This Week in Dayton History: Frisch’s Big Boy fire, the end of Gem Savings and more stories to remember

Dayton has a fascinating history, which the Dayton Daily News has been there to chronicle since 1898.

Each week, we’re going into the archives for stories both important and interesting that happened this week through the years.

Here’s a look at some stories from the week of June 30-July 6.

July 2, 1939: ‘Smokey,’ boss and mascot of Dayton fire station, credited with saving seven lives

Her name was “Smokey,” and she belonged to the firemen of Companies 1 and 2 at the fire station at Webster and Ford streets.

Four years prior, the dog has shown up at the station, tired and thirsty. Capt. John Murphy couldn’t resist helping her.

“She sat up on her haunches, looked up at us and we looked back at her and in about three minutes, she took over the place,” he said.

Smokey began every day by attending the morning roll call. Then she had her breakfast outside the kitchen door. Smokey wasn’t permitted in the kitchen or bedrooms.

On fire calls, Smokey usually went along, taking her place on either the ladder or chemical truck.

Smokey had no fear of smoke, and once entered a small hotel up in flames. She awakened seven sleepers in rooms on the third floor by barking and scratching at their doors, possibly saving their lives.

July 3, 1959: Seven-hour blaze destroys Frisch’s restaurant

The Frisch’s Big Boy Drive-In on Springboro Pike was in rubble after a grease fire destroyed the eatery.

Damage estimates ranged from $75,000 to $250,000. Either way, it was called a complete loss.

Five Miami Twp. pumper units and one from Kettering were called to the blaze, and 65 firemen battled it for seven hours.

At its peak, the blaze sent heavy brown clouds of smoke 200-feet skyward. Flames rose 25 feet from the roof.

There was a large crowd at the time of the fire, with some 75-100 people, all of whom evacuated safely.

A crowd of 2,000 people flocked to watch the scene.

July 1, 1979: Rising gas prices draw more passengers to train station

Better service and rising gas prices during the 1979 energy crisis were making the idea of taking a train for travel an interesting possibility in 1979.

The “National Limited” was the only passenger train to come through Dayton at the time, and it was scheduled to be shut down by the U.S. Department of Transportation that October.

The waiting room at Dayton’s Union Station was getting a little more crowded as ticket sales were on the rise.

At the beginning of the year, the stationmaster was selling five or six tickets a day, but by mid-year, it was up to about 30 a day. The increase in ridership was changing minds about cutting the service.

Nationally, Amtrak had taken a million calls to their reservation center in just one month and had to hire 100 people just to handle the calls.

July 2, 1989: Clock stops for Gem Savings

For more than two decades, the image of Gem Savings Association was linked to the massive four-sided clock that towered over downtown Dayton. It sat atop the 12-story Callahan building at Third and Main streets.

The vintage clock from 1880 projected reliability and security to Daytonians for even decades before that.

But after a 102-year history, Gem Savings was sold to National City Corporation which operated First National Bank.

The bank had survived the 1913 flood, the Great Depression and two World Wars, but could not make it through the 1989 thrift crisis.

As Gem Savings merged with First National, it left only one locally owned financial institution, Citizens Federal Savings.

The historic Gem City Clock, also known as the Callahan Clock, now has a home at Carillon Historical Park.

July 4, 1999: Beavercreek resident collects M*A*S*H memorabilia

The CBS television series M*A*S*H premiered Sept. 17, 1972 and had it’s last episode on Sept. 19, 1983. The show garnered a lot of serious fans over the course of that run.

One of the biggest was Beavercreek resident J.D. Sherrow. The show had inspired a 15-year hobby of gathering collectibles from the sitcom.

It started with a trip to Washington D.C. and an exhibit titled “M*A*S*H at the Smithsonian: Binding Up the Wounds.”

Sherrow brought back a souvenir poster and he had been collecting ever since.

He had a room dedicated to his M*A*S*H memorabilia, which consisted of more than 700 items.

His favorite item was a train set, complete with action figures and Jeeps.

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