September 10, 2016


“Memories are the threads that hold together the patchwork of friendship.” Unknown

Carol writes: I have frequently gotten bemused looks whenever I have mentioned that I grew up in Mount Healthy, Ohio.  However, the explanation for the somewhat unusual name of my childhood home is really quite simple.  Founded in 1817, the village of Mount Pleasant was renamed Mount Healthy when it proved to be a refuge from an 1850’s cholera epidemic that was ravaging Cincinnati. 

Me with Mom and Dad in 1967 

I clearly remember dressing up in period costumes in 1967 when the entire town celebrated Mount Healthy’s sesquicentennial, commemorating 150 years of existence.  It is hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that many of Mount Healthy’s citizens are already planning next summer’s bicentennial celebration to celebrate its 200th birthday! 


How time has flown by!  Fifty years has passed since I graduated from Mt. Healthy High School in 1966.

Traditionally, 50th class reunions are a big deal, so ever since we began our full-time RV lifestyle almost a year and a half ago, we have been planning an August 2016 stop in Mount Healthy for my 50th high school reunion.

The reunion was indeed sweet and was everything a reunion should be:

many meaningful conversations with dear childhood friends,

a tour of old school buildings,

a special peek into the town’s only movie theater, the “Main,”

a reunion dinner at a very German hall,

a Sunday picnic in the old swimming pool park,

and the historic class picture for the Class of 1966!

Well done, reunion committee!

Our two-week stay in nearby Winton Woods campground would not have been complete without a very special trip down memory lane with my brother, who came down from Toledo to share a visit to some iconic Cincinnati sites. 

What better vantage point to take in the Queen City than the rooftop observation deck on the 49th floor of the Carew Tower!

We had a premium view of the Ohio River and Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Bengals…


At street level there was the symbolic center of Cincinnati at Fountain Square.

On the return trip from downtown we couldn’t pass up a stop to see our old elementary school in College Hill… which proved to be even more of a beauty than we ever appreciated at the time.

A few blocks away we drove by the first family home for which we have memories, not looking too shabby but now part of a very worn out neighborhood.

Additional meaningful venues around Mount Healthy included:  the home of our beloved grandparents,

the grassy site where our high school once stood,

and our childhood home in Mount Healthy where we both lived until we graduated from college.

Whatever your opinions are about Facebook, it has been a great way to rediscover school friends from long ago.  Al had recently reconnected on Facebook with friends he had gone to school with from 7th through 10th grade in Wilmington, Ohio.  We had a great time at Susie’s house talking about old times and bringing each other up to speed about our lives over the past 50 years!  Our sincerest thanks to Susie for hosting lunch for all of us in her home.

Al with Wilmington classmates:  Ed, Marsha, Susie, Al, Eddie
We did our customary car tour through the old neighborhood in Wilmington where Al lived while his father worked at the nearby Army Nike Missile Base.

Downtown Wilmington had not changed much,
but the now closed Army Missile Base looked downright spooky behind an old rusty fence.


Eight U.S. presidents have called Ohio home, but in Cincinnati it is all about the Taft family.  William Howard Taft, our nation’s 27th president, was born in Cincinnati and lived his early adult years in the fashionable Mt. Auburn area of the city.

Taft’s boyhood home, a National Historic Site, is beautifully renovated and is filled with excellent displays that recount not only his remarkable life story, but also that of his extended family.

William Howard Taft’s life achievements are a story of public service to his country both at home and abroad in the Philippines.  He is the only person in our history who  served as both President… and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  Interestingly, Taft himself considered his time on the Supreme Court (not the presidency) as his life’s crowning achievement.  He admitted he was not a natural politician and had little interest in political gamesmanship.  As his presidency drew to a close and his Republican party was badly split between conservatives and progressives, he was known to have said, “I’m glad to be going, this is the lonesomest place in the world.”  Hmmm, considering today’s political climate, I am reminded of a wise saying often attributed to Mark Twain:  “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”

The extended Taft family acquired an incredible collection of fine art which, thanks to the generosity of the Taft family, can now be appreciated by the public at the historic Taft home, otherwise known as the Taft Museum of Art.  This expansive fine art collection illustrates what avid collectors the Taft family was and includes paintings done by the best of the European masters in additional to numerous porcelain pieces from China’s Qing dynasty.

From an incredibly complex Dutch painting depicting a group of girls doing handwork

to a John Singer Sargent painting of Robert Louis Stevenson

to a Rembrandt… there was something for everyone to admire.

What ultimately drew us to a day at the Taft Museum was the current special exhibition of the costumes from Downton Abbey, some of them staged with artwork in the rooms of the Taft house. 

At times, this made for a brilliant mix of a similar time in two countries separated by an ocean—one the fictional world of Downton abbey in postwar Britain alongside the  very real 1920’s era in Cincinnati, where dresses much like the those in the Downton collection would have been worn to Taft social events.

Truth be told, I would have loved seeing the Downton dresses in any setting…

Some of the best:



Despite the oppressive heat outdoors, after we left the Taft museum we mustered the will to check out that Purple People Pedestrian Bridge in the distance that spanned the mighty Ohio River. 

The historic view back toward the majestic Queen City was special, as was the chance sighting of some iconic river traffic.

Oh my, that was an intense two weeks filled with renewing childhood friendships, visiting neighborhoods from our past, reconnecting with dear family, and appreciating anew my Cincinnati-area heritage and Al’s years in Wilmington.   For me, the words of Nelson Mandela seemed to sum it up the best:

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”