A bit apprehensive, my husband and I entered the Mercantile Building at 414 Walnut Street in Cincinnati. We were alone inside the lobby, save for a woman dressed in a navy blue jacket and matching pants, her attention apparently captured by something inside a shop window.

We were searching for a membership library we learned was located on the 11th and 12th floors of the building. We wanted to visit this unique institution, but we weren’t sure if it was open to the public.

Attempting to appear confident in our actions, my husband and I stepped in front of the elevator to our left.

Grateful for her assistance, we thanked her and proceeded to secure the elevator. When we reached the 11th floor, the doors opened to a small foyer. On one side, stairs led both up and down. On the other, floor-to-ceiling windows and a glass door stood between us and the library.

After briefly examining the books on the shelves outside the elevator, we entered the library. Directly in front of us, an imposing statue of a woman with her index finger to her lips greeted us. Behind her, three members of a young family made themselves comfortable on the leather couch and accent chair.

To our left, the hardwood floor stretched out and anchored a series of nooks tucked away among rows of book-lined shelves. Individuals seated at oak tables focused on the laptops in front of them.

Antique oak counters stretching the length of the room provided a home to current magazines. In the far right corner, a young lady played current hits on the piano while a companion sat nearby, head nodding, her phone pointed at the musician.

All around, oak and leather furniture dotted the open room. Busts of author Harriet Beecher Stowe, statesman Henry Clay, President Abraham Lincoln, playwright William Shakespeare, poet Robert Frost and more played prominently on the shelves throughout.

As I made my way through the library and toward the circulation desk, a gentleman moved out from behind his computer and approached me.

This is it, I thought. He’s going to ask if we are members, and when he finds out we are not, he’s going to ask us to leave.

Instead, he welcomed me and proudly offered some significant history on the members-only library. It was founded, he said, in 1835 when several Cincinnati merchants and clerks pooled their books together to share. After suffering fires in two previous locations, the library has been in its current spot since 1904.

In addition to being a resource of over 80,000 books for its members, the library hosts several discussions and lectures, open to the public, throughout the year. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Herman Melville are included among previous guests.

As hidden gems go, this Mercantile Library is certainly one of the most incredible we’ve had the opportunity to experience. I’m glad we took the chance to find it, and I’m thankful our efforts were warmly welcomed.

(Note: Marjorie Appelman is an English, communications and journalism teacher at Mason County High School and co-founder of the travel blog Tales from the Trip, which is on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. She can be reached at [email protected])

Aaron Arrasmith, a lifetime resident of Mason County, will speak Sunday at May’s Lick Christian Church.

He has worked for Limestone Cable for 18 years and is an active member of New Hope Christian Church. He has served churches in Fleming County and Mason County for many years.

Aaron is married to Sarah Arrasmith and has two children. Mrs. Arrasmith will be singing during the worship service. The Arrasmiths have a passion for the Lord and love to share God’s word with others.

A Community Thanksgiving service will be held on Nov. 24, 2019, 6 p. m. at the Oakwoods Church of Christ, 7178 Polecat Pike, Maysville. The congregation and the minister, Bro. Dan Wylie would like to invite everyone to this service.

The worship service beginning at 6 p. m. will feature special music from visiting churches. The featured speaker for the evening will be the minister of the Oakwoods Church of Christ, Rev. Dan Wylie.

The service will feature congregational singing, prayers, thanksgiving thoughts and praises along with scripture reading. It is our hopes that our service will have everyone thinking about what they are thankful for through the whole Thanksgiving season, and all other times as well.

There will be a donation of non-perishable items collected at the door to be given to the food bank, and also a free will offering will be taken during the service. The free will offering will also be given to the food bank.

The public is welcome and encouraged to attend. Light refreshments will be served immediately following the service.

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5

Lord, fill me with your mercy and your grace. I need it. Teach me to operate in the mode of looking beyond the temporal hardships. Impress upon me the importance of learning to see the value of sticking out the hardships investing in the eternal. Help me to learn true submission which means sacrificing myself until it hurts in order for my faith to be more genuine and more effective. But most important, help me to extend grace and mercy because you have first shown so much to me.

