Dr. Know: Trash Days, Twin Sisters Delivery, and Warner Bros.

The good doctor takes on troubling issues, including waste management, gifted armaments, and film history

I recently moved to Fairfield from College Hill. My trash pickup day is now Monday, so I didn’t bother to drag my cans to the curb on Presidents’ Day. To my surprise, the truck came anyway. Isn’t trash collection delayed a day during holiday weeks? Is Fairfield weird? —TRASH CANNED

Illustration by Lars Leetaru

Dear Trash:
Fairfield will get back to you about the countless ways it is weird, but only the City of Cincinnati skips waste collection on holidays around these parts, and then arrives 24 hours late the rest of the week. Except when it doesn’t, as the Doctor will explain.

Like every Cincinnati suburb, Fairfield’s trash pickups are handled by Rumpke, the waste behemoth that is literally king of a mountain. Rumpke’s holiday policy is simple: pickups are skipped only on Christmas and New Year’s Day. Cincinnati, by contrast, gleefully tortures its citizens by disrupting their trash routine all year long. City-employed collectors, forced to work on post-holiday Saturdays, also suffer a week’s worth of extra-ripe cans left out by the inattentive.

It’s all bad enough during weeks with Monday holidays, but hard-date exceptions like July 4th can screw up your week at any point. And just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the city provides an extra bonus of confusion on Columbus Day: It skips the skipping. Why? So workers can work that day and then take their birthday off instead. Your move to Fairfield? A garbage upgrade.

This year marks the 180th anniversary of Cincinnati’s delivery of the “Twin Sisters,” two cannons that helped Texas win their War of Independence from Mexico. In Texas, the cannons are widely known and honored, but here, where they were created and donated, they’ve been forgotten. How did this happen? —ALAMO SHMALAMO

Dear Shmalamo:
Aye, ’twas April of 1836, and General Sam Houston needed a miracle to survive the upcoming Battle of San Jacinto. He received two: a pair of mighty iron cannons cast and donated by supporters from Cincinnati. They showed up, fired up, and 18 minutes later, the war was over. Who Dey, y’all!

Supporter Charles Rice transported the cannons from Cincinnati under considerable duress, bringing along his 9-year-old twin daughters to officially present them. Texans fittingly and gratefully named the cannons The Twin Sisters, which in later years were touched off at official celebrations. But by the end of the Civil War in 1865, fears that the sacred cannons would be captured by advancing Yankees led three soldiers to allegedly bury them somewhere outside of Houston. They were never seen again.

Perhaps this explains why Cincinnatians do not treasure the Twins the way Texans do. This whole “we lost them trying to save them” story has a bit of a dog-ate-my-homework tinge to it. Everything else during the war was melted for scrap metal, but not these? Today’s technology can’t find two buried cannons? You could at least put them out on the mantle when we come to visit.

I’m surprised you haven’t received this question, because countless people see this every day: Why is there a building on Central Parkway with large Art Deco letters saying “Warner Bros. Pictures?” Was it once some kind of regional studio? Did Bogart and Bacall ever shoot scenes there? —HERE’S LOOKING AT THAT

Dear That:
The Doctor wishes your answer could be Hollywood glam and glitz. Alas, it is mundane and flammable.

Cincinnati was once the Midwest hub for “film exchange,” an invisible but huge part of the movie business. Film reels were constantly on the road, and exchanges booked and distributed them to thousands of theaters. Old film was notorious for bursting into flame, and after some big fires at film exchanges downtown during the early 20th century, Cincinnati’s film exchangers clustered at the intersection of Central Parkway and Liberty, storing the reels in a nearby shared warehouse. The 1940 City Directory lists 21 film exchange companies, all of them within walking distance of that corner. You might call them our town’s “Cinema Vendor Group.”

Most movies have gone digital of late, but even as far back as the 1960s, changes in production and distribution diminished the local film exchange business. Cincinnati’s Cinema Vendor Group fell into what you might call the original “decline of the CVG hub.” The only remaining evidence is that one building bearing the Warner Bros. name. That’s all, folks.

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