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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
INTERVIEWEE: James Hale
INTERVIEWER: Mimi Johnson
April 28, 1987
J: I am interviewing Mr. James Hale. We are in his office in the Music Building on the
University of Florida campus. Today is Tuesday, April 28,1987, and it is 4:15 p.m. My
name is Mimi Johnson. This interview is being done for the University of Florida Oral
History Project to research the history of the music department. We decided as a class
when we undertook this project to interview you, Mr. Hale, since you would be so
valuable to the project in terms of your knowledge and expertise, based on the fact that
you have been with the music department for quite a number of years. What we would
like to do is gather a history of each individual who has been connected with the music
department and collect information about each person's heritage and personality in
order to build a living history of the department of music. We will begin by talking about
you. Tell me about your background and history. Please tell us your full name.
H: James Pierce Hale.
J: Where and when were you born?
H: In Chicago, on December 5, 1928.
J: How did it happen that your family was living there?
H: My family was originally from Mississippi. My father was a locomotive fireman for
the Illinois Central Railroad. Actually, his work was what took him to Chicago, since
that is where the railraod was located. That is what he was primarily doing at the time.
He had just gotten out of the military shortly before then. My mother, sister, and father
moved to Chicago from Mississippi to find that type of work.
J: Where in Mississippi did they come from?
H: My father was from Oxford, Mississippi, where the University of Mississippi is
located. My mother was from a town called Pontotoc, Mississippi, which was about
thirty miles from there.
J: What is your father's name?
H: James Alfred Pierce Hale.
J: And your mother?
H: Willie Earl Hale.
J: Are they both living now?
H: No, they are both deceased.
J: When did they die?
H: My father died when I was either a sophomore or junior in high school. I do not
remember the exact year, probably 1942 or 1943. He was fifty-four at the time.
J: He was young. What did he die of?
H: Coronary thrombosis.
J: What about your mother?
H: She passed away at about age sixty-eight. My sister and brother-in-law were still
living in Chicago at the time. I am not certain what year it was.
J: You said you have a sister. Is it just you and your sister?
J: Are you older or younger?
H: I am younger than she is.
J: What is her name?
J: She is married; you mentioned your brother-in-law. What is her husband's name?
H: Frank Wehle.
J: Are they still living in Chicago?
H: No. At the present time they are living in Louisville, Kentucky.
J: Do they have any children?
H: Yes, they have two children.
J: How old are the kids?
H: The son, Michael, is a doctor, and his practice is in San Diego, California. He has
two children, age four and one. The daughter is a nurse, and she is still living in
J: What is her name?
H: Louanne. [cap A?]
J: Let's go back to your childhood, Mr. Hale, even before you went to school. Could
you tell us what some of your earliest memories are? What was your house like?
H: I was born in apartment building near 57th [Street] and Blackstone Avenue in
Chicago, which is near the University of Chicago. I was born in the apartment; the
doctor came to the apartment. I do not have much recollection of the early time in
Chicago. We moved to a small town about 130 miles south of Chicago when I was one
or two years old.
J: What is the name of that town?
H: Clinton, Illinois. J: Did you grow up mostly in Clinton, then?
J: How long did you stay there?
H: I stayed there until I was starting what was then junior high school. I stayed through
sixth grade. Most of my recollections are of that town.
J: Share some of them.
H: I was always rather adventuresome. I would sneak away from the house from my
mother and go explore. I got almost as far as downtown one time, which may have
been ten or fifteen blocks.
J: How old were you?
H: This was before kindergarten. I was four years old, maybe. I remember a church
across the street that I used to visit with my parents. I would take my little dog in with
me, and I would stand up and sing along. I thought it was a show or something.
J: When they were having service?
H: Yes. My father was very upset with me about those types of things. This was a
railroad town. That was one of the reasons that we moved there. He worked between
Clinton, Chicago, and Champaign, Illinois, as a locomotive fireman. Later in life, of
course, he became an engineer. I remember one time going towards the train yards,
[which was always a dangerous place]. Fortunately, he just happened to be coming
along from there, and he gave me a little spanking going back home.
J: How old were you when you first went to school?
H: I started in kindergarten. I would say I was five.
J: Did you want to go to school?
H: Oh, yes.
J: Did you like school?
H: Oh, sure.
J: What was the name of the school?
H: I think the name was Webster Elementary School.
J: And this is in Clinton?
J: Did you stay there through the sixth grade?
H: No. I started kindergarten there and went through the first grade and second grade.
I do have some recollections of that school. I was in a rhythm band; that must have
been in first grade. I enjoyed that very much. It may have been a start.
J: Is that when you first became interested in percussion? [Mr. Hale is the percussion
instructor in the music department. Ed.]
H: I do not know. That is possible.
J: What happened after second grade? Where did you go?
H: Then we moved across town, and I attended Douglas Elementary school.
J: Was it hard for you to move? Had you made friends?
H: No, it was a small town. There were four elementary schools in different quarters of
the town. In fact, the move from the house we were living in was maybe five or six
J: Why did your family move?
H: We were renting houses at the time. I do not recall the circumstances.
J: Tell us about some of the teachers that you had that were very influential in your life,
or any experiences. I know you said that you were in a rhythm band. Is there anything
else about your school experiences that stands out in your mind, either at Webster or
H: In the first and second grades I remember that the school custodian had a crippled
son, and I was placed in charge of him if he had to leave school and go home or
something. I was constantly being sent on various errands. I do not know if the
teacher wanted to get rid of me or what. The same type of thing sort of carried through
up through the sixth grade. There were some interesting things that happened after we
moved back to Chicago, also. I was given a lot of freedom in school, as well as various
types of responsibilities.
