Peter Kole discusses the history of the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood focusing mainly on his childhood and the sense of community that formed in these neighborhood. Kole also discusses business and industry, his own experiences included, and how the neighborhood has changed. Finally, Kole discusses his altruism in Albania and how the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood has been revitalized.
Kole, Peter C. (interviewee)
Miller, Emily (interviewer)
"Peter C. Kole interview, 09 August 2008" (2008). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 955026_999070.
Emily Miller [00:00:01] We will go ahead and press record and I will ask you to state your name and your background. So today is August 8th. This is Emily Miller here.
James Calder [00:00:06] I think it's August 9th.
Peter Kole [00:00:06] Nine. Ninth.
Emily Miller [00:00:10] Oh, it's ninth. Thank you! August 9th, 2008. And we are here at Detroit Shoreway. And could you please state your name?
Peter Kole [00:00:17] Peter Kole.K.O.L.E
Emily Miller [00:00:19] Thank you. And could you tell us a little bit about your birthplace? Are you from the area?
Peter Kole [00:00:25] No.
Emily Miller [00:00:27] No?
Peter Kole [00:00:27] I was born in Europe.
Emily Miller [00:00:27] All right.
Peter Kole [00:00:28] I was born in Pogradec, Albania.
Emily Miller [00:00:34] Alright, and what brought you here?
Peter Kole [00:00:35] My dad, my mom. Came here August 4th, 1938. Came on. I came on a boat called Acontesaboy. Came here, my mom, my uncle, at that time. This particular part of the city was primarily inhabited around I'm talking about 65th Street to about 45th Street. You talk about Cass, Herman, Tillman, and parts of Detroit were primarily Romanian and Albanians, that lived here. And they came here mostly during the '20s and the '30s when we had the huge migration of Albanian Muslims came here in the '20s. My dad came here 1913. My grandfather came here 1896. Dad went back to Europe, married my mother. Born in Europe, came here a year and a half later after I was born, and we lived on Herman Avenue above a barbershop: [inaudible]. It's owned by a Romanian and at that time we lived we were runners. Lived there for several years and then we moved to 5610 Tillman Avenue. Tillman Avenue is a neighborhood consisted mostly of Romanians, Albanians, Appalachians, and some Italians. And.A little bit of everything. Went to Waverly on West 58th Street. At that time it was the old Waverly School and that was located just south of Bridge Avenue. And went, was there. Went to West High. From West High, went to West Tech. And there I graduated, graduated from West Tech. Went to the university, graduated. Got a degree in accounting finance and then went to the army. I started working. By the early years, growing up here during the primarily during the Second World War was an interesting era because you had the Second World War. I can honestly tell you that people have asked me in the past, what's the difference between now and what it was before? We're more tolerant now as a city and persons living here. If you talked in a foreign language, the people who would have been living there for a number of years, would tell you, quiet, tell you to shut up and speak English. I can tell you, I was we were victims of those kind of comments. In those days, not many people owned automobiles. People in this area here stick to this street and in general was a central area for shopping. You did your banking. You did your doctors in this particular building here. I had my dentist, my eye doctor, and across the street above Matt Zone's office was our doctor. So everything was all in walking distances. If you went downtown, you got on a streetcar. You were downtown within about 10 minutes. So, there was really no need for automobiles. So people didn't travel much. It was. It was, it was people who traveled on vacations, a major event. Well, people just didn't take vacations. They stayed home, and they had the proximity to the lake and those who were fishermen or they went to the park. I even have a picture of my, sitting in my mom's lap in my office. You'll see a Model A Ford behind me. Only one car on the Shoreway. So at that time, it was a where everybody is an income level we're all about the same. There were no rich people, poor people in this area here. Rich people lived in, off of Edgewater. They lived off of Lake Avenue or lived in Rocky River. At least we thought they did. But growing up in that particular area, I can remember horse-drawn milk wagons. I could remember the paper and rags guys. And they had all these sets, I never understood, as a little kid, because I was ten years when we moved out of the neighborhood. But they always said paper and rags. I never understood it. Later on, someone said, you know, he said paper and rags. And you had your vegetables and fruit trucks used to come into the community and park in the middle of the street. And they were like U.P.S. vans, but the sides cut out so you could walk through and pick out your vegetables and fruits or you could walk outside and it and the stacks of food on a 45-degree angle and they all had a scale and that cigar box and that's how business was done. Or you went to Kroger's. And Kroger is located right next to the old Bank's Furniture, up on 54th where the Thai restaurant's at. Adjacent to it and those couple of buildings there. You had Kroger's. Across the street, you had the Chevrolet. I can't remember the name of the Chevrolet dealer. I don't know Brown Chevrolet I am picking a guess. I don't know if you remember on West 58th Street, you had the, on Detroit, where there's a like coffee shop now. That was a drugstore. It seemed like now you can drive through