The house at 422 Monroe in Waxahachie was literally rocking Saturday at the celebration that marked completion of the renovation project of local musician Mark Garth’s home.
By early afternoon, several musicians, including original Techniques guitar player Larry White, turned up the amplifiers and began the party under Garth’s new carport, playing several of the classic songs performed by the band members during their youth. One of the audience members remarked it was reminiscent of the days when the guys – who were classmates at Waxahachie High School – would gather in one of their garages to practice.
Just before the break, Garth himself joined in on the keyboard and did the vocals for a song he’s recorded for an upcoming memorial CD to be released at this year’s Waxajam.
During the break, Waxajam board president Sam Taylor gave a history of the renovation project.
“We chose today as it was 364 days ago a friend and caring neighbor of Mark’s saw the need to help Mark out. To begin to raise the funds, he held a benefit to start raising money for the project,” Taylor said of Johnny Wiggins’ efforts.
Taylor went on to describe how the Waxajam board decided it wanted to help out.
“We just started out to rebuild Mark’s bedroom to make it larger and improve his living conditions,” Taylor said, listing more than 30 names of individuals and businesses that contributed to make the project a reality. “We are so lucky that we had so many that literally not only worked to make this a reality, but made it a first class place for Mark.”
Taylor noted it was a countywide effort and beyond, with the donors and volunteers coming from Ennis, Waxahachie and Midlothian and even some suppliers from Duncanville and Dallas.
“In one instance, one day, a truck pulled up in front of the house loaded with drywall. We can’t pay for that,” Taylor said he told the driver, who told him it was all a donation.
Following his announcements, Taylor presented each person present who had a part in the project with a special ball cap with the words “WAXAJAM CRAFTSMAN” on the front and “Mark Garth Project 2011” on the back.
“I want you to wear these out in the community and when any one ask what was the Mark Garth Project, please tell them how a community came to help Mark,” Taylor said.
Taylor presented Leadership Recognition certificates to Glenn Hejny, Perry Estepp, Jimmy Phillips and Mike Bradshaw, saying, “They saw a need and unselfishly made it happen.”
Other recognitions went to Jean Taylor, who received the Faithful Servant Leadership Award; Tommy Melton, who received the Angel Award; and Johnny Wiggins, who received the Visionary Award.
The many guests began their tour through the house to see the many changes.
“I had a vision of what this would look like when we finished, but this far exceeds the vision I had,” Hejny said while admiring the finished home.
Garth’s son, Richard Poland, joined his dad during the tour.
“This is a miracle and this will help Dad out so much,” Poland said.
Another guest was Sharon Ingram from Springfield, Ill.
“I’ve known Mark for 46 years. I was his first girlfriend and he was my first boyfriend,” she said, saying she came back to attend their 40th reunion. “I came here especially to see Mark.”
Commenting on the house, she said, “This is much improved. It is beautiful. It all came from the hearts of the people.”
Several of the guests brought gifts to help Garth decorate. One brought a clock and another brought a birdhouse made from wood and parts from the old room. Another gift given to Garth was from the band August Heat, which gave him a turntable that can be connected to a computer.
“With this equipment, Mark can copy records onto CDs,” band member David Costlow said, describing the turntable and other hardware.
With his new computer addition, Garth said he is looking forward to copying people’s favorite vinyls for them, something he hopes he can do as a business to earn an income.
With his living room repainted and decorated and with new furniture, Garth also is looking forward to fulfilling a long time dream: “I’ve always wanted to start a ukulele club and give ukulele lessons.”
Garth, a Waxahachie High School graduate and a local musician, was paralyzed from the chest down as the result of an auto accident in the mid 1960s. He was a member of a group known as the Techniques and was joined by fellow band members Larry White and Sammy Compton at Waxajam 8 last October, playing together for the first time since 1966.
Waxajam, a nonprofit organization, dedicated funds from its 2010 gathering toward the renovation project to make Garth’s home better accessible for his wheelchair.