Barbara Obermeyer, 82, has lived on Woodford Rd., in Kennedy Heights, for 72 years. Her family moved here in 1943 during WWII. The house next door is where she grew up. One of her sons lives beside that house. She and her husband, Joseph T., bought their home in 1962. She mentions several neighbors who also grew up in KH and now live close to their parental home.
Her parents, Virginia and Harry Bail, had a 5 acre lot. About 1950, some of the land was taken by eminent domain by the city of Cincinnati to add space for picnic tables and the initial parking lot in Drake Park. It was common practice for houses to be in the wife’s name. The husband could have been involved in bankruptcy or a lawsuit from his work and the home could have been garnished. Barbara’s mother was quite shy and was not interested in contesting the decision even though her father would have liked to do so. They grew to accept this as their contribution to the good of the community.
Her father was a mechanical engineer for LeBlond. Although her mother had only a grade school education due to some unusual discipline at her private school, she was a very intelligent woman and took care of all the financial activities of the family. Her father had a big garden and planted 60 fruit trees. He sold some of the fruit to Kroger. The apples provided Barbara with her first business experience when she was 13-15 years old. She collected the apples that dropped from the trees and placed an ‘Apples For Sale’ sign on their mailbox. Neighbors were glad to buy them to make applesauce.
Barbara remembers playing with a neighbor friend in the woods and sometimes used a tunnel to go to the property of what is now Drake Park but then was the home of Mr. Opplingler. The driveway that is now in the park is the same that led to his home, the location of the present picnic shelter. One time, when she was 12, he saw her and her friend on his property and invited them to come see his home.
Mrs. Obermeyer grew up in a loving family that had the attitude of helping others who were less fortunate. The next generations have followed suit as she has volunteered at The Caring Place and her daughter continues to give creative energy in teaching in an inner city school of Cincinnati as part of Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS).
She has been a longstanding member of Nativity Parish, perhaps the longest, since she was 3 months old when she began attending.
Barbara remembers many activities at the KH Presbyterian Church, the creation of the integrated KH Montessori cooperative preschool (now KH Montessori Center) and the Caring Place as institutions that fostered helping others and building integration in a way that was unusual for most Cincinnati communities.
Her husband was active in the block watch program in the 1970’s and ‘80’s. She notes that his activity was a significant commitment, often participating in nightly events.
Barbara has always felt KH was a wonderful place to live. For 40 years, her family enjoyed the friendship of a black family who lived next door.
She describes KH as an old neighborhood with many substantial homes, Drake Park, and a wonderful place to live and raise children in an environment where they experience different cultural backgrounds. She appreciates how people, for the most part, are taking care of their homes and beautifying the landscape with flowers. She’s glad to see that diversity continues as both blacks and whites are buying homes in the neighborhood.
Interviewed by Christine Schumacher
on November 17, 2015
Presented at KHCC November 17, 2015