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Kahiki Supper Club: A Polynesian Paradise in Columbus

Inspired by Florida's famed Mai-Kai restaurant, Bill Sapp and Lee Henry opened the Kahiki Supper Club in 1961. They set out simply to build a nice Polynesian restaurant and ended up establishing the most magnificent one of them all. Patrons lined up for hours to see the celebrities who dined there—everyone from Betty White to Raymond Burr. Outside, two giant Easter Island heads with flames spouting from their topknots stood guard while customers dined in a faux tribal village with thatched huts, palm trees and a towering fireplace moai. One wall featured aquariums of exotic fish and another had windows overlooking a tropical rainforest with periodic thunderstorms. For nearly forty years, the Kahiki was the undisputed center of tiki culture. (The History Press, 192 pages, 80 illustrations)

Columbus Neighborhoods - "Kahiki Supper Club "
Book Revew - "Memories of a Tiki Paradise"

Inside the Ohio Penitentiary

As "animal factories" go, the Ohio Penitentiary was one of the worst. For 150 years, it housed some of the most dangerous criminals in the United States, including murderers, madmen and mobsters. Peer in on America's first vampire, accused of sucking his victims' blood five years before Bram Stoker's fictional villain was even born; peek into the cage of the original Prison Demon; and witness the daring escape of John Hunt Morgan's band of Confederate prisoners. Uncover the full extent of mayhem and madness locked away in one of history's most notorious maximum-security prisons. (The History Press, 192 pages, 69 illustrations)

 All Sides With Ann Fisher - "Inside the Ohio Penitentiary"

Look to Lazarus: The Big Store

For more than 150 years, F&R Lazarus & Company was the heart of downtown Columbus. Headed by the "first family of American retailing" with an eye for flair and a devotion to the customer, this uniquely midwestern institution won the hearts and minds of a community. Look to Lazarus draws on the memories of those who worked and shopped in this grand emporium to tell the unlikely story of a love affair between a city and a store. It was a love affair born of the solemn promise "You can always take it back to Lazarus, no questions asked." (The History Press, 192 pages, 87 illustrations)

 All Sides With Ann Fisher - "Look to Lazarus"
 Columbus Neighborhoods - "Rites of Passage"

A Glance of Heaven: The Design and Operation of the Separatist Society of Zoar

The Separatists of Zoar in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, chose their own metaphor in the magnificent garden which was the focal point of the community. Designed in the shape of a wheel, it represented the New Jerusalem mentioned in the Book of Revelation. But there was more to Zoar than met the eye. It was a many faceted organization whose separate paths had to intermesh in an orderly manner if it were to perform the job for which it was created. The society was a machine – a machine in a garden. Just beyond the hedge rows, surrounded by the flower beds, shaded by the apple trees, almost hidden from view, it sat and quietly ran for nearly eighty years -- the Machine in the Garden. (230 pages, 46 illustrations)

"The History of Zoar" (Tarulli HD Media Group)

Central Ohio's Historic Prisons

With the opening of the Ohio State Reformatory in 1896, the state legislature had put in place "the most complete prison system, in theory, which exists in the United States." The reformatory joined the Ohio Penitentiary and the Boys Industrial School, also central Ohio institutions, to form the first instance of "graded prisons; with the reform farm on one side of the new prison, for juvenile offenders, and the penitentiary on the other, for all the more hardened and incorrigible class." However, even as the concept was being replicated throughout the country, the staffs of the institutions were faced with the day-to-day struggle of actually making the system work. (Arcadia Publishing,128 pages, 210 illustrations)

""Prison Fire Horror" (1930) - British Pathe newsreel

Carrying Coal to Columbus: Mining in the Hocking Valley

As early as 1755, explorers found coal deposits in Ohio's Hocking Valley. The industry that followed created towns and canals and established a new way of life. The first shipment of coal rolled into Columbus in 1830 and has continued ever since. In 1890, the United Mine Workers of America was founded in Columbus. Lorenzo D. Poston became the first of the Hocking Valley coal barons, and by the start of the twentieth century, at least fifty thousand coal miners and their families lived and worked in Athens, Hocking and Perry Counties. Authors David Meyers, Elise Meyers Walker, and Nyla Vollmer detail the hard work and struggles as they unfolded in Ohio's capital and the Little Cities of Black Diamonds. (The History Press, 176 pages, 59 illustrations)

 Columbus Neighborhoods - "Carrying Coal to Columbus"

