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Old 08-24-2008, 12:18 PM
1 posts, read 12,900 times
Reputation: 23


I lived in Swifton Village apartments from 1957 through 1960. I even remember my address: 1919 Rockingham Ave. I have many memories that I will list here and would love to hear from anyone who remembers and relates to the same.

I attended Carthage School for first and second grade (1957 and 1958). Then, for third grade I attended the newly opened Swifton Primary School (1959). Then, since that school was only for grades one through three, I next went to Bond Hill for fourth grade (1960). After that, our family moved to Chicago.

Some of my memories of the Carthage School are:

There were two buildings -- an old one and a new one. One day the students had to evacuate the old building because of falling debri until it was determined that the building was safe.

To get to Carthage, we took a bus from a corner on Rhode Island Ave. On cold morning, we'd huddle in a nearby apartment vestibule while waiting for the bus. I remember my red plaid metal lunchbox that, if dropped too hard, the thermos would rattle with the broken interior glass.

(And speaking of those Swifton Village apartment vestibules, they were always crowded with our bikes in the summertime. Usually you'd find that your bike was hidden under about eight other bikes that you had to remove first to get to yours.)

We ate lunch in the Carthage School cafeteria. Sometimes, instead of bringing our lunch, we'd buy the hot meal. The accompanying milk came in little glass bottles. One day, about five had been dropped and broken, unintentionally, by students. The principal made an announcement that he did not want to hear one more bottle shattering. Almost on cue, I accidentally knocked mine off of my tray. I was a very shy child and can still remember the red-faced principal rushing up to me with the veins popping in his face. He must have seen the fear in my face because he didn't say anything to me. He just called for the janitor to clean up the broken glass and spilled milk.

My memories of Swifton Primary School include:

The echo your voice made when you yelled in the gangway in front of the kindergarten rooms.

The principal being a woman, which was very unusual for that time.

A tornado warning one day lead to an announcement that no one was to leave the school. I must not have heard the announcement because I walked home. My mother and I returned to pick up my younger sister, a first grader. The woman principal was very cross and scolded me in front of my mother for leaving the building.

My third grade teacher at Swifton was Mrs. Bernstein. One day she told us about a swastika that vandals had painted on a garage door in her neighborhood. Being only 8 years old, I wasn't sure what a swastika was. Mrs. Bernstein went on for about 20 minutes about how horrible was that act of vandalism. This was in 1959, only a little over a decade after WWII. Today I wonder if she, or her relatives, had been persecuted by the Nazis and perhaps her rage and sadness came from very recent personal experience in concentration camps. Today, that era seems so distant, but now I realize how close that 1950's time was to those unspeakable attrocities.

In Mrs. Bernstein's class, we had a classmate named Gregory. One day his mom brought a record player to school so that Gregory could entertain the class by lip-syncing to Bobby Darin's recording of "Mack the Knife". Gregory's act included all the Bobby Darin motions, like snapping his fingers and pivoting around in a circle. Does anyone out there remember this? Or better still, is Gregory himself reading this (probably with a red face)?

When I went to Bond Hill, for fourth grade, many, if not most of my classmates were Jewish. The bulletin boards were decorated mostly for Honnika (sp?) with very little Christmas. Talk among the students was what gifts they had been given for each of the 12 days of their holiday. Most had to go to Hebrew lessons right after school and therefore, were not available for play on those days.

Corporal punishment was allowed at Bond Hill School. I believe we all called the gym teacher Mr. L. I remember him paddling some of the boys during square dancing in gym class for goofing off instead of "dosey-dow-ing". We also had a social studies teacher with a severe hairstyle (gray hair pulled back tightly into a bun at the nape of her neck) who never used a paddle. She would just sit down and pull the offending student over her knee and paddle with her hand - hard - for about thirty swats. I don't remember any girls getting paddled -- only boys. And the boys would always cry after the paddling and the class would behave for days.

