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Emma Wentz Bandemer

Emma Wentz Bandemer (from a personal oral interview)

My grandparents on my mother's side were Ludwig and Clarissa Pletcher Graf. My grandfather was a traveling shoemaker born in Germany and my grandmother was born in Livingston County, NY. My other grandparents were Jacob and Anna Maria Schmidt Nugsweiher Wentz – both born in Germany. My father, Andrew Wentz, born in Germany married Sarah Graf, from Tonawanda. He was a carpenter who built houses and barns for $3.00 per day. He loved to draw and enjoyed naming plants. When we move to Pittsford, he was watchman at the Mill for Mr. Perrigo. He enjoyed living in Pittsford, and wished he had moved here sooner. I was born in 1890, in Henrietta on a farm of about 20 acres and lived there with my 3 brothers and 3 sisters.

I went to school at District #1 schoolhouse in Henrietta and had for teachers Emma Hawkins, Esther Warner, Daisy Feather, and Alice Chase Abbott. We used kerosene for lamps and two pupils walked for 5 minutes with a large pail to get water. We all drank from one pitcher. We had a large coal stove in the center of the room. We kept our lunch pails on shelves. When it was very quiet, we would see a mouse running across the top of the blackboard to the shelves.

Isabel Zornow was taking music lessons from Louise Spiegel Kingsley and my parents wanted me to take also. The first piano I practiced on was a melodeon that was given to my sister by my father. First I took piano from her at a house on the corner of Clover and French Road, and then in a house where the Community Savings bank is now.

I attended high school at the Lincoln Avenue building because we didn't have a high school in Henrietta. The teachers were Grace Warner, Nellie Utz, Miss Culver, and Miss Latin. The principal was Theodore Zornow. Florence Zornow and I lived three miles west of the school. We used to ride bicycles, drive with a horse and buggy, and ride sleighs in the winter to get to school. Mrs. Schuyler used to give the horse grain at noon

When the boys played basketball, it was very exciting that we hardly ever sat down. I enjoyed playing first base at baseball. When they started it at Lincoln Ave. for the girls, it didn't last long because the girls fought too much. I played for chapel in the morning before school started. I quit school in 1908 without graduating because I felt that learning Latin and all the other subjects wouldn't benefit me since I wanted to be a music teacher.

In 1902, I was baptized by Rev. Gompf in St. Paul's Lutheran Church and was confirmed there by Rev. Brandt. He once said of me, "She had a sterling Christian character that will influence many for all time to come."

There used to be sheds at church to keep the horses in and I remember one day going to church when the bells rang. We were afraid to turn the horses down Lincoln Avenue because they were scared by the bell's noise and we didn't want to be tipped over! I sang in the choir and was involved in the Women's Missionary Society, Dorcas (Ladies Aid) Society, and the M&M club at the Lutheran Church.

After school, I began studying from Professor Arthur Young, a graduate from Trinity College, England because I had decided to become a music teacher and organist. I began teaching piano lessons all over partly because of Emma Baetzel and Mrs. Peters. They heard me play at a Grange picnic in Mendon and began spreading the word. When I began teaching in Pittsford, I taught at Mrs. Will Malchow's on Main St. Pittsford, because I didn't live in Pittsford yet. I taught her son, "Pooch" for free and stayed overnight at my sister's. In 1918 my family and I finally moved to Pittsford, so I could live nearer to where I taught. My father couldn't work the farm anymore anyway, so I asked Mrs. McMillian if I could buy the house at 27 Locust Street where I have been living now for 59 years. At first I felt rather enclosed, being used to a farm in Henrietta.

I played at the Methodist Church in Pittsford for two years and also taught Sunday school before I became organist at the United Church of Christ in Rochester in 1922. I played there until 1946. I also played for Professor Young's chorus while I was organist as well as teaching piano in Fairport, Honeoye Falls, Mendon, Rochester, Brighton, and Pittsford. My first two pupils were Mary Peglow and Esther Nabor Hulbert. I charged 50 cents an hour but a dollar when I had to make long trips, like to Honeoye Falls. I gave piano recitals every year at the Town Hall and later at the school. I also gave seven recitals in my 26 years as an organist at the church. I also played three years for the Senior Citizens and gave three recitals at the Presbyterian Church. I gave all the money earned from my recitals to the church. While I was organist, I still took lessons because I wanted to learn as much as I could about music.

I remember one of my pupils was Clarabell Zornow. She used to hide on me when it was time for her lesson. After my first melodeon, I next got an organ and then a Wagner piano from my aunt who sold pianos. I bought my very nice Steinway piano, which I had for thirty years before I sold it, around the time of the Depression in 1929. I had earned money picking berries at Zornow's and had saved a lot and was afraid to leave my money in the bank, so I bought the piano as an investment for my savings.

I can recall a few interesting people in Pittsford. Mr. and Mrs. Pugsley liked plants and she used to recite at public gatherings. Mr. Welch was one of the first Postal deliverers who went from all the towns to the others. Forman's had the pickle factory. I had Edwin Plant as a student and he was the grandson of Mr. Plant the lamplighter, who I remember seeing light the lamps on my way to school on the corner of Jefferson and South Main where there was an orchard.

I married Leo C. Bandemer in 1945. He was a widower with three adult children - Herbert, Helen, and Mildred. My husband was a farmer around in Victor. He had his home in Knowlesville. When he came to Pittsford with me, he worked at Pittsford Highway Department and as a school crossing guard. He and I played accordion and piano duets.

Music has certainly been an important part of my life and to me it is a description just like any piece of art. None of my pupils have gone on to be organists or musicians. I enjoy classical music best of all. I loved teaching children to play the piano and am glad God blessed me with my talent and health.