Friday, January 6, 2012

Musician, Jeweler, Businessman, Promoter

The newspaper clipping on the left was marked as being published in 1955, celebrating the clock that was built by L T Dillon, he of the 1936 Band Concert.  Notice the archway on the left  indicating the entrance to the old Northwood Bank Building, and Mack Drug was somewhere in this vicinity.

Richard Holstad has pointed out that the clock was moved to the south side of the street where it still stands today, photo below.

Bonnie Mack Wopperer ('60) gave a great more detail about Dillon, his relationship with the Macks, and his work in the drug and jewelry store as well as his musicianship:

L.T. Dillon was a very special, influential man in his day, and his contributions to that community are almost countless. I can still see/hear him walking from the fron of the store to the back while whistling some John Phillips Sousa  song and almost marching to the beat. He loved his music. I'd go so far as to say it was the love of his life! L.T. also owned the watch/clock repair shop in the back of the drug store and employed a watch smith (isn't that what they called people experienced in clock repair?), named Bob Helgeland. Bob was a kindly man, forever a bachelor; spoke somewhat broken English and lived with and cared for his elderly, ailing mother until she passed, I think in '58 or '59. He may have been German as well. 

L.T. was the licensed pharmacist under whom my father was able to work as a druggist & dispense medications. I'm not sure how that worked............maybe LT instructed my father and my father was eventually certified or something, but he never did go to school to obtain a pharmaceutical degree. Back in those days, it was legal to do that; it certainly would not be today! Think I also told you that LT instructed me on the flute (it was actually HIS flute; on loan to me until I bought my own). I outgrew any desire to play that instrument, much to the disappointment of both L.T. and my father. I didn't want to play in the band, so I stuck with piano and organ (electric and pipe) exclusively. L.T's. flute was returned and there was never a need for me to purchase one.

Regarding L.T. Dillon's background and musical instruction.........I'm afraid I don't know anything OR I have forgotten it, if I ever did. But now that you mention it, I seem to recall someone (maybe my dad) saying that L.T. was self taught. One may be blessed with the gift to play a musical instrument or sing a song "by ear" but L.T. could read music and that doesn't just happen naturally...........but it wouldn't surprise me if he taught himself.

I'm not surprised that the Northwood School Band, under his direction, won the competition. He was a perfectionist...........a driven man........very goal oriented. He wanted the best for his students and his energy was contagious......I think they tuned in to it, if you will.

Bonnie lists herself as a "Soda Jerk" in the family store on this photo, held in the collection of Richard Holstad, who asked her to sign and date it for posterity when she confirmed that it was she behind the counter.  Click on the photo for a larger image.

Straying from the story of L T Dillon, the days of the soda fountain may be well gone, along with the fabulous syrup that Bonnie mentions. Seems there were several in town including Mack's, Connor Drug, Veenkers perhaps, and Young's Paramount Cafe. Must have been a substantial need for all things sweet!

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