17 December 2013

OtR 1998

I was reading back through a diary I once kept and thought this entry was worth sharing. I have removed some personal details, but OTR seemed (or was) a lot more grim:

10/07/98 I'm looking at old photo of fountain square, and see the stairs at the corners going down into the ground. Lots and lots of people in the photos. I imagine a story told about a wino slipping down the steps. The city is big and bustling, and is a real city, ... And I think of Cincy today, and how to me it has a small town feel. I feel like we know everyone, and that hubbub is gone. A book, full of vignettes of historical scenes in Cincy could be a good seller, and could give Cincy it’s common vision thing that .... talks about. Perhaps the vignettes could be written as diary entries, as Pepys. Showing that there are commonalities to today.

What a long day. The linoleum floor is cold, the windows black with night, and the gas is hissing to heat my coffee. But maybe I should give up and go the other way, and have a stiff drink instead.

I woke up this morning to a scream. It was C..., and it really wasn’t a scream, but a loud call for me. She was on her way out to work at the bakery at 5 am. At the foot of the stairs, I hear the bells jingling on the front door as she rushes back in. My first feeling was one of eye-rolling annoyance. That is until I come down, and see that there is a man crouched down behind our front gate, unmoving, back towards me. Probably passed-out drunk, I think. I approached his hulking back, and poke him. But I could tell right away, that something was wrong. He didn’t budge at all. I bent over, to pull back his shoulders. He was crouching down, as if looking out through the gate, but the gate opens inward, thus we could not get out without moving him. As I pulled on him, he stayed in the crouched position. It was then I was sure he was dead. C and I had a quick back and forth about whether or not he was really dead, and then C went up to call the police. I pulled him further inside the brick passageway, and got the gate open, stepped over him, and waited on the front sidewalk for the police. C went on to work, she is always worried about doing a good job, and there are a lot of croissants and pastries to be made in the next few hours.

... seen a few dead bodies down here, and seen a couple as they were dying. This neighborhood, this city seems to me the place people come to finish. At least it is the place that those who failed in life come to finish.

Last week, I saw an old, old white man standing outside the vacant building next door, 1508 Elm. He was looking up at a window, and nearby a minivan was idling, with a middle-aged woman sitting at the wheel, waiting for her father or grandfather. I asked if he needed any help, and he replied that he had lived here as a child, many years ago. You could see the memories in his eyes. His breathing was shallow. But he won’t die down here, that is left to the winos, crackheads and the other losers...

Enquirer Story on the man who died in our entry.

27 November 2013

Cars Kill

50-100 people are killed everyday in US car crashes. Warning, violent video.
Drive carefully. Or better yet, stay away from them entirely.

15 November 2013

Turner Mound

This an incomplete post that I started over a year ago. I thought it might be better just to post it rather than think I would ever complete it. I was trying to figure out what happened to the famous Turner mound in which were found some fascinating objects. I was hoping to make it into a feild trip with the kids, exploring plowed fields and finding arrowheads etc...Turns out it is a gravel pit now, and may soon have the Eastern Corridor freeway over it. Bah!



The Turner Earthworks site is a large Hopewell culture (100 BC-AD 500) ceremonial center formerly located along the Little Miami River in Hamilton County. The Turner Earthworks included a large, oval enclosure, referred to as the Great Enclosure, connected by a set of parallel walls to a smaller circular enclosure situated on a higher terrace of the river. The Great Enclosure was 1500 feet long and 950 feet wide. The circular enclosure was 600 feet in diameter and was surrounded by a ditch. Two smaller circles and several mounds were built within the Great Enclosure and there were other mounds within the circle as well as outside the enclosure to the west. A long, narrow enclosure with rounded ends was located south of the circle. This "Long Enclosure" was nearly a half-mile long and 250 feet wide. Frederic Ward Putnam, of Harvard's Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, explored the Turner Earthworks from 1882 to 1911. He uncovered a wonderful variety of artifacts crafted from copper, mica, and other exotic materials. Of particular note, are a series of small ceramic figurines representing Hopewell men and women in various poses. These figurines give us an intimate view of the past revealing clothing, hairstyles, jewelry, and a sense of how these ancient people viewed themselves. A List of all the major earthworks 
found in Ohio Figurines.


