332. Jan. 4, 1995 - Parking meter anniversary slighted: devices installed in 1944 during World War II
By Jim Blount
A 50th anniversary passed in November without ceremony. It's also unlikely anyone will promote a belated celebration.
It was in November 1944 -- near the end of the third year of United States involvement in World War II -- that the first coin was placed in a parking meter in Hamilton.
The city put 300 meters in operation Monday, Nov. 6, 1944, along High Street from Monument Avenue to Fourth Street, and on Second and Third streets between Ludlow and Dayton streets.
The installation was approved in June 1944 by Hamilton City Council, whose members were Leo J. Welsh, Howard "Hack" Wilson, E. J. Bartels, Miss Eleanore Frechtling, Joseph Spaulding, Joseph Toerner and John A. Schwalm.
"A recent survey disclosed that more than 800 parking meters can be used in the business district," the Journal-News explained. "But the additional meters will not be ordered until a later date, priorities preventing completion of the project at this time."
Those first 300 meters were leased, not purchased, during a nine-month trial period. Obviously, the test was considered a success.
Drivers deposited $140.90 in the devices in the first two days, and by the end of December the city had collected $3,290.12. Rates in 1944 were 12 minutes for a penny, or an hour for a nickel.
The first meter loss was reported on Christmas eve 1944. Patrolman Beryl Watson discovered two units missing in the 200 block of South Third Street Sunday, Dec. 24. The thief apparently wasn't seeking money for last-minute Christmas shopping because Watson also found 80 cents in pennies and nickels scattered around the meter posts.
In 1945, the first full year of operation, the meters produced $24,948.51 in income. In 1946 -- the first year without war-time gas and tire rationing -- the total jumped to $38,473.62, a 54.2 percent peace dividend for the city.
The climb continued in following years: $48,221 in 1947; $56,294 in 1948; and $61,299 in 1949, the fifth full year.
By the end of 1952, the number of meters had expanded to 914, including off-street lots in the downtown area. Deposits that year totaled $88,966.50.
Charles T. Rupert, city finance director, reported meter income of $459,491.72 in seven years and two months. "Parking meter revenue has enabled the city to maintain a traffic squad, and purchase equipment for the traffic squad's use, saving large expenditures from the city general fund," Rupert reported to city council in January 1953.
Except for drops in 1963, 1974 and 1979, meter income has climbed yearly to a high of $275,568.21 in 1993, according to Guy Gaspar, who supervises the city parking systems.
Those 300 original meters have multiplied more than four times. There were 1,227 in operation in 1994, the highest total in 50 years, Gaspar reported. Coverage also has spread beyond the 12-block area metered in 1944.
Hourly rates also have risen. The cheapest hour today costs 20 cents for spaces with 15 to 30-minute limits, and long-term lot spaces. At limited locations, with meters starting at 30 minutes, the charge is 25 cents an hour. Some off-street lots go to 50 cents an hour.
The downtown parking picture changed nearly 20 years ago with the opening of the municipal garage along Market Street between North Second and North Third streets. The $3.3 million five-level facility offered 555 off-street spaces -- with no time limits -- when completed in September 1975.
Gaspar reported 139,472 vehicles utilized the garage during 1993, including 92,566 exits by people who rented space on a monthly basis and 46,906 who paid for each use.
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333. Jan. 11, 1995 - Butler County Children's Home operated for 116 years:
By Jim Blount
The recent national debate on welfare reform has focused on orphanages as an alternative to doling out money to unwed mothers. Proponents of the controversial idea believe sending children to the institutions would eliminate the financial incentive for young women to have babies they can't care for.
Orphanages began opening in the United States in the 1830s, encouraged by increased urbanization and immigration. There were few until the Civil War, a bloodletting which quickly multiplied the number of children without food and shelter.
In Butler County more than 300 men lost their lives in the 1861-1865 conflict. The suffering caused by that war extended to thousands, including orphaned children. It was "the sad condition of many fatherless children" which led to creation of the Butler County Children's Home, explained Mrs. Thomas (Mary) Moore, a member of its first board of trustees.
In January 1869, several Hamilton women met with a goal of "not only giving the children shelter and food, but training their minds that they may become useful men and women."
That meeting led to incorporation of the Children's Home Association of Butler County under the leadership of eight trustees. They were Margaret E. Leiter, Jane C. Skinner, Martha Beckett, Ann M. J. Matthias, Anna A. M. McFarland, Emma Phillips, Catherine Sohn and Margaret Dyer.
