Proper perspective

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page duanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

The first part of this book’s title is, “Live Long *. The asterisk refers to the definition of “long;” not long in years necessarily, but in perspective. My experience has been that the longer the perspective the wiser the decision. Sometimes the elevation of our focus is also important.

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills: from whence commeth my help.” (King David of Israel, Psalm 121:1)

“Look up, raise your eyes to the skies, reach for the stars;” such exhortations are staples on the motivational menu. The upturned gaze is the preferred position most of the time but not always; not this time.

Outside, the lights dazzled, the marquees flashed their enticements, the crowds milled and the traffic bustled in this city that never sleeps. One of those marquees informed (in modest letters) “The Three D’s with Sandi and Sally.”

Above our humble announcement, the bright bold words shouted “In the Thunderbird Showroom OPENING TONIGHT—TOPLESS CHORUS LINE.”

“Oh great; perfect timing,” I thought looking up at the monster marquee. “The night we open the hotel inaugurates its half naked show. This is indeed the Las Vegas strip.

“Let’s get a picture of that marquee for the folks back home,” I thought. “Or even better, let’s not.”

The topless extravaganza was in the hotel’s show room. We were in the lounge, so we wouldn’t be in proximity of the chorus girls, or so I thought.

Later that night after our first show, behind the glitter and the slots and crap tables a solitary figure and his guitar climbed the bare concrete stairs enclosed in the bare concrete walls leading to the dressing rooms. He heard a door above him open followed by the clatter of high heels. It was apparently the chorus line descending from their undressing room. He looked for a side door, a closet to duck into. Nothing. The only escape was to vault the banister and land on the next floor or two down. Not a good option, especially carrying his precious guitar. He could turn and descend the stairs, but grand master of a nudist parade was not an honor he was comfortable with.

“Watch your step,” He mumbled, left foot, right foot. Keep to the right. Hold on to the banister. Don’t trip”

He passed the dancers, entered his dressing room, set down his guitar and breathed a sigh of relief and fatigue, “Two shows, one night done, about 40 nights and 80 shows to go,” he thought.

The chorus girls’ dressing room, so to speak, was a floor above ours with only one set of stairs. For six weeks they often came down as we went upI happened to be alone on my way up the stairs that first night.

I thought a longer perspective thought. Some day my children and even grandchildren may ask me, ‘When you walked by those ladies, did you look?’

I will tell them the truth. “In this world we have to be aware of what is going on around us. The important thing is to watch your step otherwise you may trip and fall. Be careful where you are going, or you may bump into things. And, always look for the good and the beautiful around you.

So that is what I did. I looked down so I didn’t trip on the stairs. I held to the banister like it was a rod of iron so I didn’t bump into anybody’s body. And I focused on good things.

I saw that those ladies had very pretty feet.

Your next installment is: Identical individualists doing their own thing together

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?
The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.

What’s in a name?

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page duanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

“The Three D’s; that’s the corniest name I’ve every heard.” So spake our producer at Capitol Records when we signed with them.

“We’re thinking, something more hip and folk sounding, like “The Salt City Three.”

“Doesn’t pop on the marquee or the newspaper,” our agent in Las Vegas told us when we played there with Sandi Griffiths and Sally Flynn, two beautiful and talented performers who could sell a song with the best in the business.

Our Vegas man suggested, “The swingers in Vegas have a saying when they score with a good looking woman they call it, ‘good clean fun.’  Because of your image and your show we should name your group ‘Good Clean Fun.’ Then people can take it either way they want to,” he said with a wink and a smirk. We decided that idea should, as they say, “stay in Vegas.” Instead we performed as “The Three D’s and Sandi and Sally;” not shocking or sophisticated, but accurate.

Some people told us The Three D’s evoked memories of watching movies through cardboard glasses. Others asked us if we copied it off our school report card, or if it stood for “dumb, dumber, and dumbest or “duh, duh, and duh.”

The name was born more of desperation than inspiration. Dick, Denis and I had thrown around and out many names in the beginning; from “The Goodtime Guys” to “The Tabernacle Choir minus 362”. None of them stuck.

Then one night a nervous mc insisted we had to give him a name so he could introduce us. When Dick and I grew up together in Payson Utah, his mom called him Richard. To the rest of us he was Rick. I thought, “Hmm, Denis, and Duane both start with ‘D’. Three D’s has implications of dimensions. That’s a concept we could build on since we do a variety of music, drama, and comedy.”

I said, “Rick if you would go by ‘Dick’ we could call ourselves The Three D’s. How about it?”

“One letter, R or D, makes no ‘rifference’ to me,” he said or something like that.

Admittedly our name was not as cute as The Beatles, as rootless as The Rolling Stones, as exotic as The Kingston (Jamaica) Trio, as homey as The Mamas and Papas or as startling as Bare Naked Ladies. But The Three D’s has been a serviceable name. It’s short. We can spell it. Nobody else seems to want it. It’s a work plug of a name, not a thoroughbred, and it’s probably better than “The Three R’s, Rick, Renis and Ruane.”

Your next installment is: Proper  perspective

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?
The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.

