During high school circa 1973, Mary Reynolds wore corduroy pants and a cargo jacket, blew a wicked trumpet, and honed her musicianship more carefully than her algebra skills. During college visits home I enjoyed hearing her band, ‘Sisters of Swing,’ at small OKC clubs. They countered the age of disco with a smooth jazz sound and timeless classics. No one’s ever coined a bluesier ‘Tuxedo Junction’ than Mary and her wistful ‘Don’t Fence Me In’ still rings in my head as a pedal across the plains.
Mary has cobbled together a life in music with stints in New York and Austin and side jobs as a field hand, bus driver, and store clerk. These days Mary leads a performance life. She sings regular church gigs, teaches private students, and has a new band, ‘Miss Brown to You’ that explores her own music. She collaborates with her longtime partner in life and music, Louise Goldberg. “We write new songs that sound like standards.”
Like all gay people our age, Mary and Louise have lived through the transition from rejection to marriage. Louise still recalls the conflicting guidance of her two grandmothers, “One said, ‘as long as you’re happy;’ the other said, ‘you’re breaking your mother’s heart.’ Mary and Louise married recently but are careful how they appear in a city where gay couples are still tormented. “We don’t holds hands on the street. We don’t want to invite trouble.”
How will we live tomorrow?
“When I think about self-driving cars I’m angry. My head explodes. It’s technology taking value out of our lives.” – Mary
“I’m not a linear thinker. I don’t know how we will live tomorrow. I do know what needs to be fixed… I don’t know how to live in a tribe; it’s not something I’ve done or want to do. If you live in your tribe, you give up so much for that comfort…
“How will we communicate with each other? The whole focus on fear and aggression; it’s dangerous. Look at language. I want to explore the rich differences that language illustrates among us. Asian languages do not have a subjunctive tense. The concept of regret doesn’t exist. They cannot express, ‘I wish I could have done…’ There is a whole part of the world that doesn’t have a subjunctive tense, and here I’ve subjunctive tensed my way through life.
“Look at our belief systems. Every human has their own, every family, every group. The ability to evaluate and question what we believe, and to logically consider what others believe, is not available to everyone.” – Louise