I had made a successful living being a musician for more than 45 years. Along with my wife, we had created a band, writing songs for children. When we started working as songwriters there were only a few people who seemed to understand our vision. Before we started we were both classroom teachers and a friend, knowing we sang asked us to perform at her daughter’s 3rd birthday party. At the time we didn’t know any kids songs. but our friend said it didn’t matter.
The day of the party arrived. The sun was shining as we packed up our guitars and drove to our friend’s house in Middleburg Va. There were about 50 kids there that day, and we played the songs that we loved like Twist and Shout by The Beatles, and Take the Last Train to Clarksville by The Monkees, and Ruby Tuesday by The Stones. The kids AND the parents went wild dancing and singing with us. They did the Locomotion and after singing Cat Stevens, Arlo Guthrie, Pink Floyd, Crosby Stills Nash, and Young and the Moody Blues for over two hours we all quit and grabbed some birthday cake. The party was a huge hit and our friend gave us a toaster oven as payment for our services, which we still have hanging up in our office in a big wooden frame.
The party persuaded us to write a few kids songs and try to get a few gigs wherever kids hung out. We were happy as teachers but destiny was knocking on our door and so we began calling around to schools to see if they’d like to hire us? A lot of owners agreed to have us. It was as new to them as it was to us, and so after writing a few uptempo and friendly kids songs we exploded onto the kids market. It was 1983.
We became successful doing a job that we both loved. We traveled all the time and performed in 48 of our 50 United States bringing joy and a positive message to millions of young children all over the USA. Known as The Battersby Duo we performed at The White House on 6 separate occasions The Kennedy Center, The Spoleto Festival and also appeared on Sesame Street. In 2012 we were nominated for a GRAMMY AWARD and we went to LA for the award ceremony. The medals we got that day were just as much a gift to all the beautiful children we had sung to throughout our long career as it was an honor for us. We always considered it to be a privilege to sing to Kids
A few years ago I had a severe stroke and couldn’t move my left side at all. The stroke did some damage to my brain as well causing a speech impediment and an inability to lift anything with my left hand. Never one to quit I decided that even though I would never play or perform again I could use my time to write a book. Typing on a keyboard was hard for me as it required eye-hand coordination but I persevered and learned to type accurately again. Now I can type upwards of 3000 words at a sitting. Writing a book has been excellent physical therapy for me but it has also been wonderful cognitive therapy as well. I’m now on the 3rd book of a mystery trilogy entitled The Newspaper Chronicles
Are the books that I write going to change the world? Certainly not. Are they going to change literature as we know it? Absolutely not. But the cognitive benefits for my therapy have been substantial. I have always had an encyclopedic mind so I was able to retrain myself to remember detail and fact so I was able to write my mystery chapter by chapter before I committed them to paper. I would prepare the next chapter before I dropped off to sleep and the next morning when I awoke I would write down my thoughts from the night before. I had learned tricks to remind myself of the plot I’d imagined as I was falling asleep. That became a huge part of my cognitive therapy and along with my physical therapy, I completed my book.
It’s funny how life hands you lemons. Some folks just give up, but I have chosen to continue celebrating life by making lemonade.