Gloria Aron interview, 14 July 2017

Gloria Aron is a long time Detroit Shoreway community resident. From her first taste of grassroots activism in the struggle to desegregate Cleveland Public Schools, Aron has continued to devote her life to giving back to her fellow man. Aron talks about how there are two sections of Detroit Shoreway and that adequate low-income housing is a major issue plaguing her community. She also discusses why she holds community development organizations in such low-esteem.

Participants: Aron, Gloria (interviewee) / Nemeth, Sarah (interviewer)
Collection: Detroit Shoreway
Institutional Repository: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection

Interview Transcript

Gloria Aron [00:00:00] Okay.

Sarah Nemeth [00:00:02] Hi, my name is Sarah Nemeth. I'm here today with Gloria Aaron. It is July 14, 2017, and we are at her home on West 81st street. This is for the Cleveland Regional Oral History project. Will you please state your name for the record?

Gloria Aron [00:00:19] Gloria Aron.

Sarah Nemeth [00:00:21] Thank you. And where were you born?

Gloria Aron [00:00:24] Cleveland, Ohio, on the near west side.

Sarah Nemeth [00:00:28] So you've always been right here?

Gloria Aron [00:00:30] Right.

Sarah Nemeth [00:00:32] And what did your parents do for a living?

Gloria Aron [00:00:35] Um. My stepfather worked for a company called Air Filter Service, where he went and replaced air filters and companies and then washed them. My mother worked in a lot of factories throughout the near west side.

Sarah Nemeth [00:00:58] So there were a lot of factories over here.

Gloria Aron [00:01:00] At one time. Believe it or not, yes, there were.

Sarah Nemeth [00:01:04] Is that what a lot of people did?

Gloria Aron [00:01:06] Yeah, in fact, other ways. Up on Madison. Excuse me. There was a Marshallen that had been a factory here forever. They made various things, but the tv trays, for example. And it really provided jobs for people in this neighborhood. My mom, my sister. I think at one time, my son worked there for a while. So when it left was a lot of people right in this area here were without a job. Yes.

Sarah Nemeth [00:01:59] So when you say food trays, you mean like the frozen.

Gloria Aron [00:02:02] No, no, the tv trays that have the stand that you would put over your lap. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Sarah Nemeth [00:02:11] Okay. Were they wood or was it plastic?

Gloria Aron [00:02:16] Metal.

Sarah Nemeth [00:02:17] Metal.

Gloria Aron [00:02:18] Mm hmm.

Sarah Nemeth [00:02:20] What year were you born?

Gloria Aron [00:02:22] 1945. I'm ancient.

Gloria Aron [00:02:25] Almost.

Sarah Nemeth [00:02:30] And where did you live first?

Gloria Aron [00:02:34] Well, I was born at the original Fairview hospital. I mean, everybody thinks it's over there. There was one. The original Fairview hospital was over on Franklin Avenue. And when I was born, my mom lived on West 28th Street. I lived growing up. I grew up with my grandmother for part of my life. So I lived on John Avenue, and then I lived on with my parents and my brothers and sisters over on Tillman. And then. We moved a few other places, but we lived on Tillman when I got married.

Sarah Nemeth [00:03:33] So you've always been in this position, though, right?

Gloria Aron [00:03:36] Yeah, always. Primarily. A little while we lived out on Pearl, but I felt like it was in another world.

Sarah Nemeth [00:03:47] Why would you say that? Different world.

Gloria Aron [00:03:50] It just. I don't know. It's. I just. I knew everything here. It was the same thing. The only time I did not live in Cleveland was for 18 months when my husband and I lived in Oklahoma when he was in the service. And shortly after we came back. In fact, before we moved here, we lived on 130th for two months. I couldn't stand it. I felt again like I was totally out of my depth. There was, you know, no, there wasn't a lot of stores off of 130th, and even getting around transportation wise was not easy. So, no, I'm strictly a Westside girl. I've lived here 48 years.

Sarah Nemeth [00:04:49] 48?

Gloria Aron [00:04:50] Yeah.

Sarah Nemeth [00:04:51] That's long. Do you have any memories from the old neighborhood and what it was like? I don't know, maybe your neighbors, what one of your houses looked like?

Gloria Aron [00:05:07] Oh, yeah, yeah. And in fact, I also, if you're interested, have a book that you might want to borrow. It's called. It has all kinds of history about the near west side over like 50 years or so. Yeah. I remember when I was like, eleven. Madison, Lorain Avenue, when we lived down on John, and that there was a lot of little stores and a lot of them that had soda shops in them, and you'd hang out there. One of my saddest. Changes in the. Neighborhood was on West 25th Street. Manuel's Candy was one of the stores that made candy, and there never was a whole lot of those, but it also had a little. The old fashioned kind of soda shop that you see in movies with the marble table and the wire chairs, but the candy, especially at Easter time. Anything you wanted, they had, not just the rabbits and that. They had puppy dogs and little chocolate lobsters and every football player, everything like that. And I remember going there with my grandmother, and then as I grew up, my mom bought our candy from there. I bought my grandchildren candy from there when we made their Easter baskets. So it was. It's really sad when they went out of business and you would run into everyone you could think of. I'd be getting candy, and Mary Rose Oakar, our congresswoman, would be in there getting candy. So it was something that was. Was real experience, something that you don't see today. I remember, I'm not a jewelry person, but we, especially going down Lorain Avenue, they had a little. A lot of second hand stores. And my best friend at the time would have a credit account, and she would get a necklace or a ring and put it in layaway and pay, you know, $0.10, probably a week till she could get it out. I think people were able to. Let. Their kids go places on their own. I mean. Well, right. If I could walk like I used to, I could easily walk from my house, even here, down to the lake, through the tunnels that they have. And we did that. I remember my brothers and I and friends walking from wherever we lived to the lake. You couldn't today because you'd be afraid to leave your kids through that you could hang out in the playground. Up until my daughter moved, her children spent a lot of time with me, but I would never feel comfortable letting them go on their own to Lawn playground or to the rec center where we as kids did. I don't see kids riding bikes like they did when I was a kid. So, yeah, I have a. I just think the near west side is a great place to live. I remember at the playgrounds they used to have. We used to have where everybody decorated their bike and had bicycle, you know, parades and stuff like that. But. I just really, really enjoyed. Living. Here and feeling safe. But I still feel safe in the neighborhood. I've seen it changed a lot. But. I wouldn't want to live. Like I said, I lived two months. I didn't tell you that I couldn't. When my aunt called me up and said, there's a house for rent. You want to look on it? I couldn't wait to get over here to come back into this neighborhood. So, yeah, I think it's a. Just a good place where you have access to so much. It's easy to get downtown. You know, I. My. My family was never real, you know, clingy with their neighbors, and neither have I been, but we're all friendly with one another, so. Yeah, no.

Sarah Nemeth [00:11:19] Did you ever go downtown when you were growing up?

Gloria Aron [00:11:23] Oh, yeah.

Sarah Nemeth [00:11:24] How did you get downtown?

