VAS YOU EFER IN ZINZINNATI?

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything happens there ten years later. –attributed to Mark Twain, perhaps apocryphally

As a native Cincinnatian who began this blog in Jan. 2009, I think it’s high time that I compose a post (com-post, for short?) about my home town….but do the math: ten years have yet to pass, so I’m actually more than three years ahead of “Cincinnati time” with this humorous (humus-rich?) travelblog.  Further more, it is my fondest hope that by the time I’ve finished de-composing this tour de farce, you will know every bit as much about Cincinnati as you do now (as, I hope, will I).

Cincinnati, for the benefit of the geographically challenged, is located in Ohio on the Ohio, not to mention under the Ohio — on occasions like the Great Flood of  January-February 1937. I can bear witness to this, as I was 3 1/2 months old at the time and remember thinking the second-story-level deluge I found myself awash in was one bitch of an ice-cold bath/where the hell did my rubber ducky float off to (my language skills were rather advanced for my age).

Incidentally, some so-called experts are skeptical that Mark Twain (like Yogi Berra a century later) said what he said, but I am not….skeptical, that is. I am mistermuse, and I say the above quote is just the kind of thing Twain might say after spending months working as a printer in Cincinnati from late 1856 to April 1857, printing news that happened in 1846-47. Imagine his shock after leaving Cincinnati for New Orleans on April 15, 1857 to find that the world had aged ten years in less than six months.

But enough about me. It may interest you to know that Twain’s jaded opinion of Cincinnati was not shared by other famous personages of yesteryear. Here are just a few of the two examples I found who found Cincinnati to be the fairest of flowers in America’s bouquet:

Cincinnati is a beautiful city; cheerful, thriving and animated. I have not often seen a place that commends itself so favourably and pleasantly to a stranger at the first glance as this does. –Charles Dickens, 1842

The most beautiful inland city in America. -Winston Churchill, 1932

You may be vondering vhy this post about Zinzinnati is so titled. Vell, after the town vas founded in the late 1700s and settled by Revolutionary Var veterans and pioneers, the first large influx of immigrants vas Germans. Reminded of their native Rhine Valley by the Ohio River Valley, the vord spread back to der homeland, bringing increasing numbers of Germans by der thousands. D. J. Kenny writes in ILLUSTRATED CINCINNATI:

One has no sooner entered the districts of the city lying beyond Court Street, than he finds himself in another atmosphere — a foreign land. The people are Germans, their very gossip is German. They cook their food by German recipes, and sit long over their foaming beer, ever and again shaking it ’round their glass with that peculiar motion which none but a German can impart to the beverage he loves.

To this day, that district is known as “Over-the-Rhine,” but sadly, a city vhich vas once second only to Milwaukee as the beer capital of America, gave up almost all its breweries (including The Burger Brewing Company, whose slogan vas Vas you efer in Zinzinnati?). To explain what happened, I quote Greg Noble and Lucy May in this except from their post titled Cincinnati’s rise and fall as a brewery town:

Back in 1902, when Carrie Nation was busting up saloons with the swings of her ax during the temperance crusade, she arrived in Cincinnati determined to leave her mark in splintered bar tops and broken windows. But Carrie glanced up and down Vine Street, started counting the 136 saloons on that one street alone, and fled in retreat without taking one swing.. She later confessed that she “would have dropped from exhaustion” in the first block.

That was the golden era of beer and breweries in Cincinnati. For decades before and after the turn of the 20th century, Cincinnati was one of the beer-drinkingest, beer-brewingest cities in America. Big local breweries established a rich, proud heritage — only to meet their demise in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. How did that happen?

To use a baseball analogy, think of it as the Cardinals and Brewers spending so much on player salaries that the Reds couldn’t compete. The brewing giants — notably St. Louis’ Anheuser-Busch, Milwaukee’s Miller and others — out-spent, out-produced and out-marketed Cincinnati’s breweries and eventually overcame local brand loyalty.

I could go on, but my eyes are out of focus from crying in my beer thinking about this. Wie schade!

