Saturday, February 22, 2014

21: CENTENNIAL CREST, 1912.

The Centennial of Columbus was in 1912. Judging by the amount of literature and ephemera that one can still find to mark the occasion of Columbus, Ohio's 100th anniversary, it must have been a remarkably fun and eventful year for the people who lived here.

In this 28 in 28, we're going to do a bit of a prequel to my E. Simms Campbell and Barbasol inspired crest from 1944, in which I imagined that the Columbus Crew Soccer Club played its first match in 1896, rather than 1996. Today's crest will imagine what a special crest redesign for the Columbus Centennial would have been like in 1912. It's the Columbus Centennial Crest.

The Official Program of the Ohio Columbus Centennial called it "an occasion for the commemoration of all those things which the capital of Ohio represents today,—the great history of the state, the immemorial achievements of her sons and daughters, of her glorious deeds in the progress of peace and in the stern shock of war."

Advertisements and postcards for the centennial seemed to be quite popular (I spend a ridiculous amount of my online life on the Columbus Metropolitan Library website, if you couldn't tell). There were shows with Broadway actors who would eventually become movie stars.

There were songs written for the occasion. For instance, there was "Fair Ohio, Dear Ohio" by Nellie H. Evans and Charles T. Howe—published by the Centennial Music Company—in which Ohio is called the "Fairest gem within the cluster / That adorns Columbia's breast."

There were events and rallies for tens of thousands. The crowds were enormous. Miss Ethel West of Raymond, Ohio wrote to her sister that "the crowd is so large one can hardly get through." And, even back then, everyone was making love.

There was a strong theme of populism, community, and citizenship in those celebrations and events. In the Official Program it was written "There is no man so humble but has his part in the affairs of the Commonwealth; no man so obscure that he is not an integral factor in the state, with a share in its history, and with a right to be proud of the men and events which have made Ohio what she is, a great State among great States, a widespread influence in the land, a leader in the Nation."

It's noticeable today, a time when wealth is not common and shares of history and institutions of community interest are the exclusive premises of the wealthy and powerful, how often the "humble" citizen was spoken of, and in such sincere and reverential terms. It's also noticeable the humility of Columbus, the city. This was the 100th anniversary of Columbus, after all, though the city sought no special honor, instead choosing to share the anniversary with its greater community of Ohio. "The several counties and the larger divisions of the state will participate most actively in the celebration, and while Columbus, the point where the event will take place, must lend great aid, its individuality will be subordinated to wider interests, although playing a prominent part. No one portion of Ohio, alone, has contributed to the upbuilding of the successful structure of statehood."

Reading that, I can't help but think that perhaps the persistent anxiety that we in Columbus often express about our lack of identity, or being bothered that we're known around the world as "Columbus, Ohio" isn't an accident of geography or history. Perhaps it's the result of 200 years of humility, leadership augmented by partnership, and contribution to greater ideals and communities. Perhaps its something that we should be proud of, as our fellow citizens of 100 years ago were.

Last year, 2013, the United States Soccer Federation did a lot of promotion of 100 years of soccer in the United States. The Centennial of Soccer marked the 100th anniversary of the USSF, not soccer in the United States. The first attempt at organizing soccer in the United States was the American Football Association in 1884. The league confined itself to New England, however, and when other parts of the United States sought inclusion into the AFA, the league refused. In 1911, the American Amateur Football Association began to rise to become a truly national organizing body for soccer, and, eventually, the AAFA became the United States Soccer Federation. The AFA continued for a few more years before being surpassed by the USSF.

I'm imagining that if the Columbus Crew were one of the first clubs to join in with the new American Amateur Football Association, perhaps they would have paid tribute to the Centennial anniversary of Columbus on their Black & Gold jerseys. But it wouldn't have been ostentatious, festooned with laurel leaves, ornate stitching, grandiose historical elements or flowery references to past wars or great accomplishments. It would have been humble.

I chose a shield shape that was common in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and a typeface called Cochin, which was designed in 1912.

I like this one. It makes me proud. It's humble and strong, like Columbus.




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