Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Coach Fred Taylor and the 1960 Basketball Buckeyes

Fred Taylor was an Ohio boy who grew up in Zanesville and went on to graduate in 1950 from the Ohio State Unversity. He played center on one of the best ever Buckeye teams.

During his senior year, the Buckeyes has a 22-4 season, a record until ten years later when Fred coached the team to a 25-3 season and the NCAA Championship. That team was so outstanding that the 1959-60 season was described as “The Year of the Buckeyes.”

Center Jerry Lucas, forwards John Havlicek and Joe Roberts and guards Larry Siegfried and Mel Nowell deserved every bit of praise they received. This group of Ohio natives, led by Lucas, became the nation's top scorers, hitting nealyr fifty percent of their field goals. The 6’8” Lucas from Middletown, Ohio, had been the country's top high school scorer, wracking up 2,460 to break Wilt Chamberlain’s 2,252 point record set at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia.

Lucas was a straight shooter off the court as well. An “A” student majoring in business, Lucas carried a full course load and was proud that he was attending the Ohio State on an academic scholarship.

Lucas’ teamates were also an impressive group. Larry Siegfried was the Bucks' leading scorer in 1958, averaging nearly twenty points a game as a sophmore. Under Fred’s coaching Larry sublimated his desire to be an offensive star and teamed with Columbus native Mel Nowell, an unbelievably tough guard.

Forward John Havlicek also figured into Fred’s emphasis on defense. An all-state high school athlete in all sports, Havlicek once told a reporter that if the team members had tried to score individually as they had in high school, the scoreboard would have shown one hundred-fifty points a game.

“I knew that wasn’t going to happen,” he said, “so I forgot about the offense because I knew that concentrating on defense was the quickest way to make the team.” John’s patience was rewarded. He got his chance to shoot for the Boston Celtics and became the fourth leading scorer in the NBA history.

Joe Roberts, another tall and talented member of that famous team, was a fine forward and aggressive player who unselfishly and repeatedly set up Lucas to shoot. Although he was not one of the five starters, Dick Furry was another excellent forward who got a lot of play. Also on that famous team was Bobby Knight, who while not a star, showed a lot of hustle.

Like football coach Woody Hayes, Fred Taylor did everything in his power to see that his players graduated. He was not a “user” who saw these players as finely-tuned athletes whose sole purpose was to bring glory to Ohio State. Fred was very realistic and urged his players to be realistic about their chances of turning pro.

He often reminded even his most talented players that only a handful of college stars were selected by the professional teams. “The odds are not very good that you’ll make it,” he told them bluntly. “If you don’t get your degree while doing something you enjoy, then it isn’t worth it to you.”

To his credit, all of Fred Taylor’s players graduated.

Jimmy Crum,
From Jimmy Crum: How About That!

Annetta St. Gaudens Saves a Natural Setting for City Children

Annetta St. Gaudens was a nationally known sculptor working in the St. Gaudens artist colony at Cornish, New Hampshire. By 1910 she had inherited a dramatic gorge above Worthington, part of William Thompson’s farm platted in 1803. Although there was a mill on the property, the stream and ravine were preserved in their original state. William Thompson, one of the original Worthington settlers, was the great-great grandfather of Annetta.

Annetta graduated from the Columbus Art School (precursor of CCAD) in 1885, studied in New York, became an assistant to Augustus St. Gaudens, and in 1898 married his younger brother, Louis.

In growing up on her family’s farm in nearby Flint Township near Worthington, she modeled animals from clay. As a young Columbus ceramicist, Annetta became acquainted with geology professor Edward Orton, senior, the first president of OSU, and others who were promoting the arts and social services in Columbus. She shared professional interest in the ceramic clays of the ravine on her farm with Edward Orton, junior, who succeeded his father as Ohio geologist in 1899 and established the department of ceramic engineering at the Ohio State University.

Annetta St. Gaudens actively supported early 20th century social movements such as temperance, women’s suffrage and environmental preservation. The latter was reflected in her bird and animal ceramics. In 1910 she gifted ten acres of the scenic ravine to the Neighborhood Guild Association (NGA), which ran Godman House on Goodale Street.

Godman House was modeled after Jane Adams’ Hull House in Chicago and their summer camp became Camp Johnson. Edward Orton Jr. was an active member of the Neighborhood Guild board of directors and the camp became a summer retreat for children of impoverished neighborhoods, such as Flytown.

After his return from service during World War One, Edward Orton Jr. approached Annetta St. Gaudens about selling her remaining farmland to the NGA (soon to become the Godman Guild.) Annetta accepted a mortgage to be paid off in ten years, Orton donating the funds to the Guild for annual mortgage payments, and the Guild raising funds for buildings and development for the camp.

Both Orton and St Gaudens served on the board as development began and she stayed at Godman House when she was in Columbus on board business. It remained Camp Johnson into the 1920s and the mortgage was paid off before Edward Orton’s untimely death in 1932. The camp was renamed Camp Mary Orton after his wife and the natural beauty of the setting has been preserved for generations of camp goers since then.

Christine Hayes

Alta Weiss: A Medical Student With A Baseball Career

Alta Weiss had come from Ragersville, Ohio to be one of the only women in the Starling-Ohio Medical College in Columbus in 1910. But this was not the unusual thing about Alta. By the time she arrived in Columbus in 1910 as a twenty-year-old, she had already had a career in baseball.

Ragersville is south of Sugarcreek in Tuscarawas County. Alta Weiss’s father was the doctor there for fifty years. Alta was born in 1890, the second of his three daughters. She was naturally athletic and, legend has it, could hurl an accurate corncob at a family cat at the age of two, complete with wrist-snap and follow-through.