In May 1869 a house on North C Street was rented at $25 a month. The eight-room house on the west side of C Street between Park and Wayne avenues was placed under the supervision of Mrs. William Tweedy, the first matron.
Later that month, five fatherless boys became the first residents of the home, which served the youth of the area for more than 115 years.
Charitable contributions and a variety of fund-raising events -- including concerts and lawn fetes -- sustained the home, which soon was too small to handle the demand for its service.
In 1875, the generosity of two Hamilton industrialists and philanthropists enabled the association to expand operations. Clark Lane and E. J. Dyer, partners in business, offered $10,000 if the women could raise $2,000. (Lane also was responsible for starting the Lane Public Library, which still serves the Hamilton-Fairfield-Oxford area.)
After the successful finance campaign, the group bought the Dyer farm near the top of the South D Street hill. The stone house, built about 1850, became the center of what would be the campus of the Butler County Children's Home for 110 years. The home moved to its new quarters in September 1875.
By the mid 1880s, the home had a staff of more than 20 adults serving 210 children.
Starting in 1872, the association had received some financial support from the Butler County commissioners. But throughout its history -- as facilities were modernized and expanded and as services changed -- the home relied heavily on public donations of money and time.
For several years "one of the main sources of revenue," reported Kathleen Neilan Stuckey in a 1936 Journal-News article, "was the dining hall at the fairgrounds where, during the week of the fair each year for almost 20 years, the ladies took charge and worked successfully at the gigantic task of feeding the hundreds who thronged the hall, sure of excellent fare.
"This project netted usually amounts from $300 to $600 -- enough to carry the home through the winter months with the donations that were sure to come in around the holidays," Mrs. Stuckey noted. Contributions ranged from jelly, eggs and sauerkraut to firewood, second-hand clothing and straw for mattresses.
"These bountiful supplies," Mrs. Stuckey said, "came from all over the county, wakened to the need of its children by the enterprising ladies who did not fail to solicit cooperation, interest and material aid from auxiliary societies" in the county.
In its final years in the 1970s and 1980s, the home's mission changed to helping about 50 to 60 abused and neglected children, including some from outside the county. It also acquired houses in other Hamilton neighborhoods.
The name was changed to Miami Valley Childrens Home in 1977. It closed nearly 10 years ago in September 1985.
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334. Jan. 18, 1995 - Dixie Highway linked north and south:
By Jim Blount
Boosters depicted it as an "avenue of travel between the winter playgrounds of Florida and the summer resorts of Michigan." Other advocates called it simply "a great highway from Michigan to Florida." But few Hamilton-area drivers today would attempt to follow its latticed course to either state.
The Dixie Highway -- still evident in Middletown, Hamilton and Fairfield -- was the idea of Carl Fisher of Indianapolis, who in 1912 had proposed the coast-to-coast Lincoln Highway.
"Carl Fisher was the pioneer publicity man of America," wrote Jane Fisher in "Fabulous Hoosier," a biography of her husband published in 1947. The businessman and auto salesman was a founder of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and its 500-mile race. The native of Greensburg, Ind., also raced bicycles, cars and balloons, promoted speedboat and yacht races, and played polo, tennis and golf.
Starting in 1913, Fisher developed Miami Beach, Fla., and built the first hotel there. He successfully publicized the city as "America's Greatest Winter Playground." He also created catchy slogans, such as "It's Always June in Miami Beach" and "Where Summer Spends the Winter." Later, he developed Montauk, Long Island, as a summer resort.
A conference of governors seized Fisher's popular idea in May 1915 and formed the Dixie Highway Association. Fisher's publicity techniques were used to promote (1) the paving or bricking of the route, and (2) the renaming of local streets and roads as the Dixie Highway.
Unlike the 1950s interstate system -- mandated by the federal government -- the various branches of the Dixie Highway resulted from the cooperative efforts of many cities, villages and counties. Chambers of commerce and auto clubs appointed Dixie Highway committees. Individuals, groups and businesses also joined the movement for improved roads.
The governments of Hamilton, Middletown and Butler County were on board early in 1915 and 1916 when few local drivers were brave enough to try to drive as far as Cincinnati or Dayton over rutted, unpaved roads.
"The counties and states responded to the call to build a highway to Dixie which would bring the North and South closer together," noted a DHA publication in 1917. By the middle of that year, a Dixie Highway network of about 5,100 miles had been planned. The interlocking routes connected Mackinaw, Detroit and Chicago in the north with Chattanooga, Augusta, Atlanta and Miami in the south.
The highway wound through 10 states -- Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. It ran mostly north-south, but there also were several east-west links.
