I’m in Portsmouth, Ohio, on the Ohio River, which has been through a lot.
Mostly that’s involved a prolonged period of economic decline, with companies going out of business. It also has to do with a harrowing increase in Oxycontin abuse and now addiction to heroin.
I passed this big building, which was in its day home to MitchellLace, once the world’s largest shoelace manufacturer.
According to what I’ve read online, MitchellLace had at one time 1200 bobbins, made 73,000 different kinds of laces and produced 120,000 pairs of laces a day.
That was a long time ago, though. Portsmouth has gone from a population of 55,000 to less than 25,000 today.
In one shopping center, a WalMart shares space with the smokestack to what was once a steel and coke (coal) plant, employing 5,000. Talk about poignant transitions.
Many of the old industrial buildings, beautiful brick structures, are empty. This one, as it happens, is not quite one of them. There are offices on its first floor, which I’m told acts as an administrative office for far-flung shoelace production around the world.