Patricio Gutierrez

Duration: 1hr: 3mins
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Interview with: Patricio Gutierrez
Interviewed by:
Date: February 27, 1980
Archive Number: OH 293

 

I: This is a February 27, 1980 oral history interview with Mr. Patricio Gutierrez.

PG: My daddy was Jesus Gutierrez, was born in Zacatecas, Mexico. He was born in 1875. Is that what you wanted? What-?

I: Well, something like that. He came from Zacatecas, or-?

PG: Yeah. My father, yeah. Zacatecas, Texas. Well, I was born 1896.

I: Where?

PG: In San Antonio.

I: In San Antonio?

PG: (01:05) The whole family was born in Texas; some in San Antonio and some in Houston. Both myself and my sister Mary and my sister Delores and my brother Fred were born here in (inaudible) they were born in San Antonio, and born in Houston.

I: What circumstances brought you all to Houston? What was it? How did you come to Houston?

PG: Well, I imagine what I can remember is just when I came to Houston, I think I was about six years old. My daddy came from Mexico and tried to make a living. He came to San Antonio and he wasn’t doing too good, and somebody told him about Houston he said hoped it lead to something, for I don’t know what, but they used to play a few instruments and he was this type of a man that he had a family and if you said, “Hey, it’s an opening for bass, you play bass?” and he said, “No, but I’ll get a bass. I’ll play the job.” So he would learn, you know? Little things like that. He came to Houston and that’s the way—he brought his family afterwards.

I: So he was a musician and he came along because of-.

PG: Oh, he came from bass playing. He was a musician and a banker. Like a mariachi band, he used to play guitar and he always wanted to play the violin and never could afford to get a good teacher. He’ll learn it as he went along, as he played it. That’s the way it was. My daddy; was very ambitious and he came to Texas and got a violin and keep on working. And he played French horn, he played bass. I’ll show you the picture in this Eastern City News, playing the bass. Now, this--what would you like to know about? I was born in 1896. You don’t want to know about the rest of the family, do you?

I: No, not necessarily, Mr. Gutierrez. Just when did your father come to Texas? Do you remember that offhand? Did he ever mention that?

PG: (02:59) When he came to Texas?

I: Uh-hunh. (affirmative)

PG: Well, I don’t know. I don’t have that here. He was very young when he married, about 20-21 or then about.

I: Where did you all live when you came to Houston?

PG: Oh, God. Then you got-?

I: It’s not that terribly important, but where did you grow up in Houston?

PG: Mostly I lived in Houston, here. Houston.

I: What part of town?

PG: Well, what I think—when we first came here, we moved—let me see, we moved here in the Fifth Ward. In those days—I don’t know if you know this, you might know more about it than I do because I’m very sick. I mean, I make--I remember we used to live on the street called Willow Street about three or four blocks, across the tracks. And because I remember as a young kid when I started playing with my daddy when I was well enough to play with my daddy—we used to play guitar, you know? Guitar was about four or five blocks to Rice where Lamar Street is and from there on we’d get (inaudible) and we used to play—wherever it was, around town--and that’s when I found we’d missed the streetcar to get home and we’d go walking and cross the railroad track to get to Willow Street, about four or five miles, I don’t know, I mean, miles from Houston. You know what I mean. And we’d stay there for a long time and then from then on, we moved different places.

I think the best—the two most important things is that Willow Street and then we lived on Princeton Avenue for a long time. We were right in the center of all the activity. The Rice Hotel was the biggest thing there, and then the other concert hall and then very few of them, you know what I mean? I used to play the Majestics Theater. I used to play—you know where the Chronicle is now, in town?

I: Sure.

M: The Palace Theater.

PG: That used to be a vaudeville show—a theater. I used to play there. And then they turned it into a dramatic show, like the Alley Theatre? All right now, this is—that’s why I don’t like to discuss and try to brag about-.

I: No, no.

PG: This is not what I meant. Clark Gable. Clark Gable used to work there. He was just starting in the business. He was just an actor that used to play—I didn’t play, I was too young. They used to poker, doing the desk, you know, we’d play for that. But opening and closing, and he started, I mean as far as I can remember. I know where he came from.

I: What was the name of the place? Do you remember the name?

M: That was at The Palace.

I: Was it The Palace?

PG: The Palace Theater. He’s right, The Palace Theater.

M: Because I went to see the movie, a Mexican movie was there for one time way–this was way back in the ‘40s or ‘50s, or early – no, I think by the early ‘50s, he was already gone, but I know I remember went to see some Mexican movie there once.

PG: (06:07) Wasn’t that--not later on.

M: Yeah, I remember that.

PG: Yeah, that was later on.

M: Yeah, that was late ’49 or ’48.

PG: Well anyway, I used to play at the Rice Hotel many years, up there at the Brazos Hotel before it was a hotel, and I had three jobs. I mean by that, it was a little town and everybody knew me (inaudible). My daddy was very friendly. He made a lot of friends. It helped him quite a bit. I had job at the Rice Hotel from 6 to 8. At 8:15, this curtain would go up walk and we’re what? Three blocks or two blocks to get to the theater every night, and you know, it was very good. And then on Sundays, I used to play at the (??) Church, Catholic Church--organ. So I had three jobs on the same street, I mean on Texas Avenue. You know what I’m talking about?

M: On Annunciation

PG: Yeah, Annunciation, sections of Texas and Crawford. Is that right?

M: Yeah.

PG: Where—across the railroad, what was that? The Pacific—South Pacific Railroad, is that right?

M: The Pacific, yeah.

PG: Anyway, that’s my start of staying there. And from then on back to meet other people, different artists who liked my accompaniment. It was a good accompaniment and pretty constant.

I: Where did you learn the music? Who? Where did you train in the music?

