Although I have sung in choruses from junior high school through senior groups, I’m loud but not very good at it. I always make sure I stand near someone who can sing and mimic them. I can’t read music, never could.

It’s the same with musical instruments. I can’t play a lick, yet I’ve been surrounded by musical instruments all my life.

Growing up there was an upright piano in the back of my grandfather’s three-chair barber shop. I don’t remember who, if anyone, ever played it. Much later on, we had our own upright piano for years, a gift from a neighbor across the street who didn’t want it anymore.

We even had a baby grand piano for several years, another gift from a friend. It belonged to a piano teacher on the second floor of the apartment house he owned, so when she moved out he gave it to me — if I would pay for it to be dismantled, hoisted out the window and hauled up the block to my house. I did.

Strings? We always had beat-up guitars laying around, and I got a ukulele as a birthday gift one year. Never plucked any of them.

And we always had percussion instruments, too. A cymbal, a set of bongo drums — of course — and as I write this there’s a nice set of large conga drums on a stand watching me from a corner of the room. There was a water drum and some African talking drums, too.

I even got a cajon box drum a few years ago. Sure, I banged it for a while. Now it makes a nice bedside table.

I have a harmonica, of course, who doesn’t. I even bought a wire holder for it that goes over my shoulders so I can play it with no hands while I strum a guitar ala Bob Dylan. I never did that, but I sometimes used it to amuse myself with harmonica wails when I was driving alone somewhere.

Now, I keep my Hohner in my hiking pack, and get it out now and then to serenade the wildlife with lonesome, bluesy sounds on the harmonica. They don’t complain …

Saturday sermon

“I became a feminist as an alternative to becoming a masochist.’”

Sally Kempton

So you’re so smart …

Last week I bet you couldn’t tell me in which Attleboro area community you would find the Women Veterans Memorial Bridge.

“North Attleboro on Route 152 over I-95,” writes Al. “That guess is thanks to one of many local pandemic walks!” Joan agrees.

“My trivia king, Ted, says it’s the bridge that goes over I-95 on Kelley Boulevard in North Attleboro, home of the Big Red,” writes Joyce, who described herself as “your No. 1 fan.” Shucks.

“The first thing that came to mind was the bridge in Somerset/Fall River,” writes Ron. “However, I don’t think that is in the Attleboro area. So my guess is North Attleboro.”

“That bridge is in North Attleboro, and carries Route 152 over I-95. Or is it I-495?” writes Doug. “As a Vietnam veteran, I always read signs at bridges and intersections, including the one in Malden that commemorates one of my college roommates. He had just been promoted to 1st lieutenant in the Artillery – what a waste. He was the only person I ever knew that won the Avalon-Hill game of Waterloo ... as the French!”

Now, I bet you can’t tell me what two country names can be spelled using five of the letters in the word “spinach.” Popeye, you’re excluded.

Columns for Kids

Donations can be sent to The Greater Attleboro Area Council for Children, PO Box 424, North Attleboro, MA 02761. Its website is And make sure you note that your donation is for Columns for Kids.

Thanks. See you next week.

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

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