Verne Albert Engblom (1919-2004) married Shirley Engblom, and became a father to Glenn & Gayle Engblom. Gayle later became mother to Christopher, twins Kevan & Carsten, Bridget & Elizabeth Bauman.
As the grandfather of Kevan Bauman, Verne lived a full and vibrant life. A young man, he traveled the country with the circus as a trapeze stunt man and then later as a soldier in WWII. He was a natural musician. Upon returning home and settling down as a family man, Verne invested in home recording studio equipment. His wife Shirley worked, and he did several things to make ends meet. However, over time music soon became a full-time gig for him as he surrounded himself with other musicians.
In the 1950’s he had formed a band with several friends – Harold Johnson & Jesse White. The band soon became known as, ‘The Shy Guys’. They would end up cutting several records and performing a countless number of shows together. From backyards, church basements and sold out barbershop concerts the band would harmonize original songs such as ‘I’m The Only Guy In The Old Neighborhood’ & ‘Live By The Good Book’ to cover songs of the era such as ‘Green, Green Grass of Home’ & ‘How Great Thou Art’.
The hit songs ‘I’m The Only Guy In The Old Neighborhood’, ‘Live By The Good Book’ & ‘Save A Soul Band’ would gain Verne Engblom & The Shy Guys national recognition amongst bluegrass / barbershop music lovers. In 1966, Verne Engblom & The Shy Guys performed on the Chicago hit TV / Radio Show – The Breakfast Club with Don McNeil. There they performed several songs, as well as a special version of ‘I’m The Only Guy In The Old Neighborhood’ spoofed as ‘I’m The Only Girl In The Old Neighborhood’ with Verne’s daughter – special guest sixteen year old Gayle Engblom.
As ‘The Shy Guys’ era started slowing down, Verne would invest his time into new artistic ventures. Focusing less on song writing and performing, Verne spent more of his time on song production and engineering. In 1964, Verne had incorporated his very own Music Company, ‘Chordcraft’. In the 1970’s & 80’s, Verne would go on to put it in use by recording several instrumental, sing-along and carousel music albums in his basement music studio. Just to name a few, ‘1890’s Revue’, ‘The Digital Barbershop Harmony Band’, & ‘Sounds of the Carousel’ were all created and successful in their own right.
Perhaps known mostly for it’s famous ‘Musicard’ and creations such as the patented instrument ‘Chord Charts’, Chordcraft Music Company was everything Verne set out for it to be. He was putting all of his creative energy into what he loved doing.
In the late 1980’s now as a grandfather, Verne would take a second stab at writing music. In a new era of his life, it was then that he was inspired to write and record the hit song, ‘Touch Of The Master’s Hand’. He would often record his grandchildren singing for fun and memories when they would visit. Recording them soon spawned a brilliant idea. Having his grandchildren sing his songs and other famous music for several children sing-along records and videos. This direction was soon where Verne’s attention would go.
Much more than a simple musician, in the early 1990’s he would invest much of his time and energy into the creation of miniature carousels and carousel music. A multi-talented artist, Verne would spend thousands of hours hand sculpting two miniature carousels. The first of which would get him exposure on ABC News Chicago’s, ‘Someone You Should Know’ program. The program would visit Verne in his home studio producing music, interview and document his miniature carousel creation. Quite a significant feature for someone who had learned to love time to himself. The interview would gain him national exposure with the ‘Miniature Carousel Creators Association’ as they featured his carousel as a model for greatness.
In 1992, Verne would set aside time to record an album with his daughter Gayle, titled ‘For The Good Times’. The two truly had a special best-friend like connection. Every song on the album was a father-daughter harmonized duet of classic ‘Shy Guy’ records as well as other hit cover songs. The album was a personal treasure to Verne and never released. The two would perform together in celebration for Verne & Shirley’s 50th wedding anniversary soon after.
Getting into recording and performing must have once again ignited Verne’s passion for music. As the computer recording and production era really started coming of age, Verne was in awe of how things had changed from when he had first started with music. He had become a technology buff, knowing anything and everything about computers. Slowly converting his reel to reel studio to a full-powered Macintosh computer recording and production studio.
Towards the end of his life, Verne would return to song writing once again. With his love for carousels at heart, he would write perhaps his favorite song of all time. ‘Little Kids & Painted Ponies’ was a carousel theme song for the ages. “Little kids and painted ponies, what a beautiful sight to see, up down round and around, riding a fantasy”. The beautiful words of that song will forever ring through the ages.
In his last years, hobbled from physical disability, he could not get down the stairs to his basement recording studio any longer. Disheartened, but determined he would use the last of his creative energy to design a illustrated book for the song – ‘Little Kids & Painted Ponies’. The book would be the final piece of art Verne would leave in this world. In 2004 he would lose his life.
His legacy runs deeper than music. The love, passion and creativity he demonstrated in everything he did in this world would inspire many including his grandson Kevan to work hard at his own dreams. Kevan had always referred to his grandpa as his hero and if you ask him today, that certainly hasn’t changed.