Andrew Gilham, lifelong Cleveland resident, talks about growing up in the Cedar/Central and Glenville neighborhoods. Topics include the vibrant communities of the 1930's and 40's, changes in racial makeup of population, and the presence of Jewish and African-American owned businesses. Gilham also relates the importance of public transportation, and the shift to automobile use. He talks briefly about the destruction of property during the Hough and Glenville riots, and the reasons for the riots, and the benefits to the neighborhoods from the expansion of Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University.


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Gilham, Andrew (interviewee)


Robinson, Angela (interviewer)


University Circle



Document Type

Oral History


25 minutes


Andrew Gilham [00:00:00] I lived in too many areas, but anyway, in moving from the Mount Pleasant area, I've seen where the situation of the families and the properties has grown older. A lot of people have passed on the homes. The homes have... Some of the people have not been able to maintain their homes. And so there's an amount of deterioration that is there. And you... And you would like to see that changed because neighborhoods are something that you can say that you remember when they were, when when you were younger and traveling through them, that they were so attractive and so lively. And like anything else, when the property gets old and it deteriorates, and if a person, as a person gets older, they deteriorate. They don't travel around as much. And so, therefore, it's noticeable. It is noticeable.

Angela Robinson [00:01:37] All right. Just anything else?

Andrew Gilham [00:01:40] That should do it all. I mean, of course, as... as you, um... As I've- I've been living in this neighborhood for 40, hmm... Since 1965. And, and it's held pretty well. And I like to see it... Not fall in just hard times because economic conditions constitute how, how things will be.

Angela Robinson [00:02:21] Okay. Well, thank you. Thank you once again.

Andrew Gilham [00:02:24] Oh, you're quite welcome. Oh, my goodness.

Angela Robinson [00:02:27] Okay, well, tell us about University Hospital.

Andrew Gilham [00:02:31] University Hospital is similarly connected with the Case Western Reserve University. And it is... University Hospital has wonderful, wonderful medical attention that is given to, given to people. And it's not as large as Cleveland Clinic, but it is it is quite, quite sufficient, quite sufficient and advanced. And they're doing... They're doing a lot, in other words, my younger days when I was a youngster, I had my tonsils removed at the University Hospitals, back in the thirties. I remember that.

Angela Robinson [00:03:32] Oh, okay.

Andrew Gilham [00:03:33] I remember that. And I had always, oh, say, gone to University Hospitals for medical treatment other than when a doctor had taken care of me. Then of course it was... If it was something serious, then I went to University Hospitals.

Angela Robinson [00:03:54] Okay. Okay.

unknown speaker [00:04:01] [inaudible]

Angela Robinson [00:04:01] Ready... This is Angela Robinson, researcher for the Cleveland State University's Oral History Project on University Circle.

unknown speaker [00:04:12] Okay, here we go.

Angela Robinson [00:04:14] Okay. What is your name?

Andrew Gilham [00:04:15] Andrew Gilham.

Angela Robinson [00:04:18] And when and where were you born?

Andrew Gilham [00:04:21] I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 19... [...] 1926.

Angela Robinson [00:04:31] Okay. Now, where did you go to school?

Andrew Gilham [00:04:34] Oh, I went to school here in Cleveland.

Angela Robinson [00:04:41] What is your occupation?

Andrew Gilham [00:04:43] I retired from the Illuminating Company as a power plant operator, which consists of dealing with the operation of boilers and generating equipment.

Angela Robinson [00:05:05] Have you received any special award or special recognition thoughout your life?

Andrew Gilham [00:05:10] No, I haven't. No, no, I haven't.

Angela Robinson [00:05:15] You've lived in Cleveland all of your life, right?

Andrew Gilham [00:05:16] I've lived in Cleveland all of my life.

Angela Robinson [00:05:19] Where did you... Where did you grow up?

Andrew Gilham [00:05:23] Well, I... I grew up in 78th and Cedar... And in the Central, Central area. And in... My parents, 1943, they took a part-time, a part-time job, a janitor of an apartment building out on 105 and Yale Avenue.

