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    Wednesday
    Feb192014

    Tour 1910: "Once Upon A Time. . ."

    The Miami Student.   April 21, 1910.   Page 1.

    GLEE CLUB

    Annual Concert Occurs Tonight In Auditorium.

    DETAILS OF TOUR DURING SPRING VACATION.

     

    Once upon a time there was a Glee Club.  Its home was Miami University and its papa was a man named Prof. Raymond H. Burke.  Under the sheltering guidance of this man it grew and became old enough and strong enough to take little trips away from home and into lands inhabited by people who like music.  But often guided by an adventurous spirit, they went into the territory of the heathen, and met with experiences which called forth all the resourcefulness and ability this Glee Club possessed.  Thus the years passed and the infant became a youth undertaking greater things as knowledge and experience were acquired.

                This accounted for the crowd of youths which assembled at the Union Station at Oxford, March 18, 1910, to take the C., H. and D. train for Middletown, Ohio, where they were to give the first concert of the season, that evening.  Soon or rather—eventually—the train arrived and the club had started upon the most successful trip in its history.At this Hamilton train station, on February 21, 1907, President Guy Potter Benton first proposed that Raymond Burke should form a Miami Glee Club. Upon arrival at the Oxford Depot seen above, Burke accepted the challenge.

                Changing cars in Hamilton was a simple matter, for fellows who have had to make all manners and sorts of connections, so without much adventure all arrived safe and sound at the United States Hotel, that luxurious palace of the Middle west, in Middletown.  Here, after resting a bit before the evening meal, they hopped into their “biled fronts”, and “beat it” about two miles, more or less, to the auditorium.  It was a large place seating almost seven hundred people—and the crowd that filled the seats were so appreciative of the efforts of the “one-nighters,” that their attempts were made with true spirit.  Consequently the papers of the town proclaimed the concert a success.The U. S. Hotel as it appeared on a postcard dated August 24, 1908. Built in 1831, the building has since been designated an "historic landmark" and still looks very much as it does in this photograph.

                After the performance was over, those fellows who were not engaged with young ladies of the town, betook themselves back to their palatial quarters, and in ways and means, most suitable to each, made themselves comfortable.  Middletown seems to be a village—or more dignifiedly—a city especially adapted to this sort of thing—being well supplied with cigar and newspaper stands, lunch counters and comfortable chairs.  The lunch counters, are without doubt the best in this part of the country, for not only are the wants of the physical man supplied but every privilege is offered, and every desire catered to, in order to make the customer feel “at home”.  If he deserves to sing—no matter how plaintively—no objection is made—no indeed—on the contrary—there are those there especially to declare, “That tenor is immense!”—Do I like it!  Well I hope so!  I love quartette music.”The Sorg Opera House as it appeared in 1900. It is still in use today.

                The next morning after a rather limited night spent in sleeping and other things—some of the fellows were shown through the Sorg Paper Mill—which was very instructive as well as interesting.  At dinner, —and oh the fairness of the young women who serve!—the Club gave a very tender parting speech of appreciation to the most obliging, most active—(acrobatic)—and loquacious and blackest member of the Etheopian race that has ever been doomed to cast off his native smile and don the clothes of a European.  (It might be added that the speech included a piece of paper with the stamp of the U.S. Treasury Department upon its face).  “Dudley” with a very flourishing bow and shuffle of his very efficient walking gear, rolled his eyes to the heavens, and beaming a smile of bewitching sweetness—said softly—“Yossah—Yossah—Yas indeed-ie!”While at first a source of ridicule for Middletown, "the only horse-car remaining among civilized people" soon becam a novelty and tourist attraction for the town.

                Finally after a thrilling ride upon the only horse-car remaining among civilized people, the Club was ready for the trip to the next “stop.”  Isn’t it queer what types of people one will find at railroad stations?  One trio at this place—“Pa—Ma—and little Willie”—attracted the smiles and interested attentions of all.  Evidently, little Willie’s stock in the family corporation was not very high, for “ma” offered to open up negotiations with other companies, for the small considerations of five cents, as against all of “Little Willies” capital stock.While this looks like the photo above, this is second photo of the same scene taken by Carey Shera. Note that the author, Harold Hitchcock, trades hats with the other gentleman-rider while seated on the horses.

                The next concert was given in Loveland under the auspices of the Coterie Club.  The stay in that village was one of unusual interest.  The town is scattered over a very large area, each residence boasting of a large tract of land “all its own.”  It was the good fortune of the fellows to be entertained at the homes of the residents, consequently they were very much scattered and widely distributed.  Some lived for the time being on stock farms, and came in to the Opera House in the family phaeton; others lived at the abodes of influential citizens of the village, while still others existed at the place which the inhabitants called by the dignified title of hotel.  Those who lived at the stock farms had to conform to the rules and regulations of those well-ordered institutions and arise at 6 o’clock a.m., not in the dim light of early morning—watch the feeding of the chickens, the care of the stock, and inspect the development of the pigs—As a result they had a complete course in stock-raising which will, of course, be of great use to some in after years.

