Members of Don Large's chorus Make Way For Youth,
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Here are some of the members we have heard from or know of:
(Submissions for this page are no longer being accepted.)
talk about about his early years with Make Way For Youth, and then where his career went afterwards. Recorded live at WPON studios, May 2009
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From Ron Harrington, Sedona AZ:
I was with Maureen Bailey (aka "Christmas Carol") on Radio Schoolhouse (WXYZ)and I went to Make Way For Youth (WJR) after Radio Schoolhouse went off the air.
I also entertained extensively throughout Detroit area at the same time. I believe the years were about 1943 to 1957. I started out on Uncle Nick's (WJBK).
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From Stanley A. Wickman, Livonia MI: CLICK HERE for more memories from Stan
I was a member from 1947 until 1952. Maureen Bailey was a contemporary. One year, I spoke the German Professor role for the annual September back-to-school program.
We did a Christmas program at the old Latin Quarter. I had a solo, but I froze when it became time to sing it. Didn't cause much damage, though.
We did a Christmas caroling program in the lobby of the Fisher Building. We sang from the upper mezzanine (third floor) so that the songs floated down to the pedestrians in the main hall. The accoustics were especially suited to the occasion. It was a grand time!
We entertained at a Chevrolet Zone Manager's convention in the Scottish Rite Cathedral of the Masonic Temple. It was the announcement for the 1950 Chevy.
We rehearsed until about 2:30 AM the night before the show and had to return at 6:30 AM for the show. Before they showed the new car, they blacked out the house entirely. We were standing in loges at the top of the auditorium. Sam Benabe (spelling?) was the orchestra leader. He had a lucite baton that was illuminated by a small bulb in the shank.
He lit his baton in the blackened theater and started the chorus to whisper "Chevrolet is the most beautiful car of all." There were three scrims behind the stage curtain. As the curtain rose, black lights were trained on the scrims which still blocked the view of the stage. The chorus whisper repeating the lyric became louder, then the harmony began as the orchestra joined in. The crescendo continued as the scrims were raised one at a time. As each scrim disappeared, more of the chrome fittings on the car, which had been treated with a coating that reflected the black light, became visible. When the final scrim cleared the car, the chorus and orchestra were at triple forte and the houselights came on to reveal the full view of the car. The emotional strength of the moment was so great that the audience arose with the final scrim as if they were attached to it. The applause was deafening.
I was married in a double ceremony in 1952. The chorus sang for us, "With This Ring"and "The Lord's Prayer." My new brother-in-law happened to be a recording engineer for Ford at the time. His boss agreed to engineer a sound recording of the ceremony.
I was able recently to have the fragile tapes digitized. The chorus was splendid and the recording is remarkably good, in spite of the time and recording difficulties. The chorus was 60 feet from the mikes, but the engineer was able to capture the sound.
I sang bass in the Grenadiers quintet for a time. My predecessor was Paul Caplan,
a comedian who went on to a larger career in the biz. He was in the cast of Auntie Mame when it played at the Northland Theater (with Gypsy Rose Lee in the title role as I recall). He just recently made some radio commercials for Larco's.
The Grenadiers were a quintet of men selected from the Don Large choristers. Other Grenadiers were (my memory is weak) Dutch Denbroeder, Al Bruner, Glenn Wilcox, and Gene Avram, who eventually became a booth announcer for WXYZ-TV.
They sang military-type songs: "Stouthearted Men," Air Corps, Army, Navy and other songs of that character. They were used mostly to provide program variety, but they also accepted gigs on their own infrequently. They were uniformed with red military jackets with gold buttons and epaulets. Each wore a white belt with a strap over one shoulder. The uniform was topped off by a very tall, cylindrical, furry, white military hat with chin strap and plume which was difficult to deal with.
I performed in two gigs with them. One was in the Veterans Building with Ed Sullivanas MC. The details of this one have disappeared in the fog of age. The other was in Grand Rapids on a bill with Gene Shelton, comedian and an actor in Disney movies. Getting to the Grand Rapids job on time produced some extraordinary excitement.
In 1983, we held a reunion of the chorus in the L'Aiglon Room in the Fisher Building where we recapped Don Large's career, sang the old songs, and listened to
Don and Bill Fox improvise four hands on the piano.
