By Michelle Bandor
& CJ Woodring
This is the first in a series of articles designed to introduce Historic South Wayne Neighborhood residents to one another. Whether you’ve lived here for decades, just a few years, or you're one of the new kids on the block, reach out, say hi and introduce yourself to your neighbor. In addition, we urge you to actively involve yourself by attending neighborhood association meetings and by keeping abreast of what’s happening in—and outside of—the ’07 area.
Hello neighbors! I'm Michelle Bandor. My husband Bob and I are both Fort Wayne natives and grew up on the city’s north side. We have two adult daughters, Natalie Varda and Allison Bandor, both South Side High School graduates. Before discovering the South Wayne neighborhood, we lived in a post-WWII prefab bungalow on Kenwood Avenue (46805). That tiny house was Bob’s “bachelor pad” before we were married; we lived there until our older daughter was 8 years old.
Bob and I started looking for a bigger house around 1984, but interest rates at that time were about 14%. In the meantime, I’d pick up Colonial Homes and Traditional Home magazines at the grocery store and imagine what life would be like in a larger home. When interest rates fell to 10%, we started looking at local market listings.
One Sunday we drove south on Broadway, looking for an open house advertised on Beaver Avenue in Southwood Park on the south side of Rudisill. We took a wrong turn, ending up driving down W. Wildwood Avenue, and were astonished at the size and beauty of the houses there. We had no idea this neighborhood existed. The brick French Colonial Revival house on W. Wildwood happened to be for sale.
We bought the house from David and Thelma Ochstein, who had lived in the house since the mid-1950s. Despite the wall-to-wall celery green carpet, heavy green drapes and wallpaper, we saw its potential. We were charmed by the breakfast nook, phone niche, the walk-up attic and all the space. Our home is one of the "younger" houses built by Wildwood Builders in 1929.
We moved into it in October 1989, immediately falling in love with the South Wayne neighborhood. As soon as our U-Haul van pulled up, neighbors—Jeannine Dunmire Phillips and Linda Lallow—came over with a plate of brownies and gave us a warm welcome. We had learned there was an active neighborhood association and became involved. Early on, a petition was being circulated to update our streetlights. At the time, W. Wildwood had the original molded cement street lights with “harvest moon” globes that cast a mellow glow to the streetscape. Our initial thought was that we didn’t want them replaced with modern lights. However, after attending association meetings and learning all the details, we were convinced to eventually sign the petition to replace the vintage street lighting as the best long-term option for the entire neighborhood.
A group of long time residents were responsible for getting our neighborhood rezoned to R-1; the association was reactivated shortly thereafter in 1988. Families most associated with this success were the Larsons, Tagtmeyers, Dawsons, DeVoes and Sinishes. In the early ‘90s, our always-active association obtained recognition on the National Register of Historic Places for the South Wayne neighborhood. That was a source of pride and a real accomplishment for us, as well as a valuable contribution to Fort Wayne.
I volunteered to serve as HSWNA board secretary for several years in the early to mid-‘90s, served as block captain for awhile, then volunteered for secretary about 2008 or ‘09. Finally, I served as association president from 2010 to 2013. Somewhere in there I served as newsletter editor too. Over the years, my family and I have been involved in neighborhood clean-ups, tree planting, car washes and cookouts to raise money for the neighborhood association, knocking on doors to solicit association memberships and driving with a partner for neighborhood crime watch.
In 2005, we had an opportunity to buy an ice-cream bicycle and Bob rode that around the PAPA neighborhoods on the weekends and evenings during the week. He got to know many people in the area who looked forward to his arrival. We were always able to undersell those annoying ice-cream trucks and his customers liked being able to save a buck on their Chaco Tacos.
I recently left my job as an Activities Assistant at The Waters of Fort Wayne (formerly Miller’s Merry Manor). I worked there for almost four years driving the van, leading exercise classes, calling bingo and leading other activities for the residents. I’m a “front yard farmer” now. After taking an Urban Ag Class at the Purdue Extension in 2019, we got rid of our lawn and now grow fruit and vegetables.
Since we’ve been here, we’ve seen many changes and improvements. The HSWNA has matured and stabilized along with the neighborhood itself. There is something about the area that charms people into either staying for generations or returning if they’ve been away for awhile. Much of that draw can be attributed to the friendliness of people who live here and their commitment to the neighborhood and city. We are truly grateful for all of the newcomers who are currently keeping the association running!
