Anthony Benevidas

Title

Anthony Benevidas

Description

In this interview, Benevides recounts his childhood experiences in
Hubbard Farms, and talks about what has changed, and what needs to
change.

Publisher

Detroit Historical Society

Date

10/19/2018

Rights

Detroit Historical Society

Language

en-US

Narrator/Interviewee's Name

Anthony Benevidas

Brief Biography

Anthony Benevides was born in 1956 in Detroit and grew up in Hubbard Farms. He moved away for a few years but ultimately came back to his hometown where he currently lives.

Interviewer's Name

Amy Anderson

Interview Place

Detroit, Michigan

Date

10/19/2018

Transcriptionist

Amy Anderson

Transcription

[Start of track 1]
Amy Anderson: I am sitting here with Anthony Benevides. Um, would you like to say a little bit about yourself, where you work, um where you live specifically?
Anthony Benevides: hI my name is Anthony Benevides! I live at [redacted] in the city of Detroit. I have three children, um which are two twin boys which are 22 years old and a daughter who is 24 years old. Brianna, Zach, and Brett are the names of my- and I'm also married uh to a woman named Amy Amador we've been married for about...
AA: That might get you in trouble.
AB: Give me...eh about 10 years. Uh, that might get me in trouble.
AA: um so
AB: we can leave some of that alone.
AA: um so, you live in Hubbard Farms
AB: ok
AA: that is your neighborhood, right?
AB: mhmm
AA: How long have you lived there?
AB: yes. I live in Hubbard Farms, um I've lived three times in Hubbard Farms now. Moved out, I lived in Hubbard Farms as a child, I grew up in Hubbard Farms actually. I lived on west grand boulevard [redacted] west grand boulevard. It was our family home. Moved out of Hubbard Farms in- when I was about 6 or 7 and moved across the city to the Pann? Park area and then I moved back to Hubbard Farms when I went to Wayne State University. I needed to get a little closer to Wayne State and I um lived in Hubbard Farms from 1981 to about 1991 about 10 years. I moved to Dearborn for a while because of the- I would've stayed in Hubbard Farms but this was during, you gotta understand, during the 80s was a real bad time in Detroit and in Hubbard Farms it was the crack epidemic in this area and Clark Park was affected uh call making you know calling it Crack Park. because you'd buy your crack, go do it, rob a couple people, break into a couple cars, anyways, I had, I had enough. My house was broken into, cars were broken into and I felt I needed to move out and uh, I did. Moved to Dearborn for about 10 years stayed there, maybe a little less than 10 years, and I moved back to Hubbard Farms in 1999 and I've been here since, so I'm going on my 20th year soon enough. So I'm glad to be living back in Hubbard Farms again. Past 20 years has been great um neighborhoods changed somewhat uh for the better and I see a lot of people out there fixing up and repairing houses which is a great sign and I'm glad to be here. I'm glad to be in my neighborhood.
AA: so um when you were growing up would you say it was a diverse neighborhood or was it pretty like white? Was it like integrated or how would you explain the ethnic makeup?
AB: well, ok, well my earlier years I wouldn’t know, i- from what I hear during when I first uh you know when I was a kid it was very a neighborhood in transition. The uh the neighborhood was very, at one point, it was probably very Lithuanian and then the Latino people, coming from Corktown, moving from Corktown to Hubbard Farms and um so the neighborhood started getting- started, more Latinos started moving in and um, it was very diverse. So I saw a lot of Latino people here. Still some Lithuanians, but the Lithuanians were moving out slowly but as the years went by, more and more, more of my neighbors uh even when I moved back in ‘82, ‘81 um there was a lot of...lot of Latinos. It was mainly Latino back in ‘82, ‘81 and then um once I moved out in 1991 I believe it was ‘91 it was still predominantly Latino. When I moved back in, in 1997 it was still predominantly latino but I had, you know, but now it was sorta integration of um of Caucasians coming in I can tell back in 1997, or 1999 I should say, um there was more caucasian moving in the neighborhood. Yep.
AA: um
AB: I wanted to say something to that.
AA: oh. Go ahead.
AB: um with the latinos- uh with the Caucasians moving in the neighborhood in 1999 there was a lot more Latinos out. Selling there houses very cheap and going to the “promised land”. And the “promised land” was Linkin Park. They could only make it in Linkin Park. They could only make it to Allen Park. they can make it to Dearborn, but Dearborn had a little racial thing going on with mayor Hubbard so Linkin Park was the latino promised land. If you can get your goods and, you know, get out to um Linkin Park you were doing well. Well we know what happened to Linkin Park um its no big thing but I always told people”stay with your house” “keep your house, don't move out” Linkin Park is just a real basic city
AA: alright um so when you lived in Hubbard Farms when you were a kid what do you remember that you did for fun?