J: I guess they trusted you at that age. After sixth grade did you move back to
H: My father was working out of Chicago. That is about the only reason that I can
think of. My sister had finished high school, and there were more job opportunities in
the city for her. I suppose they just wanted to get back to the city.
J: Were you taking music lessons at this time?
H: Yes, at Douglas Elementary School. I joined the beginning band in fourth grade.
J: What did you play?
J: Did you have lessons, or did it come naturally?
H: There was a friend of my sister's, a boy by the name of Walter Perkins who lived in
Clinton, and he had a drum set in his house. He had played with some of the high
school boys, and he used to let me play the drum set once in a while. This must have
been about the third grade.
J: So you have been playing drums since the third grade, and you picked it up on your
own when your first started.
J: How did you know what to do?
H: He sort of showed me things to do. My father, on one of his runs to Chicago, went
to one of the music stores downtown and bought a drum for me. It may have been
right at the beginning of fourth grade, because that is when I joined beginning band in
the school. Each of the elementary schools had a beginning band class that the high
school band director taught. There were around seven or eight of us in beginning
band. He is the one that taught me the proper drum rudiments and things like that.
J: What was his name?
H: Emmett Sarig. He went on to teach in the band program at the University of
Wisconsin and later became director of extension services there.
J: When you moved back to Chicago, then, you were going into the seventh grade.
Where did you go to school then? Was it a junior high school? H: No, it had
kindergarten through eighth grade. In Clinton there was one junior high school that just
became operational when we moved.
J: Were you a member of the band there, too?
H: No, they did not have a band.
J: That is too bad. You would think in Chicago ...
H: Well, going back to Clinton now, up to the fifth and sixth grades I had developed
enough skill and so on. We were very much involved in contests, what we now call
district contests and state solo contests. I did participate in the fifth and sixth grades in
both the district and the state solo contests.
J: How did you do?
H: I received superior ratings.
J: And you had only taken band for only one year. That is incredible.
H: In the beginning band program. He was a marvelous director.
J: Did you discontinue lessons in Chicago? Did you find a teacher?
H: No, in the seventh grade I did not perform in anything at all. It was during war time,
and I remember they were selling a lot of war bond stamps and things like that at
school. They placed me in charge of taking all the money and stuff in the afternoons to
the bank, so every afternoon it was my responsibility to pick up the money from the
office and take it to the bank and come back. That went on through seventh and eighth
J: Was this about 1940?
H: It was probably about 1940. Also, I was put in charge of the school patrol. I had to
monitor the kindergarten classes during their recess time and in the lunchroom. I spent
more time out of the classroom than I did in. I do not know if they were doing me a
favor or not, or if I was that disruptive. [laughter]
J: Did you have any hobbies that you liked to do. Did you like sports? Football or
H: Baseball. We had played softball during recess periods. I was pitcher on my class
J: What was your favorite baseball team?
H: The Chicago Cubs were always one of my favorite teams.
J: Did your folks ever make you study piano?
H: No, I did not start studying piano until I later entered the [American] Conservatory
[of Music in Chicago].
J: Were either of your parents musical?
J: What about your sister?
H: No. Years ago she tried out for beginning band on clarinet, but she did not take to it
J: Where did you go to high school?
H: Hyde Park High School in Chicago.
J: Tell me about some of your high school experiences. Did you like it?
H: Oh, yes, I enjoyed high school very much. Once again, ...
J: What did they put you in charge of? [laughter]
H: They had what they called a homeroom system. I guess most high schools have
that. At the time the homeroom teacher had to keep track of what students were there
that day and what students were absent. I was in charge of making sure all that
information got to the office. There was a band at the high school, although it was not
much of a band, and there was an orchestra. I primarily played in the band. This was
the first opportunity I had to get back into a muscial organization. I really did not play
much in the seventh and eighth grade except just on my own. When I started high
school, I began taking lessons at the Roy Knapp School of Percussion [in Chicago].
J: In what grade was this?
H: I just do not remember what grade it was that I started taking lessons. It was fairly
early in high school.
J: Did your band ever compete?
J: Were you ever drum major?
J: What were your favorite subjects?
H: Latin. I liked Latin very much.
J: How many years did you study it?
H: Two or three years.
J: In high school?
H: Yes. I liked English and history. Music was sort of a force in my life at that time,
also. That was one of my strongest interests.
J: What did you do for fun?
H: I went fishing a great deal. We used to sneak over to Jackson Park, which is right
across the street from the high school. There were a lot of lagoons and things in there,
and we would sneak over there and fish once in awhile.
J: Was this during the time when you were supposed to be supervising and were out
of classes, or was it that you were in classes but would sneak out? [laughter]
H: I remember my mother would find excuse notes in my pocket every now and then
for missing class.
J: Did you write them?
H: I will not admit to that. [laughter]
J: Had you given any solo recitals up to this time?
H: Nothing other than at contests.
J: Did you enjoy playing for people?
H: Oh, yes. At the end of my freshman year I found a drum set in one of the music
stores out at 63rd [Street] and Halstead Street, several miles from the house. I took
my mother out there one evening, and my mother and father bought the drum set for
me. That was a big thing. I remember setting it up in the living room and making a lot
J: Before that time you used your friend's drum.
H: Well, that was way back in elementary school.
J: But did you ever have one of your own?
J: So you just had to use the one at school.
H: There was nothing else other than the drum I had.
J: Just the one that your dad bought you. Before we leave your high school, do you
remember any favorite teachers that stand out as having influenced you?
