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03/04/24 12:10 PM #6652    


Dale Gieringer

Does anyone have plans for viewing the April 8th eclipse?  The line of totality passes ~30+ miles northwest of Cincinnat around 2 - 3 pm.  Chances of sunny weather are just 1 out of 3  there in early April, but I thought it would be fun to drop by for a visit.   Any good tips on where to view?

Last year's eclipse on my birthday 4/20 in Western Australia.

03/04/24 12:18 PM #6653    


Philip Spiess

Dale:  Are you sure that's not a Russian death-star in front of the sun?

03/05/24 09:58 AM #6654    


Ann Shepard (Rueve)


I viewed it from Sweetwater, TN seven years ago.  I won't have a far to travel this year...will be at my brother's in Huber Heights (north of Dayton).  I still have glasses from last time!! 



03/05/24 11:32 AM #6655    


David Buchholz

Dale, we're flying into Chicago on Sunday, driving to Oxford (where I taught high school for three years),eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Monday at Skyline, then breakfast on Tuesday at Skyline before driving  back to Chicago and flying to CA on Tuesday. 

03/05/24 05:49 PM #6656    


Ann Shepard (Rueve)

David, that's a great plan to drive to Oxford to view the eclipse.  
However I have a warning. From my experience going to the town of Sweetwater, TN, right off of Interstate 75, I didn't anticipate how crowded the roads and Interstate would be on my return to Cincinnati after viewing the eclipse.  Make sure you plan your return trip to Chicago accordingly.
Getting to your planned viewing location shouldn't be a problem, since people are traveling to their various locations at different times from different places.  However, EVERYONE is leaving after the eclipse at the same time, backing up the roadways in all directions. In my case, leaving to get back to I-75 to go north, the police had everyone drive south about 15 miles on a state road to enter the highway. The drive from Sweetwater, TN north to Knoxville is normally 40 took FOUR HOURS in bumper to bumper traffic, due to I-75 merging with I-40 near Knoxville, where people were returning from viewing the eclipse in Nashville. 
Keeping that in mind, it's an out of this world experience!!! 


Interactive map for locations to view the totality.

Ohio viewing areas with time and duration:

03/16/24 01:48 AM #6657    


Gail Weintraub (Stern)

I am saddened to report the death of Larry Werthaiser. His obituary reads:

WERTHAISER, Larry, age 77, passed away March 14, 2024, son of the late Harry and Sala Werthaiser, beloved husband of Iris Werthaiser, loving father of Melissa (Stefan) Hunter and Joshua (Ashley) Werthaiser, caring grandfather of Alexis and Rebecca Hunter, and Shane, Ari and Eli Werthaiser, dear brother of Marvin (Mindy) Werthaiser, brother-in-law of Faith (Spencer) Dolin, uncle of Hailey (Brian) Parnes, Michael (Jess) Dolin, and Daniel (Sara Finlay) Dolin, close friend of Bob and Cathy Altbaier. Services will be held on Monday, March 18, 2024 at Weil Kahn Funeral Home, 8350 Cornell Road, at 11:30AM with visitation beginning at 10:30AM. Services will be livestreamed: 
Burial will follow at United Jewish Cemetery in Montgomery, 7885 Ivygate Lane. Shiva will be observed at The Werthaiser residence on the evening of Monday, March 18, 2024 with times TBD. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, or the charity of one's choice would be appreciated.

May Larry's memory be a blessing.

04/10/24 08:08 PM #6658    


David Buchholz

In an earlier post I mentioned that I was planning to go to Oxford to see the eclipse.  I did.  Or rather, we did.  Flew to Chicago on Sunday, drove to Oxford that night, spent Monday in Oxford, flew home Tuesday.  Here are a few of the images taken on Monday.  I'm also posting a link to several more that are on my website.  That post is more of a travelogue, as Jadyne and I lived in Oxford between 1972 and 1975.  Our former rental house is still a rental, although it's been upgraded for students with a bar and an extra bedroom, which is located where I held on to my firstborn child in 1974 as 148 tornadoes struck Ohio, leveling Xenia.

Seconds Before Totality


Downtown Oxford during totality.

Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip

See the beautiful rainbow in Indianapolis!  Meet the Oxford Skyline chef!  Thrill to the drive-in theater between Hamilton and McGonigle!  Experience old barns, farms, and torrential rains on I-65 between Chicago and Indianapolis!  Meet my best friend in Oxford in 1975, Bill Laichas!  We hadn't seen each other in forty-nine years!

All this is yours, today only, but only if you click on the link.  Hurry!  Don't Wait!


04/11/24 06:33 PM #6659    


Philip Spiess

Good stuff, David!  (The ice cream, of course, but I meant the pictures!)

04/14/24 01:26 PM #6660    

Bonnie Altman (Templeton)

Dave your photos are fabulous. My husband and I went to Mazatlan, Mexico for the eclipse. It was fabulous!  We were able to see a solar flare with the naked eye. 

04/14/24 06:40 PM #6661    


Dale Gieringer

I too returned to Cincinnati to view the eclipse from Oldenburg, Indiana.   The traffic on I-74 and US 52 was the heaviest I've ever seen it.   For the first and probably last time in my lifetime of four eclipses, I managed to get a photo of the corona.   You can see here the red flares that Bonnie was talking about.  And here are the crescent images of the sun projected through a collander

Oldenburg is a quaint  19th century country town founded around a Franciscan monastery and nunnery.   One of the sisters established a homemade ice cream shop in a former post office turned bank.  They also sell antiques, including old CrackerJack treats from the 1920s through 1950s, which now go for $15 and upwards.  Don't you wish you'd saved yours?   (Oldenburg also has an outstanding  fried chicken restaurant, Wagner's Village Inn, which won the 2023 James Beard Foundation America's Classic Award for best local restaurant in the Great Lakes region.  Unfortunately, it was closed on the day of the eclipse.)         I stayed in Mt Adams on Sunday night but was disappointed to find that the nighborhood's old artsy-bohemian vibe had faded yupwards.  The only open restaurant I could find there was a Mexican cantina, El Barril, with a confused cross-cultural vibe.   The waitress looked blank when I asked if they served sangria.  She turned out to be from Nepal, one of the many south Asians who have immigrated to Cincinnati in recent years.   The burritos were good though.

     Having seen the Creation Museum during my last visit to Cincinnati, I was eager to visit its offspring, the Ark Encounter, a fundamentalist theme park down I-75  in Williamstown, KY.   The ark is cleverly situated so that it's invisible from the road;  you have to pay for parking and take a bus to get a view of it.  It was a rainy day so the park wasn't crowded, but there were still hundreds of cars  with out-of-state license plates in the parking lot.   The ark is artfully crafted using Biblical-era materials and 21st-century engineering technology  in the dimensions laid out in Scripture - 300 cubits or about 500 feet long, the size of a middling cruise ship.  There are cleverly fashioned cages with feeding and cleaning mechanisms and models of animals that might have inhabited them (including dinosaurs, which supposedly didn't go extinct until after the flood).  The exhibits explain how the ark could have easily been built to accommodate all of the animals on earth - not every species or every genus, but every "kind";  e.g. the dog kind, which would have included wolves, jackals, foxes and their now-extinct fossil ancestors.  After the flood, each kind proliferated according to God's plan into the multitudinous species we have today.   If you don't believe that,  just check out the Bible or one of the creationist high school textbooks on sale at the Ark's bookstore.

04/14/24 10:51 PM #6662    


Philip Spiess

Yep, that's the wooden shape they've spotted on Mount Ararat in Turkey every time there's a particularly serious ice melt!

04/15/24 04:41 AM #6663    


Paul Simons

Thanks all for the various eclipse and associated photos. As for the creationist take on reality, for maybe the only time in my life I had the same thought that Neil DeGrasse Tyson had: isn't it strange that thousands of people who reject the science that predicts air and water temperatures made airline and hotel reservations when the same science predicted the time and path of eclipse totality.
Someone else said something like "Nobody ever lost a dime betting on the stupidity of the American people." Money has to be in the dinosaur-laden ark somewhere. There was a TV show called "Dialing for Dollars." Now the game is "Trashing Truth for Trillions" and so far the fossil fuel companies and the politicians they own in various state and national capitals are winning.

04/15/24 06:58 PM #6664    


Philip Spiess

Remember, Paul, it was a fossil fuel company -- Sinclair Oil -- that first brought us "Dino the Dinosaur" at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair.

