Friday, March 7, 1997
Residents just go
with flow (again)

BY TOM O'NEILL
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The unforgiving Ohio River had reduced the for-sale sign in George Kramer's East End yard to the top half of the word Coldwell.

No matter.

Mr. Kramer had lived in that old house at Tennyson and Dumont for all of his 54 years. Bought it from his parents. It's home.

Ironically, the retired Cincinnati Water Works employee had turned down several offers since he put the yellow two-story house on the market six months ago. He wanted to do less fix-it work, maybe buy a condo, he said Thursday.

He'll rebound from this flood. East Enders always do, he said.

''In '64, it was up to the window sills,'' Mr. Kramer recalled, standing on a plank near his front door, sunlight dancing off the oil that has covered much of the water surrounding his house.

Twenty feet away, workers from Clean Harbors Environmental Services put the last of 400 feet of containment boom around the neighborhood perimeter. Residents said the oil was coming from a local business.

Learning from past

Mr. Kramer, like many East Enders, learned long ago to be prepared. He moved most belongings to the second floor before water started pouring in at 1 a.m. Tuesday. But three doors down on Dumont, neighbors had just finished an extensive remodeling project, inside and out. Mr. Kramer sympathized but said East Enders are a hearty lot.

Charlie and Joe Gaynor agreed. Charlie, 65, of West Chester, and Joe, 64, of Glendale, grew up in the East End. They visited Thursday, taking photos and reminiscing with Mr. Kramer.

The brothers, four siblings and their mother lived on Mead but got flooded out. So they moved a couple of blocks off the river, on Carroll. Then they got flooded out of there, too, eventually settling on Dumont, a stone's throw from Mr. Kramer's place.

''This was a good place to live because of the people,'' Joe Gaynor said. ''You could walk to school, the post office, church. It's a good community.''

Banding together

The conversation between the three took off, peeling back childhood memories of ''hopping the rails'' of the adjacent railroad tracks to bring back coal from the nearby coal yard.

''Guy on the radio this morning says, 'Why should federal money go to help these people when they shouldn't be livin' down there,''' Charlie Gaynor said.

Callers like that don't understand, they said. Some live on the flood-prone south side of Eastern Avenue because they can't afford to live elsewhere. Others prize the community and river's beauty.

Occasionally, the river rises and reminds you of its power, they said. And residents go with the flow. Then they begin cleaning up, neighbor helping neighbor. It's been that way for as long as they can remember.

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