Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The News From Home

Photo by Bill Stockland: 'The Main Street that once contained grocery stores, pharmacies, and hardware stores is now dotted with antique shops.'

I've lived and worked in the Nation's capital for twenty-five years now, and it's only in the last four or five years that I could really call this home. Even so, I still hear the call of Milford, Ohio, the little town east of Cincinnati where I grew up, and "where I'll be when it's said and done." One of the town's oldest buildings caught fire last year, and though the damage wasn't that severe, they tore it down anyway. If that were not enough evidence of how little the town leaders think of their own heritage, consider that the municipal offices were themselves moved from the "historic" downtown, to a building vacated by the local Baptist church.

Some news I get from reading an online edition of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Then there is the more obscure news. For that I have Bill Stockland, I guy I've never met, but who set up some of the Milford High School alumni sites, and maintains one devoted to our common hometown, from his own place of exile in Florida. We've also corresponded in the past. Here is what he wrote yesterday:

"Cincinnati Ohio officials are contemplating fining an 84 year old widow a thousand dollars because she fled her home 23 hours past the city deadline! Her home was taken by eminent domain by the city to expand a neighboring business (a hospital). The woman is reported to have been in tears as she gathered her belongings and left the home she had for 47 years. Keep in mind, this is the same Cincinnati that is now one of the most dangerous cities in America. Shootings, robberies and rapes are commonplace but 'By God we won't take no crap off no little old lady defending a home full of memories.' A famous local activist was recently gunned down in front of City Hall. The mayor now travels with a bodyguard. The county sheriff has started sending police patrols to do the work local police were apparently not doing. The quality of life in Cincinnati is pathetic. The town has recently had what have been described as 'race riots' over the shootings of unarmed suspects by police. The schools are falling further behind. This area is getting quite the reputation. One suburb, Loveland, attempted to prosecute a woman for overlooking an earnings tax debt of $1.16. Milford/Miami Township didn't think they had enough of a problem being represented by Jeanne Schmidt in Congress, they made sure a young boy couldn't keep two pet goats that he earned as a reward for overcoming obstacles in school. Traffic and pollution are a joke throughout the local counties. The area has tried to organize a vote to select a village idiot but the ballot was 58 pages long!"

Actually, it was an "unarmed suspect" who didn't stop running away when an identified police officer told him to, but instead just had to reach into his pocket. But who am I to quibble? Other than that, Bill's a good egg, so I keep reading. I can't vouch for his command of local history, though. He should have published some of the more verifiable accounts. They're a lot more colorful.

One would be the guy who served as police chief back in the day, Earl Conrad. Now there was a piece of work. I can still remember watching that big guy waddle into the Big Boy restaurant in civilian clothes with a holstered pistol. He was the law in them parts, of course -- a point said to have been lost on his own son, who was... well, a rather spirited young man, as my Dad would have said.

One of these days...

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