One Week in Dayton Ohio, October 2002

Part 1


My first morning in Dayton, Ohio, I dragged my poor Pacific-Daylight-Time ass out of bed and up to the top-floor hotel restaurant for breakfast.

Honestly, I didn't expect much out of this town. I figured I'd see some nondescript buildings on a billiard-table flat landscape.

I hoped the underachieving landscape would be redeemed by fine Midwestern optimism and plain-spoken hospitality.

The sun rose over the rolling, wooded hills, their valleys tangled in mist. Church steeples rose over historic brick buildings. The morning commute traffic sped lickety-split on the highways.

I was sincerely charmed.

The waitress brought more coffee. I asked, "Is this a typical commute? Does the traffic usually move this well?"

She gazed vacantly out the panoramic windows. "I don't know," she said vaguely. "I guess I never notice." I was surprised. How could anybody be unaware of this great view?

After breakfast, I put on several layers against the nippy autumn morning, grabbed my camera, and went strolling through the neighborhood.


I shuffled through golden leaves on the sidewalks; some houses were decorated for Halloween: an idylic autumn day, but nobody was outside enjoying it except me. Where was everybody?


Dayton was once the start of the Oregon Trail, famous in American history as a pathway for "settling" the west. Many of the old warehouses and saloons remain, as do the houses of those who got rich off the settlers.


The freight trains still roll through.


The industrial side of town still hums, although less than it once did. Many of the factories and warehouses seem vacant and deteriorating.


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