Monday, June 28, 2021

Alamosa High School (1917)


This has to be one of the oldest Colorado yearbooks in my collection - Alamosa High School, 1917. Found this at the big Denver antique mall. While it's not exclusively music related, I wanted to include it on the blog, as a historic look at a small town Colorado music education 104 years ago. It's pretty cool.

In 1917, a total of nine seniors graduated from Alamosa High. Right behind them, there were 12 juniors, 18 sophomores, and 22 freshmen.

A total of 11 students were a part of the first AHS orchestra. The yearbook notes that the group was founded in October, 1916. "Only five could play," according to the page notation. "Many, after a time,  decided that they could not conquer their instruments, and dropped out - now only eleven are left."

Alamosa High School Orchestra (1917)
Members noted (alphabetical order): Merle Aylard, Frank Byrum, Genevieve Freeman, Ernest Knutzen, Hilda Malmberg, Bernice Shahan, Esther Simmons, Gladys Stevens, Helen Sunquist, Mayme Whitney, and Glen Van Fleet
The yearbook notes that the Senior Glee Club formed on Sept, 23, 1916.
Senior Glee Club (1917) 
Members noted (alphabetical order): Rosalynde Allen, Florence Best, Evelyn Caffal, Louise Camp, Dorothy Cline, Francis Darling, Genevieve Freeman, Leone Hayhurst, Hazel Houser, Mabel Hutchinson, Charlotte Hyndman, Grave Kay, Gladys King, Oneta Kirkpatrick, Wenonah Koentz, Hilda Malmberg, Ruth McCabe, Blanche McCormick, Irene McDaniels, Emily McLellan, Louise Roderick, Jeannette Schooland, Minnie Snyder, Ruth Springer, Ellen Stevens, and Chrissie Taylor
Junior Glee Club (1917)
Members noted (alphabetical): Elsie Anderson, Helen Bell, Lillian Bergman, Helen Blackburn, Florence Farnham, Lorraine Freeman, Helen Groves, Mildred Groves, Oka Groves, Tina Kolkman, Christina Muff, Mattie Murray, Laura Nissen, May Paris, Maxine Pinchard, Pauline Ritchey, Frances Roberts, Helen Roberts, Ruth Sanchez, Dorothy Sanger, June Shipley, Lorretta Speraw, Dorothy Stanley, Winabeth Stephenson, Henrietta Stevens, Jewyl Stoddard, Agnes Taylor, Opal Timmons, Dorothy Traveller,  Flossie Turner, Lucille Walsh, and Edna Woodin
Double Quartet (1917)
Members noted (alphabetical order): Francis Darling, Genevieve Freeman, Hazel Houser, Charlotte Hyndman, Gladys King, Marguerite Knutzen, Melmoth Koentz, and Emily McLellan

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Buddy Johnson Book - A Son's Tribute to His Father

Hey all! On this Father's Day, I wanted to post this news related to one of the fathers of early Pueblo television.

Got a message from John Johnson, the son of Pueblo cowboy TV star and singer, Buddy Johnson, that the tribute book he wrote about his father is now in its second, and soon-to-be third, printing. The reaction to this book has been fantastic, and he wanted to let everyone know that it's available at the Beulah Historical Museum (8869 Grand Ave), the Pueblo Heritage Museum (207 West B Street), and the John Deaux Gallery (221 S. Union - Pueblo). It's also for order, on the incredible website, John put together, in memory of his father.

While the Pueblo Chieftain did an article, when the book came out, in October, I wanted to ask John a few other questions.

What made you all want to put together this book? 

My sister Pat badgered me for years to put something on paper about Dad. She was a young girl and a teenager during this time, and was occupied elsewhere during those years. She really didn’t know or remember everything that Dad was involved with, but she knew that I was right in the middle of lots of it, and thought he should be remembered in some way. Initially doing a book on Dad was the farthest thing from my mind. I thought I would just scan a few photographs and put up a site which we could refer the grandkids to, and that would be that. Then they would at least know something about Dad, who was such a force of nature in our lives, but was little known to his grandchildren - all of whom were born years, and in some cases, decades after all this happened. That just didn’t seem right. 

What was it like going through the memorabilia? Did it bring back any memories, for you? 

