The banjo story

I was at a seminar last night for a cover story I’m writing for the paper.

The speaker said, “You know what they say about Davy Crockett’s hatchet.” It’s that easy to make me feel dumb. Presume I know something I don’t know.

I’m a history nut, and fancy myself a Crockett knower. I stood in the Alamo. I didn’t know he had a hatchet.

What they say is, “At some point the next owner had to replace the handle, then he had to replace the blade. Is it still Davy Crockett’s hatchet?”

This seems like a useful reference. My biological father’s banjo came to mind.

When I last visited him, he told me this story.

He came across a banjo that had been built and owned by some bluegrass legend whose name I would have been impressed with, if I were a bluegrass knower.

The instrument was beautiful. It had great sound. He had to have it.

He put a deposit and saved and finally bought the banjo.

He also ordered some special wood for the rim. There’s a sunken boat at the bottom of one of the Great Lakes. The kind of wood and its 100 years of submersion have given it a magical quality when used as a rim in a banjo. If I understand correctly, banjo owners can commission a guy with a scuba tank to go get some. I doubt I understand correctly.

He also replaced the strings and knobs.

Now, you know what they say about getting new carpet (anybody feel dumb?) — you realize you need new curtains and paint.

Next came a new tension hoop, flange and head.

The end of his story was, “I don’t think it still has any of the parts I had originally saved so eagerly for.”

If the seminar guy had said, “You know what they say about Jan Threlkeld’s banjo,” I wouldn’t have felt dumb.

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6 Responses to “The banjo story”

  1. Will Says:

    The best thing you can do is just pretend you know, act confidently, and hope they don’t notice.

  2. T. Says:

    Sweetie, I’m going to send you a copy of a very nice Hans Christian Anderson story called “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

  3. The Harvard home « Stories O’ Mine Says:

    […] My biological father graduated from there. He, my mom and I road tripped to Massachusettes in someone’s Mustang when I was 3 days old, and moved into what my mom called a three-story walk-up in the school’s married-student housing. […]

  4. The piano in a paper bag story « Stories O' Mine Says:

    […] piano in a paper bag story By T. When I visited my biological father in San Francisco, he was just moving into an outrageous penthouse home above Ghirardelli […]

  5. The piano in a paper bag story « Stories O' Mine Says:

    […] I visited my biological father in San Francisco, he was just moving into an outrageous penthouse home above Ghirardelli […]

  6. The Harvard home « Stories O' Mine Says:

    […] My biological father went there. He, my mom and I road tripped to Massachusetts in someone’s Mustang when I was 3 weeks old, and moved into what my mom calls a four-story walkup in the school’s married-student housing. A little more than a year later, my mom packed me up and flew back to California. The marriage was done. […]

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