Angela Robinson [00:05:57] Oh, okay. So you moved from well, at 78th... Tell me about the neighborhood in the 78th and Cedar area.

Andrew Gilham [00:06:07] Oh, the neighborhood at 78th and Cedar was... was.... It was just outstanding. I mean, we used to have in the summertime, the Elks would have parades. And it was just outstanding. It was just just wonderful.

Angela Robinson [00:06:28] Who were the Elks?

Andrew Gilham [00:06:29] Well the Elks was an organization of, oh, I would say... It was... It was... Although it had men and women in it because they had... The men had a division and the women had a division also. And they would have, they would have an oratorical contest that was organized by them.

Angela Robinson [00:07:10] Okay. Well, what did they do? Was this a community-based organization?

Andrew Gilham [00:07:19] No, it wasn't a community-based. It was located through the area, through the Central and the Mount Pleasant, and of the various neighborhoods.

Angela Robinson [00:07:37] Okay. And their whole, their whole purpose was to...?

Andrew Gilham [00:07:42] Their whole purpose was to get people involved, and youths also, to increase their oratorical affects that would help them to get along in life, I'd say.

Angela Robinson [00:08:17] So. When you say "oratorical," what do you mean?

Andrew Gilham [00:08:21] Oh, it was it was like a... You would have to write an essay or pick a subject, to pick a subject, write an essay on it. And they would award you, monetarily.

Angela Robinson [00:08:56] Okay. So we have the Elks Parade going on, and what else is going on in that group?

Andrew Gilham [00:09:02] Well, that was the main event that would take place in the summertime. Okay.

Angela Robinson [00:09:12] Okay. But what kind... What kind of people lived in that neighborhood? Where did they work, you know? Was it a mixed neighborhood?

Andrew Gilham [00:09:21] Well, the neighborhood was a majority black American neighborhood. They had... In growing up, there were a few whites in the neighborhood. But I'd say by the time, by the time the war, the Second World War came into effect, then the majority of the whites had moved out.

Angela Robinson [00:09:59] Why were they moving out?

Andrew Gilham [00:10:02] Well, it was just, just the thing that happened. I mean, they... They just moved out to another neighborhood.

Angela Robinson [00:10:20] So after 78th and Cedar, did you just mention that you moved to East 105th Street?

Andrew Gilham [00:10:28] Oh, yeah. I moved into the Glenville area. Moved to 105 and Yale Avenue.

Angela Robinson [00:10:35] Tell me about that area.

Andrew Gilham [00:10:35] Oh. Well, that area at that time, which was it was in 1943 and the early, early part of the Second World War, and we were custodians in a building, and it was a predominantly Jewish neighborhood.

Angela Robinson [00:10:59] So there was very few blacks that were in the neighborhood?

Andrew Gilham [00:11:02] Well, there were some... I'd say a few blacks were there even before we moved there in 19, which was in the early... The early autumn, the early autumn, of 1943.

Angela Robinson [00:11:30] Did I ask you to tell me about the neighborhood?

Andrew Gilham [00:11:34] Well. Well, the neighborhood was...

Angela Robinson [00:11:37] What was going on?

Andrew Gilham [00:11:39] What was going on? Well, it was just a regular neighborhood that was, you know, they had... Schools. Children would you know, children were going back and forth. They had of course, they had streetcars at that particular time. And... And it was just a general neighborhood.

Angela Robinson [00:12:06] Where did the streetcars take you?

Andrew Gilham [00:12:08] Oh, well, the streetcars were well, at 105 Street was a cross-town, which was a cross-town car line, transportation line. And of course, you had the main, the main streets, Saint Clair, Superior, and Euclid and so forth, which traveled east and west, cross-town, which was north and south, which was 105 street was a main thoroughfare.

Angela Robinson [00:12:47] Also, the, the train car would run...

Andrew Gilham [00:12:52] The streetcar.

Angela Robinson [00:12:53] Yeah. The streetcar run up and down East 105th Street?

Andrew Gilham [00:12:56] Yes, yes.

Angela Robinson [00:12:58] Okay.

