Toppin was born in 1940 and grew up in the Cedar-Central and Glenville neighborhoods. His grandparents came to Cleveland from Georgia during the Great Migration, and his paternal grandfather started Majestic Cab Co. His father worked at the TRW plant in Euclid. He recalls the "Gold Coast" entertainment venues along East 105th Street, including in the Euclid-East 105 area, in the 1950s-70s and Motown artists who played the clubs. He describes the racial transition in the area as one from white-owned businesses catering to whites and then, increasingly blacks. When blacks became the main clientele, whites sold out and left within a very few years in the 1960s. He remembers seeing the Sowinski riot in 1966, moving just across the line into East Cleveland in 1968, and having bullets hit his house during the Glenville shootout. Toppin discusses the impact of the Cleveland Clinic on the Euclid-East 105 area. He attended Catholic schools, including St. Thomas Aquinas (where he was only the third black student) and Cathedral Latin. He recounts his work for Addressograph-Multigraph in Euclid and, later, the Home Repair Resource Center in Cleveland Heights. He moved to Cleveland Heights in the late 1970s.
Toppin, Russell J. (interviewee)
Souther, J. Mark (interviewer)
Provost Summer Program
"Russell J. Toppin Sr. Interview, 19 June 2013" (2013). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 990022.
Transcription sponsored by Sandra Souther
Mark Souther [00:00:01] My name is Mark Souther. Today is June the 19th, 2013. This is the Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection and I am in the home of Mr. Russell Toppin, Sr. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed today.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:00:20] No problem. Glad to do it.
Mark Souther [00:00:22] Would you state your full name for the record?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:00:24] Russell James Toppin, Sr.
Mark Souther [00:00:29] Is it okay if I shut the--
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:00:30] Sure thing. Yeah. 'Cause you're gonna hear that basketball. Yeah, yeah. Close that one.
Mark Souther [00:00:41] Didn't notice it at first.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:00:41] Okay.
Mark Souther [00:00:42] Please tell me when and where you were born.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:00:48] Oh, let's see. I was born in 1940. October the 22nd at what was called Charity Hospital, which is now-- what the heck is... Uh... The hospital on the west side. What the heck is that? Where Nikki works at. Metro! Metropolitan Hospital. But back at that time, it was known as Charity Hospital. And I guess that's 'cause folks didn't have enough money to pay for me.
Mark Souther [00:01:24] And what neighborhood were your parents living in when you were born?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:01:29] Oh, we lived on Cedar. Let's see, right across from the Cedar YMCA. I can't remember the address. And then when my dad got drafted and ended up in World War II, we moved down to 69th and Cedar. 2210 E. 69th.
Mark Souther [00:01:56] When-- going back to your father, before he was in the service, I'm not sure of his age at the time that he went in there first. Yeah. What was his line of work?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:02:06] Well, he was a polisher at TRW.
Mark Souther [00:02:13] Where was the plant?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:02:17] The Euclid plant, I think. What is that? 200? 200 and Euclid Avenue. They've sold the plant since then. It's became Municipal Park now, but back at that time, it was Thompson Remco & Raad [Thompson Ramo Wooldridge] or better known as TRW. And he worked there for over 40 years and he retired from there.
Mark Souther [00:02:41] Sorry, when you say a polisher, what---?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:02:43] OK. The blades that go in an aircraft? When I get on the airplane, I hope my dad was the one to polish the damn blade and not my buddy Woody. They used to polish the blades, OK, for the jet engines. And at that time when he started, they were the props, the large propellers on aircrafts. And that's what a polisher did. Just take all the buffs out of the cracks and stuff like that. They would polish it down to that.
Mark Souther [00:03:15] So it's a safety issue more than---
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:03:18] No, it was production. If you're not-- not so much safety. It was actually what made the engines run, you know, the propellers turning. And in a jet engine, it was different because you had like maybe two or three hundred blades inside the jet engine. If you've ever seen a jet engine before it starts up, those are the blades that they were producing out there at that time.
Mark Souther [00:03:40] I see. And you've told me before about your grandfather and the cab company.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:03:47] Yeah. Thanks to you, I now know the name of it: Majestic Cab Company.