PG: (07:20) Yeah. Here in Houston. You see, I didn’t know (inaudible). I was six years old and my daddy used to play flute, as I said; he used to play guitar and he had a little piccolo. Do you know what a piccolo is? A little, small--anyway, he decided--that was him, you know? He might know this, and then he told me that in Mexico they don’t teach arithmetic and (inaudible). Do you know what (inaudible) is?

I: Uh-uh. (negative)

PG: Teaching to read notes and beat the time and sing at the same--in other words, like you would—in -- they would originally call that “ear training.”

I: I see.

PG: So he started then with that first. It’s not hard, but it’s not great. Then when I got well enough to read a little bit, he’d started me on the piccolo just to keep me learning music. Now, he wanted me just to play around. He wanted me to play piano for many reasons. He had a lot of friends and he talked to the pianist and he said, what he said, “Boy, I’ll tell you, piano is the best thing for him because he doesn’t have a—and he can play by himself,” and you know, that kind of thing.

I: Sure.

PG: (08:39) All right. But he couldn’t afford a piano. But there was as store here by the name of –the name of the store was Grunewald(??) store. The man was from New Orleans. He had a piano store, and that’s where the city used to buy the strings and music and that kind of headquarters for the thing. So--and he sold pianos--so one day, my daddy went up there and told him and said, “What is the price, I want to get it, but I can’t afford that.” Well, so then, “Whatever,” he said, “I need something that I maybe can afford.” So one time, he went over there and there was a big old grand square kind, and in the old days they used to engrave the legs, a beautiful. You know what? There was a very old piano. And he said – he used to make fun of the –Jesus and in English, I said, “Jesus.” He said, “Jesus, I’ve had a good deal for you. You see that piano over there?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Well, if you can get a truck in and get it out of the way, I’ll give it to you.” I said, “Oh come on, okay.” You know what, and he knew he was talking about, and he said, “I’ve got another piano that’s coming from New Orleans. I have to have some room.” Well, the keyboard wasn’t so good, but it was, you know, the box was big. So he got a truck and took it to Willow Street and that’s where I started playing the piano – I mean, practicing the piano. That’s the way I started playing.

I: From the piano that they had given you?

PG: They give—yeah, Mr. Grunewald give, my piano because he said, “I can’t sell that. That’s getting in my way. I need the space. I’m serious. If you can get a truck to get it out of here, you can have it anytime you want.” So my daddy realized he was (inaudible) he got a truck and he got something; I didn’t know what he got.

I: And put in your house and you started playing?

PG: (10:31) And put it in my house and then he started. He wasn’t a piano player but he started teaching me, and then I realized I’ve got to have--and him, but the piano – he’ didn’t know too much so he started asking questions of who was the teacher here and so forth, so he said (August Gibb??) Everybody said (inaudible). That I don’t know if you’re interested in his career, but he’s an old-timer here in this and he’s got a wonderful background.

I: His name is what?

PG: (11:00) It was a concert—it was, a first name Aldrich Bekee(??) See the letter I show you there?

I: Yes.

PG: And he was – graduated the University of Texas and he went to Europe and studied with Frenchmen, artists teaching (inaudible) and he also went to New England for several. He had a very wonderful memory.

I: My goodness.

PG: The only thing that got him down was (inaudible), but every year in Houston, everybody looked forward to see the sister and brother give a recital. She would come from New York, wherever she was, and they always give her a recital and then people lined up just to come see them. But he – he really wanted to take his lessons and the family was, “No” all the time. I think their home where I used to go and take lessons was where the Humble Building is now. The Orwell(??) the Humble Building. They tore that down then. What street is that? Main and something else?

I: I know which one you’re talking about. I can’t remember exactly.

PG: (12:01) Well, that was the home.

I: Where the old Humble building used to be? And that’s where their house-?

PG: I think they sold it.

I: Kind of downtown, isn’t it?

PG: Well, yeah. Yeah. On Main and – I can’t remember. Sort of where Lamar is? I forgot.

I: Was that around 1910? What year? Do you remember the years that-?

PG: Oh, the year? Not-.

I: You were six or seven, or how old? How old?

PG: No, I was older than that when I went to him, though. I don’t know if I could find him.

I: No, it’s all right.

PG: It’s way back then. That’s what I remember. He had it here somewhere. But anyway, I wanted—you mean what time-?

I: How old were you when you started taking lessons?

PG: Playing piano?

I: Yes. When was that?

PG: I was seven and a half years old on piano. Remember, I told you I was learning to sing a little bit when I was six, and from then on up. When he got that piano though, well, that was it. I was done for. Nothing else but piano then. And then I must have been about nine or ten years when I want to (Augustine??); 1912 or something like that, I want to say, with him. But then it was a (fax??) thing there that you got, now don’t take that, and I thought I could find the year but I can’t hardly read it now. Is that very important?

I: Yeah. Well no, not—I mean, we’ve got a general date. That’s fine. It’s more important to find out who you studied with. I didn’t-.

PG: Well, that’s that letter. I studied with (??Gibb) first.

I: And then with Kidd—and then how long did you train with him?

PG: How long with him?

I: Yeah.

PG: Oh, about three years. Remember, I started working very young. My daddy took it up, I say he was about as old, so when he started teaching me how to accompany, simple to him. You know what accompany is?

I: Uh-hunh. (affirmative)

PG: Accompany somebody else? You sing up and you accompany somebody on the piano and so finally that many—he used to play the violin, and he kept on adding to it, a little harder, and then he got his friends—my poor mom was always cooking a Mexican dinner because all of them we seen go to the house there and we’d say, “Come over there and we’ll spend the day with you,” they sang, they did trumpet, I don’t care what they were – he brought them there and there was a lot of pianists that he knew he was working with, and he would ask questions and ask me to watch they tell them guys and in other words, he didn’t have (inaudible). Now here’s a long story. A man came to--he was working, an old man about 56 to 57 years old. He was a fine musician. We didn’t know how good he is to lean on. He taught Fritz Delius, so I don’t know if you know who Fritz Delius is?