AB: well I remember um going to Clark Park. that was our recreation, that was our fun. Uh Clark Park was just a short walk, two blocks to Clark Park were- we could rent bikes, there was all kinds of activities happening at Clark Park they had those, they had the spray- the spray pool where in the summer it would operate and all the kids and all the parents would sit around the spray pool getting wet on an August hot day, and it was it was just nice to picnic. I remember picnicking out there with my grandparents and parents uh walking, um playing baseball, playing tennis, ice skating as a as we got older we went ice skating on the original rink which has now been replaced with a new upgraded rink but we uh Clark Park was the place, so was belle isle, riverside park, that was another park that was just walking distance from the house wed go fishing there and um play on the swings. So we really used the parks back in the day. Parks were a big part of our life.
AA: um so where did you go to school? And tell us a little about that.
AB: Well I started out at Cass Tech um back in the day the goal was to go to Cass. Nobody wanted to go to Southwestern. Everybody wanted to go to Cass. So I started out, I got accepted to Cass and I stayed there 2 ½ years and um in my twelveth grade I got a job at a restaurant, London Chophouse, and that kind of threw my grades off. Uh ‘cause it was a it was an evening job and I thought I could handle it and um it just didn't work out. I didn’t have-I didn't study enough so I ended up uh I ended up uh going to western for my senior for half my senior year because you had to have a B average at that time and maintain your grades, and my grades had slipped and ended up going to western to finish graduation. And I ended up graduating from western which was not a bad thing either, I like western and it had some great teachers and met some great friends there but unfortunately I was only there for six months and um so I look back at it, looking back at it maybe I should've went to western right from the get-go. I did graduate from western high school in 1975.
AA: um what did your parents do? Where did they work?
AB: my dad um was a laborer. He uh he came from the south. He came from Texas, and he was in search of a factory job. That was- you come to Detroit to find a factory job. Tie in with the big three: Ford, Chrysler, or General Motors. He ended up at Chrysler for awhile and uh he didn't like it and he ended up getting a, going to a a school to learn how to weld and he was able to become a a certified welder for dana corporation and he worked there for his 30 years and uh retired and he- and he provided all of us enough for my four brothers and my sister to go to school and graduate from different colleges.
AA: um any stories from your childhood that you'd like to share?
AB: yea once again we really used to parks a lot, you know, my family was a big uh they would love to go out to different parks in the city. We would go to Rouge Park um go tobogganing, skating, uh play hockey, we used all the parks. The parks were a big part of our life. Uh my dad ended up buying a Winnebago motorhome when we were about 13 and we drove all over the country with that thing it was a beautiful way to travel actually we drove all the way to Belize uh in that motorhome one summer and he worked for the big three, he worked for a company that would- you could take off like a change over where they'd give you like a weeks change over plus it was vacation so we took about a month off and traveled all the way to Belize uh way down in uh South America. And uh that was a very memorable vacation.
AA: so um, growing up it sounded like you ventured out of the city a bit like you went to all the different parks around the city, did u feel safe? Was there any point in time where you didn’t feel safe or was it mostly just like a family area?
AB: No, back then I grew up the parks were really safe I mean people just had a different vibe. You- you go into a different neighborhood and um Detroit at that time was uh you had you ST. Hedwig ice rink or park and it was a lot of polish people there you'd go down to northwestern ice rink or park and there was more of an African American uh area and you felt safe. I never felt fearful and I would go across the city to the eastside to Heidleman um or O’Shae and these were all ice skating rinks. I played a lot of hockey when I was a kid and um we would- we were part of the Detroit Recreational League that was a hockey league that traveled all around the city playing at different ice rinks um and we would go to all these ice rinks and play with uh- play against the kids that were there and um just spend the afternoon there at different parts of the city. We never had fear, I never had fear of anyone. Um you know if you had a disagreement you know it would be settled very quick with the coaches and um but since then you know all those ice rinks and those recreation centers are all closed which is unfortunate I think back on it now you know, Northwestern’s gone, O’ Shae’s gone, Heidlemans gone, uh St. Hedwig is gone.
So its, so those opportunities are lost which I feel is really a shame ‘cause a lot of our young kids will never experience that unless something happens or there's an investment into recreation into the city.
AA: and that’s happening at Clark Park, right?
AB: yea, yea. So it’s uh, we leave Clark Park open. And that's why we keep the dream alive because we still have fond memories like myself, but others that help there, uh, others that work there, uh Ziggy Gonzales and all the others that grew up in the neighborhood they always had these fond memories of the park system in Detroit and we wanted to keep it alive with our Clark Park Coalition efforts and hopefully those efforts will transfer over to other parts of the city and there's other people that will take the, take the, take the torch and carry on in their neighborhood.
