Judson Residents Help Document Cleveland’s History

It is no secret that Judson is home to some of Cleveland’s most interesting people. Thanks to generous support from the Unger Family Foundation, the unique and varied experiences of Judson residents are being captured and used to help preserve Cleveland’s progress over the last century. The Judson Oral History Project, a collaboration between Judson and the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities and the Center for Community Planning & Development, both at Cleveland State, chronicles the lives of a diverse cross-section of Judson residents through a series of narrated interviews.

“The philosophy of the Unger Family Foundation is to work with institutions to encourage collaboration,” said Alan Unger about the impetus of the project. “Many Judson residents have had incredible life experiences. This project records their memories and perspectives, capturing history that otherwise would be lost.”

To date more than 60 Judson Park and Judson Manor residents have contributed to the project, which is part of the Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Most recently, John Bourne and Alice Palda sat down with interviewers and facilitators from Cleveland State University and Judson to share their personal experiences and reflections of life and events in C-town.

John Bourne moved to Judson Manor with wife, Judy, in early 2015. Actively involved in the arts-and-culture scene, the couple enjoys living in the heart of University Circle. Judy is a former trustee of the Cleveland Institute of Music and was president of the women’s committee while John served on the University Circle Inc. board. Moving to Judson Manor put the couple within walking distance of their home church, Church of the Covenant, and Severance Hall, where they enjoy season tickets to the Cleveland Orchestra.

In his interview, John describes how he got his start in banking as teenager working as a messenger at Central National Bank in downtown Cleveland. After graduating with a degree in economics from University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from Wharton School of Business, John returned home to Cleveland where he worked his way to the top of the ranks in banking before transitioning to commercial real estate.

Interested in ancestral research, John turned to genealogy as a third career. He is a member of more than three dozen hereditary societies, serving in a leadership role for many of the organizations including the Order of the Founders and Patriots of America and the Sons of the American Revolution Western Reserve Society.

“If you like to read and you like history, genealogy then becomes reading about your own people, which I find very interesting,” said John, who has traced his family’s colonial lineage back to 1636 in Massachusetts, and to Charlemagne in France in 747 A.D. Although there were no Bournes as passengers on the Mayflower, John is an approved descendant of ten Pilgrims. In fact, if you travel to Cape Cod, you may very well cross the Bourne Bridge, his family’s namesake bridge.

Click here to listen to John’s interview.  

When Alice Palda decided it was time to start a new chapter in her life, the retired librarian and storyteller extraordinaire didn’t have to go far. After investigating several active lifestyle communities, Alice chose to transition to retirement living at Judson Manor, just a few miles from her Cleveland Heights home.

Alice moved with her cat, Hector, to her customized apartment with a city view two years ago and she has never looked back. “Everything fell into place,” Alice remarked. “It is perfect for me here. I really do love it. I was lonely at home after I retired and I have so many friends here.”

Alice recounts in her interview what life was like growing up in Trotwood, a bucolic town outside of Dayton, Ohio. Alice’s mastery as a storyteller quickly becomes evident as she vividly describes the rural to urban culture shift she experienced in 1960 when she left her conservative home behind to attend Lake Erie College for Women.

Upon graduation, Alice accepted a position with the Cleveland Public Library, using her degree in theatre arts and voice as a foundation for a career as a children’s librarian. Her first love, however, was the stage, a passion that led her to Karamu Theatre and to her husband.

You can listen to Alice share her experiences as a young activist and why she decided to plant her roots in Cleveland Heights here. 

Visit https://clevelandvoices.org/collections/show/91 to browse the entire Judson Oral History Collection and learn more about Cleveland Voices.

Kathy Janini is director of donor engagement and communications for Judson Foundation.

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