Funny how some scandals and characters become part of the local canon. Prostitutes, horse thieves, and bootleggers make the Senior Voice and “I remember when …” columns year after year.
But others never pass the quaint test, no matter how much time passes. Which is why you’ve probably never heard about what happened at CSU’s Music Department in 1952.
In that year, four men turned up gay. The details are sketchy, but one of my sources says all four were music faculty and generalizes that “the whole department was gay.”
Another source says maybe not the whole department. At least the department chair, Gregory Bueche, was straight. In fact, he was horrified to find his faculty teeming with men who do with men.
I can’t tell you how the scandal surfaced, or even if anyone admitted to being gay. But I do know it went to court, with Fancher Sarchet representing the defendents. His daughter, Doris Bice, remembers that the men were charged with homosexuality.
“In those days that was against the law,” she says.
She also remembers Sarchet’s personal view. “He said they were good as any other upstanding citizen, and their preferences were nobody’s business.”
But others in town remember differently. Some say the men were innappropriate with their students. Kids who took lessons would remember a touch on the shoulder and wonder if it meant more. Parent’s began to warn their children about a new kind of danger.
To find the truth, you would have to dig up the court records–something I may do yet.
“Did Sarchet win the case?” I asked Doris.
“Yes,” she says. But winning in those days meant that instead of jail, two got to leave town and a third was committed to a state mental hospital in Pueblo.
Yearbook before and after
Before the scandal, the band director would sit in uniform every year with the CSU band honor society, kappa kappa psi, for a college yearbook picture.
In the years after their director left, the kappas still sat for the photo, but now in ordinary suits and ties and with the newly appointed director Mr. D.N. Peitersen,
And in those first years, a picture of Mrs. D.N. Peitersen also appeared, just a few inches away.