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Archive for August 3rd, 2008

Since I spent two and a half days last week at College Orientation with my daughter, I thought I’d write about those college grads in my family.

The first person that comes to mind is my mom’s brother, my Uncle Glen Johnson.  He was named after his father and was the firstborn child and son of my maternal grandparents.  Uncle Glen attended school in Greene County, Ohio and graduated from Bath Township Consolidated High School in 1936.  He then went on to Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.  Uncle Glen played the Sousaphone in the Ohio State Band and in 1937 was the first Sousaphone (or “big horn”) player to dot the “i” in the Script Ohio at halftime. (Please see the article at Central Ohio for more information.)  The Ohio State Band history also reads: 

History of the “i”-dot
At its first performance, the Script Ohio’s “i” was dotted by a trumpet player, with no special attention or honor being given to the movement. When the trumpet player, John Brungart (1933-36), dotted the first Script Ohio “i” October 10, 1936, the march from the top of the “o” to the top of the “i” was just another movement to complete a formation. Brungart simply took his place in a complex single file line drill. Over 60 years later, the honor of dotting the “i” is known throughout the world.
Because director Eugene Weigel provided several new floating formations throughout the 1936 season, the first Script Ohio was seen by bandsmen as just another formation. No charts were used–Weigel simply placed members in their spots. “We knew that we did something different, not started a tradition,” Brungart said, “I wasn’t picked to dot the ‘i’, I was just in the right place at the right time.” Script Ohio was performed two more times during the 1936 season, both with Brungart dotting the “i”. During a field rehearsal in the fall of 1937, Weigel had a spur-of-the-moment idea, and shouted to Glen R. Johnson, a sousaphone player, “Hey, you! Switch places with the trumpet player in the dot.” After several run-through with the exchanged positions, the script was ready to be performed. At the game on October 23, 1937, the marching band, led by drum major Wesley Leas, performed with Script Ohio with Johnson dotting the “i”. Johnson was in the band from 1937-40, and during all of those years he dotted the “i”. From that time forward, the i-dot became the province of the big horns.
The familiar kick, turn, and bow by the sousaphone player at the top of the “i” was an innovation introduced by Johnson at a game in 1938. “(The turn) was an impulse reaction when drum major Myron McKelvey arrived three or four measures too soon at the top of the “i”,” Johnson explained, “so I did a big kick, a turn, and a deep bow to use up the music before Buckeye Battle Cry. The crowd roared when this happened, and it became part of the show thereafter.”

My grandparents took many photos of the OSU band during their trips up to Columbus to visit their son.  Uncle Glen went on to graduate in 1941 with a Bachelors in Business Administration and spent 41 years working for Clark Equipment Company in Battle Creek, Michigan.  He retired in 1982 as National Accounts Manager.  Throughout his career and his life, he was very successful.

My mom’s sister, Genevieve, graduated from Bath Township Consolidated High School in 1938.  She then went on to receive her nursing degree from Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio in 1941.  Aunt Genevieve was a registered nurse for the City of Dayton for a few years prior to death in 1958.  In fact her granddaughter and great-granddaughter have gone on to pursue nursing degrees. 

My dad’s sister, my Aunt Marie, attended Salvation Army College in New York and still holds a rank with the S.A.

My mom’s first cousin, Fred Wilt, received a Bachelors Degree from Indiana University and a graduate degree from Purdue.  He was a special agent for the FBI for over 30 years.  In his youth, he participated in the 1948 Olympics held in London and the 1952 games in Helsinki competing in track and field.  After retiring from the government, he held coaching positions for many years at several universities.

My maternal grandparents never completed high school – attending only through the 10th grade so it is a great testament to their nurturing and advice that two of their three children went on to complete higher education.  My paternal grandparents also did not attend college and even though only one of their children attended college, I’m sure they were immensely proud of the sons who volunteered to serve their country during World War II. 

Though each generation strives to give their children a better future with better opportunities, let us not forget those who choose other avenues to explore besides college.  Those who serve their country, state or local government.  Those who give their time or skills to help those in need.  Those who use their creativity to make a difference and influence others.  Those who choose to be in public service.  Those who choose to be a stay at home parent.  Those who set examples for others.

Who is the first person in your ancestry that you’ve found who has gone on to college?  What impact has your grandparents’ or parents’ education or lack of had on you?  What impact has your’s had on your children?  Would you do anything different (finished college, gotten a different degree, gone on to graduate school)?

(Picture: Genevieve and Glen Johnson)

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