Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Old letters and the impact of writing

CONRAD MESSMER SENT me a message last week. His father, Jacob, had just passed away and Conrad wanted me to know how much a Herald-Whig article I wrote a long time ago meant to his dad, and to him.

The story was about Conrad's massive Star Wars collection. I vaguely remember going to their house and walking into his room and being blown away by all the stuff. It was about 18 years ago. Conrad included an image of the article, and it was pretty obvious this story wrote itself.

I ran into them a few times after the story was published, and I even sold a guitar to Conrad a few years ago. They always reminded me of the story and how cool it was to get some love for the collection. And all these years later, Conrad wanted me to know about the positive impact of a story in a small-town newspaper. And that means a lot.

Last week Sheryl did some cleaning in the back room of Second String Music and found a box of stuff from my days at the Whig. Most of it was thank you cards for stories I did, and to be honest, I don't remember a lot of them. But I must have not screwed them up because they were from happy people. 

It represents a very small percentage of letters compared to stories. To be honest, if I wrote a story or column and nobody said anything, I considered it a success. My last 12 years at the paper I wrote about crime and courts, and I made a lot of people mad, and I learned to ignore it. I got a lot of hate mail but I threw it away most of the time, and quickly forgot about it.

In the box I found some letters from the Missouri Department of Corrections about covering two lethal injections. There was a letter from James Scott from the Missouri DOC agreeing to an in-person interview. From the Adams County Jail was a letter from a man who killed another man in a fight and claimed it was self-defense. He's still in prison today, for other things. I finally tore the letter up and and tossed it in the trash.

I kept the more personable letters and items from stories I remembered. I was an OK writer who tried his best and had his share of mistakes (thank God for editors like Don Crim, who saved my bacon countless times). But it's nice to know the job I did had a positive impact for many people. 

And that's what I choose to remember the most from my days at The Whig.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Look for Light

 STOP. TAKE A deep breath. It's Christmas, and it's chaos, and it can be overwhelming.

December can be dark. Remember, many people are saddened by memories and missing people the most during the most joyous of times. They need Light. We can be Light!

Rest in peace, Gregory Klaas Hart, who passed away 19 years ago today. I prefer to remember you with Light. The last time I saw my mom was about 16 years ago this time of year. She was full of Light and it always came through, even in the darkest of times. There are others who have recently lost loved ones and Christmas only makes it harder.

Last night I sold a beautiful Takamine acoustic guitar to a 14 year old girl who came in with her parents. They took a long time and looked at a lot of guitars. The parents went outside to talk and came back. She was playing the Takamine and falling in love. I said, "I think you are the proud new owner of a Takamine!"

The look on the girl's face was priceless. So was the joy from her parents. Obviously this was a big deal, because the parents were spending good money and encouraging the girl to play and chase musical dreams. 

There was Light coming from their eyes. I turned away so they couldn't seen my eyes watering. 

You don't have to buy expensive Christmas gifts to give Light, either. The gift should really be in the giving, no matter the price.

We need all the Light we can get.


Wednesday, December 8, 2021

New Alvarez acoustics are here!

I HAVE A confession to make - I almost kissed our delivery driver this morning.

The truck showed up right as we opened. "Boy, am I glad to see you," I said to the driver.

"I hear that a lot," he said.

Like many businesses, we are feeling the effects of the supply chain issues. Sheryl has worked miracles keeping us stocked and staying patient as we careen toward Christmas. Today, our Alvarez acoustics arrived, and they are spectacular.

The RD 26 comes with a padded gig bag, strap, picks and tuner. It sounds amazing and makes a perfect first guitar for Christmas. The RS 26, which is a little smaller, comes with a gig bag and has a bright tone you have to hear to believe.

These are the guitars that sell very well at Christmas, and we are grateful to have them and get people hooked up for the holidays. We'd love hear you play one or play one for you. Steve Harrington is here this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon to show them off and let you hear them for yourself. 

We are optimistic about a few other deliveries and we'll keep you posted on our store Facebook page. 

Merry Christmas and keep rocking, just like us at Second String Music!

Friday, December 3, 2021

Calftown Cafe is HUGE!

I FINALLY GOT over to the new Calftown Cafe this morning on Eighth Street next to the State Theatre. It is awesome and you really need to check it out.

Calftown Cafe is owned by Caitlin Murray and Brian Stitt. It's one of several buildings at Eighth and State they recently bought and are redeveloping. For years Eighth and State was an OK part of town with State Street Bank, the State Room and LaGondola. But Caitlin and Brian have big plans to make the area a bigger and better part of Calftown, and we couldn't be more excited for them.

Our friend Bill Burns is the manager and the staff is excellent. I had a large coffee and the egg and cheese sandwich was delicious. It's five blocks from where we live and I can see us walking over there for breakfast or lunch or to just hang out, because the atmosphere is inviting and encourages lingering over a cup of coffee.

We need to encourage our small businesses with big ideas and support them. Brian says Caitlin does all the work and runs things, and I said, "We got a lot in common, Brian."

Please check it out when you get a chance. Best of luck to Brian, Caitlin and the staff, and I'll be back for more coffee and sandwiches. Yum!