                Leaving Loveland Sunday morning, the club returned to Cincinnati where they spent the day at the Grand Hotel—and other places of rest.  It is generally known of Cincinnati that it is a city where a day of rest can be indulged in to perfection—especially by a group of twenty-four young fellows—who have lived in a town of 2,500 for some years.

                The next concert was given in Eaton, where the club was warmly received by the inhabitants of Oxford and a few Eaton people.  The Opera House was crowded to the doors, standing room only being left.  There must have been five hundred people present.  It was reported by those who attended that the concert was good—and the papers said so too—but in the latter case, there were no doubt a few complimentary tickets involved.  The hotel at Eaton is one of the finest things of its kind in the state.  It has been said that few hotels can boast of such rooms.  Let us hope that such is the case.Piqua native and legandary football hero, Jim Levering.

                Eaton having been besieged and taken, it was thought best to move on, before an uprising, so Tuesday the Club removed to Piqua to continue operations.  Upon the arrival of the “squad” in that large and busy city—two-thirds of the population came out with a brass band, and an orator to welcome the home coming of Mr. James Levering—and to celebrate the return of Mr. H. Doremus Piercy—two “Piqua boys.”  After the celebrations—the club retired to the High School, where they delivered themselves of several “old” selections.  This seemed to give especial delight to the girls—who undoubtedly—like the boys, like a change now and then.  Through the whole trip it seemed that all the girls in the various towns firmly believe that “Variety is the Spice of Life.”  Of the many things that happened during the brief story in Piqua ask J.B. Langdon—he knows.  The concert was decidedly a success—there being in attendance an enormous crowd of about two hundred and fifty.  Such a house has never been seen before—let us hope never again—as regards numbers, of course.A photograph of the "Cinder Pile" and part of the adjacent train yard taken by Carey Shera during Tour 1910.

                From Piqua we went to Union City, Ind., Ohio and several counties,--the club hasn’t yet discovered exactly, where they were definitely located.  Here the Hotel accommodations were superb!  Situated upon the railroad—the switch ran through the lobby—the guests were lulled to sleep by the mournful throb of engines, and the musical blast of whistles.  Room-mates were furnished by the company, free of charge—a thing which seems to be quite common to some hotels—but not altogether desirable—as it is rather unconvenient to carry in one’s suitcase, armor and a baseball bat.  The name of this magnificent hostelry was the “Cinder Pile”—a rather romantic touch to a lowly subject.Union City was a bustling railroad junction in 1910 that spanned both Indiana and Ohio.

                The concert was well attended and by a very enthusiastic audience, several people coming over from Greenville, the home of one of the “Stars” in the cast.  After the concert, the club was entertained by the Federal Club with a dance, where all thoroughly enjoyed themselves.The train depot in Tippacanoe City (now simply Tipp City).

                But even the best things pass—and this was no exception to the rule.  The next night was spent in Tippecanoe City—where we were entertained in the homes of those who dared admit us.  A church dinner was given and the whole club attended.  The repast was one which would equal that of the Woodbine Hotel in Camden.  Much doubt was expressed by certain members of the club, as to the possibility of singing after such a meal.  But the concert was given—and well received.  Afterwards those fellows who were fortunate spent a pleasant time with the young ladies of the village, while those less favored by Fate—walked the streets under a big silvery moon—in an atmosphere sweetened by the odors of early spring and warmed by the breath of lenis Auster—with hearts full of tenderness which had to be wasted on each other and the evening air.An early spring garden scene from Sidney showing the affects of "lenis Auster" (soft southern breeze).

                Friday—Good Friday—Sidney was invaded.  The people of that city are never to be forgotten by members of the Miami Glee Club.  No—not because of the first experience there, but because of their hospitality, appreciation and interest in “Old Miami.”

                The Presbyterian Church was crowded and with an audience that appreciated all our attempts.  After the concert—a dance—conceived and carried out by some Miami boys, living there—helped the “bunch” forget all else but the pleasure of seeing old friends—and meeting new ones.  It was early morning when all were ready to depart and late morning when all were ready to get up.

                By one o’clock all had gathered at the depot ready to advance upon Dayton and the last concert.  All were full of spirits—good spirits—and as the train sped on its way to the busy metropolis, there was singing and laughing and talking mingled with the hum of the wheel on the rails.

                But alas—what a pity it is one is unable to see into the future—at times.  Upon arriving at the old, well established, and slowly demolishing hotel—the Phillips House, $2.00 a day with meals—it was discovered that the Knights of Pythias were just on the field.  Consequently it was four to a room for the little Glee Club boys.  But what was the difference—the more the merrier (so they say).

