The Irene Kaufmann Settlement, which provided summer programs for children, is where my first encounter with group singing, tap dancing, acting, and moreover, live on-stage activities had occurred. At IKS, nearly all activity was in some way linked to the Arts. It remains to be among the best times of my life. Today that location is known as the Hill House Association.
And McKelvy School...my music teacher Miss Blow...and blow she did; thirty to forty minutes of "sing children," as she played piano-accompaniment for the many songs she had taught us; this was a daily dose...without fail. Miss Blow...she was amazing...bless her soul.
Then a family relocation, up the hill, took place; and subsequently, another high-impact musical situation started to emerge. My two best friends at Madison Elementary School were Marvin Turrentine and Franklin "Buddy" Dudley. Never had I been in such a tranquil environment as when visiting Marvin's house. Mr. and Mrs. Turrentine were without doubt, the calmest, most patient, common-sense people I had ever known; they epitomized outer and inner-peace; I was always made to feel welcome and at ease there. In the living room there were family photos neatly positioned in various places. One in particular, of Mr. Turrentine dressed in a black tuxedo along with four or five different sized horns. He looked majestic...and very proud. No wonder Marvin had demonstrated such a high level of confidence; he had approached his interests with more determination and enthusiasm than anyone I had known; and as a result had excelled in music, academics and athletics (senior football quarterback for Schenley High School) and the drummer of the family. His persona revealed an admirable example of his parents. On one visit, Stanley had driven in from New York City where he had relocated a couple years earlier. He had been very successful and had made a gigantic impact on fans and musicians across America and abroad. Shortly after I arrived that day, Stanley loaded us into his brand new, white Cadillac Eldorado, and with convertible-top down, took us along as he visited his relatives and friends, down the hill...and I felt majestic...and very proud.
Buddy's mother, Mary Dee, a popular radio DJ, who saturated the air-waves with popular music for a number of years, invited me along with Buddy and her to several private affairs and various events; and go I did. I still maintain friendships today that were started back then...what good times.
Up the hill had been abundant with music notables: down the street, Walt Harper-piano; across the street, Greg Pennell-bass; up the street, Allen Blairman-drums; further up the street, Charles "Bubby" Bell-piano; further down the street, Kenny Fisher-saxophone; and around the corner the other way, the Turrentine family...wow!