[Dixielandjazz] Every city and town should do this!

Charlie Hooks charliehooks at earthlink.net
Mon Apr 28 22:09:14 PDT 2003


   I played one Saturday night that showed me a new standard for community:
a party thrown in the high school cafeteria by the high school students for
the town seniors.  Sound corny?  That's what I thought, too; but it was

   The village of Highland Park lies at the north end of the Edens
Expressway on the north side of greater Chicago.  It's a high end town full
of Mercedes, Lexus, Ferraris, several Rolls-Royces, Bentleys.   The senior
citizens of this town don't live in rest homes: they live in mansions on
grounds.  Ravinia, where the Chicago Symphony concerts are played in summer
along with the world class Ravinia Music Festival, is just outside town.  No
fast food or drive-ins allowed.  You get the picture.

   Once a year for the past thirty years or more high school students throw
a party for seniors.  Any senior in town may come, and this year 76 did
come.   These men were my age and older, late seventies and eighties,
immaculately dressed in $2000 suits, their wives more so.  And they came to

   We were taking all requests with pleasure--"Nancy With the Laughing
Face," "No Love, No Nothin," "Stardust," "Deep Purple"--I said to the young
student who asked for that one, "You're too young to know that tune!"  She
replied, "Yes, I've never heard of it; but my grandmother wants it,"
indicating a smiling old lady.

   But the great thing was the students.  Male and female, all wore black:
black slacks, black tops or shirts, black dresses--drawing attention away
from themselves and letting the old people look grand, dancing with the
Seniors from time to time, just looking unbelievably beautiful as young
healthy alive people.  Their attitude was to me little short of miraculous:
thoughtful, considerate, cheerful--really enjoying the Seniors and not
merely pretending.  Very unlike the kids I went to high school with!  We
were real jerks.  

   There was a dance troop of senior girls with costumes beautiful and
modest that was more sensual than any troop of strippers.  And a 6 foot tall
thin blonde girl who played an entire difficult Chopin sonata so musically
the entire house fell silent.

   There was a raffle every half-hour.  A senior girl sang, a cappella,
"Someone To Watch Over Me" with the verse, standing alone onstage.   A
handsome young magician worked magic at the tables.  Lots of desserts,

   You can imagine the rapport between town and gown with kids like that!
These seniors will support their school, no matter what!  And why have I
never heard of this custom until just last year?  And why does not every
school system do this?  It is great fun for all ages and is win-all all-win
event!   It may be that only upscale areas have the savoir faire to assure a
trouble free delightful party, but I don't really think so.  The kids are
all volunteers, as are the Seniors.  I think it worth a trial shot     

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