Pete Scriven Interview, 2 October 2012

Pete Scriven, a lifelong resident of Cleveland Heights, gives an overview of what it was like growing up in the Cedar Lee Neighborhood. He describes his childhood and the various stores and shops he would frequent, and gives a detailed account of what changes the neighborhood has gone through. He recalls a time when hamburgers were less than 25 cents and ice cream cones were only 7 cents.

Participants: Scriven, Pete (interviewee) / Souther, Mark (interviewer)
Collection: Cleveland Heights
Institutional Repository: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Interview Transcript

Mark Souther [00:00:01] All right, we're recording then. Okay. Today is October 2, 2012, and I'm Mark Souther, and I'm interviewing Pete Scriven, who is a member of, a lifelong member of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Thank you very much for being with us today.

Pete Scriven [00:00:20] Thank you, Mark.

Mark Souther [00:00:21] And I wanted to begin by asking when and where you were born.

Pete Scriven [00:00:25] I was born in Cleveland, down at University Hospital in April of 1949, April [...], if you need to know. [laughs]

Mark Souther [00:00:35] Were you living in Cleveland Heights from the start?

Pete Scriven [00:00:40] Yes. My family lived on Meadowbrook Boulevard, just a few houses from Lee Road. I don't remember living there. We moved, it was about a year and a half over to Dellwood Road between Lee and Taylor Roads, and lived there the rest of my life until I went to college. And, in fact, my mother lived there for 52 years.

Mark Souther [00:01:05] Wow. Can you describe the house?

Pete Scriven [00:01:12] It's a typical Cleveland Heights colonial. You know, when we talk about Cleveland Heights homes, there's some extremely modest, some not at all modest. There's some grandiose homes. And this was probably neither, but more toward the modest as a three-bedroom colonial. Unfinished basement, unfinished attic. I had two sisters and they shared one bedroom. I once got past some very young ages. They shared the one bedroom, I had the other, and my parents had the other one. So one and a half baths. So we all shared the one bathroom. Except I remember my dad would go downstairs to shave in the morning just to clear out of the- We never would have gotten into the bathroom with, especially with my two sisters when they were in junior high, in high school. They were both older. I'm the youngest one in the family.

Mark Souther [00:02:12] What are your earliest recollections of playing in the neighborhood or exploring the neighborhood?

Pete Scriven [00:02:18] Oh, exploring the neighborhood. As far as being, I mean, I guess my- I don't know if this is what you're referring to. My first recollections was being. Was tagging along with my mother when she was my sister's girl scout leader up at the Church of the Saviour at Lee and Bradford. And I have this vague recollection, partly reinforced by stories that I've heard, where she would carry me along in the red wagon and put me in the corner with a coloring book. And I became a girl scout that way for several years. And then as far as exploring the neighborhood, well, Dellwood is- Behind our house on Dellwood is a hill that goes down to Meadowbrook. And so, although that was forbidden, that wasn't safe and so forth, I can't say that we never played on the back hill. In later years, I helped my dad put railroad ties and things like that to help keep it from eroding down into the yard behind us. But it was a fairly substantial grade to that hill. So, you know, that was sort of, say, while forbidden, it was one of the fun places to explore, was behind there. We rode our bikes a lot. That was, you know, as I was growing up through elementary school, of course, we always walked from Dellwood over to Fairfax school. And I remember some of the homes that are there now were actually vacant lots. Particularly the one I'm thinking of is at the corner of East Scarborough and Lee, on Lee Road at East Scarborough. And that was a house that was moved from Bradford right behind Church of the Saviour, when Church of the Saviour started expanding its property. So I remember watching that go from when I first was going to school. That was a vacant lot somewhere while I was at Fairfax. And I don't remember which year we were watching that be transformed into a house that was. I mean, they didn't build the house there. They moved it and placed it there and so forth. But we would sometimes, as far as playing, I mean, anywhere from throwing the ball around and playing in the street on Dellwood, we also. The area, the Fairfax school, was an old building that was torn down a number of years ago and replaced on the same general site, by the build-, with the current building. But the old Fairfax building was closer to Scarborough Road than the current one is. And behind that on Scarborough was an open field and later baseball field and stuff. And we would a number of times go up there. Well, actually, in the earlier years, it would be play on the playground. And then as we got a little bit older, groups of us would ride our bikes up there and just play pickup baseball games. And it was really kind of nice because, as we know from history, things were a lot less organized there, and there's much more of they just go play.

Mark Souther [00:05:35] A couple of questions that prompts. One was about the- You mentioned the big hill behind your house that went down the Meadowbrook. Were people's yards fenced at that time, or was it wide open? Were you going to go up and down through there exploring?

Pete Scriven [00:05:53] Both, but we really didn't explore very far on that. When I grew up on Dellwood, there were not very many families of our age. There were a lot of older, more like my grandparents' age, who had been there for a number of years, and then, as they moved, died, whatever, ended up being- Those homes were being bought by younger families, maybe, you know, with kids maybe a good ten years younger than I. So they really. There were a few but not very many, you know, families of our age. We were sort of between the two generations. It flipped from a lot of older folks and on both sides of ours in my earlier years, it was. That was the case. In fact, the one widow who was just to the east of our house. I mean, she was there until, I believe she was still there when I graduated from high school. So Mrs. Fleisser[?] next door was always the, you know, the very nice but older lady, so you didn't tend to go into her yard. But so there was. There wasn't. We didn't do a lot of exploring up and down the street in the back. I'm sure that some- You know, every once in a while you'd see somebody coming up our driveway they'd come up from the hill and they had cut through and it was sort of frowned upon back then. But, I mean, it wasn't any major issue.