when you see drugstore on every corner. But I am going to tell you that's how it was back then. But they were individual stores owned by the pharmacies. And you never. I shouldn't say never. The most time we had a problem, you didn't go to the doctor. You went to the pharmacist. He's the person who prescribed the medicine, told you what he had to get. And you didn't have the stuff you had now. You couldn't buy a hammer in those days. You may have, you may be able to find some candy. You usually had a drugstore, a soda counter, and newspapers, cigarettes, and of course the pharmacy. It wasn't like it was. Ordinarily, these were all very small stores, excuse me. And they're owned by one or two individuals. And there were a lot of bars around. The neighborhood bars because you had to remember in those days there was no TV. And there were two. You had the Second World War. So as far as social gatherings, they went to the bars. And they were neighborhood bars. They were not rowdy-type things. They're not bikers and that sort of stuff. Everybody knew everybody. And you also had a sense of security within the community. You didn't have to concern yourself with, with the police. Things were done like as they call it now street justice. Something did something pretty bad you want to beat the hell out of them. That's how it's done. If you had a sort of problem. If someone did something, you went over and talked to a particular person and you ended up beating the hell out of each other. It was a very physical time growing up and particularly for me. And we spent as kids, we spent a lot of time down here on Herman Avenue, the playground. That was a big area. And the other thing and in the winter months, you went to the YMCA on West 30th and Franklin. So those are the things that sort of things you went to. And of course, you came here on Saturday afternoons for the matinees and the Capitol Theater. And they had, they had Saturday nights they used to have these dishes. They had these contests, you know, spin about things where they had, you know, banco, they had little cards, and you could win things. I can't remember how they did that. But they gave prizes out and that was a big draw. I think they had them on Wednesdays and Saturday nights. And right adjacent to the camp. Clearly, I can remember those places sold popcorn and on the corner of West 65th, the northeast corner, it was a shoe store. They had dry goods and I will explain what dry goods means. You could buy anything you want in there: clothes. You don't necessarily have to go downtown. Downtown you went to buy a suit. If you wanted to buy a pair of slack Levi's, or a pair of socks, underwear you went there. And it was a shoe store around a corner. And that serviced the community around here. And this is 65th Street here was a very thriving community. I mean, it was 24 hours a day of seeing your always a lot of actions. And then you had all the Italian kids that lived around here. They used to hang out here on 65th. They had gangs then. They had these. And right in front of this drug, on a corner here was a drug store and all the kids were hanging out there and they're all primarily Italians. And from 65th Street over to Mount Carmel, 73 to 74th was primarily Italians. And you could still tell where the Italians lived at. They, most of them didn't have lawns, they had concrete. Everything is concrete. You would drive by, it was a joke. You went by there. You knew where the Italians lived. There was no front yards, concrete driveways, concrete lawns. And they all had a lot of brickwork.
Emily Miller [00:09:56] Can I ask you about the ethnic community that you grew up in? Did you have any family from Albania? I mean did you?
Peter Kole [00:09:58] No.
Emily Miller [00:09:58] What draw.
Peter Kole [00:10:02] No. Most my family. My dad came here 1930, 13. He came here with his twin brother, his younger brother, his older brother, and three first cousins. Now, it wasn't economic issues that drove them here. It was problems. And we were occupied for a 450 years by the Ottomans. And they used the Albanias as cannon fodder. They were the first line of troops, and my grandparents were very much concerned about them being drafted because remember during that time Turkey and Germany were in a, in a fight. They were allies, and they are fighting Great Britain, France, and the United States. So what they did, you were 14, 13, 14 years old you were in the Army. And those days, the army wasn't two or three years. You were there for life. I could tell you stories about that, too. But it wasn't economics that drove, my dad did not come here and his brother the traditional way. They went the back door through Macedonia, through Romania, and they ended up in Marseille, France. Marseille, France, they took a boat and they ended up in Quebec, France, in Quebec. Can, Quebec, Canada ended up in Duluth, Minnesota, and they migrated to Red Wing, Minnesota, and they worked in Red Wing Shoes. They're still there. Back in 1977. My dad, I heard all these stories about my dad growing up as a kid he was only 15 years old, and he was telling me his experiences. So we went there. Back and he showed me where he lived at. And he would say, well, the Ukrainians lived in this house. All the Polish guys lived here. All the Irish guys lived here. All the Swedes lived here. And we got to talking. And he says, you see that pond? He says that's where we used to take our baths. They didn't have running water in those days. There were pumps, took a bath you went into the pond we used soap. And that's how it was done. I said how did you get into town? He says we would hitchhike, and we would get in a farmer's hay wagons and we get into town. So, it wasn't economics at that time. They came here.