04/16/24 05:03 AM #6665    


Paul Simons

By golly Phil you're right! So the Creation Museum theologians have it right! I wonder where the Sinclair folks were keeping them, and what they were feeding them! This proves that you can't trust the elite college professors and that it's the good people at the oil companies that are keeping America great!

04/17/24 07:02 PM #6666    


Philip Spiess

As promised:


A Two-Seater of Comedy and Tragedy

Part II:  The Pleasant Ridge Privy Disaster

Prologue:  In Tenebris:  Without warning, the floor on which the young girls were standing gave way.  Down they fell, into the murky depths, into the foul odors, into the Stygian waters – and darkness and death surrounded them.  

Causa Mali:  It was a rather modest and fairly crude schoolyard privy or outhouse, and perhaps that was the reason for its downfall:  nobody paid it much attention.  As it was the girls’ privy, it was on the girls’ side (east side) of the Pleasant Ridge Public School playground.  Constructed in 1893, it was a whitewashed 10-foot-square frame building, built over a 12-foot-deep stone privy vault, which had that day about four feet of foul water and human waste in the pit.  Thus it was giving off rather noxious fumes, although the outhouse was ventilated, and somewhat illuminated, by a round window in each of the two gable ends.  (It is surprising that the outhouse had a privy pit, because Pleasant Ridge had a sewer system, but the school privies were not connected to the system.)  Because it saw a lot of use, the eleven-year-old privy had been repaired several times.

In fact, just in the past year (1903) a carpenter had installed new seats in the privy (there were four on each of the three walls, the fourth wall containing the narrow entrance), new flooring, and new siding.  Assuming that the building was sound, the carpenter had laid the new floor over the old one, never checking to see if the old floor joists were in good condition.  Unfortunately, they weren’t; they were sodden with years of moisture, and the ends of the boards were grooved where they attached to the sides of the vault.  Further, Henry Swift, who had been the Pleasant Ridge School janitor from 1884 to 1903, said that in April of 1903 he had noticed that some stones had fallen out of the foundation wall where the west side of the privy vault was on a slope, making a hole about two feet in diameter.  Although the building committee of the school board was told about it, the problem still had not been fixed over a half year later.  When Swift left to work at the Kennedy Heights School, he said he was fearful that the building would collapse.  

His warnings proved to be all too accurate.  On the morning of September 23, 1904, the sky looked like rain, but the principal, Thomas L. Simmerman, sent the elementary school kids out for mid-morning recess at about 10:15.  Then the skies opened with a vengeance.  The boys and most of the girls ran back inside the school building, but about thirty-one girls tried to crowd into the girls’ privy instead.  As they were pushing and shoving each other to get in out of the rain, and some of the girls were dancing and jumping, the entire floor gave way and fell nearly eight feet straight down, crashing to the bottom of the vault and disintegrating in foul water four feet deep.  It carried with it a load of stunned and frightened girls.

One girl, Elsie Ferguson, said she felt the floor going and jumped to clutch the side of the door, which left her hanging there; she pulled herself up and got out.  Five other girls escaped the same way.  Another, Lorena Ferguson, was just entering the privy and was standing on the door sill when the floor dropped away in front of her; her friend, Clara Steinkamp, was behind her and grabbed the back of her dress to keep her from falling.  A few girls had managed to climb up on the new toilet seats to make room for others; they were able to hop from one seat to another to get to the doorway and thus escape to safety.  But a number of the girls, like Hazel Senour, felt themselves sinking and smothering.  Hazel reported later that she caught hold of the stones on the side and held herself up so she could breathe.  She further stated, “I felt the soft, struggling bodies of lots of girls around me and underneath me somewhere. They touched me.  I could see some heads sometimes and then feet.”  Edna Gerke confirmed this:  “Everything became dark.  Everybody was clutching at her neighbor while there was a terrible outcry.  I think every girl was crying at the top of her voice.  We were all tangled up with each other and struggled to get free.  I was pushed about and some attempted to climb up on my shoulders.  I made a grab for a stone I could see projecting above my head, and for a moment held on, but there were so many tugging at me that the weight tore my hold loose and I went down.  Even then the struggle continued under the water.  With desperation I freed myself and looking up saw daylight which I never expect to behold again.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer wrote that in the struggle “the weaker ones were crushed down by the stronger and forced under the mass of filth to their death.”  On investigating the privy later, the Hamilton County Coroner, Walter B. Weaver, summed it up:  “Rotten, rotten, rotten.  Everything was rotten.  Those joists would not hold anything.”

