Dedication of Bomberger Park, June 30, 1908



And Money Invested in Bomberger Park Was Wisely Spent, Declared Mayor Burkhart, While Jane Addams Extols Virtue of the New Provision.


In every sense of the word the dedication of Bomberger Park Tuesday night was successful. Hundreds of people assembled to hear the talks and to view the premises and when they left they carried with them the thought that the $75,000 appropriated for the purpose was not so badly spent after all. Everyone was warm in this praise of the grounds and the buildings. Ex-Councilman Ned Pease and Architect Russ were the recipients of congratulations from every side.

After all of the standing room in the neighborhood house had been taken, President Ezra Kuhns of the city council addressed the audience. "This is the first public building of its kind erected in Dayton at public expense. It is for the wholesome play of boys and girls. We should indeed feel proud of our new possession, and all of us should [cooperate] to make it a grand success."

President Kuhns introduced Mayor Burkhart who in part spoke as follows: "It gives me great pleasure to accept these playgrounds and this beautiful building. There should be great praise for the old council which showed so much courage in standing by the appropriation, amid deafening criticism from the public. We should congratulate William Earl Russ, the architect, for the great work he has done for us, and then we should congratulate Ned Pease, the father of the movement, whose spirit and enthusiasm is responsible for what we have here tonight."

A Serious Question.

"The question of what to do with boys and girls is indeed a serious one. I have never realized it so fully as during the time I have been in office. Time and again I have been asked to look up ordinances relative to boys playing ball in the streets and enjoying their games and sport, where the big books of the city say they have no right to be. I have turned through the books time and again, but my thoughts have always reverted to the time when I was a boy, and when I did just the same thing the boys of today are doing.

Daytonians are becoming reconciled to the money spent for these playgrounds, and since they are here, everything possible will be done to make this work a grand success."

Miss Addams.

Mayor Burkhart then introduced Miss Jane Addams who arose amid the hand-clapping of an enthusiastic and large audience. Her talk was a short one, yet was full of practical advice, full of thought for the children, to whom she is devoting her life. She was frequently interrupted by the applause of the audience.

It is Children's.

"I cannot talk against the voices of these children. I cannot be heard, yet is it not fitting their voices be heard here tonight. It is their grounds, their building. The people of Dayton have done something of which they can well feel proud. The expenditure of money for an institution of this kind will never be regretted. We have these parks to keep the little ones from getting into trouble, we have them to help out their mental and physical development. The city of Philadelphia spends more money each year upon its children than it does upon the entire school 'children.'

"A park like you have in Dayton will give the boy a chance to put into effect his executive ability. What can be expected of him later in life will be brought out on the playgrounds. It means a rest for the tired little bodies and new thoughts from the little minds, that are just now beginning to grasp ideas. These for whom we built this park are the future men and women of the country. Great men will arise from their ranks, and we should do all in our power to help them advance."

Off the Streets.

"These playgrounds will keep our little folks [off] the streets. It will arouse their interest in something which will materially improve their conditions. We are responsible for the little folks, and we should not treat our responsibility lightly.

"I hope that at a future date I will be asked to again talk in Dayton. With these little voices venting their joy, it is hard to tell you all that I had hoped to. My wishes are for your great success in this work, and I can see by the enthusiasm manifested here tonight that [success] will be your reward for the noble work you are beginning."

At the conclusion of Miss Addams' talk Miss Edna Dickerson, who will have charge of the girls on the playgrounds, and J. L. Johnson, general supervisor of the grounds, were introduced and each made a short talk full of enthusiasm.

Surely a more enthusiastic dedication could not be hoped for than that of Bomberger Park Tuesday night. It was an event which will be recorded in the history of Dayton, and which will be read with interest long after the present generation has passed over the River.

As to Miss Addams.

Jane Addams -- how short the name, yet it belongs to a notable person. The man who for a livelihood gathers news is always on the alert for a new face, and new thoughts -- he sees in them news. Not only was Miss Jane Addams' coming to the city news, it was indeed good fortune, and she brought with her new thoughts, and advanced new ideas that the vast crowd which she addressed at Bomberger Park Tuesday night accepted most enthusiastically.

As Miss Addams sat listening to the talk of Mayor Burkhart, one could not help studying her. She was simply dressed.

Her attire was a soft gray in deep harmony with the woman. Her hair was combed straight back from her high forehead, and made into a knot on the back of her head. Her eyes are large and soft, and continually there is a little light flickering in them, which seems to bid children welcome to her side. She radiates kindness and a big heart's offerings would inspire any child to do better.

Even as she sat on the stage before the hundreds of people who had assembled to hear her talk Tuesday night, she was never too busy to smile at the little ragged fellows who had come to hear her. She considers herself a mother to every child. She looks upon every boy as her son, every girl as her daughter.

An Incident.

As she rose to speak a crowd of little fellows upon the outside set up a mighty cheer. "I cannot talk against the voices of these little ones, but whose voices should we hear ringing through here tonight if not those to whom this beautiful building and playgrounds had been dedicated?"

There was not the least bit of affectation about Miss Addams. She reminded one as she sat on the platform of a character in Biblical history. The ear-marks of a great woman are stamped all over her -- Daytonians felt proud to have her as their guest.

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