I was reading a story in The New Yorker the other day about playing the harp. Now, that was an instrument I always wanted to play.

Maybe after seeing Harpo Marx in those old black-and-white movies …

But I never played an instrument. We had pianos in the house — uprights and a grand — but I never got beyond Chopsticks. And it sounded like I was playing with chopsticks.

We’ve had guitars in the house, too, and over the years people have bought me harmonicas and drums, and even a ukulele, but I’m no good at puffing and strumming and keeping a beat. What’s that ... ?

That made me think that I never had much music in my life as a lad growing up. We had a huge, wooden 78 record player-radio combo in the living room. It probably stood 4 feet high and 3 feet wide, a real piece of parlor furniture, but it was hardly ever turned on. And we didn’t get TV until I was in seventh grade.

The radio was used mostly to listen to old serials, like “The Shadow,” and not for music.

The neatest part was that it was also a short-wave radio, and sometimes I could steal a minute or two of programming from Germany or Venezuela.

As a teenager one of my sisters gave me an old stack-‘em-up 45 player and I started buying records, probably for a buck or so for one song on each side.

The B Side was always deliberately designed to be a stinker. They wouldn’t waste two good songs on one record when they could sell you two records and double their money.

Sometimes you lucked out, like finding “La Bamba” on the flipside of the designated hit “Donna” by Ritchie Valens. The record execs probably fired whoever did that.

I was never in the band in school, but I did sing in the chorus — and still do at the occasional performances of the Larson Senior Center Players.

I was never much good at keeping a tune, but I always stood near people who knew how to sing.

Today, music is everywhere, from your car radio to your cell phone to your wristwatch to your ear buds.

Kids today don’t know a world without music.

Saturday Sermon

“An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it.”

— Jef Mallett

I didn’t know that

Snowflakes are transparent.

It’s only when these tiny prisms bend and bounce the colors of light in all directions that the mass of snow appears white.

Heard at the bar

How did Miami beat the Patriots last week? By playing rugby on the last play.

You know, running up to a tackler and then lateraling the ball to a teammate, and then doing it again until you get to the touch line — er, the end zone.

Confused the hell out of the Pats.

So you’re so smart ...

Last week I bet you couldn’t tell me what two presidential candidates debated on TV for the first time before 70 million viewers in 1960.

“John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon,” answers Joan Dugas, correctly.

By most accounts, a scowling Nixon with a three-o’clock shadow lost the debate — and then the election. Now, I bet you can’t tell me six nicknames you can get from the name Robert.

See you next week.

ORESTE P. D’ARCONTE is a former publisher of The Sun Chronicle. Reach him at darconte@thesunchronicle.com.

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