One Brother Remembers

“Cartoonist Walt Disney has made the twentieth century’s only important contribution to music. Disney has made use of music as language.”
Jerome Kern


One Brother Remembers

I was a little kid and I shared a bedroom with my older brother. Lights out, quiet house and that first question came out of the dark, “Who plays Opie?” I answered immediately, “Ron Howard“. That was an easy one, kids love kids. But the next came quick, “Who plays Andy Taylor?” “Andy Griffith” “Who plays Deputy Fife?” “Don Knotts“.

I could see the names in my head from the credits. And then, he threw me a curve ball, “Can you do the theme song?” Uh-oh, this was not visual. It took me at least a minute, he may have fallen asleep. The theme song is not really a song, it is whistled. Once I had it, I answered “doo dooo doo, Doo, doo doo doo, Doo doo doo doo, doo doo”. I couldn’t whistle yet.

It was a shock, being asked a question out of the dark.

He knew the answer but he asked it out of curiosity, maybe. I had no sense of judgement if I didn’t know, no scoffing or shame. Nor was it a test like in school. But, it did two things: it made me aware, and it broadened my world.

Barbara Eden, Dan Daily, Larry Hagman. Eva Gabor, Pat Buttram, Eddie Albert.

I promise that he doesn’t remember doing this. Little brothers remember. Older brothers talk smack, lord their superiority and steal your last cookie.

A few months later, he walked through the living room. “Who are you reading?” A very strange question, everyone asks “what are you reading”. I flipped to the cover and was ready to respond, Victor Appleton III. But he was long gone.

People read authors, they surely do.

Carolyn Keene, Agatha Christie, Madeleine L’Engle, Ian Fleming.

My best friend, Jaddie, calls it “paying attention.” In my case, it was that random question that came out of the blue. It heightened my senses, it made me more aware. Because, one never knows when that next question might come. It was a profound shock. Life provides plenty of questions, we all know that.

Dennis Johnson, Danny Ainge, Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish.

I grew up forming lists in my head. I was ready. It was reinforced when I began supervising crews in college. I had to know my stuff and I began quizzing others, those who worked for me. I began mentally teaching when I did a task, as if Menolly was sitting quietly at my side; this goes here because it fits first.

Kern, Porter, Stein, Rodgers, Hammerstein, Sondheim.

That was the other side of the coin. Long ago, my brother asked me some questions in the dark. I found myself caring and paying attention. And then, I began to give it back to those around me; thankfully I became a teacher.

A little something, forgotten by my brother, changed my life. It can happen to anyone but I’m glad it happened to me.

St. Denis, Duncan, Graham, Cunningham, Taylor.

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