Roma Night At Grammer’s

June 25, 2010

In Cincinnati there’s a bar called Grammer’s that is probably haunted by a ghost or a few ghosts. Ask the bartender for a tour and he’ll lead you through an underground tunnel into the cellar and he’ll show you the room where Mr. Grammer died. He’ll also tell you about the time a burglar tried to break into the bar and how it must have pissed off a ghost because later that night the radiator got cranked up all the way and the bar got super-fucking-hot and when the HVAC guy came to fix it he couldn’t crank the radiator down so he determined that whoever cranked it up was stronger than a human.

Pewter steins are on display in glass cases to remind patrons that the bar had been a hangout for Germans back when Over-the-Rhine was a German neighborhood. Grammer’s used to serve German food but now they only have popcorn and, on Saturdays from 5 to 9, free dog bones for dogs.

Here’s a Grammer’s story that used to be a secret but now it doesn’t matter who knows about it: From 1932-‘35 the first Tuesday of every month was Roma Night. Cincinnati’s small Romani population would go to Roma Night at Grammer’s to mingle and swap stories about how they ended up in Cincinnati. The general public stayed away from Grammer’s on Roma Night because to them there was nothing worse than a bar full of drunk gypsies. The city’s gay population, however, loved Roma Night. It gave them a chance to dance and cruise freely, and by the summer of 1933 there were as many gays at Roma Night as there were gypsies.

On December 23, 1934, Roma Night regular William Howard Taft III wrote in his diary, “I look forward to dancing with my friends at Roma Night more than I do celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve with family. The gypsies don’t bother us because who are they to cast judgment? They are gypsies, after all.”

Rumors spread. July, 1935. Vogue sends a photographer to document the debauchery.

William Howard Taft III shows up to July’s Roma Night dressed as a Spanish inquisitor. He gets shitty early and sings “Tell Me, Little Gypsy” with the band. By midnight he’s chain-smoking and rambling about the weird and illegal stuff his father and uncle like to do. My grandma was there, and while she doesn’t remember what the weird and illegal stuff was, she does remember that he was making a scene. The photographer snaps photos and interviews people. He makes the mistake of telling William Howard Taft III’s friend that he works for Vogue. The friend tells William Howard Taft III about the photographer and William Howard Taft III gets upset and demands that the film be destroyed. The photographer doesn’t give up the film. They try bribing him. He still doesn’t give up the film. The photographer leaves but a few dudes follow him. They tackle him in the parking lot and force him down into the bar’s cellar. As the band plays “Little Brown Jug” the dudes beat the photographer with bottles and steins. The dudes drag him into the men’s bathroom and beat him some more. The photographer dies, or he goes into a coma; Grandma isn’t sure. Two gypsy women fight in the street. The photos are never developed and Roma Night at Grammer’s is canceled.



Tags:

............................................................................................................................................

FUCK ART LET’S DANCE

June 22, 2010

When in Mount Vernon, grab a drink at the Yodeler on Sugar Street. Unless Greg has remodeled again there will be a booth in the back near the bathrooms. Sit in this booth. Get down on all fours and use a cell phone as a flashlight and read the graffiti written in black marker on the underside of the table: FUCK ART LET’S DANCE. People say it’s the work of the poet Robert Lowell. While attending Kenyon College in nearby Gambier, Lowell would get shitty and chase skirt at the Yodeler. When there wasn’t any skirt to chase he’d write stuff under the tables. People say Lowell tagged all twelve tables before graduating in 1940. In 1970 Greg’s mom remodeled. She replaced every booth but the one in the back near the bathrooms because her husband had carved her name in  that one. I asked Greg where the old booths were and he said a wholesaler bought them and probably sold them to bar owners who wanted their bars to have that dive-y look. One time I was at the Brown Derby Road House in Mansfield and I sat in a booth that resembled the fuck-art-let’s-dance booth at the Yodeler. I AM BEER had been written on the table in black marker. I AM BEER is also on a table at Arrow Bar in Marion. Both I AM BEERs could very well be the work of Robert Lowell.

