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A friend, Debbie Allen, sent me this neat article on Charles “Charlie” Taylor, a mechanic for the Wright Brothers.  Charlie earns a good deal of the credit in the final phase of the brothers’ preparations for powered flight.  I knew a good deal about Charlie’s involvement, but was unfamiliar with the rest of his story.

Charles E. Taylor: The Man Aviation History Almost Forgot

Air Line Pilot,  April 2000, page 18

By Bob Taylor

When I was appointed safety program manager (airworthiness) for the Cleveland FSDO, one of the duties assigned to me was to conduct the Charles E. Taylor Award Program, the purpose of which is to honor the mechanics who have been connected with aviation maintenance for 50 years or more. However, one question always came up about the program: Who was Charles Taylor? I was embarrassed because I didn’t know the answer. So I did some research, and here’s what I found.

Three men were involved in the invention and development of the first powered airplane-that’s right, three. Everyone knows about the Wright brothers, but the third man was Charles E. “Charlie” Taylor, a quiet genius who loved cigars and the sound of machinery. Although he contributed to powered flight-one of the greatest human achievements-his name was almost lost in aviation history, until now; and without Charlie, that first powered airplane would never have gotten off the ground.

Charlie Taylor was born on a little farm in Cerro Gordo, Ill., on May 24, 1868. As a boy, Charlie moved to Lincoln, Neb., with his family. He quit school at the age of 12 and went to work as an errand boy for the Nebraska State Journal. However, Charlie was mechanically inclined, so later, when he began working with machinery in the Journal’s bindery, it came easy for him.

When Charlie was in his 20s he moved to Kearney, Neb., where he went into the business of making metal house numbers. There, in 1892, Charlie met a young lady named Herietia Webbert and married her 2 years later. In 1896, the Taylors moved to Dayton, Ohio, where Charlie worked for Stoddard Manufacture, which made farm equipment and, later, bicycles. In Dayton, Charlie met the Wrights. Mrs. Taylor’s uncle rented a building on West Third Street to the Wright brothers for their bicycle business. This was a convenient connection-in 1898, when Charlie started his own machine shop, Orville and Wilbur Wright brought him special jobs, including a bicycle coaster brake they had invented but later dropped.

Charlie eventually sold his tool shop for a profit and went to work for the Dayton Electric Co. However, he didn’t like his job there, so he accepted when the Wright brothers asked him to work for them at $18 per week. This was a good decision for several reasons: The Wright brothers’ shop was only six blocks from where Charlie lived, he could ride a bike home for lunch every day, he was making $8 a week more, and he liked the Wright brothers a lot.

Charlie started to work for the Wright brothers on June 15, 1901, making routine repairs on bicycles. This let the Wright brothers pursue their glider experiments, which included trips to Kitty Hawk, N.C. After one of these trips, the brothers decided they needed more-accurate aerodynamic data than was available, and they decided to build a small wind tunnel with a delicate force balance. With this, they would measure the amount and direction of air pressures on plane and curved surfaces operating at various angles and would improve their theories based on their gliding experiences.

Building the wind tunnel was the first job that Charlie Taylor undertook for the Wright brothers that had any connection with aeronautics. The wind tunnel was a rectangular box with a fan at one end driven by a natural gas engine. Charlie ground hacksaw blades and used them for balances in the tunnel. The Wright brothers conducted many experiments in their wind tunnel, and from this data, they began to make their 1902 glider, with Charlie machining many of the parts.

On Aug. 13, 1902, the brothers shipped the glider to Kitty Hawk. They made several flights with the glider; and on Oct. 31, 1902, the Wrights returned to Dayton to make plans for a powered airplane. Through their experiments, the Wrights were able to accurately predict the horsepower-eight-that was needed to produce and achieve powered flight. The next problem was where to get a light engine that would produce eight horsepower. The Wrights knew that a steam engine might suit their purpose, but a gasoline engine would be safer and more efficient.

On Dec. 3, 1902, the Wrights sent letters to almost a dozen automobile companies and gasoline engine manufacturers asking if they could produce or modify an engine that would develop eight to nine brake horsepower, weigh no more than 180 pounds, and be free from vibration. Most companies replied that they were too busy to undertake building such a special engine.

Falling back on their own mechanical experience, the Wright brothers decided to design and build their own engine. They estimated they could build a four-cylinder engine with a 4-inch stroke and a 4-inch bore, weighing no more than 200 pounds with accessories included. By their calculation, it would develop the horsepower necessary to power the airplane in flight.

Now the problem was to find someone to build the engine, but that was easily solved. The brothers decided that they would give that task to Charlie and that they would build the airframe.

Charlie was excited about this new challenge. From his knowledge of mechanics and design, he knew that the engine design was basic, straightforward, simple, and capable of succeeding. Charlie had very limited knowledge of gasoline engines, but he used his craftsmanship, genius, enthusiasm, and efficiency to tackle the task.

Charlie started building the engine in the winter of 1902-03. Without any formal drawings available, Charlie or the Wrights had to crudely sketch out each part on a piece of paper. After a thorough discussion about the drawing, Taylor would pin it above his workbench and go to work to complete it. Using these sketches and specifications, he finished the engine in 6 weeks-an amazing accomplishment.

I want to describe in some detail how Charles Taylor made the engine, so you can appreciate the craftsman he was. The first problem that Charlie and the Wrights faced was how to design the crankcase. The case had to be light and strong. Aluminum was still a rare metal in those days, and getting a good sound casting was difficult. John Hoban, foreman of Buckeye Iron and Brass Foundry in Dayton, took on the job of making the crankcase using the strongest aluminum alloy he had. The cylinders were turned from fine-grain gray cast iron and had a bore of 4 inches. The top and bottom of the cylinders were threaded so they could be screwed into the crankcase and a water jacket could be screwed onto them.

Charlie’s next major task was making the crankshaft. Being a mechanic most of my life, I would never even try to take on a project of making a crankshaft with the equipment that Charles Taylor had-a drill press, a lathe (both run by a natural gas engine), and hand tools.

