TLC logo TLC #41:  June 24, 2002

Dear Hearts & Gentle People:
It's summer in the old hometown. Has been hovering around 90 for several days, and we're beginning to yearn for rain. But the flowers are blooming and the grass is still growing. Progress has begun on the multiplex (!) theater, and the downtown renovations continue. In fact some of our "new" (that means they weren't born here) residents have won state awards for facade improvements. New landscaping is being done at the intersection of Highways 13 and 24, the new bridge/highway is coming along on schedule, and I'm happy to report all is well in Lexington.
Thanks for your input regarding Marilou Edwards' TLC book project. If you have suggestions for topics or categories, send them along.
Let me reiterate that nothing will appear in the book that hasn't been published first in TLC. The book is merely an organized compilation of the exchanges we've had about our common memories.
Marilou writes:
TLC Subscribers,
Sometimes we know what we intend to say but don't do a very good job of explaining it to others.  First let me say that my idea of putting together a collection of stories about "Growing Up In Lexington" (yes, that is the present working title) will in no way replace or take away from TLC.  Susan will continue to update you on the goings on in Lexington and to pass on your comments.
"Growing Up In Lexington" will be a collection of your childhood and teenage memories of the things that make Lexington so special to all of you.  The recollections that you have already sent to Susan and have been printed in TLC will be included.  Don't worry about the "categories or chapters" that I mentioned.  When you send your story/memory, I will know what area it belongs to.
Hope this clears up some of the concerns about "Growing Up In Lexington" and you will share your fond memories with others.
Marilou and I agree that it would be best if everything comes to me first, and then I will forward it on to her after it's appeared in TLC.
Mary Kay Wilcoxon Gooseman:
Just read what you're proposing on preserving our Lexington stories.  Sounds like a wonderful idea to me.  Of course, not sure if we'd really want our grandchildren to hear about our growing up years, but am sure they'd enjoy it as well as our children would.
From Jan Ryder McCoy:
This poor pitiful old lady finally got her e-mail back up and working.  Mercy-these new fangled things!
Building a house and on overload.  All is well that ends well and sure my house will be beautiful as my son is building it for me.
Always a huge bow and thank you for keeping us all in touch with each other.  You are a God send for us!
Here's a new topic, from Lucia Cope Hulston:

Gum chewing was a pretty big deal in high school.  Who remembers the little wooden shelf outside Mrs. Seiter's class that was the parking spot for one's gum?  In our class, Molly Benson held the title for best gum popper!  The other "major infractions" that I remember were "public use of toothpicks" and, of course, sliding down the banister.
I asked Lucia if, Heaven forbid, they retrieved the gum later. She not only said they did, but no one was too particular about which gum they selected!!!!!
And now the subject you've all been waiting for, the long-promised scoop on....Tonettes!!!
Beginning with an exchange with Bob '58 Ball:
Fred Sellers...says he remembers playing accompaniment (on the piano) for a "Rhythm Band". Do you remember a "Rhythm Band"? I don't. Somehow, that sounds like an ensemble of kids playing instruments made from combs and paper -- the only instruments I really recall from Arnold were Tonettes.