God, you see all, and You know it’s true. When I am living wide-eyed in the spiritual realm, I can see past the physical, and I can see the brokenness that the worlds operates in because sin entered the world all those years ago. When I’m focused on You rather than myself I can be grace-filled instead of self-serving.

We are many generations past the time of the first sin back in the garden, but humanity still groans all the more under the weight of sin’s effects. Looking around just a small sample of the population I can find emotional brokenness, mental mind fields, and physical defects. When functioning in the physical, I am tempted to let the hurts of human nature and the residual effects sin nature tear at my peace, my identity, and my happiness. In the physical, I tend to let offenses push me into a spiral of emotions, but when I let you lead me in all things, I can remove myself from the “personal” injuries, and I can address instances at the heart level with grace and mercy.

I needed mercy and grace unlimited to cover the offenses I committed towards a mighty and holy God. Graciously, Jesus provided that for me. As one who claims to love You, where is my imitation pointing if I don’t exhibit grace and mercy when offenses bang on my door? As you continually offer mercy to me; help me to do the same to your beloved creation.

Father, I can love because you first loved me. Your love is so great that Jesus, a holy, sinless God sacrificed His personal feelings, His position, and His righteousness in order to save anyone who would accept Him. If He could do all that surely I can extend more mercy and more grace in my life in hopes to point others to Christ.

It’s not my first nature to operate on the spiritual level. Help train me to seek you first in all things. I can be merciful to others who need it because you were merciful to me a sinner before I even knew I needed mercy.

“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:10-12

Judith Cooley teaches Language Arts and Drama. Follow her Facebook page @pondervotional for more encouragement.

What are a child’s waking thoughts? Speaking for myself, I was up at daily at 5 a.m., ready to be entertained by the Electronic Babysitter. Instead, I was fed a pablum of offerings of early morning television (The morning Ag report, the last few moments of Bob Shreve’s Past Prime Playhouse, and Sky King were the only choices). I would watch, bored to tears, but trying to keep quiet lest I wake up my parents.

Which leads me to breakfast, which offered a shiny oasis to make up for the desert of awful television. When I was a kid, cereals provided not only delicious tastes, but also cheap toys that promised, to my adolescent mind, a series of adventures.

My interests as a young’un were science fiction and spies. As a result, any item I thought could be used as a tool of survival was highly prized. For example, the Pink Panther Flakes five-in-one spy kit. This 1973 classic (shaped like PP himself) could be configured as a telescope, a microscope, as well as a whistle, a beacon to tell other agents whether or not the coast was clear and, in case of extreme emergency, a tool to pass on secret messages. Let Little Orphan Annie’s decoder ring try and top that.

Monster cereals arose from the primordial ooze and invaded grocery store shelves when I was a youth and brought with them a bounty of booty. Like my personal favorite, Frankenberry.

Not only did this pink-hued confection offer a sugar deprived child crunchy sucrose infused flakes, but also marshmallows that I contend should be considered its own food group. Yet like an overnight infomercial sales pitch, that’s not all! Frankenberry promised a young me the chance to command a Battlestar Galactica Colonial Viper cockpit simulator.

To good to be true? Of course! That, Gentle Reader, was when children were introduced to the more insidious tactics of inducement from Big Cereal: The dreaded Proof of Purchase. To you, a Battlestar Galactica Colonial Viper cockpit simulator might not seem like a big deal. The Cylon at the gate, however, was the aforementioned Proof of Purchase.

To obtain my entry into Space Flight School, I needed five of the coveted tickets to possess what was, at the moment, my heart’s desire. In kid-speak, that was my chance to be a Galactic Cadet and (at least in my imagination) fly through space for untold adventures.

Man, did I ingest a lot of pink dye in the quest for my prize. Be it by the bowlful or the handful, I choked down five boxes of Frankenberry over a span of time probably not advised for a foodstuff of this type.

And then, the wait (it was always four to six weeks-why was it always four to six weeks?). Walking back and forth across the road from Route 4, Box 453 to our mailbox was an exercise in frustration and futility.