Charlie secured a plate of high-carbon tool steel that measured 15/8 inches thick, 6 inches wide, and 31 inches long. On the plate, he traced an outline of the crankshaft and carefully, painstakingly drilled hundreds of holes along the outline of the crankshaft. This weakened the plate enough so he could knock the excess material away with a hammer and metal chisel.

Once he had done this, he had the rough-cut crankshaft ready for the lathe and the finish cut. With the small natural gas engine chugging away at full power and driving the large, wide leather belts that turned the lathe, Charlie turned out a nearly perfect crankshaft to the thousandth of an inch.

The next part that Charlie worked on was a flywheel made from a solid block of cast iron.

Charlie carefully thought out the connecting rods, intake valves, exhaust valves, pistons, valve guides, rocker arm, and numerous other parts that made up the complete engine and tailored them to fit the operation of the engine. Charlie painstakingly assembled the engine part by part, fitting and refitting each piece with the meticulous care of a jeweler making a watch. He scrutinized every detail. He assembled and disassembled the parts, time and time again, making sure of their operation until all the parts were working in harmony.

Building the engine took a lot of genius and ingenuity, and it was finally complete and assembled in February 1903. It was mounted on a test stand and ran well, producing 8 horsepower at 670 rpm and 11 horsepower at 1,000 rpm.

As a result of getting an engine that produced 12 horsepower at full rpm, the Wright brothers were able to add another 150 pounds to the aircraft, which allowed them to strengthen the wings and framework. The engine drove two counterrotating pusher propellers by means of chains. The Wright brothers designed and tested propellers in the wind tunnel and built several propellers that could be used for their first successful flight.

Charlie also made all of the metal parts, including the metal fittings used to join the wooden struts and to which the spruce spars and Roebling truss wires were attached.

On Sept. 23, 1903, the Wright brothers left Dayton for Kitty Hawk to start preparation for their first powered flights, and the Flyer followed them on September 25. They assembled the Flyer and installed the engine on November 2. To reduce the danger of the engine falling on the pilot in a wreck, they placed the engine on the lower wing to the right of center. When they started the engine, the vibration from the irregular firing caused the prop shaft extensions to fail. Charlie made new shafts out of solid steel, which held up during the first flights.

On Dec. 17, 1903, in the mid morning, after a run of about 40 feet at a groundspeed of approximately 7 to 8 mph, the first successful airplane to carry a human lifted off and flew 120 feet in 12 seconds, thus introducing a new era of transportation. Orville and Wilbur Wright each flew twice that day, making successfully longer flights, until Wilbur’s 59-second flight, which covered 852 feet over the ground, ended in a soft crash. Although the Wrights’ first flights weren’t publicized that much, Charlie and the Wright brothers were very excited.

The Wright brothers decided to build another flying machine, but decided against going again to Kitty Hawk. They looked near Dayton for a level place for flying. After a few days of searching, the Wrights found a suitable 90-acre pasture, often called “Huffman Prairie,” which belonged to Torrence Huffman, a Dayton bank president. He allowed them to use it for free-provided they didn’t run over his cows. Charlie and the Wrights built a hangar to house the airplane and moved into the new facility on April 20, 1904.

Charlie took care of the field and facility while the Wrights went around the country and world. Charlie was the first airport manager.

In a 1948 interview, Charlie said that he had “always wanted to learn to fly, but I never did. The Wrights refused to teach me and tried to discourage the idea. They said they needed me in the shop and to service their machines, and if I learned to fly, I’d be gadding about the country and maybe become an exhibition pilot, and then they’d never see me again.” How prophetic those last words were!

The Wrights were trying to sell the aircraft to the U.S. Army and started to make demonstration flights on Sept. 3, 1908. Orville flew and Charlie kept the aircraft in good flying condition.

On September 17, Charlie was slated to fly with Orville, but before the flight, larger propellers were installed to compensate for the heavier weight of the two men. At the last minute, Charlie was replaced by Lt. Thomas Selfridge, a 20-year-old West Point graduate from San Francisco.

During the flight, Orville heard a strange noise. He looked around, but saw nothing. However, he decided to shut down the engine and land. Suddenly, they felt two large thumps, and the airplane shook violently as Orville tried to control the airplane’s descent to the ground. About 20 feet from the ground, the airplane started to correct itself, but it was too late. The airplane hit the ground, killing Lt. Selfridge and badly injuring Orville Wright. Lt. Thomas Selfridge became the first passenger casualty in a powered aircraft.

After the accident, Charlie investigated the crash scene and found that the new propellers that they installed before the flight had delaminated. Charlie reported his findings to Orville, who was in the hospital recovering from his injuries. Charles was the first person to investigate a powered fatal accident flight.

Charles Taylor continued to work with the Wright brothers until 1911, when an adventurer and pilot, Calbraith Perry Rodgers, wanted to make the first continental flight across the United States. Rodgers bought an airplane from the Wright brothers and enough parts to build two more airplanes.

Orville realized that the airplane would not last more than 1,000 miles without being properly maintained, so he lent Charlie to Rodgers knowing that Charlie would be the only person who could keep the airplane flying for that distance successfully. Charlie sent his family ahead to California and got on the three-car train that was to accompany the flight. One car of the train was a repair car in which the aircraft parts were stored and the airplane repaired.

Crossing the United States took Cal Rodgers 47 days-3 days 10 hours of which was actual flying time. His longest single flight was 133 miles. He crashed 16 times, and the airplane was repaired so many times that at journey’s end only the rudder, the engine drip pan, and a single strut of the original airplane remained-a testament to the skill that Charlie used in keeping the airplane flying.

This was the last of Charlie’s big adventures. Charlie returned to Dayton and worked for the Wright-Martin Company until 1920.

Charlie eventually moved to California and lost touch with Orville Wright, but things turned bad for Charlie. The Depression hit, and Charlie’s machine shop failed. He lost his life’s savings in a real estate venture, and his wife died.

