The Wright Time to Celebrate

It’s time for a My Town Monday post, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to blog about today until I saw the date.

It’s not a significant date to everyone, but if you’ve ever flown in an airplane, it’s significant to you, because December 17, 1903 was when Wilbur and Orville Wright made their historic, first flight.

“But Jennette, why are you blogging about something that happened in North Carolina? You’re from Dayton, Ohio!” you might ask.

The historic first flight at Kill Devil Hills, NC

The historic first flight at Kill Devil Hills, NC

Yes, I am from Dayton, Ohio–and so were the Wrights! That historic first flight might have happened elsewhere, but ninety percent of the work that led up to it (and followed) happened in Dayton.

In 2003, when the city was awash in celebrations and special commemorative events, The Dayton Daily News conducted a survey. I don’t have access to it now, and don’t know how large or scientific the sampling was, but the results were surprising regardless. While most people did indeed know that Wilbur and Orville Wright invented the first powered aircraft, less than half of the respondents knew the airplane was invented in Dayton, or that there was any connection with Dayton at all. A surprising number didn’t even know where the first flight took place, and many thought all the work had been done in North Carolina.

Where it all began - the Wright home at 7 Hawthorn Street, Dayton, Ohio

Where it all began – the Wright home at 7 Hawthorn Street, Dayton, Ohio

Home in Dayton is where the Wrights studied birds in flight for countless hours. It’s where their bicycle shop was, where they studied the workings of gears and chains, much of which later found its way into their early designs–for example, they used bicycle chains to connect the two propellers to the engine. Home in Dayton is where the Wrights flew kites to study how wind interacted with cloth-covered panels (and where many people thought they were crazy, or at least weird). It was where they built a wind tunnel, and experimented with miniature aircraft and propellers to determine the most flight-worthy designs. It was where they hired mechanic Charlie Taylor to develop the most powerful engine possible with the technology of the day, in the lightest weight. It was where their sister, Katharine Wright, sewed yards upon yards of white sateen fabric for the Wright Flyer’s wings.

They started traveling to the Outer Banks in 1900, when they began experimenting with gliders large enough to carry a person. They needed steady, straight-line winds to fly it–something not in good supply in Ohio. The area they chose was remote, difficult to access, and the weather was often miserable. On December 14th, a week before they’d planned to leave for the winter, they flipped a coin. Wilbur won the toss.

The plane got off the ground, but immediately crashed. Wilbur was unhurt, but the aircraft wasn’t, so they spent the next three days repairing it.

On the 17th, the winds were a bit on the strong side, but they both decided if they didn’t fly then, they probably wouldn’t that year, so Orville took his turn manning the craft. He flew, for a whole twelve seconds, and about 100 feet beyond the end of the launch rail. They made three other flights that day, the longest being 59 seconds and about 800 feet, before the craft again crashed and required extensive repairs. But this time when they packed it in, they’d accomplished what they’d worked toward for many years.

Just like publishing a book, that first flight wasn’t the end of the Wrights’ work, but the beginning. They researched and experimented over the winter. When they returned to Kill Devil Hills in the spring, it was to pack up their campsite there. They continued their work in Dayton from that point forward, with a craft that could fly in variable winds and make turns.

What about you? Did you know that Orville and Wilbur Wright did the vast bulk of their research and development work in Dayton, Ohio? Have you worked on something for years, only to realize the achievement wasn’t an end, but a beginning? I’d love to hear from you – please share!

Photos are public domain (copyright expired)

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

My Town Monday: A Not-so Merry Christmas

Courthouse Square, where the Downtown Posse used to hang out

One of my writing friends wrote a flash fiction piece on Friday about a Christmas that wasn’t so merry–and she conveyed amazingly well in 100 words the devastation losing a loved one during the holiday season can wreak on a family.

But can you imagine how much worse it would be, if that loved one was murdered?

That’s what happened one year to the families of six people in Dayton, in a murder spree dubbed The Christmas Killings. Six people, murdered for no reason, between December 23 and December 26, 1992 – and an appropriately dangerous, conflict-laden situation into which to dump a character – as I did in my time-travel short story, “Time’s Holiday.”

