Header Graphic
Great Days in Dayton
Dikes Against Disaster

“Great Days in Dayton!”

Reproduced on these pages is the full script of a “Great Days in Dayton” broadcast.  All usic and sound effect “Cues” are indicated just as they appear on the working scripts used by the cast.  The sponsor hopes that you will find interesting these dramatized episodes from the life story of your city.


“Great Days in Dayton” is a Presentation Sponsored by




  [Music: Theme. Starts fortissimo, then fades behind…]

ANNOUNCER:  Great Days in Dayton!”


ANNOUNCER:  We present another drama taken from the century and a half of Dayton’s history.  The long march of the years has now carried our story from Dayton’s earliest beginnings, as a frontier settlement in the Northwest Territory, to the modern and progressive city of the Twentieth Century.  Our earlier plays depicted the first stirrings of community and civic life.  We saw Dayton grow into a village, a town, at last a city.  We saw its progress in peace and its sufferings in war.  And through all of this we have observed one vital element…the civic consciousness and spirit of Dayton’s people.  At times that spirit has been weak, delaying growth and advancement.  At other times it has been strong, bringing swift improvement to the whole community.  But never has that spirit failed Dayton in its hour of crisis.  (PAUSE.) It is the hope of our sponsors, The Dayton Power and Light Company, that the presentation of these historical dramas will strengthen in all of us a determination to meet the future with the courage of the past, and thus to shape and build a still greater Dayton in the days to come.  (PAUSE.)  And now…here is your narrator, Mr. Charles McLean, who will introduce today’s drama.



NARRATOR:  Our last two plays dealt with the great disaster of the Dayton flood of 1913. Here was the greatest challenge that had faced Dayton people in the entire life-story of their city.  Dayton met that challenge, and in that same tragic hour gave proof of its firm determination to prevent the recurrence of such a calamity.  Yet the civic crusade thus launched was concerned with more than material protection.  Reconstruction included a complete transformation in Dayton’s form of government, a transformation which set new standards for other American cities.  (PAUSE.)  Our play today deals with this double reformation in the pattern of Dayton life.  Again, as in past dramas, real characters from Dayton history make their appearance.  But again, too, we employ fictional characters to express the feelings and actions of the many typical Dayton citizens who participated in the events shown in our drama.  Our opening scene is in the home of two of these fictional characters, Mark and Helen Watson. The time is early summer, 1913.



HELEN:  I’m afraid I don’t quite understand, Mark.  People are saying that Dayton needs a new city charter, a new kind of government.  What’s the matter with the one we have?

MARK:  Almost everything.  It’s what’s called the federal form of city government…a mayor, auditor, treasurer, solicitor and fifteen councilmen.  There’s no centralized authority; even the mayor controls only the public service and safety departments.  An elected official is as independent as a hog on ice.

HELEN:  But don’t they represent the voters?  Aren’t they responsible to the people who elected them?

MARK:  The people?  Don’t be silly!  City officials are chosen by the political bosses.  Here’s Joe Doakes.  He’s never amounted to much as a lawyer, a grocer or an undertaker.  But he looks impressive, and he’ll stand without hitching.  So Joe is put up for some office, by his party boss, and right away the party newspaper begins calling him the people’s choice.  Joe makes some speeches; they’re written for him, sound fine, but mean nothing.  The ward heelers and precinct workers get the voters to the polls.  Joe is elected.  From then on he does what the party boss tells him to do.

HELEN:  But if they don’t give good government I shouldn’t think they would be re-elected.

MARK:  They are, though, unless the city administration is too rotten.  Then they get thrown out and the other side goes in.  But that doesn’t help the city, because one gang of politicians is just as bad as the other.

HELEN:  Do you mean there’s dishonesty in Dayton’s government …graft?

MARK:  Of course there’s graft.  Not much perhaps...probably no more than in most other cities.  But the right connections and some ready cash will do quite a lot at the City Hall.

