Musical memories at Bay High School

Bay High School music teacher Curt Crews in front of his Singing Christmas Tree. 

The first musical memory I have is playing the wood blocks in Mrs. Marie Ranny’s kindergarten class at Parkview School. I remember many pleasant moments singing in school. I always enjoyed music, especially the high school choir. 

When I was growing up in the 1940s, Miss Mabie was our music teacher at Parkview School. (The portables on the west end of Parkview School were my home for the second and third grades.) She would come into the classroom with her pitch pipe, and we would pass the music books around and sing in our seats. I remember the books were green with a picture of the world on the cover. I remember because while in Miss Lineberry’s third-grade classroom during music, a classmate threw up all over “the world.”

Miss Mabie had girl and boy glee clubs at the high school level and put on musical programs. She wrote the Bay High alma mater and maybe also the fight song. When the Class of 1949 had their 40th class reunion, Dan Marsalek asked his classmates if they remembered when Miss Mabie taught them how to sing “Little Ducky Duddle” in the first grade. They said they did, and they proceeded to sing the song. They still remembered all the words. It was quite a memory.

During my sister Barbara’s high school years (she graduated in 1949), Miss Mabie was replaced by Miss Joyce Rowbotham. Miss Rowbotham had just graduated from Baldwin Wallace College and everyone loved her. She had a classical singing voice. She told the girls to sit up straight and project through the bridge of their nose by putting their finger on their nose. They thought,  “What is she talking about!” Miss Rowbotham started the first choir and choraleers group in the high school. She began the tradition of singing “The Lord Bless You And Keep You” at the end of the musical programs. She took us to contest.

My twin sister, Gay, and I couldn’t wait to be in the choir with Miss Rowbotham. The seventh and eighth grades were in the high school building at the time, so we saw the high school students every day. Miss Rowbotham was our music teacher too. Finally we were ninth graders and next year could try out for Miss Rowbotham’s choir. Then she told us she was leaving to get married. We were devastated. 

The next fall, tenth grade, we could audition for choir. We had a new music teacher, Curt Crews, just out of Baldwin Wallace and Northwestern. Everyone was a little skeptical about this. Gay and I auditioned and made choir that year. Mr. Crews turned out to be just like Miss Rowbotham. He kept us singing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” and added Fred Waring’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas” each year. We went to contest and won first place. In 1955, I graduated.

In 1959, Curt Crews started another tradition, the Singing Christmas Tree. The Singing Christmas Tree was unveiled to “oohs and aahs” at the Christmas program that year. Donated to the choir by the Danco Metal Company, the metal tree was 21 feet high and 14 feet at the base. At the top was a glistening star, and it was surrounded by choir members in green robes with gold collars and holding dancing colored lights. The tree was truly awe-inspiring.

The memories of Bay High students singing and being in choir, performing for the folks, never go away. Most of us can still sing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.” What wonderful memories and traditions we have made here at Bay High. Get out and visit one of the many musical programs our students provide us this Christmas season. Make yourself a musical memory.

kay laughlin

I am the Historian for the Bay Village Historical Society, member and Past President, 1976. Lived in the village since 1936.  I was part of a team that developed the Cahoon farmhouse into Rose Hill Museum in 1973.  I participated by inventoring the Cahoon items and serving as the first Accessions Chairman and as a Docent at the museum for 20 years.  I was part of the committee that brought the Osborn house to Cahoon Memorial Park in 1995 and turned it into a learning center.  Along with my sister, Gay Menning, and the society, we wrote the 'Bay Way of Life' history book in 1974.  When Ginny Peterson asked for my help, I offered my historical pictures and wrote the captions for the Arcadia picture book, 'Bay Village,' published in 2007.  

Read More on Snippets of Bay Village History
Volume 8, Issue 23, Posted 9:36 AM, 11.29.2016