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. Comments at the bottom of the page provide additional color, including highlights of a recent phone discussion with Martha.
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 Cathy moved away in 1955.
Follow up from talking to mom: I recently mentioned to mom that we had been discussing her childhood home and her mood and memory came alive. We had a wonderful conversation. I’ve read that old memories are the last to go and never have I seen such dramatic proof of this. When I asked her if the front room was an addition she told us that when she was little there were three rooms: the front room, the dining room, and the bedroom north of the dining room. She clearly remembers using the out house. There was no basement; it was added when the… Read more »
Jim, I enjoyed reading about your memories of the infamous Blaesi Street house. I don’t remember it but I have heard about it all my life from my mom, Bootsie (Ruth.) Thank you for sharing!
One nice memory I have of that house was walking through the front door into the dining room and getting a big kiss from your mom (my Godmother.) She also made a fuss over me; very un-Riehle, but very LeSaint. Your family was there from NC for a visit. Cathy, your brother Roy, and I then went off exploring on Madison Rd.
Oh, Jim what a great memory. I didn’t remember that my mom was your Godmother. Yes, in our family we do make a fuss over people. Now I know it’s a LeSaint thing. Thanks for sharing the memories. I love it!