I: No.

PG: An English, great composer. He came to the house. I didn’t go to school only for two years, and he came there and he was studying for the priesthood and he was well-educated. And anyway, I got the books; I’ll show them to you. He taught me harmony, a little bit like a private teacher, to whatever--learn, you know what I mean, on the way as I was working. I mean like my schooling, you know what I mean? And he helped me a whole lot. In other words, when he died he gave all his music, and here’s a story about--this is very important to me. These books here are from Fritz Delius, so you can see for yourself that I’ve got it in an encyclopedia here. This is the works of Mozart that belonged to Fritz Delius and I want you to read what he said about to Mr. Warrick.

I: Well, I’ll be.

PG: (16:02) That was his books from England.

I: Well, I’ll be.

PG: That’s all that Fritz could (inaudible).

I: Oh, sure.

PG: Anyway, that—and then-.

I: And he gave these to you after he died?

PG: Well, he gave me everything. He gave me the books. The priests game to my house with all of his books (inaudible), but anyway. This is his.

I: I’ll be.

PG: I don’t know. You can stop me because you know-

I: No, no. This is fine.

PG: That’s what I can tell you. I wanted to share about Delius and here.

I: Delius?

PG: I mean, I don’t think Delius (inaudible), but really but no, I never met him.

I: I see. So how long? You studied with-?

PG: Aldrich Kidd

I: With Kidd for four years? Four and a half?

PG: About three or four years. I’ll tell you exactly (inaudible), but as I said, I already was working a big job, doing this thing here, and I joined the--I’m the youngest man at that time. The youngest member--I joined the union when I was 13 years old. I was—I’m the oldest living member of the local here in Houston, of the Musicians Union--living.

I: Was there an active union here in town, or was it the union here in town at that time?

PG: Oh yeah, that union in Houston. That’s a long time ago. I have it here, but that’s where I was looking for that Houston; 1913, I think, when I joined the union.

I: You were playing—you had jobs while you were studying under Kidd then?

PG: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

I: Where did you first work?

PG: (18:17) Well, let me see. The reason of course, is after I got done with the union and I went downstairs and ate and I was (inaudible) just like they do now. They party and the food and you’re like a ten year old kid but in the home somewhere and they give you a little money, you know? That’s what I mean. But when I had to play professionally, my daddy was in this union and said I could join the union and get better jobs, so I think the first job, I believe it was at the--oh, the first job I had, it was in the theater by myself on Main Street between Franklin and Congress. You know, I don’t know the name of that bank. Houston National Bank. It moved now, I believe, but then it was the theater in between that block, and I used to play silent movies, you know? I used to play between the movies, they had a little show. Amateur show. And I was a pianist, see? But that was a union job for me. I mean, I don’t know what, I guess.

I: That was a union job for you?

PG: And I was a union member.

I: Was your father a union member also? Was your father in the union?

PG: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

I: Did he play here in town at all?

PG: Well, yeah. That’s what I mean. He played—I don’t remember, have you heard of Herman Lewis?

I: No, I-.

PG: Well, you see, he used to go around and he had a name here and he was the leader of the famous Herman Lewis Band here in Houston and he had all the contracts, too, and you started with him. My dad played different places. He played at the Rice Hotel, too. And he played at—oh, I can’t even remember the names of where he ever played.

I: I see.

PG: (20:19) But I started playing in the movie house-

I: In the theater.

PG: And I was getting $18 a week, boy, and I was in heaven! Eighteen dollars. For 25 cents I could go and get myself a treat and (inaudible). Anyway, that’s something else.

I: So did you study after anybody after Kidd?

PG: Oh, well that’s what that letter was telling me. You know, I told you the lady going to New York, and then I want to accompany for very famous teachers. I have the name there, Hutcheson? Ernest Hutcheson? You see that picture in the middle over there, in the middle where those two pictures are?

I: Uh-hunh. (affirmative)

PG: That’s Abra. Jack Abra was from Houston, very famous pianist. He had concerts all over the world and the last time I heard about him was in Canada. He had a TV show at some concertina, and let me see, where? What was I talking about?

I: Well, you were talking about the letters that came in from New York about the teachers.

PG: Oh, yes. And I got a letter—he said it wouldn’t charge it(??) I got a letter from Hutcheson. I got a letter from Gordowsky. Another letter for this picture here—from Albert Jonás that’s the one who I studied. I went to see old Albert, anyways. What happened was my teacher, always he wanted me to study with Gordowsky. He tell me in that letter why he thought it was (inaudible), but when I went to see about him, his daughter was there and I talked to her and he told her (inaudible), and she said, “Well, daddy’s not teaching. Now, he’s (inaudible), but I can take you. I’ll teach you.” Well, no, I wanted to go see old Albert, you see? The last one I saw was him. Well, he started to talk to me in Spanish and he was very dignified and was so nice to me and I knew he was good. They all were great teachers, you know what I mean? So I decided to go with him. I didn’t know he was going back—I didn’t want to end up with his daughter of Gordowsky when my teacher was the man and I met with (inaudible) in Houston. What’s the name of that paper before the Chronicle? Was it Houston Press?

I: Yes, it was the Houston Press.

PG: Did they buy the Chronicle later on?

I: No, I think the Chronicle-

PG: Foster? Foster?

I: Emmy Foster.

PG: (22:44) Well, I went to his home with this screen, and that’s because Albert told him and Mexico (inaudible) the day after because I talked to him, you see?

I: I see.