The Three D’s, wandering minstrels

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page duanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

Cool  evening, canyon breeze, warm campfire, guitars strumming, good friends  singing, what could be more enjoyable? Plenty if the strumming and singing  were from my friend Dick Davis and me. We brought our instruments and voices  to the party as usual in case anyone needed to be serenaded or needed our  singing to drive away wild animals. Dick and I were long on enthusiasm and  short on aesthetics. We fit the description someone once gave of a junior  high school orchestra concert. They played Mozart. Mozart lost.”

We were  in the midst of flogging our guitars and wailing to the wind when from our  small gathering of new and old friends a smooth tenor voice came floating.  Endure me as I dip into my limited knowledge for an epicurean metaphor. The  voice was as grilled Portobello bisque sauce poured on to slumgullion stew.  The voice turned two homespun hollerers into a rich three part harmony.  People would later tell us we had a blend like brothers. To those who would  understand we would respond, “Or like brethren.”

Denis  Sorenson has a maple syrup voice when he chooses. And he can also soar to the  rafters when the occasion arises. His rendition of the Spanish flavored  classic “Granada” always brought  down the house in our shows. His fluent Portuguese and Spanish from serving a  mission in Brazil  added authenticity to his delivery.

Soon  after that magic night around the campfire we got together to see where this  musical ticket might take us. The journey began modestly with campus shows,  functions in nearby communities, and tours with the university’s student  program bureau.

The grand  tour expanded with a show we did near the close of our college days. In the  audience was a former pool hustler from Kentucky  who had later found religion and ended up at Brigham   Young University.  Still possessed of his entrepreneurial skills he spotted a step ladder to sit  on and see above the crowd. His full name (very full) was Christopher Dwight  Athenasopoulos, otherwise known as “The Greek of the Week.” His more user  friendly name was Chris Poulos. He liked what he saw on stage that night, and  even more the reaction he saw from the audience. He offered his services as  our manager. We took him up on it, and he made the grand tour even grander  including most of the United States,  Canada, Japan,  Korea, and Viet    Nam.

Our  venues varied from The Rose Bowl to the elegant Queen Elizabeth Theater  in Vancouver, Canada, to a few planks resting on oil drums with 155 mm Howitzer cannons behind us  booming shells at the North Vietnamese. Those cannons were the most impressive  percussion section I have ever performed with.

In  addition to our own concerts we opened for some of the bigger names of the  1960’s and 70’s including Bob Hope, Jonathan Winters, and Bob Newhart.

Dick was  a triple threat on stage with his fine acting, hilarious comedy skills, and  unbridled enthusiasm. He could strum a guitar or banjo with the blur of a  humming bird wing. One of our early audience favorites was “Fast Freight”,   Dick pulled out of his guitar a locomotive that threatened to break the sound  barrier and set off the smoke detectors in the concert hall. The flip side of  our first release on Capitol Records was an old folk song titled “Sinner  Man.” Dick’s supersonic speed banjo backup would have scared the Hades out of  the most hardened sin bound soul.

Dick also  happens to be an instinctive musical genius. The signature harmonies, musical  arrangements and original melodies in our concerts and recordings were from  his fertile mind and artistic sense.

My modest  contribution was words, written and spoken and adding a third voice, I  scripted the shows, and kept the patter rolling between songs.

The Three  D’s performed from 1960 to 1969 when Denis left the group. Dick and I as The  D’s continued full time until 1975 and part time for a few years after that.  The Three D’s did a stint at the Thunderbird Hotel in Las Vegas with Sandi  Jensen and Salli Flynn who then went on to the Lawrence Welk television show.  Later we played the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas  with the Terry Sisters Carla and Becky.

The Las Vegas Journal called us, with Sandi and Sally, the most talented new act on the Strip. They also  called us Purity Playhouse. Fair enough we were not typical of Las Vegas acts. My Bishop Penrod Glazier was in Vegas at  an educators’ convention. He stopped in to see our show. I was grateful we  didn’t have to change a word, a joke, or a song in the show. It was  appropriate for him, and would have been for the president and prophet of the  church if he had dropped in. Las Vegas  was a learning experience, but not our native habitat.

The best  audiences we were privileged to play for were at colleges and universities,  youth conferences and church Education Weeks. We did a network spot on the  Joey Bishop TV show, the theme for a movie titled Town Tamer ( now playing at 4 a.m.  on a cable channel near you.), a lot of local and regional television and  radio appearances. We covered miles of highway, saw most of America,  had a great time, met a lot of fine people and did some good. I felt I was  doing work for which my abilities and interests were most appropriate.

We were  featured on the cover of the News of  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. We were even a  footnote in church history. Somewhere along the way we crossed paths with  Howard W. Hunter, later the president and prophet of the church. He  remembered us in a talk he gave before a crowd of about 25,000 at Brigham   Young University.

He began saying, “Years ago there  was a popular music group… named the Three D’s. They took that name from the  three singers’ first names. My fear is that if in the nineties our young  people were to form a popular singing group, they might still call themselves  the Three D’s, but that could be for Despair, Doom, and Discouragement.”

