Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Chemistry of Pottery, Frontispiece, 'From the Author's Collection' and Title Page...



Monday, January 16, 2012

2222 Chickasaw Street

WCET, 1974, recording "Measure Up", a primary school math series for Ohio Educational Broadcasting

Image: Private collection

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tycoon, 1930's Style

When he was about 15, Charles F. Williams got in the habit of going down to his brother’s insurance office to clean up and start the fires before the rest of the staff arrived to tackle the day’s work.
Now, 45 years later, a colonel, a general, and president of the firm to boot, Mr. Williams still may be seen—in the dawn’s early light—leading the matutinal procession through the massive portals of the Grecian business temple which houses the home office of the Western & Southern Life Insurance Company.

So eager is he to reach the scene of the day’s labors, in fact, that he pauses not to perform his complete toilet at home, but rides straightway to the office, seizes two handfuls of mail with which to while away the begrudged necessity, and surrenders to the upraised razor of his barber. By 8 a.m. he is well into his day.
As a shrewd psychologist, he also knows how to make his agents put a little more drive in their sales efforts. “What’s the matter?” he will ask one of his boys who isn’t sending in as many applications as he might. “Don’t you like your wife and children?” The nonplussed agents will, more often than not, admit that surely he does. Where-upon Mr. Williams will ask him why it is, then, that he is apparently content to take $25 to the wife and kiddies each week when it could be $40 or $50, or even more. Coming from the president, it gets them.
Having started at the bottom himself and worked up, and having kept in touch with all manner of small detail in the home office and in the field, he is not easily misled by attempts at subterfuge. Those who work for him say that he is a stickler on having things done right: that he used to reveal quick flashes of temper when his orders were confused, but that he has become more tolerant and patient in late years.
Despite his great personal wealth (he is reputed to have the second largest income in Cincinnati) he remains the town’s most unassuming millionaire. He never has outgrown the simple tastes of his youth. Plain food, for instance, with never any dessert, is his choice, and he would rather eat fish or game that he has caught, prepared and cooked himself. His clothing is quiet and unpretentious, usually inexpensive…For a man of much money he is unique in his democracy. He will have no barriers placed in the way of people who come into the Western & Southern offices to see him; they walk right in whenever he has an unoccupied moment. That goes for mail, too; he likes to open the letters addressed to him rather than let them filter through the hands of half a dozen mail clerks and secretaries. He wants to be in on everything that’s going on, and reading the mail sent to Charles F. Williams is one way of doing it.
In carrying out the complacent belief that he and his family are what might be termed just folk, Mr. Williams deceives himself with the thought that his wife and two daughters, Mary Elizabeth and Margaret Mary, are “not society.” Though personally devoid of any such ambitions, the fact remains that they are in the Blue Book and accordingly much sought after. His three young sons are away at school, Charles M. and William J. at Georgetown University in Washington, James R. at Georgetown Prep., Garrett Park, Md.
Mr. Williams himself is away from home a good part of the time, dropping in on agencies in some 200 cities. During the winter and spring, his bed is a Pullman berth on two or three nights of each week. “I like to see that everything is going all right,” he says, “and, besides, I like to be among the men.”
Preferring winter for vacation time, he goes to Florida to hunt and fish. He and R. K. LeBlond own a sea-going cruiser in which they loaf along the coast. The late James P. Orr, president of the Potter Shoe Co., used to accompany them. They also are joined occasionally by George Carrel, former mayor, whose masterly marksmanship is the one envy of Mr. Williams’ life.
In younger years he used to be an adept boxer and baseball player; golfing is about as far as he goes in physical competition now.
No dry, he likes his liquor as well as the next man, which fits in with his policy of being a good mixer. Never a great hand at giving parties, he nevertheless has devised some rather costly and elaborate dinners. It was reported that he spent $2000* on food and favors at a dinner for leaders of the 1932 Community Chest drive, at the conclusion of their successful campaign…While he has given his employees highly desirable hours, Mr. Williams wants no dallying on the way to work. Employees enter the building each morning thu [sic] a side door on Broadway; promptly at 8:30 the door is shut and locked. Thereafter late comers must go around to the front door and sign their names in a book. No explanations are demanded, no punishment meted out. But too many autographs do not enhance hopes for salary raises.