Mark Souther [00:03:51] And can you tell me a little bit about what you know about your grandfather, where he came from and what his parents did?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:03:58] OK. Well, I really don't know what his parents did. Because I guess I get my-- met my grandfather when I-- can't even remember in? Was back in about '43, somewhere along in there. And I remember that at one time, I found out later on that after he lost the cab company, he got beaten out of it by Yellow Cab, that he ended up in White Motors. OK, during the war. And. That's basically the best I can remember about my grandfather, except, you know, we had a great big tree out in front of the house and him and my dad cut it down. So now it's in that same house. My grandson and my son are going to have to cut down a tree in front of the house. I guess this is the Toppin history repeating itself for a minute.
Mark Souther [00:04:59] I want to pause for a second. Ask you to be careful about tapping on the table. It records everything.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:05:08] OK. No problem.
Mark Souther [00:05:08] The cab company, even though I've read some about it. I'd like to hear in your words for our recording what you know about--
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:05:17] Well basically, Mark, like I was telling you, when I initially ran into you, the family never really talked a whole lot about the cab company. In fact, I found out, like I was talking to Don, that I found out more from people who would just recognize the name Toppin and would ask me, "does your grandfather own a cab company?" And I would say, yeah! But as far as-- now my dad, when he would talk about it, he said he would lean out the window and holler down from Majestic Hotel, where to go pick up the fare, OK? And at that time, the city was really totally segregated, in fact, Blacks, I don't think at that time, could even get a Yellow Cab. So my grandfather fill that void in, I guess, until Yellow Cab found out that Black folks payed and ran him out the business and that sort of did that. Is that yours or mine? That's mine. Hey Don, grab that phone over there, would you please?
Mark Souther [00:06:27] Want to pause?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:06:30] Yeah-- hey, Mark, like I said, you gave me more insight on the cab company than basically what the majority of the folks were that talked about it. Like I was telling you, I think I was trying to catch up with my uncle, who was one of my grandfather-- hey Don, just put it over here. --Who was a driver for him. And, you know, when you put stuff off, that's when the mess up comes in at. And I kept putting it off. In fact, my son had passed. We were going over to interview him because he was going to do it. He was up at Heights High at that time. And he was going to do it for a school project to interview Calloway Watson. Yeah.
Mark Souther [00:07:21] You mentioned the segregation, would you tell me the story again about going over to the West Side, the clubs.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:07:27] Oh, yeah. Well, basically what happened is-- now this in my dad's words, right. That they had a lot of black entertainers on the West Side. And the thing of it was that they would send one of my grandfather's cabs over to pick 'em up. And the one thing the driver had to make sure of is that he had a cap 'cause if he didn't, he's subject to get his rump whooped over there. And that was that portion of it. So that's the best part of the segregation that I really know about as far as that was concerned. You know, my own experience with segregation is something else, but that's not the portion that we're dealing with right now.
Mark Souther [00:08:12] We'll get to that, too. I'd like to go back and ask what your mother did?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:08:19] Oh, my mom. When she ended up-- oh well, during the war, she worked at Fisher Body. Then she left from there and she was a secretary up at a place called Outlet Furniture, which is what was up on 105 [East 105th Street]. And then she became-- she retired from Case Western Reserve University. And she was the manager at the student union at that time when she retired.
Mark Souther [00:08:55] Going back to where both sides of your family were from, could you say for the record, where your paternal grandfather and then also your mother's name?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:09:08] Yeah, all of them came out of Georgia. And which particular part of Georgia I'm not really familiar with. Macon, I believe has been mentioned. And I think I still got some relatives in Macon, Georgia. And that's where both of my parents' parents were basically from.
Mark Souther [00:09:29] To your knowledge, did the family that came from families-- the branches of your family that came from Georgia, did they all come during what we would call the Great Migration or did they come at a broader period beyond World War I or early after World War I?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:09:44] Basically, I would imagine it was the mass migration. OK, what year was the mass migration?
**Mark Souther [00:09:53] Well, 1916 and on.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:09:56] Yeah, and that particular area, that's when they basically got here. Cause like from your research, when they open up the cab company, it was back in the '30s. And I know he had been here prior to that. So I'm pretty sure that's what it was because my grandfather, he worked at Jones and Laughlins when it was on Lakeside. Now it was actually downtown at that point in time. And then they moved out to the West Side.
