and meeting Sidney Poitier.

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:34:08] Okay, Karamu, okay. Karamu was a place that we had a fellow named Jim Brown and Charles Bibbs was a photographer, a student. So Karamu was really- That was Mr. and Mrs. Jelliffe. That picture that we have up there at the top with, I think it's Sidney Poitier, the Mr. and Mrs. Jelliffe that was in that picture, they was the directors of Karamu. And we went to the Little Foxes convention in Detroit and we took pictures. And my son was in the theater at Glenville, not Glenville, out in East Cleveland. And also my daughter was doing plays. In fact, she sang, did the national anthem for the Cavaliers. And also they had a thing that Karamu was just a place that you really like the place. Like Superfly, he went there, the fellow O'Neal. And when I was there, then you had a lot of people. But the reason that I was involved in it, I was working at Wolf envelope with Charles Bibbs when we had the contest. And we went to under the Karamu flags, we went to, in fact, Mr. and Mrs. Jelliffe gave me a letter. And my son was a pretty good actor. And Karamu was very instrumental in helping. It was something that people basically, because I think when they talked to me about this interview, they wanted to try to do a play of what it was. And we had a lot of people. Virgil Jones was one of the people that we had. And we tried to do a play and we did it by try a little tenderness. I know you donr heard that rapper do try to a little tenderness on tv with the flags. What's that, Z? What's that woman's husband's name? The one that do the rapping. Z or what? He was on the thing. Beyoncé's husband.

Student [00:36:14] Jay Z?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:36:15] Jay Z. He basically doing [inaudible]. It was just a thing that we did a play of Try a Little Tenderness. And at that time, they was doing the hand dance and just happened that later on that same- And we did the same thing with residents as far as the picture that Madonna do, when she say picture? We did that in New York in '59. We was at the class where Karamu had showed us how to build the props. So when I went to the college, I had them to build me a prop. And I went to New York. When I went to New York, I just went on Fifth Avenue, and it was so fast. I mean, you know, everything in New York would be, boom, going fast. And I said, wow! You know. So I got me a strobe light and I took residents with me. In fact, the car broke down. We came back to town on one of those little wheels. You know, it was bad, but I took residents with me. And, I mean, the housing authority- I mean, all these type of things happened in the housing authority with residents. And it was a different- I mean, it was a thing that you had them doing something that they really loved. And we did that play, and we got recognition. We did it at the bath house. And it was a play that I put together. Bluebird, fly away, fly. And we did the thing with Evelyn, and it was really, you know, I mean, it's been- I've been with the kids. I've been with the kids all my life. And it's just important. A little baby- I have a special need granddaughter, and she basically knows exactly- She learns, but she's restricted. But if you give 'em, you know, it's just a thing that's so unique that it's just unbelievable. But you've got to- When that kid is born, you got to try a little tenderness.

Mark Tebeau [00:38:13] When was, what was the bath house?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:38:15] The bath house, right over on Central. The bath house.

Mark Tebeau [00:38:20] Yeah. But tell us for the record. I don't actually- I'm not-

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:38:24] Okay. The bath house is a place that they had for the swimming and different things like that. I think pops, I think a lot of them as actors, we had [inaudible] and we stayed on Community College. The bath house was in back. That was recreation for the kids. So what I did is I got a room at the bath house. And we tried putting on productions for the community. And we had got the room upstairs. And then we had all the girls that I had that I took to New York from the bath house, we basically went over and we was able to train- We had people that was doing basketball and different things like that at the bath house. But it was like, it's a recreational center. And I was involved with the Quadrangle was right across the street. That's Sisters of Charity. I was involved with them when Todd Graham and Nancy Hubbard was here. And so I had my program- I had a big bus, and I had the unicorn on the bus. And my apartment was at 2545. And I had the buses right across the street. So I was affiliated with all entities, the college, and that was under Ellison, the bathhouse, and all of the groups around it. That's the reason when Bobbi asked me to come and talk to you. What we're trying to do now is to make sure that the residents gets an opportunity to get work and different things. And the bath house and the people that's involved in it, hopefully with what I'm doing, the reason I'm trying to tell a story to you, because if you are a person that has did certain things in the community, it's got a sole source clause that you can basically do things. So like when the kids get out, we need to get the kids- And they're smart. I mean, you know, if a ten-year-old knows how to give grams and how to get cocaine and whatever, you understand what I'm saying? If he know how to give you ounces and stuff, then he's a student. I mean, you know, it's just he learning the wrong thing, that's all. So everybody's smart, you know? And the kid. How can you call your daughter or your son a B and they can't even talk, you understand? So now once they do talk, the first thing come out of his mouth is B. When he get Mama get mad at me, this is what she called me. And this is what she do. When I get mad at you, that's what I'm gonna call you. And this is what I'm gonna do, you understand? So that's how the thing is going. But these are the guys that we had, the workforce. And these are all men. Mostly all men. We had the kitchen downstairs. And this is the graduation class, 2010, that we had. I had the cooking class, I had the program like at Karamu. We wanted to have a multipurpose center. So at my building that I got on 2916 Cedar, I got a full kitchen. I got the computer lab and things for people that basically our program is not like the regular thing. We want to find out what they want. And that's the reason I wanted to talk with you. So if you're following up on what you can do as far as the Cedar, like, he asked me questions of what I would do if I was here. That's what my program is about. That's the reason I agreed to come and talk to the group, is because I need somebody to realize how important it is to keep the residents that they're moving out alive. And this is the thing from there.

Mark Tebeau [00:41:52] So tell us about that. I don't know anything about this.

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:41:56] Okay.

Mark Tebeau [00:41:56] Apparently they're moving, right? They're closing that facility. Which facility?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:42:02] Well, what they're doing is they moving the residents from Cedar. You'll see the fence across the street, 30th and Cedar. They got a fence. And they're basically going to tear all those units down. Then what they have to do is they're going to build them. So all of the people, 108 people had to move out. So next they going to go in the back. That's the Central part. They're going to tear that down. All of those people moving. So now my proposal was to try and get- You can keep that for your records if they want to get any pictures, if you want, unless you didn't want to keep it. And this is the program Save the Children, 1993. That's when I had- And you probably see some of the parents on there now that's working with me now. The garden club, all kids from the Bingham daycare. Then the mayor gave me the key to the city 2010 for what I had been doing in the community. And then I think as mission statement is that we want to- It's the mission of the Afro American Research Corporation, to engage in research and develop and identify means and improve the quality of life for poor people. Establish linkage with government, educational and business entities, promoting life skills, education, training, and entrepreneurship. Once they go over that information and track down what- If you look at that information that you got and you look at the dates on there, you'll see what I had said that I proposed to do in the community in 1959. If you go from 1959 and find out what was done that I said I was going to do, that's what I did. So the promise was I was going to do certain things. And now that they're moving the people out, that I was hoping that we could come back and have a chance at the American dream. All of those people are going to be moved out without any recourse. They're not coming back just like they did at Valleyview. There's going to be middle income people because it's subsidized. If the residents don't get no training and education, they can't come back because they're not a tenant in good standing. So that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to get them to let us be a part of the training process. Tearing it down. Relocation. I got a moving truck. My business was the Kids Enterprise, LLC, and they said that a resident-owned business can make up to a million dollars without competing. I did the million, and I'm at 7 million now. Out of the 7 million, 3 million went to residents. All the programs that you see, the equipment and stuff that I was able to get so we would have. What we need was done by me. So we asking for sole source. Sole source means that if this person did certain things in that community, he should be entitled to basically be able to be a part of the process. The process is we want jobs and opportunities to basically get training from the college and so forth, that we'll be able to get a chance to do that. So that's where I'm at now, and that's what I'm doing right now. And that's what I presented to the mayor. I presented a letter to him to let me basically deal with the residents in the housing authority all over, all housing, Woodhill and everywhere, is that we would basically be able to give the residents a chance to get what they need so they'll be able to move back, because once they finish with what they're doing, it's not going to be residents. It's going to be middle income students and stuff like that. That's what the deal is. All they're doing to the residents is moving them to another location. Once you get Section 8, you're not no longer a housing authority. So that's what my praying and that's the reason I agreed to come, is because I wanted to basically let the young people know what's going on. If you're comfortable now with what you're doing, you got mom and dad and everything is good and so forth and so on. If you know somebody in the housing authority, they're not comfortable. If you just go, you know, like what you need to do in your story is to just take a tour, just go around, you know, ask them to take you around and look at the kids, the conditions and stuff like that, you know? Now I'm at 2916. I got pictures and things that you would need. You're welcome to come by and look at the office. I got a whole lot of information. I got computer lab. I got a kitchen, full kitchen. I got a moving company. I got a landscaping company. You understand? So all of these things is for the residents on that picture that you see there, that's what it is that we offer that we were trying to get and we trying to get juvenile attention home for a multipurpose center for daycare and assisted living for seniors. So this is a biggie, you understand? And so I got some pretty reputable people. Stuart told Miss Bobbi about me, and then Bobbi told your program. And so that's what it was. So she said that. I just told her that she probably wouldn't be influenced on the decision, but if I told her the story, then she probably would be able to let them know what she thought.

