Frank Murphy describes changes in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.
Murphy, Frank (interviewee)
Horn, Phil (interviewer)
Transcription sponsored by Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization
Philip Horn [00:00:07] Good day. This is February 9th, 2006. We're considering the Gordon Square Arcade and the St. Colman's Roman Catholic School as a part of our study of the Detroit Shoreway area. I am Philip Horn, a CSU student who had a hobby of visiting historic places, churches, and cathedrals in England while in the U.S. Air Force. In cooperation with Cleveland State University, we are privileged to have with us Frank Murphy, who is a resident and grew up here in this area and attended both St. Colman's School and St. Ignatius High School. He is here to tell us something about the Arcade and St. Colman's. Our first question that we're interested in, because many of us may not know what Gordon Square Arcade... Can you tell us something about it?
Frank Murphy [00:01:11] Well, it's located on the corner of West 65th and Detroit. It's a three-story building with a developed basement. When I was a youth it held a lot of businesses. There was the, you know, a men's clothing store, a barber shop, a grocery store. Any number of things. You know, a dime store. I'm trying to think of some, and a restaurant. So that there is... And then, of course, in conjunction with the theater, which is part of the building, the Capitol Theater, which was a big neighborhood attraction like all movie theaters were back when I was young. That was what you did on a weekend was go to the movies. That it was very unusual for someone to own a television and all of the things that people take for granted today. Not everybody had even a telephone back then. I can remember when I was young, I'm gonna be 65, and we were one of the few people on our street that he had a car that... The primary mode of transportation, depending on my age growing up, was either the transit, you know, the trolley cars or the bus. So that or you... By foot, which interesting enough is that when I went over to Ireland, that was how people get around over there, that they take a bus or walk. So cars are, although we're starting to civilize that country, I guess, and make it like ours so that there's gridlock with the cars. But, so I guess that's progress, depending on your perspective, but it's interesting to see how little the area has changed in my lifetime. You know, remarkably so. I've seen it go from what I consider to be a, you know, my home. And then it went on a downward cycle where it became the quote unquote ghetto, although I never realized that. And now it's on the upswing and has become a, I guess a trendy location and with the hopes of making it more trendy. But the Arcade has really gone through a large metamorphosis in the last 25 years. When I was a youth that the upstairs of the building was all doctors' offices and the dentist and the neighborhood lawyer and all of the professional people of the day had their offices up there. Now we have 64 apartments, so we have like a mini neighborhood, I guess, for want of a better way to describe it and then, of course, the storefronts have largely become office space or, you know, there's a restaurant and the bank. But it's pretty much limited, you know, compared to the way it was when I was growing up, and of course of the theater is not operating right now. But we have hopes of getting that renovated and up and running so it would become an attraction, you know, a mecca for people to come to and a reason with having a theater district here, because all of the theaters in the... that were on this intersection are in the process of being either renovated... Cleveland Public Theatre is up and running, and the Capitol, we're taking baby steps towards bringing that back online. So where everybody that's works for Detroit Shoreway in particular and the neighborhood people that have been here for many years are excited about the prospect of it becoming, you know, the grand old lady that it once was.
Mark Souther [00:05:03] Let me pause for a second and get you to pull the microphone closer to you. Do you think that that would be okay?
Frank Murphy [00:05:07] Is that okay?
Mark Souther [00:05:04] Well even closer really. It needs to be closer to your mouth.
Frank Murphy [00:05:10] Okay, this way?
Mark Souther [00:05:10] That would be better.
Frank Murphy [00:05:10] Is that working?
Mark Souther [00:05:12] That's helping me get a better level.
Frank Murphy [00:05:13] Okay. So I don't know if that answered your question or not, but...
Philip Horn [00:05:19] Yeah, that's kind of things we were looking for there and [inaudible].
Frank Murphy [00:05:28] This... [crosstalk] This intersection when I was growing up was like the place where people met and hung out because of the theater and there was a restaurant. There was everything that you needed as a... [phone rings] Excuse me. I can't get away from this thing. [silences phone] Everything that you needed here... I'm gonna turn this thing down so we won't have bells in the background. Everything that you needed was on this corner. You could buy food. There was an appliance store. There was a bookstore over on the other corner and on the opposite corner where they sold magazines and racing forms and, you know, you name it. There were of course taverns. There was two drug stores there, one on each corner, that were in this building. So that you really never had to leave the neighborhood. You could get just about everything you needed, and then of course, if you went on the big shopping trip, you would get on the bus or the trolley and go downtown and shop at the major department stores. But, you know, it was kind of a closed neighborhood that you didn't... And all neighborhoods were that way back then. You didn't have to leave. You know, you could go within walking distance and get just about everything you needed. Entertainment. You name it, it was here. If you wanted to go dancing, there was a place to dance. The whole nine yards was right here. And then as we became more mobile, that's what began killing these neighborhoods, at least in my mind. You know, I'm sure there are other things, too. But it's... We were, you know, I was, I guess I was kind of like the crossover between the old society and the new and that cars were just coming, becoming a real important part of our lives as far as major employers and things like that, so that everybody didn't have one, so that you were kind of stuck. You had to go someplace that you could get on a bus, and bus transportation was, of course, a lot more reliable and easier to do than in neighborhoods largely were, you know, safer, I guess, you know, that you didn't have to worry about being accosted by, you know, some young rowdy. You know, people did dumb things, but they weren't nearly as mean-spirited as, you know, people appear to be today.
Philip Horn [00:08:19] Did people work?
Frank Murphy [00:08:19] Well, a lot of people worked in the neighborhood, yeah. That there was, you know, there were... Well, of course, the one of the bigger employers in this neighborhood, you had American Greetings that was nearby. You had the Eveready Battery was down below Detroit, where they're now developing that as condos, and that's going to be one of the next major housing projects on the site of that. And there were factories along Lake Avenue, you know, Florida Avenue. There were all sorts of shops. And, you know, you name it, from St. Ignatius at 30th and Lorain to West Boulevard, there were, you know, any number of businesses that employed people. So all within either on the bus line or close by, the big steel mills were down, you know, just down the road off the Clark and Denison. So everything was... There was a huge, huge job base here. You had Westinghouse was in the neighborhood. I'm just trying... There was a couple... There was a paint company. You had American Greetings. I don't know if I mentioned them. So they were all, you know, what I would consider in the neighborhood, although back then it was probably a little farther. But people were used to getting up and hopping on a bus and taking the bus to work. And now, you know, people have to have modern convenience that I guess as a society that was prized progress that we don't need to be inconvenienced. Everything is supposed to be about me and nothing about anybody else that's...
Philip Horn [00:10:01] Did they have a trolley here?