Alta not only pitched well, but she was an excellent shot with rifle and shotgun, played basketball, tennis, piano, violin and sang. But baseball was her first love.

Her father, Dr. George Weiss, provided her with an outlet when he established a two-year high school in 1905 so that Alta could play on a school team. He also founded Weiss Ball Park in Ragersville and by her fourteenth year, Alta was playing first base and pitching for the town team.

When the family was vacationing in Vermilion in 1907, Mayor H.P. Williams arranged for a game between two local teams, with Alta guest-pitching. She struck out fifteen men in the first game and nine in the second. On September 2, 1907, Alta, wearing a long blue skirt, took the mound for the semipro Vermilion Independents, pitched five innings and then played first base. The Independents won, 4-3.

Overnight she became the “Girl Wonder” in Ohio newspapers. She played the rest of the 1907 season, pitching seven more games, attracting much attention to Charles Heidloff, the manager of the Independents, who even booked League Park in Cleveland. Alta led the team to a 7-6 victory over the Vacha’s All-Stars. She was seventeen.

Her father encouraged her, built a heated gymnasium on his property so she could practice pitching and work out with weights during the winter. He purchased a semipro team and called it the Weiss All-Stars. He hired Heidloff as manager and Alta switched from a skirt to bloomers. The team had a barnstorming spring and summer in Ohio and Kentucky, playing at county fairs and special events, with fans tossing money in the infields after particularly good plays.

Alta was always accompanied by her older sister, Irma. Alta always pitched five innings, then played first base. Irma rubbed Alta’s arm with arnica, a plant extract, each evening. The Weiss All-Stars ended the 1908 season with a 21-19-1 record.

Alta attended the Wooster Academy and then she came to Columbus. Irma passed away and Alta had to buckle down to study medicine. When she graduated in 1914, the only woman in her class, the Columbus Citizen wrote, “Miss Weiss will take the State Board medical examination next week and then go home to Ragersville where she will practice medicine with her father for the summer. In the fall she will go to Harvard where she will enter the physical culture training school to fit herself to teach physical training.”

Alta did not become a physical education instructor. She practiced with her father, then, briefly, at the Girls Reformatory in Delaware. She practiced in Sugarcreek during World War One, taking over the practice of Dr. A.H. Syler during his war service. Alta worked during the horrible influenza epidemic and was discouraged in medicine.

She continued to don a baseball glove occasionally and play with local teams. In 1925 she established a medical business in Norwalk, Ohio, was married for eleven years but her marriage ended in separation.

She took over her father’s practice in Ragersville when he died in 1946. She phased the practice out and then retired, but was always ready to encourage a young ball player from her rocker on her Ragersville porch. Her grand-nephew described her as “eccentric…she owned ten cats, drove a 1940 Buick for years, and read three newspapers a day.”

Alta Weiss died in 1964.

Christine Hayes

The Baker Art Gallery

Baker’s Art Gallery, 106 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio, was founded by Lorenzo Marvin Baker, born in 1834 in Copenhagen, New York. He was active in Columbus from 1860 until 1897.

Lorenzo came to Columbus in 1854 to clerk at the Neil House Hotel, he was also an officer at the Ohio Penitentiary. He went into the photo business in 1862 and established a gallery, one of the finest rooms in Ohio. They were awarded the gold medal for the best examples of photographs at the Semi-centennial in Boston and the World’s Fair at Chicago.

He employed two of his sons, Lorenzo and Duane Baker, as well as John Samuel Schneider, in the best known portrait studio in the state capital until well into the twentieth century. Lorenzo Baker won prizes at the Ohio State Fair beginning in 1874 for photographs, both plain and finished in watercolor and ink.

Lorenzo M. Baker lived until Febrary, 1924. Duane Baker, educated at the Ohio State University, took over the firm’s business affairs early in the twentieth century and was an active photographer in Columbus until his death in 1934. The third partner in the business was John Samuel Schneider, active in photography from 1880 until 1912.

What I really find fascinating about Baker's Art Gallery are some of the famous names and otherwise interesting folks that walked through their door to have portraits done: Presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley, actor-entertainer Al G. Field, sharp-shooter Annie Oakley and 1892 Columbus Baseball Club, among many actors, actresses, government officials and persons of the times.

The Baker Art Gallery existed in Columbus until the 1950s.

Arnett Howard

John Glenn: Flight, February 20, 1962

Liftoff was slow; the Atlas rocket’s 367,000 pounds of thrust were barely enough to overcome its 125-ton weight. I wasn’t really off until the forty-two inch umbilical cord that took electrical connections to the base of the rocket pulled loose. That was my last connection to Earth.

It took two boosters and the sustainer engine three seconds of fire and thunder to lift the thing that far. From where I sat the rise seemed ponderous and stately, as if the rocket were an elephant trying to become a ballerina. Then the mission elapsed-time clock on the cockpit panel ticked into life and I could report, “The clock is operating. We’re under way.”

At 2:19 the booster engines cut off and fell away. I was forty miles high and forty-five miles from Cape Canaveral. The rocket pitched forward for the few seconds it took for the escape tower’s jettison rocket to fire, taking the half-ton tower away from the capsule.

Pilots gear their moments of greatest attention to the times when the flight conditions change. The G’s built again, pushing me back into the couch and I reported, “Cape is go and I am go. Capsule is in good shape.”

Five minutes into the flight I would achieve orbital speed, hit zero G and be inserted into orbit at a height of about a hundred miles. It happened as programmed; the weight and fuel tolerances were so tight that the engines had less than three seconds worth of fuel remaining when I hit that keyhole in the sky, “Zero G and I feel fine. Capsule is turning around.”

