KIOSK NOTICE:

The Kiosk at Mitch Park in Edmond is currently down for maintenance. At this time, we don't have an estimated completion date.

Oral History: Lucresha Redus

Description:

Interviewee: Lucresha (Cresha) Redus (LR)

Interviewers: Eleanor Mendelson (EM) and Hunter Hampton (HH)


[Sets phone on table]

EM: Alright to start, can you say and spell your full name?

LR: Lucresha Redus, L.U.C.R.E.S.H.A. R.E.D.U.S.

EM: To start, how long have you lived in JFK?

LR: This month it will be 13 years.

EM: Okay.

LR: Had the house built in 2009. Moved in in March.

EM: Are you from the area? From Oklahoma?

LR: Kinda. I was born literally off of Northeast 27th Street off of Kelly. That house still stands. But I wasn’t raised in Northeast Oklahoma City. I was raised sort of in the Western Heights area and then moved to Moore. That is where I graduated and went to OU.

HH: And you did say you moved back because of your dad?

LR: Yeah. The history of that area, just the stories that he would tell and I always wanted to serve the community and so for years I had looked for a house to either buy or build kind of in the older neighborhood. And that area had land for purchase and one of my cousins, actually two of my cousins, moved in over there so it was based on their stories as well it just made sense. It was kind of home for me, to come back, where my father and my grandfather actually had businesses. So he had a couple of businesses I think on Northeast, I know for sure on Northeast 4th Street. There may have been one on 8th Street. And then my dad graduated from Douglass High school in 1958. So you know that back then that was the only school you could go to.

HH: Mh hm.

LR: So we would just hear all these stories. I feel like that area is just home and so that’s is why I came back.

HH: That’s understandable. How would you describe the area?

LR: Ahh. I mean there is always good and bad. The good is, everybody feels like family. We all take care of each other. The Neighborhood Association is very active. There is a lot of development and growth in the area with Page [Winston]. Dunbar. And of course the new Douglas was there before we came in. And there is development on the southside of 4th Street. So there is just all kinds of new attention in that area and it’s very exciting. The not so good part of the area are the industrial zones that surround us almost.

HH: Mh hm.

LR: There is some on the northside and there’s a lot on the southside. So if it wasn’t for that, it’s very peaceful and quiet except for the booms and the noise and then the air quality is not as good. So if it wasn’t for those things it would be a perfect situation.

HH: Gotcha.

LR: Yeah.

HH: So what did your community look like outside of your family? So growing up here what was the community like that you can remember?

LR: Oh I didn’t grow up in northeast Oklahoma City.

HH: Oh that’s right. Gotcha, gotcha.

LR: I can’t speak to that.

HH: Okay.

LR: I grew up in Western Heights slash Moore.

HH: You said previously from a different interview that you’d noticed cracks appearing in your home despite it not being very old. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

LR: You know it took a little while to determine that, or from our perspective, to determine that the cracks came from the booms. When I first moved in I was upstairs and I don’t know how many days went by and the boom took place. And it felt like a car literally crashed into the house, it was that dramatic…and traumatic. And I didn’t think anything of the structure of the house and so those kept happening. And then, just, I don’t remember what year it was. The house is only thirteen years old so I would say, if I had to guess, about four to five years into living there. Just major cracks where the sheet wall would just kind of collapse on itself and then buckle out. And then in other areas where the sheet-, sheetrock is what I meant to say.

HH: Oh yeah gotcha haha.

LR: Where the sheetrock would come together on creases and they paint over them with caulk, you know caulk and then paint, well the caulk would come off. It would, you know, I guess vibrate it so much that over time the paint and the caulk started falling. There are other areas where you could tell where construction nailed the sheetrock into the wood, the frame of the house, and they usually caulk that and paint over that. I didn’t know that until that paint and caulk started coming off so you could start to see the nails in the walls. Usually it’s just really smooth. Right? Things like that over time. And it’s still there like that right now. We haven’t fixed it because we feel like it’s evidence, quote evidence.

HH: Okay.

LR: For what we might need in the future.

EM: Have these things been happening pretty consistently for as long as you’ve lived in the house?