At that time, there was a loose-knit street gang who called themselves The Downtown Posse – teens and twenty-somethings who mostly hung out around Courthouse Square, bumming money off of people to buy booze and drugs. A couple of days before Christmas, the Posse decided to up their game, when one it its members suggested they rob a man she knew, who she enticed with an offer of sexual favors.

Robbery turned into murder, and the four Posse members involved got away with the man’s car, a television set, and his microwave. They’d gotten away scot-free, so why not try it again?

The next day, they shot a young woman on the phone in a phone booth, just for the hell of it. She didn’t have any cash to speak of on her. They took her designer gym shoes and her coat. They then decided to go after one of the girls’ ex-boyfriend – he had money and a car. He managed to get away with a gunshot wound in his leg.

All this time, the cops were busy investigating and putting together clues. The Posse weren’t the smart criminals we read about in suspense novels, so it was a matter of time before they slipped up. The Dayton Police only hoped it was before more people died.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t how it worked out. The Posse’s next victim was another ex-boyfriend, but at the scene of that murder – on the street in front of his home, when he got suspicious – the cops found leads and witnesses that began to point them in the right direction.

The Posse hid out at the home of one of its members. This boy’s mom and her boyfriend were terrified of the Posse (and rightly so), and holed up upstairs the whole day and a half the Posse occupied their house. This is the point at which, in my short story “Time’s Holiday,” young Taylor Gressman shows up and finds herself in a heap of trouble.

The Posse went on to kill a convenience store clerk – the single mom of an 11-year old girl. After that, they cruised around some more in their stolen cars, now numbering three, with some other friends. One young man convinced them to take him home. The other two weren’t so lucky, and were killed because the four ringleaders were getting nervous and feared they might snitch.

As it turned out, the boy they’d dropped off earlier was the one who snitched, giving the police the last bit of evidence they needed. They trapped three Posse members in one of the stolen cars, and found the other at the house where they’d been staying – and where the terrified mom identified the last culprit.

All four of the Posse members who were arrested that day were convicted by the court. One man, Marvallous Keene, was executed by the State of Ohio in July, 2009. The other three perpetrators were only 16 and 17 at the time of the murders, so all three are serving multiple sentences, with no chance for parole until 2098 at the earliest.

While there have been plenty of other murders in the area, including some where more people were killed at once, the police consider this the worst, as it was clearly premeditated, and one murder was committed, then another plan was executed, and another. And the worst thing was, not only did it happen over Christmas, it was done for kicks.

Here is a reprint of a Dayton Daily News article that tells the whole story, which I used extensively in my research.

My story, “Time’s Holiday,” is available as a standalone ebook for FREE! Although fictitious, find out how seventeen-year-old Taylor sneaks away on Christmas Eve, hoping to find the angel who saved her life a few weeks earlier. Instead, she takes an unexpected trip back in time, and finds herself in the midst of a murderous street gang. Now it’s up to Taylor to ensure that she and a newfound friend don’t become the gang’s next victims, and in the process, learn that giving is the best gift of all.

If you’ve thought about giving the Saturn Society series a try, this is a great way to see if it’s something you might like. Grab a copy of the ebook from AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwordsKobo BooksSony or iTunes.

If you’d like something more, “Time’s Holiday” is also included in the Ohio Valley Romance Writers of America’s anthology, Home for the Holidays. The anthology is available in both print and ebook at; and in ebook from SmashwordsKobo Books, Sony, Barnes & Noble and should be coming soon to  iTunes. All proceeds go directly to Ohio Valley Romance Writers of America, and help bring in educational programs for the whole chapter.

What about you – do you have any creepy true crime stories in your home from around the holidays? Can you imagine what the victims’ families must go through every year? And not to end on such a downer, do you like holiday stories?

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

My Town Monday: The Original Pop Top

Note from Jennette: this blog post originally ran on August 15, 2011, and remains one of my most popular posts for people to find via search. Meanwhile, I’m working on my NaNoWriMo novel, and am now over 2/3 of the way to the 50,000-word mark!

One of the fun things about writing (and reading) time travel stories is the whole fish-out-of-water aspect, especially when someone goes into the future. There is one scene in Time’s Enemy, my newly-released time-travel novel, where a character from the 1930s comes forward to modern times. When she asks for a drink and is handed a can of Mountain Dew, she’s understandably perplexed at what to do with it (and initially thinks it’s moonshine, LOL).

