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Emmet Smith

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Emmet Smith

Emmet Smith tackles Fortitude. Yes, the original and 95 year old retired organist for TCU invites us into his home. From his arrival at TCU in 1950 to playing for over 2600 weddings and nearly as many funerals, Emmet has some stories you wont believe. The man even built an organ in his house, which he pulls out all the stops for us. Emmet details his years in FW and the people he influenced and music he made. If you’ve never heard the name, welcome to Earth. This Emmet is a Hall of Famer for sure

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Episode Transcription: 

foreign
0:05
everybody JW Wilson my co-host brinton Payne brought to you by cap ticks Bank
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our friends Mike Thomas You’re Gonna Love This one Brinton when I mentioned the name Emmett Smith to you what comes
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to mind well I’ve actually brought uh something that comes to mind and I was
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wondering when we got at this house I didn’t realize that the Emmitt Smith lives here in Fort Worth we are in the
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home of the legendary Emmett Smith not the guy you’re holding the jersey of but the the more important for enough
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regards to what we’re doing today Emmett Smith welcome to the show Emmett thank you very much I’m happy to
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be a part of this this man brinton has lived a life uh he’s still living obviously 95 years young but he has
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lived a life we’re about to dig into today because it’s fascinating so forget the other Amendment this guy is worth
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our time today so let’s get started what do you say all right Emmett’s uh 95 like I said you
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grew up in a town called Arkansas City Kansas correct correct tell us about
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life in our Kansas City please our Kansas City was founded around 1840
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almost completely by new englanders who had read ads about the fertile soil
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and the wonderful weather and they moved
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we’re actually Lock Stock and Barrel and settled this town they made the streets beautiful with
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huge American Elms made tunnels of the streets red brick streets nicely done a
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marvelous public school system with orchestras in the junior high school the
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high school the junior college and this was back in the days when women
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could not be married and teach and they could be widows and teach but they
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couldn’t teach if they were married makes sense right and no it does I know it doesn’t and uh anyway they were
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dedicated to what they were doing and it was marvelous I had the best French teacher in Arkansas City Kansas than I
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had in Paris France um anyway uh my father was an accountant
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and he was very crazy about violin music
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he had five children with my mother of course and all five at
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the age of five were started with violin lessons border size half size full size as you
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grew he made a terrible mistake uh when I was five years old that was 90
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years ago he took me the three oldest boys took us to an organ recital in the
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Presbyterian Church which had a beautiful Kimball Oregon pipe organ they were all
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pipe orchids in those days and we
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were all settling this beautiful Church which is just a big pink Dome over us
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and I remember the name of the organism his name was Homer Dodge Kane Jr and he began to play our church didn’t
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yet have a pipe organ it did in 1939.
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I heard this sound and it was hypnotic it was really as though I were
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in a different place I wasn’t on Earth and from that minute on my mother called
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it organ fever every time I had a chance to go here in Oregon I would go
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and my piano teacher I took violin for 10 years and then I sneaked piano in there
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because my father would not have a piano in the house and I had learned to play the piano
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fairly well uh before my mother and I
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got a piano free delivered and tuned no cost because
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one of the music stores was overloaded with a warehouse full of pianos
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and so they just delivered it and tuned it and it was ours uh my father was Furious
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when he found the piano and my mother was prepared and she said well you know when you and
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the boys want to practice with your accompanist you have to walk 16 blocks because we
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didn’t have a car we were poor 16 blocks to practice with her
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and her name was Dora Mae Weber and she was a marvelous pianist and she
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became the organist of our church in 1939 when we got the new organ
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she had a car and my mother said when you want to rehearse when the boys are
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going to have to play somewhere rehearse with her she can drive here 16 blocks
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and you don’t have to make that long walk and have more time just to practice
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well that’s not a bad idea so he didn’t know I could play the piano
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and one day he came home and I was ripping through a Chopin
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Etude or something that was lots of notes and he just stared at me
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and said what’s this and I said well I want to learn to play the organ
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and he said well from now on you can accompany the other two boys okay
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and uh the best organist in town was my piano teacher
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and she said she wouldn’t teach me Oregon until I could play two Beethoven sonatas from memory and two-part
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inventions of Bach so I practiced four hours a day no matter what came up four hours practice
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and on the piano and when I could play those she started me
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and I was 14 years old and two weeks later after my two lessons
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I substituted in a hurry at the Methodist Church who had to have an organist quick
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and uh that was the beginning and then when I was uh almost 16 I was
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right at the end of 15. the choir director at my church our church had a big congregation
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biggest one in town five choirs three Sunday Services excellent music
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the choir director who was also my geometry teacher in high school called me on the phone and said
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doramay Weber came down with polio on Monday and she died today Friday you’re
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going to play the three services on Sunday oh it was
