Urshelene Drewery Interview, 24 July 2006

Urshelene Drewery discusses the difficult times her and her family have endured during their years in Cleveland. She attributes much of what she has in her life to her spirituality and to god. She also discusses the decline of the St. Clair Superior neighborhood due to crime and how many of her neighbors help each other out. Several of the residents in the area hope a neighborhood garden will come to fruition.

Participants: Drewery, Urshelene (interviewee) / King, Kris (interviewer) / Yanoshik-Wing, Emma (participant)
Collection: Academy of American History
Institutional Repository: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Interview Transcript

Emma Yanoshik-Wing [00:00:00] There. So we get the right.

Urshelene Drewery [00:00:00] Urshelene Drewery.

Emma Yanoshik-Wing [00:00:07] Did you have far to come today? Where do you live?

Urshelene Drewery [00:00:09] 1229 East 74th street.

Emma Yanoshik-Wing [00:00:11] That sounds good. We can start.

Kris King [00:00:12] All right. This is Kris King and Mary-Kay Overman interviewing Urshelene Drewery for our project here with the St. Clair Superior Development Corporation, Cleveland state jury. I'm just going to start with some very basic questions in the beginning. And because we want to know a lot about you. And from speaking with you in the car, I know you have a lot to tell us.

Urshelene Drewery [00:00:46] I don't know.

Kris King [00:00:47] So can we start with your background, as far as you know, where you were born, in your family, where you were raised and your early childhood? Can you talk about that for us?

Urshelene Drewery [00:00:58] I was born in Middletown, Ohio. I left there at the age of 18. I moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana. I stayed there for about a year. Then I moved to Cleveland. And I've been here about 36 years in the house that I'm in now. I was here before, moved into that house.

Kris King [00:01:23] Why did you move from Middletown to Fort Wayne?

Urshelene Drewery [00:01:28] I got married and I moved away.

Kris King [00:01:34] And your husband?

Urshelene Drewery [00:01:35] He's deceased.

Kris King [00:01:37] When you got married, how many children did you have? A big family?

Urshelene Drewery [00:01:40] It was only myself and my sister at that time. And when I moved, then I had children myself. I have five children. I have 17 grandchildren and 30, no, no, 23 great grandchildren. So I have quite a large family. And we're all here in Cleveland.

Kris King [00:02:02] All of you are here in Cleveland?

Urshelene Drewery [00:02:04] Yes.

Kris King [00:02:05] So you were in Fort Wayne for just a year?

Urshelene Drewery [00:02:09] Just a year? Yes. With a job? No, with his job. My husband and myself with a job.

Kris King [00:02:15] Good. And then you came here to Cleveland?

Urshelene Drewery [00:02:17] Yes.

Kris King [00:02:18] So when you came to Cleveland then, where did you live? In the beginning.

Urshelene Drewery [00:02:21] I lived on Hough Avenue at 82nd and Hough. From there I went to 79th between Hough and White Park. From there I moved on 105. There I moved to Whitethorn. I moved to Whitethorn. And then I bought the house and moved in there, where I'm at now.

Kris King [00:02:46] You said before that you had worked on the west side.

Urshelene Drewery [00:02:51] Yes, I worked for Joseph and Feiss.

Kris King [00:02:54] Oh, they just recently closed, I guess.

Urshelene Drewery [00:02:57] But I had a sciatic nerve in my back and I had trouble with. I had to leave. In fact, they fired me because of. I didn't. I was at the hospital and the day that I was supposed to bring in a medical slip, and they fired me for that.

Kris King [00:03:12] There wasn't any recourse.

Urshelene Drewery [00:03:14] None. They kept telling me to wait, to wait, to wait. And I guess I just waited too long. So there was no. Nothing from that.

Kris King [00:03:23] What did you do for Joseph and Feiss?

Urshelene Drewery [00:03:25] I was an inspector on making coats.

Kris King [00:03:29] How many years were you there?

Urshelene Drewery [00:03:30] 24.

Kris King [00:03:32] 24 years. And that's what happened?

Urshelene Drewery [00:03:34] That's what happened, unfortunately.

Kris King [00:03:39] You worked on the west side for.

