That's not what Mint meant at all
Updated: Nov 27, 2020
They Keep Chaucer-ing Austin, #1
Can you see both squirrels?
How about now?
I saw the first one. Then I put the other one next to it. They're not the same age.
See deez nutz?
Sometimes with four squirrels you get a better look at two squirrels. I won't always show deez nutz.
I am the tallest man in Texas who will tell you he’s 5’11”. I am an Austin cool dad.
Just like that I’ve given away more personal information than Mint O. Reed provides about her self in the first 50 pages of her book Music in Austin: 1900 – 1956. The whole thing runs 117 pages, not counting appendices.
She’s writing in ‘56. I’m reading her as pre-history, when Mint could not shirk her archeological duty to leave her stories painted on a wall. She does not call it a memoir. She finds herself always reaching for some impossible impartiality. But this story runs through her, and her instinct for truth demands a series of un-humble confessions to set the record straight.
Let’s jump to her negotiations to bring Ignace Jan Paderewski to Austin in ‘23. It’s 23 years since the pianist’s Austin debut, and in that time his fee has risen to $5000. As president of the Amateur Choral Club, Mint must convince the Advisory Board that this “unheard of” sum is worth the risk.
Mint prevails in a “stormy session.” The board approves the contract.
“The women thought I had lost my mind to think of assuming such an obligation. Several had no hesitancy in telling me so. But when [Paderewski] came and the receipts ran well over $7000 the story was different.”
Let us remind ourselves, you and I, not to skip Mint’s chronology. It’s 33 years since she observed “no hesitancy in telling me so” from certain board members in the aftermath of a stormy meeting. It's one of the rare instances where Mint doesn't name names. She’s been waiting for the day to type the last word on a $2000 told-you-so. That’s two grand in Nineteen-Freaking-Twenty-Three dollars! You didn't think she'd sit around and let that go.
“From then on, even though the membership changed from time to time, I received complete cooperation and loyal backing throughout 20 years as their leader.”
Austin was a small town of 22,000 when Mint's predecessors started booking and hosting international celebrities. Mint celebrates these women along with her contemporaries for elevating arts and leisure in Austin and everywhere.
"[O]ne finds that the promotion of cultural things has always been largely in the hands of our women. In almost every city, town or village small groups of women have struggled to bring art exhibits and musical attractions to their communities. “Struggled” is truly the word, because in order to do this, women have walked the streets literally pleading with friends and business men to purchase tickets. It is to these small groups of brave women that much credit must be given for sowing the seeds of appreciation of art and music throughout the United States." -- Mint O. Reed
Locating Mint in continuity with determined women shaping Austin makes her familiar. When the Austin Music Festival Association announced plans in 1908 to bring symphony orchestras to Austin, Mint observes, "This was a very ambitious undertaking but as a rule, women accept the challenge of any project."
She attaches an admiring appositive to a music supervisor raising funds for children's programming. Mint vouches for Katherine Murrie saying she "had the courage of her convictions." It reads like Mint's version of The Right Stuff and Murrie is Chuck Yeager. The end of Murrie's pledge drive appeal isn't gentle.
"It would seem that anyone with any civic pride whatever and with any thought for anything more than the accumulation of an additional dollar would lend his assistance to this great enterprise by taking two or more membership tickets." -- Katherine Murrie
She paid dues as a pupil, she's a natural promoter, she was elected president, but the title she chooses for herself holds singular resonance in Texas history, and in Austin specifically. It was Sam Houston who led the Texas forces to victory in battle, but the general was not the one to be named Father of Texas. That title went to an impresario. And Mint O. was eager where Stephen F. was reluctant.
If you're not from Texas, Texas wants you to understand this anyway. By titling her second chapter, Becoming an Impresario, Mint is throwing down a Texas-size marker.
When we pick up with Mint later this month, we'll take a look at Mint's "experiences with owners of fabulous names."
The 2nd installment of
this simple, compact, well-join'd scheme
a Lonely Happy Hour Hypothetical