Emily Miller [00:12:21] What was the draw to Cleveland?
Peter Kole [00:12:22] Cleveland. Yeah. Now from Red Wing, Minnesota. And I didn't like tannery. My uncle lost all his hair and the guys would look and say, hey, you know this. They were treating them like crap. And so they ended up going to Chicago. Now, the city of Chicago is really a big magnet for that part of the country. If you've been out to Chicago. If you have been out west, civilization sort of stops at Chicago and everything out west, as you know, is rolling hills and country. Besides that they all worked in restaurants. They were busboys. My dad hated it. He never wanted to work in a kitchen. He always said he remembered when he came to Cleveland because they opened a GM plant at Coit Road a Fisher Body Coit Road at East 140th Street. That's what drove got him here to Cleveland. So at that time, was that they went, where the jobs and they just built this plant at Coit Road. So they came here and he was taught a skill. And he stayed there till he retired in 1963. And he taught them how to be a welder.
Emily Miller [00:13:33] So in this particular area on the West Side of Cleveland, you said there were Albanians, Romanians. What, what was the ethnic draw in those neighborhoods? Did you guys get along with each other? With Eastern Europeans?
Peter Kole [00:13:46] Yeah. It might. Well, it's something I had to say that came to mind, when these guys came over here, they didn't come here with a single language. They spoke several languages. My dad spoke Bulgarian. He spoke Macedonian and he spoke Romanian. His best friend was Jimmy Craciun's grandfather. Craciun Funeral Home. Yeah, his grandfather and my dad were best friends. They palled around together and they did a lot of stuff not necessarily here, you know. Over here, do you know where the Cleveland Public Theatre's at? At about maybe one or two buildings this way upstairs was a speakeasy. There was a lot of gambling going on up there. So those guys were single and you have to remember my dad was 50 years old. He didn't get married until he was almost 40. So he had a 25-year range where that he was having a good time. Matter of fact, I had a curiosity once. I got it. I went to Public Information to see what kind of background my dad had and I found that he was arrested in Chicago. He was in a speakeasy and he got out cathouse whatever you want to call it he got caught. And in those days, he had to pay a hundred dollar fine. Now I pulled the records out of [inaudible] meet my dad. He was just a quiet, easygoing guy. And then you hear these stories from my other relatives. But that was a wild guy, but that's neither here. But they got along very well. The Italian language, Romanian language, and the Spanish language are very similar. I take the word Romanian. What's it made of? R. O. M. A. N. The Romans. They were once upon a time a Roman outpost. Now the Albanians were a direct descendant of the Illyrians. We go back a hundred thousand years. We're the oldest of the European countries, and we originally came from the Caspian Sea area. And we have our own language, we didn't speak. We don't, we're nothing similar to the Greeks, or Macedonians, or the Serbians, or the Romanians, or the Bulgarians. We're unique. But the Italians, the Spanish, and Romanians all share similar words. So that was one of the reasons they came to this particular area. The Romanians here in Cleveland has the largest Romanian community in the United States. The Albanian's largest community is in Boston. They're mostly in the New England states. Now, why there? That's where they got off the boat. My dad, like I said, he went a different route. They came and that's how they ended up coming through Wisconsin and Minnesota. They had relatives, my one first cousin, Louie stayed in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and he eventually became a state senator. At. My other cousin, he ended up on a. Well, in those days they had to call, they were dry cleaners. They lived right across the street. I remembers there was an Albanian guy they had across the street. They were dry cleaners. They used to block hats. If you look back in your movies, '30s and '40s, everybody wore hats. They all wore ties and everybody, you know, dressed, you know, in casual jeans. You work in jeans. Your acting like you're going on a geology field trip. Okay. So what you had is a lot of the Albanians, at that time, a lot of them were entrepreneurs like the Greeks, Greeks focus in our restaurants. So did a lot of the Albanians did, but they also focused in dry cleaning. They had their dry-cleaning, like I said, they had a shoeshine parlor across the street, blocked hats, and dry clean.
