A story a day: Local history book has a year’s worth of tales


Love Dayton history and looking for a good book?

The latest from local author Curt Dalton, “On This Date in Dayton’s History: Remembering the Gem City One Day at a Time,” will fill the bill.

Dalton, who has collected thousands of stories during the 25 years he has chronicled the city’s history, selected his favorites and sorted them by the calendar year into “mini bite-sized morsels.”

Each account had to meet two criteria to be included in the book, he said. The story had to occur within “Dayton proper,” and it had to be entertaining.

“If I had to pick between a story about famous people being born and a cigar-smoking dog, I’m going to go with the cigar-smoking dog,” said Dalton. “If I could make it fun, that was great.”

Turn to the page for March 22 and you can read about that puffing pooch — a bulldog named Colonel, who belonged to Harry Patterson, a clerk at Dayton’s Atlas Hotel.

Patterson and his dog, who was known for his clever tricks, were “discovered,” in 1906 by an agent and embarked on a 32-week vaudeville circuit across the country.

The book is full of captivating anecdotes and images spanning the city’s history.

On Jan. 24, 1930, two men, one armed with a machine gun, robbed the South Park Savings bank and got away with $16,000. On April 26, 1944, Orville Wright took his last airplane flight and on Oct. 1, 1925, Jack Dempsey, the heavyweight boxing champ, took to the ring for two exhibition bouts at Memorial Hall.

Dalton, who has written more than two dozen books and started the popular website Dayton History Books Online in 2004 and its subsequent Facebook page, said he has children in mind when he writes.

“I want kids to have a lifelong interest in history,” he said. “If you live in a city or country, and you don’t know some of its history, I don’t think you can appreciate what you’ve got as much.”

The stories Dalton picked, some familiar and many obscure, will appeal to readers of all ages.

On May 1, 1942, Dayton’s first drive-in theater, simply called “The Drive-In Theater,” opened on Valley Street. Patrons danced to music on a terrazzo floor in front of the screen before a color cartoon, a newsreel and finally the full-length feature movie were projected on the screen.

Two brothers, Louis and Temple Abernathy, rode into town on their horses May 10, 1910. The boys, who were only 6 and 10 years old, were travelling alone from Frederick, Okla., to New York City – a 2,500-mile journey. While in Dayton the boys were treated to a free lunch and tickets to a movie, and Wilbur Wright gave them a tour of his airplane factory.

And on Oct. 26, 1974, Elvis Presley would perform two concerts – one at 2:30 p.m. and the other at 8:30 p.m. – at the University of Dayton Arena. Fans heard “The King” play an acoustic guitar as he sang “That’s All Right, Mama” and “Blue Christmas.”

At the end of Dalton’s book, which he hopes “will both and entertain and enlighten,” is a speech given by John W. Van Cleve on Aug. 27, 1833, called “Settlement and Progress of Dayton.” The narrative is the first history of Dayton to appear in print.

Dalton’s book can be purchased on Amazon and in the gift shop at Carillon Historical Park.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Miamisburg HS uses national pastime to honor America’s heroes
Miamisburg HS uses national pastime to honor America’s heroes

At Miamisburg High School, the national pastime also is an opportunity to honor America’s heroes. The varsity baseball team on Saturday held its annual Veteran Appreciation Game, this time when they played Bellbrook High School. Both teams started by shaking the hands of veterans across different generations, followed by a 21-gun, salute, then...
2-year-old boy taken to hospital after near-drowning at Island MetroPark
2-year-old boy taken to hospital after near-drowning at Island MetroPark

A 2-year-old boy was taken to Dayton Children's Hospital after he fell in to the Great Miami River at Island MetroPark Saturday afternoon.  The child fell in to the water near the Helena Street bridge park area.  Montgomery County Regional Dispatch confirmed he was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.  Tabatha Davis...
Students, parents, staff urge Talawanda to add more police in schools
Students, parents, staff urge Talawanda to add more police in schools

School safety was a recurring theme at the most recent Talawanda Board of Education meeting, with staff, students and parents sharing their concerns. The meeting opened with the topic being raised twice in the public participation part of the agenda. Both included calls for the hiring of more school resource officers, suggesting one be assigned to...
Hamilton boy’s selfless wish makes playground more inclusive for kids
Hamilton boy’s selfless wish makes playground more inclusive for kids

A large crowd turned out Saturday to watch Grayson Combs celebrate his birthday wish at Millikin Woods Park in Hamilton — a wheelchair accessible playground equipment that enables all children to have fun. Combs and his family cut the ribbon to open the inclusion wheel, which is a merry-go-round that can spin disabled children in wheelchairs...
Dayton says new efforts stemming crime in neighborhood where women’s bodies found
Dayton says new efforts stemming crime in neighborhood where women’s bodies found

Dayton police say stepped-up patrols have led to fewer gun crimes and more drug and prostitution arrests in the North Main Street corridor where residents have long complained of rampant crime and where several women have been found dead in yards and alleys since June. Dayton police on Friday announced that on Dec. 4, 2017 the West Patrol Operations...
More Stories