Journal-News, Monday, April 5,1993
Financing delayed Columbia Bridge replacement
By Jim Blount
Few motorist using the five-lane Columbia Bridge today recall the 15-year struggle between local leaders and state officials preceding replacement of a narrow two-lane span and a looping east-side approach.
By 1950, the bridge was a major Hamilton bottleneck, second only to several frequently-blocked railroad crossings on the east side of the Great Miami River.
A new bridge was too expensive for the city and county alone, and state officials repeatedly found excuses for not sharing the burden.
"An important date in the history of the new Columbia Bridge goes back to Nov. 3, 1958. when John W. (Jack) Thomas was elected state representative for Butler County," said the Journal-News when the new $1.4 million structure opened in 1965.
Thomas, a Democrat, worked to have Ohio 128 rerouted over the existing bridge, a request which had been tabled by the state for several years. His effort was continued by his successor, Rep. Charles H. Jones, a Republican.
Less than a year after Thomas took office — Oct. 30, 1959 — a public hearing was held on Hamilton's request, and Dec. 3, 1959. state highway officials announced relocation of Ohio 128 over the bridge. Signs went up in February 1960.
Meanwhile, Hamilton and Butler County officials agreed to pay engineering costs to speed work on a new bridge.
Oct. 14, 1963, Gov. James A. Rhodes, at a cabinet meeting in Hamilton, announced the bids would be opened in Columbus Dec. 10. Twelve bids were received with the Foley Construction Company, Cincinnati, submitting the low bid of $1.437 million — $296,093 under the state's estimate of $1.733 million.
The new span was described as "a concrete deck on welded continuous steel girders with concrete substructure of five spans of 147 feet" and a roadway 71 feet wide, plus a sidewalk and a median.
It would be built 125 feet north of the 46-year-old, two-lane bridge. Moving it north permitted elimination of a reverse curve east of the bridge at Pershing Avenue, a traffic engineer's solution to avoiding left turns onto the old bridge.
The project also included widening New London Road and Hamilton-Cleves Road (Ohio 128) on the west side of the bridge.
Work started on the new five-lane bridge May 20, 1964, with the City of Hamilton and Butler County each paying 7.5 percent of its cost, plus engineering, the state assuming 35 percent and 50 percent corning from federal sources.
Traffic began moving over the completed bridge on Sept. 14, 1965, and demolition started on the old bridge. On Oct. 12 the old 735-foot bridge tumbled into the river after it was struck by a wrecker's boom. Its broken concrete was used as rip rap to prevent erosion on the west bank of the river.
Friday morning, Oct. 29, 1965, the new bridge was dedicated, the program including remarks by P. E. Masheter, director of the Ohio Highway Department (now the department of transportation); Mayor Thomas N. Kindness of Hamilton; and Arthur Reiff, president of the Butler County commission.
"May the new Columbia Bridge not only span the Great Miami River for generations to come, but may it also be a permanent and constant reminder of what can be accomplished when government agencies bridge their differences for the benefit of the people," observed a Journal-News editorial in praising completion of the long-awaited improvement.
By 1972 the average daily traffic count on the new Columbia bridge had reached 25,980. and by 1915 it had increased 20 percent to 31,130 vehicles per day, more than on the High-Main Street Bridge.
According to a recent traffic count, an average of 44,000 vehicles cross the 27-year-old Columbia Bridge each day. Latest daily averages for the High-Main Street Bridge and the Black Street Bridge are 35,000 and 11,500 respectively.
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Journal-News, Monday, April 12, 1993
Daniel Voorhees served his country well
By Jim Blount
One of Indiana's most dynamic and controversial politicians had only a brief connection with his native Butler County. Daniel Wesley Voorhees — who spent 31 years :n the U. S. Congress — was known as "The Tall Sycamore of the Wabash."
"He knew when and how to compromise, even to reverse himself," observed Indiana historian William E. Wilson, who said Voorhees was better known for his personal honesty in a period of shabby public morals, than for his brilliance as an orator and his long and steadfast service to his party in Indiana."
Voorhees was called "The Tall Sycamore of the Wabash," said Wilson, "not only because he was tall -- over 6 feet, massive head and broad of shoulder -- but because, in the excitement of forensics, his hair stood out like the quills of a sycamore's button ball."
