Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

MC Weekly

May 7, 2014

RAY MOSCOWITZ: 55 years later, Tom and Rex still tootin' for circus

Gustin, Stitsworth are Circus City Festival Band originals

I’m going to blow a proverbial horn today for Tom Gustin and Rex Stitsworth. After all, they’ve been tooting theirs for thousands of others the last 54 years as original members of the Circus City Festival Band.

As the 55th Peru Amateur Circus gears up, Gustin and Stitsworth will be part of the band — just as they were for the first circus — Gustin sliding sounds out of his trombone, Stitsworth producing them with the valves of his trumpet.

For Gustin, music has been his life and his livelihood. For Stitsworth, music has been his lifelong hobby.

Gustin, 71, was only 6 years old when he started to play the accordion at garden parties, fundraisers (such as the March of Dimes), birthday parties and other social events.

The oldest of four children, he was born and raised in Peru to Harold and Dorothy Gustin, both of whom worked at Delco in Kokomo.

Gustin was 12 when a trombonist in the Peru High School Marching Band impressed him. That fellow was future doctor/surgeon Dan Roberts.

“I wanted to be able to play like him,” Gustin says of the now retired Roberts, who continues to perform with the circus and is the leader of the popular Dixieland group, the “Swampwater Stompers.”

It took Gustin just 12 weeks to learn how to play the trombone from his father. Tom recalled: “Dad taught me the basics of ‘song form,’ which is A-B-A, and how to use my ear to pick up on melodies.”

That led to his first professional job at the Logansport Moose Hall in 1954. “Made $6 … wow!” he kids.

His father taught him 32 songs in those 12 weeks, Gustin said. “And then on [that] first job at the Logan Moose, he taught me two more songs, one on each 15-minute break. The actual techniques of playing the ‘bone’ I worked on myself … and with God, of course.”

1
2 3 4 5 6 7
Text Only | Photo Reprints
MC Weekly
  • RAY MOSCOWITZ: What is a Hoosier? Here are some answers This is my last column on a regular basis for the MC Weekly — by my own choosing.I want to thank Jeff Kovaleski, managing editor of the Kokomo Tribune, for inviting me to write for the MC Weekly when it began publication in July 2013. It has been an

    August 20, 2014

  • Our current MC Weekly issue

    October 9, 2013

  • SPL - KT081714 - John Martino column - column sig [Duplicate] MARTINO: Glacial lakes offer naturally good fishing Indiana always has been special to me. Although we lack vast expanses of public lands, towering snow-capped mountains or endless oceans, it is home. But our Hoosier State does possess its own uniqueness and beauty.

    August 20, 2014 4 Photos

  • Grissom Fire Department 08 [Duplicate] Military Fire Power

    There are six people trapped inside a burning airplane. You and your partner have 10 minutes to rescue them.And you have to do it blind, groping and crawling in total darkness, burdened down with fire gear and an oxygen tank.Sound impossible? John Ir

    August 20, 2014 13 Photos

  • NWS - KT080714 - Konrath mugshot - CLG [Duplicate] Peru surgeon Konrath jailed on charges of invasion of privacy PERU — A Peru orthopedic surgeon accused of plotting to murder his ex-wife is back in jail without bond after deputies say he violated a court order prohibiting him from contacting people involved in the case.Gregory Konrath, 48, was arrested in July

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Peru police arrest 5 during warrant service PERU — An attempt by police to serve felony warrants Aug. 12 led to the arrest of five Peru residents on multiple charges, including dealing meth and illegal possession of a handgun.Officers went to the 500 block of West 10th Street at around 1:40 p.

    August 20, 2014

  • Miami County Weekly sports briefs The Kokomo Region PGA Junior All-Stars are moving on to the state semifinals after a convincing victory over Muncie on Saturday at Rock Hollow G.C. Kokomo recorded 101/2 flags while Muncie managed just 11/2.

    August 20, 2014

  • Peru Police Tablet 01 Peru police going hi-tech Anyone thinking about committing a crime in Peru now has another reason to think twice.The Peru Police Department might just have its eyes on you. Literally.Assistant Police Chief Rick Keller said officers will begin installing cameras in high-crime

    August 13, 2014 3 Photos

  • SPL - KT081014 - John Martino column - pic 2 [Duplicate] MARTINO: Is expensive equipment really that much better? It was time, or so I thought. It had been several years since I broke down and bought a new spinning reel. Well, OK, several months. But that’s not important. Fishermen can never have too much tackle.

    August 13, 2014 4 Photos

  • Small museum in Mitchell now honors Gus It isn’t much, just a small space in a red brick structure built in 1880. But it’s special to Susan Webster. And what’s special to Susan Webster is special to her husband, Charles.Any day now, Susan and Charles will open the museum portion of Mitchel

    August 13, 2014