I think paddling was allowed at Swifton Primary also, though maybe that was just talk. The rumor was that the principal (her name just came to me: we called her Susan) had a paddle in her office that you would have to sign after you got paddled. Today, teachers and principals would be fired and lawsuits filed if this occurred in school.

We, as fourth graders at Bond Hill School, would be allowed to go out to lunch. Usually that meant the White Castle. It would be so crowded with starving students that you'd have to wait for 15 minutes to get waited on -- all the while smelling the delectible aroma of grilled onions. Once, a friend and I decided to eat lunch at a regular sit-down Chinese restaurant. We, mere nine-year-olds, placed our order. Then, after waiting in our booth for what seemed like hours for the food to come, we began to get nervous. What if we were late getting back? What if we didn't have enough money? So, after scoping out that the staff was out of sight (probably in the kitchen preparing our order), we ran out the door and back to school. We suffered for our sins: we ate no lunch that day.

Memories of the Swifton Village apartment complex include:

Climbing onto the garage roofs by stepping over the barbed wire railing and tossing handfulls of the tiny roof pebbles onto the parking lots.

Collecting bags and bags of buckeyes in the fall.

Rollar skating (with the clamp-on type of skates) in those garages.

Playing in old model-T type of cars that were parked for years in the parking lot behind our building.

Since no one had air-conditioning, on summer nights the grownups would sit out til late (11 p.m or so) on lawn chairs while the kids ran around and caught fire flies. A big treat was when one of the father's set up a card table and sliced several watermelons.

Everyday at about 5 p.m., the ice cream truck would stop. Kids would be lined up waiting with their nickel to get either a popsicle or a 5 cent airplane (made of balsa wood and a rubber band wind-up propeller).

In winter, we only had to go out our front door for some great sledding hills. Once, our father pulled us on the sled to Cincinnati Gardens to ice skate.

Memories of Swifton Village Shopping Center are:

One day, a hula demonstration occurred in the open-air mall. For weeks after, we girls in the neighborhood fashioned hula skirts out of ripped newspaper and practiced our hula dancing.

Once, a man demonstrated yo-yo's there and that became the new hot toy.

Another new toy, called a hula hoop, first made the scene and became a huge fad in the neighborhood.

We also played the old favorites: Pick-up-Sticks, model cars in the dirt, Jacks, jump-rope, hop-scotch, four-square ball, and riding our bikes with the baloon tires. Back then, not everyone had their own bike; usually sisters and brothers had to share, as in "one-bike-per-family". Parents probably figured, "Why spend money for three bikes when all three kids probably would rarely want to bike ride at the same time?"

Every 5 or 10 apartment buildings, one could find a playground with slides, swings,and teeter totters. Unlike today, if you fell, you'd be falling onto hard asphalt.

I remember that some of the apartment buildings had washers and dryers in the basement - to be used by the surrounding apartment buildings. There was a posted schedule on the wall where residents were assigned a day and time for doing their wash.

Speaking of clothes, I remember have only two to three school dresses, a few cardigan sweaters, and school shoes. After school, we'd change into our play clothes. In the summer, we lived in playsuits and gymshoes bought at the dime store. A coveted piece of attire was pastel sandals that I talked my mom into buying me one summer.

Before Swifton Village had a swimming pool, we'd take a bus (probably to Bond Hill) to a pool. After swimming, we'd wait in the parking lot for the return bus and breathe in the smell of fresh seal-coating. To this day, when confronted with that smell, I remember the rare treat of swimming. Shortly after, a new pool was build near the Swifton Shopping center. The dressing room and showers were housed in a made-over connected row of garages. After swimming, we'd walk to the pizza place at the shopping center.

Since going to the movies involved taking a bus (probably into the city), I only saw two pictures during my four years in Cincinnati: 101 Dalmations and Swiss Family Robinson. Unfortunately, a scary preview of an Alfred Hitchcock movies was shown that gave me nightmares. In it, a woman opens a delivered package to find binoculars. She can't see anything through the lenses. But she soon notices the instructions that say to push a focus-button while looking in the binoculars. She does, and two metal awls pop out and take out her eyeballs. We in the audience hear her scream as the camera pans in on the dropped, bloody binoculars.

