Monday, July 30, 2012

The Big Bloody Fight

My last trip to Cincinnati for both research and visiting my family I was reminded by my cousins of "The Fight," as it's always been referred to when gatherings take place.  Indeed, my Uncle Bill recalls that the first time he came calling at Grandma's apartment to court my Aunt Dot, he was educated on The Fight.  Any new person had to know about The Fight.

When I was a little girl, Grandma began telling me about the time my father threw my grandfather out of the house, and I've remembered all these years that she said, "...down the stairs."  She withheld the gory details for my benefit I guess, so all I could see in my mind's eye was my grandfather, dressed in the same suit he wore the only time I remember seeing him, rolling and thumping down the wooden stairs in the 2223 Clifton Avenue house.  My grandfather being tossed down from the second-floor apartment there.

But then I found evidence recently that the Frank Dean family lived at Number 1 West Hollister Street, on the corner of Vine and across from Inwood Park.  What a surprise to find this present-day pretty blue home, just a block or so away from my Catholic school and church.  

No. 1 West Hollister Street present day.

The Hollister Street residence is listed in the 1942 Cincinnati Directory, the same year I was born and Dad left for the army.  The copyright office received the directory in January 1942, the army took my father in August, and I was born the next month in September.  Dad is listed in the directory in a separate apartment from his mother, and my mother's name is not listed.  She may have been taking care of her mother out in Morrow, Ohio, who was dying of breast cancer about that same time and wasn't present when the directory listers came.

Is this where Dad had to force his abusive father to leave the home?

Or was it earlier, maybe when the family lived on Pendleton Street, across from St. Paul's School?  That was in 1930, when my Dad was ten years old.  From the way The Fight story goes, I'm sure he was older than that.

1111 Pendleton Street in the East End

St. "Paulus Schule," where Dad and his sibs must have attended , in the 1930s.

This last visit home, the details of  The Fight were once again relived, how my Dad refused at first to hit his father but rather pushing him away from the house and telling him to leave.  When my grandfather kept coming back at Dad, ravaging his bloody face, something must have snapped inside my father, and he went after Grandfather Frank, beating him so badly that it's said that one of his eyes was hanging out of the socket by the time the police arrived. 

I don't know if Frank tried to come back after that.  Grandma never said.  Dad would not discuss the incident at all with me, and in later years I knew he felt guilty for what he in fact had to do to protect his family.  After all, that's what the oldest son does, as my Grandma so long ago told me.  Also mentioning that my Dad was "a good boy."