This Week in Dayton History: An orange opossum, a solar eclipse and more stories to remember

Throughout this year, we’ll be celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Dayton Daily News with stories, photos, videos and more.

Each week, we’ll being you a selection of notable stories that happened this week in Dayton history, chronicled by the same newspaper that continues to serve the community today.

Here’s a look at some stories happening the week of March 5-11.

March 5, 1932: Dayton school children appeal for Lindbergh baby’s return

Many students of Central School were told by Principal Louise Coffman to visualize the kidnapped son of aviator Charles Lindbergh as their little brother and submit written appeals to the kidnapers.

“Please,” wrote Vera Oakley, fourth grade, “will you give the baby back to us. Or maybe nobody in the world will like you.”

Another student, Nora Alexander wrote, “Oh sir, will you please give back the little stolen child to Mr. and Mrs. Lindbergh. Just think how the mother and father feel without their only child. It is a terrible thing that you have done. It has been sad news to the people of America. Please don’t harm it, bring it back to them.”

Lindbergh was famous for making the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris in his aircraft, the Spirit of St. Louis. On March 1, 1932, the 20-month-old son of Lindbergh and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, was taken from his crib in the Lindbergh’s New Jersey home. The child’s body was found on May 12, on the side of a nearby road. Two years later a man was arrested for the crime and sentenced to death.

March 10, 1946: Newspaper boys of Daily News thrilled by “Pappy” Boyinton’s air tales

Former delivery boy “Pappy” Boyinton was the featured speaker and held the attention of some 1,300 Dayton Daily News delivery boys for more than an hour during the annual Daily News Carriers’ party held at Memorial Hall.

Boyinton was a top flying ace of the Marine Corp., Medal of Honor recipient and prisoner of the Japanese for 20 months.

Although mainly known for his service with the Marines, before the war Boyinton was part of a select group of pilots that formed the famed Flying Tigers in China. Under the guise of clergymen, he and 27 other pilots were secretly placed in China.

Boyinton told of his experiences in the Japanese prison camp as well as his exploits in the skies, downing a large number of Japanese planes.

The party for the newspaper carriers and their parents was thrown by the organization known as the Oldtime Newsboys of the Dayton Daily News, who are now leaders in their respective business and professional fields. The group also granted college scholarships to worthy newsboy students.

March 9, 1954: Wilma Jackson, county native, new boss of Navy Nurse Corps

In 1954, Wilma Jackson was named Director of Nursing of the Navy Nurse Corps. Jackson, a native of Union in Montgomery County, learned her profession at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton.

Jackson graduated from Butler High School in Vandalia in 1927. She enrolled at the Miami Valley Hospital school of nursing and then did graduate work there as well. Later, she attended George Washington University in Washington D.C. as well as Columbia University in New York city.

She entered the Navy in July 1936. Jackson served at Navy hospitals in Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Mare Island, California before joining the Navy hospital on Guam Island in the Pacific. She was taken prisoner by Japan in 1941, when the island was captured soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She was a prisoner for seven months.

March 11, 1962: 10,000 swarm Ball-Arena as 1962 Home Show opens

Lawnmowers, rock gardens, model homes, hi-fi music along with “shorts-clad beauties” all vied for attention at the 15th annual Dayton Home Show at Wampler’s Ball-Arena.

An estimated 10,000 visitors filed through the exposition. Attendance was expected to top 100,000 for the nine-day event.

Judging of the nearly 200 booths was a highlight of the opening day. A prize for the best educational booth went to the Dayton Police Department for its display including narcotics, confiscated weapons, a polygraph and other crime fighting equipment. The Siebenthaler Company’s garden display was judged most outstanding of the show.

Wampler’s Ball-Arena was named after brothers Harold and Ralph Wampler. In 1963 it was expanded and renamed Hara Arena, taking the first two letters of their first names. Hara Arena closed its doors in 2016 and was later demolished.

March 8, 1970: Eclipse cools it, literally

More than 1,000 people took turns looking through two dozen telescopes at the Dayton Museum of Natural History to see a solar eclipse.

The moon blocked eight tenths of the sun, making it still dangerous to look skyward without eye protection or safety filters on the telescopes. Some viewers used pinhole viewers or shielded their eyes with pieces of exposed photographic film.

A little cool spell seemed to settle over the area as the moon moved in front of the sun, dimming the bright sunshine to a soft light, about the intensity of a cloudy day.

The telescopes were manned by staff members of the museum and its Apollo observatory, and by members of the Miami Valley Astronomical society.

A movie screen was also set up, and the eclipse was projected from a TV camera looking through a telescope for the crowd to see.

March 5, 1982: Fin-tastic creation

A three-wheeled, two-passenger car that its developers said would go 75 miles on a gallon or regular unleaded gasoline and had fins that would put a 1960 Cadillac to shame was developed by Trian Ventures Inc. of Springfield.

The vehicle was called the AERO 135 and the fins provided directional stability in gusty crosswinds and helped forward thrust.

The AERO 135 sounded like a motorcycle and looked like an experimental aircraft. The company’s president, Douglas Amick said he was once stopped by a sheriff when there were reports of an airplane landing on the expressway.

The Aero 135 weighed 800 pounds but was licensed as a motorcycle. Its body was made of light fiberglass, epoxy and plastic foam, with a tubular steel roll bar behind the driver.

The vehicle was expected to sell for about $6,400.

March 6, 1990: Museum’s opossum in the vanguard of hair color

Orange opossums were unheard of among a bevy or experts and reference books that the Dayton Museum of Natural History had consulted.

Yet, they had one. The female opossum named “O.P.” had bright orange hair from her long rope-like tail to her pointy pink nose. “O.P.” was short for “Orange Possum.”

The year-old-or-so marsupial had been recently donated to the museum for their “Wild Ohio” exhibit room by a Dayton family who had raised her from infancy. Two in the same litter were orange.

Veterinarians at the museum could only guess that it was a genetic defect. Except for her orange hair, O.P. appeared to be no different from any of the multitudes of dirty-blonde opossums.

In an effort to explain the hair color, samples were sent for analysis to Division of Wildlife experts at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, but they didn’t come up with anything.

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