Leslie Hartman by Monk Watson

     Leslie “Peeny” Hartman!


Newspaper clipping from March 17, 1965: “Dear Monk;

Speaking of entertainers of yesterday, I wish you would put in a word for “Peeny” (not sure of the spelling) Hartman. I believe his name is Leslie. There were many, including myself, who thought he was the greatest on the saxophone. I have never heard anyone who could compare with him and those magical notes he produced.”

Answer by Monk Watson: “I never called Leslie “Peeny” that I can remember, and I never heard him call me “Monk”. Funny, but that was the way it was, perhaps because we grew up together in the days of going to Sunday School, making music together in the front room of his home (the red brick house where the former policeman lives on South Blackstone). Leslie’s father played string bass, and his brother played piano. Leslie played clarinet at that time and so did I.

When I returned from France he had taken up the sax and was making real great music with it. When I say music I mean the kind you could sing to and remember overnight. He could fake anything that people asked for, as well as read any music put in front of him. He didn’t get away from the melody, but played it from his heart. I’m sorry that the kids coming up are not hearing much of that kind of music these days. Leslie, known as Peeny, played at the Mid Lakes for years and people danced to his music. That’s another thing to remember; when they went to a dance they knew whom they were dancing with.

Back to the Sunday School days. I remember when I was 15 years old, and my mother gave me 15 cents for my birthday box. I stopped at Hartman’s store and gave Leslie one cent and he gave me gumdrops and jawbreakers that would cost half a bank today. I didn’t think that his father minded one bit. Leslie and I would walk off to church and all was right with the world. Sure he made mistakes, and during his last four years he didn’t seem to care much about anything. I’d look at him and remember the best-dressed young man in Colon, bringing joy to everyone with his horn. If all the people had asked him to work into the night on their radios or motors had attended his funeral, the room couldn’t have held them. Maybe we forget too soon. I made him happy in the hospital when I took our lovely singer, Kathy Walters, over to sing for his friends. I did my full act, too. Peeny was too tired to stay for the whole show, but excused himself with, “Don, please tell the girl I’m real sick and had to leave.” A real nice guy, Peeny, in my book.”