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Tom Woznicki, Tremont Neighborhood, Spring 2006

July 27th, 2007

My name is Thomas J. Woznicki.  I am 85 years of age, born December 10, 1919.

I was born in the Tremont area and resided there for 30 years, then moved to the Brooklyn area after my marriage.  Our family resided on West 7th Street (2443) during our childhood and then moved to West 14th Street in 1936.  While living on West 7th, we did go to the Lincoln Bath House and recreation center at times.  The neighbors that we knew and associated with were Guzik, Harchar, Brookes, Proszek, Lestechin, Lapinski and Barr families.


Our parents arrived to Cleveland from Poland in 1916 or 1917 to establish a new and prosperous life that they did not have in Europe.  They kept in touch with their parents and from time to time sent them packages and monetary gifts.  My mother’s parents, the Bibro family - our mother Mary, her sisters Sophie and Anne and brother Peter, were able to join the family in 1918 but after several years my mother’s mother and sister returned to Poland, never to return to Cleveland.  Dad’s family remained in Poland and he was the sole arrival.

I have a brother Ted and sister, Sister Francis Therese (TOSF).  Our brother Edmund passed away in 1965.

Our early years were joyous ones playing the usual games of that era - baseball, roller skating and street games.  The movie house at that time was the Jennings Theater on West 14th.  We went there frequently on Saturday afternoons to see the Western movies popular at that time.


Because of the close proximity of downtown and the West and East Side Markets, we took full advantage of the facilities, especially of the markets on Saturdays for meats and produce for the week’s food pantry.

In those years, every food, drug, bakery or candy store prospered.  Clothing, tailors and furniture stores were nearby and did a brisk business up to the Depression years of 1929 - 1940.


At that time, the South Side of Cleveland, as the Tremont area was then known, had several ethnic groups residing there - Polish, Russian (we now know these early founders of St. Theodosius were truly “Rusyns”, not Russians - editors note), Slovak, Ukrainian and a few German families.  They all had the churches and community halls where they gathered for weddings or meetings and special occasions.  The ethnic groups were very “clannish” and each nationality did their own thing to put it very simply.  But, on the whole, they did get along in a neighborly fashion.

Christmas and Easter were celebrated very simply, compared totoday’s commercial fashion.  We were satisfied with the simple things of life because there wasn’t too much out there those days.  Yes, we had a Xmas tree every Xmas, decorated with simple toys and candles (that were not even lit).  Halloween was the same as we celebrate nowadays, but the candy and gifts were very scarce, especially during the Depression years.


My brothers and sister attended the parochial school at St. John Cantius for elementary education.  My brother Edmund and I went to Benedictine High School for our secondary leanring and Ted went to Lincoln High School and our sister went to Mary mount.  Both the elementary and high school years were happy years - we were eager to learn and play in class and on the sports field, especially in baseball.  All the teachers I had contact with were dedicated nuns, priests and brothers who were proficient and well-versed educators.  To choose one favorite teacher would be very difficult.  They were all good.


My dad worked at an auto company (I forget the name) when the gasoline autos were becoming more numerous those days.  Then he worked at a steel stamping company (Lake Erie Steel and Stamping) on East 131st Street.  Because of his position he was able to employ a few friends and members of our family.  Even my mom’s dad (our grandfather) was employed there as a watchman for several years until he retired.  Our family had a car at our disposal (one of the few in the neighborhood) and we took advantage of the public transportation when going downtown or to school.


We took advantage of the programs at Merrick House after school hours.  In the summer, we were able to go to the cabin that Merrick House had in Hinckley Park for a few days where we enjoyed camping and swimming.  Lincoln Park was another outlet to visit friends during the hot summer evenings.  At times, they had movies for the public.


Horse-driven vendors came around daily in the summer selling fruits and vegetables that were in season.  At that time, 25 cents got you a bag of peaches or apples.  Then there was the paper-rex man, who bought old rags that people disposed of.


What did we do on Saturdays and Sundays?  On Saturday the home was cleaned and prepared for Sunday.  On Sunday morning first it was Mass, then in the afternoon we had visitors for dinner, conversation and drinking.  The children would be in the yard enjoying games of that period.  On other Sundays, we would visit other families and friends and spend many happy hours together.  There were no TV’s, or digital games to interfere as it does these days.  Those were the “Good Old Days”.


The library!  Yes, we did use and enjoy the neighborhood library.  It was and still is the Jefferson Library where we had access to books to read and to do research for school projects.


That was the source of entertainment of the day.  We enjoyed them both in the evenings.  We had a phone installed in the late 1930’s and the first TV came into being later in the mid 1940’s.


