CLEVELAND - 12205 Imperial Avenue’s place in Cleveland history may be set, but what people will remember as a house of horrors will forever be a house of happy memories for one family.
“When I was staying there it was the best place in the world,” recalled Veosie Cox. In 1954, the now 98-year-old woman and her husband moved into the first floor of the home, which they rented from Anthony Sowell’s grandparents who lived on the second floor.
“They were the owners of the house, the best people in the world,” recalled Veosie, who also remembered their grandson Anthony. “He was good at that time, when he was little growing up.”
We sat down with Veosie, her granddaughter Barbara Roquemore and her great granddaughter Kimberly Roquemore to show them the video of the jury walk through of the house they called home for 40 years.
“It’s amazing to see this, it’s just like we’re walking through the house,” recalled Kimberly. “In the kitchen, my great grandmother would cook the sweet potato pie, the greens, the turkey because my birthday was always around Thanksgiving so that was always a special time. She would wash dishes there and we would have our talks,” she said.
When the video showed the basement where a woman’s head was found in a bucket, Kimberly’s mother Barbara remembered the happy times. “It was great to us in the 50s,” she said, “because that’s where we skated at in the wintertime, going round and round skating in the basement.”
And in the backyard, where five bodies were found, the family recalled the grapes that Sowell’s grandparents so proudly grew each year.
“Mr. and Mrs. Sowell had the grapevines in the backyard and they would make wine, so they would have these celebration times when the wine was ready,” said Barbara.
The homemade wine also brought back memories for 98-year-old Veosie. “We got high on it, it was good, it was really nice,” she recalled with a smile.
In soaking in the happy memories the family is quick to point out they do so with heavy hearts for the victims and their families. “We don’t want to present the wrong attitude about it,” said Kimberly. “It’s just hard to believe, it’s really hard to believe that people lost their lives.”
With pictures and more importantly their memories they will forever have a different view of 12205 Imperial and that’s enough. “I never thought that I’d say this but I’ll be glad when they tear it down,” said Barbara.
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