Dr. Bernice G. Miller Interview, 25 August 2006

Dr. Miller discusses her early education and attending school with Howard Metzenbaum. She also discusses her occupation as an attorney, her law firm in Seven Hills, and life there.

Participants: Miller, Bernice (interviewee) / Zima, Amanda (interviewer)
Collection: Seven Hills Golden Agers
Institutional Repository: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Interview Transcript

Bernice G. Miller [00:00:06] Dr. Bernice G. Miller.

Amanda Zima [00:00:10] Ok, and when were you born.

Bernice G. Miller [00:00:12] April 1st, 1917.

Amanda Zima [00:00:15] And where did you grow up?

Bernice G. Miller [00:00:15] In Cleveland.

Amanda Zima [00:00:19] Any memories of growing up in Cleveland that you would like to share with us today?

Bernice G. Miller [00:00:24] Well, I was very fortunate that when I went to school in Cleveland, I went to a wonderful school, Chesterfield, and then Patrick Henry Junior High and Glenville High, which was equivalent to college at that time.

Amanda Zima [00:00:40] And what year did you graduate from high school?

Bernice G. Miller [00:00:42] In 1935.

Amanda Zima [00:00:50] And I see right here you said Dr. Bernice, and you are a doctorate of law, you said?

Bernice G. Miller [00:00:54] Yes.

Amanda Zima [00:00:54] And where did you get your doctorate from?

Bernice G. Miller [00:00:57] Cleveland-Marshall School of Law. They discontinued the doctorate now.

Amanda Zima [00:01:02] What year did you end up doing that?

Bernice G. Miller [00:01:05] 1951.

Amanda Zima [00:01:09] Oh wow. Is there any story from that period that you want to discuss with us today, like Euclid Avenue, and growing up in the city?.

Bernice G. Miller [00:01:17] Well at that time there was very much being offered on Euclid Avenue in the way of entertainment. We had Keith's 105th, which was something very special. And we had a Clark restaurant, which was wonderful at the time. And then we did start getting some delicatessens that were very good. Of course, we had the art museum around that area, which was always a special place to visit. And then we had the, I can't think of anything of the park that was right next to, right near Mount Sinai Hospital. There was a little lake down there. And we used to go down there and it was a lot of fun. We'd go in there and swim a little bit and then they discontinued the swimming there. I'm sorry, I can't think of a name. It was... [Wade Park?]

Amanda Zima [00:02:16] That's fine, over by Mount Sinai, alright, so you said you went to high school in the Glenville?

Bernice G. Miller [00:02:16] Yes.

Amanda Zima [00:02:16] Do you have any memories of the Glenville riots that happened in the late 1960s?

Bernice G. Miller [00:02:28] Well, that was later, I got out, so I had somebody quite famous in my class. Howard Metzenbaum.

Amanda Zima [00:02:36] OK. Want to talk about that? Feel free.

Bernice G. Miller [00:02:38] Well, Howard sat next to me all the way from kindergarten on in school because my name was Metzel and his was Metzenbaum and we were seated alphabetically. So we were friends, whether we liked it or not.

Amanda Zima [00:02:52] What was he like?

Bernice G. Miller [00:02:55] Oh, a wonderful person, very intelligent, always was extremely intelligent and very helpful to many, many people during the years. And, I'm trying to think the other fellow in our class, somebody else in our class was quite famous, and had quite a few well-known people. But I can't think of other ones to name right now.

Amanda Zima [00:03:27] So you've always been in the Cleveland area

Bernice G. Miller [00:03:29] Yes.

Amanda Zima [00:03:31] How have you seen, of course there have been many changes, how have you seen the changes over the years?

Bernice G. Miller [00:03:40] Well, now, one of the biggest changes was, I think, the education of women. When I went to law school, we had very few women in the class, very few. And now I think the majority in law school are women. And I will say that I was the first woman ever elected to public office in Seven Hills.

Amanda Zima [00:04:06] Congratulations.

Bernice G. Miller [00:04:07] Councilwoman at large. [cross talk] I just ran because I felt it was time for women to get involved. And I did open up my law office in Seven Hills. That was a first.

Amanda Zima [00:04:21] What year did you open it up?

Bernice G. Miller [00:04:24] I think I opened if up in '51, I believe. I don't quite recall, but I believe so. I just closed it a couple of years ago.

Amanda Zima [00:04:32] Oh, wow. that's fantastic.

Bernice G. Miller [00:04:34] I've been here a long, long time. And trying to think of what else.

Amanda Zima [00:04:43] Do you want to talk about being a woman and going to law school or college in the '50s, and how that?

