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About The Artist
This biography is another in a series of essays based on research from "Appendix A - Opry Roster" from the book Good-Natured Riot by Charles K. Wolfe. The essays were based on notes he left of various artists and groups where there was 'no information' or similar. The challenge was to try and identify these performers on the early Opry. In getting screen shots of the Opry radio logs in Nashville's newspapers, mention was made quite a few other artists that did not appear Wolfe's Opry Roster. Glenna Strickland was one of those names. Her career was a bit different than most that played on the WSM Grand Ole Opry.
In September 1907, Edward (B: September 29, 1882 — D: May 18, 1970) and Lola (Donaldson) (B: — D: December 26, 1948) Strickland welcomed their daughter Glenna to the world. Research indicates she was born in Pensacola, Florida. Her father would later be on the Florida Shell Fish Commission. Her mother died in December 1948. Her parents were married on July 12, 1905 at the home of Lola's mother, Dora. Edward was said to be an engineer on the Yellow River Railroad. After the wedding, they took the Florala train to Laurel Hill where they would live.
Early Years — Florida
Her musical talents were first revealed to the public in a news article from April 1924 — when she was about 17 years old. The students at Pensacola High School were in charge of the Elson Art Exhibit at the Chamber of Commerce auditorium and were putting on a program. Glenna was do do a "musical recitation" as part of the 4:00pm program.
A month later, the high school students put on a version of "The Country Singing School" at the Christ Church Parish House on North Palafox Street. The Young People's Service League directed the program. Glenna opened the entertainment with a solo, "My Old Kentucky Home" in the role of "Hellotrope Canopener."
She was involved early on in organizations such as CMTC (Citizens Military Training Camp). One event was put on by candidates of Battery "A" CMTC at Barrancas field. The event was a 'smoker' But featured other entertainment as well. A wrestling match was held, a boxing match. There was also musical entertainment. The unnamed reporter said, "Edward Farrell, also of Augusta, GA, fondled his saxphone and brought forth very pleasing music, answering several encores. Ira Hurley from Mobile, AL, "...took his French harp in town and made it talk. He skipped from grand opera to jazz with ease and proved himself a master of his cart. Glenna (from Pensacola) was part of a jazz trio with Paul Dorr and Edward Terrell (from Augusta) "...gave vent to some of the latest song hits in real style."
She also got publicity for acting as 'sponsor' for CMTC Battery "A" for a track and field event. Jack Gentry from Nashville was her escort. Several other young ladies served as her 'maids.' It was reported they "...were unusually attractive in dainty afternoon frocks with hats to match. Miss Strickland wore yellow canton crepe.
In fact, as a teen-ager, she served as hostess at Fort Barrancas for several summers. She assisted in the entertainment provided for the boys in the training camps.
In June of 1926, a dance was held for the students of the R.O.T.C. at the Fort Barrancas Pavilion. Glenna was the camp hostess and sent out invitations to a number of girls of the "young social set." Admission was by "card." That event received rave reviews a week later. The students of the University of Alabama were the hosts and decorations were in the school colors. The dances were to be a weekly event on Tuesday nights. Students of the University of Alabama, Georgia School of Technology and A. & M. Mississippi were to take turns 'sponsoring' the events. Glenna as camp hostess was in charge of sending out invitations, which were required for admittance to the dances.
After graduation from high school, she gained publicity for her leaving Pensacola to attend Peabody College in Nashville, TN. She had won the P. K. Younge Declamation Contest medal in 1925. It was also reported that she would study expression at Vanderbilt University in the winter.
In August 1926, the encampment of the Citizens' Military Training Camp, Fourth Corps Area, Coast Artillery at Fort Barrancas ended. At that time, a letter of commendation was issued by Major J. S. Dusenbury that read as follows:
"I desire to invite attention to the character of the work of Miss Glenna Strickland, who has been the hostess for the camp from June 11 to August 7, for whom no allotment of funds had been made.
This would appear to have closed the chapter of her time in Pensacola. She left for Nashville on September 19, 1926 to begin her studies at Peabody College (of Vanderbilt University).
Nashville — Peabody, Grand Ole Opry and WLAC
In September 1926, she began her second year at Peabody College. It appears word had gotten around about her piano talents. The Pensacola newspaper ran article promoting the appearance of Glenna over WSM.
She appeared on the Opry on October 23, 1926. She was on from 9:00 pm to 9:15 pm. Henry Bandy, old time fiddler preceded her and DeFord Bailey famed harmonica player was on after her appearance.
She appeared a second time. This time on Saturday night, November 13, 1926 at 9:30pm following the Binkley Brothers.
Glenna was also a part of Nashville radio history. Radio Station WLAC owned by the Life and Casualty Insurance Company, went on the air on Wednesday night, November 24, 1926. The inaugural broadcast included other radio station staff. From WSM, Jack Keefe and George D. Hay. Harry Stone represented WBAW. Representatives from stations in Arkansas and Memphis were also on hand.
