Dr. Know: Restaurant Reuse, Lunken Airport’s Black Brick Myth, and Rainwater Slides


As I was leaving a restaurant in Cheviot, the waitress asked me to take the saltine packets that had come with my soup, otherwise she’d have to throw them away. Anything that touches the table, she claimed, can’t be served again. Discarding exposed food makes sense, but sealed crackers? Is this a local health regulation or an overly cautious restaurant? —BAD DEAL MEAL

Dear Deal:
This is food safety at its finest, a sure contender for the five-star Purell Boiled In Ammonia Golden Mop. Eligibility for this prestigious honor is limited to restaurants whose servers wear hazmat suits.

The Doctor kids. Gail Long at the Cincinnati Health Department confirms the sensible rule you’ve assumed: Any exposed food (bread baskets, unwrapped butter patties, etc.) must be discarded along with the finished meal, but sealed packets are officially cootie-proof and are fine for reuse. A restaurant owner who forbids even these items from returning to the table is choosing to be extra careful, or perhaps owns stock in Keebler. Or Rumpke.

Near the top of the old Lunken Airport control tower is a lone black brick marking the 79.9-foot-high-water level of Cincinnati’s 1937 flood. I know the brick has something etched in it, but it’s way too high up there to read. What exactly does it say to commemorate the flood? —WATERY MARK

Dear Mark:
This month marks the 80th anniversary of Cincinnati’s worst natural disaster, having wrought hardships upon our citizenry that lasted for decades. The Doctor wishes, therefore, to reverently refrain from the mildly snide cynicism that usually accompanies his responses. Unfortunately your question, which irresponsibly perpetuates a popular misconception shared by a great many Cincinnatians, invites snide cynicism like a gag reflex.

It’s not a brick. It’s a brass plaque hammered into the bricks, which decades of aviation effluent have rendered dark and unreadable. It was cleaned only once, in 2007, which is understandable when you consider: 1) what it must take to get up there with a bucket of Mr. Clean, and 2) how impossible it is to read the thing from the ground anyway.

The words on the plaque are utterly without eloquence. They offer no clue to the devastation levied upon the airport and the city. The plaque simply reads, redundantly: “Flood of January 1937 High Water Mark—January 26, 1937—United States Engineer Department—Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army—Cincinnati District.” These emotionless proclamations, posted at several places in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, vary in design and date but share a consistent stoicism.

The Lunken black-brick myth is a stubborn one. In 2004, even this very magazine was guilty of repeating it as an answer in a local trivia quiz. As false legends go, it is minor compared to, say, a frog cheerfully allowing itself to be slowly boiled in water. You know that one’s not true, right? Also, don’t try flushing toilets in Australia; you will be very disappointed.

My wife and I were at the Montgomery Inn Boathouse, looking across the river to Bellevue. Or maybe it was Newport. Regardless, we spotted a new mini-floodwall with a small chute in the center. Is that for collecting water or spewing it? Or maybe it’s a cool new water slide? We got into an argument about it. Who wins? —ROILIN’ ON THE RIVER

Dear Roilin’:
The Doctor’s services do not include marriage counseling, though he does suggest cutting back on the beverages at mealtime. That “small” chute, contrary to your ostensibly lubricated perceptions, is 20 feet wide. Should you try gliding down it on a mat, you would either drown or be informed by the cops who arrest you how unsanitary you have been.

As for who wins, everyone does! Just where Bellevue and Newport converge—you got that part right—sits the new Taylor Creek Overlook Park. Taylor Creek, covered long ago by The Party Source, still collects rainwater from around I-471 that needs to go somewhere, and its old culvert was falling apart. Planners decided to combine the new floodwall and river outlet with a small park on top. You may, therefore, call it a “water park” of sorts. With the landscaping now complete, you and the missus should save the sliding for Coney Island and just park. Maybe it’ll rekindle something.

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