Dr. Know: July 2014

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On Kilgour Street in Mt. Adams, I noticed a very old stone retaining wall. In the middle of it is a bricked-up doorway, and above that, etched in stone, it says “Convent of the Good Shepherd.” There used to be nuns living in Mt. Adams? Talk about a changed neighborhood! — Who Knew

Dear Who:
Modern Mt. Adams libertines are willfully blind to their neighborhood’s religious roots. Sure, there’s that Good Friday thing, but it’s the exception, right? Well, no. The first road to this hill was built by the Reverend James Kemper, and not for nothing were the streets given names like Monastery, Celestial, Eden, St. Gregory, and St. Paul. Today’s parking nightmare is perhaps God’s small rebuke for Mt. Adams’s transformation.

The Convent of the Good Shepherd was built in 1873 on Baum Street, with its back steps leading down to the doorway you found on Kilgour. The home was part of a worldwide network of institutions created “for the reclamation of fallen women and the preservation of those liable to lose their innocence.” The network has also been accused of being a chain of laundry sweatshops where young girls were imprisoned and exploited. You’ll find plenty of support out there for both views.

Other Good Shepherd convents were on both sides of the river, but Mt. Adams was a concentrated Bible Burb. As late as 1943, a city guide said it had “few neighborhood taverns…in fact, there is no evidence whatsoever of worldly success.” The parking, though, must have been heavenly.

Channel 9 sometimes shows weather conditions from a camera placed at I-74’s Montana Avenue exit. They say the camera is in Westwood, but no, that’s really Northside. The famous Putz’s Creamy Whip is there, and as a Northside kid I walked there many times. Putz’s website, though, says it’s “the foot of Mt. Airy.” Who’s right, Channel 9 or Putz’s or me? — Westwood, Northside, All Around the Town

Dear All Around:
Go with whatever the Putz family says. Seriously—do not cross the Putz family. Not only have they kept a single-location ice cream store thriving for more than 75 years in spite of the Graeter’s/UDF archipelago, they literally got a President of the United States (Nixon, in 1971) to redirect the construction of I-74 away from their turf. They even got a city ordinance passed to change their stretch of street to “Putz Place.” This family is a Sovereign; tread lightly.

But perhaps the Doctor trembles needlessly. It is hard to imagine a local family more beloved, now in their fifth generation of serving Cincinnati’s five major food groups: softees, sundaes, coneys, metts, and dogs.

Adjacent to the House of Putz, Westwood and Northside’s boundaries are divided by the highway itself. So it is entirely possible Channel 9’s camera stands in Westwood and Putz’s Creamy Whip in Northside. Or Mt. Airy. Or Madagascar, or wherever this family feels like declaring itself to be. Do not argue with them. Here, have a sundae and smile.

I want to know the name, not of any committee, but of the actual person who came up with the “solution” for congested traffic near Kenwood Towne Centre: a concrete median all along Kenwood Road! Drivers now get funneled to an already-crowded Montgomery Road, where they have to double back to reach many popular places. Who approved that insane median? — Good Turns Gone Bad

Dear Bad:
A real person openly and proudly takes responsibility for his department’s action. Surprising, considering the steady march of torches and pitchforks to his door.

Greg Bickford, Sycamore Township planning and zoning director, commissioned a year-long study of Kenwood Road’s congestion between the I-71 off-ramp and Montgomery Road. His study found that constant left turns invited collisions and impeded traffic, and thus recommended the median. Bickford has since heard a mighty earful from the affected businesses (Wendy’s, Tire Discounters, Graeter’s, and others), some of whom report as much as a 40 percent reduction in the only traffic they care about: customers. He feels their pain but says safety must come first, and that the median has reduced accidents while increasing vehicular flow.

Commercial relief is set to arrive later this year: a new access road that will run behind the establishments. Bickford provided few details, but if he’s weary of controversy, he’d best avoid the word “streetcar.” 

Originally published in the July 2014 issue

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