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Chapter Six

The TEMPLE Quartet

Temple Quartet
An interesting story appeared in the January 1966 issue of the Troubadour, penned by the then District Historian Duane Mosier. It concerned a historical profile of one of our early Michigan barbershop pioneers, Philip Stinson of the Detroit #1 Chapter. Here Duane relates the story:

"Search the international, district or any chapter records and you will not find when Philip Mackinley Stinson started singing barbershop harmony. The reason is obvious. It was many years before SPEBSQSA was born. He will tell you it was a good twenty years and his own records will prove it. The writer has enjoyed perusing his old scrapbooks filled with early photos, programs, and newspaper comments when Phil and his two brothers, Bill and Gordon, sang under the cognomen of the TUX TRIO every week with the Red Apple Club over radio station WCX, forerunner of station WJR in Detroit. This was in 1925 when the Red Applers were a prime entertainment feature of the radio station. The family trio shared the program as long as the club remained on the air. That was only the public start for Phil.

"The real start must go back, however, many years to Toronto where Phil was born in 1899 of parents who were both musicians of the highest rank and station. It was natural, then, that music was a gifted legacy that has been part of his life ever since. His father advertised himself as `Professor Stinson, teacher of vocal (Italian method) instrumental music, theory, counterpoint, etc.' even banjo and elocution. Young Mack, as Phil was then known, took part in many of the entertainments put on by various organizations of the city. This was preliminary to what he envisioned when he looked across the river and saw greener pastures in business opportunity in the fast growing auto metropolis. At the age of 23 Phil pulled stakes and migrated to Detroit. He soon became affiliated with the Temple Baptist Church, taking part in choir work and other musical activities of the church. He also became active in many of the masonic lodges, meeting in the then new Masonic Temple. It was here that Phil realized his great desire to sing four part harmony with three other guys.

"With an ear directed towards every corner of the temple where the sound of music might come from, he discovered Dean McComb a lead, Carl Picard a tenor and Dan Apel a bass, every man a soloist in a Detroit church. All they needed was a baritone. Phil was Johnny on the spot. The TEMPLE QUARTET was born. Their fame rose high and wide. Demands for their talent came thick and fast, so much so that in 1926 they were induced to accept an invitation from radio station WWJ to put on a half hour show every week which they did for a year, singing the old barbershop songs, the programs being emceed by none other than Ty Tyson who always gave them a good buildup. Some of their numbers were taken from a book, entitled `Barber Shop Ballads' edited and arranged by the late Sigmund Spaeth in 1925.

"While Phil and his brothers were regular contributors on WCX, the TEMPLE QUARTET also appeared on many occasions. This was the era when barbershop quartet singing made a popular public appeal. Ever keen to sense what the public wanted was B.F. Keith whose vaudeville theaters were scattered in nearly all the large cities. Many will remember the old Temple Theatre on Randolph Street where only the best in vaudeville was presented. In 1925 Keith hit upon the idea of a male quartet contest in all his playhouses. During the week of October 14 the local contest was staged, the winner to go to Cleveland to compete in a regional contest; the winner there to go to New York for the finals. Listed here are the local competing quartets. The TEMPLE QUARTET, The SUNSET FOUR, MICHIGAN ELECTROTYPE QUARTET, CLARK AND JACKSON QUARTET, METRO HARMONY FOUR, WAYNE COUNTY QUARTET, FOURTH CITY FOUR (listing Hal Bauer of CLEF DWELLER fame, no less), and the WOLVERINE QUARTET. Judges were the music editors of the Detroit papers. Phil frankly admits that the TEMPLE QUARTET did not secure the contract. It is a tribute to their popularity that the TEMPLE QUARTET stuck together for ten years singing their way into the hearts of people everywhere.

"Phil's love for barbershopping came into full flower in 1939 when he joined the Detroit No. 1 Chapter. Choruses were unknown then but quartets flourished and he soon was the bari in the MOTOR CITY FOUR with Gene Jenkins tenor, brother Bill lead and Harold Wright bass. It was an active quartet for years. MOTOR CITY FOUR was the guest quartet at the founding of the Windsor Chapter and was instrumental in forming the Hamtramck Chapter which later folded.

