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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

What’s The Difference Between A Violin And A Viola?

Carleen Hutchins made it through 98 years. Passed away in 2009. We should all be so lucky. To find work that is gratifying enough to do up until the end is difficult. Mostly we tote that bale until we don’t have to anymore, and then retire to the bottom six inches of Satan’s shower curtain, otherwise known as Florida.

She had enough cred to get an obituary in the NYT, so I guess other people thought she was somebody.  I would have anyway.  One happens upon people like Carleen from time to time. I never knew she was alive until after she was gone. Your life overlaps with so many other lives, but you don’t often know it, or have the wherewithal to do anything about it when it matters. I began reading P.G. Wodehouse stories a while back. There was an other-worldly vibe to them, of course, and it was kind of jarring to think that I could have driven to Long Island when I was younger and waited on Basket Neck lane (I wrote that address from memory, I wonder if it’s correct; I can’t remember the town) and seen Pelham Grenville walking to the Post Office to mail his stories to the publisher. It’s like being told that Napoleon or George Washington or Shakespeare was at the pub just now, and you could go play darts with them if you hurry. But of course your interest in such people is of the rear-view mirror kind — Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.

I would have liked to talk to Carleen, but I only found out about her today. I may run out of time, but I’ll keep trying to make you all wish you had talked to me.

17 Responses

  1. I was ready to answer the question posed in the title of this post with my standard viola jokes, but then I watched the video and thought better of it – her woodworking ability deserves better than rehashed old jokes.

  2. I am impressed with anyone who can work with wood. Although it is a forgiving medium, it requires the patience of Job.

    Glad I saw this fine lady in the video, and I am also glad she met with "hostility" for crating those out-of-the norm instruments. It adds meaning to the story – she had something different to say, and stands tall in my estimation.

    Very nice.

  3. I may never have a chance to talk with you, but certainly, stopping by here, the joy is in the listening.

  4. If I ever get to Maine, or you ever get here, I'll buy you lunch and we can talk all afternoon.

  5. No, I've never made any musical instruments, but I have fixed a lot of them until they wouldn't work.

  6. I knew that punchline, Sipp, but the thought of torching one of her instruments prevented me from writing it.

    I have made a lot of drums, but if we were to continue the usual line of musician and instrument humor, then I haven't made any instruments, either.

  7. Your riff on not knowing what talent in others you may be missing reminds me of something I read recently – maybe here, actually!! – about genius: a genius is only a genius when at work. The rest of time they're walking to the post office, or having a beer, or shopping for groceries . . . .

  8. How nice, then for us all that you are never not being interesting –

    Unless, perhaps, when you are sleeping.


  9. It's always a pleasurable experience, stopping by here. Something you write invariably gives me an insight into something and makes me look at the world in a different way.

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