North Star Chorus History

Back in the early months of 1956, the village of Roseville was in the process of becoming a civic entity. It had just gone through its first seriously contested election campaign, and a young upstart named Dick McGee had been elected to the village council.


A year or two before, a man named Ed Litman had founded a newspaper he called The Rose Tribune, and the first Roseville civic organization, known as the Roseville Businessmen's Association, had been started. A doctor had come up from Fairmont, Minnesota, with the intention of opening an office in the new village.


This move meant the end of his place in the Fairmont Barbershoppers, one of the worst aspects of the move. On seaching St. Paul, he phoned his friend Doug Stark, who worked in a drug store in White Bear. This phone call constituted the first suggestion of a Barbershop chapter in Roseville, or, for that matter, in any Twin City suburb.


An idea is a long stretch from the founding of an organization. However, this idea had a few advantages. Doug Stark had a very fine tenor voice, and, moreover, he had been a member of a trio of druggist-singers who had done considerable entertaining in the Twin Cities. He also had a lot of friends, including some people who lived in Roseville.


One of these was a drug salesman named Bob Shaffstall, who one day appeared at the doctor's new office with his samples and the announcement that he had just been talking to Doug Stark. This was the real beginning of the chapter, for it led to a meeting a week or two later of seven men in the basement of St. Christopher's Church. In addition to Stark, the doctor, and Shaffstall, there were four men, one of whom was a recent acquaintance of the doctors. The other three were members of the church and friends of Shaffstall. The seven agreed that they would meet weekly to sing and to get others to sing. The chapter was on its way.


The course of events in the weeks following the first meeting was undoubtedly the first crucial point in the history of the organization. For an organization of more than 25 people to come from six or seven, there had to be a serious intention on the part of each of the seven to show up the following week, and not to come alone. Those weeks saw consistent meetings, with the consistent appearance of the originals with their friends. Some of the originals disappeared, to be replaced by others. However, in the course of two months, a group of 15 men were singing “The Old Songs.”