"All the Worlds a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts." William Shakespeare
I still remember that summer day. It was hot, almost stifling in my Grandparent's modest living room. Out of boredom, I had picked up my Aunt Jeannie's guitar and was idly fooling around with it, picking the third string once, and then sounding the second string twice. Those two notes sounded like something I had heard my Aunt play.
At that moment, my Aunt Jeannie walked through the living room. Instead of being upset at me for fooling around with her guitar, she smiled in amusement at what I was doing, and then made me an offer that would change my life forever.
"Josh, how would you like me to show you some chords?"
"Sure, that would be great!"
"Okay, I'll show you the G chord, the C chord and the D chord. Then, if you can play them for me, when I come out to the country next weekend; I'll show you some more chords."
That day my young life changed forever! Long gone was my summer boredom. Replacing it was sore fingertips and an overpowering desire that seemed to propel my will to learn the guitar. I eagerly absorbed everything my Aunt Jeannie had to teach me. From then on, the guitar would become my constant companion in all of my travels.
Within a few months to my delightful surprise, people were starting to ask me to play the guitar for them. My first thought was, Aw, they're just being nice to me. After a while though, I finally accepted the wonderful fact. I could entertain people.
New Guitar Player in town
"Josh, Mom just told me you heard me singing on the radio down at Mr. Byrum's the other morning. You mean the old guy invited you in?"
"No, I didn't go in, but Grandma let me go down so I could listen to you guys. When you sang your number, I could hear you all the way out to the road. Mr. Byrum is so hard of hearing he has to turn his radio up real loud. So standing all the way out on the road, I could hear you clear as a bell.
"Boy! You guys really sounded good."
"What did you think of the lead guitar player?"
"Heck, Aunt Patsy, I think I play almost as good as he does."
"Josh, you probably do. But, let's keep it our secret. I don't think this guy would appreciate being shown up by a 14 year old kid," she laughed.
"Anyway, too bad you didn't get a chance to hear Cecil Mundy."
Cecil Mundy? - Who is he? I don't think I ever heard of him."
"Well, my little Nephew, for your information... Cecil Mundy is... I should say was... the best Guitar Player to ever hit this town."
"Aunt Patsy, What happen to him?"
"Drafted! The Army took him last month.
"And, my favorite Nephew, if you're lucky... someday maybe you'll learn to play the guitar half as well as Cecil Mundy plays, "my Aunt Patsy said, giving me that little understanding smile of hers.
The legendary Cecil Mundy though gone... is everywhere
At home later that day when my father came in from the fields I was on him before he could even wash up for supper.
"Dad, have you ever heard of a guy named Cecil Mundy?"
"Oh, you mean, Cecil Mundy the Guitar Player that used to play in the same group as your Aunt Patsy.
"Well... yeah... Son, I was in the room where they were broadcasting. Your Aunt Patsy introduced us."
"Dad, do you think if I work at it, I'd ever be able to play as well as him?"
"Well, Son, I don't know. You see, Cecil Mundy just seems to have a natural talent. Too bad, he was drafted. He's a nice friendly guy. Who knows, if he was still here, he might even show you some stuff, if you ask him."
By this time, I'm trying to figure out why everyone in my family except me seems to know about Cecil Mundy.
The Barbershop Surprise
Early next Saturday morning my Mother insists I go for a haircut while she did her grocery shopping. I loved going there because the shop was always filled with local farmers.
Being a young boy, I liked being around all those grownups and listening to them talk farming, politics and the local 'goings-on.' My turn in the barber chair came much too soon.
"Well, young Josh," Earl, the Barber greets me, "The usual."
"Yeah, I guess."
"You know," Earl, informed the other patrons, "This kid is quite a guitar player."
"I'm still learning," I said, feeling uncomfortable being the center of attention. Several of the farmers that I knew, though; nodded in agreement with Earl. Still somewhat uncomfortable, I could not help basking in a little bit of the limelight.
"The Kid probably plays good, but I guarantee you he's no Cecil Mundy. Now there was a guy who could really play the guitar," one of the men laughed.
"Josh, have you ever heard of this guy Cecil Mundy?" Earl asked.
"Yeah," I could only agree, my moment of glory over, "no one plays as good as Cecil Mundy."
So, that's how it went all through the World War II years. There was always someone to take the wind out of my sails and keep me humble. I grew sick and tired of hearing about Cecil Mundy. How good old Cecil played. How I could never play that good... At the same time, I felt guilty as the dickens for resenting him, since he was away, over in the Pacific serving our country.
The Return of Cecil Mundy
Finally, World War II was over. All the guys were coming home. Every few days more Cousins, Uncles, and friends would come back to us. To say we were thrilled to see them, and them to see us, would have to be the all time under statement.
I remember that day as if it was only yesterday. I had been plowing corn with our John Deere tractor all day. Coming into the house that evening I notice a strange car parked at our place. I didn't think too much of it, probably just someone visiting my folks.
"Josh, there's someone here to see you," my Dad said, with that amused little smile of his that told me there was definitely something afoot.
Walking into our living room, I saw a guy I did not recognize sitting on our Sofa. I knew he must have just been recently discharged, because he was still wearing his Army Eisenhower Jacket. His warm smile washed over me. It was as if he knew me, but I had no idea who he was.
"Josh, this is Cecil Mundy," my Father said, "He's come over here to see you. He'd like to hear you play."
My knees suddenly felt weak. I was dumbfounded. I could not believe it! The guy I had heard so much about, and had so much admiration for, was sitting right in front of me on my folk's sofa.
True Story /