INCIDENTS

CHARLES J. REUSCHE 

          Many of you recall the happy days of the middle period of the choir’s forty years of existence, while the boys were aiding Grace Episcopal Church in promoting the cause of righteousness; therefore, let me call to you mind on this, the fortieth anniversary, a few of the incidents or happenings for your further pondering and reminiscence, if so disposed.

          It is my opinion, and, I am sure most of you who remember will agree with me, that “those were the days” when the Boy Choir was at its best—in other words, one hundred percent perfect.  My conclusion in this matter is drawn from the fact that its membership was made up of voices that were sweet and proficient; the boys were sincere and beautiful in manners, thoughtful, kindly and obedient, with that standard of excellence, fairness and godliness which is the general nature of youth; yet, with a certain amount of rougishness which must ever exist in the make-up of a real boy.

          Our choir at that time had a waiting list of eager young lads who in reality worked hard to become qualified for membership in the so-called regular choir.  The applicants attended rehearsal regularly, and were drilled in the same manner.  After becoming familiar with the rules and regulations, in due time, as opportunity afforded, they were admitted to the regular choir.  They immediately found many worth while offerings for which to strive, such as gold medals, beautifully engraved, which were yearly awarded for the most marked improvement in singing, attendance without tardiness, reverence and general excellence.  So appreciative were the members of Grace Church, that other prizes were offered in the way of out of town sight seeing trips, theater tickets, and the like.  Many parties were held for the entertainment of our boys at the home of the faithful organist, the choirmaster, or some other interested individual.

          Baseball and tennis played on a lot near by afforded us great sport just preceding choir practice each night, and often times during the day.  This was made possible by our Club, which organization had for its meeting place, the old Guild Hall near the church.  With many good games owned by the club, was an unusually good library.  Here, wonderful experience was gained, as we elected officers, drafted by-laws, paid dues, and often carried on debates.  Many trophies were at stake and records were broken as we held our occasional spell-down.  Therefore, you will see, as we all so fully do now, that our efforts were truly worth more than we realized at the time.

          With all of these influences and incentives, the plans of the choirmaster and his associates were so clean, so elevating, and carefully prepared that our work, if you may call it that, was easy, and we were an enthusiastic and a lively, jolly bunch at all times.  Their continual patience and constant drilling, along with an occasional lecture by way of correction, however, provided Grace Church with one of the best, if not the best conducted and well balanced group of songsters west of the Mississippi River, and it was so regarded.  For individual soloists, it was excelled only by the renowned Roney’s Boys of Chicago, Illinois.  Furthermore, we were honored with the privilege of participating in one of their exhibition concerts at the old Economic Theater in our city.

          Photographs of the choir were taken from time to time, showing the group in their vestments, and it is needless to say that one of these, at least, is highly prized.

          Grace Church Choir sang at funerals, many weddings, and a number of public ceremonies.  The public participation most outstanding in my mind at the present writing was at the laying of the cornerstone of Clinton’s foremost institution; the home of the Young Men’s Christian Association.  Often times we joined with St. John’s Episcopal Church Choir in services.

          The older boys of the choir always looked forward to their annual camping trip of a week or more each July or August.  Fifteen or twenty of them, led by our genial good fellow and choirmaster, and fully equipped with scull boats heavily laden with food, fishing poles, baseballs, bats, gloves, guns, cameras, etc., departed in a launch, for the cruise up the river to a rented cabin and play grounds at Lainsville on the Iowa shore.  There was never a more beautiful spot; wonderful scenery, fishing holes and sand bars for bathing made it so ideal.  The camping place was easily reached, either by railroad or by water route—s consideration of importance, because automobiles were not so numerous in those days.  Of course, a most practical and expert lady cook had been secured, and would be on hand to do the honors,  And did we have fun?  Waffles, pancakes and everything!  Oh, boy!

          We often met other outing parties there, too.  For instance, on year the same number of simple, shy, fresh air folks of the opposite sex held forth in a cottage nearby and were without scull boats; naturally the boys who could row, took the girls fishing.  And it is quite true that sun fish were plentiful.

          One day in camp was always set aside for visitors and friends came up on this appointed date to spend the day.  These picnics were sponsored by the lady members of the subsidiary societies of the Church.  We all have fond memories of these outings which, without doubt, are truly secrets now.  Surely members of the crowd will remember as well as we boys,

          Will you ever forget how we saved our pennies to have extra spending money for our trip to the St. Louis Exposition, made possible, if my memory serves me correctly, by one or more kind-hearted members of Grace Church?  The planning we, ourselves, did, and the vast amount of arranging that our choirmaster must have done in the way of securing reservations and the like!  Was it well done?  We all say so!  It was one of the main, if not the real event of our lives thus far.  I can not conceive of a thing which we may have missed seeing on that trip.  I positively know that some of us did not have bridge fare left when we alighted from the train at Fulton, Illinois, homeward bound.  Does your sense of taste ever cause you to recall that delicious peach ice cream of which we so freely partook in the drug store across the street from our boarding place?  I wonder if it is still being manufactured.

          In calling up these fond memories of those days, one enjoys again the beautiful Colonial parties held by the guild: the Twelfth Night parties by the Sunday School; the Church suppers and bazaar and the several amateur plays and performances wherein the boys and girls connected with the church and choir usually took part.  Most of these functions were staged in the auditorium of that day, known as the Odeon, in Lyons, Iowa, and if the building could speak many a tale might be told on the older folks of today.

          Space will not permit more, so in closing this epistle, let it be known to the present choir members, that we have profited greatly and in many ways, most emphatically realized at a time like this, by having served several years in Grace Church Choir.  We feel honored.  May you be as successful, and appreciate it as we do.         

 

 

 

 

 

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Clinton County History Books

Many books have been written that include information about Clinton County; indeed, they are still being published today.  Below are some that we have info from online: