top of page
Our Eighty Years
An 80th Anniversary only comes once, so we invited Binghamton Chapter members to share their favorite memories of singing with the Southerntiersmen Chorus and the newly-renamed (2023) Southern Tier Barbershop Chorus. Some of these members go back a long way (with loads of happy memories), and some are new with limited show or contest experience (names followed by membership year). Regardless, please get your favorite beverage and kick back to enjoy our stories. And thank you for being a lover of barbershop harmony!
Tom Glosick (1962) – When I first came to the Binghamton chapter from Erie in 1966, I remember being so impressed with this big, strong organization of 110 members. I was still pumped that I had been a part of Erie having its first championship quartet, but this Binghamton crowd included several quartets who had already won - when I was still in high school! Man, I thought I’d finally arrived at the Big Time.
Carl Smith (1965) – as told to Tom Landon by phone. Carl was one of the foundational cornerstones of the Binghamton Chapter after he joined in 1965. There was probably no aspect of chapter operations that Carl didn’t influence to a great degree. Carl was chapter president in 1993 when the 50th Anniversary was celebrated, with a huge dinner and of course, singing. He served as chapter historian for many years, as well as Seneca Land District (SLD) historian. In the span 1990 – 2005, he chaired the annual show committee, and as we all know, that job requires time, attention to details, coordination of volunteers, and lots of heart. He also printed the chapter newsletter, The Binghamtones, which won 1st Place in the Society newsletter competition. He was also noted for his efforts, with a group of retired members, as a YMIH (Young Men in Harmony). The Binghamton Chapter hosted the SLD Annual Convention a number of times, and Carl chaired three of those conventions. He had an abundance of energy, commitment, and enthusiasm for barbershop harmony and his fellow members.
The following are some of his many fond memories. The mid-70s represented the pinnacle of success for the Southerntiersmen, with over 100 men on the risers during that time. The 100th member was, in fact, welcomed to the chapter on the plane travelling to the International Convention in Portland, OR. In the 60s and 70s, there were less than 20 chapters competing at International, and the Southerntiersmen represented SLD in 1962, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, and 1979 (6 times!). Their highest placings were 8th and 9th during that mid-70s run. As one would imagine, chapter members were very busy raising money constantly to cover the travel and lodging costs for this level of participation - the chapter was performing every month. Carl said those were very happy years, challenging and so rewarding. The chapter even cut two records in 1962 and 1974.
In 1973, the Southerntiersmen beat out the Rochester Chapter for the honor to represent SLD at International. During the evening show after competing, the chorus had to wait until the applause finally died down before starting to sing – it was a popular win with the other SLD chapters and they showed their appreciation. Carl remembers the chapter making several trips to the Concord and Grossingers resorts in the Catskills to perform and raise money. He said the audience “went ape” with their performances! The legendary Freddy King, director of the Chorus of the Chesapeake, travelled to Binghamton once and coached the chapter in learning the Smile Medley (in one night!) in preparation for International competition. One of Carl’s favorite memories was their trip to San Franciso for the International Convention, for which Tom Glosick prepared a special arrangement of “I Left My Heart in San Franciso”. Their second song was “California Here I Come”, a competition set hand-picked for that location. And to put the icing on the cake, the Southerntiersmen were invited to sing that set on the flight deck of the USS Coral Sea aircraft carrier! Just try to imagine that.
Jim Putman (1968) – With my 50+ years with the chorus, Sherry and I had many wonderful experiences. In 1976 we were out in San Francisco for the International Convention, which was also the 200th birthday of the United States. The chorus was invited to sing aboard the Carrier USS Coral Sea, what an experience! The trip to Ireland was also a great experience.
Bob Young (??) - This is Bob's son Steve...cleaning out his emails before I close his account.
For those that knew my Dad 'back in the day', you may remember me as well as I often was at a convention, or clam bakes, and in later years even singing. I certainly have barbershop in my blood from Dad. In fact, he sang Baritone to "Love Me and the World is Mine" with my quartet at my wedding in 1996...another fond barbershop memory. We were recently making comments about Dad's Young Men in Harmony (YMIH) efforts at the schools, so that was great to see.
Webb Comfort (1974) – I remember many years ago we took a 10-day trip to Ireland, where we met and sang with a local men's singing group. And I was shocked to find out that, in order to "kiss the blarney stone" you had to lower yourself on a rope about 8 feet down into a hole, to reach the actual "blarney stone."
Jerry Schmidt (1974) – add attachment. In my almost 50 years with barbershop, there are a TON of memorable moments - successful shows, district chorus championships, district quartet championships, International contest appearances, the thrill of directing beautiful music, and I could go on. But one favorite moment occurred before I was even a member of the chapter. I was only a guest and was attending perhaps my fourth meeting. The chorus was learning Back in Dad and Mother's Day at the time, and after the meeting I asked Tom Glosick if I could try it. So, with Tom and two other guys I sang the song, while reading the baritone part from the chart. I will never forget the look on Tom's face while we were singing - it said "who comes into our chapter off the street and reads the bari part?" He had no idea that I had some experience with barbershop arrangements in college. And so began virtually a lifetime of baritone and tenor singing in our Society. Once in a while I find an occasion to tell this story even to this day.
Jim Holder (1974) - One of the high spots for me was attending Harmony College in 1985. I went with “Vocal Reunion – Myself on Bari, Dave Hollenbaugh on Bass, Dave Johnson on Lead, and Homer Middleton on Tenor. As it happened, BC Connection was there also, with Jerry Schmidt on Bari, Gary Beacraft on Lead, Mike Esposito on Bass, and Charlie Hahn on Tenor. We also took Webb Comfort along as our coach. We had assumed that it was a common thing for quartets to bring their coach. As it turned out, we were the first quartet to ever do that. The faculty had to scramble to figure out how to handle it. They eventually decided that they would coach Webb coaching us. We got to meet some of the big names in the society. Lloyd Steincamp, Freddie King, Jim Richards, Bob Johnson – just to name a few. We sang on the Saturday night show. As we came off stage Bob Johnson (the Society Musical Director) gave us a “Thumbs up”! I thought that Dave Hollenbaugh would pop the buttons off his shirt! Probably our most intimidating moment was walking on stage and realizing the everyone in the first five or six rows was wearing a gold medal! It looked like there were stars out!
Art Zelesnikar (1976) – One of my greatest moments with the Southerntiersmen happens to be a rehearsal night. I was on active duty in the Air Force and in transition on my way to Edwards Air Force Base Flight Test Center, California. My Dad Hank and my Father-in-Law (George Major) were also members of the chorus. Because of all my travels I never got to sing with them together when they both where at a chorus rehearsal at the same time. Well, this night they were! We sang several songs with the chorus, but the one that got the most emotion out of all three of us, and the chorus members as well, was “The Old County Down”. I’ll never forget it! Thank you brothers, Southerntiersmen.
Art Williams (1980) – In 1979, my first visit to the Southerntiersmen with my best friend Larry Hynes was the beginning of a lifetime of barbershop! Singing in an 80+ man chorus, many quartets which have brought many decades of fun, comradery, and love of the craft. The highlight of my barbershop experience was in Bolton Landing, Lake George for eight years on Labor Day weekend. We camped with our “special friends” Lee and Jaen DePue. Quartets from all over the United States and Canada participated. They brought their families. We all walked the streets of the small town singing everywhere. Competing in a 2,000 seat tent. TGIF(Thank God It’s Friday) quartet singing the Lion Sleeps Tonight song in outfits. Placing and singing on the night show. What a “THRILL”. My TERRY AND THE PIRATES are the “BEST”!! A quartet of very “special friends” who love comedy and sharing the love of barbershop together
Mike Lurenz (1982) – My favorite memory goes back to the days when I first joined the Southerntiersmen. Though a local native from Afton, I had been away to grad school at Shippensburg University and had joined the Carlisle, PA chapter while living down there. I participated in several shows and the West Central Division of the Mid-Atlantic District (MAD) conventions. After coming back to Afton in 1984, I kept up my membership with Carlisle until 1986 when, after much encouragement from my good family friend Bob DuMont (a long-time member of the Southerntiersmen), I transferred membership. And as the saying goes, the rest is history. I was well aware of the Southerntiersmen through Bob, and in previous years had attended some of their shows while a college student at Hartwick. And while in Oneonta I had attended their chapter shows as well at the behest of Scott Holdren, a classmate, eventual roommate, and also a Southerntiersmen member. Plus my father had played Buffalo Bills recordings since I was a child, so this hobby had many prompts for me. But my fondest memory would be that after rehearsals at Post 80, I would go to Danny's Diner with Bob, Don Gardner, Fred Holden, Ken Gregory, and often Lee DePue. So what with a rehearsal until 10 pm, post-rehearsal tag singing and pitchers from the bar (Jerry's fault there), and then Danny's - my poor mother usually didn't see me back home in Afton until 1 or 2 am. And then back to grad school and teaching at Binghamton University the next day. Those were the days, my friend...
Tom Jones (1983) – I joined the Olean, NY chapter in 1983 in November just after their fall show. It was love at first song! I flourished and suddenly transferred to Poughkeepsie NY for a year in 1987. One year later I moved to the New Berlin, NY area and was finally able to join the Southerntiersmen in the summer of 1988. My happiness was short lived in that my wife became ill with Leukemia and passed away in early 1990. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. I was despondent. But through it all the guys in the Southerntiersmen somehow found a way to uplift me with song and especially fellowship! For this and so very much more, I truly thank you
Gil Durham (1989) – I was accepted as a member of the Southerntiersmen Chorus on March 21, 1989. I have vivid memories of driving to rehearsal somewhat worn out from a long day of teaching chemistry. I think back in those days we began rehearsals at 7:30 PM and went to perhaps 10 or 10:30 PM. During those three hours my energy level increased incrementally until, at the very end, I felt wired and, returning home, was unable to sleep for hours.
Inevitably, a dozen or so of us would remain at American Legion Post 80 to sing tags etc. The BC Connection quartet (Jerry Schmidt, Gary Becraft, Charlie Hahn and Gerry O’Neil) were very generous in inviting other guys to participate in their tag singing sessions.
I am certain that my association with the chorus created significant changes in the way I taught chemistry. Chemistry lessons became more of a performance than a presentation of facts.
Stumbling into my first Southerntiersmen Chorus rehearsal was one of the most fortunate accidents of my life. I am forever grateful to Pat Killeen for urging me to sing with the Southerntiersmen.
John Rice (1992) - I have fond memories of 30+ years with our chapter - from singing with two different quartets at the society's International Seniors Quartet finals in 2007 and 2020, to going to Ireland with the chorus for a week's worth of touring and singing. While in Ireland we sang at an all-girls Catholic high school whose chorus had just won their national championship. In addition to the chorus, I was singing in a quartet at that time with Dave Scott Sr. and his two oldest teenaged sons, Dave Jr. and Dan. On the last night we all sang on a show and then went to an afterglow. I had gone around to the local governments and picked up little items to pass along as momentos while in Ireland. At the afterglow I mentioned that I had these items and was immediately besieged by the young ladies. After I ran out of momentos I reached into my pocket and passed out our quartet business cards, which had my e-mail address on them, to help quiet the mob. The week after we got home my e-mail was bombed by messages from the young ladies from Ireland. I would pass one along to Dan and then one to Dave etc. etc. etc.
Having the chorus go to the International finals five times in the 1970’s and having the highest place ranking of any Seneca Land district chorus (eighth, I believe) surely would rank high up on the chapter’s list of accomplishments.
Ed Blaine (2006) - I have many great memories over the years of my membership with this group. Perhaps top of my list would be the ability to share my new hobby with my two daughters at their bridal showers. They were married in 2007 and 2012. In both cases I asked three guys to sing with me at their showers and was able to add to their happiness with the generous help of my new friends.
Toby Lyon (2010) - Mine is going to conventions and hearing quartets singing in the halls and the hotel lobby. Loved it.
Terry Purtell (2013) - I remember singing at my first Naturalization Ceremony, It was the very first one, I had never been to one. People becoming citizens of our great country, some with tears in their eyes, receiving their citizenship papers and us singing Patriotic songs is truly something special. A memory I will always cherish.
Tom Landon (2017) – I joined the Society as a member of the Catoctones Chorus in Frederick, MD in 2003 – my neighbor and his fellow quartet members came and sang to us the day after we moved in! And that was the start of a lifelong love of barbershop harmony. We moved to Oneonta, NY in late 2016, knowing that the Oneonta Chapter had folded its tent that year. I had already been in touch with Mike Lurenz, Tom Jones, Gil Durham, and Tom Volk for several months and they welcomed me like a long-lost brother. I have a ton of happy memories from shows, competitions, quartets, and special occasions. But the CHOW concerts give me the greatest feelings of contributing to our local community and making a difference through our singing. Being a member of the Just 4 Men quartet with Mac Sabol, John Rice, and Dave Scott was an experience that I will forever remember – we went to the 2020 Midwinter Senior Quartet Competition and had the times of our lives! I know I have friends for life, people who love me and only want my life to be extraordinary. What more matters?
Gary Deaton (2021) Being one of the newer members of the chorus, I don't have a long history of memories to choose from. But for me it would have to be the experience of participating in the competition in Rochester last fall. It was humbling to be in the company of so many seasoned, double seasoned and triple seasoned Barbershoppers for such an important event, while at the same time feeling accepted as an equal among them. We are truly members of a musical family spreading cheer and goodwill to the community, and I'm blessed to be a part of it.
Linda Laraway (2022) - My very fondest memory is the day I received a phone call from Gil Durham asking me if I would like to become a full time singing member of the Southerntiersmen chorus. I couldn't wait to say yes. There are no words to describe the feeling of belonging to a barbershop family. It's one of the best support groups I have ever had. I have competed with the chorus twice and also with Group Therapy mixed quartet.
Kandy Getty (2022) - As a Sweet Adeline for many years, my love for barbershop singing was intense. When I was asked to sing with the Southern Tier Barbershop Chorus, I was delighted. One memory I will never forget was my first rehearsal and the overwhelming reception I received. I felt valued and that continues. Being a member of this barbershop family is like having an insurance policy, one that guarantees that whatever I face in life, I will never face it alone. Memorable moments with this group are far too numerous to list. For me, every rehearsal or performance I attend provides more beautiful memories. I especially look forward to singing our closing song each week, Keep the Whole World Singing. It certainly is “Great to be a Barbershopper”. I am excited to make many more memories with this incredible group.
Dorothy Ann Zandt (2018) - In 2006 David M. Wood and I visited the Southerntiersmen's Chorus at Post #80. He was a Trained, Life-long Lover of Singing Harmony. He joined the chorus and because he was in a Power Chair, I brought him each week. I (Dorothy Ann Zandt) joined in 2009 as an Associate and then later as a Regular Member. Although I don't sing I have been active "behind the scenes" to help the chorus be the "Best In Every Way" that they can be.
Rosemary Mirabito (2023) - I feel MOST fortunate to be joining this group on its 80th Anniversary Year! I am brand new, so I have few "memories." However, in the single-digit rehearsals I have attended, I already feel "memories" of JOY from each week. It has been a long time since I have smiled so much in a single evening as I do at rehearsals. It has also been a long time since I have worked so hard in learning songs and feeling so GOOD about it! I am grateful to be part of this loving, talented, and welcoming organization!
So many happy memories!
It’s Great To Be A Barbershopper!!
bottom of page