Neighborhood activism along the Broadway corridor and into the West Central neighborhood helped enable the Electric Works project to become a success. Broadway has come a long way from its days of Triple X bookstores and strip clubs. All of the neighborhoods in our area have suddenly become desirable, bringing with it a rise in home values, which can be both a blessing and curse. As a collective neighborhood, we need to guard against gentrification and pricing people out of the market.
My advice to anyone looking for a home in the ’07 is to beware of inflated prices on some of the newly renovated houses. Be sure to get a solid inspection before making an offer. Make sure you have a bit of savings for those unexpected repairs. Older houses can be a money pit! Last but not least, I would advise new homeowners to get involved in their neighborhood association.
This concludes a four-segment article by C.J. Woodring, a long-time HSWN resident. CJ discusses Fort Wayne’s past role in music, how hundreds of individuals at all levels continue to support local music, and why many city leaders believe we should be nominated as a “Top 10 Music City.”
By CJ Woodring
Read Part I • Part II • Part III
Downtown Fort Wayne kicked off January in “grand” style when the Grand Wayne Center hosted the Indiana Music Educators Association (IMEA) at a Professional Development Conference, the largest and most diverse professional development event for Indiana’s music educators. The three-day symposium included performances by area choirs and bands, featuring members of all ages, while music teachers at all levels accessed more than 100 sessions and meetings with nearly 100 clinicians.
Fort Wayne's musical offerings draw followers of every age and genre, ranging from the ABCs of acoustic, blues, classic/classical to honky tonk, jazz and rock. And from DIY karaoke to productions and eclectic concerts by top-name performers. Venues are nearly limitless in the city, where a majority are locally owned and operated, and many are free or at little cost.
Throughout the past year, Fort Wayne was alive with music in conjunction with annual festivals. The Fort Wayne Music Festival hit Headquarters Park in May, highlighting regional and national performers. Also that month, the Fort Wayne Cherry Blossom Festival presented Japanese folk dance, traditional Koto music and modern Classical Japanese music at the downtown Allen County Public Library. In June, the Foellinger Theater Campus hosted the
Middle Waves Music Festival. July, August and September rocked with the popular downtown Three Rivers Festival, Taste of the Arts and Johnny Appleseed Festival, held in Johnny Appleseed and Archer parks, respectively. And in October, Korea Festival featured the popular K-Pop while also celebrating traditional music using the gayageum, a Korean harp.
Depending upon the time of year, music lovers can also catch a concert in a covered outdoor pavilion or open-air amphitheater or cheer a concert at Parkview Field. Visit a historic downtown theater or a renovated southwest central theater that presents local bands six nights a week, attracting fans from more than 25 states. Enjoy a winery and vineyard with a view. Check out an avant-garde destination on the edge of downtown. Discover the romance of music and fine dining in smaller, intimate settings, including various pubs, clubs and lounges. Or attend a musical theatrical production at the Civic, historic Embassy or First Presbyterian theaters.
This weekend, the 36th annual Fort Wayne FAME Festival is highlighting student performances, including vocalists, dancers and dramatists, along with showcasing student art displays. Workshops will feature guest musicians, dancers and visual artists. It all takes place at the Grand Wayne Center in downtown Fort Wayne. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children 18 and under; participation in most activities is free. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Last, but certainly far from least, Summit City residents contribute their talents in supporting musicians as financial donors and/or community volunteers. In July 2020, the Rotary Club of Fort Wayne honored three of these individuals. They are:
• Chuck Surack, Sweetwater founder and now chairman of the company's board. As owners of the historic Clyde Theater, refurbished as a premier music, arts and entertainment venue in the city's '07 district, Surack and his wife, Lisa, are major contributors to communitywide efforts, and have established the Chuck and Lisa Surack Endowed Scholarship for Music Technology at the University of Saint Francis. More recently, the couple made a significant contribution for a music technology building to benefit Purdue Fort Wayne students.
• Graphic/mural artist/program host Julia Meek. For more than 40 years, the popular Meek has interviewed musicians, artists, poets, writers, photographers and foodies on public radio WBOI, 89.1-FM—as a community volunteer. On “Meet the Music,” Meek hosts regional musicians of all genres Thursday and Monday nights on WBOI Podcast Café.