The culture known to archaeologists as the Hopewell may be the most widely discussed but least understood ancient culture in Ohio, if not the entire eastern United States. ... existed in Ohio from about 100 B.C. to A.D. 500. The major Hopewell sites are geometric and hilltop enclosures along with burial mounds. For the most part, these sites are found in the river valleys of central and southern Ohio. Other groups in the Ohio Valley and eastern North America had contact with Ohio Hopewell, but they did not often build earthworks.
One of the great concentrations of mounds and earthworks occurs in west Ohio, in the drainages of the Miami and Little Miami Rivers. Perhaps I should say occurred. Many are now destroyed. The largest mounds remain, but the geometric earthworks are gone. Some smaller mounds are preserved also, such as the Newtown Cemetery Mound seen here.

Newtown Cemetery Mound 39.127333N 84.355667W GPS I found this small mound by coincidence. I had missed a turn, and Gary Meineke helped me find my way on the excellent county map at his T-V store. I was in the area looking for the Turner Group of earthworks.

Further down Riverbottom Road I noticed someone walking in a freshly plowed field staring at the ground. I stopped, walked out, and met him. He was hunting artifacts and knew where five mounds once stood in sight of our position, and he helped me with the location of the Turner Group. The next image shows the location. What the railroad tracks did not destroy has become lakes or deep excavations from gravel mining. The railroad track is visible, as is one of their track signs. The two rises behind the tracks, to either side of the sign, are narrow remnants of the third terrace where a great circle and mounds stood. Darkness fell after hiking out to these narrow ridges. I lost the Willoughby article out there, with some notes. In nearby Milford, a cemetery, shopping center, and a McDonalds now occupy one of the earthworks sites. Most of the day was spent looking for remnants of destroyed works.

Historic description:

11. Two miles northeast of this group, almost in the northeastern corner of the township, on the farm of Michael TURNER, is another very interesting series of ancient works, consisting of one large and one smaller enclosure and four mounds. The large enclosure, north and west of the Cincinnati & Eastern railroad, which, together with a small stream, passes between this and the other members of the group, is designated as No.1 upon Dr. Charles L. METZ's chart of the pre-historic monuments of the Little Miami valley; the smaller enclosure, about a fifth of a mile north of east of the other, and the northernmost of the four works east of the Cincinnati & Eastern track, as No. 2; the two mounds next south of this, in order, as Nos. 3 and 4; and the eminence east of No. 3 as No. 5. This explanation will render intelligible the following description, which is extracted from Dr. METZ's article accompanying the chart, in the journal of the Cincinnati Society of Natural History, for October, 1878:

