Finding Your Roots in Ohio

Rich was adopted as a child in Columbus, Ohio. After elementary school, his family moved from Ohio to California, and he never looked back. He had lived his early years in an orphanage, and his adoptive parents were the only ones he knew. He never had much of an interest in his birth parents, and throughout his life, Ohio was just a sealed chapter for him. Several decades later, I was born, and my father passed away before I was born. Rich assumed the “dad” role in my life, and when I was 18, he adopted me. In a lot of ways, I think that adoption process sparked some of his interest in his childhood and birth parents. After my obsession with pointed to a potential lead on his birth name, he decided he was going to order the adoption records and learn who his birth parents were.

Our trip started out with a bright display for Southwest Airlines Spirit Week and an art installation in the Columbus Airport. It was a positive foot forward in opening up this part of my dad’s past.

We took a drive to Coshocton, OH, where Rich’s dad had a modest home built and Rich attended Catholic school as a newly adopted boy. We were both ecstatic to find the home is still standing and looks almost identical to how it did when it was built in the 50s. The church also remained mostly unchanged, and seeing the pews and schoolhouse brought back memories my dad didn’t realize he had. It was so special to see him realize these childhood memories.

We took it upon ourselves to explore the town and enjoy the small town charm of Coshocton and Roscoe Village. With a population around 10,000 people, kitsch was overflowing from the main streets. Coincidentally, it was the night of the high school’s homecoming dance, and every picturesque part of town was full of teenagers in gowns and suits taking photos with their families. It was so sweet to see how excited everyone was.

After a wonderful afternoon, we hit up the newly revitalized Bridge Park neighborhood in Dublin, OH (the suburb of Columbus that is home to lots of Irish kitsch and the Wendy’s corporate offices). We were pleasantly surprised by the Vaso Rooftop Bar in the AC Hotel, and enjoyed a gin & tonic that was worthy of its own photoshoot. A few doors down, Cap City mixed art deco with a classic diner for a restaurant and bar that begged for a slice of pie. I also adored Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea for my morning fix, and Pins Mechanical Company for a barcade vibe featuring duckpin bowling, pinball, and bocce ball (a proper 16-Bit barcade will be opening soon though).

Of course, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to visit a tiki bar. The Grass Skirt Tiki Room delivered all the nautical nonsense that makes a tiki bar whimsical and fun, plus drinks that knock your socks off. Owner Carmen was there, and she told me about the restaurant Kahiki, which was open in Columbus from 1961 to 2000, and how she pays tribute to their classic good vibes and rum cocktails. I appreciated how much Carmen understood the history of tiki culture, and how she also put her own spin on the flavors. The Pele’s Curse cocktail was house-infused pineapple black pepper rum, vanilla rum, lime, fruit juices, and a drizzle of fruit punch syrup that was so unique and delicious.

Before heading home, I stopped by Fox in the Snow for coffee and a pastry to fuel some last minute vintage shopping. Their in-house bakery whipped up a variety of goods that explained the line nearly out the door, and limited empty seats. It was the perfect end-cap to a weekend of exploring and comfort, and reeled me in hard. As we uncover Rich’s adoption records, I am definitely looking forward to returning to Ohio.