PG: And not a word with my music, but to go a different place I couldn’t otherwise. You know? No. I had some friends in the Rice University, professors that liked music – classical. And I had a very close friend. His name is in the books over there. Munch. He was an artist, a painter, more like that, and I met some professors through him because they liked the music I used to play for them. I was a young kid, playing. I loved to play. Ask anybody and I’d play. I’d play a lot of little parties for--all I got for playing them was tea and a piece of cake, you know? The little groups, they get together.

I: Where did you play like that?

PG: I played solos.

I: I see.

PG: You know, concert piano.

I: In people’s houses? Just in people’s houses? You said you played in people’s houses?

PG: Yeah. You know, Mrs. (inaudible) would go to review a book or something and they used to call me, “Pat, come on and play a number for us,” or whatever it was. I did anything. Like I said, you know what it’s been, and you’ve been playing it well, just go ahead and play it. Get used to it. Nothing, I used to do. I played for everything. If you were at that, time, you’d play saxophone and say come on, let’s play some saxophone music. It didn’t matter what it was. It was the idea. My daddy taught me that. You learn from others, you know?

I: Yeah.

PG: One time in the old days when I got to the union, the good jobs were in the hotels. They used to have what they’d call a trio: a piano, a violin and cello. And a friend made a decision, well, when you go up for an audition and whatever you’re doing, you have to play for them and then read everything you have sideways. All right. It was all connected to something, and my daddy asked one of them (inaudible), “What did they-?” The gentleman that invited us was the leader. What did they throw at you for you to play?” And the only thing that’s hardest thing to him so he said, “Well, this is a so-and-so and so-and-so. This is the one they’re always trying to catch you.” And he said, then more often it better was than teaching that because he really feel about but this is the one they always dividing and want to see.” So I started impressing them when I went there and sure enough, I played and everything was okay and they said, “Read this.” I already used my memory because I had practiced so much. I said, “My god, I’ve never seen anybody read so well as you do.” But the pianist used to tell my daddy what to do with it, what to expect, what you have to do with the gig, and I got the job, and that’s the why I started getting better and better and better.

I: So you went to New York to study with this man? How long did you study there?

PG: (25:44) Well, about a year. Now, this—you’re getting everything I mean because why don’t I start here? It’s 1918--First World War. The way I remember, I mean, back here you know about it. I was getting up in the draft. I had to register here before I left. So I went over there and 9-1/2 months it was and I got (inaudible) home and to report to wherever I was, the district–one of the---what do they call that where you—in those days?

I: The induction center, or-?

PG: When you come back at the time that you register. I tried that, but the teacher wanted to take me to New York somewhere with a van. But you see I had to come back to Houston, see? Now that was in 1918. So I was going to stay there. I didn’t know how long because they knew but that settled everything and I could come back. I came back, reported, and they told me, “Well, we’ll call you,” and by the time we stopped in that armistice site and I never could go back because when I came back, I didn’t know this. My daddy was sick. He wasn’t even working. I couldn’t go back. I started working here and I got somebody’s letter where they wanted me to come back and stay in his house and he was (inaudible). I never could make it. I didn’t feel I had the right to go back again. But anyway, when I went to him, I was already (inaudible), but that helped me a whole lot.

I: He was influential in your development?

PG: He—yeah. Yeah. He sure did.

M: Did the Southern Pacific ever try to recruit you or your father into their family when they used to have them?

PG: The what?

I: Southern Pacific Railroad.

M: The Southern Pacific Railroad. They used to have bands? 

I: The local Southern Pacific Railroad used to have bands in here.

PG: No. Yeah, like the (inaudible) and the other band?

I: Yes.

PG: No, no. No, he never did that. He did—we were all professional (inaudible). Do you—have you read about in the old days in Texas, a very famous man called Carl Beck?

I: Sure.

PG: (28:07) Well, one day I was playing with him. My sisters had a picture of him. Carl Beck was everywhere, and you know, they went to Mexico. That trip they do every year, they used to do the chamber of commerce and on like that, but Carl Beck was -- the whole thing in Texas (inaudible) the man was concerned. I’m talking-.

I: Yes, yes. I’ve got it on tape; I just want to make sure it’s getting there.

PG: That’s what gets me.

I: No, that’s marvelous! I really-.

PG: (28:37) Well anyway, that’s –you asked me how I got the first job? It was in a hotel. I thought it was (inaudible) a hotel, but you had to sign a waiver. Oh, another thing my daddy used to tell me and I almost forgot about that, but my daddy used to tell me when he played violin, “I’m going to play, I’m the leader. Watch me, what I do. Play the way I want you to learn,” and he would make a retard—a retard—you know what that means? He’d slow down the tempo when it got there, and like accelerate when it got there, you’d listen. So sure enough, he would--he’d do something and bingo, he had to have it recorded. This is –with his little bow, he hits me in the head, “You got to listen!” So that’s my training. I worked and I said my daddy was the one who prepared me for this.

I: So he was the dominant influence in your life, musically?

PG: Absolutely.

I: I see.

PG: (29:42) Absolutely. And he—what he did is he came through (inaudible) piano and he said, “Piano is the best thing he could do for your son. I’ve been through two depressions and what happened?” I was he said, “Sure, maybe but this was during the Depression, I had a friend and he used to be an opera singer for the Metropolitan, and his name was Alison Van Heuse(??). He retired and came to Houston for some reason and then started teaching. Well, he was director of the First Presbyterian Church on Main and McKinney, where the big building is now. They had an opening for an organist and he knew me and I had a company and he said, “Pat, can you play the organ?” I said, “Well, yes and no. I think I can.” “Let’s try.” “Okay.” I knew I could take it.

M: (inaudible)

PG: But you know, they’d have pedals and everything, a big organ. Well, I knew enough to do what I could instead of being fancy so I got the job, and in doing the pedals, that helped me. Thirty-five dollars a month. That’s a big—I mean, that really helped me and helped the family, my goodness! Anyway, then I realized that I had to get organ lessons, so I went to the one— (asks interviewer about the tape recorder) Still?

