28 November 2010


I was saddened to learn that Rohs Hardware store will close at the end of the year. I do not think this was inevitable, and however unlikely, I would even hope that maybe someone could try to reopen it. I don't know the details, but the building is being sold to 3CDC or one of their development parnters.

The owner, Al Rohs was one of the first people I met when I came to this neighborhood. He is steeped in knowledge about hardware and repairs of all kinds. He is one of those people you see all the time, but don't really know him on a personal level. Through the years I learned a little about him, such as that he sings in a choir and I've met some people in his family, but mostly we know him as a good proprietor of a neccessary store and place that everyone must visit from time to time.

He has worked at the store for 62 years. Let that sink in for a minute. He has worked in this store for over six decades! His father owned and operated the store before him, and they worked together when Al was young. And did anyone ever say thank you? Did the community ever acknowledge him the same way they do new businesses?

My memories of Al, and the store are of him and two clerks (David and Darrel especially): Six days a week, from 7:30 to 6pm, they would be constantly moving around cutting keys, cutting glass, mixing paint, selling fishing lures, selling fishing licenses, advising which method shold be used to unclog a sink or how to repair an old gas stove, recommending pesticides, selling rock salt, selling snow shovels, selling tons of box fans and window air conditioners in the summer and space heaters in the winter. They would sell the portable gas space heaters that are no longer used and the hard to find parts to service them. They would sell heat tape to keep pipes from freezing. They would re-glaze an old wooden sash. They would cut black iron pipe to length and thread the end. They sold propane tanks for soldering, they sold light bulbs, dish soap, bed bug powder, deadbolts, 2by4s, sand mix, different sizes of ropes and chains cut to length, tile grout, pocket knives, electrical outlets and switches, copper fittings, radiator repair kits, engine oil, every grit of sandpaper, steel wool, tire repair kits, granny carts, extension ladders, step ladders, drop cloths, furnace filters, pvc fittings, faucets, drains, drain cleaner, snakes, paint brushes, rollers, power tools, garbage cans, work gloves, dust masks, goggles, padlocks, eyes and hooks, toilets, rubber washers, toilet repair kits, toilet seats, pipe cutters, bolt cutters, box knifes, WD-40, 3 in 1 oil, graphite, address numbers, crowbars, wrenches, hoses, light fixtures, and every kind of screw, nut or nail imaginable.

And all this he did, for 62 years, in a space about the size of some people's living rooms. He did it when Vine Street was known as a place to get a cheap drink. He did it when Vine Street had muggings and drive-by shootings. He did it through the riots. He did it through all that, but cannot do it with all the new development around him. Business has been slow at Rohs during recent years. The neighborhood has been changing. Two-way Vine hurt him a bit. His delivery trucks couldn't double park and he lost a parking space. Then there was all this construction around him, and the contractors working now aren't buying just two screws at a time, or one gallon of paint at a time. The contractors rarely if ever bought from him. Some people believe that the new developers wanted to drive him out. I don't believe that, but there is no question that they could have done much more to help his business. And as the buildings get finished so that they are like new, there is less repair work needed on them. There are also less people, less renters, less slumlords. Certainly less people who need bolt locks, screen repairs and roach powder.

I don't know if Al would ever read this, but I would like to thank Al for his hard work and his helpfulness to me and to our neighbors all these years. He is a good man and I hope he has a well-deserved rest. It will be sad to be in this neighborhood without our most everyday, most dependable neighbor.

New Stores on Upper Vine

I noticed what looked to be a vintage clothing store about to open, and we now have a new shoe repair place, both in the 1400 block of Vine: 

27 November 2010

Fueling Your Freedom

I think it is worth looking closer at this advertisement on a gas pump. The weather beaten boards imply a western motif. And the west implies lawlessness, and open country. The handwriting of the words "fueling your" seems like it is the quill writing of Thomas Jefferson. The word FREEDOM is written as if it is a monument, the powerful eagle and the patriotic star... like it is your patriotic duty to buy from the Marathon Corporation or that somehow burning oil equals freedom. It's sick really.

