"Since flesh can't stay, we keep the breath aloft. Since flesh can't stay, we pass the words along." --Erica Jong

Monday, November 20, 2006


Gaylen "A" Hatton (Excerpts from A Brief Overview of My Life)

"I was born in Osdick, California, on the 4th day of October, 1928. Osdick was named after Pete Osdick, who lived until the 1940's. Pete was an old miner who always wore a sprig of greasewood in his lapel to show that he was proud of the desert. For some reason the name of the town changed to Red Mountain, because of the big red mountain to the east. Main Street in Red Mountain was about a mile long, surrounded by mines, shacks, homes, and saloons (each with a red light)...the Shamrock, the Palace, the Owl, and Roxie's, which was across the tracks by the house where the old witch lived, and there was a dump at each end of town which I frequented, looking for treasures. Mattress Jack lived lived on Main Street in the remains of an old panel truck. He came up the street one day, and my friend Dale Edwards grabbed his hat off his head and ran with it. Mattress Jack tried, but couldn't catch him.

I thought curly hair was 'tough' & had my mother curl my hair with a curling iron, and dressed in a makeshift 'Masked Marvel' costume. I could lick anybody. Aunt Josie ran the Post Office. I sneaked in one day with my new cap gun, hid below the service window and rang the bell. When Aunt Josie came, I put my hand up over the edge and pulled the trigger. She almost died from being shot with a cap gun. I thought it was a pretty good joke. I can still remember hearing real gunshots at night while in bed, and I always worried about my grandfather, who was the Constable. He was supposed to have been in a running gun battle with someone, but I was never told the details. The only time I ever saw him shoot was when he shot a dying, rabid dog I found on my way to the dump.

I used to sell papers, magazines, etc. for spending money. I would hit every saloon on the street, and the miners and the 'girls' were always generous in helping me out. I was a pyromaniac. I set my dad's shed on fire. I set a fire in the back of our garage, which was put out just in time to avoid exploding some barrels of gasoline and heating oil. I set the whole desert on fire by throwing a match into a dry sage brush. Half the town had to help us put it out. I found an old automobile headlamp that used as oil wick. I put gasoline in it and burned off my eyelashes when it exploded. I whittled off the heads of matches to make small explosives. By putting them in a piece of pipe sealed at one end I could shoot out a wad of tinfoil that would penetrate an orange. I'd put match heads in 30-30 shell casings and hit them with a hammer to make them explode...Without TV or video games we had to be creative.

I found an old beach umbrella, took it apart, tied ropes to the canvas part to make a parachute, tied it to my waist, and jumped off the highest part of our garage. After hitting the ground hard enough to break my legs, the parachute unfolded in front of me. I decided I would have to jump from a greater height, and considered jumping from the headframe of the Santa Fe mine, which was about 75 feet tall, but I could never get up the courage.

My dad was a hard rock miner, and a great baseball pitcher. My mother was an artist. I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. She would sing as she worked at home, and I thought her voice was beautiful. I thought she should be a movie star, since she surpassed all of them in every way. I remember the Christmas when I received a pair of leather chaps. I was about four years old. I didn't know they were to be worn over one's pants, so I tried them on without any pants, rejoining all of the family with my butt showing through the back of the chaps.

We raised chickens and I sold eggs to the neighbors. We had a mean milk cow for a while, who kicked everybody who tried to milk her. She would get out of her fence and everybody in town would have to chase her. There was never anybody who had more love and sympathy for animals than my mother. She has influenced me greatly in this respect, and to this day I find it difficult to kill anything, and rarely do I eat meat.

Dad and I worked a tungsten mine about thirty miles North of Red Mountain, on the edge of China Lake. We worked that mine, just the two of us. I loved working with my dad. It was hard work, but I was in the best shape of my life. I could carry a bucket of tungsten high-grade ore in each hand down a mountain slope for some distance, and dump the ore in a special place. Each bucket would weigh as much as 150 pounds. I wanted to study aeronautical engineering, and planned to attend Cal-Poly at San Dimas. For some reason, I changed at the last minute and decided to be a music major at Brigham Young University. I have never been sorry. I got my B.A. Degree at BYU in STring Bass Performance. Then, my M.A. Degree at BYU in Composition. Finally, my Ph.D. Degree at the University of Utah in Composition with a minor in Philosophy.

My parents bought me a drum set when I was about four years old. I used to watch Mr. Moore chew on his cigar while he played the drums for my Dad's dance band, and I wanted to be a drummer like him. My parents played lots of 'feed the kitty' dances. I could accompany fox trots and waltzes quite well at the age of four. When I was ten, my parents bought me a trumpet. I loved it.

After graduating with my B.A. Degree, I was drafted into the army, and I found myself being shipped out to Germany. I was first stationed at Dachau, where the famous Jewish concentration camp had been located. The place had a terrible odor. I saw the ovens where the bodies had been burned, and the big tree that had died after the ashes of 25,000 Jews had been buried next to it. The European Band School was at Dachau. I had a choice of joining the 7th Army Symphony or going to a band unit in Frankfort, and I chose to go to Frankfort, where I studied Horn with Joseph Stegner, and string bass with Wilhelm Kramer...excellent musicians. I was transferred to a band in Verdun. I played parades and concerts, and played bass six nights a week in a local club. The Jazz combo consisted of four of us, piano, trumpet, bass, and drums. What an excellent group it was, playing mostly Be Bop. At first I got blisters on my fingers, then blood-blisters underneath, and finally callouses.

