My Town Monday: Historically Delicious!

This past Saturday evening, 28 of us gathered to take a tasty trip back in time. Not like the people in my books, but figuratively: we were the participants and guests at Carillon Historical Park‘s Tavern Dinner that night.

Our hosts – three ladies and two men – already looked the part in their historical clothing, as they outlined our destination, and why they’d chosen that particular year: 1830. You see, the Miami and Erie Canal had been completed through Dayton the prior year, bringing with it much greater accessibility to supplies from the east, including goodies like sugar and flour. This allowed them to offer much greater variety in the food that could be prepared for a historically-accurate, end-of-winter feast.

The canal also drastically reduced the cost of such goods. A shipment that would have cost $125 to bring to Dayton via horse-drawn wagon or stagecoach, cost only $25 to bring out on the canal. Bring on the food, right?

Most of our meal was cooked here! Cabbage soup and sausage stew are in the kettles. Our hostess checks the oven.

Not quite! After the introduction, we all got a little hands-on experience in preparing some of the evening’s meal. Our group went first to the summer kitchen, where our hosts had been busy since that morning, putting on the cabbage soup appetizer, the main dish stew, and getting the ingredients ready for dessert. They’d baked bread in the stone oven a few days earlier, just as would have been done in 1830. But what’s bread without butter? That still needed to be done, so we all tried our hand at churning. Not a hard job at all, but one that would get tedious if it had to be done all at once, by one person, for it takes about a half hour of steady work. While we churned, our hostess answered questions about the food preparations, and explained how the fire had been going all day, and the soup and stew put on around 2 pm that afternoon. Ever think it takes too long to preheat the oven? This one takes a couple hours! But we’d have cookies by the time dinner was done.

Implements for tea and coffee preparation

Our next stop was the William Morris house, an authentic, preserved historical home which, like the summer kitchen, had been trucked to the park from Centerville, about 10 miles away. There, our hostess described how coffee and tea was shipped in, and the latter roasted and ground. The coffee mill was difficult to crank – luckily, enough had been already ground that we weren’t dependent on what we could do!

After that, we stopped outside the tavern to learn about the musket that might have been used to kill the night’s meal, had we actually been in 1830. Since the group before us jammed the musket, we got to see how the term “flash in the pan” originated, when the musket didn’t create enough force to fire the bullet, but the gunpowder burnt prematurely.

Finally, we headed inside Newcom’s Tavern, Dayton’s oldest building, for dinner.

It's Historically Delicious!

As dusk descended, it certainly felt like a trip back in time to eat in the old, log building by candle light. And the food was wonderful! We started out with bread that was baked in the summer kitchen with the butter we’d churned, and cabbage soup, which was much tastier than it sounds, thanks to its beef broth base and herb seasonings.

The main dish was the sausage stew, which was a mild, savory sausage in a tomato paste base, served with locally-grown rice. The sides were a thick bean-and-corn dish, and apples and onions, which were baked in a crockery pot and dutch oven piled under ash in the summer kitchen’s fireplace. Apples and onions sounds like a strange combination, but it was really good. We also had roasted diced potatoes, with onions, carrots, and turnips.

Candlelight dinner in the tavern

After dinner, we were in for yet another treat. A trio of illusionists who said they’d just ridden in on the stagecoach from Cincinnati performed a few magic tricks and card tricks for us and got more than a few laughs. We capped off the evening with dessert – stewed pears, with the sugar cookies that had just been baked in the summer kitchen. All in all, a fantastic meal!

Have you ever eaten a historic dinner, prepared by historically-accurate means? What do you think of the menu – does it sound like something you’d like to try? Have you ever churned butter or fired a musket?

My Town Monday: Death from Days Gone By

According to the sign, the first burial was in 1803

Yesterday saw some beautiful weather here in the Dayton area – sunny, slight breeze, about 70 degrees. A perfect day for a little motorcycle ride.

