"Eddie" McGraw was a “swing band” orchestra leader who played throughout the Tri-State Region of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. The advertisement (left) appeared in The Mansfield News-Journal, Mansfield, OH, on Monday, January 12, 1935.
I have seen articles and advertisements for Eddie McGraw’s Orchestra playing in Rock Springs Park and other venues, but did not realize, until recently rereading Roy C. Cashdollar’s History of Chester: The Gateway to the West, that Eddie lived and worked in Chester.
According to Cashdollar who was writing of a small building which sits across from the former City Hall on Carolina Avenue and Fourth Street, "(There were) two former occupants of the Jerry D'Angelo building. Max Beatty ran a small restaurant there for two years during the thirties and Eddie McGraw, who later became an orchestra leader quite popular in the tri-state area, ran a Radio Repair Shop for awhile before the building became a shoe repair shop."
I am old enough to remember the shoe repair shop of which Cashdollar wrote in 1976, and vaguely recall having a pair of shoes fixed at the shop as a small boy.
Cashdollar goes on to note two other facts about McGraw and the building which housed his repair shop, "Mr. McGraw played many times at Rock Springs Park, (and) an interesting note about the building is that the brick walls of it were constructed with paving bricks left over from the paving of Fifth Street by the E.A. Freshwater crew."
Advertisement (above) from The Livonia Gazette, Livonia, NY, Thursday, May 39, 1941, shows Eddie McGraw played New York and by this time lived in Cleveland, OH.
In the late thirties and early forties Eddie McGraw was known to play Long Point Park in New York State as a regular. An article from Livingston County Leader reported at this time, "Eddie McGraw will once again furnish his entertaining music for the opening of Long Point on May 28. This will mark his third season at the lake and there will be dancing every night after the opening." It goes on to explain that "Mr. McGraw is the husband of a Geneseo girl, the Former Peggy Mills." According to the article, prior to returning to his wife, who was spending several days with her parents, Dr. and Mrs. W.L. Mills back home in Geneseo, McGraw was broadcasting from WADC in Akron.
Geneseo, NY, is home to Long Point Park on the shores of Conesus Lake, one of the Finger Lakes.
I guess Eddie McGraw is no different than I and a lot of other Chester boys, who grew up in a small town that let us try anything and get away with nothing. I was interested in art and theater and Eddie was interested in his music. Our pursuits took us away from home and once out in the world we met new friends and colleagues, found girls, married, and settled near our wives' hometowns rather than our own.
Although I no longer live in Chester, researching and writing about the area and Rock Springs Park has brought me back and made me feel closer to my roots. Perhaps, playing music did the same for Eddie McGraw.