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The Red guitar

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Jayne sent me this lovely children's story she wrote that inspired the design of the Red guitar tennessee pin tenesee_pin.gif

Jayne, the guitar and Jerome...she asked Jerome to give the guitar and her story to Clay in atlanta.

The Red Guitar

Late one afternoon and in a small southern town in Tennessee, a little boy was walking hand in hand with his mother, when all of a sudden he tugged on her hand so strongly, bringing her to a complete halt and almost pulling her backwards so that she had to rock from her heels to her toes to keep from falling.  “What ever are you doing son” she asked?  She immediately noticed what had captured her son’s attention and had caused him to behave in such a careless and impolite manner.  He was staring in the window of a quaint little shop, and in this window was a bright red guitar.  “Oh, Momma, look at that beautiful guitar. I wish I had a guitar like that! I bet I could learn to play it.”  His Mother sighed because she knew in her heart that his wish was impossible, at least for now.

“Let’s go dear, Granny is waiting for her medicine” said his mother Sarah Beth, as she tried to direct John David’s attention away from his interest and to a more pressing matter of hurrying home.  However, he kept turning around again and again until finally the shop with its beautiful prize in the window was completely out of site. 

Sarah Beth was grateful that now they could concentrate on finishing the walk back home to their little house behind the Willington’s place.  Granny was waiting supper and she needed her medicine before she could eat. 

John David ran the last few steps and in his excitement, he forgot that he couldn’t breathe when he ran or got too excited. He was a brave little boy and tried to do everything he wanted to do just the same, not letting his asthma stop him.

All through supper John David kept thinking about that guitar and how he wished he could hold it in his arms and learn how to play it.  After lunch the next day, he went down to the pond to fish.  Well, actually he spent most of time skipping rocks and thinking.  Maybe I can earn the money to buy that guitar.  With that thought in mind, he went running back toward the house, and was almost out of breath and just as he rounded to corner of the barn, there was his Momma hanging clothes on the line to dry.  “Momma,” he said, “may we please go back to Miss Mary’s antique shop and see just how much that guitar is?’  “John David,” she said, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I am sure that guitar is very expensive, being all red and so beautiful and all.”  Of course, John David keep right on begging in that cute little way sons do that a mother can hardly resist. 

After thinking it over, off they went walking into town and when they went inside the shop, John David could barely contain his excitement.  Miss Mary took the guitar out of her window and handed it to him.  He held it in his arms, and Sarah Beth snickered to herself, as he look so lost holding that big guitar, however, a peaceful look came over John David and a manner of contentment that only a mother would notice.  As he wrapped his little fingers around the neck of the guitar, he positioned himself so his short little arm could drape over the body of the guitar letting his fingers reach the frets.  This warm feeling came over him and he knew that somehow that guitar would be his. 

When he got home he started thinking of ways to earn money. A hundred dollars was more money that he could imagine.  Devising a plan, he decided to ask his Momma if they could go visit his Uncle Ben who had a small farm just outside of town.  Sure enough Uncle Ben listened to his idea about buying the guitar and was impressed that such a small boy would set upon such an ambitious plan to earn money for a guitar.  Of course he would be glad to help out and they sat down on the porch to make a list.  There were enormous amounts of chores to be done on a farm; however there were equal amounts that could not be accomplished by such a small boy.  So Uncle Ben told John David that if he fed the chickens each day, he could have half of the eggs to sell at the fruit and vegetable stand Uncle Ben Built last year.  It was just up the road a piece.  If he gathered the tomatoes, the beans and the squash, he could also have the half the earnings on those.  About the corn, John David was not tall enough to pull the corn off the stalks, so his Momma decided that she would help.  The corn stalks grew very high on Uncle Ben’s farm because he knew just how to plant, feed and water his crops.  He was a very good farmer.

The next day they went about pulling the corn.  John working down below as Sarah Beth pulled the corn from the top of the stalks.  Soon they had a basket full and walked to the stand to add the corn to the other vegetables that they were selling.  Uncle Ben taught John David how to take the money, make change and put the vegetables in a sack.  He worked very hard and forgot all about his allergies and asthma and even though he wore a straw hat, his little face began to take on a healthy glow.  John David was a rather quiet shy child but that summer he learned all sorts of life lessons.  Not only did he learn how to count money, he learned to speak up loudly and clearly and to look people in the eye.

The last time he went to visit the guitar; his heart sank because as he was walking toward Miss Mary’s shop, he couldn’t see the Red Guitar in the window.  Whew, his heart sank for a minute, but as he got closer it was there.  She had simply moved it and put it on a stand toward the inside of the window to keep the guitar out of the strong sun.  When he went inside, Miss Mary walked over to the guitar picked it up and placed it gently in his arms and pulled up a chair for him to sit. After seeing the look of joy on his face, from that day forward, she discouraged people who took an interest in that guitar. 

He sat down rather roughly and when he did so, a small piece of paper fluttered out of the guitar.  He leaned over to pick it up and on one side was a diagram of just exactly where to put your fingers on the strings for five chords.  Miss Mary came to his aid and explained to John that this piece of paper shows you where to put his fingers to make different notes.  On the other side of the paper, was one single sentence.  He asked Miss Mary what it said.  As she read it to him, it made no sense at all.    When it’s time you will know what to do.  John David had other things on his mind, so he simply put the piece of paper back into the guitar and forgot about it.  Miss Mary placed his fingers on the strings of the first of five chords.  It wasn’t easy because his fingers were short and his hand small.  He was just getting settled in when his Momma appeared at the door of the store, telling him It’s time to go home, we still have work to do.