H: Mrs. Clauson. She was my homeroom teacher throughout high school. I did a lot
of playing of music in high school. I started with two or three of the people that were in
band, and later we became very close friends. We would form small groups. After I
had the drum set we would play small dances. I remember that the Catholic schools
used to have a lot of Friday evening dance socials and things like that. As we became
better we played a lot of wedding receptions. I was quite active by the time I was a
sophomore in high school.
J: How many people were in this group?
H: Oh, we started off with maybe four of us. Later in high school we had a big dance
band. This friend of mine, a tenor saxophone player, played in another big band that
rehearsed in some of the park recreation houses. So we rehearsed with those groups.
As time went on we played more and more professional-type jobs. We were always in
the dance band set in high school. Each year the school put on a variety show, and I
was involved in that at least for the four years I was in high school.
J: After high school did you just each go your separate ways?
H: I have remained friends with two or three of the people that were in that group. I
am talking during that period of four years of high school maybe fifty or more different
individuals that were in dance bands and combos. I enjoyed the variety shows very
much, because I had a chance to play solos, spotlights, things like that.
J: Did you all get paid?
H: For the high school activities, no. But by that time we were working outside jobs for
which we got paid. We were having all this fun and enjoying ourselves and still making
money. It was good.
J: After you graduated from high school what did you do? What did you do in the
H: Oh, I always had some kind of job. Music was primarily a nighttime activity. I
always seemed to want to work at something. I had a paper route, a job as an usher in
a movie theatre, and a part-time job in the summer as a delivery person for a pharmacy
that was located in one of the bank buildings. I used to deliver medicines and thingsto
the University of Chicago and all around the south side of the city. I had a part-time job
at John Marshall Field in downtown Chicago. Marshall Field was a large department
store. I also worked at Von Lindgrate & Antoine.
J: What did you do there?
H: I was a stock boy.
J: What were the other department store?
H: Von Lindgrate & Antoine.
J: That was a store?
H: It was a very exclusive, expensive store; the merchandise was expensive. I did
stock kind of things or gathering merchandise that had been collected for mailing and
taking it down to the packaging department. Those are just intermediate part-time
things. When I was working at Marshall Fields I would always go over to the park and
play baseball during lunch hour.
J: Did you decide to go to college the fall after you graduated?
H: No. When I graduated I believe I went to work for the Illinois Central Railroad on a
J: I was going to ask you if your dad ever wanted you to follow in his footsteps.
H: No. In fact, the job was in one of the offices at the 12th Street Station downtown.
Since he was connected with the railroad it seemed like a natural thing. My sister had
also gotten a job with the railroad office. She was not in the same location as I, though.
I took a class or two in the evening at the American Conservatory of Music.
J: That is in Chicago?
J: What did you do at the railroad?
H: The first job I had was in the purchasing department. I picked up all of the outgoing
mail from the boxes. It was a mail kind of job, to make sure that correspondence and
things got out. Then I transferred to the mechanical engineering department where I
did filing and things like that. I later became the main clerk to the bridge and building
J: How long were you with the Illinois Central Railroad?
H: Off and on up until the time that I was called into the army.
J: When did you graduate from high school?
H: In June of 1946.
J: In what month did you start with Illinois Central?
H: I do not know.
J: Was it later on during the summer?
H: I would imagine. I was still keeping up with my music all this time. We played more
and more professional jobs all the time.
J: Did you have the same group, some of the same members?
H: No, it fluctuated a great deal, with different bands and different groups. I was
playing some professional engagements as opposed to wedding receptions. This was
when I was about fourteen, so I was still in high school. It must have been in my
sophomore or junior year when I started playing professionally.
J: Did you keep that up pretty much ever since?
H: Yes. The government had a one-year draft thing that had had been enacted
somewhere around 1948. This friend of mine that I had known in high school, the
saxophonist, thought that we did not want to do this. One way the one-year
conscription could be avoided was by joining an army reserve unit, so we both joined
an army reserves unit, which happened to be signal corps unit. We attended meetings
once a month, and that was all that was required.
In 1950 the Korean War started to come to a head, and all of the reserve units were
called into the army. So I was called into service and was sent to Ft. Lewis,
Washington, in the fall of 1950. Since the majority of the reservists had had military
training from World War II, the sax player and I went in different directions. I do not
remember exactly where he went. I was one of the few at Ft. Lewis that had not had
any kind of training. There was what they called an eight-day refresher course that
they put us through, wight days of qualifying on weapons, bivouacs, etc. We were
issued combat clothing as opposed to full uniforms, because they were taking the
available manpower after eight days and taking them over to Seattle and putting them
on boats and shipping them [to Korea]. That was what they called a pipeline situation.
Once again, fortune sort of struck. They took us in trucks over to this compound
where there must have been thousands of soldiers waiting. It was about the time of the
elections [1950 ?], and there was some kind of cry about sending all of the reserves
over into this conflict. There must have been at least two thousand soldiers in this
complex. The loudspeaker called out some names, and one of the names happened to
be mine. At the time of the election they had held up some of the ships. The reason
the men were still there was because they were trying to get them onto other ships or
something. They had not shipped them out. There were about sixty names called out,
and we were asked to come out of the compound. We were put in trucks and driven to
the airport. None of us knew what was going on. At the airport there were soldiers in
full combat gear getting on airplanes, and we thought they were going to fly us over
instead of putting us on a boat. Well, they put us on a commercial airplane that the
military had chartered. There wer a lot of military planes that had taken off with people
in them. After about an hour, some of us--most of us were experienced
soldiers--began asking where were we going? What is going on? They did not tell us
anything at that time. But the pilot said to us, "Come on up. We are going down the
coast." I remember looking down and seeing San Francisco, but we still did not know
what was going to happen. Finally the plane landed at an airfield out in the
J: In California?
