Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cincinnati: #HottestCityInAmerica?

Dear George,
When our university’s president arrived six years ago, a high-level administrator recommended to him that he use social media to connect with the student body.  Despite no prior familiarity with Twitter, the president began tweeting regularly, using the hashtag #HottestCollegeInAmerica to connect with his seventy thousand followers.  Initially I thought this was preposterous: (a) that the president tweets to the students in the first place; and (b) that he presents the university as “the hottest college in America.”  Granted that the university is well-respected, it never struck me as particularly “hot” and definitely not as "the hottest".  However, after receiving hundreds of #HottestCollegeInAmerica messages over the past six years, I’ve found my attitude becoming more and more positive.  I still don’t think that the university is as hot as Michigan or Berkeley, but, for me, it's become a lot #Hotter than it used to. 

This made me wonder: What if people starting tweeting about the city of Cincinnati as the #HottestCityInAmerica?  I always worry about Cincinnati being under-rated.  While it lacks the pizzazz of Las Vegas or Miami Beach, Cincinnati certainly has its share of attractions.   I found my opinion supported recently when I ran across an online article by Bloomberg.com which ranked America’s “50 Best Cities”.  Cincinnati was ranked No. 21.  Since there are 382 metropolitan areas in the country, No. 21 is definitely on the high side.  This led me to look around for other efforts to compare America’s largest cities on one dimension or another.  Here are some of Cincinnati’s other recent rankings that I ran across. 

#1 in the nation, Recreation (WalletHub.com, 2015).  WalletHub’s rankings of the 100 largest U.S. cities were based on parks, average price of food, and high ratios of playgrounds, swimming pools, music venues, and tennis courts to number of residents.

#1, Best City for New College Grads (SmartAsset.com, 2016).  Smart asset.com’s rankings were based on cost of living, job market, and how fun it is to live in the city.  Cincinnati’s cost of living is 3rd lowest among the nation’s 100 largest cities, and the city ranked high on its job market and on fun (population in their twenties, restaurants and entertainment, Yelp ratings of bars and restaurants). 

#1, Best U.S. City for Pets (WalletHub, 2016).  WalletHub.com rated Cincinnati as the number one city in the U.S. for pets (and pet lovers), based on pet-care providers, vets and vet costs, animal shelters, dog parks, and pet-friendly restaurants and hotels.  

#2, Health Care (livability.com, 2014).  Livability.com identified the 100 best cities in the U.S. for health care, based on access to care and affordability of care.  Cincinnati came in second.  

#2, Most Popular for the Holidays (bestplaces.net, 2011).  Cincinnati ranked second among 300 U.S. cities in the amount of increase in air traffic for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays (compared to total annual flights).

#3, Top U.S. Travel Destinations (LonelyPlanet.com , 2012).  Lonely Planet, the travel web-site, ranked Cincinnati No. 3 among its top travel destinations in the U.S. for 2012.  Local attractions included parks and river walkways, Mt. Adams nightlife, the Cincinnati Art Museum, Over-the-Rhine, Findlay Market, and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

#3, Most Affordable U.S. Cities (National Association of Home Builders, 2014)

#4, Best Cities for Living an Active Lifestyle (WalletHub, 2016).  Sports clubs and park playgrounds per capita, monthly fitness club fees, public golf courses per capita, etc. 

#4, Most Sexually Satisfied Cities (Men’s Health, 2010).  Condom sales, birth rates, adult sex toys. 

#4, Top Mom-Friendly Cities (Sperling’s Best Places, 2015).  Child care and daycare centers; KinderCare, OBGYN and pediatric physicians, family fun centers, baby and toy stores, parks and playgrounds, percent of households with children.  

#4, Manliness (bestplaces.net, 2009).  According to Sperling’s Best Places, Cincinnati is the fourth most manly city in the country, based on criteria such as number of professional sports teams, popularity of power tools, monster truck rallies, fishing, home improvement, and drag racing. 

#5, Arts Destinations (American Style magazine, 2004).  American Style magazine ranked Cincinnati No. 5 in its list of 26 top arts destinations in the nation, specifically mentioning the Contemporary Arts Center, The Cincinnati Art Museum’s recently opened Cincinnati Wing, and the renovated Taft Museum of Art. 

#6, World Food Cities (National Geographic, 2014).  National Geographic ranked Cincinnati #6 in its list of top 10 food cities in the world, citing the two million pounds of chili served in local restaurants each year. 