Frank Murphy [00:10:01] Oh, yeah. There was trolley. The streetcars... When I was... I... Probably until I was about 10 years old that the trolleys ran on Detroit, on Bridge Avenue, on Lorain Avenue they ran, so that it was pretty highly developed. They went up... There was one that came down Madison Avenue and then turned the corner and went down Bridge Avenue. They were all over the place. That one of the big exciting things to go was when you went downtown the trolley, right at 28th and Detroit, went underground and went underneath the bridge. So that, you... It was kind of a scary trip as a youth to see, you know, you look down and there was that Cuyahoga River, you know, so it was gone. They used to have like, I guess it must have been coal, I'm not sure what kind of heaters they had in them, but they were under the seats so that some parts of the car was warm and colder in the winter so if you got to the back of the car, if you weren't careful, you would burn your legs, you know. I guess that would be a liability lawyer's dream in this day and age that you would burn your leg on the bus, you know, but just a lot of things that you had to be aware of. And then the next generation of that was they went to the trackless trolleys, the electric buses, that they didn't use the tracks, but they used the wire, the catenary, to power the electric buses. And then, of course, then we went to the diesel buses and all of that stuff went. But you see, when they're remodeling the streets and stuff, they'll unearth tracks that are... They're still under there, and the red brick streets, everything was red brick. Didn't have chuck holes back then, you know, that, you know... In fact, I lived on West 111th, which isn't too far from here, and the city wanted to come and do everybody a favor and repave it and put, you know, blacktop over the red brick. And then none of us... 'cause it would have been less slippery and all that, but there are still no chuck holes to this day. And there's no asphalt over the red brick. You learn... [crosstalk] You learn to cope with... You'll learn to cope with the red brick if you live on the street and you find that it's really in the long term a much better solution. But I'm digressing from what we were talking about.
Philip Horn [00:12:33] I'll come back. Tell us about the Capitol Theater. We didn't talk much about that.
Frank Murphy [00:12:34] Well, it was, you know, that they... They used to change... The show would change twice a week. So they would have movies that would come in like on Sunday through Tuesday. And then on Wednesday it would change, and that program generally would go from Wednesday to Saturday. And then they had a lot of events in theaters back then. They had this... I remember going with my grandmother and they would have... On Friday nights, they would have this bingo game where you could win groceries and, you know, all kinds of stuff like that. So I was really lucky. I got to go to the movies twice or three times. If I didn't go with her on a Friday night, then I would go out to the Saturday matinee. And then, of course, the matinees would be different than maybe. the feature movie that might have been more adult in theme or interest, so it was probably... It was the television of the day, I guess, for a while. That's what you did. You met your friends and you hung out. You know, that's what kids did back then if you weren't playing, you know, football, basketball, baseball, something like that, hanging out down in the playground, then you were at this theater. You know, that was your social circle. Or another big thing that in this particular neighborhood is the Rollercade was up on Denison Avenue. And, you know, so roller skating was something you did if you didn't go to the movies, then you went to the Rollercade, and that was a big part of entertainment. Bowling. A lot of the things that survive today but it, you know, don't see... And it doesn't seem to be nearly as popular, although bowling, I hear from reading in the paper, is coming back. [responds to an inaudible interruption by a third party] Excuse me. The bane of being the supervisor. Yes? Bye. Okay, I'm back. Sorry about that.
Philip Horn [00:14:37] In the arcade here, did we have any unusual or historical or special events that occurred back in these '50s and '60s time or...
Frank Murphy [00:14:48] Nothing that I can really remember. I think that the big difference between now and then is that people entertain themselves a lot better. They didn't have to have events manufactured for them like people have become used to. You know, they didn't have to have, you know, people learn to amuse themselves. You know, you had to use your imagination and your creativity, both as a... both as an adult and as a growing up as a child, you know, that...
Philip Horn [00:15:23] [inaudible] ... more active here or in their churches?
Frank Murphy [00:15:27] Well, yeah, the churches were the big... You know, again and I... That might be just a product of the way I was raised. I... Going to St. Colman's... There were a lot of events that were held at St. Colman's. They had an annual minstrel show and it's on St. Patrick's Day. It was an Irish parish so that there were all kinds of pageants that all of the school kids participated in. And it was a big deal. There was the men's bowling league. I mean, there was a lot of things that, you know, revolved around the church. And then in the school, and the same thing when I was in high school at St. Ignatius, it was the same way. There were lots of things to do, but they revolved around your involvement at school. And, you know, Our Lady of Mount Carmel was the same way, although that was the Italian church. That they had a lot of activities and stuff in the... I guess the two big events of the summer growing up—and they kind of still, up until a few years ago, carried over—was the 4th of July with the fireworks down at Edgewater Park, so that was a big event where people gathered, and then they had a festival at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a carnival that brought lots of people into the neighborhood. And all the neighborhood folks went because there was a spaghetti dinner and all sorts of stuff. Games of chance and, you know, fun at every age level. You know, there were the carnival rides, so... And that even continues today. Of course, now they've moved the fireworks out of Edgewater Park and it's downtown. And it's kind of diminished the experience for most of the folks that remembered it the old way because people would literally start arriving for the fireworks, you know, early in the morning and they'd be down at Edgewater Beach and they'd make a day and then they would be there until 10, 11 o'clock at night. Now, you know, I don't think it... I don't think it's nearly as festive as it once was. That, you know, that's progress and high cost of...
Philip Horn [00:17:40] Do they still have various kinds of festivals at St. Cole's [sic]?
Frank Murphy [00:17:40] Well, St. Colman's doesn't have them. You know that... When they built [Interstate] 90, that pretty much gutted St. Colman's constituency. That and then, you know, people just moving to the suburbs, you know? I wouldn't want to call it white flight, but I'm sure that's... I think it was more like school system flight when things started to really have a downturn in the Cleveland public schools. A lot of people... The options that I faced as a parent was you either resign yourself to sending your children to a private school. For my... And from my perspective, it was Catholic schools, Lutherans sent them to Lutheran schools. And, you know, so there was a lot of church-based schools where people just said, you know, I can't deal with this. And away they went. And I think that really... Or you moved to a suburb to get away from it all. And I think that really those couple of things... The freeway, the school system's deteriorating, and just the general perception that in order to move upward, you had to go to Parma and get your split level or, you know, wherever you went, Brook Park, all of the neighboring suburbs, helped to really change the neighborhood. We left for a while. We didn't go far. We just went, you know, a little west. When I first got married. And we move back to the neighborhood. My family owned two houses right here in the neighborhood on West Clinton. We sold one of them and I live in the other one that I was raised in. So the thing that's interesting about the street is a lot of the people who lived down the street when I was growing up. Still live there. One of my best friend's name was Tom Parkinson. His mother just recently died and I... She had to be, I don't know how old into her... She had to be close to 100, I would think. And she just died in the last year or so. So that people... They left but you never really left. I don't know if that makes any sense. There was always this bond with the street and with the neighborhood that... And then their children, a lot of them would buy... Well, there's a house across street and they would move there. So I think that's what's helped this neighborhood survive, and then even the people who moved to the suburbs, like up at St. Colman's, they have a large group of people that come back and go to church there and support the church. And you have the same thing going on at St. Stephen's and at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the school at... People are... The thing that I find really interesting is that my granddaughter graduated from there. We've been raising her and she graduated from Mount Carmel. She's a senior at Magnificat. But there are kids that I would say probably 20 percent of the enrollment at this time she was there were kids from the suburbs where their parents were sending them to a school like Our Lady of Mount Carmel because they offered the things that they felt were not they weren't getting in public school systems, discipline and structure and an expectation of excellence that you don't really find today, you know, and it's kind of an old-fashioned... So the old-fashioned values are there. And I can remember one of the things that really stuck in my mind is that Amanda was probably maybe in the second or third grade and they changed the religious order of the nuns. And of course, with the new hierarchy came new rules. And I can remember this one parent sticking their hand up, and Father Marino was still the pastor there, and he went on and what they didn't think it was fair that their child... They weren't Catholic. And Father Marino said... told the person, he said, Well, you know, this is a Catholic school. And here... This is the options. We're not going to change the curriculum, we're not going to have one kid not participate in everything. But you should be going taking your child to church. And the option is if you can't live with our situation, then you can leave. It was, you know, it wasn't negotiable. And it's hard to find places where they'll just be upfront and say this is the way it is, you know. This is our program. We're not going to change our program to make you happy. This works for us. And if you don't fit our system, then there's the door.
