Wednesday, December 7, 2011


                (Darwin and Opal Brown) - Kalamazoo Gazette photo from 1975
                -Dave Hager, LOOKING BACK, Kalamazoo Gazette, December 18, 2005

Gilmore Brothers Department Store (est. 1881) was the centerpiece of downtown
retail in Kalamazoo for over 100 years.  It was located on South Burdick Street in
the heart of the shopping district, and always had an air of big-city sophistication
about it.  At Christmas, the tall storefront windows were done up with mechanical
mannequins and delightful winter scenes reminiscent of department store windows
in Chicago or New York.

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a trip downtown to shop at Gilmores.
Once inside the front door, your nose caught the intoxicating blend of Paris perfumes
emanating from the nearby fragrance counters.  You said hello to the oh so perfectly
powdered and coifed sales ladies-- faithful employees of long standing.

The conversations on the expansive main floor echoed off the high ceilings of exposed
duct work, and the muffled ding ding ding of the store paging system was heard in the
background.  The Christmas decorations festooning the pillars had a large-scale
theatricality about them-- oversized toys, trumpets and drums, balls, ribbon, bows and
packages were displayed at every turn.

Owner and proprietor Irving Gilmore, an elegant silver-haired gentleman in a pinstripe
suit would appear out of nowhere to greet his customers, and ask about their purchases.
His brisk, business-like air made him a formidable character, and his rapier wit revealed
a sense of fun.  You had to be on your toes if you found yourself in Irving's orbit.

The Gilmore Brothers Santa and Mrs. Claus were simply the best.  Darwin Brown
and his wife Opal were Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus at Gilmores for decades, starting
in the 1950s.  Darwin was a retired clown, who went by the professional name of
"Brownie the Clown" during his circus days.

Santa and the Mrs. held court in Gilmore's Basement, not far from the lunch
counter/soda fountain.  The sat on red velvet chairs, trimmed with gold.  Tall
nutcracker and soldier statues stood guard nearby.  Mrs. Claus passed out candy
canes from a large basket she carried, while Santa sat in his red chair, waiting to
receive the next child behind the rope line.  The stage was set for making Christmas
memories, 1950s-style, at Gilmore Brothers in downtown Kalamazoo.

                                       Garment Label - Gilmore Brothers        
St. Nicholas (270-343), according to legend, did many acts of anonymous charity
throughout his lifetime.  Nicholas helped out a poor man with three daughters by
leaving each of them a small purse containing gold coins without revealing his
identity.  In another version of the story, he dropped a purse down the chimney
that landed in one of their stockings that was hanging up to dry near the fireplace.

Nicholas is the Patron Saint of children, students and merchants, among others.

Irving S. Gilmore (1900-1986), is well-known in Kalamazoo for his many contributions
to the arts and to social causes, but little is known about his own anonymous acts of charity.

          "Irving was a dear friend to people in all walks of life.  Much of his
           philanthropy during his lifetime was always behind the scenes...
           In his own quiet way, Irving helped hundreds and hundreds of 
           people in this town... many times they didn't even know it was 
           Irving who was helping them."

              -Irving Gilmore's good friend Al Connable, from his book entitled
               A MICHIGAN MAN:  The Life & Times of Kalamazoo's Al Connable
               as Told to Tom Thinnes, 1998, p. 256.

Irving bought musical instruments and paid for private lessons or school tuition
for many a promising student over the years.  He even purchased a concert grand
piano for a gifted composer.  Irving Gilmore made dreams come true for many
people, but did not seek recognition for having played a part.  He was Kalamazoo's
very own St. Nicholas.

In honor of Irving Gilmore's generosity, and in the spirit of the Christmas season,
Alice's Archivist offers up this paean to Irving Gilmore-- with apologies to Clement
C. Moore!

NOTE:  This ode is a work of fiction, but Irving's beneficence was very real indeed.


The Place:  Gilmore Brothers Department Store, downtown Kalamazoo
The Time:  Christmas Eve, long ago

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the store,
Walked Kalamazoo's own Santa, Irving Gilmore.