Through the window, I could see the curve of Earth and its thin film of atmosphere. “Oh, I exclaimed, “That view is tremendous.” Over the Canary Islands, almost to the west coast of Africa, I could still see the Atlas rocket making slow pirouettes behind me, sunlight glinting from its metal skin. It was beautiful, too.

Friendship 7 crossed the African coast twelve minutes after liftoff. Flying over the Indian Ocean, I began to fly out of daylight and this was something that I had been looking forward to; a sunset in space. On Earth we see beautiful reds, oranges and yellows with a luminus quality that no film can fully capture.

It was even more spectacular than I imagined, not just the colors at the red end but the greens, blues, indigos and violets at the other end of the scale. It made spectacular an understatement for the few seconds view. The sun was fully round and white as a brilliant arc light, then it swiftly disappeared and seemed to melt into a thin line of rainbow-brilliant radiance along the curve of the horizon.

I reported, “The sky above is absolutely black, completely black. I can see stars up above.” Gordon Cooper’s familiar voice came over the headset at Friendship 7 neared Australia, where he was at the station at Muchea, on the west coast just north of Perth. “That was a short day. Kinda’ passes by rapidly, huh?”

John Glenn

From John Glenn: A Memoir

Gloria Hoover Markets The Edible Buckeye

The omnipresent “buckeye” confection, made of peanut butter and chocolate, is a Columbus institution. Postcards with the recipe printed on them can be found around town. The edible buckeye is a staple at football tailgating potlucks and I have to send them to my niece in California every Christmas.

But who organized these little morsels? I happened upon a 1970 Wonderful World of Ohio magazine and the mystery was solved.

Gloria Hoover won a “Best Rolled Cookies” blue ribbon with her grandmother’s anise-seed sugar cookie recipe at the Ohio State Fair in 1965. These cookies went on to win the coveted purple rosette for best cookies at the Fair, presented to her by none other than Art Linkletter.

She received calls from people wanting the cookies. Gloria, a former art and philosophy major at Denison University, was not particularly interested in becoming a cookie tycoon. But she succumbed to the growing demand and started a baking venture in a tiny upstairs room in Granville, Ohio.

This is where she developed the “Hetuck” cookie, which is a Native American word for buckeye. The first box of the new Hetuck cookies was delivered to Governor James Rhodes' office in Columbus. The Hetucks first outlets were in Granville, Newark, and Columbus. When soon-to-be president Richard Nixon spoke at a 1966 rally in Newark, Gloria was there to present him with Hetucks.

In April, 1967, congressman Clarence E. Miller of the 10th District of Ohio was sponsoring the planting of a buckeye tree on the Capitol grounds in Washington DC., Gloria flew to Washington and presented Hetucks to congressman William H. Harrison, great-great grandson of President William H. Harrison of Ohio.

By 1968 the Hoover cookie industry expanded to larger digs. Her wares now included Teresa’s Anise Cookies (Teresa was her grandmother’s name), Hetucks, Vanilla Sugar Cookies, and Pub and Mug Cookies.

Gloria hired others to bake, while she handled the sales and promotion, flying to conventions and shows. (Did Cheryl learn her cookies from Gloria?)

Gloria designed a “Wonderful World of Ohio” dress to help promote her products. Hetucks were marketed on special small trees with paper buckeye leaves and pretend cardinals. Especially coveted were the Hetucks packaged in a metal treasure chest.

But does anyone know of the Hetuck name anymore? Where did Hetucks leave off and the normal chocolate buckeye begin? Perhaps readers of the 1970 magazine seized chocolate and peanut butter in their own hands and took off with her idea.

Christine Hayes

Earl Hood Orchestra and Indianola Park

Earl Hood had an orchestra beginning in 1918 and he said that the band would take the interurban car to Indianola Park and entertain at the Pavilion. The second floor was the location of the

park's dance floor and it was accessed from a separate entrance on the north side of the building. The hardwood floored dancing area was very large; 20,000 square feet.

The first floor, accessible from the pool area, held lockers, showers, and changing rooms for swimmers. Two levels of balconies and promenades on the west side of the building overlooked the pool and offered space for dining or getting a breath of fresh air.

Dancing at Indianola and parks like it was on a per dance basis. Tickets cost about five cents each. Couples would buy tickets at the beginning of the evening. On presentation of a ticket, the couple would be admitted onto the floor.

Earl’s band, the Oriental Knights Orchestra, would strike up a song and the couples would dance. At the song's end, approximately three to five minutes later, they'd clear the floor and start again. A battery of ceiling fans kept the dancers cool and snacks and refreshments were available.

Dancers were strictly policed to ensure that nothing coarse or improper occurred. Certain dances were forbidden, there was a strict dress and conduct code. Dancers who violated the rules were ejected.

There was a reason for this; dance halls in the early twentieth century had a bad reputation. They were commonly fronts for prostitution and associated vices. They were frequented by bad men and loose women. Robberies, assaults, fights, and murders often occurred there.

Indianola Park took great pains to stress that their dance halls were nothing at all like those other dance halls. Vernon and Irene Castle were a husband-and-wife team of ballroom dancers of the early 20th century. They are credited with invigorating the popularity of modern dancing.

D.A. Kellough

White Castle Works With Women

Founded in Wichita, Kansas in 1921, White Castle revolutionized how Americans ate. Beginning with their first few stands in Wichita, Edgar Waldo “Billy” Ingram and his partner, Walter Anderson, started the American fast-food industry, introduced carry-out eating, and introduced the hamburger as America’s best-known food.

Prior to the White Castle’s antiseptic, scrubbed take on the little restaurant, ground meat was always suspect as “leftovers” pawned off at the butcher shop. The new franchise operators had to prove that hamburgers were healthy food and their places were not “joints.” Thus, the stainless-steel castle look.