Safety in Tremont.  People had no fear of being muggd or robbed those days.  You could go visit a neighbor, leaving your doors opened, and not be afraid.


Boys and girls got to know and date each other in school or church socials.  Dating began during the mid-teen years.  Once you married, you moved into your own home or apartment, in your mate’s neighborhood, or whatever was more convenient.


Our two boys, Lawrence and Tom, Jr., were both born here in Cleveland, attended parochial schools and then Catholic High Schools.  Larry Chose Benedictine High School and Tom went to St. Ignatius.


I remember the depression very well.  With the lack of employment, people struggled to feed their families.  Many lost their savings in banks, lost their homes and some ended up on welfare.


I drive through the neighborhood often and see the many changes.  Blocks of homes, homes built on empty lots, and the numerous gourmet restaurants and pubs doing a brisk business especially on weekends.  What a welcome change!

If other localities in Cleveland would take steps to do what happened in Ohio City and the Tremont area, our city would grow in leaps and bounds, growing into a metropolis deserving that distinction. 

Go Cleveland!

Entry Filed under: Oral/written Histories

19 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Steve Blusiewicz  |  January 24th, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Mr. Woznicki,
    Reading your story brought back memories of my grandparents. My Mom grew up on the South Side and went to St. John Cantius and then Lincoln. Though I live out of state now, it’s a small world as I went to St. Barbara with your son Larry. Whenever I’m in town I always drive through the old neighborhoods because they’re a part of who I am.

  • 2. Nyssa Woznicki  |  February 17th, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Hi, Grandpa. Thank you for sharing your words. I’ve read this a million times over the past few years. I can still hear your voice tell these stories :o) Thank you for bringing a smile to my face always and for all the memories. You are my biggest inspiration. I love you always, think of your everyday, and I miss you. Your Loving Granddaughter, Nyssa.

  • 3. Mary Lee Schulta  |  April 7th, 2010 at 10:52 am

    My Grandfather was Walter Woznicki. He came to America as a small child. He moved to Polonia Wisconsin. I believe he was born in 1878. I never knew him he died of leukemia before I was born.
    Perhaps we are related!

  • 4. E Wronski  |  June 12th, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    what a wonderful history of growing up in tremont, i arrived with a later group of polish immigrants (1962) and lived in tremont, wen to cantius and still consider tremont my primary neighborhood. Believe it or not, the fruit man with the horse still came around in the 60’s as did Uncle Marty the ice cream man. Thank you for shedding light on what it was like in the 20’s and 30’s. Wonderful stories, thank you.

  • 5. Tim Neal  |  November 30th, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    I was born in 1959 and remember Uncle Marty’s ice cream trucks, the milk man delivering our milk,bread and ice cream. This bring back so many memories. We moved in 1971 to the east side but in 1978 started to attend the little store front church pastored by Rev. S.C.Pierce. It’s been over 40 years since we moved away but still consider myself as being a south sider.

  • 6. Lael  |  December 9th, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Dear Mr. Woznicki,

    My class is learning about the history of Tremont and I found your story VERY interesting.

  • 7. Diane Kolman  |  March 17th, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Hello, I am enjoying reading this Tremont site that I just discovered. I was born in 1946 and lived at 2442 W. 7th St. for the early part of my life. We knew the Guziks and Proszeks……..we are.family to the Balucki confectionary store next to Jeff bakery on Jefferson Ave. Am looking for friends and relatives of Maslanka, Skorzewski’s, Lusczcewski’s and Pelechs for starters. Lots of old time memories in which we walked the territory and listened to all of those church bells and carried our pots to the churches for our pierogi………..diane

  • 8. Karen Trout (Wiencek)  |  July 7th, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    I am also enjoying this Tremont site as my grandfather, Lawrence WIENCEK, arrived from Poland in 1911 and lived at 722 Jefferson then 3143 W. 11th. He married Mary CHLOPEK (POLEWKA), widow of Jan Chlopek (Jan killed himself in 1911 when he and Mary lived on Thurman. My father, John, was born in 1919 at same Jefferson address. There were other Chlopek and Wiencek children. One of Mary’s former addresses was 2492 W. 7th but I don’t know if that was as a Polewka or Chlopek.. They all belonged to St. John Cantius parish where my father attended grade school and then South High School. I’m trying to find who Mary’s parents were and if anyone knew the POLEWKAS, CHLOPEKS or WIENCEKS. Through family marriages I’m also related to BRYKs and GRABIECs. I’ve driven the neighborhood looking to photograph the old houses but many, including 722 Jefferson, are gone. I remember my father saying he had to speak Polish at school and Polish/English at home (or the other way around?). His mother only spoke Polish. My mother’s family also started in Tremont so I’ve spent lots of time researching there; they were not Polish.After I was born we ended up on Brainard (St. Michael the Archangel Church) from where I remember the “paper-rex/rags” man with his horse and wagon, the milk man, bread man, the ice cream truck and the red brick streets and slate sidewalks and how friendly neighbors were then. I wish I knew more about the area my father grew up. I welcome any contact if anyone knew my ancestors.

