NOTE: The dialogue is really me talking to myself…imagination. Pictures vary..some are mine, some from other sources
JOY GOODWIN: THE CONCERT THAT NEVER HAPPENED
This is Joy Goodwin, creative genius, alongside her Tuba player Paul Caron who may have been the oldest member of the Parkdale Collegiate Orchestra.
This is the story of one of our PCI Music Field Trips. But more, it is the story of Joy…both capitalized and lower case…Joy and joy.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
“Something is moving under the dock…big, black..ALIVE!”
“Dad, we love this place.”
“Fine…something moving though.
“When can we go for a swim?
“ “Pay attention…”
“What about, Dad?”
“Get your feet out of the water FAST…NOW!”
“Because a big snapping turtle likes the look of your little toes.”
“Oh, Dad, you are funny…”
“Serious…he’s coming…I can see him through the gaps in the dock…get your feet up. NOW!!”
I know this seems like a strange opening for this story about Parkdale Field Trips. The image of that big snapping turtle always jumps to mind when I think of Joy Goodwin who was head of our music department for many exciting years.
When I think of music trips, I immediately think of Joy. She was a generous, out going, humorous, adventurous person. And that summer long ago she gave us her tumbledown cottage for a week.. That cottage was something the Group of Seven should have found. Just a frame building with tarpaper roof, doors that wobbled, outdoor bsckhouse and a dock that half submerged when we walked on it. Boys loved it. They could sit on the dock and slowly submerge. What they did not know was that the dock was a great hiding place for a ‘big snapper’.. It was a floating Home to that big snapper who seemed entranced by pink toes on little boys.
Joy Goodwin was not a person to put on the dog…no pretences. Always prone to laughter. Yet a very demanding orchestra leader. She was fun to be with. And this was why so many Parkdale teachers joined the students and obeyed Joy’s little wand. Joy could see roles for all kinds of people including me. I was not musical…chose typing when I entered high school in 1953. Could not understand why anyone would choose music as an optional subject. Why? If high school became s disaster then at least I would have one marketable skill. I could touch type. So how did I become attached like a bloodsucking leach to the PCE music department. I could talk…liked
entertaining kids while encouraging kids to embrace the world around them.
“Alan, we need a MC..a Maser of Ceremonies…are you interested?”
“Maybe, what does it entail?”
“We are planning some big field trips…I want you to be our point man.”
“Keep our audience amused…expectant even.”
“Count me in..Where are we going?”
“Ohio, eventually, but first their orchestra is coming here…we need billets for them.”
“Maybe you and Marjorie can take one or two.”
“Now I understand…”
We did. There were more girls than boys in the Medina High School orchestra. We took a girl. Now that was amusing. She grabbed ahold of our boys right away. I mean grabbed them physically. Hugged. Wrapped around Andrew at the TV. This student exchange would require some watching lest our boys get raped. That thought crossed my mind. Needn’t have worried for the exchange went sour right from the start. They only stayed one night, then ‘circled their wagons’ and loaded the buses and fled back home.
“Mr. Skeoch, could we meet with your principal and Miss Goodwin privately,”
“Sure, what’s up?”
“We are leaving for Ohio immediately. The busses are ready.”
“One of our boys was molested last night.”
“No debate//we will believing within the hour.”
“What about your performance in our auditorium.”
“No performance … we are going home … protecting our children.”
This conversation was dominated by the parent chaperones from Medina. They were incensed. Out of goddamn control. Not open for discussion.
“Tell us what happened.”
“You billeted one of our boys with a dangerous family”
“Who was that?”
“The Rigopolos family* (*fake name)
“Know them well…really nice people…three kids in Parkdale. What happened?”
“A boy came into the bedroom…touched our student.”
“Yes, it was dark…our boy was terrified…is still terrified.”
This is a rough approximation of the discussion. The Ohio parents and teachers were frightened behind belief.