• Marshall White, CEO and founder of Unity Performing Arts Foundation. White uses music to build character and change lives in a positive way, serving a dual role as director/life coach for Voices of Unity Choir. The group was named one of the top 50 arts- and humanities-based programs in the country serving youth beyond business hours. White led members to international competitions and two gold medals in the 6th World Chair Games in China in 2010.
As a longtime player on Indiana's musical stage, Fort Wayne continues to contribute an impressive and versatile array of performers to the scene. The City of Fort Wayne, theater and club owners and restaurateurs continue to provide a wide array of venues in which to enjoy music nearly daily throughout the year. Along with the local newspaper (fortwayne.com), Visit Fort Wayne (visitfortwayne.com) and other event calendars, Whatzup (whatzup.com) distributes a free arts and entertainment weekly overview of the best events while Input Fort Wayne (inputfortwayne.com) introduces arts, artists and venues from a more unique and in-depth perspective.
It is for these reasons, and many more, that Fort Wayne residents—whether or not they reside in the HSWN or in the 46807 zip—and regional aficionados are invited to support the city's designation as a "Top 10 Music City." Please join in applauding, encouraging and supporting local and regional musicmakers of all ages, sizes, colors and faiths as they proudly continue to strike up the band, make their own kind of music, march to their own drum—and teach the world how to sing!
This is the third of a four-segment article by C.J. Woodring, a long-time HSWN resident. CJ discusses Fort Wayne’s past role in music, how hundreds of individuals at all levels continue to support local music, and why many city leaders believe we should be nominated as a “Top 10 Music City.”
By CJ Woodring
Read Part I • Part II
TODAY'S MUSIC MAKERS
Fort Wayne remains blessed with music makers and purveyors of musical instruments that spotlight the city, drawing guests locally and from far beyond city (and state) borders.
Although Packard Piano is long gone, globally renowned Sweetwater, the nation’s third largest retailer of musical instruments is based here, along with Sweetwater Academy of Music & Technology. As is Stone Custom Drum Company, where owner Bernie Stone has built a more than 40-year career around drums and drum making. Proprietor of Stone Custom Drum, LLC, Stone has produced hand-made custom and exotic snare or bass drums since 2012. Although he said he’s “scaled down a bit,” Stone is still active and selling online via Reverb.com.
Fort Wayne also boasts a plethora of organizations and vocal groups that bring music into our lives. These include Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Chorus, Youth Orchestra, and Club O, launched in September for 126 grade school students; Summit City Barbershop Chorus (all-male a cappella chorus and original Fort Wayne Chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society chartered in 1944); Fort Wayne Maanerchor/Damenchor, a men's and women's German choir founded in 1869; and Heartland Sings, a nonprofit vocal production company.
Formed by founding conductor Dr. William Schlacks (1979-1985), the Fort Wayne Area Community Band performs locally and regionally. The band is now in Residence in the Purdue Fort Wayne College of Visual and Performing Arts under conductor Dr. Scott Humphries.
The Fort Wayne Children's Choir, which just celebrated its golden anniversary, kicks off each season with a week-long Choralfest camp, which ends with a final concert. And since 2009, the Hoosier Gentry Barbershop Quartet, each a member of the Summit City Barbershop Chorus, has traveled up to 100 miles from Fort Wayne to entertain for nearly any occasion. Jaenicke Consort Chamber Music Ensemble, a chamber music group, performs as a woodwind trio, quartet, quintet or octet from a diverse repertoire of music.
In addition, musical groups from nearly every local high school routinely perform at home football games, also competing in various invitationals and select Bands of America competitions.
THE EDUCATORS + INSTRUCTORS
Music is good for the soul, and stress relief is a natural byproduct of listening to and appreciating self-created music. Skills developed at any age are beneficial throughout a musician's life and extend far beyond listener pleasure. Involve yourself in vocal, instrumental or dance instructions. Join a community chorus. Or participate in your church’s choir and "make a joyful noise unto the Lord."
A wide range of local entities are renowned for teaching music, whether vocal or instrumental. Students range from preschool to adults. Musicians gain self-confidence and a sense of responsibility; concentration, interpersonal and motor skills; mathematical reasoning; psychological abilities; multi-tasking and sensory skills; and mastery of life changes and problem solving.
The Fort Wayne Philharmonic excels in bringing life concert experience directly to Northeast Indiana schools. Ten Philharmonic chamber ensembles—eight perform in elementary schools and two specifically in pre-school classrooms— present performances geared to those specific age groups.
