Source: Wabash Plain Dealer Weekend Edition, October 16-17, 1976
Memories fill Freeds' weekend
By Bruce Bunschoten, N. Manchester Bureau
Members of Manchester College's first bank--1926--may have spent part of this week poking around in damp, musty attics and cellars and searching through desks and bureaus for old college yearbooks, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia.
The reason for the flurry of historical interest? Original bank members will gather on the Manchester College campus this weekend for the group's first reunion since the bank was organized 51 years ago. Liegh and Florence Freed, 1005 N. Wayne St., North Manchester, are typical of those reminiscers. They were intrigued after receiving a reunion invitation from former college roommate Paul Garrett, who organized the bank early in the 1925-26 academic year.
Freed, an original band member, and Florence are enthusiastic and plan to attend the reunion. They have special reason. Garrett, who began and directed the band when a college sophomore and who is reunion coordinator, will stay with the Freeds while in North Manchester. And for the Freeds that will be a welcome trip through the good times that fill their memories.
An interview with Freed is like poking and searching through an encyclopedia of the early days of Manchester College's band, of the days of live radio shows, of a song that never quite made it, of the 1933 Chicago's World Fair, and of...well, read on.
It was Garrett who formed the band. "It was 100 per cent his organization," Freed said.
At the time, Garrett was assistant director and chairman of a 16-member orchestra, but because of his background and experience with his father's boys band, he became interested in organizing a college band.
The first band had "no more than 20" members. There were no auditions and everyone who was interested played.
It did not take Garrett and Freed long to discover forming a band had its problems. There was no director. No music available. And no uniforms.
A request for college financial assistance for the fledgling band was denied.
"President (Otho) Winger wouldn't give them any funds," Mrs. Freed said.
So, Garrett wrote bank arrangements and furnished the group with sheet music he borrowed from his father.
The bank played at football and basketball games, but did not march. "We would have looked like a dot out on the football field," Freed laughed.
In addition to the band, Freed was a member of the 1925 Manchester Male Quartette of Ralph Cordier, baritone; Harold Fish, second tenor; Virgil Kindy, bass; and Freed, first tenor. That summer the group--accompanied by President Winger--toured Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
The group also once sang at Chicago radio station WLS. Freed recalled that the "baritone and I were offered contracts at the radio station there. I found that out in a newspaper clipping I had saved."
He also was part of the Rotary Quartet which won the State Farm Bureau Quartet Contest three consecutive years.
"They finally disqualified us after three years. They told us we could only win three years in a row." The contest was sponsored by the Indiana Federation of Music Clubs of which Mrs. Freed is a past president.
He was a member of the "Overall Four" which sang a weekly program for Fort Wayne radio station WOWO and sang commercials for Wayne Overalls.
"We wore hickory bib overalls with blue and white stripes," he said. "And remember, you wore those red bandanas tied around your neck," she laughed.
He figures he has written 25-30 songs over the years. Bob Hope introduced one of them in 1928 when he was just getting started and had not yet made a name for himself, Freed recalled.
"He was emcee of a vaudeville show at the Emboyd Theater on Jefferson Street in Fort Wayne and introduced 'I'm Wantin' You.'"
"It never became popular, but it was used on radio and by dance bands and orchestras."
Freed teamed with his wife and the two sang a "great deal together" on radio and at weddings, anniversaries, receptions and other social occasions.
"We sang together on radio stations from Chicago to Harrisburg, Pa.," he said.
The couple was part of the 5,000 voices which sang "The Messiah" at the 1933 opening of the World's Fair in Chicago.
While still in college, Freed penned the school's pep song. The college honored the song's golden anniversary last year.
Freed, who grew up on a farm near the small Ohio community of Williamstown, has always been interested in music and has sang from the time he was "a little tyke."
He learned to play the trombone when a youth after he saw the Brewer Family Trio (a mother and two daughters) use trombones in a musical performance.
When he was 16, he bought his first trombone with money he earned raising and selling sheep, calves and hickory nuts.
"Both our daughters (Connie Lee of Toledo, Ohio) and (Bonnie Dee of North Manchester) play the trombone and now our grandson (Bonnie and Karl Merritt's son, Kirk) plays too. We've got three generations of trombone players," he laughed.
Freed, who claims to be a Buckeye at heart and who always intended to be graduated from Ohio State, studied for parts of three years (1920-24) at Bluffton College. Then, he heard of an opportunity to teach school.
