My b.w. and I are overjoyed indeed by the great honor that the state of Florida is bestowing on me, namely my induction by the governor into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame on March 21 in Tallahassee. Some day in my even older years, I may stop by the Capitol to view my name engraved on a wall plaque. When I was a barefoot kid fishing the lakes of Winter Park, I had no comprehension of what it meant to sing “La Boheme” in Italy, “Carmen” in France or “Lohengrin” in Germany. In Winter Park High School my main concern, beyond my grades, was playing on the football team and trying to outdo the lads in Leesburg, Sanford or Apopka. I cherish the young ambition that drove me then, and still drives me now. The French say, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”
“The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and assistance to foreign hands should be curtailed, lest Rome fall.”—Cicero, 55 B.C. (And still we haven’t learned!)
My b.w. and I seemed to arrive at the same thought at the same time: Can you remember any time in your life when things in this country were in such bad hands, or seemed to be guided by people of such low political ability and morality?
Neal Boortz on the radio described President Obama as “an anti-American political hack.” Boortz added, “If you took the total income taxes paid by all U.S. citizens earning $100,000 up through the very top earners in the country, the sum would not cover Obama’s deficit spending for one year.” Boortz is my kinda guy! The president’s on-air speeches purport to be informative but are usually nothing more than blatant mendacious campaign speeches full of deception.
Some time ago, a lady wrote into the “Observer” about the National Geographic Magazine, which cited Winter Park as “an oasis … of charming historic homes.” The lady wrote, “we must remain vigilant so as to keep what is best … and add only the best to it as we grow.” Her words made me imagine that the 73 years since my WPHS days were rolled back and I was hearing the same caveat spoken by Rollins “Prexy” Dr. Hamilton Holt in 1938. Winter Park ain’t what it was then, but I share her vain hope that it won’t “progress” any farther than it has.
My conservative nature celebrates the Christmastime holidays with special joy, because we concentrate upon the inspiring magic of our super-human past.
My b.w. is a real sucker for every kind of party — except political. The other afternoon, chez nous, the joy of my life threw a grand shindig for some 60-plus guests. Everyone sang Christmas carols galore, enjoyed the fabulous pianism of Lynn Peghiny at the Steinway, and super solo singing by Kathryn Kilger, Christy Hudon, Jose Velez and his pal Luis Garcia. We were proud to have this great local talent in our living room, and our guests were elated. The spirit of a wondrous New Year was alive in our home that afternoon.
Harvard’42—Distinguished Prof, Em.—UCF
2004 Fla. Alliance for the Arts award
(Assisted by beautiful wife Joy Roney)