HELEN:  Why, Mark, I think that’s perfectly terrible!

MARK:  Sure, it is.  But the inefficiency is worse than the graft.  Dayton’s annual deficit is about sixty thousand dollars.  Any private business that was run that way would go broke.

HELEN: Still, I suppose it costs a lot of money to run the city.

MARK:  And what do we get for it?  Unpaved streets.  Firemen and policemen laid off because there’s no money to pay them.  Schools closed by epidemics that could be prevented by decent public health service.  The city payroll loaded with party hacks who don’t know or care what they’re doing.  At least half of them should be fired.

HELEN:  Well, do you think anything can be done about it?

MARK:  I don’t know.  There’s a committee composed of John Patterson, E. A. Deeds, Fred Rike, E. C. Harley and Leopold Rauh.  They’ve been working on a plan for a new city charter.  They’re having a public meeting tonight at the Y. M. C. A. to discuss it.  We’ll go down there and find out what’s what.

[Fade out an in.]


VOICE 1: …and the essence of this plan is that Dayton’s city government shall be run in a business-like way.  We are proposing, among other things, a commission of five members in place of the present unwieldy council of fifteen.

VOICE 2:  I don’t like that idea.  Every ward has its own representative on the council now.  We know our councilmen; they live in our own neighborhoods; we can ask them for things we want.

VOICE 1:  And do you get them?

VOICE 2:  Well…no, not always.  [Laughter.]

VOICE 1:  You bet you don’t, because your councilman’s vote is just one out of fifteen.  There’s constant confusion and conflict in the council.  The individual wards rarely get what they want, and the city as a whole never gets the kind of government it should have.  We propose a city commission of only five members, representing all the voters and given the authority to take action.

VOICE 3:  But that can be done now…by the council and the mayor.

VOICE 1:  No, it can’t.  Most city officials are independent of the council and the mayor.  That’s why we recommend a city manager, hired by the commission just as a manager is hired by a manufacturing business.  The commission would determine city policy, and the manager would carry out that policy.

VOICE 4:  I’m opposed to that.  It means that Dayton would be run by the men who control business, the men who have money.  The ordinary voters wouldn’t have a chance.

VOICE 1:  Yes, they would, because our plan calls for the initiative, referendum and recall.  The voters will be able to start legislation, pass on ordinances already enacted or recall elected officials who don’t perform their duties properly.

VOICE 2:  How are you going to select this city manager you’re talking about.  Will he be a Republican, Democrat or Socialist?

VOICE 1:  His politics will have nothing to do with it.  He’ll be hired to run the city, administer the departments, prepare an annual budget for the commission.  He’ll hold his job just as long as he does good work, and he can be fired when he doesn’t.

VOICE 3:  How about other city employees?  Can they be fired, too?

VOICE 1:  Yes, except where they’re under the civil service provisions of the charter.  The city manager will have full authority to remove any employee, or even a department head, if he isn’t efficient.

VOICE 3:  Does that mean he could fire some of the ward heelers who are in the City Hall right now?

VOICE 1:  It certainly does!

VOICE 3:  Well now we’re getting somewhere.  [Laughter.]  If your plan will cut out political patronage, get decent operation of the city departments and come somewhere near running this town on a pay-as-you-go basis, I’m for it.  [Music: Fades in and out.]


[Mixed voices. Laughter.  Cash register.]


ED:  Oh, Joe!

JOE:  (coming on):  What’ll you have, gentlemen?

ED:  The same.  What’s yours, Bill?

BILL:  Same for me.  (PAUSE.)  You know, Ed, this charter campaign has got me sort of worried.

ED:  Why?

BILL:  I’m afraid they may put it over, and I don’t like the idea.  I haven’t worked for the party all these years just to have the reformers come along and pull my city job out from under me.

