Letters to the Editor: Dec. 4

The former Wight Brothers bicycle shop at  1005 West Third St. in Dayton may be demolished. The building was built in 1892. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

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The former Wight Brothers bicycle shop at 1005 West Third St. in Dayton may be demolished. The building was built in 1892. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

I read with horror a story that the Wright brothers’ bicycle shop faces demolition. For years my home state of North Carolina has claimed to be “First in Flight,” because, I suppose some of your readers know, the Wright brothers flew from the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in December 1903. I’m aware of, shall I say, the “polite discord” between our two states as the nation prepared to celebrate the centennial of flight in 2003. About that time, or maybe since then, I believe I have seen Ohio referred to as the “Birthplace of Aviation,” because it was in your city that Wilbur and Orville first dreamed of flying and conducted many experiments that lead to the production of their test kites and their first airplanes.

Have the city officials and citizens of Dayton no shame? How in the world can they allow this historic landmark to be demolished! I know this second sentence was a question, but I have deliberately punctuated it with an exclamation mark to show my amazement and heartbreak at the very thought of such an icon being razed.

I beg of someone in authority in Dayton, some historical society, a philanthropist, some corporation or an entrepreneur to save such a valued landmark. Not only should the bicycle shop be preserved, it should be turned into a museum. If Dayton can’t handle such a project, perhaps someone there should contact the Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

- James H. Dilda, Lt. Col., USAF (Ret.), Kernersville NC

Following the decision to raze the old Gem City Ice Cream building — presumed to be the site of the first Wright brothers bicycle shop — there has been a widespread reaction on the Internet driven, as these social media storms often are, by misinformation.

There is a myth-conception that some interior walls define the Wright shop. Painstaking research by Matthew Yanney has shown the building began its life as the Nicholas Block in 1894 and that two structures — the home of the former owners and a wooden building that may have served as the Wright’s shop in 1892 — were razed to make way for its construction. There’s nothing left of the original wooden building.

There is also a question of whether the brothers were here at all. The only record is a remark that Orville made to Henry Ford in 1937 at the dedication of the reconstructed Wright shop and home at Greenfield Village. The advertisements in the Dayton papers from the early 1890s put the Wrights at 1015 W. Third St.; nothing ties them to 1005 W. Third St. Orville may have misspoke or his words were recorded incorrectly.

Furthermore, whether it was 1005 or 1015 W. Third, nothing occurred there of any historical importance. The Wright brothers sold other people’s bicycles at their first shop. It’s nothing like, say, 1127 W. Third St. — their fourth or fifth location — where the Wright brothers decided to investigate the possibility that man could fly, where they designed and built experimental kites, gliders and Flyers, including the first aircraft with three-axis control (1902), the first airplane to make a sustained and controlled flight (1903), the first practical airplane (1905), the first commercial airplane (1907), or the first military airplane (1909). This is the spot where aviation began, an endeavor which affects directly or indirectly every aspect of our 21st century lives.

What makes this reaction to the razing of the Gem City Ice Cream building so preposterous is not just its dubious historical value, but that a location two blocks away with infinitely more value is marked with a plaque and some grass. Wouldn’t the effort be better expended to create something meaningful at a place where something meaningful happened?

- Nick Engler, Director Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company

Honest online sellers shouldn’t have to pay for retail crime. Our state legislators are currently considering legislation that would penalize online sellers for the nationwide wave of organized retail theft we saw Thanksgiving weekend. In a misguided attempt to address in-store thefts and prevent the sale of counterfeit or stolen goods, Senate Bill 184 and House Bill 272 would require online sellers, who make 200 or more transactions in Ohio a year, to make their personal information and home address available. As a small business owner who makes an honest living online, this concerns me greatly and not only threatens my privacy, but also my livelihood. This policy would put online sellers like me at risk of bad actors, such as disgruntled customers and online thieves, who might use our personal information to commit fraud, steal our identities and threaten violence. We should not be forced to choose between safety and providing for our families. Loss prevention is a big-box retail problem that overreaching mandates for small business and honest online sellers won’t solve. Tell your local legislator to vote no on SB 184 and HB 272.

- Bryce Lee, Westerville