The Bench


Gypsies commonly wandered the roads from village to village, trading small garden trinkets and house decorations with the Wirtschaft owners. Most villagers didn’t trust them and would not have them on their yards. But Nicholai had no fear. The gypsies knew they were welcome on the Janzen property. They often stopped by to visit with the boys and the women. At night they camped near enough so that their wonderful music could be heard in Nicholai’s orchard. Indeed it was his pleasure to listen to the marvelous minor keys played on the guitars and the beautiful lyrical melodies sung by the women in the camp. It heightened Nicholai’s melancholy to hear these songs sung over and over again.

One evening Nicholai said to Gerhard, “Could you learn to play the guitar?”

When Gerhard speculated that he thought he could, Nicholai soon contacted the chief of the gypsy band and asked if there might be a guitar for sale. And if so, would someone in his group be able to teach Gerhard how to play. Both questions were answered in the affirmative. An excellent old guitar was produced and purchased. Gerhard forthwith was shown how to tune a 7-string guitar and play the chords Nicholai loved so well. Gerhard quickly learned the gypsy melodies and was proud to play them for his father.

Playing that guitar became Gerhard’s passion. Following his lead other boys in the village were attracted to the gypsy folk songs and soon a small group regularly met to practice and play. Back home Nicholai would frequently ask Gerhard to soothe his soul with guitar music, when his evening melancholy set in.

“Wenn nun der Geist Gottes ueber Saul kam so nahm David die Harfe und spielte mit seiner Hand, so erquickte sich Saul, und es ward besser mit ihm, und der boese Geist wich von ihm” I Samuel 16:23

“And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took a harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.” I Samuel 16:23

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Ed Janzen is the editor and publisher of CANADIAN STORIES, a literary folk magazine that publishes short stories and poems from Canadian writers of every province of Canada. Story Quilt is an electronic magazine similar in content. Ed has written four memoirs. He also writes for the old car hobby and has a column in OLD AUTOS - a biweekly newspaper featuring mostly Canadians events and automotive history.
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