Charlie Taylor’s contribution to aviation was forgotten until 1937, when Henry Ford was reconstructing the old Wright bicycle shop in Dearborn, Mich. Detectives found Charlie working at North American Aviation in Los Angeles for 37 cents per hour. None of his co-workers realized he had built the engine for the first successful airplane.

Charlie worked for Ford until 1941, when he returned to California and worked 60 hours per week in a defense factory. However, in 1945, Charlie suffered a heart attack and was never able to work again.

In November 1955, a reporter discovered Charlie in Los Angeles General Hospital’s charity ward-he was almost destitute. His income was his Social Security retirement check and an $800-a-year annuity fund that Orville Wright had belatedly established before his death in 1948.

The aviation industry immediately started a campaign to raise funds for Charlie. He was moved to a private sanitarium, where he died a few months later, on Jan. 30, 1956, at the age of 88. Having no close relatives, Charles E. Taylor was buried in the Portal of Folded Wings Mausoleum dedicated to aviation pioneers, located in Valhalla Memorial Park, Los Angeles.

Charles E. Taylor was the last of the three who shrank the world by building the first successful powered airplane-the mechanic who made the flight possible.

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On May 25, 1910 at Huffman Prairie, just outside Dayton, Orville Wright piloted two unique flights.

First, he took off on a six-minute flight with Wilbur as his passenger, the only time the Wright brothers ever flew together. They received permission from their father, Bishop Milton Wright, to make this flight. They had always promised their father that they would never fly together to avoid the chance of a double tragedy and to ensure one brother would remain to continue their experiments.

Next, Orville took his 82-year old father on a nearly seven-minute flight, the first and one of Milton Wright’s life. The

airplane rose to about 350 feet while the elderly Wright called to his son, “Higher, Orville… higher!”

And that’s how I felt today while being one of the first to ride the new carousel – the new gem of Dayton’s Carillon Park.

After lunch I rode with several Wright brothers enthusiasts to the site of the Wright family home on Hawthorn Street, just off Third Street in West Dayton. August 19th, 1871, Orville Wright was born in the front second floor bedroom. Three years later Katharine Wright was born on the same day, in the same room. We spent some time in the Wright brother’s bicycle shop on Williams Street, and then the aviation center across the plaza.

We stopped by Woodland Cemetery to pay our respects to the Wright family, and passed by Hawthorn Hill, the gorgeous mansion crowning a gigantic hill in Oakwood.

I retrieved Quintin from home so we could attend the Carillon Park/Dayton History annual meeting. I was slightly miserable from the heat and decided I would show Quintin the same things I visited earlier that afternoon. While at the cemetery, a couple from Oklahoma City approached and asked if I knew much about the Wright family.

It was nearing 5:00pm, and I knew I should be at the meeting. However, with a passion for history, I believe there is a duty as an ambassador to share Dayton’s history with others. By 5:20pm we were heading over to Carillon Park.

We stood in the back of the tent, catching the last 10 minutes or so of Brady Kress’ speech.

Brady Kress…

Dayton was so lucky to be blessed with the likes of Wilbur & Orville Wright, Charles Kettering, Col. Deeds, John Patterson, and countless others, but we are equally blessed with Brady Kress who is equal as a visionary to the Wrights, Kettering, Patterson, and Deeds combined! As local news media maestro, Jim Bucher, claimed, “Brady is Dayton’s own version of Walt Disney!”

Bucher is so right on target!

As Brady concluded the annual meeting, he encouraged everyone to check beneath the seats of their chairs. Thirty-three lucky people would find, taped to the bottom, a gold carousel coin honoring them with the first ride. I was a bit disappointed that I was not seated in one of the several open chairs and even considered making a mad dash for several.

As Quintin and I turned to head to the ribbon cutting ceremony, I saw Amy Kress, Brady’s wife, and her father coming towards us. Her father, Mr. Schwartz handed me the gold coin taped beneath his chair. He had already ridden the carousel during his granddaughter’s birthday party, and Amy said I would probably be thrilled to ride it. Of course, all week long Amy has endured my emails of childish glee – but she did start it several years ago when she first told me of the carousel’s unique design. Two of the special designs were to be Orville Wright’s Saint Bernard, Scipio, and Wilbur Wright’s dog, Flyer. I even loaned Brady one of my books that contained a photo of the original Flyer.

I know Mr. Schwartz was talking to me about something as we walked to the ribbon cutting, but honestly, I was not even close to earth as I held tightly to that gold coin. Being one of the lucky 33 ranked right up there with

  • getting to hold Mary Todd Lincoln’s gloves
  • holding the small portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln’s father, Robert Todd
  • thumbing through Bishop Wright’s family Bible and holding his spectacles (thanks to Melba Hunt)
  • holding Orville Wright’s white dinner jacket which he wore to a White House dinner in 1942 (again, thanks to Melba)
  • meeting Vice-President Gerald Ford in July 1974
  • singing “The National Anthem” as the first actual performance at The Schuster Center for the Hard Hat Concert
  • standing a few feet from John Glenn and Neil Armstrong during the closing ceremonies of the 2003 flight centennial

I am sure there have been other major highlights like these – and beyond the arrival of a new son, or the birth of one my brother’s children. Today was one of those exciting, magical moments for me.

After the ribbon cutting, Quintin and I joined the crowd of 450+ and strolled into the building. The exhibits were great, but to be truthful, I was aiming for the carousel. We can return any time to enjoy the wonderful new exhibits.

We entered the carousel pavilion, and I heard workers calling for folks with the golden coin. I barreled through the bodies with out causing casualty to anyone and presented my golden coin. Willy Wonka, here I come!

I got to Flyer before a kindly looking woman who was eyeing this ride. She just thought it was an ordinary dog displayed on the carousel. Poor thing got a quick history lesson right there, and then. When I told her my dog was named Flyer she backed off and found another ride. One friend asked, “What if Amanda Wright Lane [the great grandniece of the Wright brothers] had been the lady and had wanted to be the first to ride Flyer?” Well, there was a cute little bi-plane representing her uncles and it would have only been fitting for her squat her rights on it!

I am hoping to head to Carillon Park Sunday afternoon to take in the exhibits.