I rode off to a place hidden away in the suburbs, nestled away behind strip malls, office buildings, and neighborhoods of 1960’s ranch homes. Beavertown Cemetery is a little piece of history. Although it’s less than a quarter mile away from busy Woodman Drive, visiting there is like stepping into another world.

The cemetery was built around a little farming town in what’s now the suburb of Kettering. According to the sign, the first burial at the cemetery took place in 1803. It’s currently owned and managed by the city’s Parks Department.

Shopping centers and busy streets are just out of view

Information regarding the town and cemetery is sketchy. According to one source on, the town had around 50 homes in the mid-nineteenth century. There is some more information on the Geocaching site, where it looks like someone hid a cache in 2008. According to this source, the cemetery’s two acres were donated by John Ewry, one of Beavertown’s early inhabitants.

There are two main sections of the cemetery. The one closest to the entrance is newer, and most of the grave markers date from the 1940s through the 1960s. The back section, inside the gravel drive loop, is where most of the older markers are. Many are unreadable.



The section beyond the gravel loop doesn’t appear to be part of the cemetery on Google Maps, and doesn’t contain marked graves. There’s a rumor noted on the Geocaching page that poor, black residents were buried there in the early days, but these are unsubstantiated. If there are any rumors of hauntings at Beavertown, I couldn’t find them.

What was a surprise to me is that every now and then, someone new is buried at Beavertown. I suspect these grave plots have been in families for years.

Even so, it’s a fascinating place to pick up little bits of history. One can see how much shorter the lifespans were 150 years ago, and how much bigger families were – because many didn’t survive until adulthood. Through death, we get a little glimpse of what life was like back then.

What do you think? Have you visited any historic cemeteries in your area? Do you like to wander through, and get a little snapshot of life in the past?

My Town Monday: The Road to Madness Starts Here

Next week, madness descends on Dayton. A very specific kind of madess: March Madness!

Okay, granted, March Madness will descend on pretty much everywhere in the U.S., and anywhere else where you can find fans of NCAA basketball. People will be huddled around lunch tables and water coolers comparing brackets, sitting at their computers filling out their best guesses as to who will advance to the next round, or engaging in some (hopefully) friendly wagering, while those who don’t follow the sport will be sick of the words “final four,” “bracket” and “seed” by next week.

And it all starts here in Dayton, Ohio, where the very first game will be played, at the University of Dayton Arena.

Dayton has hosted the initial NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship game since 2001, when the championship series was extended by one game to allow an additional two teams to participate. The event was a hit, and the community embraced the game with open arms (and wallets). Last year, the opening round was expanded to four games, now known as the First Four, and met with equal enthusiasm.

This year, the city of Dayton is taking it further, by holding the first-ever, First Four Festival in the nearby Oregon District. About two miles from the arena, this free festival will take place on March 11th, aka “Selection Sunday.” This is when the NCAA will select which four teams get to compete in the First Four. There will be something for everyone at the festival. The Oregon District is a historical neighborhood with many bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, so there will be plenty of places to gather for a beer or a bite to eat while watching the tournament announcements on the big screen. There will also be heated tents in the street, with more places to watch tournament events and get food and drink, plus live music and other entertainment, games for kids, and educational/informational displays about all kinds of cool Air Force technology that’s been (and is still being) developed in the area. There’s also a “First-Four-Miler” fun run associated with the event.

People around here loooooove college basketball, and the city expects to recoup the investment they’ve spent on the festival (and then some, they hope). Last year, the games alone contributed $3.5 million to the local economy, and this year, they’re expecting close to $4 million. In addition to the economic boost, the festival organizers are hoping the event will further the public’s association of “Dayton” with the “First Four.” Hopefully, it will also show the NCAA selection committee that Dayton should continue to be the site of the First Four for many years.