I: No, go ahead.

PG: And still play an organ and he said he was well-known in Houston, and I said, “You’re right. My wife’s staying with me.” I started taking lessons because I had to, and I was there for four years.

[end of tape 1, side 1]

M: (00:02) They live here in Houston?

I: Mr. Gutierrez?

PG: That came--?? I didn’t know you were catching me over that. That’s why I don’t like these, they do things, you know? You know, Mexican people (inaudible) you talk too much.

I: When did your father pass away, Mr. Gutierrez?

PG: (inaudible)

I: Was he sick? And was he going to die with the sickness that he had? Your dad, when you came back, he was sick and going to die? Or did he-?

PG: After I came home, a couple of years later.

I: I see.

PG: Yeah. Cancer. All right, well, I’ll tell you, where I get involved, why don’t you look at this? That’ll give you a better insight of whatever you want to see here.

I: Okay. Okay.

PG: Because I just don’t know when, all these things. I had the programs. I have everything here, really.

I: What was the—when you started playing—so you started playing in Houston. When you came back from New York, when it was 1918-1919, what was the music scene like here for you? I mean, were there a lot of musicians? Was there a lot of musical activity in Houston at that time?

PG: (01:25) It wasn’t (inaudible) but then the society, the people were really very active in it, in our orchestra, playing, you know what I mean?

I: For example, do you remember any of the people that patronized it?

PG: Well, it’s in the photo. I’ll brag about that. In that generation there when we went to a recital concert, for instance, back (inaudible) every musician in town used to –it was like a circus: “Hey, you know who’s coming to town? So and so and so. We got to go!” We all went to the concert, and they think we should all get together and discuss it and enjoy, come and a very happy reunion of musicians, you know? It was a big thing for us. Now you go now, it’s (inaudible).

I: Now, your father was also a printer, right? He was-?

PG: No, that was later on, when I told you he got to get—he couldn’t pay as much and then I (inaudible) and he decided to work which helped him, and he needed to do something else and then I told him, “Well, listen, why don’t you get into printing shop.” I said, “Somebody wants to sell a printing press. I’m a printer, I’ll help you. Let’s see what you can do with it.” And what’s where he started his time doing a little—actually do in those days, every neighborhood had stories here and there. Anyway, he had a special—he’d make the, oh, what do you call it? (inaudible, speaking at same time)

I: Bulletins and flyers?

PG: Bulletins, and everything. And then later on--I first started that newspaper, I didn’t-.

I: How long did that last? Do you remember? About a year?

PG: About a year, I suppose. And they had lived along right there.

I: You wouldn’t happen to know where any of those are, do you?

PG: (03:15) No. I told you about that story about the Rice Hotel News. You remember, that I told you that?

I: Yes, but what was that? I don’t-.

PG: Well that was later on. We had—I don’t know how it came (inaudible) we get to change it, but that’s a bit later on. We had an orchestra and they used drums. Now, for what reason, I don’t know that. I think they wanted to have an orchestra that could play—the guy and the woman did—bringing up somebody to play for dancing, but anyway, this fellow; it was one of those young people that wanted jazz. I don’t know what you call it, jazz fan, okay? He loved the blues, in other words, that’s what I’m trying to tell you. And we had a manager and his wife was the singer and she used to play with our little group. And he talked to the man about, “How about writing a song about the hotel to advertise that type of impression and whatever the manager’s name was says, “Well, what would you sing? Why don’t we call it ‘The Rice Hotel Blues’ and I’ll write it for you?” “Say, that’s a good idea,” whatever it was. He says, “(inaudible) print it? Well, Jesus can do it.” And Jesus said, “I don’t know anything about printing the music because I don’t have that type and I don’t know anything about it. If I’m buying with you, would you work for it and the printing,” And she said, “If I did the type or whatever you call it.” I said, “Well, I could try.” Well, he did it, but he had a heck of a time with it. He said, “I don’t know anything about typing.” That’s hard to do,” that typing, too. You know, that way they’d do it this—and the way they did it then, not now. You know, these things they proof. And you know what? That’s the only thing he ever printed. He printed. Because he wasn’t making money at it. Everybody printed their (inaudible) and made the copies, at least do what the manager used to. (inaudible) go there and give them a copy of the Rice Hotel News, and I got a book there on the subject (inaudible) yesterday I wrote about the Rice Hotel News.

I: Well, I’ll be.

PG: I wished I could find it, really. But I have a copy of it and I don’t know where it is now.

I: Well I’ll be doggone.

M: Used to—he used to put in a newspaper for about a year. What-?

PG: What’s in there? He knows, then I don’t know it-

I: El Anunciador.

M: What was the-?

PG: Newspaper?

M: Some of the news that was in there that went in there at the time, do you remember?

PG: The one we printed?

I: Do you remember?

M: What kinds of stories were in it?

PG: Well, I’ll say--I don’t know. I might-.

M: (inaudible, speaking at same time)

PG: News and just like small-.

I: When you all first came here, Mr. Gutierrez, there weren’t very many Mexican people here, were there?

PG: (06:10) Not many. No, not many.

I: You all must have come here when—if you were six and born then, you must have been here about 1898, 1902, if you all must have come here real early?

PG: Yes. Early. Yeah. About the newspaper, you see, talking to you, I can’t (inaudible). In fact, when my daddy was working there, he wasn’t making too much money in that printing shop, and he would—(inaudible), they change it; you want to change the impression of him in the orchestra. You get a little older and you get some younger people and anyway, and but I kept on playing all the time. I helped him--I mean I was—even with with family and I was always salaried, like that, but he was working the printing shop and went out and got a job once in a while, and he was playing, but I would say he was one that was working all the time. Really, sincerely, I think I would be out of a job not more than two or three months, (inaudible) at that time. Because it’s like you said, there weren’t too many musicians--professionals--you know? There were but a few of them.