Urshelene Drewery [00:03:41] Them, but you lived on the east side. Yes. Yes.

Kris King [00:03:44] How did you get to work?

Urshelene Drewery [00:03:46] Well, I had a ride, you know, the lady picked me up and took me for a long time. I took the bus, and then I got a ride with the lady that lived over here also, and she would pick me up and bring me home in the evening.

Kris King [00:04:01] Where was Joseph and Feiss located?

Urshelene Drewery [00:04:03] 53Rd. Right. It was south of Lorain. About two blocks south of Lorain. Between Lorain and Clark.

Kris King [00:04:13] So after you left Joseph and Feiss, for those unfortunate reasons, the way they treated you. And there wasn't any recourse?

Urshelene Drewery [00:04:22] None. None, unfortunately.

Kris King [00:04:26] Did you acquire another job?

Urshelene Drewery [00:04:29] No, I was unable to work after that. I had to have surgery on my back. And I went through a lot of therapy at different things, but I was never able to work again as today. I can't do a lot of walking, I can't do a lot of standing, and I'm not able to work at all. And now I'm too old. But then I couldn't do it.

Kris King [00:04:50] Did you get workman? You didn't get workman's compensation?

Urshelene Drewery [00:04:52] Nothing. Nothing. Mm mm. I had to go on welfare for a while until Social Security kicked in. But how that happened, I had a grandson that was left with me, and they gave him Social Security. So we lived off of that until I was able. He got Social Security because his mother and father were both deaf, and he got taken care of. So then we lived off of that until I got Social Security myself. And that's all I still get. That's all you still get? Mm hmm. I get $83 from the job that I was on from Joseph and Feiss as my retirement fund.

Kris King [00:05:38] Oh, they gave you.

Urshelene Drewery [00:05:40] That's it? Yes.

Kris King [00:05:42] You get the $83 every month from Joseph and Feiss, plus yourself?

Urshelene Drewery [00:05:47] Yes. And. Which is less than $900, and I live off of that.

Kris King [00:05:56] How do you manage your.

Urshelene Drewery [00:05:58] I don't. God does it for me. I can't. Excuse me.

Kris King [00:06:07] We'll get into that, but. All right. You want to give us the names of your children? And maybe you could tell us a little bit about your children. You don't have to go into your great grandchildren, but your children. See how they survive.

Urshelene Drewery [00:06:21] My oldest is named Rodney. Right now he's on crutches. He's been on crutches for eight months, two years ago, he was attacked, and he had a compound. He had a fracture on his head where he was hitting the head with a brick, so they had to take the skull off of his brain. A year later, he was attacked again. He had a compound fracture of the ankle. It set up infection in the bone, and he's still walking on crutches. He was in the nursing home for 14 weeks, and he goes to hyperbaric [?] every day now except Saturday and Sunday. That's where he is now.

Kris King [00:07:04] And he lives right here in Cleveland.

Urshelene Drewery [00:07:05] He lives with me. Then my second son, he lives on that street, 73rd. He and his family live there. My daughter, my oldest daughter, she's a daycare provider. She lives on 113th. My next daughter, she's. She does home providing for elderly people. She lives in East Cleveland. My youngest son, the one, he's hard of hearing, you know, and he lives over on 81st, but they pretty much all live in their own place, except for the one that lives with me.

Kris King [00:07:49] Would you consider yourself. Your family's close to you?

Urshelene Drewery [00:07:53] Very close.

Kris King [00:07:55] You get together quite often?

Urshelene Drewery [00:07:57] Not as much as we used to. You know, we don't do it as much. Everybody has their own lives. We do occasionally get together, but not like we used to. [crosstalk] Yes. Yes.

Kris King [00:08:10] So you've lived in your house 37 years?

Urshelene Drewery [00:08:14] 36 years.

Kris King [00:08:16] I'd like to discuss with you the neighborhood and what changes you've seen.

Urshelene Drewery [00:08:26] When I moved there, I was the second black family on that street, and it has gone from the Hell’s Angels to the street gangs. When I moved there, we could not go past. You could not even go to Hodge school farther up the street there. They didn't allow it. You were attacked if you went there. But I stayed there, you know, and I really had no problem with them because we didn't do it, you know? Now the gangs are all over the place. There's shootings, there's killings and everything there, but nobody's bothering me. Through the grace of God, I'm still there, you know?

