By Ashley Luthern
11He was pulling onto Philadelphia Avenue from Market Street when a man jumped out of the car in front of him wielding a handgun and kicked in the door of a nearby house.
“That’s when I told my mom she had to get out of there,” Darren said.
The year was 1986.
Those memories flooded back to Darren, his mother, Joyce Joyce, and his sister Kelly (Joyce) Ball, when they saw a picture of their former Trenton Avenue home on the front page of Tuesday’s Vindicator. Joyce and Kelly now live in Boardman, and Darren lives in California.
The Joyce family lived two blocks from the Repchic residence, and the families knew each other. Their children attended the same schools, and they worshipped together at St. Dominic Church on Lucius Avenue.
Thomas Repchic, 74, was killed Sept. 25 in a drive-by shooting, and his wife Jacqueline was wounded. Police have since arrested one man in connection with the murder.
“It’s terrible,” Kelly said. Police “are saying it was a drive-by and trying to make sure the people at St. Dominic’s feel safe, but that isn’t really comforting. ...As far as the rest of the community, it makes you afraid to drive to that side of town.”
Joyce and her husband Edward moved into 2920 Trenton Ave. in 1970. They had previously lived in nearby homes on Boston Avenue and Florida Avenue.
When Joyce and her daughter moved to Boardman in 1987, she sold the house for about $30,000. Last month, an out-of-state company, Indian Harbor LLC, bought it through a quitclaim deed for $1,000.
Joyce said she didn’t want to leave, but the increasing crime and the death of her husband Edward after an illness prompted her to relocate.
“I wasn’t that brave [to stay]. I didn’t have a gun and wouldn’t want one,” Joyce said. “I think the people that have stayed will probably still stay. I give them credit for it. ... And that probably is what is needed.”
Joyce said she knew all of her neighbors on Trenton Avenue.
“It was a beautiful street, lined with all the sycamores,” Joyce said tearing up, as she flipped through photos of her family’s happy times in the neighborhood.
“It was a good place to live,” she said softly.
After moving, Joyce would occasionally drive past the house and watched it fall into disrepair.
“Darren drove by more than me when he would visit and it would make him so mad,” she said. The pillars at the house’s entryway and the enclosed back porch are gone.
Inside, debris can be seen scattered on the floor, paint is peeling and a burned out couch sits in the living room.
“It’s depressing,” he said. “You grow up in a bedroom and then you see it torn to shreds. It’s just horrible.”
Still, Joyce said she misses her neighbors more than the house itself.
Joyce recalled an instance when a burglar went into a neighbor’s side door and stole a TV. She said another neighbor hopped in her car and followed the man to get a license plate number.
“Back then everybody watched out for one another and everybody pitched in,” Joyce said.
In the article that featured the Joyces’ former home, Bill Boston of Boston Machine Co. described a different attitude in the neighborhood.
“The only people that actually deal with problems around here are the police. And it’s like the families, they bury their heads. Nobody saw what happened” when police respond to an incident, Boston said.
Since moving to Afton Avenue in 1987, Joyce said even though she feels Boardman is safer than the South Side, she always locks the doors to her car and house.
“I’m not sure any place is truly safe,” she said. “Anything can happen anywhere.”
When asked what else could be done to rehabilitate her old neighborhood, Joyce was at a loss.
“I don’t know. I think it would take an act of God. You can’t blame the police, they’re doing as much as they can. ...It’s the drugs and the gangs, and I don’t know the solution for that. How do you stop it?” she asked.