Gloria Aron [00:11:28] A couple times we, some friends and I would walk and walk. Oh, my God. That's not. When, you know, see, that's another thing. Walking. Oh, my God. My daughter's the same way. Talk, walk to her and she'd have a heart attack. I'd take the bus, you know, of course, it was a lot cheaper then, and. But. Yeah, but there was some. There was a reason to go downtown. Sadly today there isn't.

Sarah Nemeth [00:12:01] What did you do down there?

Gloria Aron [00:12:04] We'd hang out. We go. I remember when in the terminal tower, it used to be a railroad state. A railway station. [crosstalk] Oh, God, yes. And you could hang out there. Just sometimes you could go shopping or just hanging out. The same thing with West 25th street. There were actually stores that you could shop at and buy clothes. Dime stores. I went a lot with my grandma. She would take me downtown, and there was, off of East 4th, there was a restaurant called The Forum. And it was like you had a whole lot of food you could choose from, and we would go there or at a department store that had milkshakes, and if you bought a malt, you get two cookies with it. Or everyone, I'm sure, has told you about May Company and what they had to drink. But in that Christmas time, it was always so beautifully decorated, you know. And on West 25th street, there were actually real stores that you could go shopping at.

Sarah Nemeth [00:13:42] That's crazy to think.

Gloria Aron [00:13:43] Yeah. I mean, you know, I would buy a lot of my school clothes, my, you know, girlfriend, and that we would walk down the 25th on Saturday, and you might go into Red Robins, for example, one of the stores, or PJs, that was an all girls store. And you would buy something. That's where you buy your school clothes, up on 110th. There used to be on Lorain a Sears, that is there no more. But Sears is leaving again. You know, there's a store on the hundred and 30th, I guess, this close in this week, so. Yeah, but there are no. Very few stores that you can go to. Or, you know, kids used to be. Able to hang out more in the playground than they can today.

Sarah Nemeth [00:14:43] Are there playgrounds around here or were there?

Gloria Aron [00:14:47] Yeah. Well, Zone rec, which is inside with the pool and everything, is on 65th. Cudell is over here on Lorain. I mean, Madison. On Lawn Avenue. On Madison, we have a playground that gets the least attention again this year. We're supposed to be getting new equipment. It took me two years of harassing Matt Zone to get a dam. And I've told this story over and over again. Bench to sit on. Because when my grandchildren were here and I would take them for a walk and I obviously wanted to play at the playground, I would either have to sit on the ground or I would have to sit on this slide because there was no bench and they were putting all this damn money in, which I don't, you know, think it's awful at Zone. And I said, could us second half citizens have one of the old benches or something. But I actually had to, every time I saw him, bug him about giving us some benches. And then by the time they got there, my grandchildren were, you know, outgrew the playground. But, yeah, no, we have a playground. It's sad when I go by there and I see that the swings. Half of them are gone and they're not being replaced. And. They don't really do the summer events there that they used to. Now, if you go down on Herman and look at Herman playground and compare it with our playground on Madison, you will see where the discrimination comes.

Sarah Nemeth [00:17:03] Yeah. You mentioned on the phone that you think that there is definitely a division in Detroit Shoreway as a whole. Would you explain that and talk about that?

Gloria Aron [00:17:13] Okay. And like I said, I grew up in this whole neighborhood. So I've seen the differences. The CDC's. Came into being about sometime in the mid seventies, I think. To my knowledge, none of them were ever grassroots organizing. They were basically for development. And. Most of them, and the two that I'm most familiar with is Detroit Shoreway and Ohio City. And they do. I'm not saying that what they do is terrible, awful, but it doesn't benefit all of the neighborhood. They do primarily market rate housing and business development. They have for the last 30 years, spent tremendous money, amounts of money on Detroit Avenue going north. Very little. Time has been spent in the middle here. And that doesn't mean that over on Herman and Tillman and some of those streets, that there aren't low income people. But the primarily, this neighborhood right around here from 85th down to down the road, it's probably more of the lower income people. And. I mean, I remember growing up when you went on Detroit Avenue, there were stores, and there was a few. Perry's restaurant and a couple other. Now there's. It's all restaurants, and some of them are very good. I would recommend, if you like Indian food, to go to the Indian restaurant there during the week. They have a Indian buffet for $9.99, all you can eat, you know, so. Yeah, and the Vietnamese restaurant has been there. I think they were there before the first Vietnamese restaurant did I ever remember, on the near west side in Cleveland.

Sarah Nemeth [00:20:07] What was it called?

Gloria Aron [00:20:08] Oh, God, I can't think of the name of it. And I go there frequently, but it's like 50. It's almost like 58, I think. But it's been there forever. I think it was the first Vietnamese restaurant in the city, so. But they do not do a lot for a lot of this part of the neighborhood. Now, they have done a few things in the last five or six years, I think, pushing towards that, but we still are not anywhere near the top of the list. Now, they have done some apartment buildings, and I can't prove it, but in my opinion, I'm sure if you looked at the contracts, I believe that they will do a small percentage of low income when they do some projects. And I could be just spiteful in that old. In my way of thinking, but I think some of those projects are done so that they can get the money. You know, you put in a proposal, and if you meet a the criteria, you get funded. I mean, it's not enough to do a whole big project, but it sure kicks in a whole lot. And I've never seen a project that is 60 low income and 40 or 30 upper middle income. It's always the other way around and more like 2%. Now you're doing this for the whole city of Cleveland, or is it?

Sarah Nemeth [00:22:01] Well, right now I'm just focusing on the near west side.

Gloria Aron [00:22:03] Okay. Okay. Well. At the same time that the development company were formed, Cleveland also had maybe 21 grassroots organizations. And I was a member of Near West Neighbors in Action. And on Lorain Avenue, I'm trying to think whether, I think it's 38th. I could be, I'm not sure if that's the right street. No, it might be 40th, but it's right by the fire station on Lorain Avenue. Down that way, there was an apartment building that was going to be tore down. We, transitional housing that was in another group. Formed a coalition, and we were able to save it. And there's three storefronts, and sometimes they don't stay, you know, occupied, but all of the apartments upstairs are low income. And now that I will give Jeff Ramsay credit for, because he made sure that I knew that, like so many buildings at that time that were rehabbed after 15 years, they could, you know, get, the low income people could get kicked to the curb and, you know, go market rate. But I believe he made a commitment that for at least the next 40 from that time, and it's been probably maybe four or five years, that that building will stay low income. And that's real important because there is a great need for low income housing. I think if you go another group that does a lot of that is the Eaton Corporation, which I don't know if you're familiar with them, they do housing, but I think they're mainly mental health. But there's a building right up here, apartment building down the street, that is owned by, that was built by the connection with a couple other places. And it provides housing, apartments, efficiency apartments for the chronically homeless and people that may have some slight mental health issues. They also did one up on Lorain Avenue. It was an old, it had been empty for several years, and they rehabbed it. And then this is also by Eaton. Eaton does those sporadically throughout the country. Could we stop a minute?

Gloria Aron [00:25:36] So it's real important. And we've, over the years, we had some great programs back in the 70s, 80s, there was all over the city, the housing corporations that were able, in fact, we have several houses on this street. Right across the street was Near West Housing house. And people were able to get on the list after following certain criteria. And the corporations, nonprofit were able to buy the house. Like, I'm real familiar with the house across the street because my mom lived there for quite a while. And the family that was moving would only sell it to them if my mom was given the chance to be in that house. But at that time, they purchased the house for 12,500. They put another 12,500 to bring it up to code. Then a family that was on the waiting list and committed to doing the things that we had agreed on would be able to move in. And if they kept up with their end of the bargain, in 15 years, the house would title would be turned over to them.

