Saturday, July 23, 2011


It was only the threat of another 100+ degree heat index day that made me rouse The Inmates from their beds before 8 a.m.  First on our agenda today was earning the Scavenger Hunt patch with a trip to Findlay Market in downtown Cincinnati.

Findlay Market opened in 1855 as one of Cincinnati's nine municipal market houses.  It is the only one still in operation.  Named for General James Findlay, it is built on ground owned by the general and left to the city by his estate to be used as a public market.  Today it is a popular place for fresh fruits and vegetables, large varieties of meat (including rabbit, goat, and all parts of the pig), baked goods, and cheese.  Outside of the air conditioned building you'll find vendors selling jewelery, handmade soap, baskets, and flowers.

Well?  The Professor needed a surface to write on.  Chester was handy.
The Inmates arrived at the market each armed with a pencil and a scavenger hunt list I had created.  Foghorn was in one of her moods, whiny and uninterested and uncooperative.  I helped her find one item on her list and she checked it off.  She then promptly checked off all the other items, declared herself done, and shoved the paper in my bag.  She proceeded to ignore everything I tried to point out, only showing interest in things like huge cupcakes dripping with great gobs of frosting that would have been impossible to eat without disaster.  In all fairness to her, she was probably tired (having stayed up too late as usual) and neither of my children do well in heat or crowds, both of which were present today.

The Professor, on the other hand, mostly roamed with Uncle Chester and seemed genuinely interested in all the different types of meat, fish, and poultry he saw in the cases.  His eyes lit up at the huge racks of spare ribs, one of his culinary obsessions.  The main building is air conditioned, which helped, although it was so packed we shuffled along unable to take a full stride.  At one point Foghorn reluctantly agreed to accept an iced cookie instead of the overdone sugary concoctions she'd been begging for, but she barely nibbled it as we walked along.  When I asked why, she answered, "I wanna wait until we get past all this scary meat.  If I see it, it'll gross me out and I won't be able to eat my cookie."  I guess we shouldn't have taunted her by showing her the pig's feet in the case and saying that was what was going to happen to Oinkers if she didn't watch out.

Outside it was another blistering day, even at 10 in the morning.  There were various buskers outside the building and we gave a dollar to the violin player.  Anybody who can do the Star Wars theme on a violin gets applause from me.  We strolled along the outside portion, admiring the various hand-crafted goods.  Foghorn had been yelling that she was hungry, but paused in her vocalizing when she spotted Jule's Hematite, a table with a jewelry collection of the grey-black mirrored surfaced gemstones.  I myself like hematite, so I told her we could get a necklace and share it.  She reluctantly agreed, but was immediately adamant that she wanted the one with the fish pendant.  I tried to sway her and pointed out the horse, the angel, the heart, the pink stones.  Nope, she wanted a fish.  I was too hot to argue and, as Chester pointed out, I am a Pisces, so it's probably fitting.  Naturally Foghorn decided she should wear it first.  From there she got herself a bag of kettle corn and she was pretty content after that.

Jule's Hematite necklace.

Chester and I left Grandma and the Inmates on a bench and went into the farmer's market area.  I picked up a container of peaches for The Professor, who loves fresh ones only if they're family farm peaches and not Meijer peaches.  We also tasted some cheese samples and bought a block of a kind called Ludlow which was superb.  With the rest of the gang, we popped into a tea store nearby, which had a cute selection of pots, cups, and a few tacky William and Kate souvenirs.  On the day of the wedding they were hosting an expensive tea celebration, but I chose to celebrate at home in my pink bathrobe and kick-ass red hat.

We had been unable to park in the crowded lot, so we got a space farther up Vine Street.  As we approached our vehicle there were several men sitting on the building's stoop smoking something that had a strange smell and I briefly worried about my kids getting a contact high.  I climbed behind the wheel and coming down the street was one of the locals.  She was a good 250 pounds, with her pants low-slung, her belly dangling over the waistband.  She was probably a DD bra size, but it was hard to tell since she wasn't actually wearing a bra and they dangled over her waistband as well.  As I started to pull out I caught a glimpse of her in my side mirror and she was showing half a foot of butt cleavage.  We didn't point her out to the Inmates for fear that a) Foghorn would loudly comment on her or b) they would lose their appetites.

The Rookwood in Mount Adams.

One of the old kilns behind the bar.
Lunch was at The Rookwood in Mount Adams, housed in the old manufacturing facility of Rookwood pottery.  We ate lunch among the old kilns, surrounded by photos of the artisans plying their craft in days gone by.  I knew Foghorn would never eat anything off the menu (they didn't have a children's menu with a hot dog or chicken fingers), so she and I "shared" a Reuben, meaning I ate the sandwich and she ate the fries.  It was very good, with lean corned beef and non-soggy bread.  I'm a big fan of the Reuben, but find getting one at a restaurant a hit or miss proposition.  The best Reubens, in my humble opinion, are made by Grandma herself, declared by The Inmates as "The Best Cook in the World."

Our last stop of the afternoon was The American Sign Museum on Essex Place in Cincinnati.   This was a new place for us and it was surprisingly cool.  From the outside it is deceptive.  It's in a dilapidated area in a rather dilapidated building that looks like a warehouse.  Inside, though, it a wonderland of signage.  There is an area just inside the entrance with large neon signs from bowling alleys, motels, restaurants, drug stores, and even a Pentecostal church.  In the air conditioned building is a nice assortment of signs from all eras, tools, and even a couple gas pumps and air pumps.  The place is relatively small, but there is a fundraising drive underway for expansion and it would be wonderful to see this place grow.  It is by far one of the most unique museums in Cincinnati.

