Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Going Home

Some of the new I liked: a bit of whimsy down an alleyway
As I write this, I'm just returned from a trip to visit my parents who still live in my childhood home of Bellevue, Kentucky, located four blocks from Ohio. It's a small town still, but with easy access to the big city. We used to walk to Reds games and other downtown events rather than pay for parking. In fact, lots of what people think of as "Cincinnati" places are actually not in Ohio, but in Kentucky (like the airport and the Ohio River for starters).

I've been trailing the nostalgia fairy. I imagine her as a mermaid, beautiful on top and a stinky old salmon on the bottom, who will delight you with a beautiful memory one moment, then turn around and swat you in the face with the smelly fish tail of the ugly side of change.

Fairfield Mrkt where Mom used to bank.
Like a lot of small towns, Bellevue has seen a lot of change in recent years, some for the good, and some that make my stomach churn.

Bellevue's avenue seems to be flourishing with independent restaurants and small businesses and that makes me happy. I like seeing Fessler's hoagies and pizza (I knew it as Pasquales, but the food is the same as always) and Schneider's Sweet Shop still serving the delights they've served my whole life from the same locations and that any changes have been expansions and improvements.

It's kind of fun that the storefront that used to house my childhood used bookstore is now a Thai restaurant, the first apartment we lived in is now a pretzel restaurant, and my mom and dad's old bank is now a chi-chi dining place (chi-chi here is defined as too "fancy" to take my blue collar Dad to), still with the bank vault (now a wine cellar). I spent my week's visit eating lunch in childhood haunts that weren't restaurants then.

We've got art galleries, coffee shops, restaurants, craft shops, and funky gift shops in all the old buildings along the avenue and most seem to be doing strong business. That's good to see. Good for the life of a town.

At the same time, swaths of old houses along the riverfront are simply gone, wiped off the map and replaced by tall, expensive, and horrendously ugly condos and apartments that are completely out of character with the look of the town. More are being built as we speak, and they look even uglier and suck up the skyline so us plebeians who have always lived here can no longer see the river. My dad's childhood home was nothing special, but it's just completely gone now, along with all the neighboring houses that used to offer something lower rent for those who needed it.

With them we got a bunch of chain restaurants and a lot more traffic and parking problems.

I don't like rich people generally (in my admittedly limited experience with wealth, rich people do not become rich by being kind, generous, or noble) and I don't really want them to move to Bellevue…but I do want the town to continue to exist and be a safe place for my parents and old friends to live. "And so it goes." Here's hoping Bellevue can keep the heart of what it has always been while staying afloat in the 21st century.

Bellevue houses: lots of brick, with charming details. From the tiny to the giant. I used to dream about owning that top one when I was a kid. 

The first apartment I lived in with Mom and Dad, now a pretzel sandwich place.

Cincy views from around Bellevue

My childhood movie theater.

Van Voast bridge still scares the heck out of me. Worse when a train is running beneath.


  1. I hate the lack of respect for history. They keep tearing down beautiful old houses with amazing craftsmanship and creative architecture and replacing them with glass and steel boxes.

    1. Agreed. I find nothing charming about these tall monstrosities looming over once small towns and blocking out the sun. I fantasize about buying up all the land up for development in my new hometown and refusing to allow it to be developed.

  2. Replies
    1. Literally, yes . . .so long as it's still there physically. Emotionally and metaphorically? . . .probably not.

  3. Thanks for sharing these. Beautiful houses all.