Sarah Nemeth [00:27:18] Okay.

Gloria Aron [00:27:19] Cause it would be paid off and it would be theirs. And they, over the years, had many times, in some cases, the family got in a better position and then were able to go to the bank and take over the house with a mortgage sooner. But all throughout the city, lots of people got housing and had become good community people and good neighbors. In this neighborhood alone, I can look at, because I was on the board, go around and look at where many of these houses are now. Again, that was something that Detroit Shoreway was never involved in. They got control of the houses when money issues and politics changed and the city wanted to have less housing corporations, so many of them had to merge, and Near West Housing had to merge with Ohio City. And so all of the houses that people were buying under the lease purchase program that were in this ward went to Detroit Shoreway, and the ones in the other ward went to Ohio City Near West. And so for the most part, that's where they get their numbers, that they have low income housing because other people did the work. And, yeah, I know they do some, but to me, it's not very little. And one of the greatest needs on the near west side here is housing for families. There just is not, which brings a lot of families being forced to live together and being overcrowded and that, and affordable. When I first moved to this house, the girl that was actually moving out, when I came to knock on the door, and she gave me the landlord's phone number, and I said, do you mind? How much did you pay? And she said, pay $80. So I said, okay. So when I called the landlord, he rented to me sight unseen, and said, the rent will be $100. And we lived here. Maybe I can't remember 20, 25 years as renters before we bought it. And he only raised the rent once to $120. And when we moved in, he said, you know, call me if the roof breaks faucet case in you have a plumbing, electoral, electric problem. Other than that, do whatever you want. And so that was fine with us today. You in a house around here, you're paying $700. 500, you know, and yet people's income, in many cases not as good as mine and my husband's, you know, but you know, so that's, that's, I think one of the key things that are missing that is not being addressed. The lease purchase program worked. When I asked people why we still don't do it, I get to think, well, Gloria, you know that to rehab a house today, it would cost $100,000. I don't buy that story. I think there's other ways to get around. I have to let my cat in. I'm sorry. Oh, I'm sorry. So I think that's, that's a big problem that in this part of the neighborhood we have issues that are not being addressed. I think sometimes they're doing better than they used to, but they still are not committed. And it's not just Detroit Shoreway I don't think any of the CDC's are truly committed to grassroots organizing or addressing issues. I think a couple of times we have tried different various groups I belong to and they just won't. I'm trying to think three or four years ago a house blew up on West 85th or 83rd.

Sarah Nemeth [00:33:17] Like the gas line or something.

Gloria Aron [00:33:19] Yeah, yeah. And two houses were totalled and the families lost everything. But it was such a major explosion that people on my street lost windows and had damage done to the structure all over. Well, I've got to give Matt Zone and the community a whole lot of credit because I think it was 50,000 raised altogether. And there's a group, I think it's called Spaces. I'm not quite sure because I'm getting old and forgetful, but I know it's housed in Gordon Square. And whatever Matt and the committee raised, they matched. And Matt put together a committee of community people and I was one of them that was on the committee. Eileen Kelly, who used to be at St. Coleman’s and was at the board, on the board of Detroit Shoreway and I have been friends for 30 years, was also on the committee. We were able to find homes for the families that lost them and provide all the necessary basic furniture and clothing and stuff. And then we put together a process where people in the community, if they had lost like broken windows or something, they filled out an application and we've done that. So that was something that was done, you know, and Detroit Shoreway you know, somewhat a part of that was something that was very successful. But I've seen things where, like when, you know, was a year ago when the water department decided they were going to jack our water rates up. Now, I've been around long enough to know that the powers that be and the organizations knew that was going to happen. The resources that Detroit Shoreway has, they could organize around that. They might not have won or they might have just got a little bit, but they didn't try, and they didn't let people know until after the fact. So that's, you know, and I've seen it work. I mean, I, you know, I started working on organizing and organizing at the end of 1979. And I've been in a lot of campaigns where we have one. Not always, you know, but. But you don't win at all if you don't try. So that's one of the problems. Our street doesn't have a block club.

Sarah Nemeth [00:36:51] It doesn't?

Gloria Aron [00:36:52] No, it's a bunch of bullshit. And you ask my neighbors and that's what they'll say. No. We had a block club a whole long, a long, long time ago. And we fought Mary Zone when she met's mother, when she was the councilwoman and won. But we've tried to have a block club, but the issues that we want to address, they don't want to address. We don't want to have little baskets of flowers to put on the corner. We want hard issues like safety and the drugs. This neighborhood, especially on 73rd, well, now it's on every street. Yeah. It's not a new thing. When my kids went to school, that was an area 30 years ago, that was. Everyone knew there was drugs. And the last time, right across the street, and I went to a safety meeting and we brought that up, and the police officer said, you got two choices, learn to live with it or move out of the neighborhood. So with that kind of attitude, why should I? You know, I mean, you know, and the same thing with the second district community response. Knowing that I was not going to get anywhere but being hard headed, I went to one of their meetings, because community response, they're supposed to bring the police and the community together. And I raised the issue of, I live in a neighborhood that both is overrun with drugs and has at that time, maybe even still is the highest number of young teenage prostitutes working Lorain Avenue.

Sarah Nemeth [00:39:06] Really?

Gloria Aron [00:39:06] Oh, yes. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yep. We've always had prostitutes around here, but we're. No, I mean, Lorain Avenue is terrible. I mean, I remember my husband and my son saying, mom, that's a pro– That's just a young. Ma, please. They've come up to me. I said, well, dang, I gave me you. You too damn cheap. But yeah, I mean, that's sad, you know? And when I went to the second district and said for them to be the catalyst to bring everyone at the table that needs to be there from the federal level and the county and the state and citizens, and they tell me that was not under there what they were. [crosstalk] And then I was just being a smart mouth for asking that question, but what are they there for? I mean, who better? I said, if not you, then who? And they said, well, no, but that doesn't fall under what. What we do. So I never been back there again. I don't have a whole lot of faith. They used to have the city and the fire department and all that would have a day thing down at the end of the triangle on 73rd where they would bring out the fire department and the hose for the kids and the police were there and all that kind of baloney. And that's real heavy where the dealers were at that time, they just move and set up shop up here on 80th for the 2 hours. And I'm so sad that I tell the same stories over and over, but I mean, it just shows how, you know. And then 2 hours later, as soon as the cops and the fire department go back to their place, they move back to the regular residence, you know, and it's so sad. And, well, Dmitri's house burned down last year. No one did it. It was his own fault. But he used to take pictures of drug deals and everything. And the police just said, oh, it's. Dimitri again, you know. [crosstalk] No, no, I remember when my son's $300 bike got stolen. And I, of course, called the police and they come and we knew exactly where it was. We knew where the house that did all the fencing was. And the cops knew too, but they.

Sarah Nemeth [00:42:14] Just didn't want to address that.