"Noteworthy of his great interest in barbershopping was his effort, single handed, to promote a sound film in color that would interest the public in our form of harmony. Through a friend who had contact with a New York booking agency, the idea was submitted and accepted. The Society's top quartets were to be used for sound while the color effect would display them singing. Phil submitted the sound film to Carroll Adams, then executive secretary of SPEBSQSA, who approved the idea. Either one of two nationally known companies, Kraft Cheese or Coca Cola, was ready to sponsor the program. However, when the plan was submitted to the International Board, meeting in Toledo, the plan was turned down. Twenty years later they considered the same idea Phil advanced back in 1948.

"After Northwest Area Chapter was organized by Carroll Adams in 1946, Phil transferred his membership to that chapter which was near his home. Elected President three times and a board member many times Phil had been a strong influence in promoting the hobby we love so well."

Chapter Officer Training School starts 1966 off with an interesting session

Eric Shultz

1966 started off with a bang in the Michigan District with a District Board meeting being held in conjunction with the district Chapter Officer Training School. These events were held at the Fort Shelby Hotel in downtown Detroit on January 7-8, 1966. At the Board meeting, new President Eric Schultz held the gavel as the Board debated the changing of the boundaries of the district zones. The status of the Three Rivers and Oscoda County Chapters was then reviewed, both being on associate chapter status and in danger of having their charters revoked by the international office because of failure to maintain a membership of 25. After a thorough discussion in which Vice President Vande Zande spoke on behalf of the Three Rivers Chapter and John Handrich on behalf of the Oscoda County Chapter, it was voted a further extension of time be requested for these chapters to regain charter status.

The Chapter Officer Training School, held the following day, Saturday, featured a morning session which was devoted to a discussion of Internal Revenue Service rulings and other tax matters and was presided over by Chet Fox of the international office. The afternoon sessions were divided into separate classes for the respective offices. Chet Fox presided over the classes for chapter presidents, Charles Sherwood for membership vice presidents, Eric Schultz for program vice presidents and Louis R. Harrington for secretaries and treasurers.

The event concluded with a general assembly at which several matters of general concern were discussed. Approximately 70 men attended the sessions, which were pronounced highly productive.

The beginning of the "Travelin' Brown Jug"

One of the great district traditions was instituted in 1965 and is still going strong, and that is the Oakland County "Travelin' Brown Jug." Originated by Dick Liddicoatt of OCC, the idea was for one chapter to pass the jug on to another through inter-chapter visitations, with the chapters contributing money into the jug based on the attendance count at the time of the visitation. The money accumulates in the jug as it is passed from chapter to chapter. The tradition is that whichever chapter holds the jug on the first Friday in June of each year, must return it at the annual "Jug Night" held by Oakland County (Detroit-Oakland, now). The money is then divided up between the quartets that will represent the district at the international competition that year, with an additional stipend added by Detroit-Oakland. It's been a great fund raiser over the years, has inspired some tremendous inter-chapter visitations, and provides for a great fun night when it is returned, since both quartets must be present to accept the funds. The jug has traveled all over the district over the years, and has probably raised some $12,000 for our representative quartets from when it was inaugurated until the present.

Spring contest sponsored by Detroit and Dearborn

In March of 1966, O.B. Falls was the contest and judging chairman. At the time the district was still using a single panel of judges; and for the spring convention, scheduled for Dearborn, the judges assigned were primarily from the district itself (Loton Willson, VE; Tom Groves, HA; and Cliff McLean, SP). Only two judges were from other districts, including Rush Wyman, B&B, from Akron, Ohio, and Sherman Crawford, ARR, from Denver, Colorado. The cost for the judging panel ($700) was being borne by the host chapter of the district convention. This became a discussion item at the District Board meeting held in March.

At the Board meeting, held on March 21 at the Dearborn Inn in Dearborn, it was announced that the Three Rivers Chapter had been reinstated due to the fact that international headquarters was not aware of efforts by the chapter to retain the minimum number required to maintain their charter. Membership being the key item discussed, it was emphasized that efforts should be made to contact members of suspended chapters to persuade them back into active chapters. It was brought out that several outstanding past district and international officers no longer held membership because their chapters were no longer in existence.

