Did you know that the Ohio University mascot, Bobcat, had a wife called Bobkitten? Documents from Ohio University’s archives reveal that, the issue surrounding Bobcat and Bobkitten is one of “the most highly guarded secrets.”
A Howard Hall senior, Fran Femia was the Bobkitten. Unfortunately, their ‘marriage’ was put asunder after two years by university officials, who said that character was not approved. Femia was disappointed and tried to give reasons why she should be allowed to continue alongside Mr. Bobcat because she had been in existence for at least 24 months. Moreover, Dad’s Weekend was approaching, and it was one of occasions she ceased to entertain parents and guests. But that chance was taken away by the powers that be.
Their marriage, appeared to be a fruitful one as she even appeared with her husband, Mr. Bobcat on a New York show called “The World of Cats.” But Bobkitten was not needed in the world of cats by Ohio University authorities. Her end was near. The destruction of the kitten character succeeded when the all female Howard Hall was demolished in 1972. The Chi Omega sisters took on the dress back then but little is known of it now.
This past weekend was Dad’s weekend at Ohio University, and like any other weekend when students’ parents visit them, the Ohio University students let their parents buy them groceries.
The cliché of being “poor college students” is often times an accurate description. When parents come, it’s a highlight of college for a lot of reasons, one of those being that students don’t have to worry as much about spending their own money. This past weekend, almost every student seen around campus was accompanied by their father. The dads were seen buying food for their kids at restaurants on campus and up town, and also buying them groceries.
“It helps me because I don’t have to use my own money on groceries, and I can use it on things like books,” said sophomore english major Emily Griffith. “A lot of things I need aren’t on campus and I don’t have a car, so my parents can drive me up town to Kroger.”
To clear the air, we as students don’t use our parents, but if they offer to buy us things, we aren’t going to say no. Sophomore journalism major Caitlin Harrison said, “I have a job, but once in a while when my mom is in town and she wants to take me out and buy me things, it’s a nice treat.”
My dad came up to campus for dad’s weekend, and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t basque in the fact that I didn’t have to pay for a single thing. And then it was a sad reality when he left and I had to go back to paying for things on my own again. We as students love when our parents visit because they always make good company and we like sharing this world of ours with them, but we do especially appreciate them taking care of expenses for the time they’re in town.
Last weekend was Ohio University’s annual Dads’ Weekend. This was probably obvious to those of you who participated, or if you just ventured uptown to see it flooded with Levi 559s and Nike Monarchs. For everyone who missed the excitement, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
And finally, the pièce de resistance. Everyone is talking about an alleged fight that occurred this Dads’ Weekend at the Overhang on Court Street that ended in a bleeding dad and a shattered window. The Post has the scoop here.
At 3:00 on a weekday afternoon, local bookstores and merchandise shops are a fairly quiet place to be. There are a small number of customers leisurely scanning the place, perhaps passing time between classes and meetings, or attempting to discover something new that hadn’t existed in the store before. Another few are more focused, spending about a minute in the store when all is said and done, walking in to retrieve whatever it is they specifically came to the store for, making their purchase and darting back out into the flood of faces on Court Street.
The places are hardly recognizable, then, on weekends like last week’s Homecoming, when the flood of faces from Court Street suddenly somehow multiplies itself two or three times, and those faces pour into local businesses.
“Homecoming’s one of our busiest weekends of the semester,” Gene Armes, manager at College Bookstore, said. “There’s a large crowd, and since we cater to Ohio University, we see a large number of alumni coming in here. Those types of weekends are very important to us, and we do a large amount of business on those days.”
The fall is a time when these types of holiday weekends seem to continuously pop up on the calendar, with welcome weekend, parents weekend, and homecoming already passing by in the short month and a half students have returned to school. It isn’t over yet, either, as Halloween approaches at the end of the month, while Dads Weekend comes in November.
Even with all of the traffic overflow, each business needs to have its own way to set itself apart. For a store like College Bookstore, its location directly across from college green is enough to give it a distinguished brand in the face of students and their guests. For others, it takes a little bit more creativity.
“Each new event is new for us,” Mary Cheadle, operator of Uptown Dog T-Shirts, said. “We don’t know whether anybody is going to come, or if more people are going to come than ever.”
Cheadle says that around 50% of her sales come from “about seven or eight” weekends throughout the year.
Uptown Dog T-Shirts has always made a name for itself by making edgier merchandise than its competitors, and selling it for lower prices. Because of 2014’s Union Street fire, however, its original building was destroyed, and even though the business simply moved directly across the street, the owners still have a problem with people simply thinking the shop is no longer in business.