Gloria Aron [00:42:15] They said, well, you know, there's something we can do about it. I said, so we all know where the bike is, but we can't do anything about it. You know, the same thing. At one time, I took the place of the city, had put together a safety thing with a bunch of hierarchy, you know, in it, and why can't I think of his name? It's in his name. He's in the book. I took his place in it when he was leaving. And so one of the things we did on this committee was each one of us rode in a patrol car for a, one of the, for a couple hours, and the police would say, you know, this is a drug house. This is a fence house. This is this. And I'm sure they're just as frustrated, too, but. Because we all know where everything is and we all know who they are, but it doesn't seem we can do anything about it.

Sarah Nemeth [00:43:31] What's a fence house?

Gloria Aron [00:43:33] It's where you can take stuff that is stolen and they'll buy it from you, and then they'll sell it other places.

Sarah Nemeth [00:43:41] Oh, I never knew what the fence. I never heard that before. I know that there's a big issue, people stealing. Literally, fences.

Gloria Aron [00:43:54] Yeah. No, this is anything. And there's, you know, it's Like a lot of things you take to a pawn shop. If you steal it. Well, these are like guys, you know, houses and people that, you know, people in the neighborhood know, you got something stolen, you take it to them and they will get rid of it. They will buy it from you, and then they can, they can sell it, you know, and it's always, you know, since I was a kid, you know.

Sarah Nemeth [00:44:22] It’s, there's always been fence houses in this neighborhood.

Gloria Aron [00:44:26] Uh huh. All over the near west side. Not just here, over on the 25th and that, too. No, it's. And I'm sure everywhere, probably.

Sarah Nemeth [00:44:43] So maybe we can go back. And what demographically was this neighborhood like when you were growing up?

Gloria Aron [00:44:57] Predominantly white. When I was a kid and I lived on John Avenue, there was Hispanics that were primarily from Puerto Rico, and there was a lot of Hungarian gypsies, especially around 28th street, the Balogs. I went to school with some of them. I don't remember any Blacks, except for two that came from the Lakeview Terrace, the projects on West 25th. And growing up, even in Tremont, there was, I think, in the projects. But then I know families like my uncle, his wife's family lived in Lakeview Terrace, and she didn't want to move, even. She had one of their larger apartments because she had several kids. And as her kids grew up and they were moving out, they wanted her to move or go into a smaller apartment. She didn't want to leave. And so they started raising her rent, and she said, I don't care. And then finally she did move and got a house on, off of Lorain and Fulton. But people, the projects were better maintained. And I know I stayed with my aunt when she lived down on the ones in the south side that are no longer there. And being part of neighborhood organizations. I know we did flyering of them, and I remember going into an apartment or two in Lake View Terrace, and there was no big metal door that you would open to get into where there was the apartment doors. Now, no tenant tore that damn door off. And at some point. What is the responsibility of the county to take care of things and they just do not keep it up.

Sarah Nemeth [00:48:00] Happens at all projects. Well, I never knew a project that was well maintained.

Gloria Aron [00:48:03] Yeah. And it is just. No one holds them accountable enough. They were promised. I doubt if it really happened over in Tremont, when they were tearing them down, everyone was going to get moved and they were going to get money to do that. Whether that really happened, I don't have a whole lot of faith that it did. And the same thing if you go up Lorain. St. Ignatius wanted to build a lacrosse field and some other things, and they needed to get control of 30 streets off of Lorain Avenue, and they did. They bought everybody out, force them to sell.

Sarah Nemeth [00:49:08] That's a lot.

Gloria Aron [00:49:09] Yes, it is. We tried fighting it. I wanted to do more. I wanted to go to the state, but, you know. But yeah, and there's, you know, field there, and they built the theater that they have on there. But all those families were displaced and a lot of them were Hispanic. And I think that's partly where the push came for more low income families to move up into my neighborhood because we have more rentals and the hispanic churches up Detroit. But if you would ask the people that lived in that neighborhood, they didn't move by choice. They had no other choice. There was one lady that owned a house, and she was probably 70, in her late seventies, and she says, I ain't selling. You can build your damn lacrosse field right around me, but I ain't selling. I don't know how long she was able to hold out, but she, you know, but it's how that if, you know, you have the power, if you can get the backing and where do people decide they're going to support? And it hasn't changed. But, like, I'm not sure someone like Chuck Ackerman, who is the director of Famicos Housing, or some other people would know exactly, but there was not a housing court in this city until community groups got together and organized and pushed to develop to get the city to put in a housing court where all they did was deal with housing. Before that, I think you just. If you had a housing complaint, you went to common pleas court. Now, we developed, because people fought for it, a separate housing court that also does help with people who have housing problems. So the strength that people have is there to make a difference.

Sarah Nemeth [00:51:47] It is. Definitely. So when you were growing up, this was more of a white working class.

Gloria Aron [00:51:57] When I first moved on the street, I remember when the first biracial family moved in. They lived in the house over here.

Sarah Nemeth [00:52:07] How did the community respond to that?

Gloria Aron [00:52:10] There was no problem. I'm not saying everybody liked it. I'm sure they. They didn't. But we became friends, and the reason they moved had nothing to do with the community. It was just a personal thing. Now, I would say then for a while, we had a Korean family that lived over there. Right now, I would say the street is probably, minimum, at least a third black. Many people come from not only Puerto Rico, the Hispanic community, but my neighbors over here are from Mexico. The family that is in this house now is from Sudan, and they're part of, obviously, the refugee program. Thank God they're here, because they have eight children, which I've become friends with. And the little girl has talked to me about seeing aunts killed before she came here, because that country is in a war. And if they're not here, if they had not come to this country, those kids could have. They could be dead. In fact, now that my grandchildren moved away, I have one of the biggest yards in the neighborhood. So they have a very little yard, and I tell them they can play and use my yard to play. And so, of course, the kids on the other in the back house, they want to come over here, too. And I say, you guys got to work out whether you can get along, because if not, that family, I already told can treat my backyard as if it was their own. We have two families, one on this side of the street and one over there that are from another country. And for the life of me, I can't think of it. I know I told the other interviewer someplace in India. So I think we have several probably other houses that are part of the refugee program. I don't know how it works, but I have seen the difference in that. I'm trying to think if it was like, maybe five years ago, it was at the time of when the house blew up over there. We decided to try to do something about it. We meaning people on this street, and that's when we did form a block club. And we surveyed the Detroit Shoreway area. And at that time, there was just in the boundaries of Detroit Shoreway. 147 vacant houses, mostly abandoned, many owned by people that did not live in the city. We sent them all letters asking to meet with them, tried to find a way to resolve. So the house was lived in. We early on saw that there wasn't enough of us to make a difference. So we looked to see if other block clubs had members that wanted to be part of what we were doing, and several people did. So for a while, I think we were really making some progress. We went and inspected and rated all the 147 houses, which ones were not going to be able to, no matter what rehab, which ones were possible and which ones would probably be market rate. And for a while, it looked like things were going along and we were going to be successful again. But then it was, you know, partly, I'm sure, a money issue, and partly not only didn't Detroit want to take on the issue and was not willing to fight city hall, so we got discouraged and people started dropping up. And then we. We just gave up, because in the past. And again, like I said, we were able to save that big building down there. There were times when, yeah, we took carloads and buses to the suburbs and passed out flyers to the slum landlord in Cleveland, to their neighbors saying, you know, you live next, or to a slum landlord, you know, and tried, you know, using. When you couldn't. First, you know, you try to meet, and when not, then you use other pressure tactics. But that is not the style of the CDCs. No, no, no. You know, negotiate and all that baloney and work. Work with them, but don't try to hold people accountable, you know. So.