Dayton – thank you for supporting our community’s rich history, and thank you, even more, for entrusting it to Brady Kress.

“Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail.”
Charles Kettering

Everything has its season
Everything has its time
Show me a reason and I’ll soon show you a rhyme
Cats fit on the windowsill
Children fit in the snow
Why do I feel I don’t fit in anywhere I go?

December 31st is always a day for reflection, and this day seems particularly meaningful… several additions to our family… several farewells… wonderful students and their families… several students moving on to college while many former students moved to New York City or into teaching positions… and always, more personal growth.

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky

The first four months of 2010 were difficult.

Just a few days into the new year a dear cousin, who had been somewhat of a hero throughout my childhood, passed away with pancreatic cancer. Steve Daughterty was an incredible individual, and is sadly missed.

Life brings on a natural drama, but often, people prefer to create drama.  Those are the individuals with whom I can do without, and through the course of this year, I have distanced my self, and my family, from those who prefer to infest their poor life choices and hideous personal drama into my family’s life.   The events of the first four months strengthened us as a family, and secured the understanding that our family does come first.  And life has been grand!  However, we were greatly aided last April by several loving, caring, and dedicated family friends.

Every man has his daydreams
Every man has his goal
People like the way dreams have
Of sticking to the soul
Thunderclouds have their lightning
Nightingales have their song
And don’t you see I want my life to be
Something more than long….

Sadly, I cannot remember much about this past Spring and Summer.  I know we had a ton of fun going to musicals, concerts, visiting family in Indiana, spending time with family friends here in Dayton, and kicking off Jose’s fourth, and final year of marching band.  We enjoyed visits to  Carillon Park, as well as many hours of hiking, and canoeing at Old River Park.

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky

June and July were somewhat busy with graduated students prepping for college.  I was also updating my home study through ACTION Adoption, half-heartedly, as I was not as hopeful of finding the right son to adopt.  Those roads seemed hopelessly closed.

The first of August I delivered Jose to his final marching band camp.  It was a tad bit wistful, but I also knew that the fall would bring on several more endings… so this was just the first.  Mother drove over to Dayton to celebrate the end of band camp with the parents’ show.

Then tragedy struck… August 24th, our beloved dog, Flyer, became gravely ill, and was suffering from pancreatitis.  We were told she would only have a few days with us, but through combined determination from our family, dear family friends and students, and tons of nursing, Flyer pulled through it.  By Labor Day she was acting as though nothing had ever happened.

The annual Labor Day Haasienda Celebration had adjustments due to my sister-in-law having three weeks remaining in her pregnancy.  Still, Mother made the trip, and Monday we enjoyed the parade and what has become our traditional potluck at the Lockharts’ home afterward.

With the start of school, the marching band season kicked into full gear. There were football games on Fridays and competitions on Saturdays through November.

The highlight of September came on the 21st and the 24th.

September 21st, my sister-in-law, Stacia, gave birth to a beautiful niece, Carolyne. Fortunately, that Saturday, my 46th birthday, was marching band contest-free, so Jose, Mother and I spent the day in Fowler with Destin, Stacia, Parker, Freddie and Carolyne.

September 24th, I spoke with a case worker from New Mexico who wanted to consider the prospects of matching me with a 15 year old Navajo boy on whom I had sent an interest form.

So many men seem destined
To settle for something small
But I won’t rest until I know I’ll have it all
So don’t ask where I’m going
Just listen when I’m gone
And far away you’ll hear me singing
Softly to the dawn:

Marching band and adoption took over my life throughout October and November.  As marching band began to wind down, the adoption process began to wind up.

October 22nd, Jose and I, along with several other matching band parents of senior members, walked across the football field for senior night.  Two Fridays later, I was fully matched with Quintin, and two hours later, with my full support, Jose was enlisted with the Ohio National Guard.

Life was changing, and what blessings these changes were becoming.  A new son was joining our family, and Jose was establishing the start of a childhood dream – to be in the military.

The following week, Jose performed in his last marching band competition at Lucas Oil Stadium, and completed his last band concert.  Thanksgiving was spent with Mother, and then on to Fowler for Freddie’s birthday celebration.

Within five days, Jose and I flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico to meet Quintin, his foster family, and the wonderful folks at Red Mountain Family Services.  We had one of the most remarkable, and memorable trips.

December 10th, Quintin and his foster dad, Jun, joined us in Dayton for the weekend.

And then December 20th finally arrived… Mother, Jose and I drove to Dayton International Airport to bring Quintin home.  We had a beautiful candle lighting ceremony led by New Mexico worker, Janis Melendez, witnessed by family and members of our god-parent team.

The past eleven days have been so fulfilling with the arrival of Quintin, many kindnesses shown our family by my students and their families, Christmas in Indiana, fun times with family friends here in the Miami Valley, and now, our final day of 2010.

Our family is finding its own corner of the sky as we journey into 2011.  I am thrilled for the prospects of this coming year, and am eager to get it started.  I have my own personal goals, and corners of the sky I will establish, and will continue to assist my sons in establishing their own corners.  Jose will graduate and leave for basic and advanced training with the military.  Quintin will start a new life entirely with many promises of new adventures.

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky

So here is to a new year… a continued journey with many opportunities and thrilling adventures… the continuation of my family… the continuation of my brother’s family… and many more wonderful experiences – those anticipated, and those unexpected.

Many blessings to all our wonderful family and friends…

Love,

Darin, Jose & Quintin

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I think I passed three of the most enjoyable days of my summer!

Thursday morning, I had a two hour lesson with one of my graduated seniors, Ryan Crouch, and as always, it was a great time – and tons of laughter.

Shortly after Ryan departed, Mother arrived from Indiana. She took two days off work from the police department to come see Jose’s band show a the end of band camp. She and I went to Mongolian Grill, and after a brief rest at home, we headed out to Wright State University where the Fairmont marching band has practiced all week.

We enjoyed the pre-game presentation, and especially the first completed movement of the 2010 competition. The percussion ensemble also played their feature which was already sounding great.