Philip Horn [00:22:45] So quite a few people that were at St. Colman's went to the other...
Frank Murphy [00:22:50] Well, ended up sending their children. Yeah, because the school was closed because they couldn't... St. Colman's school was huge by comparison to Mount Carmel's, you know, it was was a larger parish. I mean, you just have to look at the, physically, at the size of the church. And when I was growing up, St. Colman's had a church on the main floor and one in the basement so that they had to have mass. They would say two at a time to accommodate the people. And of course, you know, the people aren't nearly as, I guess, devout for want of a better... as they once were, and religion has been diluted in our society. You know, and I don't know, I guess depending on your perspective, whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. But I do know that it was a lot easier growing up when you knew when it was very clear, you know, what the rules and the regulations and the structure is supposed to be. You know, there was a code of conduct that was not, Would you feel like doing this? It was, This is the way it is. And that was carried on in every... every part of your life. The police that worked in the neighborhood lived in the neighborhood. They might be the guy going bowling with your dad so that if you got too wild and wooly, it was, you know, they either kicked you literally in the butt or they grabbed you by the ear and brought you home, and that was not going to be a pleasant experience. Where today, you know, a cop brings home some kid, you know, the first thing that they're thinking is well, we're gonna get a lawyer and sue you because you talked mean to my kid. So that the rules were very plain and easy to understand back there. And there was a code of conduct even with the bad guys, that there was expectations and rules that they live by that, you know, today you wouldn't dream of, back then, of somebody coming by and spraying, you know, gunfire into a crowd of people just standing on the corner that have nothing to do with anything, you know? I mean, just a lot of the things that I guess are progress if, you know, to our modern society but it was very rule... You know, the cop that was car 102, and they had... There was a policeman in 102. So everybody kind of hung on the corners, you know, from 8 to 80. And Big Red was the one cop, and he would come by and if he thought it was time for you to leave... You know, you'd hung out enough, you weren't doing anything productive. All he would do is come by and go—didn't say anything—he just would go and, like that with a gesture with his thumb. And if he came by that corner again and you were still there, you had a big problem with him. And it was, you know, like I say, he would literally kick you right in the butt. You know, I told you to leave. And then the car... [crosstalk] Long before lawyers and police brutality.
Philip Horn [00:26:17] You'd get it from policemen and then you'd get it at home.
Frank Murphy [00:26:18] Right. I say that there was a clear, you know, respect. You know, the most unlawful thing, you know, that you would do as a kid, you would see the cops and somebody and holler, Hey, Flatfoot! And you'd run like hell, you know, to get aways because, you know, if he caught you, he was going to kick you right in the ass. Plain English. It... You know? So we've gone from that to have people just openly be defiant and just dare them to say something to 'em. I saw when I was working in a building down the street, the police had grabbed, you know, pulled a car over. They had it pinned in, and they were drug dealers, and the policemen literally had a gun screwed into the one guy's ear, you know, stopped. And there was a cop standing behind the car. And they had, you know, saw, you know, observed a drug sale and they were trying to arrest the people. And the guy just calmly in the car just put it in reverse and almost ran the guy over because he knew that it was unlikely that policeman was going to shoot him. Over a, you know, a ten-dollar drug sale or whatever it was. But I mean, but that, you know, we were scared to death of having an involvement with a policeman, you know, you know, much less one holding a gun on you. You had to be a real cowboy back when I was growing up to even... even think about that. You know, that was something Bonnie and Clyde did, you know, not neighborhood kids. It's, as I say, it's just there's a lack of respect for authority that's, you know, permeates our society that I don't know what's gonna happen. I fear for my grandchildren. I really do.
Philip Horn [00:28:05] Let's take a look at the neighborhood a little bit. We had some new buildings there near St. Colman's, it looks like to me...
Frank Murphy [00:28:19] Oh, the highrise that they just built?
Philip Horn [00:28:23] I don't know, I just know that there's new buildings from pictures that I've seen of the school...
Frank Murphy [00:28:30] Well, where the school where the school used to sit, right now, right next to the church on West 65th? [crosstalk] Well, that's where the grade school... There were two buildings that... The building that's right on, like, Madison Avenue and 65th, I think that there's a sign that says El Barrio still on it? That used to be like the what would be for want of a better way to describe it is the junior high. So that from the sixth to the eighth grade, classes were held in that building. Where that new highrise... not a, well, it's not really a highrise, but it's like a three- or four-story building? [crosstalk] Yeah. Where that sits, that used... in fact that looks almost like the original building, the grade school building, very, very close replica of it. That was where the grade school sat. And you went to, like from the first grade to like the fifth grade, through the fifth grade, in that building. And then in that basement of that building, they had an auditorium that had, you know, a stage, and that's where they would put on all of the productions and everything that they would have. There was a building... I can't remember if the nuns' house is still there or if they tore it down. I haven't paid a lot of attention to it. There was a house that sat, but I think they tore that down when they built the the new building. But that's where the nuns lived in that house. [crosstalk] That was the convent... Well, the rectory was attached to the church. That's where the priest lived. And they still do. Well, I think they're nuns now that they live in that. But when I was growing up, just about every Irish priest, I think in Cleveland, did time at St. Colman's as they came out of the cemetery, or rather the seminary, not the cemetery. Monsignior Martin was the pastor and everybody called him Doc. All of the quote unquote insiders. That's what all the priests, the young priests called him, Doc Martin. And the people who worked up there, you know, that worked in the rectory and helped out... There was a lot of volunteer help back then, as there is today in churches, because they couldn't survive without it. But just about every Irish priest I think that came through the system ended up at St. Colman's as one of their assign... There were St. Malachi's or... Because back then a large number of the priests were Irish, and the bishop was Bishop Hoban who was Irish. So they had this large contingent of Irish people that raised their sons to be priests, I guess for want of a better...
Philip Horn [00:31:26] So they had services with priests from the other areas then?
