Of Goose Bumps and Elbow Bumps – Gettin’ My 52 On in Roselawn

* This is the nineteenth in my series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods, leading up to the city’s 2017 election. What have I learned? What makes each one relevant to me?

My week away from the city loomed and I had to squeeze in a few walks around the rainy season which had descended a little late for spring. I knew the general vicinity of most Cincinnati neighborhoods, but some ran together, and it was hard to decipher the dividing line. And some neighborhoods had their own dividing lines.

I took the path I knew best and exited off Ronald Reagan Highway and drove south along Reading Road. I parked at McDonald’s, knowing I could leave my car stationary for however long I planned to trek.

In that spot I would later come to see around the edges of formulating my lesser known or realized learnings from these walks.

There was no driving force propelling me one way or the other around the area. All I recalled of Roselawn from my quick lookup and little map was the Cincinnati Red’s Urban Youth Academy, also known as the P&G Cincinnati MLS Urban Youth Academy. So I turned east, walking along the residences of Roselawn Village. The collection of 160 units was built in 1959, in the colonial-style and contained a mix of apartments and townhomes.

As a mid-20th century suburban garden apartment complex, it is distinguished by its sophisticated triangular plan, remarkable sensitivity to site and high level of integrity. The well preserved apartment buildings are varied yet harmonious in style and include many original features characteristic of the Colonial Revival mode including pediments, parapets and cupolas. Click on the link for an aerial view of the triangle setting.


The sun shone bright that day on the ballfields, and I recalled schlepping Davis back and forth to his ball games, never there, but that little kid worshipped baseball, the game, the players, the Reds, and still does. I miss the kid, but not the times.

Funded by the Reds Community Fund, there was a solid set of fields, a playground, and a fitness course. I attempted a few exercises painted on the ground, much to the entertainment of a few bystanders partaking in the course.

Then, on I went, winding up at an intersection near the Cincinnati Gardens. Now, I was unclear about my direction even with the small map I had printed to get a better sense of the borders. I turned up Wiehle and went up and up, with no idea what was on the other side if I were to descend down. My heart raced, and not just from the fact I was pacing uphill. The street was filled with light industrial warehouses where there was little commerce or traffic in the car or on foot. I was definitely “off the path”, unsure where I was going.

FullSizeRenderAfter about a minute, which felt like ten, I came to the top of the rise. Just down below recognized Losantiville Road and breathed out in relief.

To top that off, I found the Big Top. The home of the Cincinnati Circus. Well, there’s no bigtop here, but they offer classes, and I could see the aerial bars from the sidewalk. They are available for team-building events, and probably even family gatherings, which can become circus-like anyhow. I mentioned them here, despite that the business was officially in Golf Manor, which was not a Cincinnati neighborhood.

How odd that a single corner can be geographically carved out of a neighborhood or appropriated by another. Or a triangular-shaped piece of land on the east side of the tracks still belongs to the neighborhood to the west.

Re-entering Roselawn, I plodded up serene, tree-lined Eastlawn Drive and came across the Cincinnati Generation Academy, a charter school. As someone who grew up in public schools, and sent children to public and parochial, I have seen the increase in the city neighborhood charter schools. The chain had been backed by the state. And I was beginning to wonder, that however important public schools are, are they too big to change? Can we break them down to allow for nimbleness? I understand CPS also had magnet schools, but how practical are they, given our city’s inefficient public transit accommodations?

“CGA students will have an extended school day adding up to 40% more learning time. Students will engage in project based learning opportunities during morning STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and Humanities (English Language Arts, Social Studies) courses.  Afternoon courses will provide time for enrichment such as art, music, physical education as well as support services for English language learners and students with diverse learning needs.  In addition to more academic learning time, CGA students will spend time exploring the world outside the classroom during twice annual, three week long Intensive Courses. Intensive Courses  expose students at an early age to some of Cincinnati’s high growth industries as well as provide time to experience some of the city’s most treasured resources.” – from their website.

The former Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church, built in 1941, closed in 2008. The space looked to be repurposed by another congregation of a different faith but I couldn’t discern that at the time.

As a note, if one followed Eastlawn south, towards its terminus, one would find the Liberty Elm Memorial.

The rain was closing in and I discovered that many neighbors were out, mowing and sweeping before the projected deluge. I stopped one neighbor from her sweeping, in order to chat.

She had a mayoral candidate sign out (the street was filled with more of the same signs), so I stopped to talk.

I have the primary on my brain, so what’s important to you about the city priorities, what do you want to see them working on?

Without hesitating, she said, Transportation.

Like buses?

Yeah. Buses. They’re talking about closing Amtrak but thats silly because it only runs once a day anyhow. But lots about transportations, too many traffic tie-ups, too much focus on the highways.

She also named the MSD (sewer) problem.

Well, that’s a city-county relationships, right?

Yeah, I just don’t get why the city can’t work that all out, you had all those people last year around Norwood with flooding, and every time it rains we never know what’s gonna happen with the flooding.

This woman and I could have gone at it all day with “what would you do?” in the city sort of questioning, but I complimented her on the yard – she had lived there twenty years, as had most of her neighbors – and tarried no more.

We ended with quick introductions. I’m Annette. I held out my hand.

Well, she looked down at the garden gloves on her hand. How ’bout an elbow bump?

Even elbow bumps gave me goose bumps as I did this work.

I needed to get moving since I was only halfway around the neighborhood and was starving.

I approached a familiar intersection and stood for a moment to recall why. Davis played the violin and Antonio’s Violin, now located near my mom’s, was once located right down the street here. Davis played the viola for four or five years, and as his arms grew, he traded up. He was almost, almost Vivaldi.

I headed north, crossed Reading, and strolled along the other half of the neighborhood, near the public school, and along a beautiful stretch called Greenlawn. Of course it was. Many residents there maintained incredible gardens.

The Mill Creek ran through the northwest quadrant of this community, and it really was a resource that every Cincinnatian should learn more about, including me. Here’s a quick link to a long history of the watershed.

The intersection where I parked had been near an office tower and that day, I was quite thankful for the high-rise as my compass.

Roselawn, until the early 1940’s, had grown slowly, but soon the nearby Mill Creek factories boomed with war orders. As the values rose, the opportunity to live there became scarce.

As I marched back down Reading Road, I was nearing the parking lot of McDonald’s when I stopped in my tracks. I looked up and saw a familiar sign.

Woods Hardware was located downtown. My husband visited every weekend. And many downtowners had supported them so well over the years, they had the wherewithal to buy and partner with the former Small’s Hardware in Roselawn.

A thought struck me then, about trying to find not just personal connections in each of these neighborhoods, but I was starting to see how each community was linked to one another. And that, that was something every neighborhood could build on.


Want to know more about Cincinnati’s community councils and development corporations? Start your search here.


In the words of the immortal Jill Linville, my college roommate, “Where to from now?”










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