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Stafford, H.S. graduation 1964

I was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1946. Evanston, Illinois is a city that was created in 1863, and was also a city created with an anti-racist philosophy, quite unique for a suburb of Chicago at that time. Although I attended a segregated primary school, my Junior and Senior High School years were of an integrated class system. I started playing the violin at seven years of age.

The principal problem for me at this time was that I was left handed. Although left-handedness is more readily accepted today, it posed quite a problem in 1950's America. My teacher at the time, Mr. Skinner, went out of his way to try to make me feel comfortable being a left handed person that he suggested to my mother to have the instrument set-up in the opposite direction, string-wise, to compensate for my natural left-handedness. He never once tried to change my natural way of approaching the instrument. I will always hold him in the highest regard for this, as he for some reason pops up again in my life as you will see later.

The problem of being a left-handed string player is that you must always be at the back of the section because of bow direction. It would not, I assume, be aesthetically correct to have a left-handed concert master. With time, I decided that I would take on the so-called right-handed world by learning how to play from a right-handed perspective. Piano and cello studies turned out to be the key to facilitate the change for me.

At age 13 I had the fortune to meet Mr. Barry Byrne. Mr. Byrne was an architect who had designed among other things the "Fish Church" in Deluth, Minnesota. He was a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies Van der Rohe and Ero Sarinen.