History hovers like a ghost around Cincinnati, with vestiges of the past lying just under the surface or hiding in plain sight. A few years ago, a friend who is completely obsessed with Crosley Field got a tip from a fellow obsessive that some construction work was being done on the site of the old stadium. “You should drive by and see what the bulldozers have turned up,” he was nudged. And so he did. It didn’t take long for him to uncover several pieces of hexagonal tiled cement floor amongst the detritus, which he said could have graced a side exit or perhaps a men’s room. He told me this standing on the street with his car trunk wide open displaying a sizable pile of the stuff, a small chunk of which he bequeathed to me like a holy relic. It sits proudly on a table in my office to this day.
Nostalgia can be a powerful drug. “Lost City,” our cover story this month, indulges that need. To stoke the embers of memory, I texted a simple request to six friends: Name a few landmarks of our youth that are gone but not forgotten. What did they miss? My phone made noises for the next hour. Clearly a vast array of persons, places, and things linger fondly (for the most part) in their minds. I don’t have the space to include the entire litany here, but if you are a Cincinnatian of a certain age, these ghosts will ring a bell:
Steinberg’s, King Kwik, Brendamour’s, the old canoe ride at Kings Island, the Shooting Star at Coney, the cave at the old natural history museum (“Still remember Uncle Al going through on TV”), Uncle Al, The Movies repertory cinema, Riverfront Stadium, Adrica’s in Mt. Adams, the Cool Ghoul, Mt. Healthy Drive-In (“…not that I ever actually saw a movie there”), the “dirty” Dent Drive-In, Cory’s (“before the remodel”), buttermilk (“used to be on Skyline’s menu, now it is off”), Kash’s Big Bargain Barn (“Say hello Mary Lou”), “top 6” Reds tickets at Riverfront (“$3.50”), Daily Donuts, Mike Fink, the Channel 19 1 o’clock movie, the Playboy Club (“Had the honor of riding its St. Patrick’s parade float”), Al Schottelkotte, the old “suicide lane” on Columbia Parkway, Kaldi’s, CAGE, Base Art, Skywalk Cinemas, and Wizard’s Records.
My phone is still pinging. I guess if memory serves, all is not lost.