Dr. Know: The Roses of OTR, Doris Day’s Proximity to King Records, and Barrier Glare Screens


I made a wrong turn off McMicken, near Elm Street. Finding my way back, I passed a house on Stark Street with an enormous rose garden. I mean, huge! It looks professional but not commercial, and seems out of place in this ungentrified part of Over-the-Rhine. Whose garden is this, and where do those roses go? —PEAT ROSE

Illustration by Lars Leetaru

Dear Peat:
You have stumbled upon—metaphorically, the Doctor hopes—the rose garden of Stuart and Carol Ann Schulman, who have beautified their last few addresses this way, simply because they love roses. How much? Stuart is a past president of the Greater Cincinnati Rose Association, and his former condiment company’s signature product was called Lady Rose Mayonnaise. He says that “roses are just like people; each one is totally different.” Insert your own joke here about thorns.

The Schulmans rehabbed this old Over-the-Rhine home while upgrading its companion empty lot in 2013. Nothing is for sale; the roses are free on request and are, as the sign on their fence says to walkers-by, “for everyone’s enjoyment.” Roses also are donated to hospice.

An old song called “A Rose in Spanish Harlem” celebrates a rose “growing in the street / right up through the concrete.” Locally, your version could be called “A Rose in German Over-the-Rhine,” celebrating roses “growing on Stark Street / from my Camry’s front seat.” Clumsy lyric, but you get the idea. The Schulmans invite everyone to park and enjoy the view during daylight hours.

I always knew that Doris Day was from Cincinnati, but I didn’t realize until her recent death that she’d grown up just a few blocks from King Records in Evanston. Did she ever record anything there? —KING FOR A DAY?

Dear Day:
Doris Day and King Records owner Syd Nathan were very close. That is, her birthplace and his record company were within walking distance of each other. In every other sense, they couldn’t have been further apart. Doris was long gone by the time Syd arrived; it’s doubtful they ever met.

Doris got to Evanston first, in 1922. When she was just a little girl, she asked her mother what lies ahead. “King Records” was surely not Mom’s answer, because when Syd Nathan moved his business to Brewster Avenue, little Doris Kappelhoff had left behind her hometown and her last name, and the rest of the family had left the neighborhood for Clifton. King Records got their studios and pressing plant up to speed at about the same time Doris Day got her first No. 1 record, Sentimental Journey. Their paths to further success from there were—to put it mildly—divergent.

Doris Day gave America truly magnificent music that was proper, blonde, white, and semi-formal. Syd Nathan gave America proof that truly magnificent music required none of these things. And Cincinnati gave America both of these truly magnificent people.

Please settle this argument: Going west on I-74 near Beekman, the concrete barrier for the temporary east lane has little vertical green flaps. I assume they block oncoming headlights. But why do some flaps also have orange stickers, in groups of three? I think they’re for reflecting our own headlights at curves. My spouse says no, they must be in threes for “some other reason.” The answer? —GREEN FLAP FEVER

Dear Fever:
Please, please, we must first employ the proper terminology! That wrong-way lane is not a “temporary” one. Someone at the Ohio Department of Transportation obviously struggled for hours to come up with “contraflow lane,” and we should show our respect! Similarly, ODOT’s “barrier glare screen” lacks a certain elegance, but it is clearly superior to your “flaps.”

You do deserve an honorable mention for “orange stickers,” because you correctly guessed their function as “retroreflective stripes.” Regulations require that they be adhered to the flaps—sorry, barrier glare screen—every 50 feet, in groups of three. Why three? Apparently they are a special gift to your spouse and you, to keep boredom from overtaking you completely. Really, try turning on the radio; the Doctor understands there are engaging personalities there.

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