Complex Questions – Gettin’ My 52 On in Corryville

* This is the sixteenth in my series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to discover what makes each community relevant to me.

Where are you going next? Do you have a list? Do you have a big map somewhere and you’re just checking them all off?

FullSizeRenderNearly one-third of the way through my pursuit, I wanted to enlighten readers on my process. But the honest truth was, there wasn’t one.

Take for instance my Corryville walk. That morning, I had decided to walk Golf Manor, so named of its proximity to many golf courses, Losantiville, Avon Fields, Maketewah. However, one last check before heading out the door revealed Golf Manor was a village, and NOT located in the city of Cincinnati.

Hence, the reason for these walks. To discover the borders of the city and the boundaries of my mind.

On short notice, I decided upon Corryville instead. Corryville involved a walk through Over-the-Rhine, and up Vine Street. With my husband that morning, we began at the Kroger on Short Vine. We would walk seven miles that day, but only half of those encompassed the neighborhood.

FullSizeRenderThe new Kroger in Corryville had what everyone on social media says it had, awkward parking and a broad selection. The store was conceived as a possible prototype urban store, but on several of my visits, all the self-checkouts were closed, and management had been short-staffed.

We continued up Short Vine, past Bogart’s, having last visited to hear my high school classmate and good friend from Cleveland, Marla Brennan in Wish You Were Here. We also walked past Island Frydays, a Jamaican diner in our own city, that we learned about from Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. A sad fact, but a great find.

Short Vine was an odd mix of tattoo parlors, The Niehoff Urban Studio, Taste of Belgium, home to many FC pre and post-game festivities, a Cock and Bull soon to come, a library and empty, vacant buildings. Much of the living space above the retail looked unoccupied, though just a block over, new buildings loomed large with apartments. My favorite was UC Bike Kitchen, a great resource for students on bikes.

We crossed Martin Luther King, and strolled down a path by the Marriott Hotel. The setting is a quiet space surrounded by University Hospital, College of Medicine, Vontz Center for Biomolecular studies, which will undergo a 17M renovation only 20 years after opening. While this portion of the campus surrounded by medical facilities is astounding, the University of Cincinnati holds a lot of debt.

As we marched on, Mark pointed out the home where he lived while attending UC Medical School. I’ll reveal here, that Mark is a hometown boy, an anesthesiologist schooled locally, and one of the most compassionate at that. Though not allowed, if I ever had surgery, I would want no one else.

I went on a long rant after reading the quote carved into stone on the new VA building. “To care for him who shall have borne the battle.” The quote was attributed to Abraham Lincoln, from his second inaugural address in 1965. In 1959, The administrator of the VA, Summer Whittier, had two plaques containing the quote installed at the entrance and thus became the VA motto.

From the history of the Veteran’s Administration: “He (Whittier) worked no employee longer or harder than himself to make his personal credo the mission of the agency. What was that credo? Simply the words of Abraham Lincoln, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan. To indicate the mission of his agency’s employees, Mr. Whittier had plaques installed on either side of the main entrance.”

By 1959, plenty of women had served in the military for these United States. In 2011, women made up 14.5 % of the active duty force. Certainly, the VA could have modified the quote or found a different one.

We circled near the zoo (a later Avondale post), around Erkenbrecker, and discovered many homes certainly slated for demolition for the sake of Children’s Hospital or some zoo parking. To be clear, our own children have been treated at Children’s Hospital. But I found irony in that we, as a society, treat many patients harmed via domestic violence, gunshot, homelessness, veterans, and to do so, tear down homes that could have housed or provided a more stable community for them or the neighborhood to prevent more violence and homelessness in the future.

As we looped back around past Shriners Burn Institute for Children, one of only 21 in the country, the former Jewish Hospital (read here for a great history) came into view. Jewish was one of my older sister’s first jobs out of school. Laura was their Public Relations person, and my dad got such a big kick out of Laura rubbing elbows with some of the older Jewish men on the board, the small town Italian Catholic that she was. It was how I first learned what a shofar was.