LR: There was a season when it happened every week. Very random. We didn’t know when it was going to happen. It happened before we woke up in the morning and very late at night. So the city took care of that by creating an ordinance. They couldn't crush cars, I think before seven or after seven. I think those were the two hours. So that helped with our quality of life you know? Getting the right kind of sleep. So random, almost weekly after the complaining. Cause we would document everything. And we would complain to any entity and every entity we could think of that would make a difference. Over time that season sort of died down. So over time it started being maybe once every two weeks and then once every three weeks but that was random as well. Now that they’re building a wall I can’t tell you, I can’t say that I’ve heard a boom every week or even every two weeks. So it’s just over time it’s died down quite a bit.

HH: Okay.

LR: Now this is just the thirteen years I’ve been there. They’ve been fighting this for decades. That’s just my perspective.

HH: Okay.

EM: Around what year would you say that it started dying down a little bit from every week to a little less frequently?

LR: Oh wow. So this is ‘22 and I was home a lot in 2020 like everybody else. So that was a great time to assess. I would say 2021 is when it, I’m sorry. ‘19, 2020 are the years I would say it may have started dying down. You know I’m just using 2020 as a really good example cause I was home the whole time. I just didn’t notice them as much. The other part of noticing them is, the unfortunate thing is, we’ve gotten used to them. So when they happened before during that season we’d grab our phone and text, you know, our president Denyvetta Davis because they’d be so dramatic like ‘Oh my God that was a big one’. We’d say it every time. Every time ‘Oh my God that was big’. Now when they happen they’re not as big. It’s almost like oh there’s a boom because it’s just…it’s better. It’s not as much and not as frequent but it’s still bad when it happens. Because we know that there’s a negative impact to the neighborhood.

HH: I think I read on previous reports of a layer of dust around the area. Have you noticed anything like that?

LR: Yeah. So we have our blue truck that parks outside and the other two cars are in the garage and we just stopped washing it. Because

*Chuckles*

LR: Because it is inevitable and I don’t know what that stuff is but we did complain, I think it was, I wanna say it was an OU facility. But you know there is an OU facility over there. No, I don't think so. No it can’t be. Anyway there was, I wish I knew the business name. The business off of fourth that burned, that did something with tires I think, or rubber or something. Anyway, they were supposed to close the top of the thing where their air escapes and it wasn’t closed. So we were able, and I’m saying we, Ms. Denyvetta Davis just did tons of things to get these results. But we complained to, I think DEQ and the city and someone came out and inspected that entity and found that they weren’t closing something properly. So I don’t know if we resolved that or not but that is an issue. So yes. You know it’s one of those things where we have a patio, a large patio in the back and we have the patio furniture and the umbrella and all this stuff

*clears throat*

LR: Excuse me. We wanna be able to go outside any time. To just enjoy being outside. We have to check for air quality. We have to check. There’s this odor, you didn’t ask about the odor, yet. But there’s this odor that when we’re going outside now because masking is so prevalent. Before the masking, before COVID, I would contemplate ‘Should I wear a mask when I go outside to go to the mailbox?’ Because that smell was so strong. Or we wouldn’t go outside at all. We sort of fear the air now which is not, shouldn't happen for anybody.

HH: Mh hm.

LR: So that’s not a good quality of life but that’s what we’re dealing with.

HH: Gochya.

EM: What is the odor like?

LR: Not knowing much about the industries over there. It seems like a tire or tires are burning.

EM: Mh hm.

LR: It’s really strong. And it stinks and it could give you a headache if you’re not careful.

HH: Hmm.

LR: I don’t know what it’s doing to our health. I mean one article says ‘Is our neighborhood killing us?’ It’s that serious.

EM: Is that present inside of your home as well?

LR: I don’t know. I don’t know. We bought air purifiers recently. We haven’t put them up yet but we need to. I don’t know. I don’t know how to measure that.

HH: How has environmental racism affected you? So in other words, I’ll reword that. What does environmental racism mean to you then? Can you define that? Or what does that mean to you?