Mark Souther [00:10:22] Now, is that the -- is that the steel company you're talking about?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:10:26] Yeah. That was Jones and Laughlin.
Mark Souther [00:10:29] So they were right downtown at one point?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:10:30] Yeah, at one time they were downtown.
Mark Souther [00:10:33] I didn't realize that.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:10:34] Yeah.
Mark Souther [00:10:36] And so when you were growing up, you were in the Cedar-Central neighborhood.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:10:40] Yeah.
Mark Souther [00:10:41] Did you-- what did they call it back then? The neighborhood? Did they call it that name or something else?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:10:47] No, it was just Cedar and Central. You know, I think what we mentioned when we started moving on to 105, it was then called the Gold Coast because of the amount of stuff that was up and down it, you know, the clubs that they had. Because I think what back in that time down on Cedar, you had a few bars that were noted at that time.
Mark Souther [00:11:12] When you were growing up in Cedar. I think you told me before that that was up until the 1950s. Yeah. But when you moved to Glenville-- do you remember the year you moved to Glenville?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:11:23] Oh, yeah. 1950.
Mark Souther [00:11:26] 1950?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:11:28] Yeah.
Mark Souther [00:11:28] Before you moved there, do you remember any particular businesses that you used to go with, you know, maybe with your mother or father and--
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:11:38] OK, well basically what was it? 4th Street was Brown Brothers, right. We all went down to Brown Brothers on Fourth Street. And Sears, Roebuck on Euclid and Carnegie. Those were the stores. In fact, my dad and my grandfather owned a grocery store down there on-- God what the heck. On 80th and 79th-- about 76 and Central.
Mark Souther [00:12:08] Was this your paternal grandfather?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:12:10] Yeah.
Mark Souther [00:12:12] So he did that then after the cab company?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:12:15] No, this was my mom's father.
Mark Souther [00:12:19] Yeah, and your father?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:12:21] Yeah, and my father. It was the Toppin-Hatcher market.
Mark Souther [00:12:27] Toppin?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:12:28] Toppin. T-o-p-p-i-n, you know, our family last name and Hatcher.
Mark Souther [00:12:32] I see, yeah. Which was her--?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:12:36] Her dad. Yeah, her maiden name.
Mark Souther [00:12:39] And then do you remember as a kid going to any corner stores in the neighborhood?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:12:46] Yeah.
Mark Souther [00:12:46] Any big ones?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:12:49] No, we kept the money in the family. Basically back then, Mark, there were no-- the only major chain back then was Save More. OK, and Save More was nothing more than a mom and pop's size store. I think Fisher Fazio, when they came in, they came up with a little bit bigger store. But basically everything then, back in the '40s and early '50s, was a little corner store. One of the things that put most of the Black merchants out of business at that time was that they weren't smart enough. To consolidate. And in fact, Save More-- that's one of the things that brought Save More about and actually end up forcing most of the smaller Black grocery stores out of business because they had a meeting at the Cedar YMCA. Now, this what my grandfather was telling me. And what happened was they were trying to get all the Black merchants together to purchase in large amounts and they couldn't get it together enough that they could fight Save More and the rest of 'em. Cause Save More, that's the way they got over. It was what, Save More? That's the one I can remember. Cause Save More put my grandad-- they put a store down on 79th and they just underbid it. White and Black merchants who were not incorporated. So that's what forced most of 'em out. Cause there was a little Jewish store right across the street from my grandfather's.
Mark Souther [00:14:32] It's interesting, we think a lot today about big stores like Wal-Mart and so on.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:14:37] Ain't always been there. Yeah. Nah.
Mark Souther [00:14:41] Long time.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:14:42] Cause the penny candy store was the biggest thing back then.
Mark Souther [00:14:46] What was your favorite candy? When you were growing up?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:14:49] I think jelly beans. Yeah. Till I found out Ronald Reagan liked them too. That's why I quit liking 'em! (Laughs).
Mark Souther [00:14:54] Going on-- from Cedar, Central to Glenville, you would have been about what? 10 years old?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:15:07] 10 years old. Yeah.
Mark Souther [00:15:09] And you lived there for how long and on what street?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:15:13] I stayed on South Boulevard on till what? I was about 18 or 20. Somewhere along in there.