H: Yes. They unloaded us and took off. There was a sergeant there that was in
charge of the group, and evidently he had all our records. To make a long story short,
they were getting so crowded in Seattle, especially since the draft was now kicking in
because of the Korean conflict, that a lot of camps began gearing up to receive
draftees coming in. Fort Ord, California, was chosen as one of the new training
camps. What they had done was taken sixty of us, by whatever means, and sent us
down to Fort Ord to act as a cadre to start training these new draftees coming in.
There is an airfield right on the base. Don't ask me why they did not land there.
Maybe it was because it was a commercial plane. Anyway, the sergeant called the
camp, and the camp sent trucks out to pick us up and take us back to camp. It was
several days before the camp even knew what we were doing there. All of this moved
so fast that the camp did not even know what was going on. Anyway, we started
training the troops.
J: Were you relieved?
H: Yes. Then it came out that I had not had any training at all. About the third or
fourth day I was there I went to the 6th Division Band, which was stationed at that
camp. I went up to talk to the band director to see if I could audition. This was the first
opportunity I had had to do this. I remember one of the warren officer's taking me over
and interrupting the band rehearsal. The band members included a lot of west coast
musicians who were quite good. It was a very large band, and they had done a lot of
recordings and things like that. He interrupted the rehearsal and told the band warrant
officer that I wanted to audition for the band. While the rest of the band was there, he
asked me to play for him.
J: In front of everybody? How did you feel?
H: That was not what I had expected. All he asked me to play was a soft roll for as
long as I could play, so I did. He said, "That is enough. That is all." He talked to the
warrant officer, and the warrant officer came to me and said fine. I said, "Well, I have
not really had any training yet." "Oh, well, we will have to work that out." I was placed
into an eight-week training session before I could join the band, which was fine.
There was also what they called a band training school connected with that band. At
that time normally one was required to do an eight-week basic training course and then
spend eight weeks in a specialty unit. That is what completed your sixteen weeks of
training. After the eight-week training period, I went into the band unit. I was still
performing with the 6th Division Band, although there were several bands within band
About the second week that I was there the bandmaster gave all the people in the
training unit--the draftees were already starting to come in--a theory test. Now, when I
was working for the railroad I had taken some evening courses at the Conservatory of
Music, including theory, piano, as many things as I could fit in. That is why it took me
over ten years to finish school. Anyway, about the second week they gave a theory
test to everyone, and somehow I scored the highest grade on the test. The bandleader
could not believe that a drummer could do this, so he just ranted and raved for a few
days. He made me an instructor in the band training unit. [laughter]
J: You are always teaching. You are always in a position of leadership. It has been
that way all your life. What was your title when you went into the army?
H: Well, being in a reserve unit and not having prior training, I did not have a rank. I
cannot remember what they called it at that time. E-1 or E-2, or something like that.
The reserve ranks were frozen, so I could not move as far as rank was concerned. But
it did not seem to make much difference.
J: What was the name and the exact location of this base?
H: Ft. Ord, near Monterey, California.
J: What were the exact years that you were there?
H: I went in in the fall of 1950, and it was slightly less than a year before I was
discharged, so that would have been sometime in the fall of 1951.
J: When you got out did you go back to Chicago?
H: Yes. That is when I became the head clerk to the bridge and building supervisor.
Once again, this was a job with a lot of responsibility. But now I had the G.I. Bill. My
father had died, and it was just my mother and myself. I think that is one of the
reasons I went to work for the railroad, because I had to help support the family. When
I came back from the service I had every opportunity to take advantage of the G.I. Bill.
After a short time back I was able to take advantage of that and was soon taking
daytime courses and a few evening courses to pick up academic subjects that the
conservatory did not offer.
J: Where was this?
H: This was in Chicago, at DePaul [University] and Northwestern University, in the
downtown campuses. That is where I completed a lot of my academic work.
J: Were you taking them simultaneously at different universities?
H: Yes. I left the full-time job.
J: When was this?
H: It was not long after I got out of the army, in 1952 or 1953. I graduated from the
conservatory in 1954 or 1956.
J: Did you have a certificate, a degree? What did they give you for that time?
H: Eventually I completed the coursework for a Bachelor of Music Education at the
American Conservatory, which was one of the founders of the NASM.
J: NASM is the National Association of Schools of Music.
H: He was instrumental director at the conservatory.
J: What was his name?
H: A man by the name of [first name?] Hotstead.
J: Did the credits from DePaul and Northwestern transfer to the conservatory?
J: Did you graduate from each of them?
H: No, that was all academic transfer type work. I was still playing a great deal, mainly
in dance bands and combos, as much as possible.
J: What happened after you graduated from the American Conservatory of Music?
H: I must have graduated from the Conservatory around 1954. Then I went to the
University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana. Once again I had a veterans benefit tuition
rate. I still played there professionally as much as possible.
J: Did you take any private lessons either at DePaul, Northwestern, the American
Conservatory, or the University of Illinois?
H: Yes. At the conservatory my instructor was a man by the name of James Dutton.
He was an artist-in-residence on mallet instruments--marimba, etc.
J: What about the University of Illinois?
H: Paul Price was the professional instructor at the time. One of the reasons I wanted
to attend there was that I had become very interested in percussion ensembles. While
I was in the army I heard one of the first recordings of [Edgard] Varese's ionizationn,"
which I thought was fantastic. J: I am not familiar with that.
