Taking the show on the road with ‘Grand Eccentrics’ and Dayton’s history


“Grand Eccentrics — Turning the Century: Dayton and the Inventing of America” by Mark Bernstein (Orange Frazer Press, 271 pages, $19.95)

In a recent column I mentioned that I’m looking forward to some public events taking place soon. I want to tell you about an exciting event that will be happening at the Dayton Metro Library’s main branch on Saturday, March 17. I’ll be taking my WYSO radio show “The Book Nook” on the road that day with an appearance before an audience.

In 1996, Mark Bernstein published his highly regarded book “Grand Eccentrics — Turning the Century: Dayton and the Inventing of America.” It was recently reissued by the Orange Frazer Press in Wilmington. Bernstein will be my guest on March 17 in the Eichelberger Forum at the Main Library downtown. This is a free event and the public is invited to attend. We’ll be recording the interview for a future broadcast of “The Book Nook” on WYSO-FM (91.3).

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“Grand Eccentrics” takes readers back a century to a period when the Dayton region was a hotbed of invention and innovation. Bernstein provides readers with biographical sketches of a half dozen men who were at the forefront of these enterprises.

As you might expect the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, are the stars of the show because of their invention of powered flight, one of the great accomplishments of the 20th century. Some other men who are featured are John H. Patterson, the mastermind behind NCR; the extraordinary inventor Charles Kettering; Arthur Morgan, the man who brought flood control to the area after the tragic 1913 flood; and James Cox, former governor of Ohio, presidential candidate, and the founder of the Dayton Daily News.

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These men were in similar orbits — Bernstein does a fine job of blending their individual stories and detailing their accomplishments in this highly readable and entertaining volume. The author made an appearance on my radio show back when the book was originally released. I am thrilled at the prospect of conducting a second interview for this same book in a different century.

You can be part of it. We’re hoping for a good turnout. This beautiful new facility has seating for 200 audience members. Are you a regular reader of this column? Do you listen to my radio conversations with authors? Are you interested in Dayton’s history? I hope to meet you in person.

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When you listen to the radio you use your imagination. We hear the familiar voices of the announcers and form our own mental images of them. Some years ago there was an open house at WYSO, and a listener asked: “Are you Vick Mickunas? Really?” I said, “Yes, I am.” She answered: “You can’t be Vick Mickunas! On the radio you sound so short!” We laughed.

I hope to see you at the Dayton Metro Library on March 17.



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