It was the early-to-mid 1980s.  I was unemployed or had the day off work (it was Good Friday).  Bettie had to work that day, so I rode with her and wandered around the big city of Cincinnati.  I was still a hick, and I’m sure I walked around wide-eyed.  There was this big public square with a fountain, and a library so big it was in two buildings!  It was all so new to me.

After I had wandered around enough, and the afternoon was inching toward evening, I headed up to Mount Adams, where Bettie worked.  Not too big of a hike for a guy in his twenties, even with climbing the hill.  They had stairs, after all.

Being from outside of Cincinnati, though, I wasn’t aware of the tradition of walking the steps.  It is a Catholic tradition in this German town to walk up the steps to the church in Mount Adams and pray the rosary on each step.  This has been going on for 150 years – not sure why I hadn’t noticed it before.

I noticed it this time.  I was in the middle of hundreds of people heading up stairs, slowly.  I was respectful, but I was also climbing stairs.  I got a few nasty glances as I quietly moved from open space to open space, but mostly I was ignored as people prayed.  Very interesting from a sociological perspective, thinking about traditions and prayer and locations.  Very frustrating from the perspective of wanting to reach the top and sit down after a day of walking downtown.

I avoided Cincinnati on Good Friday after that, especially the slow stairs.


There was a book published this year on the steps and the tradition.  This little PDF preview of the book has some good pictures from 1970 and now.

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