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what’d you feel like when you got that like I’ve been hit by a ton of bricks
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because I had to learn the anthem accompaniments all the hymns were going to be used
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and at the night service which was very informal anyone in the congregation
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could call out a hymn number and we would sing it so I immediately started on page one and
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I learned all the hymns in the hymnal so that I could play him on an instance
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notice and uh I’m so grateful that that I had that
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chance I’m sorry for adorable aweber but uh because when I went to college
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I had such a big Repertory behind me having to prepare music for three services every Sunday
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that I was loaded down with pieces I could play
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how’d you go about doing the prac the practicing you know four hours a day and then to learn those would you take it
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one him at a time or how do you have a method I would probably play that game
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over and over and over until it was practically memorized I knew what was going to happen on it and uh
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I never I never quit practicing hymns because there’s a real art to him
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playing and very few now I don’t mean to make organists angry but there are a few even
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really good organists around who don’t do a good job in my opinion why would
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they get mad about that I mean I don’t know they think him playing is not important maybe you just drag drag the
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congregation through it that’s it and I was taught you the music has to
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interpret the meaning of the text so if the hymn talks about the
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the trumpets of Jericho you don’t want to be playing along on soft string stops you want the trumpets
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of Jericho and you make the the organ just magnify
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the strength of the poetry and uh
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it takes a lot of practice and uh I don’t play for churches anymore my last
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public playing was in when I was 92 that was three years ago
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and I decided it’s time to quit and I quit um where was the last place I played for
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a funeral at arborlawn Methodist Church here in Fort Worth don’t skip ahead too
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far we’ve missed over a whole bunch of good stuff let’s go back to our Kansas City if you don’t mind all right uh
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you’re doing this you’re you’re practicing you’re playing all these Services you’re thrust into the world of the organ yeah and you’re loving it I
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know but you’re obviously under a lot of stress but in 1950 something happened that brought you here to Fort Worth what
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happened there are journals like uh the American organist magazine and one
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called the diet patient which is a hundred years old in public publishing and the Etude used to be published for
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all musicians and other journals that keep you up what’s hap on on what’s
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happening in the world of music and um I began to read in these journals
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about Fort Worth Texas the university there called Texas
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Christian University was building a new building which would have in it a a
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beautiful new Auditorium with a magnificent new pipe organ custom built
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of force as all pipe organs are to match that room and sound wonderful
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and that was 1949. and I was getting my first degree at
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Southwestern College in Winfield Kansas which I chose because they had an excellent organ teacher
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um and so I had a i commuted from Arkansas City to
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Winfield which was 14 miles who I didn’t live on campus but I had a 1937
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Dodge Coupe very reliable car and I drove
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and so I just decided to get to my little Dodge and drive to Fort Worth the
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building was finished the dedicatory recitals had been played and uh had gotten glowing
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criticism from musicians all over the country
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so I drove down here and of course it was before the days of interstate highways
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so Highway 77 just put me right in the middle of downtown
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Fort Worth and I stopped someone said how do I get to TCU and he said that
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next street is seventh just go that way on Seventh until you get to University Drive
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so I did and I turned off of 7th Street
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and within three or four blocks I was in a dense
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forest there were no buildings uh not even a filling station
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uh there was a beer joint just as I got to the bottom of the
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hill on University Drive before I went up the hill to uh
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uh TCU campus well I thought I hit God had told me
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wrong because I had driven for a couple of miles in a dense forest on a little
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two-lane ragged Street and suddenly I burst out all the TCU
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campus and what had changed from what it is today that the president of the University’s
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wife had insisted and won the battle to plant hundreds of Live Oak and and
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deciduous Oaks all over the campus and this the trunks of the Big Trees you see
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now were the size of broomsticks and the cameras were just Barren and uh Ed
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Landreth was the biggest the newest building and so I parked that was not a problem went
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inside outside it was about 103 degrees went in where Dean McCorkle kept his
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building at 65 during hot weather he freezed to death and so I went into the
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lobby and I could hear the organ being played so I looked through the little window in the door at the back of the
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auditorium and there was a cluster of students around the organ console that means the
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keyboards the pedal board call that and so I slipped in quietly and sat down in the back row
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and a student whose name was Marion Armstrong still living she lives in Waco
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um turned around said hi you back there are you an organist
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and I said yes I said well come on up so I went up there and she said
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do you want to play something and I said am I allowed to I’m not registered here
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and she said of course of course and they were all organ Majors clustered
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around the console so I sat down because I had played my graduation recital just a few weeks
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before it was all memorized uh I played the Prelude and fugit a
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minor a Bach and that totally takes about seven or eight minutes
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and at the end of they were very quiet they didn’t make any disturbance while I
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played and I was just shocked I had never heard of an organ like that
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and when I was trying it out I said oh that’s the most sound I have ever heard
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come out of an organ and Marianne said you don’t even have the
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shutters open and what makes the sound of the organ on a certain keyboards
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are opening and closing very thick wooden shutters and it just closes in the sound or you let the sound out then
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when I open the shutters and the main trumpet stops and trombone stops in the
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organ were behind the shutters I was speechless it was magnificent
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and then I Heard a Voice across Footlights I didn’t know I never met him it was
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Dean McCorkle and he said uh young man are you looking for our
16:14
graduate school to study Oregon and I said well yes I am and he said well when you’re finished
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here stop by my office it’s in the lobby so I do
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and he said I heard you play and I came in
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to listen and he said if you want to come here for a master’s degree I will give you total tuition free
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you will have to work six hours a week grading papers for either
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music theory or musicology and I said fine that’s wonderful
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and so that’s how I came to TCU
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at the same time the dean hired the Mueller pipe organ
17:04
company salesman for Texas and the states around it
17:10
he was a Salesman for this area and he convinced Dean McCorkle to buy the
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smaller organ animal or practice organ up on the second floor and a small one
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and I knew him he went to Southwestern College in Winfield Kansas where I went
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but I was 12 years old I heard Gordon Young play his Junior recital at
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Southwestern and he got his degree there and made a name for himself as a
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composer mainly of organ pieces and Anthems for churches
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um he could really play a brilliant recitalist
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and uh he was to play one of the dedics horror recitals on this new organ
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well there was not an organ like the one in Atlanta anywhere within miles and
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miles States practically it was a new sound to
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people in this area and The e-power Bigs from uh
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Harvard played Dean Doty from University of Texas uh
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Alexander McCurdy from Curtis Institute in Philadelphia
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and Gordon young or the dedication dedicatory recitalists
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Sunday afternoon of Gordon’s recital in Atlanta it was packed with people standing
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around the wall to hear him play the dean was pacing the lobby he
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couldn’t find Gordon Young he kept hearing his phone ring he finally went into his office it was
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Gordon Young now Dean McCorkle told me all this himself
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Gordon sat on the phone to the dean tell all those people to go home while
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uh I’ll play this recital for them some other time but I’m about to get a contract signed here for a nice big
19:16
three manual molar for Central Christian Church and I just can’t pass up that that uh paycheck or selling that organ
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tell them to come back some other time that was Sunday he drove driving from
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uh El Paso is a long drive
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well Tuesday he was fired and Dean McCorkle hired
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newly retired organ Professor from Northwestern University whose name was White House
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he came down I finished the second semester for Gordon the next semester was the first of all
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semester I appeared and DCU had hired a new uh organ teacher
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um I won’t mention his name but he was hired quickly
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and the in those days the Deans and the and the and the chairman of departments
20:22
made the decisions and they had made a decision maybe a little too quick and
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the one they hired did not play well and uh
20:35
about Thanksgiving time Dean McCorkle called me in to his office he never mentioned words and he said
20:42
I want to know are you learning anything from uh professional so-and-so
20:48
I said why do you ask and he said oh no do you
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and I said he said I have Mutiny on my hands he said a whole bunch of organ Majors came
21:02
in here and said if they have to take organ from him the spring semester they will change
21:07
Majors or schools I said we can’t have that would you be
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willing to teach the the malcontents and let the other guy teach the ones who
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don’t know the difference and I said well no I would enjoy that he said have
21:24
you ever talked before and I said yes in Arkansas City I taught a couple of students how to play the organ
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so he said all right now I want you to be full-time
21:38
so you will work 40 hours a week for me as an administrative assistant for the
21:44
School of Fine Arts and teach the organ students you want to study
21:51
with you and I was tickled to death to have some money coming in
21:57
and what were they paying you in it my full-time salary was three thousand five
22:03
hundred dollars a year and that was adequate
22:09
um I mean I could live on that uh that’s what I was getting when I got married it
22:15
our apartment was 50 a month uh we didn’t have a car
22:21
so that’s the way it was and uh
22:28
in those days anybody who was taking applied music that uh uh that means uh
22:35
where you perform when it was exam time at the end of the semester he played for
22:42
the entire music faculty not just organ people or keyboard people for
22:47
organ and piano and Brass people for trumpets and trombones and so on and and
22:53
you had to listen to everybody that took a week and but you knew who your students were no matter what whether
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they sang or or played the violin you knew good or bad for the whole
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Department and so uh the uh the difference of course between
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organ Majors who wanted to really amount to something
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and those who just wanted a credit you had a TC you have to have three
23:25
hours of uh cultural credit for any degree uh
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the comparison was like night and day black and white uh
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the dean told me I was the Oregon teacher from then on so I just stayed for 45 years
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and uh until 1996 correct 1996 I started teaching it January the 1st 1951
