The following was mailed to George and Betty Bell and postmarkedApril 6, 1990, provided as written:
WHAT DID YOU DO FOR FUN?
By Alma B. Weber
If you lived in Blue Ash in the early 1920s what did you do for fun? There were no sidewalks, except one block on Highland between Cooper and Perry Road, and it was so broken and uneven that roller skating was out of the question. The streets were unpaved so bicycling was discouraging, too. Few residents owned automobiles and the most fun they offered was going for a ride. Moving picture theaters were just beginning to appear but there were none in Blue Ash. The closest was in Pleasant Ridge.
There was just one church in Blue Ash and besides ministering to our spiritual needs, it provided lots of fun by way of picnics, church suppers, entertainment, games, and opportunities for lots of laughter. But we did have a winning baseball team which had loyal support from its proud backers.
Then there was my father’s grocery store which was heated by a pot bellied stove behind which several retired gentlemen staked out seating claims where they gathered every day to chat, swap stories, laugh a lot, and tease my sister Mary unmercifully. One day she got so desperate she picked up an over ripe tomato, hurled it at her tormentor and hit him squarely in the face. Our father shouted to her in no uncertain terms that he would not tolerate that behavior, but the victim, tomato juice dripping from his nose and chin stepped in between them protesting “Let the child alone—I had it coming to me.” That story was told for a long time. After all, laughter is the accompaniment of fun so that brief incident which occurred some 60 years ago is still calling forth laughter and fun.
The wife of one of the men who sought warmth and fellowship behind the stove died. He behaved well, gave her a proper funeral and then went home and put on his biggest oldest, sloppiest shoes, went out into the yard and found a mud puddle in which he waded until his shoes had picked up a generous covering of mud. Back in his home, he tramped through every room upstairs and down, leaving a trail of mud behind him. Neighbors had often murmured about her nagging. You can guess what was one of her chief complaints.
A new minister came to Blue Ash Presbyterian. His name was Earl Short, but he asked to be called Shorty. He was greatly admired for his splendid ministry and for his keen humor. One night when the officers had assembled, Shorty said, “Gentlemen (there were no women officers at that time), I want you to come with me to study a matter which needs your appraisal.” He took them to the Manse and up the stairs to the bathroom. Now you must know that running water and sewage were then one of Blue Ash’s most modern improvements and very few houses had built in bathrooms. Generally they were simply tucked in wherever space permitted, often a part of the cupboard or a corner of a bedroom. In the Manse, the bathroom had been so installed. Shorty invited the first man to be seated and then a second and so on through the entire group of Elders. When each had his turn, Shorty asked, “How will you report of the meeting?” One man replied, “I couldn’t get my knee under the wash stand.” Continuing reports followed the same pattern until the last man said, “We will have to enlarge the bath room.” They did.
But I still have a question. Do you still wonder what we did for fun?