They came from a suburban high school and were ill at ease when they discovered Parkdale was a downtownn core high school located in a district that was
rougher than what they expected. In short, they already had a negative mind set. The touching incident was all they needed to pick up their Tubas (trumpets, piccolos snd tambourines) and run back home.
What had really happened? One of our boys had given up his room for the Ohio student. The family were very excited and did all they could to make their guest feel comfortable. Gave him a private room while the family slept on couches. One of their boys was autistic or something like that as I remember. And he went back in to his former bedroom to get something he needed. In so doing he
said something friendly to the visitor. Probably in broken English. He just wanted the visitor to feel at home. It was not an affluent home Very few Parkdale homes could be considered affluent.
So friendliness was interpreted as a sexual advance. And WHAM! It took on a life of its own.
I could not believe parents and teachers could become so fearful.
Was that the end of the Field Trip? What about our exchange…our visit to Medina?
“Well, Joy, do we cancel?”, asked our Principal, Sheila Hambleton.
“No. We are going to Medina.”
“You will not be wanted.”
“So what. Our kids have been looking forward to this trip all year. We are going to Medina come hell or high water.”
“What if they make a fuss…?”
“We are going…”
And so we went.
THE CONCERT THAT NEVER WAS A CONCERT
“OK, get ready. Take your seats…tune your instruments.”
“No one here, yet…”
We took our positions in an empty auditorium at the Medina High School. Outside the auditorium students chanGed classes normally. BUT nobody
came into the auditorium. It was empty. Deliberately so. We were tolerated but not wanted.
“So what do we do, Joy?”
“We will give our special concert…you can introduce the selections.”
“But there is nobody here?”
“I know that. Bloody obvious.”
“Teachers, parents and students of Medina High School, may I present the Parkdale Collegiate orchestra. It id s ruers pleasure for us to be here. Our opening number will be….”
And the orchestra played to an empty auditorium
“Thank you for the applause,: (There was no applause). Our next number will feature…
“Thank you, thank you, may I introduce our orchestra leader Miss JoyGoodwin. Thank you for the applause.” (There was none.)
You will notice some rather elderly students
among the orchestra members. They are not persons who have failed to graduate … They are staff members…teachers…Parkdale teachers on tuba, trumpet, and assorted instruments….Thanks for the applause.” (There was none.)
How did our students handle this massive insult? They enjoyed the situation. It was really quite funny. Insulting of course but Joy kept the rudeness at a distance. And the orchestra played with gusto. When our hollow concert was over the kids were even laughing.
“OK, back on the bus, we are now going on tour for the next two days. Unfortunately our hosts will not be able to join us. Seems they have prior commitments.”
TOUIRNG A LAND BOTH MAGNIFICENT AND TORTURED
The rolling Ohio countryside with its Carollian forests. Trees uncommon in Canada. like the nearly extinct American Walnut tree. And Gingko trees dating back to the Age of the Dinosaurs some 250 million years ago when the earth was warmer. And those sweet citrus smelling Ossge Orange trees with their defensive thorns set to discourage anyone from robbing the huge baseball sized warted fruit that would eventually fall in bushels.American walnut. Gingko, Osage Orange, Sassafras, Tulip Trees. Our bus did not stop in the dense forests of eastern Ohio. Shame that there was no time for that because those forested mini- mountains were being systematically ripped to pieces by immense drag lines clawing away the overburden after the tree cover had been butchered and burned. Why? Coal companies found it easier and less expensive to tear those mountains down to access the rich veins of coal. What happens to that massive amount of waste earth and subsoil and rock? Dumped by thousands of truckloads into the verdant river valleys. Clear cutting is not pretty. Yes, the land is rehabilitated but the rich diversity is gone.
Shagbark hickory trees are common in Carolinian Forests of Ohio.
HOW ARE MOUNTAINS DESTROYED? SAGA OF THE BIG MUSKIE
We all marvelled at the largest drag lie in the world. The Big Muskie.
