Preschool Pilgrim Church, 1919 Ted Woznicki

Mary Hennel

June 2nd, 2007

Interview with Mary Hennel on April 29, 2005
Interviewer was Eileen Sotak


Eileen: Did you have indoor plumbing in that house when you were little?
Mary: We had to go outside.

Eileen: What was that like, was that scary?
Mary: Oh yeah, especially at night at 2-3:00 in the morning. Sometimes you would see a rat go by.

Eileen:  What is your name?
Mary:  Mary Hennel

Eileen:  What was your maiden name?

Eileen:  Can you tell me what your birthdate is and where you were born?
Mary:  October 13, 1911

Eileen:  Where were you born?
Mary:  In Cleveland

Eileen:  What years did you live in Tremont and where did you live?
Mary:  I was born in the Tremont area.  I don’t remember the address. The only address I remember is the one where I lived after.

Eileen:  So you were born in one house and moved to another?
Mary:  Yeah,  see, from that grocery store, where they bought that tavern.

Eileen:  You were born when your parents owned a grocery store?
Mary:  It was on W. 6th St.  That’s all that I know.

Eileen:  From there you moved to W. 7th?
Mary:  Yes, the address was 2080 W. 7th St.

Eileen:  Your parents moved to W. 7th because they sold the grocery store?
Mary:  Yes, they sold the grocery store and opened a tavern

Eileen:  Do you remember the name of the tavern?
Mary:  They had no name.  All they knew is who owned it.  It went by their name, that’s all.  They had no sign, but later on they had the sign put on, some of them but not all of them.

Eileen:  Do you remember what the W. 7th house looked like?
Mary:  It was a wooden two-story family house.  The tavern was down below and there were living quarters upstairs.  There were two living quarters in the back.

Eileen:  Wasn’t there a separate house in the back?
Mary:  No

Eileen:  Did you rent or own your house?
Mary:  My mother owned the other house right next door. 

Eileen:  So, you lived in the one house on W. 7th and there was a rental unit in the back and you owned a house next door?
Mary:  My mother did.  It was a four-family house.

Eileen:  That was used how?  For boarders?
Mary:  No, for people to rent them.  There were families there.

Eileen:  So, she would help immigrants?
Mary:  Yes, there was one, she was living in the house upstairs in the back by the tavern.  That was after my mother died.  She had the living quarters in the back and I had those before that and I took the ones in the front when I was married.

Eileen:  Let’s go back to when you were smaller and the houses.  So, the house you lived in when you were little, there was a bar down below.
Mary:  Yes

Eileen:  When you were little, who lived upstairs?
Mary:  That was my mother’s place.

Eileen:  Did she also rent out a place?
Mary:  Upstairs in the back

Eileen:  Do you remember those people?
Mary:  No.  They came from Europe.   They were Russian.

Eileen:  What about when she owned the house next door?  Was that when you were older or little?
Mary:  She had that four family house she bought after she had the tavern.  There were four families.  One family my sister lived in one of them when she got married. 

Eileen:  So this was in about 1930-1935?
Mary:  It was right before the war, way before the war.

Eileen:  You were born in 1911 and your sister was born in 1905?
Mary:  Yes, because she was 5 years older than me.

Eileen:  So, she was born in 1906.
Mary:  Yes.

Eileen:  Did you have indoor plumbing in that house when you were little?
Mary:  We had to go outside.

Eileen:  What was that like, was that scary?
Mary:  Oh yeah, especially at night at 2-3:00 in the morning.  Sometimes you would see a rat go by. 

Eileen:  Tell me what you remember about the Lincoln bath house?
Mary:  We used to go to the bathhouse and pay 10 cents and you would get a shower.

Eileen:  What do you remember about the inside?
Mary:  It was separated.  Men would be on one side of the building and women on the other.  There were two entrances, one for the men and one for the women.  That was even for the kids, women.

Eileen:  Did the Lincoln Bathhouse become a recreation center afterwards?
Mary:  I don’t remember.

Eileen:  We’ve heard that it did, that there was basketball in the back.
Mary:  It must have been after I left.

Eileen:  Do you remember the names of neighbors or friends?
Mary:  That’s pretty hard.

Eileen:  Were any of your boarders?
Mary:  We didn’t have boarders.

Eileen:  Do you remember when your parents arrived in Tremont?  When did you parents come to the United States?
Mary:  My father came – I don’t know what year exactly, but my mother came in 1901.  She came to Cleveland, but my father lived in New Jersey.  I don’t remember what year that was.