Andrew Gilham [00:12:58] Yes. The streetcar traveled up and down 105 Street. Of course, after you got... After you crossed... Crossed Cedar, after you crossed Cedar and got over into the Quincy Avenue area, then the streetcar would change and go through, travel through the street called Woodhill. And from that it went from Quincy, Woodhill went from Quincy, and all the way to Kinsman. And then at Kinsman, then it changed to 93rd.

Angela Robinson [00:13:46] Okay. I know that some of the... streets, you know, when the streets are worn out, like some of the streets that need to be repaved, I can still see the track. The train track marks. I think I remember seeing it over by the VA hospital over there when some of streets- you know how the streets are worn out because of... deterioration.

Andrew Gilham [00:14:11] Deterioration.

Angela Robinson [00:14:13] You know, snow and ice and salt. And sometimes you can see those train tracks. And I never I never knew, you know, the history about those tracks. "Why are these tracks here? What was here?" You know, and just shed that light, you know.

Andrew Gilham [00:14:30] That was the tracks that the streetcar traveled on.

Angela Robinson [00:14:39] Yes, that's right. Okay... um... [inaudible]

Andrew Gilham [00:14:50] 1946. So after that it was a thing of trying to get employment... to get employment. And actually what was taking place at that time... I mean, I wasn't just bound in the neighborhood, but I was around and about trying and trying to get a job or if I found a job or worked on it until you get a better job. And and so it was not- Myself, I wasn't involved too much in getting into organizations.

Angela Robinson [00:15:42] The businesses that were in that area who maybe owned those businesses?

Andrew Gilham [00:15:50] Oh, the businesses that were in the area were predominantly Jewish businesses. As time went on, then African Americans would secure, would acquire what I should say, would acquire. Maybe the Jewish proprietors would sell their business to an African American. And so it, eventually, the neighborhood eventually changed. In other words, as the as the Jewish residents and proprietors moved away, then the neighborhood was predominantly African American.

Angela Robinson [00:16:35] And as the neighborhood was changing, was African Americans... Were they moving out then? Moving out, those who bought the businesses, did they continue to stay in the area or did they move out?

Andrew Gilham [00:16:55] Frankly, I couldn't tell you, personally, if the proprietors of the business moved away. But as times went on, people did move away because they were able to secure better paying jobs as as the auto- as the automotive industry became stronger. And in the area, people were were working more in the automotive industry, and they were just moving out to other neighborhoods.

Angela Robinson [00:17:50] Do you know University Circle? Can you tell me anything about University Circle during that time?

Andrew Gilham [00:18:04] Mainly University Circle was thought of as "Uptown." 105 and Euclid was quite popular, it had several theaters in that area, several shops, clothing shops, and just whatever that you wanted, you could go into the 105 and Euclid area and just get it. There was several several drugstores. The drugstore was, the outstanding drugstore was Gray's Drug, Standard Drug, Marshall Drug. And they were there, the candy shops, oh, Fanny Farmers and oh, it was just outstand- in other words, they had small, small stores. The Bailey's used to have a small store, a Bailey Department Store was there in that 105 and Euclid area. And, and it was just something that you would see, maybe travel there to just find what you would like, rather than to have to go downtown.

Angela Robinson [00:19:31] Okay. Well, that was, that was my next question. You know, did they, everyone just come there, or did they travel downtown or...? You know, where did they buy, you know, their... Things that they need?

Andrew Gilham [00:19:44] Well, they would go downtown if they, I mean, just someone wanted to... Something, something that they couldn't find at, in the Euclid and 105 Street area, they would go downtown... Where the larger department stores were.

Angela Robinson [00:20:05] Okay. So you don't know anything about the Euclid Corridor project?

Andrew Gilham [00:20:21] They... That, the... Of course the... In the later years the busses replaced the streetcars. And so, therefore, the congestion on the street was increased. And of course, they had the next main thoroughfare, which was Chester Avenue, that took, they rebuilt that, and that took a lot of traffic away from Euclid Avenue. But then there was the thought of Euclid Avenue being a complete thoroughfare that you could travel from the Public Square east as far as oh, as far as you could go through several different neighborhoods. And the difference there was that you could... People were able to come from other areas, other neighborhoods and catch Euclid transportation and go downtown and either go downtown or proceed to the West Side.