Bernice G. Miller [00:04:52] Well, actually, we have so very, very men in the class. And as I said, very, very few women. I think we had about 200 fellows because of the service they were going to school for free. And I only had, I think, one other white woman in school. But there were I was very surprised at the number of black students, black women students. And they succeeded. I'm trying to think of the one who was so very active. So very active in politics. And actually, the fellows were wonderful. We had no problem whatsoever. We were all treated very equally. And I was active in the organizations there and took an active part.

Amanda Zima [00:05:50] In being a woman during that time, do you remember any protests for women's rights going on in the city or anything that you were a part of on campus?

Bernice G. Miller [00:06:00] I never had any problem. I can't say that the school, I had any problem at all. The fellows were behind me 100 percent. So there was no, no problem at all.

Amanda Zima [00:06:15] Do you have any memories that you want to discuss about growing up in Cleveland and on Euclid Avenue?

Bernice G. Miller [00:06:22] Well, I didn't grow up on Euclid, in the area. My memories are only of good things that I did. I'm trying to think of the place we used to go to on Euclid. But they had sports and so forth. And I can't think of what it was called anymore. There used to be a place we used to go down for sports and a place that was right near the park.

Amanda Zima [00:06:58] Of sporting events, football, baseball games or...

Bernice G. Miller [00:07:02] Where we could be active.

Amanda Zima [00:07:03] Oh, like a park?

Bernice G. Miller [00:07:05] Yes. And they had some indoor sports, too. It wasn't called the Coliseum. I forget what it was called. The Coliseum was further down on Euclid Avenue I think, that was around 30th I believe that they had the coliseum, but they had this place that was right around the park. But I can't recall it anymore. It's terrible not to remember the name and. I know we had, as I said, a lot of theaters there.

Amanda Zima [00:07:32] Did you go to shows a lot?

Bernice G. Miller [00:07:36] Quite a bit.

Bernice G. Miller [00:07:37] Want to talk about that?

Bernice G. Miller [00:07:40] Well, I did enjoy The Keith 105th. That was something special. Of course, you had a sense of The Palace downtown. But we we went the Alhambra Theater, quite a bit and I should remember a lot more places there, but I don't.

Amanda Zima [00:08:00] Well, It's changed a lot. So I mean....

Bernice G. Miller [00:08:02] I haven't been there for so many years.

Amanda Zima [00:08:04] Oh, you haven't?

Bernice G. Miller [00:08:05] Oh, no.

Amanda Zima [00:08:05] What has kept you away?

Bernice G. Miller [00:08:07] Well, I've lived out here since 1951 in Seven Hills, and I said was one one the first people to build a home out in the Seven Hills area.

Amanda Zima [00:08:17] One of the first, really?

Bernice G. Miller [00:08:21] Well, there are some, a few older homes, we were the first home to be built on our street. And uh,..

Amanda Zima [00:08:27] What was it that, I mean, of course the suburbs and the developments, but can you talk about how the homes were being built more frequently?

Bernice G. Miller [00:08:41] Well, we were, the neighbor across the street and I were the first homes to come up on the street and after that, it was built very quickly. So they have the Ridge Drive was one of the early streets there. And I've loved to see it grow. And my office has been out in Broadview Road and Seven Hills, as I said for ages, since '51. I still have my office building there.

Amanda Zima [00:09:11] Is there anything else that you want to close with, that you want to say?

Bernice G. Miller [00:09:18] It's been wonderful living out here. I have all woods in back of me. It's really great. Have the animals around and it's so very pleasant living in Seven Hills. I don't know any place I could enjoy more.

Amanda Zima [00:09:37] Alright then, thank you, I'm sorry, did you want to say some more?

Bernice G. Miller [00:09:38] No, that's about it, I love my home. My husband was an artist and he designed it. It's a pleasure to live in. He was quite a fine artist.

Amanda Zima [00:09:53] Where did he go to school for, was he self-taught?

Bernice G. Miller [00:09:58] Well, he he really did art without going to school until later on, that's where I met him when I did a little bit of art work, too, but he was a lettering director at American Greetings for quite a number of years.

Amanda Zima [00:10:13] Wow, and what kind of art did you do?

Bernice G. Miller [00:10:16] I just did fashion design.

Amanda Zima [00:10:18] Oh really? What year were you doing fashion designing, what era?

Bernice G. Miller [00:10:24] Well, it was back around the '50s. I designed the first wraparound turban for women. Yes, that I did. That was interesting. I did some work on gloves that were stretch gloves and things of that nature. Just a little here, a little there.

Amanda Zima [00:10:49] That's phenomenal.

Bernice G. Miller [00:10:52] But my my husband was such a good artist I didn't, couldn't compete, so I don't do much with it after that. That's about it.

Amanda Zima [00:11:08] It was a pleasure.

Seven Hills Golden Agers

A series of interviews conducted by Center staff with a small contingent of residents at the Seven Hills Senior Center in Seven Hills, Ohio, in conjunction with the Euclid Corridor History Project. Memories of downtown shopping are prominent in this series.