As I was riding down (up?) I-75N coming home from my own industrial grind, I instinctively turn my head and look to my left for Sterns and Foster Factory, knowing that only the smokestack is left, no more “Dead Pet” to welcome me home, saddens the heart, but at least something remains, I know.
I knew the time was fast approaching, this majestic urban landmark would meet its fate very soon and become only a memory, a photograph, or a blog post but I also hoped in my heart that maybe, just maybe the city of Lockland would leave the smokestack, the last remnant, standing as a memorial to the city’s golden years. I vowed to take Marsha out the very next day for perhaps our last look. When I got home I decided to see if I could find any news either way of it’s fate…would it remain or would it too, like the rest of the factory, come tumbling down? I was hoping for the former and not the latter, but as fate would have it, something that happens to all of us in our busy lives I got caught up in the things we all get caught up in and forgot. In the back of my mind always thinking I had time. (HINT: Carpe Diem..don’t put things off time marches on my friends) Coming home again the next day I again look to my left drawn to the site I was sure to see. My jaw dropped and my mind balked as I looked over to see…emptiness, the land was barren and the smokestack, true to its name, was smoke….nothing was left, it was all gone.
I had forgotten to find out its fate and now I had missed our chance for a final farewell. I wanted to find out what had happened so Marsha and I went into Lockland and Reading, Ohio not only to look for the wedding dress she had seen in a bridal shop window, that she loved, but also to ask the locals what had happened to the last beacon of the Sterns and Foster Factory. What we found out surprised us both, just the day before, the day I forgot to do my research, they had toppled the smokestack. I had always assumed (HINT: you know what they say about assuming…it’s so true) they would implode the smokestack as they usually do to tall structures, mostly due to safety factors because a good demolition team can drop a structure right down upon itself impacting any adjacent areas minimally and keeping people out of harms way. Also, usually with implosions warnings are put out to the local community that explosions were to occur at a certain day and time. This also gives the media and the public a chance to see a really cool and awesome event. As we came to find out, to my utter shock and amazement they had actually toppled the smokestack by ramming it with a bulldozer…WOW…that seemed so unsafe it was ridiculous. Its like chopping a large tree down, unless you absolutely prepare for it by weakening it “directionally” or it’s libel to fall any which way and most likely on your head (or someone else). You have to put at least one person, the driver, in harms way, and just the “uncertainty principle” alone will greatly increase the likelihood of some kind of tragedy happening. Amazing, stupid but probably a lot cheaper! So one final shot to commemorate the end of an era and maybe the beginning of a new one? The city of Lockland, Ohio has sold the property to a developer who plans to build a sports complex on the site. Remember the site once housed an old factory during a time of no EPA and no government regulation on pollutants and toxin disposal or usage and all the rubble was not removed but instead dirt was brought in to cover it over and then it was graded to make it level. Who knows what ghosts and toxic chemicals are waiting to emerge from this rather large grave? Only time will tell….. I’ll miss the factory, which some probably considered an eyesore, but what I considered not only a reminder of American industrial power at it’s height but a beacon that would light my way home from work to Marsha and family at the end of a long day.