Excerpts from an oral interview
with Emma Wentz Bandemer
on my mother's side
were Ludwig and Clarissa Pletcher Graf. My grandfather was a traveling
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.
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
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 melodian 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
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
last long because the girls fought too much. I played for chapel
in the morning before school started. I quit school in 1908 without
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
has 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
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
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
lessons all over partly because of Emma Baetzel and Mrs. Peters.
They heard me play at a Grange picnic in Mendon and began spreading
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,
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
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 melodian, 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
and as a school crossing guard. He and I played accordion and piano
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
and am glad God blessed me with my talent and health."