LR: I think. Let me see if I use my terminology right. City ordinances, codes, policies, regulations, and I know it’s not just here in Oklahoma City, it’s in a lot of cities. Allowing industrial zones to be near African American neighborhoods or Hispanic neighborhoods or people of color. Almost as if to say they’re expendable. You know? Cause you won’t find this kind of thing in Edmond or in other affluent neighborhoods. I have noticed other factors that contribute to that but…again knowing that other cities are dealing with the same thing. It’s a systemic, it’s just a residual of systemic racism.

HH: Mh hm.

EM: And the other side of that coin. What would environmental justice look like to you?

LR: The reverse. Equity. Just acknowledging that industrial zones being near anyone is gonna affect their health and their quality of life. Regardless of the color of their skin or their economic status or education status. Those industrial zones are too close to our neighborhood. The neighborhood should have never been allowed to be near those zones. In any city, in any state. It’s ridiculous. And the other factor I mentioned is, there’s an educational factor where I wish I would have known before I built that house to research industrial zones. It’s just not something that was here

*points to head*

LR: Or here.

*points to eyes and laughs*

LR: I mean I had no idea. Hindsight there is no way I’ll move again without doing that. And maybe that’s something that privileged people know. I don’t know.

EM: Do you ever regret then moving to the neighborhood or do you think the pros of the community sort of outweigh the environmental issues that you face?

LR: Half and half. I regret moving there because I don’t know how it’s affecting my health.

EM: Mh hm.

LR: Yep.

HH: Well since you mentioned the air quality not being so good around that area. Do you go out around that neighborhood despite that? If so, what do you like to do? Where do you spend time around the neighborhood basically?

LR: We’re outdoors people. We have four grown kids and eleven grandkids and we’re very active. We’ve actually camped out in our backyard with the kids one weekend in the summer time about three years ago. We walk to the Washington Park, if the air is good.

HH: Mh hm.

LR: If the wind is blowing and the air is not good. The wind is blowing North. We choose to get in our car and go elsewhere to go outside and walk which is, again, ridiculous.

HH: Mh hm.

LR: Because the park is there for that reason. Yet we have to check the air first. And that’s weekly. That has not died down.

HH: Okay.

LR: That is ongoing. Which is crazy. So, so yeah, I mean literally, walking outside—cause you know, we have a garage, so we get in our cars and leave, um, to go to work, but if I walk out to the mailbox I check, do I need to put on a mask?

HH: Mm.

LR: Or if we’re doing the garden, cause we have a garden now, you know, that’s affecting the food that we’re eating from our garden. I hadn’t even thought about that until now. Um…but yeah, to, um, work the garden, check the air. Make sure the air’s good before you go outside.

HH: Mm.

LR: So. Okay, we, uh, we love—we ride bikes on the trails, if the air is good. *laughs* Or we go somewhere else.

HH: *laughs* Yeah.

EM: As a result of all the environmental issues, have you thought about having to move your family elsewhere?

LR: Absolutely, we’ve had the conversation. Absolutely. I mean, as, as recent as last week. Yep.

EM: What factors have kept you in the neighborhood, then?

LR: Um…the housing market. *laughs* The family aspect. Um, the house is paid for, so that’s not, that’s not an issue. Um…just timing, just the right timing. But until then, like I said, we just bought the air purifier, so we’re trying to put things in place to make our quality of life better as much as we can, um, until that time comes.

HH: Okay. Um, they just somewhat recently implemented the wall noise barrier, have you noticed if that’s helped any? Cause I know you said the frequency has died down.

LR: It has.

HH: So has the, uh, disruption of any single explosion been reduced because of the wall, do you think? Or—

LR: Yeah, so…I’m probably not the right person to ask, cause I just started working again in August, so I’m not in the home like I was before.

HH: Mm.

LR: Um, and that’s one reason I wanted my husband to be here, cause he is. So…uh, that’s a tough one for me to ask right now, cause again they happen at any time of the day

EM: Mm.

LR: And I’m, I’m not home as much anymore. But I’ll just say, from my perspective when I am home, like I was home during spring break, uh, there wasn’t any, I don’t remember. If there was it was so minor, it was like, oh, you know, one of those things.

HH: Mm.

LR: So I will just speak to spring break, and before August. Um, it did die down. But I don’t think they started building before August. But, like I said, just the season of craziness, to not so much, and now, it’s just kind of tapering off, thankfully, so.