 

 

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23 comments on “VAS YOU EFER IN ZINZINNATI?

  1. Joseph Nebus says:

    I was briefly in Cincinnati last year! My love and I were doing an amusement park tour and we took in Coney Island, and its semi-daughter park of Kings Island. Both great parks, but the most stunning thing was the giant pole of times that Coney Island was flooded. Again and again and again and again. You can understand why they gave up on having an amusement park there, and it’s amazing the amusement park regrew anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse says:

      I have fond memories of the old Coney Island as a boy in the 1940s when the most fun way to get there was by the “Island Queen” steamboat (which exploded and burned in 1947) from the public landing in downtown Cincinnati, upriver (east) about ten miles to “The Most Beautiful All-Day Summer Resort in America” (so-called in an 1880s ad when it was known as OHIO GROVE – THE CONEY ISLAND OF THE WEST). Within a few years after the park opened in June 1886, the original name was dropped, and it was called simply CONEY ISLAND until Taft Broadcasting, its new owners, closed it in 1971 and opened Kings Island northeast of town in April 1972.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joseph Nebus says:

        I’ve heard of the steamboat, and when we visited we paid particular attention to visiting the lighthouse and entry gate from that point. It’s a pity that during the park’s closure the wooden roller coaster was torn down; that looks to have been a great ride. But then any wooden roller coaster is worth a ride.

        Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse says:

        Coney Island had at least two roller coasters when I was a boy: Wild Cat and the Shooting Star. At least one was wooden – maybe both, I don’t remember.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joseph Nebus says:

        The Roller Coaster Database record for Coney Island Cincinnati reports that both Wild Cat and Shooting Star were wooden roller coasters.

        Sadly they only have two pictures of Shooting Star, and none of Wild Cat. But Shooting Star looks great.

        Roller Coaster Database does list the steel Wild Mouse roller coaster as closing “1969 or earlier”. If you’ve got a reliable memory of riding, or at least seeing it, sometime in that decade you might be able to help them pin down its operations.

        Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse says:

      As luck would have it, the only CINCINNATI HISTORICAL SOCIETY BULLETIN I own (actually a 1/4 inch thick paperback book dated Summer 1971) contains an article titled “Coney Island: Say Goodbye” with many old photos including two of roller coasters (one unnamed). The unnamed coaster is shown in the 1937 flood and is probably either the Wild Cat or Shooting Star. The other photo is of “The Little Dipper roller coaster, predecessor of the famous Wild Cat and the Shooting Star.” Judging by how the ladies riding the coaster are dressed, I’m guessing the photo dates from the 1920s or early 1930s (before I was born).

      As I recall, the Wild Mouse was a smaller coaster for children and the less adventurous, which included me. After taking one ride on one of the two large coasters (I don’t recall which one), I vowed “never again” (though I wasn’t a big roller coaster fan to begin with, and I don’t think I rode the Wild Mouse more than once or twice).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. arekhill1 says:

    Beer, Cincinnati and myself have a history together. Back in my college years, a friend and I hitchhiked out there to eat Thanksgiving dinner with his parents. Naturally we wanted to go out and party the night before the turkey, and the liquor laws of the state of Ohio, back when the liquor laws of states were a pastiche of interesting and sometimes conflicting requirements before they were replaced by today’s numbingly uniform drinking regulations, permitted drinkers between the ages of 18 and 21 to be served only “3.2” beer, so-called because that was the maximum percentage of alcohol it was permitted to contain. It was difficult to get drunk on the stuff, but we managed anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. mistermuse says:

    Well, I hope you guys didn’t prevail upon the turkey to be your designated driver, because after doing you and your friend that favor, it wouldn’t have been very nice to eat him the next day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Don Frankel says:

    Vaz you d’are Charlie? Well you can answer that question in the affirmative as you vas. Next time I have a drink which should be after diner and not so long from now, I will drink to Cincinnati. I’m guessing that the City is named after Cincinnatus Roman General and Emperor.

