atervliet cemetery. The photo above is of the Memorial Day parade in Watervliet, not long after WWII. My Uncle Dick is second from the left.
Monday, May 28, 2012
Monday, May 21, 2012
After the Pearl Harbor attack on December 6, 1941 several Watervliet boys signed up with the armed forces. Among these was Lewis F. "Louie" Long, a graduate of WHS with me in 1940. Louie had always dreamed of flying, and had nicknamed himself "Wings" and decorated his high school notebooks with flying symbols. Thus he naturally applied for flight training in the then Army Air Corps (now US Air Force). The Army sent him to Lowry Field east of Denver for some sort of pre-flight training.
At the time I was a Sophomore at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden up in the mountains from Denver. One day Louie got a pass from Lowry and he and I got together in Denver for some good ol' Watervliet-type hoot-and-hollering.
Among other indiscretions, he and I made dates with two bar maids in a disreputable drinking joint in downtown Denver. The only problem was they didn't get out of work until 1 a.m., while Private Long's Army curfew was midnight. I had the brilliant idea for Louie to take off his Army cap and put on my civilian overcoat to hide his uniform. So we are waiting in front of the bar for the girls to come out when a Denver police car slowly passes, the cops eyeballing us. I said to Louie "Let's get out of here!" so we cut through the alley and guess who's waiting for us at the other end? The cops, of course.
So what happened to poor Louie? The MPs deliver him to his Company Commander back at Lowry, who had just got a promotion and was feeling so good that he just let Louie off with a lecture. Louie went on to become an expert Army pilot and after the war had a career in the Air Force. I don't know the details about what he did but I know he flew transport planes in the Berlin Air Lift and flew 100 missions during the Korean War.
Monday, May 14, 2012
|Cast of The Mikado, WHS, 1938 (author 5th from right)|
Pete Yancich again played the tenor lead as Nanki Poo, son of the Mikado of Japan, Leonard Krall. Pooh-Bah, the Lord High Everything Else, was Ed Hawks. Pish-Tush and Ping-Pong were Bob Curtis and Bob Brown. The "Three Little Maids from School Are We..." were Betty Geisler, Lydia Pitcher, and Frances Webster. The entire cast included 78 WHS students, many probably progenitors of current Watervliet Facebook fans.
zas of of four-line rapid patter starting with "When you're lying awake with a dismal headache and repose is tabooed by anxiety; I assume you may use any language you choose to indulge in without impropriety..." First problem was memorizing the damn thing, the second was to sing and breathe at the same time. I deliberately cracked my voice a couple times for comic effect. When I finished the audience applauded spontaneously. That had to be the high point of my operatic career.
"Iolanthe" was mostly about fairies, including Helen Jackson as the queen, Maxine Ray as Iolanthe, and fairies Natalie Smith, Lillian Muller, and Rose Koshar. Then there was the Sheperd Jim Palmer and the Shepherdess Helen Warsko. Others with prominent roles were John Palmer, Ed Hawks, Harvey Faram and Tony Sweeney. The entire company was only 64 students for this operetta.
Posted by Karen Stock at 6:49 PM
Monday, May 7, 2012
While in Watervliet High School I performed in several musicals including three Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, "The Gondoliers," "The Mikado," and "Iolanthe." In my senior year we did a hokey musical I think was called "Hollywood Bound." Earlier in junior high or sixth grade I vaguely remember being in a minstrel show, complete with burnt cork makeup and fake Negro accents. That I remember so little of it may be the result of a subconcious guilt at being involved with something so politically incorrect by today's standards.
I sang the baritone lead in all three Gilbert & Sullivan operettas and the hokey "Hollywood Bound." That was the result of kind of a fluke. My freshman year for "The Gondoliers" I was the understudy to upperclassman George Keiger for the part of the Duke of Plaza Toro, not expecting do do anything except sing in the chorus. But George came down with scarlet fever, thus thrusting me into the comic baritone lead of the Duke. I did such a good job that I was ever after the automatic choice for the baritone lead every year.
Here is the Watervliet Record write up about me in that role:
"James Woodruff will sing the baritone role of the impoverished but gay Duke of Plaza-Toro, [gay didn't mean in those days what it does now] a Grandee of Spain, and is expected to gain the favor of the audience from the start with his interpretation of this difficult but interesting role. He is one of the youngest members of the Glee Club, this being his first year with the organization, but his keen appreciation of subtle wit, together with his capacity for hard work and his newly developed voice are all factors which point to success for him".
The News Palladium said: "James Woodruff carried the honors as a character actor in his role of the Duke."
The contralto lead, the Duchess of Plaza Toro, was played by Viginia Keefer. The tenor and soprano romantic leads were played by Pete Yancich as Luiz, my attendant, and Betty Geisler as Casilda, the daughter of the Duke and Duchess. Ed Hawks was the Grand Inquisitor. Ken Shimer, Bob Curtis, Ferris Norman, Warren Willmeng, and Leonard Krall were Gondoliers. The Venetian Maidens were played by Lydia Pitcher, Lois Doolittle, Darlene Selters, Helen Curtis and Isabella Crumb. In all, there were 79 students in the cast.
Posted by Karen Stock at 3:17 PM