CityBeat column: Rest in peace, Munchkinland

Handlebar Ranch
Photo courtesy of MReece

I’ve been meaning to weekly post links to my column as they appear in CityBeat. Haven’t really gotten around to doing that. I’ve done four so far and you can see the archives of those and a couple other stories I’ve written for CityBeat.

This week’s column, though, was a little personal. It involves the area where I grew up and one of the “suburban” legends that flourished when I attended Colerain High School and, I found out Saturday night, lives on today. Except, as I also learned, that the physical part of the legend is being torn down, possibly ending the stories for good – but also possibly finally giving the soul of the woman who was tormented by those legends a little peace. But it also ends the chances of seeing a familiar sight from my childhood growing up on Dry Ridge Road – loads of happy, giggling hayrides through Colerain’s rolling hills.

Even though my parents have sold the house I grew up in and I now live in the local near-antithesis of my boyhood confines, Over-the-Rhine, I still have a fondness for where I grew up. I have little desire to live there anymore, not because I am a snob or think I’m too good for the area. It’s more of a been-there-done-that sort of feeling I get when I go back to that part of town.

I just like the urban life more than I care for the suburban life. I was explaining this to my lovely ladyfriend, Melissa, the other day, summed up, in part, as my irritation of having to drive more than 20 minutes to get to anything. I’d prefer not to drive at all when in town, but if I have to travel more than about 20 minutes I start get a little irritated (sometimes I just take a bus).

Luckily Melissa lives in Mount Washington, an easy 15 to 20 minute drive from downtown (and though it’s a bit suburban, it’s still in the city). Colerain, well, that takes about 30 minutes to get to. Bummer.

Northgate Mall, Colerain Avenue, Colerain Elementary and (the former) Colerain Junior High School, my old high school, the YMCA, the Skatin’ Place – where I attended numerous school skating parties and later was a deejay – plus places as simple as Farbach-Werner Nature Preserve, Groesbeck United Methodist Church or White Oak Presbyterian church, where I attended numerous events, all bring back memories. It’s not a bad place. Just not my place anymore. And a nice place to visit.

Author: Joe Wessels

Joe Wessels is a freelance journalist and photographer. Wessels covers local news events for Thomson Reuters news service and features for About.com's Cincinnati Guide site, plus is the executive director of hyperlocal news site, iRhine.com. He wrote for The Cincinnati Post, covering Cincinnati City Hall and Hamilton County government and wrote a weekly political column, which continued weekly at Cincinnati CityBeat. Previously, he was a reporter for the Cincinnati Business Courier and writes or has written for several publications in Cincinnati and around the country including The Cincinnati Enquirer, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine and the Sacramento News & Review. He is a native of Colerain Township, one of Cincinnati's western suburbs, and now lives in Over-the-Rhine near downtown Cincinnati. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and a journalism writing certificate from the University of Cincinnati. He also graduated from Colerain High School, is an avid photographer, news junkie and was once a roller rink disc jockey, and sometimes rides a scooter around town.

5 thoughts on “CityBeat column: Rest in peace, Munchkinland”

  1. Hey Joe,

    Ran into some old YMCA leaders club advisors today and they told me about your blog site. It has been a hoot reading the nostalgia contained in here. You may remember me as a Y Director from Lindner in Norwood or Tri-City in Florence. I am still with the Y but out in the great white east, Pennsylvania. Anyway, nice reading your stuff, hope things are well, take care.

    Barry Martin

  2. Joe…loved your story in CityBeat. I didn’t know the Handle Bar Ranch was being torn down! I always wanted to get some photos, but it’s not exactly the most convenient place.

  3. joe,

    I used to live by you when I was a little kid on dry ridge rd. That is a shame about munchkinland. It might be for the best.

  4. Barry– Wow. Great to hear from you again. Proves that never know who might be reading the blog. Best to you! (and thanks for reading the blog… fun to reminisce…might have to write a little bit about Leaders Club, eh?)

    Kevin– Thank you! Glad you liked the column. Good news, though, on the photo front. Rumpke paid to have a professional photographer take pictures of the whole Ranch before it was torn down. They plan to display them somewhere on their property – likely in a an office building – but not sure just where yet.

    Andy– It is definitely too bad about Munchkinland. I don’t know what is worse: Annie’s dying or the fact that we all tortured her so much when she was alive. Where’d you live exactly on Dry Ridge, anyway (you can e-mail me if you want instead of posting it here)?

  5. I live in Lexington, KY and we even know of this place down here. It’s in Buffalo Ridge below Mt. Rumpke. Or it was…RIP munchkinland. WOuld have been fun to drive by and ring the bells.

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