An Autobiography: Chapter 46, Spotlight On the Arts


| 12/17/2012 9:29:06 AM


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The Arts have always been an important part of my life: music, art, theatre, dance, literature and films. I wish I could remember the very first exposure to all the arts, but time has erased many events I am sorry to say.

I vaguely remember the first music. I think I was about six years old and staying at a day nursery in Covington, Kentucky, next door to a Methodist church. The kids at the nursery were invited to attend a music event at the church, and we were all mystified at what we saw and heard. A man played music on a Theremin! Eerie music coming from nowhere. He just waved his hands around and over two rods protruding from a box of some sort; I thought it was magic!

Man Playing Thermin 046 

Now if you aren’t familiar with this strange instrument, I am sure you have heard it in films. Movies in which the Theremin played an important part include, “The Lost Weekend”; “Spellbound”; “The Spiral Staircase”; “The 10 Commandments”; and that great Sci-Fi film, “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” And the Golden Days of Radio used the Theremin, too. Shows like “The Green Hornet” would not have had its full suspense and excitement without it.

My first exposure to art were works by my brother, Edwin Byron. At the time I didn’t realize what a fine artist he was, but his paintings and drawings introduced me to a beautiful world. In my teen years, I discovered some of the great American artists like Winslow Homer, Reginald March, Peter Hurd, Georgia O’Keeffe, Doris Lee, and Thomas Hart Benton. As a young teenager, the image of Benton’s painting, “Persephone,” of the old farmer looking around the tree at the beautiful nude girl lying by the stream with her basket of flowers and clothes beside her has stayed with me. You just never forget a lovely painting like that. I have forgotten some of the masters, but not “Persephone.”

I don’t remember the first movie I saw. I am sure I wasn’t more than five or six. It may have been when Mom and Dad took us three kids to the movie on “grocery night” or “silver dollar night.” During those Depression years, the theatres gave money and groceries to lucky ticket holders. We did win sometimes; we had a fair chance with five ticket stubs!




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