Mark Tebeau [00:47:27] Also, the students are also interested in what it was like to live here in the 1960s, which you would recall. Somebody asked about restaurants. Do you remember what restaurants were in the area?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:47:39] Skippy's. Skippy's, Shrimp Boat, Hot Sauce Williams. The Forum was downtown, because if you went downtown at that time, we went to- Well, you had the market, you had the drug stores, you had Woolworth. You had Woolworth, you had Kresge's. Kresge's had those hamburgers that you had, like Sloppy Joes. Kresge's. And then they had the pie, potato pie, where you put the ice cream on it. That was right on 55th, and the market basically went in. That's where I worked at. And that was when I met my wife. It was 50- It was '55 is when we got married. And my first kid was '57. So that was where it was that I was working at the market. So I'm pretty familiar with the restaurants was good. The food is different. Shrimp Boat had the best- Everybody had the best- You had Fairris's Bar-B-Q. And, man, we had good food. I mean, there wasn't no hamburgers or nothing. I'm talking about it was soul food like Skippy's used to have peach cobbler and stuff like that. And then you had the Majestic Hotel, where the Temptations used to come. Washington, Dinah Washington. Paul used to work in the kitchen, the one on the Temptations. And, you know, I knew them all. I used to do the MC at the Majestic Hotel. And we used to eat at Skippy's. They was all night, 24 hours. And then on Sundays, we'd go downtown to the Forum. But they had real good. I just wish I could find that chef at the Forum. The food don't taste like that now. You know, I don't know what happened, but it was really. I mean, when the mayor says he's gonna make Cleveland great again, I'm twelve years older than the mayor. So when he said that I was staying on Griswold. I was at Griswold when the mayor was born. I was on Griswold. I was at 5621 Kinsman when he was born. So when he say, make Cleveland great again, I was a part of that greatness because I was here. So he stayed on 38th. Lonnie Burten was here at that time. I was staying at the college over here. So I never been out of Ward 5. I stayed in Forbidden Triangle on 79th and Grand. And then I moved to the housing authority.

Mark Tebeau [00:50:14] Why did they call it the Forbidden Triangle?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:50:16] Because they let it go down so bad. If you go under the bridge, rocks used to fall down. They throw garbage and dump. But the mayor since then has basically did some things in there now. But if he gonna make it great again, see, the people that basically been here for what's happened, we're not going to be a part of it. If they move all of the housing authority out, then we won't be a part of that. Because if you look at the statistics for Carver, it's the highest crime area. And the most people on welfare. Middle-income people, say, we tired of taking care of them, not just Whites, Blacks and Whites. So the thing is that we got to basically get some money or some work so we can basically be independent. We don't want to be a subsidy. We wanted some opportunity. That's what I'm trying to do for the housing authority, the jobs that's basically created. We're trying to get greenhouses. That greenhouse that was over there they're looking at, we built with residents, all residents, put those greenhouses up. It cost me $348,000 to put it up of the money that I made off of my programs. And that program we started and the graduation that they pictured that I gave them, that's what we did.

