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Thursday December 5, 1985


Pix #1 - Although it's not of the earliest of Wainwright's bands, the above photo is a good one and worth reprinting with this article. There are still older readers who will recognize the faces and put names to match. Newcomers to town will get at least one view of Wainwright's band. Many of those in the photo were members of the national championship band in 1923.

Author's Note: Myron Leibengood, a former Fostorian who attended Fostoria High School and was a member of Jack Wainwright's band is a reader of Potluck.

Recently, he wrote a felicitous letter about the column, and included separately recollections about the band of 60 or more years ago. In fact, he provided information and viewpoints that were not available when the Wainwright series of articles was published in this column in 1979.

Readers are always interested in remarks about Wainwright and the band that became national champions, which is one reason it seemed appropriate to publish an edited version of Leibengood's comments. Another reason: adults with children who are involved in band and orchestra activities at FHS and St. Wendelin should influence them to read this article. It will not only provide important history about the early days of music inaugurated by Wainwright for the benefit of students in both schools it will pinpoint the necessity of discipline and practice.

By Myron Leibengood

When Mr. and Mrs. Jack Wainwright first came to Fostoria, Jack promised to put music in the Fostoria Schools and produce a band. This he really did in a big way, producing a national championship band in 1923.

The boys in the band worked hard and practiced endlessly and became good enought to deserve to win the contest. However, there were a few other factors that made the band successful. Most of the boys started at the same time and had a few years experience playing together. Some had even started in the grades and continued through high school. Jack certainly taught discipline as well and you did as you were told or you did not play in the band. This was an ecvellent personal training program. Absenteeism was an absolute no no. Death-bed tremors may have been an acceptable excuse.


As a marching band, not a lot can be said other than they marche as well as any other school band in its day. They did keep in step and kept straight lines, but play they could and it sounded great. Actually, not much time was spent in practicing marching. The time was spent in concert practice. There was no comparison to the wonderful marching school bands of today. It is a thrill to see the beautiful uniforms, flags, drill teams, majorettes and the beautiful formations.

Jack Wainwright has often been credited with having been a great influence on the starting of high school bands. Maybe some of these great bands of today had their early inspirations from the influence of Jack Wainwright. By the way, in talking some of these young bands-men that I happen to know, I find that they have never even heard of heavy overtures that the FHS band used to play.


It used to be said during the Wainwright years that you could not walk down any street in the evening without hearing someone practicing on some instrument. Many fine career musicians came from the music programs of the Wainwrights.

Undoubtedly, the FHS Band became good because of the heavy schedule of practicing and playing together so much.

I will endeavor, as I remember, to bring out the activities of the band. I will just use four years, 1921 through 1925. I would say, however, that most of the heavy concert activity took place after the band won the national championship.

The band practiced every Monday night during the school year. It often played Sunday afternoon concerts during the winter time. It played at all home football games, preceded by a parade downtown, and most out of town games with the exception of Toledo. Also prior to any special event or concert, extra practice sessions were held.


After the band won the national championsip, many other high schools made requests for the band to appear. Some schools did not have a band and wanted to create enough interest to start one.

then there were schools in which band members needed encouragement and inspiration to be more than mediocre. The bank took two or three trips and played in the following high schools: Medina, Akron, Cleveland, Lisbon, East Liverpool, Cuyahogs Falls, Kent, another Cleveland school, another Akron school, Canton, Wellington and several others. We traveled by Interurban. Younger generations may not know what that was. It was a glorified large eletric car, not unlike a street car. We arrived at our destination in time to play a concert for the students in their auditorium. After this we were assigned to a student who would take us to his or her home as overnight guests. In those days there were no girls in the band. So in the majority of cases it was mostly girls who took the boys home. What else would you expect? After a usually wonderful dinner, we returned to the auditorium where we played a concert for the parents. Then back to our room. The next morning after breakfast we caught our Interurban to go to the next town and school. A lot of friendships that lasted for many years were made on these trips.

One rather amusing incident happended in Lisbon, Harold Switzer of FHS maintenance traveled with the band and was in charge of properties. Harold was using carbon arcs to throw flashes of lightning during the storm scene of the William Tell Overture and set the backdrop scenery on fire. Although it was quickly extinguished, the smoke it threw out was enough. Many started to take off, including some boys in the band who went over into the orchestra pit. It all soon quieted down and the band played the Dawn movement of William Tell.


The FHS band played the Wood County Fair at Bowling Green one year and the Hancock county Fair at Findlay one year. The band played several years at the Seneca County Fair at Tiffin. Probably the most exciting thing about the fairs was playing in the grandstand for the races. There were a lot of betting pools within the band on every race.

Then the band played at the Ohio State Fair, which was open only from Monday to Saturday noon. There was only one other band there a city band. Our band was the official band and played the grandstand as well as the cattle and horse shows. We had one tent for a dorm and another tent to eat in and it left a lot to be desired. The greasy hamburgers on the Midway were better. It rained quite a bit that week so our clothes were wrinkled and our shoes were muddy. Some returning Fostorians said we looked like a carnival band.

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