Dad's Memories

That Special Horn

- 08 May 98 - 17 November 2002

Before TV, the radio was Hi-tech entertainment in many homes, including ours. We'd regularly tune in to a weekly half hour Radio program featuring a Richard Oxley playing Cornet Solos, with Piano accompanyment - great music.

When Art first started playing, to join the Troop 159 Scout Band, he came home with exciting news -- That Richard Oxley we'd been religiously listening to, was Dick Oxley an Alumnus from the Troop 159 Scout Band !!

Then that Radio program went off the air, to our dissapointment, -almost like losing everybodies favorite- the Amos 'n Andy show.

When Mr Seymour came to our house and presented me with a Gold plated, long model, Holton-Clarke Cornet, we had no idea it was in fact the very Cornet we'd been hearing on The weekly half hour Richard Oxley program.  This was late in 1927, and that 'ol horn has stayed with me thru school, the 101st Cavalry, and lots of other bands down thru the years.

Seems that Dick Oxley had become involved with Alcohol, and in his early 20's, had become a Bowery Bum -an alcoholic- had pawned his Instrument to buy liquor, and was on Skid Row. Mr Seymore, learning of this, took Dick off the streets, placed him in a Rehab program, found where he'd pawned his Horn -got it out of Hock- and brought it to our house as a present to me. A very special horn !

About 12 yrs later (late '30's), Dick Oxley showed up at a Carnegie Hall concert, where I'd played one of his old Solo numbers with the St. Stephens Band, and asked if I'd consider selling him his old Cornet, he was trying to get back into music again. By this time, after having played, off and on, a dozen or more horns along the way. I would not part with that horn--and rejected his offer.

That horn is like the Stradivarious of Cornets, still in prime shape after 70 odd years with me. Every once in a while I take it out and try to play a few notes, then regretfully put it back in the case. Just can't bear to part with it, and no incentive to put out the effort to play again.


At the time this tale was first published (in 1998, &  just out of curiousity) I did some web and email searches for "Richard Oxley" .... on the off chance that maybe he'd gotten back to playing and maybe had made some recordings.  At that time I got no positive or likely "hits".  In May 2001, after rereading thru some of dad's tales again, and making a few editorial corrections, I tried again - this time using a "new" search tool that I'd come across that seems to be "better than most" .... ... searching for "the exact phrase" Richard Oxley.

Lo and behold .... there at the 8th returned "hit" was -

8. About Oxley Music Repair - Woodwind and Brass Services
     Richard Oxley has been repairing and restoring woodwind and brass instruments for over 25 years.
     beginning with his apprenticeship under some of the older craftsmen in the industry, he began learning brass
     repair at Schilke Custom Trumpets in Chicago...

After visiting this site and reading about "this" Richard Oxley, his involvement with music, and the statement - "An accomplished musician, Richard Oxley primarily plays trumpet and saxophone but is also proficient with other brass instruments and woodwinds."  I had little doubt this was either the son or grandson of the Dick Oxley that dad listened to, and was inspired by,  on the radio in Brooklyn in the mid '20's ... the original owner of "that special horn", and I sent out an inquiring email.

"... Judging from your photo, you appear to be in the 50 - 60 age range (like
myself), which would put you in the age range to be either the son, or
possibly the grandson of another Richard Oxley.  Your interest and
envolvement in the music industry, specifically the Cornet/Trumpet, also
leads me to believe that you ARE the one that I've been seeking.

Question:  Are you the Son/Granson of a Richard Oxley who had "a weekly
half hour Radio program featuring a Richard Oxley playing Cornet Solos,
with Piano accompanyment - great music"? This would have been in New
York City (Brooklyn) in about 1925 - '27.  If you are, and can provide
some additional information that can help me confirm that you are, in
fact, THAT Richard Oxley's son or grandson .... I have some additional
information that I'm most anxious to share with you!

I Hope that you are, and am looking forward to your reply.

Rick Langdon

I received the following reply later that same day.

Dear Rick,
            I believe i am the one!
My father was born in brooklyn in1908.  He was a trumpet player.  I am interested in his history as i dont know a lot about it.   I was born in Rutland, Vermont (in 1953 - only 48) & grew up in Middlebury, VT  ... Dad played in the VT symphony & Rochester Philormonic. I do remeember hearing somthing about him playing radio shows when he was young.  He died of a heart attack when I was 14. He was 59.  He died at a symphony rehersal. I would be interested in any other details you know of his life.
                  Sincerly, Rich Oxley

Based on this info, Dick Oxley was only 5 years older than dad .... and was probably still a teenager at the time that dad was listening to him on the radio.  I then replied back with more info and links to dad's early tales from Brooklyn, that special horn, NYMA and the 101st cavalry.  The following day ... I received a "note out of the blue" from Carol Reed (Rich's sister) from North Carolina, confirming that yes - I'd found the right family!!  And, that she'd just received faxes of the notes that I'd sent out to Rich.  A bit more follow up emailing then flew back and forth between myself, Carol, and a niece Thistle.  It turns out that they are only 2 of 5 children that Dick Oxley fathered ... (apparently he'd gotten a bit of a later than usual start with his family) and all of them also musicians - Richard (Trumpet & Sax), Laureen (Trumpet), Carol (Piano), John (Trombone), and Joy (Flute).  Obviously, the help extended by "Walter B." in getting Dick off the street and into rehab was  successful.  He went on to father what appears to be a nice and talented group of children, resumed his musical career, and passed away doing what he loved ... He died coming out of Symphony rehersal, with the Vermont Symphony, on the steps of the Middlebury College Music building.  And, that they were grateful to hear about their dad's early years .... they apparently didn't know to much about that time of his life.

So ........ another "success story" .... 75+ years after the story started ..... thanks to the Internet.

I then put together this supplement page (Photo Page "That Special Horn") to share this horn with Rich, Carol, and the rest of the Oxley "clan".  At some point in the future "This Special Horn" may find it's way back home - to - Richard Oxley.  On January 31, 2002 "That Special Horn" did find it's way back ... as a gift from Dad to Richard Oxley.

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