Angela Robinson [00:21:48] So people started... Well, really, they stopped... The more money people were making, the more they were able to buy things like cars...

Andrew Gilham [00:22:02] Oh definitely. Oh, yes.

Angela Robinson [00:22:06] They'd start using the....

Andrew Gilham [00:22:07] Oh, certainly. Well, the... As the finances of people changed, of course, then they started to acquire their own automobiles for transportation. And therefore, the public transportation wasn't used as frequently. And then the... As I understood, the idea of the Euclid Corridor came about as to improve the public transportation and allow people to to use it to go from their destinations downtown to the Public Square. Or even proceed on further across to the West Side.

Angela Robinson [00:23:12] Back to your... The area that you grew up in, in Glenville or the Fairfax area. There were a lot of people that... Were there a lot of people moving out of the neighborhood? I'm not sure if I asked you that question before... Okay. Were there a lot of people moving out of the neighborhood?

Andrew Gilham [00:23:36] From which neighborhood? To Fairfax?

Angela Robinson [00:23:39] Fairfax and Glenville.

Andrew Gilham [00:23:42] Well, I wouldn't say a lot of people were moving out. But as the population changed, in other words the youngsters grew up, and so therefore, the older people would, were there and some of them would say they were just... They would just give up their homes, sell their homes, and younger families would move in with younger children. And so they would just, just- Well it's a change in population.

Angela Robinson [00:24:18] So why do you think? Well, I understand why people moved out of the neighborhood for better jobs or, you know, they were making more money and could afford a larger home. But the ones that stayed in the neighborhood. Why do you think they stayed?

Andrew Gilham [00:24:38] Well, I believe they stayed in the neighborhood because it was just a familiar area. And they just associated that with them, with the family, and so they just remained there.

Angela Robinson [00:24:55] And their roots were there.

Andrew Gilham [00:24:57] Their roots were there, yes. Friends and acquaintances.

Angela Robinson [00:25:04] Okay. Has... Cleveland Clinic... With Cleveland Clinic's expansion in the neighborhoods...

Andrew Gilham [00:25:19] Mm hmm.

Angela Robinson [00:25:21] Can you tell me... What is your feeling about Cleveland Clinic's expansion of the neighborhood?

Andrew Gilham [00:25:30] Oh Cleveland Clinic expansion in the neighborhood is just, it's just fantastic. It's a medical institution that is that has grown immensely, and it has expanded all four ways, east, west, north and south. And it has the, I would say, medical expertise that people are clamoring for. People that are in far lands come to the Cleveland Clinic for medical attention.

Angela Robinson [00:26:15] Can you tell me? Did I ask about the race riots in Cleveland, like the Glenville or the Hough riots during the 1960s?

Andrew Gilham [00:26:30] That took place. That took place. But they... I wasn't... I didn't have to travel through those areas in going back and forth to my job. And I would hear about that, or read about it in the paper. And it was unrest. They had a lot of unrest. African Americans, young African Americans, were in a turmoil. There was something that they were looking for to more or less... I don't know what to say. It was like, it was a complete unrest. And so they were trying to get attention or get some help. But then at the same time, as my parents would tell us, tell my brothers and sister, you have to try to help yourself. And so therefore, it was a thing that took place that alerted the public to the strife that African Americans were faced with. And so they were trying to get this attention some, and- but there was nothing benefited by destroying property though. Oh. Case Western?

Angela Robinson [00:28:25] Yeah.

Andrew Gilham [00:28:30] Case. Case instituted... OK. Case instituted... Institute of Technology was a separate university. Case Western University was a, I'm sorry, Western Reserve, I'm sorry. Western Reserve University was an individual institute. And they decided to unite them together. And they've expanded that unity, they've expanded that unity to a marvelous institution of learning and technology.

Angela Robinson [00:29:15] Okay, um... [interview ends abruptly]

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