memories of Beaux Arts


HI. I went to BA almost every weekend from 1965 to 1967…. I was in high school in Tampa and came to perform as a folk singer there. It was important socially and artistically , (as you stated in your short piece that was just sent me by another alumni) and was an inviting and supportive haven for anyone a tad different than the mainstream. Here is one story:

I was only 16 and my parents were very uncomfortable with me going to this “folk” place across the bridge. The final agreement is that they would come and check the place out and hear me sing… and so they came one night on a Friday night….. My father was a marine colonel on has way to Marine Headquarter in Saigon… my mother, a conservative military wife, terrified to contend with an acting out 16 year old.
I warned Tommy before hand that they were coming… and, ever supportive, he was there to welcome them in the small alcove and accept their $2.00 each. He then entered the room where the small stage was and forcefully cleared hapless souls out of their seats RIGHT THERE IN THE FRONT, and announced that my parents had arrived and with a flourish, he seated them in the prize seats ….
I don’t remember what I performed… something Irish, something antiwar… and they sat and listened, my father in a short hair cut and bow tie and a London fog rain coat …my mother, holding her purse there on her lap, looking sideways at her friends..
There were two performers who liked to read Ferlingheti poetry while one played the flute…. Were their names Fellini and Charlie? Anyhow… they did their act… and my father was mortified when Charlie cleaned his flute and some of the spittle went on this shoes.
In spite of this accidental insult… the parental edict was that I could return there on Friday nights… and I did….
And that was the right decision…. Because it was at Beaux Arts that I felt included ( albeit as a junior member)in a world of music and gentle showing off and sincere attempts to keep art alive in our lives. Even if I never had the status of Barry (who played a thunderous rousing version of Tear Down the Walls) and Dannie who performed a marvelous original guitar piece called EAST GATE, I was an ”also ran” and glad to be included. .
Tommy would sashay through the performance room in between songs, announcing” MOVIE TIME” and it was there that I saw the marvelous sequence called The Oceana Roll, in Chaplains film “The Gold Rush”.
There was a painting in the movie room that I coveted so much that a friend with some artistic bent made a copy of for me… I think that is was a bird in a bare room underneath a light bulb; no , maybe it was a rat..
I remember Ray Seijas and Laine performing a song about Incest, ( Anathea) and me pretending that I knew what that meant.
One night a funny jug band one appeared … phenomenal performers who sang “ He’s in the Jail House Now “ with artful and historic stage names ( one called himself Foible Gompkin) who later turned out to be an group of musicians from Mc Dill Air Force Base, under cover, and desperate to play their music.
One 4th of July ( 1967 ?) we took chairs out to the front of the building and watched fire works and a gentle soul gave me his book called “ We are all SANPAKU” which touted a macrobiotic diet if your eyes revealed the weakened state of unhealth called Sanpaku.. I was Sanpaku but could not eat daily the 8 cups of brown rice that might have cleared this condition.
What was most important was the sense of community that Tom (and I do remember his mother there as well) allowed and invited. It was of paramount importance to be a part of this and be connected with others who valued art and differences.
Please keep me posted how this project goes… It is a worthy and hopeful project!

Annie Stanfield Hagert


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