At the end of camp, two of my former students, Torrey Cowan and Chris Taylor, arrived. Chris’ apartment is just across from where our band practiced. Torrey was one of my field commanders, and served Springboro High School’s marching band last year, and did a superb job. I met the Taylor family in 1999 when Chris was eight years old. His older brother, Joe, and his older sister, Rebecca, were also piano students. Joe went on to play trumpet for SHS, and Rebecca began on flute, and switched to French horn her junior year – doing a remarkable job. Chris started on piano, and in fifth grade, at age 10, started saxophone lessons. By the end of his freshman year we were working hard on field commander preparations. Chris served as the saxophone section leader, and as field commander throughout his high school career. So, I had the Taylor family for ten years in lessons. Rebecca is working on her masters at WSU, Joe just graduated from WSU, and Chris will be a sophomore this fall at WSU.

It was so great to see these two former students.

After leaving camp, we had a traditional post-camp supper, this year at Steak N Shake.

Friday morning I prepared an egg casserole, and pancakes, and we enjoyed a great breakfast out on the deck where, for the first time in weeks, it was actually comfortable!

At 2:00pm Jose had his upper wisdom teeth removed. He was a brave little soldier, and handled it just fine. In fact, he is still doing fine, having bounced back with no problems.

We got Jose’s prescription for his pain medication (he has only taken one pill as of Saturday morning), and returned home where I prepared a spaghetti & meat balls dinner in the crock pot.

Mother and I drove to the beautiful Smith Gardens of Oakwood. We met my wonderful neighbor lady, Kay, who walked with us through the very beautiful grounds. While we were chatting, we saw a judge enter the garden, followed by a bride and groom, and two witnesses. At first I thought they were looking for a location to shoot some photos, however, I learned that they were actually performing the very private ceremony there. I offered to take photos for them throughout the ceremony, and several after. It was really great to be a part of their cherished moments, even if they were complete strangers.

We left the gardens, and bid farewell to Kay who was off to a birthday party.

Mother and I drove through Oakwood, down past Carillon Park and Old River Park – I even drove her to the former NCR headquarters so she could see the lagoon where Jose and I often canoe. We then headed to Big Lots for some odds and ends. While there, the executive director from ACTION Adoption Services contacted me to see if I could come in to teach the pre-adoptive class since the scheduled trainer was held up at work. I agreed to do it, and Mother went with me.

It was fun having Mother in on this class, which was about “Discipline,” as Mother participated, and shared some of her own parenting experiences, especially supplementing the fact that each child is very different, and not every child can be parented the same, exact way. It was a fun evening.

We arrived home, and had a bowl of spaghetti out on the deck.

This morning it was English muffins, cereal, sugar-free angel food cake with strawberries (what we would have eaten for desert had I not taught class), and coffee.

Sophie Lockhart arrived for her saxophone and voice lesson, and Mother really enjoyed getting to hear Sophie play. We also got to chat with Mike Lockhart for a few minutes.

After the Lockharts left, Mother returned to Indiana. Jose and I are now plotting the rest of our day.

This was just a super, super few days, and what a way to springboard into Beavercreek High School’s show choir for which I will be teaching this week.

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The deck is damp from last night’s rain showers, but the air is crisp, and cool at 68-degrees. The morning is beckoning those of us who have been besieged by the overwhelming heat and humidity of last week to come outside and enjoy the kaleidescope and symphony of nature.

Charlie Cardinal is belching out a fine tune this morning, alternating with the two precious mourning doves (christened The MD’s) that were hatched on the limb that hangs over the deck. They appeared mid-August last year, and have remained a part of our family, now joined by Harvey the White Squirrel.

So often the two doves greet the morning, and bid farewell to the day with the gentle lament, a simple melody laden with no excitement.

Last night I spent another evening prepping for my quiz over “Introduction to Empty Nesting: 101” as Jose spent the second entire day and evening with brothers Brandon and Justin. The boys all seem to enjoy one another’s company, and have a good time, for which I am grateful. I cooked out on the grill, and ate alone on the deck while Flyer and Logan competed in a stare-down with my fork as it made food disappear. Most of the day had been sheeted with rain, and the evening turned out to be quite nice once the mugginess vanished. Only moments after leaving the deck, another shower poked its head into perfect evening.

Now, other birds have created a polyphonic chorus, accompanying Charlie & The MD’s. I hope to work from the deck for a few more hours on business and family items, and then will figure out something fun to do – perhaps a canoe trip is in store at Old River Park.

The MD's (Mourning Doves) Labor Day, 2009

The MD's on their same perch last February 2010

Charlie Cardinal

Harvey the White Squirrel

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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Teaching only three days in the summer means long days on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; however, having the additional two week-days – plus the weekend – to work around the house, write, and spend time with my are wonderful.

This morning I was wide-awake at 5:45am – which seems to be my inner alarm wake-up call – and decided to go ahead and water the plants on the deck. I did my morning routine, and decided that at 7:15am it was way too early to pull out the hedge trimmer. So, I read some emails, watched some of THE TODAY SHOW, followed by WILL & GRACE, and about fifteen minutes of ALL IN THE FAMILY. At 8:00am I was restless, so I tackled some indoor items, and ate breakfast.

I just finished watering the plants in front, greatly increased in their beauty thanks to Valerie Lockhart’s gifts the past two weeks. I cleaned the front door and mailbox – having painted the fence yesterday morning. The mail box may need some painting, too.

I have a full schedule of what I wish to accomplish today, mostly having to do with the yard. Jose has a work meeting at 1:00pm, and then works from 4:45pm-8:00pm, so I will plan my writing time in those chunks.

The weather was beautiful yesterday, and promises to be even more so today. The cool, non-humidity nights, so rare for the end of June in Ohio, were a welcome relief after the sufferings of the past several weeks. The rains came in torrents, briefly cooling off the air, but soon were followed by the steam.

This weekend promises to be fantastic for the July Fourth festivities – which are many here in The Miami Valley. I am sure we will canoe several times, maybe catch one or two firework shows, a parade, and hopefully time with some friends.