Kris King [00:09:10] What do you think it is that they don't bother you?

Urshelene Drewery [00:09:13] I don't know. A lot of them know me. A lot of the people there know me, and I'm just there, and I've had people come by and say things, but the neighborhood, you know, the neighbors would speak up for me, but nobody bothers me.

Kris King [00:09:29] Have you thought of moving?

Urshelene Drewery [00:09:32] Very seriously. I've considered selling the house and going into a high rise, though. I really don't want to. I like my house. It's private. Nobody bothers me. I like my own space. I don't like apartment buildings at all, so I don't know yet. I still haven't made up my mind whether to move or not. But then I also know that that kind of stuff is everywhere and you can't run, so I don't know yet what I'm gonna do. I still have a grandson that lives with me, the one that I raised. He's 20 years old now, and I have no problem with him. He's not there a lot, but I have no problem with him either. So I don't know what I'm going to do yet.

Kris King [00:10:13] He doesn't hang out with. This must be very difficult, though, for the people that live in that neighborhood being threatened by gangs.

Urshelene Drewery [00:10:26] Most of the people there are homeowners within my block, really? Pretty much all the way down to superior. I don't know too much about the northern end of me, but they're homeowners, and they pretty much keep their own property and things together. It can be difficult, but then, really, I don't think any. There's a lot of stealing going on there, too. They're breaking into people's houses and garages and things and stealing things out. But I'm home most of the time, so nobody. Well, I've had things stolen, too, you know, but those are material things, you know, and I don't try not to worry about them.

Kris King [00:11:09] I would like to ask you.

Urshelene Drewery [00:11:15] Excuse me.

Kris King [00:11:16] That's fine. Your faith, you seem to be a very spiritual woman.

Urshelene Drewery [00:11:23] My church is non denominational, and I belong to Emmanuel Christian Church on 82nd and superior. But I also attend a friend of mine's church who is the minister and his wife there. It's up farther on Superior, and I go to their church on Thursday night for bible study and on Saturdays for their morning service. My church Wednesday night is the Bible study, and Sunday is my regular service. And I go to both of them as much as I possibly can.

Kris King [00:11:55] That's where you find your solace, your meaning.

Urshelene Drewery [00:11:58] Yes.

Kris King [00:11:59] And that's possibly what helps you through all.

Urshelene Drewery [00:12:01] Yes.

Kris King [00:12:02] Yes, that's my maybe why they leave you alone. I know you are this good woman.

Urshelene Drewery [00:12:09] I try. I try, you know, I try to help as many people as I possibly can. There's not much help that I can do, but what I can do, I do.

Kris King [00:12:19] What about the people in the neighborhood, like you mentioned that you used to work for Sam?

Urshelene Drewery [00:12:25] No, when I worked on the west side, Sam had a store right there on the corner, and that's how I met him. And he's moved over to the east side now. But I didn't work for him.

Kris King [00:12:37] You keep in contact with him?

Urshelene Drewery [00:12:39] Not much. When I happen to go in the store, he recognizes me and I recognize him. But I don't go that often either, because, as I said, I can't do a lot of walking, so I don't get there too often.

Kris King [00:12:50] So somebody has to take you to the store then?

Urshelene Drewery [00:12:53] Usually my daughter. Yes.

Kris King [00:12:57] That's great. Could you give me some of your good memories of when you were a child?

Urshelene Drewery [00:13:06] That was 70 years ago. There was no one but my sister and myself. I had three stepsisters, and we all communicated together. They were close by, so we all was together. You know, my family, we went on trips together, things that we used to play in the yard. My father always had a garden, and we would go out and get things in the garden. And we call ourselves cooking it, too. But like orange peelings, we would even take orange peelings and said this was something that we ate. Different weeds and stuff we would do. We didn't eat the weeds, but we would play with them. It was pretty nice. We had a nice childhood.

Kris King [00:13:54] And what about when you got married and your husband? What good memories do you have from that?

