Dr. Know: Kennedy’s Plate, Norwood’s CDK Global Building, and Prominent Streets

This month’s questions for Dr. Know touch on a commemorative plate, CDK Global’s actual territory, and Kroger Street.

Our family has a John F. Kennedy commemorative plate, showing his picture with a date: October 6, 1960. All I know is that my father got it at a Cincinnati dinner he attended during JFK’s presidential run. For the plate’s 60th anniversary, can you uncover its details and maybe its value? —CLEAR MY PLATE

Illustration by Lars Leetaru

You have confused the Doctor with Cincinnati’s own Wes Cowan, an appraiser on the PBS program Antiques Roadshow. Having met Mr. Cowan, the Doctor shall attempt a rough impersonation. Your father paid $100—good luck getting that for the plate now—to attend JFK’s fund-raiser event at the Netherland Hilton Hotel. Of course, he could have watched it for free on WCPO-TV and switched over to Sea Hunt when Mr. Kennedy’s speech about Communist Cuba became tiresome. When JFK first arrived in town, he was surprised to learn that our city was not pronounced Cincinnotty. Oh, those upper-crust Bostonians.

A footnote: Your ceramic plate accurately displays the date of Mr. Kennedy’s 1960 fund-raiser, but a brass plaque on Government Square wrongly displays the date of his outdoor speech there in 1962. That event was on October 5; the plaque says October 8. The Doctor exposed this shocking scandal in his August 2014 column, and yet the offending plaque stubbornly remains. Perhaps its unique value could be estimated by someone on Antiques Roadshow. We know a guy.

I drive past the giant CDK Global office building in Norwood every day. I’m embarrassed to ask, but what does this global company do? I checked their website, but I still can’t understand their business. Something automotive. Does CDK Global rule the globe from Norwood? —A WORLD OF QUESTIONS

Perhaps the website is confusing because you are unfamiliar with 21st-century business terminology. Today’s top corporations synergistically actualize their next-generation deliverables into a scalable touchpoint for incentivizing the retargeted platformization of their core-competency bandwidth. You just haven’t moved the needle.

You correctly observe that CDK Global’s website is a bit inside-baseball for the automotive industry; they haven’t bothered to simplify for little people like us. So, to determine how much of the globe CDK dominates, the Doctor infiltrated its headquarters. Carrying a briefcase so as to appear non-threatening, he bravely entered the lobby at Central Parke—the five-story tombstone atop Norwood’s former GM assembly plant. The security guard was friendly enough, but offered scant detail about the company.

Wikipedia says that CDK Global provides “integrated technology services and solutions to over 27,000 automotive dealerships internationally, as well as vehicle manufacturers.” That may be as clear a picture as we peons will ever grasp. The Doctor did confirm that CDK Global is based in Illinois, has offices everywhere, and only seems to rule the world from Norwood. It does not. That’s UDF.

Barney Kroger is one of the most renowned figures in Cincinnati history. Why, then, is such a humble street named for him? Kroger Avenue in Mt. Lookout is nice, but I’m sure Mr. Kroger lived in a classier part of town. Why didn’t the city put his name on a more prominent street? —OFF BRAND

Ah, yes, another mismatch of a Cincinnati street with its namesake (see our June column re: Ruth Lyons Alley). In this case, however, you are the one that has missed the match. Had you ventured up the length of Kroger Avenue, you would have found your hoped-for “classier part of town.” In the early 20th century the summit atop Mt. Lookout was even more spacious, and its status further enhanced by the Delta/Grandin viaduct, a direct connection to oh-so-exclusive Hyde Park.

So it was no surprise in 1922 when our hero, Bernard H. Kroger, chose this area for his family’s new mansion. Around the same time, your “nice” street leading up from Delta had its name changed from Beechmont Avenue to Kroger Avenue. This was more than a gesture to help a city father find his way home; it was the very honor you assume he was denied.

The Delta/Grandin viaduct was torn down in 1975, so Barney’s namesake now provides even more of a vital access to his old neighborhood. Take a ride up there sometime and look around. No, the Doctor can’t afford a house there either.

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