Chapter 13 The Debut
Mrs. Killman and Mrs. Day had prepared a delicious dinner for the guests. They were served graciously and generously. After the repast a beautifully decorated cake, complete with the names of both boys and ten candles for each, was presented. The cake was served after the guests had sung the birthday song and all twenty candles had been blown out. Everyone then insisted that the boys take turns opening their presents.
Mr. Edwin gave each of the boys a book that had descriptions and color pictures of the magnificent pipe organs in the Cathedrals of Europe and England. Mr. Huffermyer gave each boy ten free trolley passes, one for each birth year, good on all the street cars in the city. Miss Page gave Jimmy a Biography of Johann Sebastian Bach and Harry a recorder flute. Miss Rydell gave the boys each a brand new Library card which entitled them to check out books from the 'grownups' section of the library. Mr. Mac gave each boy a Barlow knife along with an admonition to be very careful with it.
Harry's mother gave him a hand made sailboat, a replica of a clipper ship, with a mast two feet tall, to sail on the pond at Murray Hill park. Jimmy's mother gave him a Glockenspiel imported from Germany. It had shiny metal bars with a set of mallets that had brass and hard rubber beaters on opposite ends of each wooden stick. When all the gifts had been opened and everyone personally thanked, Harry stood up to speak as Jimmy left the room.
Harry gave a little speech which he had practiced, “Jimmy and I want to thank you-all very much for the nice gifts you have given to us. We have something now for you. Would y'all please come into the parlor?”
When everyone had settled in the parlor Jimmy stood before the group and spoke: “Our mothers told us that we should entertain you. We would like to play some songs for you by the composer Stephen Foster. The first one we would like to play is `Camptown Races.”
Jimmy went to the organ and Harry went to the piano and, glancing atone another to catch the beat, began to play. Mrs. Day and Mrs. Killman were in the kitchen when they heard the music. Mrs. Day commented that Mr. Edwin must be entertaining the party. Mrs. Killman paused and listened for a moment. There was something familiar about the style in which the music was being played.
She grabbed Mrs. Day's arm, “Martha,” she paused listening again,” Martha, I believe we are hearing our own boys playing the organ and piano!”
They both hurried to the parlor arriving just in time to hear the last chorus of `Camptown Races'. The astounded guests gave much more than polite applause. There were exclamations of “Well, I never!” and “Who would have thought that two so young . . .”
The audience was held spell bound, then amazed as Jimmy next produced a violin and played `Beautiful Dreamer' accompanied by Harry on the organ. Harry then produced a cornet and played `Oh, Susanna' accompanied by Jimmy on the piano. The boys cranked up the parlor Victrola and played a cornet and violin duet along with a record of a pianist playing `My Old Kentucky Home.' The little concert ended with an organ and piano rendition of “Old Folks at Home.”
Mr. Edwin was pleased that his students would surprise him this way. Mrs. Killman and Mrs. Day were once again astounded and delighted with their sons. All of the guests were amazed at the two boys' ability to play.
Harry and Jimmy were not through with the surprises. They coaxed Mr. Edwin, Mr. Mac, and Miss Page each into performing on the piano or organ and, before the evening was over, it was discovered that Mr. Huffermeyer played the harmonica, which he always kept in his pocket. Discovered too, was that Miss Rydell had a lovely singing voice. Miss Page surprised everyone with the way she was able to play the piano in `ragtime' style. Songs were suggested and played and sung.
All this singing and playing culminated in a rousing group rendition of `Over There.' Everyone sang and played enthusiastically with Mr. Edwin playing the piano, Mr. Huffermyer the harmonica, and Jimmy the organ. Miss Page played Jimmy's new glockenspiel, with none other than Mr. Mac playing the old drum that Jimmy and Harry had found in the attic almost eleven months before. Miss Rydell was so excited from the sound of it all that she breathlessly declared that their little band was `the bee's knees.' Appalled then at having said such a bold thing, she blushed deeply.
Jimmy and Harry were pleased to see that Mr. Mac and Miss Page got along so well. Mr. Mac knew something precious and rare when he saw it and before the evening was over he took the opportunity to ask Miss Page if she would consider going on an outing with him on the morrow --appropriately chaperoned, of course.
She said, “Yes, of course!”
As the evening came to an end Miss Mel asked Jimmy and Harry if they would play `Beautiful Dreamer' on the violin and organ once more. Of course, the boys readily agreed. Just as the song entered the second strain Jimmy heard the back door open and close. As he continued to play he looked in the direction of the kitchen door and saw his father standing, bag in hand, with a cloudy expression on his face.
As he finished the song, he started toward his father. Jimmy stopped when he saw that his father was actually very angry. Mr. Day turned abruptly and went out the door and up the back stairs. He didn't even come in and greet the guests. Jimmy was bewildered. What had made him so angry? Didn't his father like his music?
Later, when his mother came to tuck him in, he asked; “Momma, papa looked so mad when he heard me playing the violin tonight. Why? Doesn't papa want me to make music? Momma, I have to make music!”
She tried to comfort him. She said “You know that I was very proud of you tonight, don't you?” Jimmy smiled and shook his head.
Mrs. Day continued “It may seem so, but your father isn't really mad at you. There are some complicated reasons why your father is upset about your playing. He loves you so much! And because he loves you he wants to see you become a businessman someday, like he is. He wants you to study business in college so you can make the good income you'll need to well support the family you'll have one day.”
“But Momma, I want to be a musician! I want to play the organ and the piano and the violin, but mostly the organ! I have to make music, Momma!” There was a note of panic creeping into the boy's voice.
“Now, now! You can always make music! Your music will simply have to be only a part of your life, and not all of your life, that's all. I don't think papa would mind that so much. I'll talk to him about it.”
She paused pondering. Then choosing her words carefully she said, “I think, though, that you should not let your father hear you playing too much. It brings back some painful memories for him. You can continue your lessons with Mr. Edwin, I'll pay for it out of my own money, so Papa won't have to be bothered about it.”
Jimmy eagerly said; “I can pay for the lessons mama, I'll get a job! You'll see!”
She smiled and smoothed his hair. “If you want to, darling. But be careful not to discuss your lessons with anyone while papa's around, mind you. You and Harry must take care not to play or practice when your father's in the house, too, OK? It's not that I want to keep secrets from your father, but I think everyone will be happier this way!”