After the fire: Daytonians share soap factory memories

Flames destroyed the former Hewitt Soap Co. factory last week, but also rekindled memories among Daytonians.

Last week, in response to our "5 things to know about historic soap factory fire," readers started sharing their personal and family memories of the Hewitt Soap Co. factory in Dayton's Linden Heights neighborhood.

Below are some of their responses submitted by email, edited for clarity and brevity.

Debby Kaucher, Trotwood

"A friend of our family, Mr. Earl Rice, drove a truck that delivered soaps from Hewitt Soap Co. He would give us 'Avon' soaps, etc., that were flawed. We enjoyed using them. Also, my parents drove Linden Avenue through town and we always loved the fragrances we smelled as we drove past the factory."

Anita Trent

"A family story tells that my grandfather lost his leg to an industrial accident at the Hewitt soap factory. My grandfather Everett Baker, worked for Muth Brothers Co. in the late 30s and they were placing a big storage container at the soap factory when it slipped from a crane and crushed my grandfather's legs, eventually resulting in an amputation. But he survived and was able to dance with his wife soon after and lead a normal life. Will always remember the smell of the soap as you drove down Linden Avenue. Will miss this Dayton icon."

Jenni Baker

"Hewitt was a family affair in my oldest sister's family. She worked there for 30 years or so, her husband about the same, their son, his wife, her mother and sister and my brother-in-law's father, too. I think it was like that for several families. I'll never forget the way my sister would smell when she came home from work. It was a very distinct smell. It's almost hard to describe.

"After everyone was laid off, for a year or so longer, my sister and one other man were the last two Hewitt employees to go when Bradford (the owner at the time) locked the doors for the last time. It was truly a shame when the doors closed for good because that soap company was a Dayton staple. It is equally a shame now with the fire now even though the building was empty."

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