My granddaughter Erin has decided to join her elementary school band. Daughter Katie sent me a photo of a smiling Erin holding her instrument of choice, an alto saxophone.
I’m thrilled that Erin is showing some interest in music at an early age. Maybe she’ll stick with it, maybe she won’t, but at least she’s giving it a try.
Erin’s choice of the alto sax is especially gratifying, as that’s the instrument my mom played in her younger days. If she were still here, I know she’d be proud.
Hanging on the wall in my music room is an old framed photograph, circa 1940, of the Hi-C’s, the jazz band Mom played with at Speedway High School. In the photo she’s sitting in the front row, behind a big white music stand with Hi-C’s printed on the front, holding her saxophone.
At that time she was about the same age as Erin’s sister, Brooke. I took a photo of the photo with my smartphone and sent it to Katie and Erin.
As I was admiring my teenage mother, it dawned on me that at one time I was in possession of the sax she’s cradling in the picture.
I clearly remember her giving it to me when I was around 14 or 15 and starting to play the drums. Maybe she hoped I would fall in love with the saxophone and stop the incessant pounding she couldn’t escape without leaving the house … make that the block.
At that time it had been untouched for 25 years, so it wasn’t in the best working order. But we bought a new reed for it, and I started squeaking and squawking. It was fun, but it never had the allure of the drums or the electric guitar.
Besides, the Dave Clark Five had a sax player, and I was strictly a Beatles man.
As I was looking at the jazz band photo and reminiscing about Mom’s saxophone, another thought came to me. Whatever happened to that saxophone?
I know I no longer have it, but for the life of me I can’t remember when it left me and under what circumstances. I don’t remember giving it to anyone or selling it, but I must have done one or the other, because it’s gone.
How stupid of me. A family heirloom and I carelessly let it slip through my fingers.
Even worse, Mom’s saxophone is but one of many such things that once meant a lot to me that have disappeared along the way.
My beloved gold Schwinn Stingray. My Lionel electric train set. Paintings and other art projects. Letters I received. School papers. My Strombecker slot car track. My flute. My 45 rpm singles. And all the lunch boxes and toys I see fetching big money at antique stores. If I still had them all, I could increase my retirement fund significantly.
Recently I saw a feature story on TV about a guy whose entire house is filled with his collection of matchbooks. I also collected matchbooks at one time. For many years I made a habit of picking one up from every restaurant, bar or other establishment I visited that had its own matchbook cover.
I was not a huge collector by any means, but I had more than 100 at one time. When I saw the feature on TV, I thought it would be fun to take another look at my collection, just to remind myself of some of the places I’ve been, most of which aren’t even in business anymore.
Just one problem. I can’t find my matchbooks. Are they around the house somewhere? Or did they, like my Stingray, just disappear?
I’m aware that when I’m gone, my children and grandchildren won’t have any interest in my matchbook collection (if I find it) or most of the other junk I’ve collected over the years. But I can’t help but think that should Erin decide to stick with the saxophone, someday she might appreciate having the horn her great-grandmother rocked the bobbysoxers with in the days just before World War II.
So I’m making a commitment to myself to be more careful from now on and to do a better job keeping track of the things that matter to me.
Uh, has anyone seen my wife?
Doug Showalter can be reached at 379-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.