I: And you all knew one another?

PG: Oh yeah. Small enough for that, yeah. I used to go to all the time and then you know, they had all that, and people around that, whichever way you want to look. Nobody knows (inaudible) but that’s the way it was.

I: Did you ever play for exclusively Mexican-American audiences, or whatever?

PG: No. Not much. I don’t remember. You mean exclusively?

I: Exclusive—like, for example, did you ever play in the Azteca Theater or someplace?

PG: (08:02) No, I don’t think that the poor Mexicans had enough money to afford it!

I: Well, and they had the Azteca Theater, I believe in the ‘20s.

PG: There weren’t that many theaters at that time, all Mexican.

M: No. Just that one.

I: Just that one?

PG: Once in a great while I believe that some big group from Mexico would come and give a concert or whatever you want to call it; (inaudible) or whatever. No, it wasn’t nothing, really.

I: When did you play for the Houston Symphony?

PG: Well, that’s what I’ve got these books here for. I’ll have to tell you this, the story of this (inaudible).

I: Okay.

PG: You see this? See that?

I: Uh-hunh. (affirmative) That’s that Hubert Roselle(??) (inaudible)?

PG: Well, I tell you, I was--is that 1913?

I: 1913.

PG: 1913, I told you I joined the union in 1913, and I played with Mr. Blitz there and the picture of him is in here and of course, the name of the members. Now here, here’s the old city auditorium.

I: That’s where you all played, in the city auditorium?

PG: Yeah. All right, now. Again, see that here? That’s a picture of this man.

I: Blitz, Julien? Blitz.

PG: He was the first conductor here (inaudible). I was sure he would (inaudible). Oh, see here? This is the man.

I: Julien Blitz?

PG: And he got to the island and formed our Orchestra (inaudible), naturally.

M: Did you ever play for a Cinco de Mayo celebration that there is in the old city auditorium?

PG: I believe my daddy was already—yeah, he used to love to do it. He’d make them teach us. We used to make fun of him, talking, you know? I remember one time in Hermann Park and I can tell you a tory about that. And oh, they had a big deal there, but Cinco de Mayo—he made a speech that day.

I: Your dad—your father did?

PG: Yeah! But anyway, but I really can’t remember playing for a group of Mexican people only. You know, like they do? But I don’t remember that.

M: Like-? (inaudible, Spanish)

PG: (Spanish)

M: Your dad always played for the Cinco de Mayo and the 16 of September?

PG: Oh yeah. Yeah. I do. What did you know about him? Papa (Spanish)?

M: He passed away a couple of weeks ago.

PG: Passed away. Not long ago; a couple of weeks ago. No, he—the whole family lived there. I taught his daughter Complianador(??), the first child. You know, that girl? I taught her and I taught Fernando for a while; I taught Hernando for a while—that’s the children of Mr. Complianador(??) and I went to his—the last that I don’t know if that’s-?

M: No, it’s interesting. Yeah.

PG: (11:03) The first day that they had a month ago at the—birthday guests (inaudible) one daughter and they had a surprise birthday for him. And you know, Mr. Cuplian for some reason or another, all his children learned to play the violin. They played other things, but they always played the violin.

I: Did he play the violin, Cuplian?

PG: Oh yeah. He played it better than (inaudible). And anyway, at this party here, the boy, Carlos, Fernando—I don’t know if Fernando was here, but Carlos, would sing and came around and about four of his family would play violin and then some American friends, they also violins played, so the idea was to surprise him, and got the house all ready with food and friends, and then they brought him in and he looked pretty bad at the time, he wasn’t feeling too good. They brought him in then, as he came in and played. That’s my anitas(??), see? And I didn’t know all of them, I’ll admit that. They all came out. I had the violin and Enrico was playing the piano, and I went to that, and that was the last time-.

I: How old? Was he your age or older, or-?

PG: I’m older than he is.

I: You’re older than he is?

PG: He was in his eighties.

I: What’s your age again?

PG: He was 81. I’m 83. God willing, I don’t know. March the 17; I’ll be 84 or 85 if I can make it.

I: Oh, you’ll make it. I got a feeling you will.

PG: But that’s the last time that (inaudible).

I: Were you here in Houston before he was or-?

PG: Oh, no. Yes. I was already here. No, he came in the ‘40s, I believe.

I: I see.

PG: No, no, more. Not ‘40s. More than (inaudible), the ‘50s, I believe. I’m not sure, but anyway, no. When we were here, we were the only—as far as I know--we were the only Mexican professional musicians. What I mean by that, in the union.

I: In the union, I see.

M: There was another-

PG: There might have been Latin groups, like back in San Antonio, come from Mexico, play guitar, sing, but I don’t know anything about that. But we were the only ones in La Cucina(??). (inaudible) we were the first Mexican members since I came about.

I: Did you become—when did you first get into the symphony? What year was that, do you remember offhand?

PG: (13:39) Well, I’m trying to remember. I think 1913, and they don’t want to pay me to (inaudible) who was also (inaudible) and the last time I played with them and I conducted the last one was Hoffman (inaudible). That was later on. Now in that time, I was playing French horn and it’s (inaudible) that full symphony of when how Rich was here and I want to show you the picture of my daddy because he’s pretty young.

I: Oh, your father’s in there, too?

PG: No. That’s my daddy, right there. And I’m the cellist, I’m—I don’t know where I’m at, but--he used to, but I can’t see too well, but that’s my dad, right there. That’s in the symphony that Mr. Blitz got together.

I: And your father was in the symphony, too? You and your father played together there in the symphony?

