Richard Lingwall part 2
Posted By: Nathan Lingwall (email)
Date: 8/2/2013 at 11:07:12
Since Jr. High I had known that I wanted to be a music teacher and I decided to attend Drake University in Des Moines. It had an excellent music department. There was never a question of me going to college, but I donít see how we afforded it. Of course board, room, and tuition were only $1200 a year. I had been custodian of the church for two years and had worked up to $25.00 a month, most of which I had saved. My folks continued this job and saved the money for me. Going off to school was a major event for someone as shy as I was. Fortunately I had met my roommate, Carroll Bennink, earlier in August, so at least I knew someone. My dorm was new, as was the entire quadrangle of dorms and dining hall, so was nice, but the rooms were small: a desk, bed, and a closet on each side. I soon had many friends as the School of Music was a close-knit group and we made friends rapidly. Howard Hall, the music building, became my ďhome-away-from-the-dormĒ as music majors took many music classes there, some worth only 1 or 2 credits, and we did a lot of practicing. I was a piano major and a trombone minor, so had two lessons a week and practiced each instrument every day.
I was in band, and because of my piano background could sight read very well. This got me 2nd chair 1st in the trombone section and I, a lowly freshman, was seated between two seniors. This didnít last very long, however, as my tone was not worthy of the first section. I was still playing the instrument I got in sixth grade( and didnít replace until I was teaching and could afford a good horn, which I still play). Marching Band, all male, was difficult as I had never marched before. There were so many things to remember and do all at the same time: keep in step, hold your horn up, correct marching style, play the music, remember where you go, etc. But what fun! I always enjoyed marching band throughout my teaching career, but it was tiring and did take a lot of time.
I enjoyed my piano teacher Evelyn Teander, and had her all four years. Freshman Music Theory class was a challenge, and because of my piano background I was put in the top theory class. Dr. West was my instructor, and he asked me to sing in his church choir at Cottage Grove Presbyterian Church. My first experience in a big church with a big pipe organ and an excellent organist. Inspiring!
My roommate, Carroll, lived about 45 minutes from Des Moines, and I was invited to go home with him occasionally. Nice home on a big farm. Carroll had his own car, a Ď55 Chevy, and his folks had a new Oldsmobile. I was envious!
Dorm life left much to be desired as we were on a noisy floor. I liked to study in the dorm, and also liked to go to bed at a decent hour. Both were difficult as we had several football players on our floor. Do you think they were there to study and get good grades? Carroll and I decided to look around for off-campus housing for our sophomore year. We were extremely lucky to find a basement apartment with four bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, and large living room. We moved in and stayed for three years. The other two bedrooms changed occupants, but Carroll and I stayed. We were welcome to go upstairs and visit with the family who owned the house, newly weds Loren and Mary Ann, who during our stay had twins, Larry and Sherry. Loren worked in the Post Office, and in the spring of our Sophomore year we applied and were accepted to work as ďtemporary subsĒ in the
downtown Post Office. This meant that we worked 12 hour days on weekends and whenever they needed us during the week. The pay was good, and I paid for two years of college with nine months of work. The job took a lot of my time, so I was just a part-time student my Junior year. This required that I go to school the next summer if I was to graduate on schedule. Unlike now, almost everyone graduated in four years.
During this period of working at the post office I got my first car, a 1947 2-door Chevy. I hated that car, but it was cheap and got me to work and home for an occasional weekend. One cold Friday evening in February I was driving to Harcourt after getting off work late. All of a sudden there was this awful knocking noise. I had thrown a rod, but as long as it kept running I kept going, probably awakening everyone along the road.. I miraculously made it home about 2:00 in the morning. The next day Dad tied a chain to his car and we pulled it to Ft. Dodge to a car dealer. Out of pity he gave me $100 for it and I drove away in a 1954 Buick Century. How proud!