                Again the club was greeted with a record breaking house of about 200.  But it was the last concert, and the encouragement of applause was not needed—though those who were indeed appreciative.Clubbers await patiently for the train in one of many possible depots along the way in another photograph taken with Carey Shera's camera. But in this one Carey is in the picture standing between those seated and those along the back.

                By ten-thirty the club had already begun to disband—the boys leaving the city—in a manner that spokes of a wheel run away from the hub.

                It has been stated above that the last circuit had been given.  It was a slight error, for about seven of the Glee Club, who stayed to see Dayton—were one side of a singing contest engaged just outside the doors of the Algonquin Hotel.  Miami won.The legendary "Oomph Bird" of the 1909 Tour was said to be laid to rest in the garden atop the Algonquin Hotel.

                By Sunday the boys had all left the city and the spring trip was over, the most successful from a financial as well as musical, that had yet been made.  Every tale has its conclusion; some have morals, some pseudo morals, and in fact all types of advice are found in the different forms.  Here is our’s.  Tonight the Club gives a program like the one given on the trip—but with one exception—it is increased in size.  Come and hear it.

    Wednesday
    Feb192014

    Notes On Camden 1910

    Great friends, Harold Hitchcock and Solon "Nick" Carter pose together in 1907. Both were members of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. 

    The Miami University Glee Club rightfully takes great pride in the vast repository of artifacts and images that have been passed down through the decades from our inception. I dare any glee club to match our collection of programs, posters, and pictures, etc.. But of additional pride are the regular accounts of their “wanderings to and fro” that began with the “Innocence Abroad” tale of the 1909 Tour by Nick Carter.  This Camden story was written by Harold Hitchcock—Club’s “Reporter” (an officer position at the time). Expanding on Nick’s earlier narrative style, Hitch firmly establishes a whimsical and nuanced humor for all accounts of Club touring to follow.  While relatively short, the Camden story begs many questions of modern readers wishing greater context. I have expanded on some of Hitch’s themes below.  

     Bader's advertisement in the 1910 Recensio Yearbook.

    Bader’s Restaurant: During the early years of the twentieth century, no local eatery was more popular with Miami’s students than Bader’s restaurant. Owned by an irascible bear of a man named Harry “Mick” Bader--loud and irreverent--a trip to Bader’s was often a mix of good cheap food and good-natured conversation flavored by the occasional insult. Yet on the other hand, accounts from the time also tell of Mick’s kindnesses and favors for students in need. The fact that Bader’s was open at 1:30 in the morning for the returning Glee Club says something special about the relationship of Mick with his customers. There were no bars in Oxford then, and every other business in the village likely closed shop around 5 p.m.Carey Shera's Raffle Ticket for a Shotgun to be given away on Christmas Eve!

    Bader’s was in operation from around 1905-1916 by my best reckoning. Where Mick came from and where he went I intend to find out and update later in this entry. With Bader’s gone, The Purity took over as the new place to be seen by Miami students—a position it held for at least a half a century.  Bader’s was located where the SoHi restaurant sits in the new John Minnis Building Uptown. Older Miami students would have recognized Bader’s as the future site of the original Bruno’s Pizza before the building they both were in burnt to the ground in July 1996.

     

    The Longfellow: Oxford’s ancient horse-drawn omnibus—The Longfellow—first appears in Glee Club lore during Club’s very first concert in Reiley on Washington’s Birthday in 1908. The highlights of the evening were hecklers in the audience who later threw rocks at the boys as they boarded the bus to go home.Drawing of the Longfellow from around 1870.

    Built during the Civil War, the Longfellow was Oxford’s lone means of local mass-transportation. Generally, the bus was as open-air contraption with only a roof for protection from the elements. But there are references that suggest the over-sized buggy could be fitted with siding to protect from the cold--likely nothing more than canvas curtains that draped from the roof. There also appears to have been a small coal stove for keeping passengers warm—at least those seated close enough to feel its affects. It seems clear that the carriage was open for the pleasant ride to Camden in 1910. Whether the bus remained open to the elements during the dark and far more frigid ride home is unclear.The "Iron Horse" was the sole alternative to horse-drawn transportation before the 1900s. Here is Oxford's first "Horseless Carriage" photographed in 1904.

    Transportation in a horse-drawn carriage seems so foreign to us now. And it is easy to imagine the boys pissing and moaning a bit about another ride in "the ark" before this trek. After all, for the previous year’s “practice concert” in Liberty, Indiana, Club rode the train. But given the nostalgic nature of the Reiley experience, and the clear triumph for the bonding spirit of Club on this Camden trip, it then became an honored tradition of Club to trudge out the decaying omnibus for the yearly spring practice concert odyssey.Local teens enjoy a wagon ride in 1906.