Tags:

............................................................................................................................................

97X, Bam!

June 16, 2010

In the movie Rain Man, when Dustin Hoffman’s character Raymond Babbitt says “97X, bam! The future of rock ‘n’ roll. 97X, bam! The future of rock ‘n’ roll. 97X, bam! The future of rock ‘n’ roll,” he’s referring to 97.7 WOXY out of Oxford. This scene brought the independent alternative-rock station some good press. It got even more press in 2004 when owners Doug and Linda Balogh sold the frequency to a major conglomerate for 5.6 million dollars. This pissed us off. Doug and Linda threw a Fuck the Telecom Act party at their house and folks got rowdy early and cops showed up before we got there. While many of us expressed our outrage in the woxy.com forum, commenter Tobedawg wrote: Calling them sell outs is a gross injustice to them and to their radio station. Although I don’t know Doug and Linda personally, I believe that them selling the WOXY frequency was more a personal decision than a business one because when you find yourself in a lose-lose situation, it’s time to cut the losses and move on. I know I would have. This might be TMI but I’m trying to move on from something now that some days I don’t think I will ever be able to move on from and you have to just tell yourself that you will move on from it because that is what you have to do. Some of you know what I’m talking about. God bless, everybody!

jeepster00 replied “God bless YOU, Tobedawg” and that made Tobedawg feel alright.

Tags:

............................................................................................................................................

Yingling Park and Fronz Park

May 31, 2010

There are two parks in Lima: Yingling Park and Fronz Park. They are named after the city’s most prominent families. Patriarchs Sam Yingling and Sam Fronz were close friends who hated each other and they feuded often, mostly over land. In 1974 Sam Yingling decided to give back to Lima and with the state’s permission developed ten acres of riverfront property into a park and named it Yingling Park. Later that year Sam Fronz also decided to give back to Lima and turned twelve acres into a park with four baseball diamonds and two soccer fields. He named it Fronz Park. Yingling Park became known as the park for picnics and for seeing and being seen and Fronz Park was where you played sports. On weekend afternoons Fronz Park would be full of young children and Parents, and teenagers would go to Yingling Park for drinking and flirting and all that.

May, 1975. My cousin breaks his ankle and he’s told he can’t play soccer until October so he starts hanging at Yingling Park and one day he drinks with a girl he knows from English class and they get together. At another cousin’s confirmation party he tells me that he gave her the business on the hood of his dad’s car as payback for when his dad made him pull weeds on a super-hot day. Sam Fronz opens a bar called Go Go’s across the street from Fronz Park. He tells the bartender he shouldn’t ask kids for ID if they look at least 15 and he tells his son to tell kids at school that Go Go’s never cards. By July, teenagers are driving from as far away as Wapakoneta to hang at Go Go’s. The bartender serves drinks in to-go cups with lids and straws so kids can drink in the park without fear of being caught. Soon enough, Fronz Park becomes the party park and Yingling Park becomes the park where old people go to complain to each other about how much Fronz Park has changed in such a short while. Cars idle outside Go Go’s, their speakers blasting Thin Lizzy and Tom Petty. The girl my cousin is getting with gets with a soccer player with a pool and my cousin gets into buying two gin and tonics at the same time and drinking them in the park with dudes who my aunt says do bad stuff for attention. The Sunday before Labor Day cops come to the bar to check IDs and to have a chat with Sam Fronz. One of the bad dudes tells a cop to eat shit and die, and he is beaten in the bathroom. “Bathroom Beatdown” is my favorite song on my cousin’s band’s album, probably because it’s the only one with a story I know about. I ask him about the stories behind “Tightrope Margie” and “Killface” and he says he’ll tell me at Go Go’s once I’m old enough to hang there. But the cops shut down Go Go’s in October and my cousin stops coming to family parties and only hangs in the basement of one of those dudes’ houses, and later on he goes to college. At his wedding in 1990 I ask him about “Tightrope Margie” and “Killface” and he says, “No stories behind those. ‘Tightrope Margie’ is just about sex and ‘Killface’ is just about death. Sex and death was all I wanted to write about back then.”

