Artist, Pianist, and Auto Phil

If you want to know more about an artist at his easel and a musician at his piano in the twentieth century in Rock Hill, you might find the following article on Edwin Harrison Stultz engaging, especially when you remember that he took his pretty dark green and cream Plymouth Belvedere to Germany in 1955, a year after he was graduated from Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina.

Ed Stultz

Cars, just like art and music, fascinated Ed when he was a little boy. He was born on Hampton Street. In the second grade, Ed told his parents that he wanted to be an artist, whereupon his father smiled, “I’ll buy whatever supplies you need.” Eddie also told them that he wanted to play the piano, whereupon his mother took him to Woolworth, one of Rock Hill’s earliest “dime stores,” where a toy piano made of mahogany wood mesmerized him. And with Christmas coming following his birthday on Halloween, the man with the white hair, beard, red suit, and big black boots, of course, lugged that little piano down the chimney and enjoyed the oatmeal-peanut butter cookies, no doubt, baked by Mary White. Quite often Ed played with her grandson, George, and other children in what has become known as one of Rock Hill’s historic neighborhoods.

Woolworth Rock Hill, SC

In the third grade, the family moved to Marion Street where Ed recalled his mother adorning the marble mantle top with a stable and village which lighted up and brightened the living room. And then one day, the doorbell rang, and when Ed answered it, he was absolutely spellbound: an upright piano with a huge carving of columns on each end stood on the porch. Yet he was sure it wasn’t for him. When his parents heard their son telling the postman to take the piano back because it was not for the Stultz family, they ran to the door and redirected the bewildered man.

At once, Ed began taking piano lessons from Miss Georgia Dickert, choir director and organist at the historic First Presbyterian Church, where the Stultzes were members. She also founded the Juvenile Music Club and gave piano lessons. During his childhood, Ed and his dad enjoyed the annual pilgrimage in the Studebaker to the woods to cut down the Christmas tree. His childhood was a happy one.  He has fond memories of the houses on Hampton and Marion, but his treasured home was on East Main Street across from the old Reed home which later became my father’s office: 332 East Main Street.

When Ed was recovering from an appendicitis, he had a lot of time to sketch and paint. He remembered Mrs. Reed bringing him a small roll of canvas. From his bed, he made an easel, and he painted flowers, columns like the ones on the house, cars, and much, much more. Several years later, during his time in Europe, Ed took pictures of whatever especially engaged him, and from these photos, he began sketching pictures for note cards. These pictures portrayed historic buildings, flowers, birds, churches, and more.

Piano was not the only musical instrument Ed enjoyed. He played the clarinet and joined the ROTC Band and during his years at Presbyterian College where he majored in math and history and sang in the choir. In addition to art and music, he became more interested in cars. His first car was a Ford convertible that his parents bought from his Uncle Miller Magill.

Fort Benning, FL

Following commencement at Presbyterian College, he joined the army and reported in 1954 to Fort Benning, Georgia, for Officers’ Training. In 1955, he headed to Germany where he served as platoon leader and took that Belvedere. After about twelve months, he was transferred to Seventh Army Headquarters to serve on the Headquarters General Staff. When he returned from Europe, he was still in the Reserve and was promoted to Captain. He became a statistician at Bowater where he worked for 35 years. During this time, he sang in the First Presbyterian Church Choir, performed in concerts in Rock Hill and beyond, and served as Clerk of Session four times in twenty years. He was also an active member of the Rock Hill Music Club.

He currently lives in Gainesville, Florida, with his son.

This Article was originally written by Dr. Martha Benn Macdonald and waspublished in Issue 7 of Rock Hill Reader the Magazine. Read it here.

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