So like I mentioned before, V and I are in Dayton for a little while, visiting my parents. I had originally planned to take V to the Oregon district on Sunday or Monday, just to show her an important place where daddy grew up.
Then the shooting happened at Ned Pepper’s… Not a bar I frequented, but a bar I’ve gone to more than once.
My mom was a principal at a school in the Oregon District when I was in late elementary school. My best friend’s mom—he was best man at my wedding—taught at that school, and we hung out in the Oregon district on afternoons.
When I was older, in high school, I would sometimes go to a coffee house in the Oregon District. Gem City Records—which is now Omega Records—was there, probably my favorite record store in Dayton.
In my early 20s, I would go to the Oregon District for the night life. My favorite was the Southern Belle, but I’d hit different places on the strip from time to time, from the Oregon Express to Sloopy’s, depending on where the night would take me.
The parents of a good friend from high school later bought the Southern Belle building when they moved, and converted it to a house. It was crazy going over and visiting and seeing an old haunt so radically re-done.
By the time I hit my 30s, I wasn’t visiting the district as much, and wasn’t going out for nightlife as much. But I still always visit the Oregon at least once every time I come back home to Dayton. It was one of the first places I took My Colleague when she first came to visit my parents.
I’m not sure what to say here. I’m not trying to make the shooting about me. I wasn’t there, thank god. I am not trying to horn in on others’ pain or grief. And yes, I think that we are well past due for a talk about gun control, but frankly we have a lot more to take care of here—gun control would at best be a band-aid, though a sorely needed one. It’s sad that we can’t even get to the point where we get that fucking band-aid.
It makes you feel pretty dismal about our chances of taking care of racism and toxic masculinity and the stigma around mental health care and everything else that makes this bullshit happen.
And while I’m for gun control, I’m very pro second amendment, for the record. I just think we need some common sense here.
All I wanted to talk about is a sense of grief and loss that came over me when we walked down fifth today. There were camera crews and evangelical televangelists on the street. They’ll stay for a few more days before they move on to the site of the next tragedy.
V came up to the sign in the picture above. It was reflective, she could see herself. She liked that. I liked the message:
OUR GRIEF IS NOT A COMMODITY. DO SOMETHING!
It was in front of a hat store, just feet from all the camera crews, and right across from Ned Pepper’s. Some ladies came out of the shop and asked if they could take her picture.
I said of course, I wanted a picture of it too.
Some of you who aren’t from the region might not recall, but Dayton was hit by a whole series of tornadoes a few months ago. It’s been a hard summer here. But Dayton’s been through a hell of a lot, over the years, from floods to race riots to the wholesale evacuation of industry. It abides.
I don’t want to feel like I’m a tourist in other people’s misery, as someone who has left the area. And I worry about being perceived that way. But part of me will always be here. This is home—not my daughter’s, but always mine.
I love the Oregon District. I love Dayton. I always will. That’s what I really wanna say, I guess. My heart goes out to everyone effected by what that asshole decided to do. And yeah, fuck him.
I stopped by Omega Music and bought a tee-shirt and a couple musical toys for V. We’ve gotta keep supporting local businesses, right?