Mark Souther [00:07:22] So they didn't have to climb any fences and-?

Pete Scriven [00:07:25] Not in our yard and not very many, as I recall. I don't recall that being a terribly fenced area.

Mark Souther [00:07:32] Do you remember - this is neither here nor there, in a way - but I'm curious if there's a time you can remember when people started putting up fences. Because now I think about on my own street where every single house has a completely fenced backyard up to the back edges of the houses.

Pete Scriven [00:07:54] Not particularly, no. There were a couple houses, as you're mentioning that. That I sort of remember. Yeah, I guess there were. But it was not a particularly fenced yard neighborhood. Not as I recall, at least the ones that I. The homes that I visited, you know. And I'm trying to- Not as I recall. I'm trying to picture, again, not that I can't think of one or two but that was the exception rather than the norm.

Mark Souther [00:08:23] Was the public library where it is now? I know there was a previous building.

Pete Scriven [00:08:27] Before there was a public library at the corner of Dellwood and Lee. The main branch of the system was the Coventry branch. I don't think it's the same facility but it's the same site as the current Coventry branch. And then. And I don't remember exactly when it was. But I remember construction as they tore down- It was a much smaller building, but that was one, certainly, as I was going through elementary school that was the one we frequented but that was torn down. And there were a couple of homes on Lee Road toward Ormond Road the next block over that were bought up in the library, and at least one house behind it on Dellwood was bought and torn down and as the library expanded its presence. And I'm trying to think when the new library, and I think it was after I was out of high school, if I'm not mistaken, I graduated from Heights in '67, and I believe it was after that that the new building was actually being- And I'm trying to remember whether- When they actually tore down the old one. But I remember then that transition time.

Mark Souther [00:09:38] I think it was the end of the 1960s.

Pete Scriven [00:09:41] So I'm thinking that it was while I was in college that I sort of would come back and remember watching that happen. But it was not particularly- I don't remember ever frequenting that. I mean, later visiting our parents, I would sometimes go in for one reason or another. But that wasn't the facility. And, of course, certainly not the new expansion of it in more recent years.

Mark Souther [00:10:06] Which businesses do you remember going to as a child in the Cedar-Lee area?

Pete Scriven [00:10:14] Well, probably the one I- You know, as far as getting a popsicle or candy bar or something like that, would be Reisner's Drug, which is the corner of Silsby and Lee, where now Sweetie Fries is? That was the local drugstore, and it was Reisner's Drug. I remember Mister Reisner, the pharmacist. I mean, it was one of those. Obviously, they were independent. I don't remember any big chains, you know, the CVS's and Walgreens and so forth. But Reisner's Drug was in that site there at the corner. And if you got a popsicle or candy bar, that's where you go. Then in that block between Silsby and Meadowbrook on Lee, there was a Hough Bakery, which was always a treat. There was also a Davis bakery, which was a Jewish deli type of bakery just a few sites down. And I can't tell you exactly, but maybe where Mitchell's candy is that approximately there. You know, there's Bill's Dry Cleaning. Bill was a shoe repair. He was a cobbler, and he had a very small storefront shoe repair. And approximately next door to that, which might be part of the same site, was Lou Groza dry cleaning. Lou Groza, the Browns star, had owned a dry cleaning place there in that block. The big store toward Meadowbrook, which has been a number of things. It's been a pet store. And I'm trying to think, is it now vacant? My earliest memory was that that was Fazio's grocery store, which later became, I'm trying to think what the chain was that it was bought into. But that was a grocery store. And actually, if you go back early enough up there, well, Lee and Dellwood was a Texaco gas station. That's where that Red Hughes gas station. And then next to that, depends on how far back you go, but there was the old state store, state liquor store. Then that was torn down. They built where the Fairmount Cleaners was. And there was a Fisher Food. Fisher food later merged with Fazio. Fisher-Fazio. Excuse me. And then when that was torn down, the state store went down. And now we're talking approximately the area of - and I just am not sure I could match up the exact storefronts, but approximately where Stone Oven is now and near Seitz-Agin, and of course, Seitz-Agin was an institution even back then. I mean, until it just, of course, went out of business just a year or two ago. That was a place we frequented. And then where the Subway is at Meadowbrook and Lee was always a fun trip if you got to go down there to Franklin's Ice Cream. So Franklin's Ice Cream, I still remember you could get a scoop of ice cream cone. One scoop was 7 cents. Sherbet was 5 cents. Ice cream was 7. And anywhere from- One time later, I was probably in junior high, I got a five-scoop cone just because I could. It was way too much or anything, but for 35 cents. But I mean, yeah, Franklin's ice cream was there. And Society National Bank was on the other corner of Lee, where the gyro place now, and it has gone through a number of different transitions, but that was- So those are some of the places that. I mean, my first bank account was at that corner at the Society National branch there at Lee and Meadowbrook. In fact, when I was in college, I ended up working there as a summer replacement teller.

Mark Souther [00:14:31] That would be on the northeast corner of that intersection.

