Remember when sledders, skaters flocked to Madeira?

By Regina Villiers.  Originally published December 9, 1992  in the Suburban Life, added December 14, 2015

Hosbrook Pond

Hosbrook Pond


There was a time, several decades ago, when Madeira was the gathering place for winter sports enthusiasts.  When things froze over and the air grew frigid, Madeira became the Sun Valley of the Cincinnati area, especially for young people.

The enticement that brought the youngsters out on the coldest of days was Hosbrook Pond.

The large pond was on the big Hosbrook farm on the west side of Miami Avenue.

Actually, Miss Cleo Hosbrook says that there were two of the ponds.  “They were connected by a creek,” she said, “that ran through the woods from one pond to the other.”

The main pond lay in the area, which are now Miami Hills Drive and North and South Timberlanes.  The creek ran down, north to south, connecting this pond to another in the area almost opposite the intersection of Miami and Juler, across from the veterinary hospital.

A footbridge spanned the pond at the spot, which is now Miami Hills Drive.  “The bridge crossed the pond,” Miss Hosbrook said.  “Then a wooden walkway went on up the hill to my Uncle Homer Hosbrook’s house.”

The house of Homer Hosbrook, who was an attorney, faced Hosbrook Road, which still was a road at that time.  There were no other houses on it.  His house was located at what is now about the northwest corner of North Timberlane and Miami Hills Drive.

At the time of the pond skating, there were only two houses on the west side of Miami beyond Euclid Road.  One of these was the house that is now the fire station and the other was the J.A. Hosbrook house, later Miss Nelle’s.

The rest of the area along the west side of Miami, all the way north, was the Hosbrook farm, large fields and a beautiful wooded area. Some of those trees still stand.

Russell Brown, a former mayor of Madeira who served two terms (1948-51) and who died a few years ago, told about the pond in a memoir he wrote dated October 1975.

The Brown family had lived on the east side of Miami Avenue, and a path led from their house to the Hosbrook Pond.

Freezing weather always brought out the skaters, he wrote, and he described how they would build bonfires around the edges of the pond to warm themselves.  He wrote that the pond gave many happy hours to lots of people.

“Quite often,” he wrote, “friends would stop at our home to thaw out with hot chocolate, cookies, and neighborly conversation.  We also had a roller player piano with many rolls of music that provided some sing-a-long fun for those interested in joining in.”

Alma Linn knows about the pond through her mother, Mrs. Alice Deerwester.  She says that her mother and a bunch of her friends would ride the train down from Remington to skate on the pond.  If they were short on money for train fare, they’d hike down and ride the train back.

Dorothy Miller also remembers skating on the pond and says that the boys also played hockey on it.

“Madeira was like a winter resort then and people came from everywhere to skate,” Gus Uebel said.  But he added that he didn’t have ice skates and never joined in.

For Gus, and others who didn’t, there were happy days of coasting and sledding.  Whenever it snowed, Madeira would close the main streets to traffic and turn them over to the kids for sledding.

Ruth Berger Butcher tells about someone who had a harrowing run down Miami Avenue on an icy day.  The sled went underneath a train on the B&O track without injury to the sledder.

Doris Burton also remembers sledding when she was growing up.

When it snowed, she says that Laurel Hill would be closed to traffic.  The whole neighborhood would bring their sleds to the top of Laurel and Fowler avenues.  “From there you could get good speed coming all the way down to Miami Avenue,” she said.

They only had one problem.  A family who lived at the corner of Laurel and Maple would put coal ashes on their drive for traction and would extend them out onto Laurel Avenue to slow down the sledders.

The big boys would cover over the ashes with snow whereupon more ashes would appear and the feud would go on and on.

“Boy this family sure was on our blacklist,” Doris said.

Doris remembers that when she was about 11 years old, someone pulled her sled out from under her as she went down the hill belly style.

The sled flipped and a runner hit her in the nose.  She remembers the pain and the swelling, but she didn’t go to a doctor.  She thinks it was broken because she still has a bump on her nose.  Maybe kids were tougher in those days.

But, certainly, according to those who remember, Madeira kids had more fun in those days.  Ice skating on Hosbrook Pond and sledding on Laurel Hill made them all long for snow and frigid weather.


Hosbrook Farm House

Hosbrook Farm House