Yet, like heartburn eventually follows a spicy meal, the cereal premium arrived. And, unlike a lot of mail order items, this toy did not disappoint.

Imagination was always my ticket to the stars. I spent winter afternoons escaping snow covered hollows for the brilliance of space, and unlimited adventures.

The Christmas Home Tour, sponsored by the U.S. Grant Homestead Association, will be on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019 from noon to 5 p.m., in Georgetown, Ohio.

Tickets are $10 and are available at Donohoo’s Pharmacy on the west side of the courthouse square, by phone at 937-378-3087, or at the Grant Boyhood Home on the day of the tour. Everyone will be entered in the drawing for a special gift basket with a retail value of over $100. You do not have to be present to win.

Begin your tour at the Grant Boyhood Home where you can buy tickets and pick up your tour packet. The tour includes the homes of Wade and Lori Highlander, 312 Free Soil Road; Joyce Tull, 106 East Plum; Tasha and Jerry Cooper, 428 North Main Street; Home Street Haven, 442 Home Street; the David Ammen House, 115 South Apple Street; the Bailey House Bed and Breakfast, 112 North Water Street; and the U.S. Grant Boyhood Home 219 East Grant Avenue.

Also featured on the tour is the home of David and Hannah Watson. This large frame House was built about 1866 by John W. King, a son of George W. and “Aunt Betsy” King. It was then sold to George Woodward, a prominent businessman in town. He in turn sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Grant McKibben. The Watsons have owned the home since 2017 and have worked to add a wonderful garden enclosed by fencing. The home is a work in progress with several rooms completed so far.

Lineup will begin at the Tollesboro Lions Club Fairgrounds at 3 p.m., with the parade to begin at 4 p.m.

The Tollesboro Lions Club would like to invite all churches, fire departments, businesses, social and fraternal organizations/groups, elected officials and individuals to participate in the parade, whether on floats, walking, or riding (ATVs, golf carts, horses, carriages or wagons, antique cars and tractors, etc.) in this event.

The route will be the same as that which the Tollesboro Lions Club Fair parade takes, beginning at the Tollesboro Lions Club Fairgrounds where participants will be lined up, then exiting the Tollesboro Lions Club Fairgrounds through the main entrance on Kentucky 10, turning eastward onto Kentucky 10 and extending through town and through the Kentucky 10-Kentucky 57 intersections to the Citizens Deposit Bank where the parade will then turn around and return to the Tollesboro Lions Club Fairgrounds.

The public is invited to watch the parade proceed through town at local businesses, churches, and homes of friends and family who live along the parade route.

For additional information about the Christmas Parade, contact Tollesboro Lions Club member and chairman of the event, Ritchie Cunningham at 606-202-1503, his wife Carol at 606-202-1883, Ree Applegate at 606-202-1827, or Kyra Bane at 606-748-9336.

The event is sponsored by Ripley Heritage, Inc. as a fundraiser for Ripley Museum. Ripley Heritage, Inc. also manages the John Rankin House Historic Site owned by the Ohio History Connection.

Tickets are $15 and are available the day of the tour at The Ripley Museum, 219 N. Second Street beginning at 12:30.

Begin the tour with The Ripley Museum, an 1850 home that features Ripley memorabilia and beautiful furniture from the earliest days of the town including Civil War, 1800s and turn of the century (1900s). Hot spiced tea and cookies will be served.

Eight homes will delight tour goers. These are the oldest and most historic homes in Ripley 1819-1875.

The Thomas Collins House, 200th Anniversary — The home at 202 Front Street has been restored by Jerry and Hilda Strange. Known as the Collins House its tablet reads, “This tablet marks the home of Thomas Collins. Englishman, cabinet maker, chief conductor of the Underground Railroad. Its portals were always open, through this door stole refugees innumerable, the night was never too dark, nor the journey too long for its owner to issue forth leading the helpless across the hills to freedom.”

