The Glee Club-1932
(Names listed in alphabetical order)
Samuel Barnes/ Elliott Beal/ Edgar Beecham/ Louis Bland/ Henry Bowser/ Levie Buckhalter/ Pellam Calhoun/ Wilber Cato/ Louis Diaz/ Peter Edmund/ Altemus Gardette/ Earl Gaudin/ Wilfred Gougis/ Herman Graham/ Leroy Jackson/ Ulysses Jupiter/ Harry Lewis/ Marcus Lyons/ Oliver Marcell/ Ferdinand McKenzie/ Charles Perkins/ Alfred Randall/ Price Rogers/ Judge Riley/ Robert Sloan/ Richard Spooner/ Lawrence Sumler/ George Trinity/ Clarence Warren/ Henry Williams
Shown above are the names and photos of the thirty young men who were members of McDonogh #35’s Glee Club in 1932. The director, Mr. Osceola A. Blanchet, was not only a Chemistry teacher but also the school’s vocal and instrumental music instructor as well as a founding member of the city’s most prestigious male vocal harmony group, the Osceola Five. The Glee Club sang at special school programs, graduation exercises, and church functions. They also served as the male background for the two operettas presented each year.
In the year 1932, many factors influenced the lives of these young men. The Great Depression was now in its third year. Hard times were experienced by people throughout the country, especially blacks residing in the rural areas. As cotton prices plunged, two thirds of some two million black farmers earned nothing or went into debt. Hundreds of thousands of share croppers left the land for the cities, leaving behind abandoned fields and homes. So called “Negro jobs” in the city, such as busboys, elevator operators, garbage men, maids, porters, cooks, etc. were sought by desperate unemployed white males.
The Ku Klux Klan, through intimidation and terror, was a major threat as lynchings were being reported in the daily news. Jim Crow Laws throughout the South continued to deprive people of color from exercising their basic rights as American citizens.
In spite of it all, the young men shown above looked forward to a better future. They were taught that character, not circumstances, will determine the person you will become and that success in life is measured by the obstacles one overcomes while trying to succeed. One has only to look at the above photo to see the self-confidence, pride, determination and dignity that radiates from this collective group. This is shown through their posture, clothing attire and facial expressions…a lesson many young men of today are in desperate need of learning.
If any of you are related to those pictured above, please let us know. We would really appreciate finding out just where in the photo each one is sitting or standing.
Sources: The Roneagle 1932, McDonogh #35 Yearbook (personal possession)