Through the staggering years of the depression Mr. Williams not only has held out against any salary cuts, but has twice raised all employees (nearly 5000 now), while other business and industrial heads were lopping off. This courageous flight into the face of adversity lent added color to what has been, for some time, an international reputation.
It also weighed heavily in his favor when President Roosevelt cast an eye toward this Midwesterner with the notion of having Cincinnatians elect an NRA general. That general, to the President’s way of thinking, was to be some human dynamo with enough surplus electrical energy to take the sputtering business battery and shoot it full of high voltage.
So, the greatest Democrat of his time got as his aide one of the most ardent Republicans of this district. Political wisenheimers viewed with ill-concealed wonderment the spectacle of a G. O. P. adherent leaping in with drawn saber to banish the bogey of the opposition’s regime. Actually, of course, and obviously, the matter transcended mere political affiliation.
Mr. Williams is no shirker from publicity, which he has been known carelessly to confuse with “notoriety”…Some say he harbors political ambitions with a federal flavor. This he laughs off. Why should he have waited so long to go after something he wants to know…Like other men of means in Cincinnati, he has found pleasure in collecting art. When he is bored of chafing under the pressure of worldly problems, he frequently turns to his picture gallery as a sedative. The exhibit, at his home, 1920 Dexter-av [sic], Walnut Hills, began with an early roundup of the work of Henry Farny and Frank Duveneck—home town boys. It now includes items by such as Van Dyke, Sargent, Gainsborough, Rubens, Merritt, Twachtman, Lancret, Blum, Meekin, Wessel, and others.
Art experts, usually someone from the Cincinnati Art Museum pass on his prospective buys before a deal is closed. Through assiduous study and examination, however, he has acquired better than a lay eye for “the fine points.” His daughter, Mary Elizabeth, studied sculpture under [Clement J.] Barnhorn, but when he looks at the thing critically he honestly doesn’t know whether she has anything or not. Mr. Williams always makes it a point to stroll around the nearest art galleries when he goes abroad, which he has done seven or eight times since May 26, 1896, when he and his bride took ship on their honeymoon. For one who has been active in so many affairs and held such a number of offices, it comes as a surprise that he is not listed in Who’s Who.
His record, however, is familiar to so many who have been local newspaper readers for any length of time that it bears but the briefest sketching in:
He was born April 23, 1873…graduated from old Woodward High School in 1891; graduated from the University of Cincinnati Law Department May 26, 1897…Between the years 1901 to 1906 he was chairman of the Hamilton-co [sic] delegation in the Ohio Legislature, interesting himself in child labor laws and improved working hours for women. He was appointed special prosecuting attorney of milk and pure food violators, May 1, 1906, and became a deputy attorney general the same year.
He became a member of Shay, Cogan & Williams Aug. 14, 1907, the year in which he was made deputy attorney general for southern Ohio, a post he held until 1911. He later was special counsel to U. S. Attorney General George W. Wickersham.
Early in 1910 he became vice president and general counsel of the Western & Southern Life Insurance Co., he and his brother, W. J. Williams, the founder, acquiring control of the entire capital stock.
Succeeding his brother, who died Nov. 24, 1930, he was elected president of the Western & Southern group in 1931. Honors have fallen upon him with increased rapidity since then.
An L.L.D. degree was conferred by Xavier University in 1932; Governor George White also appointed him Ohio director of the Century of Progress Exposition last June. In August, 1932, he was named chairman of the Ohio State Tax and Mortgage Delinquency Commission by Governor White.
In October, 1932, he became a member of the Organization Committee of the National Economy League, and of the National Citizen' Committee, Welfare and Relief Mobilization.
Honors for 1933 include his honorary colonelcy in the 455th Field Artillery; membership in the National Council of the National Economy League; election as Ohio Day Manager of the Century of Progress Exposition, and election as Hamilton-co. NRA general.
Mr. Williams is a director of numerous financial institutions. The remainder of his unoccupied time goes to the Queen City Club, the Cincinnati Club, University Club, Maketewah Country Club, Fenwick Club, Chamber of Commerce, Association of life Insurance Presidents, American Life Convention, Insurance Institute of America, and a dozen other civic and commercial organizations.
”In between,” he says, wrinkling his ruddy Irish face and squinting contentedly, “I am at home.”