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so I taught 45 years and I never asked for a raise
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I never asked to be promoted but it just happened and by the time I had talked there
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four years I had my first student with a Fulbright scholarship
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to go study in uh Denmark with a famous
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organist and he’s still living my student he lives in Dallas
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and uh I had a wife and three children
24:33
there’s a wonderful musician turned out to be a Catholic priest even with a wife
24:39
and children amazing I’ve had that happen to
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three different students from TCU in those years well anyway
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other things happened I began to get nice attention for TCU because I take my
25:00
students to play recitals in Austin and Houston and Oklahoma City
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Shreveport uh uh New Mexico and of course Texas uh
25:13
Fort Worth and Dallas and I played a recital every year and so you have to keep
25:20
your program ahead of the in front of the public in order to attract students
25:27
well pretty soon I was teaching 33 Oregon students and working 40 hours a
25:34
week I was having about a 70 hour workload
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of course my salary increased nicely but uh
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in the 80s the university gave me the honor of the
25:50
northern chair for the professorship of music
25:56
all the music school and they only have one and so I had that until I retired
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and the northern family in San Antonio endowed that chair
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and so when I retired that went to piano
26:15
teacher John Owings and uh so things like that made my life
26:23
terribly busy because I always had a church job at the same time uh terribly
26:29
busy but what I like to do and I wouldn’t trade it with anybody I
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wouldn’t trade TCU with any school I have taught master classes at other
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universities there’s no comparison because I know
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other teachers for 45 years I knew teachers who were as as dedicated to
26:55
helping the students as anybody could be and I’ve had student after student with
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a degree from TCU in Oregon come back decades later and said I
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didn’t realize what I was getting at TCU and he said at
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most schools it’s if you flunk out I don’t care it’s just one less problem to deal with I never
27:21
ran into that at GCU and that made me feel good
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my family has seven TCU degrees in my immediate family
27:33
I had two children I have two children one is now 59 and
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the other is 61. that makes me feel old to think that
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uh but my first wife had three degrees from
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TCU and my present wife has a degree uh it was uh
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our blood is purple and uh tell us if you don’t mind tell us some of the some
28:03
of your students over the years you’ve had numerous people go on to illustrious careers with the organ all over the
28:09
world you’ve told us before yes I had to tell us about these people I had a brilliant student from Beaumont Texas
28:15
his name was Wayne Khan c-o-h-n who ended up as the organist choir
28:23
master of Saint George’s Episcopal Church in Manhattan New York City
28:29
which was a very prominent Church lots of music where e Power Beats
28:36
from Harvard made a lot of his organ recordings on the organ in that
28:41
church and New York is not a good place
28:46
ordinarily to be the organist in a church because there are so many organists and so many schools there
28:52
teaching organ that they won’t pay them very much
28:58
and after Wayne had been there for a decade
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he just analyzed the situation had no savings account uh instead of a salary of any
29:13
comp consequence he was given a big apartment as part of the church building so he didn’t have to pay rent
29:21
so he left went back to Houston immediately found a church job
29:27
uh was hired by a hotel big Hotel chain to do a computer
29:36
work for them where he stayed until he retired and uh so he didn’t give up playing
29:43
until he came back to instead of Fort Worth he
29:48
he inherited a house in Dallas and that’s where he lives but I also have the uh
29:56
personally in charge of all the music and particularly the choral and
30:01
orchestral music at the Naval Academy in Annapolis his name is Marty Maxwell and he is from
30:08
San Angelo Texas and he had come
30:13
here and had taught himself to play the organ by listening to records of
30:20
Virgil Fox e-power Biggs and other organists who had made good discs and
30:29
he went his parents took him to San Antonio from San Angelo to hear Virgil Fox he
30:37
was the famous organist from Riverside Church in New York where his talent salary was ten thousand dollars a year
30:43
but he made his living playing concerts everywhere
30:48
and so they went there to hear him play his recital and very timidly afterwards
30:55
his father told me this Monty went up after the recital went backstage and met
31:03
Virgil and said he was interested in Oregon
31:09
would he advise him where to go study because he had never had a teacher
31:16
and he said Virgil we became very good friends with Virgil and he’s eaten at
31:23
this table a good many times and he said well you live in Texas don’t you and
31:29
Marty said well yes I do and he said go to TCU that’s all
31:37
so he did he was so brilliant after he got his degree at TCU he was taken by as a
31:46
student before graduate work at Curtis Institute in Philadelphia which is the most
31:53
distinguished music school in the nation they only take they take no more than
31:59
four organ students and the students who will make a full-fledged Orchestra
32:04
in addition they will take voice students up to a certain limit and piano students but all the other students are
32:11
to make this Orchestra and Curtis was the the owner of the Curtis candy company
32:17
made Millions hundreds of millions of dollars and at this school is so endowed
32:23
all the students go totally free they come from all over the world to try to get in
32:29
well I’ve had two students I had three three three former students
32:34
who got in uh but Monty
32:39
got his uh postgraduate degree plus an artist diploma
32:45
from there then he went the same teacher taught at Juilliard uh so he went to Juilliard and got a
32:53
regular masters with John Weber at Juilliard and then there was a competition for a
33:00
new organist choir master for the Naval Academy so he entered the competition which was
33:07
for organists from all over the country and one and he’s been there now 20
33:15
about 22 years and every Halloween he puts on the best
33:22
Broadway musical show in that magnificent huge Chapel
33:28
at the naval cat at Annapolis it seats 2500
33:33
people and they sell it out three times in two days performances
33:38
and twenty dollars a seat and he was given a budget of eighty
33:44
eight thousand dollars to put on the show that is worth going to it is he plays a
33:49
whole thing with his five keyboard organ with Orchestra choir violinists dancers
33:57
uh singers of all kinds uh and this tickets are sold never more
34:07
time you selling tickets than three hours that’s impressive yes yeah and he
34:12
puts on these shows well anyway um so Marty Maxwell and then uh I’ve had
34:20
I have two former students who live in Europe one teachers in Germany and one
34:25
teaches in Sweden um
34:30
I have a lot of my students that that had
34:37
distinguished positions are retired now and uh
34:43
because I’ve been retired now 26 years and uh
34:49
well let’s talk about that then for a sec okay you retired from TCU in 96 yes but then you continue to play several
34:56
churches in the Metroplex until the year 2008. yes correct no the 2008 was car
35:02
Champion yes uh Mr Carr from uh
35:08
West Texas he was in San Angelo um
35:14
gave the money for that gorgeous Chapel Robert Carr Chapel
35:19
it was finished in two in 1953 and
35:25
we remember that very well because my wife Sue and I wanted to get married in
35:33
it and it was supposed to be finished in time for us to get married in May of 1953.
