Several Months ago my friend, and author, Monna Ellithorpe, permitted me to be a guest author on her blog MyHometownis.com. I was very grateful that Monna allowed me to do so. I loved her idea for this site and felt that she would give us all the opportunity to get to know each other better. I am reposting the article here to bring attention to, and support for Monna’s site.
I also wanted to share this post in honor of a childhood friend we lost a week ago. He was one, among many, who made the neighborhood a bright place to be. Here’s to Benny and all of our childhood friends. Thank you for making life better.
My Hometown is: Dayton, OH
“Home is where the heart is,”
and to me, a hometown is that place that you resonate with, and have fond memories of.
Many of us have our “birth cities” and move off and make a new home. For me, no matter where I go… I still call the “Gem City” home. Dayton, Ohio is where I was born, and where we lived until I was 46. Little did we know that when we left we would miss “the green, green grass of home.”
Dayton’s name comes from Jonathan Dayton, a revolutionary war captain, who owned the land at the time of the city’s incorporation (1805). However, it is suspected that Dayton received its nickname, “Gem City” from one of a couple of sources.
One thought is that it came from a well-known racehorse named “Gem,” (early 1800’s) who was from Dayton. The other possibility is the nickname came from an editorial in the Cincinnati Chronicle, where the author of the editorial, cited that Dayton was a “gem” among the region’s cities (1845).
The Wright Brothers (Orville and Wilbur) were among the most famous, thus causing Dayton to be dubbed “The birthplace of aviation.” The Wrights owned a bicycle shop on W. Third Street, and tested their flying experiments on the east side of town, in the Huffman Prairie (Kitty Hawk, North Carolina being the place as to where their actual first “powered flight” occurred).
As a child, we were blessed to live in the South Park area of Dayton, which is now a historical district. My friends, and I, were able to roam the Woodland Cemetery and discover the graves of such notables as Orville and Wilbur Wright, Paul Laurence Dunbar (famous African-American poet, 1840′s), John Henry Patterson (founder of the National Cash Register) and Charles F. Kettering (inventor and co-founder of DELCO).
Woodland Cemetery, itself became a sanctuary for those of us living in this poor section of town. The cemetery was an enticing playground boasting of rolling hills, a duck pond and vast expanse of land to walk, explore, and discover the treasures of the history of our city. Backing up to the south side of the cemetery was the University of Dayton with its woods, fields and forever expanding campus. Our grade school, Patterson Elementary (now gone) sat on the corner of Alberta and Wyoming, just north of U.D. and the cemetery, and a long block East of Miami Valley Hospital. We lived along the boulevard on Park Drive and spent many afternoons after school playing football, baseball and kickball with all the neighborhood friends. Our trips to the corner of Wayne and Wyoming for our occasional Sunday pizza at Cassano’s, would top off the week.
Little did I know that those friends, and places, would to this day hold my heart captive. Fortunately for me, I still have some of those same friends.
I feel blessed to have had the life I had in my paradise playground of Dayton, my hometown.
Thanks, Monna for letting me share!
No matter where I go-
No matter where I’ve been
There lives a place
Inside my heart
That shines upon my gem.
You can also find Monna@ MonnaEllithorpe.com