[Transcript of interview with Joe Faucett, recorded as part of the Springfield-Greene County Library District's 2010 Big Read. For more information contact the Library at 417-883-5366 or visit us on the web.]

Recorded as part of the Springfield-Greene County Library District’s 2010 Big Read.  We are speaking with Joe Faucett.  Today is Friday, March 12, 2010.  Good morning, Joe.

Good morning.

And we’re just going to visit a little bit today and I though we might start out, maybe you could tell me a little bit about where and when you were born and what was growing up like.

I was born in 1939 on a farm in Christian county.  And was very proud of the fact that I raised, bred, sold, bought, registered Jerseys. 


Yes.  And so I had a rural upbringing and grew up on a Jersey farm.

Now, did your family raise Jerseys and so you just kind of started that or did you do that separate?

No, I, they always had a mixed herd of cattle and it was through my insistence, I suppose is a nice way to put it, we ended up with registered Jerseys.

I see.

Mm hmm.

Mm hmm.  The force of your will.

One might put it that way.

And so what kinds of things did you, did you show your cows?



Went all over the state, I never did go out of state, but I went to the state fair and county fair and the fair that’s in West Plains, it’s called the Show-Me Fair.

What kinds of things did you have to do to get ready for the fair?

The cows had to have a bath.

In anything special?  Did you bathe them in anything, just water or?

Just water, just to clean them off to make sure they were clean.  And then, and then they had to be brushed so that the hair all went the right direction.  And the night before a show their tails, meaning the bush on the their tails, were curled just like a lady’s hair so it would bush out when it was combed out.

What did you curl it with?

Nothing.  Just curl it and it would hold.

You just used your fingers.

Mm hmm.

Mm hmm.  Well, that’s interesting.

It was just kind of round and round.

Mm hmm.  I never knew that.

Well, now you do.

Did you have to train them to walk on a, with a halter.

Oh, yes.  That was always fun and games, but the way we were set up we were about a hundred feet from the water tank and so they were, I always, show cows you know, you know they’re going to be show animals when they’re young.

And how do you know?

From the conformation.

And that means?

How they look.  Meaning if they’re straight, and if they walk correctly, and if they hold their heads up, and at that time if their horns were curled correctly, meaning they kind of came in and down, tilted down.

Oh, ok.

Later on, they would cut the horns off and the national shows were hornless.  But, you know, it was, it was a long process teaching them. They finally got through.  The first day or two, they fought being tied up, and when they found out that they couldn’t get away from it then you had to literally drag them out to the water and then all of a sudden when they got a, you know they found that water, they didn’t mind it too bad.  Then you had to drag them back and tie them up.  And you tied them up so that they didn’t get sunburnt, meaning the hair didn’t sunburn and change color and they were tied up during the day and allowed to graze at night.

I never knew that.


Well it’s fascinating. 


Well, it sounds like you had to have a lot of patience.

As much as possible I guess, I mean, you know, you don’t give up in the middle of something because if they find out that you’re not going to pull them all the way to the water fountain, why of course they’re going to stop and wait ‘til you quit pulling them and let go and then they go on their own.  And so, you know, then they all of a sudden, they discovered that it was very nice to walk along and pose and carry on like, like you could walk them. In fact I took them into the house one time when I …

In the house!

In the house and we just made a circle and went out with my mother screaming all the time.  That was fun.

Sounds like you had a little devilish spirit I think.

Just a touch.

Did you get in trouble after that was over with?


Now did you win, did you win a lot of ribbons?

Oh yes, yes, we had very good cattle and was able to win a lot and do some very nice things.

That’s great.  What was the fair like back then?  Did you spend any time enjoying the rest of the fair?

Very little.

You were just too busy?

Just too busy.  You know, you have to keep the cattle clean and you have to stay with them most of the time and you’re either milking or cleaning or brushing or whatever, you know, and you used blankets on them to keep the hair in the right direction and when they lay down so they don’t get the hair going another way, you know, like anybody can when you lay down your hair tends to go in different directions.

No cowlicks allowed, I guess.


It sounds like a lot of work.

Well it was, but it was kind of fun because you met people and you got to see other cattle and pretty much you halfway knew right when you walked in the ring who was gonna’ do it or who was not.  It was always fun that way.

I hate to ask this, but what happened to the cows after the show was over?

Well, they got either ready for the next one or they were all freed for the rest of the summer.

Did they wind up on your table ever?


No, they were, were they milk cows?

Mm hmm.

Yeah.  So that’s good.  You didn’t have to worry about saying goodbye to them I guess.