#6, Romance (Amazon, 2016).  Cincinnati, according to retail giant Amazon, is the sixth most romantic city in the United States.  Amazon complied their list from sales data for romance novels, relationship books, romantic music, romantic comedy movies, and sexual wellness products.

#7, Trendiest Cities (realtor.com, 2016).  Evaluating America’s 500 largest cities for their “trendiness”, e.g., yoga studios, bike shops, “foodie hot spots,” etc., realtor.com (2016) ranked Cincinnati No. 7.  Cincinnati’s trendy features included massive street-painting parties, evening glow-art bashes, group bicycle rides, downtown murals, Over-the-Rhine, and Findlay Market.

#7, Cities that Rock (Esquire Magazine, 2004).  Esquire Magazine ranked Cincinnati No. 7 in its top 10 list of “Cities that Rock,” chosen based on talent in their music scenes, music venues, and record stores.

#7, Best City Park Systems (Trust for Public Land, 2015).   Cincinnati’s rankings were highest on acreage, park land as a % of city area, per capita playgrounds, basketball hoops, dog parks, and recreation/senior centers. 

#7, Leanest American Cities (Men’s Health, 2015).  Percent overweight, type 2 diabetes, physical activity, money spent on junk food, fast food 9 or more times a month (to compare fattest and leanest cities).    

#8, Most Creative Cities in America (Movoto Real Estate, 2015).  The Movoto rated the nation’s 100 largest cities on creativity, using indicators which included art galleries, art supply stories, music stores, performing arts per capita, colleges and universities, and percent of the working population in arts, entertainment, and recreation. 

#9 Best Cities for Raising a Family (Forbes.com, 2012).   Forbes ranked Cincinnati No. 9 among the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, based on quality of education, median income, home ownership, commuting delays, crime. affordable housing, and overall cost of living. 

#9, Best Cities for Singles (WalletHub.com, 2015).  WalletHub ranked Cincinnati No. 9 on its list of best U.S. cities for singles, based on “dating economics” and “romance and fun”

#10, Most Well-Read Cities in the U.S. (Amazon, 2014)
Amazon (2014) ranked Cincinnati No. 10 among the most well-read cities in the U.S. based on book, magazine, and newspaper sales. 

There are lots of other high rankings for Cincinnati as well.  Here is a quick summary:

#1, Most Cost-Friendly Business Location (KPMG, 2016) 
#1, Lowest Business Failure Rates (Entrepreneur Magazine, 2006) 
#1, Best Cities for Business Tax Costs (KPMG, 2012) 
#2, Cities Where Startups Are Thriving (CNN Money, 2012)
#2, Best Cities for Telecommuters (Aol.com, 2010) 
#2, Best Midsize College Cities in the U.S. (WalletHub.com, 2016)
#3, Top Metros (Site Selection Magazine, 2015)
#3, Best Medium-Sized Cities for Young Entrepreneurs (Under30ceo.com, 2013)
#3, Best U.S. Cities in Company Growth and Relocation (Site Selection Magazine, 2015)
#3, Children’s Health Care (US News & World Report, 2016) 
#3, Fitness for Children (Men’s Health Magazine, 2016).  
#3, Fastest Bike-Commuting Growth.  (League of American Bicyclissts, 2015)
#3, Best U.S. Cities for Staycations (WalletHub.com, 2016) ( vacations at home) 
#3, Top Cities to Spend Labor Day (bbonline.com, 2012)
#3, Most Frugal Cities (Coupons.com, 2016) (based on coupon usage) 
#4, Best Cities to Celebrate the Fourth of July (WalletHub, 2014) 
#5, Best Cities for Tennis Players (mytennislessons.com, 2015)
#5, Best Cities to Relocate To (Lincoln Property Company, 2015)
#5, Best Baseball Cities (Bestplaces.net, 2012)
#5, Literacy of the Nation’s Largest Cities (U. Wisconsin-Whitewater, 2004) (libraries, newspapers, local publications) 
#6, Cheapskate Cities (Kiplinger magazine, 2015) (low cost of living, free activities, Dollar General stores) 
#7, Best Cities for Seniors (Bestplaces.net, 2005) 
#7, Top U.S. Cities by Number of Industrial Jobs (Manufacturer’s News, 2010)
#8, Best Cities for Young Adults to Get Rich (MoneyUnder20.com, 2014) 
#8, Emerging Residential and Business Growth (Forbes, 2013)
#8, Best Cities for Veterans (Bertsperling.com, 2012)
#8, Great Art Deco Cities (Contravener.com, 2015) 
#8, Top High School Football Cities (MaxPreps.com, 2012) 
#8, Best Cities for Celebrating New Year’s Eve (WalletHub.com, 2016) 
#9, Caring for the Elderly (Bestplaces.net, 2006)
#9, U.S. Cities Where You’re Most Likely to Find Love (Richest.com, 2013) 
#10, Best Walking Cities in the U.S. (Prevention Magazine, 2008)
#10, America’s Healthiest Cities (BetterDoctor.com, 2013)
#10, Most Beautiful Skyline (Thrillist, 2014)  
#10, Best Cities for Beer Drinkers (thechive.com, 2015)
#11, Top Cities for Biotech Venture Funding (Fiercebiotech.com, 2014) 
#11, Most Social Networked (mashable.com, 2011) (Per capita Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
#12, Amazing U.S. Cities for Street Art (Mic.com, 2014)
#13, Top LGBT-Friendly Cities in the U.S. (NerdWallet, 2015) 
#13, Fittest U.S. Cities (American College of Sports Medicine magazine, 2013) 
#16, Top U.S. Cities for Working Women (NerdWallet, 2015) 
#16, Top Cities for Global Trade (globaltrademag, 2012) 