“Some people look at (the construction sites and damaged buildings) and think, ‘Oh, they just went out of business,'” Cheadle said. “Some people come in here and ask us, ‘Whatever happened to Uptown Dog?’, not knowing they’re already at the new place. That has hurt us, but we still have retained good sales on the big weekends.”
Cheadle, like many other businesses around Court Street and its surrounding shops, jacks up her staff for the big weekends. For Uptown Dog, it means expanding the staff from one or two part-time weekend workers to a group of six people running the shop. For the recently-opened Bluetique on West State Street, it meant hiring a door man to manage traffic getting in and out on the latest Parents Weekend.
“We really kicked butt on Parents Weekend, and I’m sure a lot of other places did too,” Bluetique store manager Marissa Whaley said. “You don’t just have mom or dad with you, you have both of them. So that makes a big difference, even though we do expect a lot of traffic on Dads weekend as well.”
With Halloween coming up in two weekends, it will once again be up to each store to figure out how to maximize revenue as Athens’ population doubles for the Block Party. Uptown Dog will be carrying official shirts for the Block Party, while Bluetique will be selling special Halloween products in the weeks leading up to the holiday.
Picture it: You’re strolling through Uptown Athens, taking in all the sights and sounds: the glowing marquee at the movie theater, the raucous laughter of buzzed college students, the feeling of weekend excitement in the air. You round the corner off Union Street and step onto Court Street when suddenly it hits you like a 10-ton bulldozer that’s been camped out at Baker all semester: A smell. A smell so foul it stings your nose. An assault so lightning quick that it’s gone as soon as you realize it’s there.
It is the Court Street Stench, and its source is unknown.
How can a town like Athens have such a stench clinging to its charming brick streets? A college town that students sometimes refer to (without a trace of irony) as “the promised land,” smells more like Chuck Palahniuk’s version of hell. How can this be?
I was determined to find out.
In order to determine the source of The Stench, I needed to first classify it. I needed to fully describe The Stench and then theorize about its source. In other words, I needed to really get a feel for the smell.
So I circled trash cans sniffing like a curious dog. I wandered down alleyways, documenting debris with photographs. I researched information on the grossest bars with the most pungent aromas.
It wasn’t enough. I smelled stenches (and lots of them), but wanted more definitive answers.
But maybe I’d been going about this the wrong way. Maybe instead of trying to track down a single stench, I should have been noting all of them.
Maybe the Court Street Stench isn’t just one smell after all. Perhaps it is a combination of smells: a putrid cocktail of bad food and bad behavior that coated our city streets.
To test this theory, I turned to the best noses for the jobs: the general public. If the public could come up with one definitive smell or source, then I’d have my answer. But if I received a mixed review, I’d know I’d been sniffing up the wrong tree.
And so, on Dad’s Weekend 2014, I took to the streets (and to the bars) to interview everybody and their father about their opinions of the vile Court Street Stench.
From hookah smoke and vomit to greasy pizza and coffee, the answers were as strange and varied as Court Street itself.
Ian Slifcak, a junior studying Spanish and Political Science, summed it up best when he said: “Court Street is a lot of smells.”
Athens city officials seem to agree with Slifcak’s statement. When asked for his diagnosis of the stench, Director of Code Enforcement John Paszke couldn’t put his finger on just one smell . . . or one cause.
“I imagine it is a combination of many things,” he replied. “The exhaust fans from the range hoods of the bars [and] restaurants, the large quantity of trash in the dumpsters, cigarette smoke from outdoor sidewalk smokers, vehicle exhaust, vomit, and depending on the weather conditions, odors from the storm [or] sanitary sewers.”
After turning to experts and laypersons, I was both entertained and repulsed by the variety of responses I had received. My sources had helped me take inventory of the smells of Court Street, and confirmed that there was, in fact, a group of Stenches, at large.
Peter Shoup, a junior studying engineering, commented that Court Street is “kind of like a progressive map … you can tell where you are based on what it smells like.”
Inspired by Shoup’s comparison, I decided to map my data, in the interest of public safety. Even the experts weren’t able to make a positive identification of the perpetrators. It was up to me to inform the public about the predators lurking around every corner uptown.
So, again, picture it: You’re strolling through Uptown Athens, taking in all the sights and sounds. You pass Jackie O’s and smell beer and a yeasty beer-making smell.
