Scotty Maxwell, eight years old in Depression Baltimore, took piano lessons for one year but his father stopped lessons because Scotty didn’t practice enough. “I hated to practice,” says the Springwell resident. “But by that time,” Scotty adds, “I could read music. I began playing every day. I spent all my money on sheet music and I’ve been playing ever since.”
Springwell residents in the chapel love to hear Scotty play impromptu concerts of show tunes. His nickname was invented early by a teacher who heard his name, Donald Bruce Maxwell, said, “You must be Scot-tish” (Donald’s father was born in Edinburgh), called him Scotty and the name stuck.
But there is another side, a quiet passion for the theater, to this retired Baltimore County educator and 1953 Towson State College graduate. After the U.S. Army, he taught English from 1955 to 1985 (partly as chairman) and the next decade supervised student teachers at Towson University. Off stage, he thrived on seeing others on stage.
“My first trip to the New York theater was 1951. I was 19 years old and saw Carol Channing in ‘Gentleman Pre-fer Blondes’ and the next night Anne Jeffries in ‘Kiss Me Kate’. That’s how it started.” He has seen at least 2,000 productions in New York, London, Baltimore and Washington.
Scotty’s apartment in Overlook Terrace is a wonderland of 80 framed Broadway posters as well as landscape paintings and family pictures. A TV brings him movies and news programs.
Before coming to Springwell, he gave away 72 volumes of playbills of 1,900 shows he had seen. “I appreciate the stagecraft and the actors and the music. It takes you into another world.”
One poster in his apartment depicts Katharine Hepburn in the show “Coco.” Scotty and his friend Dick met the actress backstage. She was delightful and said “I’ll send you boys something.” The mail one day brought the auto-graphed poster.
“I saw Julie Harris about twelve times in different Broadway shows. I spent a lot of time at the Met seeing Bal-anchine’s New York City Ballet. I was at “The Best Man” and sat near Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher. After-wards there was such crowding near them. I was jammed next to her. She could stop traffic…her violet eyes.”
In the summer of 2000 he met a lovely couple at the Tanglewood Music Festival in the Berkshires. They owned a spacious studio apartment in Greenwich Village.
“We admired the artistry of Joshua Bell, the violinist and other musicians. They mentioned planning to go on a four-month trip around the world and invited me to house sit for them. I was happy to do so. I also discov-ered another Village couple who took annual four-six week trips to London.
“As a result I was in the New York house-sitting business from 2000 to 2003 and was able to buy Broad-way, Off-Broadway, concert and ballet tickets at two Senior Citizen venues: Greenwich House on Barrow Street and the Hudson Guild on 17th Street in Chelsea. Broadway tickets were $2, the rest were $1. “What good times! What great memories!”