And the wall came tumblin’ down

Well, they snuck one by us again didn’t they?

Another historical piece of our past is gone.

Look, I know we can’t save everything, but it seems like we’re not thinking ahead for the generations to follow…

Let me go back a bit.

After Wilbur and Orville Wright made history by building and flying the first heavier-than-air flying machine in Kittyhawk, N.C., it took a while for our city forefathers to acknowledge that feat back here at home. Only when the Wrights took their invention to France, where they were welcomed with open arms, did people back in these here parts take notice.

Later, when Henry Ford was moving an impressive collection of historical structures and artifacts to his Greenfield Village up in Michigan, two of those acquisitions included the Wright’s Cycle Shop, where they sold bicycles in front and worked on their airplane in the rear, and the brother’s boyhood home.

Now, why on Earth were they relocated? Well, basically because no one was doing much with them here.

So, now we have plaques where these iconic buildings once stood. The score so far is 0 for 2.

The original Wright Flyer is hanging high in the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., but it would have looked great at our very own National Museum of the United States Air Force – don’t you think?

0 for 3.

Orville Wright’s Laboratory off of West Third Street in Dayton, where he tinkered almost until the day he died, was torn down to make way for a filling station that never materialized.

Somebody did save the façade though, but no one is quite sure where it ended up.

0 for 4.

Which now brings me to the point of this column: Another one bites the dust.

This structure may not be as historic as others, but it played an important roll for many generations of Daytonians.

I’m talking about the old Montgomery County Fairgrounds wall that runs, or should I say ran, along South Main Street across from Miami Valley Hospital.

Construction crews are widening Main Street, so to make that possible, the wall came a tumblin’ down.

And as the old nursery rhyme (almost) goes, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put the wall back together again.

Or something to that effect.

I’m told the stone wall dates back to at least the 1870s, when Dayton was on the threshold of manufacturing greatness. Can you picture coming up and over the hill at the fairgrounds? Oakwood and beyond was countryside.

And farmers with wagons full of produce and fresh meat brought their wares to the city to sell.

As a matter of fact, it is a given Main Street was a dirt road back then, teaming with horses and buggies. Miami Valley Hospital was a one-structure complex.

“So Buch, what’s the big deal?” you ask.

Well, a big part of its history was during the Great 1913 Flood.

You can just picture people running for their lives and higher ground from the encroaching flood waters, some of whom may have actually scaled the wall to safety as they watched their beloved city enveloped with tons of water, mud and debris.

So, my question is, why weren’t the stones reused in some capacity? Was the general public notified? Or was it a, don’t-ask-don’t-tell scenario? You know, easier to ask for forgiveness than permission?

I’m told the Montgomery County Fair Board objected, which apparently fell on deaf ears.

They did save a few of the capstones, though.

The Dayton History folks at Carillon Park got wind of the wall’s impending demise late in the game. By the time they were alerted, most of the historical wall was landfill.

It’s really sad sometimes we can’t see the forest through the trees, or our nose on our face.

The old wall, or at least part of it, could have been erected somewhere as a monument to those whose lives were saved during the flood. Or, maybe it could have been just a place to reminisce about days gone by. I guess we’ll never know, right?

Just think if that wall could talk, but alas, it’s forever silenced.

It’s too late for the fairgrounds wall, but will it end here? My guess is no, I’ll be writing once again soon about something that was here one minute and gone the next.

0 for 5 and counting my friends.

Cheers, but not in a happy way.

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