Treasures from the Garage (Part 2)
Last week, I wrote about the time my brother Russ, sister Carol, and I helped our parents clean out their garage before a move. In a box filled with my dad’s creative efforts—sketches, paintings, trumpet trio arrangements, a Christmas cantata—we found two treasures.
The first was a Peanuts Sunday comic strip, presented to my dad by Charles Shulz at a conference, for drawing the best Charlie Brown. The second, a page of sheet music at the bottom of the box, was even more remarkable.
At the age of 14, Paul Kidd was already one of the best musicians at Hume-Fogg High School in Nashville, playing the trumpet in campus ensembles, arranging popular songs, and composing original music for groups at Vine Street Christian Church, just around the corner on Seventh Avenue. He often played duets with his 13-year-old brother Earl, a trombone player.
Hume-Fogg already had a fight song, but it was borrowed from another school. Paul thought his school deserved a song of its own.
He studied famous fight songs from around the country, focusing especially on those of the big Midwestern schools,such as “On, Wisconsin,” “The Victors,” and “The Notre Dame Victory March.” Then, over the course of a week, he sketched out the music. The result was the Hume-Fogg Victory Song.
The marching band played it at a football game or two. Eventually, though, habit won out, and the band went back to their other fight song. Paul’s piece, set aside and forgotten, was never played at a concert.
And there it sat, 74 years later, at the bottom of that box.
The band parts were missing, but an early piano version had survived. Carol, a pianist, took the sheet music into the house, sat down, and played the long-lost Hume-Fogg Victory Song.
It was terrific! Simple, fresh, and lively, very much in the spirit of those old-fashioned fight songs. And it had been composed by a 14-year-old student.
I took a copy back home to Nashville, where I approached Hume-Fogg band director Dr. Richard Ripani with news of the piece. Rich, stunned, immediately saw the possibilities. He programmed it to close the upcoming Hume-Fogg spring concert. Russ, a musician, offered to arrange it.
That May, the band played it for the first time in 74 years. Paul was there, with my mom Ida Sue, Russ, Carol, and me. When the band finished his piece, the crowd jumped to its feet and applauded. After the concert ended, students lined up to get Paul’s autograph.
A few months later, my father died. But each year since, under Rich Ripani and current director Allen Kennedy, the spring concert has closed with the Hume-Fogg Victory Song. Afterward, the Paul Kidd Award, set up by Russ, Carol, and me, has been presented to a band member who, like Paul, went above and beyond requirements to give exceptional service.
And so the music, dreamed up by a 14-year-old boy and found at the bottom of a dusty box, lives on. As for Paul himself, how many people can say they ended their lives with a standing ovation?
Click to hear that first performance of the Hume-Fogg Victory Song.