Eileen:  Do you know why they came to Cleveland?  Did they talk about how it was in Europe?
Mary:  I don’t know why.  All I know is that my father came to New Jersey because his brother lived there.  From there they both came to Cleveland and that was it.

Eileen:  Why did your father’s brother go to the eastside and your father come to the Westside?
Mary:  I couldn’t tell you.

Eileen:  What was your mother’s maiden name?
Mary:  SOTAK

Eileen:  Did your mom or dad have a relative in Cleveland?
Mary:  My father had a brother that lived on Scranton Rd. 

Eileen:  Is that why he moved here?
Mary:  I don’t know.

Eileen:  Then, your Mom had a brother?
Mary:  She had a brother who lived on 18th Place. 

Eileen:  How many brothers and sisters did you have?
Mary:  I had one brother and one sister.

Eileen:  What are the earliest memories of the neighborhood? Playing outside?
Mary:  It was nice, we got together, we played.  That was it.

Eileen:  Do you remember the games you played?
Mary:  We used to play hopscotch.

Eileen:  Was that boys and girls?
Mary:  Just girls.

Eileen:  Some people have mentioned Headlow Farm.  Did you go there to play?
Mary:  No, I don’t remember.  I must have been too young.

Eileen:  What about some of the theaters?
Mary:  There was one show called Jennings Show.  It was on W. 14th St.

Eileen:  How much did it cost?
Mary:  Five cents on a Saturday.

Eileen:  I understand there were double features?
Mary:  Yes.  We would go on Saturday.

Eileen:  Somebody also mentioned the old theater on Starkweather, called the National Theater next to the Lincoln Bathhouse?
Mary:  Yes, there was one up there.  We didn’t go to that one.

Eileen:  It was the silent movies?
Mary:  I never went there.

Eileen:  You went with girlfriends?
Mary:  Yes, some from school.

Eileen:  Do you remember their names?
Mary:  No.

Eileen:  Tell me about going downtown?
Mary:  We would have to go on the streetcar.  Take the streetcar on Fairfield and that would take us across the central viaduct bridge and go downtown to May Co. 

Eileen:  What did you buy?
Mary:  Clothes.

Eileen:  So, strictly for shopping?
Mary:  Yes.

Eileen:  Did you shop at the Central Market?
Mary:  My father used to go there and buy the groceries.  Later on we would go to the Westside market. 

Eileen:  Was the Central market older than the Westside market?
Mary:  Yes, Central Market first.  When they opened the Westside market we would go there because it was closer.

Eileen:  How would you get there?
Mary:  There was a streetcar that would take you from W. 14th across Abbey bridge and drop you off at the market.  It would stay and pick up people and go back.

Eileen:  I understand some people walked and took the streetcar back?
Mary:  Yes, you could do that.  Sometimes we would take a wagon and go across the Abbey bridge.

Eileen:  What about shopping locally?  Did you show for groceries and bakery?
Mary:  Yes, there was Fisher’s on the corner of Literary and Professor.  We used to shop for whatever we needed in groceries.  Sometimes they had meat too.

Eileen:  What kind of meat did you buy?
Mary:  At that time it wasn’t too expensive.  Like steak or ground meat, mostly like it was a grocery store up on Levitt St. and that was after I was married, I used to go there and get ground meat or steak for roast or chicken.  He would have some vegetables too.

Eileen:  I heard from a couple people and I don’t know if this is true, but I heard that chicken was expensive in those day and beef and veal was less expensive.
Mary:  Not that I know of.  My mother used to go get the chicken at Westside market, a live one, and she would kill it. 

Eileen:  Did she pull out the feathers too?
Mary:  I used to do that too.

Eileen:  Then you would singe it over the flame?
Mary:  Yes.

Eileen:  What about furniture stores or drug stores, where did you get shoes?  From the neighborhood?
Mary:  No, that was on W. 25th St.  There were two stores over there.  Not too far from Fries and Schueles.

Eileen:  What about Furniture stores?
Mary:  There was one on Professor – Weissman.  That was on Professor and Literary.

Eileen:  Somebody told me it was on W. 11th and Literary.
Mary:  No, I think it was on 10th and Literary.

Eileen:  What about drugstores or where you got your candy?
Mary:  There used to be a candy store on W. 7th.  There was a store there.  We could get candy, gum and ice cream.

