“Nicest Place That I Ever Lived” Jarreld Parks Shares His West End Story

For this episode of the West End Stories Project, I spoke with my Uncle Jarreld Parks, who spent his formative years with my Dad and their six siblings in the Lincoln Court Housing Project in the 1960s. He attended Hays Elementary School and Porter Junior High School before the family moved to Evanston, Cincinnati in the late sixties.

Episode Notes

“We had a colorful little area to live in,” remembered Uncle Jerrald who lived catty-corner to the lively business district on West Court Street. In the 1960s, businesses extended from downtown Cincinnati to the West End along Court Street. In the 600 block of West Court near Lincoln Court, there was a convenience store, poultry store, meat market, fruit market, barbershop, beauty salon, and restaurants.

One of those restaurants was Heavy’s Place, which sold soul food and hearty burgers and fries. Uncle Jarreld said, “They were so greasy, the grease would come through the napkin, but they were so good.” Heavy’s was owned and operated by Arthur “Heavy” Harris Jr., who grew up in the West End on 5th Street. The restaurant opened in 1955 at 637 W. Court Street and then moved to Linn Street in 1975. In addition to serving food, Heavy helped his neighbors by loaning out money and comp-ing meals with little expectation of return. Heavy’s closed in 2000, when Laurel Homes and Lincoln Court were demolished to create City West. Heavy died nine years later at the age of 78.

Another unique business was right next door to Heavy’s at 635 W. Court Street. The Hindu East Indian Product Company was owned and operated by Lorenzo Williams who identified as a minister and sold various products and services that could supposedly be used for healing. “He would have bats in there and stuff... and he sold all that stuff because he was a witch, I guess,” Uncle Jarreld said. In 1963, Williams was charged with practicing medicine without a license after one of his patients reported to the Cincinnati Academy of Medicine that their ailment got worse after Williams’ treatment. After being arrested, the Cincinnati Post article excerpt below states he hexed the officers who arrested him, an Ohio Medical Board Examiner, and the judge who convicted him. Afterward, the judge suffered head cuts and a back injury after falling from a jeep.

From the late seventies to early eighties, the storefronts at the 600 block of West Court Street were demolished for the Queensgate II, Urban Renewal Project. Today, a Messer Construction office sits in its place with the address 643 W. Court Street.

If you or someone you know lived or spent a significant amount of time in the West End, please consider sharing your story. Call 513-369-6900 or email westend@chpl.org for more information.

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