Urshelene Drewery [00:14:01] Not very many. I won't even go into that, but not very many.

Kris King [00:14:07] So now when you can't have moved to Cleveland, do you have any good memories with your children up here?

Urshelene Drewery [00:14:14] Oh, yes. We had lots of fun. We would take walks down to the museums or we would go to the zoo. We would take long walks. We would just get a bunch of the neighborhood kids and we have them pack a lunch in a bag, and we would walk. We would go to the art museum and to the lagoon there. We walk to the lake, to the parks. We just go. We just walk. Sit down somewhere and have lunch, come back. You know, we go. Take the bus and go to the zoo. Spend the day there. We had nice times.

Kris King [00:14:50] Museum is nice there, right around the lagoon. Your children like doing that?

Urshelene Drewery [00:14:56] Oh, yeah. They do it now. They take their children.

Kris King [00:15:04] If you could change something in your life, what do you think you would like to?

Urshelene Drewery [00:15:09] I don't know. I really don't know. I raise my children as best as I know how. There was no, we don't ever know everything. That's right. But you do as best that you can do. And that's what I did. I really don't. I can't say what I would change. I've enjoyed my life. I've had hard times of course. But God puts nothing in front of you that he doesn't make something better. So I can't say what I would change.

Kris King [00:15:39] You're a very uplifting person. Things that people should really listen to and enjoy themselves the way you have enjoyed your.

Urshelene Drewery [00:15:47] I tried. I did a lot of sewing for people. I can't do that too much anymore, but that was an extra income for me. When my children were small, I made clothes for them. I made coats, suits, you know, and I did a lot of things for other people, which brought in an extra income. But I can't do too much of that anymore because I've got arthritis so badly in my hands. Occasionally, if it's something not hard, then I can do it, you know? And that all depends on the weather for me. But I don't do the sewing like I used to do anymore.

Kris King [00:16:23] Who taught you to sew?

Urshelene Drewery [00:16:25] Me.

Kris King [00:16:26] Really?

Urshelene Drewery [00:16:26] Yes. Excuse me.

Kris King [00:16:30] What was just something you picked up on the side or.

Urshelene Drewery [00:16:33] When you have children and you have no help, you do as best you can do to raise them. And I just kept doing it and kept doing it. The suits that my boys graduated in were suits that I made winter coats. I made those. I have gone to fabric stores or even sometime at a secondhand store, they have material left, and I'd buy upholstery material and make a winter coat for the girls and myself because I couldn't afford to buy them. But I just did. You know, I just started sewing.

Kris King [00:17:09] I mentioned the sewing because my father used to work at Richmond Brothers here on 55th.

Urshelene Drewery [00:17:14] Yes, yes.

Kris King [00:17:15] And he used to do the same thing, make all my clothes as a child, too. So I have a lot of respect for you.

Urshelene Drewery [00:17:22] No, thank you. I like sewing at the time, but. And then it seemed that every time I go to church, I'm taking somebody's something back to church. Then every time I leave church, I'm bringing somebody's something back to my house to repair or. And I did that a lot, too. Now I just have to tell them I can't do it anymore. I just can't. And the last thing that I made was a prom dress for my granddaughter. For this year, I made her prom dress. But I've made several prom dresses. I did. I made one wedding dress. It wasn't an elaborate, just plain, you know, but that. I just don't do it anymore. I can't. At times, I can't close my fingers like this. I can't close them, but I did what I had to do. Mm hmm.

Kris King [00:18:19] Your health.

Urshelene Drewery [00:18:21] Not the best.

Kris King [00:18:23] You want to tell us about your health at this particular point?

Urshelene Drewery [00:18:26] I have high blood pressure. I have asthma, bronchitis, and sinus. I've had surgery on my back, as I told you, and my spine stands open like this. They had to cut it off. It stands open because the nerve was pressing on it. I did fine after the surgery for a while, but now it's. The scar tissue is starting to press on the nerve again, so I can't do too much with that either. They don't want to give me another surgery, they said, because the scar tissue would just come back. So I live with the pain as much as, you know, I possibly can. I take pain medicines. I guess that's the main thing, you know, is my blood pressure. I haven't been. I'm out of medicine right now. I have to call and get some, but I've been out for, like, three months now. But I know how to maintain pretty much. You don't have the money? You don't have the money. So I've learned how pretty much to balance it out, eating the right foods. And sometimes I eat what I'm not supposed to eat, but I do.

