I had many friends and acquaintances during my student days at Southport High School. There was this one fellow (a very interesting fellow to say the least) who was a grade ahead of me. He was very involved in school plays and was a very good wrestler. This was not a very common combination of extracurricular activities at that time.
His name was Randy Galvin. I didn’t know Randy very well. He was a state champion wrestler for coach Chauncey McDaniel. He later went on to Indiana University where he continued with his passions of acting and wrestling.
The wrestling path from Southport to IU worked in both directions. Coach Chauncey McDaniel’s brother was the head coach at Indiana University. While Randy was wrestling his way at Bloomington, my good friend, Bill Bane was in the process of graduating from IU as a wrestler and starting a job at Southport High School as an instructor and assistant wrestling coach. Brothers take care of each other.
Some years later, I discovered that Randy Galvin owned and operated The Black Curtain Dinner Theater. It was located in the Talbott Village neighborhood. I believe his theater was the start of the rebirth of Talbott Village. My wife and I started attending plays and programs there. We enjoyed the food, drinks and performances. It was a fantastic place.
Sometimes, before the show or during intermissions, a fellow entertained the audience by painting pictures. One evening we were seated where we could see the fellow as he was painting. Most of the audience were not able to view him in action during the time he was working.
We watched him from start to finish and did not have a clue as to what he was painting. When he was finished, he turned the painting around for the audience to view it. Everyone was baffled. No one had a clue as to what we were looking at.
The painter peeked around and looked at his painting. He slapped his forehead in one of those “Aha” moments. He then turned the picture over. Amazingly, he had painted a beautiful landscape upside-down.
Several months later, I was driving south on the Madison Avenue Expressway when I came up on a slowed car. I noticed that the driver had an easel set up to his right and was painting as he drove. It was the painter from the dinner theater. I quickly picked up my speed and moved well ahead of the distracted painter driver.
Several years later, I learned that Randy Galvin had passed away. I have continued sharing stories about his wrestling years and his Black Curtain Dinner Theater. I have also conveyed stories about the painter and his remarkable skills.
More years passed before one day as I was reading the daily newspaper, I discovered an obituary for Billyjohn Rainbow, and I had to read it. His name had formally been John William Higer. He was 84-years-old. All of those memories came flooding back to me.
I can now close my eyes and see Randy and Billy John on a large stage having a blast. It’s so much fun to remember. Thanks, guys.
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools. He can be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.