The Chambers Baird House — New owners, Rachael and Brandon Bradshaw have recently restored this magnificent home. Situated on Second and Mulberry Streets is the Baird homestead which was occupied by three generations of Bairds from 1845 to 1973. The house was built by William Mathers in 1825 and was the home of Dr. Thomas Williamson who married Margaret Poage, daughter of Ripley’s founding father. The important feature of this house is the wrought-iron lace porch and balcony which was purchased from the Rankin Iron Works of Cincinnati and shipped to Ripley by packet boat.

135 N. Second Street — New Owners, Jessica and Rob Ossenbeck. This lovely Victorian style brick home features a beautiful wrap around porch. The new owners were able to purchase much of the near perfect antique furniture from the estate of the previous owner. They have added a modern twist which is sure to delight tour goers.

105 N.Second Street — Directly across from the Centenary United Church was recently purchased by John Bice. This early brick home will feature over-the-top Christmas decorations.

The Pogue Row Houses — 124 and 128 N. Front Street. The distinctive row houses 1816 Federal style and were built by Colonel James Poage, founder of Ripley. These connected brick buildings have Victorian front porches which were added many years after the original construction. The home at 124 Front Street is owned by Doris Brookbank. Several years ago this home was completely renovated and redecorated in an “magazine quality” upscale design. The home at 128 Front Street has new owners who are bringing in their collection of antique furniture and completely updating and redecorating the home.

The Stivers/Zachman House — 136 N. Front Street owned by Tom and Jane Zachman. Visitors will find 12-foot ceilings, eight fireplaces, original woodwork and 1800s antiques that has been remodeled for family living. Tom, who has recently organized the Ripley Ohio Association Rocketry Club will have his “rocket factory” on display in the man cave. The 1875 Italianate style brick home originally sat on ground level and was elevated following the 1913 flood. It was the home of one of Ripley’s earliest banking families. The house stands on the site of the 1800s office of brothers Dr. Alfred Beasley and Dr. Benjamin Beasley. Dr. Alfred Beasley was an Underground Railroad conductor.

Grant’s Cottage (Kirker House) — 206 N. Front Street. Michael and Jocelyn Palmer currently own Grant’s Cottage. Its marker reads, “In 1838 Mr. Thomas Kirker resided in this house, with whom General U. S. Grant boarded, while attending the Whitmore private school; his parents living in Georgetown.” The school was later Ripley College, not Whitmore. It was a female college.

Be sure to visit the Albert Sidney Johnston house/museum during Frontier Christmas Dec. 7-8, in old Washington.

Drink hot apple cider and make a Christmas ornament to take home. Learn how Albert Sidney celebrated Christmas as a boy. He, his brothers and sisters made Christmas ornaments and decorated with greens, fruits and nuts from the garden. His home is decorated as it would have been then.

Albert Sidney Johnston was born on Feb. 2, 1803, and lived in Washington until he turned 16 and went to Transylvania College in Lexington. He was appointed to the U S Military academy at West Point and after graduation became a second lieutenant in the U.S. Infantry. During his 34 year military career he served as a general in the Texan army, the U S Army and the Confederate states army.

After the death of Albert Sidney’s father, the Nelson family moved into the house. A son, William Bull Nelson lived here and then attended the U.S. Naval Academy. He later became a naval officer for the Union forces during the Civil War. Come and visit this historic house/museum where these military heroes grew up and learn more about them.

On Friday, Nov. 8, the students and staff of Saint Augustine School were honored to invite local veterans to special events for Veterans Day.

Veterans were recognized and prayed for at the 10 a.m. Mass. Veteran Deacon Frank Estill and his second grade granddaughter, JoBeth Schmidt read the readings during Mass. Veteran Bernard Ruf and his third grade granddaughter, Sammie Young read prayers during Mass. Veteran Tim Sweeney and his wife, Linda, presented the gifts.

Everyone then congregated in front of the school for a program by the local Augusta VFW. This included raising the flag and the Pledge of Allegiance. Following this, veterans and their families were invited to the decorated cafeteria for a full lunch and dessert. They were given handwritten thank you letters from the middle school students, and they left with small soldier statues with an attached poem.

