86 The Organ Grinder. By Banks, Charles Eugene

The blue-bird and the organ grinder are the harbingers of spring. Although it has become the fashion to speak slightingly of the latter, yet his quaint manner and unpretentious instrument are the source of much quiet enjoyment. Who has not at some time been carried away on a creamy sea of recollection by a halfforgotten melody winding itself out of the twisted throat of a hand-organ? Only a decade ago light operas were the fashion and the streets were merry with their melodies. The boot black whistled their catchy airs to the early morning, and the weary pedestrian quickened his steps at the sound of their inspiring measures. The gray bearded man of affairs hummed them softly between the coming and going of customers in his office; the pink and dimpled baby in the crib sank into restful slumber, soothed by their rhythmical cadences. But more pretentious, if less musical, compositions have laid hold of the public’s fancy, and these touching bits of harmony, once so familiar to our every-day life, are heard no more:

“In the rush and roar of sound,
Every melody is drowned.”

Even the street bands have left off playing Hayes and Root to toot Volkmann and Wagner. The organ-grinder alone clings to the tripping valse of Strauss - he alone soothes our restless spirits with Annie Laurie - awakens us to new endeavor with the stirring Marseillaise. He comes to us with the songs we used to love in the long ago; the songs that will be sweet to us always, because one who was dear to us loved and sang them when the day was growing misty and dim in the twilight, Blessings on the organ grinder! He is the children’s friend, and his muchabused instrument - what a storehouse of precious memories it is, after all!

Dieses Kapitel ist Teil des Buches STREET TYPES GREAT AMERICAN CITIES