COBWEB CORNERS: Singing in the Bristol choir
By Mel McFarland
In the 1950s, Bristol School had something special. The vocal music teacher, Mrs. Golds-berry, put together a boys choir that had a pretty good reputation around town, singing for local civic groups and even other schools. When I was there, I was a member. When Bristol and Pike were separated, a few of us found ourselves at Pike but wanting to stay in the Bristol choir. One afternoon each week, this group was allowed to leave Pike 15 minutes early. We jumped on our bikes and flew down Chestnut Street to Walnut Street to reach Bristol in time for choir practice. I think many of us remember this ride more than our singing!
Many of the Bristol boys went to North Junior and some went to West, where their choir leaders eagerly awaited. Those of us at North were recruited for its choir. Some joined, some did not. North had a well respected choir, headed by Mrs. Dockstader, but as I remember you had to be in the eighth grade before you could join. Later, some of us sang in the choirs at Palmer or Wasson high schools. This was when Colorado Springs High School had split and Wasson opened. The choir director at Palmer was Frank Gillis, and anyone who had been in the North Junior choir was welcomed in Palmer's. I suppose the same thing happened at Wasson. The Palmer choir under Mr. Gillis REALLY had a good reputation. There was even a boys glee club which was extracurricular, and I remember going to school an hour early to practice. Some of the former Bristol boys who were not in the other choirs joined the glee club.
Those were fun groups and I still have friends from them, including a few who remember us racing from Pike all the way to Bristol. One thing I realized when I started researching the old Bristol, which started out as a two-room school, was that the choir room was one of the original rooms. Later, when more rooms were needed, they were added to the back of the building. Where my sixth-grade room was located was an auditorium, with its stage still in place. I also remember the little candy store next door to the school, but I did that story years ago!