Our house was full of music. Dad was a musician, and did his best to draw it out of all of us. He played tenor sax from the time he was a young boy, and that saxophone was one of the few possessions that he treasured.
It’s gone missing.
His mother bought it for him, $5/week, with money earned in the mills. She wanted him to get a broad education. She wanted him to get out of the ghetto that was Methuen, Massachusetts in the 1930’s. A millworker, she was raised in Sicily and was much more educated than her contemporaries. She knew the value of an education. Her father managed a vineyard, and because Domenica LaRosa was friends with his daughter? The wealthy vineyard owner let her sit in with the tutor through her early teens – perhaps the equivalent of an 8th grade education.
Working in the non-unionized sweatshops of the time, enduring conditions that can crush the human soul, she wanted her only son to have a better life. To her, the saxaphone represented a chance in a lottery, which might give her son a ticket out.
He played in jazz bands throughout high school. The money he made went toward the college fund. Although he didn’t make enough to avoid a year of millwork following high school, he earned enough to enter the engineering program at Northeastern at 19 years old. Playing in bands all the way through university, he found both joy and sustenance in his music.
After graduation, he moved to Detroit, earning a spot in the “select” management training program at Ford Motor Company, alongside the likes of a young Lee Iacocca. But his mother became ill, and he returned to Boston to care for her as she battled cancer. His father died shortly after he returned, and this young man with a bright future buried both of his parents within 3 years of college graduation.
He was lost. An only child, his extended family of aunts and cousins could only provide so much help… It was the saxophone that again gave him sustenance. He returned to the jazz clubs, surrounded by a family of musicians, until he was able to get his feet under him and return to engineering.
Fast forward to the 1970’s – Dad is living in the suburbs of Cincinnati with four children. He encouraged my oldest sister, S, to play saxophone – having the old tenor sax repaired, gold-plated. It found new life. For him, as much as S. A few years later, my sister, T, switched from flute to sax, and rocked that old tenor in the high school jazz band for a few years. It had to give him tremendous pleasure to sit through those interminable music programs, just to get to the set by the jazz band…
Last weekend, during a conversation with Mom, she asked me about the sax… she had assumed Dad had given it to me, since it didn’t turn up during the last round of household excavations.
daisyfae: No, i didn’t play sax. i assumed S or T would have it…
Mom: S was asking about it, she doesn’t have it either. T wouldn’t have taken it, since she’d have had to lug it on an airplane.
daisyfae: i don’t have it. we need to find it. i really hope it hasn’t been sold…
Regardless of where it is, the sad truth is that my initial reaction is that someone has removed the saxophone. And that somehow it has found it’s way into a pawnshop somewhere… Mom wasn’t tracking my thought train.
There will be hell to pay…