Fond memories, fun drive Alamedians Sunday gala to benefit Carroll Hospice

June 18, 1993|By Aglaia Pikounis | Aglaia Pikounis,Staff Writer

High school memories of golden days singing in a glee club have brought good music and talent back into action for the benefit of Carroll Hospice.

Members of the Alamedian Light Opera Company, reunited for their first gala performance in 1987, will present the seventh Golden Days Gala at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Westminster High School.

The company was established in 1943 by alumni of the City College Glee Club in Baltimore. When club members and former students threw a party in 1983 for their high school music teacher, Blanche Bowlsbey, the members decided their voices hadn't aged with their bodies. So, they began to meet more regularly and put on a few benefit concerts.

Mrs. Bowlsbey, a resident of Finksburg and director of the ALOC, eventually expanded the club by inviting her former students from the old Baltimore Junior College and from Baltimore Community College.

Five or six original members still sing with ALOC, including the oldest member -- Bill Almquist, 73, who was the chief fund-raiser for the first performance.

Mr. Almquist met his wife of one year, Marion, through the ALOC.

Mrs. Bowlsbey, 87, said that even though the concert doesn't appeal to a younger crowd -- most performers are 55 years old or older -- seniors enjoy the performances.

"These people have so much fun singing together," Ms. Bowlsbey said. "They really do love each other, and that makes the audience have a fun time, too."

"Some of the men joke with me and say there's no place in the world where 70-year-old men can sing with their old high school teacher and still have a good time," she said.

Mrs. Bowlsbey -- referred to as "Mrs. B" or "Mom" by her older students -- was the first female teacher at City College and recently was the first woman inducted into City College's Hall of Fame. Baltimore's mayor, Kurt Schmoke, and Gov. William Donald Schaefer were among her pupils.

The gala will include solos, duets, quartets, ensembles and a male and mixed chorus that features music from Romberg to Gershwin to Rodgers. The performance will end with the ALOC theme song, "Golden Days," from the musical "Student Prince."

"Golden Days" was sung at the ALOC's first performance in 1946, and it was the song with which the members serenaded Mrs. Bowlsbey at her party. The sentimental song deals with "the golden days full of innocence and youth."

"Now when we sing that song, we know what the words really mean," said Richard Dix, a professional actor and original ALOC member who performed nonsinging roles.

Mr. Dix met his wife of 43 years, Nancy Lee Dix, through the ALOC. She was a student at Eastern High School when she filled the female roles in the City College musicals. They still live in Baltimore.

The past three galas have produced $4,800 in donations for Carroll Hospice, a caring facility for terminally ill patients.

Other performances have benefited Carroll County's Senior Overland Service, a free or low-cost transportation service for the elderly and disabled. The profits from past galas bought a wheelchair lift for an SOS bus.

Mrs. Bowlsbey said she started contributing to Carroll Hospice because it desperately needed help.

Tickets cost $5 and are available at Scharon's Black Eagle, Stu's Music Shop, Carroll Hospice or at the door.

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