Niagara Gazette — State of the Illusion address
Well I got a hammer,
And I got a bell,
And I got a song to sing, all over this land.
It’s the hammer of Justice, It’s the bell of Freedom,
It’s the song about Love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land ...
— Pete Seeger, 1919-2014
It was the summer of 1962 when I bought my first acoustic guitar from a co-worker for the sum of twenty whole dollars; two dollars down, two dollars per week.
Like a lot of 15 year olds back in those days, I had a good paying minimum wage after-school part-time job which paid me exactly one dollar per hour.
In October of that year, the minimum wage skyrocketed to one dollar and 15 cents; phat money considering the relative average costs of living back then looked like this compared to 2013:
New home $18,200 $270,000
New car $2,500 $31,252
First-class stamp $0.04 $0.49
Gallon of gas $0.31 $3.35
Dozen eggs $0.54 $2.68
Gallon of Milk $0.49 3.43
Piano lessons ($5 each, per child per week) were mandatory in our household; Mom believed that music could soothe the soul and inspire our hearts, so I already had some music fundamentals planted in my head, nurtured by Mom’s own beautiful singing voice, cultivated by the good Sisters at Our Lady of the Rosary School, and shaped by the distant din of radio and recorded music that constantly filled our home, and the streets of Niagara Falls in those days.
Because there were so many active churches with live bell towers, some chiming every hour, mingled with the Carillon Tower at the Rainbow Bridge and the periodic whistles that signaled the end of one shift and the beginning of the next at the factories from one end of the City to the other, there was always music in the air.