Findlay’s Famous Playwright

EDITOR’S NOTE–This is another article on Findlay-area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.

 

 

By R.L. HEMINGER

 

 

The death early in April (1966) of Russel Crouse, New York playwright, brought back memories of early days in Findlay in Findlay journalism in which the Crouse family played a prominent role.

It was April 1, 1900, that the playwright’s father, Hiram Crouse, left Findlay to go to Toledo to start a new daily newspaper, after a career of some 15 years in Findlay in the newspaper business. On only a few occasions had the Crouses been back in Findlay since the 1900 date, but they were well-remembered locally and the distinguished career of the son in New York was followed with a high degree of interest in the local community. Many local residents had seen his plays in New York and elsewhere and many more had witnessed the films of some of the plays of which he was co-author over the years including “Life with Father,” “The Sound of Music” (original stage production), “Call Me Madam,” and the like, and a production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.” They always evinced a high degree of pride in the fact that Mr. Crouse was a Findlay native as they enjoyed the performances.

 

 

MR. CROUSE WAS ON the list of those whom the Fort Findlay Association and Findlay Area Chamber of Commerce had yet to honor as a distinguished native son. It had been planned to do this soon, but his death made this impossible.

Mr. Crouse’s parents lived at 205 First St. It was here that he was born Feb. 20, 1893. He was one of three children, the others being girls, Grace and Mildred.

The father had become connected with the old Morning Republican in the mid-1880s and eventually became its editor. His father, the Rev. E.B. Crouse, served as pastor of the St. Paul’s Evangelical Church Findlay for two years beginning in 1890. His mother had been the former Miss Sarah Schumacher, of Mount Cory. The parents and grandparents of Mr. Crouse are all buried in Maple Grove Cemetery.

The son was a graduate of the old Toledo High School. The father and his family left Toledo a decade or so after going there, moving to Enid, Okla., where he helped start a newspaper in the days when Oklahoma was just being opened up for settlers. The father later went to Cincinnati and became associated with the public relations department of a large insurance company until his death.

An appointment to Annapolis was secured by the son but he failed the mathematics examinations. He went into newspaper work in Cincinnati and Kansas City before going to New York, where he was a writer for one of the dailies before going into the playwright field.

When he observed his 60th birthday in 1953, a group of New York leaders honored him with a dinner. The editor of Good Housekeeping magazine called the Morning Republican from New York to get the exact newspaper words that described his arrival in the world in 1893.

 

 

THE LAST TIME HE was back in Findlay was for the funeral of one of his parents. At that time, he was writing a daily column for a newspaper in New York and he came to the offices of the Morning Republican in Findlay to write his column for dispatch to New York, while awaiting the services.

Mr. Crouse (the father) sold his interests to I.N. Heminger and some associates before moving to Toledo in 1900. Mr. Heminger had joined the paper in 1890.

The father was a prominent leader in the Republican Party and was active in state politics for some years.

In going to Enid, Okla., he was following a warm friend, Charles N. Haskell, an Ottawa resident for some years and the leader in the movement that led to the construction of the Tangent Line railroad between Findlay and Fort Wayne, Ind. Mr. Haskell persuaded him to come to Oklahoma after he had been elected the state’s first governor in the early 1900s. The new governor was urging many leaders in various fields to move to the new state to help in its development. Mr. Crouse had become well-acquainted with him when the Findlay, Fort Wayne and Western Railroad was being built. It became known as the Tangent Line because of its straight course.

In its article with regard to the death of Mr. Crouse, the son, the New York Times said his collaboration with Howard Lindsay, his partner in production of plays, “has been hailed as the most successful since that of the well-known team of Gilbert and Sullivan.”

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