All in all, my research project was a pleasing surprise.  If I knew how to tweet, I might even use the hashtag #HottestCityInAmerica once in a while.  Of course, it would be an exaggeration, but it wouldn’t be entirely fraudulent .  I still don’t think that the city is as hot as Las Vegas or Miami Beach, but now it seems a lot #Hotter than it used to. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Age What? You Must Be Kidding!

Dear George,
When I turned on the computer this morning, the calendar blatantly announced that I’m 79 years old today.  Even though I knew it in advance, it still came as a shock  — like something out of a sci-fi fantasy.  If you’ve been watching Wayward Pines on FX, you know that all the characters have woken up in their pods after sleeping for 2000 years.  That’s how I feel.  The last age that’s firmly in my mind is 44.  After that everything else whizzed by, practically overnight, and here I find myself 35 years later.  What should I make of that? 

I Googled “age 79” to learn more about what to expect.  That was a mistake.  Twenty-seven of the first 30 hits were news reports about the death of one or another 79-year-old person: Merle Haggard, Antonin Scalia, former Ohio governor George Voinovich, Chinese activist Harry Wu, Jennifer Anniston’s mother, and a variety of lesser-knowns.  The three non-death items dealt with life expectancy, joint impairments, and a list of celebrities who have managed to survive for 79 years.  Determined to find something positive, I kept reading.  After 60 items, I finally reached a life-affirming post, namely, “Mick Jagger Gets Girlfriend Pregnant at Age 79.”  This was definitely more encouraging, though the article wasn’t clear if it was Mick or the girlfriend who was 79.

The other thing I found out from Google is that, according to USA Today, the average life expectancy in the U.S. these days is 78.8 years.  That’s of particular interest to those of us who are celebrating our 79th birthday.  We are people have spent our entire lifetimes on the good side of average life expectancy, and now we suddenly have shifted over to the downhill side.  This does make for a notable birthday, though it gives one the jitters. 

When I reached middle age, I started accumulating a list of famous people who were born in 1937.  It made me feel more secure to have a group I am moving along with.  Then I started Googling photos of these people to see how they were doing.  This was reassuring because these are mostly Hollywood people whose staff members help them appear more youthful than they really are.  Here is how my 1937 age-mates are looking these days.  

