Thursday, February 15, 2007


*Check comment section for clarification.

I've been doing a little project that required me to answer some simple questions about myself - birthdate, family, location, etc. My "location" answer? Cincinnati. Some of my neighbors here in the northern suburb of Liberty Township disagree. They want nothing to do with the city anymore as they consider it an outdated, badly run embarrassment. They wear their suburban titles proudly. Which is fine... I guess. I mean, it's true, we don't live within city limits (in fact, we're probably a fifteen or twenty minute drive to the city limits.) Not only do we not live in Hamilton County (the county in which the city of Cincinnati is located) but we're in the next county north, and at the middle of that county, closer to the northern edge than the southern. So I get the feeling of being removed. And for people who've moved from other larger urban areas ours seems very removed for sure. I really do get that. But I will always say "Cincinnati" when someone asks. Whether it's habit or stubborness (with a little optimism thrown in) I don't know.

My immediate family moved to the suburbs when I was in kindergarten. But my family, all sides, have their roots down in St. Bernard. It's a tiny little city, surrounded on all sides by the city of Cincinnati. St. Bernard always maintained its independence from the city around it because Proctor & Gamble had many of it's manufacturing facilities within St. Bernard's city limits. The tiny little city raked in big tax revenue and up until a few years ago was doing fairly well for being a non-trendy area so close to downtown. But then Proctor & Gamble pulled out, Ivorydale closed and for the first time in decades - possibly longer - St. Bernard was hurting. It's really sad to see, though we don't see much of it anymore as my Grandparents are no longer there. Grandpa Stegman died when I was in high school and Grandma Stegman moved this past year. Grandpa and Grandma Kelly died when I was in college. Grandpa Joe died eight years ago and Grandma moved into a retirement apartment a few years ago.

We have no living connections left though we stop at Chili Time on the way to the zoo or the way back from the hospital. Then I find myself taking a detour up Tower Avenue and onto Jackson, smiling at the little girl making her way up my Grandparents' front steps into the house I can navigate with my eyes closed yet would probably no longer recognize with my eyes open.

The photo above is from St. Mary's cementary in St. Bernard. It is where two of my grandpas are buried, along with my great grandparents and great-great grandparents. I have personal memories of some of them and only know stories about others. But to be able to walk into a place and know that connection is grounding. My great-grandmothers were friends growing up here and that's what I think of when I've wondered through the tombstones, not the literal reality of death. It's not morbid at all; it's comforting.

Regardless of its crumbling outside, St. Bernard has a history too old to ignore. Like the city of Cincinnati surrounding it, it's just waiting for someone or something to come along and pull it up. I believe it can be done. I believe Cincinnati, too, can once again become the energetic city it was up until the early 1990's. I guess in St. Bernard I see a smaller version of what the city of Cincinnati has to overcome. And I'm praying for both. I can't change my history, and I wouldn't choose to. So the next logical step is to try to preserve it in a way that honors the people that built and populated both cities. Anyone who's read this blog for a while knows some of why we landed here in the suburbs rather than the city when we moved from Maryland last August -- Liam's stuff required a school district with a record for being able to help kids with diverse abilities. Rusty's job is in Mason, another far northern suburb, and he's able to commute fairly quickly and without needing to drive the interstate. We couldn't afford most of the family friendly areas within the city and a school for Liam's stuff (Cincinnati public schools are not equipt, as my friend Jen can verify after teaching there.) And we weren't ready for another rehab... yet. Maybe one day we'll be closer to the city. Regardless? If there is some way of helping restore some of the life, I'm happy to do it. I think I'm going to explore the possibilities and pray about it more specifically.

I want to end this by linking to a blog post I somehow stumbled onto. Honestly, I have no clue how I found this but I'm SO glad I did. I think reading something like this makes me realize my feelings aren't unique. And that gives me a reminder to pray about this, for this area, the cities of St. Bernard and Cincinnati and the people there. If you live anywhere in the Greater Cincinnati area I really want you to read this and pray too. I'm interested and excited to see God answer these prayers:


Heather said...

How heartfelt ... More people should be prideful of their "place"

Anonymous said...

Jenny lives there still & so does Adam :)

Stacie said...

You're right, they do. And I worded it badly. When I'm talking about "connections" and "links", I'm talking backwards looking. The things that tied me (us, since I'm assuming this is someone related) from before I was born, and tied my mom before she was born and so on.

I didn't know Adam was there (for some reason I thought he was living somewhere near Xavier.) Have been thinking of Jenny when I pray for St. Bernard.

Stacie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Site Meter