HANDY TRUMPET STILL HERE IN HENDERSON
The silver trumpet resting in its hard worn case proves that the old story
is much more than hot air blown from a horn. The rumors are true. Famed
musician W. C. HANDY did give his own polished instrument to a
Henderson youth almost 50 years ago.
"W. C. HANDY gave me the trumpet. It was his trumpet, a King
trumpet, silver with a gold bell," former Henderson resident Bobby
Gayle WINSTEAD said. "I thought it was the greatest thing that
The auspicious event occurred when HANDY returned to Henderson
in October of 1953 for a series of programs designed to raise money for
a black swimming pool named in his honor.
"The 79-year-old artist was met by a delegation as he stepped from
a train that brought him from New York and was taken to the home of Dr.
and Mrs. J. G. GLASS, 836 Clay Street," the Henderson
Morning Gleaner reported.
"HANDY expressed pleasure in coming back to the city he always
called his home and spent hours recalling the friends he knew. It was
here that he met and married his wife (Elizabeth PRICE), who died
Special events during his visit included a concert at Barret High School
and a banquet at the Soaper Hotel. In addition to HANDY, Hugh
E. SANDEFUR, Roy TWOMBLEY, Virgil DIEM,
Frances ARMSTRONG and the Barret concert choir also appeared on the
"TWOMBLEY predicted that HANDY'S name will remain in
the gallery of fame with other great artists because he, like they, has
given the world something which spawns human hopes and aspirations,"
according to the newspaper.
The day's events were capped off with HANDY'S performance at the
Kraver Theater. The evening's events also included Governor A. B. "Happy"
CHANDLER'S rendition of HANDY'S popular spiritual, "Steal
Away to Jesus."
A musician, composer and publisher, HANDY traced the beginning
of his career to Henderson. The Alabama-born artist listed here for about
a decade around the turn of the century, with his residence on South Ingram
"I didn't write any songs in Henderson but it was there I realized
that experiences I had, things I had seen and heard could be set down
in a kind of music characteristic of my race," HANDY wrote
in his autobiography.
It was during the local celebration of "W. C. HANDY Day"
-- following the Barret concert -- that a young Bobby Gayle WINSTEAD
met the man recognized as the "father of the blues."
HANDY'S appearance in the school's gymnasium included a performance
of his celebrated "St. Louis Blues" as well as a "pep-talk
to do what we wanted to do in life," WINSTEAD said, recalling
that he was most likely a freshman in high school that year. The two were
standing outside the school's band room when they struck up a conversation.
"I was talking to him and I played trumpet in the high school band,"
said WINSTEAD, who recently moved to Dawson Springs. "We got
to talking about the history of Henderson, and I had learned a lot about
Henderson, and he handed me the trumpet and said: 'Good Luck, I hope you
have as good luck as I had with it.'"
He played HANDY'S trumpet for about three years. "It had a
great sound," WINSTEAD noted. "It had a higher pitch
than a coronet." He gave the instrument away after his father bought
him a new coronet for Christmas during his senior year.
"Dr. VEAL was my mother's doctor and he was so good to her,"
WINSTEAD recalled. "At one time Dr. VEAL had the German
Band that played in Central Park. Mother said, 'Son, you don't play the
trumpet anymore, why don't you give that to Dr. Veal.'" So
he did. WINSTEAD presented the trumpet to local internist Mal
VEAL, who was also his, his father's and his grandmother's physician.
"I remember it," said Martha VEAL, the doctor's widow.
"And I still have the trumpet. He thought my husband would appreciate
it, and he did, and he played on it."
In addition to playing in the German Band, VEAL played with Benny
GOODMAN as well as Doc STOCKER and Hugh SANDEFUR.
"He started playing when he was 14 and played his first professional
job when he was 16," the Henderson resident said. "He played
at the Trocadero here and just every place you can think of. He was a
Skipping a generation, Garrett VEAL, 12, son of Murray
and Joni VEAL of Henderson, has now expressed an interest
in the famous horn. "My grandson's been playing on it a little bit,"
Mrs. VEAL said. "And he's hoping to take lessons."
by Libby Keeling
Reprinted with permission from The Gleaner, Thursday, 15 Jun 2000