John David was surprised one day to hear that soon Miss Mary was selling her store and moving out of town to live with her daughter Jill in Kings Mountain, NC.  He was sad to see her leave.  He would especially miss going over to her house when her daughter and the grandchildren came to visit.  He loved playing with Darion, Matthew, Elizabeth and Austin.  They all had become his very best friends.  They loved fishing, climbing trees and feeding stale bread to the geese that lived in the pond behind his house.

By summers end, John David had earned about half of what he needed to buy the guitar.  When everything in the store was marked down to half price, John had just enough money saved.  That was a special day indeed!  Finally his work had all paid off.  He was very proud of himself.  His Grandmother, Momma and Uncle Ben were equally proud of him and often told him so.

He couldn’t wait to get to the shop.  He gave Miss Mary a great big hug, thanked her for her help and told her he would miss her.  He asked her to please come back and visit when she could.  He had no idea whether or not he would see her and his friends again.  Then he walked straight home.

At night, he and his grandmother would sit out on the porch and he would try the chords.  Slowly but surely he mastered all five of those cords that were written on that piece of paper. 

He looked up one evening and noticed that his grandmother had fallen asleep.  He started to sing, the Lullaby song.  He sang very softly as grandmother and his mother had sung to him.  All of a sudden his voice grew a little louder and louder until it rang out so clear and beautiful that his Grandmother woke up and sat straight up in her chair!  She couldn’t believe her ears. His voice was beautiful, with perfect pitch and singing the words ever so clearly.  It touched her soul, it was like magic!  His Grandmother was overwhelmed hearing him sing and knew immediately that his voice was a gift from God.  When he was finished, she starting slowly singing Amazing Grace, a song they sang in church.  Soon he joined her singing and by the time they had finished the song, his Grandmother had great big tears running down her cheeks.  She held him in her arms and told him how special he was to her.  She said that buying that red guitar, learning to play it and learning to sing was going to bring him a lot of happiness. 

Shortly thereafter, his Uncle Ben brought over a lessons book that he had ordered for him from a Sears catalog.  He sat down and tried his best to figure out how to put his fingers on all those dots.  It wasn’t easy and it took him a long time but he taught himself to play all the songs in that book!

When he was in his teens, his playing and singing improved so much so that people started to take notice of his talent, especially on the day he sang at his Grandmother’s funeral.  Amazing Grace was her favorite song.  She had been such an inspiration to him, always giving him encouragement.  She never minded listening when he made mistakes, nodding her head up and down to the beat and rocking in that old chair.  Afterwards when family and friends came back to the house to visit, Miss Mary came by with her daughter and her grandchildren.  John David was delighted to see them all.  It had been a few years since they had seen each other and everybody had changed quite a bit.  But he hadn’t changed so much that he couldn’t give Miss Mary a great big hug.  The secret had gotten out that she had saved that guitar just for him, refusing to sell it to several other interested buyers.  He was grateful and he told her how much he appreciated her for doing that for him.

John David went on to study music, his voice improved, his playing improved, he learned all sorts of new songs.  He became quite famous and successful, and enjoyed his life.  People from all over came to see and hear him sing, and one day he looked out into the audience and there sat Miss Mary.  John, as he was now called, gave a big wink and she smiled and nodded her head.  He sang his next song especially to her that night! 

Even with all his success, something wasn’t right.  One night he sat down, picked up his guitar, the red one, held it in his arms, thinking back to when it all began.  How many guitars have I had since then, he asked himself.  He always kept this one because it was special and for some reason it never changed.  It was still just as shinny, had no scratches whatsoever and was still in perfect condition, bright red.  That was when the piece of paper fell out.  He was surprised to see that the piece of paper had remained in the guitar all this time.  You could barely read what it said.  The writing was almost invisible. 

All of a sudden it came very clear to him and then he knew; he knew what he had to do.  He picked up his coat and headed out the door.  When he found just the right store in just the right area of town, he walked into the store with the guitar in hand, talked to the owner as he was writing on a small piece of paper. You could tell by the owner’s expression of surprise that John was a man not to be reckoned with and that he was a man of some importance.  The owner shook his head and John’s hand in agreement.  With that, John walked out of that store with a big smile on his face and a lift in his gait!

“Please put this in your window”, John instructed the shop owner.  “One day someone will come in and admire this beautiful guitar, and when that happens and if he is the right person for this guitar, you will feel warmth throughout your soul.”  “You will know that in front of you stands the person who is meant to buy this beautiful red guitar”. “It has brought  joy, happiness and riches to me and now it is time for the magic of this guitar to bring joy, happiness and riches to someone else.    It must not be purchased by anyone else.  I have written a note and placed it inside this guitar and the new owner will discover this note in his own time…...and…….When the time is right he will know what to do!

The end.

Jposton 7/27/05

Especially for

Elizabeth, Darion, Matthew and Austin

And Clay Aiken

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