Monday, December 3, 2012

The Neil House Seven

In 1980 the Neil House Seven was the last band to play at the downtown Columbus hotel before it was leveled to make way for the Huntington Center. Included in the band were Al Silman, clarinet, John Tagenhorst, drums, Jim Gary, trombone, John "Red" Stamets, trumpet, Lester Bass, bass, Hank Harding, banjo and Sonia Modes, piano.

The Columbus Harmonaires

The Columbus Harmonaires started as janitors overheard singing at the Curtiss-Wright Airplane plant during the beginnings of World War Two and grew to be the singing ambassadors of the factory. They performed over five hundred songs and made regular weekly appearances at WLW Radio on the Circle Arrow Show. The group included Edward Richie, J. Leroy Bowen, Ragland Reid, George Boswell, Fugate Page, Dave Newlin, Walter Willis, Lawrence McGhee, Harold Clark and Darryl Redman.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chickadee and Chicadoo

Johnny Albert and Bobby Shaw formed a jazz duo called Chickadee and Chickadoo in the 1950s. They were the last players that performed with Madame Rose Brown who passed away in 1960. Arnett Howard

Stapleton Wright Orchestra

The Stapleton Wright Orchestra played in Columbus during and after the World War I. According to Earl Hood, Stape Wright brought the first saxophone in the U.S. after the Spanish American War. Pictured in the group are Harley Baker, piano, Joe Hickman, drums, Dorrance Stewart, banjo, George "Smut" Smith, violin and Stape Wright, saxophone. Arnett Howard

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sammy Stewart's Singing Syncopators

Sammy Stewart, a pianist, was born in Circleville, Ohio, in 1891 and spent most of his early life living on Columbus' Mount Vernon Avenue. Local booking agent and violinist Charlie Parker apprenticed young Stewart and allowed him to become a member of Parker's Popular Players. Sammy was to carry away many of his sidekicks from the Parker band to start another unit, the Singing Syncopators, in 1918. In this photograph the band is playing a date at Columbus' Southern Hotel. The band played their last show in 1933 in Quogue, Long Island, New York and Sammy lived there until 1961. Arnett Howard

Haft's Acre

Al Haft's Acre opened at the southwest corner of Park Street and Goodale Boulevard in 1927. Al Haft cut a wide swath through many years and venues in Columbus. After his own start as a wrestler, he became a wrestling trainer and promoter of wrestling and boxing. He owned a gym called the Quality Athletic Club on Broad Street, he had a restaurant and arena on Main Street in Reynoldsburg, and he had an arena at the site of Olentangy Park (now Olentangy Village). He would start training young men as young as thirteen or fourteen. Names in professional wrestling associated with Haft were Frankie Talabar, Mildred Burke, Stacy Hall, Don Eagle, Farmer Brown, Whitey Walberg, Juan Sebastian, Don Fargo, Great Scott, the Swedish Angel, Lord Landsdowne, Gorgeous George, Handsome Johnny Berend and “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers. These are just a few, as Haft was a trainer/promoter from 1919 into the late 1960s. The Short North/Flytown arena operated from 1927 to 1957. Christine Hayes

Friday, September 14, 2012

Miss Citizen Fair

During the 1950s Columbus had three daily newspapers; the morning Ohio State Journal, the Evening Dispatch, both Wolfe newspapers, and a fading Citizen. The Citizen, a morning and Sunday sheet owned by Scripps-Howard, was feisty in print but second fiddle when it came to circulation and self-promotion. The 1950s Ohio State Fair reporter for the Citizen was Doral Chenoweth, an Weste Virginia import from another Scripps sheet that had been shot down by Scripps brass headquartered in Cincinnati. Chenoweth was new to the Citizen newsroom and the old hands on the city desk avoided the fair beat like the plague. And then something happened...Chenoweth actually liked the fried food beat as he called it.  He liked to say that “The sun and air was fresher at the Fair than the city's cop house press room.”   In those days of the 1950s the fair had a press day prior to the day of the grand opening. One of the primary reasons for such a preview was to introduce any star attractions, such as two newcomers, Johnny Cash and Molly Bee, the grandstand stars.   Beyond any star highlight was the Butter Howard luncheon. Howard, from Zanesville, was on the fair board and generally credited with bringing the butter cow to the list of fair attractions. It was at one of Butter Howard's preview luncheons that the Miss Citizen Fair was spawned.   Chenoweth was the reporter assigned to the fair and had zero connection with the Citizen promotion department, but the editor, Jack Keller, liked anything that sold newspapers.   During a luncheon with Howard and the Byer and Bowman press rep, Nick Popa, the idea was to have someone walk the grounds holding a folded copy of the Citizen. Keller authorized offering a fifty dollar cash prize for the fairgoer spotting Mr. Citizen. That person was directed to approach the paper toter and say specifically, "You are Mr. Citizen." Asking "Are You Mr. Citizen?" was not the winning phrase and to be the winner the person approaching had to be carrying that day's edition.   Nick Popa had a short run as Mr. Citizen. That first day of the event he stepped out of his office and a small gaggle of young girls screamed, "There he is. There he is! You are Mr. Citizen."  On the second day of that year's fair Chenoweth drafted his wife, Sue Carter Chenoweth, then editor of the house organ for Farm Bureau Insurance (now Nationwide Insurance), The Dividend. The paper's front page promotion that second day showed only her brown and white saddle back shoes. Over night the name became Miss Citizen Fair. She actually lasted two hours before being spotted. Down the line the Chenoweth's first born, Carter Chenoweth, played the role and lasted at least two days.   When Chenoweth departed the Scripps organization, Citizen-Journal columnist Ben Hayes took over. In keeping with Chenoweth's less than scientific approach to selecting a Miss Citizen Fair, Ben appointed his daughter Christine Hayes, today known by her movie name, Ramona Moon.   At one time during the run of the fair some 1,000 extra copies were delivered to the circulation guys at the fair. The paper’s cost in those early days was a quarter.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tailor-made James Thurber Humor

In the late summer of 1934, Althea Thurber filed for divorce from James Thurber. In response to this, Thurber decided he needed a change of scene to think things over. He drove to Columbus from New York with his friend Robert Coates. In a sportive mood (one can just imagine the bachelor meanderings), Thurber stopped at a phone booth outside Columbus and called up his family, who were unaware he was coming to town. Summoning his best Jewish accent, Thurber asked for his brother William, who he knew was in Columbus at the time. “This is Abe Schlotzheimer, man’s tailor,” said Thurber into the phone, and launched into a story of how he had measured and fitted William for an English broadcloth suit months prior, but William hadn’t come by to pick it up. William was taken in and irately accused “Abe” of extortion. Thurber / Schlotzheimer threatened to take William to court unless he paid up. Finally William put his mother on the phone. Mame Thurber said, “If you’re so smart, what does my son look like?” Thurber/Schlotzheimer shouted, “A great mother! A great mother vot don’t know what her own son looks like!” Mame hung up, and she was still mad even after Thurber called back and told her the joke. The divorce eventually happened, and immediately after that, Thurber married Helen Wismer. Christine Hayes

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fred G. Kilgour, librarian, educator

Frederick G. Kilgour was a distinguished librarian who nearly forty years ago transformed a consortium of Ohio libraries into what is now the largest library cooperative in the world, making the catalogs of thousands of libraries around the globe instantly accessible to far-flung patrons. Mr. Kilgour’s cooperative is known to librarians everywhere simply as O.C.L.C. Based in Dublin, Ohio, the cooperative oversees a vast computerized database that comprises the catalogs of some 10,000 libraries around the world — more than a billion items — available to anyone who walks into a participating library and logs on to a computer terminal. Fred was born on Jan. 6, 1914, in Springfield, Mass. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Harvard in 1935 and afterward held several positions at the Harvard library. In 1967, he was hired by the Ohio College Association to develop O.C.L.C., which pooled the catalogs of fifty-four academic libraries in the state. Introduced in 1971, O.C.L.C. was expanded to libraries outside Ohio in 1977. Mr. Kilgour was O.C.L.C.’s president and executive director from 1967 to 1980. Mr. Kilgour wrote “The Evolution of the Book,” published by Oxford University Press in 1998. Margalit Fox, New York Times

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bill Moose, The Last of the Wyandot Indians In Columbus.

