The Pointe

MidPointe Library's Official Blog

#TriviaTuesday - What Day holds a special place in Trenton history?

Like every town and village, Trenton, Ohio, has an interesting history.

Trenton, however, boasts a very special Day in its illustrious past.

It’s called Doris Day.

Yes, the world-renowned singer, actress and, in later years, animal welfare advocate (1) spent many summer days in Trenton when she was a girl.

Doris autograph.jpg

According to the book, “Welcome to Trenton: Celebrating 200 Years! 1816-2016,” Doris, a Cincinnati native whose real name was Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff, stayed with “her aunt and uncle who lived at the bottom of Union Street.”  

The book continues that young Doris “became good friends with the four Ottinger sisters who lived in the neighborhood, Betty Ottinger Barnes, Clara Ottinger Boxwell, Mabel Ottinger Younger and most especially with Ruth Ottinger Vennefron. She also became close friends with Trenton historian, Edward Keefe. The friendship with Ruth and Mr. Keefe lasted until their deaths…”

The book reports that some Trenton residents remember seeing Doris “sitting on the brick wall in front of Phillip’s Drugstore (later the Tobacco Connection), eating an ice cream…”

“When in Trenton, residents treated Doris not like a big star, but as one of their own…,” the book continues, adding that “Upon the deaths of her uncle and aunt, her visits to Trenton ceased, but not our connection to her.”

If you love her singing and acting, check out the wealth of Doris Day entertainment on Hoopla, MidPointe Library’s voluminous source of free downloadable movies, TV shows, music and so much more.

A biography titled “Considering Doris Day” by Tom Santopietro, as well as music CDs and DVDs featuring her golden voice and superb acting ability, are available for checkout at MidPointe Library.

Then take a stroll through the streets of Trenton and hum a few bars of “Que Sera, Sera” in honor of this beloved star from Southwest Ohio.

You may literally be following in her footsteps.

Sources  :

  1. Wikipedia.

  2. Remainder of information from “Welcome to Trenton : Celebrating 200 Years! 1816-2016” compiled by Tammy Woodrey with help from Wanda Woodrey. Available for reading in the Ohio Room at MidPointe Library-Middletown, 125 South Broad Street.

Autographed photo of Doris Day from “Welcome to Trenton : Celebrating 200 Years! 1816-2016”

Access Hoopla by logging on to to > eLibrary > Movies and TV Shows > Hoopla

The Tie That Binds: The Unforgettable 1973 OSU-Michigan Match-Up

Sunday, November 25, 1973.

It was a day that would live in infamy for players, coaches and fans of the University of Michigan Wolverines football team.

Steve 1.jpg

It didn’t sit well with the Lemon-Monroe High School community, either -- especially fans of  Hornet-turned-Wolverine linebacker Steve Strinko.

That was the day Big Ten athletic directors chose Ohio State’s Buckeyes over the Michigan Wolverines to represent their conference in the January 1,1974, Rose Bowl game.

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The controversial decision came a day after a grinding battle on the Michigan gridiron between the two rivals that  resulted in a 10-10 tie. The fact that each team entered the game undefeated only heightened the intensity.

To say Michigan Coach “Bo” Schembechler was disappointed at the decision would be the understatement of all understatements. The Associated Press reported that his voice quivered with anger as he “blasted” the Big Ten officials and their momentous decision. “I’m very bitter. I regret it. It’s a tragic thing for Big Ten football…” he said. (1)

Strinko (#59) at lower left makes tackle while OSU's Archie Griffin hurdles over Michigan line (from Associated Press, November 25, 1973).jpg

Associated Press writer Larry Paladino described the historic game at Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Saturday, November 24, as “a typical Ohio State-Michigan battle featuring bruising ground attacks, hard-hitting defense and tremendous emotion from both the players and the huge crowd.” (2)

He wrote that a “national television audience witnessed the game along with a crowd of 105,223 -- largest ever to attend a college football game.” (2)

For Strinko, then a Michigan junior, and the Monroe football community, the pivotal match-up and its aftermath recalled a rather interesting anecdote.

