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Bob Mitchell and Joe Hinojos a Big Hit with Kiwanis and Guests

Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2003

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Longtime Sierra Madre resident and photographer Joe Hinojos graciously turned the spotlight on former Sierra Madre resident Bob Mitchell at the Kiwanis luncheon Tuesday afternoon. Before an unusually large crowd at the Masonic Temple, Mitchell wowed the audience with his uncanny memory of Sierra Madre during the 1916 - 1926 time frame in which he resided in Sierra Madre.  Mitchell's father was also Mayor of Sierra Madre from 1918 - 1924.  Recalling the names of former teachers, choir members, residents and the like as if it were yesterday, Mitchell had some of the elder residents in attendance murmuring, recalling long forgotten memories of friends, teachers and acquaintances from their own childhoods.  Mitchell told of having a member of the Ward family, a landscape architect (he recalled her name from 85 years ago, but I can't just a few hours later), "the marmalade family", do the landscaping at their house at 48 E. Alegria.  He discussed memories of going to Pasadena to see the early silent movies, and how he began playing along with them.  He recalled the succession of pastors at Ascension Church, and members of the choir, the organist and musicians who put on concerts in a gazebo on the grounds.  He told the story of his mother's purchase of his first organ.  His memory was a source of wonder, recalling details of early Sierra Madre as if no time had passed, instead of nearly eighty years.  His friend Joe Hinojos, who shared a story about when he and Mitchell first appeared on stage together at St. Rita's School in 1922, shared a dance with longtime Sierra Madre resident Snooky Gregor to the delight of the crowd, which enthusiastically applauded their turn around the floor.  Mitchell played all or parts of several tunes, among them Chicago, the Missouri Waltz, and his closing number, Trees, which he attributed to a young Sierra Madre GI who fell in battle after joining the service early by lying about his age.  Mitchell spent so much time discussing early Sierra Madre, that he didn't even begin to discuss his decades of leadership of the Bob Mitchell Boys Choir, which appeared in more than 100 films, including Going My Way, White Christmas and many more.  For a list of the films the Boys Choir sang in, the songs they performed in them, and some pictures from the movies, click hereMitchell has agreed to return on March 18th to the Kiwanis luncheon to discuss those years.  If Tuesday's crowd was any indication, you'll want to reserve your spot, as the Hall was filled with interested and appreciative Sierra Madre residents.  Check back to this site for info on how to reserve your seat.  Click on a photo to see it larger, click on the underlined text in the bottom three squares to view the video files.

There was a large turnout for the two old friends

The 87-year old Hinojos and 90-year old Mitchell pose for a shot

Mitchell, once a Dodger Stadium organist, performed on piano

Another shot of the two friends

Joe Hinojos cuts a rug with long time friend Snooky Gregor


Joe Hinojos spoke for just a few minutes, and will most likely be returning to speak soon.

Mitchell chats with admirers after the program.  The gentleman on the right is Art Tazio, a friend of Hinojos who coincidentally was a member of Mitchell's Choir years ago.

Hinojos chats afterward with Jan Reed

Mitchell tells the story of his first organ, purchased by his mother for $1

Mitchell discusses a former pianist at Ascension, and the role of the pianist at the early silent movies

Mitchell performs Trees.  Unfortunately, the floppy disk ran out of space a few seconds from the end

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