Mark Tebeau [00:51:28] So tell them about the Majestic Hotel. Where was it?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:51:32] The Majestic Hotel was on 55th and Central.

Mark Tebeau [00:51:36] And when you say MC, what does that mean?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:51:39] MC Duke Jenkins was the person that did it. Alonzo Wright owned it. And it was a place that you went for a hotel. It was a hotel. Skippy's was across the street. He had a billiard place, and he also had pool room. And then you had Shrimp Boat was across the street. They had hot dogs and shrimps. And you had Burden's Syrup was right on the corner of Central, right across from that. That was the Call- The Call and Post was there. And the Majestic was where you went, you know, like- And then they had a cha-cha night. And I was the MC for Cha-cha night. And we won a contest in Chicago at that program. And we had Dez Long, and we had a whole lot of celebrities. Danny Cobb and a whole lot of- Edwin Starr. The Futuretones stayed on Central too. That was Edwin Starr, the one that did War. He was in the band with Russell Evans, which was the Futuretones. That was on Central. And I used to manage them. He stayed in the projects across from East Tech.

Mark Tebeau [00:52:52] Where did he perform?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:52:54] At Leo's Casino. Leo's Casino was on 60, I think 73rd and Euclid. And we was at the Circle Ballroom. You know, they had the Circle show. And they also had Circle Ballroom for skating. And then they had- We did Mary Wells, we did Johnny Nash. We did a lot of them. I got pictures on the wall up there with Mudcat Grant was a baseball player. We got a picture of him. Sam Knight was there. We also had Ophelia DeVore from New York City. And Sammy Davis Jr. came. And so I met a lot of the celebrities. And I was there doing that for quite some time. And then they had Leo's. Not Leo's Casino, but when they had all the shows, Don Scott, the bowler, and he was a bowler and I think his wife is one of the ladies that's doing gardening now. She ran for council, and we did all of those, but.

Mark Tebeau [00:53:58] And that was all at the Majestic.

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:54:00] Majestic, yeah.

Mark Tebeau [00:54:01] And so what happened to the Majestic?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:54:03] It went out of business. It went out of business. I think that that's the Salvation Army now. I think Alonzo Wright lost money or whatever. I don't know exactly what had happened. But it was the Black- It was the place to go in Cleveland. That's where all the entertainers came. It was Majestic Hotel, 55th and Central. Cause I used to stay up all night just to be there. Go ahead. I'm sorry.

Student [00:54:26] Like, back then, like, how far would, like $5 go?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:54:29] Huh?

Student [00:54:29] Like, if you had $5, how far would it go?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:54:33] Back then?

Student [00:54:36] When you were growing up.

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:54:39] When I was a kid, $5? Okay, $5, I could go to a show that's thirty cents, ten cents each show. So if I got $3 in my pocket, you'd say you was rich. I made $5, I gave my mother three and I kept two. And you always got change. So everybody know you had money. And I shined shoes and, I mean, you went a long ways. I mean, you could do. I went to the Forum, you know, me and Bibbs, we went to the Forum's. And at the time, we was coming up for arithmetic, they had that little pin that you could twist it so you could see the multiplication. And that wasn't but 20 cents, you know, so the stuff that you get now was real cheap, you know, the vanilla tablets and all that stuff. So it was a good life. I mean, you know, I mean, we were poor. That's what I'm trying to say. We were poor, but we were basically independent. You know what I'm saying? It's a different- So you can't put the money on it. But with the advertisement, a kid is not gonna see, like the kid is see on tv that Michael Jordan has got a shoe and you in the project, and you say, how much can I go with $5? So if I'm back there with Michael Jordan and I got $5, you know, I can't afford it. So what's the next step? When you come with your shoes, I take them.

