My friend, Dr. Don Richards, a dentist who’s now retired, invited me to speak to the Palmdale, CA, Kiwanis Club at the ungodly hour of 7:00 am. I asked, “What shall I talk about? He responded, “Talk about your three careers: big band trombonist for 13 years, school band director for 27, and children’s author for 18.” “How much time do I have?” was my next question. Twenty minutes was his answer.

It took me 16 months to write my FIVE STAR autobiography, “Diary of a Young Musician: Final Days of the Big Band Era,” and that was only the first part of the three topics he wanted me to discuss. I planned on concentrating on my children’s author’s period, but my opening statement would be about my scholarship to Juilliard School of Music at the age of 18, and then spend a few minutes talking about how I broke into the big band scene.

I never got passed the big band stories that I happily found enthralled my mature audience. I went over my allotted time by about 10 minutes and finally stopped. When the group laughed at my stories at the beginning of the talk I decided to stay on the same subject. I was on a role so why change. They invited me to give another talk in May, this time about my children’s writing experience that I know I’ll enjoy.

A few days later Don called and said he had a check for me from the Kiwanis Club. The members decided to donate two books each to seven schools in Palmdale, a wonderful gesture on their part. I met Don the next morning at a Starbucks where I gave him the autographed books. We ended up talking about his electric bass playing, his favorite subject, and also his lessons from a first-class teacher. He and his wife Donna are fine people and truly a joy to be with.

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