Pete Scriven [00:14:35] No, no, no. That would be the southeast corner.

Michael Rodman [00:14:43] I'm sorry, Mark. Just be careful tapping the table. I know it doesn't seem like much, but it may- [crosstalk]

Pete Scriven [00:14:47] I'm sorry. I'm sorry. [crosstalk]

Mark Souther [00:14:55] So, that's where the Best Gyros is?

Pete Scriven [00:15:00] Yes. Right. Right in that building. Right. That was Society. That's where my first account was.

Mark Souther [00:15:09] This may be going back before your time, I don't remember. I've heard someone mention a place called Mawby's.

Pete Scriven [00:15:18] Oh, yes. If you go down farther. Sure. Actually, and you mentioned Cedar and Lee. This is all sort of moving towards Cedar and Lee. Yeah. Back then there were in the Cedar Lee area immediately there were two places you could get hamburger, at least, probably more than that. There's Royal Castle, where you can get one for sixteen cents. And that would be at the northwest corner where there had been a variety of little restaurant countertop places there. And Mawby's was good hamburgers, which means that growing up, you didn't buy one yourself because it probably cost 79 cents. I don't know what it cost. But particularly they were. I mean, they were handmade burgers and particularly known for the grilled onions they put on them. But it was just one long lunch counter. It was a narrow place, a long lunch counter. And I don't remember if there was anything else. I don't remember any booths. And then a lot of people. I remember there was a lot of takeout there. But yes, Mawby's were good hamburgers. Royal Castle was cheap hamburgers. I mean, I remember sometimes riding my bike up to Cumberland Pool and put a quarter in my sock or shoe or something like that. I could stop and get a - I know this makes me sound very old, but it's true - get a hamburger and a birch bear for 21 cents. It was 5 cents for the birch bear and 16 cents for the hamburger. But. And they- You know, you could put onions on those, too. But I mean, they're, again, sort of. You may be more familiar with White Castle, a very comparable competitor. In fact, I never saw White Castle around this area at that time. But we had Royal Castle.

Mark Souther [00:17:11] I wonder if there was ever a connection between the two, or if they just both happened-

Pete Scriven [00:17:15] Don't know. Don't know. I never heard of White Castle until much later. And I think, I believe White Castle was based in Columbus, but I'm not sure.

Mark Souther [00:17:26] I guess, but Royal Castle with a chain?

Pete Scriven [00:17:28] Yes, yes. I don't know how big. You know, again, how much was I aware. I know that it was there at the corner of Cedar and Lee. And so right across from the high school.

Mark Souther [00:17:42] Was it the Douglas Building? I guess it's called the Douglas Building. The one where the- Well, not long ago there was a barbecue-?

Pete Scriven [00:17:50] Yes, right. Right in that corner. Yes.

Mark Souther [00:17:53] And was Mawby's farther up toward-?

Pete Scriven [00:17:58] Mawby's is really part, if I'm remembering, I think it was between Cedar Lee Theater and Cedar Road.

Mark Souther [00:18:07] I see. So it's right in that-

Pete Scriven [00:18:09] And the corner building was Clark's restaurant, which was a Cleveland chain. There were a few. There was one down in Forest Hills on- And one at Shaker Square. And there's one at Cedar and Lee. It was sort of a family restaurant. And the big treat there - my grandmother would take us there on our birthdays. And the one treat there was, if you cleaned your plate, you got to get a toy from the toy chest. There was a big toy chest there. And you could take a toy from the toy chest at Clark's restaurant, but that was more of a- And actually, Yours Truly at Shaker Square was a Clark's restaurant. It was a local chain. I don't know. I know those three locations. It seems to me there were a couple more.

Mark Souther [00:18:54] I knew there was one downtown on Euclid, or-

Pete Scriven [00:18:57] I think so, yeah.

Mark Souther [00:18:59] So this is. We're talking now about where Cedar Lee Theater has-

Pete Scriven [00:19:04] Expanded. Yes. Yeah. Because that was Clark's restaurant. And then later, by the time I was in high school and college, there was a restaurant called Inman's that took over that spot from Clark's when Clark's went out of business. But it was the same type of thing. It was sort of a family- It was a sit-down family restaurant. Not very fancy, but it was definitely a sit-down family restaurant.

Mark Souther [00:19:27] You mentioned the cost of the burgers at Royal Castle. 16 cent burger, five cent birch beer, for instance. Would this have been in the 1960s or some other- Are you thinking earlier or-?

Pete Scriven [00:19:42] I'm thinking in the 1960s. I don't know what kind of price changes that might have taken place prior to that.

Mark Souther [00:19:50] You were in high school?

Pete Scriven [00:19:51] Well, even before that. I mean, I'm thinking early sixties, but I don't remember them changing significantly by the time I was in high school in the late sixties, or mid sixties. I graduated from Heights in '67, so maybe even late fifties. I'm trying to think exactly when that period- Probably, I mean, the time I it would be riding my bike up to Cumberland, which is a fairly, you know, decent hike, would have been more when I was ten to twelve to 14, in that range. Those are the times that I remember that happening. A stop at Royal Castle that probably my parents had no idea that I was doing. But you know.

Mark Souther [00:20:27] Did you ever go ice skating up in the Cumberland parking lot?