Anyone remember drinking beer or pop (“soda” for you non-Midwesterners) from a can like this? Younger folks might not, but in the sixties, seventies, and into the early eighties, this is what you got if you bought beer in a can, or got a Coke, Pepsi, etc. from a machine. Of course, I also remember pop in glass bottles – you know, where you bought a six pack at Kroger and paid a deposit of $.05 – .10 per bottle, which they returned when you took the bottles back to the store.

But back to the cans – before they were like this, they required a can opener, like is still used today to open larger cans of juice, although those are now mostly replaced by bottles. The can opener had a sharp point on it, and poked a triangle hole in the edge of the can. A second hole was needed to admit air.

Dayton inventor Ermal Fraze

The pull tab shown on the can to the right came about in the early sixties, after Dayton tool-and-die maker Ermal Fraze went on a picnic, and forgot to bring a can opener for the drinks. According to the stories, he ended up prying cans open on a car bumper (???), then went home and devised a can with a built-in opener – the pull tab.

The pull tab was eventually superceded by the now-familiar push-in top in the eighties, but it was the pull tab that helped push cans to edge out glass bottles in popularity as a beverage container. Fraze’s legacy lives on today in the form of full-top pull tabs that are still commonly used in canned snacks like peanuts. Dayton Reliable Tool (now DRT Mfg.), the machine shop he formed in the 1940s, is also still in business in Dayton today.

Do you know of any cool little details that we take for granted today, that originated in your hometown? Please share!


Photo of beer can via Wikipedia, public domain | Photo of Ermal Fraze via

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

My Town Monday: One of Dayton’s Happenin’ Places

Note from Jennette: I am deep in the weeds of NaNoWriMo, so I’m offering up a rerun. I have a lot of followers now who weren’t following me when this was originally published, so I’m hoping a lot of new readers will find this. It’s also timely – the facilities upgrade initiative mentioned in the blog post is on the Library Levy on the ballot in tomorrow’s general election. So if you live in the area and haven’t already voted, please go – and consider voting YES for the library! Not sure why? Read on!

The Dayton area has always been fortunate to have a fantastic library. For two centuries, the library has been a vital part of our community.

The very first officially-recognized public library in Ohio, Dayton’s first library was started in 1805, in the home of Benjamin Van Cleve. Back then, it was a pay service. The library moved several times and was even closed and all its books sold, on at least two occasion.

Photo of The old Dayton libraryThe precursor to today’s Dayton Metro Library was built on the current library’s property in 1888. This building was also home to a museum, which included natural history and Native American artifacts. The museum later became the Dayton Museum of Natural History, and eventually was renamed the Booneshoft Museum of Discovery. The museum was moved into its own location in 1955, and the library continued to serve as such until it was demolished, and the current building built, in 1961.

Today the libaray continues to be a happening place, with 20 branches located throughout Montgomery County. It’s unusual to drive past the two branches near me and not see the parking lots nearly full. In addition to traditional books and periodicals, the library began carrying music on tape in the seventies, which eventually expanded to VHS videos and audiobooks on tape, then Music CDs, DVDs, and audiobooks on CDs.  Dowloadable ebooks and audiobooks were added via Overdrive in the early 2000s – more on that in a future blog post. Programs for kids, teens and adults – on book-related subjects and otherwise – are popular.

Dayton Metro Library The library is once more outgrowing its downtown location, and has proposed an ambitious expansion plan in an effort to stay relevant and serve the community. Changes in technology – especially in book publishing – are creating a shift in how consumers patronize the library, and the usage of services has shifted to a lot more computer use, more online checkouts of e- and audiobooks, and more demand for meeting space, as opposed to shelf space for paper books. Studies have focused on cities like Fort Wayne, Indiana, where a new, expanded library has played a key role in revitalizing a stagnant downtown.

But the best part of the library remains the same – whatever book or written material you’re looking for, the library probably has it – and if they don’t, they have partnerships with a public libraries all over Ohio, and chances are, you’ll find it there. As has been the case for as long as I can remember, there’s no charge to have a book you’re looking for, transferred to your local branch if they don’t have a copy there. Loans for (and transfer of) materials from participating Ohio libraries are also free.

