The Pony House Saloon opened in Dayton in 1882 at Fourth and Jefferson streets in a downtown full of dusty horses and thirsty men.
Known for its whiskey and male-only atmosphere, the saloon housed a long mahogany bar, featuring elaborately carved creatures including a bird dog and an owl that decorated the piece.
The 32-foot bar eventually became the centerpiece of Jay’s Seafood Restaurant in Dayton’s Oregon Historic District, which is about a block or so away from its original location.
The Oregon District was originally a flourishing area, framed by commercial and residential developments until 10 feet of water from the Great Flood of 1913 came roaring down Fifth Street, changing the neighborhood forever. When the water went down, the residents sought higher ground and moved to the suburbs.
The region fell on hard times. Sixty years later, the City of Dayton created the Burns-Jackson Historic District to preserve the area. The city later changed the name to the Oregon Historic District.
Along with the fresh designation came an influx of new shopping, entertainment, restaurants, nightspots, and bars to the old, attractive, revitalized neighborhood.
Last weekend, the quiet charm of the neighborhood is what brought hundreds of young people to Ned Peppers, a lively bar known for, to use their words, “a large, open dance floor that lights up the night with lasers and a heart-racing sound system.”
A few minutes past 1 a.m. Sunday, a 24-year-old Bellbrook man wearing body armor, a mask and ear protection violently stopped the music. For some reason, known only to him, he repeatedly fired a weapon into the crowd killing nine innocent victims. One of those victims was Logan Turner of Springboro.
His mother, Danita Turner, described her son as “the world’s best son.”
I don’t know Mrs. Turner, but I imagine her son was the greatest gift in her life. When we read about Logan as a man, it’s obvious his parents taught him from an early age what they believed to be important in life.
Logan was smart. He studied at Sinclair Community College and graduated from the University of Toledo with an engineering degree and loved his job at the Thaler Machine Company, where the company president described Logan as a rising star.
He was mannerly and courteous. According to those who knew him, Logan was cheerful and had a ready smile for everybody. He was polite, respectful, and his friends said he made you feel good to be around.
Most of us have read about the shootings. We have heard the endless debate, back and forth, from the politicians.
I doubt it matters to Mr. and Mrs. Turner now.
Nothing can bring their son back. They know you can pass laws, and debate politics from here to Timbuktu, but you will never legislate the evil out of people’s hearts.
The shooter robbed Logan of two lives. The one he was living and the one he would have lived. With a single shot, he took away Logan’s chance to be a husband, father and grandfather, and the chance to grow old with his parents.
The political class will debate the gun laws, but the only law that will apply to the Turners is nature’s law of suffering, which is different for every single person who enters that sad, miserable territory.
Mrs. Turner’s words, “the world’s best son” has rattled around in my head this entire week; and as a father, I empathize.
I have pictured Mrs. Turner spending her hours, between the unimaginable anguish and anxiety, remembering when she brought her newborn son home from the hospital for the first time. She remembers the nights she sat up feeding him, and the long walks they took together in their neighborhood pointing out the sights and excitement of a new world.
She recalls his first bike ride, and hearing him say, “Mom, I love you.”
I wondered if Mrs. Turner and Logan had an opportunity to spend time together that last day, before his fateful trip to the Oregon District? Maybe they stood together and looked out the window at downtown Springboro.
Maybe they saw his old high school where he had been an outstanding football player. Maybe they saw his old playground where he slid down the slide as a child.
Did he tell his mother his plans for that evening, giving her a hug as he said, “Mom, see you in the morning?” This time, Logan would not see his mother the next morning.
We can only wonder if she ever said goodbye.
To the world’s best son.
Pat Haley is former Clinton County commissioner and former Clinton County sheriff.