Rhonda McCreary says with pride she grew up and continues to live in Kennedy Heights. Rhonda is the 7th of 10 children in her family. When she was only 6 her mother, Margaret McCreary, died of breast cancer. As a single parent, her father devoted his life to making certain his children would have a good upbringing and saw to it that they all graduated from high school. Rhonda went to school at Kennedy, Shroder and Woodward High. Her older sister, Sharon, also lives in the community and was actively involved in 2014 with the 100 year celebration of KH becoming part of the city of Cincinnati, as was Rhonda.
She remembers when the neighborhood looked much different. There were dirt roads and woods instead of paved streets and houses. Iberis was a street and Dunloe was all woods. She remembers with fondness Earnestine Jackson, later, Engstrand, who was most helpful to many youth. The neighborhood often had parades, carnivals in Drake Park and Kennedy School. An enjoyable pastime was taking a week to decorate their bikes for a parade.
First Baptist Church of KH has been a guiding force in her life. Earl S. Wagner was the pastor of First Baptist Church for 36 years. He and his first wife, Hester, were involved in many activities/projects of the church even though he worked full-time in the Cincinnati Public School system. Church members enabled the current church to be built by mortgaging their homes so that the land could be purchased.
Revivals were a part of church life. Rhonda remembers that youth/young adults would hang out at Zinsle & Red Bank. They were encouraged to come to the revival by her father, Napoleon McCreary, and some came, welcomed by the church.
There were two community stores, one beside each other. The first was at the corner of Zinsle & Red Bank owned by Mr. Foster who lived in the community; the area thus earning the name of Foster’s Corner. It was later bought by Mr. Wilson. Mrs. Wilson died in March, 2014, a few months short of her 100th birthday. Mr. Foster would allow people to ‘purchase’ groceries when they were out of money and they would pay it back when pay day arrived.
Rhonda benefitted from sports activities that were organized for girls when she was in 6th grade through high school. Mr. Zellie Taylor organized games throughout the summer using his own funds so that they could play teams not only in Cincinnati but also in Xenia and in Kentucky. The girls would make their own uniforms, they were known as “Angels” and “Glamour Girls”. Mr. Price was their sponsor. They had winning teams and won trophies. People wondered “who was this KH team?”
Other names of people that were active in the church/community were Nolan Tate; Fred & Florine Thomas; Mr. Tilford, real estate person; Jerry & Bobbie Wares; Otis & Hazel Davis; Mose & Shirley Williams; Ms. Gales and Ms. Willingham, Girl Scout leaders; Mr. and Mrs. Early, a Boy Scout leader and a maker of wonderful biscuits.
Values that shaped her living in KH were that you respected your elders and were careful not to ‘step on others’ toes. She knew that parents were interested in all of the neighborhood children. People knew your name and you were accountable to other adults, not just your parents. She especially benefitted from that attitude since her father was often at work and not able to be as active in his children’s lives as he would have wanted. It indeed takes a village to raise a child.
Taking care of each other was also exemplified when there was a fire in their house; community members helped to rebuild it. “Thank you Kennedy Heights, for being what I know a family is supposed to be.”
Hopes that Rhonda has for KH is to teach children to be assets in the community, to keep it growing and being a welcoming place. She states that “we were a black neighborhood, now the colors are mixing it up, that’s good. Get involved and know your neighbors. “