My turn

Legends will come together in book about Whiting band tour

2013-10-03T00:00:00Z Legends will come together in book about Whiting band tourBy Gayle Faulkner Kosalko Times Columnist nwitimes.com
October 03, 2013 12:00 am  • 

For me, it was kismet. I was supposed to go shopping but there I sat, just wanting desperately to take a catnap, putting off getting out of my chair.

Thank the musical gods for my slothfulness because, suddenly, the phone rang. Since I don't have Caller ID, the caller is always a surprise. But before I tell you who it was, you need to know about a few Whiting legends that everybody here knows.

One is that Pop Whiting saved a passenger train by derailing his own train. Second is that the Rev. Lach's band from Immaculate Conception Church played for President Herbert Hoover. The third is that the 1955 Standard Oil fire decimated our population by half. The last well-known legend is that the Whiting High School musical director of that same period, Adam P. Lesinsky, was originally part of John Phillip Sousa's band.

So, on the other end of the line was Adam P. Lesinsky's daughter, Tanya. Though I had never met her because she was a dozen years older, as a young girl I do remember her because I always thought her name was exotic in my world of Debbies, Kathys and Lindas.

As a child my father would take us to Whiting High's symphony concerts so the name of his fellow teacher, Mr. Lesinsky, was part of my growing up years. And now here was his daughter on the line. Needless to say, having a firsthand history of this Whiting legend, the call excited me no end.

Within an hour, Tanya and her husband Jerry were sitting at my dining room table on their way to Tanya's class reunion.

She contacted me about a manuscript started in 1937 that is finally being made into a small book. Here is where two legendary Whiting stories come together. Lesinsky was the conductor for the Rev. Lach's European band tour.

The book is based on Tanya's mother's memories of the tour and the dairies of Adam Lesinsky and the Rev. Lach. Her mom passed away before finishing the handwritten piece. Adam tried his hand at finishing it, but it never happened.

Now Tanya is finally putting all the material together and is interested in finding the families of those young musicians who would be interested in the story of this historical tour. So, if a member of your family was involved, Tanya would love for you to contact her at tanya1937tour@gmail.com. or 1 S731 Ridge Road, Glen Ellyn, Ill. 60137.

There were 70 young musicians on the tour and the list of names reads like a Whiting phone directory.

I shared with her photos she hadn't seen of the Ile de France, the ship on which they sailed. She shared with me souvenir tour programs and stories about Europe  in 1937, when trying to house 70 boys in tiny villages with no hotels was a story in itself.

Needless to say, I now know firsthand why that musical tour is a Whiting legend, and down the line, I'll share that story with you.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. She can be reached at puccini99@aol.com.

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