Leroy Schuerholz

Born in 1936, Leroy grew up in Baltimore. He is a musician who started out playing the bugle for local events. He later on ended up playing with the Westminster Band and other local Carroll County bands.

Transcription

JIM MAYOLA: Good morning. I’m Jim Mayola with the Community Media Center, and it is Thursday, May 27th. And we’re down at Transitions Health Care, and I’m speaking to Leroy Schuerholz.

Good morning, Leroy.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Good morning.

JIM MAYOLA: How old are you?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Uh-oh.

JIM MAYOLA: [LAUGHS].

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: I guess it’s 76.

JIM MAYOLA: 76 years old.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: So do you remember what year you were born?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: 9-24-36 I think it is.

JIM MAYOLA: 1936. OK. And Leroy, you’re a musician.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, yeah, my whole lifetime.

JIM MAYOLA: Your whole life. You play trumpet?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: And tell me about how you got involved with music.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Well, originally I started out with just not a trumpet but just a bugle. And I played that for different things, different functions. You know, they used to want people to come around to the cemeteries and play it in different places and all.

And then I went ahead and added on to the– got to the trumpet and started doing all kind of things for all different organizations and different bands. I played with– oh, Lord, I don’t even know how many of them. I played with the one up in Pennsylvania and, uh, I played with the [INAUDIBLE] Band, and the Westminster Band, and the [INAUDIBLE] Band. Uh, I don’t know whether I missed any or not.

JIM MAYOLA: So you played with a lot of local groups, then, here in Carroll County and the surrounding area.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: Now where did you grow up, Leroy?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Well, actually I would say in Baltimore.

JIM MAYOLA: OK.

And then about how old were you when you moved to Carroll County?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Uh– I don’t know. I couldn’t really say. I’m– I’m not sure.

JIM MAYOLA: Were you– were you a boy at the time or a young man?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Um, I’m– I was young but not real young.

JIM MAYOLA: Yeah.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: I mean, so–

JIM MAYOLA: So you– some of the things you did where you got called in to play the bugle, to play– I guess to play Taps?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, yeah. I played Taps every year for, uh, 50 some years.

JIM MAYOLA: And that was at the memorial parade in Westminster?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Yes, sir.

JIM MAYOLA: So you were sort of an icon in Westminster for the Memorial Day parade. Every year you would play Taps for that parade.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: And I used to sing for ’em.

JIM MAYOLA: Right, because you have a beautiful singing voice. Now, um, were you always in the Westminster Municipal Band when you did that, or did you do that before you were the Westminster Municipal Band?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: I did it all the time, all over, you know. People would call me, and they’d ask me if I’d do this, do that, or whatever, and I even played for some cemeteries up in Pennsylvania.

JIM MAYOLA: OK.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: They, you know, would call me up and ask for– they wanted me to come and play, and I’d go ahead and go do it.

JIM MAYOLA: Fantastic. Where did you go to high school, Leroy?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Uh, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.

JIM MAYOLA: OK. Did you have music courses there?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: No.

JIM MAYOLA: OK. They didn’t have a music program?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: No. What my music experience was was way back. I started off, and one fellow that used to play on radio, and, uh, he was a music teacher. And he got me under him, and I studied with him. And then I was with a whole lot of others with, uh– I’m trying to think of their name. I don’t know, Deverso I think it was. I’m not positive. I say I’m not positive that’s the right name but I think it is. And, uh– and see, I played all different places around. I played for churches. I played for other civic organizations.

JIM MAYOLA: Um-hum.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: And– and of course, like I say, I also sang at the same time, so it was both together.

JIM MAYOLA: Did– did you have any formal training, Leroy? Did you have any formal training as far as vocalist or as far as your trumpet, or did you just pick it up on your own?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: No. Basically, what it was, I was singing in a choir from, Lord, I don’t know how young I was. I– I don’t know, I guess I was only six years old.

JIM MAYOLA: No kidding, yeah.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: And I was not in a junior choir. I was singing in the adult choir.

JIM MAYOLA: No kidding.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: Well, I’ve heard you sing before, and you have just a lovely voice. You’ve always had a lot of talent, then.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: That’s what everybody says, you know. So– but what I tell them to do, praise the Lord, because it’s his gift.

JIM MAYOLA: Absolutely.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: And I get the opportunity to use it.

