Pascal Go-getters Just Keep On Going

June 14, 1995|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

Sometimes, George Smalley is Tiny Tim. Sometimes, he's the boogie-woogie bugle boy of Company B. Either way, he's in his element.

The 69-year-old retired locomotive engineer is one of the Pascal Go-Getters, an amateur song-and-dance troupe whose members range in age from 55 to 91.

The Go-Getters, based at the Pascal Senior Center in Glen Burnie, have been on the local entertainment circuit since 1978, performing songs from the days of the champagne music makers.

"I call it a poor man's Lawrence Welk show," said Ray Poff, 62, a retired post office worker who has 48 hours of the popular show on videotape at home.

Mr. Poff has been a Go-Getter for seven years and music director for three.

Yesterday, the bespectacled man with close-cropped silver hair rehearsed the group for two hours to get the members ready to perform a dinner-benefit show tonight for the Salvation Army in the 200-seat theater at the Pascal Senior Center.

"We're getting pretty close to a full house," said Capt. Diane Johnson of the Salvation Army.

Tickets are $8. Dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. The curtain will rise an hour later. Proceeds will go to the Salvation Army.

The Go-Getters will perform "Holidays Throughout the Year," a medley of songs that will include "My Funny Valentine" and "Oh My Papa" in honor of Father's Day.

This is the third year the nonprofit group has put on a show for the Salvation Army.

"They do it out of the conscience of their heart. We appreciate them," said Captain Johnson. "It's a good thing. This is a slow time of year for us. Our funds don't come in as fast."

In almost two decades, the Go-Getters have doubled their number to 30 from 15. The group started on a whim, when members of the Glen Garden Civic Association stayed behind after meetings at Glen Lutheran Church to have sing-a-longs.

The group performed at the opening of the Pascal Senior Center in 1979 and has been rehearsing there ever since.

Only three original Go-Getters are still living.

George Eber, 91, who wears his wavy white hair combed back, is one of them. As a teen-ager, Mr. Eber played the saxophone and trumpet with a band.

Now, arthritis has stolen some of the nimbleness from the fingers of the former Baltimore police officer. He contents himself singing with the Go-Getters.

"You get into that, you know? It holds on to you, the music," said Mr. Eber.

Another original member is Dee Birely, 75, whose husband, Joe Birely, was director of the group until 1992, when his health began to fail. Mr. Birely died in 1993.

The Go-Getters -- who are accompanied by two electric guitar players, a drummer and a pianist -- travel throughout the county performing from September through mid-June at schools, nursing homes and churches.

Members pay $1 in dues. On long trips, they charter a bus, usually with their hosts covering the costs, said Mr. Poff.

"It's been a good group in all these years," said Doris Forsythe, 77, another original Go-Getter. "It's something to do in your old age."

There was a time when Mrs. Forsythe would have been on stage performing the Andrews Sisters numbers.

But yesterday, she sat in the audience because of an illness.

"Very good, girls," said Mr. Poff, as the "Andrews Sisters" left the stage.

"Except you can't call us girls anymore," Mrs. Forsythe whispered to him.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.