University Hospital, a premier teaching hospital, is nestled in behind some of the other medical facilities, such as Hoxworth Blood Center. In 1999, I became a stem cell donor via the good nurses at Hoxworth. My first publishing opportunity came in 1999, as an advocate for bone marrow donors. Four years ago, I was called up as a bone marrow match, but I was still taking Advil to recuperate from shoulder surgery, and was declined. At the time, I was devastated. The transplant had not saved Devin, and I could not save another while I was busy saving my shoulder.

Our trek took us past Mecklenburg Gardens, where FC’s fan club, Die Innenstadt hosts their pre-game warm-ups, and on to the Highland Coffee House. Neither of us had patronized Highland in years, and we resolved to come back during the evening hours, when it opened to newspaper readers, coffee drinkers and those who want to get away from the traditional bar scene.

As we headed for home, Mark made a comment that I hadn’t thought about.

“You know how they talk about the military industrial complex, and the building up of jobs around the buildup of the military? The medical field sure looks a lot like that.”

If I didn’t have a complex about the medical industry before, I did now.

The entire neighborhood felt occupied by hospitals. Having recently visited to Cleveland Clinic to see another sister, I saw how a neighborhood became a hospital, and only a hospital, how for the lives inside, though I understand the need for sterility, there was no connection to the outside world. And I wondered, how do we expect patients to transition from their health challenges back into society when they, along with their providers, are in a tower separated from the sidewalks below?

Corryville will certainly grow via the new Martin Luther King exchange, designed to provide easy access to the medical industrial complex and UC, the true purpose of the ramp will result in employees being ushered and out of the neighborhood. North of Martin Luther King will soon be all hospital. I suspect the community will struggle to maintain a sense of neighborhood to the south.

Readers can read more about Corryville through the community council website. They also have several development corporations, designed to access funding for growth. The Short Vine area has many active business owners. They too are caught between the behemoths of the University and the Hospitals, but I hope owners and businesspersons are creative enough to continue to thrive. The Mayerson Academy is also located in Corryville, a think-tank if you will, helping to reshape how Cincinnati’s thinks about learning, working within our schools and community, to help others reach their potential.

The walk through Corryville brought about more questions than I had answers for. They were bigger questions than of the “what is happening in this neighborhood?” variety. They were the questions of society, culture, and where we place our priorities. And how we balance them with the needs of all. They were the same questions pushing the boundaries in my head.

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Scaling My Fears – Gettin’ My 52 On in Mt. Auburn

* This is the fifteenth in my series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to discover what makes each community relevant to me.

As I headed towards Mt. Auburn, early, early morning, I was alone.

FullSizeRender-87I hiked up Main Street and eschewed the steps and former incline run, then turned onto Mulberry, which is part OTR, and part Mt. Auburn, veering up Rice Street. The first person I came upon was a man leaving his home, hot coffee in hand. I smiled and waved and walked on, wondering how much of this city I should be walking alone.

FullSizeRender_2But then, two young school boys, perhaps fourth-graders, traipsed down the hill as I chugged up.

“Hey! School today?” I paused to ask.

“Yes, ma’am.” Both boys looked at the sidewalk.

“Where do you go?”

“Rothenberg,” one announced.

“Great. What do you like there, I mean subjects?”

The first boy spoke up, “Math. And science.”

The second hesitated then his face beamed. “I like recess.”

“Ha, those were my kids’ choices too!” I wished them a great day and left them wondering if my kids liked recess or math/science or both.

Every day, children walked that stretch, and other less-inhabited blocks within the city. They might be fearful. Also, they might not have a choice. There was no SUV-driving parent, sitting with them in the rain, waiting for the bus, or driving them to school.

A few yards up, a car slowed to take the turn, and I held back until the driver and car were out of sight. I kicked myself. That was one of my chief complaints – about me. Why would I be fearful of walking somewhere school-age kids tread every day? I have no answer other than I am learning.

I continued along Rice St. and came upon the site where Sam Dubose was shot and killed by a University of Cincinnati policeman. The houses in the enclave appeared lost in the shadows of Christ Hospital’s parking garages. Despite the steps from Gage Street connecting down below to up above, there was an obvious disconnect in the life that seemed reachable.

After hiking up Vine Street towards Inwood Park, I spied the white tower of The Christ Hospital, visible from just about anywhere in the neighborhood. Their old tagline was once The one hospital that stands above the rest.

