Updated: Sep 28, 2019
Say what? No, you read that correctly. Here's how it all went down.
Lauretta Baechle, an 87-year-old woman, worked as an unpaid public servant. Her job? She was the birth and death registrar in Cheviot, Ohio. According to the Mayor of Cheviot at the time, Louis Edgar Von Holle, Cheviot was the only municipality that still had such a position. "She's a unique personality here, but as nice as she is , as much as I like her...I don't know how to say this. Lauretta's Job may be adversely affecting Cheviot," said Mayor Von Holle.
Lauretta was seventeen years old, living in a house across from City Hall, in 1906. Around this time in her youth she became involved in Republican politics. During World War II she was offered a few job positions; the first, a position to work for the draft board. Lauretta told them she would make coffee and bake cookies but would not accept any pay for sending boys to war. She was then asked to work for the ration board. This idea didn't sit well with her either, stating, "and tell my friends they can only have a pound of this, a quart of that? No thanks."
(For a moment, think about the time period and this young woman's responses. I love her already.)
Eventually, she took the job she still held in 1975, when this original article was written; however, (and this is the funny part), the previous year, 109 people died in Cheviot, but NO ONE WAS BORN. Are you freaked out yet? You should be.
So what exactly was happening in Cheviot? Some weird underground vortex? Maybe bandits from Delhi poisoned the water supply? Anti-Baby ordinance passed by City Council? No, what actually was taking place wasn't that drastic. "Oh sure, we know all the babies these days are born in Cincinnati hospitals," said Mayor Von Holle. The birth statistics should have been volunteered to Lauretta, but they never were. On the opposite side of birth, people that passed away at Hillebrand Nursing Home, even though most of them weren't from Cheviot, were credited to Cheviot because it's located in the City, setting the stage for a statistical population nightmare.
As humorous as this all may be, it did, in fact, pose a serious problem for the City of Cheviot. Mayor Von Holle thought at the time that the birth-death ratio was causing the City to lose out on federal money each year. Neither of them could say how much, but it was enough for them to consider taking their own census.
Mayor Von Holle stated the national census in 1970 with the population of Cheviot being 11,135. Five or six years later the population had faded to 10,200. The Mayor took these numbers however, with a grain of salt.
1) When a house is sold in Cheviot, it's usually by an elderly person, selling it to a younger family.
2) Field Terrace and Seven Gardens, two new 100-unit apartment complexes, were built within the past six years and they are both full.
3) Two old single-family houses on Davis Avenue were torn down and replaced with 16 apartments.
He proposed the question, "So how can our population be dropping so quickly? It's got to have something to do with the way of figuring birth rates," said Mayor Von Holle.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, Kerry Smyth, the only person whose birth was recorded in Cheviot, Ohio since 1975. The reason for this was Kerry just couldn't wait any longer to see the world. Kerry's parents didn't have time to make it to the hospital and their child was born at home.
Kerry Smyth is currently running for Cheviot City Council as a Republican. During our interview I asked Kerry, "Why should Cheviot residents vote for you, and what do you hope to accomplish if elected to City Council?"
"As a Marine Corps Veteran I feel as though I bring the kind of common sense to some of the challenges City Council faces to solve problems and improve Cheviot. I have lived in Cheviot my entire life, in fact, I have the strange distinction of being born in Cheviot, in a house on Woodbine Avenue, to be exact. I was delivered by a Cheviot first-responder. Cheviot is in my heart!" -Kerry Smyth (Republican candidate for Cheviot City Council)
I had no idea that answer would spark such an amazing story. That is just a sample of my interview with Kerry. The full interview will be available soon both in print and on our website in the coming days.
**The information in this article is pulled from an article written by John Erardi with the Cincinnati Enquirer. If the Cheviot Gazette receives permission to post the original article we will gladly do so. John did a very nice job on the piece.**