Friday, June 22, 2012

Tailor-made James Thurber Humor

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

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fred G. Kilgour, librarian, educator

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

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

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

Monday, June 11, 2012

Early Columbus Zoo

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

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Belle Coit Kelton, suffragette

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

Friday, June 8, 2012

Clifford Tyree, social worker, community activist

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

Thursday, June 7, 2012

S.L. Black's Woodmen of the World

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

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Frederick Neddermeyer Band

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

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ralph Waldo Tyler, journalist, government official

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

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Harry "Sweets" Edison, trumpeter

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