Friday, January 13, 2017

Lost and Found

A couple of years before my father's death, he and his spouse decided to downsize. They were going to sell many of their possessions and move into a condo. My dad was a bit of a collector...technical books, photos/camera equipment, electronics, records and cds, trains, and musical instruments.

I remember dad's excitement many years earlier when he found his father's, (my opa's ) old mandolin while cleaning out the homestead in Germany. I have photos of my opa and the mandolin when he was a member of various music groups in the earlier part of the 1900's. I too was excited by the find.

Dad kept the mandolin safe and sound with his collection of, keyboards, drums, violin, autoharp, recorders, and whatever else he could get his hands on. He had a music room in the house. Whereas he learned the guitar at a young age and was, as so many young men a member of a band, he later taught himself to play all the rest of the instruments.

I didn't want to appear that I was coveting anything so I didn't really make a big deal out of their belongings. Unlike my much wiser son, who laid claim to several valuable items including a monkey sculpture pondering a human skull, a Sapporo beer can that dad had turned into a lamp and a piece of art sporting an assortment of copper musicians on a black background.

I had however, always said, "I don't really want anything except my grandpa's mandolin."

I somehow had the idea that the mandolin would be in dad's possession despite their move. I discovered one day as they proudly announced that they had a successful house contents sale that the mandolin was gone. I was shocked and saddened particularly since most of the other instruments were still there. Realistically, I had no use for a mandolin. On the other hand, it had history, family history.

After his death, I did acquire a few items that had once been dad's. Among them was a twelve string guitar. I have no idea when or where he purchased it, but research, and ebay helped me determine that its value wasn't huge. It sat on a shelf in the basement for years, until one day, I decided it needed to be dusted off and sold. As I tipped it over, out fell a scrap of paper with a name, telephone number and a cash offer.

I sucked up my "let's phone this stranger and see if he still exists" courage, and made the call, speaking in double time in order to avoid sounding like a telemarketer. The gentleman whose name was on the paper still existed. He didn't hang up on me.

"Yes," said a male voice. "I believe I remember the guitar, the gentleman selling it, and the music room where all the instruments were. I'd be interested in seeing the guitar.  I have a collection In fact, I also purchased a mandolin from him."

"My grandpa's mandolin!" I shouted with excitement, shocked over the coincidence.

"Yes, I was thrilled with it. It's safe and has a prime spot on my wall," he responded. "I'll let you see it if you want", he added.

"That would be amazing," I answered.

A few days later, guitar in tow,  I knocked at the door of a friendly retired man who was eager to share his stories and show me his own "collector" room. He had  milk bottles, posters, and a number of instruments in his collection. It was a wonderful display.

He showed me where the mandolin hung proudly, and explained the origin of many of his other valuables. Then he told me his son was interested and would be inheriting the instruments one day.

Somehow, this all seemed right. I was happy. He allowed me to take photos. I had closure.

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