Who and/or What Has Influenced Your Life? (Part 1)

by Jon on December 19, 2010

Last year I was inspired by an article I read on the Active Rain blog entitled “What was the very first personal technology you owned?” by Rene Fabre. Very nice job Mr. Fabre, and a very nostalgic trip for me. My life, also, has been heavily influenced by technology; and it got me to thinking about some of the things that have shaped my life. Probably the biggest influence for me has been music. My grandparents used to run a truck stop called “The Star Café” in the little town of Greenfield, California in the late ‘40s and ‘50’s. I grew up there until I finished high school; and as a youngster I visited the café very often. The jukebox was always playing the most popular songs of the day; and Les Paul and Mary Ford were huge then. At age eleven I fell in love with the guitar; and, of course, my first hero on the guitar was Les Paul. My parents gave me a small phonograph for a Christmas present right about that time. I snagged all the Les Paul and Mary Ford records I could get my hands on and played them for hours and hours. I’m sure I used to drive my parents and friends crazy playing those records. I still have some of those old 45’s stashed away in the garage, mostly worn out of course. In my mind I can still hear their wonderful music note for note. Les Paul was not only a wizard playing the guitar; but he was the father of modern recording. He invented so many machines and techniques that are still used today in the recording industry, not to mention the famous, and perhaps most popular guitar of all times, the Gibson Les Paul. He was also the one who got me interested in technology; and that has served me well over the years.

My dad had an old beat up guitar that he gave me to get started on. The back was coming off and the body was warped and split. The neck was also warped so that the strings were about 3/8 inch or more high over the fret board. In short, it was a mess. But I had been “bitten” and was so determined to learn to play that it didn’t matter. There was a cabinetmaker in town — Mr. Morgan — who was so kind. He was the husband of my 8th grade teacher; and both were wonderful people. I took my old beat up guitar to him and he glued the back on again and did whatever he could to make the instrument playable. He never charged me a penny for that; and I will always owe him a great debt of gratitude.

I started off playing with just about four chords or so that Dad taught me and I played every chance I got, often playing into the wee hours of the morning until my folks made me go to bed (as I said before, I used to drive them crazy!). My fingertips were so sore for about the first month because those high strings were just like cheese cutters, cutting into my flesh. Then, at last, calluses formed on my fingertips, thankfully, and the pain went away and it became easier to play.

Sam on Trumpet, Ron on Guitar

Sam on Trumpet, Ron on Guitar (about 1956-57)

As time went on I became even more passionate about music and the guitar. At last I convinced my parents to let me get an electric guitar. When I got my new electric guitar, I gave my old guitar to my best friend Ron and started teaching him how to play. Ron is left-handed so I re-strung the guitar “upside down” for him. He picked it up and “ran with it”. Before long we were playing duets in our little church and having some of the most wonderful times of our lives. I have very fond memories of those days.   The photo shows Ron playing my old guitar and accompanying his brother Sam on trumpet in that little old church. Ron and I played together for years after that and the passion has never left either one of us. I miss those times so much. They set the direction my life has taken to this day. Ron led me to Jesus Christ — the ultimate influence —  and we have remained “brothers” and best friends over the years ever since. I owe him a great debt of gratitude that I will never be able to repay.

So, what was your biggest inspiration and where has that taken you?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

johnny January 10, 2011 at 2:38 am


ronshires January 1, 2011 at 2:19 pm

All of those words are true and kind as far as I can tell. I also remember those days as being the happiest of my youth. We made use of our time in ways that were enjoyable and turned out to be beneficial into our futures. My life would be very different today were it not for your friendship and the blessing of a brother who also shared the taste for things that made growing up a delight.

I also thank God for the grace to continue the direction we began in our youth.

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