My senior year progressed and I did my student teaching at North High School in band and orchestra. My supervising teacherís father passed away shortly after I began, and I was left with the whole program for a week. How the school ever approved of that I donít know, but it happened. My arms could hardly make it through directing an entire rehearsal. I think that prospective band directors should have an arm muscle building program before they direct. Graduation time approached, I was thrilled to hear the strains of ďPomp and CircumstanceĒ played ďjust for meĒ, and the security of school drew to a close. I ended with 97 music credits, 22 credits in English, and several other miscellaneous credits. Was there a teaching job for me somewhere? The Des Moines Register had pages of ďteacher wantedĒ ads, but not very many for band directors.
I interviewed at Dallas Center, knowing that I didnít want that job, but thought it would be good interviewing experience. I found that I liked the people, the school, and the location, and they liked me, so a contract was signed for $5,100.00 for 210 days of work. How exciting! I had a job for a high salary, I thought. I had no idea how much people were paid, but this was certainly more than I had ever made.
I moved to Dallas Center and got a small apartment behind the drug store on Main Street. $25.00 a month, and worth every penny of it. It was 8 feet wide and long enough for a living room, kitchen and bath. A fold up cot was stored in the kitchen, and at night I moved the table over to the cabinet, leaving just enough room to unfold the bed. Tight quarters, but I was happy. I had my own place!
The Band Room at the school was an old country school that had been moved onto the school grounds, just a few feet from the gymnasium. I had my own building, with a basement and restrooms, and felt very independent. The real reason for putting band out there was so we wouldnít bother the rest of the school. I had two filing cabinets of music and a budget (never enough) for new music, instruments, and supplies. I loved it!
The first day of school arrived and everyone met in the gym for the opening assembly. Each teacher was given a handful of schedules to give to the students, mine were all seniors, and I remember mispronouncing all of those German names. German! I was only familiar with Swedish pronunciations. Also, these guys looked older that I did. That first year Iím sure I learned much more than any of my students.
Dallas Center, population 1,000, was a wonderful place to teach, as I think most small towns are. Everyone knows everyone and everything about you, but is very caring and nurturing. Being a young, single teacher I was invited out for many dinners and included in family activities. Dave Ghormley, a Drake graduate and someone I knew from school, was the vocal director and also the choir director at the Church of the Brethren. There were seven Brethren churches in town, from quite liberal to very strict, like the Amish. The plain people had no electricity or power tools, and dressed very simply. Daveís church was towards the liberal side, and needed an organist. He asked if I would be interested. Having already volunteered my services at the Methodist Church and being told that the only position open was assistant Jr. Choir accompanist, I agreed to the position at the Church of the Brethren. Wise choice! These were the warmest, most friendly people, and rarely was I not invited home with someone for Sunday dinner.
I really enjoyed teaching, and our marching band did a different show for every home game, pathetic as some of them might have been. We had concerts throughout the year, a Variety Show, sometimes a musical, and Solo and Small Ensemble Contest. I didnít realize that sometimes you canít do everything, so I spent all of my time working at school. I even organized a girls Drill Team that performed at basketball games. No one to go home to, so why go home.
One year I had twin girls try out for drum major. Having never seen a band with two drum majors, I didnít realize that it could be done, so I selected one for drum major and the other for baton twirler. Later I realized that I should have had both as drum majors and started a new trend.
I was pretty self-sufficient, and did all my own cooking. I never ate at the restaurant unless someone invited me as their guest. When I was growing up Mother worked in the post office, so I had learned to cook, and was able to cook meals, desserts, bread and rolls. This ability worked well for me as I now could cook and eat rather well.
The summer after my first year of teaching, after I had amassed this huge fortune (ha), I traded my Buick for a 1961 Chevy Impala demonstrator. White with a red interior. Sharp car, but now I had car payments. This restricted my clothes shopping a bit. After growing up with a very limited wardrobe, I enjoyed buying new clothes, and needed to do so because at that time the male teachers wore a suit or sport coat to school every day. Once when I was in college I went back to my high school and found that there was a new music teacher. The first thing I learned from the students was that he wore the same brown suit every day. I vowed that would not happen to me. Female teachers also had to dress well to keep up with the students. Jr. And Sr. girls dressed up for school, and a stranger coming into the school would have difficulty telling the younger teachers from some of their high school students.
