In this month’s “Meet the Bibliomaniac” feature, we are happy to introduce you to Jeff Swope, one of our San Antonio-area managers. Not only does Jeff manage one of our stores, he also plays bass in the Corpus Christi Symphony! Check out the Q&A below to learn a little more about Jeff.
Name: Jeff Swope
Job Title: Store Manager at the Broadway location in San Antonio
When did you join the HPB team? In March of 1989, I was hired by Ellen O’Neal (current chairperson of the board) and was trained at the Broadway store. After my training, I was transferred to the Castle Hills location, which was new at the time. In 1992, I was selected as assistant manager for the Bandera store, where I became store manager in 1994. Also that year, I married a fellow Half Price Books employee, Janie Rodriguez. In 1996, I came full circle back to Broadway as store manager.
What is your favorite part about working at HPB? Going to work every day to a job that I really like (with books, records and people!) and it never gets old. Every day is an adventure. My store is the oldest store in the chain still in its original location. The store was built around 1925 and has been many things from a beauty salon bridal boutique to a photography studio to rental apartments on the top floor. I even had a customer tell me he was born in one of the apartments upstairs. Many customers and employees alike claim the upstairs part of the store is haunted . . . Come by and find out for yourself!
What is your all-time favorite book? Good question. I have no answer because they are all good.
What are you reading right now? The Great One: The Life and Legend of Jackie Gleason by William Henry III, All the Things You Are: The Life of Tony Bennett by David Evanier, and last but not least, The Letters of Mozart by Hans Mersmann – I purchased this at the famous Half Price Books in Corpus Christi, Texas.
When did you start playing the bass? I started in 1974. My mom loves to tell the story of how I was too little to carry the bass home from school by myself, so I had a friend help. I would carry the bass by the neck and my friend would hold it by the end pin at the bottom of the instrument. We looked like we were carrying a coffin down the street! After that, we always seemed to have a station wagon in the family.
What made you choose the bass? I remember watching the Count Basie band on PBS when I was a kid in Abilene, Texas, and I thought the bass player was cool. A year later we moved to Mesquite, Texas, where a group of string teachers stopped by Galloway Elementary school to demonstrate the violin, viola, cello and bass in an effort to recruit kids for the orchestra. I saw the bass again, was immediately drawn to it, and said, “that’s it, that’s what I want to play!” That was 1974 and I’m still playing.
When did you join the Corpus Christi Symphony? I believe it was around 1997. Before then, I had been playing in orchestras all over South Texas and finally had to slow down due to my ever increasing job responsibilities with Half Price Books. I made the decision to cut it down to just one orchestra and that was the Corpus Christi Symphony because it is such a wonderful place to make music. They have a community there that really supports the arts. My wife was also very happy that I would be home more often to take care of the “honey do” list around the house. Doh!
How often do you travel there for practice and performances? I travel to Corpus around six to eight times a year. We have a rehearsal on Thursday night, two rehearsals Friday, one rehearsal on Saturday morning and one show Saturday night.
Do you have a favorite piece to play and if so, what is it? There is so much to choose from, but I would have to say the Beethoven Symphonies are my favorites, especially #7 & #9.
Anything else to add? I am very grateful that I have a wonderful job that allows me a little time off here and there for my hobby of orchestral music performance.
Thanks, Jeff! Do we have any customers who play classical music? What’s your favorite symphony?