Sarah Nemeth [00:58:17] So when, why did you get involved in anything like, what spurred your activism?

Gloria Aron [00:58:24] Okay, well, it was in late 79. I had never really been involved in anything but voting, and desegregation was about to happen. Now, I support it, and I'm very proud of that plaque up there because I was on a commission with other people, with the judge that oversaw the desegregation act. And it was proven, without a doubt, 216 different things were found that Cleveland was subjecting and was not a fair and equal school system. So my daughter had just. Was just about to begin the 7th grade, and there was a. A big chance that she might go to Audubon, which was on East Boulevard. So no one in the school system, no one in the city was addressing that issue. Even they all knew it was coming. But the settlement houses took it on. Merrick House, Westside Community House, Friendly Inn, and Karen Kordisch, who's no longer in Cleveland, and Thelma Chambers, who lived by Orchard school, came to a PTA meeting at where my daughter went and invited parents to come over and meet parents at Audubon and take a chance of walking through the school. Now, that same summer, my daughter and before school was out, my daughter and kids from the 6th grade went with the teacher for a week to, I think it was Hiram House, Hiram Camp with kids from the east side, and they spent a week together getting to know each other, and some of them were from Audubon. So this was sort of like another step in that direction. When we got there, we did a tour of the building and marked down and came back, and then there was parents that already went there and parents from the west side, and we all talked about what we saw wrong with the school. We marked down 16 things.

Sarah Nemeth [01:01:41] What were some of the things?

Gloria Aron [01:01:43] Broken. No shades on the window, broken chalkboards, a bathroom on the first floor that didn't work. So there's only one bathroom. Girls and boys had to share the other one. And so you had to have a teacher, someone watch you if you went while you went into the boys, you know, and it wasn't that the neighborhood didn't try to address that before. It's in the Buckeye Woodland area, and the Buckeye Woodland community Congress had tried to get them, but, you know, they. It all fell on deaf ears. So we talked about. We made the list, and we said, okay, what are we going to do about it? So we said, let's go down to the board and present our list to them. And so the two staff people from Westside Community House said, well, we need some volunteers to be the spokesperson. And dummy me, I sort of raised my hand halfway up, and the next thing I know, I was one of three others and everybody else committed to come and support, and the people from. We already knew we had outlined at the meeting what we were going to do and what we wanted, but they helped us prepare for the presentation and took us down there. And so that was the first thing I ever did. And, oh, yeah, they just. Okay, Gloria, you're so wonderful. You made sense. We'll go fix it all tomorrow. Yeah, don't I wish. And of course, they said, thank you very much, blah, blah, blah. And we continued to do other things. At that time, the neighborhood organizations, the grassroots ones, every year had a annual meeting. It was always a brouhaha, you know how those are, and get everybody to come, and you always can get the politicians to come. So we went to Buckeye Woodland's community congress. We spoke to. Bell was his name at the time, one of their representatives who agreed to go on a tour with us of school, we were able to get to media there. Now, though, it was going to happen. So the one thing was in our favor, with all the pressure we were putting on, was that people were already not happy about the damn situation. There was a couple crazy people like me and some of my friends that thought this was a great opportunity. And I still do. It was a great opportunity, but. So they wanted to not have another big crisis here. So it was the perfect time to get changes made. And after all the different steps we went through, we were able to win all but three of them.

Sarah Nemeth [01:05:20] What three didn't you get?

Gloria Aron [01:05:23] Well, they were big major ones. One was, the inner comms did not work so that one teacher could talk to another. That was one. A few years before, there had been a fire and the choir room had been on fire. They put that off. They boarded it up, and it was still boarded up, and it stayed boarded up. And both of my children graduated from junior high school there, and it was still boarded up when they left. So it was probably boarded up to the day they closed the school. So. And I forget what the third one was, but they were big, major ones. But, you know, the, uh, window blinds, and, um. Um.

Sarah Nemeth [01:06:19] The bathroom.

Gloria Aron [01:06:21] The bathroom was. Yes, that. That was fixed. I mean, that was pretty major. And, um. Uh, the. The chalkboards, because that's when we still had black chalkboards. You know, we didn't have. No one uses a chalkboard anymore.

Sarah Nemeth [01:06:39] Smart boards. I don't even know what they do, actually, but whatever.

Gloria Aron [01:06:41] And they don't have. Well, God, I'm just so awful disturbed that they don't have books anymore. They all get computers. My grandkids don't have books. When they went to the charter school here, they had a computer. They're now in Madison. They have. I mean, in Parma, they get computers at the beginning of the year, and at the end of the year, they turn them in, and then when school starts again, they get them back. Same way in Vermilion. And kids, they don't teach handwriting.

Sarah Nemeth [01:07:28] No cursive anymore. Well, how people are going to read [crosstalk].

Gloria Aron [01:07:30] There are two. I wish I could think of their names at the moment. Two representatives who have tried trying to get a bill passed that they would bring it back. [crosstalk] Or you have to have families that will make a commitment to teach there. It's just insane that.

Sarah Nemeth [01:08:02] Were you the minority in supporting the desegregation effort?

Gloria Aron [01:08:11] I don't know. I think. Well, let me see. I can't say I was. Maybe I'm not me myself. But, I mean, there was Gail Long, who was the director of Merrick House at that time. She was the associate director, I think, and she had come out of being an organizer. She was, because Merrick House was one that supported it, and she got death threats and was spit on. That's how some of the people who were against it would be. I don't know. I know the family doesn't live here anymore, but the kids went to Audubon up the street. He said, my kid is never going to get on a bus. You know, ain't no way in hell I'm moving to Pennsylvania. Well, they didn't move to Pennsylvania. And Gary got on the bus with my daughter, and he survived and made friends. So I'm not sure there was. We can be, you know, as bad as things were, and as bad as our school system is, we can say that there was no violence in putting a desegregation order into place. Like in Boston. It went peaceful. So there was, you know, a lot of people who were not happy with it, but there was a lot of people that, you know, grumbled. And some, you know, I can say that I had. I made friendships that last have lasted up to this day, and we were able to do some things that would never have happened if they hadn't integrated. The schools arts magnet, which has been successful up to today, was in place because of integration of desegregation. Many of the things that didn't get fulfilled was because the powers that be kept fighting it and never let it happen. And I truly believe, had not Judge Battisti gotten ill, he was hunted, and he got bit by something and died. He would have never turned authority back to the Cleveland schools. Had he lived, he would have fought it to the very end. The sad part is, here we are over 30 years later, and we're still battling the issue of third graders can't read. There's something wrong with it. And I know some teachers that are very good teachers, and, of course, we all know teachers that I should have been retired, you know, 20 years, you know, but it's the same way with [inaudible], you know, how could you live in that neighborhood? Well, you know, I feel safer in this neighborhood than I think a lot of people feel and live in the suburbs. [crosstalk] When my husband. Yeah, when my husband died, no sooner had he died than my daughter in law moved to. Wanted to move and did move to Vermillion. And they've had all kinds of problems in Vermillion, you know. Okay so.

Sarah Nemeth [01:12:38] Lorain County? People ask me all the time, why did you live there.

Gloria Aron [01:12:44] You know, I feel safe. I walk down the street and. And in the last six or seven years, I've had three major operations. I had both my knees replaced and open heart surgery. So obviously, I'm not going to be in Miss America contest. Of course, I don't think I could have been before that. So a lot of times I'll go up to the only store left in the neighborhood, Alexander’s on Madison. And now I take a walker. But before, if I would stop, like I used to say, if I get tired, I'll stop. Because we sadly have enough vacant buildings and apartment houses that I could take a rest on the steps. But people, people in the community will say, are you okay? Do you need some help? This is a very giving neighborhood, and we're not, you know, where we're on top of each other. But when there's a problem, people will come out to help another person in the neighborhood. I've seen it happen time and time again, which is another thing when you ask about the difference. When my kids were growing up and even, you know, when I lived over on Tillman, yeah, there was more neighborhood stores here. There was. Oh, my God. From here to 73rd, there was over half a dozen stores on the street. Now the only store left is Alexander's up on 78th. It's right near the apartment building. But it was there before. He used to have a little store. Now he has this one. He should have bought the damn big store before the drugstore bought it, because that's how big it is. It also has one of those things where you can get, you know, money orders and all those kind of things, and you can get fresh meat that is good quality. A lot of times I will. Well, like the other day, I went up there to get one thing, and, you know, when you go in the store, you always get more. They had ice cream, three for $10. That's the same as at the store. A lot of times I'll buy sausage or be two for six, just like at the store. I think a lot. The sad part is, like, at that apartment building, people don't have cars, and so they do a lot of their shopping right there. I remember when they were going to put in that building, and there was some rumbling in the neighborhood. So Matt Zone, to his credit, had a community meeting. Sometimes he does the good thing. He's better than some others, I guess. And of all the things that they were complaining about, there was only one major complaint, and that was parking. Was there going to be enough parking? And once it finally dawned on them, there's not going to be a problem with parking, because this is a low income, you know, targeted apartment, and people who are living here do not have cars.

Sarah Nemeth [01:16:42] When did the stores start to leave?

Gloria Aron [01:16:44] Oh, probably at least 15, 20 years ago, but gradually. And at the Lawn, that store did fresh meat. It was like Alexander says, but little by little, the one store was. Because when the father passed away, you know, nobody wanted to, to keep it going. I think as families moved out, you know, um, or, you know, then. Then the store went too. So. Yeah. Uh, that. The other grocery stores, the closest one is either on 70, I think it's about the early seventies of Detroit, or 110th is a Save A Lot. Dave’s on town on 28th in Detroit, 28th off of Bridge. Or to get to Giant Eagle, you gotta go up to 117th.

Sarah Nemeth [01:17:53] Is there a bus that can take you? You don't have to walk everywhere, do you?

Gloria Aron [01:17:59] That's another big issue for people that live on Madison Avenue. We used to have a bus that took you everywhere, but they closed down at 25, so you can't get a bus on Madison until you get to 117th, and then it goes out to the north to the shopping center. So you have a choice. You either can walk to Lorain Avenue and take the 22, or walk to Detroit and take the 26. But if you're my age, or if you have a handicap, that's a long walk.

Sarah Nemeth [01:18:47] Oh, yeah.

Gloria Aron [01:18:48] You know, I used to have. Oh, if I felt like it, I could go down to Madison and catch a bus, or I could walk up here to. And I'm sure that, because, as I said, I'm part of today, one thing that I'm still active in is a state budget organization. And that's one of the key issues that we were pushing for was transportation, because the state and the federal government has made cutbacks, and if the. They get cut again, and RTA is either going to have to raise the prices or cut. And our group was part of a larger group that included where you're from, because, like, you know, when we bitch, they said, well, you know, you could be out in Lorain. They don't have a bus at all, and they've been trying for years to get one. So, yeah, yeah, it's tough times.

Sarah Nemeth [01:20:09] It is. It's hard to not feel, I guess, kind of. You don't seem jaded, even though you like. I feel like there's so many things that have happened in this neighborhood, and it's yours. Yeah, you have some. You have a connection, definitely to your space. Have you seen anything positive?

Gloria Aron [01:20:30] Oh, yeah, yeah.

Sarah Nemeth [01:20:32] What’s something positive that has occurred in your neighborhood over the past, like, I don't know, 20 years or so.

Gloria Aron [01:20:40] We've become integrated, diversified. So, yeah, my cousin, who's 52, just moved in with me because he's lost his job and needed some help. And he gets a little nervous and I fight with him. I just say, you know, this is not, you know, you didn't move into the worst place in the world. It's a safe. I don't, most times, I don't lock my doors and drives him crazy. He'll come down and lock it. But it makes sense to me for two one, I'm not afraid, and two, if someone's going to break in your house, they're going to break in anyway, and it's a lot easier for them to open the door, and I don't have to replace the damn door. And they're going to come in. They say, shit, this woman don't get nothing. Grab my tv and leave.

Sarah Nemeth [01:21:36] If they're going to come in, they're going to come in, right?

Gloria Aron [01:21:37] So why take the chance of having your door broken? But I've seen, I believe in public schools, and I'm real worried about the powers that be. Again, politicians and money makers would like to end public education, but I have seen a few charter schools. I should bite my tongue. They are very good. My grandchildren, when they lived on 104th, went to Madison Avenue Community School, and it was terrific. They learned well. In fact, when they moved to Parma, both of them were complaining to me that my grandson, who's eleven, says, he says, I've already learned. I learned this last year. But then there's also, like the Hope Academy that should have been shut down a long time ago. But I've seen where the community has come together. We are very fortunate to have Metro hospital [ed: Metrohealth]. We are one of the few places that have a public owned hospital. I think we take that for granted. And of course, on one hand, I'm really worried that Medicaid expansion's gonna get kicked to the curb, but on the other hand, I have faith that we're gonna have enough. It's gonna, those idiots can't figure out a vote. So at least to 18 or 20 we have time to try to do something about it. And all those people that did not have health care care now have health care. And one of the largest, the largest provider of uninsured and Medicaid is Metro hospital. And Metro hospital is that's a very positive thing. And they're in the process of redoing a whole bunch of it. I'm not sure that's all necessary. But I see that over the years because I remember when it was city hospital, really, which was like a dungeon. And they did, they did at that time because my aunt, Malcolm's aunt had a, and this was when I was little brother, had to go to the hospital in a city hospital. And there was two different levels. You know, money people upstairs, poor people. They had like dormitories, you know. And when it became Metro hospital, it's a high quality. I would stand it up. In fact, I would go there and I recommend that over the [Cleveland] Clinic that's supposed to be. So, like I said, I survived major heart surgery and two other major operations. So I have total faith in Metro. And the fact that because it is really hard, people don't seem to think about it sometimes. I will have five or six appointments or more in a month. If I take, do an all day pass, it's 275. That's a big chunk of money if you're on a, a small budget and you don't have access to someone to take you. Metro has a bus van that comes and picks me up and brings me back. I'm still very proud that we have St. Coleman's. I'm a little worried now that the outreach worker has, after 20 years left. But over the last 20 years, St. Coleman’s has sort of been the foundation for this part of the neighborhood. They have programs there that teach computers and I don't know if they're still able to do it. But when it first started, everyone who completed the program got a computer. And one year of whatever it is, you have to have the internet. I mean, you didn't get the Cadillac, but you got that. There's several different programs there. And plus they are one of the churches that twice a month do a meals program. And what I'm proud about that is that a lot of the, not that they're not, it's not important, but I have seen some meals program that really, when you go there, it's like a line and you get a whole bunch of people. And so you go down the line, plop, plop, plop, at St. Coleman's and you come in and you sit at a table and people come and serve you.