An eastern division, which passed through Butler County, stretched 1,536 miles from Detroit through Cincinnati and Lexington to Miami. A 1,802-mile western system snaked from Chicago to Miami, via Indianapolis, Louisville and Nashville.
A northern loop extended from Detroit on the eastern division to Michigan's Upper Peninsula, then south through Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and South Bend before joining the western division at Indianapolis.
The DHA not only promoted travel, but served motorists, too. For example, in 1917 DHA warned drivers that part of the route, the old Louisville and Nashville Pike, had deteriorated "until no motorist who respected his car would try to travel the rough cobblestones" on that link.
Dixie Highway construction slowed in 1917 when the United States entered World War I, but the association stressed the road's military value. "The work of building the Dixie Highway has taken on a patriotic nature," said the DHA. "Completed, it represents a means of aiding the railroads in supplying the 35 or more military cantonments and forts in the South."
By 1920, Dixie Highway travelers could safely assume their trips would be on a marked route on roadways paved with brick or concrete.
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335. Jan. 25, 1995 - Local Dixie Highway work began in 1917; World War I delayed opening until 1920
By Jim Blount
There were only 3,300 motor vehicles registered in Butler County when ground was broken in the county in 1917 for the first paved portion of the 10-state Dixie Highway.
Paul M. Hooven, a Hamilton lawyer, had represented the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce in May 1915 at a meeting of the Dixie Highway Association in Chattanooga, Tenn. Butler County was placed on the road's eastern division at that session.
The association -- promoting the Michigan-to-Florida road system -- was formed that year at a governor's conference. It immediately attracted the attention of Hamilton and Middletown businessmen interested in better roads for the area.
The Dixie Highway wasn't a federal project. It was promoted, financed and built by local and state governments in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, the states it connected.
Individual memberships in the Dixie Highway Association cost $5 a year. That entitled supporters to a membership certificate, a travel magazine and a plaque for their cars.
"Two years ago, when the Dixie Highway movement was started, the road between Detroit and Cincinnati was unconnected, with sections even difficult to negotiate," reported a Dixie Highway officer as work started in Butler County in mid 1917.
Now, the report said, "the Detroit to Cincinnati link of the Dixie Highway as a whole occupies a more advanced position of improvement than any other division of the highway. Out of a mileage of 263.5, approximately 115 miles is now paved with brick or concrete, 15 miles with asphalt and the remainder macadam, rock or gravel. Much of the macadam is asphalt or oil treated," he noted.
About 50 people attended the Butler County groundbreaking Tuesday morning, July 10, 1917, in what then was Fairfield Township. Ben D. Lecklider, a Hamilton insurance agent, arranged the ceremony. Lecklider was a member of the Butler County Good Roads Committee.
The location was on Ohio 4 (Dixie Highway) near the present Winton Road intersection in the City of Fairfield (which was founded 38 years later). Newspapers in 1917 identified the remote rural site as near the Slade farm at Furmandale.
The ceremony was held at the southern end of a 5.9-mile section which extended north into Hamilton. Butler County commissioners had authorized funds for the road a few days earlier. The contractor, T. J. Connell of Cambridge City, Ind., paved the section with brick.
June 27, 1917, commissioners also had approved $115,000 for paving two additional sections. One was between Hamilton and Middletown, from Gregory Creek at LeSourdsville north to Excello. The other was north of Middletown, along Franklin Pike into Warren County.
But controversy delayed the start of those projects because of opposition to paving with concrete instead of brick. A group of Hamilton and Middletown citizens had protested to state highway officials in Columbus. The state highway commissioner agreed to cancel the contracts and advertise for new bids specifying brick as the paving material.
Brick was favored because it was considered more durable and required less maintenance than concrete. It also was plentiful and economical in Ohio because paving bricks were produced by prison inmates.
In December 1917, the DHA said "Butler County, Ohio, with a total mileage of 21.94 miles, has resurfaced six miles of macadam, and built one mile of brick within the past six months at a cost of $30,000."
World War I priorities delayed the highway. It wasn't until Wednesday, Dec. 15, 1920, that the section south of Hamilton was completed and opened.
The original two-lane route through Hamilton, from north to south, ran from Middletown Pike at the fairgrounds southwest via Heaton Street, south over North 10th Street, west on High Street for a block, south on East Avenue to the intersection of Central Avenue, East Avenue and Grand Boulevard. Then it continued south over Springdale Pike in Fairfield Township.
In May 1916, Hamilton City Council changed the name of Central Avenue south of Grand Boulevard to Dixie Highway. In Fairfield Township, Springdale Pike quickly became known as Dixie Highway.
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