The Sound of Trumpets

When I think of my family, I hear trumpets.

It started in Lexington, Kentucky. My great-grandfather, Ellis O. Kidd, called “Daddy Key” by grandchildren who had trouble pronouncing his name, was the first of our family to play the trumpet. (Actually, it was a cornet, in the tradition of John Phillip Sousa, Herbert L. Clarke, and other famous bandmasters of the day.)

Daddy Key led a band at the Odd Fellows Home, a local orphanage, and regularly played in worship services at Central Christian Church. He gave trumpet lessons on the side, and one of his prize students was his grandson Paul, my father.

Paul moved with his parents to Nashville. After graduating high school he formed his own band, the Southern Colonels, who were featured at social events across the region. Following Saturday night dances, he often would get up early the next morning to play at church.

Paul married Ida Sue, and they had a daughter, Carol, and two sons, my brother Russ and me. Paul taught both sons the trumpet. He was a talented arranger, and one of his great joys in life was writing trios for the three of us to play at church. I vividly remember standing at the front of the sanctuary, throwing fanfares out past the choir and over a sea of beaming faces. 

Russ went on to play the trumpet professionally. I played for years, then set it aside. Even today, though, when I think of my family, I hear trumpets.