The Big Muskie was the largest earth moving machines ever built. twenty-two stories tall…yes 22 stories tall…and weighing over 12,000 tones. The Central Coal Company of Ohio figured such a behemoth was necessary since they had 110,000 acres of eastern Ohio to rip apart and the Big Muskie ws just the creature to do it. The bucket alone was so big that it could hold s full orchestra. And it did. All that remains of the Big Muskie is that bucket. Built in 1966 by Bucyrus Erie engineers it was so large that it had to be assembled on site. How many trucks? Trucks nothing…it took 340 rail cars snd 260 trucks to get all the parts in place and then 200,000 man hours to construct.
When we visited the area, The Big Muskie was chomping 8,000 yards of soil snd subsoil rsvp host. The bucket is as big as a 12 car garage. The Muskie ripped into eastern Ohio for 22 years…from 1969 to 1991.
When we toured Ohio, however, the big Muskie was chomping the tops off small mountains and dumping the loads of soil and subsoil into the once beautiful Ohio Valleys. A very controversial machine. How much overburden was chomped? Twice the volume of overburden as was moved building the whole Panama Canal.
It seems the Big Muskie chomped itself out business. it was controversial of course. Anyone who loved the hills dales, the creeks and bogs of easter Ohio could hardly love the Big Muskie. Central Ohio Coal Company had the coal rights to 110,000 acres. Mining coal was expensive…shafts had to be dug and many miners employed to exploit those underground coal seams. Cheaper by far to have the Big Muskie chomping its way across the state. Opposition grew however even though the land was recovered and sprinkled with topsoil. So in 1991 the Big Muskie fell silent. For 8 years it sat alone…rusting…but still towering. Should it be saved as a tourist attraction?
Too expensive to save. So in 1999 it was cut up for scrap snd all that remains today is the huge bucket sitting in the Miners Memorial Park in McConnelsville, Ohio…a curio that can enclose a while philharmonic orchestra. I wonder if some composer will write a musical lament for those lost hills and dales, rivers and swamps, trees and shrubs, deer and black bears.
Our Parkdale orchestra was lucky. We were able to witness both the beauty and the devastation. We were there when the Big Muskie was alive and when
many of those green carpeted hills still harboured their diversity of life. The students may or may not have seen the Big Muskie chewing up the hills but they did see the result…a flattened reclaimed countryside. Dull.
AMISH…PEOPLE FROZEN IN TIME
The Amish have farmed central Ohio for a long time. A people who do not trust the modern world where machines and technology rip along at a feverish pace.
But it is not the machines that bother them really. It is us. US? To them we are corrupted by Satan…evil in other words. We may not mean to be evil but we are much like the infidels of Islamic teachings. We are worldly. Take the Big Muskie. We are prepared to rip the hell out of the land just to get at what we want. i.e. coal to power electric generators which in turn provided us with all sort of things that we do not need. Things such as refrigerators and coffee pots. Hair blowers and electric toothbrushes seem more peripheral and vain.
The Amish of central Ohio we’re persecuted for their beliefs in Europe. Lots of them were drowned…sarcastically referred to as the third baptism by both Protestant and Catholics in Switzerland snd Germany. They believe in adult baptism hence the second baptism. So the third baptism was s cruel joke. Worse than that. Survivors fled to North America where they try to live apart from people like you and me.
The result? They have made Central Ohio into a wonderland. Horses abound. Great beasts to draw plows and wagon loaded down with sheaves of grain or mounds of loose hay. Clydesdales and Percherons munch their way through rolling hill fields. Beautiful to see. And the Amish go about their business in buggies pulled by retired race horses. Spirited horsed. Proud horses. Was pride in a horse not a form of vanity? Silly question. Care for animals is part and parcel of their lifestyle. They try to avoid
people like you and me … rude people with cameras klick’klick/Klicking. The Amish seek to be modest. Vanity is a sure sign that faith has been lost. They dress in plain clothes…revel in simple clothing. Blue dresses and white bonnets…long dresses to be sure. Female legs are rather vain…I guess. Men and boys all wearing the same straw hats…same shirts and dark blue long pants. No buttons. Buttons are considered vain by most Amish.