Hygiene for employees was stressed and high-grade beef was ground in front of the customers. Anderson and Ingram purchased an airplane so they could make surprise visits in their establishments to check on the standards of cleanliness.

The chain continued to expand over many states and by 1929, they started in Columbus. When the Depression hit in the 1930’s White Castle was so well established that it did not affect them; the prices remained the same, and the restaurants were expanded from 100 to 130 in all, due to Ingram’s keen business sense.

He introduced Ella Louise Agniel in 1932 to be White Castle’s new corporate hostess, working under the pseudonym of Julia Joyce. Corporate hostesses were becoming common, the most famous being General Mills’ “Betty Crocker.” (Many people are surprised that there was no real “Betty Crocker.”) Julia Joyce was there to spread the word about White Castles to middle class women in company cities.

To that end, “Julia” criss-crossed the country, attending meetings of garden clubs and women’s groups with sacks of burgers, stressing their nutritional value and handing out menu booklets of how to combine them with other foods (besides french-fries) for a well-balanced meal.

One example of these stomach-churning dinner suggestions: “Cream of Lettuce Soup, Cheese Sticks, White Castle Hamburger Sandwiches, Fried Parsnips, Cherry Pie, Coffee.” Other suggestions had things like stewed rhubarb and the fore-runners of Jell-o. How tastes have changed!

“Julia” performed high-profile charity work, delivering hamburgers to orphanages, to underprivileged children and other community centers. She starred in family-oriented advertisements and she even handed out bridge-game scorecards.

White Castle had its own bakeries and paper product factories, which sold goods to other food producers, and owned a company called Porcelain Steel Buildings, which also built gas stations. Anderson sold out to Ingram in 1933 and in 1934 Ingram spent months studying which White Castle city he wanted to move his center of operations to. Ingram liked Columbus’ climate, business community, the Ohio State University, the active Rotary Club and Masons.

World War Two hit White Castle hard with food rationing. Male employees that were trustworthy were also hard to find, as all the able-bodied and like–minded counter men had gone to war. After many months, Ingram decided to try female workers, violating his own two decade long ban. White Castle managers condemned the idea, predicting a multitude of problems. The women proved them wrong and by the end of the war, the vast majority of White Castle workers were women. Collectively they were more dependable and productive than male workers.

After the war, the women went home to be wives and mothers and the men did not want the counter jobs, as they were being offered more high-paying jobs in factories or were studying under the GI bill. The new counter men were not dependable, and also Ingram had to raise his prices. The 1950’s and 1960’s were not good years for White Castle, due to the other fast-food places coming in with a vengeance. Columbus was the famous “try-out” city for new chains. But the 1970’s and the 1980’s proved that with family leadership, White Castle could re-invent itself into a strong Columbus-based industry once again.

Christine Hayes

Hanford Village

In mid-February, 2008, USA Today newspaper ran a real estate story on preservationist working on the preservation of Black suburban communities. And the story’s opening was about an East Columbus neighborhood, Hanford Village.

In April, 1946, developer Ivan Gore promoted the village as “Homes for Negro families.” About that same time, Lockbourne Army Air Base, eight miles south of Columbus, was receiving thousands of Tuskegee Airmen and many brought their families into Columbus and Hanford Village.

The single family homes were located in an area that border Livingston Avenue, Alum Creek Drive, East Main Street and Nelson Road. Hanford Village was a proud community that boasted a park, a shelter house, a veteran’s organization with a hall.

The first homes sold for $6000 to $8000.00, giving many veterans a chance to use their G.I. Bill benefits for home ownership. But before the small community of one hundred-fifty homes was barely fifteen years old, Interstate 70 planners were making deals to bisect Hanford Village, yet bypass South Bexley.

The Ohio Historical Society considers Hanford Village historically significant and deserving of further study. But it will take village residents to step forward and ask for the process of having the village listed on the National Historic Registry.

Arnett Howard

Ursel White Lewis: Patron of the Arts

Art patronage is considered a to be gesture directly connected to financial privilege. But Ursel White Lewis managed to aid, support, view and appreciate the art of the Columbus African American community.

Born in Oklahoma City in October, 1913, Lady Lewis came to Columbus with her ailing mother in 1941. She married Howard W. Lewis in 1943, who worked in the chemistry department at the Ohio State University.

Mrs. Lewis was a fashionable woman who made hats and wore three quarter length glove all year round. In 1974 she got several pieces of art from a barber on Long Street, who was right around the corner from the Columbus Museum of Art and she donated them to the museum.

The museum now has hundreds of pieces and two rooms dedicated to woodcarver Elijah Pierce. But it was Lady Lewis who donated the first pieces, as well as artwork from Roman Johnson, Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson and Henry Cade, Jr.

Lady Ursel White Lewis, fashion stylist and art patron, still lives in Columbus and is the subject of a new book, Lady Lewis: Her Hats and Her Gloves by PamelaJune Anderson.

Arnett Howard

Christian Heyl: A First Settler of Columbus

Johann Christian Heyl (1788-1877), the first German and first Lutheran to settle in Columbus, was one of the original fifteen settlers of the city. A baker by trade, Heyl came to bake for the soldiers quartered in Franklinton during the War of 1812.

Christian married Esther Alspach (1792–1867) on May 8, 1814. He founded the city's first Lutheran Church and helped financially underwrite the German Theological Seminary, which later became Capital University.

An early civic leader, Heyl served on Columbus' City Council for fourteen years, was County Treasurer for eight years and an associate judge in the Court of Common Pleas for fourteen years. He was appointed to the first public school board and was the first chief of the Columbus Fire Department. His Sunbury Road home was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Christian Heyl operated a hostelry at Rich and High streets for twenty-eight years in the early 1800s, first known as the Swan and later as Franklin House. Due to its close proximity to the Statehouse and location just north of the entrance to the National Road on High Street, it was a popular stop for members of the General Assembly and center of many civic events.

