5 curious things presidents have done in Dayton, including anniversary gifts and tuxedo rewards

Presidents Day, held on the third Monday in February, was established to honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. 

To commemorate the federal holiday, here’s a look at five memorable presidential anecdotes from the Miami Valley: 

A long distance call to space. During a 1984 visit to Dayton, President Ronald Reagan stopped to make a long distance call. Reagan told the assembled crowd that he “had a phone call he had to take and they could listen in.” The next thing they heard was the president’s voice over a loud speaker saying, “Houston, Houston, this is Dayton.” Reagan was on the phone with the orbiting space shuttle Challenger. 

» RELATED: When Ronald Reagan called to space from Dayton’s Union Station

Say cheese. Two years before becoming president, a beardless Abraham Lincoln stopped at a Dayton photographic studio and posed for a portrait before making a speech on the steps of the Montgomery County Courthouse.

» RELATED: When Abraham Lincoln spoke at the old courthouse

With downtown Dayton in the background, President Bill Clinton waves to the crowd at Courthouse Square October 10, 1996. DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE
Photo: Dayton Daily News Archive

Happy anniversary. President Bill Clinton made a stop at the downtown Elder-Beerman store to shop for an anniversary present for his wife, Hillary Clinton. He reportedly bought a heart-shaped piece of crystal.

» RELATED: Campaigning in Dayton: a history of presidential candidate visits

» EXCLUSIVE CONTENT: Download our apps for real-time alerts on the news you care about

John F. Kennedy made a second tirp to Dayton as the Democratic nominee during the 1960 fall campaign. The year before he spoke to the Dayton Bar Association at the Biltmore Hotel. DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE
Photo: Dayton Daily News Archive

Honesty in the best policy. Future president John F. Kennedy wore a tuxedo from Price Stores to a Dayton event and returned it with a $105 campaign donation in the pocket. Price Stores returned the money and Kennedy wrote back thanking them for their honesty and included $25 as a reward. A copy of Kennedy’s letter is hanging in Price Stores today.

» RELATED: What have presidents done when they’ve come to Dayton?

President Lyndon B. Johnson visited the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in 1966 duirng a mid-term elections barn storming tour. DAYTON DAILY NEWS ARCHIVE

Comparing the livestock. President Lyndon Johnson, during a 1966 visit to the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, wrangled a trio of steers and compared them to Texas livestock. “I think these are better, we don’t have so much good feed to give them,” he said.

» NEWS IN YOUR INBOX: Sign up for our email newsletters on the topics you love

Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.