One song will forever link my mind with the summer of 1999. The song is the “Charlie Brown theme song.” This is the song Schroeder is always plinking away at on Charlie Brown T.V. specials. Here’s why this song is still playing in my mind.
On the first day of camp when our counselors arrived, Scott Fitzgerald walked to the piano, sat down, and began playing the few notes he knew of the Charlie Brown song. And I’m not exaggerating when I said “few notes.” It was obvious Scott had many talents but playing the piano for our services was not going to be one of them.
Let me describe Scott. He is a big strong McNeese student with an easygoing smile and quiet manner. He still looks like the football player he was in high school. In addition Scott is very nice-looking. During G.A. Camp for girls he was the resident heartthrob.
Scott and Curt at Alexandria’s Planet Fitness on September 28, 2015 Scott works for the franchise. Planet Fitness is
my Monday office. I work out, write, plan, work out, and write some more.
In his cabin, Scott handled all of his campers well. He especially showed a gift for working with troubled kids. I quickly grew to appreciate Scott and his low-key but confident leadership style.
When camp started, Scott would grace us at each meal with a concerto of his entire repertoire- The Charlie Brown theme song. Amazingly, he didn’t neglect his campers to play- they were all gathered around him as he exhibited his skill. But I’m not sure I initially grew to appreciate Scott’s piano playing.
At first it got on my nerves.
But soon I began to appreciate his perseverance.
Eventually I did notice that he was picking up a few notes and showing more rhythm in his playing. He told us, “By the end of the summer, I’m going to know this song.”
On weekends he would play the song over and over.
Fellow counselor Davy Funderburk, who is a wonderful pianist, began working with him.
By July 4th, Scott was now playing his one song with both hands.
As I sat eating my eighty-first hamburger of the summer I thought to myself, “He’s going to get it.”
The fact that he had marked his strategic keys with colored tape didn’t take away from the miracle I was hearing.
What I began to notice now was how Scott had two passions in life: being a great counselor and playing Charlie Brown.
He was extremely focused on these two and these alone.
As I watched and listened God reminded me of the value of persistence. Just sticking with a task and daily doing your best will result in success. God wants faithful servants who will simply play the notes they’ve been given the best they can.
Because Scott was faithful to his song, great improvement began to show by July. You could hear the hundreds of times he’d practiced coming out in the music. Anytime he went to the piano, several staffers would gather around to encourage him and help him.
As the final week of camp started, Scott made an announcement that he was planning to play his song at our end of the summer party.
For the next few days I didn’t hear Scott playing as much in the Dining Hall. On the night of our party at Roy’s Catfish Hut in Kinder, we transported the camp electric piano in a van. Scott had carefully marked the keys with tape. He sat down and put his music on the music stand. It was the score for this song. We all laughed because we knew Scott didn’t know a note from a link of boudin.
But then he launched into his song.
It was stunning.
Davy had taught him a little classical introduction. He’d been practicing privately the last few days and had added several other twists to the song.
It was played with a fast tempo and very well.
But most of all it was played with a deep passion.
I’ve heard many musicians play, but I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone play with more passion and deep expression. The song came from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s heart.
He finished with a flourish.
All sixty of us burst into spontaneous cheering. My wife, DeDe, who was a piano major, whispered, “That was something else!”
It was something else! And the reason it was so special was because Scott Fitzgerald had the perseverance and persistence to stick with his dream.
“Scott Fitzgerald” is from our first book, Stories from the Creekbank.