Music was my vocation, my avocation, and totally dominated my life. It is said that teachers sometimes have a favorite student. All of my students were my ďfavorite studentsĒ and I thoroughly enjoyed working with them. We would take a school bus and attend concerts in Des Moines, and three or four of the students and I belonged to the Civic Music Association in Des Moines and went to the concerts together. I was doing my part to spread appreciation for good music.
After teaching a year I went back to summer school for a Masters Degree. It took three summers of classes at Drake, most of which I enjoyed, but then there was the thesis. I had always believed that it was important for the band students to learn something about music in the band rehearsal, so my thesis topic concerned including music theory and appreciation in the band rehearsal while still preparing for all of the concerts and band activities. Dr. Pyle, head of Musicology and a prolific composer, was my thesis advisor. I think he questioned every idea I had and every word I wrote. Fortunately for me, he became ill and I was transferred to my band director, Don Marcouillier, who had been my advisor for my undergraduate years. He was picky, but not as bad. I procrastinated with the thesis, but got it done under the ten year limit, so graduated again.
Backing up a bit, I had two second cousins, Shirley and Mary Jane Johnson who went to Dayton High School, just seven miles from my home in Harcourt. Their mom, Arline, my first cousin, told my mom one day that they had this new music teacher who they thought would be just right for me. The next April my band was marching in the Drake Relays Parade in Des Moines. In the staging area all of a sudden I found Mary and Shirley at my side, dragging me back to their band. I was introduced to Miss Schlake, who was wearing a high school band uniform and didnít look any older than the kids. Okey. Fine. I had met her and promptly forgot about it as did she. The next December they invited me to a school dance held at the roller rink to again meet Miss Schlake. For some unexplained reason I went. We were both very quiet, and I donít know why, but she went with me for a bite to eat in Ft. Dodge. All she did was play with her food. I didnít believe she ever ate.
This relationship continued, she in Dayton and me fifty miles away in Dallas Center. I would come up to Dayton or she occasionally came to Dallas Center, but we talked on the phone at least once a week. We would go out to eat, and I still didnít believe that she ever ate. She just played with her food when I was around. The next December I proposed and she accepted. Hallelujah! The ring I gave her was two sizes too large, so she wrapped yarn around it and wore it to school the next day, showing it off to everyone. That evening we took it to Ft. Dodge to be resized, so she didnít have it the next day at school. Everyone thought that was the shortest engagement in history.
I had been teaching at Dallas Center for six years and thought it was time to move on. Again began the search and interview process. I accepted a position as high school band director in Nevada, Iowa. Bigger school, bigger town, and more challenges. Good! Marilyn accepted a position as vocal music instructor at NESCO (North-East Story COunty) a school 20 miles north of Nevada.. This spring season Marilyn was very busy with the activities at school plus planning a wedding. I helped some, but distance made it difficult, and the groom is generally in the background as far as wedding planning is concerned. We selected our patterns for china, silver, and crystal at Josephís in Des Moines, the same jeweler where I had purchased her ring. Her parents gave us the china, a service for twelve shipped directly from England. My parents gave us the silver, and we purchased the crystal. We have used all of this frequently over these forty-two years and have not broken a single piece.
School ended and the excitement and panic of wedding preparation increased. But first we had to get the hay in. Marilynís dad was a farmer, and life on the farm revolves around the animals and the crops. He is the one who set the date for the wedding, July 9, 1966. It had to be between hay crops and cultivating. I earned my brownie points with my future father-in-law by helping with the hay and lifting those heavy bales.