Was it Miss Gruber who taught the Tonettes? I seem to remember it that way. I also remember that every fall, the Tonettes were sterilized by dipping the mouthpieces in alcohol! Each year I hoped to get one with a smooth mouthpiece, but I always got one that had been chewed upon, vigorously, by innumerable predecessors...
For that matter, what *were* Tonettes? Bakelite recorders? Do they exist any more? My spelling checker doesn't recognize "tonette", at all!
My reply to him: you've pushed the tonette button. I saw one for sale on a recent trip to Denver, in a tony shop. OR It may have been the Discovery Channel shop, or Sharper Image, or it might have even been a Cracker Barrel. I cannot believe I didn't buy it.
Yes, Rhythm Band rings a bell (tee-hee). It seems to me we did have tonettes and perhaps triangles and some kind of sticks (?). I cannot remember who taught Tonette, but I think I got a new one every year. Or I used the same one every year. Anyway, I had my own and it had a case. It may have been Miss Gruber who taught tonette. That certainly seems possible. But I think this may be a job for..........TLC!!!
Bob finds a photo and description of a Tonette on the 'Net:
Tonette: The Tonette debuted in 1938 and within a few months it had won the
endorsement of America's leading music educators. Designed as a pre-band instrument, the Tonette was unbreakable, chromatic, and tunable. Originally priced at only $1.00, it created a new appreciation and enthusiasm for music that swept the country. The Tonette's pleasant flute-like tone immediately caught the
imagination of leading radio and motion picture entertainers of the day, who used it for special novelty effects. By 1941 over half of the grammar schools in the United States had adopted the Tonette as standard equipment. The little Tonette even served in World War II where the armed services found it to be an entertaining way for idle troops to pass the time. Still used by many schools today, the Tonette has a long history of introducing whole families to the joys of music. 
Diane Gibson '58 Conger chimes in:
I remember Tonettes very well!  Ahhhh, those made some melodic sounds!!!  Only kidding!  Are those things still in the universe?  They looked like a dark gray sweet potato with holes in the sides.  We would sit at our desks and attempt to play a tune, together, as we were directed.  Those must have been our first introduction to something, that hopefully, would lead to a band or orchestra instrument.  My husband jokingly said, "Music really went down-hill after Tonettes were no longer a part of our lives."  He had them in Kewanee, Il. too. And I thought they were restricted to Lexington!
Apparently not. The previously mentioned Marilou Edwards, Big City girl, had one too:

Mine was brown or I should say "ours".  It was a family one.  My brother and I both used it and I assume my sister did also.  Guess family germs are OK - don't remember it being germ proofed.
Barbara Tabb '55 Jarman:
Okay - I think I'm getting the hang of this. You brought up Tonettes and Miss Mautino, and I do remember both well, though not in connection with each other.
I went to Central School, and on Fridays we had what was called 'platoon day'.  The teachers would all swap classes, and we would get a taste of the Fine Arts (and I use the term loosely), rather than study the usual Three Rs.  Mrs. Gruber was the music teacher on those days. (She had a nice voice, and would set Middle C for us with a harmonica).

And, we also learned to play the Tonette on platoon days.  My 'visual' recollection puts me in the room where I attended 3rd and 4th grades, taught by Mary Jane Torrence (later Mrs. Jack Baker).  The Tonettes were simple, black wind instruments, and we learned the notes by covering certain combinations of holes with our fingers. It was a slimmer version of the ocarina, or 'sweet potato'.  She would just bring in a boxful of them, and we'd each take one and cut loose, and sometimes all even play the same note. Now, if you tell me that the Tonettes were a singing group of girls over at Arnold School, forget what I have just said, and
clue us all in. That is my memory of  the Tonettes.
But, I could just about write a book on Miss Mautino, and I did enjoy her classes, and her.  For some reason, something funny was always happening in there; but, you never knew just how it was going to turn out, because she usually just 'reacted' quickly to whatever it was. Sometimes that was crying - sometimes a trip to the office for somebody. Once, she even ran into the room and climbed up on her chair, because there was a mouse loose in the hall. They just don't make teachers like
that anymore, do they?
And Lucia's mention of her 'reaching into her bra to retrieve a hankie' set off a rash of memories of her for me.  One in particular was an incident that I was in the big-middle of, and I'll never forget how she handled that one, (bless her heart)!
Since he probably grew up to be a solid citizen, I'll not mention the name of 'the boy' involved here. But, I do believe his reputation for mischief had preceded him from Catholic School, and Miss Mautino had assigned him a seat right beside her desk, where she could keep a close eye on him.
On this day, she was nowhere in sight; and, as I started into the classroom, this boy was 'flicking' the rear of every girl that walked by his convenient location, with a quick snap of his fingers. It didn't take long to figure out what was causing all the laughter going on in there!