Big convention held in Dearborn

Auto Towners

Close Chorders


Treble Shooters

"Sing into Spring" was the theme of the regional convention sponsored by the Detroit #1 and Dearborn Chapters on April 29-30, 1966. The international preliminary quartet contest drew a field of twelve contestants, with the AUTO TOWNERS (Rehkop, Van Tassell, Bostick, and Dahlke) and the FOUR-FITS (Wearing, Seely, McCalpin, and Burke) winning the right to represent the district at the upcoming international contest in Chicago. The TREBLESHOOTERS (B. Smith, Winters, Jorgensen, and Mulligan) were declared the alternates. The appearance of the CLOSE CHORDERS (Gene Bulka, tenor; Ron DuMonthier, lead; Tony Scooros, bari, and Norm Thompson, bass) was marred by a 70-point time penalty in the first round which bumped them down from second place to fourth place and lost them a trip to Chicago. Other quartets appearing included the WONDERLADS, MOTOR CITY SLICKERS, KEY RINGS, IMPERIALS, AFTERSHAVES, AGING FOUR, COUNTRY GENTLEMEN, and the MELLO AIRES.

Motor City

Twelve choruses vied for the Michigan District chorus championship, with the MOTOR CITY Chorus under the direction of Bill Butler reigning supreme. The Kalamazoo MALL CITY Chorus, under the direction of Burt Szabo, finished second with the Oakland County BARBERY HOST Chorus, under the direction of Dick Liddicoatt, finishing third. Other chorus competitors in their order of finish included Saginaw, Grand Rapids, Holland, Grosse Pointe, Fruit Belt, Utica-Rochester, Holly-Fenton, Sault Ste. Marie and Milford.

Port City "66"

The convention was well attended, with Past International President Wayne Foor attending as the international representative. The evening show featured the Muskegon PORT CITY Chorus, the district's international representative chorus to Chicago, singing three songs on the evening show.

The annual Boyne City "Bush League" contest and show was held in Boyne City on May 14, 1966, with the RAFTER RINGERS from Grand Rapids the winners followed by the KASUAL D'S from Muskegon in second and the CROSSTOWNERS from Saginaw in third. Gene Gillem was named "King of the Bush League" for 1966.

The "Song of the Year" for 1966 was introduced by Roger Craig, the composer and arranger, and was published in the May 1966 Troubadour. It was titled "The Singing's Fun in Michigan" and proved to be a very popular song among Michigan barbershoppers, and it was heard throughout the district continually.

Summer events keep barbershoppers busy

There were a lot of summer events which kept many of our chapters extremely active. In addition to the annual Detroit #1 Chapter's Bob-Lo Moonlight Cruise, which always attracted a lot of Detroit area barbershoppers, there was the annual Lansing Chapter `Fish Fry.' This event was held each year at the Ingham County Conservation Club in Lansing, and featured not only a fantastic fish fry, but a chorus and quartet contest which drew barbershoppers from chapters all over the district. [I can remember, as a member of the Oakland County Chapter, getting aboard a chartered bus to make the trip to Lansing. It was continuous singing and fun for everyone who attended.]

Another extremely popular event was the Pontiac Chapter's annual Corn and Kielbasa Bash which was held at Pontiac member Norm Schram's spread on Galoway Lake. In 1966 better than a hundred area barbershoppers attended the big bash, and featured the WONDERLADS from Utica-Rochester and the CONCHORDS, a new quartet from OCC. This event generally was held in late August when the fresh picked corn was available, and I can remember the huge pile of corn and the delicious kielbasa available to attendees, and especially the quartet singing which took place in almost every nook and cranny around the area. It was events of this nature which really kept barbershoppers coming back for more. A similar event was staged by the Wayne Chapter at Hill Andrew's farm each year, and always drew a lot of enthusiastic barbershoppers. Summer time was fun time in the district!

AUTO TOWNERS win international championship

Auto Towners (Gold)

The Arien Crown Theatre in McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, was the scene for the 28th international convention and contest, and what a contest it turned out to be! The AUTO TOWNERS (with a score of 6817) outdueled the FOUR RASCALS (6723), the FOUR STATESMEN (6595), the GOLDEN STATERS (6516), and the SUNDOWNERS (6409), to win the international championship and become the second Michigan District quartet to take the international crown. The quartet was composed of Clint Bostick, baritone; Carl Dahlke, bass; Glenn Van Tassell, lead, and Alvin Rehkop, tenor. From the first time they walked on stage at the Arien Crown Theatre in their gold dusters, caps, goggles and black driving gloves and blended their voices as only the AUTO TOWNERS can, giving their best in the song written and arranged by the tenor Al Rehkop, "In My Brand New Automobile," everyone knew that here was a quartet not to be denied.