We were particularly taken with some of the early 20th century lighted signs that looked like something Buster Keaton would have run past while being chased by cops.  I also was drawn to a giant pair of eyes behind neon glasses that reminded me of the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg from The Great Gatsby.  Grandma noted a sign for Wilson's milk that admonished us to "Save the Labels."  She said that she did so back in the day and you could then trade them in for household items.  Her mother used them to have my siblings buy Mother's Day gifts and such for her, including many of the pie pans she still uses today.  The Professor was particularly taken with a bubbling neon sign for Pittsburgh Paints and a clock with a sign that flipped like the old 70s alarm clocks. 

Foghorn declared it "The Most Boring Place in the World."  The Professor snapped back with, "How can you call this place boring?!?"  The rest of us thought it was really neat.  Admission is $10 per person, with children under 12 free if accompanied by a paying adult.  (Check the website for hours, as this is a small organization.)

For once we had the bulk of the afternoon and early evening off, with our last outing of the day not taking place until 9 p.m.  We had the whole gang along -- Foghorn, The Professor, Uncle Chester, Grandma, The Vulcan, and The Warden -- to help earn the Ghost Tour patch.  Miamitown is in southwest Ohio, not far from the Indiana border.  I actually spent my teenage years in nearby Whitewater Township and am familiar with the area.  Since most of my family, except for The Vulcan, have at least a passing interest in the paranormal and since I am a certified paranormal investigator (no, really), I thought it only fitting to take the Miamitown Ghost Tour

We were part of a group of about 14 who were led through the streets of Miamitown by our tour guides, Garett Merk and Jeff Morris.  I've been on a number of ghost tours in my time and we all agreed this was one of the best.  Besides stories of haunted happenings, we got a lot of history of the area itself that was unknown to me before.  I had lived not far from the Mt. Hope Pet Cemetery and it wasn't until tonight I learned there was a baby elephant buried there.  Who knew?

The Professor was engrossed in the stories from the first moment and mostly stuck with Uncle Chester, while I stayed in the rear with Grandma, who had brought her rolling walker, more to have a place to sit than to actually help her walk.  The thing turned out to be a bit of a pain, as apparently Miamitown's tax base isn't what it should be and there were so many bumps, holes, and uneven spots in the roads and sidewalks that a chunk of the time I simply carried the dang thing instead of trying to roll it.  Foghorn was quiet and attentive, but as the tour wore on and it got increasingly dark, she became increasingly spooked.

The tour was just short of an hour and a half long and when we were about 2/3 of the way through, they stopped by the bridge on Harrison to talk about ghost stories relating to the bridge collapse in 1989.  We were then to be taken down a small, dark, and spooky road that ran parallel to the main road.  The guide said that once someone told him she felt an icy finger on her neck while walking there.  Then, on a later tour, someone else said she felt an icy finger.  It was then that he started sharing that information with his tours and he jokingly said, "Now every time there is at least one member of my tour who is touched by an icy finger...usually one of the youngest ones in the group."  Everyone snickered and started down a grassy hill to the road.  Grandma was given the option of taking the main road so she didn't have to fight the walker.  Foghorn then started crying and saying she didn't want to go on the scary road.  I tried to get her to go with Grandma, but naturally she only wanted to go with me, so I missed out on the spooky lane.  She had taken the guy's story seriously and assumed that the owner of the icy finger targeted the youngest person in the group, which in this case was her.  The Professor, Chester, and The Vulcan took the lane, although Chester informed me later the only scary thing that happened is she nearly tripped in a hole and fell.

Miamitown Elementary
The second to last stop on the tour was Miamitown Elementary.  We found out it was built on the site of the municipal cemetery and the graves were moved across the street to a new location.  Unfortunately, they had only moved graves with headstones, not knowing there were scores of dead buried there in unmarked graves and they were only discovered when they began excavating for the building.  The bodies were moved to a large unmarked grave across the street.  There are a number of stories of hauntings in and around the school.  The Professor says that while the guide was talking, he thought he saw something through the glass in the door behind him.  I took a picture, although nothing showed up for me

The Professor in Miamitown Cemetery
Foghorn was getting more spooked by the minute and by the time we went to the last location, the aforementioned municipal cemetery that had moved across the street, she was begging me to never do this patch again.  We went into the cemetery and heard about sightings of a little girl in a white dress, which coincided with the first story we were told about the church next door and a fire in 1939 that had claimed the life of a little girl inside.  This pushed Foghorn over the edge and she began whimpering, then crying.  The tour ended and I tried to get her to pose with The Professor in front of the tombstones, but she started to get hysterical and I let her go with Grandma.

On the way home Foghorn worried that she might have bad dreams.  Then she started asking Grandma, "If you die before the rest of us, will you come back and see us as a ghost?"  That led to, "If you come back, make sure you don't scare us."  After being assured Grandma would only be there to protect, Foghorn gave very specific directions about how ghostly Grandma should look, when she should show up, and that she should bring apple pies.  She also suggested Grandma dye her hair, but when we protested that then she wouldn't look like herself, Foghorn said, "Suit yourself, but don't blame me if nobody treats a ghost Grandma with grey hair with respect."  This banter went on most of the way home until we got to our street.  Foghorn's parting question was, "When you deliver our pies, you won't put poison in them, right?"

For additional photos of camp activities, please see the post below or check out my photos on Flickr.

* Camp Photos

For more ideas for things to do in Cincinnati (and things to do with kids in Cincinnati), please check out the post below.

** Things to Do in Cincinnati

You might also be interested in:

Camp Gonnawanna - The Kickoff

Camp Gonnawanna - Day 1

Camp Gonnawanna - Day 2



Anonymous said...

It was a really busy day, but except for Foghorn getting too scared, it was a good one.

Kathie said...

Seriously Shannon, you set up the coolest outings! I didn't know that about Miamitown Elem, and I went to school there in 1st and 2nd grades.