Edition 3 - Debby Swisher

posted Mar 21, 2016, 7:33 AM by Sierra Stevens   [ updated Mar 22, 2016, 5:23 AM by Jason Suter ]

By Sierra and Saige Stevens

Debby Swisher graduated from Hanover High School in 1966. She was, and still is today, in the popular girls group, The Pixies Three. Debby is now married and has a dog named Lulu. She lives in Bella Vista, Arkansas. Below is a picture of Debby during her senior year of high school.

 


How many years did you attend HPSD?
I attended the Hanover Public School system, for all of my education.


What activities or clubs were you involved in?
As for activities, I was one of the strange ones because I started singing. I was in a vocal trio, and I still am, called the Pixies Three. I started singing when I was in second grade. My mom started giving me singing lessons. We had a #1 hit record when I was in 10th grade, and we were on the Mercury record label. As long as we maintained a B average, they could dismiss us early on Friday and we would go out and sing at sock hops and different places. As far as in-school activities, I wasn't your average studious student. I was more of the one that joked around, chewed gum, and got kicked out of chorus.

Birthday Party Album Cover.jpg

A photo featuring The Pixies Three


Did you and your friends have a special hangout where you liked to spend your time?
Oh, yes! We just lived for going to the Y after school, everyone did. That’ll be a universal thing, I’m sure. You could play basketball, eat hamburgers, jitterbug, ping pong, look at the boys, see what everybody was wearing, comment on everyone's hairdo, and generally just giggle with each other.


What are your favorite memories from high school?
My favorite memories from high school really involved in between classes. I loved high school; it was a great party for me. All of my girlfriends and my boyfriends were a big part of my life in high school. Anyway, I remember our typing teacher, Larry Bird, he would bring his TV and his radio into class. He would try and simulate a situation where you were in a busy office. So, he was playing records this one time, I looked up and there he was, playing our record, Birthday Party and 442 Glenwood Avenue. I was supposed to try and concentrate on my typing, but everybody was looking over at me and laughing and pointing. That was a good one. Another good time was sledding. They would actually close off streets, when it was snowing outside. You could just go to the top of the street and sled to the bottom, which was a big deal back then.


Who was your celebrity crush back then?
Well that’s kind of funny, because being in a girl group, I kinda had girl crushes on the girl groups. I loved The Shirelles. I loved Mahalia Jackson because of her gospel singing. I loved all those black groups from Baltimore to tell you the truth. We liked everything from jitterbug to all the R&B.


If you could go back in time and tell your teenage self one time, what would it be?
During that time of your life, it’s like a big party. So since I was always laughing and chewing gum, I’d say that I would have to tell myself to be a little more serious.


What would you typically wear to school?
We had a dress code, you’d have to wear skirts and Capezio shoes or loafers. So our outfits would typically be skirts with sweaters or blouses. There were no jeans. They were very strict and you would be sent home if your skirt was too high.


How did the Pixies Three come to be and how did you rise to success?
Well, that was amazing. I guess you could say it was a little bit out of the ordinary. We started out when I was in fourth grade. We had an all around the world club on my street, I lived on Penn Street. My friend Kaye, a member of The Pixies Three, lived down the street and Midge, another member, lived over on Ridge Avenue. Kaye and I entered the YWCA talent show contest and sang Bye Bye Love by The Everly Brothers while playing our ukuleles. Our mothers made us matching skirts and blouses. We ended up winning!

First Talent Show.jpg

Photo of Kaye and Debby at the talent show.

Then the song Lollipop came out and there was three girls on that record. We decided we needed a third girl, so we got Midge to join the group. We just started singing around at The Lions Club, Kiwanis, churches, schools, nursing homes, wherever they would have us.

First Trio Appearance.jpg

Photo featuring Midge, Debby, and Kaye during their first performance as a trio.

After a while, we were finally getting to where people were wanting us to come sing. We heard about this place in Philadelphia, The Venus Lounge, where they would allow local groups to come in and entertain. It was a night club, so we had to come in and out through the back door because we weren’t old enough. Low and behold, there were Mercury Recording people there and we got a recording contract. So when I was in 10th grade, we recorded Birthday Party and 442 Glenwood Avenue. We went to the Buddy Deane Show many times. We became number one on the East coast and spent seven weeks at number one. We just went on from there and recorded an album.

Performing in Montgomery.jpg

Photo of The Pixies Three performing.

Then Midge left and we got Bonnie Long and we kept going with the album. Eventually, Kaye went off to college and we went our separate ways. I came home from my last test in high school and the phone rang. It was someone from New York City and they wanted to know if I would like to audition for the lead part of The Angels. They had a number one record out at that time called “My Boyfriend’s Back”. So I called my mom at work, and the next day she took me to New York City to audition. I got the part and my mother left me in New York City. She came home and my dad goes, “Where’s my daughter?” and my mom goes, “I left her in New York City”. That was pretty funny. Anyway, that’s how my life went. I think it was supposed to happen. My dad went out and got my diploma from the high school. I never got to go to prom, because I was recording in New York City to get ready to go out on these road trips with The Angels. I never went back to Hanover to live again. The next week, my mom brought a bed and a dresser up to New York. That was life changing and I was able to make my whole living from singing. That is why I’m telling the students at Hanover to find something you love. I never went to work because I loved singing.


How did your classmates react to your success with the Pixies Three?
They were fabulous. They were very supportive. I was looking at my yearbook and some many people wrote on it “Good luck with the Pixies” and “Good luck with your singing career!” We never acted uppity, so they never treated us uppity. I loved being in high school and just being one of the girls. We never acted superior at all that I knew of. I don’t think my girls or anybody would say I did.


Everybody’s talked about you, everyone that I’ve talked to has mentioned your name and talked about how great you and the group were and how you were such a big part of their high school experience.
Thank you for telling me that, I had no idea. That makes me feel so great. Well, I love them too. A lot of people go “Oh you can’t ever be popular in your hometown,” but everyone was great to us. We actually came back in 2013, for the 250th anniversary of Hanover. The original Pixies Three got together and we were the grand marshals of the parade that day. We sang on the square, and there was a whole lot of high school friends out there that came to see us.  We also sang over at the Country Club. The funny thing that happened was after that reunion in Hanover, Pennsylvania, the Pixies Three decided to go back and record. So we went back and recorded a whole new album. We have it out right now, it’s called Timeless. We advertised it in the Evening Sun to publicize it and a lot of people from Hanover bought it. So that was amazing.

Performing at the Country Club.jpg

The Pixies Three performing during the Class of 1966’s 25th reunion.

Timeless Album.jpg

Photo of the album cover of Timeless.


Is there any advice that you would give the current students of Hanover?

Absolutely, I would say if you do know what your passion is, concentrate on it. If you’re not sure, I would say try to go to some college or tech school, and try to figure out what is it you’d really like to do. That way you never go to work because you’re always going to somewhere to do what you love. Try to figure out what you like and make a living doing it. Also remember, that it’s never too late to go to school. I didn’t even go to college before I was 24 years old.


It was great sitting down to talk to Debby after hearing such great things about her and The Pixies Three! If you are interested in purchasing the group’s new album, Timeless, please visit their website at http://www.thepixiesthree.com/! There will be interviews on a some other members of the class of 1966 done monthly. If you have any questions you’ll like to ask any of the other alumni or you are a member of the class of 1966 and would like to be interviewed, please leave a comment below!


Singing in Hanover.jpg

A photo of the group singing in Hanover in 2002.

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