Out of the blue and completely unsolicited I received a box of harmonicas. I guess somebody figured that the one thing we needed in Iraq was harmonicas. There were more than a hundred.
They are Herb Shriner “Hoosier Boy” harmonicas. The accompanying letter explains that Herb Shriner was a 50s era TV star and a harmonica virtuoso. The harmonicas are a gift from his family. They have evidently been in storage (the harmonicas, not the family) since the 1950s and now there is a program to give them to the troops. At first I thought the whole idea was a joke, but the harmonicas are proving surprisingly popular among the Marines and you can hear the sweet, but melancholy music of the mouth organ all over our corner of Al Asad. Some people can play the harmonica, others can’t. Those who can play evidently learned all their songs from watching westerns and/or movies about the Civil War (i.e. the war of northern aggression, to my neighbors near the tree farm). So far I have been able to pick out “Lorena”, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, “The Bonnie Blue Flag” and of course that old favorite “Home on the Range.” There are other songs that I either do not recognize or are unrecognizable at the current talent level of the performer.
I tried to learn to play the harmonica a couple of years back, but since I am uncommonly free of musical talent, the lessons didn’t take. Maybe I will take it up again so that I can entertain people waiting for flights at the landing zones. Maybe not, now that I recall everybody around here carries a gun.
BTW – I am trying to put the comments section back in. Let’s hope I do not get spammed again.