ED:  What are you worrying about?  Reform campaigns never amount to anything.  A lot of busybodies trying to tell the politicians how things should be run.  They get up at meetings like the ones they’ve been having at the Y. M. C. A. and shoot off their mouths.  They pass out hand-bills and put up posters all over town.  But in the end we elect our candidates just the way we always have.

BILL:  But this charter movement has the biggest men in town back of it.

ED:  They think they’re the biggest.  But they’re not as big as our party organization.

BILL:  They’re not alone in this campaign.  They’ve got a lot of citizens with them…just plain ordinary citizens.

ED:  I know, I know.  An unorganized mob of good citizens, who think they want good government.  They don’t know what government is good or bad.  And they don’t know anything at all about politics.  You just wait until election day. We’ll go right back in the way we always have.

BILL:  You think our jobs are safe, then?

ED:  Bill, you and me are on the city payroll from now on.

[Music: Fades in and out.]



VOICE 1:  Gentlemen, I’ve asked Mr. Mark Watson to join us in this meeting because his long association with the newspaper business has given him an initiate and practical knowledge of political procedure.  I feel that he may be able to give us some good advice.

MARK:  I’ll do anything I can.

VOICE 2:  I’m not sure we want to follow ordinary political procedure.  Our charter plan is new.  What’s more, it’s clean.  I think we should keep it free from the usual political practices.

Voice 3:  So do I.  The public has shown a lot of interest at every meeting we’ve held.  No one has been able to produce any sound arguments against the commission-manager plan.  We’re telling the truth, and I think we can count on the public to recognize that.  If we just let the facts speak for themselves I’m sure the voters will adopt the new charter.

VOICE 1:  What do you think of that, Mr. Watson?

MARK:  Not much.

VOICE 2:  Aren’t you in favor of the charter?

MARK:  Sure.  But that’s one thing.  Getting it adopted is something else.

VOICE 3:  But we have the facts.  There’s no question but what our present city government is inefficient, if not actually dishonest.  We can prove that.  Our plan, on the other hand, promises real efficiency, real economy.  And we know that the voters like it.  Almost every public meeting we’ve held has been an enthusiastic one.

Mark:  That’s right; I’ve been to a couple of them myself.  But those involve a few hundred citizens who are already half in favor of your plan. You’ll get their votes.  But what you need is the votes of the thousands, not the hundreds.  And the only way to get them is to organize as the political parties do, and go after the votes as they do.

VOICE 1:  But that’s machine politics.  That’s one of the things we’re working against.

MARK:  You want to win this election, don’t you?

VOICE 2:  Of course we do.

MARK:  Well, you won’t do it by making speeches and putting up signs, and passing out hand-bills.  All that is just the window-dressing of a political campaign.  You’ll have to have trained workers in every ward and precinct in Dayton…people who live in each neighborhood, people who can talk to the voter next door, and across the street, and around the corner.  They’re the ones to put up your arguments; and they’re the only ones who can win over the Doubting Thomases.  And even then their job will be only half done.  On election day, they’ll have to get the voters to the polls…every one of them.  This election, like all elections, will be decided by the actual number of votes cast.  (PAUSE.)  Oh, yes, and you’d better have your own watchers at the polls, just to make sure that the votes are counted right.

VOICE 3:  It all sounds like dirty politics to me.

MARK:  It is politics, but you don’t have to be dirty about it if you don’t want to.  You don’t have to buy votes, or stuff ballot-boxes, or do any slugging at the polls.  But you’re going up against experienced politicians who know how to win elections, and if you are going to beat them you’ll have to beat them at their own game.  Build up a political organization of your own…captains, lieutenants, ward and precinct workers.  Send them out to talk, and talk again, to every voter in Dayton.

[Music: Fades in and behind.]


VOICE 1:  You’ll vote for the new charter, won’t you?

VOICE 2:  Yeah, sure.  I’m sick of the way this town’s been run.

VOICE 3:  You want good government in Dayton.  Can’t you help us to persuade your husband?