Well, now - he hadn't missed a one, and I was next.  So, I lodged my books in my left arm, and got ready with the right to give him back more than he gave.  Sure enough, I felt the sting, and simultaneously swung my right arm to where I knew his head was. And, I did connect with a backhand!  His reactions were pretty fast, though, and he dodged the brunt of the blow - but, those combined efforts sent both him and his desk out into the doorway, and right at the feet of ...........Miss
I froze in my tracks when she slammed her hands on her hips, and said, "Okay - what's going on in here?!"  Standing there like I was, I couldn't very well deny any involvement in the activity, so I took the initiative and said, "Well, Miss Mautino, I just thought somebody should teach him to keep his hands off the girls."  Without
any further questioning, she simply said, "Hit him again!!!  Harder!"
I didn't - but, I was very grateful that she sized up the situation so quickly, and ended up giving us the biggest laugh of all.  I do not remember her being unduly harsh on anyone - she was just handling the challenge of being 'a teacher'.  I doubt that she received an extra nickel for all those Minstrel shows she took on and brought to fruition. But, didn't we have fun?  I can even remember singing in one of them - "Ain't We Got Fun?"
I wrote back that I remember every word of that song. Plus I have a Miss Mautino memory of a similar nature. I wouldn't print it, but Barbara insisted that if I print hers, I should also print mine. The name of the guilty will be concealed.
For some reason this classmate and I were having a dispute in the hall outside her door. It was good natured until he said something that struck me wrong. I whipped off my loafer and heaved it at him. It happened to catch him, heel side, on the eyebrow and probably smarted quite a bit. All I know is that I saw real red-faced fury coming towards me. I literally threw myself into Miss Mautino's arms, and she told him to go put cold water on his face and calm down. Five minutes later it was forgotten, whatever the fight was about, and he and I were fine again. But I never forgot the haven of Miss M's arms.
The story isn't particularly funny, but this is the kind of thing that sparks others to remember something similar, so don't let me down, people!
I'll try to send along the photo of the Tonette, separately, to jog more memories.
Next up - Loretta Gueguen Broker:
Hello all,
I haven't contributed for quite a while, but have been recalling more bits and pieces of my childhood memories in Lexington, so thought I would share and see if it triggers others on the same topics.
We had a mother who wanted her Gueguen girls (alias Solid Sisters) to be schooled in the fine arts of tap-dancing, ballet and acrobatics, so we faithfully enrolled in classes taught by a very patient woman, Miss Todd? Anyway, I still have the costumes our dear Mother made for our recitals--glued sequins on satin or netting.  Can't find my tap shoes though--and I was gonna try them again!!  I know lots of other girls (we weren't "modern" enough for any boys to dare enroll.)  were in our classes and recitals, too, in the old auditorium.  Let's hear from you. That was such an important building in my upbringing.  What's become of it anyway? (Ed - It's been restored, ceiling repaired, floor refinished, new grand curtain, new window curtains, new bathrooms, etc - and more to come!) After one particular recital, I remember our family walking down to Walker's Drugstore and sitting in those neat "ice cream parlor" chairs and having a sundae.
In her effort to "educate" us in all of the arts, we girls took piano lessons. I remember walking over to Franklin Street and up a bunch of stairs to our piano teacher (name?) (Ed - Mrs. Waddell)
All of us girls took lessons, but it only "took" with Mary Pat. However, to the chagrin of my siblings, I played "Tales of Hoffman" and "Unchained Melody" over and over; apparently the only songs I could get the hang of.
We've mentioned all of the old public grade schools, but I don't recall memories of the old Catholic grade school.  Whenever I talk to my residents at the nursing home I work at about their one-room schoolhouses, I proudly say that I went to a 3-room one.  First, second and third in one room taught by one teacher; fourth, fifth and sixth in another; and the seventh and eighth were upstairs with a partial kitchen.  Mom always loved telling me that she was in the first graduating class after that school was built, and it was torn down after her last child (me) graduated.  Ah, what history!  How I remember playing "pom-pom-polaway" (spelling?)  running from one fence to the other at the ends of the playground.   And remember those end of the school year picnics at Central Park???
It's great hearing from everyone.  My opinion of publishing a book is, it's a fantastic idea!
Well, that ought to give you something to chew on for a while. (No reference to the gum intended.)
Keep 'em comin'!!!
Your devoted scribe,

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