The Phil's Club Orchestra (grades 2-5) and Club Kid-O (grades K-1) increase self-esteem and teach life lessons to students through music in an orchestra classroom. The Phil joins the Conductors Guild each season to present an international conductor training workshop for young conductors. To ensure each student at any ability level has the opportunity to play an instrument of his/her choice, more than 100 instruments are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Unity Performing Arts Foundation showcases the World Champion Voices of Unity Youth Choir, its acclaimed Youth Choral Program, and Dance, in which youngsters learn to perform the foundations and basics of mainstream styles of dance.
School of Rock Fort Wayne offers vocal and instrumental music programs for preschool to adult students, while the Fort Wayne Children's Choir, created in 1973 as Children of Peace Choristers, imparts music literacy through song and performance.
A team of instructors at the Sweetwater Academy of Music & Technology offers lessons from banjo and bass to violin and voice for all ages. Along with recording and songwriting, Rock Camp, Drum Camp and Build-a-Band master classes are available to more advanced musicians. The Sweetwater Tiny Musicians class serves youngsters 3 years and younger, stressing social skills and related child development.
PyleStyle Academy, owned by local musician and band leader Alicia Pyle, offers personalized lessons to dozens of clients while also working with local musicians and bands, booking live music for various events. For multicultural songs in English and Spanish, look to Musical Conexion, which entertains youngsters while teaching them how to communicate in various ways. Programs are overseen by educators/musicians “Cote” Godoy and Kelsie Lee.
Fort Wayne also offers a great selection of dance studios, among them Fort Wayne Dance Collective, Fort Wayne Ballet, Premier Dance Company, Pure Dance Works and Three Rivers Dance Academy.
Music therapy has long been used to effect positive changes in the psychological, physical, cognitive or social functioning of individuals with health, mental or educational problems/disabilities, according to the American Music Therapy Association. Most often considered "art therapy," the patient-centric treatment helps individuals of all ages by delivering various modalities of art, music and dance to patients, families, caregivers and the community through professional Artists in Residence.
In collaboration with Fort Wayne Dance Collective, Parkview Regional Medical Center's Healing Arts Program integrates literary, movement, music and visual arts into holistic patient care. Freelancers use their talents serving the disabled, for which therapy is reimbursed through Medicaid, and in many local hospices, where therapeutic services are paid for through private funding, donations and grants.
CJ Woodring has been affiliated with the 46807 district since growing up on W. Oakdale Drive. She graduated from South Side High School and reared her sons on Kinnaird Avenue, where she served as a former HSWNA newsletter editor. She has lived in — and loved — historic places and spaces for more than 30 years. She currently resides in her sixth historic home.
It Will Be A “Critters’ Christmas” As Humane Fort Wayne Is Spotlighted As This Year’s Charitable Organization
Article Courtesy of Shine & Hardin LLP
5:30 p.m.—Parade down Broadway led by Concordia Lutheran High School Band, Santa, and Mrs. Claus.
6:00 p.m.—Tree and fireworks will be lit
Canine to Place Paw on Switch that Lights Magnificent Tree
Nationally Acclaimed Concordia Lutheran High School Marching Band to Lead the Christmas Parade Down Broadway
Fort Wayne Komets, Lake City Bank, Brigadoon Fitness, IU Health Network, Prairie Farms Dairy, Deister Machine Company, and Downtown Improvement District to sponsor holiday kick-off
It’s the most wonderful time of the year with both Thanksgiving and Christmas rapidly approaching and to usher these holidays into Fort Wayne, the 18th Annual “Christmas On Broadway” celebration will take place on Friday, November 18, 2022, beginning at 5:30 p.m.
The nationally acclaimed 41 member Concordia Lutheran High School Marching Band under the direction of Band Leader Jennifer Porath will kick off the event by leading a parade down Broadway, which will also include loveable animals from Humane Fort Wayne, this year’s featured charitable organization. This will truly be a “Critters’ Christmas.” Jessica Henry, Executive Director of Humane Fort Wayne said, “We couldn’t be more honored than to have been selected as the charitable organization to be the focus of this year’s celebration. Christmas, kids, and critters makes for a wonderful combination to celebrate the holidays.”
