Saturday, December 5, 2015

Ernie Margheim Recalls his High School Music Days

Email from Ernie to a distant cousin May 2008.

Our vocal instructor at Hoisington High in 1938 was Ruth Jenkins, a feisty gal of small stature, but she knew what she wanted and she got it! I shall never forget her emphasis. She did NOT want us to sing as a soloist, but she always said "Listen to the person on either side of you and WATCH ME and blend with them so the audience can not differentiate whose voice they are hearing." 

Ruth Jenkins
I was in Men's Glee Club and full Concert Chorus, as we called it. I don't know how many, but Hoisington was FULL of talented musicians. Most kids our age were taking private music lessons of some kind. 

You know the expression that an organization is not altogether the conductor, it is the raw material they have to work with. Then it is their job to refine the product with their inspiration and motivation. Ruth Jenkins, I think, was a Methodist pastor's daughter, so she was thoroughly saturated with the feeling of choral vocal performances. Her insistence that all eyes were glued on her produced a great sound.

I will never forget that we had an A Capella number that was in Russian, and all it was was a single phrase repeated over and over again. I will never forget it. Phonetically I would guess "Hahs-poh-dee-poh-mill-wee". And it was sung rapidly, and the dynamics of it were from a whisper to crescendo, as a swell to forte. Now you take 25 vocal voices, blending as one, with eyes glued on the director, dressed in black choir was a thrill to be part of such a chorus. It was not a monotone, it had structure. It was just plain fun. 
Hoisington High School, Hoisington, KS
We LOVED to sing. Ruth Jenkins was a wonderful teacher. When we had a combined chorus at area music festivals, different towns had a combined band or chorus. After the competition, for the program finale, each school at home practiced the combined selection with a few run-throughs at the festival. Ruth Jenkins would end up being the director. She was tiny, so she had to stand on a good sized podium. 
Max Connor
Hoisington was blessed with GOOD music directors. Max Connor was our Instrumental Director. He was a graduate from Bethany (College, Lindsborg, KS), and was the leader of their Jazz group as a student. They were called the Blue Notes. He played a cornet, not a trumpet. He was certain to differentiate. Often at our school concerts he would play selections himself with band accompaniment. Man alive, could he triple tongue that cornet! You know a cornet has a more suave, velvety tone as compared to the shrill metallic tone of the trumpet. Max later transferred to Dodge City Community College. He came to Hoisington to replace Kenneth Crawford from Cherryvale, KS. I felt comfortable around him and sorta felt he liked me since I played my guitar in a dance band and also had a program on KVGB radio (in Great Bend, KS) on weekends as a Cowboy Singer. (Becky's note: Ernie performed as "The Sunflower Wrangler"). And I played BY EAR. I played Bass Viol (bull fiddle) in concert band along with Tuba at times, as well as Bass Viol in Orchestra before Max got me a violin to help out the WEAK violin section we had in the concert orchestra. I had good ear tonation and played with feeling, crunch and all, haha. So it was not hard for me to adapt to the violin. Of course at home I was sawing away with hillbilly music as a fiddle.

LaVerna, Ernest and Leonard Margheim with their instruments
I got good enough with my fiddling that I learned about five fiddle tunes and naturally could play songs by ear, so that Harry Wright at KVGB had me play a few hoedowns. No lessons, just what Max showed me when he ordered it for me. We paid $25 for it and he said it came from England. For the shipment he said they took it apart due to humidity changes, and put it back together when it got to the States. I still have it. While I was in the Army, my sister LaVerna played it in school and her twin brother Leonard took up the Cello in high school. LaVerna went on to become a student at Bethany College and became a piano teacher and church organist. 

You've heard the expression "Everything I know I learned in Kindergarten". Well, I took private music lessons but I could say "Everything I know in music, I learned from Ruth Jenkins and Max Connor in high school. I used my study hall hour to go out to the bottom of the football field bleachers (closed in with limestone) and practice my instruments by myself. 

While I went to high school, Joe Piper gave me the job of janitor at Hoisington National Bank. They had Martin Lehman and Cody Ochs in there with Mr. Piper. Well, I am getting carried away here, as I relive my high school music experiences.

All through high school, I was a busy merchant. I played two dances a week, Mannacure Hall in Ellinwood, KS and Woodman Hall in Great Bend. A Mr Morrison had a clothing store at 2nd and Main in Hoisington. He was on the Board of Directors of the Hoisington Bank, so he let me ride with him when he had to go to Wichita or Salina, just to have someone along in case he had a flat tire. He also owned several vacant lots in town so he had me chop weeds in the summer. 
Dave and Vada Edwards
My private music lessons were from Dave and Vada Edwards. I took standard guitar, Hawaiian guitar, piano and voice lessons. Mom did their washing and ironing to pay for my lessons.
Note from Becky: You can read more about Ernie's music career at this link: 

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