Voorhees was born Sept. 26, 1827, in Liberty Township, but as an infant moved with his family to a log house in Fountain County, Ind., north of Veedersburg. A highway historical marker east of Covington on U.S. 41 north of U.S. 136 and 1-74 notes the site of his boyhood home.
In 1849 he was graduated from Asbury College (now DePauw University) and in 1850 he married Anna Hardesty of Greencastle. Voorhees read law in Crawfordsville in the office of Henry S. Lane, later a Republican governor, and in 1851 opened his practice in Covington, the county seat. Two years later he was appointed prosecutor by Gov. Joseph A. Wright.
Voorhees lost in 1856 in his first attempt to win a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives, and the following November moved his family and law practice to Terre Haute. In April 1858 he was named U. S. District Attorney for Indiana by President James Buchanan.
Voorhees was considered a Copperhead, a label given to Democrats who opposed President Lincoln's war policies during the Civil War. Their opponents depicted the Copperheads as traitors working in the interest of the Confederacy.
In Congress, Voorhees opposed New England-backed tariffs which benefited what he called "manufacturing monopolists" of the eastern states by "subjecting the great agricultural West to onerous and unequal burdens."
Voorhees, who refused the congressional nomination in 1866, won the seat in the 1868 and 1870 elections, but lost to Morton C. Hunter in 1872.
Voorhees was appointed to the U. S. Senate Nov. 6, 1877, after the death of Sen. Oliver Morton and remained there for more than 20 years until March 3, 1897. He was defeated in the 1896 election by Charles W. Fairbanks of Indianapolis, also an Ohio native, who served until he was elected vice president in 1904 with President Theodore Roosevelt.
For four years (1885-1889), a son, Charles S, Voorhees, also was in Congress as the delegate from the Territory of Washington.
The elder Voorhees died in Washington, D. C. on April 9, 1897, a month after leaving the Senate, and was buried in Highland Lawn Cemetery in Terre Haute.
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Journal-News, Monday, April 19,1993
World War II effort affected area shopping habits
By Jim Blount
Drivers on the home front were experiencing another change 50 years ago — stickers on their windshields instead of new license plates on their bumpers.
It was a simple adjustment in comparison with previous World War II restrictions for owners of more than 33,700 vehicles in Butler County.
Driving restrictions had started Jan. 1, 1942, with a freeze on the purchase of new cars until the end of the war.
Tire sales had been limited since Jan. 10, 1942. Gas rationing had started Dec. 1, 1942, allowing most motorists about 16 gallons per month, and requiring a windshield sticker and stamps to buy gasoline.
In addition, speed limits had been lowered to 35 miles an hour, and civilians were encouraged to use buses for local trips and railroads for regional and national travel.
The license stickers — part of an effort to conserve metals for the war — had been on sale during March 1943. They were sold in Hamilton by Lillian Kinzer, 224 N. Third St.; William Howe at the Butler County Auto Club on Market Street; and R. H. Smith, Butler County auditor, in the Courthouse.
The stickers were to be placed in the lower right corner of the front windshield by April 1, 1943, while the green-on-white 1942 steel plates remained on the front and back of the car.
The red stickers measured 5 5⁄8th by two inches. Typed on the sticker was the make and model of the car and its 1942 license plate number.
The national campaigns to conserve rubber, gasoline, metals and other war materials changed more than driving habits. They also altered the way Hamiltonians shopped and ended some long-standing business practices.
One of the national trends was abandonment of home delivery, according to Lee Kinnett, who wrote For the duration: The United States Goes to War.
"In pre-war America," said Kinnett, "busy housewives often phoned in their grocery orders and simply paid the delivery boy when he showed up at the kitchen door."
Kinnett noted that "a survey of grocery stores late in 1942 indicated that they had cut delivery mileage by 42 percent, while their sales volume had risen by nearly 20 percent." That survey was taken before the start of gas rationing, which included no special provisions for deliveries to consumers.
The first cutback had been effective June 1. 1942, when Hamilton dairies switched home milk product deliveries from daily to every other day and ended most Sunday service.
Home delivery also was curtailed or canceled in 1942 and 1943 by ice companies, dry cleaners, bakeries, drug stores, beverage producers, department stores and other businesses.
Hamilton's postmaster, George A. Zettler, had ordered reductions in some mail deliveries and collections in November 1942 to save tires and gas and extend the life of postal vehicles.
