Tones of Home

The guitar first came into my life several years ago. My mom bought it at a garage sale in Scripps Ranch as we returned home from running errands. I was not impressed. My own guitars, I had two or three at the time, were not beauty contest winners themselves, but certainly superior to this thick-necked, no-named, nylon-stringed, bargain-barreled cast-off! Of course, that made no difference to my mom. She was immune to the public image and degrees of coolness (something I was still very much a slave to at the time.) She was interested only in having a guitar handy and, on occasional evenings, strumming it to accompany herself through “Tom Dooley” or “Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley.” She coaxed melodic joy from the 6-stringed mutt. During a family get-together some time later, Uncle Karl took the old guitar to the “wood shed” and quietly stripped it down: filing here, sanding there, lowering the action, and tightening the hardware. Even I had to admit, after his “spit and polish” the thing looked (and sounded) pretty good. My own collection of guitars, in the meantime, began to dwindle: sold one for some long forgotten “can’t live without” situation, loaned one out to a friend who proceeded to move out of state (what’s the statue of limitation on something like that?) I even recall laying one to rest after a tragic barbeque incident. Until, one day, I found myself…guitar less! I asked my mom if she would mind too terribly if I used her old guitar for a while. She graciously obliged me; not mentioning my cruel attitude from the past. We never made it official but that guitar was essentially mine from then on. I rather enjoyed its ruggedness; its twangy, nylony sound as I pounded away at its strings. In fact, I warmed to its “beater” status so much that I christened it “La Caja de Rujido” --the box of noise-- and embossed the title around its flat face. We performed many times together, that guitar and I, entertaining friends, family, and strangers. Then, once again, I began to collect a quiver of instruments and once again the box of noise took a backseat. I lost track of it for some time; I do know that a hitchhiking cousin took it at one point and it later returned through a visiting niece. I’ve recently come back in contact with the guitar while clearing the family home for sale. I slid open a closet door and there she leaned. A few new bumps and bruises and a sparking “sapphire” someone embedded in the head, but I recognized it anyway. Last week, while my wife and I had yet another garage sale to help downsize, I watched as a blond-haired twelve year old and his mom debated the merits of the “cheap” Mexican-made, six-stringer I was selling. As they walked down the drive-way with guitar in hand, I imagined the adventures that lie ahead…

Daniel J McAuliffe 4-30-11 Scripps Ranch

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