Back on the Beat with Jim Bucher

Buch looks back

 By Jim Bucher

I got to thinking (that’s twice in a week, my poor brain) with the Dayton City Paper on it’s quest to save the Dayton Arcade in a practical way as the new location for the Dayton Metro Library and quite possibly the Arcade’s last chance before the wrecking ball adds it to the list of memories. What about all the other great structures, businesses and family gathering places that are now gone?

Well, let’s look back … First, it all started when Orville Wright decided that city leaders at the time weren’t too keen on saving the home and bike shop where the inventors of powered flight lived and worked. (By the way, the Wrights actually were on their way to Kettering to fly, but got lost and ended up in Kitty Hawk. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. No GPS, maybe?) So, with Henry Ford’s suggestion (plus the automobile tycoon offered a great deal on moving vans back then), the Wright Homestead and Bike Shop now reside in Michigan at Ford’s Greenfield Village, including some of our very own Dayton dirt under the structures. Then, everything was up in the air after that.

Later, great businesses like McCall Printing/Dayton Press at one time printed major national magazines like Newsweek, Popular Science, Readers Digest and U.S. News & World Report, later Playboy and Hustler, were all packaged and shipped from right here. (Some of which came in plain brown wrappers. Go ahead … take a guess.)

Then, a final offer to the union, take it or they leave. Guess what? They left.

Next, GM decided to get out of the appliance business and restructured the facility in Moraine from producing Frigidaire’s to GMC trucks. The first and last vehicles manufactured sit at Dayton History at Carillon Park. (Insert blatant plug here.) Then eventually, the truck plant closed, too.

The list continues … a certain cash register maker (I refuse to mention their name until they move back to Dayton, but it starts with “N” and ends with “R” with a “C” in the middle, for good measure) decided, in their infinite wisdom, that mechanical cash registers would be around as long as the U.S. Mint printed money. Nevermind that IBM and the like for years were retrofitting businesses with a thing called a computer. The aforementioned company thought it was a fad and the production of mechanical cash registers ended in Dayton along with some 15,000 jobs. They disappeared faster than you can say Jimmy Hoffa.

One of the cool things about a major employer like Frigidaire and the company that’s starts with an “N” was the fact they pampered their employees with recreational facilities. A happy worker was a productive one. So, Old River for the “N” employees and Frigidaire Parks were born. Frigidaire families enjoyed putt-putt golf, shuffleboard, picnicking and outdoor movies. Old River offered the area’s biggest swimming pool, full-service cafeteria-style food at The Grove, canoeing and yes, even an old river. Plus, mini-golf, where you could putt through the world’s biggest cash register.

Can you imagine spoiling your employees with something like that? (Truth in disclosure: the Dayton City Paper’s higher ups offer free coffee on Wednesdays and two microwaves in the break room. At press time, talk now is free coffee on Thursdays, too.)

But my point, and I do have one, is this: What’s happened to everything?

The list grows: Lowes Theater, Julienne High School, Belmont Drive-In, “N” Building 26, Frigidaire Park, Old River (still around and in the trusting hands of the University of Dayton), the “N” historic garage (which was used as a makeshift morgue during the 1913 flood), Van Cleve Hotel, Day-Bel Cinema, Steele High School, Orville Wright’s Lab, Union Station and on and on and on.

Now, you can’t save everything right?  (Although my ex tried to. You should see the stuff in my attic. She invented the word “hoarding.”)

But now, this is our chance to save the wonderful Arcade. Yes, it takes money, but we proved that can happen.

Look what Tom Danis, David Holmes, Steve Mason and Ron Budzik did with the Schuster Center and a “get ‘er done” attitude. They got it done.

Some would say, “Well, they tore down Rikes Department Store.” I think it would be tough to see “Cats” in the fifth floor dining room. Agreed?

We have to be proactive. A library would be wonderful in the arcade. Piqua did it with the simply marvelous Fort Piqua Plaza. Time is running out. Should it go back to the voters? Would you prefer your library levy money be used to remodel a 1960’s Cold War-era building on East Third Street, or truck that cash a few blocks down to the Arcade and read a book or surf the web under the dome. It’s our call. We gave the go ahead to use our hard earned money, then we should have a say. Speak now or forever hold your peace. Don’t wait for somebody else to do it. Somebody else is us! The sky’s the limit and trust me, it looks beautiful through the glass dome. Who knows, we may be able to get the Wright Brother’s buildings back. Anyone got a deal on a moving van?

Have to go, the second microwave is available.

Cheers!

Buch

For more than 25 years, “Buch”  has been a local television icon. Known and loved by thousands in the Miami Valley, his followers describe him as trust-worthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and a role model. When it comes to promoting your business, Buch has the ability to grab your customer’s attention. Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.


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One Response to “Back on the Beat with Jim Bucher” Subscribe

  1. Lou Bentz May 1, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

    I went to the arcade with my grandmother and had lunch at the counter at the old kresges and then shopping .Please keep it. Good article Jim.

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