Dr. Know: Oakley Streets, Skyline Chili Songs, and Interstate Signs

The good doctor ponders puzzling issues, like why Oakley skips some numbered streets, the story behind a Skyline Chili jingle, and what to do if you see an endangered person notice on an interstate sign.

ILLUSTRATION BY LARS LEETARU

There’s a series of number-named streets in Oakley, 28th thru 34th Avenues. Why do they start at 28? I’m pretty sure no lower-numbered streets ever existed. How come they were named this way? Was it somebody’s 28th birthday? —SORRY, WRONG NUMBERS

DEAR WRONG:
It’s worse than you think. Oakley not only designated these streets as 28 thru 34 (two were later renamed), but 28th Avenue once connected with two others: 43rd and 44th. Was someone in Oakley government playing with Bingo balls during a martini lunch?

The Doctor, after diligently rummaging through musty local documents, found something that suggests an answer. But first, let’s talk about the long-gone Oakley Race Track. It was the area’s main attraction in the late 19th century, and it encircled the precise area of your curiosity. All of Oakley’s numbered avenues were created right there after the track closed and subdivided in 1907. But why did the numbers start at 28? Let us now gently unfold a map from 1869.

Aha! Southwest Ohio was originally segmented into numbered squares, and most of what became Oakley was in Square 28, with lots numbered 28 thru 37. Bingo! There’s no O-28 on a Bingo card, but this seems to be a winner. We’ll just assume that those extra streets, 43rd and 44th, were mapped late in the martini lunch.


Every time a Skyline Chili commercial comes on, my mom reminds us that the song “It’s Skyline Time” comes from the 1950s hit “Twilight Time.” But she also says the doo-wop group who sang it got busted in Cincinnati with prostitutes, and it ruined their career. Is her memory right? —IT’S JAILTIME TIME

DEAR JAIL:
Ten days after the Beatles sang on the Ed Sullivan Show, they were lounging in a Miami hotel. But 10 days after the Platters sang on the Ed Sullivan Show, they were lounging in Cincinnati police custody. They’d done a show in Newport and later were arrested with four undressed young women in a Cincinnati hotel. The charges were aiding and abetting prostitution— not exactly a career boost in 1959.

In case you don’t know, the Platters were Black. Three of the women were white. Maybe, just maybe, that had something to do with hotel staff calling the cops. The subsequent trial confirmed that the women, all adults, were not prostitutes. Everyone was acquitted, but the Platters never saw the Top 10 again.

Like some platters served at Skyline, these Platters were a five-way: four men and one woman (she wasn’t around during the incident). “Twilight Time” was one of their many Number 1 hits. Skyline Chili, which adapted the song as their jingle in 1986, can hardly remember a time when they weren’t Cincinnati’s Number 1.


When I’m on the highway and see an “endangered adult” notice on the electronic sign, I don’t see instructions for what to do. If I know something about the person being sought, is it enough of an emergency to call 911? Some other number? The sign doesn’t say. Shouldn’t it? —WHO YA GONNA CALL

DEAR GONNA:
Even if you are driving our highways at the legal speed—far be it from us to suggest that you might not be—the amount of time to read and comprehend messages as you zoom past Ohio’s electronic signs is fleeting. If something important is being displayed, the State of Ohio wants you to absorb the message. That means as few words as possible; the signs have only three lines with 17 characters each. By the way, that’s why a message with the word “Xmas” doesn’t mean ODOT is waging a war on Christmas.

But the State of Ohio, you may have noticed, very much wants all drivers to avoid fumbling for their phones. Accordingly, there is no prompting that might prod a driver into distraction. Someone driving while suffering from dementia is absolutely an emergency, so do call 911 if you know something. Just don’t create a new emergency while doing it. Finding an endangered adult will allow the signs to quickly revert back to something like “Only Xmas Trees Should Be Lit, Not Drivers.” Season’s whatever, everyone.

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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