I took up guitar playing at around 13. I was in what is currently referred to as middle school, but back then it had just become intermediate school. Just prior to that it was still junior high school. I’m sure that referring to it as junior high school today would elicit scorn from some, but even so, it’s important to keep the focus on what middle intermediate junior high school was really all about – going to a new class every hour and, of course – group showers.
All things considered, I guess I’m glad I went through that then. Now is more complicated I suspect, and seeming to get more so. Don’t get me wrong though, there was plenty in those days that would have be scandalous today. We had a P.E. teacher (who will remain anonymous only because I can’t quite remember the guy’s name… maybe it was Beemus or something), and he was mostly known for swatting students in the locker room in a ritual-like manner. We feared the swat. My only experience with this was a group swat. The whole class underperformed in some way and thus incurred the wrath en masse.
It was, however, mostly the bad kids who got swatted. But the worst thing about it was that everybody knew this was going on and it was openly talked about. These kids would have to drop their pants, bend over and receive a bare-handed smack on the butt. Can you imagine that today? Sadly, I think a lot of folks admired Beemus in those days. He was a tough guy who pretended to have the student’s best interests in mind.
Later as a young adult, I ran into Beemus at the old bowling alley that we used to hang out at as kids. I’m not sure why I would have been there because it was a run-down dump, but nonetheless, there was Beemus, obviously drunk, unkempt and a mere fraction of what he thought he was in an earlier time. Sad, but fitting.
Now back to the point of this – the guitar. We had a band in eighth grade called The Pinstripes. We knew one song in which I played 3 or 4 notes. We performed it in a talent show for the school and everybody cheered. Obviously they didn’t know better in those days, but that was the start of my career as a non-working guitar player.
All that being said, many decades later guitar is still a passion in many aspects of my personal and professional life. Oh, and by the way, the image above was my first guitar, a Custom Kraft Ambassador. It’s not an original photo, but definitely the same instrument which cost about $60 in the 60’s. This one sold recently for about $500. Who knew?