VOICE 4:  (woman):  My husband has voted the straight party ticket all his life.  Nothing could change him.

VOICE 5:  You want the streets paved, don’t you?  Then vote for the charter.

VOICE 6:  Paved streets ain’t nothing to me.  I ain’t got no automobile.

VOICE 7:  (woman):  Every woman in this club has an interest in good government…for her city, her home and her family.  We should all persuade our husbands to vote for the new charter.

VOICE 1:  Public health is enough of an argument in itself.  Your children and mine will be benefited by the new charter.

VOICE 8 (woman):  George, you’ll vote foe the new charter, won’t you?

VOICE 9:  And vote myself out of the work I’m doing for the city now?  You’re crazy!

VOICE 3:  Sixty thousand dollars in the hole every year.  That’s what government deficit means in Dayton.

VOICE 5:  Yeah, but put in another gang, and it will be just as bad.

VOICE 7   (woman):  We don’t want the schools closed every year on account of epidemics.  And they won’t be if we have good city government.

VOICE 4 (woman):  I hope you’re right.  But it will still be a man’s government, and the men have certainly made a mess of it so far.

VOICE 1:  We want new blood, new ideas, new methods in city government.

VOICE 6:  You can’t fool me with these reform ideas.  I’m still voting the straight Democratic ticket.

[Music up.]

VOICE 1:  Vote for the charter!

VOICE 4  (woman):  Vote for clean government!

VOICE 3:  Vote for the balanced budget!

VOICES:  Vote!…Vote!…Vote!

[Music: swells, holds and fades behind…]


NEWSBOY:  [Loud and slowly, off.]  Extra!  Extra!  Dayton adopts new charter!  City manager plan wins!  Extra!  Extra!

[Music; Fades out.]



HELEN:  It’s really wonderful isn’t it, Mark?  They’ve done all this in just a few months.

MARK:  Yes, it was fast work.  The campaign didn’t really get under way until summer, but they adopted the charter in August and elected the commissioners in November.  Dayton has its new government.

HELEN:  And a city manager.

MARK:  That’s the part that interests me, because really good government will depend on how well the city manager carries out the plans and ordinances of the commission.  And I think they’re selected a good man…Henry Waite.  He had a fine record as city engineer in Cincinnati.

HELEN:  Someone said today that he’s to get an awful big salary.

MARK:  Twelve thousand, five hundred.  It sounds big, compared with the former mayor’s salary of five thousand, but it will be worth it if we get really efficient government.

HELEN:  Have you met Mr. Waite yet?

MARK:  No, but I’m going to tomorrow.  I have to interview him for the paper.  [Fade out and in.]



MARK:  What do you think is the greatest problem facing the new administration, Mr. Waite?

WAITE:  Keeping up with Dayton’s newly enlightened public opinion.

MARK:  Don’t you think the program’s ahead of public opinion now?

WAITE:  Not a bit of it. The campaign stirred up a tremendous interest in good government.  People know what they want, and they’re going to insist on having it.  A lot of definite promises were made during the campaign.  If we don’t fulfill them, and some of them right away, we’ll be no better than previous administrations…the kind that forgot promises as soon as an election was over. In that case Dayton would have a different government, but not a better one.

MARK:  And what do you think can be done—say within the next six months?

WAITE:  I have a list as long as your arm.  We’re going to put city employees on an eight –hour instead of a ten-hour working basis…but we’re going to see that they work eight hours instead of four or five, the way they have been.  We’re going to establish a new building code, pave a lot of streets, start building a garbage disposal plant, make sewer improvements, add to the water supply system, set up a municipal garage and organize better police and fire protection.

MARK:  How about public health?

WAITE:  One of the most important things we have to do.  We need a full-time health officer, which we’ve never had.  We need more food and dairy inspectors, more nurses and a better system of public health records.  We’re gong to build a real health service, one that will prevent disease, rather than cure it.  There’s no excuse for frequent city-wide epidemics.