    The last such trip occurred in 1917 during a visit to College Corner. At five miles away, the ride was less taxing than the hour and a half to Camden. As the story goes, the last Longfellow ride started much like the Camden trip. The weather was pleasant and the road (now U.S. 27) dry and a bit dusty. Club President, Gordon Balyeat, and a couple of other seniors skipped the bus ride in order to travel to the venue in Gordon’s new roadster. In the final long stretch approaching the village, the boys on the bus spotted Gordon’s car in the distance careening towards them at top speed, leaving an ominous dust cloud in their wake. The hotrod whizzed past the omnibus with the automobile's passengers hooting and hollering at the top of their lungs—startling the horses.  The dust cloud that followed fully enveloped coughing Clubbers in a coat of local soil.Glee Club Director, Aubrey Martin, on the left, and Club President, Gordon Balyeat on the right in 1917.

    After the concert that night, Gordon found that his car wouldn’t start! Gordon and his passengers were forced to join the ride home in the Longfellow, where they were subject to taunts and good-natured ribbing the whole way. In the light of the following day, Gordon discovered several loose connections in the engine were the culprit. The perpetrators—if any—remain nameless.  Thus ended a chapter—an early tradition—in Glee Club touring history.Lyle Devoss in 1917.

    One of the riders in the omnibus that day was a young Lyle DeVoss. At Club’s 85th Anniversary Reunion in 1992, a much older Lyle (about 95 years old?) shared his experiences on that carriage ride with Director, Clayton Parr.  The 75-year gap must be one of the longest spans of one Clubber sharing tales with another!

     

    The Weather: One of the oddities of this story is the description of the weather conditions. It was, after all, March 11th. After doing some research (this baffled me for years), it turns out that Southwest Ohio had experienced the warmest pre-spring conditions in anyone’s memory in early 1910—much like the same dates in 2012. For the previous three weeks, daily temperatures had risen to record or near-record highs for the time. Only a trace of precipitation had fallen during the unusually warm spell—thus the complaints about the dusty roads. Early grasses, mosses, or the occasional crocus or trillium popping through the soil probably account for the greenery noted. Indeed, the raucous singing bus pulled into Camden under clear blue skies and 55 degree temperatures—just a tad cooler than the previous couple of days. During the ride home the temperatures dipped into the upper 30s. An inch of snow the following Tuesday reminded everyone it wasn’t quite spring yet! It is also worth noting that three years later--in 1913--tour was cancelled due to the Great Miami River Flood, which turned the Oxford area into a virtual island for nearly two weeks.This Camden street scene from late March 1913 looks a far cry different from the Camden visited by Club in early March 1910.

     

    The Songs:  One of the more timeless portraits painted by Harold Hitchcock is his descriptions of how the boys spent their time during the rides. I expect any former clubber can translate Hitch’s account into one remeniscient of one's own tour experiences--occasional quiet interrupted by jokes, laughter, and song. But what did they sing together for mutual entertainment? The two examples Hitch gives us could not be on farther points of the popular music spectrum of the time.

     

    The first, “The Old Oaken Bucket” was a sentimental and nostalgic ballad that already dated nearly one hundred years old! It was a musical rendition of a poem written by Samuel Woodworth in 1821 and placed to music by George Kiallmark in 1826.  The song became the inspiration for the trophy awarded annually at the Purdue versus Indiana football game.Cover of the original sheet music for "Rings On My Fingers."

    The second—“Rings On Her fingers”—was the hottest number out on the popular musical scene.  Victrola discs and sheet music flew off of shelves. It had been made famous the previous October in the musical, “The Yankee Girl.” The tune was bouncy and catchy. The story of a young Irish lad being deposited among East Indian natives and made their “Nabob,” and then explaining to his gal from home why he’s keeping a harem is both whimsical and suggestive—a perfect song for a bunch of singing college boys on a tour! The lyrics are borderline inappropriate for today, but the song remains cute and sure to bring a smile.

     Junior Charter Member, Billy Cushman ('11) volunteered to walk a skittish horse the final four miles into Oxford. The following year Billy would lead the Glee Club as its final Charter President.

    The Last Leg Home:  It is easy to underappreciate the scene of the long trudge home to Oxford. But the shared experience of music and camaraderie, coupled with the occasional need to light the way or save their land-schooner from “turning turtle” left an indelible mark on the men who ventured on this short trip. It is just my opinion, but the Class of 1910 marks a pinnacle of the founding years of Club when a band of matured charter members—8 of the original 21 charter members—set a benchmark of brotherhood and excellence for all who would follow behind. The banter in Bader’s at the end of the day sealed a bond of brotherhood that led to a most amazing tour a couple of weeks later and a home concert for the ages the week after that. And best of all, they thought enough to tell us about it.  For several years to follow, Harold Hitchcock’s telling of this story and the “Once upon a time” account of Tour 1910 remained a standard by which all subsequent Glee Club accounts far and wide would be judged. And we are the better for them setting those marks.