You pass the Union which used to smell like smoke due to the abundance of smokers who lined the sidewalk but now smells like smoke from the Union Street Fire.
You pass GoodFella’s and smell greasy pizza, or “cheese and floor cleaner,” as one contributor put it.
You round the corner off Union and step onto Court and smell coffee from Whit’s right before stepping into our first danger zone. The trash can on the corner smells like vomit at all hours of the day and night, and citizens are advised to avoid this area, at all costs.
You cross the street to get away and are accosted by another Stench, in the alley by Brenen’s: courtesy of a perpetually wet, dripping dumpster.
You hurry along, keeping your nose forward, trying not to attract any more unwanted Stenches when you pass the alley by Mike’s Dog Shack, which is a known Stench hideout. You hurry on, sniffing over your shoulder every few paces to make sure you aren’t being followed.
You smell cheap burritos and pungent sauce at Big Mamma’s. You smell the mustiness of Red Brick’s damp basement dance floor. You smell incense at Artifacts, gas and exhaust at BP, beer and smoke surrounding every bar, when suddenly it hits you.
The Stenches are everywhere. You can’t hide from them. You can’t escape them. They have representatives everywhere. No one is safe.
Most of the time they won’t give you much trouble. They’re mostly just mildly irritating. They like to get in your face a little, but they don’t usually stay too long, eager to find a new victim.
But sometimes, they’re more forceful. Sometimes they gang up on you and assault you out of nowhere.
Although The Stenches can be terribly unpredicatable, many sources affectionately attribute them to the dynamic nature of Court Street.
“I kind of enjoy the different phases of smells,” commented Slifcak. “In a way, it contributes to that special feeling of Athens [because] Court Street is where it all happens. It will eat you up and spit you right back out.
“After four years, you might miss some of those strange smells.”
Investigation contributors: Ian Slifcak, John Paszke, Peter Shoup, Elisabeth Rosenfeld, Emily Mueting, Doug Mueting, Scott Scheiderer, Jessica Wuensch
Juliana Scheiderer is a junior at Ohio University majoring in Journalism and Spanish with a certificate in Law, Justice, and Culture. She loves writing about music, art, travel, and entertainment.
Breakups, blowjobs and Boom-Boom sauce — not the standard topics of conversations at meal time. But then again, late night weekend dining in Athens, OH, is anything but standard. It is midnight on Friday, Nov. 8, 2014, as I enter the Union Street Diner. This particular Friday is the first night of Dad’s Weekend at Ohio University, and the start of my eavesdropping experiment.
Come along as I see what really happens when diners think no one is paying attention.
12:03 a.m.I arrive and order an unsweetened iced tea and onion rings from Molly, my server.
12:04:Iced Tea arrives
Four Girls sit across from me. All order water.
— “If I keep looking (at the menu), I’m going to stress myself out.”
— “We can’t get onion rings and pickles.”
— “I’m going to get breakfast, but I’m also going to get chili.”
— “Boom-Boom sauce is amazing.”
12:08:Onion rings arrive, Four Girl table still contemplating the menu
12:14:Four Girl table places order.
— “I’m so glad we were like, ‘Let’s leave this place and go eat.’”
12:15:I’m four (very large) onion rings deep and ready for a nap. I may have overcommitted.
12:16:Make that five onion rings.
12:19:Chili arrives at Four Girl table.
— “Josie is probably like, ‘This bitch ordered breakfast and chili like what the fuck.”
Not sure who Josie is or how she feels about breakfast/chili combos.
12:22:They are talking about someone named Brad. They say his name six times.
12:23:Two Guys seated behind me.
12:24: Four Girls’ food arrives. I wish I would’ve ordered French toast.
12:27:Two Guys contemplate the menu – and life.
— “Dude what the fuck? Get your life together. Should I get the frisco melt?”
12:28:From Two Guys table:
— “I only have four dollars.”
12:32:Chile-for-Breakfast Girl at Four Girls table makes a discovery.
— “Oh my god! They gave me four eggs. They were only supposed to give me three.”
12:35:Two Guys table orders. Four Dollar Guy orders a steak dinner.
12:37:Four Girl table is getting quieter; Two Guys table is getting louder.
12:40:Guy #1 and Guy #2 are now exchanging blow job stories. Loudly.
12:41: The term “food-coma” had been thrown down at the Four Girl table. The two girls on the inside of the booth are now leaning against the wall.
12:43:At this point, I now know too much about the Two Guys’ sex lives. I will not make eye contact with them when they leave.