That's what comes to mind immediately. I hope others will jog my memory about other grand times we had. As you might imagine, many of the old timers have now passed on.
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From Bob Vorbroker, Winston-Salem, NC:
Although I didn't sing with Make Way for Youth, I did sing with Don Large during
and after my years at the University of Detroit. I remember Don saying that
Freda Payne ("Band of Gold") had been a member of the Make Way for Youth group, although I've never seen that fact stated in any of her biographies.
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From Jocelyn McAfee Krieger:
I was a member of the Don Large Chorus in 1953-54. It was an excellent opportunity and great fun.
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From Jooane Blues, Pensacola FL:
Every Tuesday and Thursday evening, about 30-40 young folks would meet on the
21st floor of the Fisher Building in the studios of WJR for rehearsal. On Saturday mornings, we met there once again to prepare for the radio broadcast that afternoon.
I remember we really worked hard, but we had lots of fun too. I met many folks from around the Detroit area and made many friends from all over.
Looking back, it's astonishing to me that so many teens made the commitment to always be there...and that the radio station put up with so many kids hanging around the studio!
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Written by Barry Kinder, San Francisco CA:
I was 15 (1955) when I started singing on WJR's Make Way For Youth where I met Jim Beasley. I then sang with a male trio in high school called The Vanguards
from 1957 through 1961. We performed for months at The Gay Haven, opening
for Johnny Ginger, then Thomas' Edgewater Inn in Windsor for almost a year, Gino's Falcon Lounge, and others I can't remember now, before we traveled all over the U.S. Our last gig together was The Playboy Club in Chicago.
Later I sang with another group called The Scene Stealers from around 1967 to 1972. We sang at The Roostertail and Killarney Castle in Windsor, The 24K Club on Telegraph, on the Jack Harris WJR radio show and were regulars on the Detroit Morning Television Show in 1967. On the morning of the riot, we drove to Broadcast House in Southfield, not knowing what had happened during the night. There were helicopters, police cars, etc. When we entered the building all the TV monitors were showing neighborhoods burning - it was chaos. Unfortunately, when people turned on the show that morning waiting for news, there we were singing -- of all things, "Shang Ri La." We also traveled the country and finally broke up about 1972 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
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A Tribute to Barry Kinder (1940-2008)
member of the Make Way For Youth Chorus,
through the Detroit Memories Discussion Group
where he'd been an active member for several years.
It was there that he reconnected with another
and they began a correspondence that continued
until Barry's passing in October 2008.
Following are Jim's memories of both the Chorus
and Barry. Thank you, Jim, for sharing this with us.
I know you miss him terribly.
From Jim Beasley, Milwaukee WI:
I was part of Make Way for Youth for five years in the '50s. My last CBS show was in mid-1958. I transferred from Wayne State to Albion College to take a full time job in radio at that time.
I was 4 or 5 years older than Barry Kinder when he joined the chorus at WJR.
We weren't close friends then as I tended to hang with the more experienced people on the show, including some who sang in a professional group with me.
After the exchange on the Detroit Memories Discussion Group, Barry and I started emailing on a regular basis. We compared our careers, lives, loves, disappointments and mutual show business experiences which ranged from the highest high to so bad they were a source of mutual humor. We shared every humiliation in detail.
I was able to find some recordings of solos Barry did on CBS and make edits,
which I emailed to him. We enjoyed how young and raw we both were then, despite thinking we were pretty hot at the time.
He sent me some of his late work which was really top notch.
We developed an extremely close bond of sharing candid feelings and memories despite our very different lives and orientation. I would count Barry as one of my two or three best friends ever as a result of the DM Discussion Group.
Barry had been through a divorce, numerous relationships and publicly described himself as "gay as pink paint." He called me his "breeder buddy" because of my 48 year marriage and three daughters.
He was in poor health, living with and caring for his mother in San Francisco, and singing in a club mostly one evening a week. He would ask my opinion on what songs he should do each week. He would ask how he should handle situations with his boss on the job or band members. Very candid things like having his pay reduced or being told what songs to sing. Despite the abuse he loved performing so much he wouldn't give it up. He lived on the applause from even a tiny crowd.
