Ottawa at National School Orchestra Contests


 Excerpts from a 1932 (1933?) letter from Chicago

FCHS Headlight
October 2002

 Pauline Vanlandingham, an Ottawa High School student, wrote this memoir of her trip to Chicago with the OHS orchestra in June of 1932.* The letter came to the FCHS with a donation of materials from Mary Teresa Lister Arnett. The letter is on “Auditorium” letterhead.

*Although the 2002 FCHS Headlight article stated that the big contest occurred in 1932, a check of The Ottawa Herald on microfilm indicates it was more likely 1933.

 “We arrived Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. I roomed with Mrs. Blunk, Margaret. Mrs. Latimer, and Lyle DeTar. June, Eileen, Velma, Mable, Evelyn, and Pallas were down a couple floors, and Florence was up a couple. Our room was 800 something. Margaret and I got impatient and went up ahead of Mrs. Blunk and Mrs. Latimer. We were standing in front of our door waiting for them, and a lady who lived in the hotel stopped to ask where we were from and what we were. We told her we were a high school orchestra from Ottawa, Kansas.  “All these people from Kansas?”  she gasped. We grinned and said, “Yes!” We should have said we left a couple more natives out in Kansas. We ate all our meals but breakfast at the Lorraine Cafeteria on Wabash Avenue. That night Junior, Loren, Margaret and I ate together. We went to bed early, but I didn’t sleep much—too much noise. We four ate breakfast together then walked up to the Art Institute. We saw people handing tickets to the doorman, so Junior went up to ask where we could get tickets. He was so foreign Junior couldn’t understand him, so we went for a walk through Grant Park….The afternoon we spent in resting until about 5:00. We took the “L” out to Elmhurst. I rode out with Velma. We went through slums and everything. We ate at the Masonic Temple. It was a mere shack and the food was awful. And the water! I simply can’t go Chicago water!

After that they took us in buses out to the high school. Mildred and I started to tune the basses several times, but each time, Brick [C.A. “Brick”Peacock, OHS orchestra instructor] asked us to wait for something else. Once he came back where I was sitting and I asked him if we should tune them yet “Good lord! Yes! They should have been tuned an hour ago! he yelled. I opened my mouth to yell back at him, but I thought, “That guy is up in the air farther than you are, so never mind. I have been glad ever since that I didn’t. We played swell. Only Hal made one mix up at the beginning of “Life of the Czar.” The sight reading was good, too. We didn’t even take our allotted time to look over the music. I rode home with Evelyn. We slept most of the way home.”

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