U.D. Arena seats over 13,000, and as of last week, over 10,000 sets of tickets (to all four games) had already been sold. The arena has hosted more NCAA Division I tournament games than any other site in the U.S., and Dayton has been one of the country’s top areas for game attendance for many years.

I’d love to hear from you! Are you a college basketball fan? If you live nearby, would you go to the First Four games? Or maybe the festival? Are there any big sporting events like this in your hometown?

More information on the games and event can be found at Dayton Most Metro, the Dayton Daily News, and the official First Four website.

First Four logo ©NCAA, via Dayton Most Metro
U.D. Arena photo by flicker user Sonnett is used under Creative Commons license via Wikipedia 

My Town Monday: Fight Club – in Dayton!

This Saturday night, 16 area business people, arts and charitable organization representatives, Dayton Daily News staffers, and other volunteers will participate in Dayton’s own fight club – for charity. These fighters and their audience of 2500 (if it sells out) will get to take a little trip back in time, too (figuratively, of course) as they take Memorial Hall back to its glory days, when it was the place to go to see the fights.

Inspired by the venue’s history, as well as the sport of boxing’s storied past in the area, Dayton History is teaming up with Drake’s Downtown Gym to put on Dayton Knockout VIP Fight Night, with the proceeds to benefit Dayton History and the AIDS Resource Center of Ohio. It looks like it will be a fun time!

Gene Tunney & Jack Dempsey at Memorial Hall - note how the audience is all sitting in folding chairs, on the floor

It’s probably because I’m not a big sports fan that I had no idea of the significant part Dayton played in football history until I began looking for interesting things to blog about for My Town Monday. Similarly, I also had no idea boxing was a big draw in decades past. But starting in the late nineteenth century, boxing clubs started popping up all over town, and before long, some had gained a national reputation. One of these was Dayton Gym Club, which produced several Golden Gloves teams and was voted one of the best fight clubs in the U.S. in the 1950s.

Dayton’s Memorial Hall was dedicated in 1910. The “Memorial” part refers to veterans of the Civil War and Spanish-American War, whom the citizens wanted to honor. It’s on the U.S. Register of Historic Places. I’ve attended many concerts and plays there, but never a sporting event. However, it was a popular destination for boxing until the 1940s, when raised seating was installed. The last public performance held there was Bill Cosby, in 2001. It used to be the home of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and other performing arts organization, who have since moved on to the Schuster Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 2003. Memorial Hall closed that year, and reopened in 2010, when the county placed it under the management of Dayton History.

Memorial Hall in the early 20th century

Tickets are only $15, or $25 for a package deal that includes entertainment by local band Funky G and the Groove Machine in the lounge downstairs plus three drink tickets. Local entertainment magazine Dayton Most Metro is giving away five pairs of tickets too – if you’re local and want to win ’em, hop on over to their Facebook page.

Have you ever attended an amateur sporting event like this? I normally don’t care for boxing, but this sounds entertaining. Got any interesting sports history from your area to share?

Additional Resources:

Dayton Most Metro, “Boxing in Dayton, From Past History to Present ‘Knockout‘” by J.T. Ryder
The Dayton Daily News, “Taking a Punch for Charitable Causes” by Amelia Robinson 

Photos via Dayton Most Metro and Dayton History

My Town Monday: The First NFL Game

Hopefully you are all recovered from massive amounts of beer, junk food, and the best commercials of the year! Hopefully you had a good time, regardless of which team won. But did you ever wonder how – and where – it all started?

The Marker at Triangle Park today (click to enlarge)

Yup, right here in Ohio! Of course, it’s probably not news to many that the NFL was formed in Canton, Ohio, which is now home to the NFL Hall of Fame. Chartered in 1920, the NFL was originally called the American Professional Football League until the name was changed to the National Football League in 1922. And the AFPL’s first game? It was held in Dayton, with the Dayton Triangles defending against the Columbus Panhandles – a blowout with the Triangles winning 14-0.