His Wyandot name was Kihue, but he was known as Bill Moose. Born in 1837, he was a native of Wyandot County, Ohio. Much of his childhood took place in Dublin, primarily along the rivers. Residents said he helped clear land and often went to school. Bill learned several trades, among which was arrow-making. In 1878, Bill was hired by the Sells Brothers Circus as an Indian rider in their Wild West act. In nine years with the circus, Bill traveled to almost all of the states and in 1886 he went on an Australian tour. While in Chicago, he met with Buffalo Bill Cody and became friends with Thunderbolt and Rain-in-the-Face, both Apaches who worked in Cody’s shows. Bill returned to Columbus in 1915, when he was seventy-eight years old. His shack was on railroad property near present-day Morse and Sinclair. During the day he was seen at the Wyandot Country Club (now the site of the Ohio School for the Deaf), where he ate his free meals in full Indian regalia. Bill walked the railroad tracks, sold trinkets and posed alongside the fenders of model T Fords. On July 18, 1937, Bill Moose was buried across Route 33 from the Griggs Dam Park. Rutherford Funeral Home reports this as the largest funeral they'd ever handled, with 12,000 persons attending. Irene McKinley sang a dirge accompanying herself on a tom-tom, and let loose a white dove. The Worthington mayor, James J. Thompson, delivered the eulogy, politicians spoke, choirs sang. The lead-lined casket with Indian designs was a gift from Belmont Caskets. Bill was laid out in ritualistic costume, beaded moccasins, eagle claw necklace and his rifle by his side. His wrinkled hands clasped an eagle feather. Ben Hayes was permitted at graveside to write an article about the funeral for the Ohio State Journal. A police motorcycle fell over and pushed Hayes into a hanging position over the grave. Dirt was put on the back of his head before someone thought to get him out of the way. Today a monument to Bill Moose, constructed of granite boulders, stacked in a pyramid shape, faces the Scioto River on Wyandot Hill, four miles south of Dublin on U.S. Route Thirty-three. Bill Moose Ravine and Run are adjacent to the Ohio School for the Deaf, off Indianola Avenue, just north of Morse Rd. Christine Hayes

Monday, June 11, 2012

Early Columbus Zoo

The Columbus Zoological Company was incorporated in 1895. It acquired the beautiful beech forest west of High Street and south of Rathbone. Next to the forest, they built an amusement park complete with figure-eight roller coaster, a shooting gallery, a dance pavilion, theater, clubhouse with slot machines, a boathouse, bathhouse, and bathing beach. The Weisheimer Dam just below made a fine pool. Seals swam in a little lake in Rustic Bridge ravine and two monkey houses were well-stocked. There were circular bear cages and a rock pit held snakes. Unfortunately, all this enterprise lasted only ten years. The first Columbus Zoo was carted away or destroyed. In 1905, the land was sold to Joseph Jeffrey who built his summer home, Beechwalde, the German spelling for beech forest. But the zoo superintendent’s house still stood. Jeffrey used some parts of it to build a house for one of his associates in 1908. Both these houses still stand, though they have had several owners and remodelings. Jeffrey sold the land in 1918 to the Charles F. Johnson Realty Company. The company developed the former zoo property and then private estate into an exclusive community called Beechwold. This still exists today. An area east of High Street and south of Morse was originally called “Zooland Addition.” Developed about 1902, its streets were named for animals: Beechmont was Leopard, Foster was Armadillo, Sharon was Moose, Beech Hill was Lion, Colerain was Otter. Elk still remains. Of course, Royal Forest still exists on both sides of High Street. And this area still carries the spirit of Bill Moose, a Native American who lived in a shack near the corner of Morse and Sinclair until 1937. Christine Hayes

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Belle Coit Kelton, suffragette

Isabella Coit had little choice but to become an advocate of women's rights. It was her destiny. From the time she could remember, her mother, Elizabeth Greer Coit, had been involved in enlarging "woman's sphere," and her home served as the meeting place of the Columbus Women's Suffrage Association with her mother presiding as President. A story was told about Belle. Having suffered cruel teasing at school over her mother's outspoken views, eight-year old Belle ran home to ask with tears in her eyes, "Mother are you strong-minded and do you wear pants?" "Well, my dear," Elizabeth replied, "I hope I am strong-minded. I should be very sorry to have had children if I were feeble-minded." While overcoming opposition to her application to the newly opened Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical School in 1874, Belle became one of a group of seven who were the first women to attend the new college. Belle married Frank Kelton in 1883 and moved in with his family at the 586 East Town Street residence. A year later with her mother, who was serving as a delegate, Belle attended the state women's suffrage convention held in Columbus. From 1885 until her death in 1901, Elizabeth served as Treasurer of the state organization. Meanwhile, Belle and her husband moved from their Town Street house after the death of her mother-in-law in 1888. They exchanged houses with Frank's older brother and took up residence on Monroe Street bringing Frank's sister Anna Kelton Pearce, a struggling novelist, along with them. Mother Elizabeth joined the group after the death of her husband and the little house on Monroe Street fairly teemed with feminist energy. In August of 1912, 5,000 women from all over the state arrived by train to participate in the 100th anniversary of Columbus by demonstrating for the right to vote. A new state constitution was being drafted that year, and Ohio women wanted their rights included. Belle helped to manage the largest parade of suffragists Columbus had ever seen. While the march was a success, the constitutional amendment granting women the vote failed the ballot in November. It would take eight more years before this right was realized. Belle continued to champion the cause. After the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, she became an active member of the Franklin County League of Women Voters until her death at age one hundred. A plaque entitled "The Role of Honor" bearing the name of Belle and her mother along with many other Ohio women's rights advocates was erected at the State House by the League in 1930 to commemorate those who dedicated their lives to improving the station of women. Belle died of bronchial pneumonia". She made her first plane ride from San Diego to Columbus at the age of 92. Leslie Blankenship, Greenlawn Cemetery

Friday, June 8, 2012

Clifford Tyree, social worker, community activist

Clifford Tyree was born in Columbus at the beginning of the Depression years and got his his high schooling in Chillicothe, when at aged twelve, his mother died. “My father was a cook with the railroad, based in Ross County and I went to live with him in the rail camp. As soon as I finished school, I came back to Columbus.” Cliff entered Ohio State University in 1949 and he said that there was a dynamic group of young Black students during those years. “We had to pay for our own education; there were no scholarships. Some students worked in fraternity houses for no money, just their meals. In 1953 Cliff graduated with a degree in social work and he entered the Franklin County Court’s Juvenile Delinquency Division, whose cases were then separated by color. In the middle 1960s, Cliff served on a national service board, The Citizen’s Crusade Against Poverty, with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as Dr. Benjamin Spock, UAW President Walter Reuther and Ralph McGill, Atlanta Constitution publisher. “I was chosen as a representative of poor people and was just overwhelmed by the stature of the other board members. What could I add of any intelligence?” He said the board didn’t initiate as much as it supported the civil rights activities that were going on during the 1960s. He represented Columbus at Dr. King’s funeral in 1968 and remembers the casket being drawn by mules. “The services were inspiring. It was like being at the 1963 March on Washington. It was quite an experience to be a part of.” Whenever there was a community need, Cliff was at the head or organizing it. If a family was burned out of their home, he was the one who saw that they got immediate attention with finding a new place to live. Clifford Tyree passed on in 2011. Arnett Howard

Thursday, June 7, 2012

S.L. Black's Woodmen of the World

The S. L. Black's chapter of the Woodmen of the World are posed in front of the Ohio Statehouse in 1903. The Woodmen of the World are an insurance society that still exist today, although not in any large sense. There were chapters all over the United States and many with their own bands. Arnett Howard

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Frederick Neddermeyer Band

Fred Neddermeyer, to the left of this photo, began music as a viola apprentice with Professor John Bayer and grew to playing xylophone. In 1883, young Fred went to Germany and studied violin at the Royal Conservatory in Leipzig. He returned to Columbus and became the conductor of the Metropolitan Opera House. In 1897 he played at the dedication of the Columbus Auditorium and later played on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Columbus Maennerchor. On various occasions he was resident soloist with the Columbus Orchestra, the Arion Club, the Women’s Music Club and the Orpheus Club. Fred led a fifty piece band in Memorial Hall and played concerts in the Chamber of Commerce Auditorium and Olentangy Park. He organized the Columbus Dispatch Newsboys Band which involved two hundred youths. He died on August 9, 1924 at age fifty-eight and as a final tribute fifty of his fellow musicians led the funeral procession. Fred Neddermeyer was one of the greatest musician to live in Columbus. Phil Sheridan, Those Wonderful Old Downtown Theaters

