CHARLES BARTON TRAYLER
Music was a constant in the Trayler home from the time Charles Barton Traylor was born in 1941 in Borger, Texas. Athalie, Charles’ mom, learned to play the piano by practicing on a cardboard keyboard. Her parents didn’t have a piano. Father Joe could play just about anything as long as it was written in shaped notes. The Traylers loved to gather around the piano and sing. Joe was a partner in the Dodge-Plymouth dealership and Athalie was a homemaker.
Charles began taking piano lessons in the first grade, and in fifth grade he added lessons from Fred Carpenter on a Sears-Roebuck plastic clarinet his mother had played. In June 1952, the Traylers moved to Spearman where Joe bought the Ford dealership, and where Charles began seven wonderful years in Sam Watson’s Spearman band program. He was a member of the sixth-grade band, and Mr. Watson promoted Charles to the high school band as a seventh-grader. He participated in the Tri-State Music Festival in Enid, Okla. and witnessed Chuck Emmons’ great Amarillo Sandie Band marching while playing “March Grandioso” and “The Klaxon.” Charles was surprised to know there were that many French horns in existence and that the melody was written for the horn section.
Sam asked Charles to switch to euphonium at the end of his eighth-grade year, under the guise that Mr. Watson’s baritone section leader would be a senior and he needed someone to take that position. Charles was a less than productive clarinetist and Sam knew that Charles loved band; the switch might be beneficial to all and certainly wouldn’t hurt the band. The years spent with the Spearman band were full of great experiences. The band was a sweepstakes band at both UIL and Tri-State, retiring the Tri-State trophy after winning it three consecutive years. Charles played solos for many renowned judges including Col. Earl Irons, and Sam selected Charles to compete as student conductor at UIL contests. One of the most memorable events was when Charles served as conductor of “The Student Prince” for adjudicator Dr. Joe Hadden.
Sam played several of Charles’ arrangements with the Spearman band and let Charles conduct an original composition, “Our Director,” dedicated to Mr. Watson during the final concert in May 1959. Charles played trombone in the stage band and cornet in the sight reading contests.
He entered Abilene Christian College in the fall of 1959 and joined Doug Fry’s Big Purple band. He played sousaphone in marching season, euphonium in concert season, trumpet and French horn in brass choirs, and string bass in the orchestra. During his junior year, Charles noticed violinist Judith Elaine Strange, who had recently transferred from Amarillo College, and managed to sit next to her on the orchestra tour bus. Their courtship led to marriage on Dec. 21, 1962. Charles and Judi graduated from ACC in 1963 and he accepted the band job in Petersburg, Texas.
Charles inherited a good band at Petersburg, but several students had quit the previous year, including all the trumpet players. He switched players from horn, trombone and even flute and clarinet to field a trumpet section, and the band made a “1” in marching. During the Texas Music Educators convention in 1964, son DeWain was born. During the years at Petersburg, music store representatives D.W. Crain, Sr., Earl Ray and Dub Crain called weekly. Dub would come to Petersburg after calling on Ben Gollehon at Hereford and share with Charles what Benny was doing in the Hereford band rehearsals. Dean Killion would attend rehearsals twice a month as he was trying to recruit Petersburg students. Many Saturdays were spent at Earl Ray Music, listening to discussions between J.W. King, O.T Ryan, Bill Woods and Earl Ray. Charles began work on his master’s degree at Texas Tech and benefited from outstanding classes with Dean Killion, Keith McCarty and Tony Brittain. The Petersburg band was a sweepstakes band, the first in the history of the school, and won the concert Best in Class and Outstanding Parade Band at Tri-State.
Charles and Judi moved to Sunray in 1966 and inherited a 38-piece band. With help from the football coach, Charles was able to recruit enough new students to field an 88-piece marching band. That spring the band received the first sweepstakes in the history of the school.
Abilene became the Traylers’ new home in 1967, when Charles joined ACC as an assistant to Doug Fry. He became band director in 1969, leading a 100-piece band that grew to more than 300. Daughter Michelle was born Sept. 4, 1968. The ACC band performed four times for the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers, and twice each for TMEA and CBDNA. Charles was inducted into Phi Beta Mu in 1970 and started a band camp at ACC in 1970. In 1972, Charles was awarded his doctorate at Texas Tech. He was elected to the TBA board in 1976 and served as president from 1981 to 1982. Charles and Gary DeShazo began the Tri-College reading band, and Mike Barry of McMurry and Charles founded the Abilene Community Band in 1976—a band still in existence.
Charles and Judy moved to Dalhart in 1983. The Dalhart Golden Wolf Band was a consistent sweepstakes winner and won Best in Class awards at many spring festivals. His bands marched in five gubernatorial parades and the Texas Sesquicentennial Parade in Austin. Charles served as president for Region I and Phi Beta Mu, and for three terms was the marching band vice-president of TMAA. The years at Dalhart were not without turmoil—Charles lived with a Texas Tech twirler and a twirler’s mother.
He finished his 41-year teaching career helping beginners in Dumas. In 2001, TBA honored Charles with the Lifetime Meritorious Achievement Award. Charles notes that he feels immensely blessed to have been associated with the finest – Mr. Watson and the Spearman band program, the Lubbock and Permian Basin mentors, the Tech colleagues, and the wonderful students who have become such productive citizens in music, medicine, law, education and as parents.
In his retirement, Charles enjoys ranching in New Mexico. Charles and Judi reside on their Hartley County farm, 30 miles from DeWain, Suzanne, Grayson and Lilia Barton in Stratford, and 75 miles from Michelle, Jay, Keslie and Trenton in Amarillo.Charles