“I’m told I’m the oldest living trumpet player in the state of New Mexico,” Anthony Castle shrugs. “I don’t know if it’s true.” Castle was born in 1924 in Fredonia, N.Y., home of the State University of New York, renowned for its School of Music.
Music runs in the family. His brother, Bruno, was a trumpet player. His wife is a singer, and his son, too, is a musician. “My brother insisted I learn trumpet,” said Castle. He started playing professionally when he was 14 and still in high school. “I had to get my first long pants; I was still in knickers then.”
At 87, Castle continues to share his talents with community of Roswell, originally with the ENMU-R Community Band. Later, bandmaster Ken Tuttle asked him to join Roswell Jazz Orchestra, but he’s slowing down and wanted to spend more time with his wife, so Castle retired from the Community Band to stay with his first love, Angela, and his second, jazz.
His band wages paid for his first year of college at SUNY, but he was only able to complete one year before his country called him into the armed services. Because of his background and experience in music, Castle was sent to the special services to entertain the troops overseas. He had to audition for “Sound Off” and completed 16 shows. He played in Berlin, Bavaria, Stuttgart and Mannheim, Germany, Salzburg, Austria, Paris and London.
“In 1946, the shooting was just about over, and at the time, Bob Hope only did the big shows, but we had people scattered at all sorts of places. I had a driver, a truck and a jeep assigned to me,” Castle said.
In Berlin, he had to pass checkpoints into Russian-occupied territory. Most of the time, he said, they had no trouble. Once, though, his truck did get stopped, a frightening experience.
Castle continued his education when he returned and married singer Angela Castle. He proudly displays a newspaper clip from 1955 announcing her recording of “Candy and Cake” with MGM studios. When they first started dating, she traveled a lot singing with big bands, and he said that he called her one day and asked her to come home. She did and Castle has been devoted to her ever since.
Angela taught music at SUNY. He took a job at Farnham teaching mathematics and science. “I wanted to teach music, but they didn’t have it the budget. Then our first son came along.” With his wife unable to work, Castle could not support the family on the $2,900 annual salary he received from teaching, so he switched careers and worked for Prudential, without ever abandoning music. Later he was promoted to financial adviser.
Castle’s son is Dr. James J. Castle, chief orthopedic surgeon at Eastern New Mexico Medical Center. The couple had two sons; both physicians.
Dr. Stephen Castle, specializes in dermatology, with a practice is based in Colorado. Castle quipped, “When the two of them get together, I can hardly understand a word they’re saying.”
Stephen carries on the family tradition of music. “He’s played in Las Vegas,” Castle said.
Castle continued his musical career, traveling to San Diego, to play at the Paris Inn and the Grand Hotel. He’s also played at O’Henry’s Ballroom in Chicago, where he picked a hat from the trumpet player in Jimmy Dorsey’s Orchestra. He’s toured in Ohio, New Jersey and Florida where he hit “all the night spots.”
The couple retired to Florida in 1965, but retirement didn’t suit Castle. “I was bored stiff after three weeks. I applied for a job (washing cars) at Baco West. I didn’t care if it was washing cars. I just wanted to work.” He eventually became the boss over the crew and stayed for 14 years.
In Florida his wife developed a severe infection secondary to surgery, and his son James suggested that the couple come to Roswell to be with family.
Castle practices his trumpet every day. He visits his wife in Mission Arch. He and the Roswell Jazz Orchestra have performed at Pearson Auditorium, Peppers and Senior Circle. “The people are great. The guys and the girls know I have trouble getting around, so they come pick me up to take me to rehearsals,” he said.
Still, he plans to blow that horn. “When I get so I can’t blow, then I’ll quit.’