One notable event was the Great Squirrel Hunt. Heyl organized the hunt at a time when squirrels were overrunning Columbus and farmers' crops were threatened. On Saturday, August 31, 1822, at two in the afternoon, hunters gathered at the Franklin House and within hours collected 19,600 squirrel scalps.

Christian Heyl lived a good long life, passed December 3, 1877 and on Sunday, October 19, 2003, the Ohio Historical Society honored Judge Heyl by placing a Historical Marker in his honor in the courtyard of the Franklin County Courthouse in downtown Columbus. There is a street, Heyl Avenue and a school, Heyl Elementary, named after him.

The Formation of Columbus: The Capital City

Lyne Starling, James Johnson, Alexander McLaughlin and John Kerr formed proprietorship and successfully lobbied the Ohio state legislature to locate the new capital of the High Ground on the east side of the Scioto River, just across from Franklinton. General Joseph Foos, who operated a ferry across the Scioto is credited with suggesting the name Columbus for the proposed settlement. The date was February 14, 1812.

The propriortorship proposed to lay out the new town, to donate ten acres to the state for a public square with a state capitol and provide an additional ten acres for a penitentiary. The four proprietors agreed to spend $50,000 on the new town and to have the penitentiary completed by January, 1815 and the state capitol and offices by December, 1817.

The law establishing the seat of Ohio’s state government was passed the same day that war broke out between the United States and Britain. Franklinton became headquarters for the northwestern army and up to three thousand troops would occupy the town for short periods.

The sale of lots began June 18, 1812 and prices ranged from two hundred dollars to one thousand dollars, with one fifth of the price to be paid at the time of the sale and the remainder to be paid in four equal annual installments.

By 1815 there were stores, taverns, a post office, a market house and seven hundred people in Columbus. A school was started in a log cabin on the public square. On February 19, 1816, the town was incorporated as the “Borough of Columbus.”

The statehouse was completed in 1815 and the following year Governor Thomas Worthington invited a number of women to a social sewing circle to put together the first carpet for the building.

The Ohio legislature met in the statehouse for thirty-five years before the building was destroyed by fire on February, 1, 1852. The blaze was discovered in the center of the Senate Chamber when the alarm was given about four a.m. The Ohio State Journal reported, “The belfry, after burning brilliantly for a few minutes, came down with a crash upon the floor of the Senate Chamber. The roof then gradually fell in and the upper story of the building was a mass of flames.”

Harry B. Franken

Illustration by Felch-Riches from The History of Franklin County by William T. Martin
Illustration of Lyne Starling

A Barrel of Pigeons: The Central Market

The first Market House in Columbus, built in 1814, was located in the middle of High Street, near Rich. It was a substantial frame structure, but in three years, when Columbus was incorporated in 1817, the City

Council contracted John Shields to build a two-story building on West State Street.

Shields provided the building in exchange for using the top floor; he rented the rooms out to various businesses including a print shop. Within a few years Shields sold out to John Young who used the rooms for amusement and gaming.

A site was found for the third and final building in 1847, with ample parking, the west side of Fourth Street between Town and Rich. A second story was used as City Hall, which included a council chamber, offices, a jail, a court room for mayor’s court, and even rehearsal space for the Ninth Battalion Band practice. The grand opening was in 1850 – a year that saw large growth for Columbus and expanded duties for the mayor such as supervising city officers and maintaining the peace. Lorenzo English was the first mayor to serve in the new City Hall.

In the early years of the Central Market, the building was crowded with busy patrons and horse-drawn vehicles unloading produce. Pigeon was considered delicious and cheap; you could buy three hundred pigeons in a barrel for twenty-five dollars. A good “netter” with helpers could catch seven barrels of pigeons per day. No wonder some species of pigeon became extinct!

For more than five months a year, fresh fruit was mighty popular. Cherries, blackberries, peaches, pears, quinces, apples, and apple cider were some of the more wanted items. Many of the merchants and farmers who rented space at the Central Market stayed at the adjacent Farmers’ Hotel (southeast corner of Walnut and Fourth). The hotel was crowded during the Ohio State Fair and the Franklin County Fair, also in the times of Labor and Mine Workers’ meetings.

In addition to pigeons, many people bought doves, quail, rabbits, and squirrels skinned and dressed for eating. Most merchants got up at four a.m. to be ready for the six o’clock opening. Market operated on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. At 9 p.m. on Saturdays people scrambled to get bargains.

Central Market House was razed in June of 1966. There were still a few merchants operating at that time; the building had a lifespan of 116 years.

Christine Hayes

Paintings by Harvey Gilliam

Spizzerinctum: Mayor Jack Sennsenbrenner

The son of a local jeweler, Maynard E. “Jack” Sensenbrenner was born in Circleville, twenty-five miles south of Columbus, September 18, 1902. He followed his sweetheart, Mildred H. Sexauer, to California where he worked as a Fuller brush man and they married and returned to Columbus in 1927, settling on the Westside.

Although his political ads on television were uncommon and dismissed a gimmickry, in 1954 Sensenbrenner became the first Democratic mayor of Columbus in two decades. During his terms as mayor, he laid the groundwork for the massive growth of Columbus by requiring all neighborhoods that accepted city water service to be annexed into Columbus. Under his leadership Columbus grew by more than one hundred square miles.

An eccentric political character, his vocabulary included terms like spizzerinctum (meaning guts, backbone, chutzpah), which made Columbus the All-American City. He helped Columbus win the award in 1958.