MARK: That sounds fine.

WAITE:  There are other things we can do right away…establish community gardens and playgrounds, a municipal lodging house, a service of free legal advice to people who can’t afford to retain lawyers.  I could go on for hours.

MARK:  Won’t all these new things cost the city a lot of money?

WAITE:  Listen!  City government in the past has been so wasteful that we can do all of these things and still save money.  I think that we can retire about thirty thousand dollars of the floating debt the first year.

MARK:  You say public opinion is up to all of this?

WAITE:  You bet it is.  There’ll be complaints if we don’t’ get all of it done right away…and criticism of the way we do it.  Dayton has had a revolution in government, and after a revolution people want things changed.  I hope that Dayton voters will keep on complaining and criticizing.  That’s what shows public interest; and it’s the only thing that insures keeping good government once you get it.  [Music: Fades in and behind…]



NARRATOR:  During the same months that saw this revolutionary change in city government, flood prevention plans were under way.  Dayton had engaged the services of an outstanding engineer, Arthur E. Morgan, to devise ways of preventing another such disaster.  The beginning of the work was marked by conferences between Mr. Morgan and the leaders of the flood prevention movement, including John H. Patterson, Governor James M. Cox, E. A. Deeds and Adam Schantz.  [Music: Fades.]



MORGAN:  Perhaps you gentlemen have some definite ideas of your own.  How about it, Mr. Deeds?

DEEDS:  I think any definite ideas at this time would be dangerous, Mr. Morgan.  Of course, all of us have had ideas…rather vague ones about channel and levee improvements in, above and below the city.  But I’m beginning to suspect that it’s going to amount to a lot more than that…and that it’s going to cost a lot of money.

SCHANTZ:  I’m very anxious to see the work started, so as to protect property right away. I think the dams, levees, or whatever is needed, should be started immediately.  I’d like to see the dirt flying this fall.

MORGAN:  Yes, I know, Mr. Schantz.  Everyone in Dayton wants protection immediately, because there may be another flood next year.  But even my preliminary survey of the flood area makes me agree with Mr. Deeds.  I think that this is going to be a very big job, and that it’s going to take a long time.  There’ll be a lot of careful planning required before any real work can be done.

PATTERSON:  Can we do the job with the two million dollars we’ve raised?

MORGAN:  I’m afraid not, Mr. Patterson.  In fact, I’m beginning to think that the two million will be needed to find out what to do.  Doing it will cast twenty million, maybe thirty million.  I don’t know.

SCHANTZ:  You don’t think we’ve bitten off more than we can chew, do you, Governor Cox?

COX:  No, I don’t.  I can’t believe that anyone who saw the wonderful spirit of our flood prevention campaign will fail to realize that Dayton will do the job, however big it is.  [Music: Fades.]

MARK:  I’ve been in Arthur Morgan’s office almost all day, going over the flood prevention plan.  It will make a fine feature story for the paper.

HELEN:  You’re late, Mark, but I’ve kept your dinner warm for you.



HELEN:  Is the plan completed?

MARK:  In general…not all the details, of course.  It’s a tremendous thing, a really new engineering idea.

HELEN:  Someone told me that they’re going to build a big dam above Dayton, making a lake several miles long.

MARK:  That’s just what they’re not going to do.  They’re going to build five dams, instead of one, but there’ll be no lakes back of them.  If there were, and another flood came along, the dams might break.  And if that happened, the whole city of Dayton might be washed all the way down to New. Orleans.

HELEN:  But what good are the dams if they don’t hold back water?

MARK:  They’ll hold it back, all right, but only the flood water.  Each dam will let the river water through all the time, summer and winter.  But all of them together will let through only enough water to fill the river channel here in Dayton.  In the spring, when there are melting snows and heavy rains, the water will back up above the dams for a few days, maybe for a week or two.  But all the time it will be running out, and slowly enough to keep the water-level here in Dayton always below the danger-point.