Frank Murphy [00:31:28] Oh yeah. That... It always... St. Colman's was always a mecca for the Irish community. That and St. Malachi's, as I was growing up. Though, you know, there was always, around St. Patrick's Day, big celebrations and parties and dances and stuff. You don't have that today. The closest thing.. The last, excuse me, remnants of the glory days of St. Colman's is each St. Patrick's Day, the parade, all of the, you know, the parade marching units from the West Side Irish American Club, which started out right down here on 65th and Detroit, moved to Madison Avenue. And they were there for years and years and years up until about 15 years ago, 18 years. I lose track of the years. The parade would start—as when I was younger or at least old enough to remember, you know, and be aware of what was really going on—would start at the Irish American Club. People would congregate there. The units would be assembled, and then they would march to St. Colman's to attend a mass. And from there you were loaded onto buses if you were part of the marching units and then taken downtown where they used to assemble down on Lakeside Avenue, and that's where the parade started. So that tradition lives on only the origin, you know, the place, the embarking place is out in Olmsted Falls, and they load the kids on a bus and then they go to St. Colman's, which is, you know, like the kids are passing out it's so hot in there on St. Patrick's Day, there's so many people jammed in the church. And then they're loaded on the buses and they go downtown and then the parade kicks off. But that's probably the last of the glory years of St. Colman's as the mecca is St. Patrick's Day, when all of the people that, you know, traditionally went... Many of them went to school there, and now their children are, you know, participating, you know, I, you know, Amanda is my granddaughter. We've raised her like a daughter. But and then her mother and brother, uncles, you know, all were participating in that event and still do. So with it, the Irish, you know, tradition never has left my family and most of my cousins families are the same way, so we still, you know, are aware of our roots and, you know, I'm fortunate enough, Amanda is, you know, a world-class Irish dancer who's well-known in this neighborhood because of her accomplishments. Her mother was, you know, very good at it too, so that they ended up with their own little bit of fame, I guess, for want of a better way.
Philip Horn [00:34:24] Irish dancing is with the feet?
Frank Murphy [00:34:26] Yeah, that Riverdance is what most people associate it with now. But that's what she does. And she's been very... She's a world-class dancer. And, you know, and I can claim no reason for that. She didn't get any of those talents from me, I can assure you. I can barely walk and chew bubble gum at the same time. But it's... so that part... being part of the Irish community is still a big part of my life and many of the people I grew up with. You know, that still is like the hat rack you put your hat on that... The linchpin of who makes you what you are is your sense of what you were. So that my roots probably mean more to me today than they did when I was younger, because I... You know, if you spend enough time on earth, you get to understand maybe why it was important. I can remember my grandfather, you know, telling me and my grandmother, you should remember this person. You know, this is this, these people are, you know, good to know. When I was growing up, my grandfather was a lobbyist for East Ohio Gas, and I had the privilege or honor, I guess, for want of a... I got to meet John F. Kennedy because they used to come... They had a big picnic over at Euclid Beach, the Democratic picnic. So I got to go tag along because my grandfather was, you know, a... being a lobbyist that part of his job was to be involved in the politics and...
Philip Horn [00:36:04] Be in contact with people like that.
Frank Murphy [00:36:07] Yeah. So I got to meet people. To me, it was a car. What's what's the big deal? You know, because I was at an age where I didn't really appreciate it. But I got to meet, you know, so many people. And, you know, and as I grew older, I said, geez, I wish I would've listened to him. You know, when you finally get to understand, you know, what the importance of meeting people with influence and money and yet it makes for an interesting perspective on life. So I told my... told my children and now my grandchildren the same thing, and they probably ignore me like I ignored mine. But it... You know, if you don't know what you're where you came from, you don't have, you know, you're never know to know where you're going to end up. But you know, who I am today I owe a large part to St. Colman's, St. Ignatius, of course, my family, that goes without saying, for giving me the values that, you know, make me want to stay here and, you know, try to make a difference in the neighborhood and bring it back to its glory years. And this neighborhood really didn't, in my mind, hasn't fallen too much. It's changed. It's a whole lot different than when I was growing up. There was one black person in the neighborhood, Wally King. And he was just a kid. You know, we didn't see him as being white or black or anything. He was just Wally, you know, one of the kids you played baseball with. And people weren't nearly as polarized as they are today. You know that pride in your heritage was just the way it was. I mean, it wasn't... It wasn't meant to be a lifestyle. It wasn't meant to be a political statement. It was just... You were... Your grandparents were from Ireland or they were from Italy or wherever you happened to come from.
Philip Horn [00:38:09] And you followed the customs, basically...
Frank Murphy [00:38:11] Yeah. I mean, it wasn't something where they had to have a defined course at the high school or grade school to tell you about what it was like. You know, you learned that at home. That was a given. But as things changed, you know, parents get busier and everybody's working and nobody has time to give you those values, but... I don't know, so people have come to expect the schools or whoever to raise their families where that was not, you know, that wasn't even considered when I was growing up.
Philip Horn [00:38:49] Positive things are going on today. [crosstalk] We have Michael Zone Recreation Center real close to St. Colman's. Do you think that has a positive influence there?
Frank Murphy [00:39:06] I don't know, I guess it all is in your perspective. You know, you would talk to some people and I think they would say no because of the basketball courts. And, you know, you have people congregating in there that may not, you know, intimidating people. I think it's positive in that it can bring a lot of services in, and it's a facility that can be used by the community. The biggest issue I see with Zone and Herman Park Playground in Edgewater Park, for that matter, is that the people's... You know, the people who use it, these facilities, sometimes their lack of respect for other people. so that would be the issue, you know, that you... Would it be better if it was church-influenced?
Philip Horn [00:40:01] I don't know if it would be better. You know, I'm just saying that you have... When... When... When I was growing up and you went to... 'cause we hung out at the Herman Playground. That's... It wasn't Herman Park, it was Herman Playground when I was... And, no, we wouldn't... You know, if someone came to play basketball, everybody played, you know, you just waited your turn. There was nobody there that staked it out is their personal playground, you know? I don't know if that's the right choice of words, but it was more ecumenical so everybody, you know, and if somebody else came that was that just that much more, you know, you could play that many more games. You know, it wasn't seen as a territory, you know, the turf that you had to protect. And...
Philip Horn [00:40:51] You took your turn playing...
Frank Murphy [00:40:53] Yeah, everybody took their turn. You waited. You know, the next guy up is, I got the winner, and you went from there, you know, and that was pretty much the way the ball diamonds were, although there was organized leagues and stuff that had permits from the city and they took precedent and everybody understood that.
Philip Horn [00:41:13] I heard that there's the RTA rapid transit station that is either open or is to open on 61st Street.
Frank Murphy [00:41:23] Oh, that's open. That was opened about a year ago now, maybe a little more.
Philip Horn [00:41:28] I bring that up because rapid transit runs [crosstalk] in back of the property... in the back of the property, and that's why I was wondering if you think it'll have any positive changes here for the community?
Frank Murphy [00:41:54] Well, the rapid station was always there. It's been there forever as long as there was a rapid. Using it got to be very scary because it was dark, it was isolated, it... And a lot of not so nice people hung out there to victimize old people primarily. Most of the folks that were using the rapid and the buses and stuff were elderly people that couldn't afford to own cars. So it got to be a real problem. So it was underused. They were just gonna close it. Period. And because of the community outcry from the folks that were using it, it was able to be saved and remodeled into a very nice structure today. And it's really been expanded far more than it ever was. So I think that that's a positive with the continued increase in the cost to drive a car and the cost of cars themselves, I think that at some point the, you know, mass transit has to make a comeback. Because it's just more convenient to be able to come on a bus. I never thought much about it, but one of the byproducts of Amanda's Irish dancing was that we got to go to Ireland. And you can get anywhere in Ireland on a bus. And when you're in like Dublin, there's a bus every, you know, it seems like you blink your eyes and there's the next one, and that's, you know, that's a population that that's their number one choice. You can get on a bus in Dublin and go to Shannon, you know, and it's not like you've got to wait for three days when the bus to Shannon comes. It's like regular service. It's just a completely different mindset over there than we have here, and I think that at some point we're going to have to, you know, change the way we think just because of the cost of stuff like the roads.
