Dr. Know: Columbia Parkway Driveways, Jimi Hendrix Memorabilia, and U-Turns

The good doctor delves into puzzling issues, like pulling out of Columbia Parkway driveways, the value of memorabilia from a Jimi Hendrix concert at Xavier, and making a proper U-turn.

On Columbia Parkway near Kemper Lane, there’s a large old house halfway up the hill. How in the world do the people living there get out of their driveway into the steady 50 mph traffic? It must be a death-defying experience every day. Do they have a special strategy? — DIE ON THAT HILL

ILLUSTRATION BY LARS LEETRAU

DEAR DIE:

The house you pass is the magnificent Benn Pitman House, built circa 1880 above a slim horse path called Columbia Avenue. After witnessing the transformation from path to Parkway and surviving more than 150 years of landslides, this rock-solid home (and its residents) would hardly be intimidated by something as puny and fleeting as an automobile.

The house’s current owners do have a master strategy, and we are pleased to report that it’s based upon Cincinnati courtesy. Motorists can see their vehicle nosing out at the driveway’s edge, and it’s never long before someone slows down and allows them a safe exit.

Returning home from downtown, however, is something else entirely. It’s a left turn, and it’s Columbia Parkway. The owners report that three vehicles have been lost to rear-enders.

The Pitman House has a few neighbors, meaning that the tally of casualties could be even higher. But the current residents say the beauty of their view and of their home is worth everything. We’ll check in with their attitude after the next landslide.


My dad went to a Jimi Hendrix concert at Xavier Fieldhouse in 1968. It was the high point of his youth. He saved everything—ticket stubs, newspaper articles, etc. Years later he even found pages from Jimi’s diary mentioning the show. Are they worth anything? Who locally might be interested? —INEXPERIENCED

DEAR INEXPERIENCED:

The Doctor regularly receives inquiries about the value of Boomer ephemera. Such a task is, to borrow from today’s youth lingo, “venturing beyond the boundaries of one’s lane.” We feel confident, however, that the image you provided of Mr. Hendrix’s diary—simply a photo of the authentic diary that resides in Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture—will most certainly not excite a collector.

But wait. Other images you have provided might interest social researchers. To wit, your March 8, 1968, copy of Xavier News mentioning the upcoming Hendrix concert. There were no bigger fans of the band known as the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1968 than college students, so a sociologist may wish to learn how a college newspaper came to discuss their appearance as “The Jimmy Hendrix Explosion.” On another page, a nonprofit establishment is described as “a non-prophet place.” Who produced such horrible journalism? ’Scuse me while I diss this guy.


I recently got stuck waiting at a railroad crossing in Silverton. It’s a few hundred feet from a UDF, and while waiting I saw two cars behind me quickly veer left into the UDF, come right back out and go the other way. Is this legal? Seems like a dangerous thing to do. —ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY

DEAR LONG:

Getting stuck at a railroad crossing in the 21st century feels like a lightning bolt of why-me annoyance. Trying to outrun it is, of course, a terrible idea, but other quick moves to avoid getting trapped can also be dangerous. Sudden U-turns in traffic are illegal anywhere, anytime; don’t do it.

Likewise, dashing through corner gas stations to avoid a red light is verboten. But entering a UDF parking lot via a proper left turn, turning around safely, and exiting in the opposite direction? This seems like a legal maneuver regardless of a train’s presence.

The Doctor is using the verb “seems,” because while various people answering the phones at the Silverton and Cincinnati District Four Police Departments were in agreement, they were not actual officers able to give official answers, and such actual officers were not able to return the Doctor’s inquiry by press time. Why, it’s almost as if these people had more important things to do. Please drive carefully.

Dr. Know is Jay Gilbert, weekday afternoon deejay on 92.5 FM The Fox. Email him your questions about the city’s peculiarities at drknow@cincinnatimagazine.com.

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