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DAYTON REGGAE FESTIVAL
( now the MICHELOB DAYTON REGGAE FESTIVAL)
2009
News

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Farewell to a good friend:

Jim "Mr. Downtown" Nichols,
f
ounder (and host for the first 18 years) of
The Dayton Reggae Festival
(originally The Dayton-Third World Reggae Festival)
Flew home to Zion Dec.16,2008
Without Jim, the longest running Reggae fest in the midwest would have never begun.
Thank you Jim! We will all miss you. JAH Bless

Dayton Daily News article
BYLINE: Terry Morris Staff Writer
DATE: December 18, 2008
PUBLICATION: Dayton Daily News (OH)
SECTION: Local
PAGE: A13

RIP Jim Nichols
Brain Droppings - Blog
Writer and editor Ron Rollins
Wednesday, December 17, 2008, 11:31 AM

'Mr. Downtown' was a gem among Daytonians
BYLINE: CULTURE CLASH
RON ROLLINS
DATE: December 21, 2008
PUBLICATION: Dayton Daily News (OH)
SECTION: Life
PAGE: D11

As any old-timer can tell you, downtown Dayton isn't what it used to be. But of all the folks who remember what it once was, Jim Nichols was king of the old-timers, and he never lost his love for the place. Nichols, one of our old friends and longtime colleagues at the Dayton Daily News, who joined the staff in 1940 and kept a byline going until just two years ago, died last week at age 89.

Jim was a fixture in the comfortably shabby newsroom the DDN left behind at our longtime building at Fourth and Ludlow streets downtown. He never made the move to our tidy, well-lit new Media Center on South Main Street, but I don't think he would've been very happy here, anyway. He was, as anybody who knew him knew, a downtown Dayton guy.

In fact, he was the downtown Dayton guy.

The rhythm and pulse of downtown, its ups and downs, were Jim's life � in addition to being the underpinnings of his journalism career. He was known as "Mr. Downtown," and for many years he edited The Downtowner tabloid we published.

Even after he officially retired, Nichols still came to the features department newsroom on the fifth floor every day for years. He wrote his column and phoned bar owners, band leaders and restaurateurs who all knew how he took pride in letting his readers know what was going on downtown.

He could tell you what business had been in a certain storefront 10, 20 or 30 years ago, and knew the names of the owners and the guys who worked in the front. He had stories about fighters, musicians and sportsmen. He knew cops, judges and crooks, and where they all ended up.

He ate lunch most days at the Moraine Embassy, a friendly diner with Greek flair that's still open on Ludlow next to our old building. He spent most evenings after work at the Trolley Stop, where he liked to watch the comings and goings of Oregon Historic District folks.

He regretted downtown's deterioration, but unlike many others, he never gave up on it. He lived there for years, and eventually became an important part of the turf he covered. Today, his name is on everything from a Dayton city tennis complex on Ridge Avenue to the series of downtown music festivals he worked with the city to help create.

Those happen each year at Dave Hall Plaza - free, openair concerts for reggae, blues and Women in Jazz, which have become an indelible part of Dayton's cultural life and the downtown summertime scene. When the acts were on stage, you could often see Jim's white-haired, bespectacled head in the back behind the speakers, watching all these people come downtown for a party he helped throw.

Downtown was everything to him. Who might take his place as downtown's griot - the cheerleader, calendar keeper, historian and keeper of oral traditions? No one comes to mind.

I wish I'd known him when he was younger, stronger and more vigorous. Come to think of it, I'd say the same thing about downtown.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2165 or rrollins@DaytonDailyNews .com.
Copyright, 2008, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.
 

 

Jim with prominent members of the Ohio reggae community -1998

     
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