     

    Monday
    Feb172014

    Camden 1910

     Panorama of Camden taken within weeks of the Glee Club visit. Three doors to the extreme right in this picture sits the "far famed Woodbine Hotel"--a short walk across the street from the impressive Opera House and City Hall.

    Published In "The Miami Student," March 17, 1910

    CAMDEN

     Invaded By Miami Choristers.

    SMILES OF MIAMI GIRLS ON FRONT ROW GREET THE BOYS.

     

    On Friday evening March 11th the Glee Club gave the initial concert of the season at Camden.  Each year it is the intention of the manager of the club to give a concert in some near-by town, some time before the spring trip, in order to try out the club and the program for the season. This year Camden was secured as the town and its unsuspecting inhabitants as the victims of the practice.

    Caricature of Bader's employee placed in Carey Shera's college scrapbook. Coincidently, the style suggests that the author, Harold Hitchcock, is the artist.

                At 2:30 Friday the club gathered with suit cases and throat tablets at Bader’s restaurant where the “Longfellow” of Oxford fame, was to get them and ship them twelve dusty miles across country to the peaceful village of Camden.  Fearing that hunger might attack them upon the long journey—many of the far seeing ones partook of pie, coffee and sandwiches a la Bader, and thus refreshed, and with much scrambling they boarded their “special”—and set out.

    A typical local farm the Glee Club may have actually passed during their journey.

                During the journey over not much was doing.  Occasionally there was a burst of song—semi-occasionally, a joke—and always a crowdedness.  The beautiful green (?) fields of southern Ohio sped by and were commented upon by those of the more aesthetic temperaments.  Here and there the pastures were dotted with “lambs playing beside their dams": here and there one might see the graceful pig gamboling on the green, and everywhere was dust—dry dust.

    Bridge through the valley of the Devil's Backbone from an image taken in November, 1910.

                Finally after scaling the “devil’s back-bone” and very nearly losing the roof of the much used—and more abused “long-fellow,” the clustered spires of Camden town shone clear cut against the blue afternoon sky.  There was much excitement aboard the land-schooner, as they entered the town with the harmony of popular airs streaming out behind them, much to the bewilderment of the inhabitants of the village.

    Portrait of the Woodbine Hotel from 1900. Annexes on the back and to the left mask the full expanse of the hotel.

                To the far famed Woodbine Hotel we went and after removing such surplus real estate as had accumulated upon our hands during the journey, we sat down to a dinner, the likes of which has never before caused any Glee Club man’s eyes to stand out nor his tongue to cleave to the roof of his mouth.  There was chicken and dressing, mashed potatoes that melted in one’s mouth like snow in the sun warmed breath of a spring wind—, beautiful, big, brown, beans—with a genuine Boston pedigree, —coffee, cream, jelly, cake, fruit, every thing that has ever in the history of the world, been alleged to have tempted the palate of mortal man.  But man’s capacity is limited—, and besides there was the concert.  So with a cigar and a little rest—we jumped into our open face suits and were ready for the first part.

    The Opera House occupied most of the second and third floor of the Camden City Hall.

                At last the bunch filed out upon the scene, and lined up for the attack. There in the front rooms, in the boxes and on the side lines, were people from Oxford—come over to root for Miami.  Immediately the spirits of the club rose to 98 degrees and we were at it.

    Author, Harold Baines Hitchcock ('10)--or "Hitch" as he was known on campus.

                If this were a criticism upon the excellence of the concert, it would be short and to the point—but it is not.  If such estimates are wanted you are referred to those who attended as spectators and hearers.  But from what has been said we were encouraged by this practice concert and have made but few changes in the program.  After the affair was over, the girls who had come over, and the fellows gathered in the hotel, and danced until time for the long fellow to take us back to Oxford and bed.

     Rare photo of Oxford's "Longfellow" from 1887.           The night was dark and the road was crooked; the “long-fellow” was heavy and the driver inexperienced, consequently the hour of arrival was early—if reckoned by the standard of the next day.

                The green fields of the afternoon were dark and silent; the lambs and pigs reposed in slumber—and there was no sound but the heavy breathing of the horses.  But at last we all were singing again—all the songs from “The Old Oaken Bucket”—to “She has Rings on her Fingers.”  Now and then there was a bump—and the song would cease long enough for someone to crawl out and striking a match, find the road, whereupon there would be more “Rings on her Fingers.”  At last it came!  The lights of Oxford.  No—a gentle rocking of our graceful “boat”—followed by a rocking not so gentle, and then a general tumbling out of every one to save the old Ship from turning turtle.  We were in the ditch, on an angle of about 30 degrees—and four miles from home and our little beds—with a 7:30 staring us coldly on the face on the morrow.  But by careful manipulation of the horses, we again gained the road, and with but one more experience, whereby Billy Cushman led a horse home from the tail of our wagon—we were finally deposited at 1:30 at “Mick” Bader’s.  He had kept open shop for us, and so with a gnashing of teeth, — “the sound of the grinders was heard,” again in the land—after which necessary operation we hied us to our homes and slept.1908 Cartoon Captures One Aspect Of Bader's Ambiance.