Other than that, there is just not much to report.

I started my day by teaching two three-hour pre-adoptive classes at A.C.T.I.O.N. Adoption Services from 9:00am-4:00pm.

I ran home, took a nap, and then drove the three of us up to Old River Park near the University of Dayton campus. The one hour canoe ride was warm, but so relaxing – and invigorating! I had a canoe all to myself while Jose and Kelley paddled their own.

What an enjoyable evening.

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Finally, the steamy, sticky, humidity has temporarily taken leave of The Miami Valley. Last evening’s thunderstorms, with a brilliant light show surrounding the entire Miami Valley, set the cooling-off into motion, and today we are blessed with a continue cool, breeze, and this with a temperature reading of 82-degrees at almost 4:00pm.

I have begun my summer teaching schedule, and due to several students at camps, or on vacations, I have had several long spells to relax. Well, nap, actually. I am still finding the energy completely drained. Last night I finished teaching and nearly fell into bed, too tired to lift my head. Around 10:00pm, Jose and I walked to Speedway as the storm approached. The sky looked as though fireworks were being set off miles away as the skies were filled with many colors from the heat lightning. It reminded me of conducting the Centerville Community Band one summer at Stubb’s Park. We had just begun playing our final piece, Phantom of the Opera, when the heat lightning began accompanying the medley. It was quite spectacular, and so fitting for that particular number.

Within minutes of returning home, the heaven’s unleashed its wet fury!

I opened the windows to allow the cool winds and fresh air to fill the house. Rather than fall asleep, I remained awake until 2:00am – something that generally happens during the summer months.

During the summers, I only teach on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, freeing up my Thursdays and Fridays for writing, additional business, yard work, and time with Jose. This time next year, he will be in basic training, and the house will be quiet… and most lonely. So, I will try to find something fun for us to do on Thursday, or Friday – hiking, photography at various places, Carillon Park, Old River Park… anything fun.

Friday night I have on-going training for adoption-life, and then will teach a six hour course on Saturday for training.

The blog I posted this morning regarding Touchdown Jesus received a nice comment from the Word Press editor, and placed on the Freshly Pressed page for the system. I have received many responses – varying in their opinions.

It is nearing time to teach for another three hours. The days of teaching are longer, but I have scheduled breaks throughout to assist with pacing, and energy.

Robert Todd Lincoln – from youth to old age. Last photo shows RTL at the dedication of The Lincoln Memorial with former president, William Howard Taft (then serving as Chief Justice) and President Warren G. Harding.

I was asked by The Lincoln Society of Dayton to offer a presentation on Robert Todd Lincoln, eldest son, and only child of President Abraham & Mary Todd Lincoln to survive into adulthood.

I will be giving this presentation Sunday, June 13th @ 3:00pm at the John Patterson Homestead off of Brown Street.

I am focusing my presentation on the relationship between RTL and his mother, Mary Todd Lincoln. In 1875, Mary Lincoln was judged insane and committed to a private sanitarium following allegations from Robert that his mother was unbalanced.

I want to involve the audience – perhaps, in a mock re-trial weighing some of the evidence from each side.

I have even considered having any actresses (using notes) portray Mrs. Lincoln to help defend herself; but it is kind of late for this.

If anyone has any suggestions, please send them to me:

dljh@sbcglobal.net

Thank you!

Having gone to bed at 3:00am Sunday morning, I was up, and moving right along by 7:ooam.

12:30pm, Jose and I headed to Delco Park in Kettering for the first event – Jill Cordonnier’s graduation party. It was great to see her parents, Mike & Joan Cordonnier, as well as Jill’s boyfriends, one of my favorite theatre tech geniuses,  Jackson “Jack” Gallagher.

After approximately thirty minutes, we departed for our next event and arrived home by 1:45pm to head next door for the cookout.

As always, it was an absolute thrill to be in the company of some of the most wonderful neighbors in the world. I was blessed with wonderful neighbors (Herndons, Fortners and others) while growing up in Elwood, Indiana, and I have been more than blessed with the kindest, most hilarious neighbors here in Kettering. Kay Moore, and her family Don, Laura, Jozi and Kelley Parker, and the Stephensons – Bob, Chris, Henry and Frank and I sat around the table and howled.

Jose left with Branden Witten to go to a grad party while I remained next door. Due to crossed-wires, we got off to a late start for Old River Park and Carillon Park; therefore, we postponed the canoeing, and went straight to Carillon Park for the concert and fireworks.

Man, oh man! I was not prepared for the enormous line of cars!

I got to see a ton of people, and had a nice, long conversation with Myra Michaels. The Pollocks arrived, missing the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra’s SOUTH PACIFIC medley. We sat behind the Kress family, and enjoyed the fireworks, and the light show and bell music from the carillon.

SPECTACULAR!

You really should read this Dayton Daily News article: Carillon’s Heritage Festival makes history by featuring new bell system.

When the fireworks ended, I chatted a bit with Amy Kress, and her parents. The Pollocks, Brandon, Jose and I walked all the way back to the NCR parking lot where we stood talking for a good thirty minutes.

Now, I sitting up in bed with my laptop, cooled off from the refreshing shower. Jose is spending the night with Brandon.

I am finally ready to sleep!

But what a WONDERFUL day this was! Many thanks to all those wonderful friends who contributed to making this a fantastic day!

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And the weekend continues…

After leaving Wright State University’s production HELLO, DOLLY (see previous post), I chatted with Mother en route home. By 6:00pm, Jose and I were to two of our scheduled grad parties for Megan Weyrauch and Ryan Crouch.

We had a blast at both parties!

I got to spend time with the Weyrauch family and their guests – 95% of which were Fairmont band students.

They had a dunking tank in the back yard which was gathering much interest from the teens, as well as the trampoline, volleyball and food.

Megan was quite involved in the Fairmont music department – alto saxophonist, choir, show choir, and musicals.

This past marching season, Megan served as one of the marching band’s field commanders.

Megan is a beautiful young lady, and when you know her parents, Jim & Sherrie, and sister, Kaitlin, it is obvious why  this young lady is so special.

