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Sunrise: My father’s trumpet

Sunrise: My father’s trumpet

Posted: Thursday, July 23, 2009 2:34 pm

The Messenger 07.23.09
When I was a boy, my father, Donovan Holder Lawrence (Aug. 9, 1911-Nov. 6, 1979), would often tell me how much he enjoyed playing his trumpet in the school band in Winston County High School at Noxapater, Miss., where he graduated in 1929.
In May 2008 I received a letter from Dorothy Parks who had known Dad when they were students at Noxapater, and she included two newspaper articles from the Noxapater News (Feb. 27 and July 10, 1925) that described concerts featuring the Noxapater Orchestra, directed by E.F. Graser, and these articles mentioned Dad and the names of the other people in the orchestra and the instruments they played. Dad’s sister, Margaret, played violin in that band.
At night during the 1950s, Dad and I would sit in front of our old Motorola radio in the living room and listen to live jazz music that was broadcast over WWL radio station from the Blue Room in the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans.
Dad and I not only listened to jazz and the big bands, but also to a wide variety of music that ranged all of the way from bluegrass and country to classical and opera because he wanted me to appreciate all types of music, and for this I will always be grateful.
This background of Dad’s conversations about trumpet-playing probably explains why I have always enjoyed the sound of a trumpet. So often, when I hear a trumpet solo, it takes me back to those chats Dad had with me, and one of the reasons I appreciated Charles Cobb as my high school band director (1959-61) was because he was such a gifted trumpet player.
It is strange how the sound of a trumpet can carry one back across the years and evoke cherished memories of a loved one who played such an important role in one’s life. There is a mystical way in which the notes that Dad sounded on his trumpet in his old school band long ago still echo out of the past.
Although I have no idea what might have happened to Dad’s old trumpet, I do know that he now plays the music of eternity on a trumpet not fashioned by human hands in that celestial orchestra under the direction of the Great Director.
Don Harold Lawrence is coordinator of SUNRISE, which is sponsored by Shackelford Corporation. He may be contacted by mail at 145 Abernathy Drive, Adamsville, TN 38310-3001 or by telephone or fax at (731) 632-4483. His Web address is

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