“And now, the end is near, and so I fact the final curtain.
My friends, I’ll say it clear, I’ll state my case of which I’m certain.
I’ve lived a life that’s full; I’ve traveled each and every highway,
But more, much more than this, I did it my way…”
That’s just one of the many songs I sing and have been singing during the Sunday summers for the past 11 years in this volunteer program that will soon complete a 12th year at the park. Sincere thanks are due to my dear friend, Mayor Kelly Yaede, for her support and cooperation in bringing this community-oriented music program to the Hamilton-Trenton-Ewing area.
As the word spread about what one of our regular attendees calls “the best kept secret in Hamilton,” it was my good fortune to renew old acquaintances with Hamilton High Class of 1950 baritone, Jack Pyrah. Jack was the barbershop quartet baritone in the Hamilton choir during his 4 years at Hamilton. When he graduated, I became the baritone in my class of 1951 who replaced him in Louise Baird’s excellent vocal music class.
Talk about Providence, or that old saying “When God closes one door, He opens another.” Jack and I both lost our wives of 61 years in 2014 and the good Lord gave us the gift of music to help this guy from St. Anthony of Padua Parish and another guy from Pearson Memorial United Methodist Church to assist us in a period of adjustment that has turned out to be a life-altering experience.
There is a special and really deep rooted feeling of accomplishment as we recall those old songs and sing them to anywhere from 25 to 100 attendees who love the music of Perry Como, Patti Page, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra and the countless other singers from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.
After one of our Sunday concerts wound down two weeks ago and we were packing up to head for home, a young lady handed each of us a card with the following message: “Thanks for everything. Thank you for sharing your talents and time on Sundays at Kuser Park. You are a blessing to so many.”
Another lady came to us after a program and said she had brought her mother, who was brought to tears as Jack and I sang a duet from Sigmund Romberg’s “I’ll walk with God” from the operetta “Student Prince.” A truly spiritually uplifting song that both Jack and I treasure. It obviously brought back bittersweet memories to that very elderly lady who was in attendance.
There are some things money can’t buy. For Jack and me, it’s giving back to the community and the love and appreciation we receive each week as we run through our hour and a half of unforgettable music. Incidentally, Jack’s rendition of Bette Midler’s “The Rose” and Neil Diamond’s “Song Sung Blue” are just plain wonderful.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. We are doing our best to continue our concerts throughout September and weather permitting, the month of October. Then it will be a return to Kuser Park on Memorial Day weekend 2018 and we will go through the season once again.
Over the years as the season ended, more than one asked me why we couldn’t go back to the Kuser Mansion where I did these many programs during the off season during the Rafferty and Gilmore years, but unfortunately as is the case with all of us, the township must also exert fiscal restraint.