What happened to Anthony Wayne Parkway?
By Jim Blount
"His contribution was of the highest order -- he died in the service of his country after devoting the greater part of his adult life to fighting for its freedom." That description of Anthony Wayne was written by J. Richard Lawwill in 1951 in an Ohio Historical Society publication. "Despite the passing of years and decades," added Lawwill, "Wayne's memory remains fresh and undimmed."
Lawwill was director of the Anthony Wayne Parkway Board (AWPB), formed in 1947 by the Ohio General Assembly. The board's mission was to create "a unified system of parks and shrines connected by state, county or township roads."
A 1952 report said the AWPB covered the "theater of the Indian wars, 1790-1795, where the Ohio country was wrested from the Indians, and the way paved for statehood" in 1803.
The parks, shrines and roads were to remind Ohioans of the service and sacrifices of Gen. Wayne and his soldiers, 1792-95, and earlier Ohio frontier armies led by Gen. Josiah Harmar, 1790, and Gov. Arthur St. Clair, 1791.
That included the men who served at Fort Hamilton, built in 1791 by St. Clair's army. The supply depot was enlarged by Wayne in the early stages of his campaign that climaxed with victory over Indian resistance Aug. 20, 1794, in the Battle of Fallen Timbers.
In a 1957 publication, marking its 10th anniversary, the AWPB was described as "a regional planning agency" that "plans various historical and recreational projects, and then must seek the cooperation of other agencies and individuals in carrying out its proposals."
The Ohio board was complemented by the Anthony Wayne Parkway Commission formed in Indiana in 1951. A strategic point in the frontier wars was Kekionga, an Indian stronghold at the site of Fort Wayne, Ind.
An AWPB "Anthony Wayne Country" guide and map recognized the leadership of Little Turtle, a Miami war chief based at Kekionga. It noted his "military shrewdness and his powers of oratory." Little Turtle defeated Harmar and St. Clair, but was "one of the leading spokesmen for peace" and didn't oppose Wayne at Fallen Timbers.
The board's authority went beyond publishing maps and travel guides and designating existing roads that approximated the trails of the 1790s.
It could acquire right of way for new roads to fill missing links in the network or to improve existing routes, and buy historic and scenic sites for preservation and recreational uses. The board also could improve parallel roads for truck traffic. In 1951, Lawwill said parkway enhancement would be initiated "when time and funds permit."
Other board powers included elimination of railroad and major highway crossings, beautification of roadsides with plantings, control of key land for development of tourist facilities and acquiring existing unsightly roadside buildings.
The first of the blue and white highway markers designating the parkway route were placed in December 1948, according to an Associated Press report.
By 1957, in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Highways, 450 miles of roads in 23 Ohio counties had parkway signs. Most of the signed roads followed the routes of the three Indian-fighting armies of the 1790s and led to the sites of battles and log forts built by the troops.
In Butler County, the parkway included Ohio 4 between Cincinnati and Hamilton, and U. S. 127 between Hamilton and Eaton.
In its 1957 report, the board said in 10 years its program "has thrown considerable light on an important period in the state and national history which had been relatively unknown." Since then, the light has dimmed.
Two years ago, a reader of this column -- who has more than a casual knowledge of the Ohio Indian wars -- drove over roads that 60 years ago had been parts of the Anthony Wayne Parkway. He saw none of the blue and white roadside markers bearing Wayne's profile. This writer recently traveled portions of the parkway with the same result.
A check with the Ohio Historical Society revealed that the Anthony Wayne Parkway Board "was formally abolished in 1993."
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Journal-News Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2008
Ohio blue laws prohibited many Sunday activities
(This is the first in a four-part series on Ohio's blue laws that formerly restricted business and activities on Sundays.)
By Jim Blount
Imagine Sundays without shopping, sports events, entertainment, hunting and fishing and other amusements. That would be Ohio and other states in the era of blue laws, when, as recent as 40 years ago, most retail stores were closed, and conducting business on Sunday could cause arrest and fines.
Ohio's blue laws predate statehood. In 1788 -- 15 years before Ohio became a state -- leaders of the Northwest Territory, eventually the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota -- adopted a blue law for the vast wilderness frontier. To "set apart the first day of the week as a day of rest from common labor and pursuits," the territorial edict "enjoined that all servile labors, works of charity and necessity excepted, be wholly abstained from on that day."
In 1809, Ohio legislators outlawed sin and anti-social behavior on Sundays, including "sporting, gambling, rioting, quarreling, hunting, horse racing, shooting or common labors," except necessary work.
They were called blue laws because one or more of the regulations had been printed on blue paper. They had been adopted in American colonies, usually based on European antecedents. Provisions differed, shaped by the dominant religion in each colony and forcing smaller religious groups to obey the ideas of the majority.
Prohibitions varied from state to state, including bans on drinking, use of tobacco, singing, dancing, sports, hunting, shooting, card games, racing, gambling, playing musical instruments, musical and theatrical productions, and other "worldly activities." Later restrictions ranged from hair cutting to vehicle transactions and most retail sales.
The U. S. Congress resisted several attempts to enact federal blue laws. Sen. Henry William Blair of New Hampshire was responsible for two notable tries.
In 1886, he introduced a National Sunday Rest Bill "to secure to the enjoyment of the first day of the week, commonly Sunday, as a day of rest, and to promote its observance as religious worship."
In 1888, Sen. Blair proposed a Lord's Day Bill "to promote its observance as a Day of Religious Worship" that would ban "secular work, labor, or business" in interstate commerce, transportation, postal service, military drills that "interfere with or disturb the people in the enjoyment of the first day of the week . . . or its observance as a day of religious worship." Both Blair bills, incorporating language similar to state laws, died early deaths.
State blue laws were pushed and sustained by temperance and prohibition advocates in the late 1800s and early 20th century. When religious arguments continued to fail, supporters promoted bans on Sunday business and amusement as "protection of the rights of the workingman," a labor issue.
The debate continued in local governments, state legislatures and state and federal courts in the mid 20th century, the focus shifting to what could be sold and what type of retail businesses could operate on Sundays. At issue was what constituted "occupations of necessity or charity."
Ohio blue laws relied on local enforcement, which varied from place to place and time to time.
Baseball teams periodically challenged the law in the Hamilton area. In 1889, when a Hamilton minor league team sought a field, it chose "grounds outside the city limits so as to play Sunday games" because the Ohio law which prohibited Sunday baseball "wasn't enforced generally outside the cities."
The field was east of the Miami-Erie Canal (now Erie Highway), near Fair Avenue and High Street, because owners needed Sunday attendance to make a profit. During a Sunday pre-season game, a Fairfield Township constable brought charges against the team, but a Butler County grand jury ignored the violation.
Because they couldn't play in Cincinnati, the 1889 Reds moved a Sunday, Aug. 25, 1889, game to the east High Street field. More than 6,000 people overflowed the stands as the pennant-winning Brooklyn Dodgers took a 4-2 lead. The game was halted in the fourth inning on a complaint by a Hamilton man, a member of the Law and Order League.
The lawyer and former state senator, who was a temperance advocate, enlisted Hamilton's safety director and 18 policemen to arrest members of both teams. The players rode police wagons into Hamilton, faced the mayor and enhanced the city treasury by $159.30. Each culprit paid a $5 fine and $8.85 in costs.
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Journal-News Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008
Rink's challenged Ohio Sunday closing laws
(This is the second in a four-part series on Ohio's blue laws that formerly restricted business and activities on Sundays.)
By Jim Blount
In 1952 two Cincinnati men opened a new business on the southern edge of Hamilton. Their enterprise on Dixie Highway, just south of Corwin Avenue, occupied a former roller skating rink. In the 1950s, Rink's Bargain City was a popular and controversial retail attraction. The store -- whose name derived from the skating rink -- also became the center of the storm surrounding interpretation of Ohio's blue laws.
When Coleman Ullner and Hyman Ullner opened Rink's Bargain City, most grocery supermarkets, department stores and retail operations in and around Hamilton were closed Sundays. There were few places to spend your money here on Sundays in the early 1950s.
Rink's challenged the Sunday closing law by remaining open seven days a week. Store owners faced repeated charges that they were violating Ohio blue laws.
There had been periodic debates and court cases questioning the meaning of Ohio Sunday closing laws that had originated in 1809. As in other states, Ohio legislators had enacted and revised statutes that prohibited Sunday business and activities, except those considered necessary or involving charity. The original Ohio law had outlawed "sporting, gambling, rioting, quarreling, hunting, horse racing, shooting or common labors."
Coleman Ullner was charged in March 1955 with three violations -- requiring employees to work on Sunday; personally operating a business that transacted business on Sunday; and president of a corporation operating a business on Sunday. The warrants were signed by Richard Koehler, then a Hamilton attorney, later a judge on the court of appeals.
April 19, 1955, Municipal Judge Frank F. Wessel found Ullner guilty of the first two charges and dismissed the third. He paid a fine of $25 and court costs on each of the two charges. His request for a new trial was denied.
There would be more charges against Rink's Bargain City during the next four years. Three additional warrants, also signed by Koehler, were pending April 19 when the judge ruled on the first three.
A flurry of legal action followed alleged Sunday sales violations Sunday, Dec. 21, 1958. Coleman Ullner requested and was granted a jury trial in Hamilton Municipal Court. He faced charges of operating a building for business on Sunday and requiring persons to work on Sunday that is "not of necessity or charity." The charges followed a visit to Rink's by Hamilton detectives. They testified they had been ordered to check the store by Chief Albert Osborne.
Ullner's defense argued that the charges against Rink's were discriminatory because it was the only store in Hamilton subject to prosecution.
Also part of the defense was testimony from a Hamilton doctor who said he went to the store Dec. 21 to buy a drug for a patient, a sick child. Ullner -- a Navy pharmacist mate during World War II and a graduate of the Cincinnati College of Pharmacy -- said drugs and medical supplies accounted for about 16 percent of Rink's Sunday business.
After deliberating four and a half hours, the 12-person jury found Ullner guilty on both charges.
His December 1958 arrest came on the heels of the final phase of the April 1955 arrest. Ullner had appealed, without success, through state courts to the Ohio Supreme Court. Undaunted, he appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court. Dec. 8, 1958, the U. S. Supreme Court dismissed the appeal "for want of a substantial federal question." That decision didn't end the Sunday sales debate in Ohio.
In June 1964 -- with Sunday operation questioned -- Rink's was sold to the Gray Drug Store chain. In April 1981, the discount department store chain was purchased by the Cook United Corp. of Cleveland.
The original Rink's Bargain City building was abandoned in 1972 and demolished in July 1998. A new store was built across the street and later at 4865 Dixie Hwy., Fairfield.
In April 1984, Cook announced it would close 41 of its 94 stores, including the Fairfield location. Fifteen Rink's stores were operating in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas then. Cook also had stores in six other states.
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Journal-News Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2008
Council faced dilemma on blue laws in late 1950s
(This is the third in a four-part series on Ohio's blue laws that formerly restricted business and activities on Sundays.)
By Jim Blount
Hamilton City Council faced a dilemma in the late 1950s. Should the city enforce Ohio's Sunday closing laws being challenged by a local merchant? Or, should council, through the city manager, instruct police to ignore the blue laws that had been on the state's law books for at least 124 years.
Rink's Bargain City -- located in a former roller skating rink on Dixie Highway -- had opened in 1952. Its owners decided to operate the store seven days a week.
By operating on Sundays, Rink's defied Ohio blue laws carried over from territorial days. That original edict "set apart the first day of the week as a day of rest from common labor and pursuits," and mandated "that all servile labors, works of charity and necessity excepted, be wholly abstained from on that day."
Rink's owner was arrested in April 1955, convicted of Sunday violations and lost appeals that went all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court. Dec. 8, 1958, the high court dismissed the case -- in effect, affirming Rink's conviction in Hamilton Municipal Court.
In the summer of 1958 -- while awaiting that U. S. Supreme Court ruling -- council members were in a quandary. Should the city enforce the blue laws, or ignore them?
Were Sunday sales of drugs, groceries and gasoline legal? Was it necessary that restaurants, hotels and motels be open on Sundays? Rulings in state and federal courts on such questions had been indecisive and confusing. Local authorities in Ohio and other states had to make independent interpretations.
One local argument said as long as it was state law, Sunday closing should be enforced and violators arrested. Others said the Ohio legislature should solve the problem for Hamilton and other communities -- to achieve uniform statewide compliance. A councilman said state lawmakers should clarify the ambiguous law or abolish it. Questions included what merchandise and services could be offered on Sundays.
A local merchants association told council it favored enforcement of the blue laws and asked why additional arrests had not been made at Rink's Bargain City. Council also was asked why the law should be enforced against Rink's, but not against other Hamilton businesses open on Sundays.
Finally, council agreed to enforce the law -- against Rink's and other local retailers.
Council's problem was more complicated than what to do about private businesses "not of necessity or charity" operating within the city on Sundays. Another wrinkle was what government services are "necessary" on Sundays -- a vague area of the long-standing state law.
There was no doubt about police and fire protection. But, in keeping with the spirit of the blue laws, Hamilton council ordered the municipal golf course, swimming pools and other recreation operations to be closed on Sundays.
That unpopular June 30, 1958, action didn't last long. Council rescinded the closing order later that week before enforcement began on the next Sunday.
At the July 2, 1958, meeting, Hamilton council unanimously adopted a motion to refer the blue law questions to the Ohio General Assembly and Gov. C. William O'Neill. Assistance was sought from three local legislators, State Sen. William Beckett and State Representatives Charles Jones and James Sexton. Council also asked other organizations to become involved -- including chambers of commerce and bar associations -- in urging state action.
A newspaper report said councilmen had described the blue laws as "vague, outmoded, archaic, outdated and antiquated."
Council faced the problem again in January 1959 after the U. S. Supreme Court decision and another arrest at Rink's Bargain City.
At the Jan. 6, 1959, meeting of city council, City Manager Howard F. (Hack) Wilson submitted a list of more than 200 businesses and industries in Hamilton that were operating on Sunday in apparent violation of Ohio law.
Council reacted by ordering that the city suspend enforcement of confusing Sunday sales limitations. It would be several years before Ohio leaders resolved the problem.
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Journal-News Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008
Sunday sales ban ended in 1973 without fanfare
(This is the last in a four-part series on Ohio's blue laws that formerly restricted business and activities on Sundays.)
By Jim Blount
By the early 1970s, Ohio's Sunday closing law were being ignored. Some grocery supermarkets, furniture and hardware stores, department stores and other retail operations -- formerly closed on Sundays -- were operating seven days a week in Butler County and surrounding counties.
The Ohio blue laws -- first adopted in 1809 and later revised -- allowed only necessary and charitable work on Sundays. Courts were repeatedly asked to determine what constituted necessary work and charity functions. Some opponents argued that the Sunday sales prohibitions violated the principle of separation of church and state.
Among the challengers were owners of Rink's Bargain City in Hamilton. One case involving Rink's went all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court, which refused to review a conviction.
Ohio voters indicated support of the closing law in 1962. The Nov. 6 ballot included a proposed state constitutional amendment regarding "the sale, processing or rendition of certain commodities, products and services on Sunday."
Backers of the amendment said: "This issue is as simple as this -- if you want the convenience of having these items available on Sundays, vote YES. If you believe, for religious, moral or any other reasons, that they should not be available, vote NO. Neither the present 131-year-old blue law, nor any subsequent court decision, has ever made any of these items clearly legal for Sunday sale. All of them can be taken away from you at the discretion of any local enforcement official under pressure from any special interest group."
Items clarified in the amendment included "gas, electricity, telephone, telegraph, public means of transportation or any other public utility service or product; newspapers, other news publications, radio, television or other public communications service; household fuels; motor fuels and lubrications for automotive vehicles; prescriptions and proprietary drugs and household medical supplies; products used for personal hygiene and sanitation; milk, milk products, any food item or food product for human or animal consumption."
In Butler County, only 36.6 percent favored the amendment. The vote was 21,612 for and 37,376 against. Statewide, 1.27 million voted yes and 1.69 million no. The blue laws remained in force.
But that vote didn't end the matter. Personal habits and preferences regarding the Sabbath changed. Sunday operations meant more jobs, more personal income and more tax revenue for local and state governments.
During the next decade, blue laws became a low priority for law enforcement. Local communities -- responsible for enforcing Ohio's Sunday closure laws -- said checking stores diverted police officers from other vital duties. Defending arrests in court consumed time and created additional government expense.
Repeal of the Ohio laws came quietly in 1973 in the General Assembly. Rep. John A. Galbraith, a Republican from Maumee, was the prime sponsor of House Bill 59, aimed at ending the state's Sunday blue laws.
"There was virtually no opposition to Galbraith's bill in the Agriculture. Conservation and Labor Committee," said the Associated Press. "Similar proposals have been rejected at several past sessions of the legislature. However, the development of big city discount houses, which attracted Sunday shoppers in droves over the past 10 years, helped soften opposition to Sunday transactions. In the same period," the AP added, "court decisions made the laws virtually unenforceable."
June 20, 1973, the Ohio House of Representatives voted 62-32 in favor of HB 59 to remove Sunday retail sales prohibitions. Butler County's two representatives split on the issue, William Donham of Middletown voting for repeal and Thomas Kindness of Hamilton opposing it. July 24 HB 59 won support in the Ohio Senate, 25-6, with Donald E. (Buz) Lukens, representing Butler County, among the opponents.
Gov. John Gilligan signed the measure Aug. 22 and it became effective Nov. 21, 1973.
Unlike the debate in earlier decades, the demise of Ohio blue laws came without fanfare. Dominating the news in November 1973 were reports of worsening fuel shortages, revelations in the Watergate scandal and President Richard Nixon's denial of those charges.
Nov. 25, 1973, wasn't memorable as the first Sunday without legal prohibitions on Sunday sales. Ironically, that night President Nixon, while addressing the nation, asked service stations, effective Dec. 1, to stop selling gas between 9 p.m. Saturdays and 12:01 a.m. Mondays to conserve the scarce fuel during a national energy crisis.