Emails stopped and I didn't get answers for several months. Then he told me about his cancer and being in treatment. There were rare but treasured updates. And then, in his last one to me, he shared with me that while he was in the hospital, an entertainer had come to the ward and he pulled himself up in bed to do a chorus of harmony. He knew I would have done the same in an effort to steal the applause.
I never heard from him again and learned of his passing several months later from Linda Large Ebright.
I was so happy his last performance stopped the show.
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Here are the two posts that were exchanged on the DMDG forum that got
Jim and Barry reconnected:
Mon Sep 4, 2006
It's been a long time, and you may not
remember me, but I was also in the
Make Way for Youth Chorus. I used
to stand right behind you on the risers
in Studio A. I also sang solos in
The Powder Puffs!)
When you couldn't make it to Bay View
or one of the other appearances, I sang
your solo in the "My Fair Lady" medley,
"I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face."
Another old chorus member, Bill Mouhot, is also a member of Detroit Memories
Discussion Group. Bill and I went on to travel the night club circuit in a group
called The Scene Stealers until around 1971.
We are both retired now, of course. Bill lives in Chicago and I live in San Francisco (where I still perform every Sunday). I saw Freda Payne, another Detroiter and ex-chorus member last week at a club here in town. Ursula Walker still performs regularly in and around Detroit and Ann Arbor. I remember Dick Allman and
Kris Dorjath very well. Who knows? There may be other ex-Make Way for Youth people out there in the group. Are any of you there?
It's good to know "whatever happened to Jim Beasley."
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Tue Sep 5, 2006
Barry! I thought the name was familiar. Sure, I remember now. I email Linda Large
regularly. She's at Ohio State now teaching music (name is now Ebright).
Kris Dorjath was in the Classmates and he passed away about two years ago.
Dick Allman designed a lot of the graphics for ABC TV football while he was working. He's doing community theater now in retirement. He sent me some airchecks of some of the Make Way for Youth shows just last year. He was always a geek (before we had the word) and had a home recorder before anyone else in the world and set it up to record off CBS. The quality is pretty iffy but it's fun to remember. I used to have some home recordings made on disks, which played back sharp because of the weight of the cutting needle. One was I think my second solo on full network. I used to play it to keep me humble.
You remember how hard it was to hear facing the Jimmy Clark orchestra with no headphones? And the keys were whatever the arrangements called for, not necessarily best for the singers.
I started "Foggy Day in London Town" a third too high and it took about 10 seconds of vocal manipulation live on the full network to find the right key. When I looked up in panic Jimmy Clark was grinning and enjoying the kid being initiated.
I have some Freda and Ursula solos on the mp3s Dick Allman sent. They were VERY good even back then. Freda was only 13 or 14 as I recall.
Thanks for the response. Glad to know you are still doing show biz. I started teaching tap dancing about two years ago and it helps keep me in shape. It had been 50 years and 50 pounds since the last time, except for a couple of shows where I had to do a quick step here and there in character.
I retired from radio management 18 years ago and started to do voice acting and got my Equity card. I've been President of the Milwaukee commercial radio trade group, MARS, for 17 years.
Detroit still feels like home.
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From Richard Allman, New York City NY
I was a member of that group from 1953
through 1959. I think I only missed one show
during that period - I was having my tonsils
out, and was told to keep my mouth shut.
My sister Carol also sang with the group
for a couple of years.
I sang in some of the small groups as well:
The 4 Cadets, The Quintones and
soloist, but somewhere along the line they
discovered I could read copy, so I periodically
was asked to read little bits of the continuity
that glued the songs together. Those times
were a great thrill for me.
When I was in college at Wayne State, I wrote and produced a couple of musicals and "borrowed" a significant part of the chorus to be in them. I also sang with a quartet called The Classmates which included Jim Beasley, Kris Dorjath and
Jack Costello. We recorded some songs and spent an inordinant amount of time running to record hops and things promoting the records. Nothing ever came of it, except some fond memories.
I left Detroit in 1960 (with very mixed feelings) to take a job in New York as chief engineer at City University's Brooklyn College Television Center. I spent my entire working days in TV, first at Brooklyn and later at ABC.
