Hey! Mister Austin, are we there yet?

Those immortal words still ring in my ears, as spoken by Hugh Seale, a bass-baritone in the 1959 SFA A Cappella Choir as we were heading north  on our journey from Bryan to New York City. over 70 folk, including chaperons, were packed into a rather antique Trailways Bus. We were supposed to have new Silver Eagles with a restroom and observation deck, but old silversides were sent instead. The first time Hugh asked was just prior to entering Madisonville, Texas, less that an hour out of Bryan.  It became ‘habitual’ all the way. I had told the group that restroom breaks would be identified as “The LahLah”. Creatively, the whole group would sing, in harmony, “LahLahLahLahLahLeeDahDeeDah” as a signal to our bus driver to seek the nearest “LahLah”.  We were sponsored by the Rotarians of Texas and made official ‘Good Will Ambassadors’ by the Governor. We were scheduled to perform for the International Rotary Convention at various venues, including the general assembly at Madison Square Garden. That in it’s self was a rather hair-raising experience for a young choir director(to be related in another post). This particular post is dedicated to one Hugh Seale. Hugh and his wife Becky are two of my favorite members. Hugh had the group entertained the entire trip, but the one specific happening still stands out. Hugh was the center on the Bronco football team and an avid baseball participant. I had a rule that all would answer to ‘room check’ each night and as I walked up to the room where Hugh was supposed to be, when I called his name at the door, it was apparent than Louis Griffin answered for him. We were in Cincinnati and I somehow thought of the Cincinnati Redlegs as something that would attract Master Seale. Their room was next to a stairway, so I quietly waited and was not surprised when I heard someone rushing up the stairs and as he opened the door, Hugh said,”Now I know you promised to send anyone home who broke the rules and you can send me, Mister Austin, ’cause I hired a taxi to drive me around Redleg Stadium for a few times just so I could say I had been there. If you send me home, I understand, but, Mister Austin, it will be worth it.”  This was the same young man who came to my home during football season,knocking on my door. He had just missed the bus and had no way to get to the game in Austin. He said, “I was just a few seconds late and saw the bus up the street. If my Daddy finds out, he’ll want to murder me. Would you take me to Austin, Mister Austin?  I would and I did. We arrived just in time for Hugh to dress out. I never had a moments disagreement with the boys of the choir for my entire tenure. I thought it was due to my strict control of the choir. Just a few years ago, during one of my ‘Gatherings’ with former members in Bryan, Hugh burst my bubble. He announced to the entire group, “Mr. Austin, you probably think that all the choir boys were so well behaved due to your strictness, but they did as you wished because you drove me to that game in Austin. They determined that any teacher who would do something like that was worth respect.” I must admit that somewhat burst my bubble, but it was alright, donchaknow. Every one of my former students knew the time I spent with them was a “Labor of Love”.  That’s what I find in my box of chocolates. “The Lord Bless Them and Keep Them”.  AMEN

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