Aljean Rogers Tubbs and the Central art of twirling

| March 18, 2015


Aljean Rogers Tubbs

Aljean Rogers Tubbs

By Braynt Rozier

Special to Frost Illustrated

The Central High All-Year Blowout of 2015 jumps off from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 25 at the McMillen Park Community Center. For all festival inquires, visit or call the African/African American Historical Society Museum (AAAHSM) at (260) 420.0765. Like their Facebook page:
The next article in the series of stories about Central High School’s legacy focuses on twirler Aljean (Rogers) Tubbs, Class of ’61.
Napoleon Chapman didn’t know or just forgot that Aljean Rogers (now Aljean Tubbs) was his cousin when he flirted in her yearbook, their last year as Central Tigers. His inscription read: “To a cute girl I’ve liked to have known better. Best of Luck.”
“When he wrote that, I went up to him and said ‘Napoleon, don’t you know me? I’m your cousin. Your dad used to bring you around,'” remembered Aljean. “He just laughed.”
Looking through her Cauldron, there’s a picture of Aljean on the homecoming court on page 5. And on page 57, she’s listening to sponsor Mrs. Chester in a meeting of the twirlers. She was front and center as president of the twirlers there in that moment. Aljean was always, since her freshman year, one of four varsity twirlers. She always preceded the band in parades, at games and at competitions, right behind the majorette.
Becoming a twirler was uncharacteristic of the shy Ms. Rogers. Her own sister straight up said she wasn’t making it. But, “when I got out on the field, I forgot about [being shy]. You just kind of get lost up in the music,” said Aljean..
It’s 2015. Her yearbook hasn’t completely fallen apart. It still functions, in every way, as a book. She opened it and a couple of pages in, a picture of her grandbaby fell out. It was kept in the best place for it not to be lost. The pages are replete with inscriptions, long cursive loops of hurried scribbles. As she perused, Aljean provided commentary. James Bostic—(“He was a general foreman at the Harvestor. I used to date him.”); Bernice Wright—(“She was married to Dr. Jordan.”). She met Don Ganaway when he taught her how to slow-dance; she learned just enough to dance at the prom.
Al Magee wrote a lovely page full of “go-get-em” talk. He quoted Shakespeare. “All the world’s a stage.” They eventually dated, for about four or five years.

“I was really strung out on him,” explained Aljean. But Al had another girlfriend and one day, letters to both women got crossed up. “And that’s why we broke up.”
The only day we could meet was a Saturday; it’s too crazy with her grandkids during the week. While at Central, Aljean worked part-time at the old Ms. Dee’s Market at Wallace and Lafayette. Five months after graduation, she was at GE. It was supposed to be temporary. Her father was worried that General Electric’s steady good money would keep her from being a nurse. She said it wouldn’t.
“But, my marriage was falling apart after nine years. I had to take care of three kids.”

So she stayed, retiring after 35 years, enough time to put her 2 daughters and one son through college. Aljean started at GE winding coil parts for engines.

“When I was hired, they said I had good hand eye coordination.”

Hands of a twirler, educated well.
The summer before Aljean’s freshman year, Mary Phillips, a Central Tigerette and fellow church member, taught her how to twirl, that “when you march, make sure our knees come up high as they come and your toes are pointed.” She made it through all of the tryout rounds, eventually besting juniors and seniors who had to be ticked. Her parents were proud; they had a long history of supporting her and her siblings, who, themselves, won art trophies for their talent. But, Aljean “couldn’t draw for nothing.” She could twirl.
At Central, there was no half-steppin’. Once at a competition, Aljean forgot to shave a small patch of hair on her legs. (She was a still little embarrassed when she told me.) Central was in first when points were deducted for it. Drum majorette Joyce Snoke was not happy.

“Joyce chewed me out.”

Joyce didn’t take any stuff.

Aljean learned quick and loud to be on top of it.

“Joyce was one of the best twirlers I had ever seen.”

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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