By Rita Maisel
Two weeks ago we had a column about Milton spring events, in particular school plays and graduation. Those were a highlight of most of the local communities year after year. Then last week we had memories of Easter traditions in homes and in churches. People reading those stories wanted a column on additional spring events. Sports are well covered by Jake and Dennis, so I will not intrude of their memories since in the years I was growing up there were no spring sports in Langdon. Unless, of course, you counted shooting gophers at the country club as a sport. I am told that some boys encouraged to help with this eventually went on to play golf. One of those was Don Soli who called maybe 20 years ago.
Don told me he had just hit two holes-in-one on a course in Washington state. When he had passed that information on to Helen Haaven in Grand Forks, she gave him my phone number and thought readers in the Cavalier County Republican would be interested in the details. I believe that did happen, but along with the golfing statistics Don wanted to know if I remembered the Music Festival in the old gym with lots of other schools in attendance where he had won for his solo, “The Blind Plowman”. Yes, I was there. In fact it seemed like all the classes and musical groups for miles around were in attendance. And both of us also remembered Ole Olson won high honors as well singing “Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep”. People who are too young to remember either of those traditional Music Festival numbers have missed out on a part of growing up some of us cherish.
Both Don and Ole graduated from LHS in the 1940’s (maybe not as classmates), and I do know Ole is still with us. Don might still be in Washington state after a long life of playing football and basketball, working in various schools – not sure if he coached, taught or administrated or maybe all of those at different times, playing lots of golf and at the time he called me, still singing. Music Festivals still go on but are not advertised for the general public to attend.
As this is written, last night featured one of the fun traditions of more recent spring concerts – the LAHS Jazz Band and Pop Choir concert. It may be that both groups began around the same time and have always held joint concerts, but one of the best remembered evenings with the jazz band might not have had pop choir involvement. That was a night when the band played Glenn Miller tunes or at least a few of them. One of the drummers was Adam Zavalney, who might be described as marching to the beat of a different drum at times. Midway into possibly “In The Mood”, the look on his face registered shock! He might even have quit playing (momentarily) because at the other end of the gym was his own sister, Beth, and Travis Hakanson dancing to the music. The applause that followed was for the impromptu dancers! They really were good. For some time when the jazz band was mentioned, people would have a dreamy look on their faces and say, “You mean like the group Beth and Travis danced to?”
And there are also memories of a relatively new jazz band participating in a multi-school music day at Edmore, performing all their best numbers from students in Kindergarten on up. Several attending informed teachers and parents that some day they would play in that group. Was it one twin or both who were maybe in sixth grade and asked to “sit-in” with that group? Reportedly they were told jazz band was only for high school. They grew up to be soloists with both concert and jazz band.
On the pop choir performances, several stand out, but I do need to mention the Temptations. One of the earliest Music Fest guest groups had been the Temptations (maybe a revival group) so the LHS group knew the moves needed for their numbers, and attired in bright shirts and an amazing array of sunglasses they did their best. They might even have been called back for an encore.
Another year the pop choir girls did a number about a wolf – am not sure if the girls had red capes or not. The boys sitting behind them on the bleachers provided the howls.
The recent concert began with the jazz band playing a favorite for all ages, the theme from “The Pink Panther” (early 1960’s?) and worked their way down to a Blues Brothers medley while giving time for solos by some of the graduating seniors and a couple of talented not quite seniors – yet. Yes, Curt Kram directs the jazz band which used to meet early in the morning, a routine people my age remember as “daily band practice”.
The pop choir, directed by Kim Hart, had more numbers because they wanted to give new soloists and tried and true performers all equal time. The variety of numbers was amazing- some new, some old and a good showcase of teenage talent. The two graduating this year are Hope Cleveland and Kaydee Koistinen, and yes, they can belt out songs! Not only did the audience appreciate all the talent, but it was interesting to note that the other choir members were supporting each of the soloists.
When Don Soli called me years ago, he was remembering his solo at the Music Festival 50 or more years earlier. In years to come there are members of the 2019 Pop Choir who may still be around reminiscing about the year they left everyone smiling when “they sang Queen……”
When writing stories about graduates each year people always ask about how many Olsons and how many sets of twins are in the graduating class. I did not spot Olsons (might have been one or two there) in the jazz band or pop choir and also did not notice recognizable twins. But it looked like triplets were out in full force. Currently LAHS has two sets of triplets. For any who missed this concert, the same group plus others will be back for the LAHS Band and Choir concert on May 14. Grades 4-6 will be entertaining you May 9th and K-3 will sing or maybe dance for you on May 16. Their programs are always a high point in the lives of the students and their families.
A spring event we tried to attend years ago were the plays. There seemed to usually be a junior play in the fall and a senior play in the spring. Currently the Drama Club does plays but have seen no spring publicity for their group this year. Several stand out in my mind as outstanding no matter which group puts on the performance.
In another era they did musicals or classical plays. I have vague memories of an elaborate Dickens Christmas Carol, a musical called “The Mikado,” a travelling group who did “Taming of the Shrew” before it was adapted for a movie called “Kiss Me Kate” or something similar. “The Sound of Music” starring Colleen Shortridge as Maria and Dave Fast as Capt. VonTrapp was one of the first in the “new” Langdon gym. Later there was “Joseph and his Amazing Coat”. Stars or maybe minor-stars of those and other productions may now be famous elsewhere or might be running businesses and living in Cavalier County. One of the memorable plays directed by Don Haugen starred a tiny Ken doll perched on a light fixture as a potential suicide while the group on the stage provided the dialog. Everyone went home smiling.
And because one of my personal favorites of the spring events are the opportunities for piano students to show their skills, April 28 is the annual recital at United Lutheran for Lisa Schuler’s students. This is an event which always has surprises for the audience. And all we need to do is listen and clap.