The Triangles’ story is an interesting one in itself, a far cry from the multi-billion-dollar industry that the NFL is today. The Triangles roots come from basketball, and begin at St. Mary’s University, now the University of Dayton. Several of the college’s players wanted to keep playing after graduation, and formed a team with other alumni and students in 1912. A year later, they branched into football as the St. Mary’s Cadets and quickly gained a winning record and local business sponsorship.

In 1916, the Cadets reorganized as the Dayton Triangles, pulling their roster from the employees of their three corporate sponsors, DELCO, Delco-Light, and the Dayton Metal Products Company. The Triangles’ Manager, Carl Storck, represented the team in meetings in Canton that ultimately resulted in the forming of the AFPL.

The original franchise fee was $25 (can you imagine?!), there was no league president, no bylaws or standard rules. There was no league schedule – each team set its own. The initial meeting on August 20, 1920 included only representatives from five Ohio teams. The follow-up a month later also included representatives for teams from Illinois, Indiana, and New York. This time, the group adopted bylaws and set the league fee at $100 (which none actually paid). Although Illinois’ Rock Island Independents played on Sept. 26 following the league’s official formation, the first game between two AFPA teams was the one in Dayton, played on October 3, 1920.

The Dayton Triangles, 1920

In 1922, other NFL teams began recruiting top talent from the college pool, but Dayton continued to use local players. This was the beginning of a slow, painful decline culminating in the sale of the team in 1930 to a Brooklyn syndicate, where they were renamed the Brooklyn Dodgers. All of the other eight NFL charter teams had already moved, been renamed, and/or been sold, leaving the Triangles as the last charter team in its original incarnation.

But who knew that the first NFL game was played in Dayton? And if you’d like a little more trivia, the very first touchdown in an NFL game was scored that day by Dayton Triangles’ fullback Lou Partlow.

Did you know about the Dayton connection to the NFL? Until I read the linked article in the Dayton Daily News, I didn’t. Got any other cool sports history trivia? Please share!

Dayton Triangles Logo © The National Football League
Historic Marker photo via
Team photo via Dayton City Paper 

Additional resources:
90 years ago today, NFL began in Dayton,” Dayton Daily News, Oct. 2, 2010
Dayton Triangles,” Wikipedia
Original Class of the NFL,” Dayton City Paper, Nov. 22.2011 

My Town Monday: A Room Fit for a Time Traveler

The Algonquin in 1904

What do you do if you’re stuck in Dayton’s past, bad guys are after you, and you need a place to hunker down until you can return to the twenty-first century? If you’re time-traveler Tony Solomon, you approach the problem logically, and go to the first hotel you think of that was there then – and is still there in the twenty-first century, and is still a hotel.

The obvious choice would be the Gibbons, now the Dayton Grand Hotel.

Initially named the Algonquin, the building was constructed in 1898, and helped establish Dayton as a place to do business, whether you’re visiting from across Ohio, or across the Atlantic Ocean. According to one newspaper, “People can no longer point to Dayton as a one-street city.”

The Gibbons Hotel, from a 1930s postcard

The Algonquin made the news during the Great Flood of 1913, where some 250 people were trapped in the upper floors. They were better off than most people stranded by the 12-15 foot waters, for they had food and a relatively comfortable place to sleep.

Real estate developer Michael J. Gibbons bought the Algonquin in 1918, and changed its name to the Gibbons Hotel, which it remained until 1963, when it became the Dayton Inn. Either then or later, it became part of the Hilton properties, going through several names. It was the Doubletree from the late 90s until just a couple months ago. It’s now called the Dayton Grand Hotel.


Above is the hotel as it is today. The building next to it was the Post Office in the 1930’s. That building currently houses the Federal Bankruptcy Court. The parking lot, outlined in green, is accessible from Third Street by a narrow alley between the buildings, and plays a key role in Time’s Enemy.