Jennifer Porath, Concordia’s Band Director said, “We’ve performed in the Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C, the Three River’s Festival Parade, and we will be marching in the upcoming Columbus Day Parade in Chicago and our band members are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to ring in the holidays in our first-time performance at Christmas on Broadway. Our nationally recognized marching band will finally get to perform on Broadway, even though it’s the one that is in Fort Wayne and not New York City!”
This year’s parade on Broadway will feature Santa and Mrs. Claus aboard a fire truck decked out for Christmas and greeting holiday revelers along the parade route which will begin at Broadway and Creighton and will travel south to the Broadway Plaza. Attendees are asked to line both sides of Broadway along the parade route and then make their way to the Broadway Plaza, where Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be handing out Santa hats and stockings to all of the children in attendance. Also joining in the parade will be animals from Humane Fort Wayne who will be dressed in their holiday best.
The spectacular 35-foot Spruce tree has been donated by John Palmersheim of Fort Wayne and will command the place of honor in the center of Broadway Plaza. The tree will be lit by one of the loveable canine who will place its paw on the switch which will then light the Christmas tree that will be adorned with 40,000 lights in spectacular glowing colors. Contemporaneously with the tree lighting will be a brilliant fireworks display on the Broadway Plaza, which is in front of the Shine & Hardin Building, located in the heart of the “07” neighborhood.
An ultra-modern computer center located within the Shine & Hardin Building, which, during the Spring, Summer and Fall controls the multiple colorized patterns within the Broadway Plaza fountain, will also allow for a variety of lighting displays each evening when the tree is lit.
“Christmas On Broadway,” which began 18 years ago with a mere 150 people in attendance who gathered to view the lighting, has now grown to nearly 5,000 attendees and has become a family holiday tradition held each year on the Friday before Thanksgiving marking the official beginning of the Fort Wayne holiday season,” said law partners, Steve Shine and Tom Hardin of Shine & Hardin, LLP, the creators and organizers of this event. As in the past, this year’s tree lighting and fireworks display will be telecast live on ABC21, beginning at 5:00 p.m., when ABC21 telecasts their entire 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. newscasts live from the Broadway Plaza. Chris Fedele, Vice President and General Manager of ABC21 stated that ABC21, part of the Gray Media Group, is proud to once again bring to the living rooms of its viewers the colorful enchantment of the holiday season. “Family and community spirit is a hallmark of ABC21, thus, our efforts to telecast this magnificent event is a labor of love for our staff,” Fedele said.
Joining ABC21 as a media sponsor is Federated Media, whose top-rated radio stations include WOWO, 97.3 WMEE, 1380 The Fan, Big 92.3, 98.9 The Bear, and K-105. Ben Saurer, General Manager of the Federated stations stated, “This event has become so popular that we look forward to our involvement each year with great anticipation, so much so that we are again kicking off the 75th Annual WOWO Penny Pitch on the Broadway Plaza at 3:00 p.m. on the afternoon of the Christmas tree lighting during the Pat Miller Show on WOWO, which will be broadcasting live from the Broadway Plaza from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.”
Each year, Mudrack Tree Service places the tree into its secure position upon a large Christmas tree stand, which this year will be constructed by crews from Smith Construction. Cameron Smith, President of Smith Construction said, “We are delighted to become such a significant part of this time-honored tradition that puts smiles on the faces of children and adults alike.” Electrical service to the tree is undertaken by Mark Mongold of Kissinger Electric of Columbia City, with the tree itself decorated by A Yard Apart. Other grounds preparation will be undertaken by Vision Scapes. This year, the Christmas tree will be lowered into place on Monday morning, November 14th with live television coverage beginning at 5:00 a.m. on ABC21 and radio coverage on WOWO 1190AM/107.5FM. Throughout the week of November 14th, crews from A Yard Apart will be placing the 40,000 lights upon the tree, as well as readying the plaza for the anticipated thousands of spectators. The entire event site is overseen and managed through the efforts of the Associated Builders and Contractors Indiana Kentucky Chapter under the supervision of Felisha Anderson, Director of Council Management, without whose assistance the event would otherwise not be possible.
“Christmas On Broadway” is honored to have an outstanding list of sponsors, both new and returning to the event. These great organizations include, the Fort Wayne Komets (who underwrite the fireworks display), IU Health, who, along with its local President, Brian Bauer, provide the fire truck upon which Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at the tree lighting, Lake City Bank (the original continuous sponsor for 18 years), Prairie Farms Dairy (the Midwest’s leading dairy), and the two newest sponsors, Brigadoon Fitness and Deister Machine Company.
