Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Talented Tuesday - My Dad

My dad was the person who taught me how to play piano and enjoy music.  I started piano lessons at the age of 5 in our living room while the piano sat in the middle of the room as the wallpaper was being stripped from the walls.  It began a lifelong journey for me, but today I'm going to talk about my dad's musical journey.

My dad started piano lessons when he was 7 years old in 1921.  His teacher traveled 15 miles by horse and buggy to his home in Homerville, Ohio.  She charged 50 cents a lesson!  He started playing the trumpet in the first grade. During his school years he often played for church functions and ice cream socials.  After he graduated from high school, he went to Chicago to attend the Sherwood Music School.  He was in the school orchestra while he was there.  He had intended to become a music teacher in the public schools.  While attending the Sherwood Music School, one of his classmates was Phyllis Diller, who was from Lima, Ohio.

After high school he started a small band with two of his cousins.  They called themselves the Hawaiian Harmonizers. 
 My dad is on the left

This trio traveled from Sullivan, Ohio to Mansfield, Ohio every Saturday morning and had a half-hour radio show. 

At one point in time dad could play the guitar and the harmonica at the same time.  His harmonica was attached to a "stand" around his neck.  He also sang along with it.

Dad never got to finish his musical education.  His parents were farmers and could not afford to help him with his tuition.  He left Chicago and returned to Ohio.  He worked for the Ashland Rubber factory making balloons.  It was a very hot and sweaty job.  There were large vats of ammonia that the balloons were dipped in and out of.  Even though my dad has no sense of smell, he could tell the presence of ammonia.  From there he moved to factory work, helping to make axles for cars and finally as a gear machinist.

In 1939 he married my mother and in 1942 I was their firstborn child.  Three more childen were added to the family over the years.

Dad has taught many individuals how to play music over the years both in Ohio and in Arizona where he now resides.  He has played for numerous dance bands including square dance bands in the 1950's.  He has been a church organist for several churches.  He has played in restaurants and coffee houses.  He has had 2 music stores

At the age of 95 he was still playing organ for a coffee shop in Prescott, Arizona.

 Dad will be 98 years old on January 2.  He isn't playing music these days, but he has fond memories of the times that he did.  He had a cousin that lived to be 106 and she was still teaching music at the age of 100.  I hope I inherit those longevity genes!


  1. Wow! What a wonderful story. I've often thought that creativity helped with stress relief. Maybe that has contributed to their long lives!

    1. Heather, I agree that creativity helps with stress! In addition to my music, genealogy and reading, I love to crochet when I can (even though it's been awhile). Keeping my hands and eyes busy always seems to be a stress buster for me! Thank you for reading the blog.