What is a Cauthen?

A certain Richard Cawthorne III (1644-1687) emigrated to Virginia from England in 1674. Over the years, the spelling of the family name gradually transformed into CAUTHEN. As far as we know, Richard Cawthorne III was the only member of the family to emigrate. Thus, all the American Cauthens are blood relatives. This will be distressing news, I am sure, to my millionaire horse-jockey cousin, Steve Cauthen, come last will and testament time. I'm not likely to see a cent, however--our common ancestor hasn't been seen in a number of years: James Cawthorn, 1725-1805.

Oh yes, CAWTHORNE is an Anglo-Saxon name. Means "cold thorns." Swell.

A Brief Etiology of Me

A failure to observe strict family planning protocols resulted in my birth, January 11, 1957, in Nashville, Tennessee. While this mishap ultimately forced my mother to give up teaching 8th grade English, my father did manage to finish his PhD at Vanderbilt University. Unfortunately, my expensive addiction to Gerber strained peas forced my father to take a position teaching philosophy and religion at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. In this way, I was able to spend my cute phase in the ancestral homeland (well, since 1830 or so). In 1960, my father accepted a position at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. Aside from providing the funding for three sets of orthodonture, Crozer is also notable for having granted Martin Luther King, Jr. his Doctor of Divinity degree.

Even though living in Pennsylvania soon cost me my adorable southern drawl, I still consider myself an ethnic Southerner. In 1964, the Seminary was forced to sell our on-campus home for cash. I had two sisters by now; the five of us moved to a suburban tract called The Timbers just outside Wilmington, Delaware. We also accompanied my father on his sabbatical at the University of Chicago in 1966-67. While we were there: the McCormack Center burned up, a tornado struck the south side, the city was paralyzed for three days by a blizzard. Nice place to visit... Soon after we returned to Delaware I discovered Bach (played by Glen Gould on the radio), and Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven (played by on 50-cent grocery store LPs); my parents even indulged my desire to learn to play the piano. In late 1968, I flirted briefly with popular culture and general social acceptance by my peers. This resulted in my loner phase. Crozer finally went broke and in 1970 merged with the Colgate-Rochester/Bexley Hall Theological Seminary in Rochester, New York.

Although I was only 13 in 1970, I consider myself exclusively a child of the 60s. I have these vivid memories: 10-cent Cokes in 6- ounce bottles, Jonny Quest, gory color pictures of the My Lai massacre in LIFE magazine, Batman, the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King (the only time I ever saw my father cry), drive-in movies, little Vietnamese children with their skin melted like wax by American napalm, Neil Armstrong and Mr. Spock.

Rochester was a good place for me to be: medium-sized city securely financed by medium-tech industries like Kodak, Xerox, and Bausch & Lomb, good school of music, good orchestra. Lots of smart people live there. In 8th grade I sat next to Phil. Phil was taking calculus at the high school and teaching himself Arabic. When you sit next to Phil, no one ever gives YOU a hard time about skewing the curve on the last exam.

Throughout most of my high incarceration I was heavily into S & M (sciences & math). I figured biochemistry was the life for me. One problem: every time I picked up a college catalogue, the first thing I looked at was the music courses. Finally realized that music was where my intellectual curiosity really lay. I shocked my piano teacher with this revelation; she shipped me off to music camp to practice. Smart move. In fall 1975, I entered Oberlin College as a double degree candidate in math and piano performance. Linear algebra and multivariable calculus (at 8:00 AM) took care of the former, talent did in the latter. Music history became the life for me (or so I thought).

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Created 6/17/95. Updated: 8/5/95.