The stockings were hung in Lingerie with care,
Stylish young ladies liked to shop there.

There were piles of kerchiefs and warm woolen caps,
And perfume and jewelry to purchase, perhaps.

Dresses on Second Floor, Shoes up on Four,
Shoppers went to and fro, looking for more.

Irving stood by and greeted the crowd,
His family business made Kalamazoo proud.

At 9 o'clock closing he bid staff "Good Night!
I'll lock up myself and turn out the light."

As he sat in his office and counted the till,
A noise from outside so sweet and so shrill

Made him go to the window, he flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the crest of the new fallen snow
Showed one tiny figure with a fiddle and bow.

He was covered all over with snowflakes galore,
Irving said "Come on in and get warm in my store!"

"Do you study with anyone?" Mr. Gilmore inquired,
"You play violin like an artist inspired!"

"No sir, no money for lessons..."  What a shame
Thought Irving, I know a teacher by name.

Ah ha thought Irving, an idea came to mind--
Pay for the boy's lessons, but not let him find

The name of his benefactor-- that is best,
To keep acts of charity close to the vest,
That is the way we can all feel blessed.

                         -Alice's Archivist, December 6, 2011
                           Saint Nicholas Day

                                     Gilmore Brothers gift box, c.1960

Sunday, November 27, 2011


                HENRY MANCINI ~ 37¢ Postage Stamp, 2004, Scott Catalog # 3839
                                             (click on image to enlarge)

HENRY MANCINI (1924-1994) was memorialized by the United States Postal Service
in 2004 when they issued a postage stamp to honor the achievements of this great
American composer and arranger of many popular and beloved movie and television
scores.  Note the Pink Panther in the lower left corner of the stamp.

                                           *           *          *         *
When Oscar-winning music man Henry Mancini blew into Kalamazoo in July, 1964,
the Kalamazoo Symphony Starlight audience was treated to an evening of the suave
and stylish movie and television scores that had that magic touch of Henry Mancini.
The mere mention of Moon River, Days of Wine and Roses, Pink Panther, and Peter
Gunn evoke memories of a kind of '60s cool that appealed to music lovers of all ages.

Mancini was both conductor and solo pianist for that memorable evening under the
stars.  A record-setting 4,500 people were in attendance atop Gilmore's Auto Park
in downtown Kalamazoo.

After the concert, KSO Conductor Gregory Millar and his wife Roslyn threw a post-
concert reception for Mr. Mancini at their rambling Victorian house on Wheaton

There was a crush of people there to party with the guest artist, a modest and
unassuming man who cut a fine figure in his '60s-era suit and skinny tie.  "I like your
outfit Mr. Mancini!" blurted one of Alice's teenaged daughters, much to the surprise
and delight of the man himself.  Later that evening, Alice shared the piano bench with
Mancini for an impromptu jam session.  "Neat guy!", exclaimed Alice.

COMING SOON...  Watch for an upcoming article on Henry Mancini and his appearance
with the Kalamazoo Symphony on the main blog, ALICE'S ARCHIVES:  50 Years of
Kalamazoo Symphony Memorabilia, Title Tab:  1960s/MILLAR/ Starlight Concerts:
Bright Idea!       

In the meantime... visit the Henry Mancini website-- very cool.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Al Connable and party guests at the Connable cottage, Gull Lake, Michigan, 1964.
Large snapshot, upper left hand corner:
Front row, left to right:  Alice, Roma Connable (Al's daughter-in-law), H.P. Connable
(Al's brother) and his wife Geno, C.H. in his signature teeth and glasses.
Back row, left to right:  Ann Cain, Al Connable (The Admiral), Bob Cain, Roslyn Frantz
Millar (wife of Kalamazoo Symphony Music Director Gregory Millar).
On tuba:  Fred Ashby.
             For a slide show of all images, click on a photograph to get to a new page.

