This is an odd place to start a little tribute to the couple that fostered music in Mahopac schools for decades, but this is what came up:
It hit me how one day the powers that be decided to break our wonderful little gym-auditorium in two by building a wall down the middle.
This friendly wooden room had held years of concerts and plays, so it was a shock to see it chopped up.
I heard at the time that Mrs. Orford was livid: she stated right away that the great tradition of annual Gilbert and Sullivan shows would never happen again. I could not believe that this could happen, what with the reverence I thought everyone had for the Orfords.
She taught singing and chorus and he taught band… he taught ALL the instruments.
When I came my time to try out for band I wanted drums but my parents steered me into flute. Not realizing that flute (Jethro Tull) would someday be cool, I was very unmotivated and soon flunked the critical music exam.
All my life my inability to read music has haunted me, but it wasn’t Mr. Orford’s fault: he told us to study up.
Mrs. Orford, I know, despaired at my inability to carry a tune and never made any attempt to get me out for chorus.
She did get my buddy and I to play guitar and piano at a class concert, which I was okay with; he was not.
As seniors, already being a leftist, I was not happy that she had us sing The Ballad of the Green Berets. Vietnam was already starting to heat up as a social issue and some of our school mates died there.
Later I heard that when Mrs. Orford was succumbing to cancer, many of her former students gathered outside her house to sing for her.
What a rare and special couple: dedicating their entire lives to teaching music to kids, many of whom did not appreciate their efforts.
I would imagine that modern hiring policies would not allow such a thing to happen again: a husband-wife music team.
But Florence and William Orford did exist and they worked tirelessly to drag music out of us and into us, and they made it work.
Another glimpse: walking down the hall with Richie Walasin and coming by Mrs. Orford and Richie says, “Mrs. Orford, I made the high notes in Maria from West Side Story.” He was proud and she was delighted for him.
There must be thousands of other, and better, stories about the Orfords and you are invited to add to them to the comments below.
(Comment moderation is necessary to avoid mountains of SPAM.)
Photo from Judy Brady Witherspoon, whose family were good friends with the Orfords.