Kris King [00:19:40] That's kind of a scary thing, though. It happens with a lot of people when they don't have the money, they do what they think they can do. You need your medicine?

Urshelene Drewery [00:19:52] Oh, yes, I do. And then if family problems make your nerves. I have hypertension, so when I get upset, it runs my pressure up, and I try very hard not to do that.

Kris King [00:20:10] I would say that you're a very inspirational woman. You have come from the western part of Ohio. You brought with your family, and you came here and settled here and raised your children. And no matter what the neighborhood is like, you've kept a good life.

Urshelene Drewery [00:20:30] Yes, I thank you. Yes.

Kris King [00:20:31] Now, if you had something, you could think about the future. What kind of dreams do you have about the future?

Urshelene Drewery [00:20:41] I try not to. I try not to. When I moved into my house, I was working at Joseph and Feiss then, and I wasn't making a lot of money, but at that time, nobody wanted children. It used to be a time that they didn't want animals or pets of any kind in their house. So that was why I kept, you know, I moved around. Then I got to the place, they didn't want children. So when I got the opportunity to buy the house that I'm in, I jumped on it, you know. Well, they wanted $300 down for down payment, $300 for clothing costs. I only had 300, so the people told me if I would put the down payment, they would pay the closing costs. And that's how I got into the house, to show you how God works. In my life, there has never. I have never. The house is paid for now. I have never paid over $200 a month on my mortgage. That also included my insurance. I had a 30 year mortgage. When I had little money, other things had to be done, dealt with. My bills were small, and as I got a little bit more money, my bills went up a little higher. And one lady asked me, and once my mortgage went up, I think it was like, to $122 a month. And the lady asked me, why don't you call them and ask them, why does your mortgage keep going up? And my answer to them was, I don't question God. He's provided for me this far. He's not going to leave me and my house. At the end of the time, I think it was like a year later, they gave me an option of paying like $300 to close it out. I paid that and I got refunds, so I didn't have anything else to worry about.

Kris King [00:22:38] You've owned your house for how many years then?

Urshelene Drewery [00:22:40] I bought it in 71. I've owned it 36 years.

Kris King [00:22:46] That's amazing.

Urshelene Drewery [00:22:48] But I do.

Kris King [00:22:49] It's amazing what you can do with so little and yet make it come out to be so.

Urshelene Drewery [00:22:53] Well, yes. Yes. I never had to have any major problems done on the house. My son that's on the crutches now was a roofer. He put the roof on. I haven't had any problem with that. I've had to buy a hot water tank. Then the city did some repair work on my house. You know, this plan that they have where as long as you live there, you don't have to pay, but if somebody else moves in, you know, if you sell it, you pay it back. Well, they came in, they remodeled the house. They did the driveway, the steps in the back. They built a back porch on, they did the sidewalk. They put a water line in. They gave me a new furnace, stationary tubs in the basement, stairs going up the steps. They fixed those. So I haven't had anything that I really was out of the pocket money for me. I had been blessed.

Kris King [00:23:49] Blessed. I'd like to ask you about your neighbors. Do you have anything to do with your neighbors?

Urshelene Drewery [00:23:57] Oh, yes. Yes. The lady on my right side is a white lady, and next to her is a white man that lives in his house. We're all very good friends. He comes, he works on my computer for me. I give him dinners you know, when I have it, the lady next door, we do things for each other. She'll give me dinner. I give her dinner right now she has three pair of pants at my house that she needs rubber in the waist. And I told her, I can't promise you when I will do it, but I will do it. So I've been working on her pants. The neighbors on the left side, it was his father's mother's house. They moved out. They bought a house down on, farther down on superior, those new houses. But he's there and we're friends. We're all friends right there across the street, the same way we're all very close friends. We're not visiting friends across the street, but we're acquaintances and we'll speak, go to each other's porch or door, whichever, and speak. But the lady next door, we're always in each other's house.