De Profundis:  In 1904 the Pleasant Ridge Public School had an enrollment of 297 children; about fifty of those came from the village of Rossmoyne, whose school had been condemned by the state, and the village had failed to pass a school bond to provide a new one.  The upper floor of the Pleasant Ridge School included a high school classroom for the four high school boys studying there.  Their teacher was Miss Una Venable, daughter of William Henry Venable, chairman (from 1896) of the English department at Walnut Hills High School [see Post #6060 (9-5-2022)].

When the privy floor collapsed, two little girls ran into the school and hysterically told Principal Simmerman what had occurred.  He did not immediately understand from their hysterical utterances what had happened, but he went to investigate.  Another girl informed Miss Venable, and she and the four high school boys ran to the outhouse, meeting Principal Simmerman there.  The sight of the girls, some as young as 7 or 8, others young teenagers, scrambling to climb the walls or struggling to keep their heads above the human waste – all screaming “Save me!” – caused the principal to almost faint.

Across the street at the Presbyterian Church manse were Pastor Ira D. Lambert, town barber Gilright, two young men, William Schultz and John Corell, and a few others.  They heard the screams of the girls running from the outhouse to the school and went to investigate.  Seeing the mass of bodies writhing in the filthy pit, they called for rope and some ladders, and the high school boys rushed back to the school to find them.  But the school’s step ladders were too short to be of use, and the ropes were clotheslines that were as rotten as the privy floor had been.

Meanwhile, Principal Simmerman had leaned as far as he could over the privy vault’s edge, but he could not reach the girls.  So the men from the manse held his legs and lowered him further and he managed to rescue three girls.  When the ropes were lowered, girls grabbed them, but they broke and the girls fell back.  Then James Smith, a 16-year-old boy, climbed into the school’s belfry and got the bell rope; two more girls were saved this way.  Finally a longer ladder was found and, although it could not reach all the way from the vault’s bottom to its ledge, it enabled Simmerman and some of the other men to descend and lift the girls out, passing them from hand to hand, bucket brigade-style.  “As fast as Mr. Simmerman handed up the children, I took them and passed them along to others, who carried them to the schoolroom,” Miss Venable said.  Most of the girls were unrecognizable; covered with muck and with their eyes clenched shut, they sobbed and gasped for breath.

Later, Hazel Senour reported, “The struggle down there was terrible.  As long as I could get out of the water to take a breath of air, I felt sure of being saved, but when I fell back into the hole, I thought it was all over.  The girls about me were grabbing onto me.  Everyone grabbed at each other, and when we did get a hold on the wall, it was only for a second.  I caught hold several times, but when I was pulled at by the others my hand slipped.  There were only a few taken out, when I felt something under my feet.  It must have been some little girl that had drowned.  All the time I prayed.  I said my prayers over and over.  I could not see after a while, and, as I was praying to the Lord to save me, I found the rake in my hands.  When I came into the light, I saw Principal Simmerman.  I crawled up and was lifted out.”

14-year-old Edna Gerke, who had previously grabbed at a jutting stone but had slipped away from it, saw it again and had another try, “this time with two hands.  Far above me, it seemed, somebody was coming down a ladder and called to me.  Suddenly someone took hold of me.  I looked back over my shoulder and saw the agonized faces of my friends, then lost consciousness and knew no more until I woke up in the schoolroom surrounded by the bodies of my friends.”  Her arms were severely bruised and deeply scratched by the clawing attempts of her classmates to climb out over her.  Many of the girls fainted after emerging from the vault, fueling concern that they had succumbed to the vault’s terrible fumes.  Rescuers carried the girls to homes adjacent to the school, where they were revived, cleaned up, and comforted.

Mementi Mori:  Meanwhile, fearful parents, hearing the news, began to show up at the school.  John Steinkamp, a wagon maker, thankfully found his daughter Clara, who told him, “I’m all right,” but then he suddenly asked her, “Where’s your sister Emma?”  “I don’t know,” Clara said; “she was in there.”  Principal Simmerman had pulled up the last girl, the nineteenth, and he looked into the vault.  All was still, just broken pieces of flooring floating around in the foul water.  Exhausted and faint from the fumes, he did not realize that there were still girls down there, under the wreckage.

