Monday, April 27, 2009
The moment of truth came when I shuffled through the half dozen albums in my hands. The crushed cellophane wrapper peeling back revealed a signature. A dedication. Country music legend Rose Maddox had written a personal note back in 1977 when we both appeared at the Santa Rosa Folk Festival. Being on the program in with a version of the Woody Guthrie show we did back then, I had access.
So here I was 30 something years later and I wasn't ready to sell this album in my yard sale. In fact, I wasn't ready to sell any album. Trouble is, I didn't know that. Not until I saw that inscription did I get a clue.
I committed the ultimate in yard sale sins. I wasn't ready to sell. The grisly SOB standing in front of me huffed away. I'm lucky he didn't yell, "Citizen's arrest, citizen's arrest."
I felt terrible. Then angry. Then nothing.
That night I awoke and the "incident" popped immediately into my head. In the darkened tranquility of my own bedroom I had time to sort it all out. I did.
I had encountered a thief in the night. He'd been caught messing with my records. Sure I was at fault for putting that box of albums out there, but he didn't know the backstory. Earlier in the day I'd had a lovely conversation with a man about music and life in Portland for an African American man. When he asked if I had any records for sale I decided to go get a box I'd recently brought out of storage because I knew what he was looking for. He bought some New Orleans piano albums. Professor Longhair and John Cleary, two of the best from pre Katrina New Orleans. I never took the box back. When I decide to part with some things I find that I'm mindful of where they're going. Silly huh? It's not like I haven't moved things along. My record collection has gone from 300 albums to somewhere near 75. It's just that I'm at a place where I want to move some things along in my own way, at my own pace. Even a hint of appreciation would make a difference. You know what? If that guy who was so put off by my reluctance had shown even a glimpse of empathy, he'd be the proud owner of a signed Rose Maddox album.