Spoons

spoons

The name we knew him by was,”Spoons,” because this was the musical instrument he played.  If we were standing in a driving rain and were feeling homesick and down, Spoons would whip out his bent, worn tablespoons.  He’d make an elaborate display of bending them until he felt the “pitch” was just right.  Then came the rythmic tapping on his thigh and the most  unbelievable improvisational songs you ever heard in your life.  He was our own personal U.S.O. troupe and we loved him.. If anyone had a guitar handy, in seconds we would have a full blown impromptu concert on our hands.

One fine day we received word that a U.S.O. troupe was visiting the front lines to entertain us.  When the time came for the show, our battalion of battle hardened soldiers sat on the ground as far as the eye could see..  The entertainers tried to do their best but the show was beginning to fizzle and drag.  The jokes bombed and the talent was just not there.  We had hoped that Bob Hope was coming but instead we got his uncles and aunts twice removed.

There was a murmur though the crowd and soon it rose to a rolling chant, “We want Spoons! We want Spoons!”  Louder and louder until it could no longer be ignored.  Spoons was sitting next to me and I looked at him quizzically; he just shook his head from side to side and said, “No!”  “Since when did you become shy? You’ve got to do it,” I whispered in his ear.  He had hesitated because he didn’t have his prized instruments along, but someone sitting nearby handed him the spoons from their mess kit.

As he approached the makeshift stage, everyone rose to their feet and gave him a rousing standing ovation never heard before this side of Carnegie Hall.  He stood in front of the microphone and introduced himself.  The entertainers crouched down on the sides of the platform to watch this spectacle.  Again, the applause was thunderous.  Spoons proceeded to bend and fiddle around with his “instruments” until they were tuned just right.  You couldn’t rush him when he did his tuning bit because it was an elaborate ritual that was funny in itself and he didn’t like to be rushed.

At that moment, someone with a guitar walked on stage and the two collaborated on the most amazing rendition of a song I had ever heard.  The crowd called out requests for other songs and the two played like there was no tomorrow.  A very talented guitar player carrying the melody and Spoons carrying the beat and doing the singing or sometimes humming if he didn’t know the words.

Then Spoons walked right into the crowd carrying the microphone as far as the cord would reach.  He began bantering with anyone who had the courage to match wits with him.  There was some hilarious stuff going on and it was all ad-lib.

After returning to the stage, he asked for someone to shout out a word or phrase and he’d sing them their own original song.  Someone shouted out, “Easy Company, 14th Infantry Regiment.”  Without hesitating he went into a riff about Easy Company that he improvised on the spot and made us laugh so hard our stomachs hurt.  I looked at the entertainers and I could see the awe in their faces as they witnessed this unique sampling of Spoon’s raw talent.

He must have been on the stage for an hour but to me it seemed like minutes.  When he returned he asked me what I thought of his performance.  I told him he was going to have to try harder but it wasn’t bad for a beginner.  I didn’t want him to get a swelled head.

He and I were close because I admired his talent and he admired my letter writing ability.  He constantly told everyone I was his official, reader and writer.  Whenever he got a rare letter from home he gave it to me to read aloud.   When I wrote a return letter for him it was because he said with a straight face he had misplaced his glasses.  He would get so much enjoyment from my letters he would take them to the officer’s mess hall so the captain could read them out loud for all the officer’s enjoyment.  That’s when Spoons dubbed me “The Miracle Man”.

About Jerry Goldberg

Jerry Goldberg grew up on the west side of Chicago. After high school, he was drafted in the Army during the Korean conflict. Upon his honorable discharge, he joined Local 130 in Chicago as a plumber, working from 1952 to 2000. Jerry has been happily married for 60 years, residing with his wife, Gloria, in Huntley, Illinois. They were blessed with two wonderful children, and have three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
When his son encouraged him to get online, Jerry replied, "What do I need that for?" But all that changed a year into his retirement, when his daughter gave him a modem for his birthday, opening a whole new chapter. Finding stained glass insufficiently fulfilling, Jerry discovered the AARP message boards and began his one-finger magic. Eventually, he became quite proficient (two fingers), starting a board called, "Jerry's Corner."

This board was the second most popular board on AOL. Jerry bantered with any and all, and began writing humorous true stories of his past life. The stories you see here are a compilation of most he has written ... enjoy!

About Jerry Goldberg

Jerry Goldberg grew up on the west side of Chicago. After high school, he was drafted in the Army during the Korean conflict. Upon his honorable discharge, he joined Local 130 in Chicago as a plumber, working from 1952 to 2000. Jerry has been happily married for 60 years, residing with his wife, Gloria, in Huntley, Illinois. They were blessed with two wonderful children, and have three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
When his son encouraged him to get online, Jerry replied, "What do I need that for?" But all that changed a year into his retirement, when his daughter gave him a modem for his birthday, opening a whole new chapter. Finding stained glass insufficiently fulfilling, Jerry discovered the AARP message boards and began his one-finger magic. Eventually, he became quite proficient (two fingers), starting a board called, "Jerry's Corner."

This board was the second most popular board on AOL. Jerry bantered with any and all, and began writing humorous true stories of his past life. The stories you see here are a compilation of most he has written ... enjoy!