No. 1 is the largest and most interesting work in the Miami valley. An extract from an article by T. C. DALE, or DAY, on the antiquities of the Miami valley, published in the November number of the Monthly Chronicle, in 1839, is as follows: "The site of this stupendous fortification, if we way so call it, is a few rods to the right of the road leading from Newtown to Milford, and about midway between them. It is situated on a ridge of land that juts out from the third bottom of the Little Miami, and reaches within three hundred yards of its bed.
From the top of the ridge to low-water mark is probably one hundred feet. It terminates with quite a sharp point and its sides are very abrupt, bearing evident marks of having once been swept by some stream of water, probably the Miami. It forms an extremity of an immense bend, curving into what is now called the third bottom, but which is evidently of alluvial formation. Its probable height is forty feet, and its length about a quarter of a mile before it expands out and forms the third alluvial bottom. About one hundred and fifty yards from the extreme point of this ridge the ancient workmen have cut a ditch directly through it. It is thirty feet in depth; its length, a semicircular curve, is five hundred feet; and its width at the top is eighty feet, having a level base of forty feet.
At the time of its formation it was probably cut to the base of the ridge, but the washing of the rains has filled it up to its present height. Forty feet from the western side of the ditch is placed the low circular wall of the fort, which describes in its circumference an area of about four acres. The wall is probably three feet in mean height, and is composed of the usual brick clay, occasionally intermixed with small flat river stone. It keeps at an exact distance from the top of the ditch, but approaches nearer to the edge of the ridge. The form of the fort is a perfect circle, and is two hundred yards in diameter. Its western side is defended with a ditch, cut through the ridge in the same manner as the one on the eastern side. Its width and depth are the same, but its length is greater by two hundred feet, as the ridge is that much wider than where the other is cut through. The wall of the fort keeps exactly the same distance from the top of this ditch as of the other, viz., forty feet. Its curve is exactly the opposite of that of the other, so as to form two segments of a circle. At the southeastern side of the fort there is an opening in the wall thirty-six yards wide; and opposite this opening is one of the most marked features of this wonderful monument. A causeway extends out from the ridge about three hundred feet in length and one hundred feet in width, with a gradual descent to the alluvial bottom at its base.

The material of its construction is evidently a portion of the earth excavated from the ditches. Its easy ascent and breadth would induce the belief that it was formed to facilitate the entrance of some ponderous vehicle or machines into the fort. To defend this entrance they raised a mound of earth seven feet high, forty wide, and seventy-five long. It is placed about one hundred feet from the mouth of the causeway, and is so situated that its garrison could sweep it to its base. The whole area of the fort, the wall and causeway is covered with large forest trees; but there is not a tree growing in either of the ditches, and there are but a few low underbrush on their side.
At present the circular wall is almost leveled, but can be readily traced by the color of the soil and the large number of flat river-stones. The ditches can be easily recognized. The mound is still prominent. It measures now in height five and one-half feet, diameter twenty-five yards, circumference seventy-five yards. The causeway is cut through by the Cincinnati & Eastern railroad, the forest cut away, and the soil cultivated annually.
No. 2 of this group is a large, circular embankment, with a diameter of about one hundred and twenty-five yards. The material forming the embankment is evidently taken from within the enclosure. This work is a perfect circle, with an opening or gateway thirty feet wide to the south. It is about three hundred yards distant from the first work of this group. Two hundred yards to the south of this circle are two mounds, No. 4 on chart being the larger. It has a circumference at base of two hundred and fifty feet and an elevation of twelve feet. One hundred and fifty yards east of these mounds is another of very regular shape (Group D, No. 5, on chart); height, four feet, circumference one hundred and fifty feet.


JH/August 6, 2010 Page 10 Mariemont and Newtown:
 ...village of Mariemont is a distinguished archaeological site. Along Miami Bluff Drive, a large, ancient earthwork wall remains visible among the trees. At the lower end of the street a historical marker commemorates the “Madisonville Site” where decisive archaeological discoveries were made, demonstrating the importance of this high terrace location in antiquity. ... Across the valley is Newtown, where Round Bottom Road passes the Odd-Fellows Cemetery, centered on a large, tree-covered burial mound. Three miles farther out, behind a railroad overpass near the corner of Mount Carmel and Round Bottom Roads, the vast overgrown gravel pits were once the spectacular Turner Earthworks from which came some of the Hopewell culture’s most spectacular artistry, including clay figurines, the mica serpent, and an effigy of a strange horned creature. Small sections of the earthwork remain but are inaccessible.

08 November 2013

Found Photo - Kids Playing in Street

I have tons of found photos like this on my hard drive.

06 November 2013

1132 On Vacation


The 1132 Bar has had the vacation sign in his window for over a month. Makes me wonder if he will re-open.