Once we went to Coney Island for a birthday party. Once we went to Sharon Woods. And once we went to Eden Park to float our wooden boat in the pond that overlooked the Ohio River. There was a statue there depicting a story of a wolf who had raised some orphaned children. We kids climbed up on the brass statue to get a closer look at the wolf's nipples that supposedly nourished the babies.

One of our neighbors at Swifton Villagte was named Norma Ting. She had a son, Virgil, about my age. One day, the Tings hosted a complete, home-made Chinese dinner for all the grown-ups in the building. I have some pictures of that party that I found in my parents things after they passed away.

I remember other neighbors too: The Starchers: Freddie (with a red crew cut), Larry (with a blond crew cut), and little brother Randy. I remember being impressed by the loafers they wore: the tongue was on metal hinge. Another fad was the Davey Crocket coonskin hat.

Another neighbor had three daughters: twins Laurel Wood and Holly Wood and little sister (my age) Willow Wood. We'd spend Sunday evenings at their apartment eating grilled cheese sandwiches and watching Lassie on TV.

Although the neighbors got along great, I remember one isolated argument between the grownups. It started with a kids fight for which the grownups took sides. We kids forgot our quarrel and became frightened to see everyone's mom and dad yelling insults out their windows to each other. The parents must have realized how foolish they were, as we kids soon forgot our quarrel and so they did too.

We, like most families, only had one car. Since my father was a traveling salesman and took the car for three weeks at a time, my mother had to order her groceries delivered.

My older sister went to seventh grade at Woodward High School (which at that time was for grades seven through twelve). She took swimming lessons there during gym glass (today, it would be rare for a seventh-grader to have a swimming pool at school). She was a member of a club of about four girls; they called themselves the TC's (which secretly stood for Tiny Chicks) and they wore matching pink jackets. I believe one of the members of this club was named Karen Fox.

My mother took night school classes at Woodward. We still have in the family a wall shelf that she made in woodworking class. Another class she took was nude drawing with live models. We used to sneak peeks at her sketch book.

My name, Megan, was one of a kind back then in the 50's. I wanted so much to have a "normal" name, like Suzie, Patty, Kathy, or Mary--one that teachers wouldn't mispronounce as Mee-gun. And now that my name is popular, it still doesn't suit. How many 57 year olds do you know with the name of Megan? I was the only Megan for the first 25 years of my life so that to this day, when I hear a stressed-out mother shouting something like "Megan, come here now!", my instinct is to think that she means me!

Seems I've rattled on long enough. If anyone can relate to these memories from Swifton Village in the 50's, please respond.

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Old 08-25-2008, 05:59 PM
Location: Near Lockland, Reading, Hartwell
2 posts, read 17,499 times
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Hi - I'm Ron, and my family and I moved from Indiania to the Lockland, Reading area back in 1958! I'm a year older than you, and I remember alot about Swifton Shopping Center, and the Cincinnati Gardens. In fact, I still live in the very same house that my family moved into in 1958! I guess you still live in or near Chicago. You would be sad to come back and see what has happened to your "sweetly" remembered old neighborhood. No whites nor Jews live anywhere around there anymore. And no grass - or very little grows in and around those apts anymore either. I'm expecting it to be torn down in the near future, although I haven't heard anything about that yet. The shopping center is a shell of it's former self, with many closed shops, and the shops that are still there cater to only one particular race of people mainly. Shootings and robberies are the norm for that particular neighborhood. So needless to say, I don't go there very often anymore. The Cincinnati Gardens is still around, but it has seen its' better days too.
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Old 08-25-2008, 08:06 PM
76 posts, read 283,435 times
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If you go to the thread "Cincinnati Shopping Centers of the 50s and 60s," you will find a LOT of posts about Swifton Shopping Center. I think people have been adding their memories for over a year now.

