Pokin’ Fun | Doc Blakely
Hank Thompson wrote a song touting the virtues of an old violin, The Older the Violin, the Sweeter the Music. This was a thinly veiled message that implied that aging lovers still had some romantic thrills to offer if the batteries didn’t play out on their pacemakers.
But fiddles have a leg up, so to speak, on fiddlers because they can live a lot longer with proper maintenance. It was with great interest when I recently read about a Luthier, sort of a super surgeon for violins, who had the task of repairing a violin that was made in 1764. He had to take the top completely off to make the repairs needed. He could tell that the top had never been removed because he recognized it was the original glue, and nothing like anything used today. They probably have a glue app for that and it analyses what year it was made and the breed of horse it came from. Anyway it was really good glue to have held for 252 years.
When he removed the top he noticed that the maker had written something inside the top, up near the neck, where it could not be seen unless the top was taken off. It looked like old style writing with a quill pen. A ball point would have ruined the whole mystery. And it was written in a language that looked Italian but nobody from Chicago could read it. So the Luthier took it to a banjo player in his neighborhood in Central Florida who was moonlighting as a language professor in a college. He said it wasn’t Italian, it was Latin. And since all banjo players are intellectuals, he also told the Luthier that in Italy in 1764 they didn’t speak Italian but Latin. The professor translated the writing which sent chills up the spine of the Luthier. It was written as if the wood was speaking, “Silent in Life, in Death I Sing.”
That’s a mighty profound thought. It was also sobering to think that the message had remained hidden for so many years and was revealed so randomly to an unsuspecting discoverer. It sent chills up my spine too since I am the philosophical sort. So I asked some of my pals what they would have written.
“Mo,” a pharmacist, who is related to Larry and Curley said, “Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Pronto.”
Bryon, a retired consultant to the secret service, so secret that nobody has ever seen him at work anywhere, ever, said, “Espiritu Santo Domingo Domino.” He didn’t fool us on that one because we had all been to the same Bingo night at the Knights of Columbus Hall.
But “Moose,” a retired propane dealer, still as full of gas as ever, said he would write, “Beezar, Beezar, Ebenezer, Had a Wife and Couldn’t Squeeze’er.” Moose is an incurable romantic and always makes you wonder if he had sniffed too much of that propane he pedaled. www.docblakely.com