This Week in Dayton History: Captain Kangaroo, a treasure hunt, Dayton Municipal Airport 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 bring 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 Nov. 26-Dec. 2.

Nov. 29, 1931: Shoppers crowd downtown stores and streets

The public was in a buying mood in late November 1931 with Christmas less than four weeks away.

Heavy store advertising sparks an excellent response from shoppers over the weekend.

Department stores and ready-to-wear shops seemed to be doing the best business. With the first really cold weather of the season, many were looking for hats, gloves and coats to stay warm.

Fred Rike reported that his store, Rike-Kumlers, was busy on all floors.

Harry Cappel, of Cappel Furniture, said he had a good day, but noted that his business was dependent on home building, which was slow that year.

M.L. Adler of Adler’s said he was grateful for the business: “We have had an excellent response on merchandise that we advertised.”

It was reported there there were more people downtown than any day since Easter.

Nov. 30, 1941: Fund to improve Dayton’s airport raised at meeting

About 150 industrial, business and professional leaders met at the Dayton Country Club to discuss the city’s dream of having a modern airport.

The meeting adjourned with the announcement that $36,350 had been pledged to purchase land to make possible an entrance from Route 40, the National highway, to the proposed new $180,000 Dayton Municipal Airport Administration building.

“Gentlemen, Dayton is still Dayton,” said former Gov. James M. Cox, chairman of the meeting and owner of the Dayton Daily News.

Orville Wright spoke on the need for replacing the current “lean to” administration building and pledged financial support. At one point during the meeting, there was also a standing moment of silence as tribute to the late Wilbur Wright.

Plans for the new building called for a three-story structure of brick and cut stone. The first floor would house the ticket office, radio equipment and a mailroom. The second floor would have a restaurant and private dining rooms. The second floor was to also have space for the U.S. Weather bureau. The third floor would be for equipment and the control tower, along with an office for the airport manager.

Nov. 29, 1953: Treasure hunt prize previewed

In 1953 the Dayton Daily News Oldtimer Newsies Association held a contest, and the prize was a Plymouth Belvedere four-door sedan.

Albert Scharrer, president of the association, went all the way to Detroit to see the car roll off the assembly line.

The car was shipped to Dayton and put on display outside the Montgomery County Courthouse for four days.

The Newsies organized a “Treasure Hunt,” for which the keys to the car were placed in a ‘Treasure Chest.” Clues to find the chest were published each day in the newspaper.

The first clue was: “The Chest will be hid, the search begun: The prize you’ll unravel if you, ‘mid thrills and worlds of fun, the roads to Dayton travel.”

The final clue was to be in a special Oldtime Newsies special edition paper sold only on the streets of downtown and at participating Plymouth dealerships. The purpose of the scholarship edition was to raise funds for college scholarships for deserving newspaper carriers.

Nov. 29, 1964: $5 guilt money out of circulation

Joseph Bettman, of Bettman’s Miracle Lane pharmacy, received an interesting letter in the mail.

The envelope contained a $5 bill and a letter that said, “I took something from your store without paying for it. I’m sorry I did this and I will never do anything like it again. This five dollars belongs to you.”

The note was signed “Repentant Thief.”

Pharmacy owner Bettman was shocked when he read it and in front of a store full of customers.

“It certainly takes an awful lot for someone to do something like that,” he said. “They must’ve felt pretty bad about it ...The idea that someone was moved to return it is very touching.”

Dec. 1, 1974: Captain Kangaroo ready for parade

Children’s television star Bob Keeshan, better known as Captain Kangaroo, was the Grand Marshall for the Dayton Holiday Festival parade in 1974.

“I hope the snow doesn’t dampen it,” the Captain said. “I hope people will make it an institution. A parade can really do a lot for a community.”

The parade started at Riverview and Salem Aves. and traveled into downtown.

Captain Kangaroo also made a brief appearance on WHIO-TV’s “Charlie Goodtime House” show. The Captain Kangaroo show had been on CBS for 20 years.

Keeshan said children have not changed much in those 20 years. “In general, preschool kids are in search of the same thing - identification. They want to know, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Where do I fit in?’ That’s the same as it was 25 or 50 years ago,” he said.

About kids TV watching habits, The Captain said, “I’m sad when someone tells me they have no TV in the house. They can watch programs that help the children develop and grow and then turn it off.”

About the Author