Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Muskingum College’

Rich Simcox: A Life of Musical Adventures

Rich Choir Director

Rich SImcox considers music his vocation and avocation.

I fell into a lot of lucky spots.” That’s how Rich Simcox describes his musical career. “ It’s not always what you know, but who you know that matters most.” But his great musical talent certainly enabled those connections.

Rich Pickin' 001 (2)

The “pickers and grinners” met  in the summer on Uncle Joe’s porch. They entertained the entire neighborhood.

Rich grew up surrounded by music. His mother’s family were “pickers and grinners”, while his father’s family reached out to classical and Dixieland. Rich wanted to emulate his dad.

Dick Simcox, Rich’s dad, directed school music programs in Bucyrus during Rich’s youth. In fourth grade, Rich started playing the trumpet, which remains his favorite instrument.

His dad knew teaching music to be a vocation of long hours and short vacations. He told his two sons and daughter, “I don’t care what you do, as long as you don’t go into music.” They all chose music.

Dick Simcox 001 (2)

His dad, Dick Simcox, gave him musical inspiration.

The Simcox family history shows their deep Cambridge roots. Rich was born there, his dad grew up there. Grandpa Simcox performed vaudeville at the Strand and Liberty theaters. Great-grandpa Simcox had a harness shop by the courthouse. It seemed only natural for Rich to drift back this direction.

He admits to being a gypsy at heart so he has been on many musical adventures. That all started when he became a member of the Air Force Band, one of his favorite musical journeys. Most of the time they worked out of Scott Air Force Base in Missouri. The 45 piece band played for parades, school concerts, community events, and military funerals.

Muskingum College Jazz Group

When attending Muskingum College, he played in many campus bands.

In the 70s, his dad moved to Tri-Valley High School and in his spare time formed “The Dick Simcox Big Band”. Rich at the time was attending Muskingum College so became part of his dad’s band. When his dad passed in 1979, Rich decided he would keep the band performing as long as possible. One thing he wanted to do was always keep his dad’s name as the name of the band.

While his biggest inspiration remained with his dad, he also listened carefully to Al Hirt and Doc Severinsen. Rich said he always hoped to emulate the tunefulness and tone quality of Bobby Hackett, coronet player.

Rich Simcox Jazz Band 001 (2)

The Dick Simcox Big Band provided music around the Tri-State area.

Locally, Rich taught music at several high schools as well as Muskingum College. Many remember him coming to their homes for private lessons. He has led many musical groups in the area over the years, including: Barbershop Chorus, Sweet Adelines, and Land ‘O Lakes Chorus.

His involvement with music in the area extends to many organizations and listing them all would take an entire page. To name a few, he has played trumpet or french horn in Cambridge City Band, Coshocton Lake Park Band, Southeastern Ohio Symphony Orchestra and Zanesville City Band. He’s directed musicals at Living Word and Cambridge Performing Arts Center.

Rich Dick Simcox Band 001

Here the band plays at the Cambridge Concert Association at the Scottish Rite Auditorium. That’s Rick sitting in the wheel chair.

While directing has been one of his strong points, participating as an actor gave him great pleasure at CPAC. He played lead roles in popular musicals such as “The Music Man”, “Carousel” and “The Flower Drum Song”. His talent in so many varied musical arenas led him to say, “Music is my vocation and avocation.”

This outstanding musician played trumpet on cruise ships and has kept the “Dick Simcox Big Band” alive with performances throughout the area. Rich reflects, “I’ve done more than I ever thought I would.”

Rich in Church Choir

Singing in the church choir has given Rich pleasure for nearly forty years.

Directing the choir at First Christian Church in Cambridge since 1978 still gives him great pleasure. The church music lifts his soul as they make a joyful noise to the Lord. In his spare time, he also enjoys camping and fishing.

Rich Church Choir

He frequently directs the choir with some challenging music.

It’s a tragedy to Rich that schools are doing away with music programs. There’s a big correlation between participation in musical activities and excellence in other areas of study. He feels that the reason this area has so many talented musicians today comes from great music teachers, such as Howdy Max, John Matheny, Max Trier, Diane Box, and Todd Bates.

