354. June 7, 1995 - Bus service to Cincinnati started in 1921: .
Journal-News, Wednesday, June 7, 1995
Bus service to Cincinnati started in 1921
By Jim Blount
"A new mode of travel between Cincinnati and Hamilton" started Monday morning, Dec. 12, 1921, when Jonathan H. Henry inaugurated bus service over Dixie Highway and Reading Road.
The bus supplemented steam-driven passenger trains and electric-powered interurbans in transporting people between the two cities in 1921. Earlier, the trip could have been via stagecoach and canal boat.
Although the hour-and-a-half bus trip was slower than the one-hour schedules of its rail competitors, Henry often had more riders than he could handle. He started with just one bus, but had two more Duplex Limiteds ordered.
Henry's first schedule included Hamilton departures at 7:30 and 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., and return trips starting from Cincinnati at 9 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. The one-way fare was 45 cents.
The service operated without terminals or stations for several years. Runs from Hamilton originated from the southwest corner of High and Front streets (37 High Street), and ended in an alley beside the Mabley & Carew Department Store in downtown Cincinnati.
Henry owned and operated the family company with assistance from his wife and daughter, according to a later report. He maintained a garage at 2531 Dixie Hwy., near his residence.
"The bus attracted quite a lot of attention in Hamilton Friday morning when it made its first appearance," a Dec. 9, 1921, newspaper account noted in previewing the "new mode of travel." The writer said the bus "is complete in every detail, accommodating 23 persons" in cane seats with wood floors. "It resembles a new streetcar of the latest type, only it is built on a Duplex chassis." The article said "the Duplex truck being used holds several endurance records and is claimed to be especially adapted to this use."
"In those days, it was a hard tug up Reading Road," recalled Charles Stroup, who drove a bus over the route. "The paving was not as smooth as today, and the coach shook and swayed a great deal more than our modern buses," Stroup said in a 1931 interview.
Later, Henry's operation became the Cincinnati-Hamilton Bus Company with larger buses and a more frequent schedule.
Between 1921 and 1925, several other companies operated buses to and from Hamilton.
Another Cincinnati-Hamilton route was added over Pleasant Avenue and Hamilton Avenue (U. S. 127). A Hamilton-Oxford company was opened by John Zeipfel; William Shartle started a Hamilton-Middletown route; and Walter L. Furrey initiated Hamilton-Eaton service.
Several small operations were acquired and consolidated in the 1925-1931 period by the Ohio Bus Lines Company, the major bus company in the area until its bankruptcy in 1971. Henry sold his assets and rights to the Ohio Bus Lines for $225,000 in 1931.
In November 1931 -- nearly 10 years after Henry started with one bus and three daily round trips -- Ohio Bus Lines advertised 78 coaches arriving each day in Hamilton. "More passengers enter and leave Hamilton daily on Ohio Bus Lines than on any other transport service," the company boasted.
It operated buses seating 21, 29 or 40 passengers over two routes to Cincinnati and service to Oxford, Middletown, Eaton and Richmond. Ohio Bus Lines offered "through tickets sold to any point in the United States, and to many points in Canada and Mexico." The company also provided package delivery, including express service.
In addition, Greyhound Lines served Hamilton with several daily buses. In 1931, its excursion fares from Hamilton to distant points included Indianapolis $3.25; Louisville $4; Chicago $7.25; St. Louis $8.25; Boston $19.55; and Los Angeles and San Francisco $43.95.
The bus boom, city leaders believed, demanded something better than curbside loading and unloading. Their dream became reality in 1931.
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355. June 14, 1995 - Bus terminal opened in 1931:
Journal-News, Wednesday, June 14, 1995
Bus terminal opened in 1931
By Jim Blount
"It has both dignity and color," a reporter said of the new Hamilton Union Terminal in 1931. "Indiana limestone embellished with blue Rookwood tile inserts and decorative aluminum strips, along with a pleasing graceful design gives the exterior that beauty which characterizes all of today's most advanced commercial units," he said in describing the bus station at 40 High Street.
Earlier in the year, a city survey reported 200 inter-city buses passing through Hamilton daily. They were served by a make-shift store-front station at the southwest corner of Front and High streets which required buses to park and double-park on the street.
Within six months, that inadequate facility was replaced by the $25,000 terminal dedicated Saturday afternoon, Nov. 21, 1931.
In May 1931, the Ohio Bus Lines Company had bought the site of the former Anderson Furniture Store from John A. Schwalm, who also owned the adjacent Rialto Theater at the northwest corner of Front and High streets.
