Martha Riehle’s Birth Home

The 1920 US Federal Census shows Martha, just under 2 years old, living with her parents, Joe and Mary (Deubel) LeSaint, at 5128 Blaesi St. In Madisonville, Cincinnati, Ohio. In early 2021, in an email discussion, her son Jim Riehle provided this description of the house, floor plan and property as he remembered it from the early 1950s. GoogleMaps provided the photo.

Blaesi St. Home c.2020
Click on photo to enlarge

I have a near perfect (and wonderful, a miracle) memory of that house.  Cathi [cousin Cathi Burkhardt] lived there until I was almost 9.  We celebrated my best Xmas eves at that house.  Within a few blocks were 6 other members of my class at St Anthony so I used to bike over there a lot and play for the day.  On more than one Saturday afternoon we’d be playing out in the street and Aunt Mary (after she got her licence and the Packard) would come bounding down those steps and announce that we were going to Dairy Queen for a malt.

Blaisi St curved a bit right before the house and in those days there were at least 2 other houses beyond their house.  Our classmate Dickie Brugerman lived in one.  Across the street from this house was a high bank, on top of which was the main line of the B & O.  Cathy could have climbed the bank, crossed the tracks, cut thru a small park, crossed Kenwood Rd, and then kept going straight west to St Anthony’s.  But she was a good girl and always did as she was told and walked down to Madison Rd and then west and then north again.  Danny, Mike, and I only shook our heads.  Why would you walk 3 sides of a rectangle when you can walk just one?

In those days there was a door into the front room (which they used as the living room) at the back of the front porch near the present door which went to the dining room.  Mom said it was there for someone to use if they were boarding.  The house was so small I couldn’t believe it.  Years ago I surmised that the front room was an addition that predated Mary Deubel.  Behind the dining room was the kitchen (you can see the smaller window.)  Behind the front room and bumping out was a bedroom and behind that another bedroom to the north of the kitchen.  I spent a lot of time in the back bedroom acting the fool to entertain granpa when he was dying.  The bedroom off of the dining room was where Cathy and Mary slept.  One December, in the closet of that room were hidden Xmas presents which Cathi presented to me as proof that her mother was Santa.  This was the instance of my first but not last argument lost to a woman smarter than I am.

The basement stairs dropped between the two bedrooms and there was a large (3′ by 8′ plus or minus) trap door that was hinged on the right floor.  The door was usually kept down so you could walk out on it and access the space above the stairs as a pantry.  I used to drive grandma crazy lifting and dropping the trap door.  There was a back porch but it was the domain of the nasty dog and always smelled like shit.  The ground fell away at the back to a fence across which sat an active chicken coop.  The house that belonged to the coop was on Camago Road.  I saw my first chicken without its head running around in that yard.   Across Camargo Rd. was the creek that went by the bottom of Castle Place.

In 1956 there were no blacks on their side of the tracks and no whites on the other side.  There was a ball diamond in the little park across the tracks that was never used by the white kids.  Soon after they moved to Deer Park the street integrated.  Four of those classmates had moved by the time I went to Purcell.

If this email is like the rest of my life, I probably got a lot wrong.  But I don’t care.

Joe and Mary LeSaint raised five (5) children in this house. Martha, scholarship in hand, lived and studied there through her college years and received a bachelor degree in mathematics, summa cum laude. Joe LeSaint died in the house in 1952. Mary and her daughter Mary and granddaughter Cathi moved away in 1955.

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