UC Scholar Breathes New Life Into A Classic Novel Set In Cincinnati

A novel by a University of Cincinnati alumna is coming back to bookstores and is getting new praise, more than 50 years after its first publication and 20 years after the death of writer Charlotte Pieper. That’s because the second edition of Wooden Shoe Hollow, edited by UC’s Don Heinrich Tolzmann, has his added introduction that reveals the significance of a story that he says illustrates and illuminates the German heritage of this Cincinnati valley that stretches alongside Spring Grove Cemetery and Winton Place.

The second edition of Wooden Shoe Hollow ($22.50), published by Little Miami Publishing Co., will arrive in Greater Cincinnati bookstores in early April.

“On one level, the book is a fictional story of a woman who emigrates from northwest Germany and is accepted into a Cincinnati community,” Tolzmann, curator of the German Americana Collection in University Libraries and director of UC’s German American Studies Program, explains. “But in a deeper sense, it’s a story about Cincinnati and the German immigration from that region. The characters are fictional but are drawn from Charlotte Pieper’s life – her family and friends. And the neighborhoods she writes about are real, and so are the streets and churches all mentioned in the book.”

Charlotte Pieper’s writing talent was nurtured at the University of Cincinnati, where she earned a certificate in journalism and a bachelor’s of science degree in commerce back in the 1930s. Tolzmann says Pieper first penned Wooden Shoe Hollow for a class assignment, but with encouragement from her creative writing instructor, the short story expanded into a novel that was published in 1951.

Tolzmann says the Cincinnati neighborhood called Wooden Shoe Hollow got its name from the early German settlers, including some members of Pieper’s family – gardeners and farmers who came to Cincinnati from the German state of North Rhine—Westphalia.

Although visions of wooden shoes might bring to mind windmills and tulips, Tolzmann says they weren’t exclusive to the Dutch. “Wooden shows were worn by the German settlers in Cincinnati up until 1950 or so, when they were replaced by work shoes. The wooden shoes, usually worn with heavy woolen stockings, were good to wear in the field.”

In Tolzmann’s introduction to Charlotte Pieper’s story of Wooden Shoe Hollow, he includes photos of landmarks and a history of the 150-acre stretch of Wooden Shoe Hollow, a stop on tours conducted by the Cincinnati Historical Society, but a region that is not as well known as the early German settlements of Over-the-Rhine or Mainstrasse Village in Covington. Tolzmann also met with a sister and brother of Charlotte Pieper, who live in Golf Manor, where there’s a street named Pieper. Charlotte Pieper passed away in 1984.

Wooden Shoe Hollow will be sold at the UC Bookstore, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Borders, Barnes & Noble, the gift shop at the Cincinnati Museum Center and at the following book-signings:

Saturday, April 10
Noon-2 p.m
., Main Street Books & Scraps, Milford

Saturday, April 17
1-3 p.m.,
A.J. Rahn Greenhouse, 4944 Gray Road, Cincinnati

Saturday, May 1
1 p.m.,
Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Rookwood Pavilion

Wednesday, May 12
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.,
UC Bookstore in Tangeman University Center



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