Bruce Dye, President of Brigadoon Fitness and Mark Deister, President of Deister Machine Company stated that they are both delighted that their respective corporations can be a part of bringing the community spirit to Fort Wayne. “Although both of our corporations are first timers as far as sponsors are concerned, we have watched this event unfold year after year and have wanted to be more involved than just spectators,” Dye and Deister said.
Eric Ottinger and Cammy Treadway, Lake City Bank commercial banking leaders, said the bank’s continuous support for Christmas On Broadway is even more special in 2022 as the bank celebrates 150 years. "We've been here since day one, 18 years ago, and the event has only gotten bigger and better. Joining this spectacular celebration is a great way for Lake City Bank to wish happy holidays to all of northeast Indiana.”
Brian Bauer, President of IU Health Fort Wayne continues to marvel at the joy that this event brings to young and old alike, taking great pride in arranging transportation for Santa and Mrs. Claus aboard the fire truck. “This is one way IU Health can wish each and every person in our area a happy and healthy holiday season.”
“There is nothing more spectacular than traveling on Broadway each holiday season to see the wonder and enchantment that the sparkling lights on the Christmas tree bring to the seven neighborhoods which border the Broadway Plaza,” Chuck McQuaig, president of Prairie Farms Dairy stated. The seven neighborhoods are the Creighton-Home, Historic South Wayne, Historic Oakdale, Fairfield, Illsley Place, Williams-Woodland and the West Rudisill.
Michael Franke, a member of the Franke family who own the Fort Wayne Komets, stated, “The Fort Wayne Komets are a Fort Wayne tradition and we take great pride in having become part of another citywide tradition, that being “Christmas On Broadway. It is an honor for the Fort Wayne Komets to underwrite the fireworks display which creates a deeper sense of a holiday spirit when the tree and fireworks are lit contemporaneously.”
The Broadway Plaza is located at the mid-point of the Broadway Corridor, which has become Fort Wayne’s premier street corridor. The Broadway Corridor claims the title as being home to the largest neighborhood redevelopment project in the City’s history, that being the Electric Works. Shine and Hardin stated, however, that the most important element of the Broadway Corridor are the thousands of families who call it home, choosing to have their residences in this thriving neighborhood.
Attendees at Christmas On Broadway will be treated to meeting and greeting Santa and Mrs. Claus, petting a live reindeer, and getting to ride on a miniature train for children, aptly named the Polar Express. “Our wonderful group of corporate and community sponsors make it all possible for families to participate in the holiday celebration right in the heart of their neighborhood,” said Shine and Hardin.
On Sunday, November 13th, in the Holiday Fest Tabloid that will be published within the Journal Gazette, the outline of a Christmas tree will be available for children of all ages to color their own rendering of the Christmas tree on Broadway. The three top entries will win Visa Gift Cards from Lake City Bank, music CD’s from 97.3 WMEE and K-105, and prizes from ABC21. All entries must be received on or before Friday, December 16, 2022, and mailed to WPTA-TV, 3401 Butler Road, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46808. Winners will be announced on Friday morning, December 23, 2022, on ABC21’s morning news, 97.3 WMEE, WOWO, and K-105.
By CJ Woodring
Read Part I Here
PUBLISHERS + COMPOSERS + COLLECTORS
As home to Packard Piano, Fort Wayne's music industry role extended to include sheet music publishers: Will A. Young, Franklin, Dickerson & Friedman, Elsie Birt Byers, C.C. Powell – Old Dominion Co., and The Baier-Slagle Pub. Co., among them. The city also boasted a female composer, Lenora Searls Hawes, who contributed early turn-of-the-century ditties such as "In the Heart of Dixie" and "Arkansaw Two Step."
One of the city's –– and the nation's –– foremost sheet music collectors was Sam DeVincent who, along with his wife and two other members, performed as Nancy Lee and the Hilltoppers. The vocal group was featured regularly on local radio station WOWO, where DeVincent later became music director, and on Chicago's WLS. For a history of the station's role in national rock'n'roll history, visit wowo.com.
DeVincent (1918-1997) amassed about 130,000 pieces of sheet music, spanning from ca. 1790 to 1987, in the family's Webster Street home, according to an article by John Edward Haase, Curator of American Music, Cultural History Division, National Museum of American History. The Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music was donated by the family and delivered to the Smithsonian Institution in 1988 via three truckoads, "evidently the largest American sheet music collection in private hands," Haase wrote.
In 1998 Indiana University's Lilly Library acquired the Sam DeVincent Collection of American Sheet Music, containing about 24,000 pieces of sheet music, songbooks and folios. A July 8, 2014 article by Journal-Gazette writer Steve Warden recounted the story. Thanks to this Fort Wayne family's generosity, America's history, presented in musical and illustrated form, continues to inform, educate and inspire music lovers.
Dick Hickman, a former W. Oakdale Drive resident, was a musician and teacher employed by downtown-based Tom Berry Music Company. A member of several bands, Hickman gained local notoriety by writing "Summit City March" and "Foellinger March," which the Fort Wayne Area Community Band played each year to open Franke Park's summer concerts at the Foellinger Theatre.
Indiana figured prominently in the New Orleans jazz scene at a time when few states recognized the music genre. Fort Wayne musicians were represented in the Ross Franklin Band and the Henry Lanage Orchestra, which performed in Texas. Indiana venues hosted out-of-state musicians such as the Joe Thomas Band, which performed at Lake James in the summer of 1923; the Fort Wayne-based Club Chatterbox Band was active in 1933.
Formed on an Arcadia farm in the early 1920s, the Trietsch family band left vaudeville during the Great Depression, as did many national performers. The group ultimately landed a job with WOWO radio. After they arrived late for a performance, the announcer greeted them with "Hey, you Hoosier hot shots, get in here!" The name stuck.
While touring with Ezra Buzzington's Rube Band, the Hoosier Hot Shots met Charles Otto Ward, a Hoosier known as Gabriel Hawkins. "Gabe" became the third Hot Shot along with Kenneth and Paul Trietsch. In 1933 the group moved to Chicago's WLS and the following year added Frank Delaney to complete the quartet that performed until the 1960s.
"The Jazz State of Indiana," written in 1977 by Duncan Schiedt and reprinted in 1999 by the Indiana Historical Society, is a wealth of information about the state's role in the jazz age and Fort Wayne's contributions. Also see "The Hoosier Hot Shots" (2007) and "Cornstars: Rube Music in Swing Time"(2020 eBook).
From the early 1920s, all-girl bands and orchestras were popular nationwide.
One such gal was Marvel Maxwell, an Iowa native who worked as an usher at the S. Calhoun Street Rialto Theater. A Central High School drop-out, Marvel joined an Indianapois band as singer, later signing with MGM and, using her middle name, emerging as Marilyn Maxwell. Maxwell entertained troops during WWII and appeared in films throughout the 1940s and '50s.
The most renowned mid-century Fort Wayne band was Checkmates, Ltd., a five-member integrated male group that began performing R&B and soul in the 1950s. The group consisted of South Side, Concordia and Central High School students.
The Checkmates advanced from local venues to performing at nightclubs and casinos, including Caesars Palace and Madison Square Garden, and on TV programs such as the Ed Sullivan Show and "Playboy after Dark." The band was inducted into the Las Vegas Hall of Fame in 2000.
CJ Woodring has been affiliated with the 46807 district since growing up on W. Oakdale Drive. She graduated from South Side High School and reared her sons on Kinnaird Avenue, where she served as a former HSWNA newsletter editor. She has lived in –– and loved — historic places and spaces for more than 30 years. She currently resides in her sixth historic home.
By CJ Woodring
National Library Week will be observed April 3-9 with actress/comedienne Molly Shannon serving as this year's honorary chair. The theme is “Connect With Your Library," which promotes the idea that libraries offer patrons opportunities to connect through technology, media, programs and classes, extending education far beyond books.
First promoted in 1958, the week-long commemoration is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and observed in libraries throughout the nation by facilities that include school, public, academic and special libraries.
Observed on the Tuesday of the week, National Library Workers Day (April 5 this year), honors librarians, support staff and others whose contributions enrich patrons’ lives.
Finally, since 1985 America has acknowledged April as School Library Media Month (the name was changed to School Library Month in 2010); National School Librarian Day will be April 4.
And while this might appear an unseemly amount of annual observations for one entity, no other public facility is more deserving or more in need of your support.