Inwood Park, home to a monument of the Father of Gymnastics, was one of my favorites because of its views into Clifton, but was also in need of renovation. I fell for bathhouses every time because I was sucker for history, and because we, as a city, once supported pool in every neighborhood, and now that didn’t seem likely.

FullSizeRender_1I wound through another path or two, and landed at Wellington Place where a new housing community was planned north of Christ Hospital, along with renovated apartments and affordable living spaces where a stretch of row houses had been torn down. I hoped there were plans to aid in the renovation of Inwood too.

I strolled along Auburn to capture a photo of my favorite structure here, the one I want someone to buy and turn into a boutique hotel. Someone not me preferably.

FullSizeRender-86Another set of school kids, giggling and teasing each other, were on their way to the bus stop. A short, African-American woman about my age watched them pass me.

I stopped to chat. “Those your kids?”

“Yeah, just watching them walk to the bus stop.”

“Oh where do they go to school?”

“My daughter goes to the Performing Arts.”

From there, we segued into a conversation about her daughter, a singer, and what her plans might be after high school graduation.

Then the petite woman quietly asked, “Do you live up here?”

“No, I live in OTR, but come up here early mornings, get some hills in, then go back down and get to work.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m a writer.”

She raised her eyebrows, either impressed or surprised.

“What do you do?”

“Oh, nothing right yet. Just getting this last one through school. I’m almost ready to go back to work, after my husband died three years ago.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. What happened to him?”

“Cancer. Lung cancer. Runs in the family.” She named about a dozen family members whose lives had been touched or lost by cancer.

FullSizeRender_4I nodded as she finished. My first husband’s leukemia diagnosis had led us back to Cincinnati. Devin had selected a Christ Hospital affiliated oncologist as his new provider. We had wanted to be closer and thus, chose Loveland, though Loveland was not close at all! In the later months, we experienced a dozen ER runs and I spent many mornings dreading the cut in the hill, driving to Christ Hospital to “work” with Devin in his cancer treatments.

I knew a little of Sharon’s pain and told her about Devin, on the same hill where he spent some of his last days, and ironically, across the street from Cancer Family Care. Our conversation continued with an in-depth discussion of cancer references in earlier times.FullSizeRender

My favorite walks were those when a ray of light pierced the invisible shield we all carried around, and we opened our souls enough to be touched by another human being.

After the woman and I digested our cancer stories, we stood in silence as buses whooshed by.

The woman extended her hand. I furrowed my brow. Usually, I was the first with my hand out to shake.

“Sharon, my name is Sharon,”

“Sharon, I’m Annette, I’ll see you again. Or look for me at the bottom of the hill.”

We exchanged a gaze I could only call knowing, knowing we had been changed by each other’s willingness to step across the color line, the neighbor line, the stranger line.

FullSizeRender_3Sharon stayed on my mind the rest of the walk. I found myself at the base of a No Outlet hill, and was forced to hike up grass, through a fence, and over to the Mt Auburn International Academy. The area also hosted the Mt. Auburn indoor pool. And a few blocks away, passing through the campus of God’s Bible College, I was back near the outdoor Mt. Auburn pool, where employees hosed down the bowels of the pool that morning. I descended the Main Street steps near Jackson Hill Park to land in Prospect Hill.

FullSizeRender-88Mt. Auburn also included the Prospect Hill Historic District, which could be its own separate post, with its special Italianate style homes, covert courtyards, and many personal connections, including my boss, my dog sitter and Milton’s Prospect Hill Tavern, site of the famous burn a snow man in effigy during Bockfest.

The pieces of pie that made up this neighborhood each offered their own peek into a way of living. Some historic, some battling for economic or physical security, some just battling for life.

Nowadays, my new husband (of ten years), Mark, works at Christ. On occasion, when I popped in to visit during his lunch, I would catch my breath and quiver, feeling the sadness I had deposited at the same hospital 16 years ago.

Mark’s first wife had been treated for her cancer at Christ Hospital. And I wondered how he had persevered, performing his job, while encountering multitudes of patients in the same position as Susan once was. His obstacles had been mountainous compared to mine.

Life had moved me along, though I still stopped when someone I knew was battling cancer, especially my two sisters, and was taken back in time. It’s in those moments when I remember my own strength. And the resilience of love.