Alfred B. Connable, Kalamazoo Symphony board member, benefactor, and Kalamazoo's
most enthusiastic booster, played host to many friends at the family cottage on the
north end of Gull Lake.  It was a simple yet elegant white house set under spreading
oak and maple trees with an expanse of lawn going right down to the water's edge.

In the early-1960s, Al acquired a pontoon boat, which was christened the "S.S. A.B.C.".
As soon as it found its home on the waters of Gull Lake, Al became the self-proclaimed
"Admiral".  He dubbed chosen friends "Honorary Captain".

               S.S. A.B.C. Official Document designed by "Commodore" Fred Ashby,
               a talented graphic artist who was married to Al's niece.

The Barge became a floating party platform, the center of Connable capers of all kinds.
Hats were de rigeur, and zaniness ruled the waves...

The S.S. A.B.C. had annual "ports of call" at a number of cottages on Gull Lake, whose
inhabitants  would come out to greet the Barge and its merry crew, sometimes in
costume.  Dori and Bill Lawrence served them tea and crumpets on their dock!   Harold
Jacobson welcomed them in Hawaiian attire, banging a tin drum.  "We made him the
official harbor master, awarding him a certificate.  Hell, just about everybody had a
certificate or ranking..."

"Strange things happened when people were caught up in the 'Spirit of the Barge'.  To be
a barger, one had to be partially nuts.  Nobody knows how it all started.  It just did.
There was no formal process.  We played it by ear."

                                -Al Connable, as told to Tom Thinnes in A MICHIGAN MAN:  
                                 The Life & Times of Kalamazoo's Al Connable, Priscilla Press,
                                 Allegan Forest, Michigan, 1998, p. 302.

Here are photos from two memorable events aboard the S.S. A.B.C. ~
The Mermaid Party, and a Barge Launch & Barbeque.


The mermaids arrive on dry land after hearing the clarion call of the Barge tuba.
A seaworthy Chris-Craft transports the maidens and Neptune himself to the moorings
at the Connable cottage... just in time for cocktails!


      These Barge Barbeques were an annual event.  Pictured in this montage clockwise:
      Ned Woolley, C.H., Joe Brogger, standing on dry land; Gregory Millar with Fauvette,
      Al's standard poodle;  The Admiral (with cigar), H.P. Connable (in striped jacket),
      Ned Woolley (in beret).

Joe was an avid sailor who also had a cottage on Gull Lake.  He credits Al Connable
with saving his life one Sunday morning when a storm blew up.  Joe was in his sailboat
which was badly damaged and taking on water.  The Admiral happened to be cruising
in the vicinity and heard Joe's S.O.S.  With a couple of strong lines attached to the
damaged vessel, the S.S. A.B.C. towed it safely to shore.

"Joe still remembers that I saved his life.  At least, he said I did.  At any rate, I awarded
myself The Connable Cross."   -Al Connable, A MICHIGAN MAN, p. 300. 



                              Barge Badge worn by Honorary Captain Mullen


Al and family moved away from Gull Lake in the 1970s, but fond memories remain
with the people who attended his parties aboard the S.S. A.B.C.  Al sent copies of
snapshots from those years to friends long after he had established summer quarters
elsewhere.  What became of the Barge itself?  It was returned to Pine Lake-- a gift
to a veterans' rehab center located there.

               Al Connable on the S.S. A.B.C. with Gregory Millar (seated), 1965.

                           "Present mirth hath present laughter..."          -Shakespeare

Wonderful stories abound in Al's book, A MICHIGAN MAN:  The Life & Times
of Kalamazoo's Al Connable, as told to Tom Thinnes, Priscilla Press, Allegan
Forest, Michigan, 1998, 338 pages, with over 100 photos, and an extensive index.

Read about Al Connable in the main blog, ALICE'S ARCHIVES:  50 Years of
Kalamazoo Symphony Memorabilia.  Just click on the link to find three articles:

~ Gilmore and the Gruen Plan  (Title Tab)
   Scroll down for:
~ Boulevardiers and Benefactors:  Al Connable and Irving Gilmore "On the Mall"
~ Michigan Man:  Al Connable, Kalamazoo's boulevardier par excellence.  


