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, That is a compilation of experiences on the food beat and from his OSU hospitality

Presently he is constructing a second teaching website, 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:

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: 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

Rusty Bryant Interview

My father, Herman Bryant, had a funeral band and the rehearsals would take place in the casket room which was the largest room in the funeral home. I would sit there in the space, watch them practice and I became so familiar with each instrument that I knew what each instrument was doing.

One night the tuba player didn’t show for rehearsal and my father called The Waltz She Saved For Me. I walked out in my little pajamas with the flap in the back, walked under the tuba and started to play The Waltz She Saved For Me. The mouthpiece almost covered my nose, but I played that song; I was four years old at the time.

I remember what inspired me to play was Lionel Hampton , who came through the Palace Theater with Arnett Cobb and the other saxophonist was Johnny Griffin. Johnny was close to our age and they didn’t have a coat to fit him. His coat was so long you couldn’t even see his fingers, but he could play.

Me and a boy named Leroy Cobb lived in a double and we both were learning how to play saxophone. I went and got my alto and went into the bathroom on one side of the double and Leroy went to the other side of the double and all night long it sounded like we were calling cats, just skreeching, trying to copy Johnny Griffin all night long.

I think I had my horn about a week before I was playing professionally and I joined Stomp Gordon’s band. I hadn’t even seen a saxophone before I started on the road with a band... I took to it like a duck to water.

And the saxophone belonged to my father, Herman. He had a saxophone behind the couch and I took it out and that’s how Paul Cousar took to playing. I showed him a scale and, boom, he took off. The first time he ever touched a saxophone was in my living room at Long and Ohio Avenues.

That was on a Monday and that weekend I went to Nelsonville, Ohio with Stomp Gordon for our first job. I was thirteen years old and I’ve been on the road playing ever since.

Norris Turney, Harry Ross, Wendell Hawkins and I were all up there playing. This cat came in and Norris didn’t even know he was in town. We had finished the set; it must have been ten or eleven o’clock. Tommy Lucas took out his horn; he was the alto saxophone player from the Glen Gray Band.

So the rhythm section got up and Tommy Lucas started making his horn talk. Norris went and got his horn and wasn’t nothing but two horns up there. They both had chairs sitting side by side. And after they finished this number, one of the jam tunes of the day. They finished that tune, everyone applauded and they started into Cherokee. And man, those two got to battling; that was a classic battle, more saxophone than I ever heard at that time.

Pretty soon, I looked around and it was time for the club to close. And these two weren’t finished with each other yet. They didn’t even put their horns in the cases, got into cars and went over to the Poor Lover’s Ballroom at Mt. Vernon and Champion Avenues, where Sammy Hopkins Band used to play. The joint was closed and the man was just counting the cash.

The crowd and all were following those cats who went through the door, went to the stage, got back on the piano and took up the song where they finished at the bridge. When they finished that song, it must have been five or six o’clock in the morning. They battled four and two measures on that song; they did everything you could do. Norris Turney and Tommy Lucas engaged in one of the most classic saxophone battles that there ever has been around here. Saxophonist Jimmy Allen can tell you about that one.

I was just a youngster at the time. I’ve had plenty of those battles by the time I was twenty years old. I was out signing autographs at the Seneca Hotel on Broad Street, radioman Spook Beckman was with me. There was a prom at the hotel that night and Nancy Wilson was part of the trio that was playing at the prom. It was very clear amongst the three voices tht I heard that night which one was ringing through and I could hear a lot of potential. I talked to her after they finished singing and together we went to her father, Olden Wilson, and asked for permission for her to come out onto the road and start her career.

After we had her on the road for three or four years of training, I called Cannonball Adderley to get a second opinion. He concurred and we talked to manager John Levy and that’s how she got started.

I was playing with organist Hank Marr, we went through Cincinnati and we were looking for a guitarist, finding Wilbert Longmire. Hank agreed that Wilbert would be dynamite. The rest is history.

Things were a lot different fory years ago, it doesn’t seem that long. There’s more of a chance for the young musicians to have a shot at the big time than there was in the days when Hank and I were coming along. Music is like being a farmer, owning so many acres of corn or what have you. You have to been able to take your commodity to the marketplace; you can’t sit back and expect the marketplace to come to you. The competition is really extensive and a musician has to start very early at being a businessman was well as a performer.

Music is an offspring of the time and a lot of what you hear is a very confused, angry sound, due to the times we’re living in. If I am without music, I am without a great portion of my life. I love music very much. This was planned before I was born; God knew how I would feel about music. That’s why he gave it to me.

I knew that the sound and feeling of music was a lifelong heritage for me.

Note: Rusty Bryant passed on March 25, 1991, due to complications of diabetes.