I got my first library card around age 6 or 7. Having lived in the area all my life, I’ve often taken the library for granted. But I’ve had friends who’ve moved out of the area to larger cities, who tell me their libraries don’t have near the selection Dayton’s library has.

What about you? Does your hometown have a great library? Do you use its service, or are you even aware of all your library offers?  (I admit that if I were to try to list them, I’d probably miss a few.)

Historic photo via Dayton Metro Library | 1960’s photo – unknown

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

My Town Monday: I was Born in a Haunted Hospital

It’s true! And I never knew until yesterday, when looking for an appropriately-spooky topic to blog about. Who knows, maybe that explains my weirdness.

The hospital in question is the medical complex now called Elizabeth Place, which houses numerous doctors’ offices and has a couple dozen inpatient rooms. It opened in its current-day incarnation as a physician-owned medical center in 2006, after the facility had lain empty for six years.

Before that, it was known as the Franciscan Medical Center, having been re-named from its former appellation, and the one most people still know it by: St. Elizabeth Hospital. And St. Elizabeth had been around a long time – it was originally opened by the Franciscan Sisters in 1878. So it has had a lot of time to collect spiritual remnants. As a charitable organization, the Franciscan Sisters’ policy was to never turn anyone away, regardless of ability to pay, so many indigent and homeless Daytonians were treated there. Big surprise – lack of funding was the main reason the hospital was forced to close in 2000. At the time of its closing, the 321-bed hospital complex included seven buildings.

It was then that the stories of hauntings started coming to light.

Many of these are the typical phenomena: cold spots – including ones where people thought the cold spot was “following” them, sensations of being watched when no one was there (but there were tons of cameras in the place 🙂 ), seeing a shadowy person reflected behind one when approaching a mirrored glass wall – and the person reporting the visual was alone.

Many people have reported elevators stopping and opening their doors on floors where no one had pushed the call button. Security guards who worked the facility while it was vacant claim to have seen an empty wheelchair in the lobby, spinning in circles. Other people have reported hearing “voices,” when they were alone. (Judging from the stories, I don’t think these people were writers. We hear voices regularly. 😀 )

While the buildings were vacant, they still had minimal power – just enough that the security guards could see to make their rounds. One guard reported walking through what had housed the inpatient adult psychiatric ward. One of her companions remarked that he wished it were better lit, and every single light in the area – including those that were supposedly disconnected – came on! Other weird happenings during the time the facility was unoccupied include a bright flash of light in an upper floor room, that was captured by a security camera mounted on the exterior of the Dayton Heart Hospital next door. Security guards rushed to the room, fearing an electrical short that could start a fire. They found nothing amiss, and nothing that could have caused the bright burst of light.

The weirdest thing about that story? The room where the burst of light had appeared was one where a resident nun had committed suicide many years before.

But the phenomenon I read the most accounts of was the “perfume spot” (photo here). This looks like the corner of a large treatment room, or perhaps a hallway. Whatever it is, many people have reported smelling a strong rose-scented perfume. This happened before the hospital was closed, too. One theory is that the perfume-wearer is the ghost of a pharmacy worker, whose boyfriend murdered her when she refused to get drugs for him.

It’s been many years since my mother was in St. Elizabeth’s hospital. My brother is five years younger than me, and by the time he came along, my family had moved to the suburbs, so he was born in a newer, suburban hospital. I asked my mom if she recalled anything spooky or weird during her stay at St. Elizabeth in the sixties. She didn’t – but then, that doesn’t surprise me, considering that she gave birth to me there, and I’m the most unintuitive person I know. In researching, I also did not run across any mentions of possible paranormal activity occurring after the facility was reopened as Elizabeth Place.

More info, including photos and a tour of the hospital while it was vacant, can be found on the Forgotten Ohio website.

What do you think? Could being born in a haunted hospital influence a would-be writer? Do you know of a haunted hospital, or have one in your hometown? I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.


My Town Monday: Dayton’s Haunted Courthouse

One of the coolest and most interesting buildings in Dayton is the Old Courthouse, located in the city’s center, at the corner of Third and Main Streets. The Greek-revival style building was completed in 1850, and remains one of the area’s architectural and historic treasures.

