February 10th, 2013: Dad worked his usual 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift at the hardware store. I was up to help out, as I did every once in awhile, on weekends, school breaks, and summer vacation. I don't remember any specifics on from this day. But I'm guessing the mood was a bit more somber than usual between dad and his two workers, Pat Orr, and Donald "Peachy" Foreman. And there may have been some friends and customers who made stops in to say hello. Word travels fast in a small town.
Dad was a pretty good trombone player. Good enough to pay musicians union dues. I think he began playing in junior high school, in Quincy. I'm told he was good enough that, if he'd wanted to pursue it professionally, he might have gone somewhere with it. But the hardware store was his life. Golf, and the trombone were his two main hobbies.
He was into big band and swing. Stan Getz and Woody Herman were two he liked. I also remember healthy doses of Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole. and Glenn Miller.
He'd played with many people, and many places, through the years. The black and white photo that accompanies this entry shows, from left: Virgil Kriegshauser on trombone, Lew Grigsby on trumpet, Gerald "Doc" Shaw on upright bass, and Maurice "Chick" Robinson on piano. The photo is from 1948.
|Dad, left, with friends. 1948|
Mom didn't mind giving up her husband to his music most of the time. But they also played on New Year's Eve. I remember some teeth gnashing over those gigs, as mom and I spent that night at home, without dad.
I only got to see him play a few times. Three at the most. Virginia was probably an hour and a half from Pittsfield. They played late, he got home late. Too late for a kid my age. But there were one or two times when I got to be there for part of the evening. It was a real privilege to have dinner with the adults, then watch those guys play. They were really good, and I could see how much joy dad got out of playing.
The trombone is a Conn. It sits in a corner of my apartment. I don't know how old it is, or it's pedigree. But that Saturday night, February 10th, 1973, was the last time dad played that horn.
I carried it to "Thursday Night Jazz," here in Galesburg, around 1997 or 1998. I'd told Scott Garlock, a music professor at Knox College, about the horn and dad. He made music with it for the first time since 73'. He says there's a small glitch in the slide, but it was very nice of him to bring the horn back to life again. That was the last time it's been played.