Mark Souther [00:15:24] Were you still there when the Glenville shootout occurred or where you moved on?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:15:28] Which one? (Chuckles).
Mark Souther [00:15:29] The big one in '68.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:15:33] The big one in '68? No, I was no longer there. I was in East Cleveland dodging bullets from the ones they had over there, you know. (Answers ringing phone) Hello. Yeah. Hey, Robin, how are you? OK. Well, thank you. OK, yeah. Yeah, we're all over there with Tish and his wife now trying to hook up the arrangements. Yeah. Oh okay, no problem. OK. Yeah. OK, you. Oh, OK. Have yall told Aunt Nicey yet? OK, cause I know Kim was trying to keep that cause you know Aunt Peggy was due for a biopsy today and he was trying to keep that away from her. Oh nah, from Aunt Peggy cause, you know, she would call Aunt Nicey and tell her. Yeah. Right. OK. OK, OK, OK, OK, we should all be here. Well, Sherry, like I said, she's over there with Tish right now, so why don't you give a call back about 5:00 and then-- cause we'll probably all be starting to hook up around over here then. All right, take care. OK, bye now. OK. (Hangs up phone).
Mark Souther [00:17:22] So when you were in Glenville on South Boulevard, where are some of the places you remember going? I remember you mentioned Gordon Park and Rockefeller Park with an uncle. Can you tell me that story and then maybe some more about what you recall about your neighborhood?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:17:44] OK, well, you know, basically, I think that was the golden era of baseball. And most of the kids play baseball, now it's basketball. I remember-- the one big incident they had was in Sowinski. They ended up with a near riot there, which was which was really sort of weird because the blacks all lived on one side and you know, where Martin Luther King Drive is now? That yellow line was sort of the dividing line right there. At Sowinski, there was a park and something jumped off and all of a sudden looking up there, standing on top of the hill, looking down. And the Cleveland police came and they blocked off Liberty Boulevard and they were all standing there. And the thing that astounded me was the fact that they turned around and were facing the blacks and not looking at the whites. So that sort of let us know that, hey, which way they were going to start shooting if they start shooting. So that was the one incident there. But back at that time, the very unique part was about the entertainment. OK, I'm pretty sure you've heard the term and phrase "the chitlin circuit." Well, the portion of the chitlin circuit for Cleveland was the Euclid area on 105. The Keith Theater is where basically most of the Motown and black entertainers came through. It was one place, one show. Oh, boy, I can't think of the name of it, but it was the Keith, not the Keith. It was-- I can't think of the name of it now, but it was right there on 105 and St. Clair. And that's the first place that I saw Nat King Cole. And the Motown groups usually came through 105, either the Circle or the Keith at that time. So that was basically the real big entertainment center for Cleveland at that time. Then if you went down 55th, you had uh-- the heck we had down on 55th. Can't think of the name of some of them joints now that was down there. But that's where. The O'Jays got started at-- what was that? Gleason's? Yeah, it was Gleason's Bar at that time, down on 55th. And that's another one of the high points of entertainment. We didn't really get downtown too much because as a kid, Cleveland still at that time back in, I guess, the late '40s, I remember me and my dad-- my dad took me downtown to one of the shows and it was reminiscent of black folks in the balcony. And that was here in Cleveland. Yeah.
Mark Souther [00:20:54] So it was actually segregated
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:21:00] Yes. Yes. Somewhat. Somewhat. Not like it was when I went south, when I was in the army, they had the sign out front. I don't know whether they put us up there. My dad couldn't afford the seats down on the floor, but I remember that-- that we were sitting in the balcony.
Mark Souther [00:21:17] We mentioned some of the places, 105th and Euclid-- When Motown artists started coming through town, I've also heard that a lot of them went to Leo.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:21:30] Yeah! Leo, was--
Mark Souther [00:21:31] I was wondering-- was there a progression from one place to another?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:21:33] Yeah, it definitely--.
Mark Souther [00:21:36] -- they go to multiple places at the same time.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:21:38] Now, well Leo start sucking everybody up. You know, the shows had virtually-- actually I think just about just almost had stopped. Leo was, you know. Oh, I guess he had a political pool and the muscle or whatever it took to lock up that end of the industry. And that's when everybody started going down to Leo's.