PG: Oh, yes. And one time, one of my brothers, too, but Fred—but not too long.

I: When was the last time you played with the symphony?

PG: Oh, that’s—when it was with Hoffman.

I: With Hoffman?

PG: Yeah. Mr. Hoffman.

M: That had to be in the ‘40s because I remember Hoffman very well when I was going to school. The school used to take the kids to the old auditorium.

I: Were the acoustics very good in the city auditorium?

M: Uh-uh. (negative)

I: They weren’t?

M: Uh-uh. (negative)

PG: Sometimes it got so hot that I used to put this big cap—what do you call it? Eyes? Remember, you used to make ice, it’s called a keg or whatever? Blocks?

I: Blocks?

PG: (15:11) Yeah, you put a pin behind it so you could see through them. That was way back then, a long time ago. But the last—remember, the symphony wasn’t what I mean, I mean that was just for fun. (Inaudible) but my daddy had a French horn and I always loved it, but I had a cello. These men I taught, Mr.—who taught—did this?

I: Isn’t that (inaudible)?

PG: Mr. Thomas then wanted cello. When he died, I had the cello, I had the viola, I had everything he had, he gave it to me. He left it to me, and I started playing the cello because I was playing with a very fine cellist and I asked him to give me some lessons, so he gave me some and then I played with him, playing cello, and I played good enough to, but piano was my-.

I: That was your instrument.

PG: Absolutely.

I: But you played the French horn with the symphony itself?

PG: Yeah. On the side. That didn’t even come but once or twice and all it was; three times a year; something like that. They didn’t have it like that back then, it wasn’t—of course, it took me (inaudible) take me from the theater to afternoon a vaudeville shows or something (inaudible) or somebody, and just what you could get then. You couldn’t. If you didn’t have an oboe and those artists were there to bring them from New Orleans—somewhere—sign up for whoever would have you. It wasn’t (inaudible). Carl might have had a better orchestra.

I: I see.

PG: Had more money behind them then.

I: Musically, when do you consider your most active and productive years? What years were those? I mean, or do you still feel you’re as active and productive?

PG: No, no. I believe my best years were in the concert city, I mean, to accompany. Close to’28, on to about ’50-something, and then I started working in the theaters and working on other things. See? In other words, when I was the youngest, that’s what I’m saying. From say, 60 to close to 30 or up to 30 years ago.

I: Have you played exclusively in Houston or have you gone international?

PG: (17:47) I played in Houston but I just did little towns, to accompany I went to--what’s the name? Marlin? I went to Natchitoches, things like that, been a while—accompanying somebody. But the great artists that came to Houston—they knew me through reputation. They always asked for me for accompany, and I liked the Ravel number, I mean that program that I’m talking about? He came here with a singer, but you know, some lady that he knew, and they liked us so well that I think it was a trip at that Rice University that brought them here. When they asked her to come back, would she come back and get resigned, she said, “Yes, but I want to get Mr. Gutierrez to accompany,” because she heard me play for Barbara Love(??) and from one to another, that’s the connection that every time I played, somebody would connect. It was artists from—I’ll show you some stuff from New York, somehow-

I: That’s a very interesting—tell Joe that story about Ravel, Mr. Gutierrez. That is a real good.

PG: What did—I said just now, I was (inaudible). I wanted to tell you something and I’ve forgotten what it was. What do you mean by Ravel?

I: When he drug the chair up behind you?

PG: Oh! Well, now, you can tell it.

I: Listen to this, Joe. This is a great story. No, you tell it! This is a great story.

PG: Well, when the Rice University was brought down here for a concert of this music, he had a violin number—I’ve forgotten the name of it—and whoever was in charge of it, he requested that they should get a pianist, somebody else to play for that. Now, he was a pianist himself, and of course, was a great composer, so Barbara was looking at me because of course, I played for her for many years in many places, so she got me. (Inaudible). Well, when the time for the recital, he’d accompanied several songs before. We were in the middle of it actually, probably, somewhere, and when the time came for Barbara to play the violin solo of Ravel, she goes first, as usual, the artist goes first, I’m up behind, and go in and sit at the piano and keep on moving, like that, and by the time the (inaudible) played, I heard some scratching on the—you know, I mean, you know, it’s so big, coming in the stage like that. I didn’t know what it was but I turned around and Mr. Ravel dragging a chair like and putting it right here, and see and I turn around and I looked at him and smiled at him and I didn’t know; I thought he was just going to listen. But when I started playing, then he reached out and started turning pages because he was (inaudible) and I was really scared because a great composer like that right there watching his whole thing and you can’t (inaudible), but anyway, I had a really, I had a lot of experience. What I mean by that is that it’s a whole (inaudible) and wasn’t nobody doing it but me but my dad told me all this. He said, ”Do this and do this and do that,” and one time with this young player—played a wonderful violin—Barbara Love(??) was playing a Mendelssohn concerto and that Scottish artist could see, but right here in Houston and I was there behind him and we had to play together so much. And music, many times, the theme—the principle theme sometime is playing it again but change it in another key or something, you know what I mean? The same but a little different, he was on a different key. So we were playing this concerto and sure enough, for some reason or other, I don’t know what, I suppose through habit, I was listening, she skipped the pages, or maybe—but I knew the theme, and in my mind, I turned the pages, thinking that’s what she was—for God’s sake, she was there, and we just played on like nothing happened. Of course, I know that music number and you can’t fool (inaudible) and when we got through it, she said, “How in the heck did you know what I did?” I said, “I didn’t. I would have stopped you because-“ and my daddy says, “Listen. Listen. Watch.” And I’ve played some (inaudible). That’s another thing. I just felt it. It happened on stage. Your dignity—I realized I made a decision to do that and I’m not going to say that’s significant at that point. You play so much that you get the feeling, you know?