Emily Miller [00:17:40] Speaking about entrepreneurship, I hear that you are quite the self-made entrepreneur yourself. Can you talk a little bit about your, your business? And after, you know, you went to after you came back from being in the army.
Peter Kole [00:17:57] Yeah.
Emily Miller [00:17:59] And how you came back to this area and started?
Peter Kole [00:18:01] Well, eventually, I really, I wanted to get to California, but I. I had a military obligation reserves and I got this letter. I had to go to reserves. So that killed my chances going to California. And it was like I don't think so. I started off at Republic Steel in those days, worked in accounting, the cost accounting department, and worked at different places. I eventually became financial controller. And then in the late thirties. I mean, I should say in my late thirties. I had a couple of bad experiences in companies I work with. And I decided I'd never wanted to work for anybody again. I worked for a company where there was two brothers and a sister owned a company and they hated each other. And they fired my boss. I won't go into the whole story, but they fired my boss one day. All this all happened one day. The plant manager, the sales manager, the [quality control engineer manager,] the manufacture engineer, and night superintendent, Six guys. One day. Why? Because the one brother didn't like like him. Fortunately, I got along with them. I didn't have that problem. But I said, I'm never going to let this happen to me because the president, eventually, he was only like 52 and he died. Never had a bad experience in his whole life. The stress killed him. So, I started shopping around and I bought a company in Elyria. I had five people there. And. I got a phone call one day that's what I tell people. This is how it all started. And they were from General Motors. I made one part. I didn't have any relationship, no cousins, relatives, or did a lot of business with these guys I didn't even know them. I made one lousy part for them. They called me and they said, look, would you be interested in manufacturing seat frames? That's how it started. So I went to Chicago. They had a militant union. And I will tell you when you get in GM's way, you have to get the hell out of the way and they had what they call a factory manager. I'll tell you the whole story. I had a factory manager. And all the plants he had, I think he had eight plants reporting to him. And he was a no nonsense type of guy. Well, the unions of Chicago decided to take him on. So he decided to shut it down. So several thousand guys lost their jobs. Because some members of the union decide they were going to take on GM. You don't do things like that. GM, they have a hundred million dollar plant, they will walk away from it tomorrow. Doesn't matter to them. Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, they're all the same. They will not put up with that kind of stuff. So I was invited to go there and they had two other companies. Now remember, I only had a five man operation. So you're offering me this opportunity to get into the seat business. He says go get a building now. Think that's easy? It's not easy. I'll tell you the reason why. We had these large press type welding machines that took a lot of power. What happened in Lorain County is only a couple buildings that had that feature plus rail a shipping just at the time. I can't remember the name of it – it was Ohio Edison – wouldn't give me the time of day about putting power in the building I was interested in. C.E.I. bent over backwards. [inaudible] We ended up forty or fifty thousand dollars a month in power, a month. This went on for twenty years. Twenty-five years. These guys at Ohio Edison just weren't very bright. Consequently, I ended up at the Westinghouse building because of power. You had the GM plants in Cleveland, the Ford plants, you had the steel mills, you have maybe ten buildings in the entire county who have the power requirements.Westinghouse, that was their business. They made transformers. I got transformers all over the place. I got more power. I could brown out the whole area here. It's because, you know, with all the energy I have there. And that's what is the draw. So I came here and ended up eventually over 300 people in the one building and that we called plant one. Then we had plant two and three. Up the street and I had two more buildings that had my original company was there. So I took the original company in Elyria and moved to here. The seating business all came from Chicago. That's how it happened.
Emily Miller [00:23:14] And so when was the height of your business? I mean, I mean. How, at its height, how many people do you employ?