HELEN:  It sounds complicated to me.  Will it take a lot of people to operate the locks and gates at the dams?

MARK:  It’s not complicated; it’s as simple as ABC.  There won’t be a single lock or gate.  Nothing will be left to the chance of human mistakes or failure.  Once the dams are built, the whole system will operate automatically.

HELEN:  But how can a few dams hold back a flood like we had?

MARK:  They have that all figured out. They’ve made careful rainfall and damage studies of the whole flood area.  They’re sure that the heaviest rains we could ever have would produce only about twenty per cent more water that we had in March.  But to be on the safe side, they’ve designed the dams to hold forty percent more water.

HELEN:  How much will all this cost?  Can it be done for the two million dollars Dayton people subscribed?

MARK:  No, that’s just a starter.  I have the total cost right here on paper…thirty three million, eight hundred and ninety thousand, nine hundred and nine dollars, and eighty-three cents.

HELEN:  M-a-r-k!  Where will they ever get the money?

MARK:  Bonds…long-term bonds to be paid off by taxes against property actually protected and against the communities as a whole. It will increase our present taxes about twenty-five percent.  But the direct benefits will be more than seventy-five million dollars; that’s more that twice the cost of the whole flood prevention system.

HELEN:  Still, I suppose people will object to the higher taxes.

MARK:  They’ll object to a lot of things.  This conservancy project isn’t confined to Dayton. It will extend through nine different counties up and down the valley.  It will take an act of the Legislature to make it possible, and both before and after it starts there’ll be plenty of objections.  [Music: Fades in and behind…]



VOICE 1:  They’re using scare-talk to rob us taxpayers.  There’s no real danger of another flood.  If there were, the big stores and banks and factories wouldn’t stay in Dayton.

VOICE 2:  (woman.)  My husband says the dams will never hold the water.  We’ll have a worse flood that we had before.

VOICE 3:  They might as well steal my farm and be done with it.  Every year the flood water will cover the whole place.

VOICE 4:  (woman.)  We live ten miles from Dayton.  I don’t see why we should pay flood taxes.  We’re against it here in our township.

VOICE 5:  I know my house was in the flood.  But I don’t want to pay heavy taxes for years and years, just on the chance that we’ll have high water again.

VOICE 6:  (woman.)  I think our club should come out against it.  My husband says that every dollar that’s spent will be wasted.

VOICE 7:  Going to build dams, are they, and ruin a lot of good farms?  Well, I’ll tell you that no jury in this county would convict a man for blowing up one of those dams.  You’ll see.  [Music: Fades out.]



VOICE:  [woman.]  Good morning, Mr. Deeds.  Mr. Morgan is in his office with Mr. Paul and Mr. Locher.  They’re waiting for you. Go right in. [Door opens.]

DEEDS:  Good morning, Mr. Morgan.

MORGAN:  How are you, Mr. Deeds?  You know Mr. Paul and Mr. Locher.  [Ad lib greetings.]

DEEDS:  I’ve always thought that building the pyramids must have been a tough job, but at least the Pharoahs didn’t have our legal troubles.  Arguments, resolutions, objections, suits and injunctions. [Sighs.]  Well, we’re through with all of that now, and the job’s under way.  That’s what counts.  How’s your work coming, Mr. Paul?

PAUL:  All right. I’m carrying on the contact between the engineering staff here in the office and the forces actually working on the jobs under Mr. Locher.  We’re getting the benefits now from our long advance planning.  We have our troubles, of course, but things are working out about as we expected.

DEEDS:  How’s your end of it going, Mr. Locher?

