Friday, April 06, 2018

I didn't know!

My cousin is a musician by trade. He recently changed his Facebook profile pic to a photo of himself, looking a bit forlorn, riding the el ... wearing a porkpie hat and a sousaphone between his legs. It's a funny shot because the instrument is as big as he is, and naturally, he's the only one on the train carrying one.

His mother -- my aunt -- commented that our grandfather would have loved the photo because he often told her the story about holding down a second job, years before she was born, during the Depression. Monday through Friday, he worked construction at the not-yet-open Brookfield Zoo. On Friday and Saturday nights, he went into the city to play bass with a dance band for tips. Not a tall man, he always said that he was aware of the amused looks he got on the trolley car, balancing a bass that was bigger than he was. But he was going downtown to make honest money to feed his family, so he held his head high.

I was always proud of my favorite grandpa for helping to build The Lion House (now home to the zoo's rain forest). But I truly had no idea he'd ever been a professional musician!

He was such a wonderful guy. He loved gardening and was proud of his marigolds and snapdragons. He loved building things, like the backyard swing where I spent as much time as possible. He loved American history the way only an immigrant can, and taught himself about the different Indian tribes. He loved Hollywood movies, especially those starring Carole Lombard. And, of course, the Cubs. The Cubs are my birthright.

Now I know he played bass, too. He's been dead nearly 45 years, and I just learned that about him! How I wish the adult me could talk to him, because I think he had a lot to teach me.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it funny to learn a new piece of information about someone we loved? I was shocked to learn my grandfather didn't get to go to high school.