     

    Tuesday
    Oct182011

    A Tribute To President Phillip Shriver

    Our Glee Club’s history has been inextricably wedded with Miami University’s Presidents since our conception.  Few if any organizations on campus can trace their origins to the specific vision and charter of the President as we do to Pres. Guy Potter Benton in 1907.  Future Pres. Alfred Upham collaborated with Raymond Burke to compose our Alma Mater and the Scalp Song in those earliest years.  And since 1959, four Miami Presidents and two Miami First Ladies have been distinguished as “Honorary Members” of our Glee Club.  But no Miami President can match the loving and fiercely loyal affection bestowed on Club by President Phillip Shriver for nearly half of a century.

    From his youth, Phillip Shriver was a contrast in pedigrees.  On the one hand, Phil was always a simple Ohio boy who found history an enriching source for understanding the full gamut of experiences the gift of life presents us.  And it was this keen and insightful intellect that earned him a full scholarship to Yale University and further graduate training at Harvard and Columbia.  Thus young Phillips Shriver’s education was molded in the highest echelons of American intellectual thought—and all this as the whole world engaged in history’s worst war.  Following his graduation with honors from Yale in 1943, Phillip Shriver quickly found himself a Lieutenant in the United States Navy commissioned to the Pacific Fleet Destroyer, the USS Murray.  He saw action at both Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  And Shriver was present in Yokohama Bay during the signing of the Japanese surrender that officially closed years of bloody war.  These formative years—when a boy becomes a man—etched an awareness of history seemingly far removed from that of the eager young chap from Cleveland, Ohio.

    The USS Murray in 1943It was during his days at Yale University that Phil pursued another great love of his life—Music!  While many basic bios will highlight membership in Phi Beta Kappa, Phil would tell you his true fraternity and source of deepest fulfillment during his college career was his beloved Yale Glee Club.  Should anyone ask him of his days at Yale—no matter the audience—Shriver was all but certain to drift into yarns stretching from harmless mischief to spiritual ecstasy burnt into fond memory from his days with his Yale Glee Club brothers. So many of us have heard Dr. Shriver tell us—both individually and in communion—that at every concert or every banquet, whether in conversation with the fuzziest-cheeked Freshman or our most venerable alumni, Phil always returned to those halcyon days through us.  From his arrival at Miami, Phillip Shriver was a true Glee Club Brother in Song.

    Yale Glee Club in Rosario, Argentina in 1941.The love affair between Club and Phil Shriver began in his earliest days at Miami.  Club sang at his Inauguration.  Phil and Martha attended their first possible Glee Club concert.  It seems that neither hell nor high water would keep us apart.  Again, many of you are well aware that Phil Shriver was fond to say that he “missed less than a handful of concerts” during his decades in Oxford.  At the close of his first year as President, Shriver wrote a letter published in the Miami Alumni Newsletter pointing out the most enjoyable aspects of his job illustrated solely on the events of a few weeks in April 1966.  Among the highlights, Phil tells us that April 4th “found Mrs. Shriver and myself at the Men’s Glee Club Banquet, where we helped to honor Conductor Richard Schilling and the 75 men of the club whose excellent singing thrilled audiences throughout Ohio and Indiana during the year.”  What Phil humbly failed to mention is that the Glee Club made him only our second Honorary Member after a single year.  Fittingly, in 2005, his eternal soul mate, Martha, was selected the first woman to receive the honor as well.  Phil Shriver attended many Glee Club Banquets over the years—none perhaps so joyous and meaningful as the one marking Glee Club’s 100th Birthday on March 1, 2008.  There our brother Phil waxed fondly on the profound impact our little choir has had on countless audiences, the University, each other, and on himself in particular.  When finished, Club collectively exploded in a raucous loving roar.

    The Shriver Family in 1970.

    Club gladly shared him with the rest of the University.  Phil Shriver was a giant of a man with a heart enormous enough to embrace everyone who ventured into his presence.  His patient pondering demeanor bought wisdom and insight into his decisions as President.  He managed the doubling of Miami’s enrollment.  Forty-two buildings were built during his tenure.  And in collaboration with John Dolibois—Club’s third Honorary Member—they founded the Luxembourg Campus of Miami visited this past Summer by the current edition of Club.  But it was during the turbulent Spring of 1970 that President Phillip Shriver earned the respect and admiration that led to the affectionate nickname, “Uncle Phil.”

    Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, John Dolibois, and Pres. Shriver at the 1979 Commencement.There was a revolutionary change in the apparent nature of the typical student across the days when Pres. Shriver arrived in 1965 to April 1970.  Shriver described the transformation thus:  “I doubt there will come a time when activism will be less a factor than today.  In comparison to say the 50’s, today we lack a sense of humor.  Back then students were able to laugh at each other, and at themselves.  But basically students are the same; young people, eager to learn.”  It was his remarkable instinct to put full trust in the innate goodness of college students that endeared Shriver to the students and calmed a tense Miami Campus. One such student was a very young Glee Clubber, Gary Goshorn (’73).  Here is his testimony of those difficult days:

    “It was a dark period in the history of Miami University due to student unrest, war protests, and riots…At the time I was an eighteen year old freshman finishing my first year away from home, naïve about war and desperately attempting to hold on to my conservative values so engrained by strong Christian parenting.  I too, was being challenged by the events of the spring of 1970.  The single most important thing that helped me survive that spring was walking on campus and seeing Phil Shriver sitting under trees with groups of students, listening, asking questions, wanting to understand.  On campus he was visible, approachable, transparent, and sincere in his desire to heal the wounds of conflict.  Just seeing Phil on campus brought to me a feeling of peace, comfort, and normalcy in my unprovoked world of chaos.  From that time on, Phil became my hero and one of the men I have most admired in life.”

    While many college presidents elicited harsh scorn for their confrontational styles during those troubling days, paternal Uncle Phil found a teachable moment.

    Phil Shriver converses with concerned students during the stormy days of Spring 1970.

    But then, all Phil Shriver ever wanted was to teach.  From 1947 to 1965 he generally pursued this vocation at Kent State University—not far from his roots.  Yet his myriad other talents got the best of him, and thus, luckily landed him at Miami.  But he insisted that part of the deal include his presence as a classroom teacher—unheard of since the nineteenth century.  Phil continued to teach until 1998—seventeen years after he turned over the presidency to Paul Pearson, and longer than his own tenure as President.  In those final years, the lighter side of Phil’s historic expertise inspired yet another young freshman Glee Clubber, Jon Kuehnle (’98 and my Club Big Brother).  I’ll let Jon tell the story in his own words:

    “Dr. Shriver told me that I had actually seen the Ghost of the Formal Gardens!  I had a frightening experience one night in the fall of 93 behind Symmes Hall.  When I described it for a friend, she told me I needed to go see Dr. Shriver, ‘The Authority” on all things Miami.  I was able to walk into his office the same day without an appointment.  I told him why I was there, and he proceeded to meet with me for over an hour,  I got to share my experience and listen to the Venerable Old Man regale me with the stories and lore of Old and New Miami.  He inspired me years later as a teacher, when I incorporated historical storytelling into my social studies lessons every Friday and especially at Halloween.  These stories became the most popular part of my class, to the point where other teachers would bring their classes in and parents would request their children be assigned to me.  The old saying is true: ‘A teacher touches eternity.  He can never tell where his influence ends.’  Dr. Shriver, multiple generations of students thank you for your influence.”

    History Professor Phil Shriver in his Upham Hall office. Indeed, Phillip Shriver has touched eternity!  For those of us who knew him, we will never forget the glowing radiance of his full moon smile.  Nor will we ever forget the lilting giggle that distinguished his distinctive voice and patterns of speech.  Despite his larger than life personality, one could not help but imagine the fascinated boy from Cleveland who joined the Yale Glee Club when surrounded by his history-worn aura.  In the Pantheon of important souls that influence the essential spirit of our Glee Club across history, we may never see his likes again.  I believe we should join with our brother Gary Goshorn, who sums up the sentiments of so many of us who were blessed by his presence.  He writes prayerfully:

    “Thank-you Phil. You will be my hero forever.”

    This Tribute First Published In The Fall 2011 edition of the Miami University Men's Glee Club Newsletter.

    Sunday
    Feb202011

    Reiley Story: A Few Notes And Extra Pictures.

     Downtown Reiley 1908.  In essence, this is a republication of the very first story I shared with the Miami Glee Club Community back in 2008.  As noted, I sent this tale out on both the alumni and current member lsitserves on the 100th anniversary of this event.  I have endeavored to tweak the piece a small bit from the original, but overwhelmingly the text is identical from what I produced three years ago.Peaceful Street Scene In 1908.

    I am particularly proud of this piece.  Indeed, this wonderful genesis saga was lost from Club’s collective memory for decades.  I rediscovered the story in 1998 while looking for original newspaper references to the approaching grand opening of Hall Auditorium and the first Glee Club Concert back in 1908.  In the three years since I first gave the story a narrative, I continue to uncover hints and references adding additional context.  Here are a couple of examples.The Local Store.