I retired in 1998 and since then have pursued a sort-of career doing theater audio reinforcement and occasional acting gigs. Last year I counted 208 performances of various shows, mostly musicals. I'm still trying to figure out what retirement is.
Reading your Newsletter brought back some happy memories. Thanks to you for writing it, and Jim Beasley for sending me a copy.
MAKE WAY FOR YOUTH
A Detroit area teen chorus led by Don Large. Their weekly program was broadcastfrom the WJR studios and heard nationally on the CBS network.
Don Large and Make Way For Youth Chorus, Goodwill Cavalcade, New York, 1954
Ken Bridges (Berberish) (2nd from left)
Richard Allman (2nd from right)
Jim Beasley (far right)
HELP - Anyone know this gentlemen?
Norm Svenson(?) (far left)
Photo courtesy of Richard Allman
From left: Jim Vickers, Kris Dorjath, Fran Haas,
Gerri Gross, Sara Jane Tallman and Carolyn Slater
Photo courtesy of Richard Allman
FOUR CADETS (#2)
Far left: Richard Allman
Far right: Phil Foote
HELP - Anyone know the two gentlemen
in the center?
Photo courtesy of Richard Allman
Photo courtesy of Jim Beasley
Barry Kinder entertains at Marlena's
in San Francisco CA
Photo courtesy of Jim Beasley
More from Stanley A. Wickman:
Because Don Large was the choral director for the extravaganza staged in the football stadium of the old University of Detroit to celebrate the anniversary, I was invited to take part as a chorister.
It was a big undertaking. It sold out for 11 performances. The weather was perfect for the outdoor event except for the 11th night. The last performance was postponed until the following night.
The entire south stand became the stage. A flat floor large enough for the ballet company was constructed out from the sixth or seventh row, but the actors in the pageant ran up and down the stand from top row to stage. All the stage acting was mimed. The actors recorded their lines on tape so they could be broadcast through the PA system. Microphones to accommodate the circumstances did not exist in 1951.
The principal sponsor of the show was the University of Detroit with respect to the Catholic influences that resulted in the founding of the city. The author and composer was Father Daniel Lord, SJ, of St. Louis, MO. He was said to be the entertainment industry's Catholic resource person. There is a hall named for him in western Livonia. Don Large was the arranger.
The principal character, Captain Detroit, was played by Fred Foy of WXYZ. The chorus was a pick up from among Don Large's singing enterprises. Among these were Bob Ludwig, Bert Mathes and Herm Warne who, with Don, formed a quartet to sing commercial jingles for radio (High Speed Is On The Air for a brand of gasoline and the Jack Armstrong theme song).
The ballet company was choreographed and directed by the premier instructor in Detroit at the time, but whose name escapes me now. Paul Lavoie supplied the orchestra, I believe, but there may have been union considerations which imposed some restrictions.
Seats were added across the entire field. Adding this to the football stadium capacity made room for about 20,000 people each night.
The theme of the show was the progress from 1701 to 1951. I may have a recording of one of the numbers taken from a rehearsal with piano only, but that will take some digging to find. And then it may be on tape which means I would have to find someone to rerecord it for the computer.
Just thought I'd throw this one out there to see if there is anyone who also remembers.
From Frank W. Gesinski:
Although I never sang with the Make Way for Youth Chorus, when I was very young I remember listening to their weekly programs on CBS, never dreaming that one day I would sing for Don Large. Beginning in 1959 or 1960, I sang in the University of Detroit Chorus and in a small offshoot, the Singing Titans, under the direction of Don Large. We all learned so much from Don, and I have many fond memories of him and miss him tremendously. I managed to attend one of the appreciation
dinners held for him in Detroit. That was the last time I saw him.
Frank W. Gesinski, CBCP
From Adrienne Rebain, Henderson Nevada:
I was a member of the Don Large Chorus from late 1952 until September,1954.
I remember Maureen Bailey and Lois Banta. Glenn Wilcox was assistant director and he had a sister who was also a member at that time. In looking up an obituary for someone a while back, I ran across an obit for a Wesley Parker who was also a member while I was there.
