Sunday, April 1, 2012

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

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