At 632 Third Street in Dayton, Kentucky, Christmas was a special time. A new tricycle for Margaret, a doll for Mary, with a buggy to stroll the doll around the neighborhood. The older girls, Louise and Kate got clothing, books, maybe a diary to write down their thoughts. And Elizabeth, she held on to little Rita and was just happy that her husband, Cliff, the man behind the camera, could work as a photographer and provide for them, while she laced the first electric strand of lights on their meager tree.
Elizabeth used the term “Better than sliced bread,” quite a bit. I never knew what that meant until recently when I discovered that sliced bread was a phenomena of the late twenties and early thirties. She would have to wait several more years for that freedom from the kitchen and bread baking that took much of the day. But on this particular day she must have celebrated the fact that her family was together, under a tree. Coal was in the bin and keeping them warm. The market had delivered their Christmas turkey, wrapped on the back porch because there was no room in the icebox.
This family began in 1906. You can see the wedding photo in the background. That picture hangs in my home now. But in 1906, Elizabeth worked for Maschinot Tailoring Shop at the corner of Sixth and Main streets, in the building that now houses the Veterans of Foreign Wars. She would leave work only to find Cliff waiting to walk her home after a day at Benjamin Studios in downtown Cincinnati.
Cliff took pictures of Wild Bill Coty and Sara Bernhardt for posters to promote their shows coming to Cincinnati. He delivered family portraits to the Longworths and Sintons and Tafts around town. He always came home to his family, making extra money to feed his six children, wife and any extended family member who may be living with them at the time. His stamp is on Dayton High School class pictures, wedding party pictures, First Communion photos that tell the story of life in Dayton.
There’s a photo in Tharp Dayton Heritage Museum of Ling’s Bakery that bears my Grandfather’s name. I salivate every time I look at the images of the cases of pastries, tea cakes, cinnamon bread, long johns, peanut rolls…see, your mouth is watering too.
During the Christmas season in 2016, we don’t know where life will take us. However, we can always see where we have been. We have a great legacy to cherish the beautiful bend in the Ohio, the town that was built on more than just a sandbar. The board of trustees at the Tharp Dayton Heritage Museum would like to wish each one of you a very Merry Christmas.
In the new year, we will be rededicating the museum with the blessings of the Tharp Family. The museum will become Dayton Heritage Museum. Mark your calendar now for January 28, 2017, when we will celebrate this move forward, while embracing the past. We hope that Charlie and his family will be on hand, as well as others who have contributed to the museum and preserving the history of Dayton. All are welcome in our little place at 718 Sixth Avenue, Dayton, Kentucky.
Submitted by: Tina Neyer
Tharp Dayton Heritage Museum
Dayton Community News