Chapter 4: Over Somewhere…in Maryland
A number interrupted my education. My draft number. It may have been the only time that the Navy ever drafted, but I found myself in the navy for the one year, nine months and two days of service that ended when the navy thought it had enough men and women and didn’t really need me and many others who also had their service shortened. I’ll skip basic training and rush through the month or so at the navy’s music school, and get to Bainbridge, Maryland, where I was assigned to a band. Not the Navy Band - that is a collection of marvelous musicians, equal to the Symphony Orchestras around the country. Our job was to provide music on the base for ceremonies, and for recreation. We supplied the Officer’s Club and the Enlisted Men’s Club with music for dancing, and on one occasion put on an original musical about the basic training, which was the main reason for the base. We also did parades all over the nearby Pennsylvania Dutch countryside, and would get down to Baltimore for parades, and once a bit further down the road to The District Of Columbia. The concerts we played in surrounding communities gave me the chance to play the English horn they supplied me with, and so I got to play the English horn solo in the Dvorak New World Symphony. This was the time that I felt closest to being a professional musician.
Oboists become very good at making minor adjustments, and at taking the horn apart and putting it back together when something a bit larger needs to be fixed. That’s why the navy assigned me to Bainbridge. The band’s oboist was retiring, and he was the repairman for the band. So I learned to take apart trumpets and tubas and anything that needed fixing or replacing.
Which explains how after I left the navy, and after some decompressing, I found a job as the instrument repairman for the Willis Music Company in their Fourth Street store.
My radio was almost always tuned to WNOP which had Leo Underhill in the mornings, then an hour of classical at 1 PM with Doug Nunn, followed by Dick Pike’s jazz show. At this point I knew that I was never going to be a professional musician, in spite of my love for music. But I kept playing music on the side, off and on.