In this interview, Ronda discusses growing up in Detroit, the 1967 uprising, and all the different neighborhoods she lived in growing up.
Detroit Historical Society
Detroit Historical Society
Ronda McIntosh was born in Harrison Township in 1957. She grew up on the east side of Detroit as well as other neighborhoods as her family moved around.
WW: Hello, today is December 10th, 2018. My name is William Winkel. This interview is for the Detroit Historical Society's Neighborhoods Oral History Project: Neighborhoods Where Detroit Lives. Thank you so much for sitting down with me today. RM: Thank you for having me. WW: I'm sitting down with RM: Rhonda McIntosch. WW: Where and when were you born? RM: I was born in Harrison Township, Michigan, September of 1957. WW: Growing up did you come to the city often? RM: Well, we lived in the city. My father was stationed, he was in the air force, he was stationed in Harrison township, so we were born at the hospital there. WW: Okay. What neighborhood did you live in when you lived in the city, or when you were growing up? RM: East side, on the other side of 75. Right in this particular area really. Mack, Charlevoix, Kercheval, all in that area. WW: What was the area like for you growing up? RM: I liked, the place we ended up really it was 8936 Holcomb and those hold, the most memories from that, that address holds the most memories for me. We lived in a community where there were Italians, there were African Americans, Sicilian. We had Sicilian neighbors. From all over the, the world actually. WW: What years did you live on this block? RM: I lived there probably from 1962, I believe we moved in 1971. WW: Can you talk a little bit more about that neighborhood. What shops did you go to, what did you do for fun? RM: Oh, well for fun, we played, there were so many kids on our block, so we played four square in the middle of the street. We played hopscotch, we played rock school, jump rope, baseball, kick ball, dodgeball, everything you can name. We had a yard next to our house that had fruit trees. So there was a lot in front of that where we all played and there was a fence behind it so it was good for really good for dodgeball. WW: You mentioned that the neighborhood was integrated, did all the children play together or did you stay separate? RM: Yes, we did. We all played together. WW: Okay. What schools did you go to? RM: I went to Nicholls Elementary, A.L. Holmes Elementary, Burls Junior High, and I went on to Cass Tech. WW: Are there any other memories you'd like to share from the time you were living on that block? RM: We had a neighbor, his name was Mr. Komatyle and he had the best apricots in this yard, but he didn't like us picking them very much [laughs]. He hated us playing on his grass as well. He's like the old grump in the neighborhood. He was kinda that type of person. I remember, I have a memory living there of the day the riot happened. It was just, people were running up and down the street. I saw a washing machine and a dryer being pushed on one of those carts with wheels, evidently stolen from one of the stores on Harper. So that's just a thought that's always stuck with me, you know. How could somebody do that? WW: Do you remember your parents reacting to what was going on that day? RM: My mom just told us to stay close to the porch. We were able to stay out and look and watch everything that was going on. But we had to stay close to the porch. WW: Why did your family leave that neighborhood? RM: Well, my mother wanted a better neighborhood. She would always move us. By the time the diversity changed in the neighborhood, she would move us to another diverse neighborhood. So we moved to Griggs and Eight mile and then from there to Oak park. WW: How long did you live at Griggs and Eight mile. RM: Seven years. WW: What was your time there like? RM: It was a lot of fun. I'm not well, yeah, I would be tooting my own horn, but I WW: Go ahead. RM: I was the champ on our block for any, any sort of ball playing or racing or, you know. I was just that good. And I think it was because I had brothers all around me and male cousins, so they kind of pulled me through that rank. WW: Do you remember what it was like going to the new neighborhood? Transitioning. RM: Well, one I was busing back to Burls because the semester was gonna end in maybe two weeks. And one of the girls, she started teasing me after school and trying to make a big to do about whatever, I don't know, but she heard that we moved and "Oh you think you're better than everybody else" and all this kind of stuff. So she picked a fight with me. But I wouldn't fight her. I'm like, "I'm not fighting you. What for?" And she and her sisters just stood there and looked at me like. I just hope