Friday, May 7, 2010

Hazel Jean Hayward Wessman: A Biography, Part 4

Jean loved household plants and canaries. When she would play the piano, the canaries would just sing away. Jean would sing as she worked around the house. She and Henry seemed happiest when the kids gathered around (there were always many children around) and they sang together. The popular songs of that era and the WWI songs were forever played in their home such as "Sonny Boy," "Long Long Trail," "Mighty Like A Rose” ["Mighty Lak' a Rose"]. They would also play songs such as “Poet and Peasant Overture," "Invitation to the Dance,” etc. Jean would be the one who usually started playing first.

Sonny Boy

Long, Long Trail

 Mighty Lak' A Rose

Poet and Peasant Overture

Invitation to the Dance

Liz remembers waking up to her parents playing duets. As the years went on, Jean would share the enjoyment of the piano with her family, friends or whoever would hear her. It was easy to enjoy listening to her. Many times, her grandkids would sit and just listen to her as her hands spread across the keys of the piano with great skill and ease.

The children remember spending evenings together. There were many enjoyable times. Distractions outside the home at that time were not as convenient or available as it is now. The family was very close. This closeness has translated itself through the years because the children get together whenever they can even though they live in different places and are involved in different activities. There is still a bond between the children.

Henry and Jean really enjoyed music together. Jean was highly trained in music to a concert level. Henry did not have any training but loved to sing together. They played duets often on the piano to such an enthusiastic level that could be heard blocks away.

The children were also musically inclined. Many enjoyable memories for Norinne were made with her mother when they would play duets together. Around 1930-31, John got an accordion for Christmas. Dick played quite well also on the guitar, ukulele and mandolin. They played quite a bit together. Keith took up the accordion and the girls took piano lessons. They were good at it. Hazel tried to teach Keith the piano, but he never took to it.

There was a musical combo that played on the radio. In this combo, were Jim Nerdon, Carl Mansell, John and Dick Wessman. Carl and Jim were both pretty good singers. Jim played the harmonica. It was a 15-minute program once a week. The Wessman family did not have a radio during much of this time to listen to them. Around 1930 or 31, they got a little radio from Jean's mother. It was their first radio and very popular. It had a battery set. It had to have wet cell batteries for it and a trickle charger. There were three dials on it that had to be tuned. It was complicated.

After that radio, they got what they called the "baby grand." The neighbors would come in and listen to Amos 'n' Andy, and the radio programs of the day. Not many people had a radio those days and so it was quite the novelty. The favorite programs were Amos 'n' Andy, Fibber McGee and Molly and The Great Gildersleeve.

Jean was practically walking on air because she was so excited to play the Tabernacle organ for a Relief Society conference on the day that Keith and Lily got married. She was so tickled.

She would go down to Salt Lake from Ogden once a week to see a friend where they would have musical discussions and practice together. She also enjoyed being in the opera club in Salt Lake. Whenever she had a few minutes to spare or wanted to enjoy herself, she would play the piano. Jean pursued music all her life until shortly before she died. When she had a stroke, she was not able to play the piano and that bothered her immensely.

Photo of the organ from

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