Pete Scriven [00:20:30] No, I never did. I mean, people did, but I was never an ice skater.

Mark Souther [00:20:36] Were there any other businesses that come to mind? I actually have a question about one. I just recently saw a picture of the area where the CVS is now. It looked to me like there was a Ford dealership.

Pete Scriven [00:20:50] Yep, that was Marshall Ford. Before they moved out to Mayfield, that was actually - and I think it might have been something before Marshall - it was a Ford dealer. And it's amazing when you stop and think that Lee Road was home to a couple of different car dealerships when car dealerships were just- There was a showroom, and I don't know, two or three cars in it, and I don't know where they kept their stock. I mean, there was a parking lot behind, but nothing compared to any of the car dealers of modern times. But yes, that other corner where, the corner, so we're now talking southwest corner of Lee Road, that building was a Marshall Ford dealer, and I believe it was. I think Marshall took over for somebody else, but it was also. I remember it as a Ford dealer. And then later, when Marshall moved out, I think there was one of the sports car type of, for a little while, and then that just became outdated as far as having any possibility. Now, farther down, passed between Cedar and Superior, then also on the west side of Lee Road, there was a Chrysler Plymouth-Chrysler, Fleischmann Chrysler dealer. And again, that goes in the area somewhere between Washington, just past Washington Boulevard, I think, on Lee Road. And again, it's sort of amazing in this day and age to think that there were a couple of new car dealerships on Lee Road, and the spots weren't that much bigger than they are now.

Mark Souther [00:22:16] It is interesting, when you think about now, how many, maybe not a lot, but I can think of at least a couple of auto service centers that are on Lee Road. And they probably occupied the same spaces at the same time as these dealers.

Pete Scriven [00:22:33] Well, if you want to talk about gas stations and of course, all the gas stations were service stations, too. [crosstalk] But there were a number of those right down the road. I mentioned Texaco at the corner of Dellwood. Across the street, at the corner of Corydon was - and they were all, we knew who ran them all, they were independent - it was Red Hughes. Walter Red Hughes ran the Texaco. Across the street was the Shell station. And that was Harvey Dick's Shell, and Harvey Dick's assistant there was Ike, an African American man who had been with him for years. Red Hughes' assistant was Arlis. And I can't think what his last name, but, I mean, they were together for years. Move over one block at the corner of Essex, where the Shell station is now, that was Emil's Pure. Pure later became Union 76. And across Essex from there, where the Marathon station is, was the Sohio station, later BP. So in that area between, you know, Lee, east side was Texaco at Dellwood. And across the street immediately was Shell. Next to it was Pure. Across Essex from that was there. And then if you go all the way down to Meadowbrook, which is what, two-tenths of a mile, there was Berkowitz Gulf. I mean, to think that all of those were able to compete, you know, in that little area. And then when I worked in the bank, they all - the bank was Society there at the corner of Meadowbrook and Lee - always hated it when they came in because they had all the greasy money. I mean, it was just. They'd been handling it with- So. But I mean, so, yeah, they were all not only just gas pumps, but they were all service stations, all within that, what, about three-block area? It's amazing. And we just couldn't have that kind of immediate competition anymore. But, yeah, we had all those gas stations.

Mark Souther [00:24:36] I want to make sure that I leave some time for St. Paul's. We can always come back. We're about 2:30 right now. What's your first memory of St. Paul's? If you can think of-

Pete Scriven [00:24:50] Probably my first memory would be the kindergarten Sunday school class that my mother taught at the kindergarten room at Roxboro Elementary School. That was during the year that they were building the now-outdated nursery wing here, that was being built in the fifties. So that would have been the 1954-55 school year, and they didn't have room for it here. So they had to- And I don't know whether. I don't know whether any other classes were being held over at Roxboro elementary, just a few blocks away, but I know that's where- And then we moved the next year into that new wing there. And I do remember then first grade and second grade, I remember, you know, and with sort of stalwarts of the church who were teaching those classes. My mother, who was a lifelong member of St. Paul's, taught the kindergarten class, and Betty Dobbins taught the first grade class, and Jenna Kennedy taught the second grade class. We had our own little, I remember in second grade, we had our own little service in there. We had our own little procession. We had the little offering plates that we- Because we didn't go into the church at that time for the services. We had our- And I'm not sure exactly whether it was third grade or something like that that we sometimes would start to come into, but. So my first memory really is being down the street here at Roxboro elementary in my mother's kindergarten class. First memory here in this building/ I don't know of a specific memory. I just- I mean, I certainly didn't know until years later how new the nave was at that time. I mean, it was just a very few years old, but what did I know? That's where, you know, my parents were married in what's now Tucker hall. But that all predated me, obviously.

Mark Souther [00:26:45] And it's also seamless, and it's-

Pete Scriven [00:26:47] Oh, absolutely. Well, but all that. I mean, I just. When I went, when I came to church, the current name was the nave. I just didn't- I wasn't aware until some years later and do a little math, and I said, ooh, that wasn't very old when I started going, that room.

Mark Souther [00:27:01] How has the nave changed between then and now?