HH: Okay.

EM: And you work outside of the neighborhood, then?

LR: Yeah.

EM: Okay.

LR: But my husband’s home.

EM: Do…are people able to hear or feel the explosions outside of their homes in the neighborhood—in schools and workplaces there?

LR: Oh, yeah. The, the um, the businesses on Fourth Street, they joined the fight.

EM: Mm.

LR: Not all of them, but they—they feel it. There’s a glass company, I walked in, cold called, you know, they didn’t know me and I walked in, just talked to them about what’s going on, and they say yeah, they feel it, cause they, they have glass—*laughs* 

EM: Right.

LR: —and they, um, they’ve had to adjust—they make glass or whatever, they’ve had to adjust how they store their glass, cause they can hear the, the shaking of it. And I don’t know if it’s ever broken anything.

HH: Mm.

LR: But then there’s the Oklahoma Housing Authority, I think, they, they’re even more intimate into the fight. Um…and, I don’t know that Page Woodson residents actually, I don’t know if they feel it or not. I know that our councilwoman either lives there or used to, and I think she may have heard it. I think you can hear it further than you can feel it. I think. But yes, everybody around there hears it.

HH: Mm. Okay.

EM: To switch gears away from the explosions a little bit, um, we’ve read reports about both active and inactive oil wells in the neighborhood.

LR: Mm.

EM: Have those had any bearing on your health, your quality of life, your experiences living there?

LR: Mm…I don’t know. Um…There’s a lot of them though, isn’t there? I forgot about those. I just visualized three of them, cause we walk the neighborhood in different areas. I walk past an inactive…off of eighth street. And then there’s one, I forget the street…I have no idea. I mean, we’ve been fighting the booms so much, we know that these other environmental issues are there, but we’ve just been trying to protect our property as much as we could. But that’s another fight we need to start.

EM: But as of right now the oils wells are sort of a secondary concern for the Neighborhood Association and other groups, it’s mostly focused on the booms?

LR: Yeah, I hate to say it’s secondary, but…I mean the air quality is secondary, but, you know, we got train noise…*laughs* So I would say all of that is secondary, um, but we hate to think of it that way, so…

EM: Right. Not less important, but less of a focus at the moment?

LR: Right, yeah. Exactly…We’ve been focusing on the booms and the train noise, kinda simultaneously…yeah.

EM: Okay.

HH: Mm…So, what are your hopes for the future in addressing these concerns? What solutions or actions do you want to see implemented?

LR: Um…I can speak to how it will impact JFK, but then I can speak to the broader perspective. And that is, I mean, I hope that…um, hearts and minds are changed to do the right thing. Whoever has the power to make the change. And regardless of how much money it costs, because…people are more important than money. It seems like that’s what guides our political stance, it’s what guides people’s, um, motivation. Um…so I just hope that people who can do the right thing do the right thing. From a broader perspective, you guys are learning a lot, there’s a lot you can do in your field and in your sphere of influence with this knowledge, you know? You could seek out whatever neighborhoods that may be dealing with this wherever you go, and do something about it. And be a catalyst of change. So, that’s what I see.

EM: Have you noticed any of those changes starting to take place in the years you’ve been fighting this issue?...People’s hearts and minds being changed?

LR: Uh…that’s hard to say because the changes in the political arena that have taken place. So if the same people were in office during that time, and nothing happened, then I would say no. But different people have come in, and change has been taking place. Like Mayor Holt, he seems to be very, uh, engaged, unlike the previous mayor. So stuff like that, you know. Um, and then our city councilwoman is doing a very good job. So, it just depends on who’s…who has the power. So it’s hard to say that I’ve noticed a change–

EM: Right.

LR: –because power is changing.

EM: Mm.

HH: Okay…Is there anybody else that you think we should be interviewing?

LR: Yes.

HH: And who else might that be?

LR: Rodney Redus, my husband. Hulburt Sutton, my dad, he’s eighty-two, um, he has–I mean, he grew up there, and he’s got extensive knowledge of the area. He used to be a realtor, so he knows the area in a different lens.

HH: Okay.

EM: Mm.