LOCHER:  Fine, though sometimes I get a little confused by the number of businesses we’re in. Anyone who thinks we’re just shoveling dirt to make dams is crazy.  We have 29 locomotives, 200 cars and miles of track; in other words, we’re running a rather sizeable railroad.  [Laughter.]  We’ve got a trucking business involving 63 automobiles.  Then there’s our electric light and power system…73 miles of transmission lines and enough transformers and other equipment to take care of a thriving town.  Builders’ and operators’ supplies, too.  We’re leaders in that line…450,000 barrels of cement, 70,000 tons of coal, 10,00,000 feet of lumber and 400,000 gallons of gasoline.  [Laughter.]

MORGAN:  Why, yes, we’ve almost usurped the powers of government.  We’ve built five complete villages…one for each dam…to house our working crews.  Streets and sidewalks, trees and shrubbery, stores, mess halls and houses.  All modern conveniences…electric lights, bathrooms, running water.  And the citizens pay no property taxes in these towns of ours.  [Laughter.]

DEEDS:  Speaking of towns, we did quite a job with Osborn, didn’t we?

MORGAN:   Yes, I’ll never forget that.  Of course, we bought a lot of individual farms, one at a time, all through the areas that were to form the flood basins above the dams.  And I think every land owner got a fair shake.  Sometimes we had to pay a little more than the acreage was actually worth, but we thought that farm families were entitled to something for the sentimental associations with their homes.  And as a matter of fact a lot of farmers have bought back their lands with flood easements, and will farm them during the summers when the rivers are low.  Well, anyway, those were all small deals…a hundred or two acres of land and a few buildings.  But Osborn…well, that was something different.  [Fade out and in.]


  [Mixed voices.  Gavel pounds.]

VOICE 1:  Order, order, please!

VOICE 2:  I want to get this straight.  Just what is it that you flood prevention fellows from Dayton want to do?

VOICE 3:  We want to buy your town.  We want to buy Osborn.

VOICE 4:  What’s that?  My hearing ain’t what it used to be.  Thought you said you want to buy this whole town.

VOICE 3:  We do.  [Voices and gavel.]

VOICE 1:  Order, please!

VOICE 3:  That’s right.  We want to buy every building you have …stores, shops, houses…everything.

VOICE 2:  I’m glad I don’t live in Dayton.  It seems to make folks crazy.  [Laughter.]

VOICE 3:  You see the whole town of Osborn lies in what will be the flood basin of the Huffman Dam.  Every time we get really high water, the site of this town will be completely flooded.

VOICE 4:  That’s a fine state of affairs, if you ask me.

VOICE 3:  Yes, it is.  But it can’t be helped.  If we’re going to give flood protection to the whole valley, we’ve got to cover land somewhere with flood water.  We’re buying lands and buildings wherever the flood basins are to be.  And we’re having to do other things that seem foolish until you look at the job as a whole.  We’re moving four railroad lines, a lot of roads and highways, electric power lines, water and gas mains.  We’d rather not do any of that…just build our dams and nothing more….because it all costs money.  But there’s no other way out.

VOICE 1:  What kind of prices would you pay if you bought us out?

VOICE 3:  Fair prices, just as we’ve paid fair prices for the farms we’ve bought.  We don’t want any condemnation proceedings.  We want to get the job done, and we want to keep the good will of everyone in the whole district while we’re doing it.

VOICE 2:  But what will we Osborn people do?  We’ve got to have some place to live.

VOICE 3:  Of course you must, and I’m going to make a suggestion. You have a nice town here.  But perhaps there are some things about it that you would like to change a little.  I think I know how you can do that.  You can get enough acreage two miles east of here, and above the high-water line, to build a town on.  On that acreage you can lay out a new townsite.  You can plan it just the way you want it.  Then you can move this whole town, a building at a time.  You can make all the changes and improvements you want in your town plan…and make them all at one time.  (PAUSE.)

VOICE 1: [slowly.]  You know I think there may be some sense to that idea.

VOICE 2:  Well, now, I don’t know.  Osborn has been right where it is for a mighty long time.

