Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Passion For Music

That's my grandfather playing the violin in this picture taken almost 60 years ago in Midland, Michigan. I borrowed the photo this past November from the restaurant that had it so I could make a copy to give to my 94-year-old grandmother for Christmas.

Grandpa's Polish bands entertained at weddings, clubs and parties, playing a variety of waltzes, polkas and other dance favorites of the time. His personal library of music, carried in a large leather bag emblazoned with his initials, was passed on to me when he died some ten years ago. Included were orchestral arrangements of musical pieces from the 30s, 40s and 50s. Many songs were notated by hand. Most of the sheet music was rubber stamped with the name of grandpa's band and his home address.

I can still picture him singing a favorite Polish waltz at my sister's wedding, his voice still stirringly resonant at 84. Amateur musicians we were on my father's side of the family. My grandmother played drums for a time. My father blew saxophone in a polka band that always included at least one of my uncles.

The first time my wife Wendy and I went out socially over a quarter century ago, she was among a group of co-workers that I drove to hear my own brother's rock band play some 100 miles away from Ann Arbor. My youngest brother occasionally sat in there, playing his own saxophone. Although not part of a formal band, my sister played cello. When my brother's band would play weddings, I occasionally would sit in for waltzes or polkas with my accordion.

As the next generation of musicians matures, I believe the spirit of grandpa is with them. I am sure his spirit was there when my son Greg serenaded my folks at their 50th wedding anniversary, accompanying himself on the guitar while he sang, "Forever and Ever, Amen." Maybe grandpa was there too when my nephew played Wipe Out on the drums at his own wedding just over a year ago.

We all have past-times, hobbies and interests as we meander through life. When your avocation becomes so much a part of you, then you become identified with it. It can even become your legacy. So it was with grandpa and his music.


Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

"Music hath charms to soothe the accordion savage."

You're a pretty interesting guy. Next you'll be telling me you got a Univ. of Mich. degree in Mime.

I liked this story a lot, Dave. Nicely done.

9:39 AM  
Blogger poopie said...

Music has always been a passion for me.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

Wonderful story, Dave. Sounds like you and your family are very musically inclined.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Nankin said...

My husband is a music junky. It's not unusual for me to wake up at 2:00 in the morning and hear him playing the piano.

He had his first church choir at the ripe old age of fifteen and has never stopped. He just turned 73.

You shoud see the collection music he has. There's also three boxes of old LP albums sitting in our garage as we speak.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's good to have the music in you

6:25 AM  
Blogger bornfool said...

I liked this story, too. I'm very musically inclined but nobody else in the family is. I don't know where I got it from.

8:13 AM  
Anonymous bonnie said...

Music is my aeroplane, too! Do you still serenade Wendy with your accordian?

Your sister got all the talent and brains in your family, I see. All joking aside - this is a wonderful post, Dave!

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Being both half Polish and having grown up with music, especially those polkas, I really enjoyed your blog today! Ah...the accordian...my Polish uncle played at every family event when I was a child. Thanks for bringing back great memories for me.
By the way...I'm sure you've heard of Frankie Yankovich...I had him once as my patient in Home Health Care. What a super guy and he gave me one of his polka cassettes.

8:26 AM  
Anonymous kristy said...

Thank you for copying that picture. I make dozens of copies of old family photos, LABEL them, and spread them to anyone mildly interested. It's the best way to ensure their survival for the next generation.

Lovely post. Thanks!

8:59 AM  
Blogger Abandoned in Pasadena said...

First of all thank you for answering my question about spam.

You come from a long line of musicians. I also played the accordian as a child. Memories are wonderful things to carry with us and to share. I loved reading about your grandpa...I can tell that you are very proud of your grandpa, even though he has passed on. He was probably smiling down at you as you were recalling & writing down these wonderful memories of him.

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Michele Shire said...

I hope that you will be able to add more stuff on this blog! Regards, horse lover Michele Shire

2:23 AM  
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