Wedding day arrived, and we had a good mix of friends and relatives. We both had cousins, friends, and students in the wedding party, and uncle Ray (the Rev. Dr. Reynold J. Lingwall) married us in St. Peter Lutheran Church in Garnavillo. Weather in Iowa can be very changeable, and this day was no exception. It rained in the morning, making it very humid, then it cleared up and got very hot. Small town churches did not have air conditioning, in fact back then most places didnít have air conditioning. There were small hand fans (generally provided by the local funeral home) and everyone created their own breeze. The home pastor, Rev. Sorenson, gave the short sermon, and both Marilyn and I became distracted watching a large bead of perspiration slowly advance down the bridge of his nose and hang on the tip. What suspense! It finally did drop and we regained our attentive composure. The wedding was beautiful, of course; the bride was stunning, of course; the music was beautiful, of course; and uncle Ray did a wonderful job of tying a good tight knot. It has lasted forty-two years and counting. The reception was held in the church basement, and like all dutiful brides and grooms, we tried to talk to everyone there. All this good ice cream and cake, and we hardly had time for a single bite!
The festivities came to an end and we left the church to the traditional shower of rice. However, one of my students lost hold of the bag as he threw and I was hit in the face by the entire bag of hard rice. It felt like a baseball! Fortunately I recovered. Cousin Clint McDonald, my best man, took us to the farm where we changed clothes. We really dressed up, and again were this elegant couple. We said our goodbys, and were off on the first short leg of our honeymoon. We had hidden our car in Guttenburg in the garage of Marilynís piano teacher, so Clint took us the ten miles down to our car. When we left the farm we counted the items we put in the trunk as it was very dark. When we got to the garage it was darker yet, and we again counted the items as we took them out, however my shaving kit and shaver went in as one item, and came out as two. Oh-Oh! We drove to Dubuque, about fifty
miles away for our first night. Several days before I had phoned the motel and ordered a dozen red roses. We arrived in the room, and there they were. In the morning as we got up and were getting ready I could not find my electric shaver. We looked around and finally reviewed our counting of the night before. Then we knew. Fortunately Clint and Rosie had not left Garnavillo yet, so we met then in Dyersville and I regained my shaver. We left the roses in the room and hoped that some maid would consider it her lucky day and take them home.
We were on our way to the cool mountains of Colorado, but between here and there were many miles of very hot driving. I had gotten a new car a year earlier, probably my all time favorite car, but at that time air-conditioning was a luxury, an expensive luxury, and I unwisely had not spent the extra money. It was a maroon Pontiac Grand Prix with a black vinyl top and a black vinyl interior. Looked sharp, but was it ever hot! Going through Kansas with the temperature over 100 degrees Marilyn got sick. How does a new groom take care of his sick bride? We stopped at a motel, with air conditioning, and Marilyn went to bed. Fortunately she felt well enough to travel the next day, and we were soon in Colorado. We had a cabin at a resort in the mountains for several days, then went to Aspen and had our own ski chalet. Marilyn finally showed me that she could actually eat a meal, and we ate in some very nice restaurants. In Aspen we had an especially memorable meal at the Red Onion, ending with bananas foster. A couple of years ago we were in Aspen and went back to the Red Onion. What a disappointment! Not nearly the restaurant we remembered from our honeymoon. We went to Colorado Springs to the Broadmoor Hotel, then headed for home. One of Marilynís bridesmaids was getting married and Marilyn was in the wedding party, so no more time to honeymoon.
In Nevada we had rented a three bedroom ranch home less than a block from the high school. I brought to this home a third-hand davenport, a used chair, a stereo, and a bookcase. Marilyn brought a bedroom set and a rocking chair. We had received a card table and four chairs as a wedding gift. Time to go shopping! Our first purchase was a refrigerator. The second, a small T.V. One thing we had not brought to this union was a lot of money, so we lived very frugally for a while. Finally we got our heads above water financially and figured we could spend $100 a month on furniture and furnishings. We soon had a liveable house.