"Well, I knew you had to take an examination in order to teach. I waited until after the examinations were over so I'd have the superintendent over a barrel, you know. Well, he said he would hire me. I told him I didn't have a certificate and he said that he'd take care of that. I don't know what he did, but I ended up teaching one year in a one-room country school in Dola, Ohio."
He then taught in the junior high school and one year in the high school there.
During the summers he traveled to Manchester College to study manual training and mechanical drawing so he could teach it at "my own high school."
But, he liked Manchester College well enough that he came back to attend classes from 1924-25 and from 1925-26. By then, he had switched his interest to science.
It was during his first year at Manchester that he happened to room with Garrett, the son of the director of an "outstanding boys band in Muncie."
"When he was 18 or 19, Paul was offered a contract to play clarinet in (John Philip) Sousa's band." Garrett rejected the offer to attend college and has never regretted his decision, Freed said.
Garrett's brother, Dana, who also at one time attended Manchester College, did play in Sousa's band. He was first trumpeter and would play as soloist when the first soloist was unable to perform, Freed said.
"Paul was an outstanding musician," he said proudly. "I remember him sitting up most of one night writing a solo. He would remember it and play it the next night at a concert."
Garrett also played the piano and his practicing occasionally would "nearly drive me crazy," Freed said, the smile lighting up again. Garrett also played the xylophone.
"He played at our wedding at Winona Lake," Mrs. Freed chimed in. "It was at 5 a.m. and Paul played "When the World is Waiting for Sunrise."
Eventually, Garrett "gave up" music and got a degree in Latin and taught in Silver Springs, Md., and Washington, D.C. He now lives in McAllen, Texas.
After graduation, Freed was recommended by the college's chemistry professor and dean for a science teaching position at Manchester High School. He got it and kept it for 38 years.
Source: News-Journal, April 10, 1980
Rotary Marks 75 Years
Rotary clubs around the nation are marking their 75th anniversary this month, and if there is one local resident who would be in the best position to tell of the North Manchester club's achievements, it would be Liegh Freed, who is considered by his fellow members as the club's unofficial historian.
A life-long teacher in the North Manchester community, Freed at age 80 is the club's oldest, active member.
"I think people like to think of me as the historian because of my interest in photography and in keeping scrap books," speculated Freed, as he thumbed through the many scrap books as well as special program pamphlets he has put together over the years for the local Rotarians.
Not only does Freed have a complete scrap book of photographs of the minstrel shows that made the North Manchester club famous throughout the state in the late '40s and early '50s, he also has the programs he helped compile for the club's silver anniversary (25 years) and its 40th anniversary, which it celebrated just last April with a special program at Manchester College.
Freed likes to note that some of his photographs of the Rotary minstrel shows would go a long ways towards making some of North Manchester's elder statesmen humorously embarrassed!
North Manchester's Rotary Club had its official beginning on June 29, 1939, at the Sheller Hotel. The first officers were Charley Sheller, president; Pete Warvel, vice-president; Duane DeLancey, treasurer; and Ivan Little, secretary.
Of the 22 charter members, Freed said that those still living include Dr. Worth Walrod, H.S. Warvel, Wayne Garman, and Paul Abbott.
Among those who joined the club very shortly after its charter are Nolan (Bud) Walker and Freed, both still active. Walker, noted Freed, was instrumental in bringing the Purdue Glee Club here year after year for more than a decade.
Other musical endeavors by the club included a quartet consisting of Harold Ulrey, Harry Mishler, Freed and Floyd Stevens, which sang on Chicago radio. Also, with the substitution of Paul Faudree and Wendell Scheerer, the quartet made many appearances around the state in the name of Rotary. Quartet members Floyd Stevens and his wife, noted Freed, directed the club's famous minstrel shows.
Other fund raising projects included the annual corn roast sponsored by Dr. W.K. Damron and later by Joe Ruppel and Bill Ruppel. Then, of course, noted Freed, the annual Rotary Auction, conducted by 35-year club member Leon Keister, has become a traditional part of Fun Fest.
Also, Rotary each Election Day conducts a pancake breakfast, both as a fund raiser and as a way to turn out the vote.
In terms of projects aimed at the community's youth, continued Freed, the group has provided many items of equipment for the park and pool. It has also provided an organ for the high school, a baseball scoreboard for Faudree Field, and the club has contributed labor for improving softball fields at Thomas Marshall and Chester Schools.