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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

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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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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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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.

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