 I had seen lots of his stuff when he was alive, but it wasn’t until my mother died in 2004 that everything was divided up among the three of us children, so stuff was scattered between Pueblo where I live, and Littleton and Lakehurst where my sisters live. Once I looked at what I had, it did bring back memories of things I knew existed, but that I didn’t have. So my sisters started giving me things like scrapbooks and such. The further I looked through everything it did bring back many memories I haven’t thought about for decades, since he died in 1986. And once I had the website up, people would discover it and they would send me emails about their going to The Adventurer’s Club show, of how they met at one of Dad’s dances, that type of thing. People just felt that he was a cherished part of their young lives, as he was in the media for so many years. I only decided to do a book when my son Thomas happened to mention to one of his friend’s parents who his grandfather was. Their amazed and happy reaction - amazed and surprised that they would even know his grandfather. Then he told me about it. I thought a website would come and go, but I should put it into a more permanent form - a book. I’ve made a few films, but I think books are much more of a permanent item, which you can hold and go back to. 

Was there anything left out of the book? It’s packed with so many photos and other things! 

In telling Dad’s story and also Mom’s story too, I wanted to give the grandkids, and now the great-grandkids more context about the history of our family. up to his time. So I tried to give a historical context to what their lives were really. That’s why there are chapters bringing the genealogical lines of the family - from the early days in this country, and from the journey of our ancestors from Italy. Also, as all of his descendants live away from Pueblo, and it has so drastically changed since that time, I felt I had to let them see Pueblo the way it was during my parents’ lives here, and the way I remember it when I was young, thus the chapter on Pueblo history. In researching Pueblo, like researching Dad, there were just so many fascinating things I came across like the war years and the Pueblo Army Airbase and my grandmother’s remembrances about the terrible Dust Bowl era, but I couldn’t put everything in, so I had to really pare everything down. But I tired to keep in some of the most interesting items from all the stories I found. I’ll tell you if you really want to understand the history of your parents, read the newspapers from the time when they were alive. Things we think of now as being all settled, just historical fact, at the time were not settled at all, and the outcomes were very much in doubt. So lots of great stories that were left out. 

Why did Pueblo mean so much to Buddy? I’m sure he could have been “big” elsewhere, but he chose to stay here. Why? 

 Well I think it was the main city of any size that he lived in, and like I said, Pueblo was indeed formidable in those decades. A real power house. I mean here he was born in very rural Kansas, then he lived on the vast prairie at Arlington, which might have had maybe 600 people at its height. When the Johnson family moved to Pueblo, it was a big, powerful, industrial city with street cars on Main Street and many national department stores. He just liked the mix of people here, like I do. Pueblo was, and still is, just different from the rest of Colorado at the time. It was much more cosmopolitan that the rest of the state which which was pretty much white, rural and agricultural like Arlington. It must have seemed somewhat exotic to Dad, at sixteen, and his family. You have to remember that because of the heavy industry at one time there were something like 30 different foreign language papers published here, so it was totally different, back then. 

Has the book brought back any memories for readers? What have you heard from those who have bought the book? 

I've heard from so many people that either bought the book for themselves or purchased it for their husband or wife. They tell how they encountered Dad, even down to remembering exactly what was said. Amazing. One man even found himself in a photograph from The Adventurer's Club in the book. Remember there were just two or three TV stations, not the thousands of choices we have today. If someone was lucky enough to have a TV everyone was pretty much watching the same shows. These memories remain. When I went to my wife’s high school reunion they began their "remembering when" PowerPoint presentation of their high school years with a slide of Dad, and they didn’t know I was related to him. His memory is very warm and fuzzy for so many people, it reminds them of their youth and a much simpler, possibly happier time in their lives. I like that, you love your father and it’s nice to know so many others do too.

What do you think Buddy would have thought of the book? 

My sister Kitty told me that Dad would be so proud of the book. I think he and Mom both would be proud and think I did ok. One time I was talking to Dad about things like death and such and he told me 'When I’m gone just put me in a wood box and dump me off to the side of the road. Just forget about me.' Fat chance of that happening. With his family or us kids who were and still are very close, or the countless people who consider him their own. But yeah, if there’s a heaven he likes the attention.


Monday, June 14, 2021

KTLN Radio -vs- Kaytee Ellen

I'm so fortunate to have rescued these photos, a while back. The story of "Katey Ellen" (also spelled "Kaytee Ellen") is one of those Denver media stories, which was well ahead of its time - can a radio personality continue to use an air name, which sounds like the radio station call letters, after she is fired from said station?

Unfortunately these photos have no identifying writing, on the back. Hoping someone can definitively identify these ladies. Could one of them be "Katey Ellen," Irva Steffen?