Ironically, it turns out that opposing OSU Coach Woody Hayes had been “well aware of [Strinko’s] credentials” and, according to Jerry Nardiello, sports editor of the Middletown Journal, at one point even “had his eyes on the Hornet in hopes of recruiting him for the Ohio State football factory.” (3)

To this day the pivotal game in November 1973 is one of many chapters in Ohio State-Michigan rivalry lore. It was even chronicled by the Big Ten Network in a documentary called “Tiebreaker.”

No doubt it’s an oft-told tale in the Monroe community. But the ending never changes:

The Big Ten Buckeyes went on to win the 1974 Rose Bowl Game (the 60th) over the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans of the Pacific-8 Conference. (4)

The score was 42-21. (4)


1.”Buckeyes Going to Rose Bowl,” Middletown Journal, Monday, November 26, 1973, by Joe Mooshil of the Associated Press.

(2) “We ‘deserve to go’ to Rose Bowl, says Bo,” Middletown Journal, Sunday, November 25, 1973. Story by AP Writer Larry Paladino.

(3) “Strinko near record,” Off The Bench column by Jerry Nardiello, Middletown Journal, Friday, November 23, 1973.

The newspaper articles mentioned above can be accessed via the MidPointe Library website > eLibrary > Research Databases > Magazines and Newspapers > Newspaper Archive

(4) Wikipedia: “1974 Rose Bowl.”

Photos of Steve Strinko are from the 1971 Lemon-Monroe High School yearbook, “The Monocle,” and the Middletown Journal, Friday, November 23, 1973.

#TriviaTuesday - From West Elm Street, Monroe, to the American West : The Impact of Legendary Author Merle Constiner

Look up the name, Merle Constiner, in any library and be prepared to read a while.

 The inscription on the inside cover of "Sumatra Alley" is from Merle Constiner to Middletown area historian Wilfred Vorhis dated August 10, 1971  It reads :To Fred Vorhis, my long time historical friend," signed "Merle."  This book is available in the Ohio Room of the MidPointe Library Middletown.

The inscription on the inside cover of "Sumatra Alley" is from Merle Constiner to Middletown area historian Wilfred Vorhis dated August 10, 1971

It reads :To Fred Vorhis, my long time historical friend," signed "Merle."

This book is available in the Ohio Room of the MidPointe Library Middletown.

One of America’s most prolific authors, whose fictional works brought the American West to life for millions, was a native of Monroe, Ohio.

When Constiner died at Otterbein Home on September 24, 1979, “his Monroe friends, many whom had known him a lifetime, realized they had lost their most famous resident,” wrote local historian George Crout in his 1992 book, “Monroe, A Developing City.”

Constiner, Crout wrote, was “nationally known as a popular novelist. His short stories had appeared over the decades in hundreds of magazines, including the nation’s leading publication -- the Saturday Evening Post.”

Although known for specializing in American western adventures, Constiner was also a prolific writer of mystery and crime novels as well as works for the juvenile market, Crout reported.

Crout noted that a “novel of special interest to the [Southwest Ohio] area, published in 1966, was set in 1846 in southern Indiana and Ohio.” Titled “Merry Fifer,” the story centered around a teenage orphan traveling the backwoods to Cincinnati. Crout pointed out that Constiner made a reference to this area when he referred to the “Blue Ball Stage Coach Company” in the story.

To this day MidPointe Library carries many of Constiner’s novels. One of them, “Sumatra Alley,” located in the MidPointe Library-Middletown Ohio Room, contains an inscription on the inside front cover from Constiner to the Middletown area historian Wilfred Vorhis. It reads “To Fred Vorhis, My long time historical friend.”

Born in 1902 at 27 West Elm Street, Monroe, Constiner visited Middletown in his youth, studied at Vanderbilt University and received  a master’s degree in journalism, Crout wrote.

He and his wife eventually returned to Ohio, living at his father’s home at 38 Main Street, Monroe, during his father’s illness. Around 1950 the couple moved to 351 Lebanon Street, “a modest white brick home,” Crout wrote.