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ralph Waldo Tyler, journalist, government official

Ralph Waldo Tyler (1860–1921) was an African American journalist, war correspondent, government official. He strove for racial justice in the United States and served as the only accredited Black foreign correspondent specifically reporting on African American servicemen stationed in France during World War I. His career began in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, in the late 1880s where he held several journalistic positions including editor of the Afro-American; co-founding the short-lived African American newspaper, The Free American; contributing a Black news column and serving as society editor at the white-owned Columbus Evening Dispatch and writing for The Ohio State Journal. Tyler was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt to fill the post of Auditor of the Department of the Navy. Following his Auditor of the Navy post, Booker T. Washington and his Secretary, Emmett J. Scott, recommended Tyler to be the national organizer of the National Negro Business League (NNBL), an organization founded by Washington to engage in documenting the state of Black businesses to promote an organized and active League membership. In 1917, Tyler left this post to serve as secretary in another organization founded by Washington, The National Colored Soldiers' Comfort Committee, which provided financial support for Black soldiers and their families. Following this position, Tyler became the only African American journalist stationed overseas, reporting on Black soldiers. In 1918, a committee overseen by Emmett J. Scott, who was then serving as the Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of War, selected Tyler to be stationed in the northeast Metz region of France along with General John J. Pershing's brigade. Tyler's reports were sent back to the U.S., edited and distributed by Scott to newspapers and journals nationally. Tyler reported from the trenches at the front of the battlefield in Northeastern Metz, France. Later Scott published several of Tyler's reports in Scott's Official History of the American Negro in The World War (1919). Back in the States, Tyler's reports provided first-hand accounts of the heroic deeds of Black soldiers and boosted the morale of the troops overseas. He also documented discrimination that the Black troops faced at the hands of white American organizations and service personnel and the comparatively unbiased treatment they fared from the French. Wikipedia

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Harry "Sweets" Edison, trumpeter

I met Harry Edison’s mother, Mrs. Kitty Redmond, in 1981. She was living in Poindexter Village, in East Columbus, she was very pleasant and personable. She would tell me about her famous son, where he was traveling in the world and when he would be home. His legend was made in his eleven year with the Count Basie Orchestra that lasted until 1950. In 1944, he played a prominent role in perhaps the finest jazz film ever made, Jammin' the Blues. Basie's orchestra disbanded temporarily in 1950, and thereafter Edison pursued a varied career, leading his own groups, traveling with Jazz at the Philharmonic, and working as a freelance with other orchestras. In the early 1950s he settled on the West Coast, where he became highly sought-after as a studio musician, recording extensively with Frank Sinatra. He regularly led his own group in Los Angeles in the 1960s and he rejoined Count Basie on several occasions. Harry continued travel and appearing worldwide, jazz festivals in Europe, concerts in Japan, clubs in the United States. But in 1999, he retired to Columbus, where his daughter, Helena, had settled. He was honored by the Columbus Senior Musicians Hall of Fame in June of that year, wearing a beautiful chocolate brown suit and matching hat, as he sat for a photograph that afternoon. Harry “Sweets” Edison died of cancer the following month, July 27, 1999 at age eighty-two. I served as a pallbearer and played horn for his celebration at the Glen Rest Memorial Gardens in Reynoldsburg. Arnett Howard

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Jai Lai Restaurant

The Jai Lai Restaurant began as a small café at 581 North High Street, corner of Poplar, just a few days before Prohibition ended in 1933. The restaurant moved to 1421 Olentangy River Road in 1955, which, in 1997, became the Buckeye Hall of Fame Café. In the beginning it was a saloon to sell whiskey and beer, legally, by the drink in front of its atmospheric bar brought northward from an old southside saloon. The beautiful wooden bar went to Little Brothers after the second Jai Lai closed. The High Street entrance was a recessed doorway. “Genuine Turtle Soup” was a sign that stood by the doorway, but it was just a come-on. Everyone was so excited by the repeal of Prohibition that no one cared about soup. Opposite the bar, with its stools, the café had a few tables and chairs. A strip of new linoleum ran down the floor like a highway of refinement. Jasper E. “Jap” Wottring had pulled off the opening of the new saloon by borrowing $1500. Previously, Wottring had a small saloon at 45 West Spruce Street, his partner in that endeavor was Fritz Wentzel, Flytown’s bare-knuckle fighter. The saloon was called “The Old Vienna Café.” Later, the Jai Lai became known for its beef stew for lunch, and its prime rib for dinner. Fancy décor ran to shawls, gourds, black ironwork, moose heads, aquariums, and stucco Spanish arches. The city’s arena for boxing, Haft’s Acre, was right behind the Jai Lai, so famous boxers of the day were known to frequent the Jai Lai’s booths, as well as visiting actors. Woody Hayes and Ben Hayes had certain nights at their special tables, never to overlap. Hired as a host was “Chappie” Geygan; he grew up in Sacred Heart Parish and played baseball for the major leagues. August Hefner, one of the professional waiters, would lecture in the parking lot on international politics. It was named the Jai Lai after the Jai Lai Club of New Orleans. Anyone who was anyone in Columbus wanted to be seen there. At one time Tom Scully was the inspector for the Columbus Police, and he was prone to say, “If I want a detective in the afternoon, all I have to do is dial that phone at the back end of the Jai Lai Bar.” Christine Hayes

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Streetcar Smoothness

On our recent visit to New Orleans, we had a mighty fine place to stay at the Hubbard Mansion, 3535 St. Charles Avenue. We enjoyed our rides on the St. Charles streetcar to the JazzFest, and savored the sound from our room of the streetcar passing by every five minutes. Here’s a Ben Hayes story about a Columbus streetcar: “On that Fourth of July, Ray Grant ran the interurban in from Grove City. Just as on any other day, proud to – because his father, Adam, had built the line. ‘Adam Grant’s Little Streetcar’ – people called it that. Ray Grant thought he would prove something. He had Charley White, the barber, shave him on the way into Columbus. Ray Grant stood at the controls, operating the car. White sat on a high stool, lathering and shaving Ray. So the Fourth was celebrated. Ray said, ‘We had the smoothest roadbed in Ohio – better than a Toonerville.’” Another story about a smooth operator: ”Ed Ruder was the conductor on a Columbus, Delaware, and Marion electric streetcar in 1925 when they stopped to pick up presidential candidate Frank Willis at Franklin Street in Delaware. Ed noticed that Willis had two different shoes on. When Ed mentioned this to Mr. Willis, he then asked Ed to bring him another pair of shoes on a return trip. Willis was waiting at the appointed spot to pick up the shoes.” Many people rode the CD & M streetcar in 1923 to President Warren G. Harding’s funeral. After the funeral, Ed Ruder was given the nickname “Sardine” for packing one hundred forty-three people into one streetcar. Conductor Ruder was still collecting fares in Prospect and by the time the car reached Delaware, he was out of change. “No doubt some people got all the way to Columbus without paying their fare,” he commented. Christine Hayes

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sarah Starling Sullivant, pioneer mother

Arriving in Franklinton in 1801 as the sixteen year old bride of Lucas Sullivant, Sarah Starling Sullivant faced a daunting life. As the sheltered daughter of a prosperous plantation owner in Kentucky, she was not acquainted with the harsh manual labor required by frontier living. Not one to complain, Sarah accomplished with her own hands much of the work she had always seen assigned to slaves. An attack of malarial fever in 1805 weakened her health so acutely that she no longer had the energy to attend to her tasks. In spite of poor health, however, she was a ministering spirit to all. When General William Henry Harrison made Franklinton his headquarters during the War of 1812, soldiers flocked to the settlement. Many of the Kentucky militiamen were old friends and relatives of Lucas and Sarah. The men were invited to camp in front of the Sullivant house, and Sarah provided food and nursed them when illness struck. It was toward the end of the war when typhus broke out in the camp. As Sarah nursed its victims she contracted the disease and died on April 28. She was only thirty-three and left behind four small children, William Starling, Michael Lucas, Joseph, and a little girl, Sarah Anne, who died the following month. Arthur Boke was adopted and raised by the Sullivants. Arthur, who was born in 1803 to a slave woman belonging to the Sullivant family in Franklinton. Arthur’s mother abandoned him at birth. Sarah Sullivant had compassion on this helpless baby and nursed him along with her son William. Sarah named the baby Arthur Boke after one of Lucas‘s white military friends who happened to be passing through Ohio in 1803 about the time of Arthur‘s birth.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rahsaan Roland Ronnie Kirk, multi-instrumentalist