they realize they couldn't bully everybody. So that was the first memory I have of living on Griggs. And then I went to Cass. So I bussed there for an hour to school, an hour home, but always had time for a game of baseball. And same games we played as smaller children. We brought from that neighborhood over to the new neighborhood, some of the new games that we'd made up or whatever. And I liked living there because I worked in the store around the corner, directly on Eight mile. Our house was the second home from Eight mile. And so I'd go up to the corner and make a left and there was my job. And I worked in there and had to tell on all the neighborhood boys that were trying to steal beer and wine, that kind of thing. WW: What was the store called? RM: Leo's Party Store. It's right at, between Grigg's and Birwood. WW: Growing up in these two neighborhoods, did you tend to stay within the boundaries of them or did you venture around the city girl growing up? RM: Holcomb, we were younger and my mom became a single parent, so we weren't able to go here and there. You know, if she got a ride somewhere, it would have to be with someone else. So she wasn't able to take us. But my aunt, she would pick us up and take us to Lansing, all over the place to Canada and places around Detroit. So I did get to get out in that respect. , Griggs, as I became a little older, I would get on the bus and go down to Edgewater Park, this all by myself, just to have some fun alone. And I rode the wooden roller coaster. Greater Grace I think is there now. WW: What prompted your family's move to Oak Park? RM: Same thing, she wanted us in a more diverse neighborhood. So we moved there and we had, Chaldean neighbors, Arab neighbors, Caucasian neighbors. Oh, Chinese, Japanese. It was just multicultural. WW: And what year did you make that move? RM: 1977. WW: And did you stay in Oak Park after that? RM: Yes. WW: While you were living in Oak Park, did you continue to come to the city? RM: Oh, of course. My younger brothers and sisters that went to elementary in Oak Park, they pretty much spent their time in Oak Park. But my formative years, so to speak, were in Detroit. So that's where I spent my time. Every chance I got, I was going back across Eight Mile. WW: When did you come back to live in the city? RM: Well, from Oak Park I moved all around as an adult. But I think, I can't remember the year, but I think after I got out on my own, most of my time was spent in Detroit, at different places in Detroit. WW: Okay. After you've left those two neighborhoods, did you ever go back to them and see how they are today? RM: Always, always. It took a long time, but the house on Holcomb was torn down and they rebuilt one of the prefab houses over there. My house on Griggs, the first house from Eight Mile burned down. So the house we lived in became the first house and it's still standing. It looks just as good as it did when we lived there. And Oak Park, that was on the circle part of a cul de sac. And I just love driving in there and going around that corner. My mom's house sat here and our neighbors were just angels. They really were. My mom being a single parent, they did so much for her. That's what I remember. WW: Are there any stories or anything I didn't ask you that you'd like to share? RM: Oh, just I have a brother who's two years younger than me. His name was Tony. He and I were a team no matter which season of the year we had jobs. We'd either rake leaves, we'd shovel snow, we cleaned out gardens for the spring. We planted flowers and ran errands in the neighborhood. And we did that. It started off going into the store for neighbors and I was seven, Tommy was five. So there were a lot of times we brought food home for dinner. As young as we were and it was really out of, my brother loves older people, so he would get to know them and realize they needed help. So he kind of incorporated me into the jobs and slowly but surely we were a force to be reckoned with. [laughs] WW: Did you continue that when you moved to the next neighborhood on eight mile? RM: No, I was in high school by then and going to Cass Tech there was not a lot of room for games, so I grew up really quick. All my baseball and all the things I loved to do. Well, I did play basketball at Cass for a short time. But after maybe a semester or two, I was done with that. So the physical activity that I used to have, it dropped from a hundred to I'd say 25%. So that was a big change in my life. WW: That's it? Alright. Thank you so much for sitting down with me today. RM: Thank you for having me. WW: Oh my pleasure.
“Ronda McIntosh,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed October 30, 2020, https://detroit1967.detroithistorical.org/items/show/712.