Peter Kole [00:23:23] Over 300 people. Yeah, we were around two shifts. We used to run three shifts and we got smarter how to run and make production. So we eliminated a third shift. But. Manufacturers seat frames. I'm out of that business now. I bought it from GM. I sold it back to them because they wanted me to make the seats for nothing. And I don't know if you're old enough, remember a fellow by the name of Ignacio Lopez came to GM in the '90s, came from Switzerland. He was Jack Smith's protege. Jack Smith was the chairman of the board. This guy, Lopez, was a little strange. He changed the entire culture of purchasing parts in the Gerald Motors Corporation. There's so many peculiarities. I mean, I could write a book on this. This guy was a wacko. He ended up stealing from GM. I don't know if you remember this, but he ended up taking 50, 60 boxes of confidential information, snuck it out. Flew it private plane to Volkswagen. They had a big lawsuit. They got GM. Volkswagen had to pay GM 500 million bucks. But in this business here, what he did. He disrupted the culture. Purchasing the relationship between buyer and vendor changed overnight. I would be able to do business with somebody on a handshake, a nod, or a wink. Couldn't do it anymore. And his process was changing a lot of, we'll call it senior guys who left. So they got their time to vacate. They left. So what they did? We had what I called the NBA guys come in. And these were the Ts and I guys. It was like what I would do all this stuff for you. Okay, then you got promoted. You came in and took her job, right? We had a relationship. I helped her in many, many ways. And he, you would say, so what? What are you doing for me now? So then a couple of years, another guy would come in, they used to call us the firemen. We would put out more fires for General Motors. They had supplier problems. They were sending me dyes and equipment without even bidding on it. He says run it. They had that much trust and confidence in what we're able to do. That's very hard to deal with. But when Lopez came in, things changed. And now all of a sudden, they want to know your pricing structure. How much do you pay for electricity, and how much you pay for toilet paper, how much you pay for steel, how much you're paying for direct labor, how much are you paying for insurance? You had to give them part of your P&L statement. And they said look, you are going to run these parts and I said no I'm not. So I said, I want out. So it came to a [inaudible], so I sold it off.
Emily Miller [00:26:28] Can you tell a little bit about, well you said the reason you came to this area.
Peter Kole [00:26:33] Power.
Emily Miller [00:26:33] Was power. What was the industry like? Or the broader kind of industrial area in Detroit Shoreway. I mean, like, what was it like when you came here? How has it changed?
Peter Kole [00:26:46] How did it change? Well, I got here during Jimmy Carter's administration and we were going through the, ever hear of the misery index? You know what that is?It's your combination unemployment interest rates. There was like 25, 26 percent. You had 10 to 12 percent unemployment. We're at five and five and we're six now. Back then, it was up to like about 12 percent. And you're paying 14, 15 percent in interest. Businesses were going out of business. A lot of places closed. It was a very, very difficult time for business people to be in business. A lot of empty buildings around town. Now, I will tell you a little something. The quality of unskilled labor in Lorain County is far superior to the unskilled quality, skilled, unskilled labor in the Cleveland area. The quality of skilled labor in Lorain County is inferior to the quality of skilled labor in Cuyahoga. It reversed.
Emily Miller [00:27:55] Why do you think that is?
Peter Kole [00:27:56] Why? It's mostly education. School system. I had to hire from Project Learn. Bring them into our plant, and teach people how to read and how to do math. I'm not talking about blacks, Hispanics. I'm talking about everybody.
Emily Miller [00:28:20] What other industry was in the, in the area at the time that you were in Westinghouse?
Peter Kole [00:28:27] There was a company here on, right next to the Parkview. They had welding. I can't remember if they were there for when I was a little kid back in the '30s and '40s. That would have been a long time. And they had labor problems. So you had at that time, in the late '70s, '80s. Companies were moving out of the area because of union concerns. Westinghouse moved out of this area to Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1979, because of labor. The welding. They made a tip, welding tips and other gages at this place. They went to the union and they said, look, we have to have this stay competitive with our foreign competitors. The union said. They sort of gave the union 30 days. I know a little history of this. The union, at the end of the 30 days, company went back and says, well, what are you going to do? Says we are still thinking about it. They says, well, you don't have to think anymore. We're moving. Wait a minute. Don't do this. Can we shut this off? I got to go to the bathroom.
Emily Miller [00:29:39] Well, sure.
Peter Kole [00:29:39] I got a problem.
Emily Miller [00:29:46] Are you ready?
Peter Kole [00:29:46] Yeah.
Emily Miller [00:29:46] To get started again? Alright. Did you want to, you were talking about.
Peter Kole [00:29:49] Industries.
James Calder [00:29:49] Yeah.
