Quartet brings heartwarming harmony to valentines Songs make recipients feel special

February 14, 1993|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff Writer

Shortly after Beverly Sharpsteen arrived at the South Carroll Senior Center on Friday, the Mid-Life Crisis barbershop quartet surrounded her with roses, candy and songs to "sweeten your day from a dear admirer."

"How heartwarming," said Mrs. Sharpsteen, the center's site manager. "Barbershops are my favorite singers."

The men serenaded her with "I Love You Truly" and "Heart of My Heart."

"What does one do when sung to?" asked co-worker Judy Carpenter.

Mrs. Sharpsteen listened with tears brimming as the men sang old favorites in four-part harmony.

"Just look at the expression on her face," said Mary Horman, the center's telephone operator. "You can tell how much she is enjoying this."

The tuxedo-clad quartet delivered valentine messages to sweethearts throughout the county this weekend. From Friday through today, the song-filled greetings surprised about 30 recipients.

A few admirers chose to remain anonymous, said Carl Hancock, who handled "props" for the Mid-Life Crisis performances. Most recipients guessed who loved them truly long before Mr. Hancock presented them with cards.

"I hope you know the admirer who sent this," he said as he handed Mrs. Sharpsteen a card with the lyrics from the songs. It was signed "Love, Allen," from her husband of 33 years.

"He never forgets," she said. "I am overwhelmed. This made me feel so special."

Allen Sharpsteen said he looks for a different way to celebrate Valentine's Day every year.

The quartet's offer was irresistible, he said. For $35, he purchased entertainment, flowers, candy, a card and a Polaroid snapshot of the moment of surprise.

Mr. Sharpsteen's only concern was that his wife might not make it to work to receive her present.

"It took some coaxing," he said. "I had to keep calling to tell her it was all right on the roads."

The early-morning storm Friday forced the Mid-Life Crisis songsters to rearrange their schedule, but they delivered all their songs.

"It would take more than bad weather to keep us away," said Jesse Miller, president of the Old Line Statesmen Barbershop Chorus, to which the quartet and 36 other members belong. "Last year, we went through snow and ice, too. We go for charity and not much stops us."

The chorus donates its profits to the Institute of Logopedics in Kansas, a resident facility for speaking- and hearing-impaired children.

The weather kept most of the senior citizens away from the center Friday. Except for a few other staff members, Mrs. Sharpsteen had her valentine moment to herself.

There was no private moment for Linda Reese, a manager at Londontown Manufacturing in Eldersburg. When the switchboard operator told her secretary that men dressed in tuxedos were coming to sing to her, word spread. About 50 people filled her office to share the moment.

"I wish my husband could have been here to see his gift, too," Mrs. Reese said. "He always says we need surprises and spontaneity after 30 years of marriage. This certainly was both."

The quartet concluded each performance with a harmonized Irish toast "to take you through until next year."

"Until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of his hand," they sang harmoniously.

"I know what I'm going to tell my husband I want for next year," Mrs. Carpenter said.

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