The terminal was designed by Hamilton architects, Frederick G. Mueller and Walter R. Hair. The F. K. Vaughn Building Company of Hamilton started construction started Aug. 10. Buses began using the terminal at 6:30 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 22, 1931.
"The building proper is 31 feet wide and 62 feet deep," a newspaper reported in 1931.
"A driveway 20 feet wide extends along its west side the full depth of the block (200 feet) from High Street to Market."
"Its main entrance from High Street leads directly into the waiting room which occupies the full width and height of the structure and 38 feet of its depth," the report said. "It has been made especially attractive with marble terrazzo floors and ornamental plaster walls and ceiling. Here are found the ticket office, telephone booths, newsstand, baggage and check room, and lunch and refreshment facilities. From the west side of this waiting room an exit leads to the bus platform.
"On the north side is the main stair which affords access to the drivers' club room and men's restroom on the ground floor, and the offices and women's lounge on the mezzanine floor.
"A pleasant, comfortable restroom and lounge for women occupies half of the mezzanine floor, while the balance is devoted to executive offices. Another feature of this floor is a balcony which overlooks the main waiting room," the newspaper said.
Hamilton wasn't the only city with a new bus station. In 1930, $10 million was spent to build new bus terminals in U. S. cities. That year there were 32,150 inter-city buses and 13,348 city buses in operation, a total of 45,498 vehicles. Companies had added 4,697 buses to their fleets in that early Depression year.
When opened in 1931, Ohio Bus Lines Company operated 78 buses daily through its new Hamilton terminal. Most of its fleet were 525-horsepower General Motors coaches seating from 21 to 40 passengers. Other companies also used the terminal.
The High Street building served as a bus terminal for 40 years. Later, it housed a dry cleaner and law offices until acquired recently by the City of Hamilton for office use.
The previous bus ticket office across High Street had been "everything from a church to a saloon," according to a 1931 report.
"The old building is known to have been in existence as early as 1846. The second story housed the Universalist Church. The large hall in which the congregation worshipped subsequently became an armory, dance hall and a billiard hall," the article said. "The lower floor has been occupied by the United States post office, a jeweler, a billiard hall and a saloon."
"When touring cars and buses first began running from Hamilton to the neighboring cities, this corner became their starting point and in time the ground floor was remodeled into a waiting room and station," the article said of the structure at the southwest corner of Front and High streets, now the site of a church parking lot.
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356. June 18, 1995 - Hamilton continues search for perfect form of government: (Opinion page guest column)
guest column, Journal-News, June 19. 1995
Hamilton continues search for perfect form of municipal government
By Jim Blount
Hamilton's search for the perfect form of municipal government continues with a proposal to reconsider the present arrangement, especially the election and powers of the mayor. The quest began about 185 years ago. Since then, a series of reforms has aimed at improving services to citizens and reducing politics in the administration of city business.
Through the 1800s, alterations were frequent, thanks to the absence of a uniform state law for Ohio municipalities. Instead, measures were enacted in the state legislature for each community -- at local insistence. Hamilton's system changed often in those years.
After 1810 -- when municipal government started in Hamilton -- a mayor and from three to six trustees governed the city. By the 1854 election, voters chose a mayor, five council members, a recorder, a treasurer, a marshal, a supervisor, a market master and a city surveyor. The marshal's office was abolished in 1877 with the formation of a police department. After 1882, two council members were elected from each ward, a total of 10.
In the latter part of the 19th century, local politics were highly partisan (Republicans vs. Democrats), including hotly-contested party primaries.
Through most of the 1800s, the mayor -- who had no vote in council meetings -- also was the justice of the peace.
A major revision came in 1889 when the Ohio General Assembly created the board of public affairs to govern Hamilton. It replaced 33 boards and officeholders who shared power, a scheme which bred confusion, conflict and political bickering.
The four-member board, two from each of the leading political parties, was appointed by the governor. The offices of city council and board of health were abolished. The board directed the police and fire departments, including appointment of employees. With public health workers eliminated, the city's patrolmen were supposed to double as sanitary police.
The law creating the board also prohibited the discharge of public employees for political reasons, and forbid city employees to engage in any political activity, except voting.
The BPA was short-lived, starting March 2, 1889, and ending March 22, 1890, when most of the previous system was restored for eight years.