JIM MAYOLA: Absolutely. Now you were in the Westminster Municipal Band for a while, and they had a side band that was a German band, isn’t that correct?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: And somewhere along the line, you ended up taking over that band. I think it was going to go out of business, and you took it over. Can you tell that story?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Well, I don’t know how come to be to take it over, but it was I guess because there was nobody else on the main band was– was willing to keep it together, and I wanted to keep the group together. So, I kind of formed my own German band. And, uh, I got good players, and we got together, and we went around all different places for different civics entertainments, and churches, and whatever, you know. So, and that’s how that got started.

JIM MAYOLA: Right. What was the name of that band?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: I think most of the time, I only just called it the little German band.

JIM MAYOLA: Little German band, yeah.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: OK. And you had about seven or eight members in that band. All right, let’s see. We– you had, um, two trumpets, a trombone, a baritone horn, a tuba, and two clarinets, if I remember. And you played– what kind of music did you do?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Well, we tried to make– cover all music, not just be– like, we loved to play Dixieland, but we put all of the music in in order to go to the churches and all and play for them. That way you have all different variety of music.

JIM MAYOLA: Right. So you did the polkas.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: And the regular German stuff. I guess the marches, that kind of thing.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah, and popular songs.

JIM MAYOLA: And some dance music.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: And– so, uh, and I don’t know what else you could say about it other than it was always really in demand.

JIM MAYOLA: Um-hum.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: So that was good.

JIM MAYOLA: Absolutely.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: So you know you were doing OK when they–

[LAUGHS]

–when they ask for you, so that was really wonderful.

JIM MAYOLA: Yeah, I know that band played probably 20 or 30 times a year, didn’t it, in the county?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: Yeah.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: Now didn’t the German band go– no, the Westminster Municipal Band goes down to Ocean City every year in the summer for the annual fireman’s parade. Didn’t the German band used to go down with that group and perform as well?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah, um-hum. Yeah, see, because it was a combination of the two, you know, the German band and the Westminster Band, see. So when they went down there, the people were there for the German band, so we did the jobs for the German band while we were there. We used to play at all the different, uh, you know, like in the, uh– what do you call the big building that they had down there in Ocean City? I can’t think of the–

JIM MAYOLA: Oh, the big– the big, um, conference center?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: Yeah.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: We used to play there, so– and then, of course, we played in wherever we stayed, usually we’d play there. And wherever we got jobs, people asked about, then we would go ahead and play, and have a good time. And everybody seemed to be well-satisfied so– and it just kept on going and going, so–

JIM MAYOLA: A long history of playing music. So you say you played– uh, you’ve done the Taps for the memorial parade for over 50 years. How long were you in the Westminster Municipal Band?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, Lord. I was in the [INAUDIBLE] Band first.

JIM MAYOLA: Um-hum.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: And– and the Municipal Band, I guess I was in that I guess close to 30 years.

JIM MAYOLA: Wow. And you say you also performed with the [INAUDIBLE] Band. So they did mostly concerts?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, yeah, we did concerts, and they had, uh, you know, different, regular things on every schedule of every year, you know. You had the performances for–

JIM MAYOLA: And I guess you’ve marched in a lot of carnival parades?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I used to march with one band in the same parade, and then I’d go and get in the other band, and go through the second time.

JIM MAYOLA: In the same parade?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah, same parade because they wanted me to play, see. They always kept saying, well, you’re good, and we’re good, and you’ve got to come with us.

JIM MAYOLA: Sure.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: And I said, OK. I said as long as I can do it, I’ll do it. And that’s what I used to do.

JIM MAYOLA: Fantastic. That’s awful tiresome, though, walking in those parades.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah, but I was a lot younger.

JIM MAYOLA: Well, sure. Now do you still play your horn?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: OK, good.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah. So, not near as much as I did, but I played the other day. And I try to get it– it’s hard to work everything out, to take a horn and go outside and play.

JIM MAYOLA: Yeah.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Usually I try to catch when the ones are going out to smoke, and then I’ll take my horn, and go along, and go out on the back porch out here.

JIM MAYOLA: Right.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: And play out there.

JIM MAYOLA: Um-hum.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: That way it doesn’t bother anybody.

JIM MAYOLA: Right.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Because I couldn’t just sit in the room, you know, and play.

JIM MAYOLA: Yeah, I understand.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Because it’s four in one room.

JIM MAYOLA: [LAUGHS]

But it’s nice when it’s a nice, pretty day, you can go outside and practice your horn.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: Yeah. I was here talking to some other folks, and they were bragging about how good you sound when you’re playing your horn, how nice it sounds. So that’s a great thing. So your sort of an icon around here, the resident musician.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: [LAUGHS]

Well, see, that’s actually you might as well say it was my whole lifetime, because I was a young kid when I started out down in Baltimore on Howard Street on the music places down there that they had the music stores would have lessons on the second floor.

