When I was living in Connecticut attending the Navy Nuclear Power Prototype School I got a letter from my mother in Vermont (email was still light years away) that had a quarter taped to it in the upper right hand corner and a blurry postmark on top of that. It was truly odd and prompted a phone call to find out what the story was.
First, you have to understand just how rural their little island town is; the population at that time was something south of 1,000 (hardy) folks. As you might imagine, everybody knew everybody so my mom just taped the quarter on the envelope knowing that the postmaster (and lone employee of the postal service in that office) would just swap it out with a stamp (which cost less than a quarter in those ancient times). Somehow, however, she just postmarked it and sent it along. With the quarter on it I suspect that it had to be handled manually at every one of the probably 5 or 6 stops it made on the way and the quarter was never removed. Astounding.
Would that happen today, 35+ years later? Not a chance. The first time that envelope nicked up a sorting machine that quarter would either be 1) ripped off the letter by the machine or 2) ripped off the letter by a grumbling employee. That’s assuming it ever made it off the island in the first place. Things grow and change and (in some cases) improve.
We started in a beautiful church that was too hot, had a piano we could barely hear and acoustics that made musical sounds disappear. Now we’re in a room with ceiling fans, walls that resonate, and our own epic Steinway piano.
We started with a director who did everything and the shell of a plan. Now we have a Board of Directors, a vision and long-range goals.
We started with 65 singers (which blew Susie’s mind). Now we average 100 or so.
We started with a small pile of music in Susie’s house. Now we have a storage facility and shelving and file cabinets and all the trimmings (and volunteers to keep it all straight).
We started with dues that jump-started a little tiny back account. Now we a hold a semi-annual fundraiser that is truly one of the gems of what happens on the windward side. And a real bank account. And a budget.
We started by performing in a space too small for us, struggling to see Susie from a mostly-flat front of the room. Now we have our own risers and a crew that can get them from “on the truck” to “ready for singing” in minutes.
We started by performing in a space too small for our audience. Now we’ve shared our joy of music in the largest ballroom on the windward side, some of the larger churches on the windward side and even a couple biggies in town.
We started with a single (most awesome) pianist regardless of the composition (with a uke thrown in from time to time). Now we’ve performed with the assistance a crazy-long list of instruments, including a 20-piece orchestra.
We started as a group of (mostly) strangers gathering to see what the scoop was. Now we’re a tight-knit group of friends with a single focus and the desire to bring our audiences something they’ve never heard before while we strive to make them understand how much we enjoy doing it.
Can’t wait to see where we evolve next!