Saturday, December 31, 2016

From broom guitars to Gibsons

While recently listening to The Moody Blues, "Nights in White Satin", for some reason I was transported back in time to my first guitar.  Well, I'm not sure it was a "real" guitar, but for me, it was when I realized music was part of my soul.

My Pop had just surprised me with a 45 RPM of the Beatles with "Twist and Shout" on side 1 and "Paperback Writer" on side 2.  I immediately fell in love with side 2 and wore the grooves down to nothing over the next several years as I played on my portable record player , in my bedroom over and over and over again.  Having the luxury of  my own record player was a gift...a real we didn't have much, but my parents saved and worked so very hard.

In my tiny closet was a child size red broom, that I still have to this day.  My mother gave it to me when I was around 3 years old, and I would carry it with me wherever I went.  It became my magic carpet as I would straddle it and pretend to fly.  It was my sword when fencing with my older brothers...also, a bat to hit beach balls, a scarecrow and eventually , a guitar.

We didn't have extra money to buy a guitar, so when I put my favorite 45 records on, The Beatles, Beach Boys, Mitch Miller, Ronnie and the Daytona's, Peter , Paul and name little red broom became my guitar.  I would turn the lights out and position a flashlight in my face from my desk, as if it were a stage light, turn on the music, grab my broom guitar and I was singing and playing and the world was my stage.  As it does today, music transports me to another time, another place, a safe place where only the notes touch my heart and all is well with the world.....

When I turned 10 years old, I was in Kentucky, where I spent every summer growing up.  My Aunt Mae Dell worked long, hard hours as a nurse assistant in a hospital in Owensboro, Kentucky.  My birthday is in late June, which is hot and muggy along the Ohio River that borders Northern Kentucky.  Aunt Mae got up early on my birthday and said we were taking a special trip downtown and then we would go to Woolworth's for a chocolate sundae for my birthday.  This was HUGE!!  My heart still flutters with the excitement I felt that morning.  We drove downtown Owensboro.  I had no idea where we were going.  Aunt Mae didn't have much in material goods, but she had class and grace, and it showed in her walk.  I had a dress on, which was a rarity for this tom boy, and Aunt Mae had her hair in a modified bee hive with A LOT of hair spray, she walked with her shoulders high, a neatly pressed white dress with rose flowers and black heels.  No one could tell she had just gotten off of an all night shift in the hospital!!  Her smile lit the world.  She knew where we were going.  I followed her like a puppy dog down the hot street until we turned into a little store that simply said "Music Store".  My heart skipped a beat.  How did she know this was where my heart began to beat?  She went to the counter and asked the gentleman behind the counter to bring out the ROY ROGER'S guitar.  It was in a cardboard box with my name on it.  I couldn't believe it...a REAL guitar.  I couldn't wait to get home.  Aunt Mae and the "music man" helped me get it out of the wrapper and there it was....a small plywood guitar, with Roy Roger's picture on it, gut strings  and a braided guitar strap.  I didn't know how to tune a guitar or what a tuned guitar sounded like , but when I strummed it, the world stopped turning for me....a moment frozen in time.  Aunt Mae paid for it with change and dollar bills from her small change purse.At that time, I had no idea how long she had saved for this moment, but I do now, and there is no amount of money on earth that could replace the love and memory she gave me.  At the end of the summer, I returned home to California on the Continental Trailways bus ....a LONG ride from St. Louis to Sacramento, but I made it and my guitar made it...cradled in my arms the entire distance.

For years, my Roy Rogers was propped next to my red broom guitar, and this little girl would sing, write music and dream.  Well, as it does with all of us, life kind of took a different turn.  I wouldn't change a thing.  I had a beautiful son, loving relationships, a successful career in education, the best friends ever, and all through life, the dream was still there.

Today, my Roy Rogers and red broom guitars have been replaced with my Emmylou Harris Gibson, an Ovation , a mandolin and a few others.  My dream is coming touch people's hearts with my songs, and it just keeps unfolding.  This year, my CD is being produced by the legendary John Beland.  I could never have predicted or choreographed these miracles. I can't help but think Aunt Mae and my Mom and Pop are smiling from above as they see their little girl's dreams come true.

Thank you Mom, Pop and Aunt Mae Dell for loving and believing in me.  This next chapter of my life and my songs are for you............from broom guitars to Gibsons......

p.s. Never stop dreaming..........the angels are listening:))


  1. You are so inspirational! I always enjoy your blogs.

  2. Thank you so much, Sandie.....Happy New Year!!!

  3. What an extraordinary journey, Nancy. Your aunt loved you very much, and she BELIEVED in you! That itself is a great gift. She set you on your path. I've been watching and listening as you ramped up your musical career, and I must say it is all so amazing. So very happy for you and I wish you continued success and happiness in the new year.

  4. Tara, thank you so much for your continued love and support through the journey....your words really touched my heart!!

  5. Great and touching story ! Hugs, Kevin