Photos: Algonquin Hotel in 1904 via Dayton History Books Online, courtesy of the Library of Congress
1930s Postcard of the Gibbons Hotel via
Modern-day photos via Google Maps and Google Street View
For reference:  Dayton History Books Online

Here’s a short excerpt from Time’s Enemy, in which Tony discovers that perhaps the Gibson wasn’t such a good place to hide after all.

Tony paced across his room at the Gibbons, the only downtown hotel he was aware of that still existed as such in his time, although it had a different name. He threw open the window and gazed over the parking lot, already darkened by the lengthening shadows of the buildings that surrounded it on three sides.

He’d blundered around for hours after he left Charlotte, then took in a movie, something about a lion tamer. He sat through it twice—not because it was good, but because it had enough action to take the edge of his mind off Charlotte.

He paced to the door, then back to the window again. What was he thinking? He was a man who led through knowledge and order. A man who rearranged the magazines on people’s coffee tables. Not the kind of guy who threw a punch without thinking. Or at all, for that matter.

Never mind that it had felt damn good.

Through Charlotte, he’d discovered his heart wasn’t dead, and he could still feel excitement, anticipation and wonder. She was the first woman he’d found remotely interesting since Dora’s defection.

The woman who had the answer he needed but wouldn’t give it to him. Hopelessness settled over him like a new fallen snow. In his quest for knowledge, he’d failed. Was the one thing he wanted—his daughter’s life—too much to ask?

He sat and took off his shoes. If he got extra sleep, maybe the mental energy he needed to bring on the pull would build sooner.

He peered around the room. Bed, dresser, nightstand. Not much different than any of those he’d stayed in on his many travels, other than the absence of a TV and phone. And quiet. At his request, the desk clerk had given him a luxury room with a private bath on the sixth floor. There were no other guests in the wing.

It would be an adequate place to live—exist—until the pull returned him to the twenty-first century. Hopefully, the room would be unoccupied in his time. After he warped, he’d check into the modern-day hotel, then crash.

He wandered back toward the door when someone knocked.

“Yes?” What the hell did someone want this late?

“Room service,” a man in the hallway called.

“I didn’t order anything.” Tony hoped the intruder heard the irritation in his response.

“It says Room 639 right here on the order… Open faced beef sandwich with mashed potatoes, green beans, apple pie…”

Hmmm, that sounded good. Tony hadn’t eaten since breakfast, hadn’t been hungry, but eating might also speed the renewal of his mental energy. Better take them up on it, even if he didn’t order the dinner. He yanked the door open.

The black man in the hallway wore a white server’s uniform, but his hands were empty. Tony glanced down the hall in both directions. Where was the cart? “Where’s the food?”

“My apologies, Mr. Solomon, but I need to talk to you—”

Tony glowered at the man. “Who are you and what do you want?” Something about him struck Tony as familiar.

“My name is Theodore Pippin.”

Fear shot an icy tentacle down Tony’s throat. He couldn’t move. Moisture trickled down his back beneath his undershirt. God, how could he be so stupid? Charlotte and his failure had clouded his mind so much he’d forgotten all about the Saturn Society’s threat.

His stupor snapped. He shoved the door, but he man blocked it with his foot. “I’m with an organization called the Saturn Society… perhaps you’ve heard of us?”

“Yeah, and I’m not interested.” Tony leaned against the door, trying to dislodge Pippin’s foot. “Get out—”

“I’m afraid it’s not that simple, Mr. Solomon. Now if I could come in, we could discuss this like gentlemen…”

“There’s nothing to discuss.” Not with the man who’d been lauded for subduing more time-criminals than any other Society member in known history. Tony leaned harder against the door, but Pippin’s foot held. “Get out of here, or I’ll—” Somewhere outside, a woman shouted. He glanced at the window. Big mistake. Pippin took the opportunity to wedge himself through the door.

