Dayton’s Bluff: Full of historic homes
Photo © Patricia Bour-Schilla
I sit on the front steps of 761 East Third Street, waiting for the trolley to pull up to “experience the wonderful housing opportunities in Dayton’s Bluff.” The woman next door comes around the corner and I show her the ad in the Dayton’s Bluff District Forum April issue; I even read her the bottom line in 22-point bold type: “This ad is no April Fool’s joke! Don’t miss this great tour!”
“It don’t start here,” she says.
I follow her to her back door; she goes inside, grabs a flyer, and hands it to me. The possibilities tour, it’s titled, and it says the tour started at 798 East Seventh Street at noon. I run to my car, light a smoke, and race over a few blocks. My watch reads 12:03. There’s the trolley, one seat left.
I hop on and sit next to Earl. No-wait, he lives on Earl; we ride right by his house, and then he points out Aunt Sally’s house on Beech Street. Next to it is the first house on the tour, although the flyer says it’s the third house (gotta love typos). 930 Beech. I used to live at 916 Beech. Now it’s a chiropractic office. The house on the left is where Deets and Walter lived with a lavender bathroom. “Ya gotta be careful in this neighborhood,” Earl man says.
We pass Haag’s Superette, now boarded up. I remember writing notes in cursive, signing my dad’s name for a pack of L&M’s.
“Careful of what?” I ask Earl man.
“Of the hoodlums,” he says.
This is the city. There are hoodlums, prostitutes, and ministers. Not all people wear slim-fitting khakis; not everyone has a car born in the current decade.
Out of the eleven houses on the tour, three are category ones, meaning the structure is danger free. The others need serious maintenance. All are under $100,000 and within a two-mile radius of each other.
As we drive through the neighborhood, I think I see Don Hauser’s mom hanging clothes in her back yard. I think I hear Trudell’s car engine rumble and McKenna’s dog howl. Once an East Sider, always an East Sider.
Back at 798 East Seventh, the Community Council Office, we end our tour an hour later. Inside, I grab free cookies and coffee. “We have to save our community,” a young woman says. “We have to save these houses, or builders will come in and tear them down. They’ll build houses like those in the suburbs.”
“What’s wrong with the houses in the suburbs?” I ask.
“Well, have you ever been to the suburbs? All those houses are designed to keep people from getting to know one another.”
I think about this and know what she means.
“You got to be careful of those neighborhoods. You could live there for decades and never know who lives next door to you,” she says.
I get back in my car and drive past all eleven houses again. I recognize I’ve just experienced the wonderful housing opportunities in Dayton’s Bluff, where the possibilities are endless, regardless of hoodlums or typos. Ya gotta be careful of this neighborhood, I think, not of hoodlums, but of memories.