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Subject: How did he know?

Ben Elder
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Date Posted: 02:30:16 01/11/02 Fri

It's amazing enough to have been at pickin' parties with the likes of Dick (where I did my best to play softly, not get in the way and try to learn something quietly), but there's one other occurrence that ties in with what several friends and co-workers mentioned about Dick's quiet cerebral at the Memorial on Saturday.

In the last oh-h, fifteen years or so, I've nurtured--to the point of some notoriety--an obsession with an esoteric type of '20s-era Hawaiian guitar (koa wood, body chamber extends all the way up the neck--forerunner of the National Tricone and Dobro). At a very early stage of my quest, I retrieved a phone message from work--at a time where my employment and fiscal posture may as well have been unemployment. It was DIck on the answering machine saying at a recent gig, he'd met a guy talking about selling a Weissenborn.

When I could finally control my spontaneous whoops and backflips, I couldn't for the life of me figure out how Dick knew to call me. Some time later, it came back to me: he, Annie Harvey, daughter Kat and Brantley Kearns had dropped by my apartment on the way to the beach several months before. (Spring or summer obviously.) At the time, I'd just gotten my first similar instrument (a Knutsen--a very worthy if quirky builder in his own right) but mentioned, "I'd really like to get a Weissenborn."

I couldn't remember this but Dick did! Even though my finances were terrible at the time, I told the seller if he'd keep the guitar out of the Recycler (classified-ad newspaper for those outside Southern California) I wouldn't haggle with him on the price ($500). I was able to hit up several friends for small loans and got the guitar in just a few days. (Paid back the friends, too.) As it happened, I didn't hear of another Weissenborn for sale anywhere at any price in more than a year following, so the price was more than right without the discomfort of the Haggling Tango. The guitar (it now has a name--Dick), rough as it looks, has appreciated almost as much as I appreciate Dick's thoughtfulness.

I'd always planned that the first time I found a Gibson F-5 Lloyd Loar mandolin (players and collectors can explain the dreamy-eyed irony of this statement about a high-five-figure instrument of which less than 300 ever existed), I'd give Dick first shot at it. I also thought I'd have thirty or so more years to try to pull that off.

My best try was when I had the chance to get a Van Eps tenor banjo (also rare and esoteric) at a very favorable price a couple of years ago, I remembered that Dick ahd mentioned liking these. His interest was in the the five-srting variety, so he passed. Instead, I let Dick's and my mutual friend Chuck Fayne (whose post appeared just before I started writing here) have it for what I paid for it.

I'll find that F-5 yet, Dick. It's yours if you come down and visit us sometime.

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[> Subject: Re: How did he know?

Ben Elder
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Date Posted: 02:42:31 01/11/02 Fri

In the interests of completeness (and not without self-effacing irony), let me note that the word "acuity" was supposed to follow "cerebral" in my previous post. From what I understand, this kind of laxity wouldn't be allowed to happen when Dick was wielding the red pencil instead of the black F-2.

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