Kris King [00:25:01] That seems like such a nice neighborhood for you. It would be very hard for you to move out of there.

Urshelene Drewery [00:25:07] I like the neighborhood and I like the people, but the circumstances all around, you know, like I say, there's so many gangs. They've got like four gangs over there. They're shooting at each other up and down the street. They're riding through there with the car doors open, playing music really loud. So I don't know.

Kris King [00:25:29] What about, do the police come and help you out in this situation?

Urshelene Drewery [00:25:38] Excuse me? I'm going to be honest. I have no confidence in the police. None. I've seen them too much doing nothing. We've had street gangs fighting on the street and the police were called and they would come to the corner and look down there and turn and go the other way. I have none. My daughter lived on Donnell and she called the police for some people that were. I don't know exactly what they were doing. The police came and she told them where the people were. They went down and got the people and brought them back to her house and said, see, we got them. They were reported and thank you. They were reported and it went to administration. The police department and commander had to do his job with it. From that day on, the commander disappeared. We haven't seen or heard from him since.

Kris King [00:26:44] What about your councilman?

Urshelene Drewery [00:26:49] She's pretty good. Fannie Lewis is my council person. She's pretty good. You know, if things, you really need something, then she'll step in. They have ward meetings that I don't go to because I can't get to a lot of them. The most I do is come here to the St. Clair Coalition, because I'm on the street club. I'm the block club safety committee, the improvement, whatever that is. I can't think of the name of it, but I'm on here. I do a lot of things with them, but other than that I'm at home, pretty much our church.

Kris King [00:27:34] So you do take part in these meetings at the black committees?

Urshelene Drewery [00:27:37] Oh, yes, all of them. Yes, yes.

Kris King [00:27:40] Organization. What kind of things do you do in the block?

Urshelene Drewery [00:27:48] Sometimes I chair the meeting, sometimes I'm just there or. We were putting together these bags, you know, we worked with them until after I left. I see some of them have been passed out already. At one time I think I was calling the people to let them know. I've tried to get a lot of the neighbors to join the street club and they're not doing it.

Kris King [00:28:13] Seems to me that be a great way of improving the whole neighborhood. I mean, I think a lot of it has improved already, but more so. And then you could get rid of your, possibly your street gangs.

Urshelene Drewery [00:28:27] We've had. I've gone to the drug programs. We've had them. We sat on the corners where the drug people are and they go by. They don't bother us. You know, we just sit there. They've had walks which I can't do it through the neighborhoods. Whatever I'm able to do, I'm willing to do, and I do that. But if we could get more people to join this street club, possibly it would be better. But you can't get them to do so.

Kris King [00:29:05] Why do you think they don't want to join? Are they just apathetic?

Urshelene Drewery [00:29:10] I think they're afraid. I think they're really afraid. I don't know. I've asked them and some of them say they're going to come, but it never happens. We've tried to get them to get the street, the lights, the yard, outside lights for the yard, and I've got some crazy answers for that. Nobody wants them. Nobody will do it. If it was free, maybe they would, but it's not free. You have to pay some monies on them, you know, and they won't commit to anything.

Kris King [00:29:44] I think the safety is such a concern for everybody.

Urshelene Drewery [00:29:48] It should be because some of those saved people, same people, houses and garages and things have been broke into, but they won't do it.

Kris King [00:29:58] That's a real question. Why? So tell me about your fanny Lewis.

Urshelene Drewery [00:30:04] And how she helps you personally as a person. I don't call her. I know people that have called her and that she's worked well for them. I know that one time there was rape on the corner of 74th and Lockyer, which is on the same block that I'm on south on my block. She came for that. They have me. She goes to a lot of the churches around for organization. We have at my church, St. Clair Coalition had a praise your child. So I went to my church and had them. We had it in the yard there. She was inspirational in that, donating things. Her people that work for her, they was in there. I don't know whether she came or not because I was at a funeral and I didn't even get a chance to go. But she's been beneficial in a lot of things.

Kris King [00:31:05] When you went to the museums, you Said you walked to the museum. So take me through the path or the trip that you took to the museum from your house.

Urshelene Drewery [00:31:20] We walked down 79th to Hough and down Hough to Ansel Road and walked across that field going into the. Into the museum, and we just walked straight there.

