April 19, 2014
Remembering Red Norvo PDF Print E-mail

After the flood of 1927, we lived at 507 W. 9th, Red’s family lived at 411, almost a block away. Once the flood waters receded, the town was full of upside flat boats, in the yards, along garages, or, any place to store them.
At that time, Red was just beginning to break into music. He lived with his parents and sister, Portia, who was a grade school teacher at the old Central School. Even though a grade school kid, I remember her as being very pretty. We at Beard School had an equally pretty teacher, Kathryn Schaeffer.
Anyway, Red’s dad called and wanted to know if we, the neighborhood gang, wanted their boat, and said if we came and got it, we could have it.
Dad had a two-wheeled cart, so (6 or 7 strong) somehow we got that old boat on the cart and wheeled it into our back yard. We washed it inside and out, sanded and scraped it several times. Jerry Mahnken helped himself to a lot of his dad’s plumbing joint fillers, proceeded to fill all the cracks and dried flooring separations. I found some of dad’s leftover lead and oil housepaint, and finished up with several coats of paint. When finished and dried, we again managed to put it on the old ‘two-wheeler’ and pushed it through the sand approximately 11/2 miles out to Treadway’s Ditch. Looking back, I have no idea as to how we did it. Caught a lot of crappie and sunfish out it.
Meanwhile back to Red.
We were in San Francisco in 1947, and noticed in the paper that Red was appearing at the Fairmont Hotel, one of the three biggies on top of ‘Nob Hill.”
We put on the dress-up clothes, went up to listen, and hoped to be able to talk to him. And we were able to accomplish it.
At one of his ‘breaks’ he came over joined us and we talked Beardstown - all free, easy and enjoyable.
I remember somehow, John Whited and Class of 26-27-28? back there somewhere, had a class reunion, 50th I think, and Red attended. This should be in the Star’s old editorials somewhere.
I don’t think there are many around anymore with a historical interest of Beardstown’s earlier days.

John A. Schaeffer