1928 - Alderson High School - 1968




In the spring of 1961 the Greenbrier County All County Chorus was in need of male members, particularly from Alderson. Mrs. Ossie Keadle asked a couple of us, including Mark McClung and myself, to join. We practiced at White Sulphur Springs and as I recall performed at White Sulphur. During one of our breaks Mark and I took a couple of Lewisburg girls, Kathy Spurlock and Jennifer Russell, for a trip on a horse drawn carriage at the Greenbrier.

Many years passed and I almost never used my musical talents that Mrs. Keadle discovered my senior year in high school. Once my daughter was born we began attending church regularly. My confidence in my singing ability grew over time. I became one of the loudest and most demonstrative singers in the church. Invariably our friends in church would look at me when I sang and I would think to myself “all county”. As my daughter grew older she would sometimes say, “Dad maybe you shouldn’t sing so loud.” This was echoed by my wife.

When my daughter was 14 or 15, she and my wife asked me to go into a room and she said, “Dad we have to tell you something.” I thought maybe I was unaware that I was a cross dresser or had some other character disorder. After a long pause she said, “Dad you have been diagnosed as a monotone.” I was relieved a monotone seemed like a subset of being a baritone and it was certainly better than a cross dresser.

My relief quickly turned to near depression when I learned what a monotone really was. How could I ever face those people in church again? We became like nomads in church every Sunday, moving to where people could not anticipate avoiding us. I could not break the dependence on singing. Over time with the help of my family I overcame the monotone disorder. I learned to open my mouth wide, be demonstrative with the music and sing barely audible to the human ear.

Later I saw an episode of the Andy Griffith Show where Barney, who couldn’t sing a lick, decided that he would be the lead singer in a musical. Andy convinces Barney that the audio system is on steroids and in order not to be too loud, Barney merely has to move his lips and not make a sound. Andy then has the best singer in town actually sing when Barney moves his lips. Somewhat similar to my experiences.

Most newcomers to the church don’t know our deep dark family secret, Mary’s Dad is a monotone. Occasionally a newcomer will ask “Alex why don’t you sing in the choir?” Some of the older church members will have to pull the newcomers over and tell them the truth. You will see the newcomers sadly shake their head and move on.

There are so many wonderful testimonials in the Aldersonian about Mrs. Keadle’s ability to inspire and teach young people music. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Greenbrier All County Chorus. Over time, however, I have come to wonder how Mrs. Ossie Keadle chose me. I would like to think that one explanation is that my voice changed over time. But I don’t really believe that is plausible. The only explanation that makes any sense is that Mrs. Keadle was so desperate to pick some boys from Alderson that she was not going to take the risk of having me or any other boy from Alderson audition for the chorus. It is serendipity of life that a monotone from Alderson made the Greenbrier All County Chorus back in 1961.

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