     The “Longfellow”:  Images of the Longfellow have long been a holy grail of mine for years.  Valerie Elliott—the head Librarian and Historian at The Smith History Library at the Oxford Lane Library—is responsible for sharing the two images I include; along with the images of Reiley—many of which are remarkably dated from 1908.  Both images of the omnibus depict the bus during the summer months, when it was open.  But other references indicate the wagon was outfitted with windowed sides for chillier weather.  An insufficiently small coal heater warmed those lucky enough to sit close by.  The Longfellow remained the primary mode of transportation for the annual dress rehearsal concert through at least 1916.  In that year, Club tells us that Club President, Gordon Balyeat, and a carload of Seniors left the omnibus in it’s dust on the way to a concert in College Corner.  In March, I will release a favorite tale told by Harold Hitchcock of Club’s dress rehearsal concert in Camden in 1910, in which the “Longfellow” plays a star role.The Covered Bridge In Reiley Leading To Oxford In 1908.

     The Weather:  When I wrote this piece, I could only conjecture the actual weather conditions of that day.  I have since researched the actual conditions and stand by my depiction.  It turns out that January and early February of 1908 had been particularly snowy.  The previous weekend a warm front brought torrential rains that swelled the Indian Creek to dangerous levels.  One bridge upstream was washed away.  The covered bridge that connected Reiley and Oxford (where SR 732 enters Reiley today) was barely saved due to the diligent cooperation of townspeople working through a dreadful night.  There was talk of canceling the concert at the beginning of the week, but more moderate weather that followed eased the crisis.  A light snowfall the evening before the trip left the landscape a mottled blend of brown and white for the trip there.  The road was likely a muddy mess. Partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low forties made the trek more palatable than it could have been.  The return trip was substantially colder with temperatures in the mid-twenties and occasional snow squalls. Likely the Location Of The Pizza Parlor At The Entry To Reiley Today.

    The Press:  One of the more remarkable aspects of the story are the two entirely different takes reported in the Hamilton newspapers.  The Hamilton Daily Republic reacted with outrage over the incident.  But the Hamilton Evening Journal took the side of the ruffians suggesting the Glee Club boys deserved it.  I have included transcripts of both accounts below.  Later reports indicate the local businessmen of Reiley convened in a special meeting determined to bring the guilty to justice.  A later article indicates unwillingness by Miami to press charges.  The final article assures the readers that the perpetrators were issued a stern reprimand.Walter Zwick In The Spring of 1908.

     The Legacy:  How did the fellows react to this bizarre first experience together?  All indications suggest an air of defiance that regarded the incident as an amusing badge of honor.  My favorite reference in Carey Shera’s scrapbook is from fellow Clubber and Oxfordian, Walter Zwick, who cryptically wrote: “And the Reiley boys didn’t stone us!!”  The event was later memorialized in a favorite reference from the 1910 Tour as “the land of the heathen!”  I have often found myself musing when this fantastic story was last shared among Clubbers before it was rediscovered a dozen years ago. Reiley 1908.

    _____

    Boors Attack!

    Stone Their Wagon as They Leave Reiley

    PERFORMANCE ON SATURDAY NIGHT INTERRUPTED.

    Residents Of The Village Indignant Over The Outrage And Will Cause Arrest Of The Disturbers.

     

                Reiley, O., Feb.24.—There is a great sensation here over an unfortunate episode that occurred on Saturday night when the Miami University Glee club gave a concert at the township hall.

                A number of young married men, about eight in all, came into the hall while the second part of the program was on and immediately started hoodlum business.  They hissed, yelled and talked and nearly broke up the performance.  Mr. Roll, custodian of the hall, finally partially quieted the disturbers, but they kept mumbling and making a nuisance until the end.

                After the performance, when the Miami boys got into an omnibus, the hoodlums stoned the vehicle.  They broke several windows and one rock struck Murray Sheehan, of Hamilton, in the shoulder.  Pierce, of Miami, was hit in the face, but neither was much hurt.

                It is said that the ruffians fancied that the Miami boys guyed them when they went to Oxford, and they took this as a way to get even.  There is intense humiliation here over the affair, and the good people of Reiley are taking steps today to have all the disturbers arrested and exposed.  Reiley people want it known that they are a civilized people, and that the community cannot be judged by the conduct of a few boors.  The fact that the men were married and old enough to know better, makes it all the more humiliating.

    _____

     

    WAR IS ON

     Between Reiley And Oxford – The Cause.

                 There is a war between the cities.

                Enraged beyond expression at the attacks made upon them by people in Oxford the residents of Reiley are expressing themselves in no uncertain terms about the students and others who belong to the classic village.

                It develops that one of the citizens of Reiley took it upon himself to comment upon the way the Oxford students were treated when they gave a concert in the town hall in Reiley on Washington’s Birthday.  This did not please others who have placed themselves on record as being unalterably opposed to the students coming there and, it is reported, “showing up the town.”  They recite specific cases where the peace and dignity of the village have been trampled upon by students.

                So, therefore, be it resolved that the people of Reiley want to get back at the published reports that the boys from Oxford were treated in an ungentlemanly and boorish manner.  They deny the allegation.

                They do not feel that it is right that they should be walked over by the laddies who are ladening themselves with the contents of chemistry, physics, etc., etc., etc.