A Musical Legacy of Joyful Practice
Dr. Andy reflects on musical surprises and his son Jukie's return to school
Here is the deepest question you are likely to be asked today: “What do you want written in your obituary?”
One of the productivity gurus I follow, Michael Hyatt, has a book coming out tomorrow titled Win at Work and Succeed at Life: 5 Principles to Free Yourself from the Cult of Overwork. I’ve preordered my copy. In his talks and books, Hyatt asks his readers to consider their legacies, the accomplishments that really matter, when he asks questions such as, “How do you want to be remembered?” and “What do you want written in your obituary?”
This morning at my son Jukie’s school, his principal told my wife Kate and me the story of a man whom I have never met, but whom I highly admire. George W. Hinkle died in 2016 at the age of 95 – this is the year his descendants can celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday. According to the Woodland Daily Democrat obituary, “George [Hinkle] was a veteran of the U.S. Navy, a Medic and stationed with the Marines in North Africa during WWII. Earned his Masters Degree at San Jose State, and for 30 years was a High School Principal and Teacher.”
George Hinkle had a special relationship with Greengate School in Woodland, for in his 80s and 90s, he used to come tap dance for the children there with disabilities. You can imagine their delight and wonder. Whereas a significant population of dancers in Hinkle’s day knew how to tap, today it seems almost a lost art, seen primarily in the same MGM musicals that once would have inspired young George to take up the joyful practice in the 1930s.
Obviously Hinkle was touched by the connections he made at this special school over the years, for when he died, this former high school principal and teacher bequeathed $150,000 to Greengate School to use as it saw fit. While my son Jukie and his classmates were learning at home over this last year, “Hinkle’s Musical Garden” was built on school grounds. Today Kate and I saw the plaque, festooned with the image of disembodied dancing tap shoes: “In memory of George Hinkle who loved music, tap dancing and our Greengate students. George’s generous donation brought this musical garden to life for many students and community members to enjoy.”
Along with a beautiful mural and new planter boxes, the new garden includes giant weatherproof marimbas, xylophones, and drums. My oldest son will be particularly excited. Every time we go into Watermelon Music, Jukie makes a beeline for the steel drums. Mallets gripped tightly in each hand, he starts sharing experimental Caribbean music that delights others almost as much as himself. Recess at Greengate will provide even more incentives for escaping the classroom than usual!
But for today, finally fully vaccinated, our unmaskable son Jukie is excited to return to in-person learning with his community of teachers and peers. When we arrived at Greengate this morning, the lucky boy reached across me to open my car door. As has been true for so many of us, Zoom school has been an uneven substitute for embodied instruction, especially for this wordless boy who loves to run and yodel in the sunshine between lessons.
Any principal or teacher’s legacy is established at the end of a school day, or the end of a long career of teaching. John Steinbeck said, “Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.” For a select few, a second legacy of song and dance, or other explorations of the arts, can complement all those years of service as an educator. Like me, Jukie will never meet his school’s benefactor, but every day for the rest of his time at Greengate School in Woodland, California, he will compose and perform unruly songs on instruments that will echo across the Sacramento Valley the sounds of praise and gratitude for the legacy of George Hinkle.
I am hosting an asynchronous Pub Quiz this evening (as I do every Monday) for my supporters on Patreon. Tonight’s Pub Quiz will address the following: pursuits, listening robots, weasels, choices, girl groups, Harry Belafonte, sailors, Keanu Reeves, jerseys, candidates, dragons, chemical elements, electrical engineering, Oceana, the City of Davis, Arkansas, super heroes, developed nations, the example of hammers, ABC, thin items in baseball, bad puns, composers, famous islands, strange players, windows, the deaths of sole survivors, Venezuela, influential ladies, Springsteen heroes, perfection, current events, and Shakespeare.
I really appreciate everyone who supports the Pub Quiz and these newsletters on Patreon. Thanks especially to new subscriber Charles, who recently joined at the silver tier. The regular sustaining subscribers are creating a legacy in my heart with their ongoing support. They include The Outside Agitators, The Original Vincibles, Quizimodo, and Bono’s Pro Bono Obo Bonobos. I would love to include you or your team in this list, so please subscribe or upgrade at https://www.patreon.com/yourquizmaster.
By the way, do you know anyone who would like to work in an Irish Pub in Davis?
Be well, and I hope you get to read or even view tonight’s Pub Quiz!
P.S. Here are three questions about European Capitals from last week’s Pub Quiz:
What European capital starts with a W?
According to a 2016 study, at the time there was only one major capital city in Europe that depresses its country’s per capita GDP. Name the city.
Which European capital is built on eleven million wooden poles?
P.P.S. Contact me if you want me to perform a Pub Quiz for your event. Today I was contacted about a gig to take place in February, 2022! Some people plan further ahead than I do.