Local and inter-city bus lines — which were experiencing rapid ridership increases — had been ordered to eliminate some stops for the same reasons.
In October 1942, Hamilton coal dealers had asked customers to increase the size of their orders because they had to carry capacity loads to comply with a government order to reduce their mileage by 25 percent.
Dropping home deliveries wasn't the only war-time change in food shopping, according to Kinnett.
Neighborhood mom-and-pop grocery stores were yielding market share to chain supermarkets, which relied on self-service.
"Even before the war, there had been a trend away from counter service, where clerks 'got up' the customer's orders," Kinnett explained. A 1941 survey of 2,500 independent grocery operators showed that counter service for canned and packaged goods was offered in only 40 percent of the outlets.
Kinnett said "the war accelerated the switch to self-service, chiefly because the draft was creating a shortage of grocery clerks."
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Journal-News, Monday. April 26,1993
'No meat today' signs common during World War II
By Jim Blount
Hamiltonians were limiting their meat consumption to about two to three pounds a week 50 years ago as World War II rationing was expanded to cover meat, cheese, butter, cooking fats and oils.
"When you think of rationing, remember what our boys are doing WITH those things we are doing WITHOUT!" said a government rationing slogan aimed at encouraging civilian cooperation with the latest of a series of home front cutbacks.
The new meat and cheese restrictions were effective Monday, March 29, 1943, only four weeks after the rationing of more than 200 processed food items had started. The March 1 program included canned and frozen fruits, vegetables, soups, juices, baby goods, chili sauce, catsup and baby foods.
The Office of Price Administration had imposed sugar rationing May 4, 1942, and started coffee limits Nov. 29, 1942.
Local grocers said about the only important items not rationed by April 1, 1943, were milk, bread, cereals, preserves and fresh fruits and vegetables.
The rationing of meat, cheese, butter, cooking fats and oils was announced by OPA early in March 1943 with the details released piecemeal during the month.
As with previous programs, there was an OPA-ordered freeze on the sale of butter, margarine, lard and other edible fats and oils, starting at midnight, Sunday, March 21, and continuing through midnight March 28.
The government permitted meat and cheese sales to continue until the start of rationing, and Hamilton shoppers took full advantage, according • to Journal-News reports.
'The heaviest meat-buying rush in the history of Hamilton" is the way the newspaper described sales during the weekend of Friday-Saturday, March 26-27. "All meat markets which had obtained supplies were sold out, and there was no fresh meat available early Monday morning."
Red stamps in War Ration Book No. 2 included 16 points in stamps per week for each person, limiting purchases to two pounds of popular steaks cuts or about 3.2 pounds of hamburger each week.
The range of point values per pound included eight for butter, cheese and center cut pork chops; nine for boneless sirloin; 11 for sliced ham; and 12 for dried beef.
As rationing began. Hamilton stores advertised aged Wisconsin cheese at 37 cents a pound and butter at 52 and 53 cents a pound. Albers also offered butter stretcher at 9.5 cents for an eight-tablet package.
"Mix one pound of Alberly Butter with one pint of milk, then add four double mix tablets and get about two pounds of delicious spread," urged a store ad.
Families were urged to try a variety of meat loaf recipes as a way to get more servings out of limited meat purchases.
Meat prices per pound at local Kroger, Albers, A&P and Chicago Market stores included: 45 cents for sliced bacon; 35 or 36 cents for sirloin steak; 33 to 35 cents for pork sausage; 34 cents for fresh ham; 32 or 33 cents for pork chops; 23 to 32 cents for ground beef; 25 cents for veal roast; and 25 cents for bologna.
Cuts requiring only four ration points per pound included short ribs at 19 to 27 cents and boiling beef at 15 cents.
Neck bones — suggested to be served with sauerkraut — was a double bargain at two ration points and 9 cents a pound at Kroger, A&P and the Chicago Market, and three pounds for 25 cents at Albers. The kraut was priced at 5 to 7 cents a pound.
Pig ears, requiring only one ration point, were 15 cents a pound at the Chicago Market at the northeast corner of Front and High Streets.
Later, the government goal was an additional 20 percent reduction in civilian meat consumption — from an average of 147 pounds a person in 1944 to 118 pounds by the end of 1045.
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