No, no, not ever.

Did you name them?

Oh, yes, of course, if they’re registered.  And they have to be tattooed, the Jerseys do anyway, because they are so similar in appearance that when they’re little calves, they get tattooed with indelible permanent ink and that goes on their registration.

Did you have nicknames for them?  I’m told those names are pretty long, aren’t they, the registered names?

Yeah, the registered names you usually take the farm name, and a name from their father’s line and a name from their mother’s line, and their name, so they all had at least three or four names.

More names than me. 


Now you mentioned teaching.  What kind of a teacher were you?


And how did you come about deciding that’s what you wanted to do?

Well, I always, I don’t know, I was always, in grade school, high school, and college, a singer and a piano player.  And I was more of a singer.  I was a vocal major and a piano minor.

Where did you go to school?

In Cincinnati, at the College Conservatory of Music, which is one of the top five schools in the United States.  Without bragging too much, I was a full scholarship student there.

Oh my word.

So I had some talent.

So it sounds like not only were you competing with your cows in school but you probably were going to music competitions as well.

Oh, yeah, always.

Where did you grow up?


In Ozark, Missouri.

Were you glad you were a music teacher?  Did you enjoy that career?

Oh, sure.

Did you have any stories about teaching that you’d like to share with us?

Not that are repeatable.  Most of the stories you remember are the ones that you should not remember.

Uh oh.  Uh oh.

That students acted up, or that they were doing something they shouldn’t have been doing, or, you know.

I know you taught in Waynesville.  Did you teach other places as well?

Yes, Conway, and Hartville, and one very unfortunate year at Pleasant Hope.

Uh oh.  It doesn’t sound like that one went so well.

No, it didn’t.

What was your first year of teaching like?

Well, my very first year of teaching was academic eighth grade and it went actually very well because I’m pretty good in English and history, not much in math but we got through it.  And it was kind of interesting to be around the same students all day, every day, and you know, just to see them develop.  I taught, the first year I taught, I taught eighth grade.  It was kind of wild.

So you taught everything.


You taught not just music.

Right.  I didn’t teach any music because I wasn’t the music teacher at that school.

Oh.  How was that?  Was that difficult not to be teaching music?

No, actually, it was kind of interesting, because I had, you know, …

You were learning new things too it sounds like.

Well, pretty much.  Mainly how to get along with these eighth graders.

Oh boy, eighth grade.  That’s a tough year.  That’s a tough year.  And so how long did you do that?

One or two years.  One year, I guess.  The next year the music teacher that was in that school resigned and I took over.

Ah ha.

Ah ha.

And then how long were you in that position?

I think four years.

Four years.  How long did you teach all together?  How long was your teaching career?

I think 33.

Wow.  Well, you must have like it because 33 years is a long time to do something.

Well, yeah, I kind of enjoyed it.  I trained in Cincinnati to be an opera singer but, and actually soloed with the Chicago symphony and carried on.

Oh, tell about that.  How did that come about?

It was actually, I was a 4-H member and this was through 4-H, in other words they picked a boy and girl who were 4-H members, and they auditioned and sent the tapes in, and they selected one of each to solo with the Chicago symphony during the national meeting of 4-H clubs in Chicago.

Oh.  So do you have any idea how many other auditions there were?

Oh, at least a hundred.

Wow.  Well that’s something special.


I bet your family was very proud of you.

Oh, unbelievable. In fact my aunt and uncle from Denver came through Missouri and picked up my parents and brought them to Chicago.

Oh, so everybody could see you.


And so you didn’t pursue the opera?

Well, opera is such an elusive sport, so to speak, meaning, you know, …

Mm hmm.  It’s difficult to …

Of all the people who can make it they take very few.

I see.  So any regrets about that?

Well, I would have liked to have gone on in opera but this was a very nice alternative.

Sounds wonderful.  Is there anything else you’d like to share with us today Joe?

Not particularly.  We have about discussed most of the time.  My wife was a music major and she went to SMS and I came back there one year, and our son is a professional trumpet player.

Music runs in your family!

Well, evidently.  He is, he plays music on cruise ships, he’s in one of the bands on a cruise ship.

I see.  Have you ever been on one of the cruises he was playing?

No, they’re a little expensive.

Oh yes.  Yeah.  Well, this has been really interesting and I really appreciate your coming in.  Thank you so much.

You’re quite welcome, and thank you.

[Transcript of interview with Joe Faucett, recorded as part of the Springfield-Greene County Library District's 2010 Big Read. For more information contact the Library at 417-883-5366 or visit us on the web.]