All of the students participated in the events and helped decorate the front of school with soldier silhouettes, inside of church with coloring pages and flags, and in the cafeteria with an American flag made from student handprints. The patriotic pictures colored by each student were then taken to local nursing home veterans. Saint Augustine School was honored to host these brave men and women.

I was born and raised on what I always heard it referred to as a family farm. Since I’m talking about farms in the 50’s and 60’s mostly a farm of our size would be the acreage of a mid-sized farm these days. But in the years and period of time I am speaking of our farm of 190 acres was as much as about any farmer wanted to handle. Actually he really couldn’t handle it by himself for sure.

So to care for all the needs a farm needed it took the farmer and all in his family to do it properly. Therefore the name “family farm”. I know this as you see after my parents there was my sister Peg and my brother Ben and then there was me. I also know that when my dad would get up from the breakfast table and reach for his hat we all followed him to wherever and whatever the farm was needing to be done at that time. My mom would say more hands make for faster work and even though it wasn’t really pleasant work most times it did move along faster as there were all the hands that our house could supply.

In the period of time to which I am referring to a farm was looked at much differently than today’s huge sized farm and seldom will you see the family all out there working the farm together. When it was all of us we were in most cases raising and caring for the cash crop at that time. That of course was tobacco. We would raise between nine and twelve acres each year and if you ever worked in tobacco you know there isn’t really much that can be done without it being done by hand. It was hard and back breaking labor intensive work to say the least. I learned that the only enjoyable part was when I sold a crop and I came home with a check. Those checks paid the mortgage on the farm and put clothes on our backs and food on the table and allowed us to live in a warm house.

We all knew that was what we were working for and that was for the family’s’ benefit. I never recall my parents ever having to remind us that we were in this together as a family and therefore complaining was of course going to happen now and then but seldom did it carry on to be too much. Now my dad was as most farmers were very proud of their investment in the farm they owned so he was in continual care and maintenance of his investment. All the roofs were painted and the house and out buildings were also. Since the farm had converted from the horse drawn era to the automated era the equipment and tractors were very small in comparison to today’s standards. Also in the time I am writing about farmers farmed in a rotation method so as to always have pasture for livestock since we grew our own meat and there were fields plowed to raise corn mostly and then wheat and then hay before it became the pasture.

Rotation farming helped keep the soil from eroding and since at some point in the rotation livestock would be in a different field all fields were fenced in with woven wire and a strand of barbed wire at the top to hold the livestock. I will step in here and say that we spent a lot of our time building new fences and repairing existing fences and walking the fence lines so there wasn’t a place where a cow might escape from. In the era of the family farms it is safe to say a farm not cared for as I have explained were to appear as you were on a drive would stand out like a sore thumb. Not only did my dad take pride in the appearance of his farm but the entire family did also. I don’t mean to say we strutted around like a peacock but when you stopped to look at the farm you just had a good feeling that your place was being taken care of and a feeling that all was in order.

Sadly more jobs and the need to find a job that would supply you with good health insurance drove the farmers or at least a lot of them off of the farm. So one by one the family farms would be sold or auctioned off. The acreage from the family farms went into the huge tracts of land we see today. Even though the day of a family farm has faded into mega farming if you came from the farm there will always be a strong connection to the way life was and just the feel of working the soil with your hands that draws one to think back and recall those days when you went to the fields along with the rest of the family. I like to say I still have a little dirt still in my shoes. For that matter I always hope I will.

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and likes to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.

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Through the left side shooting portal I see long down the bottom, through the line of leaf-fat pin oaks, and beyond to the western ridge lines that once belonged to my Jenkins and Weaver ancestors […]

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Aaron Arrasmith, a lifetime resident of Mason County, will speak Sunday at May’s Lick Christian Church. He has worked for Limestone Cable for 18 years and is an active member of New Hope Christian Church. […]

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A Community Thanksgiving service will be held on Nov. 24, 2019, 6 p. m. at the Oakwoods Church of Christ, 7178 Polecat Pike, Maysville. The congregation and the minister, Bro. Dan Wylie would like to […]

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