Pete Scriven [00:27:08] In minor ways more than major. I mean, it's very recognizable. There were a few changes. I mean, the ceiling was in the block patterns in a dark red and green pattern, a light green with a dark red pattern, which then when Chave McCracken was Rector, he softened it with the blues and grays, with the shades of gray, really. And also then the choir screen, above that there was a sort of dark green weave curtain. So the congregation pretty much did not see the organ pipes. I mean, you could sort of see through. It was not, you know, there was a weave to it. So somewhat of a canvas type of look to it. And every once in a while they would open that up. But, you know, and then I think I, again, I sort of lose track of when. But I think it might have been during Chave McCracken's time that they said, no, this is coming down. It just really, when I think back, it was not particularly attractive. But, you know, the cross that hangs there, I've always remembered. I don't think that was original to the nave, but it came soon after. The basic appearance of the nave- I mean, I remember when Nick White was here, they put in the sound system, and people were all worried it's going to look- And of course, it's seamless.

Mark Souther [00:28:50] I've never noticed it.

Pete Scriven [00:28:52] Well, up on the pillars on the side, there are the speakers. [crosstalk] Right, right, exactly. Because it's not- Right. It's not particularly attention-getting. And I mean, the people at St. Paul's have always, we've had smart people who say, all right, we can improve things without ruining what you're worried about.

Mark Souther [00:29:12] Do you remember if the upper stained-glass windows that are on one side but not on the other, were there the whole time? Do you remember them adding them?

Pete Scriven [00:29:21] I remember them adding them, and I don't remember whether. I don't remember whether it started at some point where there were none. I remember there have been some added over the years, and I just don't have a real good sense of exactly when which ones- But. So they were not all there the way they are now. But that doesn't mean that- But I don't remember whether they were all- I'll say they were added over time. Certainly the resurrection window at the back of the balcony was added much later. That was during Nick White's time. But that's a memorial window to Kramer Young who was tragically killed. I mean, it was a scandalous story in Cleveland area. He was killed by a neighbor woman who was jealous. And this little, I don't remember how old Kramer was, but maybe ten, maybe eight, something like that. It was a very sad thing. So that window was given in his memory. Then, of course, I remember the addition of the new organ up there.

Mark Souther [00:30:44] Do you remember, were you by chance present when Martin Luther King Jr. spoke here?

Pete Scriven [00:30:51] That happened when I was in junior high. So I was attending Roxboro Junior High, and I oftentimes either walked or rode my bike. I oftentimes rode my bike from Dellwood to Roxboro, and I don't remember whether I'd walked, anyways. And I don't remember the exact timing, but it was going on when I was coming back through here to go. Many times I would cut down this way and go up Corydon to go to Dellwood. And so I stopped in. The place was absolutely packed, absolutely packed in ways that no fire marshal today would allow. No fire marshal. So I did walk down the little hallway past the clergy room, and it was just sort of in that corner, that's as close as I could get because it was jammed all the way back to that corner. There were people in the, sitting in the center aisle. I mean, it was just absolutely jammed. So I was able to see sort of off- He was already speaking, and I don't remember. I stayed for the rest of his talk. And I saw sort of the side and from somewhat over his shoulder, look, because he stood in the center of the steps. He didn't speak from the pulpit, but from the center of the, up on the steps in the chancel area. And so I could see him. And so I missed Bishop Tucker's introduction, which I've read since then. But so, yes, I was there for part of it, and it did strike me as this is important. I mean, just the fact that this many people are here was an important and very impressive type of thing.

Mark Souther [00:32:38] At what point in all this did you realize that it was King? Before you got- Did you- [crosstalk] At what moment did you realize, oh, my gosh, this is Martin Luther King Jr.?

Pete Scriven [00:32:50] Well, I knew who I mean, I knew he was scheduled to speak there. That's why I stopped in. I said, let me see, you know, let's see if I can get in and see what, you know, he's saying. I mean, historically, that was, what, '62, '63? '63 is what I'm thinking. Yes. So, '63. So, you know, and I'm 14. So a combination of where he was in his development or his career and his impact, it certainly was, you know, well established. I mean, he was a well established, important person in the civil rights movement, and I probably knew that generally more than specifically. So is it important enough to think that I'm going to go in and sort of see what's, see what I can find out, see what I can see. Had it been, I've been five years older, I think I would have looked at it with a very different perspective. So I knew there was an important time that- But if that was, I'm thinking, was that the spring of '63? So that was, you know, for instance, it was August when he had his famous I have a Dream speech, which made him even more publicly noticed. I mean, to the broader range that might even take in this little white suburban 14 year old, you know, into the awareness. But no, I knew it was special. I knew it was important.

Mark Souther [00:34:16] I don't know if this is true, but, and I've never read that speech and compared it to the one that's so famous, I have a Dream speech. It was later in '63, but I remember someone mentioning not long after I got here that they thought that that, or they knew that that was one of the speeches that was kind of a preparatory speech for what he ended up-

Pete Scriven [00:34:39] I remember reading, hearing that years ago. I mean, not at the time, but, you know, somewhat years later. And in looking at that, that you can see some, some seeds that he- I have no reason to think that he said, now I'm going to do this and build, that was so good. I'll build on it for, you know, the Lincoln Memorial. But, you know, I mean, in fairness, anybody that's speaking publicly that often with the same general thrust, they're not going to have different messages. I mean, they're going to build on- But yes, there are some common threads you can, that I was able to see when you look through. And, you know, that, that, I believe is still on the St. Paul's website, his speech. [MS: I haven't seen it.] I know that under sermons, I believe that, you know, not only are some of Alan Gates, they did. I haven't looked at it recently, but at one point they had that listed. You can go through some Alan's and some other sermons, but they also had his on there. So, you know, it's easy to compare that. But there is. Yes, I can see where there would be a connection.