I will plan another walk to Mt. Auburn during a school day at the exact same time, so I can meet Sharon and honor her willingness, her vulnerability, the fears we are all trying to conquer each day.

The Mt. Auburn neighborhood was once called Key’s Hill, after a former settler, until 1837, then was named after a cemetery in Boston. The neighborhood technically includes in two historic districts, Prospect Hill and Mt. Auburn Historic.

Mt Auburn has an active community council and community development corporation. Also, William Howard Taft National Historical site is there, along with one of my other IMG_7323.JPGfavorite buildings that we were three years too late in buying at auction. There are too many streets with interesting discoveries to name, Alma, Maplewood, and some just end beneath a canopy of trees, but suffice it to say, I have meandered them all.

And each time I climb up Mt. Auburn’s hills, I scale another round of fears, making them appear rather minuscule from my view at the top.

Arts Start Here – Gettin’ My 52 On in Kennedy Heights

FullSizeRender_1This is the fourteenth in my series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to find what makes each space relevant to me.

The dawn sky looked to be clear and the sun was rising earlier. From within my courtyard, I felt no wind. Only warmth.

I scrambled around the house, dragging the dog through his morning warm-ups of downward dog, up dog, chow down, pee and poop, and headed out the door, dressed as I was in t-shirt and running tights.

Then, as I drove to Kennedy Heights, I watched the temperature gauge of my car drop from 52 degrees to 43 degrees.

And there I was, parked at Daniel Drake Park,  wondering if I should brave the cold or walk the neighborhood another day. But warmth was near, I reasoned. So I locked the doors, pulled my hands into crossed arms and began my trek.

Daniel Drake Park was named after Daniel Drake, who founded Cincinnati’s first medical college. The views from the ridge were stunning and one could imagine a past, atop this hill, that offered quite the relief from the crowds of the city.

Kennedy Heights is accessible via the I-71 Red Bank Road exit, and from Plainfield Road, Kennedy Ave, and Montgomery Road. As I strolled along Woodford Road and then up Red Bank, (yes, Red Bank is NOT just an exit off I-71), I was the recipient of a few mixed reviews from bus drivers and early morning commuters. Some waved, some stared me down. I marched on.

IMG_0143I twisted and turned through a few neighborhoods to find some bungalow housing, some Tudor style. In this election year, I found more mayoral candidate signs than I had seen in other neighborhoods. Of course, time also inched closer to the primary runoff. If I were to ask a candidate, would he or she tell me that IMG_0140Kennedy Heights is very active, politically?

I meandered up and down streets, some ending in railroad tracks, until I ran up to Montgomery Road. Here, its evident that The Arts were a mainstay in this neighborhood. Artworks was once again present with their mural, and the Kennedy Heights Montessori Center and Lindner Annex were housed in a former Kroger. (Carl, Robert, Richard and Dorothy Lindner all attended the former Kennedy-Silverton school). The center played host to many community events, including a Cincinnati Playhouse program called Off the Hill, with an upcoming appearance on April 22nd. The Linder Annex rental space was an extension/partnership with the Kennedy Heights Arts Center.FullSizeRender_1

The Arts Center loomed tall along Montgomery Road, along with the requisite Flying Pig, and had been the site of many of my employer’s Women Writing for (a) Change functions and programs. The center has a burgeoning offering of summer camps and is hosting the current artist in residence, Joshua Brown, a Cleveland guy.

IMG_0060The community seemed tied into itself. And upon further research, they really were. On their community website, Kennedy Heights promotes themselves as a District A.

District ‘A’ stands for the ARTS & for ALL of US. 

We’re a citizens’ initiative where arts+community meet throughout Kennedy Heights & Pleasant Ridge in order to drive inter-neighborhood collaboration for a stronger future.

Across these two historic neighborhoods that date back to 1795 along the Montgomery Road corridor in Cincinnati, Ohio, we’re a catalyst for collaborations of all sorts, and especially for sharing and multiplying our arts assets.

Today, these neighborhoods are inclusive and vibrant family communities.  Through the contributions of District A, both Kennedy Heights & Pleasant Ridge Community Councils intend to forge an ever more robust future.”

FullSizeRenderThere were several green spaces that rambled through the community. Kennedy Heights Park ,spanning 12,000 acres, had begun as a small space in the 1930’s and been continually added to over the years.

I had just missed KH’s annual Sap run, held on April 8th, which was followed by, or perhaps prefaced by, an all you can eat pancake breakfast. I knew a few runners who would not want to miss out.

Several streets stayed in my mind, far too long if you ask my husband. Orchard, Rogers Park, Davenant, and Robison Road boasted of many unique homes as well as views from atop bluffs. Strolling through Davenant Avenue, along where the infamous Yononte Inn once stood, I so badly wanted to meet someone who would let peek over the ridge. But, alas, it was too early to trust.

IMG_0133The Yonote Inn was built in the late 1800s by Lewis Kennedy as a means of attracting potential landowners to the area. The inn was named for a Native American princess who married nearby. There were approximately 50 rooms to the hotel, and though the structure burned down in 1909, a stone gate remains as a marker to the past.

I found a fascinating read on how the railroad, once touted as a means of traveling to this then-suburban neighborhood, also became its downfall. The criss-cross pattern of the tracks divided streets and families. Today, as I walked along Zinsle Ave, the deserted Cincinnati, Lebanon and Northern line reminded me of the Minuteman hike/bike trail we had walked in Boston, near Somerville. Many neighborhoods, as well as subdivisions, could be reconnected through healthier means, alleviating much of the travel at the usual cut in the hill down below.FullSizeRender

I returned along Robison and crossed the parking lot of the Redwood Carryout, the neighborhood’s only grocery or convenience store. A lovely tribute to the personality of the neighborhood and those who have been its foundation for many years, in particular the owner of the Redwood can be found IMG_0134by reading the community’s newsletter.

There was little other commerce to speak of, other than Woodford Paideia school, a Cincinnati Public magnet school dedicated to promoting Arts and Culture. The school is designated as a community learning center (CLC), a hub for treating the whole child, and its lot contains the neighborhood’s community garden.

The neighborhood was once founded on a marketing ploy to entice residents out of the city, stating it was a “moral imperative” to leave because crowds caused crime. Today, Kennedy Heights is a testimony to neighbors reaching across tracks and boundaries.

IMG_0132The actions and investments send a strong message to youth and neighbors in the community, modeling how to cross the divide. While short on commercial resources, this neighborhood found art to be a viable and valuable commodity in creating its sense of identity. In this political climate, where arts funding is threatened, there will be places where art is not only a means of survival, but a means to thrive. Kennedy Heights will be one such place.

I was thankful I hadn’t lugged my warmer gear for the walk that day. Like most artists, I like to be “awake” in the moment, to take in sights with all my being. The crisp air and five mile jaunt certainly left me “woke” and ready to return to my artist self.

 

 

Searching for Stillness – Gettin’ My 52 On in Mt. Adams

* This is the thirteenth in a series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods, to find what makes each relevant to me.

Some of Cincinnati’s neighborhoods are easily reachable on foot, but more difficult to cover from a writing perspective. Mt. Adams is one such neighborhood, not because it’s filled with so many vistas, or cultural attractions or bars, but because it is fraught with history. Mine.

I first encountered Mt. Adams as a college graduate. My first Easter as a Cincinnatian, I plodded up the steps and prayed the rosary with my sister, Laura. It was a time-honored tradition for any local. In subsequent years, I walked the steps while my first husband played golf. I walked the steps with my parents. I walked the steps with my young son and his aunt (who borrowed a few lilacs from a neighbor’s tree). I walked the steps with Mark.

Now, I walk the steps with ghosts. Devin is gone. Laura in a care home. My father is deceased and my mother unable to join me. My son is off at school during Easter. Mark is challenged to take time off on Good Friday. And my walks have expanded to include my local rendition of Holy Wednesday’s Roman Tradition of Walk of Seven Churches.

But still, I walk the steps. Whether it’s Easter or not, I stand on the steps. I only pray on a few, until an image of a loved one comes to mind. I don’t conjure up the images, an aura simply arrives.

I usually time my walks to Mt. Adams to coincide with sunrise. If I have countless photos of an Oregon sunset, then I have in equal numbers, pictures of the sun rising from high upon the mount.

Steps from the base of Adam’s Landing lead me up to one of the best viewpoints for sunrises and river views. Then it’s just a slight turn towards the Holy Cross Church of the Immaculata and the remainder of the steps that the other faithful, the ones not familiar with the base of steps, stop and pray.

In my younger years, I had plenty of friends living in Mt. Adams, and the bar scene was quite active. It’s where we went. Its what we did. Unless there was a ballgame and then it was Flanagan’s.

Mt. Adams first existed as Mt. Ida, where a washerwoman lived in a tree. The neighborhood was since renamed. Eden Park surrounds the base of the neighborhood, and thus the mount is enveloped in green. The Cincinnati Art Museum, which boasts of FREE attendance, is located there, and there is discussion of making the museum more pedestrian accessible via Gilbert once the Baldwin project is complete. At the end of April, I will be co-teaching a workshop based on a current exhibit, titled Poetry of Place.

A few other cultural institutions are located in Mt. Adams, including the venerable Playhouse in the Park, which just hosted a startling rendition of Jane Eyre. The Playhouse, like the rest of our live theatre venues has plans, sort of, to undergo a major renovation. The plans were announced, with no actual plan shared, but I’m confident the patrons and executives will put forth one to rival the Ensemble, Shakespeare and the rest of those located in the basin.

The second Rookwood pottery building was located here, and the kiln is often a room where one can eat a meal, depending on whatever restaurant is opening in that space. The current one recently closed. The Celestial‘s Incline Lounge hosts astounding jazz vocalists and musicians and is another of the best views in the city. The Pilgrim Chapel underwent its own metamorphosis and lives on as an intersection of faith, community, and arts.

The history of the monastery is quite fascinating. The building sits Cincinnati’s original observatory, which was moved to Mt. Lookout and is now an event center. And, of course, one knows all too well, the demise of the incline, which would have reconnected this neighborhood to the lower neighborhoods in the city. As it stands now, most use several sets of steps and then a few of the pedestrian overpasses to walk to work.

Yet, my love for this neighborhood has nothing to do its charming homes, inspiring infill, or for what could have been and should still be.

Mt. Adams is where I go to find a quietude in the darkness in my life.

In 2001, rioting broke out in Cincinnati, following the killing of Timothy Thomas on April 7th at the hands of a Cincinnati police office. A week later, as Good Friday approached (the 13th). At the time, I still lived in Loveland and had planned to walk the steps. Several neighbors knew of my tradition of walking the steps and encouraged me to stay home.

But I went. It was my own private protest. And, I took my young son.

The Mt. Adams steps always represented to me what was insurmountable. Isn’t that why we climb? Not for the view, but for the struggle for stillness on each step of the way? I went that day in 2001, to be silent in the midst of city filled with unrest.

Finally, whenever I descend Mt. Adams, the light reappears and I find it in my steps to locate a particular street sign. It’s the closest I come to another place where I go to find the calm inside.

Of Printing, Pork and Pasta – Gettin’ My 52 On in Camp Washington

This is the twelfth in a series about walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to discover what makes each relevant to me.

Like any Italian worth her semolina, I first encountered Camp Washington through the Sacred Heart Ravioli Dinners held on Palm Sundays and again each October. Back then, my sister, Laura, and I, following a long Saturday night, stood in line to take in a dinner that was – almost – like Mom’s.

I next found Camp Washington through the famed chili parlor after returning from a concert, while Laura still lived in Clifton. The actual artist’s name escapes me, but I recall how we rode in the back of a limo ride we had won, and instructed the driver to whisk us away to the closest chili stand.

Now, I used a similar logic to entice my husband out of bed and into another cold, near-rainy weekend.

In my laziness and busyness, I selected Camp Washington because of its proximity and we drove out and parked near Sacred Heart Church, where the raviolis have been rolled and served for over 100 years.

Winding through the back streets near the church, we strolled in awe at buildings that extended for blocks, imagining what manufacturing once looked like in the heart of this neighborhood.

As we turned towards Spring Grove Ave, we noticed several folks coming out of their worn down trailers parked in used car or scrap metal lots and firing up a cup of coffee and their minds for the day.

Once on Spring Grove, we walked parallel to the bike path that runs along Mill Creek towards Spring Grove cemetery. But what I saw on bike was not nearly as detailed and marvelous as what I noted on foot.

