Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The View From Ohio

I've been staying just outside "the queen city of the West" for several days now. There will be photos later, but for now, a few observations, mostly from my son.

Paul has noticed that people tend to be friendlier in this part of the country than they are back in DC. We walked into one of the chili parlors for which Cincinnati has been famous. Employees were talking to customers, customers to each other. Compared to back east, it was one big love fest. No lingering sense of self-importance, no avoidance of neighbors from parts of the world other than one's own. Just people. People who need people. They're the luckiest... you get the idea.

On Sunday, we visited the farm of my Aunt Carol and Uncle Roger, which adjoins both my late Uncle Bernard's farm, and my late Grandpa's. Their oldest, my cousin Mark, came by. The result was a reunion I hadn't had in awhile. It was also an epiphany for Paul. Being the urbane, sophisticated, multi-cultural young stallion that he is, it never occurred to him how much I could identify with people in a rural setting. Here I am elaborating on soybean production and how biodiesel might be a viable fuel source after all, without the overhead of a national infrastructure, and it's driving him nuts.

"Hey, Paul, see that red brick house set back there to the left?"

"Uh, yeah, like, what about it?"

"That's where the inventor of Uno grew up, and she was my teacher in second grade."

Wow, Dad, that is almost awesome. Hey, isn't over there the spot where you flicked a cigarette butt out of the car when you were in high school?"

On the way home, we stopped by an empty lot between Laredo and Newtownsville, which we have determined to be the site of the log cabin where Grandpa Rosselot was born in January of 1900. It was later replaced by a conventional farm house. Now it is empty. Maybe I can buy it and put a log cabin there. You never know. (But first, we'll have to do some Photoshop work on that image, won't we?)

On Sunday morning, I served the Mass at Sacred Heart Church, in a part of the West Side that has seen better days. The high altar is lovely, and except for an immovable free-standing altar in the middle of everything, they haven't had enough money to ruin the place. It looks like this, only less fuzzy. I was surprised to learn of the competition the Traditional Mass gets in Cincinnati, from parishes erected by separatist groups such as the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), the Society of St Pius V (SSPV), and some sedevacantist (from the Latin meaning "the seat is vacant," meaning in this case, that there hasn't been a real pope since Pius XII) bishop north of the city, who has quite an enterprise going for himself.

I visited with some musician friends while I was there, and had to confess to hardly ever picking up a guitar in three or four years. I tell myself, it's because of school, but really there may be other reasons. I used to play with the bands that came in from Louisiana. The bands loved it, the crowds got off on it, but the promoters were flipping out. They were rather dishonest about it too, saying only the band itself was under contract, but then letting their designated local yokels get up there and do whatever. Some of these people have had the nerve to ask me to help them build websites to promote their... well, promoting. I guess the price of a clue has gone up. Still, I left the city with cause to reflect on what it was that made me all but give up on it.

I'm still wondering.

My sister Pat lives north of the city, which is where we stayed, and where there is a unique curiosity nearby. I remember as a boy the fields nearby being nearly empty, but for the Voice of America antenna array, and the tower featured here. At one time, WLW was running on 500,000 watts before they government had them reduce it to 50,000. For most of their history they have been one of the few "clear channel" stations in the country, which means that no one else can use that frequency. The station is so famous, it's one of the few broadcast stations that is picked up on XM Satellite Radio.

There were other curiosities on the way home. In the tiny hamlet of Fairview, Ohio, located east of Columbus, there is a local hall known as the "Pennyroyal Opera House," which is rather unassuming on its surface, but is the local mecca for live bluegrass music. I stopped listening to bluegrass years ago, preferring the old-time mountain music instead, and also because I didn't like East Coast bluegrass as much as the Midwestern and Southern varieties. (There's a difference; trust me.) The local post office is half the size of this building, and there are still many of those little post offices left in America, thanks be to God. The gasoline was the cheapest in this area as well, running at $3.35/gallon. Had we more time, we would have stopped by one of the local county fairs and checked out the latest in high-tech tractors, and load up on corn dogs for the trip home.

Maybe next year...

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