The two young men with Pastor Lambert, William Schultz and John Corell, each took a rake, climbed down the ladder into the vault, and began to look for still-missing girls.  Flora Forste was found, unconscious but still alive, and she was hoisted up.  Eventually, William Schultz and others would pull nine more girls from the privy; none of the nine survived.  The high school classroom in the school became a temporary morgue.  Carmen and Fausta Card, aged 7 and 11, were found tightly clasped in each other’s arms, dead; Fausta’s twin, Rotha, had escaped alive.  John Steinkamp’s other daughter, Emma, was one of the last bodies to be removed.

By this time, Hamilton County Coroner Walter B. Weaver had arrived.  Frantic confusion reigned:  rescuers had taken rescued girls to various neighborhood homes to recover, but no one had kept a roster of who had been pulled from the vault or where they went.  The routes between the train stations and the school were jammed with crowds; the village’s telephone system was swamped with calls and proved inadequate to the demand.  After the vault was emptied, the coroner ordered firemen to pull out the pieces of broken flooring.  One reporter on the scene was able to stick the point of his umbrella clear through a six-by-two timber.

By the time night had fallen, three different funds had been started to pay for the nine funerals and to assist the victims’ families.  The wife of Mayor J. J. Marvin prosed that a shaft of pure marble be erected in the schoolyard to represent the “pure, carefree, innocent lives” that had been lost.  After the nine funerals had taken place, the mayor’s fund to erect said marble marker had accumulated over $1,000, but Miss Una Venable objected to a marker.  She put forward that such a marker would be a constant, unwanted reminder of the disaster and suggested a stained-glass window for the school instead.  It was then suggested that the marble shaft be placed in the cemetery across the street from the school, but eventually the funds were used for the funerals and for the families involved.  Meanwhile, Dr. Senour, who had attended many of the girls as they were pulled out, thought that a set of four medals ought to be presented to Will Schultz and the other young men who had climbed into the vault to pull out bodies.

Aftermath:  David Fisher, the local Ohio Inspector of Factories, Workshops and Public Buildings, said that his office was not required to make inspections of school buildings unless there was a complaint – and there hadn’t been one.  The village Board of Education convened that night at the home of its president, the Rev. Fred Hohmann.  The five attending members issued the following statement:  “The Board has done all that was humanly possible to keep the building in a safe condition, having no intimation in any manner of any danger coming to the Board or any member of the Board or to the superintendent or to any one of the teachers.  It has been frequently and so far as possible thoroughly inspected and to our best knowledge no foresight could have prevented this tragedy.”  President Hohmann even said that for the past six years he had never missed testing the floors of the outhouses by jumping upon them with his own 200 pounds [!].  Thus the Board dodged responsibility.

State Inspector Fisher, on visiting the scene, said, “My lord, they ought not to have used yellow pine for those joists! . . .  Gases and water in the vault would rot pine easily.  Red cedar ought to have been used.  Iron girders ought to have been used.  This building has been unsafe almost from its erection because the girders were insufficiently fastened on the framework.”  On the day of the funerals, the town was overrun with sightseers, many murmuring that there should be an investigation.  School Board member Lewis Brewer commented that “I have heard many words of condemnation for our board, have even heard persons on the cars say we ought to be hung, but I think that’s passing over now.”

The final upshot was that Coroner Weaver cited suffocation as the cause of the deaths and declared gross negligence on the part of the Board of Education.  The citizens of Pleasant Ridge registered their outrage by including none of the School Board members on the fall election ticket, rather electing a “Citizen’s Ticket” of new nominees.  No charges were ever filed against anyone nor any indictments ever issued.  

So the moral perhaps should be:  Don’t scrimp on the seemingly mundane and insignificant – a penny pinched is apt to pinch back.  Caveat emptor!

[Note:  Part I:  "The Great Bathtub Hoax" is at Post #6638 (02-14-2024).]

