I REMEMBER . . .
• I remember Allen as the best friend anyone could ever have.
• I remember us laughing until our sides ached.
• . . . constantly practicing and performing together in the same groups.
• . . . listening to jazz records together.
• . . . hanging out at the local drugstore counter, drinking cherry cokes.
• . . . standing outside once a week at the corner of South Helen Street and Transit Avenue with my sousaphone (in all kinds of weather) waiting for conductor Jack Elton to pick me up for a rehearsal with the South Sioux City, Nebraska Municipal Band. Allen would already be in the car with his dinky trumpet after waiting INSIDE HIS HOUSE to be picked up. There was a lot of bantering back and forth about that—Allen spouting some illogical nonsense about trumpets being more important than sousaphones.
• . . . forming a dance band called the Music Makers with Allen as the cornerstone.
• . . . looking over dance band arrangements together at Sheffield’s Music Store.
• . . . letting Allen talk me into buying some bebop arrangements for the band.
• . . . finding bebop to be a life-transforming experience.
• . . . learning and speaking the language. “Hey, man. Like what’s happening?” I’m like really sorry that “like” is like used like three or four times in like all teenagers’ sentences now. Like that is the fault of our generation. Sorry!
• . . . having our language misunderstood. While shopping for jackets for the Music Makers, Allen tried on one and exclaimed, “Too much, man!” The owner of the store immediately offered to lower the price! We bought seven of those corduroy jackets with corduroy belts that tied in front plus seven ties with large polka dots. (Cool, man!)
• . . . beginning to perform for high school dances and eventually at other local venues and area ballrooms.
• . . . listening in amazement (and sometimes in amusement) as Allen began to learn to improvise. (He would, at first, sometimes start improvising one tune and end up playing a completely different tune—usually “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, Baby.”)
• . . . having our Music Makers band selected by Don Kelsey to accompany singers, dancers and instrumental soloists for a March of Dimes Teen Variety Show that performed in local and area theaters. The band’s highlighted spot featured (what else?) one of Allen’s bebop tunes that always completely baffled the audience. (“What the heck was that, Martha?”) We didn’t care, WE loved the music.
• . . . performing every kind of popular music imaginable on our dance jobs (from Dixieland to polkas to modern jazz) with Allen nailing every nuance of every style.
• . . . watching Allen and Dick Thomas (another good trumpet player friend) scat sing the vocals and mime the instrumental solos in Woody Herman’s recording of “Lemon Drop.” It was fall-down funny!
• . . . Dick Thomas driving Allen and me to Des Moines for a Stan Kenton Concert. Dick’s mom ordered him not to let Allen or me drive. On the way home Dick kept falling asleep at the wheel. BUT ALLEN AND I WERE AWAKE!
• . . . Allen’s stone-lined red and white derby (used to change a trumpet’s tone quality). He used to wear it in my car as a crash helmet when he perceived conditions to be dangerous—in other words, pretty much most of the time.
• . . . driving down the street in my car with Allen and having him whistle or yell “Woo, woo!” at groups of high school girls on the sidewalk. He would then duck down so that the girls would see only a red-faced driver. That was another reason for his wearing the derby—because otherwise I would have smacked him on the head!
• . . . root beer drinking and eating contests at the Snow White Drive-In. Allen always “won” the contest (but you don’t want too many details about that). He always ate at least twice as much as I did. I would gain weight and he would lose weight.
• . . . double-dating a lot.
• . . . going together with our dates to two local ballrooms to hear all the famous dance bands of the day. We usually stood in front of the stage and just listened but sometimes got out on the dance floor. I don’t think either of us ever became a good dancer, certainly not I. We were always either listening, practicing or performing.
• . . . the graveled road roller coaster hills east of Sioux City. It’s amazing that I didn’t kill all of us in that stupid venture!
• . . . both of us being invited to join the Sioux City Symphony and Municipal Band while still in high school.
• . . . joining the Musician’s Union and both of us beginning to perform separately with other local and territory bands.
• . . . both of us deciding to attend the Morningside College Conservatory of Music in Sioux City to major in music education.
• . . . joining the professional music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. Rehearsing and performing big band arrangements with other professional musicians was certainly a major highlight of our college experience.
• . . . sitting at the piano in the frat room for what seemed like hours, plunking notes for Allen to match on his trumpet. No wonder he developed such a good ear. It was all my doing!
• . . . both of us being hired to perform at the Sioux City Auditorium for many national and international ice shows, circuses, rodeos and trade shows.
• . . . being “best man” for Allen and Betty’s wedding.
• . . . being drafted into the Army—Allen to an Army Band in Alaska and me to an Army Band in Washington State.
• . . . missing Allen terribly at my wedding to Kay. But Betty came out to Lakewood, WA and was in our wedding party. Paul, age one, came along for the ride. They lived with Kay’s parents for awhile until they were able to join Allen in Anchorage.
• . . . eventually welcoming Allen and Betty’s return from Alaska via a troop ship! Kay and I were wondering how we would ever be able to pick Allen out among the hundreds of soldiers lining the decks. Everyone was waving, but one hand was making a large square pattern. That was Allen!
• . . . moving to New York City in 1958 and pretty much losing touch with Allen and Betty for awhile. Neither Allen nor I were very good at writing letters. But Kay and Betty tried to update the year’s events in our Christmas cards.
• . . . visiting with them once in Wisconsin on a drive back to Sioux City.
• . . . rejoicing at the invention of e-mail that enabled us to correspond again.
• . . . picking up the phone and hearing Allen’s voice on the other end with the latest news about Betty, Paul and Susan.
• . . . discussing educational issues, embouchure, breathing, mouthpieces, tonguing and other earth-shattering subjects.
• . . . meeting Allen and Betty once in Washington, DC when they were visiting Susan and Tim in Arlington. What a joyous occasion!
• . . . getting together with Allen and Betty in Sioux City for the East High School 50th reunion and with Allen for the Kucinski Memorial Concert and the Don Morrison Scholarship presentation.
• I vividly remember our last time together as I rode with Allen in his pickup truck from Ironwood, Michigan to Sioux City (and back) for the Morrison Scholarship event. We reminisced for hours about our families, our teaching, our students, our performing and our life’s journey together.
• I remember how disappointed I was that he could not be with us for our 50th wedding anniversary party.
• And I remember crying for days after hearing of his passing.
Well done, good and faithful servant. (Matt 25; 23)
Christ My Refuge
Mary Baker Eddy
O’er waiting harpstrings of the mind
There sweeps a strain,
Low, sad, and sweet, whose measures bind
The power of pain,
And wake a white-winged angel throng
Of thoughts, illumed
By faith, and breathed in raptured song,
With love perfumed.
Then His unveiled, sweet mercies show
Life’s burdens light.
I kiss the cross, and wake to know
A world more bright.
And o’er earth’s troubled, angry sea
I see Christ walk,
And come to me, and tenderly,
Thus Truth engrounds me on the rock,
Upon Life’s shore,
’Gainst which the winds and waves can shock,
From tired joy and grief afar,
And nearer Thee, —
Father, where Thine own children are,
I love to be.
My prayer, some daily good to do
To Thine, for Thee;
An offering pure of Love, whereto
God leadeth me.