Mark Souther [00:21:58] So that hurt 105th quite a bit?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:22:01] Yeah.
Mark Souther [00:22:03] What replaced the lost business, if anything, during that time?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:22:08] Well basically they were movie theaters, so they still function as a movie theater, just, you know, on a Saturday or something like that, they would have the stage shows. So they sustained themselves by being a movie theater, not just a nightclub, you know, so that's what I guess basically kept them afloat.
Mark Souther [00:22:34] Beyond Leo's-- I know Leo's came from farther down the city and moved up to the-- I guess it's the Quad Hall?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:22:42] Yeah. Right there, what was-- 79th and Euclid.
Mark Souther [00:22:52] Did you ever go to the prior Leo's--
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:22:55] Nah. No, I never got down there to the prior Leo's.
Mark Souther [00:23:02] But you did go to the one--
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:23:03] Yeah. Everybody hit down there.
Mark Souther [00:23:07] What was your most memorable show at Leo's or another club?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:23:11] Basically, when I saw the Temptation for a dollar and I see what the hell it cost to see 'em now. You know, that was the most memorable one, because I think the thing that really sticks out in my mind is when they did "Ol' Man River" acappella and I actually caught him singing it-- caught him doing it on TV, and he had a heck of a-- he was a heck of a bass. And that's the one part that really sticks out.
Mark Souther [00:23:38] Where was that when you saw it?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:23:40] That was on-- on Euclid, and I can't really think of the name of the club now, but it was downstairs next to-- the club was next to the Greyhound bus station. It was down there on 105 and Euclid at that time. Don't know why I can't think of the name of it.
Mark Souther [00:23:58] Was there-- I don't know how they pronounce it. There was a H-A-D-D-A-M Hotel? Haddam or-- around that corner, I don't know if there would have been anything in that?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:24:11] No, I can't really think that it was.
Mark Souther [00:24:13] May not have been on the corner, but it was on the south side of the street.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:24:19] Mhm hmm. I can't really place that right now.
Mark Souther [00:24:21] These other places were on the north side, correct? The theaters.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:24:24] Yeah , yeah.
Mark Souther [00:24:26] And Alhambra, too.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:24:26] Well, you had on both sides of the street. In fact, there was if you-- from 105 and Euclid, there were two shows heading west. There was the Alhambra and the Loew's State, which ended up with the minister who ended up going to jail-- I think, what the heck was his name? Styles? Reverend Styles, who was dropping chicken blood down on his white suit and cutting portions of it out to sell to the parishioners. Across the street from there was The Circle. And then further down and across 105 was the Keith and the other show that was down there was the Loew's, or something. I can't really think of the name of it now, but that's where I saw The Temptations at.
Mark Souther [00:25:21] How would you describe the area of the 105th area in terms of the transition to eventually, of course, Winston E. Willis bought up a whole section of that...
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:25:30] Yeah.
Mark Souther [00:25:31] In the '60s, late '60s, I think or in the 60s. The transition from White ownership to Black ownership. Was that associated just with him or...
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:25:43] Yeah.
Mark Souther [00:25:43] Were there Black-owned businesses in that area before?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:25:44] Nah, I think-- think that that's basically what it was cause Winston owned that whole block. In fact, he was renting-- he had a state store that was in his block. And he opened that up. You know, he had the after-hour clubs and all the rest of it. You know, from 105 all the way back down, he had it sewed up. You know. And that was basically it until they ran him off 105. You know 'cause he had the great big billboard and all that good type stuff down there.
Mark Souther [00:26:19] I've seen a picture of that, but can you describe it?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:26:22] I really can't. Not at this point. I just know-- what the heck was on the billboard? I think he was getting rid of somebody. I can't think who the hell he was against at that time, the governor or somebody.
Mark Souther [00:26:34] In one picture that was against the Cleveland Clinic, as it started to grow--
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:26:43] Yeah.
