As an amateur radio enthusiast, I’ve always wanted to attend the Dayton Ohio Hamvention, one of the largest such gatherings in the country, but work got in the way until this year, when I retired from teaching and my May calendar opened up. So I saddled up the mighty GoldWing and buzzed over to Dayton last Friday, returning Sunday. (stayed dry-no rain!)
Admittedly, I only saw parts of town and it’s outlying communities, I was navigating (poorly), not really investigating. But here’s the thing: I’d thought the recession hit Central Illinois hard, but Dayton, just wow! I drove past innumerable closed restaurants, gas stations, fast food joints and entire shopping malls, all boarded up and abandoned, acres of empty parking lots, vacant store fronts. Very sad. I lost count of the malls, all closed.
Hamvention attendance was up this year, good weather, lots of people and activity, a fun event for the radio geek. Ham radio isn’t necessarily a hobby for poor people; large stations can run into the hundreds of thousands of American dollars (not mine, heh!). But even given the level of upscale attendees and events, I couldn’t rid myself of the sight of all those empty stores and malls. I’m happy the estimated 25,000 visitors to Hamvention gave Dayton an economic boost, but my take-away is simply: this crap has got to stop! What a pretty little city with lovely, friendly people, having entire commercial areas looking like ghost towns. Good luck Governor Kasich, I hope your policies restore those areas of Dayton, because right now it’s just depressing. Good Lord willing, things will look better if I’m able to return next year.
On a happier note, I found time to visit the USAF Museum adjacent to Wright-Patterson AFB, my first time in about 25 years. The displays are beautiful and the IMAX theater is stunning! If you’re heading Dayton-way, I highly recommend taking in the Air Force Museum, it’s both inspirational and educational (and free)! Cheers!