I: Did your father—you said he learned music in Zacatecas, also?

PG: (22:54) What I mean when I—that story of his, all I know from what they told me was that he always learned the violin. When he was nine or eight years old, he only wanted to play the violin. But his daddy played the guitar and that’s why he learned the guitar first. But then later on, he started fooling around with the violin himself and so do mariachi and one man would play the little violin and tell him (inaudible) catching on to it. And one day he come to the United States and taking flute, all learned through a friend. He never liked to be called unless of emergency. He said, “Do you want to play for the CFO?” Of course, I remember all this story then is it was music that was not the symphony music, that stuff, you can’t do that. But accompanying like a country music player. They do—oh, yeah, they play the chord and maybe like (inaudible) but they get by with it and that’s what he learned. But always learned violin and got better and better and better. So he used that little money that was hard, buying music—violin--I could show you in the back here and that’s some music for me to study with. And he’d borrow music; get it from other people maybe. In other words, he was my teacher for as far as I could remember. Even (inaudible) would give me a prize, you know what I mean? But he couldn’t do it because he was going through it himself as well.

I: But you didn’t play like—from what Joe said—you didn’t play with any popular bands around here or any kind of-?

PG: Well, one day I did, during the Depression. There’s a picture there, I’ll show you. I don’t know if you’re getting all this stuff, or-?

I: Oh sure, this is fine.

PG: They were called The Five Jacks.

I: The Five Jacks.

PG: I want to show you something. There.

I: The Five—no, the New Seven Jacks Orchestra.

PG: Let me tell you about that. They were really (inaudible).

I: The Seven Jacks. That was during the Depression that you played?

PG: Yeah. You know what happened? You know what it takes? There were tickets you had to go in first and get and (inaudible). I think we went to put them on somewhere but they wanted to—always, and the way they did that, they wanted us to take a holiday. What I mean by that, you get what you could, so they wanted a dance orchestra to play that one there, somewhere, on a commission basis, whatever. It was hard to get gas, so we were at the—whoever it was--and it cost more money to buy the gas and you know how much you got apiece? Fifty cents! Not much people went to it. But I could tell you more than that. I don’t feel like talking now. But I could tell you about it.

I: What was your relationship with Albino Torres? When did you-?

PG: (26:13) Well, not as close as you might think. What I mean by that, he’s a nice but he used to live on the same street where my sisters live now, before the Ward on State. He came—I don’t know where he came from. He came from Mexico, but I don’t know where he was from. I think he was from—where that Guadalajara?

M: Guadalajara?

PG: Yeah. And he was very talented and my daddy talked to him and helped him and taught him, you know, about the union and all that kind of stuff and I think he played (inaudible), than he did in Mexico.

M: Azteca?

PG: I think so. Then he started studying so he tried teaching in Houston. And he was a good businessman. I know that he was a good businessman. He was a good mixer. We had a good job. Like everybody else, I don’t know what happened to him, I guess. They don’t—this and that. He had everything going for him, just great. The best jobs and everything he got. Really, he was making money.

I: Did he leave Houston? Or did he go?

PG: What?

I: Did he go, leave Houston? He’s not here anymore?

PG: (27:37) Oh, he died from whatever. He went back to Mexico and he died over there.

M: I’m thinking of what became of him was over there though, after he left here. I mean, about-.

PG: In Mexico?

M: Yeah.

PG: (27:49) Well, I don’t know. I think that as successful as he was, I don’t know, but he had everything sewed up here and just got excited and then, poof, less jobs. He really--just like a fellow we knew in my town, his name was—I’ve forgotten him. I thought of him, too, on something like that. He had all the best jobs. I really endorsed making connections. But Torres, because at the time, the money was there, and he had almost everything. I came for him on the radio. He was the leader of the band at the Rice Hotel. What was the name of that station there, the radio station? KQ—what was it?

I: I can’t remember the name. I know which one you’re talking about, though. You all played on the radio, yeah.

PG: And he—I was playing so well, but he was the leader of that band, and he had all, so much work, and he was teaching besides. Oh, he was amazing, he was.

I: When did you start teaching again?

PG: Well, my teaching was being scattered like--seriously, you mean?

I: Seriously.

PG: More in the ‘40s, or ‘30s maybe, before I thought it was good like you said, Jesus—I got the daughter of some friends, that’s it. “Why don’t you get Patrick to give us some lessons?” and something like that. Seriously, I didn’t start until later on.

M: After all this time, have you ever recorded any of that music? Of your music?

PG: No, I haven’t recorded—records, you mean? Oh, no.

M: No tapes?

PG: Well I may never did, but maybe they (inaudible). No, but I don’t know.

M: Tapes? Anything? Of you yourself playing?

PG: (29:52) Oh, well, yeah! A long time ago. I don’t even know where the record is. Homemade records, you know? That’s what. Is there anything else? Because I’d like to get ready to-.

I: Oh, sure. No, this is—this is just fine. In fact-.

M: (inaudible)

I: Let me ask you this, Mr. Gutierrez-?

PG: What’s happened to (inaudible) of Houston?

I: Yeah, but he was killed. It wasn’t (inaudible). He was killed down on the (inaudible) an assault. He’d been robbed or something. Have you been pleased with your musical life in Houston? Has Houston been good to you musically?

PG: My problem—and this is not going in??

M: That’s the town hall. That’s the old building that used to be down-?

PG: That’s the winery that Mr. Epstein was the (inaudible)

M: I think I know, the Forty(??) Brothers? Is it right next to the cotton-?

PG: No, Main Street.

M: The one on Main Street?

PG: By Main Street close to—what’s that street by the courthouse?

M: Well, that’s Preston.

PG: Preston and Main.

M: Yes. That’s the old.

PG: That’s the old—in the middle. Yeah.

[end of recording]