Eileen:  What about banks or funeral homes, or photograph stores?
Mary:  There was one funeral home, Frank Miscensik and there was another one next to St. John Cantius, it was called – I think it started with an H.

Eileen:  Where id you get your pictures taken?
Mary:  Jablonski on St. Olga.  It was right next door  – St. John Cantius was on one corner and Jablonski was on the other.

Eileen:  Tell me about the taverns in the area.  I understand there were a lot.
Mary:  There were a lot.  There were a lot of people drinking.

Eileen:  I understand it was a place to meet when the men finished work.
Mary:  There was one not too far from where my father had it.  There was one on 5th and Literary and then there was one on the other side of the street on Literary and W. 5th.  There were two.  Not too far from each other.  And then my father’s place on W. 7th.  Then there was one on Starkweather.  Then there was another one down on Fairfield past 14th St., now what was his name.  I can’t think of it.  He belonged to our Lady of Mercy Church.  He was Slovak. 

Eileen:  Tell me about some of the ethnic people that were in the area.
Mary:  There were a lot of different nationalities.  There were Orthodox, Russian, Slovak, Greek, Polish, and Ukrainian.  There were quite a few.

Eileen:  Do you remember any Hungarians or Czechs?
Mary:  No.

Eileen:  Did they all get along?
Mary:  I think so.  I think they did.

Eileen:  Tell me about the various social clubs or libraries.
Mary:  There was a library.

Eileen:  There was the Jefferson and Scranton libraries.
Mary:  Yes.  I went to those.

Eileen:  Did they teach English to people?
Mary:  I don’t know.  We went there if we needed something for school.

Eileen:  Did they have any other programs?
Mary:  We just went there to take books out.

Eileen:  What about the ethnic social clubs, like the Ukrainian, Polish?
Mary:  Yes, they had all those.  We went to those and they used to dress in their European costumes and have dances.

Eileen:  Tell me about how you celebrated the Holidays?  For instance Christmas, what did you do?
Mary:  We used to have sauerkraut, mushroom soup.  Rice, oplatki’s from the church.  We would dip it in honey and pieces of garlic dipped in honey.  The garlic was separate, and you would dip the garlic in the honey and take a bite of it.  Then you would take the oplatki and dip it in honey.

Eileen:  Tell me about Christmas day then.  Did you  have a Christmas tree?
Mary:  My mother had a Christmas tree and at that time when we were small it was decorated with different kinds of papers we would make in school.  Like loops in a string.  There were candles instead of electric.

Eileen:  How did you attach candles?
Mary:  They had those clothes pins where you would open them up and these were made out of metal and you would open it and squeeze it and hook it onto the branch.  There was a holder for the candle.  The candles were 3” high.

Eileen:  Did you put the tree in a pot of water?
Mary:  Yes.

Eileen:  How did you attach it?
Mary:  She had one of these that would tighten it up at the bottom.

Eileen:  What about gifts?  Did you have gifts from your parents?
Mary:  No, she would put stockings at the back of the stove and she would put nuts and apples and fruit in there and Santa Claus would bring us that.

Eileen:  So you never got a gift from your Mom or Dad?
Mary:  No, it was from Santa Claus.  They would buy us whatever we needed and that was that.

Eileen:  What about Easter?
Mary:  For Easter we would take a basket to church and have it blessed and my mother would put in bread that she would make, and kielbasa, a piece of ham, eggs, butter, salt and a root of horseradish.  We would take that to church and have that blessed.  That was before Easter Sunday on Saturday at noon.

Eileen:  I forgot to ask you what nationality you are?
Mary:  Slovak.

Eileen:  On Easter Sunday what would you do?
Mary:  We would eat what we had in the basket, went to church first, and then have dinner. 

Eileen:  For a fun type of holiday, Halloween, what did you do for Halloween?
Mary:  We would dress up when we were older.  When we were small no, we didn’t go out.

Eileen:  I understand people would parade around Lincoln Park?
Mary:  That I don’t remember.

Eileen:  What about going to stores trick or treating?
Mary:  No.

Eileen:  Where did you go to grade school?
Mary:  Well, my first school was St. Wendelins.  I went there for first grade and second grade.  Then from there my mother took me to Tremont School.  I went there for a couple of years and then we went to St. Augustine.  From there I went to Our Lady of Mercy.
I made my first holy communion at St. Wendelins.

Eileen:  So, that’s maybe 1920-1921. and from there to Tremont School.
Mary:  Yes, then St. Augustine and then to Our Lady of Mercy.