Sarah Nemeth [01:28:10] Oh, like a restaurant?

Gloria Aron [01:28:11] Yeah. They bring you first a salad and then your main thing and then so, and then sometimes they have entertainment or something. And a lot of different churches will take on providing the meal that Saturday. But it shows respect because you may be poor, but you still should be able to have some respect in life. Right. And dignity. So I'm proud of the programs that they instituted. I'm a little worried now because Father Bob [Begin] retired. And Eileen [Kelly] really, after 20 years, is such a stressful job because besides developing programs, she also had a program where, say, I got a notice that they were going to turn off my lights in three days. If you could get on her list. And if she had raised the money, she would help to resolve that. And then there's so many people, and we still have a large community of homeless that lose their id. And St. Colman's was a catalyst to bring agencies together to develop an id program. So if you. I've told several people that the two I can think of right now is St. Coleman’s and the Westside Catholic Center. You can go there and they will help you get your birth certificate, because you can't get your birth certificate. An id without your birth certificate and birth certificates, outrageous. $25 for a piece of paper. For a piece of paper that they push a button and the computer zips up, you know. Yeah. And that's. And then 8.50 for, well, the last time I got my id because I don't drive. 8.50 to get the id. Yeah, yeah. State id. And these are people that have nothing and they can't apply for any programs because they don't have the identification. And I know that sometimes it has taken over a year, sometimes a lot more, to get an id because some people who lose theirs may come from New York. And you can't get the birth certificate here. [crosstalk] Right. So, you know, I'm really proud of the various programs that St. Coleman’s has come up with. And so I think that is something I see on, Lorain. There's a new restaurant opening. It's only been open for a little while. I told my grandkids they gotta come next month. And we'll go up there and they go, can't we go to McDonald's? And. No, we will go there because we need. I'm sure they sell chicken. The other thing that is, you know, it's changing world. Now, Ohio City used to be the antique center. Then it all moved up here. Now when I was walking one day, because I'm trying to walk more, I see that all the antiques places are closing. Doesn't say where they're going, but almost every antique store from 65th upwards is closed, is in the, in the. Has either closed or is having their last final sale.

Sarah Nemeth [01:32:40] Interesting. Where are they going to go?

Gloria Aron [01:32:41] Yeah I don’t either.

Sarah Nemeth [01:32:47] Like the Larchmere area, but that's on the other side.

Gloria Aron [01:32:53] Yeah.

Sarah Nemeth [01:32:54] So there's no. You're losing that sort of draw to your neighborhood with the antiques. I mean, people antique all the time.

Gloria Aron [01:33:01] Yeah. And it doesn't say on the stores, I'm new location, you know, so if it's, if antiques as I know it is something of the past. I was trying to think. I tried to write down things that I thought that was important. No, I'm still. I have things that I think, you know, really need to be addressed. One of the key ones, I think, for me is housing. But on the other hand, I feel very. Something that I've seen that's really helped make a difference is Eaton and being able to make affordable housing. I'm, you know, it's hard to be, though. I try to be optimistic. It's very hard to be that when we don't know what the budget's gonna bring and the devastation of the healthcare, because people are still gonna get sick and they're still gonna go to the hospital and it's gonna cost us all the long run more money. So that's, you know, a big thing.

Sarah Nemeth [01:34:40] Yeah. That's something I wanted to ask you. You had mentioned drugs in this neighborhood, and it's the epidemic that's all across northeast Ohio. And you're on the northern Ohioans for budget legislation. Legislation, I think. Right. If that's what it is.

Gloria Aron [01:35:02] Noble.

Sarah Nemeth [01:35:03] Noble.

Gloria Aron [01:35:04] Yeah. Northeast, Ohio, blah, blah, blah. Yeah.

Sarah Nemeth [01:35:08] So if they cut Medicaid, how do you think that would affect the opioid epidemic? That's. Is that relevant here in your community?

Gloria Aron [01:35:18] Oh, yeah. I mean, but it has been for 30 years.

Sarah Nemeth [01:35:21] So that's always been a presence here.

Gloria Aron [01:35:24] Yeah. But not, I don't think anyone. I don't know anyone who hasn't been touched by the use of it. I know it's terrible. A friend of my daughter, her. Her daughter, who was 30 something in the early thirties, had a drug issue that the whole family had tried dealing with, and they have to do it on their own. Her twelve year old son found his mother dead. No twelve year old should have to deal with that. He found her once before, but he was able to get help before she died, but this time she was dead. So I think all of us know someone or someone that's connected that has had a drug overdose. And I know that. A friend of mine, she was married at one time to my brother in law. Her grandson wasn't addicted to drugs, but he was an alcoholic. And he finally. I mean, she. And she was his enabler, as I was my brother's, and she finally kicked them out. Best thing. And he says that now. You saved my life, grandma. And he was involved with a rehab group that's called The Lantern. And I think they're located in Lakewood. But yeah, there's. It's. I think. I don't know what the answer is. I just know I have a granddaughter that has been on heroin, and the guy she lives with was too. And she says right now she's not God. Hoping she isn't, for all the obvious reasons. Plus, she's pregnant, which is just adds another whole thing to it. But I don't know. I don't think there's not enough money, even though they're putting more money into it. There's not enough because there's not enough beds. You know, the one time Tiffany, my granddaughter, was ready to go in to rehab, there was no bed. And so after two weeks, I mean, she might have jumped the ship anyway, but she wasn't, you know, at that time, you know, she was back on it. Now she's supposed to not be, but, you know, we'll only have to wait and see. And now I've been told that the person who's taken [Bill] Denihan's place as the head of mental health is very good. But a few months ago, he came up to a meeting that they had at the library about drugs. And there was probably 22 of us that went to that meeting. And everyone there either had an addiction problem for a long time or knew somebody had a family member. And he said, you know, there's no magic answer. And they all you can do, you can't do anything they have until they want to really change. It's not going to happen. My brother, years ago, was working at a company that provided rehab. And finally, his girlfriend at the time, I think, or for whatever reason, he went to Metro, I think he probably passed out and they took him and he went through their program, and then the second half was able to go to one in Pennsylvania, I think it was. And it was like the cream of the crop, because I went with his girlfriend there to visit him and that. And, you know, for a while after he was doing so good that they wanted to make him a counselor and he has that kind of ability. But no, he came home and for about six months, he stayed straight. And he had always had two sets of girlfriends. He had one, Shelley, on the east side. That was when he wanted to be good and when he wanted to be bad, he had this woman, little Donna, on the west side, and these women put up with it. I didn't.

