Oh, time is so long and fast, and sweet and cruel!
The other day (just yesterday?) a couple of boxes came UPS, heavier than usual boxes, and they were the boxes that we had been expecting from Stepmom down south.
The bigger box contained the old music box (the Old Music Box) from my childhood (and the smaller one had the five toothy metal cylinders that we have, that one plays on it).
It’s a wonderful thing. I was fascinated by it as a kid; I recall spending endless hours examining it and puzzling over it and figuring out how it worked. No telling how accurate that recollection is, but I do remember exactly how to operate it, and the musical thunk that it makes when you put a cylinder in, and the sounds it makes when it stops normally, and when you stop it by holding onto the little paddle of the Jacot’s Patented Safety Check (“Sept. 22, 1886”). If I could smell it (one more reason to wish I could smell again), I’m positive the rich mix of wood and time and oil would be utterly evocative.
When I was a kid there was no Internet, so while I knew from the label on the inside of the lid there that it was a Peerless Forte-Piccolo (“Any Number of Cylinders may be Obtained for this Box”), I had no way of finding out anything else about it.
Now that there is the Web, I can find out easily that there are many to be had on auction all over the place, and that it is worth approximately SIGN IN OR REGISTER NOW TO SEE PRICES.
Also, among all those rather annoying pages, there is this wonderful page from The Music Trade Review of presumably some large number of years ago, which describes Jacot’s Interchangeable Music Boxes, of which the Peerless is “a popular priced instrument with a single spring”.
At the turn of the century (no, the one before that), one imagines that people would sit around and listen to the latest cylinder on these, in livingrooms (parlors?) all over the place, in between listening to Mother performing on the keyboard, Sister singing, and Younger Sister reciting “How Doth the Little Crocodile” or equivalent.
It’s surprisingly loud!
I wonder if I ought to be oiling it…
And then on the sad inevitable side of time, last night Gramma Jeanne finally broke the last fragile strands connecting her to her body, and left us for wherever. She would have turned 100 in August; here is a picture from more than ten years ago, that Dad took (and she said back then was okay to put in my weblog):
Her consciousness hadn’t been paying much attention to her body for a few years anyway, so her finally slipping off was no surprise, but it’s still a thing, a twinge, a sadness. It’s funny how, although she’s part of my identity, part of my childhood, part of my Self, I don’t remember very much specific about her. She was nice, indulgent, adoring of her only grandson, but not in a very embarrassing way, even by the standards of a little boy.
For awhile she and Grampa Proc (Samuel S. A. Proctor, technically my step-grandfather, deep-voiced and mahogany-skinned and genial, always smelling of pipesmoke) lived in a house with a big window that looked across Cedar Lake into downtown Minneapolis. And then later they lived in Hawai’i, where we actually visited them once or twice.
In the Minneapolis house, they had a lava-lamp! I remember sitting and staring at it for hours. And I remember as an adult trying to sit and stare at a lava-lamp for hours, and it somehow wasn’t the same.
Time is so long and fast, and sweet and cruel.