JIM MAYOLA: Right.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: And I used to go down there and play with them, and, oh, I don’t know how long. Good golly, I was young then, you know. I guess I was, I don’t know, maybe 10 years old, that’s all. 10 or 12 years old.

JIM MAYOLA: Wow. And that’s when you were first starting out?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I started on my own. Just I was playing in my own place, my apartment, or house, or whatever it was, whether I was still at home. And, uh, that’s when I started. I started playing, and I just kept on going. The neighbors said, well, you can’t quit, she said, because we’ll miss you going it.

[LAUGHS]

JIM MAYOLA: So you went down to Howard Street to the music stores and took lessons down there?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah, I took some lessons. I didn’t take a whole lot of them, but I did take lessons. I took some from the guy that was– had to do with Broadway. He was a professional that played with them, and he kind of took a liking to me. And so then he helped me out, and, uh, and different ones– I’m trying to think of their names, but I can’t recall their names.

JIM MAYOLA: So I bet you’ve seen a lot of changes in Carroll County over the years.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, yeah, yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: When you first came into the county, I guess it was probably in the– well, you say you were born in the ’30s, so you probably came into Carroll County in the ’40s or the ’50s, so there’s been a lot of changes, haven’t there?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: Yeah.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, definitely.

JIM MAYOLA: Can you talk about those a little bit, what you’ve seen different than– than here now than it was like in the ’50s?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Well, when it was back there, see, it was more or less everything was centered around either some kind of organization, and that’s what made the things go on that took place. It was a different organizations. It was churches. It was different civic organizations and everything, and the VFW and all those. And it– and that made it so that you had like a constant turnover all the time so you didn’t have to worry about not having someplace to go and play or whatever.

JIM MAYOLA: Right.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: And that’s– what was a help, you know.

JIM MAYOLA: Sure. What other changes have you seen in the community since the– since you first came to Carroll County?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Used to– when you first used to go out, it was just kind of, I don’t know, kind of quiet like, but then it got to where it was publicized in the Memorial Day things and everything, and they would have them– have us play, and they were also I would be the “Taps” all the time. I don’t remember how many years, but it’s many, many years. So, I used to even go up to Pennsylvania, and I played “Taps” up there for the ones up there in the Legion. And, uh, so it’s hard to say that I couldn’t even– I never ever thought about, you know, at the time. I just when people would ask, I’d go ahead and do it.

JIM MAYOLA: Just do it.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: And, uh–

JIM MAYOLA: I guess you’ve seen the crowds get bigger. There’s probably, when you first started, the crowds weren’t nearly as large as they are today at the Memorial Day parades.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, no. It would just be just a few people, you know, along the streets and all. But now, it’s a tremendous amount, usually. And of course, there’s so much more sponsors today than what they were back then. So, and they would just have a parade, and then different groups would get in, and sign up to get in the parade. But today, they organize it that, you know, they want certain groups to play. Uh, and I can’t even remember all the different bans that I played for.

JIM MAYOLA: Right. Uh, Leroy, at the Memorial Day parade they have a regular procedure that they have. They have a lot of people that come dressed in uniforms, of course. All the military people. But they’ll even have some Civil War reenactors that come there dressed in Civil War uniforms. They always have somebody that, um, reads The Gettysburg Address, and then they always have the firing of the guns. Now at the Memorial Day parade in Westminster, they actually are off the howitzers.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: Which is really amazing because it shakes the– you know, you can feel it in your feet. It shakes the ground.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, yeah, sure.

JIM MAYOLA: And thousands of people are there.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Some of the people said that they could get a vibration in their windows of the houses.

JIM MAYOLA: I believe that, yeah.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: So–

JIM MAYOLA: Yeah. That’s a huge event. And every year you would play for at least– well, you said 50 years you would play Taps at that event. And so you’ve become an icon for the community doing that. That’s really remarkable. For a young trumpet player starting out today, somebody that’s 8 or 9 or 10 years old and wants to take up the trumpet, what advice would you give them?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Well, the main thing is you have to find somebody that is a good teacher and, uh, willing to work with him, and wants the kid, you know, to work with. And that’s what they have to do. They’ll have to ask around and we what’s available today because I don’t even know myself now. I used to know because [INAUDIBLE] Conservatory down in Howard Street in Baltimore and a couple of other different places, even some of them from the Broadway musical. There was a couple of people that used to, uh, have lessons privately, and it was– I don’t know what the setup is now.