04/21/24 07:31 PM #6667    


Paul Simons


Mr. Spiess has graciously provided us with a scenario worthy of being part of the plot of a James Bond movie. We have all at one time or another feared having the experience that befell the unfortunate victims of his recounting. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for, by taking us through the situation as it was experienced by others, lessening our fear that it would come our way. 
But there's another issue here related to another fear that we all have. It is the fear of going insane. When we look around and see all manner of perversity, of criminality, of deception, and yes of outrageous violence perpetrated by forces of evil, we look for spiritual strength and guidance and at times find it in the unlikeliest of places. 
Since Mr. Spiess himself has requested information on where such spiritual sustenance can be found, without further ado I present to you the Innocent Dinosaur. A large, strong yet kindhearted creature, the Innocent Dinosaur:


04/21/24 09:21 PM #6668    


Philip Spiess

That would be Dino, the Sinclair Oil "puppy," looking rather like one of those balloon animals vacant young men twist up for children at fairs and birthday parties.

05/02/24 08:23 AM #6669    


Ann Shepard (Rueve)

WHHS choir, still awesome.


05/07/24 11:36 AM #6670    


Stephen (Steve) Dixon


I have had a few online discussions with people, of late, where I spoke a lot about Walnut Hills, and what it did for me as an individual. Broadening my ideas, my foundational knowledge base, and the scope of my interests. 

One  thought that occurred to me, this morning, is the question of when, exactly, did Walnut Hills integrate? 
I know that it was ahead of the movement, nationally. And way ahead of the other two states where I attended two years of elementary school (Kentucky) and my last year of high school year of high (Georgia). 
But I just realized that I do not know how early it happened at Walnut. And that important to me. I figured that some of you long-time Cincinnatians might know. Spies, have you got any historical citations for me?








05/08/24 02:37 AM #6671    


Philip Spiess

Stephen:  Much could be said on this subject between the simple passage of laws and how things worked out on the ground, i.e., the actualities thereof.   I'll try to encapsulate my answer here.

To begin with, check out my 8-part series on "Cincinnati's African Americans" on this Reunion site.  Part V of the series, "Cincinnati's 'Colored' Schools" [#4672, 4-7-2020], sums up much of the history of both segregation and integration in Cincinnati's public schools.  But to recap in note form:  Cincinnati's public school system (whites only) was established in 1829.  The state of Ohio authorized black public schools in 1849.  Cincinnati had its first black public school built in 1866 (there were a number of independent and private black schools in the city before then).  The state of Ohio, with the abolishment of its "Black Codes" in 1887, "codes" which had mandated legal segregation throughout the state, thereby abolished separate black public schools -- legally and technically.

BUT -- de facto segregation remained the norm, even unto the days of our youth.  The most common form of this was segration by geography, i.e., by neighborhood.  It was common enough for people of different racial, ethnic, language, religious, and (above all) economic backgrounds to congregate together in different sections of the city (think of the Germans who congregated north of the Miami & Erie Canal up to Liberty Street in an area which came thereby to be known as "Over-the-Rhine").  It was easy enough for the Cincinnati School Board to draw the school district lines around such neighborhoods, thus creating de facto segregated schools, even though the public school system itself was legally integrated.  [I remember in my Clifton School days the matter of a father who lived just east of Vine Street (a district dividing line) fighting to get his child sent to Clifton School (in the district west of Vine Street), it being considered a superior learning school to that in his child's own district.]  And there were other forms of racial segregation:  schools in black neighborhoods got hand-me-down classroom furniture and supplies from white schools in wealthier neighborhoods.  Also, although Walnut Hills High School was certainly integrated as such in my mother's time there (1933-1939), she remembered, as Mr. Lounds has also told us, that the white students had swimming classes in the pools Monday through Thursday, and the black students had segregated swimming on Fridays, after which the pools were emptied and refilled over the weekends.  This was not the case by the time we got there in 1958.