    Like

  5. mistermuse says:

    You’re right, Don, about the city being named after Cincinnatus. It was originally called Losantiville when first settled in 1788, but was renamed Cincinnati in 1790 by the governor of the Northwest Territory….or at least that’s what I hear, because I vaz not dere.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. restlessjo says:

    Nope, I’m not much wiser, but I was entertained and I guess that’s why you visit blogs. 🙂 I love the city’s name. It’s like a big sticky icing bun 🙂 I have a picture in my mind of a lift perched up on a cliff, but I bet that’s not Cincinnati, is it? Maybe Pittsburgh? Ah well- I tried!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. mistermuse says:

    As it happens, you’ve come to the right place to ask about Cincinnati compared to Pittsburgh, because when I was about seven years old, my mom & dad moved to Pittsburgh, and fortunately, they remembered to take me along. We only stayed a year and a half, but I’ve been back several times. Both cities had several lifts (actually they’re called inclines), but Pittsburgh had the good sense to preserve a few of theirs, and they’re now beautifully restored tourist attractions and a real treat to ride, with beautiful views of the city. But the powers-that-be in Cincinnati had no such foresight, and the Mt. Adams Incline, the Price Hill Incline and several others are all gone, and all that remain are memories of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Don Frankel says:

    Losantivlle eh. Seems then that the French got there first but then got kicked out as they did in a whole lot of places.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mél@nie says:

    vel, I vaz not dere eider… 🙂 and it’s not on my list… c’est grave, Docteur Muse?… 😉
    * * *
    btw, excellent post… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. mistermuse says:

    Merci, Mel@nie….btw, please forgive my friend Don for his little dig at the French (above), but that leads me to wonder how sensitive are the French to the not-uncommon view of Americans that the French would rather make love than war (to put it politely)? Perhaps I should ask your forgiveness, as well, for broaching such a sensitive subject! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mél@nie says:

      forgiveness granted, Sir! 🙂 à propos, I do confirm about the French who don’t “practice” that fake(hypocrite!) Anglo-Saxon “puritanism”… 😉
      * * *
      I’ve been used to the Americans’ French-bashing for years… 🙂 do you remember “freedom fries” instead of “French fries” after the French Gov refused to join the US & “the coalition of shame” to invade and to occupy Iraq – ILLEGALLY?!… they opened Pandora’s box and 12 years later, over 150 000 dead civilians, the whole Middle East has turned into a general chaos… 😦 thanks to the infernal trio: wbush, cheney & rumsfeld(NO capitals!) who lied to the American people about the wmd, etc… saying they didn’t give a damn(I also put it politely!) on France and Germany which are just “old Europe”?!… hellooo!!! their ancestors came to America from… Africa or Australia?!… – rhetorical question, of course! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Don Frankel says:

    Pardonnez moi Mel@nie. Pardonnez moi. I don’t mean to slight the French. They were among the earliest of European settlers that came to America.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. mitchteemley says:

    I’m not a native, but I live in Cincinnati now. And the breweries are making a roaring come-back, btw; it’s the fastest growing craft beer region in the country!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Are you still in Cincinnati, Mitch? If so, where? I am officially in an area called Coreyville (just over the line), having moved “down the street” from the official Gaslight District. I did know the craft beer reputation, but I never learned to like beer, so the many types available at the Cheers Bar down the street (where everybody knows my dog’s name!) are totally wasted on me.

      How about you, Muse? My part of Cincinnati had flash flood warnings, but other than a lot of noise and great deal of water, we didn’t get the torrential downpour you described on the post I just read.
      xx,
      mgh
      (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
      ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
      “It takes a village to transform a world!”

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse says:

        I live outside the city, but have a Cincinnati zip code. According to an article a few days ago in the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Metropolitan Sewer District called it a 50- to 100-year rain event, but apparently some areas got a lot more than others.

        Like

  13. mistermuse says:

    Periodically I see an article in the paper about a new micro-brewery or craft beer business, but I didn’t know “it’s the fastest growing craft beer region in the country!” I suppose I haven’t paid a lot of attention because I’m not the beer drinker I used to be, but I appreciate the information/comment.

    Liked by 1 person

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