Rich perhaps gave the best description of his role in music. He’s a musical engineer, who organizes whatever needs done or put together. But admitted he couldn’t do it without networking with all his connections.

According to those who know him well, Rich’s specialty is motivation. “He can get more out of most people than they think they can produce.” Music has been a lifelong adventure for Rich.

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Cambridge Ohio Union Depot – Then and Now

Early Cambridge Union Staton - 1907

Early Cambridge Union Staton – 1907

Long ago the railroad station at Cambridge, Ohio was a hub of activity. Originally, the Baltimore & Ohio Depot was located on the first floor of the Depot Hotel at 444 Wheeling Avenue. However, the most recent railroad station, Cambridge Union Station, was built by the B & O and Pennsylvania Railroads in 1907. According to local train historian, Dave Adair, this special railroad station had an identical twin built by B&O Railroad at Washington, Indiana. Today Cambridge Union Station remains along the tracks, but stops are no longer made there…only memories remain.

Deliveries of mail and goods were made at the train depot around the clock for fifty-four years. Mail was placed in a mail cart, then pulled by mule up the hill to the post office, which was then located where Pavlov’s Music is today. Orders placed at Sears or Montgomery Ward were usually delivered the next day, and often residents would eagerly wait by the tracks for their arrival. For those who could not meet the train, delivery services, like those run by Billy Singer, met the train daily for home deliveries.

Imagine the thrill of a memorable school field trip on the train. Such was the case with first grade students from Glass Plant School, who enjoyed riding the rails to New Concord. There they visited the home of their teacher, Miss Daniels, enjoying milk and cookies along with a view of her flower garden. Before the return trip to school, a walking tour of Muskingum College campus impressed the youngsters.

Memorial Plaque at Cambridge Union Depot

Memorial Plaque at Cambridge Union Depot

My family would drive to town in their pick-up truck to get cardboard cartons of baby chicks that arrived on the train. Mom always went along to stop at Thompson Feed Mill for feed for the chickens. She wanted to be sure to get feed sacks that would match the ones she was using to make some kitchen curtains or pillowcases.

Those were the days when people used the train instead of an automobile for trips to far off Zanesville and even Columbus. A friend recalled  the thrill of riding the rails to Zanesville to visit her eye doctor. Another remembered trips to Lazarus in Columbus via the train as a family adventure.

Dad often talked of hopping on the train to Chicago. Back in 1958, the cost of a one way ticket was $19.85, which included an overnight Pullman car. Have to wonder if in his younger days, Dad rode in the Pullman or perhaps in a boxcar?

While the tracks are still active today, no stops are made at the lonesome depot. Outside the depot stands a memorial placed there in 1926 by the Daughters of the American Revolution to remind visitors of the beginnings of Cambridge. In the earliest times, crossing of Wills Creek was made by ferry, the first real business in Cambridge. Nearby, Ezra Graham established Ferry Cabin, the first house built in Cambridge back in 1798.

Double Covered Bridge over Wills Creek

Postcard view of Double Covered Bridge over Wills Creek

Crossing Wills Creek near the station, was the original Double Covered Bridge that carried people and animals down the Old National Trail from 1828-1913. That early bridge was somewhat dangerous to cross as the timbers often were displaced by floods, causing the bridge to frequently lean. Cost to cross the bridge was twelve cents. Soon nearby, a tavern and hotel were built and Cambridge got its beginnings.

Cambridge Union Station - 2014

Cambridge Union Station – 2014

Union Station is still a great place to visit and feel the old memories that live there. Once in a while a train passes by so you might get a friendly wave from the engineer. As you stroll around the depot, notice the viaduct where that double covered bridge used to cross. Let your eyes wander to Wills Creek and imagine a steamboat going down those waters. Life then was certainly different than what we experience now.

Cambridge Union Station is located in Cambridge, Ohio just off Route 40, the Old National Road. It sets on the west side of the present viaduct near the corner of Wheeling Avenue and 4th Street. Since it is right along the railroad tracks, you can’t miss it!

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