Philip Horn [00:44:19] Would you liken it to the railroads?
Frank Murphy [00:44:19] In Ireland?
Philip Horn [00:44:20] In Ireland.
Frank Murphy [00:44:22] I didn't see a whole lot of rail travel, I'm sure that there are. But Ireland itself is very small. You know, it's probably the size of Ohio or something. I don't think it's much bigger than Ohio or Pennsylvania, physically, so that you can... I drove from one end, one side, of Ireland to the other in a couple hours, so that, what, we had about three hours. Three and a half hours so that it's a small place. There's just tremendous things to see, needless to say. You know, coming with the American perspective, you get to the point, oh it's just another castle, you know. But there's so much history there. And the way they treat it is so different than here. I think that was the most startling thing that I've seen different in lifestyles. We went to... There's a cathedral in Dublin. It's called St. Patrick's Cathedral. And in this... It's one of the oldest churches in Ireland... And in this, there is all these displays of religious artifacts and tombstones. You name it, it's in here. They had the altars have the armor from the Knights Templar, you know, and that was a very common thing, I guess, back in medieval times where the Knights would be the guardians of the church. But there was this huge keyboard that's sitting, just, it wouldn't be on, like it wasn't as big as this table, but it was just sitting there in the church. And there was this little, like, velvet thing that we use in theaters that keep you from going in. So I was reading the plaque on it and this... They were talking about this keyboard and this is the keyboard that Mendel, the first performance of Handel's Messiah, was done on this keyboard. Now, if that were in this country, they'd have to have it under glass. There'd be three armed guards. But you could just walk right up, touch this thing. Nobody was vandalizing it. You know, it's just a difference in the attitude and the respect of the population and where, you know, that would never fly here. You know, we have to keep everything behind bars or under glass or someone is going to try to steal it or ruin it. You know, and I don't know why... why we've come to that. You know, just people over there that they get along there. I've heard every language that I could, including Arabic, spoken in Ireland. People get along. There's nobody fighting with each other, you know? They work together. They, you know, it's just, I don't know what happens when people come here and why they become so polarized. And I guess my question would be the same thing over and, you know, in the Middle East, what that's all about. You know, but again, that has nothing to do with this neighborhood.
Philip Horn [00:47:14] Looking at the St. Colman's Church and the church you're just talking about, is there anything at St. Colman's that would remind you of churches back in Ireland?
Frank Murphy [00:47:28] Oh, yeah. I think the sense of family. You know, you could still see that. It's a simpler way of life that... Ireland today is the neighborhood that I remember that, you know, you walk in the big cities there and we were in, oh, I don't know how many, you know, just a bunch. You try to see as much as you can when you get there. But every every street had a butcher shop and a bakery and there were music stores that sold musical instruments.
Philip Horn [00:48:03] Was there small stores?
Frank Murphy [00:48:06] Yeah, little neighborhood stores that... You didn't see the... You know, they had a... There was a Sears store over there that'd probably fit in this room. There was an Aldi's in one of the cities, and Aldi's over there... Here, they're just like canned goods and grocery items. Over there they're more like a general store. They sell a little bit of everything, but the stores are much smaller that, you know, you don't see the... When they build a house, it looks like an old house, you know, that, you know, it's new construction, but when they're done, it looks just like the one next door. They go out of their way to preserve their history, and I don't know if they're doing it for tourism reasons or whatever their motivation is. Where here, where, you know, let's get out the ball and the chain and knock it down and we'll build another square box. So their sense of history, I think, and I'm sure it's other places, but the Ireland is really the only place that I traveled extensively over there so that I'm sure it's the same way in England that they're not as quick to, you know, to tear down their history. You know, they're more conscious of their history is their sense of history. And it's made them who they are. And if you get rid of everything and you lose your identity.
Philip Horn [00:49:26] If you look at small businesses, that's pretty much what we have here at the arcade.
Frank Murphy [00:49:32] Oh, yeah. Well, we're... We've... you know, it's come full circle that I think that the thing that will save the neighborhoods is where we have become our own worst enemy in that the first person to say, well, jeez, boy, I wish we still had the deli on the corner or, you know, Joe the baker or whatever, but that nobody wants to pay for that convenience. And the first thing, well, I see that, you know, you know, Top's has that for... Why should I pay him 50 cents when I can get it for 45 at Top's? You know, so that they we've lost the ability to let the other guy make a living, I guess, for want of a better way to describe it. Everything has become... It's got to be convenient. That's got to be big.
Philip Horn [00:50:17] They had family businesses back then.
Frank Murphy [00:50:20] Yeah. Well, they still, you know, they know... Well, the one thing I did, they do take care of business. You know, they have a very keen sense of that because the big industry in Ireland is it's the Silicon Valley of Europe. So they know how to take care of business, but it's done at a much different pace than we do here. My wife works for the City of Cleveland, and when... The first time we went over there, you know, she had her list of things, and my wife is a very organized person – at 10:05 you do this – and so we're over there and we needed to stop at the post office. And it was right around lunchtime. So this post office was, I mean, it was shoulder to shoulder people, and so my wife is, you know, looking at her watch, you know, she has her schedule. Now, mind you, we have no place to go. Amanda had already done her dancing, so we were there sightseeing. I thought she was going to have a coronary, but there were three women working behind the counter in the post office. And so here my wife, you know, that they're interfering with her schedule, and I care about this all the time, and so then all of a sudden there was this woman, you know, obviously a local, and they had this young baby, you know, a young kid with... The kid was maybe three years old. So the women, two of the women that were working the windows of the post office, they stop what they're doing, come outside into the lobby to visit with this, Oh, Bridy. I haven't seen you. You're getting, you know, this the whole conversation with this like 3 year old. Well, I thought my wife's was going to... her head was going to explode. You know when, how they could do this, you know, she had her schedule, but nobody, you know, the only person that was, you know, had smoke coming out of their ears was her. You know, all of the people over there, they thought it was just the most natural thing in the world that they would stop to visit with this child. You know, where we don't have time to do things like that in this country.
Philip Horn [00:52:17] Always in a hurry.
