My grandfather on my mother's side was, among other things, a bandleader who played piano and accordion. For her tenth birthday, he made a record of his band singing "Happy Birthday" to her. It was done on some sort of home-recording setup at 78 rpm. The label says "Myrna 10th Birthday 1955" on it, written in pen on the center of a 7" record. As far as we know it's the only surviving recording of his music.
My grandfather passed away in 1971, two years before I was born. For as long as I can remember, this record sat in my parents' living room in their record collection, neglected due to the disappearance of 78 rpm record players.
This Mother's Day we bought Mom a USB record player that, using the Audacity
software programm, could translate 78 rpm recordings on her iMac. Fortunately, the record was kept in a dust cover and had not significantly warped or scratched. And with surprisingly little effort and distortion, my grandfather's song was rediscovered.
Needless to say it's a bit mind-blowing to hear one's father/grandfather 35 years after his death. Mom cried a lot and hasn't gotten over the thrill of it. I know I have yet to tire of the novelty of hearing my grandfather perform for my mother.
Herewith, my grandfather and his band
. Listen closely for some great banter before and after the song. That's Grandpa on the piano.
I am more than a little pleased to know that, despite my age and a decade of noise-induced tinnitus, I can still hear (easily!) the high pitch "Mosquito" ringtone
teens are using to thwart adult supervision.
A handful of (rather mundane, my apologies) observations:
• This town, at least in the area I'm in, is clean, comfortable, and gorgeous. I love the abundant architecture—unlike New York, Chicago seems to embrace every era of skyscraper style, and the overall effect is terrific. Art deco next to modernism next to a soon-to-be Trump tower on the river. Great.
• I'm not used to how wide the streets are, and how few cars are street-parked in the Loop and Magnificent Mile. Compared to Manhattan the place almost feels empty.
• Lots of good food: I have enjoyed Italian sausage and a Blackie burger thus far and am trying Ben Pao Chinese tonight. Which is a good thing, because the Hyatt's convention center food is really quite awful.
• The Windy City ain't windy when I'm in town: high 70's and lots of sun all week. You're welcome, Chicago.
And to top it all off, my hotel, the Monaco Chicago
, provides a complimentary fish to keep the lonely traveler company. My fish is boring but it's nice to have a pet on loan. Highly recommended travel perk. The Monaco is hell-bent on details: a choice of turndown sweets, two bathrobes in the room, complimentary wine tasting in the lobby, even a handwriting analysis psychic and a massage therapist free of charge during the tasting. If it's the little things that count, the Monaco's number is very high.