The memories below were submitted by Lycoming College Choir alumni of the 1940s and 1950s and are presented in chronological order.
Mary and Glen
William Gehron, 1938
The courtship of Miss Mary Landon and Mr. Glen Russell was a thing of beauty! As an aspiring applicant for West Point admission, which occurred, and a beautiful, charming accomplished musician, they made a handsome couple.
As a member of the Double Male Quartet that sang in many different locations, I rode along with them since Glen drove past my house on the way. I still feel sad when I realize Glen's early death as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Corps in an accident was a tragic ending to an idyllic romance.
A Small-City Girl in the Big Apple
Annetta M. Siebert, 1940
The outstanding event during the year I was in the choir (1939–40) was a trip – my first – to New York City. We girls stayed at the Barbizon Plaza Hotel for Women with a continental breakfast in our rooms. We did a lot of sightseeing, but the highlight of the trip was a tour of and attending a service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Big doings for a small-city girl!
Lyco Choir circa 1940
Elizabeth Harrison Maule, 1941
The Vocal Ensemble directed by Myra Bates went to NYC to the opera in 1940. We stayed at the Pennsylvania Hotel, where Glenn Miller and his orchestra were staying. The opera we saw was "The Marriage of Figaro" starring Ezio Pinza. We went to the Capital Theater to see Glenn Miller and his orchestra. Some enjoyed that more than the opera, sorry to say. I was Librarian for the Vocal Ensemble. We also did "The Messiah" with combined college choirs. Florence Dewey directed the Chapel Choir and also the choir at Mulberry Methodist Church. She combined the two and we did the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta "The Pirates of Penzance." I was fortunate to belong to both choirs. The Chapel Choir sponsored a fashion show in cooperation with L.L. Stearns Department Store on April 15, 1940.
Jeannine Fulton Kennedy, 1950
One of our tours was to Hershey Park area — we had such a good time we vowed to all meet there 5 years later. We never made it, but I think of the fun we had together and on the bus. Walter McIver was so great.
Jack Daneker, 1952
We were singing a concert in a church (I don't remember where) and someone gave Mr. McIver a message. The choir did not know what it was. About halfway through the concert, a tear rolled down Mr. McIver's cheek and he walked off, leaving us singing. We completed the concert without him. Then we were told McIver's daughter had a bike accident with a car and he couldn't continue the concert.
A Concert Surprise
Gordon Gillette, 1952
A hot day in June, choir was on tour at various Methodist Churches. One bass singer wore NO SLACKS under his choir robe, which he forgot to fasten. While making a 90-degree turn to mount the risers, his robe parted, revealing his bright red boxer shorts to the audience. (Occurred in June 1950.)
John Greenfieldt, 1953
Many years ago — in both Northumberland and Muncy, PA, we left one Sunday — after concert — and realized Jack Snyder was not on board bus. Walter McIver was more than angry as we returned for him and we were more than late in return to campus. A similar incident with Brian Fetterman, but not the same trip.
That McIver Experience
George Kramer, Jr., 1953
While on tour about 1952 we were in concert at the Bala Cynwyd Methodist Church in suburban Philadelphia. During the concert in that beautiful Gothic church, one of the singers in the front row lost her slip in the middle of the concert. After we finished the number, Dr. McIver just said "pick it up and hold it under your gown." We finished the concert with one red-faced singer.
Another time at the last stop on our spring tour, we were all set to begin. Dr. McIver gave us his usual smile and whispered encouragement. He lifted his hand to begin and the choir didn't sing as he began the number. You should have seen his face. After he said, "This never happened before," we all said it's because we love you. Interesting! Has the choir changed over the years?
The Toughness of Walter McIver
Lewis Crouse, 1955
Two incidents that revealed the "toughness" of Walter McIver relating to deportment for rehearsals and after local concerts of the Lycoming Singers:
I. I decided to cut a very important rehearsal to go fishing. I was honest about my absence — I had to apologize to the whole choir if I wished to remain a member of the choir.
II. Easily influenced by my peers while traveling home after an area concert by the Lycoming Singers, "we" decided to stop at a restaurant bar for "sandwiches" and "beverages" — all of which was forbidden — and arrived late at the Fine Arts Building to "check-in." Because I was the driver, I again, was asked to apologize to the whole choir on the next day for the carload of youth, for our selfishness and disregard of established policy.
Note: I was angry in both cases, then, but today, am very grateful for those hard lessons.
I was stepping on the Greyhound bus for a Spring concert just as Professor Skeath was passing. He said out of the corner of his mouth in a stage whisper, "Lewis, when are you going to start studying for me!" When we returned from our eastern states tour, I began appreciating psychology "big time" — needless to say!
Regrets and Dedication
Arthur Kelts, 1957
I have often remarked that one of the most positive experiences of Lycoming College for me was singing in the Lycoming College Choir. I believe that I learned more from Dr. McIver about hard work, discipline, team work, dedication, than in any other Lycoming class or activity. Choir was one of the best experiences of college, and provided me with a base of principles that have helped in all my life's activities.
I have mentioned to my family and others, that a big regret was not working to practice with the Choir the last few weeks of my Senior year. The Choir was preparing for a trip, I believe to Scotland and England, which was the first trip overseas for a Lycoming Choir. I opted to participate in more graduation activity, and to go right to work after graduation in June. I wish I had made the decision to go with the Choir.
One of my memories is on a trip to Vermont, we were singing on stage at the college in Montpelier. It was very hot on stage, and two members of the Choir became ill and had to sit down on the risers. Dr. McIver did not give any indication that there was a problem, the rest of the Choir kept on going, eyes glued to the Director, and finished the concert. It was ingrained in us to keep our attention on Dr. McIver, always smile and have a look of enjoyment. Fortunately, it was just a heat problem for the members who faltered.
Tales from New England
Joan (Mulligan) Neece, 1957
The choir was in Gloucester Bay, Massachusetts, and as I gave pitches a buoy with a fog horm gave out a "blat" and it drowned out my pitch – the choir picked up the buoy pitch and we sang our song in the key of "buoy" flat. Margy Kramer was in the choir then too.
At Montpelier, Vermont, we had to stay at a bed and breakfast called THE GAY NINETIES — it was decorated like a brothel — that night was a hoot!
In another home several of us stayed, a church woman opened her home to us. It was poor, shabby furniture, etc. but clean. Next morning we woke up about 5 a.m. to the smell of fresh baking bread and rolls, bacon, and eggs and fresh O.J. How blessed we felt.
Every One a Memory
James Nolan, 1957
Every choir experience was memorable, whether it be the rehearsals or the concerts throughout the eastern U.S. or the 1957 England trip.
"No Racial Problems"
Lois M. Congdon, 1959
I was asked about choir memories — around 1956, the choir went out to supper in Harrisburg restaurants, and African-Americans were badly treated. Soon after in an M.S.M. program on race relations, an African-American from Harrisburg said they had no racial problems in Harrisburg, and we set him straight! Another memory: Singing in heat in June 1956 at Jurisdictional Conference in Ocean City.
England in the 1950s
Nancy (Hall) Gieniec, 1959
I remember the first New England tour the Choir went on — between semester breaks — with these flashbacks:
• Refusing the stay overnight in a Boston hotel because they didn't want our African members in their hotel.
• Serenading students at Keene State, New Hampshire, late at night when we were supposed to have been in bed (we had an early morning concert)
• Taking semester term exams in Church Sunday School rooms
• Having Choir members faint during a concert - they had chicken pox!