Gus Lookaround – part 4

In 1929 Gus organized and directed the Keshena Indian School band that was composed of twenty-one boys and one girl. The band won second place in the Wisconsin High School Band Tournament with grade school children after having been organized only four months. That August, he married Miss Alice Hampton (Cherokee) of Bradley, Oklahoma. She was the kindergarten teacher at the school. The following year he was selected to direct the Shawano City Band due to his success at Keshena. When his bride’s health failed in 1932, they relocated to Chickasaw, Oklahoma, to be near her family one assumes. She was buried in the Bradley Cemetery and Gus returned to his home in Wisconsin.

In 1933 he was a member of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. In 1934 Gus was selected for the Indian Achievement Medal to be awarded at the Century of Progress (also known as the Chicago World’s Fair).

Gus remarried in June 1934 to Mrs. Phebe Jewell Nichols, who was nine years his senior. They must have known each other for some time because she was a member of the committee that picked him for the medal. She was an attractive upper-middle-class novelist who had been widowed three years earlier. Gus, who had had no children of his own immediately became stepfather to three: Howard Gardner Nichols Jr. (19), Patricia Nichols (17), and Conover Nichols (12). Phebe’s late husband, a real estate investor and insurance agent a decade, had died after having a nervous breakdown over financial losses incurred during the Great Depression. They had married in 1913 when he was 38 and she 28. They likely became acquainted while she was teaching school in the Oshkosh area. Originally from Wabasha, Minnesota, Phebe had attended Oshkosh Normal School after graduating from Carlton College.

<end of part 4>

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