Friday, September 21, 2007

Joe The Barber, Spike Jones And Me

Don’t know if I ever mentioned this in the past 522 posts, but I was heavily influenced in my early years by Joe the Barber and Spike Jones. I was never aware until I was a lot older and wise enough to realize it and thank at least one of them, in a way.

Spike Jones first. For those who tuned in late, he was a musical satirist in the 1940’s and 1950’s. He led one of the finest big bands in the country at that time, so considered by the other leaders because he could imitate any band on the road and could present a technically difficult show night after night. Spike was also a first-class percussionist.

When I was about six, he showed up in nearby Bridgeport and my parents took me to see the act. We had some of his records and this was great. I remember at the end that the bows were not in the usual manner: least first, building up to the big star. Instead, the entire cast, including Spike, lined up across the stage, joined hands and bowed as one. The ensemble was the star and I never forgot that. Nothing can run without the assistance of many people, be it a college, a show or a city.

Joe the Barber took care of our small village and I never realized it at the time, but he treated kids and adults the same. He never talked down to me, never pushed me to the back of the line. He taught me respect for all people, regardless of rank, age or ability. When I saw he had passed, I wrote to his widow and told her how much he had influenced me. She never realized that plain old Joe did anything else than cut hair. But he’s with me every day as I deal with people, especially the “small” and less significant.


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