Chapter 5 Mr. Mac
By the time the simmering southern sun rose of a summer morning on Forby Street in the sleepy suburbs of Jacksonville, Mrs. Killman and Mrs. Day would have already served breakfast to their husbands and families and, on alternate days, one less and one extra boy each. The boys had breakfast at the Killman's on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and at the Day's on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. This was not a plan, it just happened that way. After breakfast the two boys would head for destination number one. The Willowbranch Baptist Church.
Mr. Johnathan Hansen Edwin, organist and choir master of the Willowbranch Baptist Church, daydreamed as he walked to his place of employment on this lovely summer morning. He could scarcely believe his good fortune! Not that he considered himself an unlucky man. At times, when he was practicing a favorite organ piece, he would breathe a prayer of thanksgiving to God as the waves of glorious sound issued from the pipes.
He thought to himself: “I am the most blessed man in the world! I have a job I love, I have been given by God the gift of music, a beautiful instrument to play on, and a lovely and sweet wife who loves me and my music!”
Mr. Edwin then wondered that maybe God had sent the two boys to be the fulfillment of his ultimate dream -- to mentor a great talent into a fine musician.
He thankfully thought: “Lord, I asked but for one and you have sent me two!”
Harry and Jimmy heard their first organ in their own church of course, but there was a considerable mystery surrounding the incredible sounds. They had questions such as “Who is playing that thing?” and “What makes it work?” and not least, “What does it look like?” for at the Woodhurst Presbyterian Church one could only hear the organ. Due to the design of the sanctuary no organist or organ console was to be seen! Heaven forbid that a mere child should be allowed to look upon the mysterious human and machine that produced such tantalizing sounds.
In his dealings with other organists of the city Mr. Edwin eagerly mentioned the two boys and their interest in the organ. He mentioned the two boys to the young gentleman who had come to tune the organ at the Willowbranch Baptist Church. Mr. Keith MacLeod was a young man to be watched, thought Mr. Edwin. He had several conversations with the fine young man and he found out a good bit about him.
Mr. MacLeod hoped to one day establish his own pipe organ building, installation and repair business, a profession for which he was well qualified. He had recently returned from military service, deciding to return and settle in Jacksonville, where he had spent some time in a Naval hospital. During his time in the Navy Mr. MacLeod had been stationed in South America where he had contracted a serious tropical disease that left him with a heart murmur. Although he had regained his strength and appeared physically fit, the military doctors declared that he no longer could remain in the Navy.
“Well, the military's loss is music's gain.” thought Mr. Edwin, for after serving his country Mr. MacLeod had returned home to finish college then work as an apprentice with his father, a pipe organ builder, now employed by the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company. The young Mr. MacLeod was also an excellent organist, and he had no trouble finding a job as a church organist, highly recommended by Mr. Edwin, of course.
It was no surprise, then, to Mr. MacLeod when he arrived at the Woodhurst Presbyterian Church one Tuesday morning to find two little boys trying to peek in the sanctuary windows as the custodian opened them. Of course, he immediately suspected who they were and his curiosity was aroused.
He said: “Good morning lads!”
Harry and Jimmy jumped as if a ghost had said “boo!”
“Perhaps you don't know who I am. I am Mr. MacLeod. I am the organist at this church. And I think you two boys must be James Day and Harold Killman, are you not?” he asked as he solemnly shook their hands.
Embarrassed and awed, Harry and Jimmy stammered an affirmative reply.
“I thought so.” Mr. MacLeod continued. Puzzled he asked: “Just what is it you hope to see peering in the windows that way?
Harry promptly answered: “Mr. MacLeod, sir, we . . . ”
“Yes?” Mr. MacLeod prompted.
Surprising himself and Harry, Jimmy exclaimed: “Why, we wanna see the organ!”
Jimmy and Harry had heard Mr. MacLeod play but it was the first time either of them had ever actually seen him. He was a tall and handsome young man of about twenty five, with dark hair, a jolly smile and a spring in his step. Mr. MacLeod liked children, and indeed, had considered taking a job as a school teacher.
Jimmy thought to himself; So that's Mr. MacLeod! Mac cloud. He pronounced the name as two words to himself. He thought of a joke: It's a good name for a tall man named Mac, who is as high as the clouds. He sure is a good organ player and he's a swell fellow, too, thought Jimmy.
He remembered that when Mr. MacLeod first came to the church how all the ladies made such a fuss about him. They said he was just home from the military. They said he was `eligible', too, which seemed to excite all of the older ladies and caused such titterings among the teenaged girls. He had looked up the word `eligible' in Webster's Dictionary and it said `qualified to be chosen.' But for what? He wondered.
Harry had sized up Mr. MacLeod and decided that he liked this man. He looked like the kind of guy that would play ball with a fellow, or go fishing, or be a soldier. But he didn't look like he was the kind of man to be an organ player!
Mr. MacLeod invited Harry and Jimmy in and he assured them that they were welcome to come and watch and listen anytime. They must be quiet and respectful of God's house, of course.
By the end of the summer Mr. MacLeod had become another hero to the boys and quite subconsciously his name became shortened to Mr. Mac.
And Mr. Mac thought that was just fine!