Rahsaan Roland Ronnie Kirk was born August 7, 1936 in an area of Columbus called Flytown and grew to be a world renowned musician, specializing in reed instruments. Sightless from birth, he played tenor saxophone, flute, stritch, manzello, nose flute and he thought about music constantly, banging, plucking and blowing on anything that would make a sound from age five. He is the subject of a book entitled Bright Moments, by John Kruth and I have read the book twice, enjoying a new picture of the book upon each reading. Ronnie was his first name, but in a dream he envisioned himself being called Rahsaan. His playmates were musicians; Hank Marr, Gene Walker and Bruce Woode. Here is an excerpt from the book; “One of the first people to open me to music when I was about three or four years old was a gentleman in my family named Elijah Broderick. He played a beautiful piano, very original to me at the time. It still sounds original in my ear today. I associate it with the stride way of piano playing. His left hand was very dominant. He didn’t listen to Fats Waller or anyone. It was what you would call a natural gig. He played his stuff on the black keys. Now, that’s not to say he was hung up on “blacknuss.” It was just something that happened. One Saturday morning when I was about five or six years old, we came back from this rummage sale and my mother gave me this paper bag. I could feel this object in it. I took it out and it was an old, beat up bugle. She said she paid fifty cent for it. The next Sunday, after I got the bugle, my uncle came down and started playing the piano and I went and got the bugle. I don’t remember what we were playing but whatever it was, it really left an impression on me.” Rahsaan became a multi-instrumentalist, acquiring the ability to play the tenor saxophone, stritch and manzello but to play them at the same time. He began playing two horns at aged seventeen in the Boyd Moore Band and advanced his playing with Bruce Woode and the Chips. Although he was thought as a novelty, he was to develop his technique, “ I hope when the era comes that people are playing two and three horns, they point back to me,” says Rahsaan. I have a film of the 1972 Montreux Jazz Festival, when Rahsaan is at his peak with his reed playing. Or should I say reed playing and cacophony. In an hour Rahsaan raised to his lips and blew tenor sax, stritch, a siren-like whistle, clarinet, flute, nose flute, pitch pipe, manzello and a shell. Close by he employed a foot cymbal and a gong. Chaos ruled the stage. I saw Rahsaan on three ocassions and I regret not seeing him a fourth, when he appeared in Columbus for two weeks at a nightclub, the Apple Tree. I first saw a speaking engagement at the Ohio State University Student Union, a performance at the Ohio Valley Jazz Festival and after he had a stroke, I saw him at Gilly’s Nightclub in Dayton. Rahsaan was likely the greatest musician who played three instruments. And he lived a lifetime in forty-one years, dying on December 4, 1977. Arnett Howard

Monday, May 21, 2012

Grandview Bank Block

The Bank Block in Grandview, which includes 1255-1203 Grandview Avenue, was built in 1928 by Don M. Casto. It was the first strip-center with off-street parking ever built. It was called the Bank Block because its anchor tenant was the First Citizens Trust, later known as the Ohio National Bank. It was also referred to, at the time, as the “Grandview Community Shopping Center.” Other first tenants included Kroger (1928-1950), Piggly Wiggly (1928-1934), and the A&P Tea Company (1928-1938). For the opening Grandview Avenue was widened and new streetlights were installed. The opening celebration included a parade, a street fair, children’s games and live music. In 1932, Scott Knell purchased the property from Casto. After Knell’s death, it went into a trust, which was later turned over to the Cadiz Methodist Church. The block fell into disrepair. By 1976 only two retail stores remained, a hardware store and an office supply store. Much of the space was used as storage. Grandview officials discussed tearing the block down, as the owners were not willing to keep the property up. Enter the Wagenbrenner brothers, Tom, Tad, and Mike. They saved the crumbling walls from the wrecker’s ball, in 1976. The brothers had the vision of restaurants and specialty stores, aided by a marketing study conducted by OSU. They found their anchor tenant in Hubert Seifert, who opened the Gourmet Market (today Seifert is owner of Spagio.) It took fifteen years for the block to get back to its original bustling identity. In 1998, the Bank Block was accepted for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, for its 70th anniversary. The original plan for thirty shops and parking for four hundred cars was restored. Casto, of course, moved on to build his Town and Country Shopping Center in Whitehall, but the Bank Block preceded the opening of that by twenty years. Christine Hayes

Monday, May 14, 2012

George Bellows, A Painter, 1882-1925, part one

George Bellows’ parents came from Sag Harbor, down on the end of Long Island, New York. Bellows’ father, who came to Ohio in 1850 by canal boat, was known as “Honest John" and he was a contractor. He built the Franklin County Courthouse. The Bellows family lived on Rich Street and George had the great American boyhood. The real love of his youth was baseball, in the day when baseball was the national sport. He was a hero in his neighborhood and he seriously considered turning professional, which would have been the end of him as a painter. Bellows painted a lot of sports scenes but not a single baseball picture, perhaps because the game is too spread out, except for the group at the plate. He was brought up on the Near East Side of Columbus, now known as Downtown, in those days a haven of tranquility, with a double row of elms the length of Broad Street. George never got along with his old man; what does a man in his sixties have to say to a teenaged boy? He did what he wanted and his mother saw to that. He was a great “Hey Ma” boy and he kidded her a lot. She was a strong-minded woman and George married a strong-minded woman. When Bellows went to the Ohio State University, it really was a college in a cornfield. Everybody knew everybody and sports were everything, which they still are. But he was too much the artist to be satisfied at the university. He became a leading cartoonist for the college yearbook and to this day, the walls of the Beta House are lined with Bellows’ drawings of football heros and prom queens. George Bellows stayed at the Ohio State University until his senior year, then left for New York. His mother wanted her boy to do whatever he wanted and he did. Mahonri Sharp Young Former director of the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, 1973

1898 Sells Brothers Side Show Band

The 1898 Side Show Band of the Adam Forepaugh & Sells Brothers Combined Circuses included Solomon White, leader and cornet, James White, clarinet, George “Smut” Smith, cornet, Thomas May, cornet, Bill Johnson, alto horn, James Hall, baritone horn, Bill Jones, trombone, Bill May, tuba, Arthur Clark, snare drum and Bill Bell, bass drum. Arnett Howard

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Gwen Kagey, School of Dance and Life

Gwen Hammat Kagey was born in Kentucky to an opera-singer mother and a dentist/horse-trainer father. She did not walk until she was four, but then she had dance therapy and never stopped dancing. She spent her early years in Columbus and studied ballet with Jorg Fasting, the Norwegian ballet master formerly of the Ballet Russe. (Fasting founded the Capital City Ballet and lived in German Village) Gwen then moved with her family to Cuba for her teen-age years, where she developed a lifetime interest in Latin and African dance. She returned to Columbus and enrolled at the Ohio State University for a year. At nineteen she went to New York and studied with Jose Greco, the great Flamenco master. She also performed at Radio City Music Hall. On a return visit to Columbus, Gwen met and then later married Barton C. Kagey, who sold OSU jewelry and then later was vice-president of Standard Brands. Gwen then opened her dance studio in Columbus. The first was downtown, on South High next to Foerster’s Restaurant. In 1951, she founded the Sans Souci Dancers, a troupe that specialized in Haitian ceremonial and tribal dances. She taught, in addition, tap, ballet, modern, Flamenco, and Hawaiian dance. Recitals in the early days were on the Central High School stage. (Christine performed there in the early 50’s – a Hawaiian number and a ballet, within a child-class group, on the cavernous stage and under the whitewashed Emerson Burkhart mural.) Other dance studios were at 144 East State Street and in the Kingsdale Shopping Center. She taught five hundred students a week, including Miss America 1972, Laurie Lea Schaefer and Beverly D’Angelo, the film star. After thirty years of marriage, Gwen’s husband died. This did not slow her down. She went back to OSU and got her degree in Theatre in 1975. She taught in the Humanities College at OSU in Hispanic and African and African-American studies. In the summers, she traveled and studied and taught dance in Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, and Russia. She spoke several languages. She began teaching in senior centers and proved to many elderly ladies and gentlemen that they could move beautifully. She endowed a scholarship to the Ohio State University for undergraduate or graduate level in the Department of African-American or African Studies, to attend conferences, workshops, study abroad programs or other activities. I thank Gwen Kagey for my early childhood dance instruction and for all she did for central Ohio in dance and ethnic studies. Christine Hayes

Archie "Stomp" Gordon, pianist, killa' dilla'

