Also featuring photos from our monthly supplement...

Local authors publish 2nd educational book 

Mike Jackson and Tara Dixon-Engel with their books and magazine articles at the AVI offices in Tipp City, OH.

Sterling Publishing of New York, NY has released the latest book by local authors Mike Jackson and Tara Dixon-Engel. Neil Armstrong: One Giant Leap for Mankind is the second book the duo has written for the New York publishing company; The Wright Brothers: First in Flight was released in 2007. Both books are part of the Sterling Biographies series, geared toward ages 12 and up. The authors have also edited seven books for various publishers and individuals.

The authors’ first book, Naked In Da Nang (Zenith Press 2004), is a critically acclaimed Vietnam memoir that inspired the national Operation Welcome Home celebrations. The duo just returned from Auburn, Indiana where they coordinated the third national Operation Welcome Home event over the Fourth of July weekend. In addition to previous celebrations in Las Vegas and California, dozens of regional and local Welcome Homes have been held. A fourth national Operation Welcome Home celebration is scheduled for Veterans Day weekend 2009 in Palmdale, California.

Jackson and Dixon-Engel serve as President and Vice President of the American Veterans Institute (AVI), a 501(c)(3) non-profit, based in Tipp City, OH. They are partnering with the National Military History Center (NMHC) in Indiana to establish The American Veterans Hall of Honor and the American Veterans Research
Library.  AVI is also building a national education program that will be administered through the NMHC and Hall of Honor. Jackson and Dixon-Engel recently secured a $200,000 grant for the NMHC from Indiana’s Dekko Foundation to build and implement phase one of the joint education program.

The first phase includes the “Embracing Freedom” book series for young people grades K-5. The two authors have already completed the first three books of the series, designed to spark an early interest in American History and the role of America’s veterans. “Welcome Home Grandpa” focuses on a little girl’s appreciation of her grandfather’s service in Vietnam. “My Neighbor is a Caterpillar” tells the story of a World War II B-24 gunner; and “My Mother Wears Combat Boots” recounts the experiences of a child whose mother is serving in Iraq. The books are currently being illustrated by Lisa Edwards of Vandalia. Several Miami Valley Schools have already shared prototype books and lesson plans with students. Jackson and Dixon-Engel expect to introduce the series “for real” in the fall of 2008.

“The generous Dekko grant will allow us to begin building an educational web site where we can feature downloadable lesson plans and activities,” Jackson said. “We are working on DVDs for the older grades, as well as home-based activities for parents and children. The Tipp City Community Foundation and the Miami County Foundation are partnering with us, and we are eager to speak with potential corporate sponsors and other foundations who are interested in educational initiatives.”

The authors’ book on Neil Armstrong, as well as the Wright Brothers and Naked In Da Nang, are available in book stores and on-line through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. For more information, go to

Bledsoe and Mayhew join Prudential One Realtors

Craig Mayhew
Trina Bledsoe

Trina Bledsoe and Craig Mayhew have recently joined Prudential One, REALTORS as Realtors. The announcement was made by Jeannie Wilkins, Manager, Prudential One, Realtors.

Trina and Craig will concentrate on residential real estate sales and are very excited to be two of Prudential One, Realtors agents, who will be representing the new Pointe Oakwood project.  

Trina and Craig have been top sales agents for the past four years and have won many awards.  Prior to getting into the real estate industry, Trina had a background in marketing and Craig’s family has been in the residential construction field for many years.  They both are very involved within the Oakwood community as well as many school activities at Harman Elementary, Oakwood Junior and Senior High schools.
“Both Trina and Craig share Prudential One’s commitment to quality and customer service,” said Jeannie Wilkinson of the Centerville office. “They are exactly the type of sales professionals we are seeking, as we continue to grow the company, and increase our presence in the local community.”

Prudential One, Realtors is the largest Prudential franchise in the state of Ohio with 12 offices serving 17 counties in Southwest Ohio.

Long-Romspert walkway completed by scouts

Scouts and parents dig in on the walkway project.

Eagle Scout candidate
Jonathan Pearson.
The finished brick walkway.

The path to the front door of the Long-Romspert Homestead has been a long time in completion but thanks to an Eagle Scout project it is now an attractive access from the rear parking area. Jonathan Pearson, a junior at Oakwood High School took on the project to complete his Eagle Scout rank, the highest rank in boy scouting. Planning started in the spring when seeking a project. Harry Ebeling, president of the Historical Society suggested it as one of their long term and unaffordable goals.

Pearson consulted with his scoutmaster, Matt Kell, advancement committee member, Nick Steiner, and got technical advice from Brett Landrum of Garwood Landscaping. He then lined up scouts from Troop 101 to help and they began in mid-June when the heat and humidity was highest. Several parents helped with the project, which was interrupted by rain several times. The project took 10 days of labor by 32 scouts and adults who put in 210 hours of hard work over a period of 20 days. Garwood Landscaping provided a trailer to haul away excess dirt and delivered loads of bricks, sand and gravel.

The Homestead now has a four-foot wide path running 120 feet along the side of the house, using its many memorial bricks which have been donated over the years. Professionally installed with layers of gravel, it should last for many years and provide access to the front from the rear area. This is the third Eagle Scout project which has enhanced the historic building and grounds and has benefited the community.