Sarah Nemeth [01:41:42] They knew?

Gloria Aron [01:41:43] Oh, God, women would buy him all kinds of shit. I'd say. I'd knock him to the curb so fast, you know? But, you know, the good one bought him a motorcycle, and that didn't get her anywhere, thank God, because I'm sure she became. Had a better life after she got rid of him. But he finally said, this going straight stuff ain't for me. And he's been on and off using some drugs. I'm not sure right now, because we haven't talked for a couple years, but he said, I'm an alcoholic, and I choose to be an alcoholic, and I want to be an alcoholic. Learn to live with it. And I said, that's fine, but not at my house, you know, I mean, I'm sick of seeing a grown man at 06:00 coming in, having a beer for breakfast, and drinking at least 30 beers a day. Yeah. And I. I try to understand that it's an illness, but sometimes that gets hard to take, and, you know, you have a choice, and I think we have to try to support that. But as Bill Denihan said, you can't make them, and you can't talk them into that choice. Sometimes they have to get down to the very bottom, but it's so hard and it's so selfish on their families to have the burden that they put on their family and the community and the money that could be spent on so many other things. The one thing, when I heard our representative, [Nikki] Antonio, and there was another one from Cincinnati six months ago, they were trying to get the governor to put up a couple million dollars right then and there. And out of the. We have $2 billion in the rainy day fund. Well, I don't know how much more it's got a rain, unfortunately. I live paycheck to paycheck, but I do okay. And I think I'm fairly responsible. But when the state has that much money and we have so many major problems, what do we get? I mean, what. I don't know how it can get any worse, right?

Sarah Nemeth [01:44:53] What other epidemic has to happen?

Gloria Aron [01:44:55] Yeah. Yeah, right. You know, do we have to have a typhoid? You know, I mean. Yeah. And. Because that. And jobs. My. My cousin is. Is getting discouraged, and he's only been out of. Well, actually, he was out of work for eight months, but he was collecting unemployment and looking for work, and then he went to work for Petitti's. Knowing that it was seasonal. But then Sears up next door decided to close in two weeks, and that forced Petitti's to close because somehow they're interconnected with the water or whatever, you know. So they closed. And, you know, they have another store in Strongsville and one. But they already have people there. And so now he's, in fact, right now he's out trying to. He's at one of those places where he [crosstalk] went to one of those. But the unemployment. No, it's from unemployment compensation or whatever, where he can go and use the computers and check and fill out applications. Yeah. And he's willing to take less than that. But. And I think that's, I don't know, like when you asked me before and I gave you Marshallen as an example of a business. But if you go up Madison Avenue, there were so many businesses, factories that are gone. Lorain Avenue, so there's a whole lot gone now. You know, the one thing 25th street is restaurants or breweries. Now they're starting to go up Lorain Avenue and probably Detroit. I kid with my cousin because his mom was Slovenian, I say, Raymond You can get Slovenian beer down on Lorain avenue. You don't have to drink Ohio beer. But I mean, how many brewers can can they be, you know, why? Knock on wood. And I would highly recommend Whirlpool. If you ever have to buy a washer and dryer. Mine's at least 20 years old, and it's still working. But, and Whirlpool is the only American made washer and dryer.

Sarah Nemeth [01:47:51] I own stock in them, so keep buying them.

Gloria Aron [01:47:56] But you know, what is wrong with this country? Why? We used to make everything, and what can we do to get back on track? I do not think. And I get really angry. Knock on wood. I have always been able not to need public assistance for a short time. At one time, I did. And I think that happens to everybody. You're never so damn big that you can't fall. But people don't say, gee, I want to live off of welfare, you know? [crosstalk] Yeah. And that you can live that good, you know, there's no such thing as the welfare queen that is laying on the couch and eating bonbons and watching tv, because you just don't get that much, you know? Well, now you don't get very much. And one of the things in our coalition that we've asked for is that they increase it where you can be on assistance for five years. That's the limit. We in Ohio, only people who need that only get it for three years.

Sarah Nemeth [01:49:14] I didn't know that.

Gloria Aron [01:49:15] Yeah. So it's things like that that just common sense, and people don't, you know, aren't looking. Sure, there's always going to be a percentage of people who rip off the system, you know, but the majority of people don't. And they sure in the hell would rather have a job at a decent pay and access one way or the other to healthcare. And I think people need to not only look at the United States Constitution, but also the state, and you would see what. And as a human being, what is our responsibility to our fellow man? And if we're not willing to make sure that our first priority is to make sure every Ohioan has basic needs, then. Now, what kind of a state are we? What kind of a community are we if we're not willing to help? And then you hear people say, well, if we wouldn't need all these immigrants in. And sometimes I get frustrated, and I'm not sure because, you know, it's the same thing. Like, I was talking to my cousin, because I have to try to, at times, have us find a middle of the road because. But, you know, I understand how the community also gets frustrated and angry. On this street, we have three Habitat [for Humanity] houses. Two of them are down there, and they're built from scratch. The blue house over here, which is my adopted, you know, neighborhood granddaughter, Destiny, lives in, and it was a rental. Now, they bought it, but all three families are black. So some people have a problem of it. Oh, you know, we give the black community and we give those immigrants everything, and that's why people get nothing. And I said, that's not true. It really isn't. I don't know now what the number is, but I know in the past, more white members were on the welfare rolls than people of color. But people don't want to see that.

Sarah Nemeth [01:52:10] They ignore those details and make their own.

Gloria Aron [01:52:17] Yeah, they make their own, you know? And so now many of us, especially those that I've worked with in various groups, have worked on trying to end racial prejudice and prejudice and racism of all kinds forever. And sometimes, I think, were making some progress, other times not. I think, thank God for the schools having to be integrated education wise. We didn't get a damn bit better, sadly. I'm sure some did. But people got to know each other, and many became friends, and I think that is a big say, a big difference, and I worry. But I think my kids and my grandchildren have been to the point where they either believe their beliefs or they're not going to. So moving to Parma is not going to, but it was not my favorite thing when my daughter moved to Parma, but unfortunately, she could not find the kind of house that she wanted here. And the school system hasn't improved any. But now Parma's having their problems, you know, so. But that would be if there was anything that I could snap my fingers and it would be racism, but I don't know. I can't provide jobs and I can't end racism. Yeah.

Sarah Nemeth [01:54:19] At least you’re trying and that’s what matters. So I do want to thank you. We’re at 2 hours.

Gloria Aron [01:54:22] Oh, my.

Sarah Nemeth [01:54:24] So thank you so much.

Gloria Aron [01:54:26] Okay. I appreciate it.

Detroit Shoreway

Interviews in this series were conducted by students and researchers in the History Department at Cleveland State University in partnership with Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization (DSCDO). Interviews took place at Gordon Square Arcade and in other venues in the neighborhood. Select oral histories were accessible for several years in listening stations in the Gypsy Beans coffee house at Detroit Avenue and West 65th Street.