Saturday, July 2, 2011



    Maestro Takeda welcomes you to the 1995 Summer Park Concert Series!
    This series was in place a year before Yoshimi Takeda took the helm of the
    Kalamazoo Symphony in 1974.  Under his 25-year tenure as Music Director
    of the KSO, he greatly expanded the size and scope of the programs offered.
    Bronson Park, the verdant heart of downtown Kalamazoo, became the center
    of the summer concert scene.
    He took the Kalamazoo Symphony "on the road" to perform the Summer
    Park Concert series in towns around Southwest Michigan.  Maestro Takeda
    saw this as an opportunity for valuable community outreach, and had lots of
    fun too!  Everyone had fun.

    The KSO always featured a singer or ensemble in a solo appearance with the
    orchestra.  It was a wonderful way to showcase new talent in a "star turn"
    with the Kalamazoo Symphony.

   "Guest conductors" (age 12 and under) were invited to come up and
    lead the orchestra from the conductor's podium, under Takeda's guidance,
    in the final bars of Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever or other familiar classics.
    This part of the program was an audience favorite, and a great way to end the


   'These popular concerts, jointly sponsored by the Department of Parks and Recreation
    and the Rotary Club, began what has become a stable feature of the summer season."
      -Zaide Pixley, GREAT ENSEMBLE:  The Story of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra,
       1997, p. 66.

   Takeda took the KSO's Bronson Park program to parks in other communities.  By the
   1990s,  the Kalamazoo Symphony had expanded the series to include Three Rivers,
   Vicksburg and Plainwell, in addition to their annual appearances in Portage,
   Parchment, and Bronson Park in downtown Kalamazoo.
    Fountain of the Pioneers, Bronson Park, downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan- photo by
    John Penrod; postcard c. 1960; copyright Penrod/Hiawatha Co., Berrien Center, MI

Sunday, May 22, 2011


                   Snapshot of C.H. and Kalamazoo Symphony Maestro
                   Pierre Hétu roughing it at Alice and C.H.'s fishing cabin
                   along the banks of the Boardman River, Grand Traverse
                   County, 1970.                    (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Alice and C.H. built "The Cabin" as a weekend getaway from their busy lives in
Kalamazoo.  It's nice to see Pierre sporting a silk polka dot shirt for his visit--
casual attire for this suave Montrealer!

The Cabin was a destination for friends from "downstate" (Kalamazoo).  Alice and
C.H. entertained "up north" style:  Scrabble on the deck, fishing, nature study, naps
on the couch, cookouts, and cocktails at 5 (or whenever).  A relaxing time with much
conviviality was the order of the day.

Alice and C.H. were inspired to build their own cabin when they visited the fishing cabin
belonging to KSO trumpeter Jim Shumaker, and Kalamazoo men's clothier, Stan Weber.
     C.H. contemplates the task at hand, gets the job done beautifully, 1969-70.
     The Cabin, located somewhere off the Supply Road, Grand Traverse County,
     along the banks of the South Branch of the Boardman River. (click on to enlarge)

   Let the entertaining begin!  C.H. and Alice on the deck of The Cabin, early 1970s.

    C.H.'s Reward:  The South Branch of the Boardman River, Grand Traverse County.
Scroll down to read TROUT SEASON, an earlier blog entry.  A snapshot shows Alice
with Stan Weber and their catch of the day, after wading in the Boardman River, in 1959.

Want to learn more about Pierre Hétu and his tenure as Music Director of the Kalamazoo
Symphony?  Click on this link to get to the main blog, ALICE'S ARCHIVES:  50 Years
of Kalamazoo Symphony Memorabilia.

Once there, click on the Title Tab:  1960s-70s/ HETU/ Bienvenue à Kalamazoo.


Monday, April 25, 2011


                      Boardman River, Grand Traverse County, late 1950s.
                      Alice and family friend Stan Weber, avid trout fisherman.