AA: um so would you ever think about moving out of Hubbard Farms at this point? Or do you just want to stay here?
AB: you know I'm very comfortable in Hubbard Farms. People asked me that yesterday they go “Well, maybe, you thinking about moving out?” and I’m like “no I want to stay here longer” um if Hubbard Farms gets too gentrified maybe ill move out. But I don't think it’s going to happen. I hope that it remains what it is and everyone can own a piece of property whether black, white, latino, whatever nationality you are, I think Hubbard Farms is a real mixing ground or people, there's a lot of opportunities here
AA; So do you think that’s how it’s changed over the years?
AB: uhh it has changed. I've seen more people from out of state buying property here now. New York, I see a lot of New York license plates um and that's a little bit disheartening you know, id rather, I prefer if it was Detroit people buying these houses but New Yorkers they see an opportunity, they see they see money and they see the neighborhood and they’re like “well hey, I could, with the rent I pay in New York, I could buy a building.
AA: yea
AB: you know, one year’s rent would pay for this [unintelligable] so I prefer if the neighborhood or if the Detroit people were buying these buildings, not the New Yorkers.
AA: so how do you feel about the state of your neighborhood right now?
AB: uh the state of the neighborhood is good but I feel like there always needs improvement. Uh there's always a lot of improvement, uh you know, you're never happy with what you got and um our neighborhood needs um you know just more, however you want to put it, police presence or more walkable, more people looking out for each other. There's always, you know, its not a perfect setting, Hubbard Farms, there's always a little crime that takes place so we need more of the abandoned or unoccupied- there's not really that many abandoned but there's probably more unoccupied building on Hubbard Farms that need people in them. The more eyes you have in a given block the more uh, the less crime your going to have. We also need better alleys. That's another thing there's
AA: that's what Kate said too. I said “if there's one thing you could change,” she said “better alleys”
AB: yes, better alleys. Our alleys are horrendous. There's, there's standing water and uh there's poor lighting uhh the alley has standing water because there's giant holes in the alley, the water has no place to go, but collect. So it would be nice to have some alley infrastructure put in place.
AA: um so how do you feel about the state of the city, of Detroit, today?
AB: I think it's going in the right direction. We have a good mayor and I think that uh the state of the city its going to become healthier. More tax base, more people that are, more people that are moving into the city brings taxes. That what the city really, really needed was people working here, paying their share of taxes to the city because for a long time people were just moving out in droves and the taxes would go wherever they went whether its outside to suburbia, but now I think we’re- the shape I just heard today, or last night, that the police uh received a 2% raise. Which is great. Which I think they should probably get a 10% raise to replace what they lost during bankruptcy was 10% and they lost their healthcare, they lost a lot, they lost their vacation days. So I think in order to keep the city safe we have to really invest in the police. Give them what we took back, what we took during bankruptcy because otherwise they're, just they're like anyone else they're gonna go onto the next suburb and work after we trained them after we paid for them to go to training for 9 months at the academy and then they just they take themselves and there's recruiters and they take them somewhere else where their making $50,000 more for the same job and less headache, less paperwork. So uh I think we need to really um provide more for policemen and we need to fix up our parks. Clark Park, for example, may look it on the outside but there's a lot of need, there's a tremendous amount of need in Clark Park that we need help with. And any other park I'm sure- I drive around the city there's Palmer Park, parks have been a disinvestment. There's just been a disinvestment in parks for so long that we’re not even close to meeting the park needs yet. So there needs to be a really, a grand effort to really stabilize our parks and neighborhoods.
AA anything else you would like to add about Clark Park or Hubbard Farms or Detroit in general?
AB: well I think Hubbard Farms and Detroit are going the right direction. I think Hubbard Farms is thriving. I know there's a big push on Vernor to fix up Vernor street here that's gonna take some bright minds and I think they have the bright minds now but they really need um community input to see what the people want and always uh be inclusive of whatever we do here. Be transparent and um try to make it a walkable neighborhood.
AA perfect. Thank you so much!
[20:05]
[End of Track 1]

Search Terms

Detroit, 1967 riots, interviews, oral history, Hubbard Farms, Clark Park

Interviewer

Amy Anderson

Interviewee

Anthony Benevidas

Location

Detroit, Michigan

Citation

“Anthony Benevidas,” Detroit Historical Society Oral History Archive, accessed February 24, 2021, https://detroit1967.detroithistorical.org/items/show/732.

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