Posted on March 29, 2011 at 11:45 AM by Global Reach
Max Exner, a composer, director, folk-dancer, and poet also conducted the statewide Extension music programs for Iowa 4-H. These are some of his memories:
“At first the long drives about the state were a bore to a guy who'd always lived by lakes and mountains. But then I discovered the beautiful wide sky, with its constant interplay of, clear blue and cloud, fleecy or stormy, with an occasional funnel, with which I sometimes played a kind of hopscotch.
I remember an old 1948 Chevy, GM had not made new models yet, so it was actually prewar. It lumbered and fishtailed and I called her Flossie. I remember a night drive from Spencer, when the windshield got so gummed up with cornborer moths that we had to stop for 3 gallons of gas every ten miles to get a windshield wash. And that was an era when gas station attendants did it willingly, without being asked!
I remember when the county agents in Northwest Iowa decided to get through their duty to hold a summer 4-H camp by combining forces in a huge camp of 450 boys. It wasn't a camp. It was a mob. Camfire was five concentric rings of campers and I had to use a bull horn to lead singing against a high wind.
Most of all I remember my years with the State 4-H Choruses, at first separate boys and girls choruses. I remember our beating ourselves to a frazzle putting on a State 4-H girls' Conference, and the very next week a boys' conference. Wow! I must add that I have never directed groups of finer, more intelligent and better motivated young people than those choruses. Two hour rehearsals in Memorial Union, and that before air-conditioning. And never a complaint or flagging of effort!
To this day, gray-haired men and women come to me or write, saying proudly that they sang in a state 4-H chorus. More than a few music teachers have told me that the experience strongly influenced them to choose music as their vocation. Only last week I had a nostalgic letter from a member of the 1948 State 4-H Girls' Chorus (that performed on bleachers in State Gym).”
Categories: State Recognition