Played the gig yesterday at the retirement community celebrating residents who had birthdays in December and January.  It was a two for one special.

Played some songs well, some very well and some not so much.  One thing that makes it all worthwhile is this… Even in the midst of a tune that I”m just not doing particularly well with I glance around the room and I see toes and fingertips tapping in time with me.  I see smiles and I hear the words of the song filling the room from the mouths of the audience.

The best part are the conversations I have with some of the residents I’ve come to know over the course of playing these events.

Now, Jimmy, who may recall from an earlier post in this space was in the house yesterday.  Here’s another Jimmy story:

He’s 18 years old and has lived in Brooklyn his entire life.  Never been anywhere except Staten Island and to get there he took the ferry which cost him 2 cents.  It’s 1945 and he gets drafted into the army.

He gets inducted at Fort Dix, New Jersey and is eventually shipped to an army base somewhere in Mississippi.  One day, he says, I get on a bus and sit down just as I always did when I lived in New York.

The bus does not move.  It sits and it sits and it sits.  Finally the driver turns around and says to Jimmy – “Look. This bus ain’t goin’ nowhere until you sit up front where you belong.”  Jimmy had taken a seat at the rear of the bus where clearly, he didn’t belong.  He said he was shocked.  In New York you always sat where you wanted you wanted to sit.  1945 – Mississippi.

He also told me that Al Capone’s son was in his unit.

A friend of mine who works at the facility told me this story.  Her father emigrated to America from Italy.  He was a barber, became an American citizen, got drafted and was sent to Italy during WWll to fight.  He earned two Purple Hearts.

One day he gets pulled out of line and is sent to give a haircut to General George Patton. Patton’s regular barber was unavailable I suppose.  My friend’s Dad is nervous for sure.  After the haircut Patton says to my friend’s father ” Thank You, I’m sorry you have to fight in your homeland.”  And he gives him a two week pass.

I’m the one playing the old songs.  I’m the one who gets to hear these stories.  I’m a lucky guy.