Riding Crops, Jumpers & Jodhpurs

Back in the 1940’s and 50’s, the King Tullis Riding School offered local youth the opportunity to learn the fine art of horsemanship.

Pictured above is Phyllis Fraser Heck and Johana Brown Cassel with their horses. Below are a group of local youngsters on their mounts near the Dayton Country Club.

Essays from the
Oakwood Historical Society

The history of the Oakwood Community Center

Among the many services we enjoy in Oakwood are those provided by the department of Leisure Services. Beginning in 1919 as The East Oakwood Club in the building at Patterson Road and East Schantz Avenue, this branch of our city is of rather recent origin. Now known as the Oakwood Community Center (O.C.C.), it was originally envisioned by developer Walter Shafor as an attraction for buyers to his adjacent Park Hill Plat. John H. Patterson saw an opportunity for people of the growing community to have a social club much the same as a country club. Shafor used the services of architect Ralph Rossell who designed many of the houses in Park Hill. In 1921, Patterson donated $4,000 to buy the land and a non-profit corporation was formed to take title to the property and assuming a $25,000 mortgage. The agreement was that local citizens would raise $2,500 toward the building which he would match. They not only did so, but also raised another $2,000, and Patterson chipped in $500 toward furnishings. The property consisted of four acres, sufficient for the building, four tennis courts and a playground.

The club established committees to plan events which consisted of Saturday dances for youth and Tuesday dinners for adults, Bob Nevin, Sr. recalled in an oral history that the dinners were prepared by a donated domestic servant, Georgia, and her husband, John. The music for dancing was by “The Harmony Four.” It was the place to go and be seen in the 20’s. Other programs provided daytime entertainment and recreation. The early history of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church recalls that the club was rented for a brief period for a weekday church school. A non-sectarian Sunday school was also conducted there.

The club was a victim of it’s own success. The subtle hand of John H. Patterson was gone after 1922. In 1928, a petition was circulated by local residents to stop the dances because of the noise late at night. The corporation deeded the property to the city in 1928 and went out of business. The city, not bringing in the recreation business and faced with the Depression, did nothing with the building in the 30’s, but did maintain the playground and tennis courts. Tennis boomed as a sport in Oakwood and became a signature part of our lifestyle.

During WWII it housed the local draft board and was looked after by Police Chief Farler who rented an apartment on the Schantz Avenue side. After the war, a group of young people obtained permission to use the basement for a wrestling ring built with volunteer labor and donated materials. In 1947, the Oakwood Community Council, a group of 21 members representing church, school, and civic organizations tried to obtain control of the building as a youth center. City Council rejected the request by a 4 to 1 vote and the issue became political. The group put up three candidates, Ruth Mayne, Charles Graham, and Robert Smith for city council in the 1947 election. Earl Storms, council president, declared the entire thing a “political football,” and said that the junior high gym was available for such things. The challengers lost but a committee was created to investigate the matter and reported that there was a need with no substantial opposition. So, in 1949, the council entered into an agreement and lease with the Y.M.C.A. providing for a co-educational program.

Director Gil Martin with youngsters on front steps of Oakwood YMCA
(circa 1960).

The “Y” prospered under Directors Kenneth Simpson and Gil Martin with paid memberships, donations, and support from the Central Y, including $80,000 for capital improvements in 1958. In 1969, William Gardner and his wife, joined by the E.T. Gardners, offered a gift to the community in memory of their son, William, Jr. (Billy) who died unexpectedly at age 17. The Gardners specified 28,500 sq. ft. in the park, adjacent to the tennis courts, and a “Z,” shaped pool, bathhouse, snack bar, and office. The usual public concerns were expressed and counter-proposals were suggested, but after four months it was added to Oakwood. A community recreation committee was created to oversee the parks, including the new Creager Soccer Field.

By 1986, the Metro Y wanted to get out of the suburban branches it had been sponsoring for 36 years. There were deferred maintenance issues which it could not handle. The city took over the facility, including the pool in February 1987 and committed $86,344 to repairs.

The Y paid for recreation and pool equipment. The newly established Leisure Services Department took over the operation of the building, pool, and program. The interim director was Jerry Neff, who had a 15 member advisory board.

The original tennis court had turf surface and no fencing.

In the first year, the city spent $60,000 in repairs to the building and it was estimated that it would take another $100,000 for remodeling and adding restrooms. In January 1989, after spending $350,000 on the structure and equipment, it was dedicated and new programs were initiated under the director, Marilyn Court. Over the years classes have been added for seniors and sports teams have been sponsored. After several years, Diane Hoover became the Director of the Department of Leisure Services with responsibility for activities in all the parks while continuing her role as horticulturist.

The staff has grown to five full time and four part time employees with 40-50 working in the summer pool and sports programs. There are Junior and Senior High Teen Boards as well as annual events such as the Family Festival, the scarecrow competition, and the holiday lighting of the boulevards. The biggest increase in the responsibility of the department has been the addition of the leased facility at Old River Park which attracts soccer players and organized tournaments.

Oakwood city government has come a long way in size and in its undertaking of services for this citizens since Walter Shafor and John H. Patterson.

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July 29, 2008
Volume 17, No. 31

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