From Main Street, Monroe, to Main Street, America, Merle Constiner was the quintessential American original.

  • Learn more about Merle Constiner and his hometown of Monroe, Ohio, in the 1992 book, “Monroe: A Developing City” by George Crout, available for check-out in the Local History and Genealogy Gallery at MidPointe Library, Middletown, 125 South Broad Street.

  • Stop by MidPointe Library-Middletown’s Ohio Room and read several of Constiner’s books.

Local History #tbt Blog - As Football Kicks Off, A Legend is Remembered

It’s early September. Football fever is everywhere.

If you’re not from the Middletown area then you’re probably unaware that early September also marks the death of a local football legend.

It was on September 4, 1981, that longtime high school football Coach Jerry Harkrader died after a lengthy illness at age 47.

Normally, early September ‘81 would have been a busy, exciting time for the beloved coach. As longtime Middletown Journal Sports Editor Jerry Nardiello reported : “Ironically his death came on the day when high schools are preparing to open a new season” of football.

football player.jpg

Preparing his teams for fall football was as natural to Harkrader as playing on the gridiron. After all, he had spent many a day there as an “outstanding runner and linebacker” for the Middletown High School “Middies.” He also distinguished himself as an Ohio State University “Buckeye” under the tutelage of Coach Woody Hayes.

Later, as a high school football coach, Harkrader won the admiration and respect of the local football community as well as an impressive number of games.

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During his 20-plus year tenure at Fenwick High School, Harkrader became the first coach in the state to take his team to the football playoffs five times and the first to win back-to-back titles, Nardiello recalled.

Under his lead, the Falcons won 151 games, lost 32 and tied 4.

Coach Harkrader’s Fenwick legacy not only impacted the sons of other people. His own sons literally carried the family’s football tradition onto the Falcons’ field.

However, with time comes change. In the early 1980s, Coach Harkrader was preparing to make the transition from the classrooms and locker rooms of Fenwick to those of Lemon-Monroe High School in Monroe, Ohio.

But fate intervened.

Fenwick Football Coach Jerry Harkrader on left.jpg

Prior to becoming head coach for the Hornets, Harkrader was hospitalized. The eventual diagnosis : a malignant brain tumor. It would become a hurdle the successful Coach could not overcome.

Upon learning of Harkrader’s death, those  with deep roots in the Middletown area began to reminisce about “Harkie” as he was sometimes called :

That he was a standout on the Middletown Middies football team, coached by the legendary “Tiger” Ellison and Stan Lewis.

That he was president of both his senior and junior classes at Middletown High and that his activities there included Boys’ State, Hi-Y Council, M Club, National Honor Society, Student Council and track.

That, playing under the keen eye of Coach Hayes, he scored a touchdown for the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 1954 Rose Bowl game against Southern California.

Fond memories of Coach Harkrader are too numerous to mention here.

But today his memory lives on at the Fenwick High School campus on Ohio 122, Franklin.

His name appears with that of longtime basketball Coach John “Butch” Rossi on the exterior of the school’s athletic complex.

  • Information for this article was derived from a September 4, 1981, Middletown Journal article by Sports Editor Jerry Nardiello, as well as the Middletown High School 1952 “Optimist” yearbook.

Microfilm copies of the Middletown Journal as well as actual copies of Middletown High School Optimists are available at MidPointe’s Middletown branch, 125 South Broad Street.

Newspaper articles may also be found via > eLibrary > Research Databases > Magazines and Newspapers > Newspaper Archive.

Middletown High School Optimist yearbooks can also be found at > eLibrary > Digital Archives > The Optimist, Middletown City School District High School yearbooks.

Who's This Middie with Music Magic?

Without checking the Internet, see if you can answer this Middletown-based trivia question:

What Middletown High School band and orchestra member went on to play with jazz great Count Basie, the Queen of Jazz Ella Fitzgerald, the Jackson Five and other legends like Marvin Gaye and the Four Tops?

