by Jim Betteley, Evergreen District Historian
This little post takes us back to the 1970’s. The Mt. Baker Toppers invited us all to the 1970 Evergreen District International Preliminary Quartet Elimination and Convention to be held on Saturday April 11, 1970. The invitation was published in the February Timbre that same year. Room rates were $8.50-9.50 for a single, $14.00 for a double and $15.00 for a twin. Adult tickets were $3.00. Oh, those were the days!
Awards were presented at a banquet in the Leopold Inn’s Regency Room. Finals were on Saturday night and the top 8 competed to qualify for district and international. In the end it was published Chapter President Chet Jaworski and his Mt. Baker Toppers came through with another excellent bit for the International Prelims. This time they were not to be denied. This friendly city extended its open arms to barber shoppers. The Mayor, County Commissioners, and Chamber of Commerce helped promote the event. Bellingham was “on fire.” Their new chorus director who was a Dr. of Music a W.W.S.U. became interested in barbershop when he heard the M.E.N.C. record. From a membership of about 25 slightly over a year ago (1969) they grew to over 40 members after hosting the event. At the time, Chet and Ron Forsyth, Div., I Vice President predicted the chapter would grow to 50 or more by years end.
The Mt. Baker Toppers may have been one of the first chorus’s in Evergreen to promote YMIH. Ray Heller published a piece in the Timbre (May-June, 1975). He said the Mt. Baker chapter has become the first in Division I of the EVG District to successfully embark upon a Young Men In Harmony program. The first half of Mt. Baker’s 1975 show consisted of a high-school quartet contest in which seven teenage foursomes participated. Their music teachers participated with the chapter, with the help of a local business firm. $600 was given to high school music departments represented by the three highest scoring quartets.
As it was then, so it is today. The Mt. Baker Toppers have a rich history. They are still active today. Ray said it best when he wrote, “The Toppers feel that the YMIH program, perhaps more than any other; emphasizes the “E” in SPEBSQSA.
Preservation of our past directly correlates with the strong and healthy future of our hobby. Believe it or not, these things are accomplished in big part by historians, and are key aspects in retaining current members and also in attracting new ones.