My music

Music has been such an important part of my life for many years. Only of late with my severe loss of hearing and dependence on hearing aids has it moved to a saved place in my being and something I tend to have to avoid as it is too difficult to try and listen and “hear” so….. And so very much of my enjoyment has been as an active participant in music; not to say I didn’t enjoy listening, especially to live performance. And my music was always very eclectic and catholic. I could enjoy virtually any type of music. And I guess I still do but much of my enjoyment today is in the memory of the sounds. I am often assailed in gyms by loud speaker sounds and have no enjoyment. And friends often hand me a device with a sound reproduction device of minuscule size and expect me to react well. Sorry friends, I have to rely on my “mental” hearing!
So, now to Old Armijo Elementary School (established in 1912, so it said over the main entry) on Isleta Hyway – old US 85 – in the South Valley in Bernalillo County. I started there in November of 1949 when we moved from Louisiana. My dad was military and was sent to Sandia Base. We lived on Sunset Road (1259!) and then further out to Perry Road (2047!). And old school made up of two buildings that were out-dated even then. The boy’s restroom opened out to the elements with no door. The school had no reproduction machines of the day. Copies of were made on a hectograph (look it up, you wouldn’t believe me!).
But I digress, on to music.
From the 4th grade on I took part in a once – every – two weeks music class. They needed drummers so a couple of us became “percussionists”. We had no drums. We bought drum sticks and played on music stands. Yep, just as it sounds. It was quite a while before I actually bought a drum and as I remember for about $50. I used money I had hoarded in the form of 5o cent pieces. I played on that ‘til the 7th grade at Ernie Pyle Junior High. I stayed with the drums through junior high and then to Rio Grande High School. A great man was our band director at Ernie Pyle and then when we followed him to Rio Grande. He was Bob Farley, and I was with him for six years. I adored the man and remember that I bought him a tie tack and cuff links set in the form of a trumpet, his instrument, as a gift from me on my own graduation. He was much appreciated by me for his confidence in me and it was because of that that I went on to play for three years as UNM in band and sometimes in orchestra. Wonderful times of great experiences and learning and the great help in my character development. I still remember trips and concerts and the people and the music.
But I forgot to mention; the harmonicas! Yep, along with yo yo’s the real love of my life!
Our principal at Old Armijo knew we needed more music so a group of volunteers (yeah, I know! But I still don’t listen and volunteer) formed a harmonica band/class. We bought Hohner Marine Band harmonicas. I still have several that I’ve bought or were given over the years. And we learned to play by the numbers on the holes; blow for a number and inhale for a circled number. A few years later my dad showed me how these numbers corresponded to the notes on sheet music which was how I learned to read music!
And so over the next more than 50 years I’ve continued with the harmonica (uhhh, and the yo yo’s). I often played them for the kids in class. They loved it, and I know it was because it kept me happy and not teaching! And I would play anything – as long as I knew the song! And often I played the music that I loved so much! Ethnic, folk, camp-fire and on and on. Mr. Albert Fernandez and I would often play together, he on the guitar and singing and me on the harmonica (asking him what key to play in!). He sang and I loved the sounds we made (make). We called ourselves , “El trio Los Dos Locos, A Musical Quartet” – available for all types of events. We’ll still play. I think that Peg is probably the only person who knows how much I love my harmonicas! And she always got mad ‘cuz I wouldn’t seem to ever finish a tune.
 While I was stationed in Germany in the Army in the 1960’s I purchased a number of different types of harmonicas. I played them on varied occasions, usually alone away from the guys in the barracks as they all seem to have their own stereo equipment and I would not have been appreciated as was my due. I did make a great and fun effort to get even with them. I awoke earlier than the rest of the troops in our platoon barracks and would dress and prepare to go to the mess hall for breakfast. Just before I would leave I would pause in the vestibule, a veritable echo chamber, and play “Wildwood Flowers” as loudly as possible and then run out and to breakfast. Ahhh, sweet are the memories of revenge!

I love my harmonicas. Everyone should be issued one at birth, t’would be a better world. Want to hear me play, love it!!!!


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