The Orange Blossom Chorus was officially established as a part of the SPEBSQSA (Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America) on Aug. 15, 1949.
Through years past, the Orlando Chapter met at a different place just about every week - Elks Club, Church Halls - each week before we left the meeting, we had to know where we would meet the next week.
It was rather difficult to maintain an average membership, which started us thinking about our own place. A few of us each loaned the chapter a thousand dollars to purchase a vacant lot. The deal was, the chapter would pay it back whenever it could, and it did just that.
Staring at us was forty 5-ton piles of dirt very evenly spaced on our lot. With a little research it was learned that Hubbard Paving Company was in the process of grading a large street in downtown Orlando, so a trip was made to their office. After explaining to them who and what we were, a discussion was held about the 40 piles of dirt that needed to be leveled. We explained we had no money but we worked out a deal. We would provide the entertainment at their next dinner & meeting.
We then found out that the Orlando Health Department had four wooden barrack-type buildings not in use. Frank Caldarazzo visited them and talked management into giving us one of the buildings. The deal was that we had to pay to get it moved onto our lot. It took $800 to move it three miles and place it on a foundation.
We organized a work crew and converted the barrack into a beautiful meeting hall. Our master carpenter, Bill Oehrtman (now deceased) did all the woodcraft work in the kitchen, building cabinets and shelves.
We needed front steps so Dick Bame, (a new member at the time), built the steps with a lot of concrete and reinforcing rods (and a lot of sweat!). Bill Oehrtman recruited some of the guys to help lay a tile floor. The inside of the building, when finished, had a kitchen, two rest rooms, a storage room and an office.
All this went on for years when suddenly, BOOM!, the City said, "We need your lot for an entrance to I-4."
We had about $5,500 in our Manor and the City gave us $25,000 for our first building/lot which we used to buy our Montana property, "Melody Manor," formerly known as "The Little Theatre." It remained our home for a number of years, until dwindling membership made maintenance a bit too much to handle. We sold the manor, and are now thankful for Grace Journey Community Church for allowing us to meet in their Gymnasium every Monday night!
The Orange Blossom Chorus was offically established as part of the SPEBBSQSA (Society for the
Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America).