Sign & Digital Graphics

December '17

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8 • December 2017 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S Christmas Carol Rick Williams owns Rick's Sign Company, a commercial sign shop in Longview, Texas. He has been in the sign industry since 1973 and documenting the sign business since 1986. Contact him at B Y R I C K W I L L I A M S In the Trenches well… Christmas. The kids, under gifted leadership, actually learned the songs and made them sound surprisingly good. And I made what contribution I could, though I am sure I was a bet- ter artist than a vocalist. Toward the end of the concert, to everyone's surprise, Mrs. Coones singled out slender little 11-year-old Randy Askew, our 6 th grade classmate, and made him stand alone near the piano at the edge of the stage, and the rest of us became quiet. We had not expected a solo performance, but she introduced Randy to the throng of interested parents, grandparents and siblings, and said she would accompany him as he sang for us the lovely carol, "O Holy Night". He did not sing that song like a 6 th grader, not at all. In his flawless little boy voice, which had not yet changed, he per- formed that song like an angel straight from heaven, compli- mented gracefully by his capable teacher on the old auditorium piano. And we, mere middle school mor- tals, stood silently in awe and wonder, suddenly aware that we had shared that stage with someone who really deserved to be there. Mrs. Coones knew this too, and her seasoned ear had chosen him from our ranks, and we were so glad she had. About 40 years later, while reminisc- ing with a fellow Pine Tree High School classmate, memories of the holidays at school came to mind, and I asked my friend what, if anything, he thought of when he heard the song, "O Holy Night." Though it was decades later, without a second's hesitation he simply said, "Randy Askew." Well, the sign business keeps me some- what in the public eye, and like I said, I didn't go far, so a lot of my friends know where I am today, but I don't think any of us knows what happened to Randy. A year or two before graduation, his family moved away and that is all I know. Well, I do know one more thing; I know that we were all blessed that winter night, during the Christmas season of 1965, with a very special memory, a gift that keeps on giving, from an insightful music teacher and a little boy whose singing was a glimpse into heaven. To Randy, wherever you are, and to friends both old and new, sign guys and singers, "Merry Christmas to all… and to all a good night." B ack in 1965, my dad gave up his job as a truck driver, hauling cars from the Arlington, Texas, General Motors factory, and moved our family to deep East Texas and to the Pine Tree area of Longview where I started the 6 th grade in the school of the same name. It was well known as an excellent school, for good reason, but all I knew was I had a lot of new kids to get to know and many new names to learn. Fortunately, Pine Tree was a friendly school and soon I was at home in my new school, elected to the student council and making friends. Each child, after they have been there a while, gets known for something. David Daniels could pick locks, Suzy Smith was a whiz kid, and "Ricky" Williams could run… and draw or paint just about anything. Being the class artist attracted special assignments, such as making campaign posters for friends running for class office, or teachers needing a special Arbor Day or fire safety poster. And for me, these assign- ments never ended or changed a whole lot, because within two years of graduating high school I opened a small hand-lettering sign shop right across the street from the place. Going into the sign business was some- thing I never expected to do or had given the slightest thought to. When friends would later ask how my business career was doing, I would say that things were going great, and I had really gone far… almost 100 yards! But back in the 6 th grade, my first year at the school I would graduate from, the kids were still mostly a mystery to me as the first semester drew to a close and the Christmas break was enticingly near. Mrs. Coones, our music teacher, pooled all her 6 th grade classrooms together to form a sizeable choir and whipped us into shape before the Christmas music production she organized each year. That was well before the era of political correctness, and down in the Bible Belt a Christmas program was about…

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