Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Queen City Life

Hi Bill

You probably remember when Pat and I lived in the Cincinnati area.

We had enjoyed living in Omaha for three years. However, after the birth of Rayna in 1979, I decided that I needed to advance my career and earn more money by adding some supervisory/administrative responsibilities. Therefore, I began another job search and I pretty much limited my search to large university libraries. In 1980, I was invited to interview at The University of Cincinnati. 

The University of Cincinnati is located on a large city campus in the Clifton area of the city. They flew me in for an interview and it was great to see that large city as the plane was approaching the runway. They put me in a very nice downtown hotel which enabled me to check out that area of the city. It was quite a contrast to Omaha, much bigger and more like Pittsburgh. The interview was typical, with lots of meetings and I had to do a presentation about a topic that I can’t remember. However, I must have done well because they offered me the job of Assistant Head of Reference and Bibliographic Services in the Central Library. 

Pat and I flew to Cincinnati to look for a decent place to live. Unfortunately, no one provided any substantive help with our hunt for suitable accommodations. It turned out to be a very difficult search, which left us desperate to take something so we could get back to Omaha and Rayna who was staying with friends while we were Cincy. 

I drove the truck and Pat drove our car
with Rayna from Omaha to Cincinnati

We rented the second floor of a two-story house in what turned out to be a sketchy neighborhood (Pat would offer a much-less-kind description of that neighborhood). It was a large apartment with a big sun room, living room, kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom. However, it had no air conditioning and we were shocked at how hot it was in that city. We were lucky to be able to buy a used window air conditioner from the woman who lived downstairs. She wasn’t the friendliest person, but she was cordial. 

Rayna in our Cincinnati apartment, Aug 1980

Rayna in our Cincinnati apartment, late 1980

Pat had a very difficult time adjusting to that move. While I was a work, she was stranded in an edgy neighborhood with our one-year-old daughter in a steamy apartment. Eventually I figured out how to use public transportation to get to work and back, but I still took the car more than I should have. She tried to explore that neighborhood with Rayna, but it really wasn’t close to any decent shopping areas, business areas, healthcare facilities, or any parks that she would want to visit. 

The neighborhood also contained some very strange characters. There was an extremely strange woman in a house next door who dressed in black robes. We could also hear the woman chanting, yelling, shrieking and see her dancing around. We were very curious about her, but decided to keep our distance. Eventually, we mentioned her to the woman who lived below us and she told us that woman was a witch (seriously), and that she was from the hills of Appalachia. That reminded us that Cincinnati was just across the river from Kentucky. 

Meanwhile, at work I was discovering how much supervision I was expected to provide and trying to learn the resources that I would be using for my reference librarian responsibilities. Our department was very large, including about 12 reference/bibliographer librarians and about five support staff. My responsibilities included supervising the support staff, doing the scheduling for the librarians at the reference desk, working daily shifts at the reference desk, teaching students and faculty how to effectively use library resources, and buying books for the criminal justice students/faculty and for the reference department, and writing lots of reports. I worked closely with the Head of Reference, Cecily J., who was a very accomplished and respected librarian/administrator. Unfortunately she moved to a better position elsewhere near the end of my second year at UC. However, another accomplished mid-level librarian/administrator, Virginia P., replaced her and we worked well together. 

Pat and Rayna at The Cincinnati Zoo mid-1981

Clark and Rayna at the Cincinnati Zoo mid-1981

Rayna in our Cincinnati apartment mid-1981

After the one-year lease on our apartment ended, we “Got the Hell Out of Town.” We moved across the river into a large apartment complex in Erlanger Kentucky where we lived in a nice two-story, two-bedroom townhouse, with air conditioning and a patio outside the back slider. The complex also had a pool, but the only kind of pool Clark likes involves knocking balls around on a felt-covered table with a long stick. I don’t remember Pat and Rayna using the pool much. 

That move turned out to be a good one for Pat and Rayna. Erlanger was a nice little town that was close to lots of business/retail opportunities and services. Rayna was able to attend a preschool/playschool while we lived there.  However, I needed the car to get to work so Pat was still stranded at home during weekdays. 

Luckily, we had some good neighbors: Mr. Stokley and his wife were an older couple, who had grown up in the hills of Kentucky. They were very friendly, interesting and very entertaining. Their granddaughter (Missy) stayed with them during workdays and Rayna played with her regularly. Pat also became friends with a woman in the building directly behind our building. She had a son (Casey) about Rayna’s age and a slightly older daughter (Angel), and Rayna became good friends with both of them. 

Front - Casey & Rayna  Back - Missy & Angel

There was also a young couple who lived in the apartment next door to ours that were not so friendly at first. The guy had a large pickup that was very loud. One day he was sitting in the truck parked in front of their apartment just revving the engine over and over making an incredibly loud noise that terrified Rayna. Pat went running out the door and bitched him out big time for frightening our daughter. I thought I was going to get into a fight with him, although I didn’t leave the townhouse. However, he came over the next day and apologized repeatedly about it, saying he hadn’t realized the noise was scaring Rayna. After that we were actually more cordial with that couple. 

Kentucky certainly introduced us to some unique and interesting people. From our experience most of them are very friendly and compassionate people, who have many amazing stories to share. We enjoyed living in Northern Kentucky. I had to drive to work and back on one of the most dangerous Interstate highways in the country, but I survived. 

Living in the Cincy area also made it easier for us to see extended family members. We visited Pat’s parents near Pittsburgh and Mom (and Aunt Pauline) in Altoona a few times. Also Pat’s parents, and Mom and Pauline visited us in Erlanger. Bill, I’m sure you remember that you and your family visited us for a couple of days on your way to Yellowstone and wherever else you went. We even visited you once in eastern PA. 

Clark's Mom and Aunt Pauline 1981
in Erlanger Ky

Clark's brother Bill Rayna (with ball)
and his daughter Karena in eastern PA 1981

Jane and Pat at Bill's house in eastern PA 1981
with Andrea, Karena and Rayna

I had many good friends while working in The University of Cincinnati library system. Don T. was an exceptional scholar and friend. Randy R. was a Kentucky native and another very good friend, whom Pat and I socialized with. He and his wife treated Pat and I to a sumptuous bon voyage dinner at a restaurant at the top of the high-rise Westin Hotel in downtown Cincinnati before we moved away in 1983. Les V. was another good colleague and friend, and there were many more.

Pat (pregnant with Zeb) and Rayna
at the Cincinnati Flower Show 1982

However in September 1982, our son Zeb was born and I had to make more money. That meant we had to move again. This time it was to the northern plains of South Dakota. 

Pat, Zeb & Rayna 1982

Clark, Zeb and Rayna 1982

Pauline, Pat with Zeb, Rayna,
and Marie (Clark's Mom) 1982 in Erlanger KY

So many jobs and so many colleagues, and so many communities helped shape our lives. I often think about them and I am grateful to have had them in our lives. Unfortunately, I have not been good about keeping in touch. 

Bill, I very much regret that my job relocations left a large gap in our relationship. Neither of us were good at writing letters or calling each other. I hope these letters help close that gap some. 

Take care, 

Sincerely Clark 

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