Category Archives: My Backyard

Thank God My Father Moved Us to Cincinnati

When I was at least 12, Marion and Esther, my G.I. generation parents took me to Coney Island. I was still too scared to ride the roller-coasters but the ‘Dogems’ appealed to my passive-aggressive nature. Once back home Marion asked me if I noticed the black kid I had banged into several times? “No, why?”

Well, for more than 65 years, Coney Island and its Sunlite Pool had been a riverside playground for most of the people of Cincinnati; it boasted cleanliness, thrilling rides, a place to swim and dance, a whisper of bygone days.  But it was closed to blacks. The pool, even longer.  That a place of public accommodation would remain a pocket of segregation as long as it did — especially in a Northern, industrial city — surprises many, astounds others.  After all, the Supreme Court had ordered schools desegregated in 1954.  The park finally opened its gates to blacks in 1955, and by the time the pool was integrated — May 29, 1961 — the civil-rights struggle was well under way, punctuated by sit-ins and demonstrations around the country.

I was a Baby Boomer enjoying my childhood during the 1st Turning Act I (1943-1964) of a four-generation live action, socio-political-psycho-economic histo-drama, I call, “Apocalypse Soon, Armageddon Later.” Starring fellow Boomers; George ‘W’ 1946, Hillary 1947, Bill Clinton 1946, Trump 1946, and Putin 1952.

On my street, Mooney Avenue, we had 70 kids in an approximate 60-40 split between Protestants and Catholics. As children of a fervent Christian Scientist mother, my sister and I tried to hide under the Protestant umbrella. The Catholic kids went to Saint Mary’s and the rest of us attended Hyde Park elementary. So, in my 1955 life experience, no black kids here, no black kids there and no black kids anywhere except for that kid on the ‘Dogems.’

’53 Nash

Marion always bought ugly used cars like this ’53 Nash Ambassador – ‘Greg’ as Esther called him, drove us to Sunday school at the 1st Church of Christ Scientist Norwood then came back an hour later to pick us up. Norwood was a future Trump country neighborhood where everybody was white and wore blue collars to work at the GM Fischer Body plant.

  Duck Creek Rd. Frisch's biweekly Sundays after church dining.

Two Sundays a month, after Marion got paid, we went to Frisch’s Big Boy on Duck Creek and ate in the car. Whether it was a payday Sunday or fried chicken at home, I’d come back with a headache from my hour-long lesson in Mind Over Matter and the evils of materia-medica. My physical remedy for this meta-physical problem, was holding a cold wash cloth to my left temporal.

Headaches: Invalidating the self. Self-criticism. Fear.

            “I love and approve of myself. I see myself and what I do with eyes of love. I am safe.”

My second wife gifted me with Louise Hay’s book Heal Your Body A-Z to teach me what I failed to learn in Sunday School.

RELIGION was my number one childhood complaint – “can’t we all just be normal kids like everybody else on the block” – number two was Marion shaming us with the only non-GM or Ford vehicle in Hyde Park, and used at that.

RACE RELIGION POLITICS SEX & MONEY

However, after Labor Day 1955, Marion drove me half way across town – to the east/west dividing line – to my first day at Walnut Hills High School. The school was smack dab in the middle of EVANSTON and from outward appearances an all-black community. I read recently that Cincinnati was the 8th most segregated city in the USA. Just looking out the window I couldn’t tell if they were Protestant or Catholic but they were the same color as the kid I bumped into at Coney Island.

But, oh Lordy, Lordy the halls of the 2,000 7-12th grade students at Walnut Hills High School were populated with black kids and white kids, but half of the white kids were Jews. Marion had warned me that, “if I didn’t learn anything from the Jews, I would never learn anything.” The first thing I noticed was that all the Jewish girls had breasts.

Secondly, while the Coney Island pool wouldn’t be integrated until the year I graduated, at WHHS all the boys swam naked. In my swim class everyone had more pubic hair, than I had hair on my head. Walnut Hills was an academic melting pot, my class of 305, had kids from every neighborhood in the city – places I had never heard of, let alone visited. What WHHS didn’t have was greasers or hoods.Well, we did have Marty until he dropped out in the tenth grade. Marty wore ducktails and tried to act tough cool but the only status symbol at WHHS was your grade point average.

My favorite WHHS grad was Miller Huggins, Class of 1897 pictured with Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. Miller’s father was a Methodist and prohibited his son from playing semi-pro ball on Sundays. Huggins graduated from law school and his professor, none other than William Howard Taft advised him that he’d make more money playing baseball.

Huggins set an MLB record on June 1, 1910 with six plate appearances but no at bats, with four walks and two sacrifice flies. Huggins, was short but WHHS smart and managed the Yankees from 1921-29. The Yankees swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1927 World Series. This team became known as Murderers’ Row, and is considered the one of the greatest teams in baseball history.

My favorite famous WHHS grad was Jerry Rubin who went off to Berkley to found the ‘Yippies’ and protest the Vietnam War.

I passed the reading/math test to gain admittance to WHHS but Latin, Trig, Physics and Chemistry left me intellectually challenged in a very competitive environment. That, plus suffering from a severe case of homework avoidance syndrome, left me at the back of the pack on graduation day in 1961.

Of the 305 graduates, the top 100 went off to Harvard, Princeton, Yale and beyond. The middle third headed for Prairie League universities especially the hometown favorite the University of Cincinnati. My application to UC’s school of Architecture was rejected because I had not graduated in the top 10% of my high school class.

Tom Thacker was our most famous classmate along with Tony Yates in the ’61-’62 year.

I was happy to just be a poly-sci guy at Miami or Antioch but Marion, the hard knocks engineer, wasn’t about to pay for any of that monkey business. So, Howard, Eddie and I entered UC’s Ding-Dong, two-year, associate’s degree program. I did so well relearning 7th grade Algebra, English and History that I was granted admission to the 1962 class of Architecture.