Megan will be heading to Wright State University this fall to study nursing.

You can visit her this summer at Kettering’s popular family joint, Magic Castle.

We left the Weyrauch home around 7:00pm and ventured back to our neighborhood for the Crouch party. Whereas the Weyrauch home was filled with band students, the Crouch yard was bulging with choir students – a completely different mix.

Ryan, like Megan, has been a super duper music trooper at Fairmont. Ryan was primarily involved with the choral program, but was also a noted piper! Ryan was in symphonic chorale – where he served as section leader and sometimes, student conductor; Fusion (vocal jazz) in which he sang, arranged, and often led rehearsals; show choir; and the musicals.

At graduation this coming Thursday evening, Ryan will conduct the senior choir in their final choral salute to their high school careers.

Ryan will be attending Bowling Green State University this fall, major in music education – choral.

I chatted with Ryan a bit – which is funny because I see him for 90 minutes each week, and we always have plenty to chat about.

I finally sat at a table with choir students to chat with Ryan’s girlfriend, Alex, and continued to give Bobby “Booby” Symes a difficult time.

Jose joined me at this table, and the Haas men proceeded to entertain their perspective halves of the long table.

Around 9:00pm, I joined several of the adults – John & Felicia Crouch, the Parretts, Tracey Witten, and a new couple I did not know – Rich & Bonita Palmer. Bonita looked familiar to me, but I could have passed her in the frozen food aisle at Kroger and still remember her face.

FINALLY… it was discovered that the three of us had not only been at Ball State together, but we three had been in the music department and marching band! We sat there for a good hour laughing about so many of our antics, and fun from BSU school department days. Rich had gone to school with Warren Central HS friends, Troy Allbright, and Shelley England – friends from Mid-America Music Clinics, and BSU, and Bonita had gone to high school with David Hall, another Mid-America camper and BSU music buddy! It was such a blast!

After the Palmers left, I sat chatting with the choir parents, and had a great time. However, I was appalled when I checked my watch and it was 1:00am!

Once we arrived home, I began preparing the potato salad for Sunday’s 2:00pm cookout at the neighbors. By 3:07am, I was finally in bed.

7:00am hit like a led pipe across the head, and I could not sleep. After the morning ritual, I prepared the potato salad, chatted with Jose, and sat down briefly to write this post.

At 12:30pm we will head to Delco Park in Kettering for Jill Cordonnier’s graduation party.

Jill began studying piano with me when she was six years old. Her feet did not touch the ground.

Around her fifth grade year she began studying saxophone along with piano, and developed into a fantastic threat to those in the Centerville Bands.

However, Jill’s main goal was to serve as field commander for the Centerville High School Band… and this she did for two successful seasons!

Jill has also been quite involved with the high school’s musicals – working on sets, or crew, and playing in almost all the pit orchestras. Jill’s dad, Michael, is the technical director, and manager for the Performing Arts Center at Centerville High School.

Jill, like Katie O’Neill (from previous post), has been like a daughter I never had.

This fall, Jill will enter Bowling Green State University, majoring in environmental management.

By 2:00pm, we will have returned home to join the Moore-Parker family for their annual cookout, along with our neighbors directly behind us, Bob & Chris Stephens. I always look forward to this gathering, as much as I do any Hoosier family gathering.

Around 4:00pm, or so, we will walk to the other side of the high school for a graduation party for Christina Suther, a marching band pal of Jose’s. Christina’s older sister, Vic, was one of my social studies students at Kettering Middle School.

Now, this is where the schedule becomes a little murky.

At some point we will end up at Old River Park for some canoe time, and then on over to Carillon Park for the Carillon Park Band, Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, and the fireworks! I just am not certain of the time we will venture the 3 minutes north to the south edge of Dayton!

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I cannot believe I have slipped into my old pattern of not blogging! I was so good about blogging, and then the past few days I have been lazy – an for no good reason.

It has been a typical week at the Haasienda – teaching, watching documentaries, walks, gym time with Jose and the neighbor boy, Kelley, and playing with Flyer and Logan. I have been battling low energy, again, this week, and it is driving me up the wall.

Tonight is the Fairmont concert at the Fraze Pavilion for the bands. Since my Beavercreek students have all rescheduled this evening’s lessons, I will be free to attend this concert.

Thursday, there is nothing major on the docket.

Friday, after teaching, I plan on going to see HELLO, DOLLY at Wright State University. Several former students are leads in this production, and they are seniors. Hopefully, my friend, Suzanne Grote, will be able to sneak away from family to see the show with me.

Saturday will be busy – two graduation parties, and a canoe expedition at Old River Park with several family friends.

Sunday is the annual cookout next door with the Moore-Parker household – one of my favorite events of the year! We may try to work in some more canoe time, and then the fireworks later that night. Generally, downtown Dayton offers fireworks, as well over the Memorial Day weekend.

Other than that, it is a typical Spring day at the Haasienda.

If you live in The Miami Valley of Ohio, please take time to visit the many sites under the management of Dayton History, beginning with Carillon Park. Other sites associated with Dayton History are:

  • Hawthorn Hill, the home of Orville Wright
  • The John Patterson Homestead
  • Paul Laurence Dunbar home
  • Old River Park

Dayton has such a rich heritage, and there are many wonderful sites in which families can absorb our history.

What a fun evening Jose and I shared at Old River Park and Deeds Point.

At 6:00pm we pulled into Old River Park. The park first opened on June 3, 1939, for NCR employees and their families under the leadership of then-Chairman of the Board, Colonel Edward Deeds. Now, the wonderful family setting is under the management of Dayton History.

Old River Park features include:
•    Miniature golf course
•    Oversized checker boards
•    Shuffle board
•    Croquet
•    Horseshoe pits
•    Volleyball
•    Kids’ playground
•    Two miles of walking paths
•    Stone cooking grills
•    Concession stand
•    Boat rentals for use in the 1.5 mile scenic, historic lagoon
•    Early 20th century themed music piped throughout the Park

Thanks to a very generous Christmas gift from a student’s family – a two year membership to Dayton’s Carillon Park and Dayton History – our admission to the park was free (canoe rental was $5).