01 November 2013

Candidate's Streetcar Positions

Just in case you haven't been paying attention:

Supporting the streetcar:
Roxanne Qualls - says it's essential to extend streetcar to Uptown

Opposing the streetcar:
John Cranley - promises to stop construction on the streetcar

CANDIDATES FOR CITY COUNCIL (vote for no more than nine):

Supporting the streetcar:
Laure Quinlivan - "I strongly support Cincinnati's streetcar."
Mike Moroski - "I have not wavered in my support" for the streetcar.
Yvette Simpson - "I have been a steadfast supporter since the inception."
Wendell Young - "A critical first step in improving & diversifying our transportation system"
Shawn Butler - "Yes, I support the streetcar plan."
Chris Seelbach - Will push to finish project on time and within budget.
Greg Landsman - Wants to lead effort to get streetcar to Uptown, private dollars needed.
Michelle Dillingham - Streetcar should be part of our regional transportation strategy.

Opposing the streetcar:
Amy Murray - Says "streetcar project is a mess" and will vote to stop its construction.
Kevin Flynn - Says the streetcar project "must be terminated."
David Mann - Wants to see if Cincinnati can break the streetcar construction contract.
Angela Beamon - Says the streetcar "has robbed our neighborhoods."
Pamula Thomas - Says " I voted against the streetcar" and it "has become a burden."
Charlie Winburn - "I oppose spending any more tax dollars for the Cincinnati Streetcar."
Christopher Smitherman - "The city can't afford the streetcar."
PG Sittenfeld - "I've been a 'NO' on giving the streetcar more taxpayer money."
Melissa Wegman - "Simply put, the benefits do not outweigh the costs," she claims.
Vanessa White - "I oppose the streetcar plan."
Sam Malone - "I do not support the streetcar."

What it would cost if Cranley cancelled the project:  http://t.co/xwBPVFrOSG

17 October 2013

3 Houses

Here is a Google Streetview of a street in Cincinnati. I liked it because the 3 houses were obviously built exactly the same and then modified over the years. I also like it because these are not typical Cincinnati houses of a 100 years ago. They are shotgun type, more typical in Louisville or more downriver towns. I'll post the location in a few days..
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10 October 2013

Downtown from St Rose

One kid was at soccer practice and me and the other were wondering around the river and collecting black walnuts. What a beautiful week of weather.
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Cumminsville Champs Baseball

My grandfather in the 30's with his brother-in-law, Walter Zerges
Sorry I haven't blogged in a long time. I still hope to get back to it ... - Mike

30 July 2013

Mall Life

What kind of life is this? -Newport on the Levee

15 May 2013

Summertime and the Ohio River 1970s

This photo reminds me of a childhood memory. My b estfriend's mother took us down to the fireworks/riverfest. It might have been the first year WEBN did that. I was either a preteen or early teen. We saw hippy types swimming in the river and jumping off the ice-breakers, We begged to do this but were only allowed to go in right by the serpentine wall and climb right back out. We also saw the same type of people climbing to the top of very high light poles. I think the next year they started greasing them.  
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03 April 2013

Roebling Sign, Pittsburgh
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27 March 2013

Kids Should Own the City

While in Paris for the first time, Ta-Nehisi Coates notices something about how children live in the city. ..they have freedom ... I think anyone who has traveled to Europe is sure to notice. The perspective is different than mine, but spot on:

"..I was watching the children here, lost in their strange freedom unlike anything I've ever known. They range the city--embracing, grazing, laughing. 

When I was a kid in West Baltimore the cops called this loitering. Childhood was a suspect class always bordering on the edge of the criminal. You play football on the traffic island and the cops chase you off. Never mind that it's the only long patch of green in your neighborhood. You fly your kites from the second level of Mondawmin Mall and the les gendarmes are in effect. Go back to watching the Wonder Years and dreaming. You nail a crate to a telephone pole, because all the courts near you have been stripped. The city doesn't send people to repair the courts, but to tear down your crate. Perhaps somewhere in Paris it is the same. But what I have seen is a place with a different sense of the Public, with children loosed in such a way that I have not seen even in wealthy areas. 

