Composer Aaron Copland, one of the greatest American artists of the 20th century, was the featured guest for Illinois Wesleyan University's Seventh Annual Symposium of Contemporary American Music in 1958. He is is seen here listening to R. Dwight Drexler, professor of piano and theory, and his wife, Maxine.
Opened in December 1898, the Coliseum was a field house-type structure with phenomenal acoustics. It hosted everything from famed sopranos to Jazz Age dance bands. Interestingly, the old Coliseum stood directly across Front Street from the “new” (now 10-years old) U.S. Cellular Coliseum.
A fascinating discussion was given on the myriad of court battles surrounding the May 30-June 1, 1970 rock & roll festival in southern McLean County. As seen in this photograph, not all of the estimated 60,000 spectators were hippies, yippies, freaks, Bohemians, peaceniks, avant-garde radicals, druggies, merry pranksters, flower children, long-hairs, or drop-outs!
The Pantagraph recounted the story of the Soldiers’ Orphans’ Home Band, organized in 1897-98 and active into the 1960s. This state-run home in north Normal changed its name to the Illinois Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s School (ISSCS) in 1931.
Beginning in Roaring Twenties, area ballrooms, dance halls and clubs featured tuxedo-clad bands (or orchestras, as they were often called) playing a heavily syncopated, post-ragtime, pre-swing jazz. These early jazz bands were in great demand come New Year’s Eve.
Seen here is the Dale Miller Orchestra in an undated publicity still.
During the Great Depression 80 downtown Bloomington merchants staged a “Christmas Caravan” promotion to boost holiday retail sales. The vehicle in the background, equipped with a calliope and pulling trailers loaded with prize giveaways, passed through more than 50 Central Illinois communities. The idea was to generate excitement for a promotion involving downtown shoppers receiving gift certificates with each purchase.
Back in early December 1965, these six-year-old first graders from Lincoln School in Bloomington could sympathize with the wishes expressed in the grating holiday novelty song, “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth.”