As I said above, de facto segregation was still very much in effect in our own day.  A central leader for full integration in the public schools was Marian Spencer, discussed in my "Cincinnati's African Americans" series, Part VIII:  "Cincinnati's African Reformers" [#4760, 6-2-2020].  She began in the early 1970s to work for educational equality in the Cincinnati schools (in 1977, for example, 80% of Cincinnati's schools failed to meet the integration goals laid out by the United States Civil Rights Commission).  Mrs. Spencer became the Chairperson of the Education Committee for the Cincinnati NAACP in 1974, a position she held for twenty years.  In 1974 she also undertook the most important case in the fight for school desegregation in Cincinnati:  Mona Bronson et al. v. Board of Education of the City School District of the City of Cincinnati.  The NAACP's position was that the Cincinnati Public Schools operated as racially segregated institutions in violation of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.  In 1983-1984, the plaintiffs, the U. S. District Court of Southern Ohio, the Department of Justice, and the Cincinnati School Board worked together to come to an agreement in the case.  The result was that the school district would work to primarily achieve its goals through alternative school programs, including specialized training and experiences in fine arts and technology, thus voluntarily creating a diverse pool of students and facilitating racial mixing.  Marian Spencer was put on the task force which was set up to effect these changes.  For example, Hughes High School was designated to focus on math and science, while Woodward High School was designated to focus on business training.  Further, racially isolated African American schools were paired with nearby white schools that were similarly isolated.

As to when Walnut Hills High School first started receiving black students, I believe it must have been with the start of the (old) school in 1895, when it opened on the corner of Ashland and Burdett Streets.  After all, Cincinnati public schools were legally integrated by then [see above].  At that time, Walnut Hills High was a district high school (the third in Cincinnati, after Woodward and Hughes), serving grades 9th through 12th, so there was no reason for it not to be integrated.  WHHS's college preparatory program began in 1918 under the auspices of Cincinnati Schools Superintendent Randall J. Condon and Walnut Hills High School Principal George Davis; by 1926 a system of student selection (presumably akin to the testing and teacher recommendation still in place today) had been developed.  (I have no reason to assume that black students were at any time excluded from this program.)  The program proved so popular that the new school (ours) was planned and the school's grade levels were increased to 7th through 12th; the new school was dedicated in 1931, and (I think) classes began there in 1932.  [My mother, who was in 6th grade at Clifton School in the spring of 1933, had the choice of continuing 7th and 8th grades at Clifton School and then transferring to Walnut Hills for 9th grade, or starting 7th grade at Walnut Hills, which is what she did.]  Donald Andrew Spencer Sr., Ohio University's first African American trustee, graduated from Walnut Hills in 1932, so he must have started attending WHHS when classes were still being held in the old school (1895) on the corner of Burdett and Ashland Avenues.  To get a further glimpse into these matters, see my essay on Marian Spencer noted above, or see recent annual reports from the Cincinnati Board of Education.  To confirm that black students were at Walnut Hills High School from the beginning in 1895, you'd probably need to look at old school yearbooks.

05/09/24 07:48 AM #6672    


Stephen (Steve) Dixon

Awesome! Thank you, Phil. I knew that you were the guy for this. And I knew that you had written much about the history previously.

I just had too big an itch to know the answer to that basic question for a long search back into past postings. But I will do that now because you have me intrigued.

05/12/24 06:06 PM #6673    


Philip Spiess

Stephen:  It occurred to me that I should add a prologue to my statement on integration above, namely, what was the status of slavery or non-slavery in the Old Norhwest Territory at the time of its legal creation?  Herewith is the answer (a.k.a. Prologue):

The answer is in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which established the Old Northwest Territory (which eventually became the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the northeastern half of Minnesota) and its government.  Here is the relevant portion of the Ordinance:  "Article VI.  There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted:  Provided always, That any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed, and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid."

Here, as you can see, is the basis for the future Fugitive Slave Laws

05/15/24 10:51 AM #6674    

Thomas Lounds Jr.

Yes!  Indeed! Thank you, Philip, for helping Stephen with some African-American history about our WHHS. Besides, I've missed your usual thoroughness about our beloved school.  I can only add that my returning to teach at the school I had just left only four years earlier as a "second-class "  citizen held its own set of challenges for me as well as for many of the faculty--both new and old.  But, another day.....

In the meantime, your reference to George Davis as an early principal of WHHS made me wonder about the WHHS principal lineage in general. For example, what can you tell us about them in general ? Any thing interesting there?  Is it true that one of our former principals was appointed U.S. Secretary of Educatiom under Pres. Lyndon Johnson ?  In the tradition we have come to know and love , " Release  the Spiess Hounds on this WHHS topic !! 

