Daughter pays tribute to her father, WWII veteran and music maker


I’m a baby boomer, born and raised in Linworth, that cleverly named little dot on Route 161 with the last syllable of Dublin and the first of Worthington since it’s halfway between the two.

I grew up on a street where my grandparents and Aunt Iva and Uncle Ed lived, and across the train tracks from a house full of cousins ​​where I spent thousands of hours .

It was an era of innocence where millions of children were born after soldiers returned from World War II. It was a time when a “juvenile delinquent” was someone who only did homework on Sunday evenings after the church youth group meeting.

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The music of the 40s and 50s contained understandable lyrics, created earworms and was foot tapping.

On Saturday nights, the parents found a babysitter, went to a dance at a nearby lodge room where local dance groups were playing, had a few beers with friends while the singing got louder, boogie-woogie, then returned home.

But not my parents. That’s because my dad, a deputy sheriff during the day, was one of the musicians whose every Saturday night was spent as one of the entertainers.

He was a pianist. Dad was one of those rare birds who could hear a melody once and then repeat it perfectly with all the complicated chords and rhythms.

He had taken music lessons with his uncle Roy who had the same gift for music, and after six lessons, dad thought he had learned everything he needed, and the lessons stopped.

And he had about. At lightning speed he played “Twelfth Street Rag”, then slowed down the tempo of “Up the Lazy River”, “Twilight Time” and “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue”, all of which he had heard once and perfectly. . reproduced on the old “88”.

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During the war, while Dad was serving overseas, piano manufacturer Steinway & Sons was prohibited from building pianos due to restrictions on metals and raw materials. however, in 1941 the company received a government request to create heavy-duty pianos that could be shipped via B-17s and dropped by parachute to troops below.

The pianos were without front legs and painted with camouflage colors. Nearly 5,000 of the so-called Victory Verticals were sent to several countries in an effort to boost the morale of those Yanks stationed so far from home.

Dad’s 45th Artillery Company got one of those GI pianos, and Dad was the piano player. Handlers and repairers of heavy artillery, they dragged their pianos on their truck bed as they traveled from Scotland, England, North Africa, Italy, Anzio Beachhead, France and finally from Nuremberg, from Germany.

“My Gal Sal”, “Sentimental Journey”, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Satin Doll” were part of his repertoire which he played when out of earshot of the enemy.

I can only imagine the laughs, puffs and dirty jokes.

Flag Day and Father’s Day are just days apart. I can’t think of these two dates without comparing how differently soldiers in World War II and today’s military listen to music and conduct military exercises.

Plus, there are dozens of military moms and dads serving right now who would love to be home this Father’s Day to say goodbye to their sick dad, or hello to a new baby, or to be celebrated. themselves.

For my dad, however, if he was still alive, it would be his 75th Father’s Day. Dad I love you. Rest well and hang in there because one day… “I’ll see you.”

Sue Kuhn Melvin, 74, lives in Worthington.

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