5th and Sycamore


Cincinnati Taft Theatre at 5th & Sycamore

The picture above is the SE corner of 5th and Sycamore, in downtown Cincinnati. Known best for the location of Taft Theatre. Across the street (NE corner) is the home to Proctor and Gamble’s headquarters. And on the NW corner used to be the location of Chiquita’s headquarters before they relocated the Charlotte. So, this particular intersection has some intriguing history – unless you’re the SW corner…

The was also the location where several buddies and I had hours of fun from the spring of 1988 to the fall of 1990. My mom would drive my buddies and me downtown to see Reds and Bengals games. In all kinds of weather. She would get off Ft. Washington Way, find an intersection near 3rd or 4th street, we’d hop out and go to Riverfront Stadium. After the game we would walk to 5th and Sycamore, call her on the pay phone (see in the picture at the very right) and wait for her to make the 45 minute trek back down 71 to get us. Not many parents would do this. Some would do one or the other (drop us off or pick us up) but not both legs. My mom would and she did DOZENS of times.

You need to understand, we were 14-16 year olds. This was a big deal! And this would happen on school nights as well. The earliest trip down I can remember was in ’88 with my then school buddy Josh. It was early in the Reds season and a school night. We got a pair of Top 6 seats which were $3.50 a piece, then like always moved down to the green seats. But this night was all about the weather. It poured and poured. I remember us sitting in the outfield seats, under the overhang playing trivia on the scoreboard. There was maybe 100 people in the stands. Finally around 10pm the umpires called the game. We walked to 5th and Sycamore and called my mom. I can remember us bragging to classmates the next day at school about how we were alone….downtown…in the rain….and dark!

My last memory is my friend Scott and I going to a Bengal game at the start of the 1990 season (They beat the Jets). Right after this my parents figured it was OK for me to start driving myself (which was good because the Reds were in a race for the pennant and I wanted to go down as often as possible).

But we were boys…..

I’m sure my mom thought we would leave the game and go straight to the phone and call her. Wellllll, that was often the case, but not always (I think this is a good time to repent). Before I get into some stories, let me clear the air and say that we never did anything “bad”. It wasn’t in my nature. We understood and respected the privilege we were given. But we were boys…..

  • There was the time we played hide-n-go seek for about an hour (multiple times) before calling my mom….then continued playing
  • There was the time we met Danny, a homeless man, with some form of mental disability. We sat on a bench with him for about 30 minutes just talking
  • There was games of tag around Fountain Square (located about 4 blocks to the west)
  • There was climbing light poles on the sidewalks
  • There was snowball fights during football season
  • There was efforts to talk with women twice our age (several middle fingers raised our way)
  • There was standing under the Taft Theatre marquise in order to stay dry
  • There was peeing where we shouldn’t pee (remember it was a 45 minute wait)
  • There was a lot of “I dare you” games
  • There was way too many parodies of songs on the radio – with our own explicit lyrics installed
  • There was talking with strangers that we had no business talking too
  • There was prank calls with the same pay phone I called my mom
  • There were “do you think we can run down to the Ohio River, put our feet in, and beat my mom back?” games
  • There was throwing a football across 5th street while the light was red
  • And there was drinking a beer some stranger kindly gave us

At some point my mom would pull up in front of Taft and we’d hop in the car. There was the usual “How was the game?” question – which got the typical “Fine”.

My friends that I share these memories with: Josh, Steve, Sean, Bryan, and Scott are grown up now (except Steve who died in a foolish accident in 98) and probably parents themselves.

Not a lot has changed at 5th and Sycamore, except there is now a huge building on the SW corner, where there used to be a small park – where we talked with Danny. And I think Taft has a new large electronic billboard sign on the front of the building. Me, I have run several races that ran in front of Taft. And when I worked downtown I would sometimes walk around the grounds at PG during lunch. I no longer live in Cincinnati either.

As for my son, I am sure he will pee in undesignated areas just like dad!


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