Sensenbrenner was the mayor when Columbus was hit by a major flood in 1959; the rushing waters broke through the Dry Run Levee near Grandview Avenue on Columbus westside. He was quoted as saying that the broken dike was what cost him the election the following fall.

Sensenbrenner was unseated temporarily from 1960 to 1963 by Republican W. Ralston Westlake, but won back his seat. He served as Columbus's mayor from 1954 to 1960 and from 1964 to 1972.

“My biggest desire is seeing recreational plans move and to beautify the entire downtown section too. I'd sure like to see a convention center within the innerbelt, so people from all over the country could come here.

Columbus has gotta be alive and vibrant and dynamic, not just nightclubs, though you needs those too. But we've gotta have a lot of good culture ... you know, opera and all that stuff. Paintings too. I don't understand all those things myself, but they're good for people."

He was a visionary in many ways. Look around.

Arnett Howard

Blanche M. Van Hook, civil servant, journalist

“Miss Blanche”, Miss Blanche Marina Van Hook, if you please, is not a character out of a Tennessee Willams or Carson McCullers story, contrary to rumor. She’s a little larger than life itself and twice as strong when she takes on spring in a new flowered hat.

For the past twenty-two years she’s become a legend to readers of the Columbus Citizen-Journal and its predecessor, the Columbus Citizen via her social columns. They can rest assured that Blanche lives up to the lore in flesh.

When she walks into a party, fashion show or theater opening, she is never decked out in anything less than the utmost an occasion could demand. “Oh my yes.” she laughs, “I’m not bragging, but people’s eyes do bug out when they see old Blanche coming. I can’t help it...I just love clothes, color or anything pretty.”

Blanche wasn’t always surrounded by glamour. Her daddy, Paul Van Hook, operated a lumber mill in Champaign County, Ohio. But, the only child was given an early love of learning and pretty things.

In fact she got so adroit at the piano that she latched onto a job immediately when the family came over to Columbus. The high school girl strolled up to the Superba movie theater which had just opened at Lexington and Long Street “long before the talkies.” She informed the management that total silence was a mistake, and offered her services as a pianist. For “playing the pictures,” Miss Blanche made “the magnificent sum of five dollars per week.”

This led to a civil service career which spanned a total of thirty-eight years. Miss Blanche became the first Black woman in Columbus to hold a clerkship and was to spend twenty-four years in the city water division.

“My my, the money that I’ve handled in my time,” she reminisces fondly. I just love handling money. At one time, a half-million dollars passed through my hands and I never made one tiny mistake in my figures.”

She says, “I stumbled into writing quite by accident. A clerk I knew was writing a column for the Citizen and when he left for the war, he asked me to take it over. I did and somehow, I’ve never stopped.”

“I’ve written for lots of other papers too; even the Chicago Defender, when they had a Columbus edition. I love it so much that I’d do it for nothing if I had to. You see, I’ve never had a bit of journalism. Everything I have is a gift from God.”

Blanche M. Van Hook passd on in 1970.

Betty DeBold, Columbus Citizen-Journal, February 20, 1968.

Columbus During The Civil War, Part Two

The newspapers debated the ins and outs of war with the South until the firing on Fort Sumter. Then, Columbus was literally swarming with volunteers from all over the state. Goodale Park became known as Camp Jackson. Lincoln Goodale complained about the use of his lovely park.

Camp Jackson was moved to the site of the racecourse and renamed Camp Chase (in the present Sullivant Avenue area.) By 1862 Camp Chase received rebel prisoners (over eight thousand; one-fourth of them would die there, their graves are still well-tended.)

Stockbreeders in Columbus profited by the demand for war horses. Much of the war work (manufacture of cannonballs, caissons, battery wagons, forges, and woolen cloth) was performed by contract labor in the Ohio Penitentiary. One firm employed one hundred females who made one hundred twenty-five overcoats per day. The one hundred women soon became a thousand. Ladies’ Societies held bazaars and picnic excursions to raise money for the war effort.

Many militiamen were ordered to Camp Chase when the South’s “Morgan’s Raiders” threatened Ohio. Morgan’s chief of staff was a prisoner at Camp Chase. Columbusites rode the horse-drawn streetcars to Camp Chase to watch for possible skirmishes. But the Raiders went far to the south.

Later, Morgan and his aides were captured and placed in the Ohio Penitentiary. The spectacular escape of Morgan and his men on Nov. 27-28, 1863 made such a splash in the minds of locals that Morgan’s personal effects and those of his men were auctioned off in January, 1864.

Another troop camp was erected in the vicinity of the present Olentangy Village; Camp Thomas. Dress parades were familiar on High Street. Camp Lew Wallace, Camp Tod, and Tod Barracks were also nearby. The army camp for African-Americans was a mile from the town of Delaware. The “Anti-Slavery” Baptist Church on Gay Street had offered the services of a company during the threat of Morgan’s Raiders.

Ohio was the scene of abundant partisan political contention during the War. Stephen A. Douglas made spirited pro-war speeches in Columbus in 1861, and then died of typhoid fever a few weeks later. The election of 1861 brought Democrat David Tod of Youngstown into the Ohio governorship. Governor Tod supported the War while many of his fellow Democrats did not.

Some Lincoln critics were jailed, and in the case of Samuel Medary, his Crisis newspaper office was destroyed. The “Copperhead” (Peace Democrat) movement headed by governor-candidate Clement L Vallandigham, took hold in Columbus. (Vallandigham was so dogged, he found temporary exile in Canada during his campaign in 1863.) The Union Democratic party had their own candidate, John Brough.

Vallandigham won in Franklin County, but Brough won the governorship. Salmon P. Chase addressed a large gathering in the Union League headquarters. Brough became governor on Jan. 11, 1864.

