Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Talented Tuesday - Agnes' Many Talents!

I mentioned a few weeks ago how thankful I am for local newspapers ... especially The Monessen Daily Independent. Through searches for my grandmother Agnes Speck, I learned about her many talents! 

I first found Agnes listed in a piano recital program for the Sherwood Music School in 1926. She was 11 years old and she played "Under the Mistletoe." In 1927 she played "Gypsy Song." Above is part of  the program from 1927. The students were under the instruction of Edgar E. Drake.

In 1932 and 1933, Agnes's talents were also mentioned several times in The Gazette, a publication of Monessen High School. She placed second in a humorous reading contest in her junior year, and went to the "Pennsylvania elimination" of the National Speech Competition at Bucknell University in her senior year. A newspaper clipping from our family collection (below) states that she won first place and was going on to the national competition in Wooster, Ohio! Another article in The Gazette speculates that she won the first three rounds. I don't believe that Agnes ended up winning though. I can find no other mention in either newspapers, and there was an article in The Monessen Daily Independent about midwest states sweeping the competition I confirmed that on the National Forensic League website). Even so, it is still very impressive how far she went in the competition!

The Gazette also listed her as a member of an upcoming high school operetta in March of 1933. After high school, Agnes' talented continued to be mentioned in local newspapers. She did a reading and played the piano to accompany a solo a the Ladies Auxiliary of the local fire department, was a judge at a humorous reading tournament, and acted in a local play.

This cast picture was found with old family photos and memorabilia. Agnes is on the far left, sitting in a chair. From the article below, I was able to match the date and the name of the play, and the ticket stub with the picture!

This was the last mention in the newspaper of Agnes' many talents. These wonderful articles helped me to understand more about my grandmother and who she was growing up as a young woman in Monessen. Below is one more cast picture that was found with old family photos (I haven't been able to determine a date or name of the play). Agnes is sitting directly in the center, to the left of the woman in the black dress and black hat.


  1. Wow, the stage photo is great! It not often that you find those kinds of photos in a family collection.

  2. Thanks Heather - I love those cast pictures!