With marching band breathing down my neck I went to school as soon as we had our meager belongings settled in our house. The beloved band director of several years had left suddenly in the middle of the night, mid-year, and they had been lucky enough to find a long-term substitute, but the organization of the room and contents left much to be desired. I dug right in and thus began a fourteen year marriage to my job. One of the first students I met was Zoe Nady. She was a six foot Amazonian type who wore extremely short shorts and skirts. I was working in my office and she appeared in the door with her pet, a large boa constrictor, wrapped around her arm. I do not like snakes! Her family had spent the past year in India, and she was both wealthy and strange. After this all the other students seemed very normal.
The vocal director, Rosie Howard, had been there for several years, and helped me get used to the school. We shared the music room, so there was a lot of moving of chairs and music stands as we shifted between vocal and instrumental music classes.. I also shared the Jr. High band program with the elementary band director Rita Blauvelt. She had seventh grade band and I had eighth. But we had our own room! These storage rooms had been
accumulating band supplies for many years, so our first job was to clean house. I was so disappointed that Rita threw away some rope drums that were definitely antiques. Would have made good end tables, and our home could certainly have used them.
It was while I was at Nevada that I attended a Drum and Bugle Corps Show at State Center and my marching band style changed forever. Most schools were still marching traditional style, but corps style was so exciting. I brought students, a whole school bus full, to Whitewater, Wisconsin for a Marching Bands of America camp and competition five different years. A tremendous experience for both them and me. We saw some of the best high school bands in the country compete for the top band award, saw drum and bugle corps, and attended classes. I wish the entire band could have attended, but it was expensive. I also started taking trips with the band, an excellent way to build enthusiasm, esprit de corps, and excellence in the band program, but demanding on the director. That began a life of fund raising. I wanted to have enough opportunities for the students to make money so that they could raise all the required money themselves. We had work projects and sold everything imaginable. Most memorable was fresh citrus fruit from Florida. A big semi pulled up to the school, the back doors were opened, and there was a wall of boxes of fruit. A little overwhelming, but we had presold everything, and finally got it all distributed to the buyers.
Our first trip was to the Red River Exposition in Winnepeg, Canada in June of 1968. I learned so much from this trip! No matter how smart, helpful, and conscientious the student, donít ever trust them to stay in their room after lights out at night. This is why the chaperones spent half the night sitting in the hallway watching the rooms. This was both a concert and a marching competition, and the parade was eight miles long. We had three or four students drop out of the parade because of fatigue and heat. We got second place in the parade competition. The concert competition was held in a hockey arena, a terrible place with booming acoustics. All of the trips were memorable and required great cooperation from the kids. They had to learn to function as a large, cooperative family. I was always blessed to have excellent chaperones. They were along to take care of the kids, and Marilyn was always there to take care of me. I couldnít have taken these trips without her. When I see chaperones or students now, 40 years later, they invariably mention one of the band trips and some of our experiences. Other trips were to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. in 1972(It poured rain during the parade and our new uniforms got soaked, but what a marvelous experience to see the sights of Washington), Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia in 1978 ( the night before our arrival there had been a fatal shooting across the street from our hotel), Disneyworld( week between Christmas and New Years. Wonderfully warm weather), exchange concert in New York City in 1976 (first time we took Nathan and Stephen. Saw a musical on Broadway), Rapid City, South Dakota (Mt. Rushmore and a botanical center with snakes crawling all over the floor), and another trip to Winnepeg, this time with a marvelous concert hall for the concert competition. I have always believed in challenging my students, and there were many very talented musicians in my bands. I also believed that the band was there for the betterment of the student, not the reverse. It was always a pleasure to work with them.
It seems that shortly after we moved to Nevada and started going to the Lutheran Church, word got out that I played the organ and Marilyn could direct the choir. Thus began fourteen years of on again off again music work in the church. Both of us had always been active in church music, and did enjoy it.
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