Photo via Wikipedia Commons

It’s also haunted.

People have claimed to hear footsteps going upstairs to the judges’ chambers, and others have reported hearing moans.

The courthouse was started in 1844, and was built on the site the jail occupied for forty years before that. The jail was also where murderers were hung. Dayton’s first convicted murderer was John McAfee, who was having an affair, and murdered his wife. He was hung for this in 1824, and many people speculate that his ghost is one of those that haunt the courthouse. But even among people who might be inclined to go along with this story, there’s debate, for historical record indicates that the jail wasn’t yet used for hangings at that time. They were instead public events, until Ohio passed a law banning this. By then, a new jail had been built beside the courthouse on Third Street.

Other murderers were hung in the jail beside the courthouse throughout the 1860s and 1870s, and it’s possible that one or more of their ghosts haunt the courthouse. A likely possibility is James Murphy, who was only 19 when convicted. His was a botched execution; at first, the rope broke. After it was replaced, it was too short, and the opening of the trapdoor in the platform beneath it didn’t cause the expected, quick snap. Instead, Murphy hung for seventeen minutes before he finally died.

Perhaps the ghost is that of Harry Adams, the last man to hang at the jail on Third Street, and who swore innocence until his death, claiming that his girlfriend was the murderer.

Of course, my skepticism meter registers pretty high for all of this, but maybe that’s just me. I’ve been inside the courthouse, and never heard any weird noises or felt any cold drafts, but then I’m probably the least intuitive person I know. But the stories are kind of fun either way. Here’s an article on with some more details.

Another fun fact: the plaza beside the courthouse is where my recently-released short story “Time’s Holiday” begins.

Hauntings or no, the Courthouse is a beautiful building. Here’s a video that goes over all its cool history and gives a tour inside.

What do you think? Is Dayton’s old courthouse haunted? Do you have a similar place in your hometown, and do you go along with the stories, or are you skeptical like me? I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

My Town Monday: What’s Up with the Saturn Society? And ROW80

I’m not one to blog about my books very often, but some of my recent email tells me it’s time for an update. (I figure this fits into My Town because so far, all of the Saturn Society books take place in my home town, Dayton.) Readers want to know, what’s going on with the Saturn Society? Namely, when’s the next book coming?

There are common reader expectations here. Currently, there are two Saturn Society novels. Books typically are either standalone, or come in threes (or more). Duologies are rare. But the fact is, there isn’t a third Saturn Society novel in the pipeline – at least not yet.

You see, traditional publishing was the only viable path to readers until a couple years ago. Writers were typically advised to only write one book in a series, one that could stand alone, for a couple of reasons. One, the book might never sell, so why put a lot of time and effort into a second that would definitely not sell?  Two, even if that first book sold, there was never a guarantee that a second would. Sometimes debut authors would get a two- or three-book deal, but they often didn’t. And if that first book didn’t sell well, the second would not be purchased.

So back to the Saturn Society. Time’s Enemy was the third book I’d written, but it was the one where I was really figuring out my process. Among other things, I learned that I could not write a book without outlining or pre-planning, when I ended up with 600 pages of rambling with no ending in sight (but I had a lot of fun!). However, I still loved the story, and there was enough usable material in there for a book. Or two, I realized, when I tried to write a synopsis.

So I reworked it enough to come up with a real antagonist (also missing from those early drafts) and a logical ending for the first book. Although Time’s Enemy was still too long (150,000 words – yikes!), I dutifully pitched it to agents and editors while I worked on Time’s Fugitive. I knew the odds of selling them were dismal, but I loved the story too much not to finish it. I never bothered to give Time’s Fugitive a complete revision until I decided to publish last year. However, I wrote it with the possibility of an out for my antagonists, on the off-chance that readers would want a third book.

So there’s my long-winded explanation of why there’s no third novel in the Saturn Society series.


Because it does appear that readers want one! I have a couple other projects on deck right now that are closer to being ready to write, so those are going to happen first while ideas for a third Saturn Society book percolate. Who knows? There could be more after that – I’ve set up some possibilities for books and series for other characters, too.

