Fred Gielow. July 16, 2023.
The road back home
I reached into the back of the closet and retrieved my ukulele in its case. Haven't played the thing for years.
I bought it when I was in high school, at a music store right across the street from the school. My friend, Herb Daly, had a uke and was rather talented with it. I wanted to play as well as he did. I got a baritone uke -- looks a little more hefty and a little less like a toy.
Got some song books and had a lot of fun learning and singing along. Another friend, John Lama, and I decided to enter our high school talent show. I think we sang "Penthouse Serenade." That was more than 70 years ago! Don't think the performances were ranked -- probably a good thing. But we did a decent job. And it was quite a thrill, indeed.
Didn't use my uke in college, and not a whole lot after that, actually. Occasionally, I'd drag it out and strum a little, singing along. Each time, I enjoyed it a lot.
When I heard about a national song contest (probably in the 1970s), I decided to enter. Contestants had to write and perform a song about CB radios. I put together some lyrics and a melody and an arrangement and recorded my entry. With my ukulele, of course.
My song concluded with: "I've got a friend, just around the bend, on the other end of my CB. And he's a true-blue friend, a friend I'd recommend, on the other end of my CB." Songs were to be recorded on cassette and mailed in.
Those who entered were promised a critique, recorded on the same cassette, which would be mailed back. I thought my entry had been lost, because it was months before my cassette appeared in the mail. The critique was short and innocuous. It really wasn't a critique at all. Of course I didn't win anything.
Another time I dragged out my ukulele was when my manager at work asked me to put together an entertainment program for the members of our department. For one of the segments, I decided to sing and play "Bye, Bye Blues." Must have been sometime in the late 1980s. A decent performance, if I recall correctly, considering I was very rusty.
But now, right now, I'm going through all my things and I'm trying to give away or throw away as much as I can.
My ukulele needs to move on.
I packed it and all sorts of other items in my 2007 Pontiac Solstice and drove to a nearby Salvation Army Collection Center. Eight or more plastic bins in various colors were lined up along one wall. I carefully carried the uke in its case to a big, blue bin and gently placed it inside, along the far side of the bin.
There were no sentimental moments. I just walked away. The uke's strings will sing again. The instrument will have a new beginning: new songs, new music, new experiences.
It's time to let memories be memories. And let objects live anew.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
And it's time for someone else to find pleasure using Dad's walking stick that he so enjoyed for so many years on his walks along the shores of Lake Michigan at Douglas.
It's time for someone else to enjoy the multi-colored, ceramic vase I've treasured for more than 65 years. It was the first thing my future wife and I purchased for ourselves.
It's time for someone to make use of the starter pistol I got probably in the late 1960s. At the time, I was singing in a barbershop comedy quartet (the Unlikely Hoods), and one of our songs was "The Gunslinger." Obviously, the pistol was a handy prop.
It's time for someone else to enjoy the Laurel and Hardy books I found so delightful to read. And so many other books I enjoyed over the years.
It's time for someone else to use the backpack I carried with me on several thrilling trips to Africa.
It's time for someone else to enjoy the beautiful animal skin I received decades ago. Don't remember who give it to me, or exactly when. The fur is so soft and rich and plush.
It's time for someone else to make use of the hefty chime (42 inches long!) that the comedy quartet I sang in (the Brotherhood) used on stage for numerous performances. (It sounds an F, the key of our first song.)
It's time for someone else to find a use for the large strobe light that was built into a four-spotlight unit the Brotherhood Quartet used with its "Guys and Dolls" medley. As we sang, I remotely activated a stepping switch which changed the lighting effects, culminating with the strobe, giving a stop-action appearance for the last song in the package.
It's time for someone else to enjoy the black leather hat I so enjoyed for so long, and the fine leather jacket I liked so much.
It's time for someone else to wear the tuxedo I wore the last time I sang on a barbershop show (in the Senior Moments Quartet).
It's time for someone else to use the dishes, clothes, shoes, books, and so many other things I don't really need any more. Let all these things begin a new generation. Let them please a new audience.
I've made a trip to the collection center every day this week (Monday - Friday). More trips are planned for next week.