In America you structure the lives of your children, or they will be structured by the hands of all you fear. A child's mind is naturally devilish, and needs correction even more than safety. .."

 Re-read that last sentence.  And that's not even the best part of his blog entry today. He seems to be on a roll of good writing lately. You should check it out.

  Previous CityKin post on Coates

17 March 2013

Todd ONeal

Todd Oneal is a good man. Maybe he should run again..
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03 March 2013

03 February 2013


31 January 2013

Picasso Draws Stalin

Picasso was an incredible artist. A true representative of the 20th century. See this link to some of his earliest drawings which demonstrate his powerful ability at conveying form:

Also, read this hilarious 1953 quote about the drawing above:
“Can you imagine if I had done the real Stalin, such as he has become, with his wrinkles, his pockets under the eyes, his warts. A portrait in the style of Cranach! Can you hear them scream? ‘He has disfigured Stalin! He has aged Stalin!’

“And then too, I said to myself, why not a Stalin in heroic nudity? … yes, but Stalin nude, and what about his virility? If you take the pecker of the classical sculptor … so small … But, come on, Stalin, he was a true male, a bull. So then, if you give him the phallus of a bull, and you’ve got this little Stalin behind this big thing they’ll cry: But you’ve made him into a sex maniac! A satyr!

Then if you are a true realist you will take a tape measure and measure it all properly. That’s worse, you made Stalin into an ordinary man. And then, as you are ready to sacrifice yourself, you make a plaster cast of your own thing. Well, it’s even worse. What, you dare take yourself for Stalin! After all, Stalin, he must have had an erection all the time, just like the Greek statues … Tell me, you who knows, socialist realism: is that Stalin with an erection or without an erection?”
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27 January 2013

What is Happening to the Parking Meters?

All of a sudden, over the past several months, all the parking meters in OTR have been getting vandalized. damaged parking meter
Meter laying on sidewalk
I suppose they are taking these and selling them for scrap metal, but the expense to replace and repair these must be costing the taxpayers quite a lot. See this Enquirer article a few weeks back. Actions like this make privatization of the meters, which I very much oppose, even more attractive to City leaders.

20 January 2013

Items Found in Vacant Building

Inside every vacant building are hundreds of stories. This particular building was last occupied/owned 10 years ago by an old man and his brother. Neighbors told me that in the end the last brother was sleeping in his car, because there were too many rats in the building. After he died, no one entered the building for years. His niece, who never entered the building because of the stench, sold it a few months ago. The basement was filled a foot deep with raw sewage. And if you go back in the City Directories, you can see the names of people that lived here and sometimes what their profession was. Anyway, I like to post these things for the record. Sometimes years after I post a photo like those below, someone will google a name and find it and send me a message saying they always wanted to find a photo of such and such... So here is some detritus found this weekend:

5 gallon, glazed clay crock with label of G. Gennert found in crawlspace. The Gottlieb Gennert Co. was a camera and photography supplies manufacturer in operation from 1869-1921 in NY. City Directory at the library shows that 100 years ago a photographer had his shop at the building where this was found:
Found amongst the debris was this customized notepad from Greg Spring a man who demolished lots of buildings in OTR, 20 years ago.. Check out the logo of a Trackhoe chomping into a seemingly occupied house...
Futuristic model car, box misprinted A beautiful woman, "Itche Hogue"? (written on back)
1986 "Rita and Baby"...
"with love, your sister"
fountain square with Carew Tower in backround (and whatever the building was at the SE corner of Vine and 5th in the 70s)
A teenager's journal entry from 1999
second journal entry
And lastly, found in the attic:
Todd Oneal is a good man. Maybe he should run again..