Stan Weber was a good friend of Alice and C.H. who introduced them
to the simple pleasures of trout fishing "up north".  Stan and Kalamazoo
Symphony trumpeter Jim Shumaker owned a log cabin along the banks
of the Boardman River where they hosted weekends of fishing and morel
mushroom hunting.  It was a good chance for Alice and C.H. to take a break
from their high profile life in Kalamazoo.

Stan was an astute businessman and part owner of Lew Hubbard's men's
clothing store on the Mall in downtown Kalamazoo.  He was also an
enthusiastic Kalamazoo Symphony supporter.

Stan was a longtime member of the Kalamazoo Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
When he died in 1998, he bequeathed his estate to KVCTU.  A Stanley Weber
Projects Fund was established to help organizations with conservation projects
related to coldwater fisheries.


And now, for your listening and viewing pleasure, here is baritone Dietrich
Fischer-Dieskau and pianist Gerald Moore in a performance of Die Forelle
(The Trout), by Franz Schubert:

           ALICE'S ARCHIVES 2 is the companion blog to ALICE'S ARCHIVES:
                         50 Years of Kalamazoo Symphony Memorabilia:


                 Après Ski-- other Up-North adventures for Alice and C.H.,
                 pictured here with Kalamazoo Symphony trumpeter Jim Shumaker,
                 late-1950s, Grand Traverse County.  -Snapshot taken by Stan Weber.                            

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Kalamazoo Symphony Women's Symphony Association Annual Fashion Show
"Sunlight to Starlight"
                                                        (click on photo to enlarge)
                                 Psychedelic and multi-colored is this silk print
                                 with a long tie-back scarf.  Mrs C.H. Mullen
                                 is the model.  (1967)
                                                                  -Gazette photo by Jerry Campbell

The Kalamazoo Women's Symphony Association was formed in 1930 by Symphony
founder Leta Snow to support the KSO through a number of fund-raising and
educational projects.  It is now called the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra League.

                                 April 22, 1968      (click on image to enlarge)

The Women's Symphony annual style show was an excellent fund-raiser for
the KSO, and always sold out.  (This event continues to this day.)  It got its
start in the 1960s and was held every April.

Working tirelessly behind the scenes was Irving Gilmore, owner of Gilmore
Brothers Department Store.  He would support this event by underwriting
many of the costs.  Clothing lines from his store were seen on the catwalk.
One year, Irving arranged to have some fashions sent directly from Paris!

The spotlight was also shared by merchandise from other downtown stores.


                                                (click on image to enlarge)

                   BARBARA WALTERS, noted television personality, will speak
                   on "The World's Most Appealing Women" at the WSA show-brunch.

Luminaries from the entertainment world were featured as commentators.  As
well as Ms. Walters, Alan J. Lerner, Leslie Uggams, Eva Gabor and Rosalind Russell
were among the special guests invited by the WSA over the years to emcee the show.
WSA members, orchestra players such as Georgiana Smith, Grace Field, Alice and
others acted as models.

On Sunday, April 13, 1969, the Kalamazoo Gazette's Staff Writer Margaret Charlton
did a full page article on the upcoming "Sunlight to Starlight" brunch-style show.
The photo montage was by Rick Campbell.

                                                                                   (click on image to enlarge)
         MODELING a black sleeveless knit evening dress is Mrs. L. Lee Stryker.
         Symphony conductor Pierre Hétu is at the piano.

                                                                                        (click on image to enlarge)
IN AFTERNOON WEAR are Mrs. C.H. Mullen, who shows a two-piece silk and worsted
outfit, and Mrs. Jeffrey Weisman, modeling a mint green wool knit dress and matching coat.

                                                             (click on image to enlarge)
MRS. CHARLES MARTELL wears an oatmeal linen ensemble with tangerine
polka-dot blouse.  James Schumaker is on trumpet.

                                                                        (click on image to enlarge)
CASUAL ATTIRE is shown by Mrs. Judson Knapper in an orange bell-bottom
pantsuit; Mrs. Gene C. Bahls in a three-piece striped ensemble, and Mrs. Weimer
K. Hicks in a print golf "short".  Lambert Kroon is on bass.

