Ida Dockary and Florence Hayden have seen it all during the 55 years they’ve lived on the 3800 block of the Ivanhoe neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo., just a few doors down from one another.
At 81 and 86 years old, respectively, they were there when Ivanhoe was a thriving residential and business community. They watched as U.S. Highway 71 bisected the neighborhood, eliminating whole blocks of homes. They saw their streets become infested with crime and blight, and change from a mix of races to mostly all black.
Today, Dockary and Hayden are at the heart of successful revitalization efforts in Ivanhoe — having run neighborhood block meetings and cleanup efforts since the early 1980s. A powerhouse committee of two, the ladies meet religiously around their dining room tables every month.
Dockary is the chairman of their self-styled organization. She comes to each meeting with a fat loose-leaf notebook. The first thing she does is hand Hayden — the secretary — a typed agenda. It lists the order of the meeting:
- Call the meeting to order with a prayer and scripture
- Old news — approve last month's meeting minutes, hear treasury report, note special events (deaths, births, moves, etc.)
- Collection of dues ($2 a month)
If someone on the block has died, Dockary and Hayden will send the family a sympathy card enclosing a $5 bill.
If someone moves into the neighborhood, they'll take a welcome basket. At holiday time, they deliver food boxes to needy families in the area.
The ladies try to set an example by picking up trash. The trash problem on the block has escalated with litter from U.S. Highway 71 and a nearby convenience store.
Until recently, Dockary and Hayden both walked the neighborhood filling bags with trash. Today, Dockary can't make the walk so Hayden does it alone.
The ladies say it's a matter of respecting your surroundings.
"People sit on their porches and ask us 'why are you doin' that?' and I tell them it's because we want a clean and safe place to live," Dockary says. "And if you don't want it, too, shame on you," she would tell them.
Dockary and Hayden are being recognized for their years of service to the community. Two new homes that soon will be built in the area will be named for them.
This look at Kansas City's east side is part of KCUR's months-long examination of how geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City. KCUR will go Beyond Our Borders and spark a community conversation through social outreach and innovative journalism.
We will share the history of these lines, how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what's being done to bridge or dissolve them. Be a source for Beyond Our Borders: Share your perspective and experiences east of Troost Avenue with KCUR.