Photo Album - Page 17

Photos by Fred Cerwick, 1972

music student - central campus

lots of hands up vocal photos

top floor of Morrill Hall where all vocal groups practiced

Some young music majors first thought Frantisek Smetana was someone to be feared because of his broken English/Czech speech and his often intense style of rehearsing the orchestra.  Time proved that he had a softer side, however.  One Christmas season when the men of Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity were surprising a few faculty members with a late-night serenade of carols, the decision to knock on his door was not taken lightly.  Mr. Smetana greeted all at his door with a huge smile and insisted they enter to warm up.  After a pleasant visit, he led the group to a special cello case in his living room.  All gathered around to see a very special instrument, but it proved to be his liquor cabinet.

Music majors often performed recitals.  Dennis McGinn is the French horn player.  The audience includes Nancy Arnt (?) Nancy Moklestad, Acton Ostling, Jim Buckner, Arthur Swift, and Marion Hendrickson.  The office for the director of bands can be seen back left.  The two students in the background stand in the Exhibit Hall entrance which faced the ROTC building (south).

The coat racks located just inside the front door of the bandroom (visible in the background of the above image) was always ready for it's primary use, providing a place for all the wraps of bandmembers during rainy or wintery rehearsals in Exhibit Hall.


Normal Coat-check Duties

A lesser known usage for the coat racks was apparent only to members of Phi Mu Alpha, the male service fraternity dedicated to fulfilling the needs of the ISU Music Department.  When there was a special performance, it would take place in the Armory.  This might be a visiting ballet troupe, a well-known symphony orchestra, or a famous performer.  Someone was then needed to man the easy "coat-check" duties.

An hour or so before the performance was scheduled to begin, one of the Phi Mu brothers would wheel both of the empty coat racks along the several block long trip on the sidewalk which connected the bandroom to the Armory.  The coat rack would clatter loudly on this evening trip (sometimes in the dark of night), as both the tiny-wheeled casters and the many empty hangers would rattle quite loudly.  Perhaps this noisy trip served a purpose other than embarrasing the Phi Mu guys.  It also would announce or bring attention to the evening's performance.  Following the loud journey, this rack would be pushed into the small coat-check room so it was ready for it's minor duties.  Two Phi Mu guys would be ready for the ten or fifteen audience members (or perhaps twenty four on a big night) to check their coats.  These "customers" were given a small "ticket" designed to indicate which hanger held their coat.   Following the concert or performance, most folks presenting their ticket to pick up their coats would throw a dollar bill on the counter to give their thanks.  On a great night, ten to twenty dollars would be taken along with the rattling coat rack on the return trip to the bandroom.  This provided the Music Department with a nice monetary boost.


The Big Coat-check Job

Several major changes came to the Music Department once C. Y. Shephens Auditorium was finally available.  (The ISU Symphony Band had already performed for the famous dedication ceremony.)  This new wonderful auditorium provided more than just a larger (seated 2,700 folks) and more dignified performance hall.  The first major event was the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, so the huge audience came from miles around and came dressed in real style!  They also came expecting a great coat-check service which they did not find.  The Phi Mu guys, knowing the old bandroom coat rack would no longer be needed, showed up at C. Y. Stepherns Auditorium to operate a huge coat check area in the South part of the basement (under the main floor lobby).  They were shocked to find no hangers at all, but perhaps 40 eye-level coat hooks mounted all around the curved wall.  Where were no coat-check tickets, or even pens and paper!  But there were hundreds of "customers" from all across the Midwest!

The dignified audience members wishing to check their hats and coats plopped them on the counter just in front of the coat-hooks.  They were offered no coat-check tickets to help them claim their wraps.  The Phi Mu Guys began placing them by color.  "Let's put all the black coats here.  Brown over there!  Green-tint coats way over there!  Anybody have a pencil?  Place blueish coats over there!  If you can't tell what color it is, then put those on the hooks at the far end!"  There were soon 40 eye-level coat-hooks filled, each holding at least three to four coats.  And there were many piles of stacked top-hats filling the shelves above the coat-hooks.  What a mess of fine garb!

The best news was that this awkward coat-check acivity ceased when the performance actually began.  The Phi Mu Alpha guys retreated upstairs to attempt to watch this amazing philharmonic performance.   All seats had been taken (purchased).  The Music Department helpers just watched the performance by standing against the wall at the back of the auditorium or by standing on the stairs that led down to the lower seats.

The worst news came following the performance, because hundreds of folks who had "checked" their coats and hats showed up to retrieve their fine clothes.  Since they had not been given a coat-check ticket to help identify their coats, it was fortunate that they were all in a good mood from attending this impressive performance that opened C.Y. Stephens Auditurium.

"What color is your coat?  Black?  So is it one of these three?  No?   How about one of those four?  Maybe one of these over here?   Is it this coat?  How about that one?  What color did you say your hat was?  Black?  Oh my!  Can you point at which one of these six piles of black hats contains your top-hat?  Is it one on this pile?  Point at the pile where you see your hat!"

The returning "customers" had formed four long lines behind the few folks who were actually being served while standing at the counter.   The Phi Mu guys were fortunate that all "customers" had enjoyed the orchestra performance and were very patient about the long coat-check process (now called "coat-claim" process).   No "customers" complained about this new, long hassle of retrieving their clothes, and most actually left a very generous donation on the counter after their coats and hats were claimed.  Wow, what a productive night!

This great and productive Phi Mu Alpha coat-check process was soon replaced by a new process manned by the professional and paid auditorium staff.


(STUDIO G-STRING SIGN)
This seemingly risque sign in the window of a practice module in Exhibit Hall
is clarified by knowing that the top string on a string bass is "G".
The statement scrawled twards the bottom of the sign reads,
"This is Cheryl A. Spohnheimer's home bass (base).   For appointments, call ***-****"
Cheryl played the string bass, and she is seen at right in the photo below.

Orchestra rehearsal

next page

back to photo album index