When it was finally all over and the RASCALS drew the number two spot, everyone knew that the winners had to be the AUTO TOWNERS. With a standing ovation and cheers the AUTO TOWNERS came out of the wings to be congratulated by the retiring champs, the FOUR RENEGADES. Things blurred somewhat for the next couple of minutes, but after wiping the tears away, everything seemed clear again, as it did to over 5000 barbershoppers and their wives. The Michigan District was justly proud of the AUTO TOWNERS for bringing the championship to the Michigan District.

The other Michigan quartet representative, the FOUR-FITS finished a respectable 39th out of a field of 45 quartets. In the chorus contest dominated by Jim Miller and the Louisville THOROUGHBREDS, the PORT CITY Chorus from Muskegon, under the direction of Al Burgess, finished 15th out of the 15 choruses competing.

Ann Arbor hosts Zone 1 Association Meeting

On Friday, July 29, the Ann Arbor Chapter hosted all chapters in Zone 1 of the Michigan District in an attempt to form a united viable association of chapters to make it possible for bidding for an international convention in Zone 1. In addition, it was hoped the association would foster better inter-chapter cooperation, promote more barbershop interest in the zone and increase the enthusiasm among the membership. This was the first attempt at this sort of an organization in the Detroit area, and over the years has more or less been continued with the Southeast Michigan Association of Chapters (S.M.A.C.) as we know it now. The original intent was for the meeting to move through all of the chapters on a once a month basis.

Holland hosts great fall convention

Close Chorders

The Holland Chapter hosted the Michigan District on October 1-2, 1966. The CLOSE CHORDERS from the Detroit, Milford, Redford and Oakland County Chapters edged out the CROSSTOWNERS from the Saginaw-Bay Chapter to take the district quartet championship for 1966-67. The CLOSE CHORDERS included Tony Scooros, baritone; Norm Thompson, bass; Ron DuMonthier, lead, and Gene Bulka, tenor. Only 29 points separated the top two quartets, giving us some idea of how close the competition was, with the third place KASUAL-D'S from Muskegon only 19 points behind them.

Motor City dist66

In the chorus competition, Bill Butler directed the Detroit #1 Chapter MOTOR CITY Chorus to victory, out scoring seven other choruses to win the right to represent the district at the international convention to be held in Boston in 1967. A surprising Oakland County chorus finished second, followed by the Saginaw, Kalamazoo, Wayne, Monroe, Lansing and Jackson Chapters.

At the annual meeting of the House of Delegates held in conjunction with the convention the election of officers was held, with a unanimous ballot being cast for the nominated slate. These included Eric Schultz, president; Vice Presidents E.E. "Pat" Ryan, Zone 1; Dr. James Sell, Zone 2; Dr. Stuart Anderson, Zone 3; Gene Gillem, Zone 4; Treasurer, R. J. Schied, and Secretary, Louis R. Harrington.

In other business, the motion by the Dearborn Chapter to have the chorus competition rules changed so that the international representative would be chosen in the spring of the year rather than the fall was tabled. Achievement Awards were presented to the winnersóDetroit in the Gold Division and Lansing in the Silver Division. James Steedman, the international president-elect, addressed the assembly and complimented the district for its activities for the past year.

In October of 1966, Jack Oonk, the editor of the Troubadour, announced his resignation as editor due to job circumstances. A plea was placed in the Troubadour for a replacement, but none was forthcoming by the end of the year. As a result, there was no Troubadour published in the early part of 1967. Pete Elkins, of the Grand Rapids Chapter, took over the editorship about April of 1967, but apparently had problems as he only published three issues during the 1967 year.

It was announced at the end of November that the Northwest Chapter, which was organized in 1947 by Carroll P. Adams, had fallen on hard times and decided to merge with the Oakland County Chapter. In its twenty years of existence, the Northwest Chapter had many notable members on its roster, including Bob Hafer, who succeeded Adams as the executive director of the Society, Bill Otto of the international office, and Duane Mosier, the long-time district historian. The merger was completed in December with both chapters voting to accept the merger.

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