05/16/24 12:11 AM #6675    


Philip Spiess

Mr. Lounds, I have not been able to locate a list of Walnut Hills High School principals, as I am here in Washington and not in Cincinnati, but if one does not exist somewhere (say, at the school itself -- and I'll ask), surely someone with the time and access could construct the list by going year by year through old school yearbooks (I would like to think that a complete run of those exists somewhere!).

However, I can reconstruct a few principals for you.  As I mentioned in Post #6060 ["Some Prominent Cincinnati Poets," 9-5-2022], William Henry Venable, prominent Cincinnati and Ohio poet and historian, transferred in 1896 from being chairman of the English department at Hughes High School to Walnut Hills High School to become chairman of the English department there.  This was within a year of Walnut Hills first being established as a high school (1895).  I have a vague memory (I could be wrong) that at some point he served as principal, or perhaps it was as an interim principal.  His son, Emerson Venable, later became chairman of WHHS's English department; William Henry's daughter, Una Venable, was head of the high school division of Pleasant Ridge Public School when it had its deadly disaster [see Post #6666, "The Pleasant Ridge Privy Disaster," 4-17-2024]; and Emerson's daughter was the Hollywood starlet, later classics teacher in Los Angeles, Evelyn Venable.  William Henry Venable, at some time prior to his teaching at either Hughes or Walnut Hills, founded and conducted the African School of Popular Science and History in Cincinnati.  [As I noted in Post #6060, I have been unable to track down any other information on this school; I assume it was shortlived.]

George Davis, as I mentioned in Post #6671 [5-8-2024], was WHHS principal in 1918.  My mother, who entered Walnut Hills as a 7th grader in 1933, told me that the principal was a Mr. Davis [is it possible that he was there from 1918-1933?].  However, my mother also told me that he died that year [?] of a heart attack, shortly after some male students ran a flag with the Nazi swastika up the flagpole in the center of the circle (Hitler came to power in 1933).  Davis was succeeded by Leonard Stewart [I'm writing all this from very old memories], who was still principal when my mother graduated in 1939.

And so, skipping over a decade and a half, we come to our own days at Walnut Hills.  Prior to the Class of 1964 arriving as 7th graders in the fall of 1958, say, in the early or mid-1950s, Harold "Doc" Howe II became principal of WHHS.  His grandfather, Gen. Samuel Chapman Armstrong, had been the founder (1868) and first president of the Hampton Nornmal and Agricultural School ["normal schools" were teacher training schools], which later became the famed Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) near Hampton Roads, Virginia.  The Institute was funded by the American Missionary Association for the express purpose of providing former Southern slaves with moral training and practical industrial education; the school was coeducational (and for some years also had Native American students).  It was also the only school in the United States that had a separate training program for black librarians.  Harold's father, the Rev. Arthur Howe (the quarterback for Yale University's 1909 national championship team), was a later president of Hampton Institute, so Harold grew up in an educational and campus environment.  After serving at Walnut Hills, Harold Howe continued in academia, and in 1965 he was appointed U. S. Commissioner of Education by President Lyndon Johnson.  (This was still in the days when the Commissioner of Education was under the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare [HEW], before the U. S. Department of Education became its own department [1979-1980] and the Commissioner became Secretary of Education.)  Harold Howe served as Commissioner from 1965 to 1968; his chief task, the one for which he is remembered, was heading up the federal abolishment of school segregation in the United States as required under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (part of President Johnson's "Great Society" program).

I believe Harold Howe's immediate successor as principal of Walnut Hills was Mr. Meacham [first name, anybody?], who was principal when the Class of 1964 arrived.  He was succeeded, as we all know, by Philip McDevitt, famed in song if not in story.  At some point after him (and after we had graduated), our former assistant principal, Raymond Brokamp became principal, and I believe that somewhere down the line after him his son, another Mr. Brokamp, became principal -- but this is all too recent for one of my venerable [no, not Venable, nor (please!) venereal] years to know about.  Some youngster will have to come along to fill us in.

05/16/24 02:06 PM #6676    


Stephen (Steve) Dixon

As always, it so great being in Dr. Speiss's grad-school course on damn near everything. I feel little layers of my brain peeling back and opening up whenever you start to share, Phil.

Hello, Mr. Lounds! It a treat to hear from you, one of my favorite teachersof all time. And for many others, I know.

My fuzzy old brain is telling me that Mr. Meacham's first name was Jim (James), but those  kinds of 'memories. are somewhat unreliable.

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