Peter Kole [00:29:51] Alright. Again, this area here was a thriving community. You had Eveready Battery. They had a lot of people working. You had America's Greetings Cards. They had their one division down here. You had a lot of small shops. They had Master Chrome still there. I remember them being at, being built and excavates right after the Second World War because I lived right behind it. So as a kid, seven or eight years old, you know, you're watching that sort of thing. You had the ore docks from my grandfather, my uncle were C & P Ore Docks. You had a lot of ethnic guys working the ore docks. And they lived in this community needs to walk across the Shoreway. Go back, by around how you get over to Wendy Park and Whiskey Island. That's how they got to work. Now, what else do you have? You had Nottingham Steel. They tore that down. That's over there, back where they put the new water plant. They're right on the lake here. And then, of course, you have American Shipbuilding right across the street from my plant and during the Second World War, they made sub chasers. You can see from my office the dry dock where it was. It's in the shape of a boat. It's all filled in now. So you had the ore docks, you had the steel company down there in the warehouse. And you had the small shops located from 25th Street on. And of course, on weekends, West Side Market, and that's when we used to take the streetcar and by 25th about 30th Street, it went underground. And you went under then the rat the RTA went underneath the Superior Bridge. But right there where Massimo Restaurant underneath there. I remember as a kid it was all white tile. Damp. It was always wet. There was water in that place. And on Saturdays, I hated the passion because I had to go to West Side Market with my mom. My dad would sleep in a lot of times he worked on Saturdays. And those days you had canvas bags, you seen those shopping bags? We had canvas. My mom always went with three. I had one. She had one for my left hand. She had one for her right hand. And then we had to have we put all the heavy stuff in between. So here we are, you know, taking a streetcar, getting to come down to do our grocery shopping. That's where you made all the bargains. That's where you bought our meat. That's where we bought our fresh fruit and our vegetables.
Emily Miller [00:32:34] What do you think makes the West Side, you know, different from other neighborhoods in Cleveland?
Peter Kole [00:32:42] Well, this particular area, you should go travel around the city, with the exception of the Broadway area, Slavic Village, everything was all self-contained. You had all these services and that's what was important to us. Yeah, it's again, the pharmacies. And most of them were run by ethnics. And you had your doctor here, your dentist, your eyeglasses and this whole building here was all professional buildings, your attorneys were here. Everybody was in this Gordon Square complex. And I remember downstairs a kid used to roller skate in a basement down here when you came in. And of course, the Capitol Theatre and in those days, I don't know what it's like ten, fifteen cents. But that's where mom sent you Saturday afternoon. You went there, gave you a dime, a nickel for popcorn. You're gone. So they didn't have to. They knew where you're at. But it was mostly in this day services. That was most important thing. You'd be able to and they'd have easy access. You didn't need a car. You didn't have to ask your mom or your dad or your mom had to ask your dad we got to drive. You need a car. You just walked.
James Calder [00:33:59] Oh, you can go ahead.
Emily Miller [00:34:03] As you grew older, did you still stay in contact with your kind of ethnic roots?
Peter Kole [00:34:07] No. No, I didn't. No. No, did not.
Emily Miller [00:34:11] Would you say that the neighborhood is still as close as it was?
Peter Kole [00:34:15] No, no. I did not. In my particular case, my sisters and my brothers. My parents were strong believers, we were Americans. See, the way I look at my life right now. Albania is my home. But America is my country. I would never fight for Albanians. I would fight for America as my flag. It's in my office right on my desk not the Albanian flag, the American flag. And, mom in particular felt very strongly about integrating into society. You know, I see these Arabs walking around here with all the headdress and all these Pakistanis wonder, crap, I get bent out of shape because we weren't that way. We were interested in integrating and becoming Americans. The old ways, as my mom and dad said, that's still in Europe. That's not here. We want to adapt and adjust and integrate with our with the American society. So I had no interest. It wasn't until 1990 in the Wall Street Journal, I saw an article they were allowing visas to go to Albania because it became a closed society. We had eleven, twelve hundred years. Under the Romans, we had two, three hundred years under the Crusaders, then you had 450 years under the Turks. And then Hoxha. Remember Hoxha? united the communist, who is from not far from where I was born. Who went to France. He was a smart guy. He was an educator. He embraced communism in France. So then he came back to Albania and he formed the Communist Party. So in 1945, when the Nazis and the Italians all left, he took over power. And from 1945 to 1985, he was a dictator then Ramiz Alia took over in 1985 till 1991. During that period of time, he made ed
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