Mark Tebeau [00:56:08] So we're going to have to finish here in a minute.

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:56:10] Okay. Okay. But I mean, stop me whenever.

Mark Tebeau [00:56:13] I have a question about the- What you just said. Great question, by the way. $5, you said, oh, and I have- I give three to my mom, and I keep two. We just did an interview with a gentleman and he said the same thing.

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:56:29] Really?

Mark Tebeau [00:56:29] And I'm curious, was that a common saying back then or-?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:56:34] Well, you know, my mother was head of household, and my father was in the service. And at that time, $5 went a long way. And, you know, like, I hustled. I did everything I could to help. I was always proud to help my family. You know, my mother and my sister. You know, my mother always depended on me until she passed because that was the way that your kids treated the mother. They didn't put 'em in nursing home. My mother was with my grandmother until she died, and my great-great grandmother. So they never left. There wasn't no nursing home. It was at home.

Mark Tebeau [00:57:11] Okay, and I know we have to finish, but I'm going to ask you another question. You said you grew up here in Cleveland. Where was your family from originally, and how did they come to Cleveland?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:57:19] Okay. My father was from Miss- I think my mother was from Mississippi, it was on the birth certificate. I think Alabama and Mississippi. They came, and my grandfather came, and before they stopped migrating to the city, my mother was. I think she must have been a teenager when she moved here. And they came and started working at Gravel's Manufacturing on Broadway. And then they sent for, you know, the way that they did. They sent for- As you made money, you sent for another relative. Another relative. And then that's how we- That's how my family got here. But my father, he came, and then that's the one. We stayed at 57 right there on Griswold. And my grandmother stayed at 56 in Griswold. So that's how it happened.

Mark Tebeau [00:58:11] And one other question. Why did they come to Cleveland?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:58:15] Because it was work. It was an opportunity. It was an opportunity that they didn't have in Mississippi. You know, Mississippi and down there was pretty prejudiced. Because when we went back after I was at the thing, it was the thing that you could almost say it was still slavery. It just didn't have the chains.

Student [00:58:34] How was racism back then when-?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:58:36] Oh, it was. It was- It was- It was deep. I mean, you know, it was a thing on Buckeye when we did. On Buckeye, when they had Kroger's, the Night in Budapest. Jack P. Russell was the president. And if you rolled down that hill, they would just, you know, they would call you n----- and throw bricks. You had to ride downhill. We used to be a challenge of riding that hill at Buckeye, down that hill. It was real fast. And you had to get in there and get out real quick. Cause I was staying on Grand Avenue. But it was prejudiced, I mean, up to the core, you know, Blacks stayed in a black area. And if you drifted out of that area, you had a problem. Really racist.

Student [00:59:14] Okay. Also, it was, like, racism was real bad in Cleveland when you was growing up?

Frank Kidd Jr. [00:59:19] Mm hmm. But it- Certain sections. Certain sections. Now 55th, when we went on Buckeye, Buckeye was the Night in Budapest. You know, you had different type of people that stayed at the different things, at different places. And they basically felt as if you were depriving them, you know? And they just. Hey. And I know for a fact that that happened, you know, so my mother would- But we shared- They kind of kept you in check, you know, they be coming from Alabama, they know the rules and regulations. So you didn't try to drink water out of the water fountain. And you didn't try to pop in front on the bus. You moved, go directly to the back. Cause I remember the biggest hit I got from my mother, she hit me upside my head because I popped in that front seat on that bus. You know, she cracked me upside the head immediately and I knew right away, okay, I'm supposed to go in the back, and that's what I did. And you don't- You go to the side and drink water. You know, so.

Mark Tebeau [01:00:17] We thank you very much, don't we? And we're going to record the interview- The interview has been recorded. We're going to give you, later on, a CD- [recording ends abruptly]

Cedar Central

The interviews in this series resulted from an initiative spearheaded by Campus District Inc. to document stories in conjunction with the planned closure of the high-rise building in the Cedar Estates housing project. Jane Addams High School students learned oral history techniques alongside CSU interviewers.