The Men’s Club Speaker Series welcomes Warren Hickman to the podium Friday morning. He was a chief staff officer for…
Describing Chautauqua to an outsider is a daunting if not futile undertaking but it means something deeply personal to the Chautauquans who have been returning for decades.
Warren Hickman made himself comfortable in a favorite armchair and eased his legs onto a matching footstool. We were sitting in his cozy apartment, Hickman’s son busy setting up the place for the season and assembling a sleek-looking gizmo to assist his dad as he moves around the grounds this summer. The two men would soon do several weeks’ worth of grocery shopping at Wegmans, and then Hickman’s son would prepare for his own return to New York City.
On the coffee table in front of us sat two thick, new Amazon-published paperback volumes Warren recently finished writing: War and Crises, 1914–1948: The Road to Free Trade, volumes 1 and 2.
Warren Hickman is 92 years old. He has been coming to Chautauqua since 1926. Including a break for service overseas in World War II, that’s 85 years. After trying Sarasota for a couple of years, he has resumed spending the winters in Trumansburg, N.Y. He talked recently with the Daily about his life.
Warren Hickman’s earliest memory of listening to a musical group in the Amphitheater was in 1926, when his father brought his family to see John Philip Sousa and his band.
“It was such a crowd that we were about the third row of standees,” Hickman said. “I’ll always remember that he put me on his shoulders so that I could see over the crowd, and one of the percussionists for one of the marches took out a black pistol and shot it in the air three times.”
Sousa’s band was a memorable moment, but the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra has been the epicenter of a lifetime of memories at Chautauqua for Hickman and his family.