Tuesdays With Ricki - week two / Franklinton and The Bottoms

Tuesdays With Ricki (with apologies to Mitch Albom) will run most Tuesdays as space permits and Ricki gets pieces submitted on time.  If readers have any ideas on topics they would like to see Ricki weigh in on, post below in Comments.

The West Side Is The Best Side

The Independents’ Day Festival will be held in Franklinton this Saturday & Sunday, September 17th & 18th.  (Click here for more info.)  It will be the second year the music & arts fest will take place in its West Side locale.  I grew up on the West Side, at the corner of Sullivant & Midland Avenues, just a couple of miles from Franklinton, right at the beginning of The Hilltop.  The Hilltop was the slightly classier part of the West Side.  (Although everything truly is relative: compared to Colin’s upbringing in Worthington, the Hilltop was definitely déclassé.)

What is now referred to as Franklinton was then called The Bottoms.  (As late as the 1950’s, the entire area between downtown and the beginning of the hill just west of Central Avenue that gives The Hilltop its name would wind up underwater due to periodic floods; thus the name, The Bottoms.)  The first band I was ever in – circa 1968, when I was 16 years old – rehearsed in a house in The Bottoms.  That house was on McDowell Avenue, catty-corner from where Veteran’s Memorial stood before its demolition last year.  Dennis, the bass player of the band, lived in that house with his family.  Actually, we didn’t exactly rehearse IN Dennis’ house, we rehearsed in the unoccupied other half of the double after his father kicked a teenager-sized hole in the dining room wall connecting the two sides of the house and ran extension cords over for us to power the amps and mics with.    

The first time I went there for rehearsal, as I stood surveying the “alterations” Dennis’ father had made to the dining room I said, “Your dad didn’t have a problem tearing up your house like this?”  “Oh, it’s not our house,” Dennis replied matter-of-factly, ”we’re just renting.”  I couldn’t even think of a reply.  I just stood there looking at Dennis, thinking, “This kind of vandalism wouldn’t fly at my house in a thousand million years.”  My dad might re-wire the World War II-vintage radio we had in our basement into an amplifier for my first electric guitar – one of the nicest things ANYBODY in my life has ever done for me – but he was not about to intentionally damage the drywall for the sake of rock & roll.  We lived on The Hilltop.

Anyway, I hope The Franklinton Hustle goes great.  I’d love to see The Bottoms area of my beloved West Side revitalized (I can’t bring myself to go as far as “gentrified”) into a nice area to live in.  I was one of the original doubters about The Short North project, back when I worked at a parking lot at Doctor’s North Hospital from 1970-1973 while I attended Ohio State University.  That entire stretch of High Street was a war zone of storefront churches, bars & derelict buildings, teeming with the homeless street-people masses, and look how nice it turned out.  

Kudos to the Independents’ Days organizers for utilizing the Franklinton space again, may all the angels bless the rebuilders.  – Ricki C. / September 10th, 2016