Trusty trumpet spans long musical career

Eugene Kresl played in dozens of towns in Iowa and one thing was a constant – his trusty Selma Paris trumpet bought in 1948.

“It’s old enough to draw Social Security,” Kresl said.

The 84-year-old Marshalltown resident and former local band teacher remembers fondly the 65 years he’s played the trumpet with 52 of them playing for bands in dance halls across the state.

He played big band music to more than 60 Iowa towns through the years.

“I worked with some great guys,” Kresl said.

In 2011, he decided to stop playing when one band member got ill, and it was a sign for him to hang up the trumpet.

“I haven’t played it for a while,” Kresl said. “I haven’t got the lip for it any more.”

Kresl first became interested in the trumpet as a young boy growing up in Nebraska visiting his uncle.

“I would always take out the horn and start playing it,” he said.

His longtime horn, which was made in France, didn’t come cheap. His dad bought it for $315 in 1948. Considering its longevity, it appears it was worth every penny.

Of all the various gigs the band took on, Kresl said he remembers the rare occasions when the band didn’t play. One time there was a huge flood and one performance in Tama was cut short due to a massive snow storm. Kresl said that storm produced five inches of snow per hour.

“It took me three hours to drive from Tama back to Marshalltown,” he said. “I don’t know how I made it up my driveway with my car.”

Another longtime local musician, Cliff Hayes, said he remembered playing with Kresl.

“He was a good player,” Hayes said.

Many of the other people Kresl played with through the years have died, and he said he’s fortunate to have stayed in good physical condition.

Kresl can’t pinpoint one reason why the trumpet always has been his passion.

“I just like to play it,” he said. “I just love music.”