The Unionists sought Chase as the presidential candidate, rather than President Abraham Lincoln for a second term. Much to the chagrin of Medary, the Democrats met in March and the peace element of the platform was ignored. Lincoln was advocated.

Medary became ill while speaking from the courthouse steps and died soon after. By the autumn of 1864, military victories caused much hope and many political party rallies. In Chicago, General George McLellan was nominated to run against Lincoln. Lincoln carried Ohio, but Franklin County went for McLellan.

After Congress, in February, 1865 passed the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery, it was ratified by large majorities in both Ohio houses. This was followed by the firing of two hundred guns in the Ohio State House yard, just a taste of the future celebrations on April 9 after General Robert E. Lee’s surrender had become known in Columbus.

Soon, joy turned to grief, as word came of President Lincoln’s tragic death. On April 29, the body of the President, en route to its final resting place in Springfield, Illinois, was viewed by thousands in Columbus’s Capitol.

Christine Hayes

Columbus Before and During the Civil War

Franklin County in 1860 was agrarian: the fourth most important grain producing county in the state, ranked third in corn, third in horses, second in hogs. A city ordinance was passed because hogs roamed at large. In 1862, one hundred hogs were impounded within a few days.

Columbus was served by steam packets on the canal feeder and its location on the National Road gave it some importance, but railroad travel took over. By 1861, five railroads were serving Columbus, with twenty-four passenger trains daily. And the rail load only increased due to the War.

Small manufacturers got quite a boost from the War as well. Officials and institutional employees worked at the new Capitol building, the Central Asylum for the Insane, the Deaf and Dumb Institution and the Institution for the Blind. Hotels such as the United States, the American House, the Neil House, the Goodale House, the National and the Exchange employed others.

The chief newspapers were the Ohio State Journal (Republican and pro-Union), the Columbus Gazette (pro-War), the Ohio Statesman (moderate), the Crisis (anti-War), and the Westbote (German-language, Democratic).

There was loss of business from Southern outlets, but new markets were reached by the Ohio Canal and Lake Erie. Business was also stimulated by the many soldiers who were in camp or on furlough in Columbus.

In the fall of 1863, workmen were busy digging the cellar for the new United States Arsenal (Ft. Hayes). Construction of fine homes and new factories dotted the city.

Central High School was thought to be one of the biggest and best schools in the nation. In September, 1864, the new Opera House was opened. Nearly everyone went to their choice of the numerous beautiful stone churches. Camp meetings were held outside the city and the roads would be jammed with buggys.

Lectures, plays and concerts were attended well. The Maennerchor had hoped to host German singing organizations from many cities, but the event was postponed due to the War. Various small circuses, animal acts and minstrel shows came to town.

Billiards, target shooting, horse-racing, and cock-fighting were common entertainments. The Franklin County Fair was held on the site of present Franklin Park. The Ohio State Fair was held at Stewart’s Grove, south of Columbus.

Saloonkeepers found it profitable to defy Sunday closing laws by keeping their rear entrances open.

NEXT: the firing on Ft. Sumter, and how the War changed Columbus.

Christine Hayes

The Jazz Dream Teams: 1980 GCAC Festival

In 1979, I was writing a jazz column for a Columbus rock journal called Crescendo. At the end of the year it was time to put together a greatest unit of Columbus jazzmen so;

Trumpet: Bobby Alston
Saxes: Rusty Bryant, Sonny McBroom
Trombone: Gary Carney
Keyboards: Hank Marr
Guitar: Don Hales
Bass: Cornell Wiley
Drums: Gregg Pearson
Singer: Jeanettte Williams

There were so many great ones left over that I named a second team:

Trumpet: Lee Savory
Saxes: Vincent Andrews, Randy Mather
Trombone: Vaughn Weister
Keyboard: Bobby Pierce
Guitar: Kevin Turner
Bass: Jeff DeAngelo
Drum: Billi Turner
Percussion: Steve Greer
Vocalist: Mary McClendon

Rather than the first and second teams, I named them the Jazz Dream Team Offense and Defense. Six months later, I was asked by Avril LaCour, of Greater Columbus Arts Festival (GCAC) to put together a jazz group for the GCAC Festival at the Ohio Statehouse Lawn. I suggested that we could use both units by getting the AFM’s Musician’s Performance Trust Fund to cover the costs.

Rusty Bryant was the only person who didn’t perform, because of a previos commitment. I substituted Byron Rooker on the first team and we debuted the Jazz Dream Team for the 1980 and 1981 GCAC Festivals.

In 1982 at the GCAC Fest, we presented “A Tribute to Rusty Bryant,” with another all-star lineup of Rusty, Hank Marr, Don Hales, Ola Hanson, trombone, Lester Bass, bass, Bobby Floyd, keyboards and Joe Ong on drums.

Arnett Howard

Photos by Marge Mitcham

The Sighs of Sam: Samuel Medary

Medary Elementary School is just north of the Ohio State campus. It is an architectural beauty. I have friends who drive through the neighborhood when they come to town just to admire the building. The Maynard Street area, named for the Maynard family farm, is the location of Medary School. But my friends did not know the namesake of the school.

Samuel Medary was an implacable newspaper editor and rabid Democrat, the publisher of three newspapers in Columbus: the Hemisphere, the Ohio Statesman, and the Columbus Crisis. All these before and during the Civil War.

On March 5, 1863, a mob moved noiselessly through heavily falling snow to the office of the Columbus Crisis. Medary was a protestor of the Civil War, believing that it was a waste of resources and manpower. This didn’t sit well with the citizenry of Columbus and the soldiers of Camp Chase. With bayonets poised, the leaders of the crowd kicked in the door of the office at the corner of Gay and High.