25 November 2010

Drip Drip

After the dryest autumn in memory, we are in the midst of 2 days of solid rain. I love to hear the rain on the roof and the tinkle on the window panes. I even enjoy a walk in the rain now and then, but this is only enjoyable if we have a warm dry home to which we return. And tonight our house is warm and moist from the stock pot which is bubbling on the stovetop.

In 2002, we put a new roof on our house. Before that, it was vacant and the water had infiltrated and done much damage. The wood softened, plaster crumbled, bricks eroded. One interesting thing about the bricks in Over-the-Rhine is that the bricks were made at local kilns from local clay, and the bricks that sat closer to the center fire, got harder. When the masons built these walls, they could tell the hardness of each brick with their hammer, and they placed the harder bricks on the exterior wythe so as to repel the elements. The softer bricks were used on the inner wythes and on interior brick walls. And these softer bricks can last centuries... until they get wet. If the water gets the soft bricks, they can just melt away back into the mud from which they were made.

For a few years in the 1990s I had a job in which I was responsible for the stability of some vacant buildings down here. And nights like this I would go crazy thinking of the damage that was occuring with every drop of rain. I would go in these buildings and the water would be pouring down the inside. Each rain washed small particles of the buildings down into the basements and into the sand floors, until.. sometimes they would collapse. And today, that process is still happening all over this city, but especially in the northern reaches of Over-the-Rhine, and it just breaks my heart.

Anyway, this was all going through my head this evening as our eight year old roof sprang it's first leak. The water is dripping down in the attic, over wood rafters that have been in place for 135 years. This is dry, dry old growth wood. And the water is trickling in, and soaking into that rough hewn wood, and marking it and washing away small particles. For now, the stained water is collecting in buckets I have arranged up there.

Hopefully the Roofer's Wholesale will be open tomorrow, and I can get some seal coat.

ps: as I finish this at midnight, I notice that the rain just changed to a beautiful snow.

24 November 2010

Skating on Fountain Square

Time for the skating rink to open again!

Perfect Parenting

"Someone I know tells me that in the mornings, while making breakfast, packing lunches and laying out clothes, she organises an art project for her children. An art project! This sounds impossibly idyllic – imaginative, engaged, laudable. And yet, is it just the slightest bit mad as well?" - Katie Roiphe in Slate

20 November 2010

Smiley Face Ruined It

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19 November 2010

Personal Changes

I've been blogging a bit less, and this is partly because I have begun a new schedule that involves going to bed earlier and getting much more rest. Much of my blogging is/was done late at night and now there is less time for this.

It's not like I woke up one day and decided to start getting more sleep, it just evolved. Last fall I quit watching late night TV. That felt good. A few months later I quit watching all TV. Not that I watched a lot, but the late shows had become a regular thing for a while.

And then, when the kid's school started in August, I decided to start getting up earlier so that I could do breakfast and spend some time with my son before I left for work. I've found that my son is more of a morning person, and he likes an orderly, quiet morning. That's something I can provide. Taking over the responsibility of getting him ready in the morning has been a smart decision, and has maybe even helped him in school, because I make some big breakfasts and it starts him off calm and with a full belly.

The latest incursion into my blogging time began last month, when I downloaded the Kindle and Nook apps for the iPhone. I am thoroughly enjoying my first ebook, and definitely reading fewer blogs because now when I turn on my phone it is less to read my RSS feed, or Twitter follows, but rather to read a few pages of my book. I kinda miss the chatter, but also enjoy the mental quiet. Also, for the first time I can remember, I am reading a new-release novel. Usually I read non-fiction, and when I read fiction, it is usually some old classic in paperback. But this month I've been reading "Freedom" by Jonathan Franzen, which is a big bestseller. I think I'll read another of his soon.

Anyway, just letting you know that things may not be as regular as they once were... Hope you still find it worthwhile to visit.