FullSizeRender-83Ideas and Ad ventures is a printing company housed in a garage. I shot the photo before knowing what was actually housed there because I just liked the name.

Next, we stumbled upon the John S. Swift Company Printers. Their motto was “Got to print? Get it swift.” The company was founded in St. Louis, and now based in Illinois. Camp Washington was one of its service locations.

After a few more snapshots, I finally put it together. Camp Washington was and is a hub for printing.

Before my next printing discovery, we strolled past the William Powell Company’s Union Brass Works whose claim was having made the first brass faucet in the west, “west” being the Ohio River in 1846. (On a return trip, we also read how Cincinnati manufactured the first glass over door, allowing consumers to ooh and ahhh while peering inside the oven).

Camp Washington installed several history poles along Spring Grove, including one that spoke to the slaughterhouses of the past, and also of the Queen City Sausage Company where pigs really did fly, or did a few other, unmentionable things. The company spruced up their backyard recently, in nod to being good neighbors, and any real estate novice could tell you that space screamed for a beer and brat garden (to serve, not grow).

The Cincinnati Bindery, started in 1964, changed hands from its original founder, Hugo Grummich, to other buyers, while its assets also changed hands. Eventually, Karl, Hugo’s son, brought the bindery back to life after longtime customers pleaded for its return.

Along the northern portion of Spring Grove, past Camp Washington, Artworks painted another fabulous mural, paying homage to Cincinnati Freedom, the cow that escaped and went on the run for 11 days back in 2002. There was also a collection of smaller homes, some in Italianate style, that populated the area.

Meyer tool, which supplies precision components to the aerospace industry, had a large facility here, so the past and future of manufacturing was still evident here in Camp Washington.

The neighborhood’s origins were based in the U.S.- Mexican War where Ohio troops gathered to train. There is an odd wall at the far end of Valley Park. And an old workhouse now houses a rehab center.

We arrived too early in the day for the American Sign Museum, but I have attended several events at the center, and even when bored with the event, I am never bored looking with fascination upon the signs from my youth. The center also offers neon sign repair and I had a Red Bird shoe sign repaired there.

For those that might glimpse the old Crosley building from the interstate, plans keep moving closer to a rehab project for CORE resources. The last press release was dated June of 2016, and stated that actual work was still months out.

We walked a good five miles, encircling the entire neighborhood. Camp Washington had a lot to offer for the right entrepreneurs and current residents and I found their park to be one of the most charming, lined with magnolia trees and with the nearby community garden and the salt pile as backdrop.

I liked the Camp, and if there were a bit more housing, or a home for sale and I was a bit younger, it might be a place for me. However, once we circled back to the car, we heard the screech of trains and cranes from the metal scrap yards. I wasn’t opposed to industry, but I was opposed to lack of sleep.

This Sunday, April 9, Sacred Heart will serve their 106th Ravioli Dinner. (Doors open at noon for dinners and ten a.m. for carryout. (Bring your own containers and red wagon to pull the load home.)

The Italian half of the congregation did not begin here in Camp Washington. Originally, the Italians worshipped at Fifth & Broadway until 1992, when the church sold the building to the city, which in turn, sold the strip to P&G for their corporate headquarters. The congregation was in essence taken under by Tide.

The church still offers an Italian Mass on the first Sunday of each month, where unexpectedly the congregants are young. “They’re looking for reverence and beauty, a sense of transcendence, and to be connected to their parents and grandparents, the generations of faith,” according to an old interview with Father Fernandes.

Most exciting of all, I found a complete online listing of Cincinnati-based Italian organizations where I can get my Italian on. My parents had a long history of membership in the IAV and Sons of Italy, social clubs designed to help Italians get on their feet after migrating from Europe. Perhaps it’s my turn.

The community is active in many ways, preserving 52 homes and supporting a growing artist community, through their boards and councils. The executive director of the community board (a development arm), Joe Gorman, reached out to me. In his email, he called Camp Washington an urban Appalachian neighborhood.  And yes, those words sum up my experience.

Whether coming to Camp Washington for the pork or the presses, or for the Italian dinners, there’s a grittiness to the neighborhood, including a boxing club, I could feel below the sidewalks, of the desire to work, and the need to feed.