Colin Powell (born Apr. 5, 1937), Heart symposium, McLean, VA, Apr. 15, 2016

Sally Kellerman (born June 2, 1937),  Los Angeles LGBT gala, Nov. 2015

Warren Beatty (born Mar. 30, 1937), Cinema awards show, Apr. 12, 2016

Dyan Cannon (born Jan. 4, 1937), L.A. art show, Jan. 28, 2016

Morgan Freeman (born June 1, 1937), Academy Awards, Feb. 16, 2016

Jo Anne Worley (born Sept. 6, 1937), Film screening, May 9, 2016

Sir Anthony Hopkins (born Dec. 31, 1937), Interview, Jan., 2016

Loretta Swit (born Nov. 4, 1937), Interview, Feb., 2016

Dustin Hoffman (born Aug. 8, 1937), NYC theater opening, Mar. 2, 2016

Roberta Flack (born Feb. 10, 1937), Feb. 10, 2016

Jack Nicholson (born Apr. 22, 1937), L.A. Lakers game, Mar., 2016

Jane Fonda (born Dec. 21, 1937), Golden Globes, Jan., 2016

By and large, it looks like 79 isn’t a complete catastrophe.  That’s especially true for Jane Fonda who hasn’t changed one iota in the last four decades.  Given that the last age I remember is in my forties, I have to say that my late seventies don’t seem dramatically different.  It is true that my hearing is poorer, my close-up vision is erratic, and it’s harder to figure out who the murderer is in Masterpiece Mystery.  On the other hand, I exercise more, eat healthier food, and experience much less stress than during my turbulent work years.  In some ways, life is better these days — more relaxed, more free, more pleasurable.   

After working it through, I’ve concluded that being 79 — like 32 or 11 or 61 — is simply a fact of life, another chronological step that presents its own unique rewards and challenges.   I think the trick in it is to accept what life brings along, do something special every day, try to get out of one’s comfort zone every now and then, keep a sense of humor, and say “I love you” to people who are close.  These are going to be my birthday resolutions.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Archive: Marinette Postcards #3

Dear George,
This is the third archive of Marinette, Wisconsin, postcards that I've posted.  Previous entries can be located by searching "archive" in the box at the upper left.   Marinette is my hometown Menominee's twin city, just across the Menominee River, and it played a significant role in our growing up -- a frequent destination for shopping, eating out, going to the movies, cruising around as teenagers, and my first paid  employment at my grandfather's Marinette Rexall drugstore.  My paternal grandparents lived on Merryman St. near downtown, having immigrated to Marinette from Sweden, and my dad and his siblings were Marinette High School graduates.  

Circus parade, Dunlap Square (see above)
The circus’s arrival in the twin cities was a major highlight of the summer.  Our family would get up at dawn and go to the circus grounds to watch the tents being erected by the workers and their crew of elephants.  Then there’d be a parade through the town, followed the Big Show – the most exciting event of childhood in our small town.  This parade is in downtown Marinette is in the early part of the twentieth century.    

Masonic Temple
The Masonic Temple in Marinette was located at 1610-12 Main St., right across the street from my grandfather's Marinette drugstore.  It was built in 1907 in a Neoclassical style and served as the town's meeting hall for the Masons.  The first floor has been transformed into commercial storefront space and houses Paul's Music and The Psalms.  

Boom logs
Our family moved to the shore of the Menominee River shortly after World War II, and the outskirts of Marinette were right across the river.  Sixty to eighty years earlier the river had been the conduit for the world's largest white pine logging industry, and remnants were still available in the vicinity in the form of log structures and deadheads in the water.  We were well aware of the river's famous history and sometimes fancied ourselves to be young lumberjacks. 

Camp We-Ha-Kee
Camp We-Ha-Kee for Girls was established by the Sisters of the Dominicans of Sinsinawa on the shores of Green Bay near Marinette in 1923.  It's named after Mary WeHaKee La Batte, a young girl raised by the Dominicans whose mother was a Sioux Indian and whose father was French.  In 1964 the camp was moved from Marinette to Hunter Lake in northwestern Wisconsin where it's still thriving today. 

Post Office 1909
Here is the Marinette Wisconsin Post Office in 1909.  I haven’t been able to locate a date for its construction.  Marinette County was formed in 1879 and the City of Marinette in 1887, so I suspect the post office had been around for a couple of decades when this picture was taken. 

Ella Court School
The Marinette & Peshtigo Eagle reported on January 8, 1876, that the "lower part of Ella Court School is finished and ready for use."

Bastol Dairy Meal
According to the Annual Report of the Dairy and Food Commissioner of the State of Michigan, Vol. 20, Bastol Dairy Meal was produced by the Lignum Chemical Company of Marinette.   The report for its analysis listed 12% protein, 20% crude fiber, 46% nitrogen free extract, and 4% fiber extract.  

Parade, Main Street, WW I (1918)
This parade on Main Street in downtown Marinette, in the vicinity of my grandfather's drug store, was held in 1918.  My dad was 10 years old and probably was in the crowd.  A Marinette County genealogy website lists 71 local men killed during World War I, a shocking number for a small, predominantly rural county. 

Yacht Basin boats
Both of the twin cities had popular yacht basins for local and Great Lakes boaters.  Menominee's marina was right on Green Bay off the Sheridan Road downtown business district, while Marinette's was on the Menominee River near where the river passed under the Interstate Bridge.  We'd check out the boats while walking across the bridge to go to the Fox or Rialto movie theaters in downtown Marinette.  

