time I was about four years old every year for Christmas I got those little
plastic toy guitars and every year I’d ask for a real one. I’d play it for
hours at a time (mostly trying to tune it I think). One day I was really upset
about the toy guitars and my big brother taught me to play a song on the first
string called “Love Me Tender” by some guy named Elvis. I adored my big brother
and that made me feel better about the plastic toy guitar for awhile.
In 1963, I
was just a little kid when I watched mesmerized and misty eyed as 4 long haired
mop tops from Liverpool England played a few songs on the Ed Sullivan show. I
decided then and there I was going to learn to play a real guitar – I was going
to play “Twist and Shout!”
It was at
least two years before I actually saved
up enough money to buy my first guitar. By my 11th birthday I had
saved up just over $27 and I asked my Mama if I could go “down-city” with her
next time she went to pay bills and get a real guitar. She said “Oh … I think
so” with that all-knowing Mama grin.
When the 1st
of the month came Mama and I went to the bank and paid the mortgage and went
around the corner to a store called ‘The Debutant Shop.’ Mama always liked to
go to there. A few ladies she grew up with owned the place. She was looking at these little gold
slippers. I could tell she really liked them. They were $7.50. She got herself
a pair of nylon stockings and went to the cash register to pay for them. I ask
her why she didn’t take the slippers and she said “Oh well you know I don’t really
bought anything for herself and her birthday was in 2 weeks so, I while she was
talking to the lady in the store I sneaked over and bought them for her. I was
very proud of myself. I walked out of the store smiling and Mama asked me what
I bought and I said “Oh nothin’ “ and walked up to the music store holding
Mamas hand. We always walked swinging our clasped hands. I she was so special!
Everyone called her “Ma.”
When we got
to the music store I saw MY guitar.
It was a cheap little red and black Stella with thick Black Diamond
strings that sounded like crap no matter what you did but right now it was
beautiful! I asked the man to take it down for me and held it in my hands. THEN
I noticed the price tag! “But it was only $20 last time I was here!” I whined
pathetically. Now it was $24.95! The man just looked at me angrily and grabbed
the guitar from my hands. I ran out the door and sat out on carved stone steps
and stared to cry.
out and said “It’s okay honey you still have enough.” Then she saw the little bag sitting next to me and quietly peeked
inside. Somehow she already knew what I did – she always knew. She hugged me
tight with tears in her eyes and said “Honey you didn’t have to do that … tell
you what, how bout you pay the man what you have and I’ll pay the difference?
And you can help me around the house to earn the rest?"
exactly what we did …. And I was the proud owner of a Stella guitar!
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