I put Ohio next to Pennsylvania and not Michigan for a reason. There is some contention as to Ohio’s regional classification: some say it doesn’t belong to that nebulously defined conglomerate of the “Midwest” as it is next to Pennsylvania –but like West Virginia it can’t be Mid Atlantic as it has no coastline, and it can’t be in the South as it was on the Union side during the War between the States –though Cincinnati for its own inscrutable reasons has placed its airport across the river in Kentucky.
Ohio may be the gateway to the Midwest, but it feels more eastern to me.
My most recent contact with the Buckeye State was a robocall from the charmingly named Chagrin Falls, Ohio. (440.999.8019 for the record.) I didn’t answer the robocall, but I did research the village. Debate on the origin of its name is ongoing, but the prominent theory espoused by historical markers posits “Chagrin” is a corruption of “Seguin,” the name of an early French explorer. Seguin is also a city in Texas, pronounced “su-GEEN,” because that’s how they do it in those parts.
Having been a Michigander, most of my involvement with Ohio involves the northern rim of cities: Toledo and Cleveland, and Dayton further south and center.
Toledo has a fanatical love for its native Mud Hens, which is my favorite ball team name of all time. In fact, I knew a Toledo Soldier who planned his mid-deployment leave from Iraq around Mud Hens Opening Day. He had been to opening day for 24 years, and wasn’t going to let a war on the other side of the globe deter him. I admire this level of dedication. Should you venture to Toledo, in war time or in time of peace, check out the fried pickles at Corporal Klinger’s favorite restaurant.
You may be able to trace the interstate animosity between Ohio and its northern neighbor not to the Michigan-Ohio State game, but to the Great Toledo War. Truthfully, more people have been killed as a result of the football game, and the latter is usually much more exciting. Though falling far short of 20th century thermonuclear threat standard, the Toledo War did involve at least one barroom stabbing. The stabber had the wonderful name of “Two Stickney,” and in response to the stab heard around Maumee River, Michigan marched on Toledo with a fairly formidable force of 1,200. Thankfully, the federal government in the form of President Andrew Jackson intervened before there could be more bloodshed. Ohio kept Toledo, and Michigan got the Upper Peninsula. And the Michigan-Ohio State game still rages…
Cleveland is not your grandma’s flaming Cuyahoga. The Cleveland Museum of Art is an eminence gris housing world-class collections that vary from British Portrait Miniatures to Islamic art. I remember visiting the CMA in high school, walking an endless glass aisle of Grecian urns (perhaps even some with odes) and realizing, this is how we all end up: our daily lives will be collated, archived, curated, and the amphorae of olive oil and Dell laptops will one day be glassed in and explained by placards. Where will we then be?
Cash Registers and ICBMs
I visited Dayton, Ohio, in 2016. My cousins wanted to see the musical version of “Lion King,” itself an animated and be-animalled version of Hamlet. Dayton was once the home of National Cash Register. The University of Dayton benefited from its demise due to structural unemployment, differently from the benefit of structural employment in algorithms that today positively affects a few people in the San Jose/Los Gatos area.
About eight months after our Ohio visit, my mom noticed a vintage Dayton NCR machine displayed at the Schulenburg, Texas, Sausage Fest. (Yes, this is a thing, and the sausage is fantastic. For all of you who think rural Texas is cripplingly evangelical, one of the vendors roasting chicken had a sign with the byline, “This Cock Always Satisfies.”) What relevancy Texas and its sausages have to Ohio, I cannot say, but at some point a cash register did change hands.
Do not depart Dayton without satisfying your curiosity to see an actual ICBM. Yes, Minutemen are on display along some history of US military aviation at the National Museum of the US Air Force. Why Dayton? During the heyday of cash registers, Dayton was home to a pair of brothers who ran a bicycle shop, but are better known for their work in Kitty Hawk, NC. Hint: the Air Force Base is halfway named for them.
Where now? Let’s jump to Arkansas, a gate way to the south and west!
What do you like about Ohio?