A library is more than a bricks-and-mortar repository of volumes. Whether a historic Carnegie library (166 were constructed in Indiana; Fort Wayne is among less than two dozen cities to have demolished theirs) or a new facility, libraries inject prestige, culture and stability, defining a neighborhood and community. And a nation.
But as communities are forced to slash library hours and book budgets –- and in some states are once again being encouraged to ban books –– our nation increasingly is portrayed as one unwilling to commit to these sanctums of learning and empowerment.
And our society reflects this.
I was blessed to have been born with a silver library card in my hand –– thanks to my maternal grandmother. A first-generation Swedish-American, Nana was forced to quit school after fifth grade when her mother died. As the eldest, her duty was to oversee younger siblings, a number that grew to seven after her father’s remarriage. Yet that remarkable, self-educated woman never stopped reading, never stopped learning.
Nana taught me to read when I was four. Aside from an extensive collection of Little Golden Books and classics, my earliest reading material came from the library of the Lutheran elementary school I attended here.
Later, I walked or bicycled the six-block journey from home to the Shawnee Branch. Tucked into a corner next to a neighborhood meat market, the tidy brick building introduced me to the world of Little Pear and the Boxcar Children's adventures.
As a high school student, I often stopped by the library on my way home, never failing to find the assigned volume, the exact reference, I sought.
Throughout the years I developed close ties with our main facility (it boasts, among other things, the nation’s largest library-based genealogy department) and introduced my three sons to the Tecumseh Branch, where they ate green eggs and ham with Dr. Seuss, climbed trees with Christopher Robin and discovered just how the Grinch stole Christmas.
When I returned from Florida in 1993 for a brief stay, the first thing I did was apply for a library card at the Shawnee Branch. Relocated to a new, larger building 20 years earlier, it remained as a comfort zone and, for several weeks, a respite for my displaced soul.
Along with generations before me, my relationship with libraries remains a lifelong love affair, and I continue to visit the branch, which faces a probable closure, according to the Allen County Public Library's January 2022 "Facilities Master Plan."
The plan notes that county population has increased 15% since 2020, and continues to do so, although growth areas are inconsistent. Library branches haven't undertaken significant capital improvements since 2003-2008, and all will be 22 to 25 years old within 10 years, with two approaching 40 years old.
Constructed in 1973 and renovated in 2003, the Shawnee Branch currently is adequate for needs; however, the structure is considered in poor condition –– including water seepage and heating/cooling issues –– and with no site room for future growth or expansion. Along with Pontiac, Waynedale, and Hessen Cassel branches, its population is considered "static."
Rather than simply removing any one of those libraries, the goal is to "invest in a transformative project that will serve generations to come," according to ACPL statements.
During meetings with the Packard Area Planning Alliance (PAPA) and Southwest Area Partnership (SWAP), Susan Baier, executive director of the ACPL, shared information on the Master Plan.
Plans for Shawnee Branch include Option A, which entails closing Shawnee and expanding Waynedale and Hessen Cassel branches, and Option B, which consists of closing Shawnee and Hessen Cassel branches and remodeling Waynedale. The latter also calls for a "superbranch" of 30,000 square feet to be built in the city's southeast quadrant.
According to the Master Plan, and as it now stands, the final plan will be approved in April. Please visit youracpl.org to download a .pdf of the Facilities Master Plan and/or to contribute comments.
A library card offers a window to a special world, a passport to a golden odyssey. It allows, at little or no fee, access to material old and new. It imparts knowledge through magazines, newspapers, periodicals, reference materials, exhibits, informational and instructional videos and an increasing wealth of computer programs. It also affords non-English speakers essential materials, ensuring future readers.
Libraries open eyes and unlock minds. Libraries change lives. They create new worlds and broaden existing horizons. And in a world where publications continue to go by the wayside, libraries continue to offer books, the sole medium that remains a “warm fuzzy,” a personal, hands-on, do-it-yourself road map for our lives.
Most library funding is raised at local and state levels. And competition for dollars is intense. Please invest in our children’s –– our country’s –– future by investing in your local library, its activities and events. Nowhere else will you receive so much for so little. And enrich your life at the same time.
CJ Woodring has been affiliated with the 46807 district since growing up on W. Oakdale Drive. She graduated from South Side High School and reared her sons on Kinnaird Avenue, where she served as a former HSWNA newsletter editor. She has lived in –– and loved — historic places and spaces for more than 30 years. She currently resides in her sixth historic home.