Longtime resident, Lynn Kupsa, describes changes in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.


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Kupsa, Lynn (interviewee)


Calder, James (interviewer)


Detroit Shoreway



Document Type

Oral History


23 minutes


Lynn Kupsa [00:00:00] Just go do your job or get started.

James Calder [00:00:04] Alright. So would you please introduce yourself?

Lynn Kupsa [00:00:06] Oh, I don't think I want to do all that. You mean to be recorded?

James Calder [00:00:12] Yeah. Just your name.

Lynn Kupsa [00:00:14] Oh, my name is Lynn and I've lived on 6400 Detroit for the past 75 years. So, you know, I know pretty well what's what the neighborhood been like since 1933, I think it is.

James Calder [00:00:28] Well, it's, you know, starting where. How did you come to this neighborhood?

Lynn Kupsa [00:00:36] Well, when we first lived in Cleveland, we lived on West 52nd Street. And then my parents came to St. Helena's Church, which is down on 65th below Detroit and by walking to church because they didn't have cars that many cars in those days. So they walked to church and then. No, I don't remember as how this thing came about, whether they had a for rent sign out or somebody told me the house was vacant. But anyway, we rented from the Pattons, there were at that time, just there was just Mary Patton and Margaret. They were the two survivors of Patton family. And I guess she liked my parents when she talked to them. Mary was the oldest of the two. And then we ran of the house and there were three of us, three girls. And so she felt it would be a nice group to have in her house.

James Calder [00:01:36] Who were the Pattons? Were they a big family around this area?

Lynn Kupsa [00:01:37] As far as I know, there were six of them in the family and they were, I think that there were three boys, no four boys and two girls. And one boy was a policeman. And I know they were very active around this way. And when Mary died, she was the last of the family. You know, I don't remember the exact years, but anyway. And members of St. Colman's Church and they were both very nice ladies. You said that we you were acquainted with so and we were pretty well behaved as kids were in those days. And that's, that's as much as I know about her. I know she was a very straight-laced lady and you had to behave with her around. So that's all I could tell you about us. And then we had, down the street on 64th Street, there were a lot of Romanian people and there were quite a few Irish people. And they all came, a good part of then belonged to our church, to St. Helena's, and across the street on Detroit, almost diagonally across from us, was St. Mary's Orthodox Church. And that was the two churches that Romanian people attended. And then eventually they moved away as everybody... so many people did. And of course, the question I used to get, but not anymore now, but they say, are you still living there? And I said, yes, we are. And it was a marvelous place to live. It was close to town and close to, you know, I worked downtown so it was it was very convenient to live there and didn't even think of moving anywhere. And then eventually I was able to tell them, we have no mortgage, we are close to the church, we're close to work, you know, the transportation was so wonderful. So that kept us there, among other things. And that's about all I can tell you about being in that house and in that area. And they had that real, that, the Harp apartments across the street from us. And just really a, it was a nice place, nice people live there. And they, you know, it was well kept in. And it still is now.

James Calder [00:03:48] So did your family move to the house to be closer to St. Colman's?

Lynn Kupsa [00:03:55] Well, yeah, just about, that was it because my father worked at the Westinghouse and that was down on 58th below Herman, you know, down on the lakeshore, I mean on the boulevard. But that's... and then of course there was Gordon Square, a theater across the street from us, which was really exciting because by the time, I mean it was a primarily a vaudeville theater. It was really nice, nice youngsters to watch these people going to the theater and so on. And then we had the Capitol Theater on West 65th Street, and that's where we spent our recreational time. You're going to the movies and getting to know the boys in the area and so on. And then we had, we had marvelous neighbors, they were all part of your upbringing to speak of because they sort of watched over you and so on. And it's in a, you know, the stores came in and went, some of them, but... You know, it's changed a lot since we first moved there, naturally. And now it seems to be getting back to being a little more active with new restaurants and new people. And we found just a lot of nice people still live down down the street on West 64th, so I don't know what else to tell you.

James Calder [00:05:17] You actually said a lot of things. I'm actually going to go back and ask you a lot about what you said. I guess first we'll start with your family. Just out of curiosity, what was sort of the makeup of your family? How long have they been in Cleveland?

Lynn Kupsa [00:05:34] Well, they were, they moved to Cleveland in 1920, 1922, and then in 1934, '33 or '34 was when we moved... I can't quite remember. It was in the fall because I was just starting high school at that time. And, well, they just moved to the neighborhood because it was a very nice neighborhood, and some were around... But we didn't... There were not too many... Well, the houses, most of the houses were built down the street because I think most of them were built around... 1925 or so is when the houses were built. But we came after that and we had...

James Calder [00:06:21] Where did you come from? With your family?

Lynn Kupsa [00:06:25] We were born in Zanesville, the three of us. But my parents came from Romania. And my father came here first, but he came mostly to... I better not say this... to avoid being in the Austria-Hungary Army, because at that time Romania was part of their, I mean, they ruled that part of Romania. And so he came to this country and before you know, why he became established here, and they had sort of planned to go back in 1914 and then the World War started, World War I started and then so they had to stay. By the time that war ended, my father felt that he liked this country better than where he came from and so on. And that's how they decided to stay here. And then we went to school to St. Stephen's which is on West 54th between Bridge and Lorain and then... It was a grade school and a high school at that time. But in the meantime, you know, it's changed many... because we graduated many years ago.

James Calder [00:07:47] So you moved to Cleveland in the '30s? I'm just trying to straighten everything out. Your family moved...

Lynn Kupsa [00:07:53] They moved from Zanesville to Cleveland... I think it was 1922 that I...

James Calder [00:08:02] '22? And you moved to this neighborhood?

Lynn Kupsa [00:08:07] Yes. Yeah. On West 52nd Street in that area. Yeah.

James Calder [00:08:10] Okay. Okay. What was it like? Do you remember some of the... Sorry, I'm hitting at that fly... This was at the beginning of the depression, or not really the beginning but sort of part of the depression.

Lynn Kupsa [00:08:26] Oh, I remember that really well. That was a terrible time. And we were just young enough to sort of understand that we better not. Oh, we just couldn't ask, we knew not to ask for anything like toys and all that stuff. You just did what your, whatever your, our parents provided for us as far as recreation and that. But oh, I sure remember that. And when the banks failed, we all had a Christmas club because, you know, that was popular at that time.

James Calder [00:08:57] What was a Christmas club? Can you explain it?

Lynn Kupsa [00:08:59] Yeah. You paid, weekly you paid, well you could buy one... That was, I think for 20, 12.50 and 25 dollars and 50 dollars. Something in that amount of money. Then you paid, well, the ones we had were 25-cent ones and by the time Christmas came along you had twelve dollars and fifty cents something and that was a lot of money. And when the banks failed, we didn't... We couldn't get our money because the banks failed in October of '29. I remember that. And it made a difference in our lives because everybody had to do a little bit of being economical instead of having, you know, everything, most everything you wanted or needed. And then everybody lived through that somehow. And then we got back to normal again. And the next thing you know, World War II came and then we had rationing, and people couldn't buy new cars and so on. It made, those two times made a big difference in their lives. And I think that's how we learned to be just a little more economical and think before you spend your money too freely, like these young people are so in debt, you know with what they're charged with their credit card and so on. But we learned to spend only what you were able to pay for within a short time, you know, when you when you opened a charge, you learned that you paid for it. When the charge came, whatever you bought, you were able to pay for. And then the next thing you know, things got better. And again, we were able to enjoy a little more in life than we had before. And you appreciated it more, too. So that's about what I can tell you about those two areas.

James Calder [00:10:54] Can you describe... How about just neighborhood descriptions? Can you describe the neighborhood when you first moved in? What do you remember it being like?