--Harry M. Forwood, The Cincinnati Post, February 1, 1934

Note-William’s paid for an employee cafeteria on the top floor of his 4th & Broadway temple where employees ate breakfast and lunch without charge every day, a free dinner was served for employees working overtime. The cafeteria sat atop a staircase that originated in the building’s lobby. From eyewitness employee accounts the stairs were laid with locally manufactured color and art tiles. Williams also commissioned local Rookwood artist and Art Academy teacher William E. Hentschel to create a huge canvas ‘mural’ to run the length of the stair.
Additionally, Williams’ secretarial and cafeteria staff were recruited exclusively from LaSalette Academy (Sisters of Charity of Nazareth) and Notre Dame Academy (Sisters of Notre Dame), both Catholic girl’s boarding schools, located across the Ohio River in Covington and Park Hills in Kenton County, Kentucky.

*$2,000 in 1932 equals $31,615.07 in 2010 dollars.

Image: Cincinnati Public Library Newspaper Archive, Flickr

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pearl Street Market

The corner of Pearl Street & Broadway...note the Central Trust tower in background.

Suggestions for transforming the comparatively inactive Pearl Street market house into a thriving business center were offered before the Council Committee on Markets, in the City Council chamber, Tuesday, by farmers and merchants in the vicinity. There are 64 stands inside the market house and 51 of them are vacant, it was reported by George F. Hyrich, superintendant of markets. He also stated that the city was losing about $2,500 a year on market abuse.
He suggested that the market ordinance be amended so as to do away with curb stands, which bring a fee of $15 a year, and force the hucksters and gardeners to move inside of the market house. The rental inside is $75 a year, and it was suggested by Mrs. Corinne McCloskey McEwan, chairman of the committee, that this might be reduced, if necessary, to $50 or $60.
Bennett Behymer, farmer, of Clermont County, suggested that inside stands be provided for farmers. He was requested to get the views of other farmers…Merchants complained about farmers standing in front of their stores on Pearl street and Broadway practically all day, and it was suggested that an ordinance be passed limiting farmers’ stands on the streets to the night time from 6 p.m. to 7 or 8 a.m…On motion of Floor Leader Cliff Martin, Council, as per annual custom, voted unanimously Tuesday to have no meeting next Tuesday in order to give all the members an opportunity to attend the opening baseball game at Redland Field.

--Cincinnati Times-Star, April 7, 1925


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Defunct downtown department store Charge-A-Plate.

Image: Private collection

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

WCET, 1976, Gene Walz, cigarette in hand, mugs for the camera before a new Ford Granada during prep for 1st Action Auction from the Crosley Telecommunications Center.

Image: S. Malloy

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Billy's Women

No engagement of the summer surpasses in wide interest that announced Monday of Mlle. Hallina Feodrova [sic], a favored and favorite member of society’s artist group, to Mr. W. C. [sic] Hentschell [sic], new head of the department of design of the Cincinnati Art Academy…They are to be married in Cleveland, where Mlle. arrives this week after a month or more in New York. Both Mr. Hentschel and his bride-to-be expect to return to Cincinnati very soon to resume their work.

--Unidentified newspaper clipping from the week of August 28, 1921

Feodorova ballet program and Mlle. Halina Feodorova

Billy returned to Cincinnati in 1920, resumed his position at the Rookwood Pottery and began, with renewed intensity, his courtship of Halina. In 1921, Billy…announced his engagement to Mademoiselle Feodorova…The couple was wed, September 2, 1921 in Cleveland, Ohio…the Feodorova-Hentschel Studio—opened on the corner of Oak and May Streets around 1923—hung with huge batiks depicting characters from various ballets…The couple’s tiny upstairs apartment was similarly adorned with Billy’s work…so consistent with the praises of audiences, art reviewers and society columnists—that little notice was given to the fact their prodigious productions were, for the most part, economic disasters…Most sources acquainted with the couple describe Billy’s marriage to Halina as “difficult” or “turbulent”…in 1927…The relationship between he and Halina grew to be increasingly less collaborative…The flurry of creative activity with which he met the late 1930’s, was fairly characteristic of Billy; but it did seem to represent an attempt on his part to compensate for a failing—or failed—marriage. On returning from one of their customary summer sabbaticals to Maine-----in a final, heated argument at a traffic light, according to one account—the couple was separated and Billy withdrew to the sanctuary of his studio, his ceramic work and his classroom.

