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Mom was also a fan of Dixieland jazz and like Dad, ineligible to fight in the Korean War. I asked her about her early musical education.
“The only beat I remember is "Beat Me Daddy Eight to the Bar". I studied piano from ages 5-6 to 9 and then again from 8th grade through high school. Learned the piano keys with a large newspaper covering hands. Performed in recitals. I began the clarinet in 8th grade-marching & concert bands, music camps, parades and more parades. There is no better music for marching bands than the Sousa marches, although we played a Paso Doble frequently at basketball games. Also occasionally played the oboe and tenor sax. I was awarded the Arion Award (Sr. year) and played piano for chorus groups & soloists for contests. Also, during high school, several of us put together a "Jazz Band" and played at several "sock hops". I doubt we were very good but had fun with it. In addition, I was chosen to play processional and recessional at Baccalaureate & Graduation in 1950. Won several 1sts at State Contests with Clarinet and was lucky to attend several music camps at U. of I which were made up of high school musicians from all over the state. Auditioned and won a scholarship at Illinois Wesleyan U. with Clarinet.

I changed to LAS after realizing a music career was not for me. Your Uncle Don, your Dad and I occasionally would play together for fun - Don on the trombone, me on the piano and Dad on his string bass. At this time, Don lived in Villa Park and we were in Lombard. Don (as a younger person) also took piano lessons and played trombone in the school bands. I still have the beginner's piano books I used and a set of flash cards to learn various music symbols and terms. Also have much of the music - both books and sheet music; just nothing to play it on!

If you mean Grandma and Grandpa Bender, as far as I can remember, Grandpa (Leon Bender) played the accordion and taught himself. Grandma (Esther Bender) took piano and clarinet lessons when young and played in the Allerton Orchestra. Aunt Faye and Uncle Fram both played violin in this orchestra too. There used to be a photo of this orchestra but I don't know if Grandma gave it to the Allerton Historic Museum. She had once mentioned that she was going to give all the Allerton stuff to it.

Your Grandma Davis taught piano for many years in the living room at their house in Elmhurst She also played piano in the Elmhurst Symphony for many years. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and after graduation, took classes at a Conservatory (I think in Chicago). Her father was the minister at one of the Oak Park Congregational churches at this time and she lived with them. During this time, she met Grandpa Davis and they were married 12/31/27. Grandma may have given you some lessons on the piano at some time but nothing on a regular basis.” As I recall, I attempted to teach both you and Greg the piano …without success”.

In our second house in Lombard, 226 Ash St., we had a baby grand piano in the living room - "Teaching Little Fingers to Play". I must have been about six or 7. I can picture myself sitting on the piano bench, but I was much more interested in how the White Sox or Blackhawks were faring.
Or my current Cub Scout project - Mom was our den mother. Or selling Christmas cards door to door to make money to buy comic books and model airplanes. These purchases actually aided me in memorizing my times tables. Back then, comic books were 12 cents each. If I had a dollar, I could ride my bike up to the Rexall Drug store on St. Charles near Main St. and buy 8 comic books – 12 X 8 = 96, plus 4 cents tax. My favorites were the superheroes, especially from Stan Lee – Spiderman, Daredevil (I used to have issue #1), the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, the Mighty Thor and Dr. Strange. I was not a big Superman or Batman fan, but I enjoyed the exploits of the Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow and Aquaman. Grandma Bender would also buy us – the first half-generation of her grandchildren - Donald Duck, Archie, or history comic books. Better than nothing. The Thor stories kindled a mild interest in Norse mythology and old European history. "The Song of Roland" was one of the books on our bookshelves. Sadly, I failed to clean my room once too often and my hundreds of comic books were donated to the trash man. That Daredevil #1 is worth a small fortune by now.

note 1963 p1  note 1964  note  the Bands  note

 

Excellence is not an act...but a habit
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photo of Grandma Nancy Porterfield and Stephen
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