H: It was one of the first compositions dealing with all percussion sounds and
instruments. It was sort of a new kind of concept, and it interested me a great deal.
Fortunately, at that time the University of Illinois was one of two institutions that had a
J: What was the other?
H: I believe that the other school was Ithaca [College in Ithaca, New York]. The
ensemble at Illinois was one of the more nationally known ensambles. I thought that I
should go where the best is and see what this is all about.
J: What was the name of it? Did it have a separate name?
H: No, just the University of Illinois Percussionist Ensemble. I was there for a year.
J: Is this the fall of 1954, right after you graduated?
H: I am trying to remember, because I taught a year after. It must have been. During
that year we performed for a national MENC [Music Educators National Conference]
convention. The national convention that year was in St. Louis. We had many
concerts--at Oberlin College [in Oberlin, Ohio], Carnegie Tech [Carnegie Institute of
Detroit ?], Baldwin-Wallace [College in Berea, Ohio], and a local set of schools. We
premiered the first symphony written for percussion instruments.
J: What was that?
H: I do not remember the name of it, but it was composed by Henry Brandt. That
was quite an experience. I had some close classmates at that time, including Albert
Payson, who has been with the Chicago Symphony for many years and is now a
principal percussionist; Thomas Gauger, who has been with the Boston Symphony for
many years; George Boberg, who is presently the percussion instructor at the
University of Kansas; and a freshman, Ron Fink, who is a percussion instructor at
North Texas [State] University.
J: Why were you there just for the year?
H: I was working on my master's.
J: You finished it in a year?
J: When did you graduate?
H: June 1956.
J: What was the name of the degree?
H: Master of Science in Music. I think that is what their fine arts degrees were called
at that time.
J: Then what happened?
H: I went back to Chicago. At the time I was taking classes during the daytime I had
gotten a part-time job. This is when I was still going to the conservatory. I worked at
Spencer Press in auditing.
J: Were you still working at the railroad, too?
H: No, I had resigned that. I could have my own hours and could come and go as I
wanted. Mainly I was in charge of American People's Encyclopedia Yearbook. I was
responsible for all the checks and things that came in and of the other students that
were helping in the process. Once again, I was in charge of making sure all this money
got to the bank. J: Did you become rich with all your jobs? [laughter]
H: No. The reason I mentioned that is because while I went to school at the University
of Illinois, they had a unit in Champaign where they were making new encyclopedias,
Children World Book, or something like that. So I had sort of a part-time research
J: Did you actually do research for the articles in that encyclopedia?
H: Yes. I was responsible for researching the alphabet.
J: In other words, anything.
H: No. I researched the origins of the alphabet for the encyclopedia.
J: Did those articles bear your name?
H: No. They were not articles. It was where did the letter "A" originate, where did the
letter "B" originate, this kind of thing. I did the research for things like that.
J: Did you like that?
H: Yes, I enjoyed it. Once again, I kept playing as much as possible, almost every
weekend. I still had some commitments in Chicago, and sometimes I had to drive back
there and play certain engagements.
After I graduated from the University of Illinois, I went back and worked part-time at
the same place. [what place ?] There were about ten companies involved in this
whole operation. But I was looking for a teaching position, because I wanted to be
band director. The music profession had been good to me, and I had been successful
at it. I wanted to go into the teaching profession as a band director and teach
youngsters how to play.
J: Were you interested in any particular grade level?
H: At that time I was mainly thinking of the high school level. I had several offers from
high schools. I finally decided a position that was one of the best paying positions at
that time. It was not much money in today's terms. It was at a school in Gary, Indiana.
My sister and her family, and my mother lived in a suburb on the south side of Chicago
called Riverdale, Illinois, which was only about twenty-five miles from Gary. I became
one of the music directors at Emerson High School in Gary, Indiana.
J: Would this have been in 1956 or in 1957?
H: It was the fall of 1956, because I came here [to the University of Florida] in 1957.
J: You said you were one of the band directors.
H: Yes, there were two of us. The Gary school system had what they called unit
systems. The main unit consisted of grades four through twelve. In our instrumental
program we had a large band and orchestral program. The band director had just
recently retired, and I replaced him. The beginning bands included the fourth, fifth, and
sixth grades. The intermediates had the students for sixth, seventh, eighth, and some
ninth graders. The advanced bands and orchestras had high school students. So we
were dealing with the fourth grade through the twelfth grade as far as the program was
concerned. I had the beginning and the intermediate bands. There was a lady director
[name ?] who had the orchestra, primarily, and the concert part of the band. I did the
high school marching activities.
J: Did you have the orchestra, too?
H: I had the intermediate and beginning orchestras.
J: I take it you were only there one year, because you came here to the University of
Florida [in 1957].
H: Well, it was a very difficult decision. It was a fine year, and I felt very good about it.
I was very pleased with the students. I looked forward with a lot of enthusiasm to the
next fall. We were in the process of building the program.
Of course, there was no summer school. This friend of mine with whom I had gone
to high school decided that we would take a little vacation, so we decided to go to
Mexico. Every once in a while I called home from down there to let them know I was
still around. One time my mother said, "There is someone calling you from the
University of Florida music department, Someone by the name of Dr. Bolles" [Robert S.
Bolles, dean, College of Architecture and Fine Arts (1966-1973), professor, Department
of Music (1948-1973)]. I did not know what he wanted to talk to me about, so said,
"Well, I will be home in a week or two." The next time I called home she said, "There is
a telegram here for you from the Louisiana [State] University." I said, "You had better
open it." "They want you to come as a percussionist at Louisiana [State] University."
