Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Syncopators 1953

The year is 1953 and Dad is an "upper-mid" ( or Junior) at The Hotchkiss School. His only appearance in the yearbook, aside from a group photo of the class outside Alumni Hall, is in the photo of The Syncopators.
Dad played banjo in a jazz band led by his classmate Peter Duchin on piano. Duchin , the son of one of America's most famous bandleaders of the 1930's and 1940's, would make his living as a musician performing nightly at the St Regis Hotel and all over the world.

Wrote Dad to his parents on October 18, 1952
The band got a special room to practice in from the DUKE ( Headmaster George Van Santvoord), and fifty dollars for any work that might be needed to fix it up, from the music department. We give small Jazz and Dixieland concerts for about two to three hundred people every Saturday night. To tell you th truth..cough-cough..we are pretty dran good."

And on January 20, 1953
"In a coule of nights--I don't know if I told you this--but on the night of the twenty-third I'm going to play with Artie Shaw at the Lakeville public school. Now that is the honest truth. Me and Artie am going to play some real cool music"

I attended Hotchkiss twenty five years later and we shared two teachers. George Norton Stone ( math) and Robert Hawkins ( English and French). Other faculty members still around in my day were future headmaster Arthur White, Stephen Bolmer, David Demaray, George Kellogg, Peter Beaumont and Charles Demarest.
I also had a band in my upper mid year. A prep school punk band called The Geeks.
Kicked out for having an electric coffee pot in his room ( or so he told me), Dad actually graduated from The Berkshire School in 1954.
I believe the bottom photo is his senior portrait.

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