Not all! Every time I try to describe the Amish, I am contradicted. Some Amish do have buttons. Some even have tractors. None that I know of, however, have cars snd trucks. Long distance travel is ruled out. This can be a transport problem so they are not shy when hitching rides with their non Amish neighbours.
Our Parkdale kids loved seeing the Amish going about their daily business. A time warp . Suddenly the 29th century lifestyle was alive again. We rolled up and down the valleys in our big 50 passenger bus. Gawking. Klick/klicking our way along. Rude but not knowing why we were rude.
HOW DID SHE DO IT?
How did Joy Goodwin, head of a one person music department, do it? How did she take a disaster and convert it into a huge success? How did she do this without faring attention to herself as the ‘great I am!”? Top that question I have no answer. We had a series of supportive principals at Parkdale of course. Sheila Hambleton west s great support. Anything to enrich student high school life was endorsed. But there were so many other things. Where did her stay in Ohio. I think Joy booked all of use into an Amish motel but cannot remember for sure. And how was the bud paid for? And supply teachers for those of us who along for the trip? I think student trenchers filled in. Costs were certainly not passed along to taxpayers. Joy must have raised the money.
After our Amish tour and a sumptuous Amish catered luncheon, we headed north. But not home. We stopped for an afternoon at an Ohio playground…roller coasters and candy floss. The Ohio Wonderland was so big that we bought bright red hats for all the leaders so we could be found should a student fall out of roller coaster.
These hats bonded us even tighter together. Joy Goodwin knew how to make a team. She did not puff up herself. She made sure we were collegial…a team looking out for each other because we were fond of each other.
“SO HOW DID IT GO? GOOD TRIP?
We rumbled back into Parkdale exhausted. But we were all aware that description of the trip would require care.
“So how did it go? Goof trip?”
“For the most part.”
“Concert go off without s hitch?”
“Yes, without a hitch.:
“Well, can you keep your mouth shut. If you can, let us tell you about a great trip.”
“And if I can’t keep my mouth shut?”
“In that case you can quote me, ‘the school auditorium in Ohio was packed…the people loved us…they seemed to have forgotten about
their flight from Parkdale. Just super duper treatment. Never left the Ohio high school.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean…you cannot be trusted…”
“Get off it.”
“Remember Jsck Nicholson in the move Shore Patrol where he said in court, “The truth, you want the truth. No. You can’t handle the truth.” We have an alternate truth for people like that. Truth that never happened. (or, to put it in modern terms…Trumpist terms…we present the alternative truth) The real story of the Ohio trip may never be known. It was phenomenal…a tribute to Joy Goodwin.
“Aw, Come on, tell me…”
And so the story has now been told…
JOY DIED…AN OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCE
JOY died a few years later Cancer. She could have been saved, maybe, if a match had been found. But that did not happen. Even in death Joy
had an indomitable spirit. I remember visiting her as the en approached.
“Alan, remember that story about dying people looking at themselves…the out of body experience?”
“Yes, I remember…”, I responded cautiously because I was a non-believer in such…as was Joy at the time.
“Well, last night, I was up there on the ceiling, looking down at myself;f in this hospital bed.”
“Yes, really, sort of weird, don’t you think?”
Yes, I thought it was weird. Some kind of hallucination. But, if it was true, what did the person on the ceiling see in the hospital bed below her?
That question I can answer. She saw a great person. Not a pumped up bladder kind of person but a person who always made others feel good about themselves.
Joy was well named. Gone but never forgotten. A joy to remember.
post script: There was another music field trip that I remember well. The Boston trip. We lost s couple of kids on that trip. Joy was worried. How could we return to Parkdale
snd explain why we were Two kids short. We found them eventually and sang that popular folk song about the Boston subway
“Well, did she ever return?
No, she need returned,
She rode forever ‘neath the streets of Boston
She’s the girl who never returned.”
Not the real words but words that fitted the situation. We sang with joy and gusto…and relief. We sang with Joy Goodwin.