                                                            (click on image to enlarge)
HOSTESS CULOTTES are worn by Mrs. John M. Jarboe in black and white
print and Mrs. F.W. Sassaman in lime green.  Donald Stevenson is on tympani.

                                                  (click on image to enlarge)
                                      Alice on the catwalk, April 20, 1970.
                                 Photo by Rick Campbell, Kalamazoo Gazette
Scroll down to enjoy earlier posts on this blog.
They are right out of Alice's "Miscellaneous Files"-- eclectic, off-beat, fun!  
                                     ALICE'S ARCHIVES 2 is the companion blog to:
                        ALICE'S ARCHIVES:  50 Years of Kalamazoo Symphony Memorabilia
                                      Click on this link to get to ALICE'S ARCHIVES
for longer articles.  Check back for new postings on both blogs!



Saturday, March 19, 2011


                                                       I'm a Jay-Jay-J-J-Jayhawk!    (3/6/89)

       The month of March would always bring out the basketball fan in Alice!
       To pay homage to her Alma Mater, here is the University of Kansas Men's
       Basketball Schedule.  Just click on the link:


        Alice and C.H. were Jayhawks at heart, even though they lived in Michigan
        and considered Kalamazoo their home.

        They attended the 50th Anniversary Reunion of the K.U. Class of '39 in '89.


To learn about how Alice and C.H. got from K.U. to Kalamazoo, please visit
the main blog, Alice's Archives:  50 Years of Kalamazoo Symphony Memorabilia.


Saturday, March 5, 2011


              Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra Maestro Yoshimi Takeda 
Celebrates St. Patrick's Day with Alice, 1990s, 
The Park Club, Kalamazoo, Michigan

      This party might just be the March meeting of the Yoshi Yodelers, an admiration 
      society of sorts who would gather regularly to sing Yoshi's praises.  If you would 
      like a more detailed account of their activities, scroll down THIS PAGE to the 
      December 15th, 2010 post entitled:  YOSHI YODELERS CHRISTMAS PARTY.  
      A more complete history of the group can be found there.

                             If you are new to Alice's Archives 2, WELCOME!
                               This is the companion blog of Alice's Archives:
                               50 Years of Kalamazoo Symphony Memorabilia.  
                                              Click on this link to go there:


        Once there, you can read articles about Maestro Takeda and his 25 years with 
        The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.

        OR... stay on this page and SCROLL DOWN for an eclectic array of photos and 
        articles right out of Alice's "Miscellaneous" files-- eclectic, off-beat, fun!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Postcard folio by Curt Teich and Co., Inc., Chicago, 1955
-from Alice's postcard collection   (click on images to enlarge)  

"Life is Good in Kalamazoo" is a slogan that dates from the 1920s/30s.
Southwest Michigan First lists 100 reasons why, in 2011:

click on this link to get to ALICE'S ARCHIVES:


Tuesday, February 1, 2011



From one of Alice's many admirers...

Alice received the Community Medal of Arts in 1991 from the 
Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo



Saturday, January 1, 2011


GOOD REASON TO CELEBRATE!  From left:  John M. Vahey, Alice, Alfred B. Connable
after the debut performance of the Kalamazoo Symphony's Starlight Pops Concerts,
September 11, 1962.  Thus began a decade of offering four Wednesday night pops
concerts every July until 1972.

Vahey was the Ticket Coordinator, and Al Connable was on the Starlight Committee.
On this occasion, Alice was a soloist on the program, performing Gershwin's Rhapsody 
in Blue.  She wore red.  Maestro Gregory Millar conducted with great flair.

The locale was on the upper deck of the Gilmore's Auto Park, on the corner of South
Street and Farmers Alley in downtown Kalamazoo, adjacent to Gilmore Brothers
Department Store.  A custom-built stage was created for the concert.  Table seating
was available, as were chairs and bleachers.  3,000 people came!

More to come on the Starlight Pops Concerts in both Alice's Archives 2 and
Alice's Archives in the months ahead...!