Arnett Howard

Louisiana Ransburgh Briggs, The Veiled Lady of Camp Chase

Louisiana Ransburgh Briggs was an original. Her father, John Ransburgh of Franklin County, had moved to the South in the 1840s, married a southern girl and settled on a plantation on the Mississippi River at New Madrid, Missouri.

Louisiana, named after her mother's home state, was a true daughter of the South. When the Civil War came to New Madrid in 1862 and Yankees raided his plantation, John decided to send his young daughter North, out of harm's way, to live with his relatives. But, Louisiana never forgot where her loyalties lay and she never forgot the sight of those uncouth Yankees standing on her mother's piano.

At the age of forteen, she was sent to school at Ohio Wesleyan, where she brought her own stool, refusing to sit on the same benches with "dirty Black Republicans." She staged a public celebration in the streets of Delaware when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated that nearly touched off a riot.

After the war, Louisiana met young Joseph Briggs, a Union veteran and a wealthy farmer with a large estate west of Columbus near her father's old homeplace. The marriage progressed happily with the pleasures of children and the duties of a large farm.

However, Louisiana secretly nursed her sympathies for the lost Southern cause - an immensely unpopular sentiment to have in Columbus at the turn of the century. Near the Briggs farm was Camp Chase an old prisoner-of-war camp whose cemetery contained the bodies of more than 2,000 Confederate soldiers.

It became Louisiana's custom to walk by the cemetery just after dark sometimes accompanied by her children. Clad in a heavy black veil to conceal her identity, she would throw bouquets of flowers into the neglected tangle of weeds and vines that had grown up over the graves. Gradually, such homage earned her the title of "The Veiled Lady of Camp Chase," and through her efforts and those of Union veteran William Knauss, the Confederate cemetery was saved from ruin.

Leslie Blankenship
Columbus Historical Society

The Columbus Citizen Building, 34 North Third Street

My mother, Betty Hayes, would drop me off at the curb, then drive around the block, while I would enter the door of the off-white stone building. I'd run up three flights of drab, gray, worn stairs to my father, Ben Hayes' office, where men in shirt-sleeves sat at utilitarian desks. I would be greeted by all who toiled there, my father would put on his suit jacket, fedora, come downstairs and we would all go out to dinner.

I didn’t use the elevator, as it seemed suspect to me. The story is told that Governor Frank Lausche entered the building to pay a visit to the editor of the Citizen, Don Weaver. The elevator got stuck between floors and someone ran to Weaver and said, “The Governor is stuck on the elevator.” Weaver, thinking the “governor” was some part on the device that needed fixing, told the messenger to call a repairman. Finally a chagrined Governor Lausche was rescued from the thing and swore never to visit the building again, as it must have been hexed by those of the opposing political party.

34 North Third Street was the address of the building housing the offices and the printing presses of the Columbus Citizen, a Scripps-Howard newspaper for which my father was a columnist and feature-writer. At times I was taken downstairs where the printers and linotype workers were, they would hoot and holler to see a female in their domain, but the big machinery would dampen their noise.

In 1959, the Citizen merged with the Columbus Morning Journal and became the Citizen-Journal. The offices were moved to the mezzanine of the Dispatch. The Citizen-Journal and the Dispatch had an agreement to share printing facilities, as well as business, advertising, and circulation staff. Two full-length portraits of Wolfes were in the lobby of the building; my father said they were craning their necks to see over the mezzanine railing into the C-J’s city room.

The new offices were bright and light and clean, gone were the greyness and “stag” feeling I had been used to in the old building. Ironically, the new address was the mirror image of the old address: 34 South Third Street. On the site of the old Citizen building, 34 North Third, now sits the Renaissance Hotel.

My father now shared a private office with Ron Pataky, theatre critic, and Jane Kehrer, fashion editor. Bob Greene has written a wonderful book about this era of the Citizen-Journal, Late Edition: A Love Story (St. Martin’s Press, 2009). He started his newspaper career with the C-J in the summer of 1965.

The arrangement with the Dispatch lasted many years. Finally, there was resistance to its continuance and the newspaper ended. The last issue of the Citizen-Journal was Dec. 31, 1985. Its headline, as I read it on New Year’s Day morning, was about Rick Nelson’s untimely death in a small airplane. It was yet another day of the music dying and also a passing of a piece of Columbus newspaper history.

Christine Hayes

Rev. James Poindexter, Conductor on Underground Railway

The Rev. James Poindexter, pastor of Columbus’ largest black church from 1858 to 1898, brooked no compromise in the pursuit of freedom, violating state and federal laws for decades to protect his own unalienable rights and those of the city’s black residents and escaping slaves.

Poindexter was born on Sept. 25, 1819, in Virginia. His father was white; his mother was black and Cherokee. He trained as a barber and moved to Columbus in 1838. His shop at 61 S. High St., across from the Statehouse, was popular with city leaders and state politicians.

Though Ohio prohibited blacks from voting before 1870, Poindexter did anyway, reportedly claiming his Native American heritage. In 1847, he was a preacher at the Second Baptist Church when an event split the congregation in two and Poindexter emerged as a champion of freedom.

A Black family that Poindexter knew from Virginia joined the congregation. The family had owned slaves in the South and sold them before moving to Columbus. Some churchgoers demanded that the family use the proceeds from the sale to buy their former slaves from bondage. The family refused and Poindexter led forty dissenting brethren to form the Anti-Slavery Baptist Church.

That church, which met in a brick building at Town and 6th streets, grew to 104 members before it merged with its parent church in 1858. Poindexter was named pastor of the combined church, a post he held for the next forty years.

Poindexter also served secretly as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, helping runaway slaves escape to Canada. Risking imprisonment and fines, Poindexter and a handful of both black and white Columbus residents gave sanctuary to escaped slaves and passed them, often disguised as cargo in freight wagons, north to the next stop.

In 1881, largely through Poindexter’s influence, Columbus classrooms and faculties were integrated after he successfully fought to close two decrepit “colored youth” schools. Poindexter won election to a seat on the Columbus City Council in 1880, becoming the first black to hold that position.

He replaced Dr. Loving Starling on the Columbus School Board. Through his efforts, Black and White teachers taught together in nine Columbus schools. In his advancing years, Rev Poindexter received many honors, including an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the State University at Louisville, Kentucky.

The man who pioneered change for black residents of Columbus and was instrumental in helping slaves escape died on Feb. 7, 1907. Rev. Poindexter contracted pneumonia in late January and succumbed to it, surrounded by family. His last words: “I have served God, my country and mankind to the best of my ability.”

Thousands of people from Central Ohio, including Ohio Governor Andrew Harris and Rev. Washington Gladden, as well as a host of prominent Ohio men, honored Rev. Poindexter.

Gerald Tebbins,
The Columbus Dispatch

Ben Hayes’ One Hundredth Birthday, April 1, 2012

The sound of his Underwood: keys punched, the bell, carriage return. The smell of rubber cement, as articles and pictures were affixed to his scrapbook pages. The riot of Al Getchell drawings, odd photos and New Yorker cartoons above his desk.

His offbeat humor and creative energy spilling over into my child’s world: the “Ranch House,” an out-building at the Blacklick farmhouse that he fitted with newspaper negatives for wallpaper, a collection of kooky hats (his trademark at the time), a child-sized drum set and a big picture of a red-fruit-encased woman that said, “Life Is Just A Bowl of Cherries.”

He rigged up a swing on the catalpa tree, painted it turquoise and then hot pink (it matched the front porch both times). In the fall he made me a house of cornstalks. .

He grew incredible sweet corn, asparagus, strawberries, gourds and beans. We had a lot of company in the summertime to help us eat it. He grew a splash of flowers; hollyhocks were my favorite, as I made them into doll skirts. We loved Queen Anne’s lace.

He taught me the names of flowers, both wild and domestic, birds, trees and fish. We hiked to the woods to visit the dwarf’s house in a hollow tree. I really believed. He read me books in various voices with dramatic intonations.

He was just at home in downtown Columbus. I spent coutless hours in restaurants (I befriended bartenders, waiters and waitresses, naming my dolls after the latter), theaters, openings and press parties. We had free passes to everything.

I accompanied him to museums, art galleries, graveyards, historic sites, visiting old-timers and celebrities. I spent a lot of time on local early television. The lights were bright and I had to squint as I was instructed to “look at the red light and wave.” My biggest thrill was meeting Roy Rogers.

Columbus was a fairyland to me, full of parks, flowers, fountains, the Ohio State Fair, fun rides, old mansions, a re-blooming German Village, hearty dinners, fancy buffets, beautiful people and characters of all ages. They wanted to talk to my father and he listened to them, folded copy paper and ball-point pen in hand.

He rarely got to eat his dinner in a restaurant without interruption. He never made it down a city block without being recognized and given a news tidbit or two.

After I went to college and for twenty-four years thereafter, he wrote me a letter a week, filling me in on a Columbus that was changing rapidly. On my trips home we had an exchange; I fixed his favorite foods, like cornbread and potato salad and he told me stories about Noble County and Columbus.

We had our favorite topics; Chautauqua, revival meetings, medicine shows, riverboat theater, characters from his hometown, Columbus characters, art, dreams (we both dreamed in color with many scenes per night).

He would yell out words when there was a lull, often the punch-line of a recent story or “Habiba!” (the name of a belly dancer at Benny Klein’s), “Excelsior! (from the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem of the same name) or “Are you all right, Roy?” (once Dale Evans had said this while hitting her cowboy husband with her Stetson hat).

And now it is time to celebrated Ben Hayes’ One Hundredth Birthday, April 1, 2012. He left us in 1989, but we remember him and honor him by digging into Columbus history. Happy birthday, Dad. You are still loved!

Christine Hayes