|February, 2009 - There are two big events to report this month. We got to see the first appearance
of the Dave Brubeck Quartet with the University of North Texas Symphony, Grand Chorus, and One
O'Clock Lab Band in a wonderful program at Winspear Hall. Before a packed house Dave put on a
three hour show that was outstanding. We had seats in the third row near the piano, and it was like
being in the same room with him. He never said a single word - nor did he have to - because his
music said it all. The program opened with two classical numbers featuring the orchestra and chorus
and the Brubeck ensemble. I knew that Mr. B. had written some classical works, but I guess this was
my first opportunity to hear a performance. It seems that most of what he has written in the classical
vein combines that element with jazz produced by his combo, so the opportunities for performance
are more limited - but what a performance this was. He is 88 now, and his piano chops, although not
what they were at one time, are still very much intact. We were amused by one solo he played in
which he made a little bobble that was obvious to the audience. He just looked up, grinned, and
continued playing. The second half of the program featured the Lab Band playing a couple of
arrangements of Brubeck tunes, followed by six arrangements for the band and the combo. The side
men in the combo were all outstanding performers. It is an experience that I will never forget.
The second big event was the next evening at the local Center for Visual Arts. The Greater Denton
Arts Council each year gives its Community Arts Recognition Awards (CARA) - one to an individual
in the arts community, one to an arts educator, and one to a business that is related to the arts or
gives outstanding support to the arts. This year I was chosen to receive the arts educator award. Dr.
Dennis Schurter, retired Chaplain and my former supervisor at Denton State School made comments
about my work there (1974-1997). Dewey Reikofsky sang one of the songs produced during that
time, accompanied by John Priddy. Dr. Ann Staton, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at
Texas Woman's University (my present employer) spoke about my work there. My part of the evening
concluded with my presenting a recent song entitled North of Ordinary - about the new $100,000 city
slogan that no one seems willing to acknowledge. My sidemen were Andy Cooper on clarinet and
George Merritt on guitar. The audience response was outstanding. Fred Patterson, millionaire
newspaper man, who is usually very reserved, came up afterward, shook my hand, and said with
great enthusiasm, "That song was wonderful." When you can get Fred's attention, you must be doing
something right. I am very honored to receive this award, since I am a very small fish in a large lake
of very talented and dedicated folks.
February, 1979 - The Clarksville Times (Texas), where this column appears regularly, recently
celebrated the date of its founding, January 18, 1873. The Times was not Clarksville's first
newspaper. It was preceded by the Northern Standard, which continued in operation after the
establishment of The Times. The anniversary celebration reminded me that I have a copy of the
Northern Standard dated November 1, 1873, and I think it sheds some light on that particular period
of history. This is what I found:
LOCAL NEWS: Evidently there were no major scandals or significant local news, because the front
page story is a very long-winded account of the exploits of General Custer and his troops on the
Yellowstone River - an article lifted verbatim from the Army & Navy Journal. There was also a notice
from Governor Edmund J. Davis ordering election of state officials on December 2.
MONEY: There is some mention of factory layoffs in the east, but money is rarely mentioned,
especially in the advertisements. A subscription to the Standard, which was published weekly, was
$2.50 per annum, or ten cents per single copy. One report mentions that there were about forty
women working in the New York "dailies" and earning from twenty to fifty dollars a week. The
Philadelphia Mint had just completed coinage of $855,000 in twenty-dolllar gold pieces. The
shipment weighed a ton and a half. I wonder what that much gold would be worth today?
SOUND FAMILIAR? It was obvious from the number of legal ads and a preponderance of those ads
promoting patent medicines that Clarksville in 1873 had too many lawyers and not enough doctors. It
was reported that in Calilfornia, which has always maintained a reputation for craziness, a certain
Professor Lay ascended to the clouds in a balloon along with his lady friend and a Justice of the
Peace, who united the two young people in marriage. And that's how it was in 1873.
RHYME FOR OUR TIME:
Someone bought a lot from the city without ever submitting a bid.
The Council tried to get it back; but I don't think they ever did.
A man was jailed for a serious crime; then another admitted it was he.
Eighteen months and a few days later the innocent man was set free.
You're pressured to make a decision - something you'd rather not do;
but you keep your cool and make it official, and nobody knows but you.
Brush it under the carpet; hide it under a rock.
Maybe in time it'll all be covered by the ticking of the clock.