    To Diane KOLMAN (MASLANKA) who commented above: I was born in 1947 and believe I was 1 yr behind you at St. Alexis Hospital School of Nursing. You may have known me as CENCER. I wonder if our parents or grandparents knew each other. I would like to be in touch with you…………..Karen

  • 9. Walter woznicki | Takethe&hellip  |  July 8th, 2012 at 9:04 am

    […] Tom Woznicki, Tremont Neighborhood, Spring 2006Jul 27, 2007 … My Grandfather was Walter Woznicki. He came to America as a small child. He moved to Polonia Wisconsin. I believe he was born in 1878. No Comments 2242 […]

  • 10. Nancy Gorzkowski Parisi  |  January 30th, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    I was born in 1942 and lived on West 10th street for the first seven years of my life. Mr. Zola was our landlord. My Wegrzynowski grandparents lived on University - we called them Gramma and Grampa Up-The-Hill and my Gorzkowski grandmother lived on Clarence Court - She was called Gramma Down-the-HIll. Clarence Court is now part of a super highway. We visited them often. My grandparents lived through the depression years on University…times were bad. The family would go across the bridge to the West Side Market and glean what the vendors had thrown into the trash. They would take it home, clean it and eat for the rest of the week. (I remember my grandmother walking with me across that bridge when it was being refurbished.) scary. Grampa finally got a job at Angel Nail. In the mid 50’s my uncles bought them a house in Parma Heights. Gramma down the hill moved up the hill when the property on Clarence Court was taken for the highway. She lived on 10th street until abougt 1974 when she passed. I remember the sour dough bread from Duda’s bakery. I remember Mrs. Lis, the Gorski’s, the name Hadulak and the Rospotinsky’s. My parents were very involved with groups from the Merrick House: the Lancers and the Gay Buddies. All my aunts and uncles were married at St. John Cantius. I remember when WWII ended…I was about three. My mother carried me out to the front gate, all the other neighbors were at their front gates, the factory whistles were blowing and all the churches were ringing their bells to signal that the war was ended. Growing up there in the 40’s was very pleasant, walks in Lincoln Park and around the block. I remember swinging on the front gate - Mr. Zola did not care for that. A lot of fine memories. Thank you.

  • 11. paul harcar  |  March 16th, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    My grandad was from pittsburgh area. He was born in 1897 and changed last name spelling to harcar. He had a brother that left home about 1908, never returned. His name was john harchar.
    My uncle found a guy by that name living in cleveland but he refused to talk to my uncle. My uncle was convinced this was his dad’s brother who was ashamed to admit who he was since he left his younger brother to take care of their widowed mother. My grandad went to work in a steel mill when he was 12 and took care of their mom. I was curious if you or any relatives knew the backround of these harchars.

  • 12. Carole Ann Szczudlo Lawler  |  October 18th, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    Lived on West 11th between Fairfield & Literary right across from the Orthodox church. Yes, we even had the brick street. I remember especially the horse drawn wagon of the paper rags man. The ice man. The milk wagon. Oh so many memories. Went to St. John Cantius church & grade school. They were the best growing-up years. I remember walking to the West Side Market crossing the Abbey Road Bridge pulling the wagon for the groceries we would be buying. I remember walking everywhere. All my aunts & uncles lived close by too. My grandparents all came from Poland. My mother’s home growing-up was a huge white corner house on West 7th Street. It is no longer there because of the highway. My Dad did go to Tremont H. S. but only to the 10th grade. He worked at the Republic Steel Co. until they closed. My mom worked at the glove factory on Abbey Rd. We did move when I was 9 yrs old to the West Side of Cleveland off of Broadview Rd. I still go back to see the changes and mostly to volunteer at St. Augustines to help make a meal on Fridays.

  • 13. dawn hofmann  |  April 12th, 2016 at 5:44 am

    I’m looking for church docs / burial docs for the Hendricks / Hendrickson clan Many lived in Piie Grove and went to Jacob’s Evang’l Church or St Peter’s Luth. But some lived in Tremont and there are no records of Luth churchs in Tremont on line. Can you help me find them or put me in touch w/ someone who can
    Thank you.

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