Mike Reid had two loves when he was growing up: music and football, and he came to a point where he felt like he didn't have enough time to pursue both.
So when he told his father he wanted to quit taking piano lessons from his teacher, Kathryne Karraker Hitchen, his father told him he had to tell her himself.
"I haven't told anybody this, but the reason I didn't tell her was that I had a mad crush on her, and I couldn't bring myself to leave her," Reid told the audience when he accepted his Honorary Alumni Award at Penn State Altoona's annual Ivyside Society event Thursday night.
Mirror photo by Gary M.?Baranec
Mike Reid, who received Penn State Altoona’s honorary alumni award on Thursday, kisses the hand of Kathryne Karraker Hitchen, Reid’s piano teacher while growing up in Altoona. The meeting was a complete surprise to Reid.
Reid, an NFL football player turned award-winning country songwriter who grew up in Altoona, told the audience this just after Hitchen, 90, of Altoona made her way onstage to surprise him and tell the story of his decision to quit piano lessons.
After a while, they came to an agreement and Reid did stop taking lessons, but she said she knew in her heart he'd take it up again because music was "too much a part of Mike."
"I'm so glad he didn't stop that day," she said from the podium at the Misciagna Family Center for Performing Arts on campus.
After accepting the award, Reid played three songs he'd written about the area. One about the road he grew up on, another about coming home after being away and re-establishing his roots and one about his first love, a girl named Charlene.