Eileen:  And you graduated from eighth grade.
Mary:  Yes, from Our Lady of Mercy.

Eileen:  Do you have a picture.
Mary:  Yes, I think so.

Eileen:  Tell me about Our Lady of Mercy and tell me about the original church.  I understand it was wooden.
Mary:  Yes, it was a wooden church.  It was a different nationality that had it first.  It wasn’t catholic.

Eileen:  I understand it’s because the diocese wouldn’t approve another church being built there.  That the Slovaks wanted their kids going to a closer church, but the diocese wouldn’t approve it.
Mary:  We went to church over there and it was under the Pope already, under the bishop.

Eileen:  The Bishop decided to bring it under the Catholic umbrella.
Mary:  Yes, because it was closer for them.

Eileen:  I understand it was built somewhere around 1921-1922, the old wooden church.
Mary:  I don’t remember that.  I got married in that wooden church.

Eileen:  What year did you get married?
Mary:  1936 in the old wooden church.  Later on they built the brick church.

Eileen:  Let’s go back to school and tell me about grade school.  Do you remember any teachers?
Mary:  I don’t remember.

Eileen:  What about your favorite subjects?
Mary:  I don’t know. 

Eileen:  What about high school?  Did you go to high school?
Mary:  No

Eileen:  What did you do?
Mary:  I went to work

Eileen:  Do you remember where you worked?
Mary:  I don’t remember, but I worked where they make candy and I used to wrap the candy bars.  Then afterwards I got a job at a bakery.

Eileen:  Where was the candy making company, in the neighborhood?
Mary:  No it was on W. 3rd.

Eileen:  How did you get there?
Mary:  Streetcar.  I made about $7.00 a week.

Eileen:  What did you do with the money?
Mary:  I gave it to my Mom.  Some for myself, I bought something for myself to wear.  Then I worked at a bakery.  The bakery was up on Carnegie, 36th and Carnegie.  Then there was another bakery where I worked on the Westside, Burns Bakery.  It was off of W. 25th.  Closer to the Westside market, not too far from where Fries and Schuele’s was.  It was Burns Bakery. 

Eileen:  Did you make the bread?
Mary:  I used to ice cakes or work on a machine where it would wrap it up.

Eileen:  Tell me about churches.  What was the church that your family went to when you were little?
Mary:  We went to St. Wendelins first and then to Our Lady of Mercy. 

Eileen:  Were there church activities that you belonged to?
Mary:  They had some little shows at Our Lady of Mercy.  I don’t remember if St. Wendelin’s had any or not. 

Eileen:  Were there any activities at the churches that helped immigrants learn English?
Mary:  No

Eileen:  What about Merrick House?
Mary:  I used to go there.  They had where you could learn how to sew, you could run a sewing machine.  They would show you how to do other things.  They had a lot of different things.  I was more interested in that.  I would go there after school.

Eileen:  What about in the summer?
Mary:  Sometimes we would go to Lincoln Park and we would watch music doings and watch them play ball. 

Eileen:  So they used to play baseball.
Mary:  Yes.  We used to play baseball there when I went to Our Lady of Mercy.  The girls would play ball and the boys.

Eileen:  Tell me how Lincoln Park has changed over the years.  Some people told me there was a wading pool, and the bushes around the park.
Mary:  That I don’t know, but I saw on TV where there is a pool up there and they are doing some art shows or something.

Eileen:  Didn’t you tell me there was a wading pool or a gazebo.
Mary:  Yes, that’s the pool I’m talking about in the middle.

Eileen:  So there was a wading pool and a gazebo?
Mary:  I don’t remember.

Eileen:  Tell me about some of the various vendors that came around the neighborhood to sell things, either ice or PaperRex man.
Mary:  Yes, they had PaperRex man and a wagon with the horse.  A guy would be selling fish and sometimes there would be a man with an organ and monkey.  He would play and give a nickel or two cents.  He went around all the streets.

Eileen:  How did you get ice?
Mary:  We would take the wagon and go on W. 14th and Abbey and there was a place they used to make the ice.  We would take it home on the wagon.

Eileen:  I understand ice was delivered and people would put a sign in the window?
Mary:  I don’t remember that.

Eileen:  What about waffle or coal?
Mary:  There was a truck that went around from street to street and he would ring and make the waffles and put powdered sugar on it.  They don’t have that no more. 

Eileen:  How big was the waffle?
Mary:  They were like a little regular size.  If you wanted two or three you would tell him.

