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May 1, 1998

I just recently was made aware that Wayne Mix, who lives in the neat red brick house across the street from the First Christian church, where he worships, is another lover of that great Big Band music. I know there are many more out there who share the same devotion to those marvelous ballads and swing tunes but every time I run into a new soul mate, one who understands and appreciates that kind of music, my faith in mankind is rekindled. There’s still some sanity left in this old world as long as we have remnants of the swing era clamoring for more of the terrific sounds made popular by Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Woody Herman and a host of others.

The unique thing about Mr. Mix is his ability to recreate some of that music on the electric organ that occupies a special space in his living room. Through the magic of electronics, he can produce the sound of almost any musical instrument with his keyboard. But to really appreciate that gift, you have to know that Mr. Mix plays by ear. He does not use sheet music. Name a tune or hum something and he’ll play it back for you. He can entertain himself and others for hours with his musical improvisations. Big band tunes are his special favorites.

I have always thought that the ability to play by ear would be a terrific talent to possess, and I know a few others like Mr. Mix who were born that way. Ashley Alexander and Elroy Goe come quickly to mind. I admire them greatly because my own childhood efforts to play the piano were dismal failures, although I must admit that my daily practices were undertaken with only a modicum of enthusiasm. If I’d known then what I know now, there would have been a different attitude.

Big Band music is not Mr. Mix’s only passion. He also is a dyed in the wool, true blue (or make that orange) OSU baseball fan. Although his physical condition requires the use of an electric cart for mobility, I am told that you will find him in the stand at Reynolds Field in Stillwater any time the Cowboys have a home game. He has a seat right behind home plate, and every Cowpoke on the team recognizes his deep voice when he harasses visiting pitchers with his trademark holler: “YOU BETTER WALK HIM!” Visiting teams hear that taunt whenever an OSU player strides up to the batter’s box. It gives the Pokes just a little bit of an edge, and the Cowboys love him for it. Catcher Josh Holliday, one of this year’s stars and the son of Coach Tom Holliday, recently gave Mr. Mix an autographed batting helmet and he wears it to every game.

I would have to say Mr. Mix is enjoying life to the fullest, indulging himself in the things that he enjoys most. It’s nice to know kindred souls with the kind of excitement and zest that he demonstrates.