This 1996 New York Times article takes on a special poignancy with the 2009 announcement
that NCR is finally closing its doors in Dayton”
“For Dayton was always much more than just the Cash. Daytonians invented and manufactured
many of the staples (and a few of the quirky incidentals) of American prosperity
-- the cash register, of course, and the airplane, but also the automobile self-starter
and the pop top. And companies like Frigidaire, Delco, Dayton Tire, Huffy Bicycle
and Esther Price Chocolates joined with the community in an unwritten social contract
crafted on a foundation of profits and jobs, plenty of jobs”.”
By Sara Rimer, New York Times, Wednesday, March 6, 1996
History is an antidote to the hubris of the present. We think we’re so terrific.
We think we know so much. We think we have such genius. Well, think again.
Even before the building was erected, prices rose. In 1916 lunches jumped to $0.35!
Five years later membership had expanded to include those who worked with engineers,
and women were granted most club privileges. The club soon installed its first “wireless”
or radio set, and the new library shelved its first thousand books.
Aviation also found a pioneering home near the club. Directly across the river McCook
Field became the first military aviation test field. There early aviator Harold R.
Harris became the first to use a parachute successfully, landing in a grape arbor
in North Dayton. This was fortuitous since he also later flew under the Main Street
The Club served unofficially as the initial “Officers Club” for McCook’s Army Air
Corps officers. Along with Deed’s leadership, this interchange of aviators and engineers
may have helped foster McCook as the Army’s chief R&D center for aviation, later
to shift to nearby WPAFB.
In 1925 a cozy Barber Shop was installed upstairs off the Loggia porch, overlooking
the airfield across the river. All members, wives and children could get clipped
at “usual city prices.” It is unknown how many women trusted their locks to the club
barber. The fastidious and private Orville Wright found this the perfect place to
get a trim while observing the progress of aviation.
Weathering the great depression
In 1929 the club title transferred to the members with an estimated value of $405,000.
The library by then held 3200 books. With the onset of the depression, membership
dropped by 10%. But the club survived, and by the 1936 had accepted its first female
member, Maude Gardner.
During the same years Charles Kettering co-invented Freon 12 refrigerant gas, and
several other members worked on related technology at the Frigidaire plant in town.
So it was fitting that air conditioning was installed in the club in 1937.
During the same period the lower level was developed as the French & Italian rooms.
By the time of Pearl Harbor membership had climbed to 1000 members. Though war rationing
restricted vacations and celebrations, the club found ways to provide some fun and
relief to the growing membership working on the war efforts. See the related slideshow
for some examples.