“Whomp, bebop, boom, bam! I’m a killa’ dilla’, yes I am.” Archie “Stomp” Gordon announced himself to the world before he was even out of South High School. When he was thirteen, growing up on Barthman Avenue on Columbus’ tough Southside, he organized a group of teenagers into a little band. Drummer Jimmy Rogers told me that he didn’t have a set of drums at that age, but Marty Mellman did and they would ride the bus down Parsons Avenue to practice at Stomp’s home. Rusty Bryant was eleven and wanted to be in the band too, so Stomp told him to find a saxophone and he could join. Rusty said that within one week of getting his horn, he was gigging. Stomp got his moniker because during those rehearsals he would crank up the piano seat, kick off his shoes and socks and spend enough time plunking at the keyboard with his toes that he could pick out melodies to popular songs. Witnesses who followed Stomp around Columbus in the late 1940s and early ‘50s, said that the show was high energy, raucous and sexy. When Stomp hit the road, he played from coast to coast, Atlanta to Los Angeles, Virginia to Alaska. It was a little over three years later, Sunday, January 19, 1958, that Stomp was found dead in a doorway on Madison Avenue in New York City and he was interred in Columbus’ Greenlawn cemetery. Stomp recorded extensively from 1952 to 1956. Stomp Gordon, a killa’ dilla’ indeed. Arnett Howard

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Robert Oestricher's Kamp Kar

Robert T. Oestricher was the forty-first mayor of Columbus. He served only in 1953, a short time, due to failing health. He was born in 1894 in Nelsonville and then his family moved to Columbus. As a boy he was fascinated by the new horseless carriages. By the time he was a teenager, he was working at the Howe Motor Company, the first Ford dealer in Columbus, located then on South Fourth Street near Fulton Street. He spent his life in the automobile business, forming his own Dodge-Plymouth dealership after World War II. Oestricher invented an early forerunner of the recreational vehicle so popular today. In the early 1920’s he built what he called the Kamp Kar. It was mounted on a Ford one-and-a-half ton truck chassis, and featured upper and lower berths, built-in sink and stove, clothes closets, and cabinets. He took his family on an adventurous trip to northern Michigan in 1924. Christine’s aunt and uncle, Pearl and Virgil Archer, lived in the Kamp Kar in the 1930’s when they were in between houses. Oestricher had spent much time at the old Columbus Driving Park at Livingston and Kelton Avenues, watching such dare-devils as Eddie Rickenbacker, Barney Oldfield, and Louis Chevrolet in their sixty-mile-an-hour feats. When the park became a real-estate development in the mid-1920’s, Oestricher was one of its first home-owners. During his short term as mayor, and his time in City Council, he devoted himself to the expansion of the airport and health services. Christine Hayes

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Carl "Battleaxe" Kinney, world champion drummer

When Paul Whiteman, who proudly bore the title of "The King of Jazz," was asked by New York music critics in the 1920s to name the All-American band by selecting the best players of each individual instrument from across the nation, he pronounced Carl “Battleaxe” Kenny "The World's Greatest Drummer." Battleaxe was born in Columbus around the turn of the century. At the age of fourteen he joined Charlie Parker's Popular Players. He was nicknamed "Battleaxe" by local millionaire, Sam Esswein, owner of Esswein Plumbing, who was one of his biggest fans. Three years after he began to play professionally, Battleaxe was hired to fill a featured spot in James Reese Europe's 45-piece orchestra, rated as the best in the country at that time. For twenty-two years, Battleaxe found work in a number of Broadway productions, however, his most thrilling moment was when he competed in a drummer's contest at New York’s Winter Garden Theater and took home the gold medal awarded to him by Vernon and Irene Castle. In 1938, Battleaxe returned to Columbus, attending to his mother's illness. To the end of his life, he wore his gold medal on his watch chain, becoming a recluse and dying alone in 1970. Columbus historian and drummer Tom Smith would like to someday remember Battleaxe with a headstone for his unmarked grave in Columbus’ Evergreen Cemetery .

Monday, April 23, 2012

Geoff Tyus, pianist, composer

I was working with P. Norman Grant in 1977-78 and our baby was WBBY-FM, Jazz 104. We had the beginnings of a mainstream jazz radio station, that was soon to be broadcasting twenty-four hours, setting Central Ohio on fire. One of the advertising promotions was with a sponsor, Peaches Records and Tapes, located on Morse Road on Columbus’ north side. On this particular Sunday in June, 1978, Williams Music was coaxed into delivering a seven foot Steinway Piano to the record store for a solo piano concert featuring the phenomenal Geoff Tyus. WBBY-FM was featuring a Tyus album called Mt. Vernon Avenue and he was more than willing to come to the record store, play for an hour and sell as many of his self-produced records as he could. I owned a Sony TC-126 stereo tape recorder, that I was about to take to Switzerland for the Montreux Jazz Fest and this afternoon I brought it to the event. I placed two decent microphones beneath the piano and set the levels to stay out of the red zone. I recorded on Memorex high-bias cassette tape and although I didn’t get the quality of sound and stereo spread that a studio engineer would get, it is the quality of the performer that I hope will stand the test of time. Geoff Tyus has inherited his drive, skill, taste and inventiveness from his Aunt Martha Stewart, who was a piano accompanist to pioneering singer Marion Anderson, his Uncle Bill Stewart, Sr., who was a saxophonist with the great Sammy Stewart Orchestra and music director for Josephine Baker during World War Two. His cousin, Bill Stewart, Jr., was a reed player also and had a very good life in music. Geoff played with the Rusty Bryant Combo and during his New York years in the early 1970s, he claimed that the Miles Davis Band had three keyboardist, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett and him. He never appeared on any Miles recordings to document his claim. But Geoff was the ultimate hotel lounge keyboard artist; a quiet entertainer, totally immersed in his technique. I met him in 1976 when he was the cocktail pianist at the opening of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Columbus. I saw him at Engine House Number Five, Clyde’s at the Governor’s Mansion and Jimmy’s Place in German Village. His premier engagement was in 1983, when Goeff spent most of the year as the pianist at the Kapalua Bay Golf Club, Lahaina, Hawaii. He told me that lots of Los Angeles celebrities would golf on the three courses or had homes on the island and would frequent the club. He said that one of the club guests was guitarist George Benson and one evening, after the job, they went to George’s home and jammed all night in the basement studio. Geoff got a copy of the tapes that they made that night and when he returned to Columbus after the Kapalua engagement, he was bound and determined, with George’s blessing, to release a new record on his Tyusco Records label. Geoff Tyus passed in Florida in November, 2007 and has left a legacy of music behind for us to enjoy. Arnett Howard

Sunday, April 22, 2012

William Walcutt, sculptor

The first piece of monumental sculpture in Ohio was the Oliver Hazard Perry Monument, erected on September 10, 1860 on the northeast quadrant of Cleveland’s Public Square; this sculpture was executed by a Columbus man, William Walcutt. The monument commemorates Perry’s victory at the Battle of Lake Erie. Figures of a midshipman and a sailor boy, also sculpted by Walcutt, were placed on either side of it in 1869. Walcutt studied surveying and engineering, then traveled to Paris where he studied art. He won the first medal ever awarded an American by the French Academy, for painting. He devoted himself to sculpture comparatively late in life. He died in 1882. A portrait statue of Dr. Samuel M. Smith, which stood by St. Francis Hospital, is the only other Walcutt commission known. . The original Perry statue, carved by Walcutt in marble, was in storage 1892-1894; was relocated to Wade Park, then Gordon Park, and then was given to the city of Perrysburg, Ohio, where it was re-dedicated in 1937. Two bronze replicas were made possible by funding from Cleveland’s Early Settlers Association of the Western Reserve. One was sold to the State of Rhode Island. The other now stands in Huntington Park outside the Cuyahoga County Courthouse. It was re-dedicated on September 13, 1991. Christine Hayes

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hannah Schwing Neil, caregiver