Glenna did a piano solo during the 12 O'clock hour. Other acts appearing were Theron Hale and his daughters; Uncle Jimmy Thompson, Alton Wheeler, Obid Packard (The One Man Orchestra), Dutch Ehrhart Syncopators, Jack Keefe and others. Mrs. Eva Thompson Jones did a vocal duet with Mrs. Herman Myatt.
The Pensacola newspaper once again wrote an article for the local folks to let them known a local talent was to take part in that initial broadcast by WLAC. They wrote that she had "...delighted audiences here (Pensacola) on various occasions with her piano playing, singing, and reading."
In September 1927, she took part in a special program at the PattenHotel in Chattanooga. The dance was to mark the opening of student gayeties on the campus of the University of Chattanooga and the opening of the new stadium. Her performance at the event was to include piano and voice selections.
In 1928, radio log listings would show her on WLAC and WSM with her own program slot during the week. By June, school had let out and she returned home to Pensacola. In July, the R.O.T.C. students played hosts at Bayview with a dance that climaxed a series of dances in the summer. Music was by the Blue Gator Orchestra. Glenna was one of those who attended the event. In December, she did a half-hour broadcast over WCOA in Pensacola.
Post Graduate Work - Nutritionist
Glenna graduated from Peabody College in June 1929 with a degree in Home Economics. After graduation, she was leaving for Pike, New Hampshire to be camp dietician. The camp was part of Groucher College. Her stay was to last ten weeks. From there she was going to Greenville, SC where she would be city dietician. On her way back from summer camp, she was stopping over in Chattanooga as a guest of a college-mate. Music was no longer the focus of her efforts.
The city of Greenville made a large effort towards the safeguarding of the health of students in the Parker district. It included physical examinations as well as a nutritional survey. The aim was to prevent the spread of diseases that were due to under nourishment. Classes would be given in home economics "stressing balanced diets and well regulated menus." Glenna was part of a staff of about 10 people in the school health program.
The work of the health department spread beyond just the schools. In November 1929, Glenna conducted a series of cooking classes for a week at the various mills throughout the Parker district. The classes seemed focused on mothers and there were attendants at these classes to take care of the kids.
In spring of 1930, she led the effort for the first ever Home, Health and Food Show in the Parker District. The show was to be in the high school gymnasium and would feature 35 booths that would demonstrate proper home furnishings, preparation and care of foods, baby clinics and other projects touching on the theme of the show, with the emphasis being health. The event would run from 3:00 pm to 9:30 pm. A news item the day after the show indicated it went over well and filled the gym. Plans began to take shape to make it an annual event as it was felt the response exceeded expectations.
In June of 1930, the family went to Tallahassee as Glenna's father had been appointed to the Florida State Shellfish Commission.
While she was visiting her parents in Tallahasee, word got out that Glenna was moving to Peekskill, NY to teach home economics.
In December of 1930 she went to Nashville, TN to be the guest of Isabel McElrath. But there may have been another reason for Glenna's visit to Nashville.
In January readers learned that Glenna was spending the holidays with her parents in Tallahassee. Dr. John W. Hocker of Kentucky was also a guest of the family during this time. Dr. Hocker was also a student or employee at Vanderbilt. He and Glenna were guests at his parents' home in Kentucky for the New Year. A brief article mentioned that while not official, word was that the engagement of Mr. Hocker and Ms. Strickland would be announced soon and a marriage at a future date.
On June 24, 1933, Glenna Burke Strickland married Dr. John Wesley Hocker at the Little Church around the Corner in New York City. Glenna was said to be living in New York City at the time; Dr. Hocker was living in Atlanta, GA. Their honeymoon trip through the Virginia Valley would included a stop in Lexington, VA as well as Dr. Hocker's home in Danville, KY. They would then make their way to Chattanooga where Dr. Hocker had accepted a position as staff physician at the new Children's Hospital. One presumes they met when Glenna was attending Peabody College (a part of Vanderbilt) and Dr. Hocker was a graduate of Vanderbilt Hospital. At the time of their marriage, Dr. Hocker was a resident physician at Henrietta Eggleston Children's Hospital in Atlanta.
The marriage did not last. A divorce petition was field in May of 1934. They were granted a divorce by Judge Oscar Yarnellin June 7, 1934 in Chattanooga.
New York — Guild Director — Brooklyn Daily Eagle
She married Bernard A. McGinnis on August 22, 1934 in Briarcliff Manor, NY. Her husband worked for the Great Atlantic & Pacific Grocery chain (A&P). Census records show he was living in Peekskill, NY in 1929.
