Pass The Cheese, Please
Roger Baldwin was that spry nonagenarian who lived in the Thomas Kinkade-like cottage on the most breathtakingly beautiful pond I had ever seen. I was sure that the scenic view through the music room French doors that overlooked the trees and colorful flowers reflected in the still water, all were the source of his good health and boundless energy. I remember thinking, “If everyone had a view like this, there would be no more sickness in the world.”
When I first received the call from Mr. Baldwin, I had no idea that he was the founder of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), based on his belief that “So long as we have enough people in this country willing to fight for their rights, we’ll be called a democracy.”
That day, my earlier piano job ran into a snag and I was running late. When I told Mr. Baldwin that I had had no time for lunch, he asked if I would like some cheese and crackers. I readily accepted. Meanwhile, I opened up the piano and began tuning while waiting for him to return with the cheese. I waited. And I waited. But it was not forthcoming. The hunger pangs were getting stronger and by now, my hypoglycemia was making me lightheaded and weak. I put down my tuning hammer and went looking for Mr. Baldwin.
He was in the living room flanked by a group of very important-looking well-dressed people. Their deep discussion abruptly ceased when I entered the room, and all heads turned towards me—no doubt wondering what the emergency was. After all, what reason would a person have to interrupt a Baldwin meeting short of a call from the president of the United States? They sat silently, awaiting my urgent message. Then I spoke.
“Mr. Baldwin, where is the cheese you promised me?”
Their stunned faces turned toward Mr. Baldwin like the audience at a tennis match, wondering what his reaction would be to so frivolous a request.
He looked puzzled, then suddenly remembered. “Oh, I’m so sorry.” He jumped up, excused himself, walked briskly toward the kitchen, and returned with the cheese and crackers. I thanked him profusely and left them to their meeting. They sank right back into their deep discussion, choosing to forget my intrusion.
I ate my treasured booty by the French doors so that I could absorb spiritual strength from the view while regaining physical strength from the food. Once restored, I was able to tackle the huge old ornate Knabe upright that was very much like Roger N. Baldwin, himself. It had character and strength, and was built to last a century.