I came back to BYU from the army--I was considering going to France to complete my studies at the Paris Conservatory, but Dr. Leon Dallin urged me to study with Leroy Robertson at the U of U, where I could play in the Utah Symphony at the same time. Robertson was a great and inspiring teacher. My thesis work for my Ph.D. was a composition for ballet called Toxcatl, based on Aztec history, during the periodic 'War of the Flowers' between the little Republic of Tlaxcala and the mighty empire of the Aztecs. It was performed by the Utah Ballet, predecessor of Ballet West in May, 1963. I was invited to audition for third horn, and was hired by the Utah Symphony. Maurice Abravanel, the conductor, became a good friend, and was responsible for commissioning some of my orchestra music, and engaging me to do many special arrangements when needed. One of these, El Noche de
Los Tropicos,
I put together from stuff found in the New York City Library...music originally composed by Louis Gottschalk. The piece was recorded by the Utah Symphony for Vangard Recording Company.

While performing in the pit for a ballet performance, one young ballerina, Marianne Johnson, caught my eye. Sunday she attended a study group with me. Monday we were engaged to be married. We were married in the Salt Lake Temple on August 6th, 1958. We have four good children, Nannette, Keven, Heidi, and David, and several grandchildren.

We moved to Sacramento where I taught at Sacramento State University and played principal horn in the Sacramento Symphony. Marianne danced important roles with the Sacramento Civic Ballet. We were there for sixteen years, and continued to go to Sun Valley every summer, and then to festivals in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. In 1979 we returned to BYU, where I played in two faculty groups, Brassworks and Orpheus Winds. Brassworks, on several occasions accompanied the Tabernacle Choir on tours around the world, and Orpheus Winds was invited by the Chinese Minister of Culture to spend some time in China, lecturing and performing at three of the conservatories there. What a great experience for all of us, making new friends, seeing the Great Wall, and the clay figures at Xian. I have been fortunate to be able to play music in seventeen foreign countries, and around the United States, and Marianne has shared many of these experiences with me. I have performed with such great groups as George SHearing (on bass), Mannheim Steamroller (on horn), and have accompanied Margaret Whiting, the Lenon Sisters, Liberace, Ray Charles, and many others. I played a jazz concert once with Paul Horn, Conte Condoli, and Milton Bernhart...I could talk almost forever about my music associations and experiences. There are other things in life that are more important, but music has surely been a wonderful thing to me.

My Dad's family all came to Red Mountain from Utah to work in the mines, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even some friends. Some had been baptised into the LDS Church, some not. In any case, there was no LDS Church in Red Mountain. Occasionally, some Mormon missionaries would come through for a few days. WHen I was fourteen, President Bunker of the California Mission came to Dad's mine one day. He called my Dad aside, reached into Dad's shirt pocket, took out his pipe, and threw it off into the sage brush. Then he called my Dad to be the Branch President of the new Red Mountain Branch. We held our meetings at our house. About a dozen people would attend the meetings. At fourteen, I was baptised. Dad ultimately became the Branch President of the church in Ridgecrest, and then the Bishop. I returned to Inyokern when discharged from the army, and before returning to BYU to get my M.A. Degree, my Mother and father went with me and my sister, Joyce, to the Los Angeles Temple, where our family sealings took place.

I have had occasion to teach various Sunday School classes, youth classes, Priesthood classes, etc. I have led choirs, been a Bishop twice, and Branch President of the Fruitland Branch--before being made Branch President I was the finance clerk, priesthood leader, organist, Primany accompanist, and choir accompanist. I know the Gospel is true...that God lives...that Jesus is the Christ...that Joseph Smith was, and is, a Prophet of God...and that we are guided by a prophet today...and that it will continue to be so. That is my testimony to all that will hear it!

Oh, Cruel Thorns

Oh, cruel thorns, were thou upon my brow,
whose awful twinings on my Lord pressed down;
Might I not wish thee gone, nor hope to know
A sweeter death beneath thy crown.

Thou pierced hands, and body wounded sore;
The heart's blood spilling down as somber rain,
My heart and hands do reassure those scarlet welling drops
Fall not in vain.

O precious signs, so pure and undefiled,
Of holy flesh and blood in sacrifice;
May I become in faith a little child,
Partaking guiltlessly before His eyes.

And weary feet, who paid thy fearful toll
Upon the stony way to Calvary;
Set now thy prints upon my soul,
And I will walk in joy, to follow Thee!

--Onita Davis

1 comment:

slickdpdx said...

Really inspiring. Gaylen will get a kick out of hearing about this
Man of clay outwits police
The more entertaining version of the event.

Student finds brief fame as terra cotta warrior
This story has pictures of the artist and his costume.

About Me

My photo
1. In dreams I am often young and thin with long blond hair. 2. In real life I am no longer young, or thin, or blonde. 3. My back hurts. 4. I hate to sleep alone. (Fortunately I don't have to!) 5. My great grandfather had 2 wives at once. 6. I wish I had more self-discipline. (I was once fired from a teaching position in a private school because they said I was "too unstructured and undisciplined." --Who, me??? Naaaahhh....) 7. I do not blame my parents for this. Once, at a parent-teacher conference, the teacher told me my little boy was "spacey." We ALL are, I told her. The whole fan damily is spacey. She thought I was kidding. I wasn't. 8. I used to travel with a theater reperatory company. My parents weren't happy about this. 9. My mother was afraid that I would run off and paint flowers on my cheeks and live in a commune, and grow vegetables. I once smoked pot. ONE TIME. 10. I don't drink or smoke. (Or swear, much. Well, I drink milk, and water, and orange juice, and stuff. Cocoa. I love Pepsi.) 11. Most of my friends are invisible. 12. I am a poet and a writer. All of my writing on these pages is copyrighted. Borrowing (without acknowledgment) is a sin.