They sacked the place: books, furniture, fixtures destroyed, all doors and windows smashed. Copies of the Crisis were scattered by the thousands in the streets.

But “Governor” Medary had gone to Cincinnati on the afternoon train. President Buchanan had made him the Governor of the Minnesota Territory, and then the Kansas Territory, and the name “Governor” stuck. But that snowy day Medary’s political career was over, due to his opposition to the War and rebukes of President Lincoln in print.

Medary was indicted by a federal grand jury in 1864 for conspiracy against the government and was arrested. He was released on bonds, but died in Columbus, Ohio before he could be tried.

I came to work at Medary School, teaching art to the lively members of the Medary Boys and Girls Club. I stored our artwork in the furnace room, in which sat an immense chuffling and snorting furnace. The principal told me that the floors slanted so in that room because the contents of a coal bin were originally meant to slide down to the former coal-burning furnace.

The octopus-like furnace would utter the ultimate sibilant every fifteen minutes. It scared me at first, but I got to thinking of the noise as the sighs of Sam Medary for his lost Crisis.

Medary School was built in 1892. Its peaked roof, red brick, and grey stone window ledges give off a friendly rather than a formidable feeling. It dominates its neighborhood setting. Mr. Jones said the wind blows parts of the school’s roof off due to the roof’s rakish angle. It’s Sam setting his cap for those who wronged him.

Christine Hayes

Lonnie Carmen: Columbus First Black Aviator

Lonnie Carmen and his wife, Mamie, came to 328 South Grant Avenue in Columbus from Adell, Georgia, where he was born in 1901. He was ten years older than his thirteen year old bride and perhaps that's why they ran away to get married.

After his father died, all of Lonnie’s thirteen siblings began wandering away from Georgia and the uncertainty of a hard agricultural life, just two generations from slavery in the Deep South.

Lonnie was a natural mechanic and inventor, for whom there was no problem that couldn’t be solved if he studied long enough on it. The year his first son, Owen was born, in 1926, using a salvaged motorcycle engine and without any written plans, Lonnie built himself an airplane in his backyard.

The homebuilt machine flew, but the pilot had to hide it in a barn in the Black community of Urbancrest for fear that some of the jealous pilots flying out of Norton Field would damage it.

Lonnie’s daughter, Anna, the second of six children, says that he was self-employed, always had a truck or two and would haul things for people. He sometimes would haul old cars home and would have them running within hours.

Saturday was always airplane day and Lonnie would pile the family into the Franklin sedan and drive to the flying field to give the whole family airplane rides. People in the southend neighborhood of Main Street and Grant Avenue would wait for Lonnie and his passengers to fly the new Piper Cub that he owned in the 1930s over the neighborhood at five hundred feet.

On Sunday afternoons, he would take his drive in the Franklin or a hand-me-down Durant and the destination would always be Port Columbus to watch the air machines coming and going. Lonnie Carmen was an inventor, mechanic, family man and Columbus’ first Black aviator.

Arnett Howard

The Mural At Mills Buffet

The Greenfield –Mills Restaurant Company of Detroit operated two places in Detroit and three in Ohio, Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati. The Columbus one opened in 1911, but along about 1950, the Mills Buffet opened across from the Ohio State House in an up-to-the minute five stories producing efficient cafeteria fare.

Customers carried their choice of foods on a tray to their table. The food was prepared on the third floor, with the basement and sub-basement serving the kitchen and dining rooms by elevator or conveyer systems. The front had lots of glass, the main dining room was two stories high, and the mezzanine was reached by two dramatic staircases.

And facing those staircases was a huge and wondrous mural. Designed by Howard Pearce of Cleveland, designed and painted by Andrew Karoly and Louis Szanto of New York City, it depicted a vista of the Ohio River that actually exists below Marietta and looking toward Belpre and Blennerhassett Island.

In the center foreground was a boy with a dog and a history book. Two steamboats were passing by, also docking was a keelboat. The boy dreams the historical figures of the Ohio Valley.

Shown with a map in his hand on the upper precipice, was Rene Robert Cavelier in 1667, also known as Sieur de la Salle. Next came Celeron de Bienville, 1749, making claims for France. Father Bonescamp came next, who accompanied de Bienville, then Chief Logan, John James Audobon, George Washington, and Christopher Gist. Washington came to the Ohio Valley in 1753 and 1770. Gist was a frontiersman and surveyor.

And that’s just the left side! And more people I haven’t mentioned carrying a canoe and scrambling up the waterfront! On the right were Daniel Boone, Johnny Appleseed, and composer Stephen Foster. None other than Foster’s “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair” was dancing merrily along the lower right, surrounded by other merry-makers.

Mills issued a brochure to accompany the mural. Karoly and Szanto were from Hungary, but had been in New York for twenty-six years. They also painted for Mills a pictorial map called “The Wealth of Ohio.” Cleveland’s Terminal Tower and Columbus’s AIU Citadel flank the bottom, and little floating heads are: Presidents Grant, Hayes, McKinley, and Taft, Edison and Sherman.

As if that wasn’t enough, eight shadow-boxes depicted Ohio life in a Shaker kitchen, an old mill, maple sugaring, farming at Malabar, a canal lock, a covered bridge, Mt. Adams in Cincinnati, and the lakefront in Cleveland. Add to that the etched-glass windmills, symbol of Mills Buffet, decorating the waiting-in-line area, and you will get an idea of the lengths the state-of-the-art Greenfield-Mills company went to, to amuse their patrons.

I would sit and stare into the mural and imagine I was Jeanie dancing. You could climb over the edging and really get into the painting. Where did it go? No one knows. The tragic tearing-down of Mills and other Columbus landmarks occurred all too soon.

Christine Hayes