Eileen:  How much did it cost?
Mary:  I think they were 10 cents or 5 cents?

Eileen:  Was he in a truck?
Mary:  Yes.

Eileen:  This was about 1920-1925?
Mary:  I don’t know what year.

Eileen:  Tell me about carnivals or circuses?
Mary:  I don’t remember that.

Eileen:  What did your family do on Saturday and Sunday?
Mary:  Saturday my Mother had that tavern, but Sunday we would go visit my father’s brother on the eastside and take a streetcar to go there.  We loved it because we rode on the streetcar.

Eileen:  Did it take a long time to get there?
Mary:  It took about a half hour or 45 minutes.

Eileen:  How long did you stay?
Mary:  All afternoon.

Eileen:  Was there a certain time the streetcar stopped running?
Mary:  No, but by midnight, that was the last one.

Eileen:  Did you have radios or record players.
Mary:  No radios.  Record player my mother had.  No TV, no radio, nothing.  No telephone either.

Eileen:  What about when you got married in 1936, did you have a telephone or radio?
Let me tell you why I ask.  When WWII started in 1941, how did you hear that the war started, on the radio or the people in the neighborhood?
Mary:  I think we had TV already, probably a radio – I don’t remember.

Eileen:  Do you think it was safe growing up in Tremont?
Mary:  Oh Yeah. 

Eileen:  What about gangs?
Mary:  No nothing.  Even when I was 20 years old I went on the street car to a dance hall and come home at midnight and I had to go to work at 5:00 in the morning.  You didn’t have to worry about that.

Eileen:  Where did you go to the dance hall on the eastside?
Mary:  Danceland, and there was another.

Eileen:  What about Luna Park?
Mary:  Yeah, we used to go there. 

Eileen:  Who did you go with?
Mary:  With the girls.  We roller skated over there.

Eileen:  Did you ever go to Puritas Springs?
Mary:  Yes, I danced over there too.  Later on we used to go to Chippewa.

Eileen:  How did you get there?
Mary:  Some friend of mine, her brother drove us there.

Eileen:  How did you meet your husband?
Mary:  Through his friend, that was my husband’s brother, he used to be friends with my brother.  He brought him over. 

Eileen:  When you got married did you stay in the area?
Mary:  We stayed there for about 10 years.  No, about 9, when I moved to Parma, my children, the one was 4 years old.

Eileen:  So you moved to Parma in about 1953?
Mary:  In 1954.

Eileen:  So you stayed in the area for about 18 years then.  You got married in 1936?
Mary:  Yes, 1936 or 1937.  We lived in Parma for 34 years.

Eileen:  What about your brother and your sister.  Did they stay in the area?
Mary:  No my sister sold the house where she lived and she moved to Parma on Dawnshire.  She got the house, my mother left it to her in the will and then she sold that and bought the house in Parma.

Eileen:  Let’s go back to 1929 or 1930, so you were about 19-20 years old.  Do you remember the depression?  Do you remember anything?
Mary:  No.

Eileen:  What about prohibition?  What was going on in those days?  Were there bootleggers?
Mary:  Oh yeah, my father was one of them.  He sold it on the side there.  The liquor and everything.  And then he used to get the liquor from my Uncle.  He used to make the whiskey and my mother would buy it from him.

Eileen:  Bathtub gin right?
Mary:  Yes.


Eileen:  Somebody told us that the fish monger would sell liquor from his wagon.  A man we interviewed today said that everyone was a bootlegger.
Mary:  I didn’t know that.

Eileen:  Last question. Have you visited Tremont lately?
Mary:  About 5 years ago. 

Eileen:  What did you think of the changes?
Mary:  Not around Professor, but down below where 7th st. and 5th and 6th, there is a lot of change there.  A lot of homes were down.

Eileen:  What did you think about that?
Mary:  The homes looked alright.  I didn’t think they would built those kinds of homes with stairs going up.  Especially in the winter time with snow.

Eileen:  What about the nice restaurants?
Mary:  No, I haven’t gone there.

Eileen:  In closing, do you have any last comments about Tremont?
Mary:  Well, Tremont was ok, it was real nice and everything.  They kept it clean and everything.  The only thing is it wasn’t modern, like what it should be.  Other places have modern stores and everything.  But in the old days it was ok.  We had everything.  We had grocery stores, bakeries, whatever we needed.

Eileen:  Well, thank you very much Mary.
Mary:  Thank you very much for the interview.


Entry Filed under: Oral/written Histories

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