I finally got home. First of all I did a little checking. Harold Bachman was [the band
director] at the University of Florida at the time. I had grown up in this early band
training with the Smith-Yoder-Bachman band method. I had interviewed for Claude
Smith [trumpet educator] [How was he affiliated with the high school?] just after
graduating for the University of Illinois and decided not to accept that position in a high
school in Evansville, Indiana. I never pursued it. I had been to New Orleans several
times, my folks being from the South, and I had been to Mississippi numerous times as
a child. The thing I remember most about New Orleans is the swamps and the red
mud and stuff. I thought that Louisiana is too much like Mississippi with the red mud.
Now, Florida! Palm trees, beach, ocean. This was my impression, having never
been to Florida. I love water, and I still love fishing. I talked to people, and the
University of Florida was highly recommended to me. Because of the fact that Harold
Bachman was there, I was more pulled towards Florida. Although I had a job offer at
both places, I did not really look much further into the LSU position because my visions
of Louisiana sort of blocked that off no matter where it would have been in Louisiana. I
probably would not have liked it.
I had a very difficult time making a decision whether to go into college teaching or
not. I was still very interested in percussion ensemble-type activities, which I was sort
of blocked out of because of the demands of the school programs. I had long
conversations with the music supervisor in Gary about leaving the situation. Of course,
I had to go find the principal right away. He was at some luncheon meeting. I waited
until he was finished and talked with him. He was quite understanding, and he gave
me his blessing. He thought it would be the right thing for me to do. The more I
thought about it, I realized that this was just another opportunity to reach more people,
since the position here was to be percussion and music education. I was very much
involved in the teaching aspect of music. I thought here in the high school system I can
only reach a certain number of students, and there I can reach students who are going
to go out and teach other students. I thought, wow, this is a great opportunity to reach
more people as far as developing an understanding [of music].
J: How did the University of Florida know about you to offer you this position?
H: I do not really know.
J: You must have had quite a reputation to have been offered positions at both
universities. You had not applied for either one?
H: No. I wrote to Louisiana [State] University and told them that I had accepted a
position at the University of Florida.
J: This was in the fall of 1957?
J: Were you married at this time?
J: How did your mother and sister feel about your going way down there?
H: As mothers always are, they hate to see you leave. I had been in the service and
had been gone before, so it was no great shock.
J: What was your exact title and your duties when you came?
H: Instructor of music, I believe.
J: What did that involve?
H: I taught all of the percussion skills class, the basic music education course, which
would be like rudiments of music [and teaching methods] for elementary classroom
teachers [MUE 3210], and I played in the band and the orchestra.
J: The orchestra director at that time was Edward Preodore. Who was the band
H: Harold Bachman.
J: What were your impressions of the music department and the University?
H: The only thing that was evident at the time I was in Illinois was that the University of
Florida was considered "the" university in the state of Florida. I did not check into the
music department at LSU. The musicians and people that I had talked to about the
University of Florida were very high on it and said that it was a fine institution. The fact
that Bacman was director of the band was enough to satisfy me.
J: How did you like playing under him?
H: Very much. He and I became very close friends over the years, until he passed
away. Through him I finally got to meet the other part of the trio, Paul Yoder. I met all
three of the gentleman that started me on my career. Yes, I was very pleased with the
music department and the faculty at that time. At the University of Illinois, where the
faculty had been established for a much longer period of time, there was a great deal
more of the political in-fighting, so to speak, among the faculty. That was the case with
Midwestern schools in general, at least the schools I was familiar with. There was quite
a refreshing faculty at that time here. Everyone was very pleasant. Everyone worked
together for each other and for the benefit of each other. Del Sterrett was director of
the women's chorale. We called them the "Singing Sweethearts" at that time. If he
needed some kind of percussion on a program, it was no problem. Everyone was
doing things for everyone else. There was no territorialism or that kind of thing. It was
J: Have you noticed a decline in congeniality over the years?
H: There has been some change as the faculty has grown in numbers.
J: When you came, who was the chairman of the department?
H: Robert S. Bolles.
J: Did you enjoy working for him?
H: Yes, very much.
J: What were your first impressions of Gainesville? Were you disappointed that it was
not on the ocean? [laughter]
H: I arrived in Gainesville, I think, on Labor Day. Having grown up in a city and been
to California [when ?], as I drove into Gainesville I can still see pine trees, and I
thought, this reminds me of Mississippi. I believe at the time there were two hotels in
town--the Thomas Hotel and the Whitehouse Hotel. Those were about the only places
to stay. I stopped at the Thomas. I had driven from Riverdale [where is that?], which
was not much of a town at all. I thought, what am I doing here? What is this place? It
was very rural, so to speak.
J: How did you like Building R? Did that live up to your expectations, or was that quite
under your expectations? Coming to the University of Florida, you probably did not
expect a tiny building like that.
H: It did not bother me much. At the University of Illinois the band department was
stationed in a wooden-type structure, so the building itself did not bother me. It did not
matter where you were, as long as you could get the job done and had the facilities.
J: Did you feel hindered at all being in that building?
H: No. It was a very warm kind of building. The faculty saw each other a great deal.
It was very pleasant. There was no air conditioning at the time, but it did not seem to
J: When did you get your present position? You are now involved in administrative
H: Well, about the second year I was here a couple of the students who were
graduating from the music education teacher certification program were told that they
were a course short in one of the education requirements. That bothered me. I could
not understand how this could have happened, orwhy students could not work out their
own program for themselves. So I started working with students to see that this kind of
thing did not happen again. I was probably one of the first advisors to music students.