35:40
the time came and it wasn’t finished so instead we got married in the small Chapel of the Good Shepherd at
35:47
University Christian Church which is very nice but it obviously it’s about 80 people
35:52
and uh so we had a small wedding with people standing out in the lobby
35:59
you couldn’t all get in because some people came to weren’t invited and uh uh
36:05
we didn’t really mind that but the doors opened at car Chapel
36:11
uh in June uh no no we got married in April the doors opened in may we got married April
36:19
the 10th uh we got uh the door I played the first service in Robert Carr Chapel
36:26
in May of 1953 and I played there for 55 years did you
36:33
help with the design of the organ when those places are built yes do they are
36:39
they built um with the organ and how does that work yes Mr uh
36:45
car would not give more than ten thousand dollars for the organ
36:50
he had lots of money for the chapel which is absolutely one of the most beautiful buildings you can see anywhere
36:56
uh where’s that on an organ price scale at
37:03
that time you could buy it or a pipe organ for about eight hundred dollars for each set of
37:10
pipes I mean 61 pipes for the keyboard
37:15
um so with a 10 000 gift and finagling and talking with the
37:22
reuter Organ Company in Lawrence Kansas uh and I knew some of the people there
37:28
because Kansas had a lot of reuter organs in them uh in it uh we got 14
37:34
sets of pipes in the car Chapel Oregon and it was that organ sold other organs
37:42
like hot cakes the sales would bring people to hear it and it was a nice acoustic beautifully
37:50
voiced organ very nice but it was small same size as this organ
37:56
right here oh really yes this is 14. and uh
38:01
so in 1979 I went to the money
38:07
razors at TCU and said could you approach
38:13
a family I know that I think might buy a bigger and a new organ for the chapel
38:19
well who is it and I told him I said they’ve already given a couple of million this year they’re not going to
38:24
give you any more and I said well may I have permission to talk to him and
38:30
see if they’ll give any more and you know sure go ahead you’re not going to get it
38:37
so um Sue and I invited
38:42
the parents of the family to have dinner with us here and we were about ready for the dessert
38:49
and I began to tell them about what we would like to have that the organ was
38:55
barely adequate but didn’t have enough variety in different sounds different kinds of
39:01
pipes that we would like to have but up brought up to a level it could play
39:08
any kind of music that you were with was French or German or uh English American
39:16
that it would have the right sound to do that and so
39:22
they looked at each other and the man answered first he had stared at
39:30
her his wife’s eyes and she sent me a message she said he said
39:36
we’re going to talk to our accountant tomorrow and I’ll call and let you know
39:41
so the next day he called and said you go ahead and get that organ we’ll pay for it
39:47
and so in 1979 we got a 36 rank organ
39:55
and they paid for it and uh it’s still going full blast and everybody who plays
40:02
it says this is a Jew and we have the Ed Landreth magnificent organ that’s the
40:09
same one you know a different Builder okay but the original one know that you had
40:15
spoken of yes that when you first came here it’s still there it’s still there and out here to tell you why it’s so
40:20
outstanding Gordon Young not only sold it to the dean and his
40:27
ability to play it and to teach he wanted it to sound the way he knew an
40:32
organ ought to sound the best and the head voice man for an organ I
40:38
mean figures out the sound had died in 1945 or six his name was uh
40:47
uh Richard uh uh we’ll come to a minute uh
40:53
white leg Richard Whiteley he was English and he had died but he had figured out
41:00
what he knew would make the warmest richest sound out of pipes and Mueller
41:07
had done that when he died they got in the clutches of another
41:12
trend man who was all convinced that we ought
41:18
to go back to organs like they were in North Germany
41:24
in the 1700s and 1600s and 1700s and suddenly the organs
41:31
became very shrill and they don’t sound like the organs over there at all I’ve played them and uh it was just
41:40
an exaggeration of what they thought they heard
41:45
and it ended up molar which was the biggest organ builder in the world at
41:50
that time they finished a new pipe organ every day of the year
41:55
and uh they went broke well they hadn’t gone broke yet and
42:04
Gordon would send the pipes back to the factory if he didn’t like them
42:09
and made them the white legs scale for this Auditorium
42:16
well when he got finished e-power Biggs from from Harvard came
42:23
into places oh a molar oh I said you know
42:30
it’s just a broom closet and I said well we think it’s pretty
42:35
good yeah that’s a molar just a broom closet
42:40
and I noticed that he practiced five straight hours
42:46
it had been a broom closet he wouldn’t have done that he loved it everybody who’s ever played that organ whether
42:52
it’s from Europe the east anywhere in the world
42:57
they can’t believe it it is so unusually good because it
43:03
Bach the great musician said
43:09
the most important stop in the organ is the room
43:15
and we have marvelous Acoustics in Atlanta
43:20
absolutely marvelous you can be sitting in the back row and someone stands on the stage and
43:27
talks the way I’m talking you can hear it yeah and when the orchestra plays you
43:33
hear the treble instruments equal to the bass and not many auditoriums
43:40
Bass Hall is very very good but those in my opinion are the two best acoustic
43:48
concert Halls all these years Emmett have playing the organ yeah and and churches and chapels and TCU
43:55
we I know this stat because this is what first clued me into the the the Brilliance of you but how many weddings
44:03
have you played in your career well at the University Chapel the Robert
44:09
Carr Chapel I have paid played 2 600 weddings but I had played several weddings in my
44:17
hometown from the time I was 16. and I’ve played weddings in in various
44:23
churches where I’ve been the organists of Arlington Heights Methodist uh
44:28
University Christian uh I belong when it used to be Overton Park
44:33
Methodist um so did they call and they say can you come