At that moment a nutcase named Cody Judy  burst through the door waving a brick size object, and shouting, “This is a  bomb. Don’t anybody move!” He ran down the stairs to the podium and demanded  that President Hunter resign as prophet and president of the Church and make  him, Judy, the new prophet.

He got distracted momentarily.  Security and the crowd jumped him, and his short reign as self-appointed  prophet was over.

I was relieved to find out his  motive was to take over the church. I thought for a moment it was something serious such as being a disgruntled audience member from a Three D’s show who wanted his ticket money back.

Your next installment is: Proper  perspective

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?
The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.

Helping freedom ring

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page duanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

America’s Freedom Festival at Provo has been described as the nation’s greatest celebration of Independence Day. Word’s like “greatest” have been ground down by overuse in our language and lost their edge. But for a city it’s size, I don’t know any town that makes more hoopla over the Fourth of July, and the days and sometimes weeks preceding it. I consider myself a minor authority on the subject. Years ago I served as president and then chairman of the festival. My first year we decided that Provo had the facilities and potential to make a bolder statement for American values.

I was doing some work with Osmond family entertainment productions, and approached them to get involved. They did, and pulled out all the stops to make the stadium show a world class event. Military men and women paraded. Balloons filled the skies, The Osmond brothers sang, danced, played instruments, and whipped through karate moves. Marie belted out country favorites. Donny made his entrance swooping down from the skies strapped to the side of a helicopter. (His insurance agent went into cardiac arrest I’m thinking.) And the fireworks—they lit up the stadium, the town, the mountains, the prairies, and Utah Lake white with foam, or so it seemed. The Osmond’s had so much fun, and made such a tidy profit, that they have been involved ever since in what has become the annual “Stadium of Fire.”

We were also able to bring the festival’s patriotic service from the front steps of the county courthouse into Brigham Young University’s 23,000 seat indoor sports arena. I got some flack when we invited Eldridge Cleaver, a former leader of the Black Panthers 1960’s militant organization. But he gave an inspirational speech describing how his exile years in Cuba and Algeria had opened his eyes to the blessings of being an American. Cleaver spent the last part of his life working to bless the lives of others and help them find the joy of God’s love for them. I feel we did the right thing to provide him a pulpit for his message.

Like every bold experiment, not everything we tried that year worked. To represent our Native American culture, we brought in a dancer and his entourage. He was well known and highly successful among his people. I found later that a week following our little gathering, the dance group packed a stadium in New Mexico.

They were very good, but we were very ignorant of their art form. The handful of people who came to watch was more puzzled than entertained. The ratio of Caucasians to Native Americans was something close to Custer’s last stand at the Little Bighorn.

“People love the air show. They will flock to it,” the more experienced committee members told me. I hoped so. Gathering and presenting aerobatic acts, historical aircraft, and the famous Air Force Thunderbirds flying team cost a little less than the invasion of Normandy. The show management folks required a financial guarantee in advance. They were reasonable though. I signed over our family car. They overlooked the fact that our ancient Volkswagen bus was worth about a five gallon can of jet fuel. (Bring your own bucket.)

The people who counseled me were right. Local folks flocked in droves to the air show. But they didn’t flock to buy a ticket and come inside. Why should they when they could park by the roadside and in the fields surrounding the airport and watch for free? We crashed and burned financially. The city picked up the tab. They even let me keep the Volks bus, but they were not smiling. I console myself that over the years the city has made more money from the Stadium of Fire productions we started than they lost in the nosedive we took with the air show.

I couldn’t worry about their feelings or finances at the time. Our little committee was busier than a one armed paper hanger with the hives, as the saying goes. These days the festival production committees direct about 4,000 volunteers. We had a skeleton crew of about 30 people. My capable and willing neighbor Joanne Pitts (may her name be enshrined with the great patriots of history) was the Jim Thorpe of civic duty. Thorpe, a Native American, was one of the greatest athletes to ever compete; Hall of Fame football and baseball player, and all everything in track. At the meets other schools would introduce their sprinters, distance runners, shot put and javelin throwers, long and high jumpers. Jim would introduce himself. He was the whole team. Frequently he won. That was Joanne. She could do it all, and she did.

Our parade chairman was willing and enthusiastic. Ironically, he himself didn’t parade much, having only one leg.

Speaking of irony, I canvassed the local service clubs for volunteers. I got one. He was a British citizen visiting for a few weeks. He served well. But I’m not sure he ever caught the spirit of the occasion. He kept referring to the events that launched this great nation as, “That unfortunate incident in the colonies.”

For our efforts and through the support of thousands of enthusiastic patriots our expanded festival received the George Washington medal of excellence by the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.

Great memories; one of my most indelible is lying on a grassy knoll alone looking up into the dark sky, and down onto the football stadium. The flash and thunder of the last fireworks had died away. Cars were creeping bumper to bumper down every exit street. But that was somebody else’s problem. We had done what we set out to do. The emptying stadium brought back a quote from football coach Vince Lombardi, “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour… is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious”

Your next installment is: Wandering minstrel

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?
The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.