LR: Just other people in the neighbor–oh, Diane, uh, McDaniel, have y’all interviewed Diane McDaniel?

EM: That name sounds familiar.

LR: She was the previous president of JFK–

EM: Okay.

LR: –before Denyvetta Davis. She’d be great, cause she was fighting before Denyvetta came around. Um, Councilwoman Nicky Nice?

HH: Okay.

LR: Um…I mean is that, political folks, can that be on the list?

EM: Yeah, that’s perfect.

LR: Man…Mayor Holt? *all laugh* I’m serious, he needs to know this stuff is happening. Um…oh, um, Ashley Dickson, she is on staff with Neighborhood Alliance, which is a nonprofit in Oklahoma City. She lives on the north side of Eight Street in a different neighborhood, and she feels, she feels the booms, and she hears them. And we’re, um, and she’ll text and say, was that a boom? You know.

HH: Mm.

LR: Of course, we feel it more severe. But she would be a great person to interview. She has knowledge about–you know, she’s from Neighborhood Alliance, so she has knowledge about all the neighborhoods, and how they differ, compare and contrast. But she knows about JFK.

EM: Mm.

LR: Um…the, oh, the Oklahoma Housing Authority. I wanna say the guy’s name is John Johnson, who’s the executive director, but the name might not be right. And then, I wish I knew the glass company, the name of the glass company. It’s on Northeast 4th, in that circle. It faces north…Hm…Just thinking of other businesses in the area. I mean really, the residents. Um, Taylor Doe if you haven’t interviewed him. Roland, Lee Roland. Um…Oh, Pastor Jesse Jackson, who was over Northeast 5th Street, did anyone interview him?

EM: I think someone might have an appointment set up with him, actually.

HH: Oh yeah, he might have already been interviewed.

LR: Good, good. That’d be great. I mean, that’s all I can think of right now. I could keep going.

HH: *laughs*

EM: We’re doing this, um, in collaboration with the Civil Engineering and Environmental Science department. Um, have you participated in any of the soil quality, air quality, water quality sampling they’ve been doing?

LR: Soil, we did the soil.

EM: Okay.

LR: At our house. Yep. Cause I wanna know about the garden, whether or not it’s bearing issues.

HH: So I don’t know if this question is 100% relevant, but I’ll still ask it anyways–um, are you interested in participating in their wipe sampling? So they basically, from my understanding, they get like a, a wet wipe or some sort of wipe, and they wipe down surfaces on the outside and they test whatever is on that.

LR: So, outside of the house?

HH: I believe so.

EM: Like the dust residue that you were talking about.

LR: Yeah, sure.

HH: Okay.

LR: I’d be happy to do that.

HH: Like I said, I don’t know if they’re still doing it, but I’ll go ahead and ask just in case.

LR: Okay.

HH: And also, based on–you said you did soil sampling?

LR: M-hm.

HH: What was the experience like? Was it good, did they do everything right? *laughs*

LR: Yeah, yeah. I was inside, Rodney was outside, he’s the one that walked them to the area. I just saw a bunch of bodies, and it happened really quick, and everybody left, and, yeah, no problems.

HH: Just making sure they didn’t trample your flower beds or anything.

*all laugh*

LR: Oh, no, it was fine.

HH: Gotcha.

LR: No, we appreciate what you guys are doing.

HH: Yeah, I’m very glad to be a part of it.

EM: I think that’s the conclusion of the questions we had planned, is there anything else you wanted to say that we didn’t touch on?

LR: Hm…I don’t think so. I think we covered it. Oh, water–do y’all have anything to do with water? The water sampling?

EM: The water quality? Um, the–I think CEES is doing water quality sampling as well. Is that something you’d be interested in participating in?

LR: Yes.

EM: Okay.

LR: *laughs* We will do it all.

EM: Alright.

LR: Whatever it takes.

EM: Alright, well thank you so much for your time.

LR: Thank you guys. Appreciate you guys. [papers shuffling] I hope I gave you enough.

EM: *laughs* I think you did.

LR: Okay.

The materials in this collection are for study and research purposes only. To use these digital files in any form, please use the credit "Courtesy of Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma County" to accompany the image.