VOICE 3:  We know that.  And it’s your town.  And we’re not trying to tell you what to do.  I’m just making a suggestion.

VOICE 4:  I don’t think this is anything we want to jump into, but I can see some big advantages in the idea of a new town, built and laid out just the way we want it.  Now, I’ve always thought that our post office would be a lot better located, more convenient for everybody, if we could just move it from where it is and put in over on the corner of…

[Music: Fades in and out.]



MARK:  Helen, where’s that scrapbook of my feature articles for 1925 to ’30?  I had it here just a minute ago.

HELEN:  It’s right back of you, Mark…just where you put it.

MARK:  Oh, yes.  (PAUSE.)  You know, it seems incredible now that there ever could have been any serious objection to the Conservancy plan.  I’ve been going over the stuff I wrote back in the early Twenties, and I find that a lot of pretty sensible citizens were grousing about the taxes, or saying that the dams would never work, or something of the sort.  But I’ll bet you couldn’t find anyone now who’d trade his share of flood prevention for ten times what it cost him.

HELEN:  We haven’t had any floods, have we?  Not for twenty years.

MARK:  No, and we’re not going to have any.  But we might have had.  There have been seven major storms in the last ten years or so, any one of which would have caused flood damage here in Dayton.

HELEN:  There have?  I don’t remember ever seeing the river very high.

MARK:  That’s just it; it hasn’t been high.  The dams have worked perfectly.  There was a three-day storm in 1922 that would have produced an 18-foot flood stage in Dayton.  Yet the water only reached ten feet in the channel.   There was another one in 1929 that produced about 14 feet in Dayton.  Without the dams it would have reached 22 feet, and scared us all to death.

HELEN:  And you’re sure we can never have another flood?

MARK:  As sure as engineering skill can make us.  We’ll have high water here in about a month, with the thaws and the spring rains.  And when we do, we’ll drive out and see how the dams work.  You’ll see a lot of water backed up in the basins.  It’ll be there for several days.  Then it will flow out and the farmers will come and plant summer crops…crops that will be better for the silt brought down by the flood waters.  (PAUSE.)  Yes, you’ll see water, the water that might have flooded Dayton. But we’ll come back then and we’ll see the river here in town.  It will be flowing quietly and smoothly between the levees, rising enough to fill the channel, making our Miami look like a really big river, but never rising far enough to do Dayton any harm.  [Music: Fades in and behind…]



NARRATOR:  And so ends the story of Dayton’s greatest disaster…out of which grew Dayton’s greatest triumph.  Through crisis Dayton rose swiftly to new beauty, new strength, new and vital civic purpose.  (PAUSE.)  Next Sunday we shall present  “The World Aflame,” a drama of Dayton’s participation in the first World War.  To many of you listening today it will bring back scenes and events in which you had an active part, memories still fresh after the passage of more than two decades.  [Music: Swells and fades behind…]

ANNOUNCER:  These programs are sponsored by The Dayton Power and Light Company, which for many years has served our city by supplying natural gas, electric light and power, and city steam, to our homes, businesses and industries.  Dayton Power and Light service has grown and expanded as a result of Dayton’s civic progress, and its organization is pledged to the support of all civic movements looking toward a greater Dayton in the years to come.  (PAUSE.)  And now…here is a very important announcement.  Next Sunday, March 30th…”Great Days in Dayton” will be presented at 5:15 in the afternoon, instead of at five o’clock, as heretofore.  Remember that change…five –fifteen instead of five…and be sure to tune in for next Sunday’s program.  (PAUSE.)  These presentations originate in the auditorium of the Dayton Art Institute and are broadcast over Station WHIO.  All dramatic roles are played by members of the Dayton Civic Theatre professional company.  Your narrator has been Charles McLean.  Your announcer is Morton DaCosta.  (PAUSE.)  Join us next Sunday afternoon at five-fifteen for another drama of “Great Days in Dayton!”


Return to "Great Days in Dayton" Home Page