In 1898, the legislature approved a Hamilton Board of Control, five members with full executive authority and the power to enact ordinances. One member was to be elected by voters each year. Other elective officers under this plan were the mayor and the solicitor (law director). The mayor was still considered the city's chief executive officer and enforcer of local and state laws. The mayor also controlled the police department.
The board of control governed Hamilton until May 1903, when Ohio's first municipal code went into effect.
Under this law, Hamilton voters elected a strong mayor, council members, a solicitor, an auditor and a treasurer. In addition, there was an appointed board of public safety to direct the police and fire departments, and an elected board of public service to oversee utilities. The first appointments to the board of public safety had to be made by the governor because city council refused to confirm the mayor's choices.
The boards were abolished and council removed from the process in 1910. In their place, the mayor appointed a director of public service and a director of public safety. Until 1914 -- when a municipal court was created -- the mayor also was the judge of police court.
Until 1908, the seven-member council included three members elected at large and four in wards. After 1908, six of the nine members were elected from wards.
The president of council -- also chosen by the people -- could only vote in council to break a tie. In addition, voters elected a solicitor, a treasurer and an auditor.
In 1925 -- the last election before enactment of a city charter -- the electorate selected a mayor; three council members at large, and one from each of the six wards; a president of council; an auditor; a treasurer; a solicitor; a municipal judge; and a clerk of municipal court.
After earlier failures, the charter movement succeeded in the mid 1920s. Corruption and greed, much of it associated with Prohibition, fueled the reform movement. Voters elected 13 people to a charter commission in 1925; a charter was approved in 1926; the first election was in November 1927; and the new form of government was effective Jan. 1, 1928.
The charter provided for a seven-member council elected for two-year terms and paid $600 annually. Elections were to be non-partisan (no party labels on ballots, etc.).
Council members were elected under a complicated proportional representation (PR) system. Voters marked numbers in front of candidate names, and they could vote for as many candidates as they desired. The mayor was elected by council from its membership. The city manager, hired by council, was responsible for directing day-to-day city operations, including utilities.
The civil service system -- aimed at eliminating political patronage -- also was stressed in the charter. Under civil service, city employment and promotions are to be based on ability and merit instead of loyalty and service to a mayor or council member.
After earlier failures, the charter was amended by voters in 1960 to end the confusion and delay of PR voting. It was replaced in November 1961 by the 7-x selection system with the person with the most votes becoming mayor.
Several changes have been rejected by voters, including a switch back to the ward system instead of seven at large council members (1965); staggering council terms (1969); and increasing council pay from the $300 a year set in 1926 (several times).
Before most changes and proposed alterations, some debaters have questioned the best way to assure fair and efficient city government. Is it accomplished by changing the system, or electing capable people to serve in municipal offices?
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357. June 21, 1995 - Do you remember phone operators? ("Do you remember?" second in series)
Journal-News, Wednesday, June 21, 1995
Do you remember when phone operators offered the time of day, news and scores?
By Jim Blount
"Do you remember when the telephone operators would tell you the time of day, where the fire was, give you the baseball scores, and call you when the line you wanted was not in use?"
That recollection of local tradition was part of a series once published under the headline "Do you remember?" The feature -- used as filler on the editorial page -- highlighted brief memories of day-to-day activities. Few dates and details were included as most entries were only one sentence, all starting with the word when.
Periodically, this column will reprint some of those anonymous reminisces which portray Hamilton and environs of earlier decades. This is the second collection.
Do you remember when . . .
Butchers would give each customer buying soup meat a bunch of parsley with which to flavor the soup?
Hamilton women wore bustles and hoop skirts and also red flannel underwear?
Drivers of fire hose truck horses took them out for exercise every morning?
Cal Reeves drove his four-horse tally-ho between Mount Healthy and Hamilton, leaving from the St. Charles Hotel, North Front and High streets, at 6:30 each morning and returning, reaching Hamilton at 6 o'clock in the evening?
Oleomargarine was sold without a tax?
There were water troughs in front of many Hamilton places of business, especially saloons?
Incandescent gas burners were introduced into Hamilton homes?
Harry Dilg was a dealer in groceries, wooden and willow ware and baby carriages with his place of business at 119 High Street?
There was a covered wooden bridge across Four Mile Creek on the Seven Mile Pike near Olinger (New Miami)?
Big road attractions came to the Jefferson Theater (on South Second Street); one could earn 50 cents a performance as a 'supe'?
Hamilton women made crazy quilts out of old neckties?
The South Hamilton Crossing was the southern boundary of Hamilton?
That section of Prospect Hill, lying north of Rhea Avenue, was all woodland?
There was a town pump in the courthouse yard?
The fife and drum corps was the principal producer of music for political meetings in Hamilton?
Barber shops kept open until noon on Sundays?
When the fire engine located on the West Side had the name Neptune?
The Hamilton grocer would ask his customer whether he wanted granulated or coffee sugar; or golden syrup or New Orleans molasses?
There was a roller coaster on the Butler County Fairgrounds?
Hamilton boys gathered rushes along the river, canal and hydraulic to be used by their mothers in scouring tinware?
A three-wheeled fire engine was located at the Three's enginehouse on North Third Street near Dayton Street?
The John W. Sohn tannery was located at the northeast corner of North C Street and Park Avenue?
Children of Hamilton played hopscotch on the sidewalks?
A feud existed between the boys of the First and Third wards, and they fought each other with stones across the river about where the Black Street Bridge is now located?
Hamilton women ran the ruffles on their wearing apparel through a fluting iron?
Watermelons sold for $2.50 each in 1866?
The St. Charles Hotel stood where the Rialto Theater now stands (northwest corner of North Front and High streets)?
School boys chewed coffee essence?
The Hamilton Ice Company cut ice from the reservoir (north of Hamilton) and stored it for use the following summer?
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358. June 28, 1995 - Electric service started 100 years ago:
Journal-News, Wednesday, June 28, 1995
Municipal electric production Started in Hamilton in 1895
By Jim Blount
One hundred years ago in June 1895, Hamiltonians illuminated their homes with candles, gas or smoky kerosene, and cooked meals on coal, wood or gas stoves. But changes loomed as the city electric generating plant neared completion.
Electrical advances by Ohio-born Thomas Edison peaked in the 1870s, including development of a practical system for distributing electricity to widely-scattered lamps. By 1882, a power station opened in New York and a hydro-electric plant produced power at Appleton, Wis.
In May 1891, Hamilton City Council appointed a committee to study the feasibility of a municipal electric plant in the city of 17,565 people. Two city-owned utilities were in operation -- a water system since 1884, and a one-year-old gas works.
Except for promises of improved lighting, electricity was slow to excite public imagination. An electric range was exhibited at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair (officially, the World’s Columbian Exposition), but few Hamiltonians envisioned it replacing the gas stove, the favorite cooking device of the 1890s.
In the early 1890s, more than 200 Hamiltonians were employed at the Estate Stove Company on East Avenue, a five-acre complex, including a five-story foundry and factory. The company, which had moved to Hamilton in 1884, offered 200 different styles and sizes of gas ranges. The popularity helped swell Estate employment to 500 people by the end of the decade.
In the early 1890s, a private company sought a city electric franchise, but public reaction killed that possibility. The citizen opposition was stirred by bad memories of dealing with a private gas company for almost 40 years. Some of those bitter conflicts ended in the courts with city government and the gas company as adversaries.
City council, yielding to public pressure, put a $50,000 bond issues on the ballot Nov. 7, 1893, to construct a generating plant "to light with electricity the streets, alleys, avenues and public places." In Hamilton.
Passage required a two-thirds majority. It got 88.6 percent support -- 3,547 voting for, 455 against. Later that month, council acted accordingly and bonds were issued Dec. 5, 1893.
A council committee (John Helvey, George T. Reiss, George A. Miller and John Wirtz) directed the project. Council also hired Charles Cornell -- formerly of the Hamilton and Lindenwald Electric Transit Company -- as city electrical engineer to supervise construction and operation of the plant.
When costs exceeded projections, council sought authority to sell another $50,000 worth of bonds in a May 1, 1894, election. Voters approved -- 2,991 to 1,373 -- but 61 percent wasn’t good enough when a two-thirds majority was needed.
The same measure went before the voters a month later in a special election. When the June 2 ballots were tallied, the bonds were approved 1,260 to 604, reaching the needed two-thirds margin by only 19 votes.
The generating plant was built on the east side of North Third Street, on the south end of the property occupied by the present generating plant. It included a 64x102-foot engine room and a 37x78-foot boiler room.
The facility was reported complete by July 4, 1895. "Hamiltonians have good cause to be proud of the latest acquisition to the city’s possession," said a newspaper which a few months earlier had been lukewarm, at best, to the $100,000 project.
Citizens displayed their pride two months later when "The Great Electric Light Celebration" spotlighted the benefits of Hamilton’s municipal power plant.
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