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Chapter Three

Ringing in new resolutions

Gordon Grant

The International Board of Directors met in Toronto on January 13, and welcomed three new members to the Board including Gordon Grant from the Saginaw Chapter. Of importance to the district was the fact that a resolution was passed that all chapter officers were to be elected on May 1 instead of on July 1 as previously had been done. This was done to allow chapter officers to do a lot of preliminaries before they started into their official duties on July 1. The fiscal year of the chapter still ran from July 1 to June 30. Another item of importance was the decision that starting with the new fiscal year, July 1, 1952 - June 30, 1953 all chapters must have a minimum of 20 members to retain a charter instead of 16 as in the past. New chapters, chartered after April 1, 1952 likewise must have a minimum of 20 members. The ramification of this decision was to have a great effect upon the Michigan District in later years, and on the whole Society as well.

The international preliminary contest and spring meeting was held in Mt. Clemens on April 26, 1952, and was sponsored by the East Detroit, Grosse Pointe, Hamtramck and Mt. Clemens chapters. The general chairman for this event was Ed Schwoppe, Michigan's first SPEBSQSA member. It was time to elect new district officers, and Howard Tubbs, charter member of our first chapter Detroit, was elected district president. Loton Willson of Boyne City and Rush Wyman of Lansing were elected vice presidents, and Lou Harrington and Clarence Jalving continued as secretary and treasurer respectively. J. M. "Jack" Dollenmaier was the immediate past president.

Extension Chords


Only eight quartets competed in the contest, and the three qualifiers were the CROW-MATIX of Muskegon and two newcomers, the EXTENSION CHORDS of Grand Rapids (Helder, Lucas, Verduin and Hall) and the WOLVERINES of Dearborn (Al Rehkop, Joe Sipots, Ray Sipots and Bill Bond). The MERRI-MEN of Lansing were selected as the alternate quartet to the international at Kansas City in June. Noticeably absent from the quartet competitors were the CLEF DWELLERS of Oakland County, four times international medalists previously. The CLEF DWELLERS decided not to compete in order to fly overseas to entertain troops in Germany, one of the four quartets selected by the Society to entertain troops overseas that year, including the SCHMITT BROTHERS, the BUFFALO BILLS and the CARDINALS. It was this decision that many knowledgeable barbershoppers felt kept the CLEF DWELLERS from becoming international champions. That was the year that the FOUR TEENS won the international title, and for the first time in history, Michigan failed to place a quartet in the international finals. We were not shut out, however, as our Edwin S. Smith of the Wayne Chapter was elected the international president.

Howard Tubbs

The first Michigan District chorus contest was held in Wright Park, Alma, Michigan, on Sunday, July 27, 1952, with Mark Roberts as general chairman. The Gratiot County Chapter was host to this historic event; and its committees provided everything necessary to make it a success, including perfect weather and a crowd of about 2,500 people. Prior to the contest, a committee composed of C.W. Coye, John Hill, Fran Hodgeboom and Tom Needham had drafted the rules for the contest, there being no international rules covering chorus contests at that time. With picnic baskets, kids, six-packs and practicing groups everywhere, it all added up to a great day. As Mark Roberts so aptly described it, "It was summer; it was Michigan; it was barbershopping; it was terrific!" Howard Tubbs was the master of ceremonies and the all Michigan panel of judges consisted of Loton Willson, Rawley Hallman, Henry Schubert and Mark Roberts.

Great Lakes Chorus

The Grand Rapids Chapter, with Fran Hodgeboom directing the 55-man GREAT LAKES Chorus, came prepared to overcome and they did with a fine performance. The Detroit PRECISIONAIRES, under the direction of Ed Easley, finished second. John Hill's CAPITOLAIRES from the Lansing Chapter wound up in third place and only six points behind Detroit in the final standings. Dowagiac, led by Tom Grove of TUNE VENDOR quartet fame, was fourth; and the newly organized Muskegon chorus, under the direction of Jimmy O'Toole, wound up in fifth spot. The other four, declared Chairman of Judges Mark Roberts, "tied" for sixth place. They were Holly-Fenton, Andy Yalch director; Ionia, Stanley Knoll, director; Gratiot County, Chester Robinson, director; and Manistee, Roger Campbell, director. The people of Alma certainly enjoyed the contest; and as one non-member put it, "I don't know what's going on except some singing, but this is the friendliest, happiest group of people I've seen."

The trend toward chorus competition was growing

The movement towards chorus competition was growing at a rapid pace throughout the Society. Michigan, of course, was no exception. The International Executive Committee, announced in late 1952 that a chorus contest would be held in conjunction with the 1953 international convention in Detroit. In the December 1952 "Harmonizer", the details of the contest were laid out.

Grand Rapids GREAT LAKES Chorus wins!

One interesting fact is that the Board voted to make the title to be bestowed upon the winning chorus in that contest `1953 international convention championship chorus,' not `international chorus champion.' This may very well be the reason why many people in the Society thought that this was not truly a chorus contest; that it was strictly an experiment, and did not recognize the Grand Rapids GREAT LAKES Chorus, the winner in 1953 at Detroit, as our first international chorus champion. [I fail to see the distinction between this contest and our early quartet contests in terms of being the international champion. In the early quartet contests any quartet could enter, and the winners were truly crowned national or international champions. Why the International Executive Committee made this decision is unknown, but maybe they felt that they did not want this contest to detract from the international quartet contest. But, let's face it, despite the play on words, the Grand Rapids GREAT LAKES Chorus was truly the first international chorus champion!]

