Annie Stanfield Hagert - Memories of Beaux Arts

I was a student in Plant High in Tampa from 1965 to 1967, and performed as a folk singer at Beaux Arts almost every weekend. It was important socially and artistically, providing an inviting and supportive haven for anyone who was a tad different than the mainstream.

The Parental Pass

When I was 16 my parents were very uncomfortable with me going to this “folk” place across the bridge. My father was a Marine Colonel on has way to Marine Headquarters in Saigon, and my mother, a conservative military wife, terrified to contend with an acting out 16 year old. I finally convinced them to come check the place out and hear me sing.

I warned Tommy beforehand that they were coming, and, ever supportive, he was there to welcome them in the small alcove and accept their $2.00 each. Escorting us into the room where the small stage was, he cleared two hapless souls out of their front row seats, announced my parents arrival, and with a flourish, seated them in right up front.

I don’t remember what I performed… something Irish, something antiwar. My parents sat and listened, my father with short hair and bow tie in a London fog rain coat, my mother, holding her purse on her lap, looking sideways at her friends.

One incident nearly marred the evening. Someone (Fellini?) read Ferlingheti, accompanied by a flute (Charlie?), and when Charlie cleaned his flute, some of his spittle hit my father's shoes. In spite of this accidental insult, the parental edict was that I could return there on Friday nights... and I did.

It 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 Danny, 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”. It was there that I saw the marvelous sequence called The Oceana Roll, in Chaplain's 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 it for me… I think that it 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), while I pretended that I knew what that meant.

One night a funny jug band appeared, phenomenal performers who sang “He’s in the Jail House Now“, with artful and historic stage names (one called himself Foible Gompkin). They later turned out to be a 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 on this project. It is a worthy and hopeful project!

Annie Stanfield Hagert