On May 16, 1948, KTLN signed on the air, on 990 kHz. It was owned by Alfred M. Landon, former governor of Kansas and one-time Republican presidential candidate. It moved to 1150 on the dial, in 1951, so it would appear these photos are before 1951 (note the 990 banner in the back). In 1954, the station moved up the dial to 1280.  In 1969 the station changed its call letters to KTLK, then later KBRQ (1981-1987), KXKL (1987-1996), KRRF (1996-4/1999), KEXX (4/1999-5/1999), KXKL (5/1999-6/1999), and KVOD (1999-2001). It's now known as KBNO.

Irva Steffen was considered one of the most popular radio personalities in Denver, during that time. She went by the catchy name "Katey Ellen," a play on the station call letters. In 1954 the station fired Steffen, for undisclosed reasons, and hired her replacement, Shirley Wray. The new hire took over Steffen's shows, and even her radio name, Kaytee Ellen.  The change didn't sit well with Steffen, who claimed that she came up with the air name and should have full rights to use it. The station claimed that the name was an obvious phonetic play on the station call letters, and they should retain all rights.

Steffen filed suit, and in May, 1957 the case went to court. After several weeks, a judge ruled that the former station personality could keep her professional name, in spite of its phonetic similarity to the station's call letters, because "ratings showed that her personality gave the program drawing power, not the call letters."  She was awarded a $13,300 judgment, including $2,500 punitive damages, for what the judge described as "wanton and reckless disregard of plaintiff's rights and feelings." 

 However, in 1959, the Colorado Supreme Court reversed the lower state court decision. "Since the radio station has developed a vested and valuable property interest in its trade name, the plaintiff cannot be held to have established a separate and severable property interest in a trade name that when spoken is indistinguishable from the call letters KTLN." 

Several decades later, the great-granddaughter of Steffen, Anika Pyle, would go on to have a band named Katie Ellen

If anyone can offer positive proof that one of the ladies in the picture is the original Kaytee Ellen, Irva Steffen (or is it Shirley Wray), please let me know.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Southern Express


Found this previously-unknown-to-me Colorado LP on the big online auction site, thanks to a friend who alerted me. The seller told me he found the album in in Greeley. Of course I was happy to add it to the stash.

Southern Express was a five-piece country-rock group out of Fort Collins. Headed up by Whit Privette (bass and lead vocals), along with Cathy Privette (keyboards / vocals), Todd McCoy (drums), Cary Jones (guitar), and Larry Zollinger (piano, guitar, sax, and vocals).

This 1986 LP (Please Wait For Me) was produced by Thad Crowe, over at Paragon Sound, in Fort Collins.

Has an 80s bar band vibe to it, with more emphasis on rock than country.  The group thanks the Sundance Saloon, in Fort Collins, specifically.

Listen to "Live Wire"

Found a few ads for the band, playing on the Western Slope, and a few other places.

Daily Sentinel - Grand Junction (August 2, 1985)

I have some emails out to the members, and hope to get more on the group, soon.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Hugh Tighe's Skyline Dodge and the Bridey Murphy Connection

Found these promotional 45s for Hugh Tighe Skyline / Hugh Sky's Tighline Dodge, and over the course of research discovered an association between the Denver car dealer and one of the most infamous stories in Pueblo history.

No clue how this connection escaped me, until now.

Back in 1952, Pueblo car dealer Hugh Tighe, and his wife Virginia ("Ginny"or "Ginni"), attended a party at Morey Bernstein's house, in Pueblo. She was having trouble with allergies, and Morey, who was an amateur hypnotist, said he could help her. She took part in several sessions, but instead of helping her with hay fever, Bernstein unlocked a past life, that of an Irish woman, Bridey Murphy. 

Of course, we all know what transpired from that. I won't copy and paste the whole Bridey Murphy story, as there is plenty on that subject (start with Wikipedia

Back to the car dealer part of the story.

The Tighes would eventually leave Pueblo, and move to Denver. Hugh started up his car dealership, located at E, 18th and Downing. In 1964, the dealership would move to 7100 E. Colfax, before moving to it's final location, 750 S. Colorado. 

Listen to a sample of the promo single

The radio spots were produced by Fred Arthur Productions, Western Cine Service Inc., of Denver.

In 1968, Ginny and Hugh divorced. She would go on to marry Denver steel company executive Richard Morrow in 1971. Ginny Tighe died in 1995, at the age of 72.

1969 advertisement for the new Dodge dealership (650 S. Colorado)

Hugh Tighe served as president of the Denver Metro Automobile Dealers Association.

Skyline Dodge went out of business in the 1980s. Hugh Tighe passed away in 2014, at the age of 88. The site of his massive car dealership is now an urgent care center.