She moved back to New York and became the Eagle Home Guild Assistant Director for the Brookly Daily Eagle. By end of 1934, she was the Director for the Eagle Home Guild. Her columns offered twists on favorite desserts such as strawberry shortcake. Another column introduced her readers to uses of Peeko household flavors. (Note: Some recipes from those days at the Eagle Home Guild can be found later in this article.)
By the end of 1936, she had left the newspaper. She was heard on radio station WMCA with a show called "Fashion Notes" in early 1937. She also had a radio show over WMCA called "Kitchen Kapers." In one program she featured 11 year old concert pianist who would talk about "How Music Can Keep Children Happy." She also had a show of 30 minutes that was a lecture on things of interest to women, with a guest audience.
When she left the newspaper, she was doing cooking demonstrations at model homes at new housing developments.
New York — Woman's Day Magazine — Food Director
Her last professional stop in her career was her longest. She joined Woman's Day Magazine around 1940 and became the "Food and Equipment Editor" for the magazine. She retired from the magazine in 1973.
In 1972, readers got a glimpse into what a Food Editor's home was like. Robert Ficks, real estate editor for the Hartford Courant0 wrote a lengthy article describing the McGinnis home. It seems the home was 20 years in the making. Glenna wrote notes on backs of envelopes, napkisn, airline timetables or anything she had to write on. The architect was Burton Bugbee. The home was built in the colonial tradition of the area. It was designed to be a "...workable home which is easy to care for and can be maintained at a low cost."
Finding a location was the hard part with the required or desired space. And they wanted to have a 'brook' as well. They ended up with 11 acres that had a brook bordering the property some 700 feet.
It was a two-story home. On the second floor, Col. Bernard McGinnis (retired Air Force Colonel) had what was termed a bed-sitting room with bookcases, closets with floor-to-ceiling louvered doors. Eventually it would be his office when he retired.
But what about the kitchen? Adjacent to the kitchen was a large room that was called the "keeping room." It had a beamed ceiling, storage wall for china, silver and glass. It had a country kitchen table placed in front of a bay window overlooking the woods on their property that sloped to the brook.
The kitchen itself was surprising to visitors. It was said to be "Pullman-sized". She wanted it to be a "place of business." Glenna said, "When I go into the ktichen, I go there to work. I don't want people sitting around or looking over my shoulder." It was designed "...for maximum efficiency, eliminating all cross traffic patters. It had things like "garages" to hold commonly used kitchen appliances, specially compartmented cabinets for carefully organized storage. Another area was deemed the "beverage center" - conveniently located for easy serving to other adjacent areas such as the dining room.
There was storage space for "...glasses of every size and for every specialized drink. The mixing area is covered with Formica and has a convenient sink for those who want water with their beverages." It even had an ice-maker that could make ice quickly for those large gatherings they hosted.
The kitchen included a pantry which she felt a country home needed so they could stock up in quantity buying and reduce shopping trips - they were five miles from the nearest store. It occupied only a small area, but the swing-out shelves allowed storage of hundreds of small and large items.
The home had 3,400 square feet of living space. One of the features was the living room - dining area which was 33 feet long and 15 feet wide. The dining area is easily separated by an arrangement of folding roors which run on tracks from the ceiling. The builders thought that Glenna's idea of the ceiling track only would not work. But she insisted as she did not want the cut in the carpet. It turns out Glenna was right and the second track was not needed.
In 1973, she received one of the 1973 Matrix Awards that were presented at the annual Matrix Dinner of New York Women in Communications at the Biltmore Hotel. Glenna also received a special Ruth Mumbauer Award for her work in food coverage reporting.
She would often take on roles that brought her back to her roots in Florida. One such occasion was in October 1966 for the National Peanut Festival in Dothan, AL. She was to be the chief judge at the festival recipe contest on October 21. She was the guest of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association. She said she grew up with "peanuts in her blood." At that time, she had a staff of six home economists working for her and was responsible for planning all food and equipment features that appeared each month in Woman's Day magazine. The article also mentioned she was an 'accomplished organist, though strictly by ear' but only played for her own pleasure and relaxation. When she was in college, she played piano "also by ear" with a 12-piece dance band in Pensacola.
In the many grainy newspaper photos seen of Glenna over the years attending various events, she seemed to wear a hat.
A New York Daily News column in 1966 featured several women and their photos and had them answer the question: "Why do you wear a hat when so few men and womend do today?" Glenna's answer:
"I don't feel well dressed wihtout a hat. Furthermore, a pretty hat is flattering and I find that men often admire women's hats and say so. Taxi drivers often single me out of a waiting group when cabs are scarce, and they say they do so because of the hat."
Recipes — Over The Years
Those who are fans of the cooking shows on TV today will probably enjoy these recipes that Glenna published over the years. Your faithful webmaster has even tried one of them. However, you won't see all the recipes at once; each time this page is loaded, a new recipe will show up.
Credits and Sources