Daniel Algier Jenkins was a member of the Virginia Glee Club from 1934 through 1938. While at the University of Virginia he was also a member of the Tin Can Quartet and Delta Kappa Epsilon and on the staff of College Topics.
The Virginia Spectator noted in 1938 that Jenkins had become the humor writer for the newspaper:
Back in the days when Topics was the size that you could read easily during Psychology class, when it did not worry its collective head about the redness of Roosevelt or the blackness of Hitler, when it planned no palatial new dream houses (gyms), and when it definitely wasn't so hot, it had a redeeming feature in a certain columnist named Gil Faatz, who instituted the column Man Bites Dog. Gil Faatz graduated, and with him most of Topics’s sense of humor. But recently Topics has been hunting for someone to fill Mr. Faatz's shoes, at least the small size. By promoting an ex-flood reporter to an intramural reporter to the Man Bites Dog man, they have produced a good humorist. 'Sblood and egad, Dan Jenkins, take a bow. If you work real hard and crack enough risque jokes, maybe someday Mr. Faatz will send you a gold medal—as a joke, you understand.
Sing, Brother, SingEdit
- Main article: Sing, Brother, Sing (1938 article)
1993 Glee Club Newsletter articleEdit
In a Glee Club newsletter interview in 1993, Jenkins reminisced:
Walking along University Avenue one evening during my first week in Charlottesville I heard singing coming from the steps of a boarding house. Good close harmony. Edging my way up the sidewalk, I contributed a few notes and soon was asked to join in. The rest of the evening consisted of beer, cigarettes and singing, at the end of which it was suggested that I attend the Glee Club tryouts the following day. Next morning, badly hung over and hardly in the best of voice, I presented myself to Prof. Harry Rogers Pratt, distinguished director of the Glee Club, as a second tenor. About five notes into it he stared at me and said, "Try the bass." Given the beer and the cigarettes and the non-stop singing the previous evening, bass it was. "Eureka!" cried Prof. Pratt. Seventeen-year-old basses did not grown on trees.
For four years thereafter I had to retire to The Corner the night before every concert for remedial drinking, smoking and singing in order to turn myself into a proper bass for the following evening's performance. During my last two years, the situation was compounded. I sang, if that's quite the word, second tenor in the Tin Can Quartet while at the same time carrying on as a bass in the larger entity of the Club. Somehow, greatly aided by such vocal luminaries as Font Armistead, Mac Wellford and Tommy Bryan, the quartet managed to survive. (And somehow, I also managed to escape AA.) We were even paid $3.50 each to perform one noon at an Orange County Rotary Club luncheon. We also, on another occasion, were asked to leave (i.e. thrown out of) the Taft Hotel bar late one evening during a New York trip. Nobody is perfect.
In later years I sang with the Eighth Army G-2 quartet in the Philippines and Japan (we entertained in Army hospitals where the audiences were temporarily incapable of doing us bodily harm) and still later with a Hollywood press agent, a Hollywood glamour photographer and a Lockheed aircraft mechanic in the photographer's acoustically-resonant gallery. We were very good--acoustically.
Despite the fact that I have long since given up smoking and am now abstemious (comparatively speaking), my voice is no longer of any retail value except occasionally in the shower. Even then there are doubts. The bathroom also is very resonant.
I am devoting my retirement years to attaining a few minor lifetime ambitions, one of which, quite recently, was riding a camel in the Saudi Arabian desert. I suppose those years at The Corner could hardly be expected to prepare one for anything more noteworthy, but I don't regret a minute of it. (I can still do a top tenor to "Aura Lee" and the bass to "The Good Old Song" and "Silent Night," but nobody ever asks me to. Strange.)