L. to R.: Al Thomas, Ray Howard, Ross Millison, B.E. “Biddie” Watt
During the 1940’s, Dad was a member of the Augusta Elk’s Barbershop Quartet. He hadn’t been able to join the service during WW II due to heart problems so he tried to do his part in other ways. He was always happy when the quartet sang at the war bond rallies, churches, and local events and sometimes went to neighboring towns to help promote the war effort. Dad sang tenor, Ray Howard sang lead, Ross Millison was at baritone, and B.E. “Biddie” Watt sang bass. They went as far as Kansas City and Oklahoma City to take part in events and barbershop quartet contests.
Any quartet that was passing through town on their way to a contest or an engagement stopped at our house because they wanted to sing with Dad. He was actually a baritone but had a fantastic falsetto voice that made it possible for him to sing the tenor part. Sometimes visiting quartets would stay nearly all night, singing one song after another. Mom enjoyed singing and could harmonize with the best of them so she always joined in. I remember waking up in the middle of the night many times and hearing them sing for all they were worth.
I remember one weekend when the quartet and wives had gone to Kansas City for a big meeting and sing-off. They came home telling us that the singing had been great and they had met some new quartets. However, Mom said that the accommodations had been scandalous. The hotel had overbooked their rooms and there just wasn’t a place for everybody. Ross Millison was the only single man in the Elks quartet but there were no single rooms available. After some talking, it was decided that Ross would bunk with my Mom and Dad. The way it worked out, Dad slept in the middle with Mom on one side of him and Ross on the other.
November 16, 2015