One of the more recognizable names that was not mentioned was Michael Dunn. He appeared
in the movies, "Ship Of Fools" and "Boom" as well as many appearances on TV, the most notable "Wild Wild West" where he played Dr Lovelace. His original name while he was in the Chorus with me was Gary Miller. He died in August 1973 at age 38. I remember going up North to do some shows during two summers. The residents put us up for the couple of nights we were there. We also did many shows at various hotels. One I remember with Florian ZaBach and Anna Maria Alberghetti. We went to Akron Ohio for the Soapbox Derby. Appearing were Dinah Shore (with her husband George Montgomery accompaning her) and Andy Devine. One of our wonderful trips was to New York City. We went by train and did a show at the Waldorf Hotel. Being a member of the Don Large Chorus gave me the opportunity to have some very nice experiences that I might not have had otherwise.
I always loved to sing but I was too shy. So I did well as long as I was part of a group.
It would be nice to find out more about the people who were part of the Chorus at the same time.
From Carmen Kaselitz Moore
Hello! I sang with Don Large and "Make Way for Youth" from about 1957 through 1962. I sang with (please excuse spellings) Kris Dorjath, Bob Kynaston, Sharon Allman, Gretchen Lewelsdorf, Ursula Walker, the Szabo sisters, etc. I sang from age 16 through age 21 and atttended a reunion in about 1988.
What a gift it was to sing with these fine people and certainly, Mr. Large, who gave us an invaluable storehouse of memories. I have pictures of when we entertained in Michigan.
Carmen Kaselitz Moore
North Pole, Alaska (near Fairbanks)
From Dan Columbo
While it has been many years since I sang, and enjoyed the pleasures of sharing song, laughter and friendships with the Make Way for Youth Chorus (1945 to 1947), my memories of that time are of some of the best times of a young life while attending Southeastern High School.
I still have the recording of the "Oh ZBT We Shall Remain" record we made for the Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity. Also, performing at various venues in Detroit and, of course, the Saturday radio broadcasts over WJR were always exciting.
From Ron Myers
It was 1952 when I joined the chorus. I was 14, but my voice had not yet begun to achieve adult depths, and that made me something of an asset to the top tenors!
Since DLYC rehearsals were Tuesday and Thursday evenings, I'd walk down to Six Mile and hop a bus that went right down 3rd to the Fisher Building. Coming home at 10:00 p.m. was another story, however...my mother would usually be waiting at the bus stop to walk me home!
I went to both Holcomb Elementary and Redford High School with Beverly Lavell, who was a member of a mixed group of Don Large Chorus members called the Spellbinders, along with a fellow named Roland Sharette; they later became husband and wife. You can read about the group on Facebook. Occasionally I'd be allowed to sing in rehearsals with them if their regular tenor didn't show up.
Rarely in my lifetime have I ever felt more excitement than I did on Saturday mornings, when the engineer would announce "Ten seconds," and Don would prepare us for yet another rendition of our rousing theme, "Make Way for Youth!"
Wonderful, vivid memories!
Jacksonville FL / Hamilton NY
From Dave Strang
I sang with MYFY chorus for several years, including at the Waldorf Astoria as well as Bayview, MI.
Great memories, including Jim Beasley, Gary Miller, Les Stevens, Lois Banta, et al.
From Ken Bridges (Berberich)
I was in the Make Way For Youth chorus around 1953-1955. I am in Richard Allman's photo #1
of the Four Cadets.
I spent a couple of years in college, then to New York City in 1957 to sing with The Spellbinders quintet. They were originally formed from Make Way For Youth. I replaced George Wilkins when he was drafted into the army.
Sara Jane Tallman was in The Spellbinders and we sang together in the chorus. I love seeing those old photos and experiencing the warm memories I have of those days.
I changed my name to Kenneth Bridges in 1957.
Ken Bridges (Berberich)
From Carol Allman Lee
I sang with the Don Large Chorus throughout high school, from 1956 to 1960. My older brother Richard Allman was also a member. It was an unmatchable experience for me, getting to know all those talented kids from all over the city and suburbs -- even some "west siders," and getting to know people who went on to become professionally successful, such as Ursula Walker, Gary Miller, and Frieda Payne.
The music, usually in seven-part harmony, was more challenging than anything I did in school. And
I loved the wide range of styles, from classical, to rock and roll, to folk, to jazz. The other singers were a great inspiration to me to keep trying harder. It was a major commitment, going down to the Fisher Building three times a week, but I wouldn't have missed it.
I loved the parties at Don Large's house (where we went a day ahead to peel shrimp), and, of course, the trips to Bay View and Lakeside, where we sang all the way there and back on the bus.
I had a little speaking part once, in Bay View. I was to announce John Hancock and the song he
was singing. I managed to blow my big opportunity, announcing him as Jan Honcock.
Carol Allman Lee
From Steve Callewaert
I was in The WJR chorus in 54-55 and remember the trip to New York very well. Jim Beasley managed to mentor me through the material. We stayed awake on the train so that we could drink in the club car after it crossed the New York State line. We really thought we were hot strutting around the Waldorf Astoria Dining Room!
I was also Don’s first business manager for the U of D Chorus.
From Arthur Brown
I was a member and sang in 1958 and 1959. What great memories! I think about the group every
time I hear Frieda Payne sing Band of Gold. She also sang in the trio called The Three Debs with
Ursala Walker. I attended Cass Tech and then to Central Michigan University. I'm now retired and living in Melbourne Florida. It was fun to read the stories and memories from the members. Keep up
the good work!
From Bill Ruthenberg
I was a member from '57-'59 and loved it so much that I went on to become a freelance studio singer in New York City after a brief stint with the US Army chorus. I sang on commercials/recordings and was a regular with the Ray Charles Singers on the Perry Como show. I also sang with Renee (McKay) and did plenty of recordings at Advantage Studios where Jim Vickers was the audio engineer. Small world, eh? Ken Bridges and I sang on many recordings. He was a member of the Don Large Chorus as was my sister Laura, and they both sang with the "Spellbinders," a vocal group that originated in Detroit. All of us chatted many times about our beginnings in the Don Large Chorus. It was a wonderful start for so many people who went on to have great musical careers, thanks to Don Large.
From Madonna DeGiacomo Sojack
I was with the Don Large Chorus from 1950-1955. I originally started at the Uncle Nick Show in Dearborn with June Yates, who introduced me to Don. I was a soloist and the person who kept the attendance record. I have many wonderful memories about those years. I've been married for 56 years now to the same young doctor who swept me off my feet, two boys, one a trauma surgeon and the other a executive producer at AMC. With Don's guidance we all were given standards that carried us through life.
From Anne Gruich Cover
I sang with the Chorus starting in 1955. I remember Ursula Walker and a girl named Carmen whose last name I don't recall. I just remember walking down the street with them outside of the studio and singing at the top of our lungs! I was l4 or 15 at the time. I had a solo on one of the programs and sang "Alice Blue Gown." My family moved to Ohio when I was 16. Went on to sing in many amateur musicals, and also sang professionally in night clubs with a group called the Snapshots. After I got married, we moved to Missouri. Worked in accounting and then went to the police academy and became a deputy sheriff in St. Charles, MO. Retired from that job in 2004, after 21 years of service. Was so happy to find the web site. Those few years with the Chorus were some of the happiest of my life.
From Trudy Bradfield Taliaferro
I remember Clay Shumard, Carmen Mathis, Kris Dorjath, Ursula Walker and Chuck Nicks vividly. We had great fun singing together and built some lasting friendships in the process. It was my great fortune to be reunited with Don and sing another three years with Clay Shumard, Tim Keenan and 70 other musicians in the University of Detroit chorus. Ahh the songs...Moonlight in Vermont, Danny Boy, The Bells of Saint Mary's, Deep Purple, Moon River, to mention a few, and the venue's... Ford Auditorium, schools in Ohio, the New York World's Fair 1964. What a wonderful way to become an adult, singing joyously with good friends.
From Janice Cherup-Grebneff
I was a member of the MWFY Chorus from 1957-59 along with friend Judy Haefele. How wonderful to read so many names that were part of that very special experience. I still have my pin, now on a charm bracelet. Does anyone remember the original Christmas carols we sang, possibly by a Detroit composer? Many years ago I had the LP of the carols and regret it’s loss. Why don’t we ever hear them, they were so enjoyable.
Memories of metro Detroit in the '50s, '60s and '70s
© 2002-2017 Detroit Memories LLC
submitted by Stanley Wickman