Tags:

............................................................................................................................................

Sydney Suffered A Devastating Influenza Outbreak In The Spring Of 1918

May 26, 2010

Sydney suffered a devastating influenza outbreak in the spring of 1918. Over two thousand people died in three months and most businesses closed because so much of the population fled or died. Pete’s Grocery on Poplar Street remained open throughout the outbreak and Pete seized the opportunity and raised the price on everything. Flour went for two dollars a bag and meat became a luxury item. Pete’s was the only place in town to buy food so the devastated citizens of Sydney were forced to pay the high prices in order to survive. Well, there was another option: the feed lot in nearby Port Jefferson suspended their wholesale-only policy to accommodate folks who were suffering. Pete would say, You can buy animal food at the feed lot if you want to, but don’t come crying to me when your kids start behaving like pigs. Neither Pete nor anyone in his family caught the virus and they all became wealthy because of it.

Tags:

............................................................................................................................................

The Black Horse Choker

May 18, 2010

Anyone who has read newspapers from 1900-’09 knows about The Black Horse Choker, a serial rapist and murderer who rode around Columbus on a black horse and choked his victims after raping them. Dispatch reporter/cartoonist Hal Johnston coined the nickname because Reginald Droms, the madman’s real name, didn’t sell papers. The Black Horse Choker wasn’t Reginald’s first nickname. As a young man with a squeaky voice, he was called Squeaks. He was also called Wheels for being a star sprinter at Westerville High and The Pit for drinking more than anyone he ever drank with. Reginald’s fifth and final nickname was Stephen Carrot. That’s what he began calling himself once he grew a beard and fled to Toronto in 1912. His boss at the quarry called him Stephen Carrot. So did his wife and mother in-law and daughters. Stephen Carrot was killed by a dynamite explosion in 1940; Reginald Droms died of liver failure in 1951; and The Black Horse Choker was considered a threat to Columbusians throughout the ’60s. Grandma’s Euchre partner wouldn’t shop alone out of fear of being raped and choked by The Black Horse Choker.

Tags:

............................................................................................................................................

Nihilism, Science Fiction and De-Evolution

May 11, 2010

Some of the guys who would later form the rock band Devo were attending Kent State University during the National Guard shootings of May 4, 1970. Pop culturist Olous Petri has written extensively about the band’s formation in this historical context and he is obsessed with how the tragedy helped spark Devo’s “fixation on nihilism, science fiction and de-evolution” (that quote is from Petri’s tenth book, Devoiding). Petri is also obsessed with the band’s reactions to social turbulence and often contrasts their reactions with those of the hippies. Our friend James writes online as 1Ponce1 and he has taken to the forums: “I couldn’t wait to buy Devoiding but now you couldn’t pay me to finish it. I found Petri’s speculations to be far from convincing or entertaining and I was often left to wonder: WHY BOTHER?” Chicago is the closest city on Petri’s book tour. “I’m thinking of going,” James wrote, “just so I can tell that Swedish clown what’s what.”

Tags:

............................................................................................................................................

« Previous Entries   Next Entries »








ryanthomasgrim [AT] gmail
Published Work

Page 1: The Fox in the Garage

How I Started a Family

Do We Need Cynar?

Gary 1 and Gary 2

I Work at a Fashionable Hotel Called the Hudson

C.O.D.Y. the Robot Who Hangs Out

Ann and Her Birdhouses

Luke and His Bobber

The Fox in the Garage in 3-D

105 Stories About Ohio

Bits

The Slugman of Herbert Street

Harold and the Purple Women

Video

Dos Factotum

Creative Commons License