12:46:Table of Three arrives and is seated diagonally from me. They single handedly increase the volume of the entire restaurant.
12:46: Two Guys are discussing hookup etiquette.
— “Kicking girls out in the morning sucks. I feel like such a douchebag. ” (sidebar: you are)
— “Why do you have to kick them out?”
— “Because it’s just what you do.”
12:48:Two Guys’ food arrives
12:49:Five Guys are now seated across from me. (I’m praying for no more sex stories.)
— “Should I get ‘food’ food or just get dessert?”
— “I’ve got a hankering for breakfast.”
12:51:Molly the server is now taking care of Four Girls, Two Guys, Five Guys, and me.
12:52:Four Girls get their checks and leave.
12:52:Five Guys get out of the booth and rearrange their seats.
12:53:Two Girls arrive and land diagonally from me. Molly is also serving them now.
12:56:Molly gave the guy at the Table of Three a high five. I don’t know why.
12:58:A couple is seated where the Four Girls were. The guy touches the table. Looks at his hand. He then pulls out a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer.
1:00:The table of Five Guys has ordered. The kid contemplating just getting dessert did in fact get just dessert. (Apple pie a la mode)
1:01:Five Guys are creating a Russian-roulette inspired game with sugar and salt.
1:02: Game over. Someone named Jake lost.
— “I say we make this a thing every time we come to USD.”
— “What was the point of that game?”
1:05:I order a chicken salad sandwich and a side of fruit.
1:06:From Five Guys:
— “Wait guys. Look at each other very lovingly.”
1:08:The diner seems to be at its peak. I’m starting to get a few awkward looks from customers. #LonelySyd
It has come to the point where I can’t hear any table’s full conversation.
1:11:Something smells amazing, and I hate myself for not ordering whatever it is.
1:12:Fruit arrives. I’ve decided honeydew is a completely underrated fruit.
1:15:Five Guys table is now coming up with Tom Hank’s greatest films. Everyone seems pretty excited about Castaway.
1:15:Two Guys get their bills.
1:16:Two Guys leave. It’s been a little too real.
1:17:Someone at the Five Guys table is attempting to snort sugar. Possibly just for a picture. I’m too afraid to look.
1:18Chicken salad arrives.
1:19:From Five Guys table:
— “Whenever I am drunk, I want to start an emo band.”
— “Did you just fall asleep?”
1:21:I have not heard a single conversation between the couple at the table Four Girls vacated.
1:23: A member of Five Guys table is having an internal struggle with his drunk cravings.
— “I haven’t eaten meat in 10 years, but whenever I’m drunk I want chicken.”
1:25:I’m hitting the wall and in desperate need of a rally nap.
1:27:I think a couple in the corner is breaking up. I‘m debating live-tweeting it.
1:28:Girl in the Breakup Couple is doing lots of dramatic head nods and has a lip quiver.
1:29:Boy in Breakup Couple just walked away.
1:31:Boy in Breakup Couple returns.
1:33:A large group arrives and blocks my view of the Breakup Couple
1:34:All of the conversations seem to be slowing down. The Five Guys table is now talking about feminism.
1:35:Actually, it’s one guy talking about feminism with no response from the other four.
1:35: — “The whole point of the movement is to end the movement.”
1:36:Waitress brought me my check without me asking for it. I got the hint. I’m going to see if I can stretch this out until 2.
1:37:Actual quote from Five Guys table:
— “There’s less opportunity for him to get pregnant.”
1:40:Three people are now in the booth the non-talking couple vacated. Two of them are making out.
1:41:Feminism talk is still going. Other guys have begun to chime in.
1:43: From the guy at the table with Makeout Couple:
— “How do you feel about Ray Rice.”
— “No, that was Jay-Z.” (Not sure where that came from.)
1:44: From Five Guys table:
— “The one with the megaphone isn’t always right.”
While I pack up my things and make my way through the maze of waiting patrons and waiters, it is clear that the almost two hours I spent at the Union Street Diner is just a small slice of what goes on during any given weekend. The place is still packed and hungry groups continue to get their fill of diner classics. The conversations might change, but the atmosphere stays the same. The blast of cold that hits me as I exit shocks me out of the food coma that comes with a meal at the diner. Luckily, I know that feeling will always come with a trip to Union Street Diner. See you next weekend, USD.
Sydney Gardner is a junior strategic communications major at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. She hopes to one day pursue a career in public relations, but until then you can find her on looking at cat videos online or on LinkedIn.