Paul Dayton-Child Protege on the Cornet

DFH Volume 1 Issue 22

Paul Dayton—Child Protégé on the Cornet
A screenshot of a cell phone

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My dad [Paul Dayton, son of Wilber Thomas Dayton, Sr.] , often got out his cornet from the closet, wiped it off with a rag and began playing it at home when I was growing up.  Occasionally, he played a cornet solo at church and he organized a church orchestra which played each Sunday evening during my teenage years.  The coronet is a slightly smaller version of the trumpet.  The only difference is the way the tubing flares.

A close up of a newspaper

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A close up of a newspaper

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I never knew just how accomplished dad was until I started researching old newspaper articles.   The first public performance which I discovered was in a March 24, 1934 vaudeville show when he was 10 years old.   He was playing with the Junior class band.  That was quite an accomplishment, but his career was just taking off. There was an article in the May 15, 1934 issue of the Saratogian, titled School Band and Chorus score at musical festival, Paul was listed in the high school band.  He had not yet attained his 11th birthday.  In December of that same year, he performed a solo which the band director said, “received high praise.”  This was all before his 12th birthday. 

I could go on and on with news articles (perhaps a dozen) that carried his name as a soloist in band program performances until his graduation in in 1940.  He played a solo at nearly every performance the band played.  In his junior and senior years, he was secretary of the band.

My dad was a humble man to a fault.  I wish he had told us kids about his experiences so we could have passed it on as a part of his legacy.  Don’t make the same mistake.  Tell your kids stories about yourself, even if you think they are trivial.  My kids laugh at me and poke fun every time I tell one….over and over and over and over again. They’ll never forget them and they will cherish them.


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