Frank Murphy [00:52:18] Yeah. We're in a hurry to be somewhere. And I told her, I said, you know, take a deep breath. We don't have to be anywhere but to the airport on, you know, Sunday. So forget it. I said, wait, what are you going to do? I said, where are you going to go? I said, I'm happy waiting here so you can be too 'cause I'm driving. So she's just... but putting it in perspec[tive]... But you see things there, qualities there, you're just... Nobody takes the time to do anything like that here. And maybe that's why their kids are maybe a little more innocent than ours. You know, we've seen... There was a... There was two little girls when we were in Killarney and they were in front of this restaurant shilling for this restaurant, and I think their mom worked in there, some cute little girls. And they were out there playing on the sidewalks. Said, You wanna go in and get something to eat? You know, so we said, well, said we would but, you know, we already ate, I'm sorry. And then the little girl says, well, it's probably a good thing, she says, because the meat was red in the middle. [laughs] You know, we laughed. You know, just so many things over there with... that, like when I was young, the people, the way they treated people. We were at the hotel, and they were running a shuttle. There was a sister hotel, one in Killarney, and then one was like on the edge of Killarney where the competitions were held. Well, we missed the shuttle bus. I went up and I... At the, you know, at the desk and I said, oh, jeez, I... She says, oh, you just missed it. I said, well, when's the next? She says there won't be another shuttle for... till an hour. I said, well and I said, could you call me a cab? And there was this guy standing there. He says, Oh, you don't need to do that. He says, how many of you's are? I said, well, there's the three of us. He said, oh, I got plenty of room in my car. I'm going there. Now this guy didn't know me from Adam. Never seen him before. He was a local. He says, oh, he says, I was here visiting my brother, you know, and I'm going in. He says, I'm going down to that hotel anyway, says, and I gonna do some shopping. So here he pulls up in his car, takes us down, wouldn't take any money, nothing. He just did it. What we found out later that his brother owned the hotels. [laughs] But, you know, but that was a, you know, a courtesy that, you know, he extended unsolicited. And that's what we found. The major difference in the people over there is... And that's the way it was in... in this country. You know, in this neighborhood, when I grew up, the people watched out for each other, you know, that you didn't have to lock your doors. If I was as a kid cutting up on one end of the street, by the time I got home, they knew because someone would pick up the phone and say, Frank was acting like an a—hole and have a talk with him. In the same way you know, that they just looked out. I went... When we were first married, all those many years ago, we lived on West Clinton. My wife... I was out of town for six weeks. She didn't cook a meal. The neighbors brought something and every night, Mrs. Kiley, who lived across the street from us, sent her son over to make sure all the doors were locked and make sure that everything was OK. You know, I mean, again, I didn't ask him to do that. They just did it in the same way that, you know, that nobody would... You could you could walk the street, nobody would bother you because there was always someone looking out for you. Especially the women of the neighborhood. You know, somebody was always looking out for their interests so that if anybody got fresh or something, that they would be set straight. Today, people are too busy. I lived on a street for 17 years and I knew four people. Not here, but my old neighborhood. I knew four people, the people next door, and... Because people were always at work or busy or whatever. [crosstalk] Yeah. You know. So it's a different life. I preferred the old way, personally.
Philip Horn [00:56:23] I want to ask about the church. I was also interested in how the church was built. Talking about St. Colman's, what you see looking at the inside, the outside, and so on, versus what you found over in Ireland also.
Frank Murphy [00:56:37] Well the churches are very similar. You know, back then that... If you were Irish and probably any, you know, that's the one I relate to because, you know, I guess, you know, if you were Irish, the biggest influence in your life or in my grandparents' life was the church. You didn't do anything without the church. When I was growing up, when I was a youth, it was unthinkable that a Irish Catholic boy would marry somebody that wasn't an Irish Catholic girl. And my grandparents, God rest their soul, if, you know, if you were dating an Italian girl, you know, that was like an interracial marriage as far as they were concerned. And I'm saying that kind of light hearted, but I mean that people... You know, there were like rules and then much less to marry an Asian or a black or anything like that. You just didn't do it. You know, people just didn't do it. And it wasn't necessarily out of any, you know, racial or ethnic prejudice. It was just that, you know, you, you did what you know.
Philip Horn [00:57:55] [inaudible] ... a different culture.
Frank Murphy [00:57:56] Yeah. That... That's just the way it was. And I don't think that... And maybe it was institutional racism of some kind, I don't know. But it, you know, you didn't marry a non-Catholic, you know, that was just not done. You weren't raised that way. You know, the church, you know, taught that... And that kind of influenced your life. One of the biggest shocks I had growing up is I went to St. Colman's to grade school. I went to St. Ignatius to high school, and then I went on to college. And what a shock I had after the Jesuit education is that there were kids that were smart that actually went to like Cleveland Heights High School or, you know, because if you listen to the Jesuits, where I went to school is that all the smart people were raised by Jesuits. And I can remember one thing that one of the priests said that, you know, said getting a Catholic education and they put it, no you're getting a Jesuit education. That we're not Catholic. We're Jesuit. And, you know, so they kind of inbred this elitist attitude to the point where my wife, who again went to Catholic schools and everything, because that's what you did, she could claim that... She claimed that she could tell somebody that went to it to a Jesuit school after five minutes. And I'd say, how do you know that? She says, well, you know, it's no coincidence that Ignatius begins with an "I." And... 'cause she could tell. And I don't know, she would just able to pick up when someone she would say, you went to a Jesuit college or high school, didn't you? And they say, Yeah, how did you know? She says, I just did. But she said that part of the mystique of a Jesuit education was that they gave you a lot of confidence and self-awareness and, you know, it just rubs off on people, you know, that you have this level of confidence that you don't get necessarily, and that's probably started at St. Colman's because they... the way I was taught was that the key to all knowledge is was in books. And if you studied, you could learn to do anything. Nothing limits you but yourself. And that was kind of pounded into your head from, you know, as long as I could remember, there was no slow learners, it just took you longer.
Philip Horn [01:00:34] So [crosstalk] you see a difference in the different high schools in the concept with what you say?
Frank Murphy [01:00:39] Oh, yeah. Yeah. [crosstalk] And certainly private schools have their advantages because they don't have to deal... But everybody I went to school with certainly wasn't an angel. You know, there was behavior issues and stuff. But by and large, everybody that I went to school with was there because their parents wanted them to get an education. And I think that that holds true today. You know, as I say, Amanda is a senior at Magnificat, and everybody there is there because their parents want them to get an education. One of the most telling things that I've seen and one that really points out the difference in the attitude, and this relates to how it is today here in Cleveland, was when she... we were going to her freshman orientation. And Barbara Byrd Bennett was still the chosen one. And she was... had recently rode in on her white charger and she had been here about a year, and they were trumpeting in the papers about this, you know, success that they were having in the Cleveland schools with proficiency testing. Now, Amanda... They have the eighth grade test, or the ninth grade, but they take it in the eighth grade at Catholic schools. Wasn't required but they took it. And it was the first year where they were going to start, you know, parochial schools had to go with this thing. Well, and at Magnificat, 98 percent of the students had already passed the proficiency test, and the other 2 percent maybe had, you know, they had to take the English or the math or whatever. But... and the principal said, I can remember her saying, well, they will pass. It wasn't, Maybe they'll pass. This was a given where they were trumpeting, you know, like 24 percent of their students would pass the proficiency. And I mean, that was such a stark difference that I said, you know, what is wrong with a school saying you will do this? You know, you're not going to improve. You are going to pass. This is where the bar is and you are going to do this. And they didn't teach to pass a test where... there, you know, they teach you to get an education, not to pass the proficiency test. When I was at John Carroll, lo those many years ago, they passed a rule where you had to pass, you know, pass a comprehensive examination in English. Well, there were guys at Carroll that couldn't get a degree because they couldn't write. And they didn't redo the whole curricula so that those handful of people that didn't pay attention in English class and couldn't put the period where it belonged... you know, you will change. You will change. Not, you know...
