I first met Mike in June of 1989 under the chandelier in the Mansion at Hyde School in Bath, Maine when he dropped Mike, Jr. off for summer school. As President of Hyde Schools, my best move was to successfully hire Mike Dawes. (He played a little hard to get.) I have been blessed to be Mike’s friend and colleague ever since and am honored to say a few words about both relationships.
There is a phrase that I will forever associate with Mike: If you want to have a friend, you’ve got to be a friend. He certainly lived it with me, and given the Standing Room Only crowd here today, with many others as well. Mike not only professed it, he truly lived it, right down to the details. In my case,
– He turned me on to sushi;
– He took the lead on a 2-decade-long field test of New York steakhouses. (While I initially detected a bias toward Ben Benson’s, it eventually dawned on me that he had no intention of coming to any conclusions, he just liked the experimentation part. Worked for me.);
– He molded me into a big fan of Delbert McClinton, some Doo Wop, and even the song “See You in September,” at least the version with him on lead vocals.
– He gave me lots of CDs and books. We shared a particular fondness for the mysteries of Kinky Friedman. He not only gave me this book (hold up book) on my birthday, he got the Kinkster himself to inscribe it with “To Malcolm, from one great American to another.”
– We also had a lot of fun making friendly wagers on athletic contests between my Bowdoin Polar Bears and his beloved Trinity Bantams (What’s a “bantam” anyway?) But given that I’m currently standing on what is arguably the most sacred ground in enemy territory, we will leave that one alone for now.
However, some of his efforts indeed failed. I never got the hang of the bow-tie technique, and he never could swing me over to the fly fishing thing, but not for lack of trying on either count.
With Mike, you could never really tell where friendship ended and teaching began. He did both simultaneously all the time:
– He definitely taught the bow tie thing as evidenced by so many people wearing them today. (And the entire Class of 2010 at Hyde Woodstock wore them during their graduation last month in his honor.)
– His profound interest in religion was transferred to scores of kids in the excellent course he established and taught for many years in Bath and Woodstock.
– And, of course, there was perhaps his most famous course, the Zen of JV Football where all participants actually earned a bit of immortality in the form of the nickname that Mike gave every athlete who played for him.
– And there was always the handshake, the greeting. He made sure that you would never forget his name by making sure that he would never forget yours. Great teaching.
The Gauld family will be forever grateful that Mike and Lynn brought each one of us into your life. It’s been a pleasure to get to know Meg and her husband, Dennis, and a wonderful thing to watch the man that Mike, Jr. has become. Great people, all.
When I think of Mike Dawes, I think of friendship. And when I think of friendship, I think of Mike Dawes. Whether your friends are few or many in number, just think about the kind of world it would be if all of us acted in our friendships as Mike Dawes did with all of us.
Mike loved Country Music, and at the core of Country Music lies a central question: Will the circle be unbroken? While he’s now in that better home a waitin’ in the sky, let each of us leave here today and carry his legacy of friendship forward. If you want to have a friend, you’ve got to be a friend. Let us band together and ensure that the circle will remain forever unbroken.
Onward, Malcolm Gauld