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On the beauty of fine music and the sadness of losing good and long-time Lodians

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Posted: Sunday, May 31, 2009 10:00 pm

While I was sidetracked earlier with political and military concerns (and the flu), notes for columns kept piling up, so I am about to try and get to the bottom of the stack.

One of the announcers on KXPR, the classical radio station in Sacramento, gave the best description of that music I have ever heard. He described it as "intelligently beautiful," and I cannot think of a better characterization. It takes intelligence to compose all the wonderful classical music we hear, plus a true sense of beauty and great technical skill. Add to that patience and great self-discipline and a willingness to be quiet and listen to the inner musical voices asking to be heard.

Personal Notes:

  • Three of Lodi's own have left us: Emmagene Madison, Bud Fairfax and Bob Wheeler. I remember Emmagene from Woman's Club early days when she chaired those magnificent antique sales. I also remember her as my neighbor two houses down, an energetic and charming lady.

I remember Bud when he ran the Flying A gas station on Lodi Avenue (my son worked there for a bit) and also remember his trademark pink Cadillac. I ran into Bud at Lakewood Drugs from time to time more recently, and he hadn't changed a bit.

I remember Bob from much earlier years when I was on the chamber's tourism committee and we met at General Mills because Bob was chairman. He was a charming host while still being a brisk and efficient businessman, and all went well on his watch. I watched Bob straighten the city out on truck route matters that affected General Mills and I always felt, like a lot of others, I'm sure, that as long as Bob and the Mill were there, Lodi was all right. He always spoke to me by name, although we did not meet often, and I was pleased to be remembered.

  • Congratulations to Mrs. Butler, Mr. Walter and especially Mr. Kinderman for their excellent letters to the editor. I am sure other discerning people will be writing as time goes on. Meanwhile, Thomas Sowell in the News-Sentinel and Charles Krauthammer in The Record are the best you can get, professionally. I like to read Bob Bader; he is always good for a nostalgic laugh.
  • Found out that the young ladies who sang at the April 15 "tea party" are Phyllis Roche's granddaughters, and the young man who led the crowd songfest at the end is her son. His wife happens to be Esther Kemalyan, talented pianist with the Stockton Symphony. Matthew Roche also sang at the Memorial Day ceremonies at Lodi cemetery.
  • Gary Hamby, whom I have known for years and who happens to deliver my mail from time to time, brought me another connection to my Maryland past. It seems his daughter Erica, who graduated from California State University, Stanislaus with a major in music, will be going to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to work on her master's degree. She plans to be an opera singer. One day we'll see her at the Met!

Baltimore, as I have mentioned before, is just 40 miles from my childhood home and adjacent to many historical places of interest. Right next door is Ft. McHenry, site of the battle which led to the writing of our national anthem, and right down the Chesapeake Bay is Annapolis, state capitol and home of the Naval Academy. At Ft. McHenry, there is a small building where one can see a stirring film presentation of the anthem being sung against the battle background. At the close, curtains over a large window to the side are drawn apart and there is the fort with the flag flying. It is thrilling.

  • Our sloppy pronunciation often leads to misspellings. We write "stain" glass and "ice" tea, when we know it should be "stained" glass and "iced" tea. My awareness of this problem started at boarding school when I saw "bake" beans written on the menu. Now, about ice cream. I imagine it did begin life as, properly, "iced" cream, which it actually is, but usage habits have long done their work on this one.
  • A friend told me lately that the numbers were named one, two, etc. for the number of angles in their figures. That's why seven is often written with the line across its leg - to make seven angles. To make this idea work, the number one has to be written with that small left-slanting line on top. Of course, all circular lines have to be written as a series of straight lines, thus providing angles. I always thought our written numerals came from Arabic, because of their flowing lines. Maybe it's half and half?
  • Two good authors to read: Matthew Pearl and Jason Goodwin. Their books have historical substance and grip one's attention.
  • To end as I began - with music. April's Stockton Symphony concert included Brahms' German Requiem, one of the most moving pieces of choral music ever. While it is a requiem, written on the occasion of a death (in this case, two deaths: Brahms' mother, and composer and friend Robert Schumann), Maestro Peter Jaffe pointed out that is a work of great consolation and comfort, as illustrated by the Bible verses included. Here is one, apt for these times: "Ye now have sorrow, but I will see you again and your heart shall rejoice and your joy no man taketh from you" (John 16:22).

Gwin Paden has been a Lodi resident since 1957 and is known to a lot of former Lodi High School and Delta College students as Mrs. Mitchell. She has had other assorted careers associated with writing and promotion and has been active for years in numerous community organizations. Health reasons have called a halt to a lot of this but she plans to keep the columns coming.

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