More information on Time’s Enemy

My Town Monday: We’ve Come a Long, Long Way

Indie filmmaker David Schock didn’t listen to more than the first few minutes of the odd, unlabeled tape in the box full he’d received for his film that day in early 2008. He was collecting audio of performances by poet and theatrical performer Herbert Woodward Martin for his film Jump Back, Honey, and that extra tape clearly wasn’t one Schock needed for his project.

Who knew something like this could contain a treasure?

He was a little curious about the tape, of the old reel-to-reel format. It started out with someone noting that it was taped at the University Dayton in November of 1964, and introduced Dayton City Commissioner Don L. Crawford, and Charles Wesley, the president of Central State College. He set the tape aside and went on with his work.

Over a year later, the project was finished, and Schock attended a well-received premiere at U.D. But he remembered that odd, unmarked tape he still hadn’t listed to, so he dragged out his equipment and gave it a listen – this time, to the whole thing. Sure enough, it started with opening remarks by president Wesley and Commissioner Crawford, who was the first African-American to be elected to that office. Then the featured speaker came on: Dr. Martin Luther King.

Dayton Daily News pics from 1964

Calls to U.D.’s archivist confirmed that Dr. King had, indeed, visited Dayton on November 28, 1964, and had given a speech at the U.D. Fieldhouse to a crowd of 6,200. In his usual, eloquent style, King addressed how “we’ve come a long, long way” in terms of racial equality, but noted that we still had a long way to go. He advocated peaceful protest and using the ballot box as the way to effect change, and highlighted the need for legislation to abolish discrimination. The tape cut off fifty minutes into his speech. The rest of his talk remains lost, the whereabouts of any other, complete recordings of it – if any exist – are still unknown.

Schock contacted Mr. Martin, the subject of his film, who’d provided him with the box of media. Martin had no idea where the tape had come from, or how it came into his possession. He hadn’t listened to it, nor was he aware of its contents.

King was not universally welcomed

Later newspaper articles about King’s speech surfaced, and revealed how, while King spoke to an enthusiastic crowd, there was a different scene outside the Fieldhouse, where protesters gathered, bearing signs with racial epithets and calling Dr. King a communist.

Despite this, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize just a few weeks later, and gave almost the same speech there as the one he’d given in Dayton.

It’s easy for me to think we’ve come a long way, since I wasn’t around at the time King gave this speech, but one only need to watch the news to see that there’s still a long way to go, even now, almost 50 years later. You can hear Dr. King’s speech, digitized by David Schock, on the Jump Back, Honey website, as well as read a transcript of it.

What do you think? And can you imagine finding a treasure like that tape in a box of stuff you’d obtained for something completely different?

More at the My Town Monday blog

Reel-to-reel tape photo via
Dayton Daily News photos by Bill Koehler via 

My Town Monday: A Dickens of A Christmas

This past Friday night, my daughter and I went back in time. Well, not really, and certainly not like the characters in my books, but in a figurative sense, with help from the residents and volunteers of the St. Anne’s Hill Historic Society.

48 High St. Gallery

Every year since 1986, the group has conducted a tour of homes in their historic Dayton neighborhood. It includes a walking tour of the area, led by tour guides in capes and top hats. Most of the homes are from the Victorian era or the early 20th century, and are lavishly decorated. The homeowners were friendly and enthusiastic, and happy to tell their homes’ stories and answer visitors’ questions. All who were asked, permitted us to take photos inside as well.

Our tour started at 5PM, when it was getting dark, so none of the photos I took turned out well. So most of the photos shown are from the St. Anne’s Hill website, which features a very cool online tour. The 2011 “Dickens of a Christmas” Tour started at the 48 High Street Gallery, which is home to the Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors.

The first residence in the St. Anne's Hill neighborhood

St. Anne’s Hill was one of the first neighborhoods plotted outside of the immediate downtown area, by Daniel Cooper, one of the early city planners, in the early nineteenth century (sources vary on exactly when this happened). The first reference to the area as “St. Anne’s Hill” appeared in newspaper ads for a greenhouse in the early 1830s. Where the name came from remains unknown.

