ELLIOT GORDON, Class of 1960, Trombone.
“I recall with the warmest of feelings the times spent with your father. With lessons (I was never able to graduate past the average player); with concerts (including his own marches…I still recall the beat); and performing Stravinsky…)”
HELEN LAZARRO (A Colleague’s Wife, not a student)
Wife of Dominic, the Vice Principal at KHS and later Principal at KES. Her son, Bob, played trumpet for Dad and later taught at the school. One day, years after Dad had retired in 1974, he went to the school office–asking to borrow a projector for some personal project at home. By that time the entire office staff was new and did not recognize him or realize his long years of service in the school system. He pointed out the old mailboxes which he had daily opened with his key, but they were not impressed with an old man’s memories.
Well, these good ladies were not about to sign out school equipment to some stranger, when Bob Lazzaro happened to walk in. Dad turned to him in frustration and begged, “For God’s sake, Bob, TELL THEM WHO I AM!” Bob sprang to the rescue so Dad was allowed to borrow the projector, but Helen still remembers with painful disgust the needless humiliation which Dad endured that day. Many years later I donated his oil painting of KES to the school office. Privately I vowed: so they will Always Know Who He Was! The plaque beneath it reads: “WALTER FINLAYSON:- ARTIST–MUSICIAN–EDUCATOR”
NINA LENT KELLOGG
Nina shared her school memories of Dad with me, which included three B/W photos of him as a teenager at the old KHS. He palled around with Sheldon Lent and the attractive Bernardo twins, Rose and Nina. Nina remembered Dad as a teacher at Jobn Jay, although she was not in band herself. After Dad successfully revived the Big Band Era he collaborated with Coach Marty Todd to create a combo PE Class: 40’s Music and Dance. Now Nina loved that class which was easy on participants, since no gym suits were required–just dance in your socks. She was impressed by Dad’s enthusiasm and first-hand knowledge of the jazz greats; the kids learned about bandleaders ,composers and famous instrumentalists and Big Band Singers, while Coach Todd taught them old-time dance steps. It must have been a fun class!
SUSIE MAYER: Class of 196 confided this Scandalous anecdote while I was at the A&P. She claims she really wanted to play clarinet in the band, but Dad had misgivings about her musical potential. He did not want to come right out and disappoint her by stating the obvious, so he tried another approach–one which would raise eyebrows today and could have resulted in a big flap and possibly a law suit. He gently tried to dissuade her from taking up an instrument by suggesting that the should: “try out for Drum Major–because you have the legs for it!” (Don’t try that tactic These days!)
Jean McClellan Reidy (School Librarian told me that each year the faculty presented a Christmas extravaganza at the old KHS, for which the holiday credits ran like this:
Art Decoration: Kay Courageous
Script/Story: Jean Reidy
Music: Walt Finlayson
He would arrange new pop tunes for this show: like SILVER BELLS when it first came out.
Virginia Fetscher (Village Librarian) told me that when she was in her 5th grade classroom, Dad entered (I am sure with the teacher’s permission) on a Recruiting tour. He leaned over Virginia, who had never even considered playing in band, and cheerfully inquired:” And you, little girl–what instrument would You like to play?” Now that is what I call being proactive for the Music program!