We had just gotten our degrees improved.
H: This meant that the music education degree, which at that time was offered as a
track under the B.F.A. program within the College of Architecture and Fine Arts,
[became a separate entity]. When I first arrived the department was primarily a service
unit to the University. There were really no degrees in the program.
J: You could not get a degree in music?
H: Not in music per se. It had to be in education. The College of Education had a
track where you could be a music major, so to speak. We had been attached to the
College of Architecture and Fine Arts, and the B.F.A. degree was in the College of
Architecture and Fine Arts. The music education track was one of the first things that
was improved, as I recall.
J: That was somewhere around 1959?
J: So out of the goodness of your heart you just began advising students?
J: And then?
H: The then chairman, Dr. Bolles, encouraged me in this. At the time there were
maybe four or five students, so there was no big problem. I made sure that they were
taking the right things so they would not come up short. For several years there were
not many music majors in the early years; most of the students in the [music]
organizations were majors from other areas. I started to do more and more advising, in
addition to my regular duties, and the department chairman decided to allow me do
scheduling. He thought that I had a better understanding of when the courses should
be offered and which ones the students needed most. I understood the process better,
that this course should not conflict with that course that they needed to take and so on.
I started taking on more and more administrative-type activities along with academic
advisement and other duties. I began to move up and teach some of the higher level
courses in music education, including the required certification course forthe elementary
classroom teachers. I was happy to do that, because I thought that each of these
students will go out and teach in an elementary classroom, and if I can teach them then
they will introduce young students to music. It would be a domino effect. We used to
have a middle school course for music majors and secondary methods courses for
music majors. I taught most if not all of those types of courses. I was still keeping up
with the percussion teaching.
J: What is your exact title now?
H: I am assistant to the chairman.
J: What do you teach now?
H: I still teach all the percussion skills.
J: What about music education?
H: I advise all music education majors. J: Do you teach any music education
H: Not at the present time. As the music major program started to grow, we had a lot
of teachers coming back to work on master's programs, which were through the
College of Education, and still are. So I started advising all of the graduate [music
education] students, too. I enjoy working with students.
J: You are a good advisor. How does the number of music majors now compare with
the number when you first came to Florida? I know you said there were only a few
when you first came, so it has grown quite a bit.
H: Oh, yes.
J: Have you noticed any changes in either the quality or caliber of students
themselves, or any changes in the students over the years?
H: The students are much better prepared now than they were. That is not to say that
their natural abilities are that much better. Students are capable of doing a higher level
of music performance than they were thirty years ago.
J: The University was integrated in 1959, so you were here before it was integrated.
When do you remember the music department becoming integrated? Daphne Williams
was the first black student; she came to the campus in 1959. When you first came
there would not have been any black students on campus. Do you remember when
the music department started getting blacks?
H: It was when we were in Building R, because I remember several [black] students. I
do not think there were any black music majors.
J: About how many music majors does the department have now?
H: It fluctuates. We were probably up close to 180 at one time, and we are probably
down to about 150 at the present time.
J: Does that figure include graduates?
H: Yes, currently enrolled.
J: Is the music department in pretty good shape financially? Is any department ever at
that stage? [laughter]
H: Although I have been the assistant to the chair almost from the time I arrived--from
Reid Poole, Don McGlothlin, Dr. [Budd] Udell, Dr. [Joel] Stegall--I have not had a great
deal to do with the budget. I was the acting chairman for a time.
J: When was that?
H: This was back when Mr. Poole was on a sabbatical or leave of absence; I do not
remember what year that was. I became a little more involved with the budgetary
matters. I can only say that all of the chairmen seemed to feel that our funding was
J: Are there things that this department desperately needs now?
H: Well, instrument maintenance has been a great problem. We always need money
to repair and maintain the instruments, including pianos and band and orchestral
instruments. We have not had the funds to work with. I think there is a great need for
funding for musical groups in order for them to go out into the state and perform for
communities and schools, thus helping foster a desire and appreciation for music in
children. We could use a lot more of that if funds were available.
J: Of the courses that we offer now, are there any that you think should be deleted?
Are there courses that we do not have that we should have?
H: There are courses that we are still having to teach to a small number of students. I
think the curriculum does require revisions. There are some things being taught [in a
classroom full of students] that could better be taught on a one-to-one basis. There is
not enough faculty and time for specific semesters.
J: What about the quality of the overall program now as compared to when you first
came? Have you seen it change?
H: Yes, I think it has improved.
J: About how many faculty were here when you first came?
H: About fifteen or seventeen.
J: And we have about thirty-four now. Right?
J: The University used to be an all-male college. Have you noticed any great increase
in the numbers of women in this department over the years, or has it always been the
H: I would say it is about the same. There were smaller numbers at that time.
J: But about the same proportion. How do the number of women compare to the
number of men in the music department?
H: It is about fifty-fifty.
J: Have there been any major changes in the department or in the school that you
would like to mention as a result of your being here?
H: Which way? [laughter]
J: You are so modest, Mr. Hale. Youhave probably salvaged a lot of poor students
through your advising. Is there anything that you would like to share with us that you
have been influential in bringing about?
