“Rejoice, Dear Hearts!”

Dave Gardner

As any of our four daughters and eleven grandchildren would surely testify, my primary philosophical observation about life in general and any subject in particular all comes down to this: “It’s all in how you look at it. All in how you study it.” For me, this really does seem to say it all.

I herein pay tribute to my original source for such a deceptively simple and powerfully influential and inspirational saying, that being one “Brother Dave Gardner”.

“Brother Dave” was a singer/comedian from Jackson, Tennessee. After a one-semester term as a Southern Baptist ministerial student at Union University, he began a musical career as a drummer and vocalist. He started filling time between songs with stream-of-conscious commentary and was surprised when he discovered his audiences came to see his “comedic routines” rather than music, even though Dave had a national Top 20 hit in 1957 with an instrumental called, “White Silver Sands.”

Legendary RCA artist Chet Atkins was amazed with “Brother Dave” and produced a comedy album in 1959 that catapulted Gardner into national prominence. “Rejoice, Dear Hearts!” sold a million copies. Numerous appearances on “The Tonight Show” continued his ascent into the entertainment stratosphere, but arrest for marijuana possession in 1962 brought his career to a screeching halt. This was seven years before Woodstock. He died of a heart attack in 1983 at the age of 57.

Many folks considered Dave Gardner to be blatantly Conservative. In the early 1980s, Texas Oilman H. L. Hunt moved Brother Dave and his wife to Dallas, but soon became disenchanted with Gardner’s alcohol and drug abuse. Simultaneously, Gardner was often quoted in the Liberal press for “telling it like it is”, particularly his strong opposition to American involvement in Vietnam. Referencing his own experiences, Gardner would say, “ I was in World War Two and I saw lots of blood spilled, but it never sent anyone to Heaven.”

Those who knew him report it was impossible pinning Gardner down on anything given his amazing proclivity to verbally dance between subjects, positions and ideas with lightning rapidity, juxtaposing all elements at every turn. The universal consensus was — Brother Dave Gardner made you think.

I’m sure that’s why I took to him so quickly. Brother Dave Gardner was like a Jesuit!

I was particularly blessed in my youth receiving the benefit of a four-year Jesuit education at Le Moyne College in Syracuse. I still often tell friends, “The Sisters at Cathedral School taught me WHAT to think, but the Jesuits at Le Moyne taught me HOW to think.”

The essence of Jesuit instruction is to present as many sides of a given topic as possible, then insist you make up your own mind without claiming absolute certitude. The Jesuits are often said to be “the intellectual vanguard of the Catholic Church” — a distinction historically supported by being booted out or suppressed individually and as a group by The Vatican more than once. A Doctor of Philosophy from Syracuse University who taught one senior class in Theology at Le Moyne was an atheist.

So I delight in talking with everyone about everything.

I just finished communicating with John Pero, Central Valley Tea Party Coordinator, about a “Gun Control” meeting scheduled for Oakhurst. I enjoy my conversations with John and have applauded his dedication to civic involvement in print as well as in person, even though we hold widely disparate views on many national issues.

I look forward to hosting Madera County Sheriff John Anderson, a fine Republican, at our March 2nd Meeting of the Democratic Club of Oakhurst. With the Ole’ Kettle gone, we’ve moved to Sweetwater Steak House for a while. Sheriff Anderson will be bringing us all up to date on various local law enforcement fronts and will be glad to answer any questions raised.

I remain continually impressed by District Five Supervisor Tom Wheeler’s Town Meetings at our Community Center and again urge everyone to be at the next one here or in Ahwahnee, Coarsegold, North Fork or Raymond. Tom does more shows than Elvis in his prime.

And I wish that our Congressional representatives in Washington in both Senate and House could put us first in their thoughts and learn to listen to — rather than talk at each other. They might just find out they share much more in common than not and that hard work and cooperative effort over time can bring brilliant consequences. I haven’t given up yet.

“Don’tcha know a diamond ain’t nothin’ but a piece of coal that’s stuck with it?” —
Brother Dave Gardner (1959)

6 Responses to ““Rejoice, Dear Hearts!””

  1. Charles Walker Says:

    I too was particularly blessed in my youth to receive the benefit of a four-year Jesuit education at Le Moyne College in Syracuse. I still often tell friends, “The Sisters at Most Holy Rosary School taught me WHAT to think, but the Jesuits at Le Moyne taught me HOW to think.” Actually as I think back on it, those dear Sister Servents of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Msgr. Howard C McDowell really thought it best if we left the thinking to them and the HRCC.

    This opinion piece which appeared this morning in the Vero Beach Press-Journal would indicate that not much has changed within the hollows (sic) of HRCC in the last 50 years:


    I have just recently finished re-reading Barbara Tuchman’s “A Distant Mirror-A History of the Tumultuous 14th Century” and am now rereading William Manchester’s “A World Lit Only By Fire”. Both go a long way toward proving beyond a doubt that the so called “dogma” of the HRCC is truly “fruit of the poisoned tree.” In fact I could argue that one need look no further than the HRCC to find the true “Antichrist.”

    On the other hand, several weeks ago I went to mass at MHR since it is one of the few places on earth where time has stood stil. The sanctuary is exactly the same as it was 60 years ago. Greeting some old friends including “Father Fred” Mannara (his sister was in our class at LeMoyne) and receiving communion in spite of my status as a long standing excommunicant, I realized that my religion is not Catholicism, its Rosary. If there is a god then churches and religious sects should be portals to it not gateways with gate keepers who keep us at bay.

    If you get back to Syracuse next spring for our reunion Peter C, you should visit the Cathedral. I’ll warrant you’ll have the same experience I had at Rosary.

    • petercavanaugh Says:

      “In fact I could argue that one need look no further than the HRCC to find the true “Antichrist.”



      We’ve spoken about this before!

      I’d like to see a bit more definitive conviction!

      • Charles Walker Says:

        Peter C, I think that there has demonstrably been sufficient evil generated by the papacy and the holy see over the last 2000+ years to make an excellent case that those who seized the teachings of the man from Judea and used them to enslave most of the known world up until the 15th century and a lot of it since, to benefit themselves are truly the “anti-christ” foretold in scriptural writings.

        “All things atrocious and shameless flock from all parts to Rome.”

        “…it has been said that there is no half-way house between Rome and Reason…”
        Benjamin Tucker

      • petercavanaugh Says:

        That works.

  2. petercavanaugh Says:

    I always check out The Cathedral when I’m “home.” My parents were married there and when an older cousin, Dr. Joseph McGrath, was Director of Music for the Diocese of Syracuse, he would play the organ for Solemn High Mass. My Uncle Vince would look up at the loft as Joseph pounded away and whisper, “Peter! All he needs is a monkey!”

  3. Charles Walker Says:

    Dr. McGrath…used to direct the combined Parocial league choirs when we sang at the Cathedral during Advent (freezing our asses off). My recollection is the good Dr. was slightly light in the loafers?

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