Friday, November 18, 2011

The Lake Decatur Four, WJBL Radio Quartet

Decatur Herald
Dec. 20, 1930

   William Wallen of Gushard's, radio department, and the Lake Decatur Four, radio quartet, are sponsoring a musical entertainment next Tuesday evening for the bnefit of the Salvation Army's Christmas basket fund. Admission to the entertainment will be 10 cents and 25 cents. All proceeds will be urned over to the Salvation Army.
   The Lake Decatur Four, who are Mr. Wallen, Melvin Bateman, Floyd Myer and Donald Linton, singers over WJBL, head the program. Bryan Bradshaw and Mr. Hudson will play duets on Hawaiian guitars. They also are WJBL stars. Robert Black, pianist, will offer piano numbers. Paul and Scott Gessaman and William G. Shepherd will present a musical comedy act. Jackie Carroll will whistle. Bill and Mell, harmony team from WJBL, will sing.

I never had a chance to know my paternal grandfather, William Jesse Wallen. He and my grandmother divorced when I was very young and he moved away, married another woman, and never kept in touch with us. I don't remember ever seeing him, even one time. My mom said I did, but I was just a baby.

Decatur Herald
Sept. 14, 1930

Two years after I started into genealogy, my dad's first cousin Charlie tracked me down and we became research partners in our Wallen family history. My dad was still alive then and was tickled pink to hear I'd teamed up with Charlie, he hadn't seen Charlie since they were kids.

A few years after my dad died, I was talking with Charlie on the phone and he mentioned that my grandfather used to sing. It was the first I ever remember hearing about that. I asked my mother what she knew and she beamed and said, "Yes, Bill could sing! He had the most beautiful tenor voice and he used to sing in a quartet!". Of course, since that time I've heard more from other members of the family about my singing grandfather. Imagine my delight when I discovered these newspaper articles from old Decatur, Illinois newspapers today!

Gushard's was a dry goods store in Decatur. I didn't know until I found these two articles today that my grandfather worked in the radio department there.  
Full page ad in the Decatur Herald for Gushard's Dry Goods Store
September 14, 1930

I know I've said it before but I'm saying it again: 
I LOVE digging through old newspapers!



  1. I love newspapers too, I have found some of the most fascinating stories about those I research. Some heartwarming, a few that were rather gruesome, and quite a few that were bizarre, but, I'll take em all.

  2. That is so cool, Lisa. Good job of detective work on this one. What a neat thing to learn about your Grandfather. As far as I know, my Grandfather didn't sing. He didn't even talk much (when I was around him, anyway).
    Note to self: spend more time digging through the newspaper files.