A Swedish botanist named Eugene Dutoit built the first residence, a farmhouse, on his 111-acre farm and orchard on the north side of Fifth Street. The original house still stands at 222 Dutoit Street.

The Dragon House

One of the first homes we visited was called “the Dragon House.” Located at 629 McLain, the turn-of-the-century Victorian house was called such because it once had a metal dragon figure mounted above the porch (if I recall the story correctly). The homeowner still has the dragon, stashed away in the basement waiting to be restored. What was really cool, was the address numbers were formed of dragons! Unfortunately, my photo didn’t turn out, and they’re too small to see in this one. The interior of the home sports some amazing woodwork, that reminded me of the interiors of the Piatt Castles. It was also full of beautiful, restored antique furniture. My daughter says she wants to buy the Dragon House. I told her she’d better win the lottery LOL. However, there was a flyer lying on the newel post that stated the owner is planning to put it up for sale this spring.

The majority of the neighborhood was built by craftsmen and industrialists. When the original Dutoit farm was split up and developed, much of the houses were smaller, simpler homes for working-class families. With original construction dates ranging from the 1830s to the 1960s (just a few of those!), there’s a lot of diversity in the architecture, yet it all goes together.

The Bossler Mansion

It was interesting to see how some of the homes were decorated, furnished, and remodeled inside, particularly the three smaller homes we visited on Henry Street. These had very contemporary-styled decor, or an eclectic mix of antique and modern furnishings. All of the kitchens and bathrooms (that we saw) had been updated, and some were very modern. My daughter was drooling at the claw-footed bathtubs in some of the homes.

The tour concluded at the Bossler Mansion, where servers in Victorian garb served coffee and homemade bread pudding. This Second Empire-style home was built in 1869 by Marcus Bossler, a builder and stone worker, who lost the home a few years later in order to avoid bankruptcy caused by another project. The mansion was later divided into thirteen apartments, several of which were still occupied when Lee Smithson, the current owner, purchased the house in 1980. Mr. Smithson spent the next five years overseeing a complete restoration, doing much of the work himself. An accomplished chemist retired from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Mr. Smithson is also a foodie, and has catered numerous weddings and other events at the Bossler Mansion. He resides in the third floor, and even allowed visitors into his personal space. This included the cupola, from which we could see a dramatic view of the city – probably one of the best around!

If you live in the area and are interested in history, the St. Anne’s Hill Christmas tour is a must-see. I’d like to go again, preferably during daylight hours so I can get a better view of the homes’ exteriors and maybe some decent photos. The $20 tour admission was money well spent, and will go toward the Historic Society’s continued work in preserving their neighborhood.

If you’re in the Dayton area, have you ever toured St. Anne’s Hill? I’ve done my own driving tours before, as one of my books’ main  characters lives there (in 1905, on a fictitious street). Walking the neighborhood and talking with the residents adds a whole new perspective! If you don’t live in the area, does your town offer something similar, and have you taken advantage of the opportunity?

More at the My Town Monday blog

My Town Monday: Doorway to Domination

Dayton's Doorway to Domination

No, I’m not talking about a doorway that takes us on a shortcut to becoming the Evil Overlord, sorry. It’s the doorway to Publishing Success, although not for me, a mostly-unknown fiction writer.

This is the side entrance into the historic Dayton Daily News building, at the corner of Fourth and Ludlow Streets, in downtown Dayton. The building itself has a storied history (insert groan here – pun intended). It’s a beautiful, classically- styled office building constructed in 1910.

The Dayton Daily News (then called the Dayton Evening News) was a failing newspaper, purchased by reporter James M. Cox in 1898. Cox changed the name after purchase, and within a few years, he’d turned the business around and was ready to move to a larger facility.

