The Life and Times of William Howard Taft: A Biography - Vol. 1

By Henry F. Pringle | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
BIG LUB

ALTHOUGCH the city had, by 1870, a population of over 200,000, the Cincinnati of Will Taft's adolescence was a series of villages rather than a midwestern metropolis. The low- lying Basin, along the river, was congested enough. But the seven hills above the town-- Mt. Auburn where the Tafts lived was one of these-- were still sparsely settled communities. Walnut Hills, Clifton, Evanston, Mt. Adams and the others were distinct from each other. Green fields and open lots lay between them. The business and professional men who lived there met daily in the city proper, of course, but the sections were rather complete entities socially.

Thus Will Taft's formative years were those of a village rather than a city boy. He seems to have lived a normal small-boy existence. One feature of it, long remembered, consisted of bitter feuds between the boys of Mt. Auburn and the youths of the other hills. The Mt. Auburnites would venture down from their fortress to Reading Road, which divided it from near-by Walnut Hills, and would immediately become involved in a pitched battle with the Walnut Hills warriors. Stones were the ammunition. No one knew what the hostilities were about except that, vaguely, they were supposed to determine the superiority of the various sections. One time Mrs. Alphonso Taft lost patience; Will came home badly cut from a stone. What were they fighting about?

"It started when Charley and Rossy were small," he answered. "We haven't got it settled yet."1

The two older brothers-- Will Taft never regarded them as half brothers-- had abandoned the war by this time. So Will and Harry, and little brother Horace, as soon as he was able, carried it on. Will, being very tall and stout, was called Big Lub. Harry, tall but less heavy, was merely Lub. Horace was Little Lub. Will,

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1
Horace D. Taft to author, Dec. 2, 1933.

-20-

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