This Week in Dayton History: Eleanor Roosevelt visits Dayton, Brass Betsy 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 May 7-13.

May 8, 1938: Two nights set aside for dedication of enlarged Rike-Kumler Co. store

The formal opening of the new eight story addition of the Rike-Kumler Co. building at Second and Main streets took place in 1938. The eight-story addition gave the department store 60 percent more floor space.

The first night’s ceremony was a dinner attended by representatives of various companies which had done business with Rikes over it’s first 85 years. Between 200-300 people were expected to attend. Speakers at the event included James M. Cox, publisher of the Dayton Daily News.

The second night was on “open house” for the people of Dayton. The doors were opened for the public to come in, look around and shop. Various types of entertainment were planned for each floor.

The “open house” program was broadcast over WHIO radio.

May 12, 1939: Film stars arrive behind “Old 58″

“Brass Betsy,” also known as “Old 58,″ was an 80-year-old train famous for it’s rail days out west.

When a (modern at the time) Union Pacific locomotive chugged into Union Station in Dayton in 1939, it was “the most unique train seen in the town for many a generation.”

The crowd at the station applauded when movie stars from the Paramount film “Union Pacific” appeared and were introduced. They included Robert Preston, Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea, Marsha Hunt, William Henry and Patricia Morrison.

The train remained in Dayton for several hours before heading off to Xenia and Cincinnati where the actors made a personal appearance at the Palace theatre in conjunction with a showing of the movie.

May 12, 1950: Miami Valley Hospital drive $400,000 over $2,275,000 goal

A fundraising drive for an expansion of the Miami Valley Hospital came to an exciting conclusion by surpassing their goal. A crowd of about 700 stood and celebrated when the total of $2,673,689 was announced.

Charles F. Kettering contributed $200,000 for the modernization of the medical center.

“Women campaigners who collected $65,179 for the hospital by door-bell ringing and repeated visits to undecided donees,” joined the celebration.

A groundbreaking for the seven-floor, $4,500,000 expansion of the 59-year-old hospital was to start later in the year. The new building would have room for 450 beds and improvements to the old building would bring another 150 beds.

May 7, 1959: Former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt visits Dayton

Eleanor Roosevelt visited Dayton in 1959 to speak during a Junior League Town Hall series at the Victory theater.

Elizabeth Lyman, women’s editor of the Dayton Daily News, introduced Mrs. Roosevelt and the audience rose from their seats to greet her.

The speech she gave was “Russia, the Country and its Peoples.”

Even though she was in her 70s, Mrs. Roosevelt was staying busy. She had just returned from a two-month European tour before starting her lecture tour of the United States.

May 8, 1968: Celina’s Bird Lady has a colorful line

Mabel Bricker had been a bird fancier for 30 years at the time of this article in 1968.

Bricker had “well over 500 canaries and parakeets.” Many of her birds had won “Best of Show” at area events.

“I read up on all the genetics and canaries,” she said, “going back to the red factors of their tropical ancestors that make canaries orange, rather than the usual yellow color.”

She also had several mynah birds.

In addition to special seeds, Bricker fed her birds plenty of cod liver oil. Her mynah birds settled for dog food, bits of raw hamburger and pieces of banana and apple.

Many of her prize feathered friends lived to the age of 15, “and that’s considered an old-timer in the feathered world,” she said.

May 7, 1974: Space capsule pioneer retiring

Courtney A. Metzger, who spent a week sealed in a simulated space capsule in 1960, a year before man’s first space flight, retired after 33 years at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Metzger was assigned to the Aerospace Medical Research laboratory at Wright-Patterson during World War II.

“Those were exciting days,” said Metzger, who intended to continue doing consulting work in life support and environmental protection activities.

In the first such space system to be tested, Metzger was isolated for seven days - the longest such test at that time - in a nine-foot simulated space cabin resembling an Atlas missile nose cone.

His test proved the feasibility of sustaining men on long space voyages with oxygen providing chemicals instead of bottled oxygen.

He emerged from the test smiling and “feeling fine,” he said, and said that he missed being with his wife and eight children.

May 12, 1982: Couple gives up home after decade-long battle over I-675

Loren Gute and his neighbors lost their fight against the construction of I-675 after a battle that lasted over a decade. A judge had dismissed their request to halt completion of the six-lane bypass.

The thought of bulldozers ripping through the wooded, peaceful setting that surrounded his Washington Twp. home saddened Gute.

“I just want to get it over with ... It’s going to knock me out,” said Gute, who had lived in the home with is wife for 16 years.

Gute was concerned what state officials would offer him for his home, noting the sale of his home would end one chapter of his life and allow him to get busy “starting over again.”

Gute’s neighbor, Lois Moore, was resigned to the highway, saying, “I would prefer not to have it, but this is progress and I don’t feel we can stop progress. We need it.”

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