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Recently I attended a school principals’ conference in Hot Springs. Heading home up Central Avenue, I saw Bailey’s Old Fashioned Hamburger and couldn’t resist a quick stop. I enjoyed visiting with the owner who had grown up in the area. He said Bailey’s was built in 1938, but my first memories went back to the 1980s when I attended an Arkansas Bandmasters’ Association conference just a few blocks away.
Following a day of workshops, Dr. Don Kramer, John Webb, and I walked up Central Ave. to Bailey’s. Dr. Kramer taught trumpet at Henderson State University. John was my supervising teacher during my internship. A highlight of Dr. Kramer’s career must have been teaching me in brass methods class. One day he looked kindly at me and sighed, “Thank goodness you play percussion.”
As we approached the front of Bailey’s, we gave a friendly greeting to the elderly lady behind the screen window. There was no response.
Dr. Kramer ordered something like a burger, fries, and a soft drink. The response to his order was a scowl and statement laced with profanity, asking why in the world anyone would order in such a way. Dr. Kramer laughed until he had tears. We were confused but laughed along. The lady flatly told Dr. Kramer what he should have ordered, and he agreed, still teary eyed.
John ordered next. His order drew the same response. He had not ordered as she thought he should have. By now we were all howling with laughter. John ordered as she dictated.
Having watched the two previous attempts, I had it figured out. I wanted something that was just slightly different than the special the lady was recommending. I received the same critical comments and gladly agreed to order as she indicated I should. Dr. Kramer and John enjoyed laughing at my ineffective attempt.
We sat at a picnic table and enjoyed our burger and fries. I don’t think we made any more attempts to converse with the elderly lady crouching behind the little screen window. The combination of her verbal attacks and Dr. Kramer’s response made for an entertaining dinner at Bailey’s and some special memories with good friends.
Don Kramer was a musical giant and John Webb was one of his best students Here’s a recording of Dr. Kramer performing with John Webb’s Camden Fairview High School in April of 1978. I was Dr. Kramer’s worst trumpet student in brass class, but he was kind and encouraged my drumming. I was honored to know him.