Another big Labor Day at Charlevoix

Charlevoix continued to be the mecca that all barbershoppers were seeking over the Labor Day holidays as the tenth annual "Jamboree of Harmony" continued to draw outstanding talent to this beautiful area. A gala array of quartets, signed up by the committee headed by Jack N. Dollenmaier, included the MID STATES FOUR, past international champions and the RENEGADES of Palos Heights, Illinois. Other quartets accepting invitations included the MERRI-MEN from Lansing, the NOTE BLENDERS, the HOBBY CHORDS (Howard Tubbs' own quartet), the CROW-MATIX, the FOUR FATHERS, the WOLVERINES and Charlevoix's own SATURDAY NITERS. The Beach Hotel, one of Charlevoix's finest resort hostelries, was jam-packed with devotees of the sweet chords long before the festivities were slated to begin.

Other 1952 events

A big change occurred in August for the "Michigan Troubadour" which had, up until this time, been published on an 8 1/2" x 15" mimeographed form by District Secretary Lou Harrington. This was changed with the introduction of a full-fledged newspaper layout edited by a group of mostly newspaper publishers in the district. As Editor-in-chief, Roscoe D. Bennett of the Grand Rapids Press headed up a team which included Rush Wyman of Lansing as business manager, Art Editor Harold Reinhardt of St. Clair Shores, an Editorial Staff of Lyle Rapp, Kalamazoo Gazette, Des Armsby, Monitor-Leader, Mt. Clemens, and Wheeler Battdorf of the Sault Ste. Marie Evening News. Needless to say, the new format was exceptional and was full of articles about the chapters and the district. It was a tremendous step forward for the district in the field of communication which is so important.

As Mark Roberts aptly describes it: "Roscoe, one of the organizers of the Grand Rapids Chapter and the Michigan District, was a much respected, veteran newspaperman and sports editor of the Grand Rapids Press. He applied all his experience and skill to make the Troubadour the greatest source of barbershop information ever issued as a regular publication. He covered everything from news of international organization down to personal notes about Society members".

Roscoe D. Bennett

"His editorial comments covered the whole barbershop spectrum with the effect, sometimes, of leaving some readers seeing only one color of the spectrumóred! He was not fazed by those who might disagree with him on some controversial matter. Roscoe continued on as editor of the Troubadour until the 1961 February-March issue, a nine-year span, when ill health caused his resignation as editor. We will never know how this dedicated man found the time to carry this particularly onerous burden for so long, but we do know that no Michigan man has contributed more of his time and talents for the good of the district and the Society. Roscoe Bennett was a truly great barbershopper for whose services and labor of love we shall be eternally grateful".

Detroit Chapter's annual Bob-Lo Cruise

Note Blenders

Sharp Lifters

The Detroit Chapter's eighth annual Bob-Lo Boat Cruise was a success despite a heavy downpour which failed to dampen the spirits of the more than 1500 barbershoppers and guests who embarked on the annual boat ride. The cruise had started in 1955, every year attracting a thousand or more barbershoppers and their guests. Always a popular summer event, the enjoyable ride on the Bob-Lo boat carried the harmony lovers up the Detroit River into Lake St. Clair. Two decks accommodated the vast crowds with stages on each deck for the quartets and choruses to perform. In 1952, among the many quartets who entertained were the CLEF DWELLERS, the OLD TIMERS, the WOLVERINES, the NOTE BLENDERS, the TWILIGHTERS, the HOBBY CHORD FOUR, the DEARBORNAIRES, the PITCH BLENDERS and the SHARP LIFTERS. Among the guest quartets acclaimed by the cruising crowd were the DEBONAIRES from Ann Arbor, the INTERNATIONALAIRES from Amhurstburg, Ontario and Redford, and the BARBERETTES, a well-known girls quartet. The Bob-Lo Cruise became a tradition in the Pioneer District, and ranked very high in the list of popular events which have transpired over the years in the district.

Manistee site of October 1952 convention

The Chippewa Hotel and the famous Ramsdell Theatre were the sites for the 1952 district convention and quartet contest held at Manistee on October 11, 1952. The quartets on hand were the FUN ADDICTS of Grand Rapids; Muskegon FOUR FATHERS; OVERTONES of Fruit Belt; HARMO-NOTES of Manistee; EXTENSION CHORDS of Grand Rapids: FOR-TUNE TELLERS of Jackson; TOWN CRIERS of Kalamazoo; WOLVERINES of Dearborn; COUNTY SEATERS of Dowagiac; CHORDINATORS of Grosse Pointe; SHARP LIFTERS of Detroit; CHIEFTAINS of Traverse City and the CHORDIALS of Lansing. The EXTENSION CHORDS of Grand Rapids (Sid Helder, tenor; Don Lucas, lead; Cal Verduin, baritone, and Don Hall, bass) were in great form and the choice of the judges as new district champions. Second place was taken by the WOLVERINES of Dearborn (Al Rehkop, tenor; Joe Sipots, lead; Ray Sipots, baritone, and Bill Bond, bass) and third place went to the TOWN CRIERS of Kalamazoo (Louis Johnston, tenor; John Baker, lead; Earl Cook, bari, and Ken Barrett, bass). The junior champs were the COUNTY SEATERS of Dowagiac (John Hayden, tenor; Phil Beardsley, lead; Richard Brown, bari, and Harold Cobb, bass). Crowned the novice champs were the SHARP LIFTERS of Detroit (Max Wilworth, tenor; Ralph Schirmer, lead; Harry Shumann, bari; and John Zinnikas, bass).

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