Mark Souther [00:35:51] Mm hmm. It does stand to reason, as you said. Let's see. What else did I want to ask? Any other memories that you can think of about the church that stand out in your mind, a particular day or particular time? Maybe you're getting confirmed or anything else?

Pete Scriven [00:36:17] Remember, I was confirmed here. I don't remember being baptized here. But I have the written evidence. [laughs] And we're married here. I mean, so our kids were both baptized and confirmed here. So it's. You know, we've all of those, you know, personal family, you know, both my parents were buried here in addition to being married here. So they're both in the columbarium. So, there have been many, you know, important family moments of all the different rites of passage, so to speak, that, you know, taking place here. I remember, not specific dates, but I have certain general trends or memories of the various rectors who have come through here from. John O'Hear was the first one I remember then Chave McCracken and Nick White. And, of course, Alan.

Mark Souther [00:37:22] When was McCracken here?

Pete Scriven [00:37:25] Approximately sixties and seventies. Approximately sixties and seventies. He was here, I think, a little over 20 years. And he came again. We'd have to check the record. It's not hard to do, but it would be early sixties to early eighties. Nick came here, and Nick White became Rector in '83. There had been an interim of some months, maybe a year prior to that. So if Chave left here in '82 and came in '60, '61, something of that nature. So he was a long-serving Rector. And then Nick was here for, I think, what, 17 or 19 years.

Mark Souther [00:38:04] To what extent would you say that McCracken during his tenure changed to the church with regard to reaching out more broadly? I know this happened in a number of churches in Cleveland Heights, some more than others. And I'm speaking of that, I mean, to the extent that the church embraced the civil rights movement. Can you comment on that?

Pete Scriven [00:38:28] Absolutely. That was a time where we embraced the civil rights movement. And I don't mean just of the African American population, but just extending support during the time and again, the specifics would elude me but it's certainly researchable. But I think we reflected a national trend of growth in the parishes of mainstream Protestantism. And our population grew during that time. And then later it ebbed. And that was also somewhat reflective of national trends. But during the period of the. When I was in high school, okay, Chave McCracken was Rector, and his strength, his gift was preaching. I mean, he really was. He was, I believe, his theater major in undergraduate work. But he. And he gave some tremendous talk. He actually had a TV series briefly when he was at St. Peter's in Lakewood, just before he came here, where he would talk about Mark Twain and Jonathan Swift and so forth. And it was a Sunday afternoon, local type of thing, when television programming was far different than - it would never have that today - but he was an intellectual in many ways, but he also supported the civil rights in many ways. And during the time I was in high school, Chave McCracken was Rector, and curates and assistants would come and go, but there's a period there of a few years which I think many people consider to be just the strongest period of staffing here at St. Paul's. And it was, David Ernest was one of his assistants, and David Ernest, among other things, was involved in the Freedom Marches in the South. He went down there was a strong. He was a southerner, I believe. I was going to say a Texan, but I'm not sure. But he was a southerner. But he was, I shouldn't say but. He was a southerner. David also was a strong advocate of the civil rights movement. And he was personally engaged in some of the Freedom Marches. He was in some of the. I believe he was there at Selma in that march and so forth. He had a strong advocate of that. And then in 1965, I believe, could be off by a year but not more than that, the other associate had left and became, Bill Cunningham became Rector, I believe, at St. Paul's East Cleveland. And Tony Jarvis came as the second associate. He started as a curate, but assistant by whatever name he was in this time. And he was a young and dynamic person just out of seminary. He was a Harvard graduate. He was, you know, but he had a magnetism about him. And he took the youth group of a handful of people that showed up, and within a year or two, had just an incredibly active youth group here that we met on Thursday evenings for a dinner and program. And it was so- We filled the dining room downstairs, filled the dining room for this dinner, many of whom were friends of parishioners. I mean, I remember him making the comments, and said, you know, folks, we're open on Sundays, too, because a lot of people, you know, a lot of high school kids would come on Thursdays. Didn't necessarily darken the doors on Sundays. A lot of them weren't even members here, but they went to, whether it was Heights or Shaker or US [University School] or Hathaway Brown or wherever. But there were a lot of. And during those times, there would be a presentation, and then we'd break up by groups where there were four staff members, the Rector, Chave McCracken, David Ernest, Tony Jarvis and Betty Baker, who was head of the Christian education. And they would all take one grade level and go off for discussion groups. I mean, this was just an incredible- So not only did we have that, but then we became very involved with a lot of outreach. That was not the label we had on, but that's what it was. There was tutoring down in one of the churches in Cleveland, down on Euclid Avenue. Engaged. He was- Tony was the kind of person you couldn't say no to. And he just, you know, people wanted to. He had a magnetism. So that really rejuvenated. How much of that was the time, how much of that was the person was a big part of that. And when you look at the years of St. Paul's youth groups, that was one of the high points. And then years later, then there were the Frannie Milward years, and then there were a variety of years, certainly with, you know, Sam, Sam McDonald. There was Ralph Pittman. So both clergy and non clergy and so forth. But Tony was one of a kind, he really was. And then he left. He actually taught part time at US and left the Cleveland area to become headmaster at Roxbury Latin School, a revered old school in Boston, and retired from that a number of years ago. He's ten years older than I am. So it was. So when I was in high school, he was, if I was 17, he was 27, something like that. But that was definitely a part of- That was huge in that era of St. Paul's history.

Mark Souther [00:44:30] When would you say the peak was in terms of membership at St. Paul's?

Pete Scriven [00:44:36] I would have to just guess, but I would guess sometime during that time of time, the mid to late sixties. But then as a we. It was under Chave McCracken that we decided that there were too many people for this one main service. There was always the 8:00 service, but then there would be, and I don't remember exactly, because I say I was young, so I don't know what time church was, but I remember when it went to, during the time I was in Sunday school, they created a 9:15 and an 11:15 because there were too many people for the one service. And then I say during the- And that continued under that may have. That probably- That may have started in John O'Hear's time at the end, or before he moved out of state or might have been under Chave. I don't. I'm guessing Chave, but I don't know. And then later on, the numbers dwindled and we went to one service at ten something, one service in addition to the 8:00 early service. Now, back through all those years when I was growing up, we only had, at the main service, we only had Eucharist on first Sunday. This was a low church, morning prayer on 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th Sundays. Morning Prayer was always at eight. I mean, I'm sorry, Eucharist was always at 8:00 that was an 8:00 Eucharist. And then otherwise it was just 1st, first Sunday. And I believe it was after Nick White that there was discussion. And then they decided to balance as of first and third. And then I'm trying to think whether it was still in the clear reserves after Alan came and said the 9:00 is always Eucharist and 11:15 still has two Morning Prayer services because that's certainly part of the tradition of St. Paul's. This is, you know, this was back, going back to Bishop Tucker, back in the forties and fifties. It's a low church, I mean, a low-church diocese, and we were relatively low-church parish.

Mark Souther [00:46:42] How would you describe - I'm an Episcopalian, so I know what you mean - but how would you describe the difference between high church and low church for someone who didn't know?

Pete Scriven [00:46:51] Well, first of all, it's a range. It's not an either/or. I mean, so everything is relative when you talk about that. But the more pomp and circumstance, the more ceremony, all of those become higher churches. I mean, some people refer. I mean, we've never been and still aren't, you know, a high church in any way. I mean, that's where, you know, maybe somewhat indelicately, people sometimes refer to the smells and bells, you know, with the incense and the bells and so forth throughout the service. That's very high church. It used to be that St. James down on 55th, if you really wanted high church in this area, you could go there. And then during the seventies, early eighties, when there was the split of some churches from the diocese, from the denomination, that St. James became Anglican Catholic Church. And they still have that, but that would be the high. The fewer of the fancy vestments, the fewer of the ceremonial things, the lower the church would be considered. I mean, actually when my parents were married, my father had grown up, and I know I'm sort of bouncing around here, but when you mentioned the high and low church, my father had grown up at First Baptist Church down the road on Fairmount, and my mother was parishioner here, and they were married here and continued to, you know, my dad became a Episcopalian, but they said that the ministers from the two churches combined for their ceremony. Anybody walking in wouldn't have known because said whoever the Baptist minister was wore a clerical collar and Ted Evans did not. Ted Evans, in fact, we're sitting in the Evans room in his picture that's in this room, or was. I don't see it now. He rarely, apparently, wore a clerical collar, which was very unusual for an Episcopal priest. But he was low church from Virginia, and he was- It was, and it was very sort of. Nobody would have known. You would have guessed exactly the opposite. So that was very unusual. But to my knowledge, he's the only St. Paul's Rector who was not wearing clerical collar, at least in church. But all those would be signs of, I mean, that's very low church, Episcopal church, for the priest not to be wearing a clerical collar, but it's the range.

Mark Souther [00:49:30] We've always been somewhere in the middle but toward the low-church end, and it sounds like we've come back toward the middle.

Pete Scriven [00:49:38] The pendulum is swinging. Yes. I mean, the fact that we now, even in Morning Prayer, some of the invitations are chanted. Chanting would be more of a high-church tradition rather than low church. Again, whether you're high church, low church is somewhat like, do you live in a big house? So it depends on what you're comparing it to. I know people who at higher church. I know people in lower church, but within the Episcopal range that we've always been, we traditionally were toward the low end, lower, low church end. And I think we're more somewhere between low and middle.

Mark Souther [00:50:18] Do you ever recall - I'm thinking maybe people, they'll probably knock when they- Or they'll come in and we'll know in a few minutes here - Do you remember any connections after- Of course. Our church left East 40th and Euclid back in 1928, and it became the St. Paul's Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament. Do you remember any exchanges between the two churches? Was there any kind of connection or, quote unquote, goodwill between the churches that was ever expressed in any kind of formal way or was there-?

