Monday, February 27, 2006
Arnett Remembers Ed Colston - Senior and Junior
I met Eddie J. Colston, Jr. in 1980 as I began my quest to discover the roots of Black entertainers in Central Ohio. His family lived on Eastwood Avenue, down the street from my jazz mom, Emily Sawyer.
I was drawn to the Colstons because of the legacy that was established by Eddie J.Colston, Sr., a tap dancer, journalist, entertainment manager and promoter. Legend has it that his dancing days, he became the road manager for Lionel Hampton's Band, thus becoming the first Black to manage a popular orchestra during the swing era.
Perhaps the need to raise his family took him of the road, but Eddie J. Senior put his energies into promoting all things musical in Columbus. He became the amusements editor for the Ohio Sentinel during the 1940s, soliciting advertising and promoting many of the popular entertainers that came to Columbus. He and pioneer radioman Eddie Saunders were two persons that met and promoted the entertainers of all persuasions that brought their acts to the Central Ohio area during the heydays of supper clubs, concerts and nightclubs during the forties and fifties.
It is said that Eddie J. Senior and photographer Roosevelt Carter worked together and when I met Eddie Jr. and his mother, Dorothy, the collection of items in the family photo box was a who's who of entertainment. There were enough pictures to produce a book, unfortunate I never returned to duplicate the photos and book was never done. Eddie said that after his mother's death, the photos became his sister's property and he said they were now in Georgia.
Eddie Colston, Sr. died suddenly in 1960 at aged forty.
Eddie Junior was sixty-seven when he passed away last week, but he packed a heap into his life also. He was a graduate of St. Mary's High School in German Village and Cols. College of Art and Design, where he later instructed. He spent the bulk of his working years in the Cols. Recreation an Parks Department as a recreation leader and instructor to art students of all ages. Those students will be his legacy.
Jim Loeffler remembered the late 1950s when he and Colston were among the hungry visual artists who decided that they would drag their paintings out to the open space between the State of Ohio building on Front Street for an impromptu exhibition, like those in Jackson Square, New Orleans. Within a few years, the Greater Columbus Arts Festival was born.
Candy Watkins remembers Eddie as being the only color-blind painter that she ever knew. I remember the subtle dark shades and textures that he composed his canvases with.
But mainly, he and I both regreted that we were never able to collaborate on the book that should have emerged from the collection of family photographs that told the story of his father's life making the entertainment rounds in Columbus. One of those bright moments was putting Black performers, like Madam Rose Brown, Nancy Wilson and the Harmonaires on television in the pioneering days of television.
Love live the memory of the Colston Family. A picture is worth a thousand words.
(and here is another reminder from Arnett)
PS. Mardi Gras with Arnett Howard and Friends, Tuesday, February 28, 2006, 8 pm. Sunset Negril (in the Continent), 6312 Busch Blvd., across from the Movie Theaters. The food is wonderful and my friends will include Ron Henderson, drums, David Hampton, bass, Louis Salvadore, voice and the house musicians are Deighton and Gabbo, on steel drums and keyboards. I be there by six to setup and dine. Come early and avoid the rush on jerk chicken.
Thanks for the continued support. We have some great things going on and lots of updates coming for the month of March. As luck would have it, last night I ran into Mr. Arnett Howard here at Sunset Negril. The breaking news…We have Arnett playing for Fat Tuesday. Back in the day, he introduced me to Negril as a sensational destination and his annual trips to the Negril Tree House (with 100 or so friends) were a major influence in the overall concept development. Arnett and Mardi Gras go hand in hand, so we will be having a grand Fat Tuesday celebration here on the 28th. Let's send New Orleans our positive Irie vibrations. Plan to come in, bring some friends, beads and an appetite.