Jose and I immediately hopped into a canoe, and had the best 45 minute time on the lagoon!

Now, 35 years ago my Little League Baseball team won the city tournament, and Rick Kendall’s dad sponsored a canoe trip for the entire team and all family members at Turkey Run State Park. I was in a canoe with my mother and birth father, and let’s say it was an adventure! Sugar Creek was up due to heavy rains, and it was a while before we could set off in the canoes.

As the Jolliff canoe moved swiftly in the rapid current we saw a HUGE boulder in the river with word, “DANGER”, spray-painted in large letters. I can still remember seeing preceding canoes dodging the boulder. Not us! We took the boulder head on – up and over. That was our first family-float-session. We managed to finally swim over to the shore to hop back in the canoe.

Later… not much later… I encouraged my birth father to steer our canoe under low hanging limbs. To a ten year old boy, it was all a part of the adventure. As we maneuvered under the huge limbs, we neared the end of the obstacle course. I ducked under the last limb. My mother ducked. My father did not.

Once again, we floated.

Back to 2010.

I was a bit apprehensive for the first few minutes in our canoe. My weight seemed to give the canoe a some unsteady moments. However, after about ten minutes, I relaxed and enjoyed the remainder of the 45 minute ride along the lagoon – but I always had my eye on the shore!

At one point I spied about five large turtles sunning themselves on a huge tree that had fallen into the lagoon. We edged the canoe gently toward the tree, but the turtles all escaped upon our arrival. And boy, did they move fast. As I was steadying my camera, Jose was steadying the canoe – right into the tree! Fortunately, we did not have a recreation of 1975!

The remainder of the ride was peaceful, and enjoyable, with many laughs that often accompany anything Jose and I do. I did manage to capture a photo of one obliging terrapin resting on a fallen tree.

Following the canoe ride we walked around the park and played a little miniature golf.

At the bridge, we watched a mama turtle and a VERY tiny baby turtle. At one point, to the gasps, and shrieks of several children watching, a very large carp came up to the baby turtle and gulped the little creature whole! However, within seconds the little fellow was spit right back out.

Jose and I traveled down Brown Street through the little village near the University of Dayton, stopping to eat at Five Guys Burgers & Fries.

Since it was still nice and bright outside at 8:15pm, we drove over to historic Deeds Point where the Mad and Great Miami Rivers converge, directly across from downtown Dayton. The last time I was here was for the 2003 Centennial of Flight celebration. While we were there, Jose posed cheerfully with the life-size statues of Wilbur & Orville Wright.

Before turning south to return to Kettering, we drove through McPhearson District to see where I first lived when I moved to Dayton twenty years ago.

My first place was an old Victorian townhouse at 120 McPhearson.

18 months later I moved right around the corner to 18 Floral Avenue. The upstairs bathroom had once been a bedroom, and the wide plank floors were beautiful. The shutters opened to reveal a picturesque view of the Dayton Art Institute!

We took our time winding through various streets, finally arriving home around 9:15pm.

What an enjoyable three hours my son and I had!

Below are more photos of Old River Park and Deeds Point, as well as information about Old River Park!

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Entry to Old River Park is free to Dayton History members. Others can enjoy Old River and Carillon Historical Park for one regular Dayton History admission price ($8 per adult (18-59), $7 per senior (60+), $5 per student, and children under 3 free). Admission can be purchased at either Carillon Historical Park or Old River Park.

For more information, please call 937.293.2841 or visit Carillon Historical Park, 1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton Ohio, 45409.

The weather has been unpredictable in the Miami Valley. Yes, we have been drenched for days, but the forecast is never quite “right on.” Some days we were told to expect storms, or rain showers, and nothing. And then there were times when no precipitation was predicted and we got drenched.

Today, I thought about hitting the Cincinnati Zoo, one of our favorite haunts. However, the skies, starting out dull, and cloudy, turned to bright and sunny. Within moments, they were cloudy once again and looking as though they would overflow at any moment.

So, I did some reading, watched a Netflix documentary on In Search of Beethoven (was not that interesting), a documentary on China’s Forbidden City, and some episodes on America’s Turning Points in the 19th Century.

Jose and I are getting ready to head down to Old River Park, and then maybe trek over to Deed’s Point and the park area. I have not been there since the 2003 Centennial of Flight, and that was just before Jose arrived.

Other than that, a relaxing, peaceful day with fresh air coming through the windows and birds singing.

I found this site which looks very interesting… have not explored it, yet!

Dayton History Books On-line

This was a slightly busy, yet relaxing week. Despite the heavy rain and thunderstorms throughout the first half of the week, we had mild temperatures. Many times we were threatened with rain, or storms but they by-passed us.

The students were great this week – hard working, and really digging into some good material.

Jose has been busy with marching band percussion until 9:00pm most nights this week, yet we have managed to have some ample quality time together.

I have done a fairly decent job this week with maintaining some good walking time! Flyer has really been enjoying these neighborhood journeys. Tonight, she found a tennis ball, and was delighted to carry it, and then grab it when she tossed it front of her. It certainly made her trip more festive.

Today I had three visits to the doctor to draw blood to see how the new medications are working. The last time, I had to be “stuck” twice but I kept my humor… needles don’t really bother me.

Tomorrow morning I will spend time with Magsig Middle School students in Centerville to discuss the performing arts as a career.  I will have a few hours before teaching to eat lunch, and maybe grab a walk through the neighborhood. After several hours of teaching I will head to ACTION Adoption for training.

Saturday, Jose will have marching band percussion rehearsal from 9:00am-9:00pm. I am planning on working in my study the largest part of the day. I will be at the Carter home by 5:00pm to see the twins as they head off to the Beavercreek prom.

If there weather holds out Sunday, I would like to head down to Old River Park with Jose and grab a canoe to enjoy the 1.5 mile historic lagoon. We had hoped to hit ORP the past few weekends but in-climate weather prevented us from doing so.

Other than that, there is just not much to report.

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