He approached several banks for a loan, but none would lend him money, claiming that newspapers weren’t a profitable business. He managed to come up with the money elsewhere (I couldn’t find where). In an effort to thumb his nose at the banks who’d turned him down, he had his building designed to look like one.

The Dayton Daily News building today

The building housed the staff and printing operations of the Dayton Daily News, as well as the other newspapers it absorbed, throughout the 20th century, until the new Print Technology Center was built about 15 miles south in Franklin. The Dayton Daily News bought the Dayton Journal and the Herald, two competing newspapers, and operated all three out of the DDN building (the Journal and the Herald were soon combined, and then rolled into the Daily News in the 80’s). These were the start of the media empire now known as Cox Enterprises, which is also the parent conglomerate of several other newspapers, dozens of radio and major network and cable television stations, and online classified advertising sites.

Advertising, editorial, customer service, and all other non-printing staff were relocated in 2007 to a newly-remodeled, former NCR office building about a mile and a half away on South Main Street. The historic building on Fourth Street now sits empty, its future unknown.

Does your hometown have any famous doorways?

More at the My Town Monday blog

My Town Monday: Dayton’s Feast of Giving

EDITED Monday, October 22, 2012: This blog post is now nearly a year old. I have nothing to do with this event; this post is just an informational article sharing about something cool that happens in Dayton. If you want to volunteer for the Feast, or otherwise want more information, do not email me – I don’t have the answers you’re looking for. I’m guessing you found this blog post through a Google search, so I suggest you try some of the other links that you found while searching. Thank you!

Sometimes, things happen in Dayton that restore our faith in the human race.

One of those is the Feast of Giving.

Now in its third year, the Feast of Giving is a full-blown Thanksgiving dinner – turkey with all the trimmings – held at the Dayton Convention Center, for FREE. Although some people emphasize those who have financial need, or those who have no one to spend the holiday with, all are welcome. The event’s sponsors stress that they want  “people from all walks of life to attend.” The primary sponsors are area businesses, including ABC 22 & Fox 45 Dayton’s News Source, Dermatologists of Southwest Ohio and Lastar Inc., manufacturer of low-voltage cabling and the parent company of Cables to Go.

Volunteers at last year’s Feast of Giving

Donations are accepted from others as well; click on the Dayton’s News Source link for donation information. Over 3,500 people attend the event each year, and many people volunteer to help. Volunteers are capped at 500, and every year, several times that offer to volunteer. As many as 2,000 would-be volunteers have been turned away in the past, by the Feast and its predecessor.

While the Feast of Giving is only in its third year, it follows a long tradition started in 1969 by Arthur Beerman, founder of Elder-Beerman stores. Mr. Beerman had suffered a heart attack earlier that year. While hospitalized, he received hundreds of get-well cards. After he returned home, he started the dinner  “to thank the good Lord for letting me get home for Thanksgiving,” and also to give back to the community that had been so good to him. He died the following year, but his family and the Beerman Foundation continued to host the event every year until 2009. According to the Dayton Daily News, “The annual Thanksgiving dinner was believed to be the largest of its kind in the nation having served an average of 4,000 turkey dinners per year.” In 2009, the Foundation’s board announced that they would not be hosting the Thanksgiving Dinner, as they had determined that its funds would be more effectively spent on charities and programs with a broader scope.  That year, the above sponsors combined their funds and efforts to keep the tradition alive with the first Feast of Giving.

The Feast of Giving will be held from 11 – 2, and tickets are not required. The convention center is offering free parking, and Dayton RTA offers free bus service to and from the event.

The 2010 Feast of Giving

I’m blessed to have family in the area, and someone has always been able to host (this year, me), so I have never attended the Feast of Giving or the Beerman Thanksgiving Dinner. But it’s cool to think that the biggest event of its kind is right here, every year, for anyone who wants to go. If you live in the area, have you ever attended? If you don’t live around here, does your community offer anything like it?

Photos via the Feast of Giving page on Facebook

More at the My Town Monday blog