Article 25

New Stuff: Lizards, Oakley, and Dead End Streets

In Uncategorized on 06/09/2012 at 2:48 pm


Essay by Anne Skove

Photo by Max J. Skove


I grew up here, moved to Chicago for college when I was 18 and didn’t permanently move back for 20 more years. Like an adult child who doesn’t see her aging parents often and thus notices their frailty more, I have a different perception of the many changes in this town.

Lizards. These wall lizards have apparently been around for decades. I’m sure we didn’t have them in Clifton. My friends and I played outside all the time, and we would have noticed.

Shortly after moving back, I saw a skinny naked tail quickly skitter into a patch of ivy. “Uh-oh,” I thought. “That house has mouse trouble.” Eventually I saw the swift lizards on the front end of the tails. These little guys are everywhere – in my son’s hand, in the rocks in the garden, in the kitchen sink, in brick walls, and (tails only – they lose them on purpose when in peril) in dogs’ mouths.

I read that they were carried back from northern Italy by the Lazarus children, who transported them in their socks. This sounds like an urban legend, but the University of Cincinnati’s website confirms it (

When I was young I found what I thought was a snail on the sidewalk. Turned out to be a hermit crab, brought back by neighboring teenagers (again, in their socks) who had gone on a zoo-sponsored trip. Was contraband animal smuggling a trend?

Oakley. Oakley used to be the St. Bernard of the east. Same layout: one main road, similar residential houses, just replace St. Clement with St. Cecelia.

Oakley was Hyde Park’s sorry sibling, illegitimately housing “Hyde Park Plaza.” When I try to explain what it was like to my friend who only knows the “after” picture of her neighborhood, she is incredulous. IGA, not Fresh Market. A lonely Chinese restaurant and a few fast food places, nothing that would get a visit from a restaurant critic. Not an art gallery in sight.

Sure, the Blue Manatee (then Blue Marble), Aglamesis and King Arthur’s Court were there, but the whole place has undergone a radical makeover.

Dead-end streets. I didn’t learn to drive until I was 26, so my internal map of Cincinnati is one of passenger or pedestrian. This is good, as the new dead-end streets pose less of a problem. Still, when thinking about where I’m going, my head still has Hosea and Brookline as throughways. When I’m in a car, I have to think twice.



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