Pee Pee Creek?

An Ohio map reads like an autobiography.

Four Mile Creek, for example, rises in the uplands along the Indiana-Ohio state line, picking up the waters of small rills and runs and seeps. It bumps into glacial moraines and purls through pastoral farmsteads on its downhill destiny with the Great Miami River — by which time it has become a substantial stream. Its placid form and lyrical name belie the fact it was born from warfare. 

Bibi, mother of the infamous Fiona and Fritz

Worth the weight

For her 6th birthday, Cora Stover went to the Cincinnati Zoo’s Hippo Cove exhibit to visit Fiona, her favorite hippopotamus. Cora was born shortly before Fiona and has practically grown up with the remarkably charming and friendly hippo.




National Flag plans to resume factory tours and reopen its on-site flag museum soon. Check the company website for updates.

Stars and Stripes forever

Ask Artie Schaller how many stars the American flag had in 1869, and he instantaneously answers, “Thirty-seven.” The question would stump most people, but Schaller has a distinct advantage: He grew up in a family business that’s one of the nation’s oldest flag manufacturers

Although National Flag produces more than a million flags and banners annually, it remains a small, customer-oriented business, with 21 employees. “They’ve been here an average of 17 years, and six have been with us more than 30 years,” says Schaller. Phone calls to the company are answered by a real person, and the public is welcome to walk into its factory building in Cincinnati’s West End and purchase flags at the front office’s service counter.

Coney Island pool

Changing with the times

Coney Island, the iconic Cincinnati park, has a history of envisioning possibilities and changing with the times — times that have included two world wars, the Great Depression, floods, integration, and now two pandemics.

Coney Island has seen its share of transition during its long history. When James Parker bought a 20-acre apple orchard on the banks of the Ohio River east of Cincinnati in 1867, he planted the seeds of a summer-fun treasure. As the story goes, a few Cincinnati businessmen on horseback asked Parker to rent the orchard for a picnic and, smelling success, Parker added a dance hall, a bowling alley, and a carousel. 

John Ruthven

20th century Audubon

At the corner of Vine and West 8th in downtown Cincinnati, a giant mural covers the entire side of a six-story building. It depicts a colorful, swirling flock of birds: passenger pigeons, now extinct. The last passenger pigeon, Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo on Sept.

If it has to do with birds in or around Cincinnati, Ruthven probably was part of it. 

Born in 1924, Ruthven knew he wanted to be a professional artist from an early age, preferably a wildlife artist. Like so many young men of that era, however, his dream was deferred by World War II; John enlisted in the U.S. Navy after he graduated from high school in 1943. 

Art at John Parker House museum

Path to freedom

When Dewey Scott retired from the hustle and bustle of Cincinnati to the peaceful hillsides surrounding Ripley — an hour to the southeast on land hugging the Ohio River — he thought he’d enjoy life without much on his to-do list.

That was more than a decade ago. Today, Scott is the manager and docent at the John Parker House museum in Ripley, armed with a knack for storytelling and a wealth of knowledge about the historic home and about Ripley’s standing as a pivotal stop on the Underground Railroad.

“You were a free person once you came into Ohio at that time,” he says. “It was known that there were free blacks living in Ripley, and fugitive slaves knew they could come here and live among them.”

The Weirich family of Cincinnati digs in to a meal at Camp Washington Chili. (Photo by James Proffitt.)

Chili, Cincy style

Fact is, no one remembers the day those foreigners invaded Cincinnati — they don’t teach it in the history books — but that influx of folks from Greece and the Macedonian region early in the 20th century has left its tasty marks on the region.

There are more than 200 such shops in the region, and the star of the show at each is the soupy, spicy concoction that, despite the name, bears little resemblance to what most Americans consider chili. Further, it’s tough to guess what’s in the chilis because no one wants to talk recipes.

The original

Steve Martin has operated Empress Chili in Alexandria, Kentucky, for 35 years.

“Empress is the original,” he says. “It all started in 1922 with brothers Tom and Jeff Kiradjieff; they were Macedonians. Empress is the best.”