44:39
play and then do you say what am I playing or it’s just how does that work they have to revert reserve the time at
44:47
the University Chapel or at a church a church with a pipe organ would be big
44:53
enough to have to have reservations but it was uh
44:59
a wedding in car Chapel always occupied five hours of my time
45:05
because I would always meet the bride and her groom if he wants to come her
45:11
mother if she wants to come her father if he wants to come and so many are using the chapel because
45:18
of its unbelievable low price and it’s Beauty
45:24
and they go to religions that don’t use the organ and they come and the bride has been to
45:32
weddings where there’s organ music in it she wants it so it takes an hour of very diplomatic
45:42
approach to sell them on the music that has to be used in the
45:48
chapel it has it cannot be popular cannot be from a movie cannot be from an opera
45:55
and of course we break that all the time with uh handles uh a wonderful piece
46:01
that everybody wants to hear Largo from an opera but uh anyway
46:07
sometimes I have to be very very uh
46:13
not such a nice guy yeah stubborn I remember one time this uh
46:21
the mother kept saying we’re not going to have that peace it
46:26
sounds like a carnival anything that I’d play that was fast was a carnival so almost like a funeral parlor and
46:34
so then I would say what church do you go to and then she would tell me and I would already have
46:41
guessed and I said well you’re just not used to organ music and I can’t play anything for you that you would know so
46:48
just take my word for it if this is what is used in this high class and you’ll
46:55
not be sorry decades from now and no we’re not going to have that
47:01
stuff but I said well where is she buying her tennis shoes no
47:07
well I said where where is she buying her wedding dress well at Neiman’s of course
47:12
and I said and where are you buying the tennis shoes to go with it she said what do you mean tennis shoes she’s not gonna
47:17
wear tennis shoes oh I said well you’re going to heaven a fortune spent in flowers
47:24
and clothing for this fancy wedding and then you want music that’s going to
47:31
fit a Saloon or a restaurant or a club but not a church
47:39
oh I hadn’t thought of that and eventually convince them but it was
47:46
a nightmare then I have to practice with the soul of the singers singer that’s a separate time then I have to practice at
47:52
the wedding rehearsal then I have to practice with all the music I’m going to play the next day and it takes about five hours for each
48:01
wedding you ever get tired of playing The Wedding March we didn’t allow that at the chapel except in very rare
48:09
occasions okay and what made it rare was that bride is the daughter of a family
48:19
that just paid for a building on this campus and we can stretch at least it’s
48:26
good music it’s not written for a junk place and uh we would rarely use it but
48:34
uh it was any other memorable weddings good and or bad oh I remember my my
48:41
children keep saying why don’t you write a book because they’re literally hundreds
48:48
things weddings wedding practices change during the
48:54
years besidedly and I remember remember distinctly the
48:59
first time the unity candle appeared in Robert Carr Chapel you know what that is I think so
49:07
okay the bride and groom had not planned to have the unity candle
49:13
but they went to the dinner after rehearsal and somebody coached them into having the unity candle at the wedding
49:21
and so the next night I was told there would be a Unity candle and
49:26
so that was my first one but I had seen him at other weddings
49:32
and there they were on the uh communion table the altar whatever you
49:38
want to call it the big candle in the middle and the skinny ones the one on each
49:44
outside uh and so they wanted me to be playing
49:49
yeshi Joy of men’s Desiring win by Bach when the candles were being
49:56
the side candles were being built you know and then the bride and groom were going to after the wedding ceremony they
50:01
were gonna touch their burning Wicks yeah like the other one oh it didn’t light it was not a very
50:08
good omen um anyway and that often happened but here coming down the aisle
50:15
was the groove’s mother carrying one of these things that at the lights in the
50:21
church carry with us burning witch and a a bell-shaped
50:26
Snuffer on the other side of it and you could see its Shake she was so nervous
50:32
she hadn’t practiced it and the uh one of the groomsmen was was
50:37
ushering her down the aisle and he stopped at the steps at the bottom of
50:44
the chancel and she went up alone and headed for the table where the
50:51
candle was she didn’t know and didn’t see and didn’t notice at all there was one step
50:57
up just about this far in front of the table and so that part of the chancel was
51:05
built up sturdy wood and interpreted with a red carpet
51:10
and all sudden he is your joy is a quiet piece and everybody was watching
51:18
boom her foot hit that step up was like hitting a drum and
51:24
she fell down and as she fell she took that thing and
51:29
she whacked it on top of the table put big gash in the wood mahogany and fell on her face
51:37
uh she was sort of at the end of a kneeling bench I was in front of the table
51:43
and the Usher ran up the steps and helped her get up on her feet again
51:48
and people went wasn’t that awful oh the poor thing you could hear the
51:55
congregation the place was full I went ahead playing and I thought well
52:01
I hope the bride’s mother was standing back in the open door to the north X and
52:06
saw that so she’d be more careful no she came down by this time everyone
52:12
was dead silent she was on the left
52:17
end of the table the North End when she hit it with her foot bang it
52:24
went and she threw the thing and it hit the wall under the organ pipes on the
52:31
North side and fell down in a in a queue for the choir pew and it put out the
52:39
flame well the funny thing was
52:44
she fell on her back with her legs pointed straight out at the congregation and they burst into laughter they
52:53
couldn’t stop it was so funny for that and uh
52:58
anyway that was are you watching all that you have a rear view mirror right I
53:03
