Category Archives: Music

Playbill from A Chorus Line, Drury Theatre, London 1979

I student taught in London the spring term of 1979. I can’t say that I learned much about teaching during those few months, but I sure had a blast in London.

One night a bunch of us, mostly — perhaps all — American students, went to Theatre Royal Drury Lane to see the musical A Chorus Line. I loved the musical (and still have the LP I bought after getting back to the States). Music from that show brings back such vivid memories of sights and sounds and even smells of my time in London. On the way back from the show we danced, linked arms and kicking, chorus-line-style through the streets of London, down the steps of the Underground, and back to Southlands College.

Good memories. I don’t need to keep this. Is there a market for vintage playbills?

Dad’s tiny harmonica

When I was a kid the top drawer of my dad’s dresser was off-limits. That didn’t mean I never looked in the drawer. In fact, whenever I had the house to myself I would open the drawer and check out the contents. There were things I didn’t understand until later like a potholder set with male and female reproductive areas depicted, including fake fur that represented pubic hair. There was also an envelope that contained photos of a nude woman — these are pretty mild in today’s world. Classic, even.

There were two musical instruments. One was a Jaw harp (my dad called it a “Jew’s harp” but I always heard “Juice harp”) that I was not allowed to play because it could knock out a tooth, according to my mom. My dad would play it now and then, I think he was probably pretty good at it. The other musical instrument was a Pee Wee Harmonica. He would play that too, and I know he was good at it. I gave him a full-sized harmonica for Christmas one year and he played that for us. He was always appreciative of our compliments, I can remember his smile after playing.

I don’t think I ever really looked at the printing on the side of the Pee Wee harmonica, but it says it was made in Occupied Japan. Dad was in the Navy from 1948 to 1951 so it makes sense that he got this during that time since the Smithsonian American History website lists the date these were manufactured as 1945 to 1951.

It has a little circular hook to attach to a keychain, but I’ve been meaning to clean the Pee Wee Harmonica up and put it on a chain to wear as a necklace but never got around to it. Maybe today is the day.

Clare’s Most Famous Autograph

Remember autograph books? I still have mine — it’s got the “Love Is…” characters on it. Clare got one at one point — maybe she was in middle school. She had friends and teachers sign it. I just found it during our Great Knee Wall Purge of 2023.

One night I was planning on taking her to go see my favorite singer/songwriter, Dan Bern. Clare was unable to go with me — maybe she was sick. Anyway, I went on my own. We decided that maybe I could have Dan write his autograph her new autograph book.

I got to the venue (Iota Club & Cafe in Arlington, VA) early, saved a seat for myself and grabbed dinner from next door. After eating I sat and listened to the sound check and chatted with my friend Marc (may he rest in peace). I mentioned to Marc that I was going to bring my daughter, but she couldn’t make it but she wanted Dan’s autograph. He immediately beckoned me to approach the stage and ask Dan now instead of later. Dan said he was happy to sign her book and asked what her name was.

I expected him to sign his name, and maybe write a quick note. I sat back down while he was writing — it seemed to take a while and I wondered if he didn’t know what to say and started getting embarrassed. Minutes later he handed me the book and said he hoped it was okay with Clare that he used more than one page. I was dumfounded when I looked at what he wrote. And drew.

What he did was so kind and selfless. I remember thinking that he’d be a great dad someday. And he is! His daughter Lulu is probably about the age Clare was when Dan wrote this for Clare.