Ballet poster, batik, William E. Hentschel

Billy delighted in stimulating young minds, often spending long Saturday afternoons at the Academy in conversations with a handful of students…Among his students was Alza Stratton, a native of nearby Lexington, Kentucky, a poised and lovely woman in her late twenties…There were rumors, around this time, that Billy was seeing “another woman”—a student. Whether these reports referred to Alza or whether Hentschel was separated from Halina at the time is not clear…Alza Stratton returned to Lexington where she and Billy were married, November 18, 1939—the same date that his divorce from Mlle. Feodorova was granted in Cincinnati.

--Parade of Discovery, The Works of William E. Hentschel 1892-1962, Don Wellman, 1987

Times-Star headlines for 2nd scandalous marriage

William E. Hentschel, noted Cincinnati artist, figured in a teacher-pupil romance Thursday when friends learned of his marriage to Miss Alza Jessamond Stratton of Lexington, Ky., who studied design with him at the Art Academy here.
The bride is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Stratton, Lexington Ky. Formal announcements of the wedding disclosed that it was quietly solemnized at the home of the bride’s parents on Nov. 18…Hentschel is 49. His bride is 28. They are at present honeymooning in Tennessee, where they will remain over the holidays. On their return here they will establish at 209 Riverside Drive, Covington.

--Cincinnati Times-Star, December 28, 1939

Images: Cincinnati Art Museum Archive, Cincinnati Public Library Newspaper Archive, Parade of Discovery-The Works of William E. Hentschel 1892-1962, The Duke Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan

Saturday, January 7, 2012

“Known In All Nations”

M. Louise McLaughlin, age 75, 1922 silver gelatin print, Bachrack

Miss M. Louise McLaughlin, known the world over to patrons of ceramic art, died of a heart attack last night at her home, 4011 Sherwood Avenue, Madisonville. She was 91 years old.
Miss McLaughlin, who was listed in “Who’s Who,” was born September 28, 1847, in a home on Main Street, a daughter of William McLaughlin and Mary Robinson McLaughlin.
Her first artistic efforts were in drawing. She studied in the first class taught at the Art Museum under the late Frank Duveneck. Her interest lay in pottery. She produced some three years before the founding of Rookwood Pottery in 1877, although no works on methods were then available.

Ali Baba, 1880, McLaughlin's 37.5" under glaze triumph

Her greatest fame came in china painting, which she began in 1898 [sic]*. She called her handiwork Losantiware and exhibited it at the Paris Exhibition in 1900. Among the honors she received were a silver medal for decorative metal work, Paris Exhibition, 1889; honorable mention for china painting, Chicago Exhibition; gold medal, Atlanta; silver medal, Nashville Exibition and bronze medal for American porcelain, Buffalo Exhibition, 1901.
Without experience and following her own ideas, she produced pottery that is now in museums. She was credited with being the first in America to make Limoges ware, which involved the mixing of clay with the colors. The New York Herald once described her as America’s original porcelain maker, her work is on view at the Versailles Museum.

Cover and title page of last published work

Books she wrote reveal almost as much versatility as her art. They include “China Painting,” “Pottery Decoration,” “Suggestions to China Painters,” “Painting In Oil,” “The Second Madame,” an [sic] historical story of the time of Louis XIV, and “An Epitome of History.”
In recent years she no longer participated in the activities of the numerous clubs to which she belonged. She had been President of the poetry clubs, art societies and writing groups. She was still and honorary member of the Women’s Club.
Her latest book, “Efficiency vs. War,” was but recently finished.** She was a believer in the futility of war.
The book deals with 17 major battles of history. Chateau-Thierry*** is the World War battle included in the list.
She shared her home with Miss Grace W. Hazard, her constant companion. She busied herself in writing, sewing and embroidering.
She had not left her house or climbed a stair in 19 years, asserting at her age she would catch cold if she went out, and fall and break a bone if she climbed stairs.

--Cincinnati Enquirer, January 17, 1939

*The obit writer confuses china painting with McLaughlin's experiments with porcelain. Her first examples of china painting appeared in a June, 1875 University of Cincinnati catalog.

**”Efficiency vs. War” was not published and any surviving manuscript is unknown.

*** Chateau-Thierry, or the battle for Belleau Wood, June 1-26, 1918

Images: "The Ceramic Career of M. Louise McLaughlin", Anita J. Ellis, 2003, The Cincinnati Art Museum

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Kiln Party

Once a, month, a goatee-ed young man and his girl phone their friends from a studio on Dixie Highway, near Erlanger, Ky.
“Kiln party tonight,” they say.
The goatee-ed young man is David Seyler. The girl is Rosemary Dickman.

David Seyler and Rosemary Dickman

Calls completed they walk from the studio to a sprawling building in the rear. He puts a torch to pipes leading into a huge brick cone, and soon gas flames are spouting.
It’s really more than a party.
For baking in the brick cone are the results of a month’s labors by the dozen or so artists who come as guests.
The brick cone is a kiln. Stored inside are two to three thousand pieces of pottery molded by the ceramists of the youngest fine arts pottery in America—the [sic] Kenton Hills Porcelains, Inc.
The all-night vigil is kept because the kiln has to be watched every minute of the 36 hours it takes to fire the pottery,
Young Mr. Seyler---he’s 23, and so is Rosemary—is art director of the firm. Miss Dickman, his fiancĂ©e, is a designer.
The company was founded by Harold F. Bopp, who became its production manager and ceramic chemist. Mr. Bopp formerly was connected with Cincinnati’s famous Rookwood Potteries [sic], and so were some of the others now with Kenton Hills.

Alza Stratton and "Billy" Hentschel

They include William E. Hentschel, noted designer and instructor at the Art Academy, his wife the former Alza Stratton; Raymond Dawson, a caster and finisher, and his son Jack.
It is a co-operative venture.

Jack and Ray Dawson, finishers

The company started just a year ago, and even now its products are distributed widely.
Noted Cincinnati artists attended the most recent kiln party.
They arrived early in the evening and remained late. They drank refreshments from “seconds”—vases which failed to turn out correctly in the previous months burning.
They watched a demonstration in “vase throwing” (that means vase making) by Harold S. Nash, head of the ceramics department at the University of Cincinnati.
Julian F. Bechtold, the sculptor, gave them a quick lesson in modeling. Before midnight they ate from a make-shift table piled high with fried chicken. Then Rosemary and David called them to the studio.
They had a designing contest, and Rosemary’s mother won it. Her prize was an unfired vase worth $15, and she had to decorate it with her winning design.

Kenton Hills, bisque & glaze striped vessel, Rose Brunner Dickman

Throughout the party, David kept check on the kiln. The ware being glazed inside would be worth $3000 [sic] to $400 if it turned out right; if not—well, “seconds” don’t bring very much.
“Folks are funny when it comes to art,” the young ceramist said as he marked down hourly temperatures.
“Right now, everybody thinks of war. And so there’s a military trend in fine art. They don’t want to see tanks and big guns on vases, of course. But look at some of our finer pieces—hunting scenes, bows and arrows, Chinese war horses. They smack of the military, and yet they’re romantic. That’s what people like.”

Harold F. Bopp, ceramic chemist, examines KH ware

Long after the guests had gone home, Mr. Bopp started shutting the gas off gradually. Several hours later, a brick door leading into the kiln was broken down. Ceramists crowded around to see how their “gamble” had worked.
“It looks good,” said Mr. Bopp, as the kiln men carried out the shiny new vases. And then the designers started working again so they could have another kiln party next month.

--Harry Mayo, The Cincinnati Post, February 6, 1941

Rare matte glazed Kenton Hills vase, William Ernst Hentschel

"It was not unusual for Kenton Hills to invite local artists to work at the pottery. Leo Murphy for one, Paul Chidlaw (Art Academy professor and painter) and Harold Nash (ceramics professor at the University of Cincinnati) all used Kenton Hills facilities, even though their initials are not known to have been added to factory-marked pots."

--Kenton Hills Porcelains, Nick & Marilyn Nicholson, 1998 

Images: Cincinnati Public Library Newspaper Archive, S. Malloy

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

WLWT Master Control, Crosley Square, Lee Hornback, director & Jim Strickler, IBEW engineer, 1980

Photo: S. Malloy

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

WCET Field Shoot

Produced with Nixon-authorized federal funds, We the Women, Alan Slansky photographer, 1976

Image: Private collection

Monday, January 2, 2012

Addresses Were Simpler...

Covington, Kentucky, 1910

Dated February 16, 1897

Images: Cincinnati Public Library, Ebay