One of the Last of the Saw Players Looks Forward to an Invitation From the White House

Dorothy Flanagan, 71, of Anaheim was elegantly dressed in a lace-trimmed blouse and wide black skirt and could hardly contain herself as she talked about the saw she just bought at Pic ‘N’ Save for $2.34.

“This one doesn’t have a wide musical range,” said Flanagan, who was in her backyard serenading a couple of visitors with gospel songs. She brought out “Daisy Bell” and “Sandy,” her two professional music saws, to compare the sounds of all three.

“I have an affection for ‘Daisy Bell’ because I’ve been playing her for 57 years,” she said, while stroking the flat edge with a bow. She broke into “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do . . . ,” the song responsible for the saw’s name. A professional harpist gave her the saw in 1929.

“Sandy,” a 1986 Blacklock Special that cost $28, was a gift from friends after she won the gospel division of the recent International Musical Saw Players’ Festival in Portland, Ore.


Self-taught, Flanagan says “I’m the only person in captivity” who harmonizes in song while playing the saw. She used that ability to entertain wounded World War II servicemen in veterans’ hospitals throughout the country. “They all loved it,” she said.

Playing the saw is only one aspect of her musical life, which started when she was 7, singing and dancing in Vaudeville. Later, she played the saw in nightclubs, “and I hated it, but we needed the money.” From there she went on to teach ballet and then the piano and organ, her current means of support. “I come from a musical family,” she said of her mother, father and two sisters. One sister was a professional birdcaller but Flanagan is the only saw player.

Matter of fact, Flanagan says, there are not many saw players in the whole world. “There were only 40 competing in the Portland international festival,” she said, and that included a 13-year-old boy.

“We should start encouraging young people to play the saw,” she said, pointing out that it doesn’t cost much to start and the rewards can be immense. “You know, a saw player once performed at the Hollywood Bowl.”

But Flanagan, who lives in a modest home with her three dogs, has high goals. “I’d like to appear with a great symphony orchestra,” she said, “to sing and play religious music. It would be so fulfilling to me.”

But that’s not even the big one: “My real goal is the play for President Reagan and Nancy in the White House.”

Barbara A. Hoyt, Placentia Unified School District transportation director, figured school bus drivers needed a foolproof method to unload kindergartners at the right corner on their trip home, especially early in the school year.

Corners can look alike to a kindergartner so Hoyt developed a system of colored dots on cards placed around their neck with yarn, each color representing a specified stop.


“After the first couple of weeks, bus drivers usually know where each child gets off,” she said.

It’s a good thing. Some buses have 10 stops and 10 different colors.

Crafty senior citizens know better than anyone that it’s best to shop early for Christmas, so the Fullerton Senior Multi-Service Center has picked Oct. 11 to present its Senior Christmas Bazaar. Not only will seniors avoid crowds later, said center supervisor Patricia A. Trotter, “but people will get marvelous buys on marvelous handcrafted items made by marvelous seniors.” Now that’s marvelous.

Harvard graduate Jay E. Murley, 50, of Laguna Beach, feels if there’s a stamp honoring a duck decoy there ought to be a stamp to honor Harvard University. Never mind that the Postal Service long ago stopped colleges from getting their names on stamps because they all wanted one.


Murley feels Harvard is different. After all, wasn’t President Kennedy a Harvard grad? So Murley, who works in marketing and knows how, marketed the idea in 1984 by writing letters to “51 particular graduates,” all of whom just happened to be members of Congress. So this past Sept. 3, a stamp was issued showing a statue of Harvard University founder John Harvard.

“I got a kick out of it,” said Hurley,

president of the Harvard Club of Orange County.

Alan Garner, 36, of Huntington Beach feels that a child’s thinking is shaped at a very young age, so he put together a coloring book using the theme, “It’s OK to say no to drugs.” Each page features a drawing of a professional baseball player.


Garner, editor of the 48-page book, said he got caught up in the anti-drug movement and speaks against drugs at various gatherings. His next book will be an anti-drug parent-child manual.

He said his first effort was an anti-child abuse coloring book that sold 7 million copies. “If my anti-drug color book sells that many I’ll make some money,” he said. They sell for $1.95 a copy.