Mark Souther [00:26:43] You remember it had that sign?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:26:44] Oh yeah. Cause who was the crooked councilman that was down there at that point in time? (inaudible) was here 'cause who-- he hooked up, was it Boyd? I can't think of which councilman it was that was down there-- it was his district and he got hooked up with the Cleveland Clinic and was responsible for fooling a lot of people into selling their businesses to the Cleveland Clinic. In fact, I have one friend who his uncle owned The Waiters Club. And Cleveland Clinic came through and bought him on one side of the street. He found a store from across the street. He went and transferred his license across the street. Cleveland Clinic followed him over there and bought that also. Yeah. So that's basically what it was. But the killing part is working over at Case Western Reserve and saw the 40-year plan, you know, because, you know, the 40-year plan showed that they were going to suck up all of Euclid any damn way. In fact, right there at East Boulevard, going up the hill? There actually was a guard tower there. OK? In other words, if you didn't have any business coming downtown, because that was the gateway. That was the breaking point right here. You stop right here, go back, because you don't need to come over into Cleveland Clinic or any place else. So we're going to stop you here.
Mark Souther [00:28:17] Where was that and what period are you talking about?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:28:22] That had to be the '60s and '70s, late '60s, early '70s.
Mark Souther [00:28:26] On East Boulevard?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:28:28] Yeah, right there. God-- okay. I kind of think-- what is it now? Fairhill? Coming up right there at Euclid where you make that turn going up. I think that's-- what is that? Is that Fairhill?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:28:43] Yeah.
Mark Souther [00:28:45] I think-- is that where-- I think they call it Stokes and then... Boulevard... and then it becomes Fairhill when you go up.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:28:50] Yeah. Well, right there where the--
Mark Souther [00:28:51] Was this before you go up the hill?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:28:52] Yeah. Right right there at Euclid itself. OK, where the museum is. OK, basically you take like Case Western and Western Reserve was not included in the package with Cleveland Clinic at that point, and that's where they actually supposed to been putting the guard tower at.
Mark Souther [00:29:11] Oh this was proposed? It was never--
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:29:12] Yeah. Right. Never implemented.
Mark Souther [00:29:16] Where did you see the proposal or did---
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:29:18] At the Newton D. Baker Building, right there at Case Western Reserve University, in the main lobby.
Mark Souther [00:29:23] A picture of it?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:29:26] Yeah. Well, the plan. You know, it was on the table. And the guard tower was depicted right there.
Mark Souther [00:29:35] And. What was there-- was there any public explanation for it?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:29:40] Uh uh. Well, I don't think at that point in time, really the public was really into it. This was just a study, I guess, that was done by the city and the architects who actually just drew it up as to what the future of the 105-- 105 and Euclid area was going to look like. It's just before I think that the Clinic was probably implementing the take over at that time and it just took them to that long. In fact, I got the one buddy that I was telling you about. His brother still lives down there. In fact, his brother had actually put down a down payment on one of the houses down there. The new homes that were being built from scratch. And Fannie Lewis was--I think it was Fannie Lewis--was instrumental in helping beat folks out of their own property. So, yeah. And if you go down there now that-- that's all it is. You take between-- well actually. Cleveland Clinic even knocked out a couple other hospitals that were down there. There was a women's hospital. It was strictly for women on the north side of Euclid. Then, well, basically, they're just-- the old Sears Roebucks that was downtown? OK. Since you've been here, you've seen it. They've bought the Playhouse, OK? And they shifted it downtown. Why in the heck they did that I'll never understand because, like, you had adequate parking there at that-- did you ever get a chance to go into that? It was beautiful. They had the one main stage and about three other smaller stages in there. And, you know, all of a sudden, bang. We're moving downtown to the congested ass parking and nowhere near-- you can only put on the one show downtown where there they could put on a main show and have a couple of small shows with it.
Mark Souther [00:31:51] Tell me a little bit more, if you would, about the story about your uncle and the parks. You said that cause of the lack of air conditioning, people--
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:32:03] ...Oh Okay.
Mark Souther [00:32:03] Sleep in the park?
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:32:04] Oh, yeah, well, basically what would happen then was during the summer months when it was extremely hot and there was no air conditioning, what we all basically did was just go down into the park. You could do it with no problem. The only thing-- the only concern you had was stepping on somebody. And if you did accidentally step on somebody, all you did was "excuse me." You didn't get shot or anything like that. It was when people were really people here in the city. And they all got along. I wish you could get back to that.
Mark Souther [00:32:37] You mentioned waking up your uncle one time.
Russell Toppin, Sr. [00:32:39] Ah, yeah. My Uncle Chat-- I
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