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Remembrances > Growing Up In Belmont in the 1960s Part One
Growing Up In Belmont in the 1960s Part One
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4 posts
Sep 01, 2014
8:09 AM
The Belmont area centered at the intersection of Watervliet and Smithville roads in Dayton, Ohio was an active place for the Baby Boomers of the 1960s. On the northeast corner, where a gasoline station is today (September 2014) used to be the location of Immaculate Conception's church, converted from a bowling alley, before the existing church was built at 2300 South Smithville Road. The building at 2412 S. Smithville was the church's store for selling religious gifts, Bibles, statuary, books and assorted knick-knacks. Sharing the current gas station lot with the church and facing Watervliet was Belmont Bakery, which moved west to 730 Watervliet. As we sat in the un-air conditioned church during 12:30 Mass, for which my dad was head usher, the tempting aroma of Parkmoor's chicken would drift in from the southeast corner of the intersection. Parkmoor was torn down to put up a self serve car wash, which was eventually razed to become Walgreens. By the way, the building at 863 Watervliet housing Marian's Dance studio and a barber shop used to be on the same lot as the present day drug store. It was Fred's barber shop in the 1960s and became Mr. Fred's, probably in the 80s, and currently is Rick's Barber Shop. This building stands on the lot which once was Belmont Lanes Bowling. It's a duplicate of the original building which stood on what is now Walgreens property. The small church at 909 Watervliet was a beauty salon in the late 60s. Between Slyder's Tavern and Belmont Billiards at 828 Watervliet was a TV and appliance repair shop until the mid 1970s. I used to deliver the Dayton Daily News along Weng avenue to the repair shop then continued my route down Watervliet to the library. When finished I'd take Lyndhurst avenue and take a short cut through Belmont Park to get home.

On the southwest corner of Smithville and Watervliet, the current site of Taco Bell, was a small strip mall with four storefronts of various shops over the years including a laundromat, Abner's Trophies and my favorite place to buy comic books, Clark's Pharmacy. It was there while browsing the revolving paperback book rack I discovered the campus unrest of the 1960s I had largely ignored because it was happening elsewhere was happening at Kent State in Ohio. I was 15 at the time. When I first started buying comic books they cost a dime and shortly thereafter went up in price to 12 cents. I stopped buying comics when the cover price reached the outrageous sum of 25 cents.

The corner of 723 Watervliet at Morse avenue, currently Hazy Shade Disc Golf, was Max's Shoe store which shared the building with a hardware store. Down the street on the southeast corner of Fauver and Watervliet for many years was Angie's Tavern, known for its cabbage rolls, and across Fauver avenue, at 649 Watervliet, was a music store where instruments were bought or rented, sheet music sold and music lessons given. In my case, it was accordion lessons.

Across Watervliet at 630 and 638 was a Kroger store. The PNC bank in the same building was always a bank but changed names many times over the years. My first savings account was opened with money I saved from my paper route when it was Third National Bank. Further down the block in a home attached to 600 Watervliet and up a few stops to the landing facing Mundale avenue was the front door of the original Jack's Aquarium where a friend of mine belonged to the Fish of the Month Club. Back towards Smithville, where the Beer Depot is now at 712 Watervliet, was Belmont Theater, later renamed Cinema East, part of a chain of neighborhood movie theaters that dotted the area. At the northwest corner of Smithville at 746 Watervliet was a toy store, which sadly did not last long into my childhood. 

From there, the Dairy Queen was and is about a block away at 2613 S. Smithville, Next to that was a small strip mall with Charlie's Doughnuts anchoring the corner at 2615 S. Smithville. It was a small place with only a couple of tables and a counter for eating in but they had the best doughnuts. Unfortunately if you stopped by after the regulars had left the doughnuts had the distinct aftertaste of cigarette smoke. Timing was everything. 

On the corner of Bellaire avenue at 2627 S. Smithville is currently the Starlite Diner. Before that it was the Nanking Inn, a chinese restaurant for many years. Originally, though, it was Burger Chef, a competitor of McDonald's with what I thought was better food. I can still sing their jingle:  “For fifteen cents, a nickel and a dime, at Burger Chef you eat better every time! For a nickel and a dime you get this-french fried potatoes, a big, thick shake or the greatest fifteen cent hamburger yet!”

The heart of Belmont, at least for us kids, situated behind Lohrey Center, Immaculate Conception School and the church convent (where all the nuns lived) was Belmont Park. Every Mother's Day was Opening Day for the baseball season there and all the teams would be lined up on the hill facing the diamonds for the ceremonies. Diamond One was the premier field in the park and only used by the really good older players. From the end of the parking lot to Russet avenue, the site of the disc golf course today, was either heavily wooded or being used as a landfill. Sometimes the woods would have slimy and smelly streams of who knows what running through them that was thick enough to suck the Converse shoe off of your foot. I used to throw rocks at glass bottles floating in the giant puddles created after heavy rains. Bulldozers would work the trash into the ground and there was a huge mound of gravel just east of Diamond 5 for their use. That side of the park was thick woods, some areas more pristine than others, crisscrossed with trails blazed by wandering Boomers. Often times we used our StingRay bicycles like today's mountain bikes, skirting trees and low branches and skimming the edge of a cliff created by the landfill.  Aside from the density of the wooded area and the landfill activities, the park today is basically the same as it was in the 1960s except it's hardly used. Diamond One is covered in grass and the view from the benches are blocked by weeds. Lohrey Center was the place to go to find other kids to play board games, sports in the gym, take some classes or in my case, see Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" for the first time. The pool opened in 1972, the year after we moved out of the neighborhood. I learned to swim at the privately owned OakDale Pool at 978 Irving Avenue, now the location of the Irving Commons apartment complex. 
208 posts
Sep 01, 2014
8:26 AM
Brings back so many memories!I can't count the hours spent in the Parkmoor and on the lot outside from 1961 until 1964!
Lohrey Center was the home of many couch races during the same period!We would face the couch toward the wall very close,put our feet up against the wall and on the count of three push as hard as we could.Whoever got further out from the wall won!Good times and great memories!!
125 posts
Sep 04, 2014
3:23 PM
A really good post. I got a nice feeling for your old neighborhood. I often passed through the area, but never lived there. This type of post is what the Personal Remembrance section is for.
Dan L Bayes
1 post
Sep 26, 2014
5:31 AM
Thanks for the look-back. I worked at Clark's part-time while going to Belmont High (1968 grad). To this day, I don't go back to Dayton without going to one of my favorite hang-outs, Marion's Pizza!
3 posts
Oct 09, 2014
8:48 AM
Lohrey center had great activities for the youth in the area in the '60's and '70's. I remember the excitement when they built the "indoor/outdoor" pool. Spent many hours at Belmont Park. I can remember the teachers warning us about the "big woods" at the park, that we should stay away. Of course we had to go see why. Frank's carryout on Smithville, near Wayne Av, was a favorite after school stop for soda and penny candy too.

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