Archive for the ‘Musical Instruments (Pictures)’ category

My Christmas Present and Other Ramblings

December 28, 2010

        I can’t say I came up hard, but my Dad sure did, and he made certain we understood how fortunate we were. I remember one time he bought a set of barber clippers to save the family money on haircuts, but abandoned the idea ’cause we were three wild boys who ran and hid in the basement to dodge his “hair-cutting/cost-cutting” measures. The dang thing didn’t cut hair, it pulled it out. (ouch!)

       My uncle got an early Buick dealership, and gave Dad a good deal on a new car. When Dad pulled that car up in driveway, I thought we sure enough must be rich, ’cause we the first family on the block with two cars, and one of ’em was fancy and had fins. Dad said it was a luxury, but we needed it ’cause he didn’t want to strand my Mom alone when he was at the hospital, which was much of the time.

        For a long time we didn’t have a television, and only got the color version after the neighbors bought one. Their den had a new window air-conditioner, so we began to spend a lot of time over there on summer evenings. After a while Dad gave in and got a color T.V. and one of the AC units too. He never liked color T.V. though; said it made everyone look jaundiced. I went and looked it up, and decided my Dad was very smart to be able to diagnose folks from a distance like that. 

        My middle brother caught on to the Santa Claus thing when dad had the bike I’d outgrown repainted and put it under the tree for him for Christmas. I told my brother not to tell; the least one of the family still had a few good years left. 

        Maybe it’s cause I never missed a meal, but I wasn’t a material sort of guy, and didn’t ask for much of anything, even as a kid.  I never did get the bumper sticker that said, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” For me it was more, “Good Lord have mercy, enough is plenty, take care of what ya got.”

       But then again my people always gave me anything I needed anyway, so I guess I just never did understand what it as like to be abandoned and alone in the world.

       Here’s one Christmas present I’ve gotten a number of times. My wife gave me my mandolin for my 45th birthday years ago. (legend has it Darin Aldridge had a hand in that too) 

        This year I had a little work done on it; refret etc, and it’s good as new. Many a Christmas I’ll put it under the tree and let my wife give the mandolin to me all over again. If you’ve found what works why change?

        As I’ve said many times, my wife gave me two beautiful children and a Gibson mandolin and she puts together a fine holiday for the family every year. She never needs to give me anything else. I already have far more than enough for the rest of my time on Earth.

        Oh, I got to ramblin’ and forgot to tell you what I got for Christmas this year. You gotta watch out for gray-haired docs with a good memory; they can get like that. My wife got me one of these new Kindles. The kids loaded it up with the new Mark Twain autobiography, “The Complete Works of Mark Twain,” and, you guessed it, “The Mandolin Case.”

       I laughed and said, “Did y’all get Mark to sign it?”

       The rolled their eyes like kids do. Do my people know me? Two out of the three writers on my Kindle are famous, (Twain and Twain) and the other one is lucky to still be kicking. (me) This Kindle is the ticket.

        The Kindle is very cool, but somehow just not that photogenic, so I took a picture of my mandolin instead. In our house, it’s as timeless as Twain. After all, I named a book after it. 

        Hope y’all had a blessed Christmas, and all the best in 2011,

Dr. B

Oops, had to take the pic down. It displayed the serial number bigger than Dallas, and it didn’t seem like a good idea.


The Mandolin Case Cover- A Mystery

May 27, 2010

        I had planned another post about my agent today, but I’ve put if off a day or two. I have breaking news. Last night I got an e-mail from my publisher and they asked me to go ahead and release the cover of my book.

        Okay folks here it is, and also here’s the story behind it.

        Long before anyone had heard of a carbon fiber mandolin, Indie predicted they would one day be an item. “Bibey,” he said. “If we can put a man on the moon, someday they’re gonna make guitars and mandolins out of this space age stuff. You wait and see. They’ll be indestructible. They won’t warp even if you leave ’em in the trunk of the car.”

        Several years before “The Mandolin Case” a man came through Harvey County and showed Indie a synthetic prototype mandolin made out of carbon fiber. He claimed it sounded as good as a mandolin made of spruce and maple tonewoods, but was impervious to the elements. The man wanted Indie to invest in his company. Indie liked the mandolin but was a conservative investor. (Colorful as Indie was, he always said a good investment was a boring mutual fund.) He declined to buy any stock in the man’s company, but didn’t forget the mandolin.

        I didn’t see this mandolin when the man came through, but Indie described it to me. Years went by and I forgot about it. However, when I began to research the back story of “The Mandolin Case,” discussion of the prototype synthetic mandolin resurfaced. Indie would say, “Son, that carbon fiber mandolin was the clue wasn’t it? I’m not sure we’d have found out without it.” Then he’d take a sip of Jim Beam and drop the subject.

          All I knew was it was a carbon gray “F” style mandolin. Indie said at that time it was the only one he’d ever seen that didn’t have the traditional F holes. After the publisher read the story they decided this mandolin was so significant it needed to be on the cover. They asked me to forward a picture.

         I had a dilemma. I not only didn’t have a photograph, I’d never even seen it. All I could do was describe it to the best of my ability. It was somewhat like those composite sketches the police do when they search for a suspect.

        What to do? Indie was gone and I couldn’t ask him. Dang, I should have done the cover first. The publisher sent dozens of drawings. One morning I sipped my coffee and opened my e-mail. I jumped up to call. “That’s it, that’s it! I’m sure that’s the one; well at least as sure as I can be given I never laid eyes in  it myself. Where did you find it?”

        “We tracked it back. The e-mail was bogus. The trail went cold. Address unknown. We don’t know.”

         So there you are. All this research, countless hours of interviews with everyone who would talk, and I still have one last mystery on my hands. Indie knew the synthetic mandolin was a player in the case; he told me so many times. 

        Someone out there knows another clue about ‘The Mandolin Case.” Hm. Maybe they know the Navajo or perhaps it was the Navajo who sent it in. 

        I know the truth about “The Mandolin Case,” but of all the ironies I don’t know where the mandolin on the cover came from. All I can tell you is I am sure whoever sent it in has to be someone on the inside, and I won’t rest until I get to talk to them. If you run into them let me know.

       Dang that Indie. He had a great memory and didn’t bother to document much. Why didn’t he take a picture? It woulda saved me a lot of trouble. Oh well, we’ll find out.

Dr. B

Homemade Musical Instruments

May 28, 2008

Richard Strum/ Dr. Bibey mandolinRichard Strum/Dr. Bibey mandolinWalking Stick Dulcimer

        O.K. if a picture is worth a thousand words, this is worth three posts for me.  Cool, no wonder the English Professor enjoys that photojournalism so much.  All kinda folks come to look at pictures.

        Sorry for the light, I gotta get some photography lessons.  The stick is the walking stick dulcimer I wrote of last week.

        A guy named Richard Strum and ole Dr. B have now built three mandolins, and we have started numbers four and five.  The one pictured was the first and my kids have # 2 and # 3.

        The mandolin on my avatar is a Montana era Gibson my wife bought for me.  If we had a fire, I’d want my wife, the kids, the animals, our pictures, and then my mandolin.  It goes everywhere I go.  (I knew I didn’t need those piano lessons my folks wanted me to take.  It is hard to fit that thing in the car.)

Dr. B