Dr. Know: September 2014

39

What is the strange little wedge-shaped building in a Norwood parking lot with the word Arnold on it? It’s just where you turn from the Norwood Lateral onto Montgomery Road. The building is unoccupied and askew from all the others. Who is Arnold? — Whither the Wedge

Dear Whither:
The word Arnold in Cincinnati has, for several lifetimes, meant the humble tavern downtown. But way out in Norwood way back in the day, that name also meant the unhumble financier Wilbur E. Arnold.

Wilbur quite literally made a name for himself, placing his moniker above the entrance to his newly-commissioned Commercial Savings Bank of Norwood in 1914. The wedge-shaped Arnold Building at the sharply-angled corner of Montgomery and Carthage proclaimed, “Wilbur Arnold is as sharp as cheddar.”

Alas, Mr. Arnold’s money did not buy happiness: He cut his life short—with a straight razor—only four years later. His eponymous building, though, became such a beloved Norwood landmark that it was saved when the Linden Pointe office park obliterated the area in 2006. In this case, “saved” meant that: a) the building was vaporized along with several square blocks; b) a vaguely similar tiny replica was erected nearby; and c) the surviving stone bearing the Arnold name was guiltily placed above the new entrance. You correctly note that this odd-shaped bite-size building, sideways in a parking lot and looking like a zombie Photo Bug, is not exactly a tenant magnet.

Walking by a church on West Ninth Street last Sunday morning, I saw a car glide into a “No Parking Any Time” slot. I pointed the sign out to the cheery ladies who disembarked (while noting the ample parking directly across the street), but they assured me that they had police permission to park there while attending church. A Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputy idling nearby confirmed this to me. Is this a deal any Cincinnati church can cut? — Impious and Indignant

Dear Impious:
Heaven knows, all mortal souls have dreamed of parking in a forbidden zone. But children, it is written: Rules are rules! Except, miraculously, when they’re not, such as on Sunday mornings near Cincinnati’s downtown churches.

A District One police officer, whose name is known but to God (and to the Doctor, who is not so foolish as to unleash forces he does not understand), avoided direct acknowledgment that churches get Sunday morning dispensations. He did explain that traffic is quite sparse at these times, and that there are elderly members for whom parking across the street makes a difference. His most candid observation was that officers have discretion to enforce “the spirit of the law rather than just the letter.” The perfect response for this situation, congregants? We’ll all find out someday when we discover who among us gets free valet parking at the Pearly Gates.

I thought I knew my local baseball history, but a buddy tells me that there was a time when Cincinnati had two professional baseball teams. Really? I thought this one belonged to the Reds. — Two Red Machines?

Dear Machine:
Yes, Cincinnati briefly sported two professional baseball teams. Do not flog yourself, however, as ignorance of this fact is widespread. Permit us a quick pivot to football to explain why.

In 1985, Cris Collinsworth quit the Cincinnati Bengals to join the renegade United States Football League, but he returned within the year. The USFL expired the following year. In 1975, the World Football League shut down halfway into its second season. In 2001, the XFL almost got their second season going, but soon called it quits.

The Doctor raises these football ghosts because their lives on earth seem like Sequoias compared to the gnat-like lifespan of baseball’s Union Association League, which did not even complete its only season in 1884.

The league’s Cincinnati Unions (universally called the Outlaw Reds) did boast some commendable stats, finishing 69–36. And simply finishing was boastworthy; many of the league’s other teams slid head-first into ruin before September. Across town, the Red Stockings hated being upstaged by the Outlaw Reds’ Dick Burns, who pitched our town’s very first no-hitter, and by the celebrity of manager/left-fielder “Hustlin’ Dan” O’Leary. O’Leary was a famous heavy gambler, and this player-manager nicknamed “Hustle” was widely accused of placing large bets on his own—hey, wait a minute…

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

Originally published in the September 2014 issue

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