(Hint: you may have seen him in several movie roles, such as the bartender in “Groundhog Day.”)




Answer: 1954 Grad John M. Watson Sr.


John Watson.jpg


  • Mr. Watson’s student information from the 1954 Middletown High School Optimist (available for viewing in the MidPointe Library-Middletown “Ohio Room” and online at > Digital Archives > The Optimist Middletown City School District high school yearbooks > 1954

  • Color photo of Mr. Watson from “Celebrities Pictures”


Lily Tomlin, 79, Keeps them Laughing

She’s a woman with many names and many faces.

Sometimes she’s Ernestine and sometimes she’s Edith Ann.

lily tomlin.jpeg

No matter what face she’s wearing, she always true to character : a one-of-a-kind comedienne whose character routines are a study in human nature.

Today, Lily Tomlin celebrates her 79th birthday. (1)

Born in Detroit, Michigan, to parents who were previously from Paducah, Kentucky, (2) Tomlin shot to fame with her stand-up comedy routines, movie roles, comedy albums and Broadway shows. These days she can be seen on the Netflix hit “Grace and Frankie” with Jane Fonda and other luminaries. (2)

She’s won Tony, Grammy, Emmy and Screen Actors Guild awards. (2)

Celebrate the comedy legend’s birthday by watching Lily in action on our revolutionary digital elibrary platform. Go to > Movies and TV shows > Hoopla.

Then get ready to laugh.

  1. “2018 Chase’s Calendar of Events -- The Ultimate Go-to Guide for Special Days, Weeks and Months” (Reference material). MidPointe Library Middletown.

  2.    2. Wikipedia.

Accompanying photo from comedy CD, “This Is A Recording,” available at MidPointe Library.




Local History #tbt Blog - Call it a "Multi-Middie Milestone"

This Saturday, September 1, Middletonians will witness history when the ribbon is cut for a new middle school and a modernized high school is presented at the schools’ campus on Breiel Boulevard.

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The long-awaited festivities, from 10 a.m. to noon, will  include a tour of the new, 2,000-plus seat Wade E. Miller Arena sports complex and its new Jerry Lucas basketball court. Each is named after a Middletown High legend: the late Miller, a revered former principal and Middletown schools superintendent, and Lucas, the Middie basketball standout-turned-professional basketball player, 1960 Gold Medal Olympian, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, memory expert and author. (*)

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The ribbon-cutting celebrates a $96 million educational renaissance for the school district. The current Middletown High building, which opened on Breiel in 1969, has been greatly renovated and updated. A new Middletown Middle School has been erected. The icing on the construction cake is the new sports arena. (1)

The timing of Saturday’s ribbon-cutting couldn’t be better. Middletown’s new school year officially starts Tuesday, September 4. With it comes the next chapter in the school system’s storied history.

If you’re a longtime local, then you know that Middletown High wasn’t always on busy Breiel Boulevard. Nor were the middle school students.

From 1871 to 1908 the city’s first high school was based on the third floor of the twin-towered South School located in what is now South Park on Main Street. After serving as the location for Middletown High and other schools in succeeding years, the old building was demolished following a fire in 1965. (2).

Eventually Middletown High students moved into a building at the corner of Central Avenue and Clark Street. That structure later served as the setting for the old Middletown City Building. It, too, was demolished after a fire. (3)

In 1923 the high school relocated to the magnificent structure that to this day, although vacated, occupies one lengthy block on Girard Avenue. (3)

Built at a cost of over $1 million thanks to the passage of a 20-year bond levy in 1919, the stately edifice boasted the finest accoutrements and was considered “one of the most expensive and finest schools in the state at that time.” (4)

As the decades passed, thousands of high schoolers were educated within her walls. They revelled in athletic victories in the old Wade E. Miller gym and savored culture in her well-appointed auditorium.

But with time comes change...

In 1969 Middletown High School students bid farewell to the Grand Dame of Girard Avenue and said hello to a new, modern building on Breiel Boulevard.