I remember when going to Swifton Shopping Center was such a big event. When I was a child, going through G.C. Murphy's with my mother was so much fun. She enjoyed looking at the yard goods and dress patterns in the basement and buying candy in bulk at the candy counter or a bag of freshly roasted cashews.

Later on, when I was at Woodward, we would always cut through Swifton after school and on Saturdays, a trip to the shopping center with our friends was the perfect way to spend the day. Skateboards became popular around 1962-63 when Jan and Dean and the Beach Boys were making so many songs about surfing and there was such an interest in what was going on in California. We would skateboard down those long stretches of smooth concrete at Swifton.

Unfortunately, Mr. Carnes does paint an accurate picture of the shopping center and the surrounding area as it appears today. I do drive through the neighborhood a few times a year just to reminisce and I usually feel sad afterwards.
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Old 08-26-2008, 02:46 AM
Location: Cambridge, MA
4,821 posts, read 12,125,701 times
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Not a trace of Swifton Village (later renamed Huntington Meadows) remains today. The entire complex was leveled in favor of a generic-looking subdivision called "Villages of Daybreak" - one-family houses and some duplexes. The jury's still out on whether housing for a lower-density and higher-income population will bring a sense of security and stability back to that long-suffering area. Point of info, despite the departure of most of the lighter-skinned population from Roselawn and Golf Manor there's a remnant that has stayed put sometimes due to having no choice but often as a conscious decision. Much of Reading Rd has slid downhill: "payday loan" places and dive bars are the most visible and viable businesses, and the "brick box" apartment houses that once housed middle-class newlyweds and retirees are now generally Section 8 dwellings that either shelter unsavory characters or go begging for tenants. But the neighborhoods south of Section Rd in Roselawn, and in Bond Hill, are structurally intact and being "rediscovered" to a small extent. Where else can you find an indestructible brick Cape Cod house or rambling Tudor for under $200k and often for much less? If only the school system weren't dysfunctional and the not-entirely-unwarranted perception of crime lower.

Swifton Shopping Center of course never rebounded from the effects of the "blockbusting" to the south which brought rapid socioeconomic change in the wake of "White flight." My family stayed loyal to the end, though there was almost nothing to go there for in its final years except for when Elder-Beerman had a big sale. We were on hand when the Elkuses liquidated their Gentry Shops inventory ahead of relocating to Tri-County in the late '70s. That was the plaza's death knell. Maybe a half-dozen raggedy stores catering to a "downscale" clientele hung on after that, with lotsa vacant spaces and an overgrown open area leaving little in the way of clues that the place once bustled and thrived. The '80s remake into "Swifton Commons" ultimately proved to be a flash in the pan, partly since sorely needed physical-plant renovations got the cosmetic treatment and partly since too many White folks were afraid to go back there. (By then my parents couldn't be persuaded to return either.) Eventually the entire property went on the auction block, and was purchased by an AA church which has converted it to a "worship center" alongside social-service providers and some retail. In honor of the church's pastor, it was poetically redubbed "Jordan Crossing." As an indicator that the area may be turning around, Kroger's has done so well with their store on Seymour that they're looking into moving across the street to the old shopping center and doubling their square footage.

My mom in particular would sometimes remark, "The main drawback to Swifton was always that Woodward was right across the street." Whether Caucasian and clad in polo shirts and khakis, or in pleated skirts and cotton blouses, or AA and decked out "ghetto fabulous," kids will always be kids. Something about turning 30 or 35 makes people forget about what it was like. Whooping and shouting adolescents - whether out to blow off steam after a day of classes or to shoplift the latest in fashion - are perceived as a nuisance if not a threat by many older folks. A survey, written up in Cincinnati Magazine, told of the radical daily shift in demographics of Swifton shoppers during the days of its second incarnation. Over 2/3 of the visitors before 1 PM were White and in their 40's or older. By 6 in the evening everything was reversed.