In the meantime, I’m offering a little something to hold my readers over. “Time’s Holiday” is a short story that gives a fun glimpse into the background of a couple of minor characters. Hopefully, this will entertain existing readers while pulling in new ones.

In “Time’s Holiday,” seventeen-year-old Taylor Gressman sneaks away on Christmas Eve, hoping to find the angel who saved her life a few weeks earlier. Instead, she takes an unexpected trip back in time, and finds herself in the midst of a murderous street gang. Now it’s up to Taylor to ensure that she and a newfound friend don’t become the gang’s next victims, and in the process, learn that giving is the best gift of all. There is also a brief excerpt here. This is not your typical sweetness-and-light Christmas story. It includes a bit of true crime based on the “Christmas Killings” that happened in Dayton in 1992.

“Time’s Holiday” is currently available for free on Smashwords, and will eventually be available on other major retail sites. It will also be a part of the Home for the Holidays anthology that my RWA chapter will soon release.

On another note, it’s time for ROW80 Round 4! This is “the writing challenge that knows you have a life,” where writers set goals and report back on our progress twice a week. I typically haven’t done the Wednesday updates, but am going to try to get back on that bandwagon this round, since I’ve changed my posting days to Monday and Wednesday, instead of Monday and Thursday. The Sunday updates will continue. Round 4 ends right before Christmas. Last time, my goals were a bit, shall we say, ambitious. So this time, I’m going to step back a bit. Maybe. Here are my overall goals for this round:

  • Format and release OVRWA holiday story anthology
  • Revise Hangar 18. This one was on deck for the last round, but the changes needed after beta reads were more extensive than I thought, so this is going to take longer.
  • Keep up with my exercise, five times a week.
  • Finish the Get It Together exercises (description of that here).

I’d like to get a new book planned and possibly started (maybe even do NaNoWriMo?) but I’m not ready to commit to that just yet. Same with finishing How to Think Sideways, which really goes along better with working on a new book. The great thing about ROW80 is that we recognize that life happens, things change, so our goals can change too.

This week is mainly going to be taken up with #1, so I want to get that formatted and done, although I’m waiting on one more story. So for this week, the goals are:

  • Format Home for the Holidays anthology if all materials are received – otherwise, get as much done as possible.
  • Physical activity 5x this week
  • Finish list of major revisions for Hangar 18
  • Get it Together exercises 11 & 12

If you’re participating in ROW80, what are your plans for this round? And either way, do you like holiday stories?

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

My Town Monday: Flying High, Running (or Walking) Fast

Every year around this time, 15,000 people converge in Dayton to get going–in the US Air Force Marathon, that is.

The Marathon is actually four separate events: the Marathon, half-marathon, and 10k, which are all held on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; and the 5k run/walk, which is held down the street at Wright State University the night before. All events include a wheelchair class as well.

Runners and walkers fill the course!

My husband, daughter and I were among the 1800 who signed up for the 5k this year. It was my husband’s first time; my daughter and I did the 10k a couple years ago. I also walked the 10k the year before that, and the 5k in 2006.

I’m sooooo not a runner–we’re talking the last kid picked for anything in gym class–but many people walk the shorter races, which draw everything from major fitness enthusiasts to casual walkers, of all ages. Some parents push kids in strollers in the 5k. Everyone has fun, and it’s a great way to support our troops.

The first USAF Marathon was held in 1997, in commemoration of the Air Force’s 50th anniversary. This year was the 16th, and enrollment gets bigger each year. The 2008 event had half the participants this year’s races did, and even though they raise the enrollment limits each year, the events sell out earlier every time. This year, everything was sold out by mid-May.

The B-2 Bomber was the race’s official aircraft this year

One of the cool things about the AF Marathon that’s probably different than other similar events is the aircraft. There is an official aircraft each year–this year’s was the B-2 Stealth Bomber. The aircraft do fly-bys over the course, and it’s awe-inspiring to see them so close, even though I see them fly over all the time. 🙂  In 2006, the official aircraft was the A-10 Warthog, which is designed to fly low and slow to counter ground offense. I still get chills remembering getting buzzed by that  as I jogged up to the finish line in my first 5k! The flyover aircraft isn’t always the official one–this year, we got buzzed by C-17 cargo jets, one of my favorite of the USAF fleet.

