Wrigley’s Gum and Irish Cops
Wraggs Wall Bullying Blog
R. Ashton Wall
Founder / Executive Director
A New York City-based American author, lyricist, actor, composer, writer and renowned entertainment professional for more than 20 years.
R. Ashton Wall is a New York City-based American author, lyricist, actor, composer and writer who created several stage productions that blended modern musical forms with classical music incorporates musical genres like R&B, pop, soul, hip-hop and traditional theatre show tunes.
Do you have a motto?
“Never stop learning,” says R. Ashton Wall, a recognized expert in cultural expression, as she talks about the trends in performing arts. She’s most excited about her books, plays and workshops; offering inspiration to those looking to build meaningful curricula, develop cultural programs that lead to behavioral changes and having fun in the process.
What were things like for you growing up as a child?
Thank you so very, very much for allowing me the chance to tell you my ‘Wrigley’s Chewing Gum Story’, outlining the importance of the smallest things are retained at childhood and bring meaning to my life…until today. Since I am the last in my family that knows the full story, I felt it was of utmost importance that I share it with Wrigley and the world, before too much more time passes. It’s too good and meaningful a story to not be told about the blending of immigrant cultures from Ireland, Italy and the Caribbean.
We moved to the back of a candy store Nat Edelstein… at that time there was a distinction between people of color considered as immigrants vs. indigenous African Americans.
Just after the crest of the Harlem Renaissance…. Met the Gallo brother (big time gangsters of the day). Crazy Joey Gallo mentored my father to help him find himself and establish the photo Kenby (a combination of Ken and Bird, two family names) Photo Studio 623 Washington Avenue in Brooklyn
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It was a fluke meeting, really, involving an Irish New York City Cop on his beat, in front of a candy store (I lived in the back with my immigrant family including my parents, and an older sister), and his daily devotion to chewing Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit Gum. He would arrive mid-afternoon and, after lunch/before leaving, he would ask my father to have me sing him a song, for which he gave me a stick to chew. I was then, four.
Through my dad’s growing friendship with the Patrolman and others introduced by him, including many from Brooklyn’s PAL Photography Club, my dad found employment through the Brooklyn Navy Yard; opened a photography studio, becoming Brooklyn’s best known West Indian Photographer; found employment for my mother, making what would be known today, as Italian designer shirts. Through the PAL Photography Club, my dad met Nat Edelstein, who befriended and pushed him in discovering new goals … fulfilling his dreams … and got me to perform on ‘The Ted Steele Show’ (CBS, DuMont, NBC), a live talent show, with Steele vocalizing and playing several instruments, including orchestra numbers, guests, news / sports round-ups and contest gimmicks. I’ve recently been trying to locate some of their original film to see if I could find one of me singing.
During this time, I was encouraged to take piano lessons; learned to accompany myself; auditioned for and was accepted by P.J. Wilhousky’s New York All-City High School Chorus; graduated as an opera singer from the High School of Music & Art (M&A); and with passing years, became the Founder/Executive Director of COLLOQUIUM DEPOT, LTD. (CD), a not-for-profit (501c(3)), focusing on Combating Abuse/Bullying in a non-confrontational manner, through Education, Entertainment and the Arts.
Utilizing the joys of entertainment and the arts to combat bullying led to my becoming a playwright/lyricist for a musical entitled, TLC (Tender/Loving/ Control), about bullying through classism.
Briefly tell us about yourself and your professional role.
We Promote anti-abusive values and non-abusive behavior; create Inter-generational Discussion Workshops and event-based programs to Reduce/eliminate societal violence through public awareness by emphasizing the importance of family relationships. We rely on a tested interactive approach, through our Educational Outreach program designed to: Reduce/eliminate violent, adolescent behavior, specifically, bullying.
What is your legacy? How do you make an impact?
I hope to leave a legacy of “never stop learning.” This is what keeps me going, keeps my zest and zeal up and always motivates me to learn and adopt new tools and innovations.
The USA is evolving every day with new trends emerging every moment. I feel proud when my work positively alters child’s outcome and we deliver a behavioral change or new way of thinking to the community. I’m discovering the value to families, youth, the community, cultural institutions, businesses are huge and it is satisfying knowing I helped to do that.
What’s next for you (in two questions)? How do you see societal violence shaping the work you do today?
The social violence is everywhere on TV and on our screens in our living rooms and personal spaces.
How do you see trends in social media shaping the work you do today?
There are a lot of new trends that are helping us with what we do every day. When it comes to short-form video and pop-up events, to name a few. I seek to learn and grow more by collaborating with others.
Interactive performance art is something I see picking up speed in the near future where interaction can reduce anxiety and increase empathy.
The Internet of Things (IoT): IoT has the potential to transform the entire social landscape as it is today for example with BLM protests around the world. IoT can simplify and expand our communications efforts. It can also help us a great deal in touching those individual youth at their point of need.
Author: R. Ashton Wall