Ohio Jazz: A History of Jazz in the Buckeye State

Most jazz historians give short shrift to the Buckeye state, regarding as a go-through rather than a go-to place. However, the fact is jazz has been practiced in Ohio and with a vengeance. For 30 years, these authors have been researching and documenting the history of music, particularly jazz in Ohio. Their 1999 exhibit at the Ohio Historical Society, Jazz Ohio, ran for twelve months before portions of it moved to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The exhibit inspired the book, and much of what you will read here has never been brought together in one place before and it may well change the way you think about jazz. And Ohio. (The History Press, 192 pages, 81 illustrations)

All Things With Ann Fisher - "Ohio Jazz"

Wicked Columbus, Ohio

Ohio's capital city once teemed with crime bosses, rampant corruption and unpunished perversion. The Bad Lands of Columbus was a nationally recognized slum controlled by "Smoky" Hobbs. Columbus native Dr. Samuel B. Hartman, the world's most successful snake oil salesman, was almost single-handedly responsible for the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act. Local gambler "Pat" Murnan had an unlikely love affair with Grace Backenstoe, the madam of the most popular brothel in town. The two were a symbol of the area's salaciousness. Authors David Meyers and Elise Meyers Walker explore the heyday of Columbus's most notorious fiends, corrupt politicians and con men. (The History Press, 144 pages, 43 illustrations)

Columbus Neighborhoods - "Hartman Farm"

Historic Columbus Crimes: Mama's in the Furnace, The Thing & More

In Historic Columbus Crimes, the father-daughter team of David Meyers and Elise Meyers Walker looks back at sixteen tales of murder, mystery and mayhem culled from city history. Take the rock star slain by a troubled fan or the drag queen slashed to death by a would-be ninja. Then there's the writer who died acting out the plot of his next book, the minister's wife incinerated in the parsonage furnace and a couple of serial killers who outdid the Son of Sam. Not to mention a gunfight at Broad and High, grave-robbing medical students, the bloodiest day in FBI history and other fascinating stories of crime and tragedy. They're all here, and they're all true! (The History Press, 128 Pages, 41 illustrations)

Teaser from "Jerry Springer's Tabloid."
Podcast: "The Florida Files - Episode 5"

Columbus, the Musical Crossroads

Columbus has long been known for its musicians. Unlike New York, San Francisco, Kansas City, Nashville, or even Cincinnati, however, it has never had a definable “scene.” Still, some truly remarkable music has been made in this musical crossroads by the many outstanding musicians who have called it home. Since 1900, Columbus has become the 15th-largest city in the United States. During this period, it has developed into a musically vibrant community that has nurtured the talents of such artists as Elsie Janis, Ted Lewis, Nancy Wilson, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Dwight Yoakam, Bow Wow, and Rascal Flatts. But, in many instances, those who chose to remain at home were as good and, perhaps, even better. (Arcadia Publishing, 128 pages, 200 illustrations)

All Sides With Ann Fisher - "Columbus Jazz"

Columbus State Community College: An Informal History

For half a century, the mission of Columbus State Community College has remained essentially unchanged – to provide skilled men and women to meet the workforce needs of Central Ohio employers. What has changed, however, is the way it goes about fulfilling that mission. Columbus State Community College: An Informal History is the story of how this remarkable institution grew from a handful of classes in a high school basement into the largest two-year college in Ohio. It is also the story of the community it replaced and the community it is helping to create by action and example. Profusely illustrated and packed with fascinating facts, this highly readable book provides an entertaining introduction to the development of higher education in the Buckeye State. (222 pages, 300+ illustrations)

Columbus State Community College in the Snow

Ohio's Black Hand Syndicate: The Birth of Organized Crime in America

Organized crime was born in the back of a fruit store in Marion. Before America saw headlines about the Capone Mob, the Purple Gang, and Murder Inc., the specter of the Black Hand terrorized nearly every major city. Fears that the Mafia had reached our shores and infiltrated every Italian immigrant community kept police alert and citizens on edge. It was only a matter of time before these professional Robin Hoods formed a band. And when they did, the eyes of the world turned to Ohio, particularly when the local Black Hand outfit known as the Society of the Banana went on trial. Authors David Meyers and Elise Meyers Walker unfold this first and nearly forgotten chapter on crime syndicate history. (The History Press)

"The Black Hand" - WZMO Radio
""The 9 Lives of Joe Butera" - Canton Repository