Tuesday, October 7, 2008

interviews with ancients

A couple of weeks ago as I was looking for sources in Olin's archives, I came across a mini auto-biography written by a longtime resident of Winter Park, Clyde Hall. I wasn't sure if he was still alive seeing as he would have had to have been at least ninety, but I dug up his address and wrote him a letter anyway asking for an interview. He wasn't a musician or anything, but I figured it would be cool to get an average citizen's perspective on the role that music and entertainment played in Winter Park's history. He lives in Savannah now, and finally about a week ago he called me back. I interviewed him the next night, and we talked for about an hour. It was very interesting to hear the prospective of a black man. He talked a lot about church choir, and about the shows that used to come through Winter Park -- vaudeville, circuses, concerts. He didn't have too much information for me in terms of my specific topic, but it definitely helped to get his perspective. I learned about how segregation played a big role in Winter Park, and in relation to my topic, this affected seating for shows, which schools got better music programs, etc. One thing that stood out to me in our interview was his assertion that it was not the Northern rich people who spent their winters in Winter Park who were the most racist; it was the poorer people who lived in Winter Park year round that gave the black citizens trouble. Rollins, which had people there who had money, was well known for holding events on campus for black citizens. The high school available to black Winter Park citizens was not a very good one, and so he went to boarding school as a day student at a school called Hungerford, which was not very far away from Winter Park. There was a music program at Hungerford, which was sponsored mostly by the rich white people of Winter Park, and popular concerts were held every Sunday. Around Christmastime there was a group of black choral singers who would walk around the rich white neighborhoods and sing carols for donations. Musical programs in which black citizens participated were all self-run and organized, with little funding and little more than a love for music and for music inspired by God. They did not have the Winter Park Symphonic Orchestra, and were not allowed to be members. Mr. Hall grew up in a time when radio was a relatively new invention, and it altered the way that people listened to both music and the news, and it added a new element of entertainment -- the radio shows. Anyway, I have a transcript of the interview and will be using it in my paper. Mr. Hall also gave me the number of someone else who was active in music in Winter Park and who still lives here, and hopefully I'll be able to find the time to call and interview him.

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