Question: What opportunity came Pres. Howard W. Hunter’s way around Christmas time 1926 and what can we learn from his example?
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As a young man Pres. Howard W. Hunter was adept at playing many musical instruments. In high school he organized his own band, called “Hunter’s Croonaders.” The band became popular in the Boise, Idaho area, providing music at weddings, churches, parties, and clubs. In 1925 alone they played for 53 dances.
Toward the end of 1926, nineteen-year-old Howard was offered a contract to provide a five-piece orchestra for a 2 month cruise to the Orient. This was an exciting opportunity for Howard, who had had little opportunity to travel until then. The group would be required to play classical music at dinners, music for dancing, and background music for movies shown on board ship. (In those days there were only silent movies, so background music was supplied by an organist, pianist, or band.)
In great anticipation, Howard pulled together his musicians and sheet music and began rehearsing. He spent Christmas in 1926 with his family in Boise, both celebrating the holiday and preparing for the big adventure that was to come. A few days later his parents took him to the station in Boise to catch the train for Seattle, where he boarded ship on Jan. 1. Despite the rough seas at the beginning, the cruise was a success. Howard was able to see Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, China.
After the cruise, Howard looked to his future. He moved to California, where he played with various orchestras to make a little money. But he soon realized he could not have the future life he wanted – with a wife and family and service in the Church – by playing in a band. He explained, “The association with many of the musicians was not enjoyable because of their drinking and moral standards.” In 1931, four days before his marriage, Howard played his last engagement. When he came home that night, he packed up his saxophones, clarinets, and music, put them on a shelf, and turned his face toward marriage, a stable family life, a career in law, and a lifetime of service in the Church.”
Laura Willes, Christmas with the Prophets, p. 144-146