It’s exciting to read a book that really makes history come alive and, as a bonus, makes you feel proud of where you live. That happened for me with David McCullough’s book The Wright Brothers. As Bookplate Ink has deep roots in Yellow Springs, Ohio, which is just outside of Dayton, where the Wright family lived, reading about the lives and work of Wilber and Orville Wright seemed especially relevant to me. If you’re not up on this piece of history, I encourage you to read the book, as it’s interesting and very readable. Bookplate Ink has many customers who are authors, so I don’t usually write about any one book or author, but this book seemed more personal and pertinent after a recent trip into Dayton.
During this visit, we first went to Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum, where Orville, Wilbur, their parents, and their sister Katherine are all buried. Woodland Cemetery is a beautiful, wooded expanse of rolling hills, and one of the nation’s five oldest rural garden cemeteries, according to their website. In addition to the Wright family, poet (and schoolmate of Orville and Wilber) Paul Laurence Dunbar is buried there. Including Dunbar, the list of grave sites contains a “who’s who” list of important people, all from Dayton: inventor Charles Kettering, John Patterson of NCR, George Huffman of Huffy Bicycles, and George Mead of Mead Paper and newspaper columnist Erma Bombeck, among others.
After visiting Woodland, we explored Carillon Historic Park, a 65-acre campus dedicated to preserving the amazing history of Dayton. Just one of the many buildings located there is the John W. Berry Sr. Wright Brothers Aviation Center. The Center includes a model of the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop, formerly located in Dayton, which housed the workshop where they built their first gliders and planes. Also in the Center is the original 1905 Wright Flyer III, the world’s first practical airplane. As you can see in the photo, a model of Wilbur Wright is shown flying the plane. One of the things that struck me while reading The Wright Brothers is that Orville Wright died in 1948, which seemed amazingly recent to me. The building where the Flyer is housed was designed by Orville, though he didn’t live to see it built. Our tour guide mentioned that his father-in-law belonged to the Engineer’s Club in Dayton and saw Orville there many times. Carillon Historical Park’s Facebook page shows a photo of Orville Wright and Charles Kettering talking at the Engineer’s Club.
I was also amazed that the Wright Brothers were building their first flying machines while the automobile was still very young. McCullough’s book mentions Wilbur and Orville being picked up by carriage, not an automobile, when arriving home by train. In fact, at Carillon Historical Park I learned that the patent for the first electric ignition device for automobiles was granted to Charles Kettering of Dayton in 1915. The early 1900s were a time of great inventiveness and industrialism in Dayton. Imagine living in Dayton in 1905 and being able to visit with Paul Laurence Dunbar, Wilber and Orville Wright, and Charles Kettering, all within walking distance.
And finally, to tie this all in with bookplates, Bookplate Ink has a beautiful design of an airplane similar to the Wright Brother’s flyer, painted by Dayton native and artist Michael Bonilla. Design C111 is available on white, self-adhesive paper, personalized with your name or the text of your choice.