*This is the twenty-first in my series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods during the year of the city’s elections to find what makes each community relevant to me. What have I learned? How far do I have to go?Many connections to my past had been made in Mt. Lookout.
Mark and I began at the base of Kroger Avenue, walking past a myriad of homes accessible only by steps, and trekked up Delta towards Mt. Lookout Square. Ironically, Mt. Lookout was once just an enclave called Delta, and access to Mt. Lookout was made possible from Cincinnati, by two dummy lines owned by Charles Kilgour (of the elementary school).
As we read the historical marker, I wondered how many citizens knew that Delta Avenue was once called Crawfish Road?
From our standpoint, we spotted MLT’s, Millions and the famed Zips, established in 1926 and site of famous hamburgers and train that ran around the top of the restaurant, all hangouts from another time in my life. I had spent more money in the next-door hobby store, buying for Davis, than I would care to admit.
I loved the walks outside of our neighborhood with my husband, because we were spurred on by the new energy we found in each other, as each one’s eyes opened to something new, or newer. And too, as second spouses, the walks had offered each of us permission to reminisce about the persons we once were, before we met.
The last time I chugged up that same hill on Delta was during a Reggae Run for Maria Olberding, a young woman attacked with a knife and killed while training for the Boston Marathon. The Reggae Run was no longer, but the first mile of the Queen Bee Half Marathon, called the One Love Mile, was now dedicated in her honor. I promised to keep her in mind the next time I ran the Bee.
As we turned up Observatory, lucky for us, we found the Cincinnati Observatory. Once based in Mt. Adams, the observatory’s telescope from Bavaria was still in operation and remained the oldest instrument still in use.
Our path took us into Ault Park and through the muddy trails that abound throughout the park, trails that were often overlooked because of the spectacular views of the Ohio and Little Miami Valleys and the lush gardens on the green. The trails also brought to mind hiking with a certain Boy Scout troop years ago, when I was a single Mom. The Boy Scouts then were reeling from their own scandals and I suspect many of the troops were instructed to ensure there was an adult for each child on every outing. Still I tired, as a single mom, of participating in everything, and I suspect that might be why scouting didn’t stick for D.
Ault Park was named in honor of Ida May Ault and her husband, Levi Ault, who was prominent in the development of Cincinnati parks. When the park was first conceived, 97 sheep were employed to trim the lawns and shrubs. The park now boasts of an advisory board, presumably to replace the sheep.
The first flower garden was designed by George Kessler and at the center of the park is a pavilion built in the 1930’s in the Italian Renaissance-style. Many Spring Flings, weddings and parties have been attended here (by myself and others) over the years.
We continued to affirm our assertions that it did indeed rain every weekend in Cincinnati, evidenced by all our walks that had been rained upon. My camera had difficulty capturing all the beauty of Ault Park.
The Cincinnati Flower and Garden Show had been held at Ault Park for many years, until it outgrew its space and welcome. The show moved to Coney, Loveland, and now was hosted at Smale Park. The park gardens were comprised of sponsored lots, as well as the grand lawn there the Concours d’Elegance was hosted every year.
Near the playground, we spotted our first cicada, and ironically, it was near here four-year-old Davis spotted his first. Though the bugs didn’t freak him out as much as the Fourth of July fireworks we attended every year and (left early for, because he couldn’t stand the noise).
Then, we turned down my favorite street of Hershel Avenue, where my sister and her husband once lived. In the days following my husband’s death, this place was an respite and oasis for me (as well as makeshift restaurant since Beth ran her catering business from, much to David’s chagrin), but dogs abounded in and out of the back pond, and there were many a party that David and Beth hosted that Mark was still waiting for the invite.
Within a week, I walked another small neighborhood called Millvale and the contrast between the two was more than just black and white. We cannot treat all our neighborhoods the same, though I do believe we need a way to measure progress in each. But truly Mt. Lookout was a neighborhood that wouldn’t ever struggle. The highlighted event on Mr. Lookout’s community council website was community golf scramble, while the other community’s council was listed as inactive.
I’d stated before that I didn’t plan my walks in advance, but a part of me subconsciously plotted out walks so that I bounced around from one side of the city to the other, or from one more impoverished area, to another more affluent one. In this way, I was experiencing the range of emotions and reactions contrasts often provided.
As I continued my walks, many lessons were congealing, such as the fact that one’s birth into a situation, good or bad, is a more than a significant determination of their outcomes in life, and those in tough situations have a harder time making good, than the good going bad.