Retired Dayton Police Sgt. Stephen Grismer, who’s active in the Dayton Police History Foundation, didn’t want police and fire rescue workers to be forgotten during the 1913 flood centennial commemoration, so he began his own campaign to ensure their acknowledgement.
“I started researching in 2012, looking at newspaper articles and references from other publications of the time,” said Grismer, a Dayton native who now lives in Miamisburg.
He eventually contacted local historian, curator and Dayton history author Curt Dalton.
“Curt suggested I turn my material into a book, but I’d only written 22 pages and needed more information and photos. Curt assisted me and helped me find photos of any officer whose name appeared in the articles.”
With Dalton’s and others’ help, he put together the book — “Drenched Uniforms and Battered Badges: How Dayton Police Emerged From the 1913 Flood” — with more than 70 photos, and had 270 books printed in time for the various flood exhibits and commemorations. The books were placed at Carillon Park, Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, and the University of Dayton bookstore.
Grismer also contacted Mary Oliver, director of collections for Dayton History, who was curating the new permanent Great 1913 Flood exhibit for Carillon Historic Park.
“I asked her to remember the police and fire rescue efforts and services, and our foundation donated police items from the period — hat, badge, nightstick. As a result, she included them and a small exhibit of the police and fire rescue efforts.
“The reaction to the book and exhibit was very satisfying. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren of officers and other rescue workers were very thankful for the acknowledgement of the sacrifices their ancestors had made.”
Grismer was hoping to sell 150 books to recoup the printing costs, but, better yet, all 270 sold out within three months.
“The book was reproduced in July, but now is made available on Amazon and CreateSpace,” said Grismer, who noted that some are also still available at local outlets. “In August, Carillon Park placed a second order for a supply of the book for its gift shop.
“Since going online on print-on-demand at Amazon, more than 50 books have been sold. The color version is $19.95 and the black and white is $12.95.”
Grismer noted that, although 50 seems like a small number, he’s just started working on marketing the book.
All proceeds from the book sales go to the Dayton Police History Foundation.