Kris King [00:31:36] Took you quite a while, didn't it?

Urshelene Drewery [00:31:38] Yeah, but we were not in a hurry with young kids, and I was younger then, too, so the walk wasn't bad. It was fun, really.

Kris King [00:31:45] When my parents first came to Cleveland, their first apartment was at the corner of Hough and Crawford.

Urshelene Drewery [00:31:52] My son used to live right there.

Kris King [00:31:54] Yeah.

Urshelene Drewery [00:31:58] When I first came to Cleveland, I lived on 82nd in Hough.

Kris King [00:32:02] Uh huh.

Urshelene Drewery [00:32:03] And all of that's gone now.

Kris King [00:32:05] Yeah, it is. Were you, then you were around with the Hough riots?

Urshelene Drewery [00:32:11] Yes, I worked on 82nd. At that time. I lived on Whitethorn, so I had to go out 82nd straight across down to Carter's nursing home on 82nd.

Kris King [00:32:24] That was a very scary time for you, wasn't it?

Urshelene Drewery [00:32:27] No. No, I wasn't afraid. I really wasn't. Nobody ever bothered me. And then my children had friends that lived over in that area, and they would see me coming, and they would walk with me, you know, down to where I had to go. I had no problem.

Kris King [00:32:44] I think the Lord has blessed you.

Urshelene Drewery [00:32:46] I know he has. I know he has.

Kris King [00:32:50] Well, I'm just trying to think if there's anything else that I have forgotten to ask you, but I've enjoyed talking with you. I just wonder if you had anything that you would like to add to this interview, anything that you can think of?

Urshelene Drewery [00:33:08] No, I don't think so.

Kris King [00:33:12] Well, it's been really wonderful here, knowing your life and what you've done in your lifetime and all these years, and I find that you, as I said before, you're a very spiritual person.

Urshelene Drewery [00:33:30] Thank you.

Kris King [00:33:31] The Lord has blessed you.

Urshelene Drewery [00:33:33] I know he has. I know he has. The things that he's done for me I couldn't have done when they came to do my house and they wanted to know my income, and I told them because I bought that house on less than $7 an hour, and he asked me, how did you do it? And I told him the same thing. I didn't. God does it for me, and I don't question him and I really don't. He's not going to do anything, you know, no more than what I deserve is what he's going to do. And I work at that.

Kris King [00:34:09] Well, you seem to give a lot of yourself to your community, too, though. You're concerned about it.

Urshelene Drewery [00:34:15] Yes. We're trying to get a community garden around the corner from my house. And Fannie Lewis, we've gone to her about that, too. Well, we don't know yet whether we're going to get it. We have to find out who owns the property. And then we were asking her to put a fence around it. And you had to have at least five people to get this garden. Well, we've got about eight people that want it now. Just going to them and asking them, you know, about it, and they're very interested in it. So we can't say yet until we find out who owns the property and if they'll fence it in for us. We don't know. I think it's going to.

Kris King [00:34:59] Go around different parts of New York City. They have those gardens, community, little places.

Urshelene Drewery [00:35:08] They have a lot of them here, too.

Kris King [00:35:10] Yes, they do. So I just want to tell you again that I really appreciate you coming and talking with us.

Urshelene Drewery [00:35:18] You're welcome.

Kris King [00:35:19] You're a real inspiration to a lot of people and respect the work you've done and your life that you have had and are having and what you find is so important in living and that's your lord.

Urshelene Drewery [00:35:35] My lord and my family. Those are the most two important things to me. Yes. Thank you.

Kris King [00:35:43] All right.

Urshelene Drewery [00:35:48] I hope you can use some of that stuff from me.

Kris King [00:35:51] You know, we will.

Academy of American History

These interviews were conducted between 2004 and 2006 by public school teachers in the Teaching American History (TAH) grant-funded Academy of American History summer institute at Cleveland State University, sponsored by the US Department of Education. The project was a collaboration between CSU, the City Club of Cleveland, Western Reserve Historical Society, and St. Clair-Superior Community Development Corporation. Interviews in this series focus on the Civil Rights movement in Cleveland, Carl…