mean is that the way the bed front of my eyes oh you’re good you’re doing it from oh you facing the console is on the
53:09
South Side in a pit okay and uh you can see from me from here and the pipes are
53:16
behind you and what the pipes are behind you both sides okay okay so I’m just
53:21
looking here here’s the preacher bride and groom Unity candle one down next to
53:27
them every bride’s worst nightmare came true what about funerals how many of those oh
53:32
more than weddings no no not nearly as many as weddings but uh uh
53:40
well funerals I guess the funniest one was
53:49
at least to me I knew the dead person and so I went to
53:54
the cemetery afterwards and The Undertaker
54:01
very prominent I had hired a high school boy
54:07
to work with him at the grave you know they put the casket on webbing and they
54:13
after the family has left for most funerals they lower it into the ground
54:18
well while the preacher was giving a prayer toward the end of the ceremony
54:25
the high school boy Evan Lee didn’t know exactly what he should be
54:30
doing he did something and it dumped the coffin and wise down into the hole
54:37
and you could hear glass break when it when it hit the bottom and it’s bad
54:43
we’re laughing again one end was sticking up and one was down
54:48
what was the glass there’s glass in the casket yeah a lot of them would have uh
54:53
oh yeah like the cover yeah uh that would not be there when usually the
54:59
neighbor used to have viewing but anyway the Undertaker was had a reputation for being very
55:07
sour face anyway here the preacher was trying to give a closing prayer and The
55:15
Undertaker approaches at this poor high school boy
55:20
who was terrified he said he screamed it out
55:25
sort of ruined into that funeral do you remember the music you played at that I mean does the music kind of stay with
55:33
you like that or it just kind of It kind of blurs together you know at a funeral a funeral is not a time to try to
55:40
educate no people’s taste and I would always try my very best to play what they wanted me
55:47
to play like who Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie uh and it was a Rancher why not
55:53
sure and uh things like that didn’t bother me so much
55:58
but I was I got an emergency Call at TCU
56:04
one day that there was a the Hampton Presbyterian Church was packed full of
56:10
people for a very important person’s funeral and they realized they didn’t have an
56:17
organist to play could I Dash over there quick in place with this funeral so I did it’s a nice reuter pipe organ in
56:24
that church and uh I had played it before so I knew I just walked in did it and uh
56:32
it was packed with people all the men all in blue suits and uh there were
56:39
three ministers in the three chairs right behind I could reach back and touch one of them my back was to the
56:46
congregation and I was playing and I heard feet coming down the wooden floor of the one of the aisles
56:54
had two aisles I thought what could that be what was the Undertaker
56:59
and he was waving a five dollar bill I didn’t know it found out later
57:05
he he climbed the steps came up to where the preachers were sitting and reached between the two of
57:11
the preachers and stuck a five dollar bill right here where I could see it and obviously I
57:17
said knock down I’m busy and you know what this is for you come on now you
57:23
take it for me so finally I got a hand free and took it five dollars it was
57:29
what he was paying for that funeral and for funerals it was very very rare
57:36
people would remember to pay the organist sure sure as as we get to the end of this
57:42
interview please tell us about this beautiful organization behind you because it’s got a story of its own if you don’t mind all right
57:50
whenever my students at GCU played their graduate graduating recital my wife
57:57
and I would give a reception here more like a supper
58:03
and the student was allowed to invite 40 guests to the reception
58:09
and we needed more room for that so we decided to double the size of the house
58:15
and I had always wanted to have a real organ in my house
58:21
and so I drew up the plans took them to several contractors the prices were just way
58:28
more than we had paid for the house and the land when we first bought it in 1958
58:34
and uh so I bought some books and I had good manual training up in
58:41
Arkansas City and I built it myself I had a younger brother who helped me
58:46
for 30 days and you’re sitting in it and so we doubled the size of the house and
58:54
made a room for a pipe organ and so we now have a pipe organ in the
58:59
house which has a thousand pipes and you can play any kind of music unit you want
59:06
and we’ve had recitals here for uh Prep students who start organ when they’re
59:11
still in high school uh Jack White who was used to be the
59:17
director of the Texas Boy Choir uh started ordinary when he was 11. uh
59:23
terribly gifted marvelous musician still living and uh
59:31
so I want to know how am I going to get an organ because by 19
59:37
uh let’s see I began to collect the pipes
59:44
in 1980 and I found a couple of organs one in
59:50
Missouri and one in Nebraska that were being tossed out of churches
59:57
because the churches had closed up and uh one of them telephone me and said
1:00:04
would you want any part of this organ we’re just going to Chuck it and I said
1:00:09
I’ll be right there is it is it okay and he said oh yeah it’s in good shape well it wasn’t so anyway
1:00:16
I got pipes some pipes like these big zinc pipes from there
1:00:21
for nothing and uh uh a school teacher in Schuyler
1:00:29
Nebraska knew that the Methodist Church was closing up and they had a bark off that
1:00:38
was the name of the Builder organ which was a very good Builder that he bought at auction from the
1:00:46
closed church for 300 dollars and he carton it out to his father’s
1:00:54
Farm just on the state the West State border of Nebraska
1:01:02
and it had been the barn for several years and he realized it had some pipes that were 21 feet Hawks tall and he
1:01:09
never could get that in the house so I was able to buy it from him
1:01:15
for the 300 plus the 15 of gasoline that he had spent in hauling it
1:01:22
and I brought it all back on trailer truck no in a big truck big
1:01:27
truck and uh the parts of it I didn’t use the only thing I used out of work