17 November 2010

What Are We Teaching Them


16 November 2010

Barr's Loans Old Old Location

621-23 Central Avenue, Kenyon Barr neighborhood, demolished
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This post triggered by two other posts:
Visualingual post of Barr's Loan Ghost Sign in OTRVictorian Antiquities post on Kenyon Barr

15 November 2010

Weekend Photos

Old Mailboxes on a Hart Realty building
old attic

Porch needs some attention
Hike in woods with son, we saw 4 turkeys walking in a line through the woods
Lamp post in the middle of the woods. I thought we might be in Narnia
church at 13th and Republic
this wall needs attention soon
Ginko and Oak leaves
Prince of Peace and vacant lots
Bang's porches

14 November 2010

Matter of Fact Coloring

"I loved my cat, but my cat died"

13 November 2010

Bad Idea

With WIFI and all is there a need for an internet cafe (combined with a check cashier no less) 
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[where: 4027 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH]


This band never really made it big, but for some reason, I was turned on to them a long time a long time ago. I just read up on the band on the internet and foud out that the singer, Candy Givens died in 1984.

Sunset Ride album, 1972
picture on the back of the cover

...Boulder, Colorado, in the fall of 1968, was the gateway to the Rockies for thousands of people leaving the East and West to look for a cleaner, more rewarding life. Nowadays, Boulder is a cute little Disneylandesque example of why homosexuals shouldn’t plan cities, but twenty years ago it still had a couple of rough edges left. The popular bands in town were the Leopold Fuchs Hate Band and Black Pearl. Drugs, parachutes, skis, mountain climbing gear, motorcycles, and waterbeds were the popular recreational toys of the day...

...We played about half-way down the bill on the first night. It was just before sunset. The city powers-that-were had prepared for bloody, Communist inspired riots: plenty of cops on hand. There were a dozen or so street freaks who wanted to get in for free; you know, “music belongs to The People” types, gathered on a little hill just outside the stadium. They were typical noisy jerks, drunk, who are probably now the sportscasters on your local talk radio station...

... Carly Simon...was a very smart girl, and she deduced, correctly, that if she struck up a romance with Eddie, she would receive priority treatment. She was ever so right: ...she began getting the better time slots and more of it. Eddie is not the most macho of men and I suppose that f**ing a big horse of a woman like Carly did something wonderful for his ego.... - David Givens, interview about Zephyr

12 November 2010

Purposely Inflamatory and False

Got an chain email from a right wing friend today, that linked to the following survey:

How naive do you have to be to fall for such hype?

11 November 2010

Why Walking Beats Biking

Things you cannot do while riding a bike:

-Hold hands
-Have a conversation
-Ride on Shoulders
-Find neat rocks
-Look strangers in the eye
-Find coins
-Window shop
-Play tag
-Pick flowers
-Play soccer with a stone
- etc etc

And for distances less than about 4-5 blocks, I find it is just as fast. Why go into the street and fight cars, especially with kids, when it is more enjoyable to walk?

Funny Correction

"Yesterday after the release went out, it was pointed out that there was a typo. The Holiday Tree this year is a NORWAY SPRUCE NOT a Norwood Spruce."

-3CDC News Release about the Fountain Square Christmas Tree.

A Great Storefront

I love how this storefront is designed to allow viewing of displays on 3 sides, and I like the original brass moldings. Too bad the displays are empty...

[where: 1223 Main Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]
Mary Magdalen House

also good 

09 November 2010

1500 Block of Vine

another random cell phone shot 
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Prince of Peace

random cell phone shot, walking down street 
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06 November 2010

Colerain Butcher

Cincinnati Nomerati (a blog that will now be added to my link list) has a great post about Stehlin Meats. It is not downtown, but sometimes you have to travel for quality... or for leaf lard...

05 November 2010

Kudzu Capitalism

A good post on the Food Carts of Portland. Cincinnati should do all it can to encourage such "kudzu capitalism".

01 November 2010

New Bangs Location

Totally by accident last week, I happened upon this:
[where: 3114 Springdale Rd, Colerain Township, OH 45251]

Last year, I had a few blog posts about this business leaving OTR. It is interesting, because I know the Bang's name was from a previous owner on Race Street, and it's not like Bangs is a well-known brand, so to see it re-opened with the same name and same logo way out past Northgate mall is strange. Since Bangs mostly sold malt liquor and cheap pop, does it mean that this part of Colerain Township is on a decline? Or does it mean that Bangs is upgrading and improving? Unfortunately, unlike the steady stream of customers on Race Street, in the few minutes I was at their new location, they didn't have a single customer...

Their old location, nwc 14th and Race: