Summer on East Court Street in the 1940s

Shirley and Lillian - in our WAC uniforms
Shirley and Lillian – in our WAC uniforms

Summer on East Court Street (downtown Cincinnati) in the early 1940’s was hot and devoid of trees and shade, but my little sister and I were happy there and grateful to have a nice big third-floor apartment next door to my favorite aunt, Mabel, and her kids.  We didn’t have a yard to play in – rather  a big flat-top roof with plenty of space, provided you didn’t get too near the edge.  To visit my aunt, we would climb out of our kitchen window onto the roof, walk a few feet to the portion that connected with my aunt’s apartment, jump down and go in her kitchen window.  It was very convenient and much faster and safer than going down three flights of stairs and onto a busy city street.

Aunt Mabel and cousin Buddy.  Vine Street going into Over-the-Rhine in the distance
Aunt Mabel and cousin Buddy. Vine Street going into Over-the-Rhine in the distance
Aunt Mabel and cousin Carol on the roof.  Central Parkway is in right hand background.
Aunt Mabel and cousin Carol on the roof. Central Parkway is in right hand background.

One summer my sister and I had a large wooden box on the roof and Mother let us plant radish seeds.  We were fascinated, especially when we got an invasion of caterpillars and we spent one entire day watching, picking up, putting down furry black and yellow caterpillars.  That night we both dreamed we had fuzzy critters crawling all over us and I don’t recall ever bothering with the “container” garden again.

There was no swimming pool nearby, but sometimes Mother let us go out in a summer shower and splash around in the puddles on the city pavement.  My mother dreamed of the day we would be able to move from the inner city.  She was a small town girl and told us endless stories of how she ran all around  Morrow (Ohio) when she was a child, how she played in the cemetery, knew everybody in town, went wherever she wanted while her widowed mother worked in a munitions factory during the day.  She used to draw pictures for us of the house we would have some day with trees, grass and a picket fence running all around the house and “kids running around the picket fence”, but it was during World War II and housing was scarce.  (We did move to a little brick house with a picket fence and a rose trellis in 1943).

One year, a daughter of my father’s  boss at Dayton Acme invited us to go swimming at a pool at Guilford School near Lytle Park in another part of downtown Cincinnati.  Mother made us red and while polka-dot swim suits and we were so excited, although after I got there I really didn’t care for the confusion and noise of a very public pool.  I preferred splashing around in the puddles on the sidewalk in front of 20 East Court Street during summer showers.

Sister Shirley, cousin Dixie, Lillian in front of Scotti's Restaurant on East Court St.
Sister Shirley, cousin Dixie, Lillian in front of Scotti’s Restaurant on East Court St.

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Lillian Applegate Westfelt was a mother of 4, grandmother of 6, and great-grandmother of 3. She was an 86-year-old widow living in a nice little bungalow with her oldest daughter and a beagle-dachsund named Addie. She passed away in November, 2018.

13 thoughts on “Summer on East Court Street in the 1940s”

  1. Precious memories, photos, and stories. I love when you post about your childhood or anything with those great black & white pictures. You & your sister look so nice in your WAC uniforms! What a great photo!!
    I love history and can remember as a child, sitting with my grandfather, asking him to tell me stories from his past…he’d take me fishing and we spent many afternoons just talking about the “good ‘ol days”. I’m so glad he took the time, and now I have those memories with him.

  2. Great story Lillian! I got to ride my bike in the rain sometimes and I enjoyed that as well as my first swimming pool -a cattle water trough – and like you, didn’t care for the confusion and chaos of a public pool!

  3. Thanks for a beautiful story. I love those picture, especially the one in front of Scotties. I wonder if that restaurant is still there. I remember it when I worked in town. I too like playing in the water on the side walk and gutters, I remember having popsicle “boat” races when there was a heavy rain. Oh how times have changed.

    1. Since the area where I lived and where Scotti’s was has been replaced by the Kroger Building, Scotti’s has moved to Vine Street just in the next block down from Court. I keep meaning to go down and try it out, but never have. Lillian

  4. Hi Lillian, all the way from Ireland! Just love your blog, especially your tutorials on Barbara’s first quilt a long and posts like this! Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much for visiting and commenting. I had no idea someone in Ireland was reading my blog. Lillian

  5. Hi Lillian, thanks so much for sharing these photos & your memories with us! My parents moved to 1 east court st back in 1996 when I was 15 & have now been here 20 years we live above the Union Optical Plan I believe it may of been here since the 40’s the building was built in 1875 I’ve always been curious about its history & finding some old photos but never found anything do you remember this building or knew anyone here when you lived on court st?

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