Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Alma Mater - the preparations

One of activities by the Durium Products Incorporated, part of the Irwin-Wasey Advertising Agency, a publicity agency managed by Chicago stockholders, was making advertisement and custom records. Hundreds of those ephemeral little records have left from that period ( summer 1931-1932). From the first period, when the firm was called the Durium Product Corporation only a dozen of those custom records have been survived. Isn't it a coincident that one of these first records, if not the first (!), released by Durium, was such a custom record of which a copy survived 80 years and that I found the correspondence between Durium and the client: the St. Lawrence University of Canton (NY). Today the first part: the preparations.

Owen D. Young, president of the St. Lawrence University on a 1925 Time cover.

Thanks to Kurt Nauck, one of those first Durium records has been survived, titled SONG “ALMA MATER” By the UNIVERSITY GLEE CLUB QUARTET with TALK BY OWEN D. YOUNG. Part of the correspondence has been saved in the archive of the Owen D. Young Library of the St. Lawrence University in Canton (NY). The oldest letters dates the 13th of December, 1929 and was written to Mr. Owen D. Young by Mr. Homer A. Vilas, vice President of the F. L. Carlisle & Co., Inc. based 16 Broad street New York City.
Head of the Durium letter

This firm is mentioned in an article in the Cornell Alumni News of April 1926 about fund raising for beds in the club's bedrooms in which Floyd L. Carlisle tells about public utility financing: Floyd L. Carlisle '02, member of the firm of F. L. Carlisle & Co., Inc., spoke of public utility financing with special emphasis on the water power situation in New York State. He characterized the present time as an age of consolidations and mergers in the public utility field.( Cornell Alumni News Vol. XXVIII No. 27 April 8, 1926 p. 320) ( '02 may indicate the class group). In the letter Mr. Homer A. Vilas refers to a conversation he had with Mr. Owen D. Young, a trustee of St. Lawrence University from 1912 to 1934, and in 1929 serving as president of the board ( since 1924). During these talks, which were "in Canton at the time of the last Board meeting" Mr. Young must have talked about his plans to raise money to build a new dormitory for 200 students at the campus, to be presented at the next Alumni meeting on the 8th of February, 1930 at the Hotel Commodore. It seems that Mr. Vilas must have suggested during this talks, to make a record to promote this Alumni Fund Campaign and he must have contacted mr. Athur M. Atchison, vice-president of the young Durium Products Corporation, in charge of manufacturing.
In the letter Mr. Vilas tells that all preparations have been made. The recordings will be scheduled during the Christmas holidays and he suggested to ask the members of the Glee Club vocal quartet to come back to school to sing, directed by Professor Cram, the Alma Mater song. And after that it would be nice if Mr. Owen D. Young could speak some minutes about the plans and the fund.

Owen D. Young (1930s)
Vilas points that the members of the quartet have agreed to return during their holidays to school ( Three members live in New York or vicinity and one is from Syracuse) so it would be great if Mr. Owen D. Young could find "a few minutes of his time" during the Christmas recess to record his speech; Professor Cram said: "I can arrange for the boys to be here".

Next part: Alma Mater - the recordings


Letter to mr. Homer A. Vilas, vice President of the F.L. Carlisle & Co., Inc. New York by Arthur Atchison - Durium Products Corporation - New York ( 13th of December, 1929)

Letter to mr. Owen D. Young, president of the St. Lawrence University, New York by Homer A. Vilas, vice-president of F.L. Carlisle & Co., Inc. New York ( 13th of December 1929)
Thanks to the archive of the Owen D. Young Library of the St. Lawrence University in Canton (NY).

Hans Koert
keepswinging@live.nl

This contribution will be published at the Keep Swinging blog in Dutch.

In December 1929 the DURIUM PRODUCTS CORPORATION prepared the start of a new unbreakable record, made of cardboard. The well known weekly issues, called the Hit of the Week, were released in a weekly schedule, which started in February 1930. The Hit of the week blog and the Keepswinging blog will follow the development of these 80 years old records in an unique series of blogs. If you love to be informed about these contributions ask for the newsletter

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