In Columbus the name Hannah Neil has become synonymous with the care of homeless women and children. Hannah was married to William Neil who established the first stage coach company and a chain of coach lines along the major thoroughfares of pioneer Ohio earning him the title of "Stage-Coach King." When railroads began to appear, William switched his attention from coaches to railroad building. He owned the prestigious Neil House, one of Columbus' finest hotels and the Old Vance Farm where OSU would later be located. In short, William Neil was the wealthiest, most influential man of his day. One would think that the wife of such a man would be content to live quietly in the midst of luxury and comfort insulated from the cares of ordinary folk. But that was not Hannah Neil. While her husband was busily accumulating a fortune, she found her greatest pleasure in giving all of her worldly possessions to the poor and needy. She was even known to give the clothes she was wearing to a needful person. Her granddaughter stated that Hannah had given away every dress she ever owned "except for one black silk." Hannah made her rounds visiting the homes of the poor with such regularity, that her horse Billy knew each alley and each stop of her route. Hannah aided Jane Hoge in her work with the Female Benevolent Society, and she also started her own charitable society. It was first established in 1858 as an industrial school where poor children could learn a skill, but when the numbers of homeless women and children continued to increase, the school evolved. It became the Hannah Neil Home for Women and Children where the spirit and vision of this remarkable women continues yet today. When Hannah died of pneumonia in 1868, crowds of poor folks turned out to pay her tribute. There were so many, in fact, that the church could not hold them all and they lined both sides of the street in sorrow as the funeral procession passed. Note: The Hannah Neil Home stands at the corner of Parson Avenue and East Main Street. It is the former home of the Ohio Arts Council. It now sits abandon, awaiting a new owner. Leslie Blankenship Columbus Historical Society

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Columbus Ohio Bicentennial



Greetings from Christine and Arnett in April, 2012. The only Bicentennial event that we attended on March 2nd, was a night at the Lincoln Theater, entitled “Beyond the Blackberry Patch.”

Columbus’ Jazz Arts Group had commissioned Beyond the Blackberry Patch with trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, a member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and I must say, my favorite trombonist. He certainly plays the horn with a range of growls, tail-gate slides and power that no one else comes close to. Enuff’ said.

Included in the evening, based on Anna Bishop’s four volume writings, Wycliffe used the cream of Columbus players in his band; Bobby Floyd, keys and B-3, Derek Dicenzo, guitar, bass, Shawn “Thunder” Wallace and Bryan Olshevski, saxes, Reggie Jackson, drums, Mike Wade, trumpet, special guest Aaron Diehl, piano with Tia Rosboro, guest vocalist. The China White Dancers added their specialness to the event and the Milton Ruffin Gospel Chorale sang the finale.

David Meyers and I would like to thank all who voted in the 200Columbus Bicentennial Song Contest. We were not among the winners, however, that’s OK, because Elijah’s Wooden Book brought woodcarver Elijah Pierce back to life. Thank you to This Week ColumbusKevin Parks, who gave our song two pages in the March 1st edition.

During this month I received the proof and the cover of Ohio Jazz: A History of Jazz in the Buckeye State. David Meyers, author of the recent best selling Lazarus book that Christine did the forward for, is quarterbacking another publication on jazz and has included Candy Watkins, Jim Loeffler and yours truly as contributors. I just finished sending in some corrections.

Ohio Jazz is quite a scholarly effort, involving many jazz and non-jazz musicians, going back into the ragtime era, from Cincinnati publishers and Columbus bandleaders to contemporary players like pianists Kim Pensyl and Bobby Floyd. It is being published by The History Press and let’s hope that it is released by the time summer concert season starts.

For the summer season is a new compact disc release; Arnett Howard: Music Is The Art Of Life. It is a collection of sixteen original songs, with photography by Larry Hamill.

April 15th is income tax day, so let’s get ready for that dreaded time. We are going to New Orleans on May 2nd for the Forty-fourth annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, so this month will just fly by.

For April’s Bicentennial blog, we’re preparing pieces on artists George Bellows, Emerson Burkhart, social and political leader Rev. James Poindexter, an interview with musician Rusty Bryant and journalist Doral Chenoweth, Jr., among others. So, like my hero saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk says, bright moments to you!

Arnett Howard
Photo by George Cowmeadow Bauman

Clarence Olden, trumpeter, saxophonist, bandleader




Clarence Olden: I was from Paducah, Kentucky and was inspired to be a musician when Fate Marable, who led the bands on the Streckfus lines up the Mississippi River would come to his hometown, Paducah, and play a concert.

I went to Buffalo, New York and worked in the Hotel Vendome from May until November, 1934. Then I went to the Hotel Ford and played micellaneous jobs until Christmas week.

Christmas week, 1934, I opened the Apollo Theater in New York City and after the Apollo, I went into a night club job in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to avoid travel during the winter. And on the very first night we worked, which was a Saturday night, the Highway Patrol came in and took the man who owned the club’s license for selling liquor on Sunday morning. Blue Laws were in effect

Well, a night club is no good without a license, so we didn’t have a job. That was New Year’s Eve and we were stranded for three weeks. My wife had left from Buffalo to Columbus, she encountered a Jewish man and told him that I was stranded in Harrisburg.

He sent a Greyhound bus to Harrisburg to pick us up and by that time, my musicians had gotten scared and went back home; some to Buffalo. I had only about eight pieces left out of fifteen, so that’s what I came to Columbus with.

The Jewish man put five hundred dollars into the Lincoln Branch of the Ohio National Bank in my name. So with that money I started sending all over the United States for musicians; an alto player from Los Angeles, a trombonist from Albany, New York, a tenor sax from Detroit, a bassist from Toledo. When I got through I had thirteen or fourteen musicians.

I wanted a certain type of musician, free to travel. When I got to know Columbus musicians I found that they were tied down with home, family and nice cars. But traveling musicians are used to living in a suitcase and ready to go, you can do things with them. They’re willing to cooperate with you.

Local musicians, all they want is money. They’ll work, but I’d rather have transient musicians, because after I finished my local jobs, I’d have to hit the road myself. I had engagements as far south as Nashville, Tennessee, as far west as Iowa, into Michigan and into New York state.

When World War II came and the U.S. had the draft, I was cleaned out of players. When I had engagement in Columbus, I would have to send to Wilberforce to recruit Collegiants to fill my spots. When the draft got heavy I would have men out of Cincinnati who would come up to Columbus to work.

There was a local organization called Earl Hood and His Orchestra. When the draft cleaned me out and I had to work at the Curtiss-Wright Aircraft Plant, we combined orchestras and held his job at the Valley Dale Ballroom. Within a year, 1943, he took sick and I had to take over the management of the orchestra.

I eventually took over the Hood band and had it until 1957. Up until that time, I had been working at Curtiss-Wright, which became North American Aviation and playing music. But when 1957 came, I quit playing music, quit North American and bought a grocery store.

There was once a time when I was changing piano players and I had an option on Count Basie or Al Freeman, Sr. and I took Freeman. He was out of San Antonio, but Columbus was his home and he was a wonderful piano player. At the time Count Basie couldn’t read very good and I didn’t hire him. He could play anything by ear, but I had to make my decision.

Note: Mr. Olden passed in 1981, but he left me some wonderful posters of Duke Ellington, Lena Horne and Fats Waller, as well as the portrait above.

Arnett Howard

Lots At Stake

When the first wave of buyers came to Columbus on June 18, 1812, there must have been a plethora of stakes – history holds that the lots had “freshly-driven stakes.” If all six hundred and sixty lots were staked at their corners, that would be quite a few stakes. Joel Wright, the man in charge, probably got a sawmill to produce two-inch-by-two-inch strips cut in chunks three or four feet long. Such raw lumber would have stood out in the June green of the forest.

With a history open on a desk, you can sit and look at the original plat with lots numbered 1 to 660. Joel Wright probably inked those numbers into the little rectangles. Lot No. 1 was at West Naghten Street at West Street; the high number was on East Naghten at Fourth Street. But Naghten then was called North Public Lane.

Corner lots at Broad and High were numbered 273, 276, 331. Those were considered top-priced lots, being at the main intersection, Broad Street’s great width of one hundred and twenty feet giving it dominance.

Prices of two hundred dollars to one thousand dollars were set by Lyne Starling, the six-foot-six entrepreneur and his partners. The lot sale was not an auction; it was an over-the-counter sale with fixed prices. The site was wild woodland on the high east bank of the Scioto River. The ridge of the high land became High Street. All six hundred and sixty lots were between Naghten and Livingston, and were bunched between the river and Fourth Street.

An Indian mound, with trees on it, existed at Mound and High. East of Fourth Street were wetlands, bogs and ponds that were later drained.

The name of the new place, Columbus, was furnished by Joseph Foos, state senator, militia officer, and tavern-keeper in the vicinity of West Broad Street. The lot sale had been advertised, so the tavern of Foos, and other lodging-houses of Franklinton, were filled the night before the sale.