The volunteers are something else that make the marathon events really special. They stand at various points along the course to hand out water, play live music or DJ, or just cheer the runners and walkers on. That bit of extra encouragement does make a difference, even in a short 5k.

At the finish line, everyone gets a medal, handed out by men and women in uniform. This always makes me smile, and not just from crossing Finish. 😀 Finally, we get to go into the Finish Line tent, where more volunteers hand out water, Gatorade, bananas, and fresh pizza.

My time wasn’t anything to get excited about–it never is. It could have been better, but my daughter’s been having knee trouble, and we wanted to walk together. But just like the big races, the time isn’t as important as simply finishing–and being there to honor the men and women who’ve signed up to risk their lives for our country if needed. It was also a fun, healthy activity for the whole family!

What about you–have you ever participated in an event like this? Do you go to win, or just to complete the event? What do you enjoy most about this sort of event, whether you participate, volunteer, or just watch?

My Town Monday: The Road, Nature, and History

Last Thursday, I blogged about courting burnout, and some things I did in an effort to alleviate it.

One of those things was to take time out to play. I’d only ridden my Harley twice all summer, which my husband had been giving me shit about. Part of the reason is because it’s just been too darn hot for much of the summer – riding in that is like pointing a blow dryer into your face. In other words, not much fun. But even when I had decent weather, it seemed I always had too much to do.

So I decided to blow it all off and ride. This is what my husband does to blow off stress – just hop on the bike and see where the road takes you.

The road took me up north of Dayton, to Huber Heights, and to Carriage Hill and Metropark. The park is a goodly swath of green land and undeveloped, uncultivated, natural prairie; hiking and horse trails; and picnic areas. It’s also home to Carriage Hill Farm, a historically-accurate, operating 1880s-era farm.

I remember going there on field trips more than once during my elementary school days. Mostly what I remember about it was the farm animals — sheep, horses, cattle, pigs, and chickens. It was a great experience for any suburban or city schoolkid. There were a lot of things there now that weren’t when I was in school – the surrounding park, for one, and also the restored windmill, and a separate museum building and store. I’m pretty sure they also didn’t have the functional steam-thresher, which people were demoing that day and was pretty cool!

I took my time just wandering around the place. Although I have to confess: I took a few pictures, so it wasn’t 100% not-work. But it was fun and relaxing, and that’s what counts. Also, I got to enjoy three of my favorite things: the road, nature, and history!

Does your hometown have anything like this, where city and suburban folks can learn about history and farm life? Have you done anything to just get away and have fun lately?


Click any of the photos below to see a slideshow.

My Town Monday: De-stressing in a Place with History

Two or three weeks ago, I scheduled an appointment at a spa. My daughter and husband had given me a gift certificate for Mothers’ Day, and this was the first chance I’d had to use it. I had to schedule the appointment three weeks out – not because that was the soonest they could fit me in, but because that was the soonest I could fit it in.

I went to the Square One Salon in downtown Dayton. I didn’t know it at the time, but this place has won national awards and has been featured on

It’s also in a historic district, which of course is a plus for me. The building is called The Cannery, and is part of the Webster Station Historic District. The spa’s neighbors include a British-themed tea room, a children’s art gallery and education center, and loft apartments in the upper floors. The building also used to house The Cannery Art and Design Gallery, but it moved recently.

The building was originally built as part of an industrial complex in the mid-1800s by Eugene Barney, one of Dayton’s captains of industry in the streetcar manufacturing business. The neighborhood was powered by DC electric – a major innovation at the time! Over the years, many food distributors and grocers occupied the building, hence its name.

While I waited for my appointment, I found a local interest book called Metropolitan Dayton. It was clear after thumbing through a few pages that the book–a contemporary guide to local business and industry–wasn’t new, as many of the businesses profiled in its pages had either left the area, undergone mergers, or had gone out of business. Other organizations, like the Air Force Institute of Technology and Wright State University, are much larger now. I finally found the copyright date in the back: 1993.

So I got in a little history, and the facial and massage were great! If you saw my last couple of posts, you can see where this was much-needed. Unfortunately, it didn’t reduce the length of my to-do list any, but it did have the expected de-stressing effect.

Have you been stressed lately? What do you do to de-stress?