CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith & Life for the Years of Winter…
Nancy came home with Helen after H2O aerobics at the Y for coffee. She is retired now, but was a professional musician and educator. She was much impressed when she learned I was a bassoonist back in the day, even “primary” bassoonist in our high school orchestra, as I knew she would be, because music pros are always in awe of bassoonists.
I avoided having to say that I was the worst bassoonist in the history of “the ill wind that nobody blows good,” and that I was “primary” only because Carolyn Waller had graduated and that Peggy Hunt, the new recruit, was only just switching over from clarinet and had not yet mastered the bass clef, by telling her of how I bought my reeds at Troutman’s Drug Store. Nancy was astounded at the idea of being able to buy a bassoon reed at a drug store.
She recognized the name of Oakland City, my home town, so she knew it was a small town even back when I played bassoon there in the early 1950s. I gave her a little history, of how a couple of Oakland City boys had played in Sousa’s band, in which the brother of Meredith Willson, the creator of the best Broadway musical ever, played bassoon, while Meredith himself played piccolo, and so the town thought of itself more as a music town than a sports town, even though the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame centerfielder, Edd Roush, whose twin brother, Fred, was one of my boyhood baseball coaches, was also from Oakland City, and so Mr. Troutman stocked reeds for every instrument in his drug store, even bassoons and oboes as well as the more popular clarinets and saxophones, which was right across Main Street from our other drug store, because OC had two not only of drug stores but every other kind of store in those days, not because it was really profitable for Mr. Troutman to take up store space with bassoon reeds, although they were small and took up only one little drawer of the dozens of little drawers in the huge cabinet behind his counter, but because small town businessmen then thought it was their duty to be good citizens of the town, and to help the school have a good band, and help poor kids get to be in the band, since bassoons were so expensive that the school had to buy them and thus the poorest kids got to play the most expensive instruments because they could not afford a cheaper instrument, and not just make as much profit as possible.
He did make some profit from those reeds, because they cost a whole two dollars, which was still a good deal for a poor kid, since a $2.00 reed was a lot less than a whole instrument would cost, and I always made sure I had $2.15 from my job at Moe’s Groceries, Gas, & Auto Repair  when I bought one, so that I could also have a chocolate soda or root beer float at the old-fashioned, marble-topped, mirror-backed soda fountain which was also a fixture of the store, which also served as the regional and interstate bus terminal.
In the public service spirit of Mr. Troutman, this CIW was a dementia/Alzheimer’s test, to see if you could keep going through all those commas. Congratulations; you passed.
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1] Moe later ran for county sheriff and won, even though he had no law enforcement experience, because in a place like Gibson County, the main qualification for sheriff is knowing who the perpetrator of a crime is even before the crime is perpetrated.