JIM MAYOLA: Yeah.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Because I haven’t been there for a long time. Either I haven’t even been down there.

JIM MAYOLA: So find a good teacher, and then how much time should they spend practicing?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Well, you got to practice every day, whatever amount of time you e squeeze in. The more you put into it, the better you’re going to be. So that’s, of course, with anything, you know that you do. The more you work at it, the better it gets.

And it’s the same way with the music. You just have to keep at it. You don’t want to just do it once in a while, because then it’s not the same. You play it the same but it doesn’t sound the same because it doesn’t have the same thing when you’re constantly doing it. It has better body to it. I’ll put it that way, the best word to explain it. And, uh, so you have to– the kids today, the number one, the parents need to be behind them.

Number two, they have to be willing to do what the best they can do, and do as much of it. Because there’s so much going on today, you know, there’s so many other things, so many activities of all kinds. So it makes it harder today because back then there was only just a few things. Now they got so many organizations that, Lord knows, I don’t even know how many.

JIM MAYOLA: Many distractions.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: Yep. Well, that’s great advice, Leroy. I guess you’re going to keep playing for as long as you can.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: Yeah. And you still sing.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, I still– oh, yeah. Singing, yeah. Yeah, they ask me all the time. I sang in here several times already.

JIM MAYOLA: Yeah?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: And in fact, the room we’re sitting in, I’ve sang in here, a couple in this room. Somebody would come in and play the organ, and then they ask me to sing, and I’d sing in this, sing here.

JIM MAYOLA: Yeah.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: So, I still have people ask me, you know, about singing. I like to let me know ahead of time.

JIM MAYOLA: Right.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: That’s the best thing because I still have the music up in my room. But, uh, I don’t memorize anymore because I can’t remember.

JIM MAYOLA: Yeah, yeah. But you still got the vocal cords, and you’ve still got the passion, and you’ve still got the music in your blood.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: And so you still– still are going to keep doing it as long as you can.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah. Oh, I want to keep going as long as I can until it’s over. So–

JIM MAYOLA: That’s fascinating. Well, Leroy, it has been a real pleasure talking to you today, and thank you for taking the time. And, um, any other final words for anybody that would be viewing this about, um, what you want to– what you’d like to tell people that are aspiring to be singers or musicians?

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Well, the main thing is is that parents the kids, is they need to be back behind them because otherwise it’s very hard for the kids to want to go out and do stuff with nobody behind them. And that makes a big difference. So that today, the parents need to be behind with the kids, and so that they know that they’re being appreciated. And that gives them more of an instinct to keep going, you know, and try and do better. And that’s the thing of it. You can’t just think it’s going to happen on its own. You have to work at it.

JIM MAYOLA: Right. Now did you have somebody that– that was a model for you, that supported you when you were coming up? That helped you out, that–

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, I can’t think of the man’s name but it was down on Howard Street in one of the music stores down there, and he was originally from Broadway. He was, uh, worked with their programs they had up on Broadway, and he got his place down on Howard Street in Baltimore. And, uh, he was the main one that kept, you know, kind of kept behind, me or helped me, or whatever, however you want to– I don’t know how you want to put it, but he was interested in me, I guess.

JIM MAYOLA: And encouraged.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah.

JIM MAYOLA: Yeah. Good.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: So, and it makes a big difference. I just– I’ve always– I mean, I started out singing in churches. Lord, I don’t even know how old I was. Probably only about 5 or 6 years old. And, uh, I just kept on going, and kept going, getting the Broadway of the program that I was doing. I made many, many different things, where in the beginning it was just strictly almost for church in the very beginning.

And then after that it branched out into civic organizations, and other functions, and, uh, special people would call up and ask if I could do things for them. And so it just– that’s the way it just kept on going. But you got to be willing to put in the time and work at it, because it just doesn’t come easy.

JIM MAYOLA: Right. Music’s a lot of work but it’s given you many opportunities.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Oh, yeah. Yeah. And see, the more you do, the more opportunities you have. So that’s the way it is.

JIM MAYOLA: That’s great advice right there for young people to get involved, and do as much as they can, and any variety of ways that they can– singing, and playing, and whatever. As they advance, they’ll have more and more opportunities.

Well, Leroy, thank you so very much for talking to me today. It’s a real pleasure.

LEROY SCHUERHOLZ: Well, thank you very much for having me, and I hope what I said helps somebody else. That’s the only thing I can say, encourage them along the way. Just never give up.

JIM MAYOLA: Yeah. Well, thank you so much.