Saturday, August 22, 2009

What Lucia Should Know About My Birthplace

It's been said here before, but it bears repeating: I am from Ohio. I have the tattoo to prove it, in fact. Some people think that all I do compare Misery/COMO to Ohio, but that's not necessarily true. It's just my point of reference because it's from where I came. I lived there for my first thirty years of life (sans that summer I thought I could live in Seattle). So, it's a big part of who I am.

Lucia should know this about me. It's her heritage. Ohio is in her blood. She is a Buckeye.

Below are the ten things she should know about this heritage.

1. Ohio is more part of the Great Lakes Region than it is part of the Midwest. I realize that this is splitting hairs, but there is a distinct difference in how people act and talk in Ohio/Michigan/Indiana/Illinois/Wisconsin/Pennsylvania/Minnesota than here in the true Midwest. Ohio's region is also known as Big Ten country as the members of the Big Ten (eleven, but who's counting?) all reside in these states. Anyway, the aesthetic definitely has a faster pace and a more East Coast feel than does the country's mid-section.

2. Ohio has a rich indie rock tradition. Guided By Voices, The Breeders, Brainiac, Magnolia Electric Co., Swearing at Motorists, Times New Viking , Pere Ubu, Devo, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, The New Bomb Turks, The Best Damn Band in the Land, Sinkane, etc. all come from Ohio plus many, many more. The place is so happening in the scene that bands from elsewhere like New Jersey's Yo La Tengo choose Ohio bands to sit in for them at local record stores and shoot slick, Hollywood-type videos...



3. In Ohio, football is king. I have had friends moved to Ohio in the nineties and were amazed that the local news channels would devote a half-hour-to-one-hour program after the eleven o'clock news to high school football every Friday night. Although this is fairly common everywhere these days, back then it was unheard of to devote so much air time to high school sports. That doesn't even mention the Ohio State Buckeyes or the Miami University known as the "cradle of coaches" for producing several of the great college coaches over the decades. Mizzou's own coach used to coach football in Toledo before coming here. Then there's Paul Brown and his stints with the Browns and Bengals. I could go on and on, but I can already hear you all clicking of to another blog as I type.

4. Ohio is not just full of hicks. Sure, we have plenty of rednecks and hilljacks in Ohio, but there are also three major cities there (Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland). Besides The Ohio State University, there are twelve universities with enrollments of over 10,000. Plus, there are East Coast favorite safety schools like Case Western, Oberlin, and God's Bible School and College. Dennis Kucinich is from Ohio. My point is that there are plenty of smart, sophisticated folk in Ohio.

5. Ohio is full of hicks. I can say that because I'm one of them. I grew up in and just outside of a town with three traffic lights, two gas stations, an IGA, and twenty-three churches. In between all those cities and universities are miles upon miles of farm land and small, hick towns. It's part of our heritage.

6. Ohio has a deep African-American history. While Bushwhackers and Tigers were fighting over MO's status as a slave state, the Underground Railroad passed through Ohio. Today, the lone museum commemorating the abolitionist movement and its secret network to free slaves is located in Cincinnati. Many of the routes passed right by my childhood home. The first African-American woman graduated from college at Oberlin. Traditionally black institutions at Central State and Wilberforce are also located in the Buckeye state.

7. The Gay love Ohio, particularly Columbus. It has been claimed that there are more lesbians per capita in Columbus than San Francisco. I lived there long enough to know that this is probably true. During that time in Columbus, I think I had more lesbian friends and acquaintances than straight. Ignore the fact that the state voted to ban gay marriage. I mean, we all can't be Iowa.

8. I was born in the town that stands as Ohio's highest point. The glaciers did a funny thing and left a little patch of land in west-central Ohio alone, to sit atop and look over the rest of the state. Or something like that. I was born in Bellefontaine (pronounced bell-fountain, don't ask), home of North America's first paved street and also the one-time shortest street on the planet.

9. Ohioans have a bitter rivalry with our northern neighbor Michigan. For some unknown reason, Ohio and Michigan fought over Toledo. I'm still not sure why, but there was almost a war over it. A compromise was reached at the federal level. Ohio got to keep Toledo and Michigan was awarded the Upper Peninsula, aka Wisconsin's left arm. I'm not sure who won that argument, but I do know that it's been over five years since Michigan beat Ohio State. Ironically, Lucia's mother was born in Michigan. We won't hold it against her, because she lived in Chicago (twice), Pittsburgh, Wheeling, Oxford, and Columbus. So, she's not 100% Michiganer. That and she has two degrees from Ohio State.

10. Ohio is where I met Lucia's mother. We first met online (which knows no state boundaries), but our first face-to-face encounter was at Larry's, across from Ohio State's campus. Sadly, Larry's is no more, but we will always have Columbus.

I also have a post planned to help Lu with her own birthplace, but I decided to start with what I know.

7 comments:

Breathing Is Overrated said...

Are there REALLY 23 churches in WL? There can't be, can there?? (Google only lists 10, but I am sure that there are some really small ones, and some of the more strict Mennonite ones may not be online due to their beliefs.)

How many can you name?? :)

Kate said...

Here's what I found:

1) BAPTIST FELLOWSHIP OF WEST LIBERTY
2) FIRST CHURCH OF GOD
3) UNION CHAPEL COMMUNITY CHURCH
4) PHILADELPHIA LUTHERAN CHURCH
5) BETHEL MENNONITE CHURCH
6) OAK GROVE MENNONITE CHURCH
7) SOUTH UNION MENNONITE CHURCH
8) WEST LIBERTY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
9) COVENANT FELLOWSHIP CHURCH
10) GRACE CHAPEL CHURCH
11) TWELVE BASKETS MINISTRIES INC.
12) FIRST UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
13) PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH USA
14) UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

I don't know for sure. There could be more that existed out in the boonies and I know that new churches are popping up all the time. Isn't there a church in Kingscreek? I think that would count as part of West Liberty.

comoprozac said...

HYPERBOLE.

Kate said...

Well your use of HYPERBOLE wasn't very effective. You should have said something 100 churhces instead of 23. I even thought there was a possibility that there were 23 three churches and I grew up in the stupid town.

Jerry and Dena said...

The Vintage Inn was just purchased by a church called Quest, and there is a church that meets in a storefront behind Subway, so there are 2 more! Oh - and the old school in town is some kind of church too.
Don't forget the experience of living on a farm - we'll make sure Lucia knows about that!

e.b. said...

What about the mounds? You have to tell her all about the mounds and Ohio's Native Americans, who were there until they were kicked out in 1830-ish.

comoprozac said...

Right, the mounds. How did I forget those? I used to have my fourth graders make salt dough sculptures of those things.