It’s funny, when you get older the things that were a regular part of your life become memories and more distant as time goes by.

I do believe we get hung up sometimes on how great our city and region was. But realistically speaking, those days are gone and never to return to the way they were. We have to get over it.

Looking at the glass half full, I believe it’s time for a new beginning for our area. Take for example NCR’s Old River Park.

Old River was the brainchild of John H. Patterson, the President and CEO of the cash register manufacturing behemoth. John H. believed a productive employee was a happy one. So, he built a recreation park for workers and their families.

As the plant wound down operations, NCR opened the facility to other companies in the area to boost attendance but it just wasn’t feasible to run a recreation park when your core business is computers.

Old River closed.

As people protested its demise, generating front-page news and lead stories on the local newscasts, NCR management acted fast and demolished the large outdoor swimming pool. The uprising was squashed.

When NCR decided Dayton wasn’t for them, it moved the whole kit and caboodle to Atlanta and left Old River in limbo.

Enter a white knight to save the day.

The expanding University of Dayton bought NCR’s world headquarters building and Old River. Soon the park reopened with the Dayton History folks operating the facility over the summer. It was wonderful to experience it all over again.

My grandfather, Tom Hermann, was the park’s operations manager for 25 years, which was awesome because I lived there.

I learned to swim in the Tot-Lot, played putt-putt, ate great cafeteria-style food in “The Groove,” played a game or two of big checkers, watched band concerts and outdoor movies and, of course, canoed on the lagoon.

As a teen I worked at Old River. I was in charge of all the softball diamonds: striping the lines and setting the bases (a wonderful summer job making a whopping $2.75 an hour).

I have lots of memories including one overnight excursion skinny-dipping in the pool with some of the female lifeguards! Unfortunately, NCR security spotted us before there was much skinny, let alone dipping.

Like me, many other Old River lovers have plenty of warm memories.

Most remember the lagoon filled with bluegill and enormous carp on steroids that loved to eat popcorn dropped from the walking bridge. Fishing was a no-no there. I always wondered if you baited your hook with a kernel how easy it would be to bag one of those suckers.

Dave, a co-worker of mine then and now, was the captain of the motorized, floating craft we affectionately called “The Showboat.” It could seat 10 people or so for a leisurely jaunt around the lagoon at about three miles an hour.

“Many fun times working there with you, Buch. It’s a wonder no one got hurt and good thing the statute of limitations is up,” says Dave.

Old River’s future is about as far up in the air as the American flag was on the Old River’s mammoth flagpole.

According to the University of Dayton, it has made investments in the park for maintenance and safety purposes. Its conceptual plans include “preserving the park’s historical character and natural beauty while connecting it to campus and developing it for academic, research and recreational use.”

UD is aware of Old River’s importance especially with the proximity of the campus and deep roots of both the university and NCR. Whatever UD comes up with will be good for all of us.

In the meantime, is anyone for sneaking in and feeding the carp? I’ll provide the popcorn.

Cheers, Buch