Bringing Back Memories
Family tracks down recordings made at Southwestern in the 1940s
As a student at Southwestern in the late 1940s, Roy Dent enjoyed singing in the Men’s Glee Club.
These days, Dent can no longer sing, but his family has been able to hear what his youthful alto voice sounded like, thanks to a gift from another Southwestern graduate.
In 2001, Special Collections and Archives received seven records of the Men’s Glee Club from 1950 graduate John Yeaman. Kathryn Stallard, director of special collections and archives, put the records on a list of items to digitize when possible.
In the summer of 2014, Stallard received a request from Roy Dent’s daughter, DeAnn Clark, wanting to know whether Southwestern had any of the recordings Dent remembered making with the Glee Club.
“While my brothers and I always enjoyed Pop’s singing when we were young, our extended families didn’t get the chance to hear his beautiful voice,” Clark said. “I also wanted the recording to stimulate my father’s memories of the wonderful time he had at Southwestern.”
Clark said her father started singing with the Methodist Choir in the small East Texas town of Tenaha when he was about six years old. He continued singing with the choir in the nearby town of Timpson when his family moved there. Dent studied accounting at Southwestern and worked for the phone company his entire career before retiring to the area where he grew up.
Clark said her family spent hours going through attics and old trunks in search of the recordings from Dent’s days at Southwestern, but to no avail. Finally, the family decided to contact the Music Department at Southwestern. Jason Hoogerhyde, chair of the department, passed the request on to the library.
Stallard checked her archives, and it turned out that the recordings Yeaman donated were made when Dent was in the Glee Club in 1948-1949.
Clark offered to pay to have the recordings digitized, and Special Collections found a company in Austin that was able to do it. The digitized recordings were sent to Clark to share with her father and other family members at a gathering that was held Oct. 3 to celebrate Dent’s 85th birthday.
The records contained 18 songs that are a mix of religious and popular tunes, as well as a recording of Southwestern’s Alma Mater. Special Collections has put the digitized files on the Southwestern website so others can enjoy them as well.