Forbes travel writer gives Dayton, UD contest high praise

‘It was founded on April Fool’s Day, so it’s full of surprises,’ writer says of Dayton.

Credit: Chris Stewart

Credit: Chris Stewart

A little more than a decade ago, a Forbes magazine article declared Dayton one of the nation's 10 "fastest-dying cities."

Now a Forbes travel writer is writing a very different story.

>> PHOTOS: Erma Bombeck in pictures

Lois Alter Mark, a Forbes contributor, has high praise for Dayton and the University of Dayton's Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop in A Hotel Room of One's Own contest in a piece published over the weekend.

The contest offers two emerging humor writers an all-expenses-paid trip to Dayton, “where the winners will be ‘robed’ in plush, custom-embroidered bathrobes and given free registration to the April 2-4, 2020, workshop,” a press release says.

>>RELATED: How Dayton changed the Bombecks — and how the Bombecks changed Dayton

Applications for the contest are being accepted until Tuesday, Sept. 24 at

“It’s even better than Virginia Woolf’s ‘A Room of One’s Own’ because it comes with housekeeping, travel-sized toiletries and an ice machine down the hall,” Mark says of the program. “This residency for emerging humor writers is the only one of its kind, despite the fact that some of the world’s greatest writers — Ernest Hemingway, Maya Angelou, J.K. Rowling — finished their most famous books in hotel rooms.”

Of Dayton, she writes:

“As a travel destination, Dayton has much to offer. It’s the birthplace of aviation – and the Wright Brothers. It was founded on April Fool’s Day, so it’s full of surprises. The University of Dayton, Erma Bombeck’s alma mater, holds the world’s largest collection of print material on Mary (even larger than the Vatican’s), making it a religious experience, and the city itself has a rich literary history, which will continue on with the two winners.”

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The program also recently got a nice mention in Ron Charles' Book Club column in the Washington Post.  

A nationally-known humorist raised in Dayton, Erma Bombeck wrote 12 books and a popular column, “At Wit’s End,” which appeared in more than 900 newspapers.

After graduating from the University of Dayton in 1949, she began working for the women’s section of the Dayton Journal-Herald. Her first column —“Operation Dustrag” — offered household tips and reviewed new products.

Bombeck put her career on hold so she and her husband Bill could start a family.

>> RELATED: 5 things to know about the Erma Bombeck 

In 1964, she began writing a column for the Kettering Oakwood Times and was paid $3 a week.

The Journal-Herald eventually asked her back and paid her $50 a week for two columns.

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