With gasoline prices as they are and racism less severe than once was true, I'm guardedly optimistic about the future in that vicinity. But that won't change the fact that what once was will never return.
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Old 08-26-2008, 08:26 PM
Location: Bridgetown, Ohio
526 posts, read 1,343,090 times
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Originally Posted by Megan J View Post
Seems I've rattled on long enough. If anyone can relate to these memories from Swifton Village in the 50's, please respond.

Good job Megan, Although I never leved in Swifton Village, I knew a few guys that did.

Your reminiscences are precious. + Feeback to You!
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Old 10-13-2008, 10:22 PM
15 posts, read 62,258 times
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Hi, I lived in Swifton Village on Langdon Farm Rd. we were the last building on the left. it was a 2 story, nice enough all wood floors not the ugly tile like my dad had in his building on Rhode Island.
I went to Woodward High school and loved to hang out at the shopping center with my friends. I remember lots of people Pam Shields, Sonny Baker, Eddie Vinson, Dennis Nazarrini, Danny Campanello, Julie Hermes, Taffy Waites and lots more. I liked living there but my mom was going to remarry and I went to Western Hills to live with my Dad and Stepmother, then I went to Oak Hills. My oldest brother graduated from Woodward, the graduation was at Nippert Stadium. We used to go out in the front of the school on "the hill" and smoke between class and at lunch. I got swats for smoking in the bathroom during gym class one time. I remember Mrs Bebe, Mr. Swanda, Mr. Grosser, Mr. Mooney, and Biology teacher Mr. Kalkbrenner and his paddle named black beauty. I think the thing I remember most are the sit in's during 68. I think this is when we started having police in the school. I drove past the school and could not believe how small it looked, I used to think it was huge. Its nice to read others memories.
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Old 10-14-2008, 01:16 PM
305 posts, read 1,490,196 times
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Default Swifton Primary days

Originally Posted by Megan J View Post
My memories of Swifton Primary School include:

The echo your voice made when you yelled in the gangway in front of the kindergarten rooms.

The principal being a woman, which was very unusual for that time.
When I was there, a few years later than you, the principal was a
Miss/Mrs. Tucker. Sounds like it may be the same Susan you
mention later in your posting.

Do you remember the occasional assemblies in which the entire
student body would convene to watch "educational television"?
This is the moniker by which Channel 48 went in those days.

I seem to recall that the school was segregated in those days.
Could that be right?
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Old 11-03-2008, 04:03 PM
76 posts, read 283,435 times
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Do you mean racially segregated?? It might have seemed that way because I do not think there were any blacks living in Swifton or Bond Hill in the early sixties. I did not know any black students until I attended Woodward starting in 1963 and met students from Avondale.
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Old 11-05-2008, 02:05 AM
305 posts, read 1,490,196 times
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Default Swifton Primary

Originally Posted by jkgibb1 View Post
Do you mean racially segregated?? It might have seemed that way because I do not think there were any blacks living in Swifton or Bond Hill in the early sixties.
Glad to hear this - I was hoping my impressions were incorrect.

I attended that school in 1961 and 1962. What I remember was
that, excepting the kindergarten, which was off by itself, there
were two parallel wings just north of the main entrance, with a
playground between them. The west wing served grades 1-3,
and there were no children of color in those classes. There were
children of color in the east wing - I can still remember the name
of at least one of the students.

What I had forgotten, though, was that the east wing was mixed.
What the children in the east wing had in common were what
we now call "special needs" - several of these kids were deaf.
There was no racial segregation - we all played together at
recess. This side of the school was probably mixed because it
attracted children from a much wider swath of the city.
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Old 03-29-2009, 09:59 PM
1 posts, read 11,747 times
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Reading all of these posts brings back memories. My parents moved us in to 2705 Snowhill Dr in 1958 I think. I attended kindergarten at Carthage School and again at Swifton Elementary when it opened in 1959. Went through the third grade. In 1963 we were in Clifton. I went back in the 90's to find Swifton had a new name and the apartments were all empty. The school was almost the same. It had a steel security door. They let me in to look around. Mrs. Tucker had retired a few years earlier. SHe was one tough principal.
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