The Accordion and I

When I came to Chicago, one of the first things I asked for from Mom was to take accordion lessons. There was the Calpino Accodion School nearby in East Chicago. Mom agreed to pay for lessons but warned me that once I started this task she would not allow me to quit. She would have no quitters. If one quit one task then it makes it easier to quit other endeavers in life. She would not raise a quitter – so she told me that I would practice daily and get it right. I started my lessons and found out how difficult it was. It was hard to see one’s hands while playing. It was as if one was learning Braille. So when I told Mom it was harder than I had anticipated and I was going to stop, and she chastised me for my complaints. She reminded me of my promise. I continued to practice every afternoon while my buddies where playing football.

Mom woke me out of bed one New Years Eve and told me to put on my clothes and bring my accordion downstairs. She wanted me to play for our celebrating restaurant crowd. Everyone was eating and drinking and having a good time. I protested, “Mom I can’t play anything”.   Despite my protests, I went downstairs kicking and yelling, not wanting to be embarrassed. She introduced me to the crowd, and everyone clapped. There was no turning back. At age 12, I gave my first performance, scared to death. So I played an easy version of “O Sole Mio” and “Auld Lang Syne” at midnight and everyone sang and cheered. One of the customers passed a hat around and the hat came back to me full of dollar bills. I learned my first business lesson in life. I was now a professional. Not only did I make money, but I got lots of hugs and compliments. I loved it.