1:01:34
are the pipes uh and a beginning the Winchester the pipe stand on where
1:01:40
the mechanism is but it was a Tracker mechanical action
1:01:46
I worked on it for three years I hated it I I realized I’m going to
1:01:52
have a very stiff key action you would wear your fingers out in no time and
1:01:57
eventually cause all kinds of trouble physically so
1:02:04
I happened to go down the center aisle of Carr Chapel
1:02:10
in 79 when the new organ was being put in this console you see right here
1:02:17
was being on a dolly taking taken out of the building down the aisle and I said
1:02:24
to the organ Builder I said Ross what are you going to do with that you were pulling it out to the city dump and I
1:02:30
said I’ll give you fifty dollars for it and it was the best decision I made on the whole shebang because
1:02:38
uh I took out all the mechanical wind chests and traded them to other organ
1:02:45
builders for things I needed and then I built myself the whole mechanism for the new electoral electric
1:02:53
action and uh so we have pipes from uh three different
1:03:01
sources a pipe maker in Holland the Netherlands uh from an old pipe uh
1:03:09
1904 in uh Schuyler Nebraska
1:03:16
and a Christian Church organ in Richmond Missouri
1:03:21
and the pipes are 118 uh years old uh
1:03:29
all the others are 80 years old and the new organs organ pipes are 34 years
1:03:37
and so I I use the console
1:03:42
to manage the pipes for the new organ and
1:03:47
it it serves very well I finished in 1988 and would you like to hear just some of
1:03:54
the pipes as soon as I finish with this interview we’d love to get a little bit of you playing if that works for you I
1:04:00
can show you let us let us finish two couple more questions we’ll let you take to think of the keys okay uh so you your
1:04:06
name Smith obviously you’re not the only Smith in the Metroplex what is it what does it feel like to be named Emmett
1:04:13
Smith after uh certain other Urban Smith and the Metroplex have made nicknames for themselves you’ve shared a few
1:04:18
stories what what is that like well I always admired the football player
1:04:23
Emmett Smith who spells his name e-m-m-i-t-t uh he’s a good fellow he’s a nice man
1:04:32
he’s an honorable man a wonderful football player so I was not
1:04:37
at all unhappy to have the same spoken name that he had
1:04:43
um but he had so many followers it made some of mine sleeps at night uh unbelievable or man
1:04:52
sometimes sober sometimes drunk would call us I’ve got a bat down of going on
1:04:58
here how many yards are you going to make on that game tomorrow and so I said
1:05:03
you’ve got the wrong one and there’d be all kinds of response but uh yes it was that doesn’t
1:05:11
happen anymore since he’s not on television all the time but I’ve never met him and there was a time several
1:05:18
years ago when they rounded up everybody they could find the name of Emmett Smith but they never could come here and I
1:05:25
guess they didn’t expect to find someone and the music world yes sir with that name
1:05:30
but I have great admiration for number 22 on the Dallas Cowboys yeah well
1:05:37
you’re about to play the organ for us but we want to thank him and for the time your wife Judy of 42 years thank
1:05:42
you for inviting us into your home Judy lovely lady and then our friend David rasco introduced me to you originally so
1:05:49
thank you David rasco I want to throw a shout out to David A friend of mine a long time TCU fan Hall of Fame member of
1:05:56
the football team great great guy but he introduced us so thank you David and Brent you want to you want to ask him
1:06:02
his final question sure before we get up and play um best day of your life
1:06:08
without family you know no not marriage and things like that but I gotta be
1:06:15
playing the recital in 1987 at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris
1:06:22
because I had the cathedral all to myself from seven o’clock at night until seven o’clock the next morning
1:06:28
nobody else except uh what they call uh
1:06:35
an assistant who helps with pulling the stops on the
1:06:41
console which didn’t work very well not it’s fine now it’s a new organ
1:06:48
that was in the fire it was not damaged uh how many keyboards
1:06:54
five it’s a pretty good story how many stops
1:07:00
not as many as Broadway Baptist has Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth has the biggest French style organ in
1:07:07
the world 191. oh this is Oregon City
1:07:12
191 Broadway Baptist 161st Methodist 133 First Presbyterian 107 arborlawn
1:07:20
uh but who’s County I am and uh it’s
1:07:28
it’s wonderful to live well Mr Emma Smith thank you thank you so much thank you thank you very much
1:07:35
we’re not going to stop you if you want to keep going one thing I listened to baseball football
1:07:43
basketball read it hear it on TV and
1:07:49
the TCU horn frogs pulled out all the stops and beat SMU
1:07:55
pulling out all the stops is strictly organ talk and I’m going to show you stops of what
1:08:03
happens when you pull one excellent excellent thank you knobs are called stops
1:08:10
but they do the reverse you pull it out it doesn’t stop it starts so these
1:08:16
silver pipes across the front nothing happens
1:08:22
no sound all I have to do is pull out a stop [Music]
1:08:31
same Keys a different style same Keys a different stop
1:08:43
the softest sound in the organ is this [Music]
1:08:54
there’s another set of pipes very much like that now what it doesn’t matter I’m opening
1:09:01
the shutters letting the sound out [Music] that’s in tune
1:09:07
the first one I showed you is tuned Out Of Tune on purpose and it’s called a Celeste because it makes a Heavenly
1:09:13
sound there’s the in tune here’s the celestial [Music]
1:09:28
this is the lowest sound in the organ
1:09:33
you feel it more than you hear it but if an octave is lower than this one which is the one next to the window
1:09:40
[Laughter] if you’re playing something quiet
1:09:45
[Music]
1:09:58
that’s why you have different keyboards so you can have it’s the different sounds and you have
1:10:05
Pistons that will work a lot of stops for you
1:10:11
now suppose I’m playing on this I want a little more
1:10:20
[Music] a little more
1:10:31
and all the stops foreign
1:10:40
foreign [Music]
1:10:57
[Music]
1:11:28
and that’s how you do it