Future Middletown HIgh on Breiel Boulevard.jpg

The last yearbook to emanate from the Girard Avenue location was the 1969 Optimist. Like other yearbooks, it displayed photos and names of all the students and chronicled all the Middie activities.

And Middies move on...(Last page of 1969 yearbook).jpg

But this Optimist was different. It was infused with  sentimentality as its authors chronicled memories of their aging school, reportedly the oldest in Butler County.

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Among the yearbook’s highlights were accounts of the 1968 crowning of the school’s first African-American homecoming queen, Lynne Rankin, at Middletown’s Barnitz Stadium, and the performance by American jazz great Count Basie and his orchestra at the junior-senior prom. The Count not only performed for the impressed prom-goers, but signed autographs as well. (5)

Count Basie as seen from balcony.jpg
count Basie at Prom!!.jpg

In an entry titled “Memories Encompass Last Year at Old High School,” the yearbook staff wrote :

“As we end our days at old Middletown High School and prepare to move to the new building, we sadly reminisce the ‘good old days’ at this building.

“Since 1923 this school has housed Middie spirit and traditions. Many memories come to mind as we walk through the halls of MHS-- initialed desks, well-worn stairs, and championship trophies.

“All past graduates have some memory of their years at the old Middletown High School. Yet next year the location of the high school will be changed and with it will go many familiar landmarks of the building.

“Though new traditions will be founded, the same goals and spirit will remain with us. For wherever we go, near or far, the Middie spirit will forever be there.”

With high schoolers spending their days at a sprawling, new building on Breiel, the old school on Girard continued to serve the community.

For a time she housed only the freshman class -- hence, her new name, “The Freshman School.” Later she welcomed only middle school students, operating under the names Stephen Vail Middle School (in honor of Middletown’s founder) and Middletown Middle School.

But those days are long gon

This weekend, when another chapter in Middie history officially unfolds on Breiel Boulevard, the Grande Dame of Girard Avenue and her companion, the Wade E. Miller Gymnasium, will continue to stand -- vacant, eerily silent, shuttered behind metal fencing -- in their longtime home near Downtown Middletown.

According to news reports, they’re likely to be hearing from a different kind of visitor : a wrecking crew.

* From Wikipedia: “Jerry Lucas”

(1) “New Arena brings Hollywood movie magic to Middie fans” by Michael D. Clark, Journal-News, December 10, 2017

(2) From the George Crout Collection on the MidPointe Library Digital Archives

3.”Middletown Schools -- Past & Present” developed by the MHS Class of 1951:

4.“A Brief History of the Middletown City School District  1800-1987 -- Museum Copy” by Norman M. Hayes available at MidPointe Library Middletown, Local History and Genealogy Gallery.

5.”Optimist 1969, Volume LVII, Middletown High School, Middletown, Ohio,” available for reading at MidPointe Library-Middletown’s Ohio Room or online :




This Summer... Libraries Rocked!

Chalk up another successful year for MidPointe Library’s Summer Reading Program for all ages!

The decades-long tradition at each MidPointe location ran from June 1 through July 31.

Thanks to you, Summer Reading’s total participation rate -- as determined by computer log-ins -- was a whopping 13,290!

That’s a 35 percent increase over 2017 numbers! Wow!

But -- as the commercials say -- wait, there’s more...

A total of 22,632 of you attended the special programs we presented at our locations : Middletown, West Chester, Trenton and Monroe! Live animals, music, puppets, movies and more were just a few of the offerings.

That’s a 20 percent increase over last year’s program attendance! We’re overjoyed!

The good times just kept rolling...

In keeping with this year’s theme, “Libraries Rock!,” we  presented free, family-friendly live music concerts featuring local talent at our MidPointe locations.

We increased our outreach to local day-cares, hosted two summer lunch sites and visited other summer lunch locations in our colorful “Library On Wheels,” the Bookmobile.

That’s a pretty good summer, made possible by the generosity and community spirit of our 2018 sponsor, the Journal-News. We thank them for their support.

