Spring break broke up my family. We separately sought warmth in Miami, Orlando and New Orleans. I got the best break of all”a two-day junket to Cincinnati.

It wasn’t going to be all fun and games, though, as I would be addressing journalism students at the College of Mount St. Joseph. This was my second visit to this little college, where my friend is on the faculty. (For my first visit, I was given a college t-shirt, which I proudly wore to a kickboxing photo shoot.)

Besides giving an address to the students, I also had a private detective assignment in Cincinnati. But it’s not like I worked as hard as my daughter, who mucked out seven flood-ravaged houses in New Orleans.

Anyway, the college students were attentive and insightful. One young woman thought she might have difficulty writing a column, because she wouldn’t know whether she was right in her opinions. Hah! Being wrong about issues has never stopped me from spouting opinions.

After a fun-filled hour with the students, my friend and I went out to dinner. He’s a history professor, so we talked baseball. He said that major league baseball was re-packaging a 19th Century sport for a 21st century audience. I found out what he was talking about the next day.

I spent the night in my friend’s farmhouse. How cool is that? Well actually, they gave me extra blankets this time. In the morning, I broke out my vacation clothes. Nothing says spring break like corduroy.

The next morning I couldn’t reach my witness but I did notice a bunch of people wearing Cubs attire walking toward the ballpark. So, I caught the Cubs-Reds game. My seat gave me a spectacular view of the Ohio River, or the “Little Muddy” as only I refer to it. The barges and riverboats were reminiscent of Cincinnati’s reason for existence.

The game I was watching was as old-fashioned as the river traffic. But it was constantly being interrupted with graphics, gimmicks and giveaways. The umpire actually delayed the start of an inning to allow a computerized car “race” to conclude. What a travesty in the birthplace of professional baseball! A pitcher hit his first home run since high school; Griffey passed up Mantle on the all-time home run list and the Cubs only lost by two runs.

By the end of the game, my face was as red as the shirts of the hometown fans. When you’re Irish-American, you don’t have to go to South Beach to suffer sunstroke. Then my friend and I went to tour 17 acres of pristine property he had purchased. Who needs theme parks, when you can visit what I called “Creek World” complete with two waterfalls that looked like Disney designed them.

Plus the college gave me more than a t-shirt this time. I’m going to convert their $50 check into a portrait of Ulysses S. Grant. This will commemorate the fact that my friend’s spread is right near the old cigar chomper’s childhood home.

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.