Pete Scriven [00:51:02] Not until just a very few years ago. I know it's since Alan Gates has been here. We had the one service down there to commemorate some anniversary but that's the only time that I'm ever aware of that. And of course, you know, when we first moved up to the Heights, this was not the first location. Well, this was the first, I shouldn't say that. We then combined. And this is a matter of semantics sometimes - depends on whose version you're reading. But St. Martin's was at the corner of Fairmount and Lee, where the Christian Science church is, and whether we merged, combined, took over, usurped, power struggle. There's no question the St. Paul's was the larger, the more powerful, the richer, everything else. And that's why St. Martin's Chapel does have that name. It's because of the combining with St. Martin's, which was a fairly small parish at corner of Fairmount and Lee. And once we moved up here, just down the street from them, apparently they couldn't survive. That's- Because my mother lived on Bradford, and when they first moved up to the Heights and they started attending St. Martin's, and it wasn't too much after that. It was pretty close after that that St. Paul's moved to Fairmount and Coventry and St. Martin's, not too much after that, really didn't exist.

Mark Souther [00:52:34] I've heard it said, and I can't remember what the details are, there's at least one or one or two pieces taken out of the old church that are now here. Do you know anything about those?

Pete Scriven [00:52:49] What is it? A cornerstone or whatever that sits over there by the door of Coventry House now, I believe came from there. I believe you're right, and I'm not sure. It seems to me, I've heard, but-

Mark Souther [00:53:01] Something in St. Martin's may have come from there or something.

Pete Scriven [00:53:05] I'm not sure. I'm not sure. It sounds vaguely familiar, but nothing that there was ever much of a point made of it.

Mark Souther [00:53:14] And one other thing, you mentioned that St. James that was down on 55th? It may still be. I'm not sure where on 55th-

Pete Scriven [00:53:22] It is. It's still there. It's a part of the Anglican Catholic Church.

Mark Souther [00:52:26] Where on 55th is it?

Pete Scriven [00:53:28] Near Hough [Avenue], but it's not at Hough, but it's in that area. It's really a very pretty little church. Yeah.

Mark Souther [00:53:35] Was it, when you mentioned the split, did it have to do with the 1979 prayer book, or was it something entirely different?

Pete Scriven [00:53:42] It was the new prayer book, the ordination of women. Those were the sort of the key pieces.

Mark Souther [00:53:49] What was the first female priest here?

Pete Scriven [00:53:53] Here? First female priest? I mean, on staff. Yeah. Not of somebody who might have visited first one was one of Nick's assistant, Nick White's assistants. And actually her name was. Well, it was funny because I can't think who it was that she replaced in the transition. But he was given this name down at Virginia Seminary, and so he visited and went and she walked in. And he was quite surprised because he was told he was interviewing Dudley Claghorn. He never bothered to ask. It was actually Charlotte Dudley Claghorn, who at the time went by Dudley. So he would sort of taken back. I mean, just surprised. Not, I don't think, anyways, ended up hiring her. But Dudley Claghorn was the first woman clergy staff, and she was here for a while and then moved out of church up in Maine a few years later.

Mark Souther [00:54:57] In the 1980s?

Pete Scriven [00:54:59] Yeah, yeah. Yes. Yeah. She was not one of his initial assistants. That was Harry Grace. And Rita Isaac. It might. I'm trying to think whether she replaced Harry Grace, who wasn't here more than a couple years. So, yeah, somewhere in the mid eighties, so it was- Which, and I remember, you know, people, of course, being the first. Some people, especially some of the elder members of the parish sort of raised her eyebrow. But I guess when she was leaving, the stories I heard was that there are some of the old-guard women said this was important, we need to do it, make sure that we don't just have that as a passing. So there have been a- We had Harper Tierney, we had Angela Eiffel, you know, as, and of course, you know, then under Alan, Lisa. So we haven't always had, you know, a woman clergy since that time, but often, because I think there was clearly the insight that it made a difference. It makes a difference. And again, we've always, I think, been one to embrace diversity, whether it be in terms of civil rights movements back in Chave McCracken's era of the sixties to more modern issues. You know, we've had, I guess, to my- Well, there have been a couple, one more publicly than another, a couple of gay assistants. One was interim, part of the interim. But again, the inclusiveness, I think, has always been a theme. But when you do that, you absolutely invite and bring in many people and some people decide to go elsewhere. But I think whenever there's change, that happens and we've seen.

Mark Souther [00:57:00] That makes sense. Is there anything else you'd like to add that we haven't covered either about the church or about-?

Pete Scriven [00:57:08] No, I mean, other than the fact that obviously St. Paul's has been home to me my whole life. And when Laurie, I mean, I've lived my whole adult life on the west side never occurred to us when we were married in 1977 that we would continue to be here. One thing sort of led to another and you know, it's home. It's been home for so many reasons, parts of which we've talked about. But it's been a very special place and I realized over the years, particularly as an adult, and you hear people talking about experiences coming to St. Paul's from other places, that what I didn't realize in growing up here that this isn't the way it is every place. St. Paul's has really drawn some very special people and programs and has been a real presence, not just in terms of brick and mortar, here in Cleveland Heights for a long time. There's really quite a history, and I only know a piece of it.

Mark Souther [00:58:10] Well, thanks so much for sharing that piece or those pieces and I enjoyed listening to it.

Pete Scriven [00:58:17] Thank you, Mark.

Cleveland Heights

Initial interviews in this series were conducted between 2011 and 2013 at the Coventry Village Reunion in support of Historic Heights App Tours, a Cuyahoga Arts & Culture-funded grant project sponsored by FutureHeights, Cleveland Heights Historical Society, and Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission. Additional interviews were collected in 2018 in coordination with the Cleveland Voices podcast.