Coretta ‘Well Treated’ At Oglebay

When Walter Rybeck returned to Wheeling last week to talk about economics and taxation, he also shared a story that illustrated discrimination and, ultimately, redemption in his hometown.

The Wheeling native recalled that when he was a student at Antioch College in Ohio in the 1940s, one of his classmates was Coretta Scott, who later became the wife of Martin Luther King Jr.

Rybeck said that Coretta was “one of my best friends.” He said “she liked to dance,” so he invited her to attend an Oglebay Institute folk dancing festival at Oglebay Park. When Rybeck and his guest arrived in Wheeling, his parents, the late Samuel “Ry” and Rosalind “Buddy” Rybeck, suggested that they go out to eat.

He recalled that they went to a Wheeling restaurant where the manager, upon seeing the African-American woman, told them, “She’ll have to eat in the kitchen.” Rybeck said his father replied, “That’s completely unacceptable.”

At that point, Rybeck said, “We called the Oglebay folk festival and asked if they had any food left. They said, ‘We have lots of food. But we’ve cleared the tables for the dancing. You’ll have to eat in the kitchen,'” he recalled.

“So we all ate in the kitchen. Coretta was very well treated at Oglebay. It took out the bad taste of that meeting,” he commented.

Speaking at the Ohio County Public Library Tuesday, Aug. 21, Rybeck said he related that story “not to demean Wheeling,” but to show that unfortunately “this is what happened in cities in the North and the South in the 1940s.”

Rybeck, who is now director of the Center for Public Dialogue in Maryland, recounted that story in his book, “Re-solving the Economic Puzzle.” In the book, the downtown Wheeling restaurant is named. I will tell you, readers, that this particular restaurant is no longer in business.

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Speaking of Wheeling restaurants, on a happier note, Wheeling native and noted actor John Corbett was spotted in an eatery-nightspot in the Elm Grove section of the city last week.

An area woman snapped a photo of Corbett with her cell phone camera. The observer related that the television and film star’s friend, Bo Derek, was not seen. Reportedly, Corbett was in the company of hometown male friends.

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Capitalizing on a sport that has attracted renewed interest as a result of “The Hunger Games” trilogy and films, Oglebay Institute is offering a new course this fall. Archery lessons will be offered to young people at the institute’s Schrader Center in Oglebay Park, beginning Wednesday, Sept. 19.

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Plein air art – paintings created outdoors in the open air – will be in spotlight at a number of area venues during September.

The focus on plein air coincides with the seventh annual Paint Oglebay plein air weekend in the park Friday through Sunday, Sept. 28-30.

After artists paint outdoors all day, organizers are planning to hold receptions, exhibits and sales of their work at Schrader Center, beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30.

In anticipation of this plein air event, the initial exhibition of the 2012-13 season at West Liberty University’s Nutting Art Gallery will feature plein air paintings by Debra Joyce Dawson. An opening reception for Dawson’s show will be offered in the gallery from 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5.

Meanwhile, a display of plein air paintings also will be shown in the North Gallery of Artworks Around Town, located in Wheeling’s Centre Market, in September. Curator Bob Sako said the plein air examples were “painted in Oglebay Park and other places.”

Visitors may view the Artworks display – along with the main exhibition of artwork created by the internationally-known husband and wife team of Yan Sun and Hong Yin in Artworks’ Studio Gallery – throughout the month. The exhibitions will open with a Gallery Hop from 5-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7.

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: