Lucia Hazen Webster letter to her late husband, Part 2

As promised, I am giving you the second installment of a letter from Lucia Webster to her husband Dan after his death in 1943.

With all you cared for music it was astonishing that the radio didn’t seem good to you but I could never interest you in having one of our own and you often hated to go out to Sally’s to listen to theirs. It was a long time before I could find out what was wrong with it but finally I discovered you hated to hear all the strange (but to me most fascinating) sounds when one was hunting for the right station.

While the Ford Hour was to be heard on Sunday evenings we used to sit up for it and the two of us enjoyed it after the Comstocks had gone to bed. I could not always be sure whether you were enjoying the concert or enjoying my enjoyment but there was no question when Marion Anderson or Richard Crooks sang or there was band music. Then it surely seemed as good to you as to me.

I wonder how many times we had a neighborhood sing, sometimes at our house, once in awhile at John’s but more often at Sanford Shepard’s. Whenever Mr. Perkins came to visit at our house or Sanford’s (and even sometimes when he was not there at all) the Shepards and Websters gathered for a grand evening. We sang everything from rounds to hymns, sometimes as solos, sometimes as duets, often as a grand chorus. Sanford had paper-covered song books he had bought just for those sings and Mr. Perkins brought some of his, so we had a large number of songs from which to choose - and we sang until we were really tired out. But do you remember “The Little Bronze Button”? Mr Perkins always asked either Cora or me to sing it to the tune of “The Old Wooden Bucket” in memory of his brother.

If I could remember all you told me about the singing schools and the “singing conventions” you used to enjoy in your boyhood I’d be glad indeed. I think you told about Mr. Perkins or his brother going from one place to another to hold “conventions”, gathering together all who were interested in music, having a school for several nights, perhaps two or three weeks, then finishing with a big concert where the pupils showed what they had learned and some distinguished musician from outside had the leading part.

It was before John Randolph was born (1907) that Henry Ketchum had his choral - some things I remember to this day. The rehearsals, just like the singing school of older time, lasted some weeks and as a grand finale we gave a concert in the Methodist church with the Claremont band to assist. And before we were married Helen Dudley had a real singing school that we attended when she tried to teach us to “pulsate” and all you got out of it, or I either for that matter, was good wholesome fun.

Do you remember how you always loved to hear me sing “I am sitting on the style, Mary where we stay side by side”? You would stop everything to listen and I heard you telling the children once that it was the most beautiful song ever written. You did love simple happy music - bits from “Robin Hood”, Henry Lauder’s songs, “The Owl and the Pussycat”, and “Lassie O’ Mine”, for instance and music was a force in your life.

Then that afternoon in April when we took your casket to the church for the last service Della Merritt and Rebecca (Merritt) played on the piano and violin for you while friends were entering and again when they were leaving. Did you hear them play “Crossing the Bar”? Nothing could have been lovelier and nothing could have pleased you more.”

Reprinted from the Vermont Standard, 2012, “Historically Speaking” by Carol Mowry.

Comments are closed.