H: I will mention this one thing. It does not have a great deal to do with academics, but
a professor in the College of Architecture, Pat [Pasquale M.] Torraca, wanted one of
his graduate architecture classes to do a project which involved a new building. Bob
Bolles, who was chairman [of the Department of Music] at the time, asked me if I would
work with Pat to see if I could come up with some specifications and ideas that might
be desirable in the music building facility. I said, "Sure, I would be glad to do this." I
had done a similar project in one of the classes I had at the University of Illinois, though
it was on a small scale. It was for a high school; it was your ideal high school music
complex. I have always liked architectural type drawing. That is one activity I enjoyed
in high school that I forgot to mention was drawing. Anyway, I went around to a lot of
the [music] faculty and asked them, "If you could design your own studios or facilities,
what would you want?" I received some input. They kind of laughed and said, "I will
believe it if I ever see it." I proceeded to come up with some specifications for a band
rehearsal facility, an orchestral rehearsal facility, a choral rehearsal facility, classrooms,
a recital hall, including the proscenium and [orchestra] pit. I went into square footage,
and I gave them as complete a program as possible. Pat gave it to his architecture
class, and they proceeded to build models based on the specifications. At the end of
that project the models were displayed in the only recital-type facility we had, Building
R, which was just a half of the gymnasium. That was a lot of fun. The faculty really
A few years went by. Bob Bolles became assistant dean in the College of
Architecture, and one Sunday he called me. He said, "Do you remember that project
that you worked on with Pat?" I said yes. He said, "Do you still have those building
specifications, the plan and everything?" I said, "Yes, I think I have them." He said,
"You have to give them to me right away." I said, "Okay. What's up?" He said, "Well,
they are working on building priority things, and if I do not have this to give to Academic
Affairs (or whatever) right away we may miss out on a building."
J: What year was this?
H: I do not remember, but it was shorty after he became assistant dean. Dr. [Turpin
C.] Bannister was dean at the time. He had a stroke, so Bob may have been acting
dean [1965? He became dean in 1966?] at the time. I had this plan all ready, and I
took it over and gave it to him. I cannot say for a fact, but by using that he was able to
get the approval for the new Music Building. It was just fortunate that it was there.
When the word came back that we were on the priority list for a new music building,
then the faculty started to take things more seriously. Everybody sort of jumped in.
J: In wanting to design it?
H: Yes, wanting to design their own spaces and things like that. I still believe that
having the plans ready and available was one of the reasons for this building.
J: How much of the original plans in the model that you took over there remained
H: The present structure is fairly similar. The recital hall [was left out of the project].
J: He was the architect, actually?
H: No, it was his graduate class that worked on it. An architect was hired to design the
building. The department had a chance to look it over and do a lot of revisions in the
building. They had not done a complete final detail, which we were asked to do. All of
us worked together to develop that, based on this original.
J: What happened to the recital hall?
H: The recital hall was in the original plans. It was to be off the south middle part of
the building, in that area. The bid was such that there was not enough money to do
both the building and the recital hall, so we decided to do the building. There just was
not enough money allocated for what the bid price was. So, essentially, that had to be
cut from the original plan.
J: Was anything else cut? Was there anything that you were unhappy with or that you
feel is lacking now as compared to your original? H: Yes. We lost some space in the
percussions studio, for one thing, which is one thing that has always bothered me. I
was willing to give that up because I thought we could use the orchestra floor as a
rehearsal studio. As it turned out, it was not exactly an ideal situation because we did
not have a place to store the instruments that we needed. The three rehearsal halls
remained intact, the classroom concept remained intact, the office area remained
intact. It was just the way the architects designed these spaces into the building.
When it came time to furnish the building, Dean Bolles wanted me to be in charge of
working with the purchasing department. I still have books for requisitions. I had to do
all the purchasing of equipment.
J: Did you have a committee?
H: No, I had to do it all myself. I kept track of the money. I had everything all worked
out, right down to enough money to really making it first class. I was told that the
carpeting in the building would not come out of that particular budget. Somewhere up
the road, as we were getting ready to finish things, the mucis library [what about it ?].
I did a lot of drawing myself. I had placed an order for the completion of the study
center, and that requisition bounced back saying that there was not enough money.
According to my figures there was enough money. What had happened was that they
had decided that we were making so many overruns in cost that they had to take the
carpeting out of the building furnishing budget, thus cutting out a great deal of money
that they planned to use for purchasing instruments and things like that.
J: Were you in charge of buying the pianos?
J: Everything? What about office furniture and things like that?
J: How long did it take you to do that? Did they give you a year, or months, or several
years? How much time did they give you?
H: It had to be done within that year.
J: Since you have worked with so many different chairman, are there any highlights or
accomplishments that stand out in your mind that we have not already mentioned as a
result of any one of their chairmanships that you would like to specifically mention?
J: Are there any particular highlights or any particular crises involving the music
department that you want to mention at this time?
H: There have been ups and downs, as I suspect there will be in any department.
There have been a lot of wonderful highlights, performances, many good things. The
good things far outweigh the negative aspects. The department has increased the
number of its faculty, and this causes a certain different kind of problem. It is not as
easy to socialize, for example. Today there are so many events that the faculty cannot
possibly go to everything. In that sense, it is more frustrating to try to show your
support for all of the various functions or activities, because it is virtually impossible.
For example, when we were in the old building there may have been one faculty
concert a month or one of the large organizations. All faculty were there, and everyone
supported each other. Today this is almost an impossibility. We would like to see all
the colleagues supporting each other, but it does not happen. I would say that the
negative problems that exist within any faculty are not so terrible that we have not
managed to survive in some ways.
J: Are there any changes that you would like to see happen within the music
H: Only that I would like to see our concert organizations become a higher caliber and
perform more music of a major nature. The students are still good. I would just like to
see the overall program increase in its professional quality.
J: Is there anything else that you would like to tell us about yourself or the music
H: I cannot think of anything.
J: Thank you so much, Mr. Hale. We really appreciate this. It will be invaluabe to the
[Oral History] Project.
H: Thank you.