Lynn Kupsa [00:11:07] It was such a nice, well, it still is a nice street if you look down our street and, you know, years ago, we didn't, we just played on our street. You didn't go... I didn't go past 65th Street for years. We could... We went up to 65th and you went to school and came home and did your homework and did all that. But you just sort of hung around with the young ladies and the children on our street, to speak of. And I can remember, and then, of course, we only went as far as 65th to the church. And then we, at that time, we were just big enough that we could go to the Walsh Library and that was our real treat to walk down to 74th Street. But that's how it was when we were in that age group, and it was just a nice place to live, and we had a nice yard and, you know, a big enough yard that we could do what, you know, played in the yard and laid out in the sun when... We had nice high hedges around the house. It was really, really well kept and so on. And so you could, you know, during vacation time when the summer was so bright, you could lay out in the sun and sort of have a picnic while you're getting a suntan and so on. So it was fun. And we just had a lot of friends, and your friends were sort of circled around your neighborhood. And that's about all... And I think didn't pay attention to other than your social group here, your family and your friends, and then we visited somebody every Sunday or else they visited at our house. It was sort of a round robin. You visited one family this Sunday, the next Sunday. That was how we spent our time. And when we were a little bit older then, we used to go to Metropolitan Park off of Detroit, you know, at Rocky River and go bike riding there and so on. That was some of our recreation on Sunday afternoon because you didn't do any any housework or any anything on it or didn't wash clothes or do anything. You just enjoyed Sunday, just lounging around.

James Calder [00:13:31] What were the... You talked about some of the businesses. Can you talk about that? Anything you remember specifically?

Lynn Kupsa [00:13:37] Oh, yeah. On the corner of Detroit and 65th, there was a shoe store called O'Boyle's, and that's where we bought our shoes, and when we got a little older we could go in there ourselves and buy them, you know. You didn't have to have your mom because it was so close. But these were all people that knew what your parent... your mom would would buy for you. I mean, it was that way. And then on the other side of 65th, there was an A&P and I know there was a dress shop and they had such nice clothes in there, and you know it was something... you window shopped more... as much as buying anything in there. And they were... And then this Gordon Square building had a market down in the basement and it was just the, oh, the best place to come to you as a kid. Any place where they had lots of stands with... food stands. It just... It was just a really, really nice place to work, not to work, you know, to go to and so. And then, of course, the Capitol Theater was our main source of entertainment.

James Calder [00:14:46] Was the Capitol Theater... What was it like I guess for people in there?