Looking forward to serving you this fall and beyond,

Your MidPointe Library

The MidPointe Library system serves a population of about 200,000 people with a collection of nearly half-a-million materials. In addition to its four locations, it serves patrons in Liberty, Lemon, Madison and Wayne townships with visits from its Bookmobile.




Local History #tbt Blog - "Optimists" Flourish at Middletown High School

The American Heritage Dictionary defines an “optimist” as “one who usually expects a favorable outcome.” *

For decades the word, “Optimist,” has been the name of the Middletown (Ohio) High School yearbook.

In 1923 the word took on greater meaning when a grand, new Middletown High School building opened on Girard Avenue, foreshadowing a bright future and “favorable outcomes” for the young minds who would occupy its stately halls.

Built at a cost of over $1 million thanks to the passage of a 20-year bond levy in 1919 (1), the structure became the embodiment of civic optimism.

With the finest accoutrements, the new Middletown High School building was considered “one of the most expensive and finest schools in the state at that time.” (1)

middletown high school auditorim.png

It boasted 55 classrooms, the first gymnasium in the school system, oak-paneled offices, a working fireplace, doors of copper and brass and a 1300-seat auditorium with black leather seats, a lobby with marble walls and floor, gold trim in the foyer, on the box office and on the ornate plaster, silk tapestries on the walls and Tiffany glass chandeliers. The new building had the latest heating and moving-air systems and, last but not least, its own greenhouse. (1)

On November 11, 1924, the entire student body gathered to pose for a photograph in front of the new school. To this day the panoramic photo remains a tribute to the school officials who envisioned its construction, the taxpayers who funded it, and the young minds who were educated within its walls. (2)

all kids in then new Middletown high 1924.png

Call it civic optimism at its best.

The 1924 Optimist was the first yearbook to be published from the new, state-of-the-art edifice. The significance did not go unnoticed by the yearbook staff. In the book’s opening pages the students wrote :

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“This, the first volume of the Optimist published in the new high school, would not be complete without some mention of the noble work of the superintendent and the members of the board of education who planned and supervised the construction of the new high school building.

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“To Mr. Solomon, Mr. Danford, Mr. Banker, Mr. Harlan, Mr. Betts, and Mr. Lewis, those men who have worked unceasingly to make our dreams come true, we extend our most sincere gratitude.” (3)

Optimist 1924 seniors.png

The yearbook’s final pages feature a poem entitled “Upward and Onward” that embodied the optimism and fond memories of the departing Class of ‘24:


“Our ship is launched, our career begun,

And though rough be the sailing before it is done,

Our course is straight -- onward it lies

Where the blue of the sea shall meet with the skies.


The past may become but a memory,

And though vague and dim may that memory be,

Still in our hearts we shall treasure the days

When we all were so glad till the parting of ways.


And when we have reached that far away goal

Toward which we shall ever onward roll,

No sweeter remembrance can surely be found

Than those days when we all for the same place were bound.” (3)


Fast forward….

In the late 1960s Middletown High School students moved to a new, modern building on Breiel Boulevard. The aging building on Girard remained open, housing the Freshman School, Vail Middle School and, finally, Middletown Middle School.

Today it faces demolition.

In the meantime, Middletown High School and Middletown Middle School students receive an education in a state-of-the-art campus on Breiel Boulevard, the result of a recent major renovation/construction project.

No doubt the next edition of the Middletown High School “Optimist” will reflect the same hard work and faith in the future that earlier generations once felt.

Their optimism lives on.


* American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 2006, available at MidPointe Library, Middletown.

1. “A Brief History of the Middletown City School District  1800-1987 -- Museum Copy” by Norman M. Hayes available at MidPointe Library Middletown, Local History and Genealogy Gallery.

2. “Middletown High School All-Class Photo 1924”    available for viewing (and enlargement) on MidPointe Library’s Digital Archives : > Roger L. Miller Collection > Middletown High School students November 11, 1924

3. “The Optimist” 1924, Middletown High School yearbook, available for viewing in the Ohio Room at MidPointe Library Middletown or online at > The Optimist -,

Middletown City School District High School Yearbooks