They crossed the river early to that part of the forest where Capitol Square is today. Canoes were used. A strong-armed Franklinton girl named Sally Cutler ran a canoe ferry. Others swam their horses across the river.

Lot buyers were asked to put down one-fifth of the asking price. Among first-day buyers were Jarvis Pike, Christian Heyl, John Shields and Jacob Hare.

When Columbus was incorporated, Pike became the first mayor. Heyl ran a tavern on the High-Cherry corner. Shields, from Dublin, Ireland, was surveyor, bricklayer, poet, preacher, and justice of the peace. Hare willed his estate to the city; an orphanage was named after him.

Christine Hayes

Emerson Burkhart, painter







It is never easy to capture Columbus artist Emerson Burkhart on paper. My father, Ben Hayes, and Tom Thomson, both writers and naturalists, have their individual memoirs of their friend. Doral Chenoweth, Jr. has his play, I, Emerson Burkhart, once performed at the Columbus Museum of Art with a Burkhart look-a-like in the title role.

This I remember: Emerson’s mind ricocheted from one grandiose idea to the next, his hair tousled, arms gesticulating, his speech peppered with poetry, artists, and philosophers. Burkhart cared not for small ideas or social mores. “What is beauty?” would be a typical topic, a springboard for a discourse over a meal with his friends, or later, with his students.

Burkhart was born in 1905 in Kalida, Ohio, the son of a farmer. His father wanted Emerson to be a lawyer. But when he enrolled at Ohio Wesleyan, Emerson defied his father and went for the art curriculum. At twenty, he studied painting with Charles Hawthorne in Provincetown, Massachusetts, at the Cape Cod School of Art. Hawthorne had studied at the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design in New York City.

Burkhart did become successful enough to convince his father that he could make a living as a painter. His favorite painters were Claude Monet, George Bellows, Edward Hopper and Albert Pinkham Ryder. He painted dark subjects such as detailed junkyards, cadavers and discarded locomotives in weed-filled railroad yards.

In 1955, his wife Mary Ann, whom he met in Columbus and was an artist’s model, died, and also Burkhart’s brother died. It was then that Burkhart lightened up and began to paint hometown bucolic scenes. He always did portraits and self-portraits, himself as a miser, or laughing, or the artist at the easel. He did a much-admired portrait of Carl Sandburg.

When he was asked by Karl Jaeger of Jaeger Machine Company, also director of the International School of America, to tour the world with the students, Burkhart painted fishermen in the Canary Islands, cows in India, docks in Sweden, antiquities in Athens, St. Peter’s in Rome, Hong Kong harbor, the Pyramids, Tokyo. The sky was the limit.

From the 1950’s, Burkhart had an art opening at his house on the same night that the Columbus Art League had their opening at the Columbus Museum of Art, which stemmed from Burkhart being denied entry for being “representational” in the Art League show, one year when it was curated by a New York abstract artist, Max Weber. The crowds thronged to Burkhart’s house, newspapers gushed and art was sold.

Burkhart’s house on Woodland Avenue had twenty-eight rooms, all huge, filled with large-scale furniture and Oriental rugs he bought at auctions in Broad Street mansions. Burkhart used the dining room as his studio; it had a big north-facing window.

Judge Roy Wildermuth had lived there and he traded the home to a real estate firm for a row of investment houses. A member of the firm was a Burkhart supporter and arranged for the artist to buy it at a reasonable price during the Depression.

In the corner of the studio was a raised platform with a sitter’s chair on it. Framed paintings were stacked everywhere; against walls, on tables. Where there weren’t paintings there were books. Paintings took up every available space on the walls. Some walls were painted on directly. A huge African-looking face with a light switch for an eyeball was always my favorite. When Burkhart needed to make a notation, he often wrote directly on the wall.

Burkhart loved to paint on location and he and another Columbus painter named Roman Johnson would often paint side-by-side. Johnson was a man who asked Burkhart for instruction. Burkhart befriended him and the only instruction was to "work every day." Roman Johnson became a fine artist.

Burkhart’s portrait of Johnson is a masterpiece and is on display at the Columbus Museum of Art. Burkhart’s portrait of Roman Johnson’s mother, “The Matriarch,” (1944), is done in grey tones. Mrs. Cora Johnson, who was 87 when she died in 1971, sat for Burkhart forty-four times. The artist was caught by inflation; Mrs. Johnson began sitting for fifty cents a session. She raised it to one dollar before her likeness was sombered totally.

Burkhart was also famous for his still life; my father chronicles Burkhart’s painting of a basket of fruit, from freshness to decay; a pan of live purple catfish “bullheads,” lobsters, plucked chickens, a rag doll and a crude wooden mock-up of a toy gun. All were treated to the Burkhart eye. He often painted with a knife rather than a brush.

The artist loved frames; he made most of them himself, antiqued them, matched them to the subject. My father reports he would wait for Burkhart on his porch – Emerson would return from painting in the fields or in a country town, hammer the frames onto the canvases dramatically, sometimes wrap them in brown paper and mail them before the oil paint was dry.

Emerson in his later years would spend his birthdays sitting by the fireplace at the Hayes house. He was fond of my mother’s meat loaf, mashed potatoes, fruit jello supreme and pound cake. The conversation rose to fever pitch as the night rolled on; Emerson expounding on theories for improving the city of Columbus, the state of art and humankind. We often went with him to Bun’s in Delaware, too.

I was fond of horses as a child and I still have a horse painting he gave me, among many others that he gave my parents. I also treasure a letter he sent me while I was in Morocco, giving me his galloping advice on how to live life to the fullest. He approved of my wanderlust. I have as well a letter he wrote my father from a Paris café on two paper placemats, the penmanship florid.

I never thought of Columbus as a small town because Burkhart was in it. I did plot to leave Columbus as soon as I graduated from high school; he pointed the way to broader vistas.

Tom Thomson scattered Emerson’s ashes over a city reservoir after the artist passed away in 1969. Burkhart wanted to have a little part of himself permeating the Columbus landscape and residents. He lives on in the hearts of all he touched and his paintings speak in their wild beauty and gentle madness.

Christine Hayes

Anna Bishop, educator, Black historian



The Mother of Black History in Columbus is Anna Bishop. In addition to being an educator in Columbus schools, a singer, poet, composer, actress and tireless community activist, she was the author of Beyond Poindexter Village: The Blackberry Patch.

In 1982, the first of four parts of her writings were published by the Columbus Metropolitan Library. Beyond Poindexter Village chronicled the community that began after W.W.I when Black southerners moved north to take advantage of the industrial boom that was occurring in many midwestern cities. The Blackberry Patch was settled in East Columbus bordering Long Street, Mount Vernon Avenue, Ohio Avenue and Mink Alley.

According to the book, southerners brought strange customs and cultural patterns to Columbus. “On warm days different people came through the streets selling different things. The watermelon man drove a flat bed truck with a hand made sign that said ‘Georgia.’ You could hear him coming, singing, ‘Watermelon, watermelons! Georgia watermelons, red, ripe, red watermelons!”

Jake and Lena, Italian immigrants, had a horse drawn wagon and they sold vegetables. The people on Champion Avenue knew what Jake meant when he called out, “Epple, epple. Good, juicy red epple.” All of the people in the neighborhood would run out to get fresh apples, green beans, corn and potatoes.

One man rang a bright metal hand bell as he walked along the streets and all of the children ran out to the musical sound. The scissors grinder carried a contraption on his back that was machinery for sharpening knives and scissors, screwdrivers for umbrella repairing and for fixing things. He was their science and mechanics teacher.

When the rag man called out, “Iron, rags, glass,” the people in the Blackberry Patch knew they could exchange the things that they had been collecting in buckets around the neighborhood for cash. The rag man was the original recycling business.

In her four volumes Anna Bishop interviewed the golden agers, born in the south at the beginning of the century, who had the recipes that helped families survive the terrible times of the depression years. She documented the neighborhood business, theaters, nightclubs, transportation and personalities.

One fascinating businessman was James Albert Jackson, a successful feed merchant in the day when Columbus citizens kept small flocks of chickens in their backyards. He and his business partner opened the Empress Theater at 768 East Long Street in the 1920s. When a theater owner on Mount Vernon insisted on keeping Black customers out, Mr. Jackson said that he’d fix them, “I’ll build a theater better than any one in the United States.”