Lynn Kupsa [00:14:52] Well, it was just it was such a nice, big place. It was... And they had a balcony and I can't say if I remember when the movie... when they had the talking pictures but somehow I can sort of remember that. I know that they had like, not a, where they had an organ that played music at the end. And, gee, that was so far back! But of course we went there and enjoyed it then and they had, I think on Saturdays, they gave things away like china, little prizes or premiums that you made a collection of, and so on. But we never went to the show in the evening because that was for the grownups, you know, so we... But my parents had been to the show and I know we still have a few little things that they collected at that time. Pieces of China or dinnerware and so on. And then, of course, across the street... Oh, and then at the corner there was Marshall Drug where the, what do you call that, that income tax place. You know, they do income tax, right on the corner. Well there was a Marshall Drug and then they had a soda fountain which was really a place to go. And then on the other side they had... I don't know, I think it was called Dtandard drug, but I'm not sure and they had a soda fountain there, too. And then next to it they had a hardware store called Rothman's and kiddo that was the best place to go to eat. There was some stuff to see and they were just such nice people. You know, both of the people that ran... the Rothmans. And they were there for years and years. I remember that. And then, of course, I'm trying to think, but on the other... where the Cleveland Public Theatre is, at that time there were two stores there, and one was a beauty shop and one was like a little family restaurant. And that was another place that, you know, you enjoyed going to. And, of course, going to the beauty shop, you really thought that was a big, big deal. And that's out on the corner there. You know, you didn't venture too far from there. And around the place where the Sav-A-Lot is, there used to be a set of apartments, really nice ones, but they were torn down and the Kroger company built a store there, and then, coming back this way, I think there's a leather shop, where the leather shop is, there used to be a barber shop and I remember that what the story... why, but anyway it was bombed one night, you know, later in the evening, not through the night but, you know, about 9:00 or 10:00 and it was, that was really some excitement, you know to have a thing, and I don't know whether it had to do with the barbershop. You know, like when the unions were starting to be a little stronger, and I don't know whether it involved that or not but the point, we just had our house painted. And of course, you know, all that explosion and so on. And I remember that, I guess must been their insurance company or so, they paid for getting, you know, the part of the house which was affected by the bombing painted. We thought that was the greatest thing in the world. And that's, other than that. I'm trying to think. On the other side of the street, I don't know what was built before Craciun built that funeral home. I think there must have been houses there. Yeah, I think they were houses on that, and the house just on the corner now. Or it's not the one past the corner, before there was a big white house on that corner too. And that was really a nice house too. And some nice people live there and people that... It was a family, and we got to know them, you know, when they moved in. And then down on 65th Street, there were a lot of Irish people, plus there was... I wish I could remember not the name of the Irish family, and their father was with the Cleveland Trust. Yeah, I think was called the Cleveland Trust and they were on the corner of 65th and Detroit where Zone has his office now, and the bank was there for a long time. Then it was closed and then they... A bar opened there called Lenahan's and we just thought that was the greatest thing when you went by. And you know they had such big windows there and you could look in there. And of course, we never ventured to go in there because that was not something we young ladies did in those days. And then on our side, I don't remember when City Grill finally opened, but it's been there for so long. You know, you just sort of take it into your stride and so on. And that's about it. And listen, kiddo, I gotta get going.

James Calder [00:20:10] You have to go right now?

Lynn Kupsa [00:20:11] Well, two minutes.

James Calder [00:20:12] Ohkay, well, let's talk about real quick. St. Helena's and the Romanians.

Lynn Kupsa [00:20:18] I don't want to get... I don't want to get into that, because I think Ray wants to talk to Father and have him come over and talk to...

James Calder [00:20:28] We can do both though.

Lynn Kupsa [00:20:30] Well, I don't want to say... You know, I've been there so long and so on, every other ten minutes I'm mad at the priest. So right now you he's not my favorite person in the world. So I don't want to say that, but it's really been... That was just a wonderful place to be. And you know, all the Romanian Catholics came to St. Helena's and the Orthodox went to St. Mary's, which that, you know, that I mentioned across the street from us. And everybody knew each other. You were just part of everybody's family. And seemingly that, you know, it's kind of a small enough church that you might be not at church one Sunday or the next Sunday, and people think, well, they must be on vacation. But by the third Sunday, they begin to worry about, you know, where are you or, you know, what's happening? And that's it. And it's just a church that you just... It's part of your way of life and almost your second home. You're, and of course right now, well, I must say, people have moved away to other neighborhoods, but they come back to St. Helena's because that's like a second home to them too. It's part of your way of life and so on. And so many of my friends we've known since we were little children, they lived down on 64th or 58th Street or 59th Street, you know, and because they all were within walking distance for years and years, you know, they didn't have cars and drove up to church. And we've seen the progress from a smaller building and with and now it's got... It's a nice complex. You know, we have such nice buildings and so on.

James Calder [00:22:21] Is it really the oldest Romanian? What is it?

Lynn Kupsa [00:22:24] The oldest Romanian church in the United States. It was built in 1904, or established... I think in 1904 or 1906, 1906, and it was built by the people... I think in 1904 from what I remember of the the history of the church, you know, these people gathered together, you know, the Romanian families, and then they were able to get in touch with the Cleveland Diocese and asked for assistance, and they helped them build it, build the parish house and the church, and they've been part of the scene for all these years. Yeah.

James Calder [00:23:15] I can let you go.

Lynn Kupsa [00:23:16] Thank you very much.

James Calder [00:23:17] Thank you.

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