Saturday, December 01, 2012

"Think Back on All the Tales That You Remember..."

Today I made another vinyl run--this time, the destination was Sounds Good Music Exchange on Sandy Plains Road, about three miles from my house. I had no idea this store even existed until I ran across a reference to it in a vinyl collectors forum; the store is located on the hidden side of an older shopping center that is in turn located behind a stand of fast food restaurants and service stations.

Lots of good things were found, including a heaping helping of Christmas albums at $2 each (including the Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass's Christmas Album that I've been seeking for weeks, and a Perry Como RCA Christmas album from the late 1950s that's in pristine condition). As much as I like Christmas albums, though, the real gem for me was Camelot, an album that immediately makes me remember my five years teaching at East Rome High School.

This isn't the film soundtrack of Camelot, mind you: this is the 1960 Broadway soundtrack, with Richard Burton, Julie Andrews, Robert Goulet, and Roddy McDowell. This is the version of Camelot that I listened to over and over again at East Rome High School, and as far as I'm concerned it's the real Camelot. Today, not only did I find a copy of the original album, but I found a never-before-opened still-shrinkwrapped copy of that first release, on the gray Columbia label frequently reserved for classical releases. The cover and the vinyl are both perfect. What are the odds of finding a still-sealed copy of a 50+ year old album like this?...

My best friend at East Rome was Sandra Jackson, a veteran teacher who was willing to mentor a first-year teacher like me and help me to become  a better teacher. Sandra was a passionate teacher, intensely dedicated to her students--and she was also the drama instructor at the school, which meant that she was in charge of doing both the one-act play for literary competition and a spring musical. In 1978, she chose Camelot as the play the students would perform; it was no surprise, since she had played the album a great deal in the years prior to that and I knew she had an affection for the Lerner & Loewe play.

Sandra's production of Camelot was delightful, as Sandra's musical productions always were. Sandra always had an amazing ability to elicit the absolute best from her students--and in many cases, she was able to involve students who typically remained uninvolved in all aspects of high school life. She enlisted not only the artistic students and the literary minded, but also the academically challenged students, the disruptive students, the alienated students--and under her guidance, they all came together as a cast and crew and did an outstanding job.

So when I came across this copy of Camelot, I was briefly transported back to East Rome High School in the 1970s, when Sandra and I shared adjacent classrooms. I remember her smile, her laugh, her happy voice and her stern voice (she had perfected both, although she all too rarely had to use the latter), and her inspirational ways.

Sandra is, I believe, still involved in education--or at least, she was a few years ago, working with Shorter College in Rome to prepare their students for a career in education. I'm not sure if she still is--alas, I've not stayed in contact with this remarkable woman the way I should have--but I can say this with certainty: there are hundreds of students whose lives were improved by her, as well as one novice teacher who spent five glorious years teaching alongside her.

Each evening, from December to December,
Before you drift to sleep upon your cot,
Think back on all the tales that you remember
Of Camelot.
Ask ev'ry person if he's heard the story,
And tell it strong and clear if he has not,
That once there was a fleeting wisp of glory
Called Camelot.
Camelot! Camelot!
Now say it out with pride and joy!


Camelot! Camelot!


Yes, Camelot, my boy!
Where once it never rained till after sundown,
By eight a.m. the morning fog had flown...
Don't let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known
As Camelot.

1 comment:

Jean in Georgia said...

The. Best. Show. Tunes. Ever. Robert Goulet will always be Lancelot.