Cincinnati was 85% German Catholic, home to Hebrew Union College and Rabbi Silver founder of Reformed Judaism. Thus, Cincinnati was blessed with a pragmatic German education culture. This meant that even though I missed out on Harvard I was going to be a University of Cincinnati Co-Op student and go to work for a living from my Freshman year on.

UC was the first university in the world to offer cooperative education. A bust of UC co-op founder Herman Schneider stands outside Baldwin Hall.

Herman Schneider (1872–1939), engineer, architect, and educator, concluded that the traditional learning space or classroom was insufficient for technical students. Schneider observed that several of the more successful Lehigh graduates had worked to earn money before graduation. Gathering data through interviews of employers and graduates, he devised the framework for cooperative education (1901). However, in 1903 the University of Cincinnati appointed Schneider to their faculty. In 1905 the UC Board of Trustees allowed Schneider to “try this cooperative idea of education for one year only, for the failure of which they would not be held responsible.” The cooperative education program was launched in 1906, and became an immediate success.

RACE RELIGION POLITICS MONEY & SEX

My Coop Job ’61 to ’67 as an architectural “Apprentice” above the Colony theater on Shaker Square

I spent Spring and Fall 1961-1967 working as an architectural co-op student in the offices of Outcalt, Guenther, Rode, Toguchi and Bonebrake on Shaker Square, Cleveland, Ohio’ thanks to my aunt, who got me the job and Herman Schneider, who started the first work/study program in the US at the University of Cincinnati.

Thinking Outside the Country

Thinking Outside the Country

My Backyard – Antalya, Turkey 2015 to Present

Where ever an American Expat or an expat from any country resides outside his home nation they instantly become street smart economists. I had never been west of Chicago until the US Marine Corps gave me a 12 month all expenses paid tour of Japan,  the Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Teg, we’re not in Cincy anymore and why don’t you find a job overseas, when you get out?

Edificio Bretagne 949 Avenida Higeninopolis, Sao Paulo, Brasil 1975 – 1978
The Lobby was the best & when the elevator broke the 16th floor was a long ways to go

Good idea, I followed my bliss, first to Brazil  where I tried to live an American lifestyle on a beer budget. However, Buenos Aires, Machu Picchu, boat trip down the Amazon were worth the stay.

Ismailia, Egypt rented villa one block from Suez canal 1985-86

My second opportunity to think outside the country was a short 13 month stay in Egypt  as a free-lancer (on-the-economy) begging for consultant crumbs from the US Agency for International Development. Got to visit all 45 agricultural research stations from Asawan to Alexandria, took sailing lessons on the Nile and the Aswan to Luxor Nile cruise. Got to see how the civilian side of the Federal government works or doesn’t.

Zhengzhou, China 2008 to 2014 ESL teacher

After 2008 I found out that I couldn’t afford to live my ‘bliss’ lifestyle any place in the US on Social Security and my dinky pension. I exercised my one marketable job skill – speaking English with an American accent – seven years in Mainland China.

Pontificating to our Kiwi friends, overlooking Bohai Bay, in Yantai, Shandong (home of Confucius) China. 2014 -2015

My good looking partner with her JD Law creds, became disenchanted with being a shill for Chinese ESL training schools so we began looking for greener, affordable pastures. India, Vietnam, the Philippines and Korea were ruled out in favor of Antalya, Turkey, San Diego weather at one third the US cost of living.

At the base of those mountains Alexander the Great wintered his boats in 333 BC

In China we lived on wages, now we live on my SSA monthly check and save 30% of that, if we avoid Euro-Dollar countries. When I bragged to a Bostonian lady that we paid $300 for a 3 bed 1.5 bath apartment one block from the Mediterranean, she was impressed. Due to the currency exchange rate of the USD/TRY  we started off at $327 in March 2014.  Today, the US/Turkey political relationship has knocked our rent back to $250.

It cost us $20,000 to move from China and establish residency in Turkey.

What if the coming global financial Armageddon puts my pension on the Venezuela payment plan? That’s the problem in not only My Backyard but in 98% of the neighborhoods in the world. There are articles of living in Portugal or Ecuador for 30 years on $200,000, but what if your $200K turns into Zimbabwe bucks overnight?

My Backyard Strategy: Stay in Antalya, rent don’t own, bank accounts in TRY, EUR and USD, 5-10% savings in Gold.

MY BACK YARD – Phaselis

Alexander the Great spent the winter in my back yard 2400 years ago.

Phaselis is an ancient city ranged on a peninsula surrounded by three small, perfect bays, now protected within the grounds of a beautiful national park. Located between Kemer and Olimpos. It is 58 kilometers from Antalya it’s a perfect spot for a quiet rest and a splash in the sea from one of the small pebbly beaches. Excursion boats and yachts often drop anchor in the southern harbor for lunch, a swim, and a walk through the ruins.

Phaselis was an ancient Greek and Roman city on the coast of Lycia. Its ruins are located north of the modern town Tekirova in the Kemer district of Antalya Province in Turkey. It lies between the Bey Mountains and the forests of Olympos National Park, 16 kilometers (9.9 mi) south of the tourist town of Kemer and on the 57th kilometer of the Antalya–Kumluca highway. Phaselis and other ancient towns around the shore can also be accessed from the sea by daily yacht tours.

The town was set up by the Rhodians in 700 BC. Because of its location on an isthmus separating two harbors, it became the most important harbor city of eastern Lycia and an important center of commerce between GreeceAsiaEgypt, and Phoenicia, although it did not belong to the Lycian League. The city was captured by Persians after they conquered Asia Minor, and was later captured by Alexander the Great.