Archived Story

Cardinal Charlie: drum major caught baton over cross bar

Published 7:10pm Thursday, February 28, 2013

Since Carson Minshall, an old neighbor of mine from the 1930s, and I got together a while back, we have been writing to each other and sharing our memories of old Dowagiac and the many people we both remember.

I wrote five columns of his letters, and I thought folks would like some of his latest 17-page letter.

Boy, I thought, I remembered a lot, but old Cart beats me by 100 yards.

He and his wife, Nancy, have had quite a life over the years.

He said as a kid he had a South Bend paper route.

The paper only missed four days a year that it didn’t publish.

He said one of his customers refused to pay because of those four days, so he said his boss went to the house, gave them a quarter and said that should take care of the missing papers for a year. I think Cart got 11 cents for each paper. Big money back in those days.

Cart said his route was south of Main and east of Lowe. His first stop was Walker’s ice plant.

There was a short cut using a foot bridge across the creek by the water works, and it took courage and skill to ride a bicycle across with a load of papers.

He said that Earl Walker’s office was the meeting room of lots of Dowagiac’s scruffiest.

He said Dee had a refrigerator full of pop with a cigar box on top. You made your own change.

His dad played a drum in the Round Oak Band and he played in a dance band with Leonard Bright. Pay was $2 a night due to the Depression.

His dad taught him drum lessons and Uncle Billy Shukert took over later.

Dewey Mason headed the school orchestra. The junior high band was pathetic, but they quit.

The local band was Leonard Bright, Mrs. McCloud on piano and Floyd Salee on bass fiddle.

He said there were a lot of dance halls in Marcellus.

Next he played with Freddie Garland, who was a first-rate piano man, but a third-rate drunk. At his top, he played with Gene Goldkett and the A&P Gypsies, one of the best in those days.

Freddie’s wife sang with several big bands. He said they used to play real late at night, and he had to get up after coming home at 3 or 4 and sit through Bill Carey’s geometry. Old Bill had to wake him up.

After Dewey Mason left they hired Ralph Haley. He gave Cart lessons and recruited Laraine Murphy and a raw, knobby kid named Iven Carl Kincheloe on snare. He moved Cart to the tympani.

We had a 13-band conference and gave a concert at the athletic field. He said he marched to the center of the field and each band picked up the cadence.

The next year Cart took the mantel from Eldon Ruple as drum major, but the coat didn’t fit and he was never able to throw the baton over the cross bar and catch it like Eldon used to do.

He said Curt Hasper had a gas station, was a good football player in high school and a captain during World War II.


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