Philip Horn [01:03:51] Personal determination to do it.
Frank Murphy [01:03:52] Right. You know, this is the way it is. I mean, that's, I think that's where the tail is wagging the dog so much. And you see that in the neighborhoods. You see it in the schools. And I scratch my head trying to figure out... I know when I was growing up, if I was going to school and I couldn't read, my parents would have been at the door wanting to know what was going on, what were you doing and why can't I read? They weren't going to say, oh, well, I guess that's just the way it is. And that's the major difference. You know, they wanted to know what I was doing, just like I want to know what my kids are doing and my grandchildren. I have not given up that connection to say, Oh, you're playing? How're you doing? Taking the time to find these things out. And I think a lot of people just don't care what... Don't bother me. American Idol is on. You can't talk to me during American Idol. And it's just the values are so different. But we keep getting off on these tangents.
Philip Horn [01:05:04] Well, let's see. We've been going for quite a while. Do you have any other information about the school or church that you'd like to give us that we haven't gone over?
Frank Murphy [01:05:12] Well, I don't know. My grandfather... I guess my grandfather was the custodian there at St. Colman's, so I... It was funny because, you know, I would go to school and it was like we were strangers. My father's, you know, father, you know, he would say hello, goodbye, very businesslike in his own way. You know, in fact, I used to resent it when I was growing up because other kids used to get to go hide down with the janitor, you know, and I couldn't because he'd run me the hell out of there if I went to go hide, you know, instead of doing something. But, you know, it was a big part of my life, the way it was built long before I got there, and I was just a gleam in dad's eye when that's when it was being built. But the things that... They had a men's club, the St. Colman's Men's Club, and they did a lot of things. They used to put this... They had this room. Of course, it probably wasn't nearly as big as I remember it. They used to... They had this like enclosed... it would be a shed by today's standard, but it had a glass front, and every year they would put the nativity scene in it. And it was like a model railroad almost. It was built on levels and hills. I mean, this thing was beautiful, and the men's club would assemble this thing every year. And I... What brings it to mind is over this past Christmas season, they were talking about how people were vandalizing all the nativity scenes and stuff at churches and busting the stuff up. And they had this huge display with literally hundreds and hundreds of items. I say the closest thing to that reminds me of today if somebody who had a huge model railroad that would fill a, you know, like a ten by twelve foot area. That's how big this thing was and that would be it. There goes my... You know it...
Philip Horn [01:07:21] Do you know of any other people that have information about [inaudible] at St. Colman's?
Frank Murphy [01:07:27] You might... Oh, I could tell you... I give you... My uncles are still alive. They live up in Brooklyn. It's Eddie Murphy. And Bernard and his wife, and they were very active in the neighborhood, Eddie just moved out recently. So Eddie has got to be... I think we just went to his 80-something birthday and he's still got it together. And my Uncle Bernie, they live up in Brooklyn off of Tiedeman. They might be someone you want to talk to. My cousins, most of them are out of town, but, you know, they were all part of it, but Eddie has... Until my aunt died a few years ago, they were very active up in the new St. Colman's.
Philip Horn [01:08:09] New St. Colman's?
Frank Murphy [01:08:09] You know, the way it is today [crosstalk] as opposed to the old one, that they were very active up there, Dorothy, and that my Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Eddie were, you know, very much part of that society and they would probably be someone you could give you lots of history. Theirs predates mine because they, you know... Outside of the time when my uncle was in the service, he's lived in the neighborhood. That... And the same way with Bernard. There's a lot of people, the McGrews, I don't know if you... They were in the neighborhood a long time that they still live up on 73rd, Frankie does.
Mark Souther [01:08:52] Could you spell that for us?
Frank Murphy [01:08:54] McGrew? M-C-G-R-E-W. They might be somebody that you would want to talk to because they, you know, they're older and definitely Eddie would be a good one. Especially if you're interested about St. Colman's. Old West High. That they... They went there.
Philip Horn [01:09:15] West Tech or West High?
Frank Murphy [01:09:16] West High, the one that's Gallagher now. There used to be a high school and the site of Gall[agher]... West High School. Lincoln West.d They combine Lincoln High School and West High School into one school. But West High sat on the site of...
Philip Horn [01:09:31] Gallagher Junior High.
Frank Murphy [01:09:33] Gallagher Junior High. [crosstalk] Yeah. Well, you know, by today's, yeah I guess. Well it's probably 20-something years old, but that my father and his brothers went to West High and then they went to off to war in the Second World War from there. But he would be one that Eddie could probably give you a lot of insight. They lived like right... They lived right across the street from West High School. So it was truly a neighborhood thing. So there's still a lot of people that are alive and... that might be able to give you, you know, probably more information than I could because that part of the history that you're looking for, they would have been in their 20s.
Philip Horn [01:10:17] Yes.
Frank Murphy [01:10:17] You know, you're getting... [crosstalk] my recollections are from the point of a student and a kid. And they were there, would have been the adults.
Philip Horn [01:10:25] When the... When it was built or just after it was built.
Frank Murphy [01:10:28] Just after it was built and, you know, they were far more involved in the day to day of the church. It was probably a bigger part of their lives, even to them, you know, growing up because the church, again, was everything. But my grandparents, their... My uncle's mother, they came over and they exploded so many myths. My grandmother was quite a woman. She lived to be 101, and her perspective on the Irish immigration and how she got... She... A lot of Irish, they got here and they couldn't wait to go back. She never wanted to go back. That she said, you know, and I can remember as a kid, she said if it was so great, why did... why do you think I would leave? You know?
Philip Horn [01:11:15] With the building of the St. Colman's itself, it would probably be real interesting if we can find it.
Frank Murphy [01:11:23] Oh, yeah. [phone rings] Excuse me. Hey. Bye.
Philip Horn [01:11:36] Yeah, probably as long we went, we'd probably want to hear some other stuff sometime because you've got a lot of things that...
Frank Murphy [01:11:44] Well... [crosstalk]. Well, I don't know if that's... You know, it's just my impressions are rough. [crosstalk] Yeah, well, it's almost impossible for me because you see how many often my phone goes off. That was one of the people that work for me that wanted to know, are you on your way? That... But yeah. I'd be more than happy to, you know, to give you a recollection. But I say the biggest difference between then and now is that I think that there was a sense of community where people looked out for one another in that they felt that, you know, you had this sense of responsibility to your neighbors, your friends, that you... This has become a rare commodity today, and I don't know if those were the quote unquote, European values that came to the country. I'm not sure why... Or the influence of the church. Or probably a combination of those things. But life was a lot simpler because everybody knew who they were supposed to be. You know, when I first got married, the husband went to work, the wife stayed home and watched the kids. And that was just the way it was. You know and nobody did a lot of thought about it. And then if a woman worked, that was after her kids were old enough, you know, so they were in school and then you would go. Very rarely did people... The goal for the working family was to, you know, to maybe get something extra. Today, two people have to work just to provide the basic necessities. One of the things that haunts me to this day is that I can remember I was, you know, married maybe a year or two and I can remember talking to my stepdad, and he... [phone rings] Bye. Oh... What was I saying? That, that haunts me to this day, my stepfather was a labor leader with the United Auto Workers and I can remember sitting in my living room as a relative newlywed telling him that if I could make twenty thousand dollars a year, I could live like a king. Now, this is 40 years ago that we're talking about [crosstalk] and he turned to me and he said, he says, you know, Frank, he says, you'll make twenty thousand dollars a year and more. And he says, believe me, he says, you won't be livin' like a king. I says, ahhh, that can't be. And... Because that was when the minimum wage was like a dollar eighty-five an hour and like to make 20 grand a year was... You were really hot stuff. Working in an auto plant back then, six bucks an hour was big dough. You were like a skilled tradesman working in an auto plant for that kind of money. But I can remember telling him that and he says, you'll make that and more, he says, and you won't be living like a king. You know, good lord... [phone rings] All righty. Take care. OK. Sorry. Yeah, I'm gonna really have to wrap it up here in a few minutes. So where were we at? I'm sorry for the interruptions, but nobody will make a decision around here without me. [crosstalk] Yeah. That's... It's the bane of my existence.
Philip Horn [01:15:48] We could probably go on for a long time, but maybe it's just better to come back maybe another time or something. [phone rings]
Frank Murphy [01:15:59] Here, one minute... Yes? I have to get going.
Philip Horn [01:16:08] We got an awful lot of good information here.
Frank Murphy [01:16:08] Well, I hope it was useful for you.
Philip Horn [01:16:10] We believe it will be in future.
Frank Murphy [01:16:10] Well, yeah, that...
Philip Horn [01:16:15] The only other thing I could think of was you being a maintenance individual here, I was trying to get out of the building itself the way it is today compared with what you saw back in Ireland.
Frank Murphy [01:16:28] Well, the building today is... There's a lot of things, but there's a lot of fundamental differences between how they do things there and we do here. One, again, a story that... Ireland is a little more temperate than it is here so that they don't have the cold, cold winters like we have. And then part of Ireland is almost like Florida or at least like the mid part of Florida. So when we when we left here that year we left was in February, it was like six degrees in a snowstorm. When we landed at Shannon Airport, which would be the milder part of Ireland, the Florida of Ireland, it was like... It was February. It was like 42 degrees when we hit, and that was at eight o'clock in the morning, their time. Well, of course, to us, you know, I got off, it felt like I was in the tropics, you know, and... But the one thing that we noticed... So we went into... And we stayed at a hotel, to make a long story short, and it was cold in the room. And so I went and I said, geez, it's awful cold. I said, I looked for the thermostat to turn the heat on. She says, no, no, we don't have a thermostat. And I said, oh, OK. She says, but I'll turn it... Because we were the first ones into that wing of the hotel. It was called the Hazel Hotel. And so they, she says, we'll turn the heat on. And they have like I guess it must be hydraulic heat or something like that. So it got warm. And I said, well, how do you do it? And they don't have air conditioning in most of the buildings. So it doesn't get real hot. It doesn't get real cold. So she said, and it's funny how you remember things, and this woman, here's this lady with the Irish brogue. She says, well, she says, when it gets hot... cold, we turn the heat on. When we get warm, we turn it off. And for the rest of the time, that's what God invented the sweater for. [laughs] You know, and it was just it was like, you know, I mean, I, you know, and I said, how practical! And I mean, that was, you know, they take care of business, but they do it in a way that, you know, makes so much sense compared to the convoluted stuff we go through. Program thermostats, this and that, computers to do this, where they just say, oh, you know, it's cold in here. Let's turn the furnace on. OK, we're warm. You turn it off. No big deal. And that's the way everything is over there, just very practical, where we have to have, you know, overengineered everything we do. So that's the main difference that I see. And of course, this building is probably somewhere in between because this is nothing like the way the building was when it was originally built. You know, we've changed this and the apartments and it... When they went to individual, you know, heating units in the building, there's a lot of things that are interesting about this building in its progression that, you know, that's different today, but... that it went by installing people with their individual heat, that made it, the building go from, you know, being marginally profitable... If you know from the red, just in heating it, and then, of course, now the heating costs and everything have, you know, I don't know. I say it... It shows me great concern for my, you know, my grandchildren and their children. It's kind of scary when I think about it. You know, what is the world in for? That... 'cause that we definitely are into a society where the only thing that counts is money and whether you have it or not, and then the middle class is, I think, slowly but surely being stamped out, that there isn't going to be a middle class. There's going to be the working poor and the rich with nobody in between, you know, and I see that. I hope I'm wrong. I truly do. But that seems to be the road we're headed down.
Philip Horn [01:20:33] Contrasted with the small businesses that we're talking about, be it Ireland or how things used to be here in this community?
Frank Murphy [01:20:40] Oh, yeah that you know, to open a small business... I can give you a whole lot of insight because I'm a former small businessman, you know, in how I started personally, you know, with income tax return and a dream. And you work hard, you know, and it turned out and I was able to support my family for 15 or 17 years and then turn that over to my son. And then I figured, oh, well, I've got to get some pension credits and stuff. So that's why I ended up here. But today, you know, when we have someone wanting to rent a storefront, we're asking for business plans and prospectus. You know, all this financial information. So just to have a dream and a few bucks and willing to put in sweat equity is a lot tougher today, you know, so...
Philip Horn [01:21:30] You're talking about the perspective of being to pay the rent and have them for a long-term tenant then.
Frank Murphy [01:21:36] Yeah. What'd I say? But people... There are fewer and fewer people willing to take a chance on a dream. Especially if it's someone else's dream, you know, that, you know, and I think it's unfortunate, but that's a whole other thing. I really have to go. You know, I'm sorry that I gotta kind of bug you. I'd be happy to sit down with you again.
Philip Horn [01:22:01] Well, we've been talking to a friend Frank Murphy here about St. Colman's, the Arcade, and the West... Detroit Shoreway area in general, and we certainly appreciated having him here. And I think we've learned a lot today. Thanks, Frank. Appreciate it.
Frank Murphy [01:22:21] You're welcome, and I just hope I didn't worry to death and my...
Philip Horn [01:22:22] No, no we liked it.
Frank Murphy [01:22:22] And my unorganized ramblings haven't confused you.
Philip Horn [01:22:27] You gave us some understanding of where you're coming from and what the history is here.
Frank Murphy [01:22:34] Well, the one thing that, you know, I'm getting to do something that very few people are able to do. And this is my ego speaking at this point, I guess, but you know, I was offered an opportunity to do something and make a difference in a neighborhood I love, grew up in, and to try to help facilitate change for what I hope is the better. And as I say, that to be able to leave a body of work behind, that someone can say, geez, you know, I did that, you know, and a lot of people don't get that opportunity because they get caught up in the day to day and you don't get to see a tangible change in, you know, what your life's work is doing, you know. And I, you know, working here I see as a great opportunity to... It's been fun, you know, to be able to go to work because I could have gone other places and made more money. But this, you know, I see myself as making a difference and trying to bring back the good old days, if there is such a thing. With that said, I have to get out. I got people waiting for me out there to try to make a difference.
Philip Horn [01:23:52] Thank you again.
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"Frank Murphy interview, 2006" (2006). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 955003_304006.