Marinette Opera House
It's quite amazing, but the twin cities of Marinette and Menominee both had large opera houses at the turn of the last century.  The Marinette Opera House had 1,275 seats and a 10-seat orchestra section.  While I’m sure my grandparents went there many times in the early 1900s, the opera house was long gone by the time that my siblings and I were growing up in the 1940’s. 

Sauve’s Courtesy Motel
Given that this is a chrome postcard from the fifties or sixties, Sauve’s was there on Highway 41 during my youth.  We probably passed it by many dozens of time on Marinette’s outskirts as we teenagers drove to Peshtigo and back.   

Camp Bird
Camp Bird near Crivitz in Marinette County is located on land that was owned from 1875 to 1920 by Isaac Stephenson who used it as a fishing and hunting camp.  Sold in 1929 to a land company, Marinette County became the owner that year because of $82.75 in unpaid back taxes.  The plans to build a youth camp were approved by the County Board in 1939, and construction was begun by the WPA in 1942.  Camp Bird opened in 1943 and has been used since that time by the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, schools, and religious organizations. 

Loret’s Beauty Salon
In my mom’s final years she experienced severe pain in her legs and wasn’t up and around much.  My task on home visits was to take her for her weekly appointment at the local beauty parlor.  It wasn’t Loret’s, but I’m sure her salon was similar  It’s hard to describe the invigorating effect that going to the hairdresser had upon my mother.  She loved conversing with the stylists and fellow customers and getting filled in on the gossip of the day. 

Lakeside Inn
To the best of my knowledge, the Lakeside Inn was located at the Chautauqua site on the outskirts of Marinette along the Green Bay shore.  When we were kids this had become the residential area of Pine Beach.  My grandfather lived there with my Aunt Martha and Uncle Ralph and their kids, Ann and John.     

July 4 parade 1913
This is a shot of the Fourth of July parade on Main Street in downtown Marinette in 1913.  It's clearly a grand occasion.  Lauerman Brothers Department Store is in the background to the left.  My grandfather's drug store was two blocks up the street in the direction that the parade was proceeding.  My father was four years old at the time of the parade, and odds are that he was there, taking in the splendor.

Miscauno Inn
The Miscauno Inn (now the Four Seasons Resort) was located on Miscauno Island in northeast Marinette County on the Menominee River.  It opened in 1905 and initially served a Chicago railroad clientele before being destroyed by fire and then becoming an exclusive club and golf course.  Legend has it that Al Capone was a frequent guest at the Miscauno Inn, using it as a getaway when the heat was on in Chicago.  Reportedly because Chicago gangsters were such regular guests, all of the private resorts in the area had armed guards and barbed-wire fences.  (Source: NY Times, "Where public enemies went for a little peace and quiet," 6-26-09) 

St. Anthony’s Church (interior)
St. Anthony's was located at 900 Wells St. in Marinette.  In 1958 the four Marinette parishes of St. Joseph, Sacred Heart, St. Anthony, and Our Lady of Lourdes assumed joint control of the former Our Lady of Lourdes High School, establishing Marinette Catholic Central High School (which later became the St. Thomas Aquinas Academy).  To my understanding, St. Anthony's church is now located in Niagara in Marinette County.    

Oakwood Beach Club
The Oakwood Beach Club is a mystery to me, and even Google couldn't untangle it.  I did find out that Oakwood Beach Road is located in Marinette's Pine Beach neighborhood, just south of the Bay Area Medical Center, and it seems likely the clubhouse was located there.  As kids, we spent much time visiting the Burkes and swimming at Pine Beach.  

Schofield Resort, Lake Nocquebay, Archie Photo 1944
Lake Nocquebay remains a major resort area and tourist center in Marinette County, though I don't find traces on the Internet of the Schofield Resort today.  Noquebay is one of Wisconsin's largest inland lakes, offering 2400 acres of fishing for Bluegills, Perch, Crappie, Walleye, Bass, and Northern Pike.  The Mohawk Resort and Supper Club, located 4 miles east of Crivitz, might be Schofield's replacement.  It offers eight lake front cottages and a year-round vacation home spread along a 500-foot beach.  (Source: www.exploringthenorth.com

We plan to visit Marinette and Menominee soon, and we look forward to stopping by at least some of these scenes from days gone by.