A Boy's Glorious Noise
THE wall is not the only problem in West Berlin. A decision has just been handed down in the disturbing case of Herr Jeffrey Bossin, who rings the city carillon. Two years ago, Berlin spent more than 5 million marks to erect the carillon tower, and it was meant to enhance the cultural sweetness of the vicinity. But folks complained that Bossin went up there and played the same tune over and over until everybody hated him and his tune, and life in the proximity was unpleasant. Germany has the highest per capita percentage of lawyers in the Western bloc, and going to court is the second most popular sport. The first is handshaking. Complainants' attorney won a decision that Herr Bossin may practice only four hours a week, but many neighbors feel this is too much.
I wish people would come to me for advice on such matters. I could have told the Berliners about little Jimmie and his cornet, and spared them the litigation. Little Jimmie's doting grandfather sent him a fine cornet for Christmas. Not a plaything, even though Jimmie was in kindergarten, but a real concert cornet. Jimmie took to the cornet with immediate delight. In his innocent childhood he vowed to become the world's finest cornetist.
It thus became Jimmie's routine to leap from bed just as the Orient sun lifted over the harbor and he would practice on his cornet by the open bedroom window. They had told him fresh air is essential for wind instruments. At that time, Jimmie could not read music, and he knew only one tune. That was a round used in kindergarten class, thus:
Un, deux, trois, Nous allons au bois, Quatre, cinq, six ... etc.
Jimmie would blow this. It was truly amazing, because the acoustical value of an open body of water allowed him to accomplish with about 36 notes more than any military band could accomplish with a march by John Philip Sousa.
The burghers of Gloucester noticed this and didn't like it. After a time a delegation approached Jimmie's father. Jimmie's father slept on the other, or landward, side of the house and didn't know how the dawn came up on Jimmie's side. He listened attentively while the delegation enumerated the options:
1.The boy would softly and suddenly vanish away. 2.They would set fire to his barn. 3.They would come and wrap that ding-dong cornet around his neck.
In this manner, Jimmie was restrained from his matutinal serenades, and the people of Gloucester could continue to sleep until breakfast. So civil disturbance may be assuaged without the expense of a lawyer. True, cultural values were lost, as Jimmie grew up to be a plumber, but he might have done that anyway.
A similar situation can also be cited to instruct the Berliners, this one about young Alden Grant's tunneltoot. It is necessary to explain that in Maine ``tunnel'' is often used for ``funnel,'' the device for pouring liquids into a jug, and the tunneltoot was made from a funnel. Alden grew up at Kennebago, far up in the Maine wilderness, where his father had a vacation ``camp.'' Young Alden found a discarded tunnel among some kitchen items. Being far from anywhere, Alden was limited to finding his own amusements, and this funnel suggested to him a musical instrument.
Alden found a short length of hose in the camp workshop, into which the small end of the funnel would fit, and he fashioned a mouthpiece easily from a split of cedar such as was used for kindling wood. So young Alden had a tunneltoot, and he would parade around the place a good part of his time tunneltooting.
The thing had a three-note scale, and after Alden mastered his instrument he could stand on the steps of the main lodge and peel bark off birch trees across the lake. But, as with little Jimmie and with Herr Bossin, music tends to be in the ears of the victim, and the guests at Grant's Camp talked among themselves as to what they should do. Mr. Ramsdell Romande had the answer. He spoke to young Alden, and he said, ``My, my, young man, that surely is a beautiful instrument - would you take 25 cents for it?''
With the 25 cents in his pocket, young Alden watched as Mr. Ramsdell Romande stood and hurled the tunneltoot as far as he could into the lake, where it reposes six decades later a full fathom five, if not more.