When the Ogden (Lincoln) Theater opened in 1928, the whole interior took you back to Egypt with marble pillars carved and painted to look like Egyptian antiques. The carpeting was plush and the Club Lincoln was where Sammy Stewart’s Orchestra performed and little Sammy Davis, Jr. was four years old when he made his first impromptu appearance onstage.

Anna Bishop passed in 2004, but the legacy that she not only left but documented continues to inspire me.

Arnett Howard

Doral Chenoweth, writer for all occasions




Doral Chenoweth is one of those people who never had any sort of job other than in a newspaper newsroom or, in his case, the composing room of a newspaper. He did step away from legit journalism once to become a marketing and media consultant to get his kids through college, all-tuitions paid-in-full.

His first "job" was on a weekly in his North Carolina high school days. His job: cleaning up lead shavings in the hot-type composing room and remelting them into pigs; lead ingots for the Model 5 Lynotype machine. That's the way they set type to print the newspaper, a practice into the middle of the last century.

His intended career was to get to the New York Times as a reporter. That was delayed somewhat by a war against Germany, Italy and Japan. He finally reached his NY Times intent, but not until the 1960s and 1970s when he hit that big time newspaper's fledgling Op-Ed pages.

Along the way, he took the Post-WW2 advice of Izzy Stone and became editor of a troika of pro-labor newspapers in West Virginia, editions of the Daily-News Digest, one each for Beckley, Huntington and Charleston. While agreeing with the editorial slant, he had to escape into a larger daily, the Bluefield (WV) Daily Telegraph.

He was hired as the city editor of that prominent Republican daily, where, in his own words, he "met the society editor, became married and pregnant in that order."

Doral, when drafted into the Army for three years minus twelve days, was assigned to the War Department Bureau of Public Relations section where he eventually wrote stories datelined out of a dozen countries. As many say about their military experiences, they intend to write a book when they get home. In Chenoweth's case, he did just that.

After the Big War, he was elected to the West Virginia legislature for a two-year term in the late 1940's and was about to make a career of public service. However, he failed to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, so he, once more, turned to writing. He likes to say of his one West Virginia term of two years and the defeat for Congress, that he became "an elder statesman at age twenty-seven."

He was editor of the Zanesville (Ohio) News in the early 1950's. The News ceased publication and Chenoweth moved to the Columbus Citizen in 1953. He also wrote for the Columbus Star as Paul Pry, Jr. and wrote as a saloon and gossip columnist under his own name in the same publication. The Star was owned by the Dispatch Printing Co.

In the middle of his Columbus newspaper stint, Chenoweth moved into marketing for the Don M. Casto Organization, known for developing the Bank Block in Grandview and the first regional shopping center in the United States at Town and Country, on East Broad St. In his twenty-five years with Casto, Chenoweth authored Media Primer, which is still in use in the shopping center industry.

Christine says "I remember attending the opening of the scale-model Seven Wonders of the World at the Great Western Shopping Center, an example of the ballyhoo the Casto-Skilken partnership organization engendered. (I still have my color postcards of the Seven Wonders of the World." The actual replica of the Eiffel Tower remains on the Hoover Dam property of Steve Skilken, president of the Joseph Skilken Co).

Mr. Chenoweth then returned to the ink-stained life of a newspaperman, this time as the restaurant reviewer for the Columbus Dispatch. He continued his love of the business as the Grumpy Gourmet, not an undercover diner but one who made public appearances to make his Hobo Stew and preside over the Dispatch's Home and Garden Shows.

As an offshoot of his restaurant and food writing, today he continues with his teaching website for food reporters, www.grumpygourmetusa.com. That is a compilation of experiences on the food beat and from his OSU hospitality
lectures.

Presently he is constructing a second teaching website, www.foodreportingsyllabus.com. Both eventually will be on the teaching syllabus for a major Florida university. Both are fee-free posts online.

Chenoweth is a lifetime member of the New York Dramatists Guild. Two of his plays are Ohio based: I, Emerson Burkhart and the virtual trial of the killers at Kent State. The latter: www.kentstate-thetrial.com.

In October, 2011, he was inducted into the White Castle "Cravers in Extremis" Hall of Fame, in the year of White Castle's corporate 90th anniversary. Mr. Chenoweth brought along Bill and Peggy Yerkes of BonoPIZZA, a small but elegant local bistro, Bill being the inventor of the pizza topped with White Castles.

Chenoweth also brought along a neighbor, Douglas Schleifer, who dons a costume of a White Castle box every Halloween. The neighbor tried to put the costume on at the induction event, but was unable to do so due to the crush of onlookers. Schleifer and wife Teresa are confirmed Vegans, but admit to falling away one evening a year: New Year's Eve. They revel in their visit to a White Castle on Kenny at Henderson Rd.

Chenoweth is still at work at age ninety on his two teaching sites. For fun and games and the mystery of where this website will take him, his new venture is this work of art: www.cookbook-keepers.com. Already he's had post-requests from both coasts. Basis for the content: "No one ever throws away or loans out a cookbook." It is a non-commercial site.

He has three children who work in media professions, including his namesake Doral Chenoweth III, well-known in print and video photography. The Chenoweth legacy has provided controversy and humor to the Columbus scene for many years.

Christine Hayes

Eddie Saunders, radio and television personality



James Edward “Eddie” Saunders, a Kentuckian by birth, made Columbus his home in 1937. In 1944, he produced the radio program “Swanee Hour” for the sick and shut-ins; he then continued to serve the community with his “Sermons and Songs” radio program.

“Sermons and Songs,” the longest running religious program in the country started in 1948, when Saunders became the first black disc jockey in Columbus. Through the years Mr. Saunders became known as the “Dean of Central Ohio Broadcasting” because for more than fifty years he responded to the needs of the people on WVKO Radio.

Eddie also hosted a three hour afternoon jazz program on WVKO. But his religious programming was what made his name and career. He was the creator and producer of “Eddie Saunders Presents,” a religious television program that aired for more than twenty years.

Saunders was inducted into The Disc Jockey Hall of Fame and the Ohio State Senior Hall of Fame in 1983. In 1989, the City of Columbus renamed Maryland Park to Saunders Park in his honor.

Eddie Saunders passed on in 1999, but he is still honored and respected in Central Ohio.

Arnett Howard

Alice Schille, watercolorist




Considered one of America's foremost women watercolorists, Columbus, Ohio native Alice Schille earned international recognition, including top prizes from arts institutions in San Francisco, New York, Washington and Chicago, for her fine Impressionist and Post Impressionist paintings of street scenes, beaches, markets, as well as women and children.

Born with exceptional powers of observation, a nimble talent, and a mother who recognized and nurtured both, Alice was destined for greatness. In her day, Alice was considered to be one of the best American water colorists. Her work was nationally recognized, and she received many prestigious prizes including the gold medal for watercolor at the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exhibit in San Francisco.

Graduating from the Columbus Art School (which later became the Columbus College of Art and Design) at the top of her class in 1893, Schille continued her studies in New York and Paris. In 1904, five of her paintings were accepted for exhibition at Société Nationale des Beaux Arts, and from that time on her work was included regularly in important American annual exhibitions.

Schille returned to Columbus and began what was to become a lifelong career in education, teaching watercolor and portrait painting at her alma mater for forty years. Traveling each summer to paint, her unique style expanded to reflect what she had absorbed while in England, Germany, France, Spain, Holland, Yugoslavia, Russia, North Africa, Mexico, Guatemala, Norway, Turkey, Greece and Belgium. Although personally shy, Schille possessed unusual courage and strength of will. These characteristics were reflected in both her independent lifestyle and in her art, as she continually worked to master new modes of painting throughout her career.

Leaving Columbus behind in 1897 to study art in New York, she then moved on to Europe in 1902 to complete her education by absorbing all the art Europe had to offer. Paris soon became her passion. She felt more at home there than anywhere.

While she returned to Columbus in 1904 to teach, the lure of Paris continued to draw her. For more than thirty years, Alice returned to France at the end of each school term. While in Paris, she became acquainted with many of the avant-garde artists and intellectuals of the era - Piccasso, Matisse, Gertrude Stein, Juan Gris and translated many of their ideas into her art.

Eager to absorb avant-garde ideas and to share her experiences and her art with both the public and her students, Alice became a cultural catalyst. She was one of the first artists to effectively bring many modern artistic concepts directly from France to the Midwest. As an instructor at the Columbus Art School and the doyenne of Columbus artists, Alice helped to broaden the tastes and enrich the artistic vocabulary of Columbus at a time when the community was distrustful of modern art.

Leslie Blankenship,
Columbus Historical Society